I tossed and turned, totally restless. Finally I awaken and call my fiance, it was 11:30pm and this was totally out of character for me. We can't buy the new house! I still have a couple of conditions on the offer so there is still time to bow out. We decide to wait until Saturday, effectively waiting until the last possible minute to waive the conditions thus commiting ourselves to buying our new home.

I roll into work this morning wondering what we'll do. Then it dawns on me- I have not yet applied my worst case, doomsday budget calcuations to our current situation. How could I have missed doing this basic thing? So I open Excel (hmmm should I have written StarOffice instead there instead of an evil Microsoft product, in order to get maximize XP?) and begin to crunch the numbers...

Ah there we are. I begin to craft an email to my fiance telling her what I have found. But she ends up calling me first and we discuss the plan. It appears that the new house is really only going to cost a relatively small amount more per month. I can almost afford this on my own, even under the worst case (ie: a poor amount for selling my house). Interest rates are still quite exceptional.

And then I realized the biggest mistake of all that I had made, causing me unnecessary stress about the whole situation. All of the numbers were really based on just my income, completely neglecting her's. It would definitely be going out on a limb to buy this house with my income. But between the two of us we really shall be sitting pretty.

So now we await the final call from the bank. The new house will be great and I have learned a valuable lesson already - marriage is a partnership and together we can accomplish great things. The whole is greater than the some of its parts.

All my birthday presents are now residing in a lonely, dirty landfill, buried beneath layers and layers of garbage. And I have my father to thank for this. I know he feels awful, but I feel awful too. I keep telling myself it’s the thought behind the gifts that matter, the love put in to the buying and giving process that’s important. But then I think of my beautiful new stuff rotting amongst banana peels and baby diapers. What a waste. What a fucking waste.

After crying for quite some time and trying to hide it from my dad, who I could tell wanted to cry himself for making me so upset, I decided to take inventory of my losses. As mentioned in my birthday log, here’s what I owned for a day and then had taken away:

  • a flowered Hello Kitty picture frame
  • Hello Kitty socks
  • a plush Hello Kitty stuffed animal wearing the cutest sheer flowered dress
  • a Hello Kitty lunchbox
  • three Hello Kitty and friends snap-together containers
  • Hello Kitty nailclippers with a little keychain
  • blue angel Hello Kitty playing cards
  • Hello Kitty notepad (in the same style as the stuffed animal)
  • a 64mb memory disk for an mp3 player
  • a camera case
  • a copy of The Black Cauldron on DVD
The only thing I am thankful for is that I took the actual mp3 player from the bag containing the rest of these lovely things, in order to figure out how it worked. I left the rest of the stuff sitting at the top of the stairs, waiting to be transported to my room. I guess during one of his vacuuming frenzies, dad took all things slightly resembling trash from around the house and threw them away. The packaging from my mp3 player was resting on top of the rest of my presents, as I did not want to throw it away yet in case there was something wrong and I needed to return it. I guess dad mistook the top layer of the bags contents as implying that the entire bag was full of garbage, so out it went into the dumpster, carried away the next morning by big, stinky men to a landfill far away. My mom was as upset as me, and promises to replace everything that was lost. The problem is, I don’t want it to be replaced. Stuff is just stuff, but birthday presents hold memories for a lifetime, and I lost that when my dad so carelessly threw them away.

I’m trying my hardest to get past this misfortune, but I think it will take a while. I am also trying my hardest not to blame my dad for what happened, because I know the thought of hurting me hurts him twice as much. But it’s hard.

I’ve leaving to go back to school in a few hours. My little brother is driving me, and then he’s going to stay the weekend and hang out. We don’t really have any plans yet, but there are going to be a ton of people visiting in Ann Arbor who I have not seen in several months (since before Thanksgiving to be precise), so I have a feeling there will be much to celebrate. Not to mention some friends owe me a belated birthday bash, or so they tell me, so I will most likely be heavily occupied for the next few days. Hopefully by then I’ll be able to forget the unhappy events of late. Even now, just the thought makes me want to cry more, even though as I type my face is incredibly red and puffy already. I have never felt more like a little kid.

Arrrrrrghhhhhhhh! Man! I hate 6th grade technology class sometimes! The 6th grade team at my school treats these kids like they were made of gold. No real due dates, well, maybe a week after the original due date...no tardies, very few consequences for behavior. They inflate grades, no one ever gets lower than a C in Math. Do they not realize how hard they make it on the teachers these kids have in 7th and 8th grade? What a disservice they do to the kids who think they can skate and miss school and then be helped out to repair their grades?

Today... keyboard maps are due, it's keyboard test day. I must have had six kids tell me they just weren't ready yet, to turn in the work we've been doing together in class for the past week. Kids telling me "I didn't know!" But they were here all week. One gem telling me that he was in Mexico on vacation, and all his other teachers let him have extra time. Extra time for an unexcused absence? What's the deal here? And we wonder why Mr. Bush makes fun of Marin County. Blah. Caught one little girl, an A student, hiding a crib sheet in her jacket. She was caught, plain and simple. She swears, "I wasn't going to cheat! I wouldn't do that!" She cries. I turn in the crib sheet to the office and tell the vice principal what's up, forehead on his desk, asking if I can go home now. Makes me feel like a royal bitch. But there are edges in life, kids need to know how to find them, and to deal with them. Isn't that part of my job?

First period is over. I'm waiting for the next class. Happy Friday.

Thank God, I'm not fired.

This has been in doubt for some time. About a month ago my supervisor and I met in the office of the company president. (Our company only employs about thirty people internally.) The catalyst was a client who hadn't gotten their files, from me, done in the time we'd promised. After taking a few minutes to make me uncomfortable by chit-chatting with the secretary, who was also part of the meeting taking notes, he told me that my performance and general attitude weren't up to par and that I was on probation for one month. If improvement wasn't seen by then, my position would be terminated.

Now, this shocked me just a little bit, seeing as I was the only employee who knew how to do Web development. There were two others when I was hired; one went freelance midway through 2001, and the other was abruptly fired a few weeks earlier for misrepresenting company work as his own. I thought I was just a little invulnerable because of that. But the fired employee had, after leaving, sent a terse e-mail around to select staff suggesting that the management was looking for more creative ways to get rid of their Internet staff. So yeah, I was a little freaked.

The first proactive thing I did was to increase my medication. I have attention deficit disorder, at least in a mild form, and I was on 10mg of generic Ritalin twice a day. I promptly increased it to 20mg a day while I waited to talk to my doctor to increase the prescription itself, and did my best to reassert myself at work and take better notes.

The fact that the company president liked walking behind my cubicle at random times, looking at what I was doing, and then walking past my door with an audible *hffffffft* did nothing to improve my mood. Sure, he had a right to look in on what I was doing, but he never once bothered to ask if I was taking a break, occupying myself while I was waiting for something to arrive, or slacking off. (Almost, but not always, it was the first.) I resented, and still resent, being spyed upon and summarily judged like that, without any chance for a response. I do not feel unjustified about this.

Meanwhile, other people were talking around me at work about quitting or being laid off, due in part to financial problems with the business. This got my paranoia going even more. My wife advised me from the start to get my résumé in order and assume that I was being fired at the end of my probation period. And yet, they just kept giving me new projects at work, as if nothing were ever wrong.

Yesterday the company was finally informed that five people were being laid off, mainly because there wasn't enough work for them; five others were taking a 20% reduction in hours; and the rest of us were taking a 10% pay cut. I wasn't one of them, but my probation period wasn't up until Monday the 4th. So I was still restless.

So today, I was told that they'd move my meeting up to today so that I wouldn't have to fret about it all weekend. And I was told that they'd seen improvement, that I wasn't going to be laid off, and that all was well. I nodded and smiled. Afterwards I told my manager for the first time about my ADD and that I'd had to up my medication after the last meeting. He agreed to keep it as discreet as necessary. I just wanted some understanding that, if this happened again, the first thing I'd like them to do is to bring to my attention that my meds may not be working like they should rather than put me on another probation.

Some things I've learned, and/or developed opinions about over the last month:

  • "Christian business" should be considered an oxymoron. A business' purpose is to bring money in; a church's is to give money out. You can say your company conducts its business in a Christian manner, with honesty and integrity, but you're still in it for the money.
  • Always keep a résumé out there, no matter what business is like. Better to get a better offer before you're fired than have to scramble to find one afterwards.
  • A corollary: keep copies of your own work somewhere portable. Whether you want to show it as a portfolio or build on it elsewhere (I frequently cut and paste from old code to make new code work), this will come in handy.
  • Look busy. All the time. Best to actually be busy, of course, but when you can't, don't let it on. Assume you're being watched.
  • Work your ass off, and if there's nothing for you to do that day, make something up. As soon as they notice you're not doing forty hours of work for forty hours of pay, you're in trouble.

Thank God, I'm not fired.

I think I'll say that a few more times to myself, so it can sink in.

First Day on the Frozen Food Manager Position

 

A man is a worker. If he is not that he is nothing. ....Joseph Conrad

 

As referred to, and promised in February 28, 2002, I would get back this first day of March, and my first opportunity at a new career. Yeah, I know it's not some enviable geeky programmer position, or, of course, a financial windfall as an IT CEO, but it pays for the chopped broccoli while I store it, stack it, and re-stack it.

Last night I got my collection of white shirts for the required uniform, as well as the necessary red tie and decent slacks as per the dress code handed to me thursday. I went to bed early, took my Melatonin to insure a good night's sleep, and then allowed my rested but restless body and mind to deprive me of that luxury.

5:30AM-6:30AM

I can't sleep, I think, so I might as well get up, being that is only an half-hour away from buzzing my senses from beta to zeta waves . I hear the coffee being made, as well as the promised morning breakfast sizzling by my magnificent, though sometimes recalcitrant, significant other. After enjoying pancakes, and this last free-time for a long time today, I leave for my adventure awaiting in the cold after praying to Lord for strength.

6:48AM

I arrive early, traffic is not as bad as I thought. Oh, this looks like the mandatory employee parking lot. I also cerebrate that I probably am not supposed to go in the front doors, but at the side door the door-bell looks broken. I follow a truck driver to the other back door. He says, "I don't know how long it will be until they answer." Will I get on the clock at the required 7AM?

Fortunately the door opens, and I'm in a back part for the meat department, I go through trying to mumble introductions and queries, as I go through their cutting room, and onto the floor. Where is everybody? To make a long story shorter, I find Dave, the manager, and he takes me to where I can get a proper maroon tie, and a time card.

7:07

By the time I got everything, I was already late, but I met Robin my trainer/retiree and on the floor by the freezers we did the tighten up, and he explained we restock with existing procuct while waiting for the truck. Eventually the truck would come in with four skids (pallets) with heavy cold boxes. Through the weary day boxes would be opened, emptied, bags and packages cajoled into spaces, and repeated. Frustration abound with tumulting boxes of whatever boxxing me on the ears, while my clutzy elboys knock other neat rows askew. However, when not separated, but working in proximity, in our conversations we share the joy recognizing that we are Christians that enjoy the clean , kind, and honest atmosphere the owners have created.

breaktime

I need a watch, I would have missed break if not for been invited, meeting the jovial dairy managers. I only have a drink of water.

Lunch

I lost track of time again, and was a half hour late. By this time the episode that could inspire Camus has left me very tired, but I am hungry, and their snack bar cooks fresh and hot -- I ordered the $3.29 special, fried shrimp, dinner roll, french fries, and applesauce. I feel like a prisoner eating alone, and the woman who works for them in the canteena, asks. "How you like it here so far, Hon?"

2nd Break

I sit and banter with the guys saying their goodbyes to the soon-to-be ex-co-worker. I'm offered a soft macademia chocolate chip cookie, while he comments, "You'll never starve, here."

4PM

Actually I didn't punch out until 4:13, not looking good to people who do not want to pay overtime! But, the real frozen foods guy, he says, "You'll do alright, be patient." As he dons his German Baptist black straw hat on his way out; (He never wore the obligatory tie, either.) "I'll see ya tomorrow." He says, as I head furtively, but quickly for the door.

I drive home, and the 50 degree weather feels balmy. (Long johns help, too.) At home I just want to sit, and indeed I enjoy logging on to....do I need to even spend gelspace to tell you? My feet and legs ache, but my spirit feels very good, very well, indeed.

Work is love made visible......Kahlil Gibran

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