Balancing my current work with my future work goals

A few days ago, I told my child’s teacher after I completely spaced the parent-teacher conference we had scheduled, “I used to have my shit together, and then I became a parent. But I guess 6 years in to this parenting run, I suppose I can no longer claim my new normal is temporary.” She didn’t know me in my pre-parenting days, when I really was on time to things, and even occasionally organized. A time when I could string thoughts coherently, er, string coherent thoughts togetherly.

While I don’t think I can get back to being on time or organized, I intend to regain my identity as a blogger. No, not some bullshit microblogger or #sponsored content provider or mouthpiece for a giant brand. After all, how is blogging for someone else any different from what I do now: writing web content for my employer?¬† My blogging goal was always to gain just enough independence that I could at the very least downsize from my full-time gig, carving out a bit more space for my creative work, whether that brought me income or not. (The answer is most definitively not, if you were wondering). When that didn’t happen – and life happened simultaneously – it became necessary for me to reallocate how I used my time.

I’ve had an autoimmune disease for 11 years. Or maybe I’ve had it for a lot longer, but I got diagnosed when I was 30. For awhile – like, say, in my adult years prior to having children, I could manage my depleting energy levels by taking a nap on the weekend or even catching a nap before dinner on weeknights. But over time, I guess as I get older, between working 40* hours a week and parenting, there’s very little time for me to ever feel “caught up” on my energy. And being tired all. of. the. goddamned. time. means that I have so little ability to clear the brain fog, nevermind the energy once the brain fog may have cleared to do anything.

* Now let’s talk about that 40 hours a week thing. I used to work 40 hours a week. Then I kept getting much more interesting work, and I was actually legitimately one of those gross people who claim to like their jobs (because I did). So losing sight of my personal goals didn’t blip much on my radar at that time a couple of years ago because I was engaged and fulfilled at work with intellectual and writery challenges. But during the past two years, my good work means that I’ve been promoted a time or two…and tasked with larger projects…that take up more mental energy…with less actual *time* during the workweek to tackle those projects. So full-time work became more, like, well, let’s just say more than 40 hours a week (and in academia, so without the pay to reflect that).

So working more left even less time to devote to my stuff. Yes, some of the bleed-over of work hours into *my* time is my own fault. But I’ll also point the majority of the blame right back on the higher ed industry, an industry that relies on churn-and-burn, hardly-paid adjuncts like My Better Half. It seems like a dicey endeavor to disengage when you are the sole source of income in your household for a family of 4. And/or have a complicated auto-immune disease that insurers know better as a pre-existing condition in this era in which it is unclear whether insurers will cover your care. To sum it up: I found myself with almost no energy, nor much mental clarity, but tethered to a job that had begun to eat up any of my free time.

I’m working on that last one, though. For the past few weeks, I’ve put strict boundaries on my work hours and will truly only commit to 8 hours a day, walking out the door at 8 hours and 1 minute. Which has begun to give me a little breathing room for places like my new work blog and here. (And, to be honest, the capacity to start looking for other, higher-paying work, as putting job applications together takes energy, mental clarity, and time. With more money could come more freedom…)

I Think There’s One Too Many Digits

I just got an automated voicemail from the pharmacy that said “Your prescription is ready for pickup. It will cost $947.76.” Clearly I need my hearing checked because I thought you just said that my prescription would cost more than NINE HUNDRED dollars.

I just came down with bronchitis, and my doctor prescribed an inhaler, which I’ve never had before, so I thought, well, that must be the culprit. Well, that, and I had changed insurance with my new job in April so I thought they must not have my updated insurance information on file. That part was true. But the $900 prescription was not the inhaler, nor the antibiotics, but the stuff I routinely take for hypothyroidism. Once they input my insurance info, the total for four prescriptions came down to $54.

You might be asking “What in the WORLD is her hypothyroidism medication made of? Magical fairy dust?! Gold??” Nope. It’s all natural, actually. But it does make me even more grateful for health insurance. Unless I’m working for an employer that offers medical coverage, the only way I can get health insurance is through My Better Half. Because of pre-existing conditions, I don’t qualify for any private health insurance. Trust me. I’ve tried. Eleven times. And I’m not talking about cancer or something serious. I have pretty standard, chronic medical issues that millions of other folks have, and which are easily managed through medication. I’m lucky to have conditions that are so easily managed, and to have good overall health. And I’m fortunate to have a job that offers health insurance. In my experience, many, if not most, of those toiling in nonprofits in particular don’t get benefits with their jobs, and are left to fend for themselves on the “open market,” only to find they can’t get insured unless they have a spotless record of health.¬†Which is why my blood boils over political debates that question the constitutionality of health care reform. Drives. Me. Crazy. Republicans and Tea Partiers Congress routinely makes it their business to block countless initiatives simply because they are introduced by and sponsored by the other party, and that practice especially drives me nuts with health care reform. Because, yes, let’s put the interests of your own party in front of the needs of millions of people. And, no, don’t offer any of your own alternatives to the reform to which you are so opposed. Just oppose, letting millions of people continue to flail around in a constantly shifting game of choosing which health concerns they can afford to treat.