Couldn't think of a cool title…

December 31, 2008

I’m not sure I trained enough for this particular marathon…

I love Christmas. And I have loved the Christmas-ness of this Christmas. Every night for the past week has been a joyous special thing that only the glittery soul of Christmas can create. My apartment is clean and sparkly with Christmas lights and candles and I’m hopeful that this little step of having a pleasing living space is a sign of more pleasing living to come.

Twice I visited my friends in the Christmas show I had been a part of for the 6 years prior. I miss it, and I miss them, but I guess it may be better in this season of change in my life to have had less of the running around that particular gig required. I needed the time. I mourn missing out on what was special there, in the same way I have mourned my leaving the Real Job– but I’ve been better for it, I’m sure.

I was part time through December 20th, and on that day a party was held in my honor. It was an odd collection of people but a very sweet little gathering that left me feeling cared for and more hopeful/less sad than I had expected. Not everything was done that needed to be done, so the loss was dulled by the fact that I still had my keys and a few files– it wasn’t like I wouldn’t be back. But I am coming to terms that I need to face this- finally, and really– and as I was driving around yesterday I found myself repeating aloud, “I don’t work there anymore. I don’t work there anymore…” My sleep has been filled with a sort of anxious self-loathing collection of dreams, in which I’m often late for appointments, unfairly accused of wrongdoing, and consumed with feelings of guilt. Apparently there is still shit to work out…

My week overall, however, as I mentioned before have been very special (if distracting,) and gratifying– but exhausting. An overview:

CHRISTMAS EVE

  • I did my very gift bag/candy run and then saw the Christmas show. HIGHLIGHT: Playing Santa handing out candy to everyone and my friend C’s reaction to his Christmas present. LOWLIGHT: I miss them.
  •  After a quick stop over at my parents’, I went to dinner with Soon- to- be- in- the- Navy-Cousin for Christmas Eve dinner, of which I only had time to eat a little bit before running off to be late for Church. HIGHLIGHT: Hanging out with Cousin. LOWLIGHT: There’s only so much I can take of one particular relative’s arrogant talk.
  • Church. HIGHLIGHT: The music and candles made the rushing back worth it, and my Minister’s grabbing my arm on my way out to see if I was working and how I was made me feel noticed and cared for.
  • Stopped back home and said hi to my landlord’s family, and then drove BACK to my parents, tossing presents under the tree and then sleeping in the guest bedroom upstairs. HIGHLIGHT:  Landlord’s son (who used to live in my apartment) was very impressed with my apartment, which I was so proud of . LOWLIGHT: I wanted to spend more time with them but it was hard not to feel like I was intruding on a family moment.

CHRISTMAS

  • I got to sleep in and Sister, Brother-in-Law, and BestNieceEver showed up sometime in the early afternoon, better than last year. I got a cordless phone I’d been needing and knew I was getting. BestNieceEver wasn’t real interested in the whole sitting around opening presents thing but otherwise it was a fun time. My presents were well-received overall.  I had gotten BestNieceEver a magnadoodle and her first pair of jeans, both of which seemed to go over well. My dad seemed simultaneously mystified and impressed with his new iPod Shuffle and my mom has been reading the books I got her, so those seemed to have been a hit too. HIGHLIGHT: Playing Let’s-Throw-Wrapping-Paper-in-the-Air with BestNieceEver. LOWLIGHT: Brother-in-Law was freaking out about being late for the party with the other side of his family so he spent most of the time there looking at his watch.
  • I headed back to my place in the evening and enjoyed a quiet night with my Landlords, exchanging presents and eating Christmas cookies. HIGHLIGHT: Peace and quiet.

FRIDAY

  • Friday afternoon my friends J&J came over with their 3 kids and we had ice cream sundaes and played Apples to Apples. The kids seemed to enjoy the books I got for them but it was clear they weren’t as cool as the seven million other presents they’d gotten in the past few days. J&J are probably going to hate me for the Joke Book I got their middle child– she has taken to reading aloud from it nonstop and the jokes are, well, pretty bad. HIGHLIGHT: It was wonderful just to be with my friends.
  • My parents came over later that evening before heading off to see the show I had gotten tickets for them to see, and then I was off to a Christmas party with the Christmas show people. HIGHLIGHT: My dad called me later just to say he loved the play. I rule!

SATURDAY

  • The Big family party at my Dad’s Cousin’s house. HIGHLIGHT: BestNieceEver was the hit of the party. LOWLIGHT: My Great Uncle cried– he has lost 3 siblings and is so depressed… and no one really knew what to do.
  • After I got back I turned around and went back out to see Urbanblight and some of our old friends from high school. HIGHLIGHT: It was great to talk to them. LOWLIGHT: I wanted more time, and one of our friends seems particularly depressed.

SUNDAY

  • Sunday was my friends J&J’s daughter’s 13th birthday. HIGHLIGHT: The little time with them I had before running off to the next thing. LOWLIGHT: The holiday was really beginning to wear on my at this point.
  • After that party I was off to a reunion of sorts for my high school at a local bar. HIGHLIGHT: Talking to people I really haven’t talked to for ten years. LOWLIGHT: Wishing my Life’s Transition wasn’t the main story I had to tell.

MONDAY

  • Went back to the office and did a bunch of stuff I wasn’t paid for and won’t be sufficiently appreciated for. Cynical? Maybe. But it was my choice and I still feel if I hadn’t done it I’d be worried about those things.
  • Sleep deprived and barely functional I did  something truly crazy. I had the kids I used to babysit– now 12 and 15!– to sleepover. We watched THREE episodes of Quantum Leap, played Scrabble and Apples to Apples, and I somehow managed to stay awake to just past midnight. HIGHLIGHT: They fell in love with my favorite TV show.

TODAY

  • After the girls left I fell back asleep for several hours, despite really needing to tie up a bunch of loose ends at the (former) office of mine. OldBoss sent me an email officially announcing my Replacement, who had confidentially told me of their offer last week. Still sorting out how I feel about all that.
  • Went off to a Holiday Dinner for a scholarship foundation that gave me an award in high school. HIGHLIGHT: Good food. LOWLIGHT: Not really having much to talk about to anyone, except the kid I used to babysit– who’s now more than a foot taller than me and in seminary school. I feel old.
  • And now, back at my parents’, where BestNieceEver is sleeping over as well.

 

So yeah. Kinda tired. Somehow supposed to go to two parties TOMORROW too. We’ll see if the weather– and my stamina– cooperates.

December 29, 2008

Stage 3

Filed under: Business, Melancholy, Personal, Workaholism — me @ 2:01 pm

I seriously just had an epiphany. This thing I’ve been doing? It’s bargaining.

November 18, 2008

Moody Tonight

Filed under: Bad Patient, Melancholy, Personal, Workaholism — me @ 2:21 am

So my ear doesn’t hurt as much but I still have this weird sensation of being underwater when I talk. I’m coughing up my lungs less often– very much looking forward to being UnSick again. Workaholism and Depression probably get me sick more often than not, and they don’t interact well with sickness when it does arive. I get less done when I feel crummy, which then makes me feel more lousy, which then makes me push myself more, which then drags the physical-me down further. I’m not surprised I got sick, it’s a tradition of mine when I hit a particular marathon’s finish line (I bet a lot of you Theatre Folk out there caught a fever after Tech more than once…). It hasn’t really been the Finish though, its just been the Beginning of this strange period of having one foot still in the Job and one foot drawing away– working “part time,” at least on paper but not (yet) finding the consuming nature of the work lessening in my thoughts. It is almost as if, since I don’t have an obligation now to go into the office as much, I’ve been freed, paradoxically, to spend that “lost time” on the phone, on the internet, and wrapped up in paperwork in my pyjamas. I know this is not Not Working. And I know these habits are a cross between the Unreasonable Demands that Meant I Need to Leave in the first place and the Unreasonable Workaholism that Kept Me Here So Long.

I imagine to most of the people in my life, it must be pretty tiresome when I talk about where I’m at these days emotionally. I hum along fine and then suddenly it’s like tonight, where I’m back at square one, grieving this thing I’ve called My Job and trying to figure out what direction it is that I am to go in Next.

Today there was a meeting where a gathered committee discussed the various resumes that have come in and decide which are worthy for interview as my replacement. I wasn’t a part of the meeting, except to rudely interrupt with a question for my Boss as I was on my way out the door. But it scratched against me a little, the way fingernails scratch on a chalkboard, and I hadn’t expected it.

I’m trying to figure out why this all affects me so deeply. My Job made me feel special, it gave me purpose. It gave me something to do that I was uniquely able to do. I loved my Title, my Office, my System of White Binders on the shelf. I was in love with the potential my Job had, and enamored with the idea that I could Make It what I wished it could be. I wanted to redeem an Organization that had meant a great deal to me as a child. And when things fell down because there wasn’t enough funding, or staff, or lead time– I took it as a personal failure, thinking that if I had Just Worked Harder, if I hadn’t been So Tired, if I hadn’t let OldBoss get me down, and if I could Just Be Patient… it would be different.

In a way, I grew accustomed to whining while in this position, a tradition carried over from my time working for the StageMotherSchool. Whining is usually about being Righteously Annoyed, not Angry really. I was surrounded so often by behavior and situations that others might have gotten Angry about. But I never really owned Anger here. I couldn’t be angry in the disgusted way outsiders who came along were. I loved this Place so much. And I had worked so much to make It better– to be disgusted with It was to be disgusted with myself. So I would whine, to those few who both listened well and every now and then add fuel to my whining– it got that frustrated energy released, my ego massaged, my view of events affirmed. Of course it got old to listen to sometimes, and even the most patient in my life would wander into the “So Why Are You There?!” territory and I’d scuttle away emotionally– knowing I had complained a few moments too long. It was okay if I was the noble victim, if I could garner sympathy and support for my mistreatments and still go back in to work the next day. But I couldn’t handle the implication that I was pathetic, attaching myself to a situation that a grown up would– should– walk away from.

It is this that I was afraid of. This sense of What The Hell Am I Doing. Who Am I if not this Title. More than that even– Who Am I If Not The Saving of This Place.

Maybe I’ll find Somewhere Else to Save. Maybe I’ll be Special in a million new ways to come. Maybe there will be Someone To Come holding my hand, and I’ll realize I never could have given to them or gotten from them if I hadn’t taken this step. Maybe I’ll find a way to value myself highly with or without a current Great Project. It’s scary to step out into a whole lot of Maybes. I guess the one thing the Whirlwind of my Job always had was that– the Constancy of that Whirlwind could always be counted on. When the Whirlwind stops suddenly there is a whole lot of empty space for thinking about the things that make me feel inadequate, the finances I’m not sure I will conquer, the strains within the love I have for my family. Sometimes I have more pain in me than I would like to acknowledge.

November 15, 2008

Bleh

Filed under: Bad Patient, Workaholism — me @ 6:45 am

I have bilateral ear infections mixed with a bad cold. The antibiotics don’t appear to have kicked in yet. I should be asleep, work early in the morning tomorrow. I think I’ve moved a step in this long-strange-grieving process over the Job. Tomorrow… er today… marks the end of a whole week as a “part time” employee, which was my offer to Job– I gave my notice but would stay on part time for a short period of time to help with the transition, train someone new, etc…

Already there are a thousand opportunities to stay “involved,” and they are tempting. This Job has a hold on me. The many rational people in my life hope for a clean break. I guess… I just don’t know for sure how I manage  without this Job as a part of my life. I have a hard time letting go of the things I put my sweat into.

October 12, 2008

Moving into Stage 2, I think

Filed under: Business, Melancholy, Personal, Spirituality, Workaholism — me @ 9:38 pm

Looking back on this past week through the lens of the grieving process, I realized that I denial was a huge part of my experience. I couldn’t handle talking about the situation, and I certainly wasn’t making preparations for the future, or experiencing any kind of relief. Mainly I was (and in many ways still am) just kind of mortified to be here right now. In the midst of all this sadness and impending displacement, I mean.

But something new has been popping up, which I suppose confirms that this really is a journey in mourning. I’m angry. It hadn’t really occurred to me that I was angry at first. Around Thursday I stopped in at my church and talked to one of the ministers there. I felt like I wanted to talk to someone totally objective who might be able to help. I talk to my friends but I worry a lot about boring/annoying them. I feel a lot of the time that they can’t possibly grasp what has happened for me. I want to be a champion of my own courage, to brag about this move and its symbolic power in closing a chapter of my life that included a lot of distress. But instead I have felt distracted, foggy, at times miserably sad. Underwater even. I know from experience that you can’t float up out of the lower limits of depression on your own, so I reached out. He is the one who brought up that I was probably angry.

There’s something about my upbringing that makes me apologetic at the notion of being angry. At any rate, when he said it, and I thought about it, it was clear that it was true– if hiding deep below the surface of all the wanting-to-hide-under-the-covers-ness, it was definitely there. I’m angry at the ways I feel I was badly treated. I’m angry at feeling “forced” to leave a job that I in some ways felt born to do. I’m angry at the misinformation already spreading about, regarding my reasons for leaving and my abilities in my position.

Minister said I should read some Psalms. In my denial/anger state I didn’t take the suggestion very seriously, but really I don’t know what I was expecting. Of course that is what Minister would say. And it certainly can’t hurt. He said what’s great about the Psalms is that they’re filled with the voices of people who’ve felt let down or abandoned, people who often aren’t necessarily thrilled with God. I have clung to God throughout the process of getting to this point– first trying to discern what it was I ought to do, and then praying–begging really– that I might have the courage to go through with it. My spirituality has always been a friend to me when there was no one else to make something happen but me. It definitely got to a point where there were no more conversations with friends to be had, no pros and cons lists– just action needing to be taken. But while His voice was there for me as I made the decision I guess I haven’t really been able to key into that yet since the decision has been made. I know I’m not alone, and I know making it through this journey will certainly be easier with a faith that I’m taken care of and going where I need to go. But I guess I just haven’t been ready to really… be spiritual… in all this unhappiness. It doesn’t frighten me, I know my religious connection will be there for me when I am ready for it, but I guess sorting out my feelings has been a bigger priority thus far.

There have been times in depression that I feel alone with my God, in some ways closer to Him than ever– underwater and yet with a witness at least. Other times are like this, when I know He is there and will be there, but I kind of ignore– almost avoid– that part of myself because I feel like I need to re-align. I’ve always said I would be a mess without my believe in God. But sometimes WHEN I’m a mess my belief in God, for better or worse, becomes a bit of an afterthought. Maybe, like those Psalmists, as I see myself moving away from denial and into more anger, if nothing else I’ll have more to say to Him.

October 10, 2008

So What’s It Like?

Filed under: Business, Personal, Workaholism — me @ 3:37 am

Well. It kind of sucks. Since giving my notice of course I’ve been increasingly aware of the thousands of things I have to do for my job, in addition to the inordinate things I was already doing, to somehow magically make it possible for someone else to step in. This has been made far more difficult than necessary due to the fact that I am distracted, depressed, regretful, resentful, and/or just generally out-of-sorts 95% of the time. In short, I am in shock.

It’s as though something has happened TO me. Except it’s something I made happen. It seems ridiculous, but I’ve honestly been thinking, this is something of what it must feel like to get a divorce. I can barely speak of my resignation yet without crying. I have a hard time looking at a calendar because my “end date” jumps out at me and I can’t wrap my head around the concept– I’m leaving? Where will I go, where’s my identity, when this is all behind me?

Resignation. A workaholic’s nightmare.

October 8, 2008

i did it

Filed under: Business, Personal, Workaholism — me @ 2:27 am

i resigned. nervous breakdown commencing… now.

April 9, 2008

Sick Day

Filed under: Bad Patient, Melancholy, Workaholism — me @ 8:52 pm

I have a cold. I’ve been in bed most of today and have hit total boredom. Ever the workaholic, I’ve checked my work email a few times today, but managed not to do (much) actual work since I did after all call out.

My job is sort of a nightmare these days. It has often been that way, so I can’t even say that its more or less so than many other times in the past three years, but right now I’m at a low point in my ability to let things slide off my back. I know I need to leave, but I don’t know how, I’m struggling with when, and I’m absolutely terrified of what it will mean for my future– financially, career-wise, everything. It’s clear that the people who care most for me will probably want to throw a party when I finally find a way to walk away– but I have not yet figured out what it will mean for me. I find the whole situation utterly heartbreaking. I define myself by my work and for work to be such a constant source of anxiety is frankly tearing me apart.

I need a break.

February 3, 2008

I Hate That So Much of What I Have to Say These Days is So Negative…

Filed under: Melancholy, Workaholism — me @ 3:50 pm

I am a “Director” in my little sometimes-struggling NonProfit, meaning not a “Manager”. I’m the senior staff member, and in this long strange “transition” I’m the only one of the now 3 full time staff who’s been here longer than a month. There are 3 part time employees 10-20 hours a week, the longest standing of which has been here since end of July.  And then there are a variety of independent contractors that provide services to the company but are basically around on a per-project basis. This is my third boss in four months, and it’s fair to say I’m grieving the other two in one way or another, but most particularly the most recent of them.

Yesterday was a pretty lousy day. NewBoss is angry with me because… oh it’s a pretty long story. But among the highlights are that she feels I have a bad attitude and that she feels “taken advantage of” by the fact that I’m in and out of the office as much as I am. My hours are odd at times and a strategy I’ve had against my Workaholism has been to try to keep track of my hours and “make up” extra time as it comes up. So, for instance, when I got called in for my supposed day off this week, I worked less hours one day later in the week. To this point, flexible hours has been one of the few benefits of my position and all the stress it causes me. I’ve been lucky to be in a job where I can schedule a doctor’s appointment one morning and not have to jump through hoops to clear it, because everyone knows that I will work several hours “overtime” in the long run. This isn’t working for NewBoss, which is her right to determine I suppose, but her intense reaction (considering we’ve never had a discussion about my hours or her expectations in general) and a few things she said greatly concern me.

She wants me to have more regular work hours (9-5 or 10-6 or something) no matter whether there was a late night meeting or event I was required to go to or not. She basically said that telecommuting isn’t really “doing work” and that if I have to “do some typing at home” its on my own time. The implication is that if I was using my time well in the office I wouldn’t have work to bring home. And that as a “Director” if one of my staff calls out on my day off and I have to cover for them all day, I still need to put in the additional hours above that.  I am a salaried, at will employee. So my question becomes, if salary means I don’t get overtime and am expected to come in above and beyond the traditional “8 hour day plus a lunch break,” is there no upper limit to what could be reasonable hours or workload?

One of her other issues is with one of my two assistants, J, who has a young daughter and is currently sharing a car with her husband because she has to save the money to get her car fixed. I hand-picked this assistant because she is nothing short of amazing and helps me out in innumerable ways. She comes in when she is sick, and she goes above and beyond with the tasks I assign to her. When I ask her to do something, I do not worry whether it will be done or done competently. But there have been times where her child care has fallen through, and so she has called me to see if there are possible tasks she could do from home, or in two cases brought her daughter to work with her. The other day it was raining and she was driving to the office from a mountainous area where it was more slippery than in Office’s City, and she called to say she was a little delayed because of traffic and safety but that she was on her way. NewestBoss has serious problems with all of this because it did not “look that bad” outside, and because she “raised two kids while working and never had any trouble.” I care about J and I’m protective of her in a way, but mostly the tenor of NewestBoss’ objections is what really bothers me. It seems like her view is that there aren’t other priorities in life, and that it’s reasonable to expect that J would choose to put her family after her job.  And when she says to me that the 50+ hours I worked last week aren’t that big of a deal, and that in fact she doesn’t consider time I spent subbing for an absent staff member, making phone calls on the way to the office, having business related lunches with potential partners, or typing up multiple reports on my laptop at home count as work done– that in fact she feels I’m trying to get away with something by NOT  WORKING ENOUGH… well, its been a difficult thing to process.

She wants to structure my hours, fine. She wants to define her expectations, fine. She thinks her lifestyle choices have worked for her, fine. But suddenly my struggles to create a life outside of work seem to have another obstacle, and I don’t know what I’m going to do.

January 27, 2008

My name is Something and I’m a Workaholic

Filed under: Sister, Workaholism — me @ 3:44 am

They have meetings for this you know. AA style. So I’m told. I’ve been flirting with checking it out, but I have a sense like its a little bit of a cult and I don’t know if I want to be in a cult exactly. Maybe that’s a dumber reason. Can’t be any dumber than “I’m too busy,” though. But that’s the excuse I give myself, the same excuse I have for not setting foot in my church for a few months now, even though I think all the time how good it would be for me to go.

I am sliding along the edge of my twenties and I wonder, is this a young life crisis? Is this some kind of rite of passage that just has to be gone through; is that all this anxious depression these past few months is really about? Does it have more to do with a biological clock or developmental stage than the details of my life? Or is it I just have a toxic job and so much unhappiness would dissolve so easily if I just moved on, whatever that entails. I have this tension inside of me lately, this SOME CHANGE HAS TO HAPPEN within me, gnawing along the inside of my shoulder blades, pushing me to something, but what? Do I just up and move somewhere? Adopt a kid? Go teach third grade? Join the Peace Corps? Would any of that HELP? Or am I just looking for a distraction from pain that will be there no matter what major adrenalin rush I force into my system with some catastrophic new life for myself?

Blogging is well-suited, for better or worse, to whining, and I feel like I do a lot of whining lately. When I imagine the person I wish I was, I find her far more content. My childhood and my early adolescence were particularly characterized by a drive to be all-tolerant of people and situations, to block any negative opinion about much of anything from coming to even the surface of my consciousness. Certainly I had my criticisms of Sister, but they were well-tempered by guilt I felt over pain I saw her in– and I would have been hard pressed at that time to find a bad word to say about anyone. As I grew older I gravitated towards the opinionated and passionate around me, who I could love with a well-disciplined tolerance and somehow deep down live vicariously through. I learned from them and changed who  I was– or maybe, found who I was because of them. I did not own the rules I held for myself exactly, they just appeared and functioned as a sort of endurance test for puritans that I thought I must do well in for some reason. Be perfect. Do well. All the time. But my perfection wasn’t of a Donna Reed variety that got me to create a put-together appearance for myself or to practice a seeming relaxation amidst chaos. Instead it required me not to care how I looked, dressed, was perceived within the strange culture of other teenagers– it required that I pretend not to care if anyone thought I was pretty and in fact to discourage the notion entirely on the basis of its clear frivolity. It required that I be too wrapped up in school, in shows, and in 12 page letters to penpals to participate in my own life in any “normal” way. So I guess some of this life is a matter of habit. But it developed as a strategy for protection from the risk of being disliked, or looked down upon, or seen as interested in meaningless things– I successfully prevented the thought from ever occurring to anyone. So maybe the question has to be, what makes me so fragile that I feel the need for such life paralyzing self-protection?

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