Monday, June 22, 2009

The Joy Of Sleep

If you have read my Show Your Colors entry, you may remember that I am predominantly a "Gold" person. This means I'm obsessive compulsive, abhor chaos and must have structure and order. I am also trustworthy, loyal, and do my best to honor commitments. Some of these may seem like admirable qualities, but they can be a real pain in the neck. Let me explain.

At a "gender differences" seminar, the presenter explained, as a general rule, women have memories like filing cabinets. They have a very large storage capacity. When they have an experience, they can file it away and bring it back 20, 30, or even 40 years later and remember just like it was yesterday. My wife, Deanna, is extremely good at this. She remembers not only the time and location of where she was when President Reagan got shot, she remembers exactly what she was wearing. I can vaguely recall walking down the old Mandan Junior High School hallway and meeting a gaggle of girls, I say gaggle, because they sounded just like squawking geese. "President Reagan got shot, President Reagan got shot!" You could have dressed them up in colonial clothes, put them on horses and sent them out to warn the colonists about the British invasion.

I must have been heading to band or choir because that would have been the only reason to be in that particular hallway. I don't have a clue what I might have been wearing. I can't remember what I wore yesterday.

Most men, I'm sorry to say, have memories like chalkboards. Some men's boards are bigger than others but they all have the same characteristics. They only hold so much information. Once full, nothing else will be remembered until something gets erased.

I pride myself on having an extremely large chalkboard. Nevertheless, it does fill up on occasion. I get too busy, too many problems to solve, too many commitments to honor, too many events to worry about. When this happens, my obsessive compulsions kick in and I go into system overload (i.e. I FREAK OUT!). My personality type cannot handle this "out of memory" error. I quite literally cannot sleep until enough things get purged. My record of being awake is 3 days and that's without any chemical additives. When I get to this state, my body naturally manufactures all the adrenaline it needs for fuel. But ultimately my system must crash.

You may be wondering what's the big deal? Why not just start erasing things from my chalkboard (solve problems, honor commitments, attend events etc...) until enough things have been deleted so I can sleep. That sounds easy if it weren't for the annoying tendency of two things getting added for every one that gets erased. The challenge, therefore, is to eliminate items off my chalkboard while at the same time preventing new items from being added. If anyone has ever struggled with time management issues, (see my Dad's blog on Time), you know exactly what I'm talking about.

I can honestly say I have not had a good week at work since before Christmas 2008. I can probably count the number of good days I've had on one hand. We are in the process of moving our old legacy applications to a newer web-based system. One of the applications we are working on is our hunting lottery system. It took over a year to develop and finally went live earlier this year. I don't believe I've ever had to deal with an application that has been fraught with so many problems. I don't want to bore you with the details as that would take another 2 or 3 blogs and wouldn't be very interesting. Suffice it to say, it's very complicated and has all manner of special conditions and scenarios that have to be handled. Add to that legislative changes that went into effect we now have to implement as well as some departmental season and lottery changes specific to Elk to help deal with the overpopulation in Teddy Roosevelt National Park.

Even under normal conditions, Summer at the ND Game & Fish Department is the busiest time of year. It starts around June and really doesn't let up until opening day of deer season in November. Then you would think the place is a ghost town with all the people taking advantage of their hard earned leave.

Stress and disgruntlement doesn't just take it's toll on me. It also affects my family and those I come in contact with. 2009 has not been a very happy year for the Meissner household. I can handle brief stretches of "system overloads", but I don't believe I've ever had a stretch of stress that has gone on this long. June has been especially bad. The first 2 weeks this month I probably only got about 10 hours of sleep and it was punctuated with restlessness. I'd wake up feeling more exhausted than I was when I went to bed.

However, thankfully, I am happy to report that today marks the 7th good day in a row that I have had at work. The problems with our lottery system are now down to a more manageable level and things have finally started falling into place. I've been able to erase many items from my chalkboard with very few being added. I must also mention that Friday morning I'll be leaving for Canada with my Dad, brother and five other family members for week of fishing without any electronic "gizmos" to speak of. It's been years since I've taken off more than 3 days of work at a time. I would say I'm much overdue for a vacation.

And sleep, blessed, peaceful, joyful, restful sleep. It took about 3 nights to get caught up on the hours I had lost, but this morning I woke up feeling more rested and at peace with the world than I have literally felt all year.

All that aside, through this whole mess, what really caused my stress to wane was finally getting the proper attitude about things. Yes, life is full of problems and tends to have very busy and stressful moments. But it is our attitude that determines how well we cope.

I hope you all have a very good day!


Steve at Random said...

Excellent blog...hope you enjoyed your time away from the office. I had a period of sleepless nights as well. October 2001 to February 2002 -- the period of my unenjoyment.

randymeiss said...

thanks for responding, I was getting concerned no one was reading. I had an absolute blast on the fishing trip. A fishing blog (multi-part series) will be coming up as soon as we get our photos consolidated.

Steve at Random said...

Did I mention to you that I'm waitng for the fishing blog....patiently!