Thursday, April 14 2022

slides, stress, and leftovers

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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everybody. How's your Thursday going so far?

I have a busy day today. I have meetings right out of the gate this morning, starting with a training session for five or six new hires. In full disclosure, I haven't had a chance to review my slides, and I'm hoping to fit some last minute cramming in between the time I make my bed, brush my teeth, and sit down at the computer. Even though it's a very rote talk I've given before, I think the content managers shortened things up. I guess that means I have less to study, but I still want to be aware of the changes. Plus, I think now I have to lead the final debriefing and answer questions about all three training sessions.

Have you ever had to jump into something without much time to plan? It reminds me of back in college when I showed up to my afternoon British Literature class and realized there was a test. We were supposed to memorize a poem. For forty minutes, while all the students around me furiously transcribed the poem from their memory, I just sat in my chair and stared at the wall. My teacher locked eyes on me and mouthed the words write down what you remember. Easy for him to say, but I had never even read the poem, let alone memorized it. I shrugged back at him, and despite my face turning beat red, I did my best to pretend that I was perfectly comfortable sitting there in looking like an absolute idiot.

All things considered, being caught unprepared in a school situation isn't so bad. You put up with looking stupid, take the bad grade, and move on. The work world is more complicated. If I show up to this training at 10 AM, sweat bullets, bumble incoherently through a slide deck that I've never seen, chances are nobody is going to have the gall to tell me I did a bad job - especially people beginning their first week at a new job. But I'd still have to internalize my own disappointment of wasting their time and making people more confused.

Marissa and I have been watching so many Impractical Jokers re-runs at night, it makes me think of the game they play where one or two of the guys has to give a presentation to an audience without looking at the slides ahead of time, and of course the slides are ridiculous. What if I opened up the new slide deck and saw notes like "How not to hug a coworker (demonstrate)" and "Snack break (hand out snacks)"?

All this fretting about my morning presentation, and I totally forgot about my coffee. Let's get this journal entry back on the rails. Ready? Go.

Sip. It's good to be here today. I hope you've enjoyed all the recap of the best weekend ever as much as I have. In truth, lingering on all the fun of eating pizza, ice skating, and watching hockey has taken my mind off the stressful week. Back in the real world, we're in between buying and selling a house. I'm on call at work. Miles and Rodney have also been getting under our skin.

Each time I took a walk downstairs to get more coffee or stretch my legs, I found Marissa doing a different type of stress-flavored activity. You can add stress to pretty much any activity. Stress-cleaning is a classic, and so is stress-eating. But we've learned you can stress-cook, stress-walk the dog, stress-play with kids, stress paint, and stress-fold clothes too.

It's hard to explain why we feel so stressed out right now. We have a buyer for our house, and we have an accepted offer on our next house - so what's the issue? Isn't the hard part over?

I think the timing of selling and moving feels so tenuous to me, and I have a hard time looking at the delicate chain of contracts and agreements without fearing someone in that chain might change their mind. Nobody has signed anything. One party hesitates, encounters a problem, or pulls out of the deal, and the whole thing blows up.

"What if we just get EVERYONE in a room and make a pact," we joked. "The people buying our house, the people selling us our new house, the people selling them their new house, the realtors, lenders, underwriters, inspectors, appraisers, and landlords. Make them all pinky swear to just stick to the plan."

In case you can't tell, I don't handle risk very well. I'm not a gambler. I like clarity and fairness. It just feels so insane to me that buying a house - something everyone needs to do - feels so risky and complicated. If we ever had a chance to just redesign the housing market from scratch, I'd really love to leave that responsibility to a bunch of five year olds. I picture asking Rodney's kindergarten class, "Hey - we've got a bunch of houses, and some people need a place to live. What should we do?"

Maybe I'll test that out with Rodney later. I'll give you his thoughts on the subject once I get a chance to ask him.

These days I look forward to lunch, especially when we have good leftovers in the fridge. Yesterday's lunch was an encore of Beef Stroganoff. I made some changes to the recipe. I browned the steak in the pan before cooking down the mushrooms and the onions, and I sprinkled the mix with wondra to thicken the sauce.


Today, somewhere in the middle of meetings, slides, and slack threads, I'm going to sit down on the couch with some leftover steak fajitas. They were good for dinner, but I'm sure a whole night in the fridge made the sauce even more velvety and magical.

That's what I got today. I need to head upstairs and study some slides. Hope you have a wonderful Thursday.