Monday, March 8, 2010

A Postcard from Petulance

Greetings from the middle of Travelapalooza with The Parent Company. In many ways I have been dreading this week for a long time: a presentation to make to people I'd never met about a topic I don't know much about; two important deadlines in addition, and not a lot of time to work on them; early mornings (never a strength for me) that include a weekend day (a personal blasphemy); being away from my routine and my plants and rituals; wearing control-top hose; and I'll be honest, Bossman? He snores. Loud.

The tricky part of working for the Parent Company is that it's no trouble at all to stick me in a hotel room with them, thereby forcing 24-7 togetherness, which can be lovely, like the dinner and conversation I had with Bossman, or it can be, frankly, a little cramped (e.g. Bossman's choice of the infomercial for "Celtic Woman" as background music at this moment, which as far as I can tell is a lot of really perky women, presumably Celtic, dancing around in prom dresses while playing the violin?) . I'm not hatin' on the choice for his particular life's situation, I'm just saying that a supertogetherness trip such as this doesn't really give me as much of a chance to get away to do my own thang, as it were. And let's be honest, you can have a lot in common with anyone and still not want to do the exact same thing at the exact same time as them at all times for three days straight. The possible exception here is the Twin.)

This trip is something I've been fretting over for the last few days. Naturally, I couldn't just leave it at dread, I needed to add a little soupcon of guilt on top for color. I live in fear of being held ungrateful; the threat of being told I'm acting like a spoiled brat is the kind of epithet that has keeps me suffering in silence for many moons. I have a hard time complaining; I have a hard time not complaining.

So I will disclaim with the following: it's a good job; I like the (usually) flexible hours; it's interesting work and I don't spend my days feeling like I'm wasting away in margaritaville; i've been given a lot of trust/responsibility which it normally takes much longer to earn in a professional setting except that I kind of have a long-standing relationship with the Bosses, what with them also being my parents; also, it's a recession, I'm lucky to have a job at all, etc. etc.

That said... I'm having a hard time admitting that I'm dissatisfied with the current status of things. Which is, whirlwind pace, 6am wakeups, long hours over the powerpoint, short turnarounds, tight deadlines, pressure, stress.

I'll be honest wich'a , this job appealed to me on the grounds that it would, the opposites of those things. Make some copies, schedule some appointments, write up some reports, then go home and live your life.

It almost feels like sacrilege to say that. I am the daughter-slash-employee of two very committed, passionate, motivated, hard-working, hard-driving, high-expecting, high-achieving, long-distance sprinting people. In one sense you could say they are now living out their life's aspirations, making the most of careers they have worked hard in and sacrificed for most of their lives, paths and lives which they have chosen for themselves. So if homies are doing the all-night transatlantic consultant shimmy in the pursuit of achieving their career ambitions, it makes sense.

But pour moi? It's not, you know, like that. And I hear them, I already hear all the arguments in favor of said business trip: that it needs to be done, it's good experience, it's seafood dinner, it's travel, it's the opportunity to see knew places and get paid, work is work that's why they call it work. I hear all this, and none of it's untrue.

Buh like...I'm sorry, it's still not my jam. It's as if my momployer and dadployer are really accomplished collectors of an incredibly rare and well-regarded collection of, I don't know, bird's nests, and I totally respect that and I can groove with that. But they're all "Isn't this great? Don't you want to see a whole 'nother building full of these totally different bird's nests? Don't you want to drive all night to go to this really important nest-collecting area and then hang around with bird's nest collectors for three days talking shop? Isn't this rad?"

It's like, uh, homies? Again, much respect for your passion and for the importance of bird's nests, and I am genuinely glad that you have something with which you are like a pig in mud, but the answer to those questions? Is nooottt reaaallllly.

Look, part of it is generational. The babyboomers are all about work, it's what gives life meaning and pizazz. But how to explain that for me, it's non-work that gives life meaning and pizzaz. It's not that I have something so all-fired important to do that I can't suck it up and go live in a hotel for two nights. But for me, this stuff like mucking around with blogs, and listening to music, and having farting contests with Spangles, and eating sushi with friends, and sleeping and walking around watching the city and reading stuff, is what's important to me. Life, man! The good life! Fun, pleasure, meaning!

I found this web site over the weekend with links to all these articles about "my generation," (that is, Generation Y), and apparently one of our main characteristics is a commitment to "work/life balance" and having fun. I'll say that I highly doubt those articles were written by a Gen Y member, because I hafta say some of them sounded a little...judge-y.

It's about preference, people, it's about lifestyle. I will reserve judgment about what might look to me, frankly, to be a busy, stress-y, crazy choice of life, if you reserve judgment about what might look to you like a life a shirking responsibility, entitlement, unwillingness to do the hard work that's required.

What I'm saying is, required for effing what? I won't even indulge in the ranting rave about what can we really believe in in this bankrupt world of unethical corporations that are constantly looking for ways to dick you over for fun and profit and terrorist attacks and joblessness and politicians who can't keep it n their pants etc. etc. I mean honestly society, what have you done for me lately? Why should I feel any kind of allegiance to you? Doesn't it make perfect sense for me to be looking out for number one, in particular my brunch preferences? As one of these articles pointed out, my formative years had a big old flaming set of towers hanging over them, and all I know is that what we reached for at a time like that was not our WidgetCorp key cards. It was each other.

What all of this might just be a roundabout way of saying, and then I swear I'll let it go, is I wish the Bosses would acknowledge that this trip, perks though there may be, is not how, if given the choice, I would spend my time. And that for them, it kinda is.

Long story long, I felt I did a solid presentation today that still allowed me to be honest about my level of expertise (or lack thereof.) I just kinda decided a) as an experienced tour guide, if there's one thing I can do it's speak publicly, and 2) all I can do is go out there and speak my truth, such as it is. And now I've got the headphones in with the inspirational music playing, jammies on, broiled seafood combo platter in the belly, and I'm just riffin' out in blogworld, so it appears I'm going to make it to another day.

I just have to remind myself that it's a work in progress, and I'm just going to keep working on some of these HR aspects until we have all reached a situation of mutual satisfaction. For one thing I already talked about "working from home" more.

To conclude, I decided that I should sharpen my skills as an optimist by starting a new feature on the blog called The Twist o' Optimist - or maybe The Upshot - wherein, after a long, winding and whiny post like this one I try to sprinkle a little fairy dust on it, and see, if not perhaps the best in things, the better.

So, for example: this hotel mattress is durned fluffy; Brandi Carlile is rocking my world right now with her lyrics about have you ever wandered lonely through the woods; I'm typing this on my brand new computer that's all mine and I'm not even plugged into a power source!; I got to wear my big-girl pin striped skirt; I got some new decorating ideas from the hotel; and at least tomorrow I don't have to wake up at 6am.

It's something, my friends. It's something.

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