It rained all day yesterday and for most of today too, so my walk to and from the gym left me cold and wet.
YW: "Brad" Named for an American airman who died in January in Afghanistan. 100m row, 10 pullups, 100m row, 10 pushup burpees - 10 rounds. Time: 27:10.
This morning I was up to see a doctor to get cleared to join the rural fire service, and despite them being half an hour behind schedule I got out in time to make it to my appointment to the psychologist. Today dealt with the ACT techniques that were sent to me on a CD. They seemed to aim at letting go of unpleasant feelings and observing them as if you were a curious scientist rather than obsessing on them. Some of the exercises seemed to try to get you almost in a dissociative state (though that's not the right word.) I wasn't sure if this was the right approach for me and I've not cracked how to "observe" negative feelings yet. But the lesson of today was when confronted with those negative thoughts, to do what you can to get rid of them, and when you are powerless to do anything, then you practice mindfulness and you "get present" rather than dwelling on them. I've done some things about my negative thoughts in leaving my job, but I will be faced (and sometimes I am still faced) with negative thoughts that I can't do anything about, and I will have to find ways to deal with the sense of detachment from the world and from people, and the sense I have of not fitting anywhere, which can't always be dealt with in the same concrete way.
TW: AMRAP 20 minutes - Run 400m, 10 ring pushups, 10 clean and press left, 10 clean and press right, 10 chest contractions - 5 rounds + 200m.
Afterwards I popped into the old office (I'm getting used to saying "the old office" and "my old job") and packed up the rest of my things. W was there and it was nice to be able to say goodbye formally. It has also been odd hearing question time and not having to listen. Man question time is annoying.
I also got my "getting fired" money today. It was more than I thought it would be, by a considerable amount. I was going to have enough to fund me for a while, and this is just more, which will mean more to invest. Some of my recent investments have gone down (ALK) and IMF and ASZ which I sold recently have recovered, which doesn't bother me, although I wish I hadn't sold out my ASZ stock given that I only sold because I forgot to cancel an order. Perhaps this would be a time to practice mindfulness if I felt obsessed by it.
It rained all day yesterday and for most of today too, so my walk to and from the gym left me cold and wet.
I realised late this afternoon that they were interviewing my replacement today. A couple of candidates came by and W was in town as he is currently acting opposition leader. I actually wrote some letters and got them signed today and have now cleared off most of the corro that is left (or found excuses not to respond to it.) We are well and truly into my last week now.
I also sold a lot of stock today. The market was down again and the panic isn't over, but my selling wasn't panic selling. I took a look at my portfolio and decided I could get rid of IMF for a gain, and parts of JRL, PVE, and KKT for losses even though most of them were flat or up a bit today, but I've kept most of my holdings in them. So I spread the selling around a bit amongst stocks that I thought were not likely to shoot through the roof tomorrow, that would reduce my exposure to lightly traded stocks, and that would give me the cash on hand to participate in the VMG capital raising in time. I've never had problems buying, and I hope I'm getting better at selling.
I had been fatigued from the weekend, but I wasn't going to miss the chance for a solid workout.
TW: AMRAP 30 minutes: 20 walking lunges with 28kg, 10 burpees, farmers walk up and down the stairs with 40kg, run 400m. 8 rounds exactly. I felt quite high and hungry when I got home.
By the time I got home Roxy had made dinner, the first Chez Canuck meal since Esky moved in last night. It was lamb shanks with apricots and couscous.
Afterwards there was the inaugural use of Roxy's chocolate fountain.
The entertainment for the evening was a screening of Boy, which was great.
Last night I told CoS that I was planning to leave by mid-August, before Parliament returns. After that I told W. W and I had a nice chat that touched on the fact that there was very little I could do in my current role and that I might quite justifiably want to take on new challenges. He told me he always liked the way I write, and we both hoped I would be back into politics at some point. I suspect that is the case. Neither Parliament nor the party have seen the last of me. I may well be back in a couple years after the next election, possibly in government. In many of the roles that I am currently considering, I may also be called upon to visit politicians in the course of my duties.
So I am now on the record as leaving. I've not formally given notice, but that is just a technicality really.
Today I have gone around visiting various MPs and Senators and staff telling them that I wont be back when Parliament reconvenes in mid-August. Most are surprised, and are quite hopeful that I will still be around in one capactiy or another. Everyone understands, and nobody is the least bit hostile. In many cases we wind up having a nice chat about things generally, and my hand has been shaken so many times I think it may constitute a workout. By the end of today I expect all of the MPs and Senators will know.
Some people have asked what will happen with the demographic work that I do after I leave. There will be a new census next month and I may wind up doing some work with the new data on a freelance basis.
As an additional boost, I heard from an agency who said one potential employer is very keen to meet me and wanted to see my CV. This is good news.
This doesn't mean everything is fine now. Part of me is in shock I think (shock can be combined with positive things I suppose.) And I know that there will be negatives in any new job and plenty of things I need to work out that have nothing to do with work. I do feel better having drawn a line in the sand though. The gloom isn't gone, but it's not apparent right now.
I went into work yesterday to clear up a couple of things with the benefit of silence and solitude. That was fine for about an hour until W came by. He didn't know I was in and I wasn't keen to be noticed, so I finished up what I was doing and left, taking quiet steps and being careful not to cough. Luckily, W doesn't hear all that well and I kept under the radar. I just didn't want to talk to him. Parliament is sitting today and I've still not said a word to him.
I am spreading the word that I am leaving though. Almost our whole office now knows and by the end of the day I will have informed CoS. This isn't me formally giving notice, but I am telling everyone that this is "almost certainly my last sitting week." It still sounds a bit odd coming out of my mouth which is probably why I'm not going all the way to formally giving notice. I'm still getting used to the idea. It has to be done this week though, as there are a lot of people I won't get the chance to see again if I leave before Parliament comes back. There is a reception this evening for our new Senator and it might be a good opportunity to spread the word there.
I did round out the weekend with a leg-centric workout.
YW: Leg press 200kg 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1. 40-30-20-10 openers and closers. Then 20 bench jumps, 10 heavy bag get ups, 20 heavy bag lunges, 40kg farmers walk up and down 2 flights of stairs, 10 burpees - 5 rounds. My time: 20:47.
I also did a surprising amount of tidying aroud the house. I hauled out the vacuum and did the dishes and cleaned the kitchen, and today at work I tackled a sink full of other people's dishes. This is odd because I normally don't care all that much about tidyness.
Most people who read this will be aware of my odd inclination to do pushups at iconic and unusual places. Some people have suggested I do them to raise money for a cause that is important to me. Well it turns that this guy has a similar idea.
I had a number of reactions to this. Part of me thought "that bastard stole my idea. Now I can't do that or I will be a copycat." Part of me thought "100 pushups a day is just sad. That's not a challenge." And part of me said "what does 'raising awareness' mean anyway?" Maybe I'm a cynic on these things.
Also, I came across this picture and sent it to some of my female friends who are reluctant to have a serious go at weights.
Strong girls are hot.
Yesterday I went to a film being screened by the Israeli Embassy on the anniversary of their independence. It was called Turn Left at the End of the World. You can watch the trailer and guess what it was about. Dialogue was in English, French, and Hebrew. Afterwards I stopped by some drinks that were being put on by a prominent lobbying firm for Parliamentary staff. I don't know how much they spent, but I can't imagine they got value for their money. There were heaps of staff drinking away, but I didn't speak to a single person from that firm. Maybe they were just trying to spend money before the end of the tax year. I was perfectly willing to help them by having a Heineken and some finger food.
I was able to handle the crowd there which suprised me a bit, though my eyes did glaze over when I got stuck conversing with a guy who is outstandingly dull.
I managed to get some song lyrics quoted in Parliament today. W was making a speech and I gave him some words to drive the point home. On the one year anniversary of the current Prime Minister pushing the former Prime Minister, W was making the point that things have gotten worse, and he chose to paraphrase a song that I recall my maternal Grandfather singing when I was very young.
"One year of this Prime Minister, and what did we get? Another year older and deeper in debt."
He cited him Tennessee Ford rather than Tennessee Ernie Ford, but other than that, I grinned a bit when I heard it.
Parliament is going to be sitting later than normal for a Thursday tonight, though I don't really have to stay for it. The politicians may be back tomorrow morning too, and there will be a work lunch afterwards that I might find some excuse not to attend.
This weekend I am committed to going to Sydney. No waiting until the last minute to decide. I'm going this time.
Today has been the worst day yet of this current downward trajectory.
Yesterday was frustrating given the letters sent in to me. I have now come to compare them to being shouted at by people on the street. Nothing is accomplished in sending them, nothing is accomplished in responding to them, and most of them are badly thought out and badly put together. In short, this part of my work (and there isn't much else) basically reduces to me responding to people's uninformed ad-hoc reckons.
I went home last night without going to the gym. I didn't feel like it and State of Origin was on anyway. I did do some core work at home and Helga and I had a chat over oranges. She's been quite helpful through this period.
This morning I drive into work and sat in my car for a couple minutes in the car park before deciding to move. I was all wistful and frustrated and struggling to make decisions, even as simple as getting out of the car. This weekend I was thinking about going to Sydney, but I can't decide whether or not to do that either. Every option seems negative. If you were to ask me what I wanted for lunch, I probably couldn't tell you. Even simple decisions are suddenly onerous.
Around mid morning I was called upon to go with W to a meeting he was attending. That meant walking with him to and from the meeting which was profoundly uncomfortable, especially when he expressed his desire to respond to more of the correspondence sent to us rather than referring it to others. To be honest, if you send him an e-mail or a letter and it comes across my desk, I will probably find some excuse not to respond. I can't say the pressure of overwork is getting to me, because... what overwork?
The meeting itself was as pointless as my attending it. After I got back to the office, I found myself sinking further into discomfort. The division bells rang with alarming regularity. The phone went off again and again. The guy I share an office with during sitting weeks was talking on the phone in whispers which makes me think he was talking about me (he wasn't.) I got up and walked outside with a vacant look on my face and rang Minou.
It was at that point that the simple act of breathing became difficult. It's not as though I was choking to death, but I was sufficiently uncomfortable that breathing in and out was a hassle.
I'm considerably better now. I had a coffee with one friend and a further chat with another, and I will make it through today. (More than one person has suggested going home early given that I am now feeling physically strained and have nothing vital to do, but I don't think I am able to leave. Such is the difficulty I have in making even obvious decisions.) Tomorrow will be much easier with no Parliament sitting, and then there are two more weeks before the winter break. I think I can do that.
After that, I think I need to speed up my departure, even if I don't have something else to land in. This is not good.
YW; 50 medicine ball crunch throws, 50 medicine ball side throws both left and right. Then 2 farmer's walk stairs, 10 clean and press and pushups with kettlebells, SDHP, and pullups - 5 rounds. Then run 2.4km in under 11 minutes.
TW: 30 kettlebell swings, run 400m, 20 bench jumps - 5 rounds.
Yesterday I was robbed at trivia. Robbed I say. The question was name six one word countries that end in the letter "e" and I came up with France, Suriname, Mozambique, Singapore, Chile, and Zimbabwe. All of those are correct, but they refused to accept Zimbabwe because it wasn't on their list. Zimbabwe is a one word country and it ends in the letter e, therefore it is correct. We also lost out because there were bonus points for everyone on your team that wore green (for St Patrick's Day) and we only had three players whereas the winning team had eight. I am not pleased with the Fame Trivia authorities. Perhaps my trivia team should find a better trivia night.
I was down in party HQ today and talked about the letter I got yesterday.
It quickly went from being a talk about my loathing of that campaign and became a talk about my loathing of work (or certain aspects of work) and the sense that I am expected to relocate for weeks at a time to places where I have no friends and no support. Party HQ had no idea I felt this way and neither does our CoS or W. I suspect I may have to do so one way or another. Unfortunately, I still feel somewhat paralysed and I'm not sure how to feel not paralysed.
We have a new media advisor at the moment and for no good reason I don't feel comfortable around him. He has done nothing wrong whatsoever but he came into my office today and I quickly made an excuse to leave the room. Just at quitting time he asked if I was ok. I said no and that I didn't want to talk about it. He asked if it was him. He's probably a perfectly nice guy and I will quite likely end up being fine with him, but at the moment I just feel awkward about the change in the office upsetting my expectations and habits.
If I wasn't going away again soon I would probably go back to the therapy place and see if I could get an appointment with another person than the last guy.
And finally, I suspect I may end up having to pay the aforementioned "bill." Part of me wants to send them a bill of my own and part of me wants to send them the amount of the bill in 4,290 5 cent pieces. Or I could try this.
My career malaise seems to have made friends with the career malaise of others.
Helga came home last night and immediately asked if I could make a cup of tea (with a laugh that this is one of my core duties in the house.) She has been having frustrations with the culture at her workplace that I won't go into. There was the sense that working where she is is running down her impression of the kind of work she is capable of doing. I feel the same way. Everyone I talk to seems to think I am more qualified than I think I am. Over the last two months, I have more and more been feeling as though I will eventually be unmasked as a huge fraud who isn't good at anything and who is monumentally lazy. This also dulls my inclination to look for other work, because lets be frank, what else can I possibly do.
This afternoon bakerypenguin posted about her own career frustrations. Again, there was a lot of overlap with the frustrations that Helga and I are experiencing. Everyone seems to be consumed with the sense that we have no actual skills and are thus disinclined to reach any higher.
Today there was a lecture from W (not nasty, and I probably should have known it was coming) about the importance of responding to everyone who contacts us, even if we have responded on the same issue earlier. Additionally, one of our other advisors is leaving and his position has been advertised. I've already done a few parts of his job and I suspect that I could do it, but I'm not going to apply. It would mean more money and probably more clarity in terms of my role, but I don't want his job. I am not really interested in learning the intricacies of his portfolio and the frustrations (again with those bloody awful letters) that led to him walking aroud in a black mood for most of December. Not even if it meant a 40-50% pay rise. (Part of me also thinks there would be less space for me to hide from work, and I think I hav ebeen hiding given the amount of actual productive work I can point to over the last two months.
Of course, not all of my friends are in despair over their work situations. A girl (MYC) whom I knew in high school and came across (I think on Facebook) has really been living the dream. In fact, she has devoted a whole blog to the subject. She's now living in New York and producing a play and both she and a number of people around her are doing what they love and pursuing their dreams.
The problem for me, is that I'm not sure if I have one. I don't think I have dreams anymore.
I have in the past. I've been fascinated by politics form a young age. At 5 I told my mum that I wanted to be Prime Minister. At 16 I was actively trying to make it happen. I decided against that specific career path but stayed in the field, working in politics on three continents. This used to be my dream, and given the fascination some of my friends still have for politics, it still is for them. But I just can't be bothered. I'm tired of the voters, of reading the papers, of managing relationships with legions of people I don't really like, of hearing people's opinions, of the media.
But I also have absolutely no idea what else I might like to do. Some people remain in toxic careers that make them miserable because they are chasing what some marketing wanker is telling them they want. I'm not staying in this job because I am locked into an expensive life. I've got no debt, no obligations, no major expenses keeping me living in fear, but I've also got no idea what else I might like to do. At the moment, every option looks negative. That's not just career wise. It has now spread into most aspects of my life. Staying in my current job, taking another one, changing careers entirely, starting a business, staying single, getting involved, buying a house, having kids, staying in Australia, moving back to Canada or America or anywhere else, all I see is negatives. So I wind up staying put and collecting my pay every two weeks.
Unlike one of MYC's friends, I can't go off and become a photographer, because I suck at photography (also I don't epecially like it.) I can, however, keep my head down and slog away at this job, which pays not a princely salary but more than I need to live on and allows me to keep throwing money on the pile. At the moment I feel like I can be annoyed, or I can be annoyed and get paid.
Ok. Now the good news.
I've contacted a counselling service contracted by work. I have my first appointment on Tuesday afternoon. I reckon because work played a large part in getting me all angsty, I can let them get me started on the turn around.
The week of quiet at work has continued, and the level of frustration at the work I've got to do has been improved somewhat by a small victory. Someone wrote in to us with an eight page rant complaining that Australia lost the recent soccer world cup bid because there is not a soccer league devoted to inland Australia. He also suggested that towns like Cloncurry, Walgett, and Bruce Rock (population 526) are locations that FIFA would insist that world cup matches should be held.
My response was some pleasant words about the importance of sport to Australians before pointing out that no inland towns have the population base to sustain a team in any of the football codes in Australia, and that a league devoted to soccer in inland Australia would not be feasible given that the A-League struggles to bring in crowds in major cities. I also pointed out that the smallest stadium used in the most recent world cup had a seating capacity of 73 times the size of one of the towns he mentioned as a possible world cup venue.
I was of the opinion that the man had come up with an idea that was clearly absurd and that we should not respond, but W specifically wanted to. (Apparently this guy is a member of the party.) I felt that my response might have been a bit too sarcastic and that W would want some major changes. He's very polite and would be very much disinclined to respond with my preferred words of "Dear Stupid Prick, You're a fucking idiot. Sincerely, W"
Well it turns out that W has approved my response with only minor changes. My research indicating what a shitty idea he is proposing has been kept in full. Hooray! A small victory against the forces of wanky timewasters!
Although I do rather like this as a means of responding too.
My workouts this week have been pretty good. Very much Crossfit inspired, and my back hasn't given me too much grief.
YW: AMRAP 15 minutes. Max pullups then run 400m. Total of 121 pullups and running 2km. Then max pushups in 2 minutes: A bit over 100. Max flat situps in 2 minutes: 54.
DBYW: 10 pullups, 10 pushups, 5 rounds. 10 kettlebell swings, 10 standing shoulder press (I can do standing but not seated), 10 lateral over bench jumps, 5 rounds.
Tomorrow will mean a long run, though not as long as last weekend. Maybe running to a couple of gyms up around Collaroy and maybe a run on the beach and a swim. Maybe running and pushups on the beach. Oh yes, I like the sound of that!
I was just finishing breakfast this morning when Helga came in from a walk and collapsed on the floor with a painful sprained ankle. I got her some water and ibuprofen and made her breakfast and then drove her to work. I'll take her home tonight as well. We take care of each other in Chez Canuck!
Oh, one more thing, I saw this scene on Family Guy earlier in the week, and laughed for about five minutes straight.
YW: 50 kb swings, 50 pushups, run 400m, 35 kb swings, 35 pushups, run 400m, 25 kb swings, 25 pushups, run 400m. I do get a bit of discomfort when breathing hevaily with my twinge in the back and around the ribs, but it's not too bad. Certainly not enough to stop me from going.
Helga and I are really getting into True Blood. Today I have had this song stuck in my head.
The market keeps going up. About 10% so far this year for me.
( Click to see Luckycanuck get diplomatic )
A few work issues aside, today I was more or less consumed by a desire to get justice from Qantas and American Airlines for the frequent flyer points and status credits they have refused to give me.
I just sent the following e-mail to American Airlines explaining the situaiton in what I think is calm and measured language.
I think I struck the right note.
Additionally, I suspect that I am not likely to earn 300 status credits to put me into the Gold level with Qantas by the end of February given that some work travel has been delayed until after that time. Flying to Mildura this weekend for the Victorian election would give me some, but not enough, and I would find myself taking flights I didn't need to take and gratuitously spending money just to chase something that is nice but not a necessity.
Luckily, sometimes Qantas offers double status credits in the late stages of the frequent flyer year to people who look like they might come up short in an effort to convince them to fly. If I am offered this, it's a whole new ball game.
Listen Qantas, I'm not willing to chase Gold status in itself. It was always stupid to take flights I wouldn't otherwise take and it's just taken a little while to remind myself of this fact. But I do fly a lot and I will continue to fly a lot, so if you are willing to give me a hand, I am willing to take it.
Of course, if you're not, or if you want to continue to shaft me over my missing frequent flyer points in America or the ones you refused to grant me last year when I flew to Papua New Guinea, then you can get stuffed.
Oh I can be stubborn when I feel like I've been wronged.
The Cricket has started again with Peter Siddle taking a hat trick on his birthday in the first Ashes Test against the Poms at the Gabba. (Extra points to anyone who understands what that sentence means.)
We're off to dinner courtesy of W and his wife for Christmas in a little bit.
The fact that I have been in regular contact with W, that there has been regular "facetime" has been a good thing. I've made a point of sending him briefs to read or letters to sign or things to approve and it has made me feel a lot less stabby.
TW: From Crossfit for the first time in a while. 50 bicep curls, 50 dumbbell swings, 50 situps, 50 pushups, 50 wall ball, 50 walking lunges, 50 standing shoulder press @ 40kg, 50 burpees. Those burpees were TOUGH, especially coming at the end. I collapsed on the group covered in sweat afterwards before doing two rounds of my recent core circuit as dessert.