Monthly Archives: February 2015

[How to Have a Day Job] Movin’ On Up

howtohaveadayjobsnow
As I type this post, I am sitting in front of my computer the night before the last day of my current day job. Starting Monday, I will be doing a NEW AND IMPROVED day job. And so far as day jobs go, it’s going to be related to something that’s become my niche skill in the industry in which I work. As such, it feels like a smooth change, like putting on a new outfit while still keeping the same shoes.

In dealing with the stress of changing jobs, I figured this would be a good topic to write about for H2HaDJ. And instead of doing my usual 5 things list or a how-to, this one is going to be in the form of an FAQ. Because I realized there are a lot of questions I’ve been asking myself, even if I haven’t said them out loud. After all, this is the first job change I’ve had in three years.

Oh man, what if I look like an idiot because I don’t know anything?
Everybody starts out not knowing anything. But guess what? That’s going to change every day you’re there. Hold off on judging yourself for a solid 90 days. 3 months. If at the end of that you don’t feel smarter and more capable…well, that’s not going to happen.

What if they don’t like me?
Oh man, there it is. The high-school-y whiny desire for acceptance. It’s there, no matter how much of an island you think you are. But the fact of the matter is this: you can’t control what people think of you. What you can control is how you treat them and how you let their attitude affect you. Put on your best mental Brita filter: only let the good, clean vibes in. Nothing else is worth bringing into your world.

Is this a huge mistake? Shouldn’t I have just stayed with what I knew?
Obviously that’s not true, otherwise you wouldn’t be here. You can take that as meaning this moment in your life, on a grand scale, or this specific situation. Be positive. Look at what you can gain, not at what you’ve lost. This is a new adventure. It’s going to be awesome. And if it isn’t? There’s going to be another new adventure before you know it!

How am I going to get stuff done? I’m going to be exhausted!
Whoa, take it easy. You actually don’t know how you’re going to feel yet. Give yourself some space. Take about a week and feel out your new schedule, especially if you’re going to have a change to your commute, work hours, or sleep patterns. This is the time that investing in a day planner is really going to help. Block out the time you’re going to need for your new job but pencil in things you want to do. Be nice to yourself, dammit.

And again, I know I say this in pretty much every H2HaDJ I do but…be present. Focus on NOW. Don’t sit around thinking what it’s going to be like tomorrow, or how shitty today was. Stay aware of what you’re doing at this moment, and live it to the fullest.

The Impossibilitude of Okay

It’s okay to feel overwhelmed.
It’s okay to have a lot going on and not have the best handle on it.
It’s okay to misplace the feeling of drowning when you’re not underwater.
It’s okay to forget to cross off things because they fell out of the routine and down the stairs.
It’s okay to crack a little.
It’s okay to sweat a lot.

Just don’t sit down for too long
Or try to think about it all at once
When it’s very possible that there is an inferno
Waiting on the other side of the warm door knob.

You’ll have time to be fine

Once you stop running.

Dreaming in Fahrenheit

I dream in Fahrenheit
Between the great northern hours of
January through March
From beneath the heavy heat of stews
And layers
And the shapeless form of pants and pants and socks and
In the quivering, shivering sleep I make out
The swirls of reds and orange and purple
And blues that are not of dead
But of the back of the bay
And I taste on my tongue sweet creams
That only the sliver of summer can afford
And I am waist-deep in the soft decadence of sand
The lover I take is San Diego
The coast
The wavelets
We talk for hours and when we’re not talking
We’re on each other
Like burning.

[How to Have a Day Job] Bad Days and Announcements (Not in That Order)

Hi, hello, and good evening!

So I’ve ranted and raved about my newsletter series How to Have a Day Job ever since it started. It’s only become more and more important to me as time has gone on. And that is why I have decided to move it from the email-only format to right here. On the blog. In front of you. Not constantly in short sentences, but it’s what I’m doing right now so…boom.

For those of you who are new, as I said in my H2HaDJ (Ech-too-ha-DJ? Hitoohadge?) the basic goal of these posts is this:

I am here to tell you that you don’t have to be defined by the money that keeps a roof over your head, food in your mouth and a few extra sketchbooks and pencils in your bag. I’m right here in the trenches with you. We’re going to get through this together. In this weekly newsletter, I will give you activities and ideas of how to keep your soul fiery when you walk in the door from the office soaking wet. We’re going to talk to people who have gotten to the other side of the river. And we’re going to thrive together.

The first topic in the New and Improved How to Have a Day Job Series is a topic near and dear to our hearts: bad days. You know them. They’re the ones that start in traffic, wind up in awkward bad meetings, find themselves sitting next to the lunch you left on the kitchen table. They’re the days that wind up crying in the bathroom or standing at the coffee pot, imagining exactly what could be said to that so-and-so right before full-blown “you can’t fire me! I quit!” mode.

And worst of all, they’re the days that end on the couch in front of a marathon of Modern Family, a pizza, and zero sense of priorities. Priorities being the book you’re working on writing, the scrapbook gathering dust, or the sewing machine rusting away from lack of use.

Fie, I say! Fie on bad days! Fie on their ability to ruin our productivity. Fie on their screwing up our streak. Fie, fie, fie!

And thus, here I provide, 5 ways to get the better of your bad day.

1. Make the decision that it is over — Once you’ve gotten off work, stop. Close your eyes. Take 5 calming, deep breaths. And say, out loud, “This bad day is over.” Make it final. Smile. Drive home and, on your way, imagine that you aren’t leaving a bunch of bad garbage but you are coming to a wonderful evening.

2. Take a shower — Sometimes, if I really feel like I’ve been wrecked and ruined by my job, the first thing I do when I finish is take a shower. I put on clean clothes, slip on some soft socks, and immediately I feel better. It’s like a nice, hot shower can was away the muck that gets kicked up on you in every way: physically, mentally, spiritually. Get that off.

3. Don’t sit — The couch is sitting there. Or your favorite chair. They call out to you in their siren song…just a few minutes. Maybe an episode of that show you have recorded. Maybe a few rounds of that video game. You deserve it. No. No, no, no. There is time enough for that once you’re done with what you should be doing. Which brings us to our next item…

4. Arrive — Have a section of your house that is dedicated only to your craft. It doesn’t have to be much. Maybe a table in the corner. Maybe a studio (lucky you). Maybe it’s a roller cart you can take into the bathroom. Go there. Say hello. It’s been waiting for you. Sit down. Do something there. Don’t think about it too much. Just…be there.

5. Channel that energy — I know. You’ve gotten to this point in the list where you’re all, “Yeah, you know what, Katie? All this hippy crap is well and good, but we can’t all just let it go, like a Disney princess in the snow. I had a really, really bad day!” And to that, I say…okay. That is alright. Just don’t let that stew inside you. Can’t let it go? Then let it explode. Recently, I made a fantastic purchase: a punching bag and a set of gloves. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten done with work, walked over to it, and just kicked the ever-loving shit out of it for about ten minutes. Use that energy, y’all. Take all that bad and turn it into something awesome. Write about it. Sketch about it. Scream about it. But try to give yourself an end to it. Say to yourself, “I am going to let myself freak out for about 10 minutes. Then that’s it.”

Decide you are better than your worse days, and your good days are going to quickly outnumber them.

Pickled Miracles now on sale!

Remember back in September when I told y’all about the chapbook I put together? It’s now for sale on Amazon! The paperback should be out soon (within a day or so) but you can pick up a copy on Kindle for $3!

Worry, Thy Name is Piglet

I talk very openly about my issues with anxiety, depression, and obsessive thinking nowadays. It used to be something I only discussed with people who would experience it on a day to day basis, which was mostly roommates. It was like a little troll that followed me around. Hanging out with me for a few hours, and you may have never seen it. I could stuff it into my pockets or stick it in the backseat of my car. But if you lived with me day to day, you were going to notice it waddling around the apartment, generally being a nuisance.

I’ve dealt with these issues thanks to medication, but what many people don’t realize is that medication doesn’t make the problem go away. The troll doesn’t disappear like one of the green mucus critters from the mucinex commercials. The medication just puts the troll in a box. That way, I can carry the troll around and go about my business. It doesn’t change the fact that I have to drag it wherever I go and listen to it being an all-around pain in butt.

Suffice to say: I still have bad days.

Recently, I was struck by a day in which I was chronically worrying. I went to the mall. I worried. I bought some cute clothes. I worried. I finished reading a book and bought a dozen chocolate chip cookies. I worried.

As I drove in my car through gross, cold rain, I listened to a meditation in which it was encouraged to greet your negative feelings.

Hello, worry.

I did feel silly.

“Acknowledge the feeling. Welcome it, and make the decision to go about your business.”

Hi, worry. Yes, I see you there. No, I don’t want to hang out. Go away. Again, my instinct was seeing the troll, the annoying little jerk-in-the-box who was bothering and nagging and that needed to be exterminated by chronic foot-up-the-ass.

The meditation then went on to recommend giving the feeling an actual character. It encouraged making this fun and whimsical. And I’m not sure why it clicked with me at that moment, but I knew what my worry was. I knew what I wanted it to be. Thank you, Disney Store.

Piglet. From Winnie the Pooh.

pigletWho doesn’t freaking love Piglet? He’s constantly, hilariously frazzled. He’s always getting blown around because he’s a little guy, and as a result, he’s just in a perpetual state of “hot mess.” Piglet is a hot damn mess.

Suddenly, my worrying took on a different role in my head. I wasn’t really mad at it, or annoyed. I was laughing at it. I was imagining my own “deary dear dear” Piglet, wringing his little paws, and I was able to go, “Piglet, chill. Oh my god, everything’s okay.”

I felt so much better.

When’s the last time you tried to change your perspective on how you were feeling about something? What is keeping you from, say, writing or finishing a project? Is there a way you could laugh at it instead of feeling stressed out?

Beastly Be (A Poem)

balrog

Last night, I got to attend a delightful event put on by Hyacinth Girl Press for their release of “Free Monster Poems About Monsters.” It was very awesome and featured a number of extremely talented writers and performers. During the open mic section, I read the following poem that I wrote for the occasion.

Beastly Be

I see you there. I’m not afraid.
Your thick skin, the webbing between your fingers and toes.
The soft moon pale of your teeth, the shimmer of your scales,
And I count five tentacles and the remains of one more, only a stump
Your eyes, bright crimson lava when I come to bed
And the almost gray cracks of gold coals when I awaken
You were there, so full of mirth and bemused age, when I would drag my mother to stay with me until I fell asleep,
You were there, silent guardian of the underbelly of night, when I cried alone when she was gone
You were there, trying to decipher this curiosity, when I woke up thighs thick with first blood
You were there when I was on top, crowing yes
You were there when I was on my back, saying no
And that was when I hated you
I couldn’t get away from the stink of you, the wretched ragged in-out of breath,
Ugly dog that followed me to school, from apartment to condo to house
I left my hand over the edge, waiting for you to grab it, pull me to hell with you
But you didn’t
I found you redeemed the day that a man I had in my home one too many times
Who always used his words like a bat, the drink for his brazen fists,
Then, only then, there you were
All balrog, all manticore, all demon, dark and furious
The blood on my hands was hot enough for both of us
We had our fill
Now, I invite you out freely
You’re too good for the cobwebbed bed
You are my personal monster
The clack of my heels compliments your claws
My eyes shine now in the dark as well
We slither through this darkness as one
And we feast on this world together.