Monday, April 25, 2005

I am not going to say that I had a horrible day.

I am not going to say that it was sheer will power that kept me there.

I am not going to say that I see no hope in a situation where both VP's see no value in my work or my expertise. Where I in a position where I could do my work apart from them it would be different...

I am not going to say I feel trapped.

Kashi and I took a long walk when I got home. He was thrilled to have an opportunity to establish his territory once again. Walking with him makes me chuckle because I live in a neighborhood of huge dogs that go crazy when my small dog and I walk by. They bark and yelp and push against their fences, while Kashi prefers the silent response...another mark.

When we came home, Fancy and Madison hung out on my head for a while, talking away. She is soooooo ready to mate while he is taking his time. All Fall I had to work to stop them mating so she wouldn't hurt herself constantly laying eggs. I guess I shouldn't have been so successful. Last Spring, he was wooing her, singing and preening. Now he's content to just nibble on the millet instead of her crest feathers.

I am ready for Friday.

Friday, April 22, 2005

I had a very surreal moment today...

In the morning, I sort of circumvented someone who had been dragging his feet. Just a few moments later, the president called me in to talk.


If you ever want to give me a heart attack, just say, "Patricia, will you come here for a moment? I need to talk with you."

I would IMMEDIATELY start sorting through all my actions, trying to discover what I might have done wrong.

How's that for low self-esteem?

Sheer panic overwhelms me and if, perhaps, you asked to see me at a later time, then I literally end up making myself ill. A small flaw of mine.

In any case, I did feel slightly guilty about my morning maneuver and entered his office with a bit of fear and trembling.

At first, I was relieved when he handed me an article to read. But then I realized he was asking me to prepare a statement for the press. You know, one of those two sentence ones.

And then it happened...I found myself brainstorming aloud and heard him say that my idea was exactly the position he wished for us to take on the matter.


The thing that made it difficult for me to keep from laughing out loud was the thought that all of those years of watching
The West Wing have finally paid off. For that one moment, it was as if I standing next to CJ, brainstorming with her.

What an unbelievab
le moment...

I should end with how the day began.

When I was getting ready, I realized that I lost my shoes. I live in a small duplex. There is NO WAY to lose my shoes. Yet, they are not in my closet. They are not beneath my desk. They are not beneath my coffee table. I wore them Wednesday and then they vanished.

A veritable mystery.

How was your day?

Thursday, April 21, 2005

I just finished working tonight. I left the office around 7:00 and came home. I had dinner and then jumped back onto our server, trying to finish the prep work for our new website.

I then cleaned out my inbox, 128 messages to sort and flag for follow-up. A couple of weeks ago, I spent a whole weekend going through over 1400 messages in there and vowed to stay ahead of them. Mostly because I found a few things that were long overdue for attention.

Tonight I found a few more...or rather realized how many things are needing attention when I am trying to block out everything but the website.

I keep thinking that I just get through the website and our new batch of collateral, that I will find breathing room and stop this working at night and on the weekend...but am I fooling myself?

In between dinner and working again, I took a few minutes to play catch with Kashi in the back yard. I keep trying to take a mini-movie of him doing so with my digital camera, but he hates the thing. He was so torn between trembling in fear and chasing the ball. What a wimp I have for a dog!

He always manages to bring smile, though. I am grateful for dogs!

Last night I whacked on my hair again. [I have to stop cutting my hair when I am stressed.] I didn't cut the back, but I did the front. I think I like the look better.

You would have thought I dreamed of barber poles, but I didn't. I dreamed I was sorting through photographs for the website.

Oh, that it were May 1st already. I am so READY to have this project behind me!

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

365 days ago I started my new job.

After waiting nearly six years, I finally found a job outside education where my degree is seen as an asset, my skills in literacy and organization are valued, and I have a voice.

I found a job where it is an honor to work because of the population we serve. I found a job where I have a boss with whom I am honored to work.

365 days ago I started my new job.

It has been an extraordinary year for me. I have been challenged as a writer and given the opportunity to learn from someone I truly admire as a professional. I have experienced life in a non-profit and been introduced to the housing industry.

Being challenged as a writer was clearly the bonus. For a while, I was writing from bullet points on topics I didn’t quite understand. I was pushed to clearly communicate a vision and a mission in an industry that was foreign to me. I reveled in the challenge and was eager to learn the language of affordable housing.

Then, it dawned on me one day that the editing that my boss was doing was another area in which I could learn as a writer. I have worked with other writers and am fairly adept at editing their work. Half of me, as a writer, enjoys editing as much as composing. After all, someone else gets to do the hard part while I am left with the polishing. But editing is not just spit-and-shine. Good editing is teaching about the craft.

That is what my boss does.

However, in honest reflection, I have come to depend on her editing skills in the face of the sheer volume of work yet to be done. I have thus moved out of the “expert” role as communications manager and moved into the dependent student. That I do not like. In part because I want to do my best at work and I know that I am both qualified and capable of much more than I am currently doing. And… in part because I know she has far too much on her plate.

But this year has also been a great strain. I have been yelled at on more than one occasion. I have been pressured to change my political beliefs, part in jest and part in earnest, all while communicating that these people hold no respect for my beliefs when I, in turn, have never belittled or mocked theirs. I have been threatened with my job and then had the episode ignored as if it never happened by the person who did. My integrity and motives have been questioned and disparaged. I have been ignored and marginalized by members of senior management when the work I am doing is not about putting myself forward but about putting the company forward. But that does not seem to matter…

One of the people I admire most at work for the shear commitment this person has had to the company likens our work as an abusive relationship. When it is good, it is good. When it is bad, it is very bad. Time and time and time again, people let things go, work at the last minute, and disregard the cost to the company and to those around them. People in senior management say one thing and do another. Problems fester. People work on their homework or other jobs or even games during the work day. They disrespect company policies and lie about their timesheets. And all the talk of being a team player I’ve come to believe is just a euphemism for letting yourself be taken advantage of by others, for pouring yourself out with no respite or refreshment, for abandoning standards and settling for mediocrity.

We cannot all be as organized as you…An excuse for poor planning…and a slam against mine?

I have worked and worked to try and win over those who have rejected the efforts I’m trying to make on behalf of the company just because I am the one making them. I have bribed with food and favors. I have listened to rants and raves and kept silent when I would have rather spoken. I have set aside my true self in trying to be someone who is more pleasing in order to persuade them to participate in working toward better communications in our company. I beg, plead, and cajole to get my job done. Does this make me a good manager? Is this success?

Is this the way it would be everywhere?

Believe me, the world of higher education had its pitfalls, as much as I miss teaching I do not miss ineffectual, political faculty meetings, being given too many advisees to do them any true good, and watching other researchers falsify or manipulate findings to achieve their purposes. And jealousy and catfights certainly were not foreign territory. But all in all, it just didn’t seem so ethically void and egocentric as this world of business seems to be.

I wonder, when all is said and done, if working at this job is a good thing. I wonder if I am better off working there. I wonder if the company is better off. I wonder if my boss is better off…for while I certainly have accomplished loads and loads, I have leaned upon her enormously and rather selfishly to survive the harsh words and frustrations…but what have I given her?

I am angry too often. I weep too often. I have forgotten to pray too often. I am so stressed that my face looks like I am back in high school and I often miss my periods. I am tired beyond belief and worry what toll this job is taking given the MS. I often find myself dreaming about work and not being able to solve problems or accomplish anything. I have snapped at my boss a few times when all I want to do is be a help to her. And I am a walking, bumbling idiot with the new president when he is handing me a cake on a silver platter... because somewhere along the way this past year I have lost my voice, I have lost my confidence, I have lost me.


Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.

~Philippians 4:4-9, NASB


May I learn to rejoice more from 9:00 to 6:00. May I learn to be a gentle spirit to those around me. May I lay my anxiousness and requests before the Author and Perfector of my Faith, Jesus Christ, so that I may bring His peace to work with me. May I remember Truth. May I seek excellence. May I know loveliness. May I be a better witness for you at work.

Help me to set aside my self. Help me to relinquish my hurts and my frustrations. Help me to be a better manager, a better employee, a better example. Help me to humbly face the tasks before me…for I have much to learn.

Thank you, Lord, for this time to learn. Thank you, Lord, for the example of my boss. Thank you, Lord, for the gentle admonishment and constant encouragement of my friend. Thank you, Lord, for your Word that comforts and guides and sharpens me.

365 days ago I started my new job.

What will the next 365 days bring?

Monday, April 18, 2005

I slept from 9:00 last night until 11:00 this morning, only waking up once to hobble to the bathroom and call my boss to say I was staying home.

This morning, I was even more stiff than yesterday. It really worried me.

My best friend and I played a game of Scrabble (I lost.), and then I went outside and planted the pansies my father and I bought while at Wal-Mart. I really enjoy having the pots on my deck filled with flowers. It only took about an hour and I realized that I was moving better. So I set out the sprinkler and came back inside to rest some more.

I watched one of my favorite movies, The Shipping News, and played two more Scrabble games (I won). I like the movie for several reasons, but mostly because it is about a man who finds himself despite some pretty difficult circumstances. I also like to make up headlines about my life the way he does. And, of course, his new job is as a writer. It is a tough movie, though…

I also took Kashi for a walk, though I felt a little funny hobbling down the road. I sort of look like I spent too long in the saddle or something.

Unfortunately, my seasonal allergies have kicked in from being outside. So here I sit, sniffling, moaning, and typing. A stellar evening, eh?

I need to work on being thankful.

I am thankful for my friend, for Scrabble, for Kashi, and for sick leave. And I am thankful for an evening of working on my novel.

How’s that?

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Dad and I went for breakfast and Wal-Mart today. He had brought over the pressure washer so that we could work on the deck, but I am so stiff and sore that I suggested we watch a movie instead.

Given how hot it is outside, Dad agreed.

We watched Sneakers, a find from the $5.50 DVD bin from a while ago. I moaned and groaned on the couch while Dad stretched out in the green chair.

I really enjoyed seeing the movie with him because it is a smart caper I knew we would both like, but I am worried about why I still feel so bad. I am both sore and achy, as if I have a combination of flu and the aftermath of a marathon. My legs and back and ankles are quite stiff.

I am still popping Motrin. And stretching. And Resting. I hope tomorrow is better.

Saturday, April 16, 2005

I worked in the yard for five hours today.

I rolled out of bed and let my dog outside to do his business. While waiting for him, I started weeding and from there moved some plants around and worked on the natural stone boarder for the largest bed. In addition to adding some stones to make it more substantial, I scooted along the entire length of it to move the bits of grass seed that had popped up from the flower bed back into the yard.

Five hours later, I realized that I was shaking and went inside to finally have breakfast.

I really enjoy working in the yard, but the problem was that not only did I forget to eat, but I forgot to take my medicine, most particularly that for arthritis.

Hour by hour this evening I have felt worse and worse. I took some Motrin to help compensate, but still ended up feeling pretty bad.

I am worried because I am surprised at how horrible I am feeling. Last weekend I worked in the yard as well. I was tired at the end of the day, but not in pain.

Could this be just because I forgot to take the Celebrex?

Saturday, April 09, 2005

I watched one of those Lifetime Movies for Women today. I was channel surfing and found myself coming back to the movie over and over again. Reluctantly I watched.

I didn’t want to. I didn’t want to take that particular walk down memory lane. The move? Odd Girl Out. I remember those days. I didn’t have friends who turned on me. I didn’t have friends. I had one…my senior year. I spent four years living on the fringe, ostrasized for reasons I mostly didn’t understand.

One scene had her crouched on a toilet while girls stood outside the stall and taunted her with cruel remarks. I spent many a PE period one year crouched on a bench in the changing area, curtain drawn in the stall. I still remember those taunts. “Who does she think she is?”

For me, there were no happy endings. Several of the posse ended up at my college my junior year. In one week, I was reduced to “that” girl again.

One day I was in the Student Union with a “Big Man On Campus” who happened to have come from my high school. We had been attending the same bible study and were talking about the week’s lesson. One of those girls from high school flounced over and stood directly in front of him and asked him why he was talking with me. Her voice held such disdain mingled with disbelief. Two years out of high school I was still worth nothing in her and her cohorts eyes.

I will never forget how I felt at that moment, having thought I escaped high school and found myself right back there.

Friday, April 08, 2005

When I logged on to my computer at work this morning, I had an email that truly raised my ire. Often we end up in these grand conversations via email with half information or people getting upset or emotional over something that is not.

But there I was growing angry because someone emailed me about something and copied the new president and made it sound as if I had forgotten or neglected something when in fact I had had no response from his department on the matter.

I was angry because it was yet another time of half information. I was angry because I had to work when talking with the new president and explaining why something wasn’t done or was yet to be done at not talking about how this person has dragged so much out. I had worked to be positive and this seemed negative to me.

At the time, I was still on the phone with my best friend because we commute together via Sprint PCS…or rather she commutes with me and I get to listen to her getting her and her child ready for the day while we chat.

Anyhow, in the midst of my anger, my friend quietly asked when was the last time that I prayed for him.

Yes, Lord, I hear you.

She then prayed for me and for him and for work and for our friendship.

From anger to blessing in one question.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

My father and I get together on a regular basis to eat breakfast at a local greasy spoon. After moaning and groaning our way back to the car, we head to Wal-Mart. Our destination? The $5.50 DVD bin. We are experts at shuffling through to discover new finds.

We start in one corner of the bin and dig our way to the bottom. Once that surface has been sighted, we start staking. The key to the whole operation is the stacks. You see, DVD’s just get dumped into the bin and it is difficult to know what is there. They slip and slide around as you are searching through them and there is really no place to put the ones you have already searched. However, if you stack them, you eventually have quite a bit of left over space.

Dad and I usually draw an interested crowd. After all, we have our system down to a fine art and are quite enthusiastic when we find a good movie. Of course, all the interest is not in us. I know that. Most of our watchers have their eyes glued to the stacks we are creating. What movies are we rejecting? Will we hand over that one? Have we seen this one?

I tell you, it is quite satisfying to discover a DVD at the bottom of the pile. Of course, since there are two of us, we often have to find a second copy. Old movies for him, Sci-fi or Disaster for me.

Yes, we both have Excel spreadsheets with all the DVD’s we own…and the ones we want.

The Holy Grail…a $5.50 DVD from that list!

Friday, April 01, 2005

Another beginning…will I do better this month than in March?

Will I learn to look past that which mires me down at work?

Will I learn to be more thankful for that which I do have rather than yearn for that which I don’t?

Will I be better at forgiving and forgetting?

Will I remember to live more by faith from nine to five?

Will I?