My shit’s fucked up

So I’m at work and struggling in a big way. It’s like after Friday that I’m allergic to it. I managed to get over my disappointment over the weekend, but as soon as I walk in the door I get smacked in the face with it again. It’s actually pretty demoralising, and a feeling I hate.

It’s not surprising because I’m now officially between a rock and a hard place. My direct manager, wanting to plan for the future, put the acid on me a few weeks ago which eventuated in an arrangement that I would resign from my job if this role didn’t come through. It hasn’t come through, and so…

I’ve not said anything to her yet. I’m not keen on being unemployed, but I’m not over-keen on hanging around here either. I have a meeting with her on Friday when it must be addressed.

I don’t know what to do. If a handy job came along then that would be the perfect solution. I hate being here. I feel profoundly gutted. I’ve got no career path and a diabolical salary – and I’ve missed out on the CPI rises because they skipped over the review process with me. I’m tempted to have another word with the department head, but don’t want to make such a big deal of it. I’ve already mentioned it to the digital marketing manager, who has been very sympathetic. In the meantime I feel bloody awful.

I thought about taking a few days off just to get my head right but – ironically – can’t afford to leave the job unattended.

It’s probably a good time to sit down with myself and figure out what I want to do next. Plan A is off the table, and probably B and C too.


Soaking it up

The week before last I don’t think I lifted an alcoholic drink to my lips. I don’t mind the odd solo tipple but I’m pretty much a social drinker, and very accomplished at it I am, too.

Last week I reckon I had about a half share in about a dozen bottles of wine, and had a few beers on top of that.

I blame Cheeseboy, though it actually JV started it. Last Sunday week he came around to watch the footy and we went through a couple of bottles of red. On Monday Cheeseboy turned up unexpectedly and we shared three bottles. On Tuesday I went to his place and we had another bottle of red. On Wednesday JV came over to watch the State of Origin and another two bottles. Thursday was a night off, thankfully, but I was into it again on Friday.

I had a quick beer after work then headed back home to Hampton. I caught up with Cheeseboy at a local tapas bar where I had a beer, a couple of glasses of albarino, then half a bottle of a French red.

Saturday night Cheeseboy came over for dinner. We had a couple of glasses of German beer, a bottle of red between us, when JV came over and we went through another couple bottles of red plus a bottle of Chateau Tanunda sticky.

Yesterday – nothing! That’s the plan today also, though I have a sneaky idea that I’ll get a call from Cheeseboy late in the day. Tomorrow night I’m seeing Donna, so doubtless more wine, if not cocktails as well.

I have to say it’s not a healthy lifestyle. I reckon I’ve stacked on a couple of kilos, which is sad as I was looking good. Should be easy to shift off if I’m good and I promise, I’ll be good.

Square one

I finally caught up with the department head today and among other things we discussed my proposal for a new role. He understood the logic of what I proposed and appreciated the need for such a role, however he felt the department was not ready for it. I nodded my head, we discussed some of the finer points, but I wasn’t about to argue with him about it.

I walked away feeling gutted. I looked around feeling abruptly over the place. It seemed very old and ordinary, as it had been for some time, but hope had allowed me to tolerate it when now there was only enough hope to feel disappointment.

I realised as much as anything that I needed to make a change. I’m tired of the environment and weary of being patient with it. My great ambitions remain, to do meaningful work, but today I realised a small and simple part of that was a desire to change the scene. I need to shift from the rut I’m in to something fresh and new.

It feels a mediocre place. Spotted around the place are mediocre people, without the sense to be more than that. Some of the people I work with are lovely, but too many are small-minded and petulant. They’re protective of the trivial authority they’ve been given and inclined to be tyrannical with it. There’s little imagination and much that is superficial. I’ve less patience with this than I used to – time is precious and I don’t want to waste it on petty conventions. I want to work with driven, professional people in a high-performance environment. I miss it, and while I was happy to bide my time before, all that came crashing down as I walked away from the meeting.

There’s a small chance things might change. He has plans the department head, which include me, but I’m not interested in the role he has me pencilled in for. These plans depend on a digital marketing resource being available – the role I was essentially pitching for. The problem is there is no digital marketing resource to step in – the man who might have has moved onto another role. That leaves a void. The department head intends speaking to the Digital Marketing manager this afternoon – the man who wants me for that role. I’m sure he will pitch for me, but I doubt it will be enough.

I’ve got a lot of thinking to do this weekend. The situation should be resolved early next week, but unless anything changes I’ll be seeking a new job.

Just around the corner

I spent a part of Sunday cataloguing my books, something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time. I only catalogued the books I have out, going one by one through the shelves and to the sundry books strewn around the place – mostly by and under my bed. I catalogued around 150 books, a tip of the iceberg really – there are about a dozen boxes in the garage unopened. It’s a start though, and it was a pretty satisfying experience as each time I scanned a book I was made to remember when I’d bought or read it, and what I thought of it. The books I have out are all important books so there were a lot of memories.

One of the things I recalled as I went through them was the book-reading phases I went through – there were a bunch of Sartre, a bunch of Camus, a bunch of Kundera, a bunch of Updike, Hemingway and Roth. They were read at different times, different stages of my life, but generally they were read as bunches. Camus and Sartre I read in my early twenties. Hemingway when I was still a teen, and later beyond that. Kundera was in my thirties I think, and Roth later again in general, though I first read Portnoy’s Complaint when I was 16 or 17. I don’t remember when I first read Updike, but I’ve been reading his stories regularly.

Then there are the bunches of books put away in boxes – Salinger, Conrad, Mann, Musil, and so on.

For those moments I felt as I did when I first read these books. Often present was a great sense of adventure and discovery. To happen across a good author and a promising set of books felt as if I was about to explore new worlds. These worlds represented and experience, a perspective, another time and place, a world yet mapped for me. I felt an intrepid reader. I wanted to enter into those worlds. I wanted to open all my senses to the experience. I wanted to learn and grow and understand. There was great pleasure in all of this, but also a sense of life education.

Reading I know I would often stop to consider what adventures awaited me down the road. These were words, but there was also real life ahead, which these words gave me a glimpse of. I was sure I had great things ahead of me. I remember a sense of almost uninterrupted anticipation.

I remembered all that and wondered when I’d lost all of that. I could understand, given my travails, how it could so easily be mislaid, or even corrupted, but I had the sense that it was on the wane even before that. To be rational, I’ve had many adventures, and lived both deeply and widely. Many of the things I imagined at came to pass. Does that make a difference?

I want to feel that again. I’m older now. There’s probably fewer years ahead of me than there are behind me, but that’s no reason to give it away. I’ve set myself to re-ignite that sense of anticipation and adventure. I don’t think it should be too hard. I may be of phlegmatic temperament, but I still retain some whimsy and am enduringly curious. I want to feel there’s still a lot ahead of me.

Earthbound Cheeseboy

Sitting on the couch last night at about 7.30 when Rigby started barking and dancing around the front door. A moment later there came a knock. I opened the door to find Cheeseboy standing there, not unusual generally except that he was supposed to have flown out to Singapore with his family earlier in the day.

I asked him questions then plied him with the wine he demanded as he explained to me that everything was on schedule right up to the moment he arrived at the check-in counter. There he was told he wouldn’t be able to board because his passport was due to expire in less than three months. After some agitated conversation it was decided that his family would fly on while he stayed behind to try and sort things out.

I was not surprised. The three month thing is reasonably well known, and in fact 10 years back when a few of us were flying out to Bali for a holiday JV was turned away from the airport for the same reason. Fortunately, being an Aussie, he was able to organise an express passport replacement and join us later in the day. That’s not so easy for a Dutchie.

Cheeseboy in fact flew up to Sydney last week and visited the consulate to organise a new passport. Unfortunately it takes 3 weeks to deliver.

So last night Cheeseboy drowned his sorrows with first one bottle of wine, then a second, before starting on the third. We had a platter of cheese, then a delivery of pizza. Finally we sat down and watched the Peter Sellers classic, The Party.

Cheeseboy is not one of those people who do solitude well, but it’s unlikely he’ll make it to Singapore now, and is planning to go back to work tomorrow. I expect I’ll be seeing a fair bit more of him in the coming days but, as he has a sore head today, with less wine consumed.

Beyond rational thought

I must one day write a book called The Rationalist. I realise it’s a theme of a bit of my creative writing, and harks back to my very own outlook on most things. I wrote yesterday about how things are changing with #metoo and so on, and while there’s a very strong moral angle on this I come to first from a rational perspective. In that case it’s pretty simple since I am democratic by nature and believe in the essential values of equality and equity. It just makes sense. People might come in different genders and in different colours and might believe in different gods but we all come out the same way and all start out equal. The diversity makes things interesting, but is no cause for one side of that equation to seek to oppress or mistreat an equal on the other side of the equation. Without all the nonsense people conjure up to excuse things there can be no other rational outcome.

I set my mind on things, but it doesn’t mean I don’t feel. I have a hard crust of rationality within which is a molten core of feeling. My writing concerns itself often with what happens when rational thought fails, or when there is no rational response, or when – as it must be on occasion – when pure rationality is not enough.

Clearly I know that reason is not everything and have wrestled with the complexities of it on many occasions, but to others who don’t know me well they don’t see that.

Right now I’m at the point where the rational is insufficient for me. I am swayed by desire and hope and unrealistic expectation. It remains a private thing mostly, viewed only obliquely, but I suspect it does me no real favours. I wrote a note to myself before: I’d rather be too much than not enough. When I was younger I wouldn’t exhort myself to be better, I’d tell myself to be more.

Being rational means being reasonable, it means looking after others and doing the right thing. It means that sometimes I sublimate myself to that; the greater good comes before my own need. That’s being rational. It means that sometimes I miss out and I don’t know if I want that any more. And if I were to be truly rational I’d realise that sometimes you must look after yourself first. Maybe this is being expressive?

At the same time I don’t know where it fits in with my heart’s desire. I find myself weighing up different options. On the side are the options I’ve taken mostly where I flirt easily and well and enjoy the superficialities of life and perhaps fall into bed and enjoy my time with someone who ticks off some of the fun things, and why not in the absence of anything else. That feels an easy thing.

On the other side I want to find some kind of truth that contains both spirit and rationality. I feel myself yearning for this. I know myself well enough to understand that what I have I can give deeply, but not widely. My heart is a secret thing, guarded by my rational self. It is kept behind a door until it finds another heart it can speak to. It’s like a hidden garden untended for years that has grown abundant and wild and fertile. That is the other side – I want to unlock that door and let someone into that garden, but there can only be one at a time and even then, only the very select.

Of course it’s not as simple as either/or.

I feel myself restless with convention and rational, reasonable action. I feel in the mood to break the things that don’t work rather than persist with attempting to fix what is broken. I’m weary of being the reasonable man, it narrows you too much, cramps your movement and yes, inhibits your means of expression.

I don’t know. Right now that molten core is bubbling up through the cracks of that rational carapace. I’m about to declare an armistice on myself, absolving myself of any guilt and responsibility for the things that have gone before. If I did wrong I did not intend it, and have no desire to carry the can for it anymore. I want to be free to be myself.

Everything starts again. Slate is cleaned. A friend of mine said the other day I was like (his favourite) Kobe Bryant because I could create my own shot. I wasn’t sure I understood how that applied to my life, but right now feel as if the moral is: take the shot.

Expressing myself

Most weeks I catch up with someone for coffee or a light lunch, a woman. There’s nothing between us and I’m not in the least interested in her in that way, but I like and appreciate her. She has a kind heart and an interesting mind and she’s someone I can speak to.

I can’t remember how it came up but she said something that took me aback. I fumbled a little in response before replying thoughtfully. All the while I feel as if something in me is plummeting. You know that feeling, an emotional falling away. Still, my words were crisp and I went back to work.

At work I realised I felt hurt by her comments. Basically, though not in those words, she called me an unfeeling brute. I knew I wasn’t, but I wondered if that’s how I seemed to the world? In speaking to her I tried to be reasonable about it, as if her opinion was valid, but back at my desk I felt betrayed. It seemed particularly cruel in light of everything I’ve tried to do this year, opening it out, letting it go, which she has been witness to and recipient of. It’s a process but I’m trying, but it felt a kick in the guts.

She sensed she had overstepped the line and sent me a text. I was a good man she said, compassionate and interesting, and even admitted I have feelings too – I’m just not expressive. I didn’t respond, and later in the evening she called me. It’s all good, I told her.

It wasn’t though. I felt vulnerable and I realised how very fragile I have become. It was unfamiliar, but not necessarily a bad thing, and this journey I’m on lends itself to that.

Of course I told her none of that, which supports her contention perhaps except that I choose who to share my things with. I am of phlegmatic temperament, but the people closest to me get the real deal. I’m pretty open with her, but I’m careful not to be too candid or indeed, too expressive, because I don’t want her getting the wrong idea. On reflection I think this is what may have prompted her comment. Quite deliberately I told her how I hoped finally to begin dating again. I suspect she harbours feelings for me but we’ve never had that relationship and fact is we never will. I wanted to tell her that obliquely, as a friend sharing news, but it might have pricked at her and that I understand.

I don’t feel it so keenly today myself, but things are different. I really don’t know how others see me, but it’s probably in a variety of ways. To some I probably aloof, but they don’t know me and that’s fine – one of them recently came to work as my offsider and the reality of me has been a pleasant revelation to him. To others I think, and hope, that I’m friendly and kind, the guy who they can crack a joke with. I manage a bunch of people and all of them enjoy it, I think.

I wondered at the anomalies last night as I lay in bed. I’m pretty breezy with the people who know me. For 10 minutes yesterday I flirted and teased three women together upstairs and they loved it. Nothing in it – one of them is heavily pregnant, and it’s fun and easy. It’s easy for me too. It comes naturally and I enjoy it. But then I get called unexpressive. What does this mean? Who am I really?

But…I don’t know. I don’t know what more I can do. I’ve opened up. I’ve told my stories, not to everyone, but to many. I’m trying to be more transparent but it’s a learning experience, trial and error. That’s why I felt so betrayed. I’m doing my best.

I’m going to sit on this because I can’t do more than that, but deep in my heart I’m wondering if I need to wrap things up. If others see me in that way – and I don’t know if they do – I wonder if it’s because I can’t commit to an outcome? Maybe I just need to put myself out there, cast myself to the winds and see what comes of it.