Wants and shoulds

I'm back to the uncomfortable balance of wants and shoulds in life.

I know I should be working on work work. I know I want to be working on personal work. I know I should fix this one feature in a client's site. Then, I can bill them, and make money to keep me in the plants I've grown accustomed to having around.

But I keep thinking about my projects and I really don't want to be working on the billable work work.

Maybe just ten minutes on the fun work. Then the work work won't seem so unbearable.

 Well, well, well, look at that

Even the suburbs has entertainment on some days.

Doyle and I were talking about something at work, when he perked up, pointed at me and said, "Hey! Look at that!" I took a moment's pause before I realized he was pointing over my shoulder and out the office window. That pause was longer than the one I took to grab my camera and start taking photos.

 First work proposal

I finished my first work proposal today.

I started working on it Tuesday afternoon, after talking to the client. I had two proposals Mike had written for previous projects as examples / outlines, but I definitely felt like I was fumbling around somewhat ignorant of what I needed to do.

Which isn't to say I can't figure it out. I'm good at making lists, at breaking down tasks into smaller and smaller pieces. My index cards can certainly attest to that ability.

What I'm not so good at, however, is estimating time. A friend once suggested I estimate a task, and multiply by three, because that seems to be how long a task will really take. Given how cynical and pessimistic I can be about life and the human condition, the optimism I have when estimating time is incongruous.

Of course, that inability to accurately estimate how long a task will take could easily explain why I'm frequently late.

This time, however, I had Mike to help me out. He reviewed my numbers, reviewed the task list, added items and such. I look at the total and think, wow, that total is a lot of money, but each step is justified.

Writing here, I can be satisfied with my words. I can edit and adjust and, when I hit the submit button, be done. With a proposal though, it's my writing going to someone else. I can't help but wonder, did I explain everything? Was I succinct? Was I clear? Did I estimate too high? Did I estimate too low? Is the guy going to think I'm an idiot with this quote?

After a few moments of nervousness, I gave up on the internal torture, the need to be perfect and the urge to make everyone else happy. I sent the proposal off with the realization that, yes, the process will take as long as I estimated, and, yes, my time is worth the money I quoted.

If the quote is too high, well, I have internal projects to work on, too.

 Snap! = bitch

I snapped at Mike today.

I snapped at him, and I'm angry with myself for having done so. One of several of my goals/tasks/areas of improvement upon returning from vacation (or, maybe I should say, "vacation") has been to remain calm at work, and in general. I know that Mike and Doyle know my buttons and can easily push them, sending me into a fury of anger - awareness of this should help me avoid the fury, but hasn't quite so far.

And it's annoying me. Not that I should expect miracles, instant personality fixes, just decide to change and done. If it were that easy, I'd be perfect and life would be boring.

But at least I wouldn't be snapping at Mike.

Mike was talking about his parent-teacher conference he and Kate went to this morning. The previous one had high marks for Liza, with a subnote that she can be bossy at times. I asked for an update on that "blemish" in Liza's A+ record, and tossed an empty Gatorade bottle in the side trash next to our desks.

Mike immediately stopped talking about Liza and her bossy ways, to boss me, ordering me to, "Throw that away in the recycling!"

Now, there are several things wrong with this order, including,

  1. I'm the one that moves the trash from that trash can to the big one in the other room, and cleans out the recycling from the little can to the big can. If I do it now, or I do it in two days matters little to me. I don't recall when I last saw Mike empty that trash can.
  2. The cleaners will separate out the trash on the twice a month when they clean the office. If they see the recycling, they'll pull it out and put it in the proper place.
  3. The City of Sunnyvale will separate the recycling from the trash, and recycle what they can. Sure, it's easier for the city residents to each separate out the known recycling, but the job is still done before items end up in the landfill

When I refused to remove the empty bottle from the trashcan, knowing full well I'll be the one moving the trash anyway, and can remove it then, Mike and Doyle started cajoling, annoying and picking on me. "Oh, do you hate the environment?" "Master Gardener but environmental hater," and "Not such a big environmentalist afterall, are we?"

Images of Mike's coffee-a-day paper cups danced in my head. I immediately began calculating the number of miles each of us drives daily. I recalled full trash cans overflowing in front of his house, and the once a month trash cans we'd put out.

I managed all of maybe two minutes of this before I let loose a fury of, "Look at the amount of trash your household has produced and compare it to the amount of trash my house has produced and you'll see which of the two of us has a greater environmental impact. THEN you can call me a hater, because I assure you even with that bottle in the trash, my footprint is significantly less than yours."

Mike and Doyle looked at each other. Clearly I'm not able to handle this harrassment. I thought I was doing well, accepting ribbing from friends and teasing from teammates. That I snapped indicates that no, I'm still sensitive to it.

And it annoys me.

I clearly need a thicker hide. Just not sure where to get one...

 Without a billion problems

Just once, I'd like to have a project that's not full of a billion problems. A project that starts and ends on time. A project where the client and the developer are happy. Where I don't have to wrestle with arcane IE CSS rendering bugs. Where I don't have to beat down MySQL databases or Apache aliases or PHP casting bugs. Where I don't spend more of my time fixing problems, but rather I spend it creating things.

A project where I'm not up until 2:00 am two nights in a row because I'm trying to solve the problem before everyone gets into the office in the morning.

Just once. Is that really too much to ask for?

Might be.

It might be the world's most boring project.

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