Sunday, April 16, 2017

Righting a Couple of Wrongs

I believe that most people who know me personally would probably say that I am a nice guy. I mean, I, of course, have my bad days and moments and have been known to be a tad dickish at times, especially when provoked (see Attack of the Man-hating Woman). But in general, I think that I have had a lifetime of pretty good behavior.

As I have referenced several times in this blog, in social media and personal communications, this past year has been rough. So rough that, in fact, I believe that it has been the worst year of my life, surpassing years when my father died, when I found out that my son had cancer, and when I had a mild heart attack.

I've never been one to get depressed beyond the normal/reasonable stage, but recently, I had been wondering if I had been seriously depressed during this past year. Being a clinician, I had already thought that, although I was not overly depressed, the stress I was under was enormous, causing me to think, say and do some things that I would not normally have done. I saw it was time to right a couple of wrongs I had done to other people.

I have a colleague with whom I have sometimes gotten along with, sometimes not. I was in a small meeting with her and our boss when my frustration with work and life in general got the better of me, and I ripped into her. After some time had passed, I sent her an apology email. As you might guess, I got no response. I finally got a chance to talk with her face-to-face last week and grovel in person. After about an hour-long talk about us, our relationship and work, I felt like we were about as good as we were going to get. I was a little disappointed that she refused my invitation to smack me in the face. It probably would have made both of us feel better.

Well, that was one down. However, I felt like I owed at least one more person an apology. It might surprise you who I owe that to.

On my last trip to Las Vegas in January, I was pretty much a dick to none other than Tony Bigcharles, whom I have often accused of being a shitty friend. Well, being frustrated with life in general and then finding out that, once home and back at work, I would have to deal with a brand new time-consuming and crappy issue with an employee, I treated Tony in pretty much the way I have called him out for in the past. So, for once, the shoe is on the other foot.

So Tony, my apologies for blowing off your calls and texts when you were trying to get us to play some poker at the Nugget. Friends shouldn't treat other friends like that. Period.

Things have been straightening out in my life, and life will continue to get better in the weeks ahead. Dang -- it looks like the evening will be pretty nice tonight.

Thanks for reading!

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Reclaiming My Life in a Month

Back in September, I wrote a post titled "Crossroads: A Work Dilemma," which dealt with a decision that was coming up for me at work. I gave some information about my situation and solicited feedback and suggestions from my readers and friends. I was given much great advice and many suggestions, for which I am grateful. However, the process associated with the change moved ever so slowly. Things became a little more clear toward the end of last month. Although I had a plan that made all the sense in the world, it was not readily accepted.

About a month ago, I emailed my boss and informed him of my intention of stepping down as head of my department at the end of April. It was a bittersweet moment, as there were many successes during the past five years. But, in truth, I was often haunted by the scourge of authority positions: personnel management. The highlight was probably having to talk with a female employee about her odor. Heady times indeed!

Before I took on the management position five years ago, I was having rocking poker weekends, traveling to Harrah's Horseshoe in Hammond, Indiana almost every other weekend. Poker jaunts to Las Vegas throughout the year were common. I hosted some poker games at my house and had a great international home poker game to go to once or twice a week. I was six months past a mild heart attack and had lost a bunch of weight. Energy was high and life was great.

Things changed after I took the management position. Extra hours and stress weighed upon me, and fatigue became part of my regular life. I eventually cut back on my poker trips and settled into a new existence.

After one year I actively ran for election to complete the final two years of the director term. I got the extra two years, and then, fearing cutbacks and tough decisions that might have to be made, I ran for a final three-year term, wanting to be the person at the helm if things got really bad. After the first year, I began longing for my old life and probably sounded pretty whiny to some of my fellow directors. Unfortunately, my personal life took some huge hits beginning with last May: my wife lost her job, my mother passed away and my mother-in-law also passed. These things really got me thinking.

In the end, I really didn't want to continue as a director unless I got certain things that, in my mind, brought the negative side of the job up to a level I could accept. When I didn't get them, it was clearly a sign that it was time for me to go.

I have one more month left as director, then basically either two or three more years of work until I retire. I haven't set the date yet.

Although I feel conflicted, I am looking forward to only having to be responsible for myself at work for the first time in five years. I have almost forgotten what it is like to not check work email the first thing after I get up in the morning ... to not have to be accessible on a moment's notice ... to not be the one contacting police, students, sometimes parents, trying to keep someone from killing him/herself ... to not have to sit through boring meeting after meeting after meeting ...

I've got a pretty good feeling that things will feel pretty good a months from now.