Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Perspective


Since my formerly full time job (Job A) was cut to part time in January, things have been getting worse over there. I don't want to get into specifics since writing about work at all makes me nervous, but basically almost all the positive things I once could enjoy about working there have been stripped away one by one. Some of it is so stupid and so petty and so unbelievably micromanager-y that I wish I could lay it out for you just to get some validation that it's fucking ridiculous, but...well, right now I still need this job. Meanwhile, luckily, the second part-time job I was fortunate to get at another organization that I really like (Job B) has been going very well. I've been wishing for several months that I could just go over to Job B full time and simplify my life. Keeping two jobs straight is a lot more tiring than I expected, especially since having only one job has been a fairly recent development for me. I can't figure out how I am working less hours for less pay but have fewer days off and feel more exhausted at the end of the week.

Today two things happened that nearly pushed me over the edge. I actually got really angry, and that's not like me. I'm pretty even-keeled and I usually keep my mouth shut even when I do get irritated. But oh, I have been pushed to my limit already and today was too much. I should probably feel bad that I kind of unloaded on my supervisor since the initial job cut was not in any way his fault, but I don't. It started when I asked if there was any chance of getting one full weekend off in May and getting shot down. That wasn't that big of a surprise, though I told him straight up that working six days a week (I often only have Monday off) sucks. I could've sulked about that for a while and got over it, but then he said exactly the wrong thing. He tried to express sympathy by saying it was too bad I had to work weekends at my other job, but pointed out that he couldn't really do anything about that and that Job A is my "real job, anyway."

I told him -- pretty calmly, under the circumstances -- that it isn't correct or fair to say that Job A is my "real job" when ( 1 ) I work just as many hours at Job B, ( 2 ) It's Job B that allows me to continue to afford my mortgage, and ( 3 ) Job B was there for me when Job A totally failed me (i.e. utterly screwed me over after six damn years). God, the whole conversation still pisses me off, like twelve hours later.

Then not too long after that, it was basically laid out that the goal of the organization is to transition my job -- once I am (allegedly) restored to full-time status -- away from the type of work I am focused on now, the very last aspect of this job that I am able to enjoy. Away from the work I have built my career around. Away from the work that compelled me to take this job instead of going to graduate school back in the day. Away from the work that I am damn good at, that I love, that has honestly come to define me. And that was it, I knew. My heart is done with this. What was once a career and a passion has sadly become just a job. (And of course, really, yes, I'm lucky to have any job, let alone a job I can still derive some joy from when I'm not being pummeled by the day-to-day erosion of something that once made me so happy I could almost cry thinking about what it's become.)

After this all went down and I went on with my day, trying to just buckle down and do all the stuff I had to do even though I just wanted to be anywhere else, I kept thinking about an email my good friend Rachel sent me a few weeks back. She told me about her own struggle with a shit job in a shit economy after she finished law school and how she eventually came to realize that her job was just a paycheck, that everything else in her life was the real point, the real purpose. That if having a shit job was the worst that happened, she was going to be okay. Until it gets better, she advised, "The job is just a paycheck and whatever small joys you can squeeze out of it until you get home to what really matters to you." I told her after she sent it that I needed to make that my mantra, and it came back to me today.

I worked the rest of day and rushed off to pick Nico up and cart him to his weekly swimming lesson at the Y. He hadn't napped well today and was crabby. He groused in the backseat on the drive over and then flailed and complained in the locker hall outside the pool. I was pretty sure we were going to have to leave class for the first time due to a meltdown. But that's not what happened. Instead, we had one of the best lessons we've ever had. He let me float him on his back for the first time. He flirted with the lifeguards, kicked his legs, paddled with his arms, was a trooper every time I dipped his head under. Since it was the last class of this session, they turned on the splash park at the end. I thought it might scare him when the jets started up and the big bucket array started dumping water, but he loved it. We walked down to the shallow end and he spent fifteen minutes holding tightly to my hands and toddling through fountains as high as his head. He walked through them again and again, put his toes over the jets, stood in the spray.

I looked down at his fiery hair, at his thin toddler shoulders, at his tiny shark swimming trunks, his little bare feet. I looked at the water bubbling up, at his funny little Frankenstein walk, at his utter captivation. And I honestly didn't think about anything else. I did wish I had a camera so that I could record this unexpectedly transcendent moment, even though a photo wouldn't have really done it justice. I wanted to share this heartswelling thing with everyone, I wanted MB to be there to see it, I wanted to show the whole world this beautiful boy of mine, this beautiful little soul I'm somehow lucky enough to be entrusted with.

After they shut off the splash park, after we took a warm shower and I dressed him in his firetruck pajamas and carried him out to the car, we drove home beneath the most beautiful sunset I've seen in a long time and I felt content. Nothing about this morning had changed, but it didn't really seem to matter so much anymore. I remember now what really matters.



5 comments:

  1. Oh, pretty picture! I love telephone/power lines against an interesting sky.

    And I love the thoughts on work. I wish for more of a REACTIONY comment than that (adding something to what you said), but you said all of it, and really well.

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  2. I'm sorry about your job, but I do believe your friend Rachel is genius. We're fellow victims of the shitty economy and my husband had been trapped in a shitty job for the last 8 months until he got laid off a month ago. Now we're jobless and every day I wake up in a panic. Squeezing joy out of life is just what I need to remember to do.

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  3. A friend at my first job said "this is just what I do so I can afford what I actually love to do, after work." Which is how a lot us us feel, unfortunately. Thank god for families and nature.

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  4. What a great post. I've been thinking about this a lot lately, because I'm in the same situation at my job (where they keep stripping away all the fun aspects and dumping more and more things I hate to do on me), and like you, I know in my heart I'm done with this place. I've already applied elsewhere, and just doing that makes me happier.

    Here's hoping Job B becomes your Job A (full time).

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  5. My mom and I were actually talking about this, and discussing how it's a relatively recent thing to feel like your job should define you. It didn't used to be that way--your job was your job and you came home and did your interesting stuff in your off time.
    I struggle with keeping this in mind though, especially when I'm irritated at my work life (like today). Good reminder.

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