Thursday, October 05, 2017

COLUMN: Stress

My right eyelid is twitching. Is that a bad thing? I'm a little stressed out... or maybe just a little over-caffeinated. In reality, I think it's a delightful combination of the two.

I wear a lot of hats in life. If you're a regular reader of my column, you know that in addition to writing this weekly confessional, I also spend my weekends DJing at area nightclubs. But if you REALLY know me well, you might also know that this column isn't my only job here at the paper -- the majority of my day is spent in our advertising department, working to bring you the area's best classified section. (We have the awards to prove it, too!) Today, though, I might have tried on one or two hats too many.

My day already started out pretty lousy -- remember a couple weeks back when I revealed that one of my cats was recently prescribed home IV fluids to fight kidney failure? Well, as it turns out, the cat is not a big fan of IV Therapy: The Home Game. Last night, she wouldn't let me come anywhere near her with a needle (possibly because I'm more scared of needles than she is, so we make a great pair.) I had no choice but to get up early today and take her into the vet to have them administer the fluids.

What I didn't know was that my vet sponsors ONE day when a traveling specialist visits to perform some kind of cutting-edge non-invasive doggie tooth cleaning -- and guess which day it was. I walked in to a crowd of over-anxious yip dogs and their over-protective owners, none of which helped the mood of my already displeased cat. By the time I finally got her loaded with fluids and back home, I had precious little time to get to the office -- which, of course, was the cue for every little old lady, rickety semi truck, and slow-moving construction vehicle in town to pull out directly in front of me. I was stressed before I even GOT to work.

Our newspaper office is a hectic and ever-changing world that constantly produces new challenges and keeps us on our toes. On the whole, though, it's a fairly well-oiled machine. We've got a fantastic product to offer the world, and everyone does their part to ensure that our daily miracle makes its way to your doorstep every morning. If one of us goes on vacation, someone else steps up and takes care of their duties for the week. For instance, in my neck of the department, I have two colleagues whose work I cover whenever they're gone.

But this week, thanks to a perfect storm of Memorial Day vacations, they're BOTH gone. For the most part, Team Classifieds this week has consisted of one advertising assistant and yours truly, trying my hardest to bend time and space in an ill-advised attempt to be three people at once.

Some folks enjoy multi-tasking. Not me. I can do it when forced, but the OCD part of my brain greatly prefers when my tasks form a nice, orderly line with no pushing or shoving. But in the fast-paced, hustle-bustle, white knuckle thrill ride of print advertising, one-at-a-time tasks are something of a pipe dream.

After being in this game for half my life now, I'd like to think I know my way around the office a bit. But when you have to cover duties you're not used to, there's nothing worse than feeling your brain downshift into first gear as you work your way through unfamiliar projects at a slow pace. I knew this week would be a challenge, so I came prepped with two important coping tools:

(1) Coffee, and lots of it. Usually I arrive to work with one of those cold cappuccino drinks that's basically coffee-flavored chocolate milk. This week the cappuccino stayed at home. This week called for high-test premium unleaded, folks. Brazilian roast, black as midnight on a moonless night, as venti as they make them. I may as well have just poured pure caffeine into my cat's IV drip and hooked myself up.

(2) Music, and lots of it. To the benefit of my co-workers, I usually keep workplace tunes to a minimum. But since everybody's out vacating, I've been reserving the right to respectfully rock out at my desk. Shh, don't tell, but I've been quietly sneaking in my satellite radio every day. Music helps me focus. Except for the new wave channel, which, as it turns out, makes me rock out a little TOO hard. I needed to find a genre I could enjoy yet ignore. Something familiar yet not so familiar that I start reminiscing, crying, and phoning up old high school girlfriends. This explains why I've been sitting at my desk listening to the 70s disco channel all week. You can laugh all you want, but I will survive and I'm stayin' ali-i-i-i-ive.

If I make it through the week with no worse maladies than a twitchy eyelid and "Y.M.C.A." stuck in my head, I'm calling it a win. Pretty soon it'll be MY turn to go on vacation. Just wait til my co-workers learn their job duties that week will include writing an original column, stabbing a cat in the neck, and spinning records at a dance club til 3 a.m. Mark my words, eyelids will twitch.

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