Dealing with an impending and emotionally frustrating forced career change… that ultimately turned out for the best, of course.
… and a roundup of the weekend events.
It’s been no secret around our house that those official daddy-days have been in quiet jeopardy for some time now. Between that little stint of unemployment last summer, and the uncertainty of a job change, through the peppered consumption of my flexible days off for use during our more formal vacations over the winter, it has been a wonder that we’ve had any at all in the last months. But we have. This past Friday both the latest, and possibly the last.
Of course, it is not exactly confirmed right now, but my suspicions — what with upcoming weekend plans, little trips here and there, and the Fringe Festival in August — the next likely candidate day for our beloved daddy days seems to be lingering off in September. And, of course, in September Claire starts preschool. So, a full day off to puddle around the city doing father-daughter-type things is looking rather unlikely.
We filled our last daddy-day — the seemed last of the series — with some early morning swimming, breakfast at Ikea, some toddling around the town to pick up a package, a quiet lunch, a nap (for both of us), a trip back to the recreation centre to play at the indoor playground, and topped it off with a visit to the library. It was a full day.
And we’ll miss them if that was to be our last. I won’t be telling her, though. It would break her heart to hear it, and mine to admit it. I’ll just say this: we’ll figure out a new way to do the same thing. It’s not over, it’s just going to be different from now on I think.
Of course, the weekend following has been a blur, too.
Claire and Karin both performed in their final dance shows. Claire — witnessed by both sets of grandparents and her mom and dad — completed a whole three minutes on stage as a wee little dancing garden gnome, and (much to her parent’s relief) did not flee the stage nor freeze in fright while dancing. She did her parents proud, in fact.
This morning, while I went out for a fourteen klick run, Karin, Claire, and my folks went out for breakfast. The run went well, and it preps both my mind and temper for the upcoming 15K race on Canada Day, July 1st, this Friday.
We dropped by the Telus World of Science this afternoon with Ella and Xavier to check out the Sesame Street – The Body exhibit, which the kids loved and tore up for a good hour and a half before we dragged them out (nearly kicking and screaming).
We thought the evening was over, but Claire hooked up with the neighbor kids, Leann and Owen, after her and Karin got back from a bike ride, and the kids played “avoid the parents” for about an hour before we decided to call it a night and head inside for some rest.
It’s been busy.
Part of the interesting fallout from quasi-unemployment was that I scoped out on my own as a freelance design dude — and not only that, but also interesting is that the work still trickles in. I mention it now because I spent a good chunk of time this evening progressing through some logo design for small company writing an iPhone app of some kind.
That’s what long weekends have become I guess. Time away from real work to get my side-business work done. Because even if I were a dishonest person (which I am not) I would not have the time anywhere but at home on weekends (and a few sparse evenings) to get any of this kind of work completed.
It’s been fun. I’m thinking of it as portfolio fodder, now: additions to the growing collection of semi-professional graphics and web work, slightly askew from the work I do for real money in real life, but that would be appreciated and respected by someone who needed a glimpse at the guts of my lingering talents.
It’s also weird, because most of those talents were originally fostered in those multiple redesigns of this very blog space. It used to be a regular event to see the pages hosting these random writings transformed in a swoosh of graphic design fury. Ya’ll thought I was nutty, but it paid off, didn’t it?
What I learned about the art of politics working at my last job is both simple and complex; It is simple because if one understands the nuances of high school popularity, there are many, many parallels that can be drawn between the two. It is complex, because we expect it not to be so simple and in our idealism there is much frustration and heartache to be found because it is so simple.
Does this sound too philosophical for a backwards perspective on some silly job?
It might. It should. It will.
Someone once told me that in political bodies (note the small ‘p’) it is more often likely to find a democratic structure resembling a country club — a small group of entrenched long-term members acting as official gatekeepers for others wishing into the same small group — than a true democracy — a small group of short term members accountable to a selection process from a much larger group. Part of me imagines that country clubs are great for those lucky enough to be members, but another part of me is almost certain it is no way to run a balanced and accountable organization.
Readers might mistake this as some sort of commentary on the state of the organization for which I worked. It is not. It’s merely window-dressing for a much narrower and narcissistic tale of job loss. I write this because when I state that the organization where I worked was a ‘country club’ in the political sense, I don’t do so judgingly. It worked for what is was meant to do, and worked far better than some alternatives I could think of. In the long run, it just didn’t work for me.
The other thing that didn’t work for me was that like a real country club (I assume herein) there are years when the members of the club worry about big things that are difficult to control but for which strategy and forethought are valuable: unseasonable weather, the price of gasoline for lawn mowers, or economic conditions that impact the number of casual golfers. And then there are years when the members of the club don’t need to worry about — or simply cannot get their mind around — this bigger picture and spend their energy focusing on the small things: the color of the golf pro’s shoes, the flavors of salad dressing available in the cafe, or the number of those little pencils that are in stock in the pro shop. And from the perspective of staff, the employees of the country club, the latter types of years — the micromanagement years — are more difficult; managers are grumpy, chefs throw tantrums in the kitchen, and the caddies storm off the job when they find out their wardrobes are critically out of fashion with members.
We had one of ‘those years,’ the last year I worked where I used to work. And coming back to the idea of politics, popularity, and perspective it is fair to say that all three of those pieces were neatly aligned to make the life of the staff a living hell.
Not that anyone was to blame. The system, the process, the staging, and the ongoing existence of all those looming outside factors that needed more strategic thinking and less micromanagement all contributed to a moment in time when — votes cast — new people stepped to the tee box and readied their swing at overseeing the difficult shots that needed to be played. That said, it is completely fair to say — and given the fact I’m writing this nearly two years later — that the shot wasn’t a hole-in-one. It wasn’t even par. It was a more of a “let’s call it, uh, eight and get on with the next hole” kind of shot. And I know enough about golf to suggest that really sucks for the end score.
Nearly two years ago now — and a year prior to my last day at work — it was interesting to note that as that first swing was swung, we all — the staff, I mean — had a strong feeling that it was going to be one of ‘those years.’ And we braced, though not hard enough, for a few wild shots and some long, pointless digging in the bushes for lost balls.
Have I milked the golf analogy enough, yet? Ok, so really we sat around in a hotel ballroom, watched the last of our membership trickle out, eating the leftover cookies from a buffet luncheon. I remember downing quite a number of cups of coffee, trying to wake up, as the reality set in that, well… things had most definitely changed.
As I write this little epitaph to that life gone past, it is not my ambition to fire blindly at those to whom I ultimately reported nor those who played a hand in my departure from that organization. The strange thing about country club democracy is that, yes, it is popularity that ultimately matters, and the rest is trivial he-said-she-said kind of debate. At the end of the process, more votes will be cast, more heads will roll, more commoners will rise from the dark corners to fill the gaps. And my perception of what happened behind gilded gates will always be just that: my perception. It could have happened a dozen different ways, and according to the dozen people involved it probably did.
Instead, it is my ambition to make a note, a personal marker in time, of what happened and why I think it happened the way it did. There are five elements to that story: this is the first. The little country club politica for which I worked had a bad year — one of ‘those years’ — and energies that should have been focused upon the broader strokes of economics and ecologies were instead honed in on the little things, already neatly under control by competent staff doing their jobs: trimming the grass, julienne-ing the carrots, and laundering the linens.
So, as I suggested before, what I learned about the art of politics working at my last job is both simple and complex; But knowing that this holds true for almost all aspects in life is probably the better lesson to take away.
That, and I don’t really like golf much anymore.
A lot of the joking aside — but not all — this week is ramping up to a particularly significant (but hardly important or memorable) one-year anniversary for me. I thought, in light of that anniversary I would find some time and some words to fill in some of the gaps around the months and days leading up to that date (in the days leading up to the anniversary) and the gaps of those months and days following that date (in the days following the anniversary.)
Does that make sense? Perhaps. Perhaps not.
I’m going to tell the story of my job transition, from the first glimmers of project collapse to when I finally, months and month later, tucked safely into a new job, slammed the door on the org. I wasn’t blogging at the time, and in retrospect (given my disposition at the time) that might be a good thing. Now, with the distance of time and space, I think I can write (if not fairly) more impartially to the story.
And, as I’ve vowed not to gripe aloud to anyone — Karin in particular — following the noted anniversary date — to move on, get over it, and consider it something of an ancient (if formative) history of self, never to be rehashed in the details oft seen in the past year — I’m going to go into some detail here, fleshing out what I remember, clouded as it may be by the passing of a year or more, and plug the gaping holes of memory to be found (or not) in this blog.
I hope to cover five episodes leading in to the anniversary, and five episodes leading out:
2-1 – Shoes: Running, Weddings, and More
2-2 – Contracts, Promises, Concepts
2-3 – The Paternalism of Government
2-4 – Interviews Abound, Offers Trickle
2-5 – Just Saying No To Rebounds
Consider this something of a literary catharsis, and feel free to read, or not. I write this at a time when the blog, while not hidden, is not exactly out in the open. Anyone reading this is likely scouring my archives or just searching, stumbling randomly upon these stories. So, as I describe the events that found me unemployed at the end of nearly five years servitude to an often weird, occasionally wonderful organization, I’ll try not to implicate anyone or anything in particular, but instead reflect merely on my impressions of what happened, my (obviously) biased opinion of things, and the lessons learned in the process. No names. No accusations. Just what it is, and that’s all.
It’s odd. It’s been only a couple weeks now since I shuttered the blog from public sight — though I’ve often gone longer without a post,so no big deal right? — and there have been a couple minor disturbances in the ether of my reading network. And I really do mean minor.
Questions. Wide-eyed looks of curiosity. Shrugs of assumed technical explanations.
But two weeks in and I’m fairly certain it won’t be coming back. And I’ve found myself rehearsing excuses for that. Sitting in the car making up fake reasons to tell people, clever comebacks to slam in faces of the folks who insist I should not have closed the blog. How wrong is that?
I won’t scold anyone. I haven’t. Chris emailed and politely informed me that my server seemed to be down. Yup, thanks… I replied without a real answer. Mom wondered aloud why my blog didn’t seem to be working. Oh really?… I shrugged.
But as much as I want to blow this in the face of everyone else, I will be the first to admit (at least while in a rational state of mind) that it falls squarely on my own shoulders. It’s my blog, my bag, my burden to bravely burn to oblivion if I so desire.
Actually, I’ve decided that I’ve come up with a multiplier for the life of information on the web. For simplicity sake, I’ve rounded the number to fifty. Time on the web time fifty equals an equivalent objective measure of time in reality. So something that has been on the web for one year has lived the life akin to a fifty year old human. By that measure, my blog is positively medieval. Ancient history. Yet embedded upon the webs with about the same impact as some obscure theory of alchemy as relating to modern science.
Just now my soon-to-be-ex boss, Tom (who I can name now that this blog is private) wandered into my office and loaned me a copy of the March 1, 2010 New Yorker where on page sixty eight there is an article regaling the mental roller-coaster of job loss. Subtle. Maybe. He’d called me at home a couple days ago when I was (literally) skipping this thing I’m still forced to call work in favour of some quiet reflection and getting caught up on my television.
It’s all related you know. This blog. This boredom. This lack of purpose. And the impending changes to my employment. I’m in limbo. Marginally depressed. Paranoid. (Yes, really… as if some frakked up jilted past contractor could be bothered to sabotage my career.) And I’m having trouble coping.
So I’ve shut down the blog because of all those reasons I mentioned before… but also… also… also because I need to get past the expectations of others and get on with my own fucked up life: I need to stop making excuses to play to the pity of others. Closing the blog to public consumption means first, no more public disclosure and no more blurred lines of the same and second, no more states of apology and justification for myself.
Why did I shutter the metaphorical gates of the blog? Because I was done with it. Life changes. Things change. Ideas get stale and I damn well was finished with this little experiment. You want to read my inner thoughts and opinions? Give me a hundred bucks and I’ll write you an essay on anything you want. Otherwise, get over it. I’ve got things to do.