Category Archives: Stress

A Brief Rant About Ophthalmology

I have had glasses since I was in the second grade. While poor eyesight runs in my family, I have always wondered if my habit of staying up until two o’clock in the morning reading by flashlight under the covers did anything to add to the rapid decline of my sight. Currently, I’m at a solid -4.75, which, in prescription terms, means I have a tough time seeing just about anything.

Being a naturally indecisive person, going to the eye doctor has always been stressful for me. I sit down in that chair, successfully (usually) refrain from telling my doctor to ‘use the Force’ and ‘let go’ when he puts Luke Skywalker’s trench run¬†targeting computer in front of my face, and then proceed to sweat profusely as he asks me over and over whether two absolutely identical lenses make my eyesight better or worse.

Ok, here’s the thing. I’m dumb. I don’t know anything about eyes. That’s why he’s the doctor and I’m the idiot in the chair making Star Wars references. Why is he asking me about what’s good for my eyes? For all I know, I could be saying the complete wrong thing and unwittingly propelling myself down the path to blindness by age 30. Shouldn’t there be some kind of tool that measures the size and shape of my eyeball, or a machine that can detect the health and number of the magical all-seeing tubers that wriggle around in the back of my head? Why do I feel like I’m doing all the work here, sitting the most important exam of my life?

Then, a week later (after agonizing over the size, shape and color of a new pair of frames for approximately two hours and then choosing the pair that looks exactly like my old ones), I pick up my new glasses and the nice lady working there asks me if they ‘fit’. If they ‘feel good’. Lady, I don’t know a damn thing about fitting glasses. What is it supposed to feel like? I guess it feels alright. Until the next day when I’m at work staring at a computer screen for 8 hours and there are deep red marks on my nose and a bruise behind my ear. I’ve been back twice since last Monday, and I’m still not sure they fit ok. Who has time for this shit? Why aren’t they taking measurements, like a tailor, or making a mold of my face, like a dentist does my teeth, and forming frames that exactly fit the shape of my oddly proportioned, non-symmetrical head?

All I’m saying is, it’s almost 2013. Shouldn’t there be a better way for doctors to do this than them having to rely on my fool self? It’s gotta be as frustrating for them as it is for me (case in point: my doctor shows me two lenses and asks me to pick which one is better. When I respond ‘number 2’, he says ‘….really….?’ in a very skeptical voice.) There must be a way to innovate this process so that the guesswork is removed, and I don’t lie awake at night, wondering if I really ought to have gone with option number one.

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Filed under General, Life, Stress, Thoughts

Moving Away, New Adventures, and Potential Failure

As promised in an earlier post, it’s time for a rousing game of “Where Will Hannah Be Living In Six Months!”

Will it be:

A. Western Massachusetts

B. The Boston area

C. Montreal, Quebec

D. Austin, Texas

E. Seattle, Washington

F. Madison, Wisconsin

G. Somewhere in North Carolina

H. Vancouver, Canada

I. Los Angeles, California

J. San Francisco, California

K. Frankfurt, Germany

L. Somewhere in Poland

M. Burlington, Vermont

N. Some other, as yet undiscovered location.

O. Any of the above

If you answered, ‘O’, congratulations, you’re right! For those who are unaware, I will be moving to some sort of new location at the end of October, and I am very excited/nervous about it. Brandon currently has one job but is searching for a new one, and when he finds it we will be moving to that unknown place, which is potentially one of the above locations. I have been getting an increasing number of probing comments and questions about this from well-meaning friends and coworkers (yes, my work knows I will be leaving. :'(), most of which are along the lines of these:

  • Why are you following some guy around?
  • Why are you leaving a perfectly good job in this economy?
  • What do you plan to do once you get to this unknown place?
  • What if you can’t find a job?
  • Why are you leaving the most beautiful/wonderful/best place to live in the whole country? (subjective statement I know, please don’t hate me I love it here)
  • What about your school loans?

These are all legitimate questions that I find myself asking a lot as well, along with these ones:

  • How important to me is money/being comfortable vs. working on things that I love and that matter to me?
  • What can I afford to do right now?
  • Do I even really want a career at this stage of my life?
  • Is future me going to want to throttle present me if I have no retirement money because I was too busy pissing it away on ‘following my dreams’?
  • What do I really¬†want?

I’m sure my friends and colleagues mean well with their questions, but this is the stuff that keeps me up at night. If anyone thinks I’m not considering this stuff, they are wrong – I think about all this pretty much constantly, and I have come to a few conclusions.

The fact of the matter is, this all may totally fail. I might come crawling back to my job after a miserable six months away, begging them to rehire me and telling everyone how right they were about what a terrible idea it had all been. Or…it could not fail. It just might be possible that I could end up going on an excellent adventure with my best friend, seeing new places and trying new things, and getting the chance to see if I can make a living (or part of one) with my writing. Maybe I’ll have my strength tested, and find out I am more capable than I ever thought possible. It could be that, 10 or 15 years from now when I’m ready to settle down and have a family of my own, I could return to Vermont, the best place in the country (that I’ve seen so far), and make a home here knowing full well that this is the place I want to be and where I want to live out my days. But, if that happens, I will settle down with the knowledge that I saw a lot of things and lived a full life, and wasn’t too afraid to try.

The bottom line is, I don’t want to live with ‘what ifs’ and regrets. I don’t want to stay here, stagnant, and then look back in a decade when I’m tied down with a family and wish that I had done something else first, something exciting and important and brave. I don’t want to look back and wonder what could have been. I want to know. And if it turns out that it’s terrible and I hate it and I run screaming back to New England, I am ok with that. That would not be a failure, in my eyes. If that happens, I would come back not wondering but knowing that this is the place for me, and where I truly belong.

Am I scared? Very much so. But I have never let that stop me before, and I don’t intend to start now.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can.
-J.R.R. Tolkien

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Filed under Brandon, General, goals, Life, New Journey, Stress, Thoughts, Uncategorized

Observations On Management

Senior Show, the event where we will showcase our final game (my huge Capstone project), is happening Friday. Everything is a complete mess, half of our game is broken with no hope of repair, and the question “will we be done in time” is still up in the air. My team has collectively put in over 3,000 hours on this project over the last eight months, all while taking four other classes, working at jobs or internships, and trying to figure out what our lives will be after college. We have been trying to create something beautiful, meaningful, and functional out of nothing, all while trying to create the same out of ourselves. Will employers want us? Are we ready? Are we going into the right field? Will we be happy? These and a thousand other questions swirl around in our brains as we beat our heads against the computer screen, trying not to freak out and scream “why won’t it just WORK?!”As the producer, there is only so much I can do to help. I am the manager, not the creator, and so when we realize that Player 2 can only move objects two feet before they snap back to their original position, all I can do is encourage, pat a back and say “just keep trying, I know we’ll find a solution soon.” The inability to ACT and do something constructive that can directly assuage the problems we are having makes me want to tear my hair out. All I can do is wait, and watch, direct, and pray.

I always thought that being a manager sounded like a pretty sweet job. When it comes down to it, what do you actually DO? Well, I’ll tell you. You stress. A lot. And you inwardly panic but have to outwardly appear calm, cool and collected. You have everything riding on other peoples’ work – something I find extremely difficult – and you have to trust that they are going to deliver something awesome, on time. Believe me, this doesn’t always happen. You have to keep the team together through setbacks, burnout, exhaustion, sickness and disagreements. You have to keep an eye on dozens of moving parts all at once, all while trying to figure out why so-and-so is working on Thing B, when you asked him to do Thing A two days ago and now he’s saying “oh, I just thought this was more important.” Deep breaths.

Me, keeping calm like a boss.

Being a manager means being ‘on’ 24/7. I remember things while I’m at work and covertly text a question about that hugely important thing that I haven’t checked in on in three days, all while my heart is beating fast at the thought that I’ve ruined the entire project with my ineptitude. I jump out of the shower with shampoo still in my hair to write down the idea I just had about the trailer. I go to the school dance and boogie down the whole night with my phone in my hand, in case there is a criss. I carefully balance shielding the team from the executive producers and letting them know of our struggles so they can help us.

The mental strain of managing is something that I never expected. I didn’t expect to become so invested in this project and these people. To care so deeply about their joys and sorrows, their pains and triumphs. I didn’t expect to feel like I was on tenterhooks, lying awake at night, unable to turn off my overly stressed and underly sleeped brain. I didn’t expect to be up until four am only to get up at eight am night after night, desperately trying to fix problem after problem with no time and the words of my executive producer “effort is not rewarded, only results are” ringing over and over in my head.

Here’s a picture of an adorable ferret
to make it all seem less dire.

This has been, without a doubt, the hardest thing I have ever done. I have spent almost 200 hours on this project this semester, in addition to my other classes and my job. It’s all coming down to one night next week, when I will have to walk out onto a stage in front of hundreds of people, with hundreds more watching on their computers at home, and try to make our game sound as good as I can. There will be nine industry recruiters watching me, judging my every move, and deciding whether they should circle my name on their ballot to indicate that they would like to interview me. My parents and Brandon’s parents will be there, expecting I will make them proud, believing that I will be awesome. The pressure is crushing, the stress all-consuming. I hardly know what I will do with myself after this project is over, indeed I find it difficult to imagine a time when I will not be thinking about this, worrying about it.

But at the end of the day, I have my team around me. I know they have worked their hearts out, and I know that they have come together in ways they never thought they could. They have faced problem after problem, faced getting cut multiple times, and some days realized at midnight that the game as we know it is not going to work when we needed x, y, and z done by 9:30am. They always found a way around these problems. They discovered fixes that have never been done before, pushed the technology farther than it was designed to go, and now are able to present what they’ve learned to the gaming community at large. I couldn’t be prouder of a group of people, and I couldn’t be more honored to have worked beside them. For better or worse, we will hand in that build on Wednesday at noon, give the best presentation we can on Friday, and finally be able to look back on our memories of this project with fondness and relief.

Some teasers of the epic game that is to come:

Gemini XIII

Solar Panel

Hydroponics

The Common Room

Our game poster. Not going to lie, I get a
little thrill when I see my name on it.

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Filed under college, Gemini XIII, Management, Senior Team, Stress, The Game, Thoughts