2012-07-21

Everything Changes

So, I'll catch you up, shall I?

I concluded in June, last year, that I was consistently spending more than I earned and I started taking corrective actions: spending cap for impulsive shopping, cooking, bringing food to work, making an effort to find cheaper alternatives, using mint.com.

Then I got worried about the cat. It felt like hypochondria, but I could not stop making vet appointments. The tests, medications and examinations ate through my money, and I kept ending up short, having to defer credit card payments and shuffle bills around. With a couple of days to spare on the extension I finally did my taxes. I owed significantly both to the state and the federal government.

Later during the fall I got a new project at work. Having failed to deliver on my previous project and the new one being more ambitious I didn't feel exactly confident. The project was loosely defined in that way that makes certain people excited, I was told what the end goal was, how to get there was up to me. That the project was at odds with, aimed at replacing, other departments' long standing efforts was just icing on the poop cake.

During my career the majority of my managers have felt compelled to tell me what to do and how to do it. Being inexplicably unable to perform under such conditions I have confirmed their, and my own, suspicions that I take longer doing subpar work. My previous employer found this so annoying it fired me.

Convinced that what I need are straight forward directions, unambiguous goals and a marked course to follow, I suddenly had to make a million decisions to make.

Out of control and terrified, I went to crazy town. I had panic attacks and nightmares. The loss of Ted and absence of support from Frank became reoccurring, bitter ruminations. Cat, money, job, the logical conclusion was I, dirty and broken, and all my possessions in a shopping cart.

I reached out desperately. Mike came over repeatedly, stayed for days despite being acutely allergic to the cats and me being neither pleasant nor grateful. Ted came over too. He helped me flush out strategies for work, both technical and political. Sometimes he'd bring the dog he and the girlfriend had recently decided to get and I'd unhelpfully think that our divorce had just been a bump in the road toward our long term goals. He'd just replaced me and kept going, bought a house gotten a dog, settled down.

I tried to find solutions. In December I decided to get a roommate. The reason was three-fold: human contact to challenge the plausibility of catastrophic outcomes; extra income to help stabilize money situation; possible friendship to alleviate acute loneliness.
I convinced Boss that short, daily phone calls would be helpful (quietly, I hoped they would keep me honest and focused).
Running, TV and lorazepam helped me sleep.

Cat was finally diagnosed with a brain tumor in January during an emergency visit graciously facilitated by Ted. The vet told me improvements would be temporary and making her eat and drink and use the litter box would be a ongoing struggle. I couldn't face making the decision over again so I had her put down then. She'd been with me for fifteen years, moved across the world with me, been through two marriages and two divorces. It was hard.

Roommate moved in, and it's been a mixed bag. Sometimes the intrusion feels unbearable. From her perspective I am confusing mix of amiability and quietly hostile avoidance. I'll need to have a chat with her about it. It's not her fault and it's unforgivably rude.

I got another cat. It loves the roommate. The other cat tolerates my doting. It's hard not to fuss over them.

I March, a month late, my project went live. It was well received. People like it, they're using it. It's become an integral part of business process. I got an $1500 achievement award.

Financial situation stabilized. Unexpected mid year bonus helped jump start savings. Mood stabilized too, as Psychiatrist's relentless experimentation finally seems to be paying off. I'm learning how to play the accordion. This is an almost inconceivable expression of optimism on my part.

Last week received my year end review*. I was rated outstanding.

Last Friday was Boss last day. He found himself a new job. He said he is leaving to pursue something more interesting, I think it was harder than he expected to make the changes he wanted to make.

The last couple of days my unusual advantage reporting directly to a director within a large company has become clear. He had consolidated everyone under him and he was forcibly pushing them all in the same direction. My project was a part of this. Being moved to a new team the invisible clout afforded me is gone. I'll have to figure out how to stay relevant as teams decide if they will proceed in the direction Boss set out or if they will revert back to "it works". There will be a new director, but I won't be his golden goose.

Times are anxious.

On the other hand, Boss practically invited me to come work for his new employer. So, there's that.

* My Company, like many religions, has its own calendar; 2013 starts August 1.

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