One year ago today I lost my sweet baby girl, Minerva, to cancer. She had been in more pain than I realized and I knew it was the right thing, but I still cried for hours when she passed in my arms and just the thought of her still makes me tear up. I now have two felines running around the house that give me love and make me laugh, but they haven't filled the hole she left behind. I am missing my Mouse today.
We are nearing the end of the U.S. government's federal fiscal year, which means I have been working stupid crazy hours trying to meet an impossible quota just to keep a job that makes me miserable half the time because of how demanding it is. It is a noble mission -- serving veterans -- and it pays the bills. But it has done a number on my physical health, which is saying something for a desk job, and on my mental health. The working conditions of the job have changed sufficiently in the seven years that I have been there that a workable quota has become virtually unachievable. In fact, the powers that be have been hearing for at least 3 years that it is nigh impossible, but this year, as we reached 85%+ digital cases vs paper cases, even the people most attached to the quota system had to face the obvious. After all, it appeared that about 3/4 of the attorneys would not be able to meet the bare minimum (and by bare minimum, I mean 100% of goal, which is what is required not to be marked "unsatisfactory" on your performance review -- and you have to be about 120% to be considered for "bonus"). So they lowered the requirement by 10%. I achieved that goal on Friday, after putting in about 4 weeks of 60+ hours minimum.
They have unveiled a new system for the next fiscal year which appears to be more humane, although it is a work in progress. For starters, I will be able to say I have completed work on a case when I complete work on a case -- not when the person who comes after me and is receiving the work products of 6-10 people in addition to holding hearings gets around to reviewing the work and deciding it was good enough. And there will not be a numerical quota, only a time frame in which each work product should be completed, graded for complexity and size of file. But, as I said, it is a work in progress, so it still makes me nervous about how I will be able to fulfill what is expected of me.
And then there is the biggie that is hanging over my head -- surgery on October 14th. The switch at work from paper files to digital files has changed the job from 25% of the time on the computer during the writing of cases and checking of email to 99% of the time spent on computer reading documents all day long and then writing. My strabismus, which was never surgically corrected as a child because it was mild, has been aggravated by the extra demands placed on my eyes. I got fancy prism lens glasses ($1000) and had some relief, but my eyes are still not working correctly. In a few weeks I will have surgery that will shorten the muscles on the inside of my left eye to make it focus on the same thing as my right eye. If it works the way it is supposed to, all will be for the best in the best of all possible worlds. But . . . Reading is my life. It's how I make my living, but I am not worried about that. It's my life. I have been alternating between reading nonstop in case I can never read again (minuscule chance) and then not reading because if I read like I will not be able to then maybe I will alter the universe and I won't be able to, but if I am confident that all will go well, then all will go well. Magical thinking + indecision + hedging your bets = INSANITY. My friends have all offered to provide whatever assistance I need and my sister-in-law will come and stay with me for a week after surgery. But I know I will not be able to read for any length of time for a few days even if all goes perfectly. And if something goes wrong . . . Anyone good at reading aloud to cranky people?