Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The art of candy making

Ever made candy? Like fudge, toffee or peanut brittle? I mean the old fashioned way, where you need a candy thermometer and a glass of cold water to test the stages of the candy?

Making candy this way generally involves a lot of constant stirring and monitoring the temperature very carefully. If it gets too high for too long, it's easy to ruin the candy. The mixture gets more and more brittle the longer it's over high heat. I can tell you, for instance, that when I make English Toffee, it requires boiling for 13 minutes at a particular temperature and constant stirring. If you do it right, it's wonderful. If you don't, it's awful.

Anyway, the point is that today was a day in which I realized how delicate a balance I'm trying to maintain right now. I'm very stressed out this week. Multiple deadlines have hit at the same time, and if I could just have some time I could get caught up and get this stuff done. But there is no time. I've been hither and yon and it's exceptionally frustrating to balance the crisis of the day with the regular work that needs be done. Even more so when I am balancing what used to done by 2 people on a full-time basis, and even more yet when I am learning as I go.

Every day is an improvement, and I mean that seriously. I feel far better than when I started. Less like I'm going to fuck it all up. But I likewise know this isn't my best work. Oh, don't get me wrong, I can look myself in the mirror and tell myself honestly that I've done the best I could, but it's definitely the best I could in these circumstances, and not the best I'm capable of doing. Because, well, I'm only one person and there are only so many hours in the week. If I were performing in this way and that one department was all I was doing, it would not be good enough. Since it's not all I'm doing, I'm doing the best I can.

But I want it to be the best possible. It's terribly draining. More draining is that we're all in this boat. I'm in no way unique in my unit or hell, in the world. Do more with less. Make it work. You know? So I'm trying, we're all trying, and we're all feeling frazzled, defensive and acutely aware that nothing is quite turning out as we'd wish.

Too much time spent over heat that's too high, too much (or not enough) stirring, who knows? All I can say is that the pressure is getting to be too much.

I got 'yelled' at today - oh, not literally. This person doesn't raise their voice. But called out, taken to task, whatever. In front of others. And you know what? It wasn't totally uncalled for. It mostly was - another department fucked up. And I can't control that. And I ought to have followed up more quickly than I did. But I didn't. Because I'm swamped. And it was all I could do not to cry. I mean, tears in my eyes, burning throat and everything.

I took a moment to gather myself and to blink, and I wrote to Dh that "I felt like I was going to snap, I was stretched so thin and felt so brittle." And I've been close all week.

The balance is off. I have thought since Monday that if I could only just get more time to work at night/at home, I could get caught up and be ok. But last night, I was locked out. I tried to connect remotely, but it didn't work because my computer went into sleep mode and locked down. How that happened, when I was able to remote in all weekend is beyond me. DH told me to take it as a sign that I needed a break - something echoed by my supervisor today when I apologized for not getting more done.

And again tonight - I brought everything home to work, only to find that the internet was out for us. A problem with our broadband connection. This time, instead of fretting for three hours, and alternating between stress and relief and frustration, I shrugged and hopped on Aunt Beast. 20 minutes. Awesome. It's shameful how hard that is, but I did it.

And of course, right before I get ready to go to bed after a bit of fluffy writing, I see that the internet connection appears to be restored. And so it is.

You think it's a sign that I need to work harder at the balance? I'm both amused and exasperated, but either way I'm taking the hint. Off to bed for me, and a massive push tomorrow.


1 comment:

B said...

good luck with tomorrow!

noone should ever call you out on anything in public, deserved or not. it's out of order. i would have been upset even if i wasn't already really exhausted.