During my first call of the day I heard what I thought was a motorcycle outside (or at least a moped), but it actually turned out to be my new best friend, Giant Bee!

He has been falling out of the skylights quite a bit and landed in my hair only once (I forgive him!!), and Stark is hunting him, so I may have to figure out a way to take him outside.

I also have no idea where he came from. I’m in the attic and there aren’t any open windows. He just appeared, fully formed. So he’s probably a sign, sent from Our Lady, Carrie Fisher (or Bea Arthur). Now to figure out what it all means. 🤔🐝

Eleanor’s poetry

Eleanor writes and recites poetry a lot lately, and if you’ve been following along she’s quite good. She remembers ones she writes at school and will recite them when we get home.

This one she dashed off this evening.

I look at you, and you wink at me.

Flying high in the sky so very free!

Finding you in the constellations,

Gathered up in twinkly stations!

Up so high in the black sky,

You have the fun power to fly!

How I wish I could join you,

Coming out in the sky so blue!

Performance Evaluation Time

Hi Darth, hi, yep, come on in and sit down. Do you go by Darth, or Anaki… oh, it’s Lord? Vader? Ok. No, that’s fine. Is that an ancestral landholding, or … oh it’s just something Palpatine said? Ok. Yeah, haha, we don’t argue with him, huh? Haha, anyway, let’s get started.

I’ve been pulling together feedback from your peers and … what’s that? You don’t recognize anyone as your peer? Let’s come back to that in a moment, it sort of relates to some feedback I’ve gotten. Uh, well, let’s assume that the feedback I’ve gotten is legitimate. No, no one else is a self-styled lord. At the risk of exposing people’s anonymity, I feel compelled to tell you that it’s a collection of station commanders, moffs, grand moffs, admirals, generals, and so on. I don’t think, if he were still alive, Wilhuff would appreciate being called a fool, and besides, that’s really neither here nor there; we’re talking about your performance today.

So the peer … ok, fine, the feedback from others within the organization that I’ve gotten is quite mixed, frankly. People do tend to appreciate that you are decisive and that you roll up your sleeves and get things done! You have a specific vision for the future, and you really are consistent when communicating that vision to others. That’s a great thing in a manager, ah right um, in a lord. All hands on the same laser button, and all that! Broadly, you’re pretty popular among the clone troops. That could relate back to your history working on the front lines with them, um, before the big messy time. Whatever the reason, it’s a definite plus. It’s really among management where the feedback, no I am going to insist on calling it feedback not “incorrect opinions,” I really must insist. Anyway, the feedback from the people in mid-to-upper management is really quite mixed.

The folks who don’t need to wear armor to work everyday can sometimes feel very threatened by you. Well, I think it’s a direct result of you occasionally (and unpredictably) using the Force to strangle people. No, I am not suggested that if you do it on a predictable schedule that people will like you more. If anything, that will turn more people against you, popularity-wise. You’re really only hurting yourself, haha excuse the pun, because when you lash out like that, the officers don’t want to follow your vision.

Another thing that’s come up a lot is your insistence on bringing your religion to work. It’s not so much that you practice your religion at work, that would be ok, it’s really how you go about using it as a weapon. Ah, yes, uh, yes, like this. Please put me down, yes, right now. Ahem. I’m reluctant to do so, but I have to continue in the same vein briefly. Some of the officers found it disappointing that you refused to attend the vigil for the people we lost on the Death Star; it didn’t seem to be an issue with religious conflict so much as … spite. Some questions have arisen around you being the sole survivor, and your convenient decision to board a TIE fighter minutes before the explosion, though I assure you it doesn’t feel convenient for me in this moment, haha. Further, no you’re doing it again, yes I can feel you constricting my airway, please stop. Yep, that’s…yes, better. Ahem, so. Further, I know some people have been talking about the fact that your son was the one who blew up our little station, and they’re drawing a pretty damning line to the fact that you are the sole survivor… you can see how people would talk. NO I WILL NOT TELL YOU WHO PUT ME DOWN. DOWN NOW!

Let’s move on from the peer feedback, we’ve got kind of a lot to get through and I’d like to live to see tomorrow, haha. No, no, just a little joke. Let’s look at the impact your work has had on our organization. The whole Hoth invasion seems like it was poorly conceived. I take no pleasure in telling you that some people are calling it a fiasco. The cost of having the clone snowtrooper outfits manufactured was astronomical, haha, a little space joke, but seriously, it was really expensive. It was way, way outside of budget. Did you get the memo from accounting about any expenditures over 250,000 units? It would probably save us all a lot of grief if you would read those, actually. They’re not peons, they’re financial experts, with experience maintaining a budget for a multi-system empire. Anyway, the snowtrooper helmets alone came in at a whopping 16 billion — with a b — units. Yes, I do see that you highlighted the cost savings we reap for having every clone have the exact same measurements. You know we’re going to have to start bringing in non-clones for trooper work, right? It’s sort of an administrative nightmare, but needs must. So we sunk a lot into the costuming and dare I say theatre? of the Hoth invasion OK OK SORRY THEATRE WAS A POOR CHOICE. Ahem. We put in a lot of money and had to move quite a lot of equipment to Hoth, and frankly, most of it was destroyed. And again, I truly regret having to mention this again, but your son once again escaped with his entire organization. It feels sometimes that your heart isn’t really in recruiting him to our team. AGHHHH MGHHF. You really need to control yourself!

One last thing to get through here and we can both walk away whole, haha, no I really am nervous actually. It’s the deal with Lando Calrissian, and the bounty hunter contracts you put through. I don’t think you’ve taken into account the new process we have for these. We would like you to have HR run a background check on anyone from the outer rim, just as a matter of procedure. Historically, the type of people who come from the outer rim just aren’t reliable. NOT YOU, THAT WASN’T A VEILED INSULT, OH GOD PUT ME DOWN! Ahem. So, ahem. Uh, anyway, that isn’t my opinion, that’s a statistical fact PUT YOUR HAND DOWN, I SEE WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Just please loop HR in on any bounty hunter contracts going forward, as a courtesy. Uh and about the Calrissian deal, it’s not really structurally sound? Yeah, so I think what we’d like to see is if you could go back to him and renegotiate? We tend to like deals where we get everything and the other party doesn’t get anything at the end. I mean, let them live! Of course, haha, we’re not monsters.

Um, well, that’s about it. I have kind of a lot more, haha, but I can see there’s really no point in dredging through this, and I have 6 more reviews to give today. They won’t get done if I die mysteriously! Haha, no I want to live, thank you.

Geometric sketch

I really love geometric shapes and repeating patterns that are complicated but simple (I have a hard to adequately explaining this). Arabic tiling is especially inspiring, and if you examine these ancient world tile and mosque decorations from across Africa and the Middle East, there’s this breathtaking range of beauty. Some patterns are very simple, and some of so complex they absolutely boggle the mind. Much of the heritage of these patterns (not always, not universally) revolves around religious restriction — depictions of likenesses being forbidden, so these patterns were intended to honor the glory of god.

While I don’t carry over the religious sentiment, I do find these patterns to be humbling in themselves. I’m in awe of the generations of craftspeople and artists and artisans who developed these patterns and passed them down over the centuries.

There’s something utterly soothing about doing something complicated, cleaning it up, and then doing it again. And again, and again. It keeps the brain occupied enough, but also lets you float away. It’s therapeutic.

Compulsive reflection

I can’t stop looking back. I have so much regret for this past year, and while there have been positives I can unequivocally state that this year has been the worst year of my life so far (and hopefully ever).

It’s not like there’s even anything juicy to reveal! This is the most garden variety unhappiness.

I am happy, and I’m a typically happy person (with depression and anxiety). But the past year has had more anger, sadness, panic, and hopelessness than not.

I feel that life this past year has been an unceasing exercise in control, and if I lose control in one place, it rapidly compounds to an unmanageable space. Tolerances are nil. Here’s a dumb, relatable example: I have to either constantly do the dishes (like, many times a day) and be very aware of the dishes situation and on top of the dishes situation, or the entire sink is chock full of dirty dishes and a child will be drinking out of a bowl and another will be using a straw to cut up a banana. That quickly escalates to the entire island countertop being piled sky high and the garbage overflowing. Things all over the floor. Crumbs everywhere. Have you ever finally dropped into bed and some child has left crumbs for you? That, but everywhere. And my “job” isn’t to do the dishes. It’s to do my actual, paying job, and also be a parent, and take care of household chores/general household management, and be a partner to my husband. When one piece falls out of place, all of a sudden I’m a shrill harridan because mess and disorder triggers my anxiety, and I’m not a good parent, and I’m not a good partner. The dishes aren’t done and messes are piling up, and the kids start squabbling, and I’m screaming, and then I have to sit down and work.

I’m lucky, because my schedule has settled down a lot in the last month. I haven’t yearned for “the old days” but I have had an absolutely desperate need for stability. I have a ton of stability right now, and it’s only going to get better. Sure, in the back of my mind, I’m always waiting for the other shoe to drop — the call from school or daycare that someone needs to be picked up, or that everything is shut down for COVID-19. But for the most part, life is returning to predictable. I’m able to enjoy time with my family again. I can think about how the past year has impacted my kids without feeling a black tide of panic welling up. I feel it’s something I can logically and compassionately consider and work on with them and with Bob. I wasn’t sure we’d get to this point.

Have I mentioned the laundry? I’ve given up, and it’s a constant itch between my shoulder blades, knowing it’s there. Waiting.

This past year brought with it a milestone I didn’t anticipate at work. I considered quitting, for the first time ever. Often. I resented feeling that way, because I love working, and I love the work I’ve been entrusted to do. I felt it was stupid to consider removing the thing that I felt the best about, but I also couldn’t quit life, which was a whole layer of confusion and upset on top of everything. And work itself was stressful for me, personally. I changed roles and divisions, learned a whole new job, helped launch a new division, and shepherded my team through changing a fundamental aspect to how we hire Happiness Engineers. I cried a lot. I never cry about work. I’ve never felt more unfit and generally disappointed in myself. But I am also very excited about the work my team is doing, and I’m proud to be part of it. And I feel that I’ve done a very good job! I think feeling like a duck out of water and being uncomfortable and growing through and out of that feeling is essential to overall growth. The toll, however, has been significant this year.

Maybe this is what slowly pulling back up from burn out feels like. Things hurt, it’s all very tender, the memories are painful almost beyond bearing, but… there’s something new there. Where before there was nothing, or rending, or a sort of emotional dismemberment, now there’s something fresh, delicate, new. I don’t know what. Spring, I suppose. Certainly warmth and longer days are helping. I know there’s a lot ahead of us, individually, but also as a country of people. I am starting to feel like I have my own oxygen mask on and can have capacity to help others with their oxygen masks — I haven’t felt like my own (metaphorical) mask has been in place for a long, long time. I’ve felt deprived of something essential, struggling without much hope of improvement. But I’ve had Bob who has been helping me with that metaphorical mask, and that has made every bit of difference. There are fewer days when I have to chant under my breath “no one is going to die” until I calm down. Far fewer.

Every day, a little less bad, a little more good.