Tuesday, January 10, 2006

You Dropped a Bomb on Me....baby

Lovely readers:
I have had a lot of shit going on lately, so I have not taken the time to update this at all. Life reared it's ugly head and many things happened that needed my immediate attention.

On the SO (Significant Other) front, we had several nasty fights about big issues, followed by a huge blowout about A Really Big Issue. Since that time, we have had the opportunity to spend a lot of time together and have done a lot of reconnecting. The SO has taken many steps to take a more active role in our relationship, showing by example that he cares a lot about me and does not want to lose me. I think this was the first time that he ever thought that was a real possibility (which means I did my job communicating that fact to him, because it was very possible.) More on that later.

The other Big Event was that I got fired from my job for no good reason. If I had been late all the time, or fucked off at work, or downloaded porn, or was lazy, or did not get along with anyone, or even was incompetent, I would understand (well, I probably would NOT understand because I would be too stupid.) But if there was cause, I would not have been devastatingly upset. But there was no apparent cause, and they gave me some lame excuse saying that I had "not developed technically they way they would have liked." This means absolutely NOTHING. I love how they saddle ME with the responsibility of not developing technically when I was put in the 12:00 noon to 8:00 pm shift, without another person with me, with the other two technically adept support guys on from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, leaving for an hour for lunch when I arrive, leaving me at most THREE HOURS A DAY with them. Three hours for me to pick their brains for the infinite wisdom they would provide to me - if they were friendly and approachable and cooperative and helpful all the time. Oh, yeah, that's right....they're NOT! They fucking complain about every little thing they have to do that is out of the ordinary; when they have a customer that is stupid (Hello?! We work in Tech Support!!) They complain to the boss when something stupid upsets their delicate equilibriums and makes them have to make the slightest effort to work harder. I mean, they petitioned to have their workday SHORTENED BY AN HOUR......AND WON!!! Does this sufficiently describe the type of people I was working with?!

So that happened on Tuesday October 25th. The consultant that our company had retained to get Tech Support back in shape after a tumultuous year (two new hires, change in upper management, direct supervisor fired and no replacement hired, change in hours) was in the office for his week with us (he's from the west coast.) The VP of my department (who had also given his notice and that was his last week there) was there for meetings that week too. So, no more than 15 minutes after I get to work, I am called in to a meeting with them. Clueless, I am thinking they have met with the others, or are about to, about the VP leaving and what would happen afterwards, etc. Nope, WRONG. VP tells me that they have come to the conclusion that it would be better to let me go. Totally shocked, I barely have the wherewithal to ask if there is anything that can be arranged, if there is something that can be worked out. VP says no and adds that he thinks the fact that they are giving me a "generous" severance package is very significant, and that there is no other way to do this. The "generous" package was one month's pay along with my unused vacation and personal time. [Ooh. I feel so gracious, can you tell?!] Then, as I am crying almost uncontrollably and after he leaves to go get a box of tissues for me, he asks if I would be able to quietly pack my things within about 10-15 minutes and leave without incident. He offers me the option of coming back when there is no one there and someone can let me in to get my things and I decline, saying I would rather get it over with now. So, with VP watching over my shoulder, seeming like he is trying to be nice, I pack my desk (amazingly, without anyone really noticing) and VP walks me out the door to my car. Shakes my hand, says it was a pleasure working with me and best of luck. He has already walked out the door with me so he can't say, "Don't let the door hit you on the ass on your way out!" without sounding dumb. But he might has well have. That was it. Finito. Kaput. No more job.

I got in the car and began crying like I have not cried in, well, a day or so, since the day before that was when SO and I had the big blowout about The Really Big Issue (did I mention it was a bad week?!?!)

I called the one person from work that I thought would care, and who I KNEW did not know, because she works remotely from home. She was as shocked as I was and could not figure out a real reason why this could have happened. She was very sympathetic and said I could call her anytime and to please keep in touch. Then I called my SO. He was shocked. I was shocked. We were both shocked. He offered to come home, which just freaked me out more, because (in my racing mind this made sense) god-forbid he put HIS job in jeopardy by splitting early just because I am crying a lot. I told him to stay at work. I ended up going to a friend's house overnight, much to SO's displeasure (he wanted to be there to "bond" with me over this....more on that later.) This helped me a lot and then I went home the next day.

Thankfully, that coming weekend was 'go away and do my hobby' weekend. It was a welcome escape from the real world and all of it's goddamned, motherfucking, shitty, craptacular assyness. I went home the next day and sent an e-mail out to everyone I had an e-mail address for - family, friends, acquaintances - and announced that I had lost my job (said I was laid off, didn't need everyone to know I had been fired) and basically asked for charity. Anyone and everyone who could provide me with a job lead was welcome and encouraged to please do so. I had decided a long time ago that when this sort of thing happens and you have a mortgage to pay, all semblance of pride or privacy goes out the window and you beg for help from whomsoever is willing to give it.

Heh, heh...MORTGAGE...oh yeah!!! Did I mention that we were closing on our refinance two days later, that Thursday? Yeah! That made the sting of being fired even sharper than it was already. It was the rotten cherry on top of the sundae of horseshit that I had been served on Tuesday. Yeah.

Anyway, we completed the refinance without incident, thankfully. I got some e-mail responses from friends who were trying to help. I packed up for my weekend and got up there and had a fantastic time with lots of friends who were very supportive (but, of course, it was bittersweet because it was the Final Weekend which I blogged about before). And then I had to come home to SO and The Really Big Issue again.

I will not elaborate on The Really Big Issue, except to say that it involved my SO, the internet, a person of the opposite gender and a lot of excuses. The Issue was discussed at length on several different occasions; I initiated an embargo on, shall we say, "quality time" for an undetermined period of time; The SO voluntarily and without being asked stopped spending every night on the computer playing a widely-known MMORPG, saying that he was taking a sabbatical. We began to spend time together and he was extremely nice, doing nice things for me like making dinner, calling me often to see how I was, getting me flowers, talking about gifts for my family for Christmas, getting excited for Christmas and helping with the decorating, saying we should get a tree, getting a wreath for the door and new doormat without being asked. We went out to the movies and saw Harry Potter and Narnia and Rent and King Kong together. Just seeming to spend time thinking about my happiness much more than his own (also taking very good care of me during The Sickness, more on that later). Many things like this that he should have been doing all along, but had not been doing. He was taking a more active part in our relationship, day to day, rather than being passive and just letting life unfold. It took me a few weeks to warm up to this, because I was very angry and upset and feeling like it was all going to end. But after seeing that he was sincere about it all and not just putting on a show, I began to participate myself. I had not been putting him off or anything, I just had not been as enthusiastic as he was.

Anyway, his behavior, combined with my getting a Temporary part-time position through a friend, helped me to feel better about a lot of things. I de-stressed from getting canned (though the anger is still there, can you tell?) and was enjoying a no-brainer, no-stress job with actual likeable people who appreciated me being there. Imagine?!

Then, came The Sickness.
The first weekend in December, we went to see my brother for his son's birthday party. As we were traveling there, it became clear that I was not feeling very good. My sore throat turned evil and I began feeling feverish. I toughed it out the next day, but we went home that night, primarily because SO had to work the next morning. But I would not have been able to make it anyway. I was in bed the next three days straight. All day every day. This was no flu. This was the Evil Head/Chest Cold from Hell. It involved a sore throat, coughing, some light fever and neck aches and tons and tons of phlegm! And exhaustion, oh the exhaustion! When I say I was in bed, I mean I was IN BED. I barely got out of bed at all that week and I did not even work at the temp job. Finally towards the end of the week, I was feeling good enough to walk around and later in the evening I felt good enough to actually go out of the house to get something to eat. During this week, SO was unbelievably attentive and kind, catering to my every whim! It really helped me feel not so poopy and miserable.

The following weekend, I had another hobby weekend away. I went in with the caveat that I might go home at any time (which was of course acceptable to everyone since they could not even believe I was there.) I toughed my way through the weekend and felt better for it. That week I seemed to get even better. The following Saturday evening was the annual get-together of friends from close by for Christmas. Went down to that, along with the SO, who had to work that day and the next morning. It was nice to go together, and have a good time where I was not being pestered about when we would be leaving. I knew he had to work, he knew I knew he had to work, we knew we would be leaving at a reasonable hour and I would be driving home so he could sleep. Sure he might not get the perfect night's sleep. But it was a mutual agreement. This was a new thing and I was liking it a lot! Had a great time with friends, danced, drank, etc.

By Tuesday morning, The Sickness was BACK with a vengeance!!! Aagghh!!! Figures! The week of Christmas! So I spent the week trying to make myself better, staying in bed, eating egg pastina, drinking lots of apple cider and taking Zicam to try and make it not come back (unsuccessfully, I might add.) We went to see family for Christmas weekend on Friday night, stopping at another friends' party on the way there for a couple of hours. I hung tough, but I was coughing all the time and taking cough suppressant every 4 hours. My throat was raw, I had a headache like my head was going to explode, but I had a great time that weekend! I was showered with gifts, oddly enough. Because of the influx of children, we do the pick-a-name thing for the adults to save some dough. So the adults get one gift from family (other than their SO's or other family) and we all get gifts for the kids. My mother, of course, counts herself exempt from this, so she usually gets EVERYONE gifts every year. But I got gifts from my sister-in-law, my mother, my father, and my brother as well as my assigned person, my other brother. It was odd, but then again, by that time, I was more focused on trying to not be plague-ridden and was not actively thinking about the fact that I had a terrible month and a half and maybe desrved some presents to cheer me up! Anyway, it was nice, my parents came over to my sister-in-law's house and everyone got along great and it was friendly and homey and nice, etc. Christmas Day we went back there again and ate and went to see Harry Potter, because my brother and sister-in-law had not seen it yet. I went back with my sis-in-law the next day to pickup my nephew and we left from there for home. We had stayed an extra day since SO did not have to work Monday.

Then we went home and opened OUR presents!! Yay!!

A little odd, some of the presents, but all very very nice! He got me a 1GB USB Thumb Drive for my computers (to store and transfer music, pics, files, etc.!), a 1/2 GB MP3 player (a real one, not just my Handheld Personal PC stuffed with music,) the Red Riding Hood figure from the McFarlane Twister Fairy Tales series, the soundtrack to Wicked (which was duplicated and then turned into the DVD of The Year Without a Santa Claus!) and tickets to the Westminster Dog Show on Valentine's Day! :-) He got us both tickets and he is going to actually go WITH me this time! It will be fun! We will be going to the second and final day, so not the whole thing, but I think he would be hard pressed to have a good time there for two straight days (he had thought the same thing when he got the tickets.)

He was most surprised by the graphics card that I got him with the assistance of my sister-in-law who said she was buying it for herself (one for her and one for my brother for Christmas - he was there when she bought them.) HA!! Fooled him! He was very happy about this - dare I say, giddy. Of course, his favorite gift this year was the one he got himself with his tips from work, the Sony PSP. We discussed it prior to its purchase and I was okay with him using his tips for that since it was extra money and not coming out of our bill paying money or the Refi money that we have in savings now. He bought it and wrapped it and put it under the tree. I figure it's goodwill towards something like that for ME one of these days! Plus I have done a lot of clothes shopping over the past two months (a lot for ME, at least), so I think it will all even out.

For New Years, since there was no real "must-attend" party this year, we decided to have a nice evening out with just the two of us. He made reservations at the local suites hotel that we had stayed in when we were first dating, and we went out to dinner at Legal Sea Foods. I was a little freaked when we walked in the door, the waiting area was FULL and there had to be 20 people there. Fortunately, 5 minutes after we arrived, they called for the party of 16 that was waiting there (I was close...) So the place cleared out and we were seated about 5 minutes later. WHEW!! We had a great dinner and spent a lazy evening at the hotel, flipping around the channels, making popcorn and searching for the New Years Eve Specials, which apparently don't start until 11:30 these days! I felt sad hearing Dick Clark on New Years Rockin' Eve, as the stroke last year really did some damage and he can't speak very clearly anymore. It is like the passing of an era.

My temp job ended the week of Christmas, although they may call me back now that it is past New Years. I am now getting Unemployment and searching for a new job. in the meantime, I have a few small projects planned for my "free time": paint the foyer wall, paint the bathroom walls, get my papers and filing organized (two big stashes of it, starting with the one in my bedroom.) Maybe do some other little things around the house, like replace light fixtures, and blinds in other rooms. Have already ordered a replacement blind for the upstairs bathroom. Have already cleaned up under my desk here in the bedroom. Bought filing boxes to temporarily house the papers to make it easier to organize and properly organize/file/chuck stuff as I go. Need to sort through some basement stuff and reorganize it to move the PC graveyard into there (this year brought new replacement pieces for both of us); need to organize my books now that they are on shelves and need to organize the clothing shelves now that we have them all set up. Also need to get/make a curtain thingy for our makeshift closet. I am going to look into what we can replace the fluorescent lights with in the bedroom (we have dropped ceilings and there are three full-panel sized regular fluorescent light fixtures, like in an office, and I hatehatehate them!)

Well....that basically brings things up to date here. Sorry I have been so heinously lax in posting. The loss of my job kind of put me off my axis and I am still trying to make some normal routine to follow now that I am not temping and the holidays are over.

Let me close by saying that I have been written-up at jobs before, and been threatened with being canned if whatever it was did not improve. I have worked in fear of being let go, of having my every move watched, thinking anyone could be "the enemy". I think that the trauma of being fired without any warning whatsoever was FAR WORSE than the tension of knowing I was on thin ice. It literally pulls the rug right out from under you. You think things are fine, go into work, get your water (or coffee, or whatever) make your small talk with co-workers, get into your day and - BLAM - no more job. It's like no other experience (other than maybe walking on ice and thinking it will hold and then it cracks and you fall through, but then your life is in danger - with a job, not so much...) It makes you question what the fuck you did wrong, who you pissed off, who said what to whom about you, who reported that one time they saw you surfing the internet when it WASN'T your lunch break, what customer complained about you to which bigwig because you didn't fucking say "Bless You!" when they sneezed on the phone last week. I think everyone who knows me personally knows that I like to know WHY things happen. I have to have the reasons. And not knowing why this happened (because saying I "hadn't developed technically the way they would have hoped" is a load of crap) is absolutely torturous for me. I will probably never know. And I have come to grips with it. But that will haunt me for a while. The next job I take, I will once again be skittish to make sure I know ALL the rules and EXACTLY what is expected of me, I will stay strictly within the straight and narrow to the Nth degree! I hate feeling under confident at work. It is the one place where I feel comfortable being confident in my abilities and when something like this happens, it shoots that all to hell. Now I have to build up that confidence in myself all over again, from scratch. Fuck! I am sure I will write more about this another time, but for now I am done.

There it is, in black and white, for the whole world wide web to read. On with the great experiment...the Big Mistake... :-)