I have always had a good job. Outside of the few months after my internship after college ended, I’ve never been out of work. I’ve weaved my way reasonably successfully through 20 years of gainful employment. Although I am a good worker by most anyone’s standards I just haven’t quite aspired to be anything but a good worker. I’ve set no sights on a fancy title or corner office. I felt no need to be upwardly mobile in the corporate world. I always relied on my hard work and ability to move me along and keep me afloat and it always has.
For 12 years I had essentially the same job. Iw as a business analyst working on interesting projects in the ever changing world of healthcare IT. I like that kind of work and I am pretty good at it. I made enough money to buy a small house and live reasonable comfortably. My career had never been my priority, my focus, but instead I made sure I had a reasonably satisfying job that allowed me to pursue the things I truly enjoyed. I had time to read, work out regularly and invest my time in satisfying personal pursuits like my little baking company which lasted a few years, I studied acting and for the last 7 years doing some stand up comedy. As I watched people around me move up their ladders, I wondered though if I should have perhaps put aside my personal interests and focused on a my career more seriously. So when the opportunity to take a management position crossed my path, I took it. I committed to one year in this position to my new boss and committed one year to myself to focus on my career, to see if I had shorted myself in some way over the last years in not pursuing a career.
Now here I am a little over a year later and I learned that I have not cheated myself of some glorious part of life found in a satisfying career. Instead I learned is that this is really not the path for me. I spent a year working my ass off committed to the cause and forsaking all else. I have build a strong team, battled against the evils of incompetence and laid a solid foundation for the team’s future. I have spent a year frustrated with the lack of progress made in a backward world, fighting against the “way it’s always been” (the company motto) and come out in the end with “difficult” noted in my chart (Seinfeld reference for those with a limited sense of humor). I’m in the worst shape I’ve been in in years, my boyfriend thinks I’m a raving lunatic because of my after work bad moods (although he probably has always thought me a bit looney) and I’m exhausted. I’ve written maybe a page of anything worth reading and 2 jokes worth a minor giggle, performed less than ever and have read merely 3 books.
Now I stand here with a new realization of what a good life is and at a cross roads. What to do, what to do.
It’s Thursday night and I’ve eaten too much pizza to be productive. All I want to do is crawl into bed and close my eyes. Instead I force myself to sit here listening to John Denver on my iPhone, drinking chamomile tea and scribbling this. I should be working on more earnest projects but I’ve build a wall of procrastination thick with layers of brick excuses. I need to tear that down, get through the doubt and second guessing my purpose. I need to move forward or I will again tomorrow see myself sitting here in this same place, wearing the same bathrobe and scrawling the same whiny blog entry. I’ve been stagnant for too long.
Ok it’s time to do this, do something, but first a little Rocky Mountain High and another cup of tea.
Boy have I had a great week. Casting aside all the worries and woes and stress from my day job, I got to see my work bestie win an award for her hard work and dedication at the company’s annual banquet; my team won the great Pumpkin Carving Challenge of 2014; and then the most exciting thing happened outside of work. I landed one of the best Saturday night gigs that I could hope for. I get to be a magician’s assistant. I know right? Awesome!
My love for magic started several years ago when I was the Comic in Residence at The Comedy Studio in Harvard Sq. As the comic in residence I got to perform at every show at the club for a month. Tuesday nights this delightfully charming club turns into the Mystery Lounge. I got to perform at these shows for a month as well. Having never seen a magic show I figured there would be some rabbits pulled from hats, some card tricks and maybe one of those rainbow colored feather bouquets hidden up a sleeve. Boy was I wrong. That night I saw things that were simply amazing and beyond that I met some of the most talented and charismatic showmen that I have ever encountered. I’ve tried to convince people that these shows are incredible, but I think the notion of tie dyed scarfs and coins being pulled from behind an ear run too deep for most to be swayed. I won’t go down that path, but you should go to the Mystery Lounge.
I’ve seen many shows since, many of the same magicians and many of the same tricks, and my admiration for the magicians has only grown. So when I happened upon the opportunity to be someone’s assistant, I jumped at the chance. I don’t know what Saturday night will bring, but it will certainly be another adventure.
My favorite neighbor moved. She was my favorite mostly because I didn’t know her name and I don’t think she knew mine. Despite not knowing her name I knew more about her and shared more personal information with her than I do any other neighbor whose name I do know. I’m sure that when I first moved in she introduced herself. That was the kind of neighbor that she was. She was cordial and polite, an older woman whose children were all married but living near enough that they visited. I’d see them coming and going on holidays and occasionally in between.
This pleasant woman and I chatted over the garden border commenting on new flowers or the weather. She introduced me to her boyfriend whose name I also did not retain and I introduced her to mine whose name she did not retain. Her man’s a golfer while mine is into tennis and because of it, we both run our errands alone on Saturdays during the summer. We bonded over the little things, the impersonal facts tying us together. Her landlord wouldn’t shovel unless there was more than 5 inches of snow. So while we were out there cleaning our own paths, I’d offer to walk around and help. She always declined the offer then we’d go back to our own shoveling. Our own worlds.
She is a good neighbor also for everything she didn’t do. Never once did she show up in my yard and yell my name until I came out to chat. She never told her child that I ran over his bike. She never implied that I killed her cat. She never came over and told me to cut down my tree because she thinks it’s a 50 foot weed. She never called me on the phone to demand that I remove the hedges in my yard because it’s interfering with her kids shortcut. I wish I could say that for all my neighbors but I cannot.
So as her son was putting the last of her boxes in the U-Haul, I caught her eye across the flowerbed and said that I was sorry to hear that’s she’s moving. She said she was finally ready to go to live with her boyfriend who owns a house in somewhere that I don’t remember. She said she had liked living next to someone normal. That’s the nicest thing anyone that any of my neighbors has ever said to me.
I’m back. I hadn’t realize how long I’ve been away, but it’s been over a year since my last post. Where have I been? What have I done? It seems I’m still in a similar place although almost a year ago I started traveling down a new path from 9 to 5, or more accurately from 7 to almost 7.
Jobs are a funny thing. I’m hesitant to use the word career, because it seems too defining, too committed to any one thing. Jobs make lifestyles possible, lifestyles demand a certain level job and that can easily become a dependency. I’ve always tried to keep the two things in check but sometimes felt as if I’ve cheated myself of both. So when the opportunity presented itself, I started a new job on a new path, the management path. It’s a path that I had intentionally never ventured down. I wanted to keep it simple. When I signed on to this new path, I committed myself to one full year at the helm of the ship, a ship that has a crew of 10, was taking on water and was being marauded by pirates. A few months shy of that year and I’ve straightened out the crew, patched most of the holes and staved off most of the pirates. It’s been a great personal challenge for sure, but I’m tired of the daily battle to stay afloat.
I started that journey late last summer as the flowers began to wither and the days started to get shorter. It was a brief autumn and an unusually cold and long winter, the long hours at work were in keeping with a long winter hibernation. Now that the spring is here and life is moving again around me, I’ve taken the time to look back at those dark cold days and see the fruits of my labor have been less than equitably rewarded. Sure I was awarded Employee of the Month which came with a taxed bonus of $250 and some balloons and I’ve gained some marketable skills, but to what cost? I gained 15 pounds (thankfully lost 8 of them in the last month), had to reduce my comedy time, have written almost nothing and find that I get heartburn when I eat fried clams at 10pm at night.
Along the horizon, I can begin to see the shore and know that soon my year long commitment will be reached. I will be free to abandon this ship. The only question now is do I?
What a failure. All I had to do was post 12 posts before January 6th (the epiphany) and I couldn’t even make that happen. That’s not a good sign of the year to come or is it? This is the time of year that people make resolutions and grand plans for betterment. Most fail because most are unrealistic. Are you really going to start going to the gym during the coldest, darkest time of the year? You are already depressed and feeling bad about yourself and now you pledge to go and workout surrounded by people who have been going to the gym for years and look great? You’ll go once and feel so much worse about yourself that you’ll leave and stop at the iced cream store on the way home to feel better.
Instead of jumping head first into a pool of health, you should ease into it. Start by not having that iced cream. Pick a salad over the burger at lunch. Aim to take a walk 3 times a week. Aim low and you won’t fail. Once you don’t fail at that, aim a little higher and gently creep your way to betterment. After all slow and steady wins the race.
So on this first day after Christmas, I am posting my final post from my 12 days of Christmas. Sure I’m a little late, but at least I got it done. That is more than I can say for a lot of other things I’ve started. Now I’m at a new beginning, a new year and an incrementally better new me. What’s today’s small step? I’m not sure yet but tomorrow’s small step will be to know what the step is before I start my day….so I guess today small step is to write tomorrow’s small step.
So this is when the pipers piped. I jumped the gun a bit and only gave nine of them credit and neglected the dancing ladies all together. Ah what can you do? As a karmic punishment, when I went out for coffee at lunchtime, it was 24 degrees, but according to the weather website it felt “like 11 degrees”. I say anything below 28 degrees feels like 11 degrees or even 4 degrees for that matter. My body only knows that it is too cold to do much.
It’s these cold days that I like to hibernate. I like nothing more than going home and curling up with a good book or good movie but no, instead I try to forge on with the list, the never ending list of to dos. As a matter of fact I just made out my new list of baseline weekly events which includes multiple writing sessions, work outs, stage time minimums and some reading. The basics. The writing and reading should be easy enough but the workouts will be a challenge unless ping pong matches count. When I woke up this morning it was 1 degree out. 1. That’s too cold to run in even in my Under Armour Cold Gear. But it is a new year and if I ever want to get anything done, to be anything other than what I am now, I’ve got to push myself, redefine myself. What better time to start that process than with the beginning of a new year! Welcome in a new me, a better me. Yes 2013 will be the year of the new me! Or better yet, 2013 will be the year where the definition of workout includes ping pong matches! I guess I’m still the same old me.