i was looking for a job and then i found a job

January 20, 2013

Ah, Sunday night dread. You’re looking well; thanks for stopping by! Come on in, take a load off.

My stupid weekend has been full of diarrhoea, dullness and disappointments, with a short interlude at a lovely restaurant today (goat cheese, steak, creme brulee, stayed in), followed by a shedload of annoying assignments and now, the anticipation of the working week slides like wet cement down my gullet.

No time off is ever enough; no rest sufficient to properly process and catch up: am I ever bloody happy?

I feel like someone should have awarded me a six month holiday after the miscarriage. Maybe the president? There you are, aren’t you a great girl. With a giant novelty cheque of spending-money for strong cocktails, sun umbrellas and jumbo fried shrimp. A few days in Portugal just didn’t cut it. What do you do when you’ve lost your joie de vivre? I think maybe I am just a bad adjuster. I give all my energy to the adjustment so there’s nothing left for me. The day begins at 5.45am and never seems to end. By Saturday I’m like Dilbert’s ego: a little shrivelled rag. College is doing my head in. I am very ready to only have one thing to worry about: monostress > multistress. Knowing me, I’d still find something to get worked up about. Like that auld one in the restaurant today. Does her voice really have to be that nasal?

I want parties and socialising and being with friends because I want cheering up, but I am so tired that by 9pm I’m all withered like old lettuce; flat, damp and brown around the edges. While everyone else is just getting ready to go out, I’m getting into my jammies. Bed has developed this magnetic appeal, and not just for sexy reasons I might add. I dream about it on the bus home. Oh to lie down…and the duvet, so warm…and a nice hot lemon…

Right, it’s time for wine and The Smiths and swaying around the house in a melancholy fashion to the amusement of the neighbours.


it’s a rich man’s world

January 12, 2013

In a couple of weeks I will turn thirty. Since I turned eighteen, I have enjoyed a very wide and interesting and nourishing education. I have worked hard in a lot of ways and in a lot of varied jobs but I have never had a successful career. I have had bad luck with businesses closing, redundancies, etc. etc. I also had the problem of “not knowing what I wanted to do” which is quite the turd in the punchbowl of successful career-planning. I used to take the failure to establish a career quite personally but I don’t anymore, even though nothing has really changed in that area.

As you know, I’ve started a new job, albeit just for six months. It’s a managerial post and I get to work with people who’ve suffered and been to prison and had a lot of problems with addiction or bad relationships. It’s a privileged job. It’s a well paid job. And now for the first time, I am not the poorest paid member of staff on the premises. In fact I am paid less than only my boss and the CEO, and I am experiencing middle class guilt for the very first time. I am used to being the most junior member of staff: the person who earns less than everyone else.

Externally, I relate very well to colleagues who earn one third of what I earn. And my hours are twice as long as theirs and my workload is two to three times as high. But internally I am aware that many of them have needs that far outstrip my needs and yet still I bring home far more than they do. I also have colleagues with skills that I do not have, for example in accounting and payroll, who manage the payment of over 80 staff on a weekly basis, earning one third of what I earn. I find this hard to reconcile in my mind.

The other morning, one of the staff brought in a bag of fresh fruit and passed it around. I took an orange and was enjoying it until I realised that she had paid for this fruit out of her tiny income and here I was in my fur coat and Jimmy Choo shoes, chomping away on it without a thought (some details of this scene may be dramatized). I know that the solution is not to refuse small gifts, and I also know that I can’t be “paying back” small gestures, any more than I would usually do.

In my chaplaincy work at the prison, I struggle with this too. On Christmas eve I came home laden down with cards and gifts from the men. I am unable to buy gifts for them because I simply cannot buy thirty Christmas presents. And I know that it is important to them to find a way to thank me for the care that I do offer them during the year. But it is very hard to be so rich and to accept gifts from people who are relatively so poor.

I haven’t worked it out yet. I am adjusting to being in a position of power. I’ve often had the leader role in unpaid capacities, but something about taking a big pay-cheque home for being in that role is making me squirm.

Something that has not escaped me is that this role comes with responsibility to and for the other staff. In some ways this is cheering. There are a lot of ways in which I can support, encourage and bolster my colleagues towards their own success and flourishing, and I have started this good work already.  I suppose I ought to focus on that.

And then there’s tithing, giving away a tenth of earnings. We do that and have tried to always do it, but giving out of guilt, or using giving as a way to alleviate a prickly conscience about being well-off is a ticket to complacency and self-righteousness. Having said that, it is still right to give. CS Lewis said we should give until it hurts.

When it comes right down to it I don’t want to give until it hurts. I just want to receive and receive and receive and not to feel bad about it.


i have a dream

January 3, 2013

Beneath my super-cosy duvet, behind my angelic visage, I was having an uncomfortable dream, as I often do, last night.

My dreams are usually anxiety-processors: I am a naturally anxious person (well, perhaps that is not true, but I have become a person whose first instinct has become anxiety) and my dreams usually involve complicated problems that I am unable to solve or see resolved, or journeys that never get started etc. etc. Last night was the usual fare of an insurmountable quandary with seemingly no way out. In the dream, I suddenly heard myself say to my (anonymous, unfamiliar) dream companion, “Look, we can’t get this sorted while I’m asleep! We’ll deal with it when I wake up.” I woke up a short while later, very surprised at the common sense demonstrated by my usually fully-irrational dream-self. I set to work at once at solving the dream-problem, which, once I began to properly wake up, evaporated into nothingness, presumably going to live with all those other forgotten dream details, in the massive Forgotten Dream Pit.

Thought you should know.