today only: free shattered dreams

I am never going to be a flight attendant, and I am devastated.

Let’s back up a second. I never actually wanted to be a flight attendant – the thought of having to be nice to everyone even when they’re being horrible is why I work from home, alone, in the dark, without pants – but because I’ve specifically been told that I cannot do it .. well, now all I want to do is be a flight attendant. But that will never happen. Because I am never going to be a flight attendant.

We were several hours into our flight to Japan when I needed to pee. I untangled myself from all my cables, shuffled past a sleeping Ed, and headed up to the bathroom. It was in use, so I leaned my tired self against a wall next to the galley to hide the fact that I was doing the pee-pee dance.

I was probably staring blankly at my phone wishing I had internet access when I heard a voice to my left: “ooh, is that London?”

One of the flight attendants was doing galley things, and struck up a conversation about my tattoos. I showed her the skyline tattoo and those of Sasha and Cheddar. She marveled at the work Darci did on my arms, then commented “you know, I just love your hair. And your dress! The whole thing! *gestures at my everything*”. Her voice dropped to a conspirational whisper at this point: “You’ll never be a flight attendant, though.”

I didn’t have time to think about what she just said, as the bathroom finally became vacant and my bladder insisted upon being dealt with. When I had finished, she was nowhere to be seen; undoubtedly disabusing some small child of the dream of being a firefighter or astronaut.

I returned to my seat to think about what she said. Sure, she was very complimentary about my everything, but at what cost? The hopes and dreams I didn’t even know I had? It was like peeking at a whole new world, only to have the door slam shut in my face before I could take it all in. What good is my fun hair, epic cleavage, ridiculous wardrobe, and awesome tattoos if I can’t be a thing I don’t want to be? None. None good.

This could have been me:

BST

picture the exact opposite of this in every way, and that’s me

but now instead this is me:

LMG

again, think in opposites

with a lot of this:

no

EVERYTHING IS SIMPLY TERRIBLE.

aXm6303xjU

stranger danger

I have pretty severe social anxiety. Meeting new people is my kryptonite; strangers are terrifying and rhyme with dangers for a reason.  They often have candy and vans with blackout windows, and according to the year 2000, every single person on the internet is a deranged sex pervert who wants to chop me up for some sweet Canadian stew. Pretty scary stuff, right? It only makes SENSE to be wary of people you’ve never met. Every one of them is chockfull of BAD DECISIONS.

I’ve been experiencing a low-grade panic attack for the last three days, and it’s getting worse. On Monday morning at 4am, I’ll be making my way to Orlando for a week of meetings. I’ll also be meeting my co-workers in meat space for the first time. We’re all staying in a couple of resort houses, so socializing will be done in a hot tub. And I’m the only woman.

So, let’s recap:

  • Flying to a country in political turmoil
  • With skin an indeterminate shade of brown
  • For work
  • To meet people for the first time
  • In a swamp
  • Filled with alligators
  • Staying in a house with 9 men I work with
  • That has a pool and a hot tub
  • So bathing suits are happening

I am legit terrified. People are scary. What if everyone hates me. What if I say really stupid things and people think I’m an idiot. What if I forget I can’t go in hot tubs and pass out and break my head open on tiles. What if Florida has no Diet Coke. What if crocodiles eat me. What if I get brave enough to put on my bathing suit and everyone laughs at me. What if people realize I have no idea what I’m doing at work and out me as a big faking faker who fakes. What if I didn’t pack enough cardigans. What if I forget my medication and revert to my original form.

WHAT IF.

I hate anxiety. It is a twat.

we are judging you

newb

Today is the second day at my new job. I spent most of yesterday getting myself set up: credentials for ten thousand new tools, a whole heap of docs to read and tear apart in my head, and being totally overwhelmed by all the things I don’t know. Now that I’ve started, the frustration at not knowing everything already has set in – I feel dumb, and I hate feeling dumb. I want to be useful NOW. Why haven’t we invented Matrix-like knowledge transfer yet?

I gave myself a tour of the office yesterday, noting where the essentials were. Diet Coke can be accessed at my feet, in the kitchen, or in an emergency, across the street at the gas station. Ice is found both in the freezer, and in the ice machine I set up in the kitchen last week. Again, in an emergency, ice is available at the gas station. Except for the constant danger of explosions, living across the street from a gas station is quite handy.

There are three office cats, all of whom are varying degrees of a pain in the ass. My office mate wears too many clothes and listens to a lot of screaming dragon metal, which is kinda weird. Luckily, I have a door that can be closed when his music/constant state of dress get to be too much.

Snacks are plentiful and lunch is provided as long as there are leftovers in the fridge. If not, my options are gas station sandwiches or McDonald’s. When the weather is less gross, I’ll be able to get lunch from anywhere within a 20-minute scooting distance, so I can really get anything depending on my laziness level.

So far, the most difficult part of this whole transition (other than the fact that I don’t know a damn thing about anything) is not being audibly gleeful that I do not have to go outside in the cold November rain.

Okay, back to learnin’.

it looked this neat for about 10 minutes

it looked this tidy for about 10 whole minutes

back in the saddle

The saddle is made of words!

I’ve been hinting at this for the last few weeks now, but now all my beans are being spilt: I am indeed leaving Hootsuite for a position elsewhere. My last day in the nest is October 28th.

While I very much enjoy my team and other assorted owls at Hootsuite, I’ve made no secret of the fact that JIRA Administration was never amongst the things I wanted to do when I grew up. What started out as occasional maintenance (and only because JIRA was tied to our documentation tool, and then only because I didn’t want to wait for someone else to have the free time to do what was needed) gradually became an all-encompassing struggle to keep the system running with limited resources, which then snowballed into supporting all things Atlassian. I’ve spent the last 15 months elbow-deep in support and operations, which is a really weird place for a technical writer to be.

That was the other half of my problem: on paper, I was still a technical writer. My day to day duties had very little to do with technical writing, but I didn’t have the slightest idea what my title SHOULD be. Don’t get me wrong – I was happy to be busy and have actual things to do (a far cry from my first 6 months at Hootsuite doing nothing) – but I wasn’t doing the things I thought I was hired to do, and worse yet, I saw both no exit and no possibility for advancement. I supposed I could have just JIRA’d harder, but at the end of the day, it was a pretty frustrating waste of my abilities. And what about my resume? How do you explain that you’re a Technical Writer who technically does not write? I worried that my skills were fading faster than the purple dye on my hair, and that I’d never be able to successfully sell myself as a tech writer because I’d spent the last x months doing glorified support and operations and student-essay-editing.

I didn’t actually DO anything about all these fears I had – I mean, I talked to my bosses (and anyone who would listen) about my title and position, but I sat on most of my worry like a phone book. I got as far as updating my resume, scared witless the entire time that I had no marketable skills and having detailed visions of Very Old Kimli hunched over a TV Dinner at a nursing home, VPN’d into Hootsuite so I could answer help tickets about workflows and issue types. It was not Good Times.

I must have sacrificed exactly the correct number of chickens, because something fortuitous happened around the height of my despair: someone (who wasn’t a headhunter) contacted me about a tech writing opportunity (that wasn’t a 3-month contract in fucking Winnipeg). We chatted via email, video interviews were had, and on October 6th, I was officially offered the position of Documentation Engineer. I’ll be working for a US-based software company that specializes in high performance computing in the cloud, meaning I get to stay in tech (which is hugely important to me). Oh, and the job is 100% remote: it even says in my contract that I can work from anywhere. ANYWHERE. The world is included in ANYWHERE. I fully expect to pop up in random places around the world, engineering up some documentation for everything I can get my hands on.

I am beyond excited about this new opportunity. I will miss some awesome people at Hootsuite, but this is a massive leap forward in my career. I get to work from home with the cats and without pants. I get to write. And I’ve been promised there’s no JIRA administration involved, which might be the very best part of all.

Strap in, y’all. We’re heading back into space, and I can’t fucking wait.

they absolutely wear sweatshirts in space, shut up

they absolutely wear track jackets in space, shut up

wood panelled imposter wagon

I have an opportunity to speak on a panel, but my imposter syndrome has a raging boner at the thought of it.

There’s a business event coming to Vancouver in November, and the organizers have reached out to me via some co-workers to see if our company would be interested in participating. I made the executive decision of “ya, totes”, because I love things like this: the event is aimed at girls in grades 9-11 to introduce them to women in a variety of professional careers. Technology is just one of the areas the event will cover, and will feature a panel full of women from a few local tech houses.

I told the organizers that I’d be happy to help them find a panelist or two from our Product Development department, and asked if they were looking for junior, senior, or anything in between. There are a ton of awesome women I work with, and I provided some of the areas I thought might be of interest, including my own position. I mentioned that I’d volunteer myself if they were interested, but as an industry professional (and “professional” is used so loosely it’s falling down and I have to constantly hitch it back up or my bum will show) who took a non-traditional route to get where I am today, I didn’t think I’d quality.

I’m not being all coy about this – I seriously don’t think I’m qualified to talk to anyone about how to get where I am. For starters, I don’t know where I am. My title has nothing whatsoever to do with what I do on a day-to-day basis – I don’t actually even use it, because it’s so misleading. I didn’t go to university. College, sure, but then there’s my secret shame which I think is hilarious. Also, I’m short and fat and I dress funny. I have blue hair, speak in pop culture references, and can’t go three sentences without swearing up a storm. That’s just the surface, too – as far as my job goes, I don’t think I do anything particularly special. I just .. make things go. No one needs to hear about that.

To my surprise, the organizers emailed me back and said I’d be perfect for the technology panel. Wait, what? Why?

I’m not sure what to do here. On one hand, panel! That would be neat. And even though I’m terrified of kids, it amuses me to continually organize or participate in events aimed at them. But .. what if I end up on a panel that’s all “our panelists today are Lizbeth Genius, CEO of Amazing Technology; Susan Saviour, Director of Complicated Surgery at Adorable Anime-Eyed Orphans Inc.; Chloe Super Engineer, Lead Developer of Life Changing Widgets, and this weird fat girl who fucks around with JIRA and makes sure things are spelled properly.”? My ego doesn’t need that. They’ll probably all be wearing pantsuits, and I’ll show up in a Hello Kitty dress with a lunchbox for a purse. Hell, I’d probably have the reverse intended effect: after seeing me on a panel, girls will become disillusioned with the business world and start home businesses selling canned goods, or maybe join a MLM scheme. Oh, god. I’m going to be the end of the advancement of women in technology! I can’t possibly sit on this panel! Nobody wants to sell candles and costume jewellery out of their living rooms!

While it MAY be true that my imposter syndrome needs some drugs and a nap, I still think no one would be interested in what I have to say. I’d love to be able to say that I am inspiring and professional and encouraging, but .. well, all of the above. Any idiot could do what I do.

NOW I’M SAD.

 

groundhog day

He didn’t see his own shadow so much as a shadowy splotch on my x-ray, indicating that my foot is still fractured. I have at least another 4 weeks in this stupid boot, then another x-ray and checkup to see if I will be free. It’s already been 9 (!) weeks since I broke my foot; what’s another 4? My only consolation is that the weather has been very dank this summer, so I’m not missing out on any prime beach time (she says, like she’d ever go to a beach in the first place because there is sand and bugs and sunshine and OTHER PEOPLE and those things are awful).

Dank.

I did attend the “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” Lunch n’ Learn at my workplace last week. It was interesting-ish: we were sorted into groups based on the categories of the self-assessment, going where our lowest score was. My lowest score naturally came in “Look”, but went into the “Act” group. When asked why, I said that I thought the Look category was bullshit and that I had no plans to count my personal style as a workplace negative. That was fun.

I don’t know that the group exercise held much value for me, as we only had 10 minutes to discuss the common “mistakes” and suggestions for improvement among 11 people. Those who were the loudest had their topics of choice discussed, and while I’m sure I too suffer from varying degrees of wanting too much to be liked/not caring if I’m liked or not, it wasn’t my number one issue. I will likely pick up the book and read through the advice myself. To be honest, I’m not at all certain I WANT the corner office: I want to create and drive and learn and DO, not try to control it all.

A neat idea did come out of the talk, though. My co-worker Karen and I were talking after the session about the points that were discussed (we were in different groups), and our intern Kerri was drawn into the conversation. She had questions about the why of some things – why the coffee, why she shouldn’t always be the one to take notes – and something dawned on me: I learned these things after years of working in government and corporate jobs. No one ever sat me down and said “okay, here’s how to be adult woman: go”. So .. why *don’t* we? It’s so much easier to instil good habits than to try and break bad ones. I emailed a bunch of people, basically volunteering (it’s a bad habit I have) to lead a session with the new co-ops (or anyone else) each term that goes over stuff: how to be heard in meetings, how to communicate, how to make friends without becoming the team baker, what happens if you abuse Reply All, etc. Things that you aren’t specifically taught, but pick up after throwing a fit the first time you’re asked to serve coffee to all the men in the room or the 10th time you’re told to take meeting notes because you’re a girl and obviously all girls are secretaries. That sort of thing.

I don’t know if it’ll take off, but I’d love to do something like this (along with every other excellent idea I have that usually involves shaping terrifying young minds into my own image: boobs and purple hair for everyone).

JPEG image-3767ED3EE557-1

art via filter.

i made this and i'm stupidly proud of it so i'm posting it everywhere.

i made this and i’m stupidly proud of it so i’m posting it everywhere.

who run the world

GIRLS (as long as we’re dressed appropriately)

Tomorrow at work I’m attending a Lunch n’ Learn for women in the workplace, based on the book “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office“. It’s about the “unconscious mistakes” women make at work that sabotage our careers, which, okay. I get it. There are many women for whom this stuff isn’t second nature. There are women who are shy and unassuming yet still smart and ambitious and want that corner office. There are women who are actively denied raises and promotions because they are women, and that really sucks and must be changed. Millions of young women are entering the workforce, and a lot of the advice in this book are things you pick up after being in the workforce for a few years or more.

But.

The book was first released in 2004. In the grand scheme of someone’s career, 12 years is a very large chunk of time. What may have been seen as a corporate mistake in 2004 is a non-issue today, or at the very least seen through a very different lens. I’m sure that a lot of this book is still valid for “traditional” careers and positions, but as someone who works in tech and has been lucky enough to work with some awesome people who saw past my uterus, a lot of the advice given is baffling. There’s a self assessment worksheet we were asked to do, and some of the questions are making me downright angry:

  • 19. I’ve selected a hairstyle that is appropriate for my age and position.
  • 26. I take care to wear accessories that complement my clothing.
  • 40. I don’t apply lipstick or comb my hair in public.

Why. Why are these things. If someone writes a book for men and how to get ahead, are these questions included? Are ANY questions included beyond “Are you male?” “Are you white?” “Are you rich?” “Here’s your key to the executive bathroom!”

The book probably wasn’t written for women who work in tech, or in any industry where hair and accessories don’t matter. I know not everything can apply to my specific situation. It’s still off-putting, though – and I say this as someone who is actively trying for a promotion to Senior Wizard (my current title is simply “Wizard”, because I’m not the only one who has trouble defining what it is I do). I went about the inquiry in a way that the book doesn’t seem to cover: instead of coyly changing my behaviours to indicate to people that I am ready for more responsibility, I went to my boss and said “yo, promote me”. We had a meeting, talked it out, and now I have a list of direct actions I can take to get that promotion. And not a single item on that list includes “wear appropriate clothing” (thank god), “don’t put on lipstick at your desk”, or “girl you cannot pull off that necklace with that neckline, you are a walking DO NOT right now”.

I’m still attending the session because I’m sure there will be some good information, but I’m also curious to see if those specific things are talked about as valid or dismissed outright (or mentioned at all).

business.