I awoke a few days ago to a project list longer than any I’ve had since before JPFO got sold off to Gottlieb.
I’d been feeling pressured for weeks — very busy, very committed, but as if nothing was coming together. Before May, things had been going great. Couldn’t have been better. Since the end of April there’d been bad news and a few hints of good news on the earning-a-living front. But bottom line, I’ve been working hard and getting nowhere.
Sure enough. I put all the project descriptions down on pixels, then looked at that to-do list. Over half the items were strictly volunteer work — dear to my heart but not buying the groceries. One other item was intriguing, but so long-term and so speculative it was more like a fantasy of work than work itself. It was going to require a lot of discussion and looking into and might never come to fruition.
The rest of the items were real, but not likely to provide puppy kibble for quite a while. They’d take research and time to develop, then time to write, and more time to get paid for, always with the chance they’d be rejected.
There was only one, single, active, committed project on the list. It was the one that should soon have begun bringing in money. And it was bogged down. I was having a hard time getting answers to questions. When I got them, I’d discover the project had mysteriously changed its nature since the last discussion, prompting more questions. It was growing in complexity as it morphed. (And — sigh — I’d agreed to accept a flat fee because the work had initially seemed so straightforward.)
After a month I was still closer to the project’s beginning than its end. Then I got an email from the client and discovered I was going to have to move backwards yet another step or three before making any actual, you know, progress.
I … erm, reacted. Then I shut down.
I turned off the computer. I turned off my brain.
I said, “This isn’t how I want to work. This isn’t how I want to live.” I said, “I will take two days and crawl into a cave and I will think this mess through and I will solve this.”
I haven’t been back online or checked email since. Except for a brief stop outside the closed library to post this via their wifi, I don’t intend to until I’ve figured out where I need to go next.
It’s been two days and I haven’t solved the problem. The mess is still a mess. I’ve barely been able to sustain an organized, rational thought about it. Mostly I’ve read trashy detective novels, taken long walks, and indulged in large quantities of strawberry shortcake and bacon while fighting overwhelming urges to nap.
But it’s one of those cases where the unconscious is at work even when the conscious mind goes into a state of gibbering uselessness.
Though my head is still absent, The Gut has spoken loudly.
Unfortunately The Gut is great at providing general directions, lousy at offering specific action plans. But those will come.
Such sudden upsets and unwanted changes of course happen. All the time. To everybody once in a while. You’ve had ’em; I know you have and I know some of you have had them Big Time. Despite the greatest commitment to stability, despite the proverbial “best-laid plans,” despite the greatest diligence (none of which I can be accused of), they happen.
Then you buck up, try to get started again — and get knocked on your tailbone. Again. And that’s when you know it’s time to do something more than just dusting your butt off and continuing down the same path. That second time.
After the initial hours or days of despair, outrage, or head-bangery, there is simply nothing for it except to consider them wake-up calls. Opportunities. Gifts from The Universe.
And (cuss-damnit!) to be grateful for them.
I’ve heard people say that a diagnosis of cancer or being the victim of an unthinkable natural catastrophe was “a great gift” in their lives. Because of the new wisdom or perspective it gave them. Or the new love it brought them. Or the way it set them on a life course they never would have attempted had they remained healthy, intact, and complacent.
I always boggle at that. Can’t even imagine. I’ve never been given such a “gift” and fates willing, I’ll happily do without, thank you very much. Go give such “gifts” to … oh, any random politician you choose, Dear Universe.
But these smaller “gifts” have always proven useful. In the end.
No idea where or what the end will be in this case. Yet. Hate that part.
As usual, I think you are much too hard on yourself. 🙂 I know you will come through with flying colors eventually. And I suspect you won’t be accepting a “flat rate” again soon. I’ve done that, and usually regretted it too.
Hang in there… this too shall pass.
If that list of projects includes the stuff we discussed, remember that most of them weren’t even projects: just blue-skying, brainstorming; concepts to maybe consider way down the road. Now ain’t the time to put ’em on the To-Do list.
Best of luck getting it all sorted out.
It was growing in complexity as it morphed. (And — sigh — I’d agreed to accept a flat fee because the work had initially seemed so straightforward.)
When I lived in the auditor world, this was called “scope creep”. Claire, if you were a house painter, and you agreed to paint a bedroom for a set fee, it would be completely reasonable and you’d certainly expect to be paid more if the client now wanted you paint the living room and kitchen too.
Strawberry shortcake and bacon. I’ll have to try that when life is a steady diet of hanging curve balls. A big part of winning is just showing up everyday with your game face on so hang in there.
“Unfortunately The Gut is great at providing general directions, lousy at offering specific action plans. But those will come.”
Amen. But that’s what your brain is for. And sometimes your heart.
A big part of winning is just showing up everyday with your game face on
“Game face? We don’t need no game face. We has a big floppyhat!”
strawberry shortcake and bacon
Sorry; curiosity running rampant. Same meal? Same bowl?
I get yens for vanilla ice cream or tortilla chips, but not at the same time. Well, and oranges; but I get those cravings in winter before everyone else gets a cold, so I know they’re about vitamin C.
Scope creep – how well I knew it.
I used to write technical training programs for the American big three auto makers, and in this one company where I worked my department consistently operated in the red. I got hauled on the carpet for this one too many times, and worked up a spreadsheet proving with numbers that my department could be the profit leader if only we would entirely stop doing business with Chrysler Corporation. At the beginning of every project I would submit a throughput plan, timeline and (flat rate, of course) budget, they would approve it, and then only I was held to it. They considered a first draft a good point at which to decide what they really wanted in a document, and it is not possible to make a profit working with a customer like that.
My management was not amused by my suggestion that we dump Chrysler, because “you can’t just do that.” Nobody ever gave me a good reason why not, and not long afterward I dumped that company.
“Scope creep!” Oh, yes indeed. Good term for it. And I knew I’d be far from alone in experiencing it. Actually, I never minded it all that much when hourly pay was involved. Well, I did mind it sometimes, but it sure helped to be compensated for the head-spinning time. It’s the flat fee that was the killer.
I just came back online and learned the client has decided to take at least the first part of the project in-house, which is probably the best possible idea.
As to bacon and strawberry shortcake. Same meal (or different meals; there are no rules when comfort-eating). Definitely not the same bowl. Eew. OTOH, bacon does go with everything …
Ah, bacon… In 1987 I traveled across parts of Canada with friends, and got totally spoiled eating Canadian Bacon. The typical American strip sort is delicious, of course, but I can’t digest much fat and so almost never eat it. Used to make a BLT sandwich sometimes, but I can’t digest lettuce any more either.
This getting old crap is a PITA… 🙂
I could live on strawberries, but I prefer mine plain, though I have made a yogurt smoothie when I have enough of them. So, the idea of strawberries and bacon together was a bit of a shock!! LOL Glad you cleared that up.
Dang it! We need a better universe.
As far as scope creep is concerned, that’s a perfectly fine reason to stop and say it’s time to renegotiate. Now that they’ve decided to take the 1st part in-house, they’ve effectively reneged anyways. Of course, income. Sure hope something better comes through quickly.
I’d definitely eat strawberry shortcake and bacon. Yeah, I’d even put them on the same plate. Sounds quite good to me. It’s been years since I’ve had shortcake. But why stop there? How about
Strawberry Shortcake French Toast With Bacon, Strawberry, Honey, and Roasted Peanut Topping? I’ve never made french toast with english muffins. I mean, how’s that work, anyway? But topping regular french toast with strawberries and whipped cream? I can see that. With bacon on the side, of course. I also found a recipe using bacon bits in the shortcake. Because bacon.
“Now that they’ve decided to take the 1st part in-house, they’ve effectively reneged anyways.”
No, no, no. They offered to pay me for time spent. And though I refused that (yeah, don’t ask), they were more than ready to make things right.
I just found that that particular project was more a signal to me than a “thing” in and of itself.
“But that’s what your brain is for.”
Buh…buh…but what happens if you don’t HAVE a brain??? 😉
Maybe it’s the yield curve that’s sending signals.
Or Worm Holes. Could be you’re aligned with the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory. That would seem pretty obvious though. Smile.
“Strawberry Shortcake French Toast With Bacon, Strawberry, Honey, and Roasted Peanut Topping?”
Holy cr*p. And then all that with bacon in the shortcake?
Yes. Because bacon. Pretty good reason for many things.
Strawberry Shortcake and … Bacon.
OK I’m back … I needed a napkin for my (drip) silly mouth that won’t (drip) stop drooling.
Jed you can cook at my place any time you want. The key is under the potted plant. Wait did I say that out loud?
I have a client that is a regular (I do yard work these days) and he was famous for scope creep. I finally solved that for him by adding additional hours to the “contract” at exactly the same time as he added the additional items.
“him= And mow that little strip by the driveway. Me= Sure that’s another hour to the contract.”
I wasn’t refusing but he caught the gist pretty quick.
Sadly I took a while to realize that that was a trademark of his.
I only got stung twice but I realized that I had allowed it so … I had to correct the situation.
We still get along fine and he doesn’t scope creep me any more. He renegotiates as we go along.
“No idea where or what the end will be in this case. Yet. Hate that part.”
I always try to remind myself that “This too shall pass.” Sometimes. It. Works. ( rolls eyes )
Did somebody say BACON?
Here’s a place to get a Bacon Explosion!
All different kiinds of Bacon Products.
Have some Bacon coffee.
After snacking on all the Bacon snacks, how about washing them down with some Bacon Soda? No, I’m not kidding.
Around these parts we refer to it as “life-giving bacon.”
“It was growing in complexity as it morphed. (And — sigh — I’d agreed to accept a flat fee because the work had initially seemed so straightforward.)”
“Our original agreement was for me to do A. This project has now changed enough that it can no longer be considered A, therefore it is time to renegotiate my fee. If you wish for me to continue my part in this project, I will be charging $X.XX per ___, with an added fee of $Y.YY for every change added afterward. If you have any questions or concerns about my terms, please let me know.”
New to the Northwet, we’re just learning that bacon out here is like Frank’s Hot Sauce back east,”Put that sh@t on everything!”
“Our original agreement was for me to do A. …”
Absolutely. That’s sort of what I said. Only more emotionally: pay me by the hour or let me hand the job off to somebody else and just pay me for the time I’ve put in.
When they pulled the job in-house, they offered to pay for the time spent. At that point, having re-thought many things, I declined. They just told me this morning that they’re paying me for my time, anyhow. Pretty decent, I thought.
“New to the Northwet, we’re just learning that bacon out here is like Frank’s Hot Sauce back east,”Put that sh@t on everything!””
You mean they don’t put bacon on everything back east??? Another reason not to move to New Jersey.*
* Not that any additional reasons are needed.
Oh no, it’s special order and $1.25 a rasher.
I lived 55 years without ever contemplating that such a thing as a bacon donut even existed, let alone that such a creation would be prominently displayed for my temptation every day in every donut kiosk I walk by.
Six months ago, bacon strawberry shortcake would have sounded strange to me. Now, I wonder if you wrap it in bacon like a scallop, crumble it in like an omelet, or sprinkle on top like a salad
Which reminds me, I was going to ask you, “Is this how it works?”
I realize that’s at odds with Hemmingway.
And, he left out the bacon part.
Jed – Here’s the bacon part.
Jed – Here’s the bacon part.