Posts Tagged ‘change’

Opportunity Inertial Guidance

28 December 2011

Dear J-

It’s nice to believe that I’m ahead of a trend here with the portable Bluetooth keyboard but the truth is that I’ve always liked the idea of a full-size keyboard and a small device. This particular keyboard has been flexible enough to outlive two other devices (Palm Treo 650, whose primary faults were no wi-fi and no native blogging client; Nokia N800 which remedied those flaws but didn’t provide an always-connected solution like the phone does) and I’d been eyeing a keyboard like this ever since I had a PDA over ten years ago. Say what you will about onscreen keyboards but for me, typing in the dark is a lot easier with physical keys and all fingers going.

We are by nature creatures of habit; we find comfortable grooves and wear ruts in the ground treading them back and forth. If it works, we say, why change? Comfort becomes an inertia and the stimulus of change becomes onerous, often inadequate to overcome the same old path over and over. Between seventeen and twenty-eight I had nine different addresses (not counting moves within the same boarding house) and for the last eight I’ve had one, which makes it much easier to find me but I find myself burdened with the weight of things and that same inertia.

I’m sometimes convinced that the new job is a bit of a mirage: blink and I’ll be back at the old one, the same desk I had for five years, the same set of issues, the same familiar faces, the same the same the same. Yesterday I spent an hour wandering around the roof of the plant, where all the HVAC equipment is kept. Just to be free enough of responsibilities — however temporary, that is — and able to take an hour finding footpaths and stairways is marvelous luxury that I can’t adequately describe. I can scarcely believe my good fortune and resolve to be as free and portable as possible to avoiding inertia and always seeking new learning opportunities when I can.



Hair Shirts

12 December 2011

Dear J-

I subscribe to a daily email service (Now I Know by Dan Lewis) which puts a tidbit of interesting trivia into my inbox. In a way it reminds me of the old column by L.M. Boyd only better as it’s got more detail and it’s free. My trip to the north isn’t complete without reading up about thebar-tailed godwit’s migration of up to eight days and seven thousand miles all without stopping for food or even to sleep. I’ll remember that the next time I complain about having to drive fifty miles to work and an hour on short rest. I wonder sometimes if the scientists who study amazing animals don’t just stop once in a while and shake their heads at the sheer bad-ass awesome that they’re learning about.

Life is peculiarly unsympathetic to those that don’t adapt to the changing world. I’m not sure what sort of advantage it is to cruise have your nesting and feeding areas separated by the entire Pacific Ocean but it must have been in response to some environmental pressure. Likewise I get to start a new job today, baggage literally in my hands and no particular notion of what I’m to do or what even to expect. This is what happens without an orderly transition but that’s what I’ve gotten used to from the scramble of first days and changes throughout my life.

Do you remember the first time you played with a computer? For me it was figuring out how to draw a box with the turtle in LOGO. The reassurance given to me then is the same one I’m regifting to myself now: I’m not going to break the machine by trying something new. Today I know I have to make some sort of determination with a storage tank and that doesn’t particularly strike me as within my competency but I know that if I ask the right questions and document everything carefully it’s all going to work out. We evolve in response to new demands and the fluttering I feel inside is from pushing myself to be uncomfortable: if I wanted to be a procurement engineer forever that would be an easy suit of clothes to wear. Try on the hair shirt once in a while and fiigure out the best way to relieve the stimulus.


Complex Remembering Scheme

2 December 2011

Dear J-

It’s now just down to my last week and I wouldn’t have thought it would have come so quickly but here it is. Me, I’d prefer that nothing change until the very end and that no big deal be made of it but I know they have at least a lunch with my current boss planned and I can’t think of a single awkward thing I’d like to say to him at this point in front of his boss. Worse than that, it’s happening on Fish Taco Friday, my last with Ben and I can’t think of a worse day for it to happen so maybe I’ll ask if Monday next week would work better for them. There’s still nagging residual guilt over disloyalty, after all, and I just don’t know what else I can do to fix that feeling.

It feels like I’ve been down this road before and it’s amazing to think that this is the longest I’ve held a single position at the same desk (which fairly groans under the weight of my debris), five years. I think about my dad who spent thirty years in the same office (with the same filing system as me, too: piles of papers stacked all over, a chair in the corner for me to sit on whenever I visited him) and I wonder if I’ll ever get there or if I’ll ever want to get there. Is stability heaven or hell, in other words, right? Depends on what part of your life you’re talking about.

I’ve gotten comfortable to the point of contempt, almost, in my current job. What I mean is I’ve become resistant to suggestion: am I doing this right? I get defensive and shell-up into a ball of hate: of course I am. How dare you question me. Do you know who I am? And far be it for me to turn into the prima donna that I always knew I could be: it’s not easy but I want to stay hungry and interested and this is the right thing to do right now. I dread the unsettled schedule but I’m confident our family can weather it, though I wonder what happpens on the other side of twenty years from now: broken or better?


The Endless Litany

1 December 2011

Dear J-

One of the things they never tell you in school is how to deal with the time on your hands at work; some days it’s all you can do to make sure that the clock’s hands are still moving in the right direction. Of course, there are other days — for lack of a better term, let’s call them deadline days — where you’re tasked with a million things at once and hesitation and triage (which of these do I do first?) leaves you completely breathless. In school you’re either on or off, listening to the teacher or talking with your friends, writing out a test or eating lunch, rallying at a game or, well, at a game.

Excitement abounds where you find it. The last few days I’ve been busy making snowflakes in my downtime instead of reading something on the internet or snacking on something else: it keeps my hands busy and my mind clear (so long as I remember not to cut all the way through the wrong edge and end up with a couple of snowflakkes or worse, segments: you’ll know if more paper drops to the ground than you bargained for after an ill-advised cut). I keep telling people that I have a lot of snowflakes inside me but the truth is closer to that excitement at changing jobs than anything else:  I. Don’twant to seem too gleeful when people keep coming up and making sad faces, saying that they’ll already miss me before I’m gone.

If you remember back twenty, twenty-five years, Madonna was the headline-grabbing female celebrity of the day and it seemed like she was everywhere: music, movies (mostly ill-received roles though I thought she was pretty good in, say, Evita and Dick Tracy), and media (remember the (in)famous book she published, SEX? although honestly I remember it more for the metal cover). Then just as suddenly, it seems, she kept a high profile but virtually did a disappearing act almost as she transitioned into being a mother, wondering if this wasn’t, perhaps, the wisest choice for them to be exposed to. I feel a little like that although obviously without the glitz (and let’s face it, appeal): withdraw from the stage and gently fade awayas there seems to be no end to the droning in my ears lately: my voice, telling me the same hollow reasons over and over.


Old Job, New Job

28 November 2011

Dear J-

There will be pleasant days and good times ahead along with new beginnings and lots of learning (oI hope)p. For now I’m in the last two weeks of my old life and mentally gearing myself up to tackle the remainder of the work I have left. I haven’t gotten anything new but I also haven’t done anything worth mentioning last week, either. There’s a bunch of stuff I need to turn over and yet like yesterday, when I was cleaning off and out my desk, I feel a certain reluctance to get going as it seems ultimately futile: what am I gaining, who benefits from me moving on? I do.

I am selfish in this regard: it’s well past time to move on past procurement engineering. Without any false modesty, I’ve shouldered the load for a lot of people for a long time and I’ve been wanting to do something new, something different. So, it’s me. I want. And yes, it is effective to appeal to my sense of guilt over leaving but I think I’m done with that now; when I first started this job a boss ago, I walked in with a sense of terror and efforts to poach me were not subtle; I did stay what I promised was a year out of a sense of loyalty. One year became two and then we were thrown into the new system and we all struggled to get up to speed.

The very specialized work that I do now can be filled (and will be filled) by other guys with more experience and I’m sure they’ll forget whatI do and what I did. That’s a good thing. Make yourself indispensable and you’ll be in demand like I was three years ago. There are too many hours spent balanced towards work in this work-life equation, though, and it’s interesting to note how quickly the sense of appreciation from my management has evaporated ; after glimpses into the upper tiers I’ve been cut off as effectively as if I were gone, but my mind has been stuck here in the old job since August. It’s time to start turning that around.


Some Magic Morning

17 November 2011

Dear J-

There’s a funny thing about work: when your’e transitioning and the new job seems so far away there’ll be a day you realize that the time you have left isn’t as much as you thought. Even if it seems a bit excessive to have me wait around for four months instead of the typical two weeks I’ve always regarded December as some far-off, mythical date that isn’t going to be here any time soon. With the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, though, we’ve got just a few weeks left together, the warehouse and I, and there’s any number of things that I haven’t been able to take care of so far that I’ll have to turn over.

I think I just went over my limit on the corporate jargon-o-meter. I’m down to — let’s see — three weeks and today. Each day becomes an ever-increasing percentage of the time left; this week alone has eaten up a good twenty-five percent. I’ll call it a relative dilation of time: as the actual day approaches each individual day seems to creep by faster and faster in some kind of blur. I know that no one has sped up the clock but I also know that there’s been whole days lately where I’ll sit down and eventually find myself by 11:30 wondering. What I’ve done that day. Lunch has been inconsistent too, ranging anywhere from I’m-hungry to what-day-is-it.

When I was younger I used to decry not having seen the sun in Cheney at all: during debate season there was always the tournament at Gonzaga in January where we’d have to get up early enough and return so late that it felt like we were thieves stealing out to do business by the cover of night. The time change always does this to me: instead of delaying the onset of morning but ensuring enough light to bring us home as during Daylight Savings adjusted hours we’re starting to hit the dark-dark zone. I have to keep reminding myself that even that’s not forever, and a month from now is when the solstice hits and we’ll start gettting longer days again. Changes creep up fast on you and before you know it you’re back to something new.


Stubborn Way

19 October 2011

Dear J-

Everyone always blames changes in the weather for the colds that they get but since our vacation, it’s been raiining, then hot, and now foggy again. Naturally we have been sick in some mild form or another but I’m chalking that up to having the kids in daycare and being able to freely swap viruses back and forth. Because of finances (or lack thereof) we’re pulling Calcifer out of daycare later: the double hit of another kid with the loss of the second income has meant that certain measures have to be adopted: belt-tightening is not unreasonable but I wonder about the social lessons so early on, already.

It’s interesting but not especially instructive to compare the two kids as they grow up as there are similarities — these two look remarkably like each other, as expected — and differences — how they deal with things. Calcifer has been unhappy with us lately which means either that he’s cutting more teeth or going through a growth spurt: you can tell by the way he hoovers up his food, and the frequency of his meals. He’s also very much more bonded to theVet, and calms down almost immediately once she picks him up, whereas he’ll rigidly arch away from me and, if necessary, twist as well. So having figgy in daycare has been good for her — she is a social rockstar in the way only four-year-olds can be, various classmates exclaiming her name excitedly as she shows up or when we run into them at stores and restaurants.

It’s a world that theVet and I don’t necessarily understand, as our first contacts with the outside world were preschool at four and I remember sitting around feeling lonely and hotly embarrassed at times by the attention that only “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” could bring, not precisely knowing or trusting what I did in front of the other kids.yesterday she came up to me and declared that we had forgotten a bouncy house and pinata for her last birthday party, and could we remember for next time, please. It’s hard to put a personality on Calcifer now because he’s mute and we don’t know what’s going on inside, necessarily, but I see signs of the same stubborn insistence already.



12 October 2011

Dear J-

Lately theVet has been talking about the idea of moving the family in order to switch up what she does (which we’ve discovered has been difficult to continue with kids). Instead of private practice she’d go back to school as a resident and specialize in something that requires less client interaction and more veterinarian interaction, which would be an upgrade, as from the stories she’s told, folks tend to become a little unhinged when talking about their injured pets. Besides which every job she’s had seems to drop her like a hot potato when she revealed her pregnancy: you can leave to have the baby but there’s no guarantee of anything to come back to, which itself sounds like both reality and deep scumbaggery.

It’s not an easy choice for women but it feels like an either/or: kids or career. We are either insufficiently wealthy or too debt-laden to subsist comfortably on one income, but that’s the choice we made to have kids and the timing seems ludicrous: here she has gone to school for another four years on top of college, needs a few years more experience to get established in the profession, and then you’re faced with the choice of kids or not as a biological imperative, once fertility starts the steep drop at 35. So what then? Do you continue to be stay-at-home and essentially throw away the work you’ve put into grooming your career or do you find some way to repurpose your life with a new path?

Thus theVet is exploring her options and we’re in the preliminary stages of it now. Any move wouldn’t be for a good while. I’m fairly confident that I could get a job at another utility if needed (the people I run across are all gypsies of a sort, having worked at different plants and units within the utility) and am firmly full of admiration for what she’s trying to do. It’s not easy to reinvent yourself, and to do so now while raising two kids and willing to move away from everything she’s known (we have talked about places as far as Illinois) and all the help that’s available is frightening and exhilirating. Sometimes that’s the point of change, though: if you’re not satisfied with the way life is then the challenge of change can be daunting and you’ll never know unless you try.


Evolved Schedule

14 September 2011

Dear J-

Apologies for yesterday; I don’t mean to drag you into the middle of any financial drama. For almost a year now theVet has been theMom full-time, as the clinic she was working in has acquired a new veterinarian and there’s been nothing more than a couple of days fill-in work here and there since before Calcifer arrived. That’s okay. I understand it may make me sound like some sort of horrible chauvinist but I keep telling her it’s okay not to work as long as she has the patience for it. It’s okay to not work and still put Calcifer in daycare a couple of days a week to take care of cleaning and errands. We can handle it. Schedules evolve and adapt as we need them.

Just before figgy was born theVet was gainfully unemployed and she went back to work part-time when figgy was three months old, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. I was able to shift my schedule to work Sunday through Thursday so that we only had one day to fill with day care, although that gradually gave way to more days as she got older and was able to drink from a sippy cup. And now we’re in the situation of having two kids in daycare and coordinating that hasn’t always been the simplest logistical issue, especially as they’re in different daycare sites. On the other hand our schedule has the opportunity to evolve some more.

If it means picking up extra hours at work to pay for it so be it. The notion of what we need versus what we make is odd: no matter what you earn, there always seems to be more that needs to be paid. Expenses track income pretty tightly. So instead of buying a whole bunch of books from Amazon and running out of places to put them I’ve been going to the library. We have more than enough to make us comfortable, and indeed, our Internet became more valuable than our TV so we let the paid subscription lapse, along with the newspaper and most of the magazines. We are not the envy of the world but we don’t need to be. We have each other as a family and whatever maximizes that happiness works best for me.


Swimming Change

5 August 2011

Dear J-

Dory tells us to just keep swimming. If you’re willing to admit that an animated talking Blue Tang might have good advice, hear it out. Sometimes the task before you looks daunting enough that you can’t see the end. Sometimes there’s currents pushing you back. Sometimes you have to tread into the unknown. Sometimes you have to trust people you don’t know in order to get further. In this world of uncertainty you have to have some faith in yourself and take things one step at a time. Just keep swimming. You’ll get there. Of course naivete will get you in trouble — it’s not a all-things-are-great Candide world out there — but you will learn.

If all you want is to live in the aquarium that’s a valid choice and maybe it’s one that wasn’t made for you but it’s all about what you’re willing to accept. On the other hand you have to experience turbulence and hardship if you want to embrace change. This week I changed doctors: initially I had one appointment with Dr. T, who I had picked but then he moved on to another practice in Toronto, so all his patients were reassigned to Dr. D. I have seen him for the past couple of years on a far-more-than-regular basis, every three months or less as he’s taken a hard line, increasingly aggressive stance against my cholesterol. This Monday would have been another appointment for me but theVet said enough and made me change the appointment to another doctor for a second opinion, Dr. L.

At one point in this most recent appointment he turns the screen to me and puzzled, asked why I was on a statin if the numbers were okay and I had no history of risk factors. He then pointed out that I’d been to see Dr. D four times in seven months. We mutually agreed to discontinue the statin I’d been put on after he explained what the risks were (unknown especially if I’d be on them for the next fifty years) and if it was causing any real benefit. I was empowered to make that decision instead of having it handed to me to follow through and trust blindly in. And walking out the biggest sense I had was of relief: no follow-up in six weeks, no extra juggling of lab work, no disruption of schedule. Change can be good if you’re willing to embrace it.