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Life Report

Hello, blog. I haven't seen you in a while.

Today I turned in my timesheet for my first two weeks of work. These weeks have been pretty hectic, not the least because I've had to readjust to wearing clothes. And waking up at the same time every morning, relying on unreliable buses, and eating at set meal times. That, honestly, has been the toughest part of work so far: reintegrating myself into "normal" society.

The job itself is easy—busy, but easy. In general, the toughest part of being a web developer isn't developing, but dealing with management. In previous jobs I've been told to do some amazingly stupid things by people who have power, whose least favorite thing in the world is to listen to reason from people who don't. Innovation was dangerous, honesty suicidal. Now, every morning I cross the threshold of the CISAB house, it's like I'm going through the gateway to an alternate dimension in which supervisors love new ideas and hourlies are considered real people. I've heard the most bizarre phrases coming out of my new supervisor's mouth; I'm almost worried for her mental health.

  • "If you can think of a more efficient way to do it, go for it."
  • "Nah, we don't have to ask the director first."
  • "These changes are great! I haven't had a chance to look at that page in years."
  • "Oh, that section? It's managed by some other department, but they're swamped with work, so you can do whatever you want with it. I'm sure they'd be grateful."
  • "Thank you."

I've heard that last one more times in the past two weeks than I can recall ever hearing in the past two years. Frankly, it's alarming. I still don't trust it. I feel like I'm a child in a cautionary fairy tale in which the glorious new world seems bright and happy, but there are secret dangers lurking in the hearts of evildoers and the illusion will shatter the moment I push the wrong boundary.

But of course, even if the work is suspiciously low-stress, everything associated with it produces stress enough. I feel like I have to do the work of someone there for forty hours a week in twenty, not because they're riding my back or anything, but because there's just so much to do. There's also the stress of using public transportation that can come five minutes early or ten minutes late on any given day, plus walking half a mile through campus to get to my desk, and working with code that makes a web programmer's eyes bleed. The pages were laid out in Dreamweaver as tables within tables within tables. In my first week, I discovered this snippet tucked in the ridiculously convoluted CSS that accounted for hours and hours of headaches:

strong {

font-weight: normal;


If the absurdity doesn't strike you at first glance, this can be likened to saying, "Please shout at the same volume as your usual speaking voice."

So I've spent the first two weeks unraveling the mess. My new stress-free version should be finished sometime next week. I haven't even begun half of the tasks that were in my job description.

Needless to say, my writing has flagged somewhat during the adjustment period. On most days I'm too drained to do anything once I get home. I've made some progress on some light smut, outlined a chick lit novel that's been stuck in my head (the first contemporary story that's occurred to me in a while, actually)...but nothing noteworthy.

I have finally admitted that my WIPs are not going to happen right now. I should probably take those progress bars down, because it will be a while before I attempt them again. It's unfortunate, since I've spent half a year on them already, but I've come to the inevitable conclusion that they suck. The ideas don't, but the execution does. For now, I'm going to put them aside, write some lighter things I know I can handle, and take my courses in editing to make sure I have the basics down. It may be a year or two before I'm skilled and mature enough to tackle the heavy themes that are in WIPs A and B. Then I'll burn them to the ground and start over.

When I announced this to Sweetie, he tried to say something comforting like, "Well, I'm sure you'll be able to use some of the ashes." It would be more comforting if he had tried to convince me that they don't suck, but that's what I get for building a relationship based on honesty.

I have no shortage of projects to keep me occupied, though. By my count I have the current smutty novella which would make my parents cry to see my name on, and then three more smutty novellas that I really, really need to get out of my system. My explicit alter ego will be busy. Then if I need a break, I have some non-smutty YA short stories that have been waiting in the wings forever under my tame alter ego. Both of these alter egos sell reasonably well, so I should get a move on. Then, one day, I might venture something serious enough to write under "T.K. Marnell" again.


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