(In)Adequate Staffing In The Workplace

I think a lot about the way that workplaces are staffed. My previous job specifically hired people who hadn’t worked anywhere else and then basically ground then into dust for way too little pay, relying on quantity to make up for a lack of quality (specifically to rely on the quanitity of employees to make up for the lack of quality training they gave to those entry-level employees). Some people thrived in that environment and some people, myself included, did not because they didn’t fit in perfectly. My current job tends to work very hard to avoid getting rid of employees but seems to be struggling with figuring out how to retain employees, especially young-ish ones. At thirty one, I’m one of the youngest people on my team and, until this week, at almost six years, had worked at the company for the shortest amount of time. Throw in a bunch of horror stories about working at Amazon facilities, coffee shops, university systems (to name a few high-profile employers who have achieved a level of notoriety thanks to the recent surge of labor violations on their parts and the resulting union drives) and I’ve got a lot of different data about what it’s like to work for an employer that has staffing issues.

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One-Week Pause

I’ll be skipping this week’s Infrared Isolation post. Chapter 10 is going to need another week because, frankly, I’m pretty burned out and the thought of pushing myself to get it done and then asking my editor/alpha reader to get it back to me quickly felt like volunteerily going to hell for vacation. I’m not about that life so, instead, I’m taking a rare break and posting only this today. Not even gonna try to come up with some essay to fill the gap since doing OTHER work doesn’t really address the whole “too tired to do work” part of being burned out. Hope you’re all having a great weekend and that we’re not all drinking ourselves into a stupor following the apparent end of democracy in the US.

Post-Vacation Reflections

Welp, I did it. I went on vacation and survived. Everyone got along, we all had as much space as we wanted, and I got to enjoy having a largely unstructured week. The most frustrating part of the trip was that people would talk about doing something in the morning, I’d set an alarm accordingly (to ensure I was up and ready to go by the discussed time) and rarely was that true of anyone else. Which wasn’t really a big deal since I could just play video games or read or go for a walk or anything else I desired, so all things said and done, it was a pretty great trip. I do wish I came out of it feeling more rested, but I also didn’t spend more than an hour laying in bed, feeling super depressed before coming in to work this morning, so I think I benefited from the rest. Another week or two would have been better, but it would also have been better to have won the lottery, so I’m content with what I got.

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Vacation Conjecture

Today is my first day back to my normal life following my vacation. I can only guess at how I feel right now, since I’m writing this two weeks prior in order to allow myself a break from daily blog updates during said vacation. The actual week I’m on vacation is going to be only flash fiction so I can avoid feeling guilty for not posting anything. I’ve spent a week in a distant cabin a few hours north of where I normally live, enjoying a getaway with two of my younger siblings and two of my friends (all of us made up my old Monday night D&D group back before I realized I needed to dial things back a little bit in 2021). Some of these people met each other in person for the first time while sharing a cabin with three bedrooms, two bathrooms, and probably just a little bit too little space for all five of us to be comfortable together. As someone who has lived alone for two years, I imagine it took a bit of getting used to for me and that I found great solace in the ability to just go for a walk or sit outside in the shade.

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Managing Vacation Anxiety

As I begin the careful calculus of packing and planning for my vacation, I’ve started weighing the various options I have for types of entertainment to bring with me to this isolated cabin. I have so many options that are portable enough to consider bringing with that I’m concerned I might be packing more tabletop and video games than everything else put together. It has been a long time since I’ve done anything to relax that didn’t center being at my apartment for an extended period of time, so I’ll admit I’m overly anxious about how to adequately prepare for my vacation. To be entirely fair to myself, something bad has happened every single time I’ve taken more than one or two days off of work for the past two years, so these anxieties aren’t entirely unfounded. Since one of the main strategies for processing anxieties involves acknowledging the parts that are actually reasonable or at least reasonable-adjacent and then taking steps to mitigate them, I’m giving myself space to over-plan and over-pack.

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I Struggle With Writing Short Fiction

I have a vacation coming up in a week and a half. I’ll have access to the internet and my laptop with me (I plan to work on some editing projects since I can’t just NOT do anything), but I still plan to double my usual blog buffer so I can just ignore my blog every day that I’m away. My current intention is to do five Flash Fiction posts in the place of my usual content, as a nice compromise between writing five normal posts and letting my blog sit empty for a full week, but I’m running into the same problem that I always do when I’m trying to produce new flash fiction. I just don’t know what stories to tell in so short a format!

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I Struggle To Spend Money On Myself

For the first time in enough years that I can’t actually figure out exactly how long it has been, I’m taking a week off work at a time that isn’t the week between Christmas and New Year’s. For the first time in my life as an adult in the workforce, I’m taking a week off of work to go on a vacation. Even when I was still willing to endure the stress of my family to access the lakehouse every summer, I never managed to take a full week off. I always had to align the trip with a holiday and take only a part of the week off. But this time I’m actually leaving my home to go someplace I’ve never been before with no intention other than to relax and enjoy myself.

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Readying Myself For Summer

Even after nearly a decade away from anything resembling the US school year, I still find myself thinking that the coming of summer heralds a shift from my busy and exhausting days to a time when I can take a load off mentally and physically. I haven’t had more than a week away from my labors in nearly a decade and I still find myself mentally preparing for the coming warm months and the freedom they once brought me. It’s a weird mental space to be in. I know I won’t have any extra time off or a chance to enjoy being outside in the summer without much restriction, but I still find myself hoping for it just as fervently as I did when I was a student.

I haven’t actually had a summer break in much longer than that, though. When I was in high school, my parents forced me to find ways to fill my time. Either by getting a job of some time, by doing chores around the house (usually gardening on behalf of my mother), or by taking care of my younger siblings who needed minding while my mother did other stuff. In college, I had to work since I couldn’t return to my parents house and I needed to pay for summer housing at my college. Even before high school, I was usually occupied with some form of household chores or other work assigned to me by my parents, so I really can’t imagine why I expect a chance to rest and relax.

What the summer has actually brought me is change. In college I shifted from work and school to just work, and in high school I could stay up and sleep in as late as I wanted. My schedule shifted from what was demanded by the world I lived in to one that I could largely set for myself. Sure, I had to be at work at specific times, but the other sixteen hours of the day were mine to spend as I wished. Nowadays, though, the only change the summer brings is how generally sweaty and gross I feel at the end of the day. And I supposed the number of blankets I keep on the bed also changes, so there’s that too.

When I graduated college, I wanted to eventually get into academia in some form, probably as a college professor, so I could stick with that schedule. And, you know, because I loved what I was doing with my degree and wanted to keep doing that kind of stuff (still do, honestly). I eventually realized that a career in academia was likely not in the books for me, given my already substantial burden of student loans and the need for more loans if I wanted to continue my education, not to mention the generally sorry state of academia today. I used to keep up on articles about what was going on in the world of academia, tenure, and literary studies, but that effort was what eventually convinced me I would probably be happier sticking with work outside of academia and writing in my time away from my occupation rather than as a part of it (in an academic sense, specifically. I still think i’ love being a full-time writer of fiction)

Still, as the grey, chilly April days come to a close and we head toward whatever the hell May has in store (it has been unseasonably cold and cloudy thus far this spring, so all bets are off), I find myself planning vacations I’ll never take and looking at my life for whatever big changes I might make. I don’t really have any right now, since I’m trying to work on feeling more at-home in my apartment (rent is rising too quickly to make it worth moving this year, at least at my current income), but I keep taking stock of my life in the hope that something will jump out at me. I’m already making slow but steady steps toward most of my goals, so there really isn’t much to do other than stay the course, keep up the life maintenance, and keep my eyes peeled for any opportunities that show up within my reach.

A Small Vacation

I have a difficult time actually taking vacations. I’ve written before about my struggles, mostly in terms of financial cost, but I also struggle with taking a break from a mental and personal perspective, too. One of my oldest and least-healthy coping mechanism has always been “keep busy.” Which isn’t necessarily unhealthy on it’s own, but if you’re going into this with the thought of “gotta stay too busy to be sad,” then you’ve strayed into an unhealthy mindset and mechanism. The other side of this, which makes this into a problem I actively struggle with, is the fact that I also just like to keep busy. I like having things to do.

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Video Games or Vacations

It is incredibly difficult for me to plan and then take a good vacation. Specifically, I mean that I have never once taken a proper “leave my common sphere of activity” style vacation that wasn’t to a lake house owned by my grandparents since I left for college. Well, I recently had one exception to that, which was a camping trip with some friends, but a crown I’d just gotten not long before the trip broke on the first day and left me feeling pretty awful for the whole weekend so I’m not counting that due to the lack of actual relaxation or rest that one single moment caused.

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