Sunday, April 8, 2012


I feel like I've expressed that my job is stressful.  It is a LARGE project that I have taken on for my post-doc.  A large project where several of the pieces have either never been done before, never been done at this scale, or never been done in this way.  And yes, that's science, do something that's never been done before, but just for the record, you will usually retain a little more of your sanity if you attempt this a bit more incrementally.

I've got a lot going on there - computer programming, leading several pieces of the project, working collaboratively with many other people, making sure other people are getting their parts done at least somewhat within the timeframe, reading papers, writing papers, going to seminars, organizing the structure of the project and reorganizing the structure of the project, figuring out the details of how to simulate about five surveys for 3 types of assessment, organizing appropriate meetings, etc.

And I had to go to Alaska last week for a meeting.  So add packing, travel, attending talks, talking to a bunch of people, and meeting with my 2 bosses (but not at the same time of course!).

A lot of people have stressful jobs.  And thank goodness that my living situation is calm and good.  But there are other things going on too.

1.  New relationship
2.  House renovation

To explain...

The new relationship is great.  We're good together, he's a great person, we love each other, and have very similar goals.  I found it all and am quite surprised and happy about it.  But, we just moved in together.  We just got engaged.  He just finished going through a divorce, moved, and changed jobs.  That's a lot of shit kicked up.  We somewhat recently went to a couples counselor to get some stuff ironed out before those kind of things become big problems (his idea, which is another reason to love him), and she said that after couples get engaged it is incredibly common that it stirs shit up.  Same with getting married and having kids.  Those milestones kick up the shit in a relationship.  I sighed a sigh of relief.  We're normal!

Anyway, we both obviously have been pretty hurt and disappointed in previous relationships and we both wheeled some baggage in with us.  Sometimes his baggage starts a fight with my baggage.  Or vice versa.  The challenge sometimes is to realize when that's happening.  As in, sometimes Person A needs to realize that his/her nuclear-sized reaction to a particular trigger is not because of Person B's multiple transgressions (in fact it may be the first time Person B has done this at all), but because it is in Person A's history that he/she has had to deal with it way more than his/her fair share.  Perhaps in a previous relationship it was a common reoccurance that was particularly hurtful.  That sort of thing.

And you know, relationships take time.  Spending time together, being present for the other's ups and downs, being someone they can count on, working toward common goals, and having happy times ;) and not so happy times (see above).

So of course you're left with less time than you're used to when you're single.  Of course this is a good thing - companionship, sharing your life with someone, never feeling like a loser on a Friday night.  A lot of singledom, at least when you're out of your twenties, feels like you're trying to have a party when 90% of your friends are out of town.  But, the other side of the coin is that part of me really thrives on solitude.  Like when there's a giant space on a weekend day that is my mission to creatively fill.  Should I take a long walk with the dog?  Do some writing?  Start a project?  Watch 5 hours of Downton Abbey?

In my current life I still get to finish Season 2 of Downton Abbey in the span of a few weeks, and then after the last episode, skip into the living room to express my joy about Lady Mary and Matthew and launch into the short version of their story.  Side note: Downton Abbey told by plot points sounds ridiculous.

And then there's the house.  Don't get me wrong.  I love the house.
I love all the windows, the nooks, the public/private spaces, the efficiency of space, the cook's kitchen, the french doors, the utility room, the under stairs pantry, the library corner in the living room,

the large master bedroom window, my walk-in closet, the beautiful master bath, the small open room at the top of the stairs, and that we've got 3 bedrooms and 3 baths.  It will be perfect to live in and grow in. When we met with the architect and I told him everything I loved, he came back with these plans and I lit up like a LED diamond ring.  

But yes, building a house is stressful.  Stressful to a relationship and personally.  And if you're doing most of the work yourselves on top of stressful full-time jobs it's even more so.  

There's of course the stress of money.  A lot of money gets spent.  And we've had to realize that our best move is to build just the first story now and live in that for a couple years before adding the second story.  This means we'll have a temporary bedroom in the space where the stairs and library nook will eventually go.  But the kitchen will be done.  When I get stressed about the state of flux in the house I will barricade myself in the finished kitchen.  

The stress of money also comes up when you're deciding on building materials.  And even though one of you is very flexible about letting the other one have her dream family home, you will still have arguments about windows*.  As in, one of us ideally wants all the windows (aside from in the bedrooms which have to open to meet code, and in the bathroom and utility rooms to vent weird smells) to be fixed (i.e. don't open) in order to save costs and decrease heat leakiness.  The other of us wants windows to open so that we can let the outside in on our limited Pacific Northwest beautiful days, so that we can feel the breeze run through the house and smell the flowers in the front yard, and so that we can yell at the kids without having to run outside.  We'll come to a compromise, but I'm still standing my ground that a living room needs 1-2 windows that open.  

And then there's the stress of time.  Weekends are either spent entirely at the house working, or spent feeling guilty about not working on the house.  I've started to feel like my life is consists of work, working on the house, trying to keep the rental house somewhat clean and mostly failing, eating fast food, watching crap TV (I love crap TV), and sleeping.  Bags don't get unpacked until a week later, laundry doesn't get done until it takes 8 loads, time spent together is either the work or decompressing from work variety, social lives get neglected, and healthy home-cooked meals don't get made.  

We were recently exhausted at 6pm on a Saturday (after not even working on the house that day), and one of us had a mini-meltdown about coffee grounds at K-Mart, and one of us had a less-mini-meltdown at home afterwards about Cabela's.  Yes, I cried about Cabela's.

So stress.  Yeah, I've got it.  My plan to deal with it is to:
A.  Exercise, hard.  
B.  Rebalance my life.
C.  Spend too much money in the pastry/cake section of Whole Foods.  
D.  Realize this is the stress of over-abundance?

But that's all I have to say for now - got to get back to the laundry.

* Windows 101:  Do you want vinyl ($), fiberglass ($$), or fiberglass/wood ($$$)?  Do you want fixed ($), awning ($$), single hung ($$), casement ($$$) or double hung ($$$$)?  What do you want the wooden panes to look like?  Do you want triple-paned glass ($$$$)?  


mom said...

Hang in there. Keep the big picture in mind. Even though you are busy - take time out for each other AWAY from the house and all the projects. And DO NOT get vinyl windows - they are cheap but you will regret it in the end!

hwhip said...

and those fuckers need to open. sorry J that's at least half the point of having windows. OPENING THEM. what if the house is on fire? gotta get out. BUT HOW>??? THROUGH THESE NON_OPENING WINDOWS? I think not.