Organize/Disorient

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2013 Pasadena Showcase House for the Arts Youth Concert, by Karol Franks on Flickr, licensed under Creative Commons

We’re meeting with a home organizer this week. Eek. It has been a long time since we tackled our accumulations in earnest, the non-lucrative kind, and I’m pre-relieved to have a new way to go. I also feel we have a responsibility to the Youngs to learn to live differently. If they see us do it, maybe in 20 years they will do it too.

“Du mußt dein Leben ändern” seems especially imperative now. Much more of that impulse in a moment.

J pulled the trigger on getting plane tickets for June. We’ll go to Denver for a week after kids are done school and before camp. I’m feeling stirrings of excitement which I hope will not be squelched by my inability to do much except sit in the car and look at peaks. Hoping the energy level returns a bit. I’ve not exactly been an outdoorsman in my life. Right now I’d be the dead weight grandpa in the van. There is room for improvement. This week, I start eating better. More greens, more lean & mean.

How will she have the time to refocus on her health and diet, you might ask? It’s an interesting question which was just resolved about 20 minutes ago. In my bedroom.

All last week I knew I needed to come clean with my boss, A. Tell her my situation so she could help me figure out what to do, whether that was stay, leave for a while and come back, or some unknown third way (teleportation?).

A was out of town this whole past week. And now, today, with the weekend drawing to a close, I felt more anxious than ever about making sure she could hear the scoop from me, and soon. I had looked at her work schedule and it looked jammed this week. Traveling an hour each way by train wasn’t seeming like a good way to do it. I tried a cell phone I’d had for her back in January when we met up for lunch during my interview process. She had been on jury duty then, so to have lunch with her, I met her one day near the court house. We ate fried chicken. It was the best and most informal job interview lunch ever. I knew I liked her.

The cell wasn’t working earlier today. I emailed a couple of colleagues to see if they had a different phone for her. No dice. Though in a weakness, my email to one of the colleagues, S, finally had me tell her what was going on, and I shared my blog address. She was one of my favorite people at work and now I was letting her know my news in the worst way imaginable. I hope I get a chance to make that up to you soon, S.

It was a weird afternoon. I knew I’d need sleep because I am working my (annoying, chump change job) tonight, so I popped a Lorazepam, but again, it gave me only about 45 minutes of Lethe. I was up again and firing off more emails – another idea to a friend about the Kickstarter, some other stuff. I don’t remember. I kept thinking I should get up and work on the rap lyrics. J and the Youngs were out and I decided it would be the perfect time to make popcorn. I was still so addled I had to talk myself out loud through it. “There is the popcorn, good. Take down the popper and plug it in. Butter will be nice. Microwave it.” I was so, so careful. I cut the butter with a kiddie knife. I chose too small a bowl and scooped up popcorn from everywhere.

I took it to bed and waited for it to be time to have a phone call with the home organizer we want to meet. In my inimitable mania of late I led off by telling her about design thinking, what it is, how I learned it, and how I applied it to my kids’ Legos and then their bookshelves. It was almost like I was applying for a job, not trying to hire her to declutter our home. Anyways, I was happy to hear about her style (when I finally shut up) and we made a date for Wednesday.

It was 5 pm and time to sign on to chat for the night. I had emailed my colleague in advance to let her know what’s happening with me, because I didn’t know how I’d feel (after last fall’s chat night malaise). I started getting leery about saying all this via chat lest our boss review the transcripts.

Around 5:30 my phone dings with a text:

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I couldn’t be sure, and then I knew who it was. A! My boss! The person I’d wanted to talk to all day. I tried to arrange things as quickly as possible.

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To A’s infinite credit, she came. Even when I told her we’d meet in my bedroom. I stayed under the covers like an invalid, which I well and truly am. There was a chair for her. I had taken a break from chat for 20 minutes, prearranged with my colleague.

I began at the beginning – April 2013, my melanoma. I have been getting good at the condensed history. Especially in written form. What I am not yet so good at is narrating it to my very own boss, while she is sitting in a chair near my bed, in a track suit, because she just got back from Palm Springs.

I began crying almost right off. But I shook it off to talk again, and had to shake off a number of tears until I was done.

A was the best listener ever. She waited for me to compose myself. She waited until I was done. Then, she rationally went through what she thought she should do (talk to HR). She asked me what I wanted to do – take time off and come back, or leave?

Honestly until that moment, I had no answer to that. You’d think, it being the central reason I had her come talk to me in my bedroom was that I had a decision to give her. It wasn’t like that at all. But she did helpfully point out that it’s not a telecommuting job, so being there is really key. Of course. And there is one hour away by train. There is no changing that.

So, I decided it was time to stop working. I was sad. I told her how much I have enjoyed the work, the colleagues, everything. After all, I was just back to the field after seven years, and it was great to see I still had what to contribute. I still had skills. I could still connect.

It felt mildly like a breakup. Even weirder because outside the room, the family was eating dinner when we came out.

Except it was nothing at all like a breakup. A instantly and completely. became a friend. She told us of her and her partner’s upcoming baby. They live very near our house. I told her I was happy I’d get to see them around with the baby, and my kids love babies.

It started with tears, a crazy shitty story of my health, and it ended by our front door, her giving lots of high and low fives to Young A as he shrieked with laughter.

Did I win the unemployment due to illness lotto today? Yes, I did. And now count A as a friend. Goodness abounds.

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