Monthly Archives: October 2012

What I didn’t say: about work.

I posted something several days ago and then pulled it back.  The post had to do with stories that, though they affect me a great deal, aren’t my stories and I decided it was not the right time to share on one of the other people’s behalf.  But this too is a bit about the theme of what-is-on-my-mind-that-I-don’t-write.

There are things that come up that maybe cannot or should not be the subject of a blog post.  Sometimes I don’t write because what I am not writing about is exactly the thing on my mind.   There have been two such things, and the one will go up later.  But not yet.  Here is one other such thing.  Work.

My job, which was demanding but great fun and wonderful in some ways at the outset, took a big nose-dive for me in the spring, several months into it.  It got hard then bad and then it got worse.   I worked all the time and my boss grew critical of me. I became anxious.  I would wake up every night in the middle of the night with my boss and my worries racing through my head.  I would talk to my co-workers, those who had known my boss a lot longer, after some conversation where he berated and criticized me– and I would say “I think I am going to be fired” and one of my colleagues would shrug and say “if you are, you’ll find something else…just do your best.”  This was honest but not reassuring.  I was so thoroughly off balance and so thoroughly upset it was hard to figure out what to say about any of it.  I said a little, but not the extent of it.  Through the summer, which was emotionally terrible for me, I was convinced I would lose my job before the end of the year and I was terrified.

Then some different things happened and things turned around.  It was unexpected to me– so much so that the fact that things did turn around, even though I could not have seen it coming nor could I envision a way out just a few  months earlier — was a lesson itself.  This seemed an intractable, untenable situation.  And then it turned about 180 degrees, despite my certainty that it could not possibly.

What happened?  I don’t really know, except that at the moment it is going very well.  To some extent I just hit my stride.  I figured out in the way you find your way around a keyboard or a new computer– just how to do certain things, even though what I learned and figured out was somewhat imperceptible to me.  Some other things happened.  I did well with my part of the work in the context of a very difficult situation facing my boss early in the fall.  And there are some skills I have picked up that have always eluded me.  I picked up the pace on certain kinds of work considerably.  And at my age, I learned, in some ways for the very first time, to dig into certain projects immediately rather than later.  Those two changes have allowed me to do certain projects and have given me a great sense of accomplishment and competence.  And in view of the fact that a lot of my job involves writing, I think it is fair to say that I am developing skills I’ve never had as a writer.  All of this, I love.

So the anxiety is dialed back.  What isn’t dialed back is the demand.  I understand how to do many more things better and faster and more efficiently.  But the demand has grown immeasurably too.  And I feel the school year, and this 11- years-old-time with my daughter in particular, and with my partner flying by.  So many evenings and weekends, I am not with them.  Saturday before last I worked for 9 hours and then Sunday too.  I’ve given up Fridays at home.  My daughter is playing volleyball on a team, for the very first time and I don’t know that I will be able to see even one of her games.  So I face a dilemma about how to parent and do my  job and a dilemma about what I want.  And I have very little time to think about it.  Because I work a lot and then I come home to the other job I have, the one that is most important to me, and often most interesting to me– being a good mom and ally to my daughter.  So the quandary is– now what?  I don’t know but hopefully I will see my way clear to keep you posted.

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Shanah tovah, apples and honey, a good year.

It is nearly a week since the conclusion of our observance of the Jewish new year– Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur.   The year 5773 in the Jewish calendar.  In the bigger world there is a great deal going on– both terrible and hopeful; and there is much to reflect upon at this time of year, and much to grab hold of and make right in the year to come.  We who believe, as I do, in tikkun olam, the Jewish concept and commandment of “repair of the world” have plenty of opportunities to fulfill that mitzvah, that commandment.

I love this time of year and I love the Jewish new year for many reasons.  Perhaps because we are called upon to look at the world and at our own lives in all our messes and failings and at the same time to hold in our minds and hearts the complete beauty and goodness– of ourselves and of humanity and of the world.  I like this kind of perspective.  It is a big perspective and a demanding perspective, and I like that.

Among other things, it is not easy to carve out time to be a Jew if you live, as I do, in a secular world.  In my current job, and in my daughter’s middle school– it was far more demanding (the work of carving out the time and space to observe the Jewish new year) than I can ever recall it being before– and it rattled me and angered me too.   On Tuesday before Yom Kippur I started the day by writing eight separate notes to teachers and staff at my daughter’s school, so that my daughter wouldn’t get graded down, marked with unexcused absences etc.– because my failure to do so for Rosh Hashanah had created a mess that required a number of calls and emails to clean up.  At work several things happened and I was running at top speed from 9:00 a.m. until I finally made my way out at 7:00 p.m. — after an exchange with my boss that I truly experienced as a miracle.

I left my work with barely enough time to change clothes and no time to eat a good meal which would be followed by a fast for the next 24 hours.  I found my cell phone was broken and had trouble getting through to my family to say, “meet me downstairs with a change of clothes and we’ll go straight to synagogue.”  It was a hard and bumpy observance in some ways because I was off my feet–exhausted, stressed out and late– but we made our way to our synagogue three times for Yom Kippur and I took in the beauty of an early fall day, of my community of Jews, of my daughter and partner.  There was time to think and sing and grieve losses too.

I am late in writing this post, and I am late with other things too– but there is a new year ahead and I will find time to do things I want to do and to write.  There is much more to write but right this moment, it is time–in this new year– for me to meet one of my biggest daily challenges, rest at the end of the day.   Shanah Tovah– a good year.  And good night for now.