Friday Gauge Check: Sewing it Up

Friday means it’s time for our Friday rituals, the ceremonies of escorting one week out and preparing the next one. Which, around here, is the Gauge Check, where I take a look at my week and figure out where I’ve come from and where I’m going. Sometimes there are goals, sometimes I just talk about what’s going on in my life and my crafting. You are all welcome to join in in the comments.

Last Saturday I turned in my notice at work.

I spent a long time thinking about it, endless hours discussing it with Jack.  I was unhappy, that much was obvious, but was I really unhappy enough to quit?  I’m good at the job, in pretty much every aspect, and the pay is okay, and quitting felt a lot like failure.  This wasn’t even getting into the “first world problems” aspect of the job – I’m lucky to have a job in this economy, etc.  What kind of person was I, that I couldn’t handle a basic customer service job?

The simplest answer to that question is, of course, “an introvert.”  One of the biggest issues with the job is the simple fact that, for me, spending eight hours a day talking to strangers is exhausting.  Every night I come home wanting nothing more than to curl up in my apartment and not talk to anyone.  (Jack is somehow an exception to this rule.)  My weekends are spent primarily in the same place, because I just don’t have the mental fortitude to go out and meet people.  I’m irritable and jumpy and probably a holy terror to live with.  The job is also mentally taxing in the way that you find with customer service jobs – approximately every seven minutes, I get a new person with an entirely new problem, and sure, a lot of them are the same, but the sheer breadth and depth of problems available means I spend a not-inconsiderable amount of time learning new ways to fix problems, or things to avoid, or policies to explain.  Questions about bills, coverage, price plans, outages, the rollout date of 4G in Your Location, details about your closest retail outlet, plus technical support for a wide range of devices that use cellular technology. (Phones! Connection cards! Computers!  Some lady called us because she thought someone had hacked her AOL account!  Why did she call us?  Because she checks her mail on her phone, of course.)

And then there are the customers themselves.  Some of them are perfectly reasonable, civil human beings, with whom I can have a pleasant conversation about whatever they’re calling about.  Some of them are charming, some are funny, some of them make me question their sanity, at least one of them should have been a guest on Coast to Coast AM.  Some of them are angry, all out of proportion to the issue at hand.

Then there was the guy who accused me (and the company I am employed by) of being abusive.  That sent me into a full-scale panic attack.  Somehow I made it through the call, and the next call, and all the way to lunch.  But it’s horrible, and it’s not good for me.

Still, I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to actually quit.  Then I ended up having two conversations.  The first was with a friend, who pointed out that victims of emotional abuse have a tendency to stay in unhealthy situations far longer than they warrant, because “It’s not that bad!” is so intrinsically woven into their worldview that it affects everything they do.

Guilty as charged, on that count.  “I hate this job and it makes me miserable, but it could be worse!” was totally my approach to the situation.

The other was with my mother.  Now, my mother is where I inherited my workaholic tendencies.  She just retired after working for 41 years, 22 with the federal government.  But my mother also recently left my emotionally abusive father, and she’s happier than she’s been in years – maybe ever.  When I confided that I was miserable, that the job was affecting my mental health, she told me to quit.  “It’s just a job,” she said.  “There will be others.”

I’m 35 years old and somehow getting permission from my mother made me feel better.

So after all this angst and worrying, I turned in my notice on Saturday.  My boss asked me why, and I explained that the job was driving me crazy.  She immediately offered to reduce my schedule, to one or two days a week.

After due consideration, I accepted.  It’s not that I hate the job so much as I hate having to do it 40 hours a week.  Eight hours a day, five days in a row, leaves me exhausted and stressed and miserable.  Twice a week, with a day off to recover between, would let me have the things I liked about it (solving problems! helping people!) without hitting the point where I’m suffering.

This week, I watched my state of being and my mental health closely, and discovered that I start hitting the first stage of Job Unhappiness (restlessness – can’t focus on anything, everything feels like a slog, will-this-day-ever-end) halfway through the fourth consecutive day.  So two days should be fine.

Anyway! Enough about my job and my mental health.  (Emotional honesty!  Two years ago I could never have had this conversation in a public forum.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to admit it to anybody but Jack – and maybe not even him.)

I finished the Sneaky Mountain shawl!  It still needs to be blocked (so it still looks like garbage) but I see the glimmering potential in the finished object.  My vanilla sock just needs the toe and the heel.  More rounds on the slow-moving SpillyJane Mitt, and I actually ripped back a little of the first Turn a Square companion mitt and made progress on it, too.  Still haven’t gotten new needle tips for my sweater, but I’m making a pilgrimage to a new yarn store tomorrow, so hopefully I can address the problem then.

Hypothetical knitting includes another pair of test socks (yarn is picked out, I just need to find an empty needle and cast on), a pair of flip-top mittens, and a hooded cowl.  (In Pennsylvania I needed a scarf; in Oregon I really need a hood. A hat/scarf combination isn’t quite enough.)

In unrelated crafting news, did you know that there’s only one outlet in my kitchen?  Well, technically there are two, because there’s one for the refrigerator, but there isn’t one behind the kitchen table or anywhere I can reach from the kitchen table.  The kitchen table, incidentally, is a drop-leaf table with two chairs that we found at a garage sale the day of the Knit Picks warehouse sale, and it has served mainly as a flat surface for my crafting since we bought it.  I looked at the kitchen table, where my sewing machine was happily sitting, and I looked around the room at the lack of outlets, and then I looked around the front room to see if there was a way I could rearrange it to fit the table (there really wasn’t), and then I gave up and dragged it into the craft room.  There is also one outlet in the craft room, but it’s in a spot I can reach, and also doesn’t have the oven plugged into it.

My craft room, for those of you who don’t know, is about the size of a small walk-in closet.  Because the table is a drop-leaf, I think I can rearrange the room in such a way that the sewing table and the spinning wheel can co-exist, and my stash will still be (mostly) accessible.  Because I wanted to spend the afternoon sewing, rather than rearranging my craft room, I just sort of wedged it in there sideways for now, which works, but is less than ideal, particularly since the iron has to be plugged into the same outlet, and I have to worry about which one I’m unplugging. Also: tangled cords.  It’s less than ideal.

I didn’t need ideal, though!  (My sewing skills are also less than ideal, and also something I’m planning to improve on, though that will be through practice rather than feng shui.)  It was time to embark upon my very first unassisted sewing project.

Alli at One Pearl Button has a pretty good tutorial for the style of cozy I wanted, although hers is for a Kindle and Jack has the much-smaller Sony Pocket.  Fiddling with knitting patterns and doing my own design work has made me unafraid to mess around with stuff (it’s just fabric, after all), so I gave it a try.  I did a dry run on some fabric I didn’t care about and ended up with a bag (it was a little too small for the book – I could’ve unpicked the stitches and done it again, but I didn’t care that much).  Haven’t decided how big I want the bag to be or exactly how to finish it, so it’s sitting on my work table pathetically half-finished.

The actual project worked quite well.  My stitching isn’t as straight as it could be, but I’m happy with it, all things considered.  I need to attach the elastic and find a swank button, but it’s nearly done.

That’s been my week: lots about work and a little about crafting.  Hopefully with my reduced schedule, I’ll be able to do a lot more of it.  Sewing is satisfying, if not quite as relaxing as knitting – there’s something to be said about being able to complete a project in an afternoon.

If you had a free afternoon to craft, what would you work on?

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~ by Amber on January 21, 2012.

One Response to “Friday Gauge Check: Sewing it Up”

  1. I am really, really happy for you. I hope that this brings a lot of happiness to you.

    Does music count? I plan on playing my piano when things settle and I’m free.

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