An Accidental Review of Outlander, and other things

How are you this evening, friends?

I’ve just returned (yesterday) from the great state of Ohio (ba-dum-ch) by way of a one-hour layover in LAX. The skull-splitting headache from to the depressurization of the second aircraft is still making me see a little cross-eyed, but not nearly so much as it was last night. It’s the second time I’ve had that headache occur–no blood, just tears. (A hint to the extremity of this headache: physical pain is rarely cause for me to cry. If you feel a fine, strong thread is being pulled outward, as if through the front of your skull, from the hairline to the center of your right eyebrow, and the pain reverberates through your right eye, ear, and sinuses, you might have cause to dissolve in your airplane seat as well.)

The good news is I can rule out the culprits I thought most likely before: an Airbus 321 (this was a CRJ-900), or a wonderfully tasty tea (which I haven’t drank in a year because I thought it cause of the headache).

The common links between yesterday’s flight and last year’s were: landing in Phoenix, landing in Phoenix in mid-May, reading a novel by reading light, and sitting in the right-side window. Ah, the mystery keeps on.

Speaking of reading novels, I finished Outlander a few hours ago and started on Dragonfly in Amber. Firstly, Outlander was fantastic. Gods above if Jamie Fraser isn’t the most well-written, breathtaking hero in all of fiction. The stubborn Scot easily captures the imagination, especially through the eyes of his accidental bride, who is the narrator of the story. I love the arguments they have, Jamie’s 18th century ideals matching wits against Claire’s WWII-bred sensibility (delayed warning: there’s a hint of time-travel). Sometimes Jamie wins, sometimes Claire, and sometimes they both lose.

Because Outlander was so marvelous and enrapturing, and because I came to care very deeply for our two main protagonists, I’m terrified to read the rest of the series. The tone changed abruptly with the first chapter of the second book, since it skipped ahead 20 years (I know, time travel can mend all wounds, but skipping ahead has been a deal-breaker for me ever since Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins abused it in the Left Behind series). Also, the abrupt switch from first person to third person caused an unsettling in my spirit. Still, I’ll stick with the book and hope that I come to love the second book as much as the first.

None of that was what I meant to write about.

I’m stressed out beyond measure right now due to work. I mentally shut down–really, really shut down–Saturday morning. I have a lot of responsibilities, and they take up more hours than I have because of the type of detail-oriented work I do. The obvious solution is to prioritize the responsibilities, but I’m afraid of showing any weaknesses to my colleagues or my bosses. The reasonable part of my brain knows that if I don’t ask for help soon, I’ll fail and find myself without a job or recommendations.

Because of the amount of stress I’m under, I chose to take my sister’s graduation weekend as an actual, real vacation. I left my computer at home (still did some easy work at the airport–fun, IT stuff), hung out with my family, talked to my sister, and tried to fly home. When flying home Monday didn’t work (I fly standby for the most part), I made a bold decision: I bought Outlander, a hotel room, and a confirmed ticket for Tuesday evening. I made a pact with myself to forget about work until I have to go in Thursday morning, and let my stress levels die down a bit.

I haven’t read a full book in months, so I was thrilled to have a page-turner like Outlander be my companion for the 18 hours I spent in my hotel room (the concierge suggested I visit the bar, which I strongly considered and ultimately decided against; I prefer reading in bed to anywhere else).

The real world has rudely encroached on my final day of vacation: pleas for help from two stations sent to my personal cell phone, reminding me of all the work that awaits my attention in just over four hours.

All work and no play makes KaLeena one stressed-out lady. I love my job; as I’ve said before, it’s the one thing that has been holding me together these last months. However, I’m wondering if in my desperation for escape from my emotions, I’ve bitten off more of the professional apple than I can chew. (That was a weird metaphor. We’ll leave it alone.) Some people are born business-men and ladder-climbers. I’m not.

I think the key now is to actually take my weekends, and spend them doing the things I really want to do with my life, like reading and writing and travelling. No use having travel benefits if I never take a trip.

Maybe I’ll try to squeeze out a real vacation–something more than a week. I’d love to take a sabbatical, and disappear into the world for a bit. (Companies in America are very much nose-to-the-grindstone when it comes to their vacation and sick-day mentalities, sometimes to the point of punishing employees who take those days off. That’s part of why I’d be a terrible manager–I’d refuse to punish an employee for taking a sick day. Paralyzing anxiety might be another reason.)

That’s all for now, since this got absurdly long. I’ve three more blog posts rolling around in my head, plus another already written. That’s the lovely thing about writing–when you’re truly committed to it, there’s always something more to say. Maybe it’s not the story you want to be writing, but maybe the story you want to tell isn’t the one that needs telling.

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