I’M STILL ALIVE
Funny story: I haven’t written in a long time because I had nothing good to say – my life is a never-ending series of whines, rage tears, and vaguebooking. I didn’t want to make a triumphant return to my poor neglected blog only to complain about how awful my ridiculously priviledged life is, so I kept my head down and cried my sad tears and posted dumb little Facebook updates about my unhappiness and then guess what.
I sort of exploded from the stress, and desperately needed an outlet that wasn’t poor Ed talking me off the ledge. Oh, if only I had a safe outlet in which I could vent about my FEELINGS. If only there was a friendly, non-judgemental place where I could air my dirty laundry and extreme dissatisfaction at my lot in life and also throw in the occasional random reference to movies from the 90s. OH IF ONLY.
I never claimed to be as smart as I tell the internet I am
So, here we are. Strap in, everyone. I’m going to cleanse my soul the only way I know how: dumping it out onto the internet for the seagulls to pick through and poop on.
The Oozing: A ways back when I posted about my scary oozing birthmark that tormented me with night terrors and discomfort. I did actually have it removed in June, when the dermatologist convinced me it would be better to send it off for testing instead of letting me keep it in a jar on my desk. His office called me back in for a consult in mid-August, and 100% true to fucking form, told me “the results came back confused”. Apparently, some of the cells within the excised flesh did come back with little cancer flags, but others did not. They have a handy checklist to run through to determine Cancer Yes/No, but my results were .. muddled. I am both cancerous and not cancerous. Could it turn into Actual Cancer down the road? Maybe! Is there anything I can do to prevent it? No! What are my next steps? Who knows!
This isn’t meant to disparage the doctor (who has great socks), but to roll my eyes at my ridiculous fucking super power of being an anomaly. OF COURSE my results would come back confusing. OF COURSE I have two entirely different issues at the ends of the spectrum. I am Kimli the Anomalous! Fear me, or don’t!
The literal treatment plan at this point is “keep an eye on the area, and if anything looks weird and cancery, make an appointment”. So that’s what I’m doing. It is surprisingly ineffective at keeping my rampant imagination from rampanting all over the place.
The Itching: In May/June of this year, I was very itchy. Non-stop itchy, arms and legs only, no rash or visible cause. It got so bad that I was prescribed a sedative to take as necessary, because I was going out of my mind with itchiness and having panic attacks when I couldn’t sleep at night. I tried every OTC remedy I could think of, tracked what I was eating and who I was touching, and tried to limit my exposure to things that could make me feel things. I thought for a while I was allergic to the sun, so I stopped going outside. I thought I was allergic to cheese, so I spent a few hellish weeks not eating anything with cheese on it. Nothing stood out as the clear culprit, and nothing was helping (even the sedatives, because I was scratching in my sleep).
As quickly as the itching began, it stopped. It’s been almost a month now, and I haven’t been scratching myself bloody – even during the two weeks I had to stop taking antihistamines in preparation for a visit to the allergist (I messed up the first time and had to reschedule the appointment and start the no-meds week all over again). I had the allergy test done and went for bloodwork in mid-August, and you’ll never guess what.
The results were inconclusive. I am allergic to dust mites, trees, and cats, but nothing food related and nothing that would cause the sort of itching I experienced. My bloodwork came back with elevated white blood cells and platelets and nymphocytes which could indicate I’m fighting off an infection, but my blood always shows those and no reasoning has ever stuck. They’re sending my blood off to the super lab to do more tests, but for now I am to simply enjoy not being itchy and wait until more inconclusive lab results come back with no answers.
The Diabeating: This is the one good thing, as my blood levels continue to improve. I’m officially “high normal”, which is a nice change from my normal anomalous state. In fact, my A1C was just tested, and I was surpised as hell to note that it has gone down – not by a lot, but as I was expecting it to have gone up, it was a shock. My blood sugar reacts really badly to stress, and I’ve spent the entire summer in a state of extreme stress and messy tears, both of which lead to pity cheesecake, anxiety, loss of appetite, and vaguebooking.
What’s with the stress, you ask? Well ..
I am stressed out because of work. Here is a story for you: I’ve been with my current employer for just under two years. I’ve been working remotely as a contractor-but-not-contractor (“contractor in name only”, I was told), because the company was very small and did not have the facilities or need (outside of Kimli the Anomalous) to deal with Canadian taxes or benefits. This was fine – I’m covered under Ed’s benefits, and I set aside enough money to pay my taxes.
Late last summer, the company was purchased by Microsoft. All the US employees were brought on as full-time Microsoft employees, while myself and several others outside the US were to be contractors until they could get everything sorted out, then we’d be brought on as full-time employees. “Don’t worry,” they said. “We promise you’ll be taken care of. We just need to get the US team sorted out first because of the short timeline.”
So, I was patient. Everyone else was onboarded as Microsoft employees, and were issued everything that comes with that: login IDs, badges, computers, training, etc. I .. was not. I was not onboarded. As someone who used to do onboarding as a job, I know how bloody important onboarding is for both the company and the new employee (whether they be full time, contractor, intern, co-op, whatever) – to not be onboarded with your new job is basically being thrown into a pool and being left to fend for yourself. Oh, and there are no lights in the pool. And the pool is filled with razor blades. And the razor blades are made of sharks. And you’re being asked to knit a sweater. It’s fucking difficult, if not outright impossible.
I fought to be onboarded, and lost. I fought to get equipment to work on, and sort of won (I was given an old Mac from one of the engineers that had received new equipment, and was eventually given a broken Windows laptop that required 10 hours of IT intervention to get working). I begged for resources and contacts so I could figure out how to do my job, and was finally given the name of someone 4 months into the transition. I tinkered around with things and got precious minutes with my contact and eventually managed to rewrite our documentation library into a new language and post it on Microsoft’s documentation site. The docs look great, and I’m pretty proud of them. It took an unbelivable amount of effort (remember, I was doing this with minimal help and no team) to successfully complete my project well before the actual product launched. Go me.
Throughout all this, my contract was set to expire at the end of May. I worried about this for 8 months, and was told at every 1v1 with my boss “don’t worry – we’ll find you a position and get you hired for real”. I still worried, because that’s what I do. Time was running out on my contract. My one-up manager had said, though, that even if we didn’t get the FTE thing figured out, I was allowed to work as a contractor until June 2020. This was totally fine with me, because it wasn’t really the FTE status I cared about, but the longevity of it all – having a contract that expired every 2 months was really difficult for me, because I worry myself sick at all the “what if” scenarios.
So, it’s May. My contract expires soon. No FTE had been found for me yet, and no one had really done anything about it. My boss extended my contract to the end of August, saying we’d get it all sorted out and figure out how to hire me if not onto the engineering team, then at least into the content team so I could continue to do what I do.
Mid-August. No progress has been made. I’m unable to sleep, unable to eat, and stressing myself literally sick with worry. I reached out to the few contacts I had and asked for help. I emailed my one-up to remind him of my situation and asked for help. I talked to my boss weekly, asking for help. My contract is extended until the end of October. Beyond that is murky – I was not budgeted for beyond that, because I should have been placed by now. Why haven’t I been placed?
Finally, some answers emerged. They are not good answers.
The content team does not want to hire me, because I am not a developer. They don’t hire technical writers, they hire developers who want to write.
The engineering team cannot hire me, because I am not an engineer. That’s the rule.
There’s no budget for your contract, so it won’t be extended past October.
And that’s it.
I have more than seventeen years of experience as a technical writer. My current title is “Documentation Engineer”. I can read code. I’ve worked near-miracles in every job I’ve ever had. I figured out internal Microsoft systems with no help, and published a complete library of documents into a system I had a 5-minute introduction to in early January. I learned to use GitLab, GitHub, and VSTS. I learned how to set up our documents in the Microsoft document format, rewrote them all from scratch to remove outdated content, built a document tree, and bashed my way through to functional, useful product docs using the content team’s out-of-date resources. Hell, I’ve set up onboarding for countless jobs, implemented policies, updated internal resources. I taught myself how to administer JIRA and Confluence and perform security audits. I’ve done all of this and so much more, and I know – I KNOW, even in my darkest moments – that I am capable of doing so much more.
But Microsoft won’t hire me, because I am not a developer.
This is the source of all my angst and teary Facebook posts over the last few months. I fought an uphill battle to produce content I’m proud of, trusting every “don’t worry” that was sent my way, hoping that I’d finally get some resources so I could make a bigger impact and contribute great things. I wanted to finally be part of a team, not the special one-off case that doesn’t fit into any mold, not the only one of my kind, not the person that has to be handled differently than everyone else because of my position or nationality or gender. I’ve worked for two of the biggest companies in the world, and I know how to make an impact in what I do.
They don’t want me.
And that fucking hurts.
I’m angry about all the promises that were made, but I’m entirely devastated that everything I’ve ever done, everything I’ve ever accomplished, everything I’ve ever learned, is all garbage. Useless. I’ve spent years trying to prove myself, taking on tasks far outside the realm of my expertise and fucking crushing it at every turn, only to end up here: we don’t want you. You have no use to us. You are nothing.
This is what I can’t even. I’m heartbroken on several levels, have never felt this badly about my skills, and scared out of my fucking mind that I won’t be able to find a new job. We just bought a fucking townhouse. Will we be able to pay our mortgage? What if I can’t find work? What if they’re right and my skills are worthless and no one will ever want me? What am I going to do?
I haven’t slept much in the last month.
We’re leaving for vacation on Tuesday. London, Lille, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam. I desperately hope I’m able to put a damper on my raging epic anxiety and enjoy myself. I’m excited, but it’s hard to focus on that and not the sheer terror and looming feelings of worthlessness. Here’s hoping that a few days in my favourite city will bring me back to myself.
How’s by all of you?