Moving and shaking


So I know, what about this job interview I spoke of so casually? Here’s the story.

As you know, I was pissed off after having my proposal for a new role being knocked back and was grumbling about it and generally feeling sorry for myself. I’d decided to start looking for a new role again and had actually sent off an application over the weekend but, fair to say, I wasn’t yet in that looking for a new job headspace. It was fortuitous then when I got a message through LinkedIn while I was sitting on the couch Monday night.

I get all sorts of email and messages and most don’t amount to much. I’m pretty chill about it these days, but it doesn’t mean I ignore them. On this occasion it was a headhunter pitching a few roles at me, two Process Engineers, and another the Chapter Lead for same. He said it was for a ‘tier one’ client and enquired whether I’d be interested?

I responded Wednesday morning and by late that afternoon we’d chatted briefly on the phone and arranged for a preliminary interview at 10 o’clock the next day. Let me say right now that this is much further than any of these conversations generally go.

He’d told me the client was ANZ and that they were in the middle of a huge transformation project adopting Agile at scale and looking to become a much more responsive organisation in general. It was a very ambitious goal, and laudable. And, as I read about it, pretty interesting too.

The conundrum for me was which role was I interested in. For many years that was a simple question: the answer was always the biggest and best. My ego demanded that – I would not knowingly accept anything less than the top job on offer. I always figured it was generally more interesting as well plus, as I was telling my offsider yesterday, I don’t like being told what to do (“Really? No!” he responded mockingly). I’ve always wanted to be the man, and for many years I wanted to be plied with responsibility and challenged with complexity and couldn’t understand anyone different to that. Now I’m that man.

I interviewed yesterday and it was pretty easy and I felt very comfortable, but it gets a lot tougher from here. We discussed the scale of the project and I was intrigued by it and, putting everything else aside, would find it fascinating to be a part of it. There is a lot more to it than that though – a challenging interesting role that just so happens to be permanent, great for my CV, and – like all banks – a handy salary (up to 3 times more than my current salary for the more junior roles).

I’m definitely interested and keen to progress further, but I wonder what I would have to sacrifice. It would be demanding work and for a salary like that they rightly expect a lot – a demand I would have thrived on before, and in large part still would.

What concerns me is what it would mean for my writing. It’s going gangbusters right now and I am full of confidence that I’m on a winner. It takes a certain amount of mental energy to achieve that, though. I have the time and space to manage that right now, and with a bit to spare. I think I could probably manage, but I’m not certain.

I spoke to Donna the other night and she told me how she’d had the opportunity to apply for a more senior role everyone expected to get. She never applied, and the reason boiled down to the fact she didn’t need that responsibility anymore. She was older now, less overtly ambitious, and with more sophisticated goals. As she told it, she was happy to work with her team and didn’t want to be removed from that.

A great part of me is intoxicated by taking on such an interesting and challenging role. I’m sure I can manage it and the thought of taking it on excites me, and it’s not simply my ego speaking. At the same time I know I don’t need that much these days to be happy, and certainly don’t need the swagger that goes with being top dog.

I’ll play it as it comes, and there’s every chance it won’t progress much further. I’m probably overthinking it again, but that’s my rational self needing to tease out every nuance.

As it happens everyone is dropping hints now at work that if I hang around something good is coming my way. I don’t like hints, but I’ll take them.

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Frailty and power


I went out for dinner last night with Donna. It happened to be the date of my mum’s birthday, and it’s become a tradition that we catch up on that date to celebrate.

We didn’t dwell on it. I don’t think we mentioned mum once except towards the end to mark the occasion. I wasn’t maudlin or sad. I’m glad to remember and I think it’s a fine thing, but I’m past the point I dwell on it for too long.

But then this morning as I’m heading to work on the train I’m listening to an audiobook and there’s a scene where there’s someone who had gone away many years ago returns to the town he grew up in and reunites with the friends and family and the woman he loved. He’d gone off, had adventures, made a name for himself, and to some he’d become a hero. But then he is undone meeting these people he once cared so much about, all of whom had missed and wondered what had become of him. Their affection for him was undiminished and he is embraced, forgiven for his absence and loved for his essential qualities, buried deep within his hardened exterior. He had gone away, become tough through experience, then returned, and in his return he connected not only with his loved ones, but with his sensitive self, so long neglected.

I listened and felt incredibly moved. I could understand completely, as if it reflected my life – though it doesn’t, not directly. Then, as he is held by his adoptive mother I found myself gazing out the window of the train with tears in my eyes. I felt as he did at that moment, though in a different context.

I have not gone away from my mother, she went away from me, and she won’t be coming back. I remembered that feeling as he is comforted by his mother, the strong man made frail by love and I missed that and envied it and realised that it was something I could never experience again.

I have lived without it. He went away, I stayed, but both of us became hardened in the interval. Love was not something we encountered and we took its absence for granted. He didn’t know what he had forsworn until he was wrapped in its arms again. I forget too what I no longer have, but am reminded – unsatisfactorily – when I witness the experience of others.

As I said, I’m not about to get my mother back and that’s a fact of life. That’s not to say I can’t experience variations of that, and I earnestly hope, expect, and plan to do so. Like a lot of things, that’s just the situation now.

I have these moments but the truth of it is that I’m an incredibly resilient character these days. I get knocked off course sometimes or experience a wobble, but it doesn’t take long before I right myself again and some innate quality is reasserted.

That was at 8 o’clock this morning. By 10am I was sitting in a fancy office high in a tower at the bottom end of Collins street being interviewed for a job. I blitzed it, though it’s only the first of a few. I found myself inflating to my persona, confident and articulate and in control, tall and stylish and direct. It felt my element, as if I knew the moves before they were made, aware of the impression I was making. It’s all performance, though largely unconscious. I left knowing I’d killed the interview and thinking how odd it was that so recently I had been touched by frailty – and now was a master of the universe.

Mum would be proud.

With the fam


I had my niece and nephew come into the city on Friday to have lunch with me. We went to TGIF and each had a burger.

I saw my nephew a couple of months ago, but I hadn’t seen my niece since before Christmas, and as she’d forgotten her Facebook login, exchanged no messages either.

My nephew was as I remembered him, tall and lean, but my niece had grown appreciably. She’s tall for her age now, and will likely be a tall woman.

We had a fine time as I plied them with questions and discovered unlikely facts about them. My niece, for example, was excited by watching some gaming robotics convention over the weekend, and has aspirations to become a game designer, if not a gamer.

My nephew has the mandatory desire to become a rapper, and demonstrated an impressive knowledge of the genre. He prefers the old stuff, 2pac, and Notorious B.I.G. If not a rapper he’d happily be a game designer also, but will probably do media studies and follow up with something in that area.

After lunch we went back to the office and they oohed and aahed at the views over the city. Kids always love that stuff.

I waved goodbye to them and back in the office people were quick to comment on how strong the family resemblance was. Later that day I got lovely messages from both of them thanking me for lunch. When I told S to keep in touch and that we must catch up again next school holidays she said she couldn’t wait. Nice to hear.

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.