Thursday, April 28, 2005

Put This In Your Blog and Smoke It!

Fellow architect Jeromy sent me a link to an article titled, “Your Creative Career: Design It Here.” The article listed nine different design-oriented jobs, including computer aided design (CAD) and interior design. In his e-mail, Jeromy asked, “Notice something missing from this list? Put this in your blog and smoke it!”

Architecture was conspicuous in its absence from the list.

At first I replied: It’s not missing. I haven’t done a creative thing yet.
After some thought, I added: The thing that irks me most is that they include interior desecrators, but not architects. I guess it takes an entirely different breed of psychopath to qualify for our job.

Jeromy: As if interior designers are any more creative. They are just as dull as we are. Lori and I were watching the Dwell Magazine TV show the other night. It seemed that all of the really cool houses were owned by the architect that designed them. I'm beginning to think that is where architects indulge themselves. Actual Architecting™, for other people, is not fun, except in very rare cases. Architecting™ for yourself, if you have the money, is fun.
BTW, I have trademarked the word “Architecting™.”

CAD Monkey: Architect…it’s a verb, it’s a noun, it’s an adjective! It’s the new “Fuck.”
My question is, how do I get the money to do some “Architecting™” to my house? Certainly not through 8-to-5 Architecting™ alone. ManThing and I were actually talking the other day about just selling the house.

Jeromy: Buying and selling houses is a good way if you do it incrementally, or excrementally.
The truth is that you can build a cool home. You just need to do your research and planning. Talk to a construction lender, they'll give you some options. You need a design, cost estimate, proposed property, contractor, and a bank. Get all of those things together at one time and you’re in business. The biggest problem that I see is paying rent on an apartment and paying a mortgage while you're waiting for the house to be built. I think this may be why many people build garage apartments.

CAD Monkey: Paying rent and a mortgage at the same time is an impossibility for us right now. Stupid wedding. Maybe we could build a carport and live in it. There was a lot for sale that I was eyeballing on Sunday. It was next door to a house that some other guy is Architecting™. It would have been fun to out-design a neighbor.

It’s the Curse of the Architect: to be blessed with great taste, but never have the ability to afford anything befitting that taste.

Friday, April 22, 2005

CAD Monkey vs. The Crazy, odds 20:1

Still waiting for doctor appointment.

Still crazy.

Yesterday, I thought, "I haven't posted anything related to the architectural working world in a long time." I blame my current bout with The Crazy. However, yesterday's encounter with a designer gave me the perfect reason to get back on topic.

At one point in my life, I used to think I wanted to be a designer- the person who comes up with the "big picture" of the building, rather than someone who works out the nit-pickery. That time was very early in architecture school, before I had actually met any designers. By the end of school, I had already begun to gravitate towards the Realm of Practicality- to the point where my thesis advisor kept yelling at me to stop worrying about how many restrooms my thesis project had and just design the damn building.

Designers simply live in a different dimension than the CAD monkeys of the world. They become so far removed from the process of making their sketches "real" and buildable, that they just don't think in those terms. Further, they start to expect the rules of construction (and, by proxy, the CAD monkeys) to bend to their wills.

My current craptacular project involves a little bit of addition, a little bit of infill, and a whole lot of coordination nightmare. Yesterday, I was trying to take the designer's elevation and turn it into real, live construction documents. There were issues. Knowing that I would be asking for a smackdown if I just moved things without asking the designer, I brought up the issues with him.

"I need to move the windows down a few feet. They are conflicting with the ceiling inside."
"Those windows need to stay where they are. It should work out; the ceiling is 9 feet in there."
"No, the ceiling in that room is only 8 feet. It hits right in the middle of the glass."
"Well, then make the ceiling 9 feet." *
CAD Monkey mentally rolls her eyes.

"I need to move the windows horizontally as well, because the measurements don't work out to even brick dimensions."
"Well, then, break the bricks." **
CAD Monkey mentally slaps herself on the forehead.

"I'm trying to resolve the elevation with what's inside the building. I'll print it out when I'm finished and get your approval."
"Make sure you maintain the order of the elevation."
It's not "ordered" now, you crazy old man. Seriously. The windows are all over the place, they are differing sizes, nothing lines up, the control joints are at no discernably equal distance, and there is no regard for what's happening behind the windows. And also? The elevation I'm working on is for the dock side of the building; also known as the Ass Side of the Building. Who the hell cares what the window placement looks like?!?

Don't get me wrong, the guy is brilliant. His buildings are tasteful and elegant. He just needs to go away now, because the foo-foo phase of the project is over. Let me worry about the Ass Side.

* I can't just move the ceiling up a foot. This is an existing building, and there's a buttload of ductwork already up there.
** Cutting large quantities of brick in any other dimension than equal halves makes the construction costs higher.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Did anyone else just see the FidgetMobile go by?

I’m trying to think of a way to express to you all the level of utter crazy that is running my thoughts these last several days. I figure, if I’m going to lose my fucking mind, it may as well give somebody some entertainment value.


My brain is set permanently on “fidget,” and the project that I’ve been assigned to (read: had dumped upon me) isn’t helping.

Bees! Bees! Bees!

This is the third project, in a row, in which my primary duty is to set up drawing sheets. Not exactly working that Master’s degree to the fullest at the moment. I waver between thinking I need something more challenging, and wondering whether “more challenging” would crack my presently enfeebled mind.

Heh. “Enfeebled.” MicroSkank’s spellchecker didn’t even flag that one.

ManThing told me that I should inform our head HR person that I’m going to be seeking treatment for depression. I think he’s crazy for suggesting such a thing. I don’t want anybody at work to know. How many of you would be okay with telling your HR person that you’re essentially a (barely) functioning loony?

Am I just placing too much emphasis on the stigma I’ve perceived to go along with depression?

I’m going craaaa-zeeeee…won’t you come along with meeeee?

It’s getting worse.

I wish I could find the article I once read, that showed architects in the top ten professions that have high incidences of mental illness…although I don’t know why I want it. Does anybody really need any more proof out of me?

Thursday, April 14, 2005

It isn't you, Job, it's me

Yesterday, on the drive home, I had an epiphany.

I’ve finally figured out that it’s not that I hate my job, or my career field for that matter, because I’m in a perfectly good job right now. The reason I feel as though I hate my job all the time is that I’m apparently a raving psychotic. Due to the crapfest in my head, I can’t concentrate, I suffer daily from crippling cases of the “I don’t wannas,” and I have insomnia so badly that any coping mechanisms I might have had left in my head are too sleep-deprived to work anymore. My home internet connection is being a bitch, so I’m posting this from work. All of these factors together cause some rampant paranoia on my part: I constantly feel like I’m going to lose my only source of income because I can’t get my shit together.

For the first time in a long while, I have decent health insurance, so getting help is actually a viable option. The process of finding a therapist is daunting and depressing, so I put it off for longer than I should have, and it stressed me out more than it should have because I put it off for too long. I hated the fact that I could only attempt to find a therapist during the day, and that I had to “sneak off” to make the various phone calls involved in the process. Adding to the struggle was the fact that I wanted a female doctor, because for some irrational reason, I feel like I’d be more comfortable bawling in front of a woman- as if bawling in front of a complete stranger could ever be "comfortable." I had a hell of a time finding one that I didn’t have to wait for over a month to see.

I almost became desperate enough to call the insurance’s 1-800 number for help in finding someone, but I didn’t relish the thought of listing my various psychoses for some random call center employee (no offense, Anonymous Cog).

I will, however, list my various psychoses for you here…because I’m weird like that.

First and foremost, I am severely, horribly depressed. Again. For the umpteenth time. I’ve tried, on several occasions, to get over it, to treat it, and get on with life- without continuing to use antidepressants; but I guess I have the kind of depression that will keep knocking me on my ass until I get myself properly drugged up- for the rest of my life, it seems.

Thanks, genetics. This is Reason #596 Why It’s a Good Thing I’m Not Having Kids. I hate antidepressants, but I guess I need them. I just hope I can find the correct one this time.

Because of the depression (or is it causing the depression? Who knows?!?), I am having one of my worst cases of insomnia yet. I’m going on a week of little to no sleep at night. I think that, if the therapist I eventually end up going to tells me, “you need to get more sleep,” I may be brought up on murder charges. I go to bed at 10, every night. I don’t drink more than one beer a week, on Friday evenings. It’s not like I’m not trying. My body just isn’t having it, for whatever stupid reason.

This, in turn, leads to the fact that, not only do I not want to exercise, I have absolutely no energy to do so. The one thing that I am required to do every day is go to work. Everything else is negotiable. Therefore, because I’m tired and feel like crap, everything else is neglected- with exercise being top on that list.

…which brings us to the next item on the list. I am fat. When I was a teenager, I used to think I was fat, and I really wasn’t. I was just built differently. How I long for those days, so I could smack myself upside the head and enjoy life a little more in my 40-pound lighter body…because now, I really and truly am fat.

I self-medicate with food. Obviously, because…see above. I assign values to food: this is good food, this is bad food, I’m bad for eating such-and-such, I was good so I deserve this cookie/ chocolate/ candy that I don’t even like very much.

I have an appointment with a psychiatrist, two weeks from now. I am planning to will myself to be un-crazy until then, and for however long afterwards until some good comes from seeing the doctor.

And I am totally trying not to cry as I write this.