Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Amid my decision-making and debating, things keep happening that seem to push me in different directions.

My boss sent us an email that she would be taking off half of yesterday, all of today, and Monday, to celebrate her daughter's 25th birthday.  Oh yay, I thought.  That means I can take my daughter's 20th birthday off next week!  So, I submitted the leave request for that day.  One day.  ONE.

The request was approved, but hot on its heels was an email to us from my boss.  She informed us that outside of the time off we already have approved, we are not allowed to request any more leave days for the duration of the summer.

It's not even July 1st.

She said that we are just too busy to be allowed time off.  I'm sorry, but can't we decide that for ourselves?  Are we not responsible for our own workload, like real adults?

My coworker has younger kids who are out of school for the summer.  This means she can't spend any time with them on a normal summer vacation.

It just seems hardly fair, right?

I work hard.  I meet my deadlines.  I do high quality work.  But I can't have ANY time off until after August 24th.

She had previously said no extended time off until after November 13th.  That's why I'm leaving for England on November 14th.

This means that if I have to go to interview in Utah, I'll have to lie.  I'll have to be "sick" or "need" another injection in my eye (which is happening every few weeks, anyhow).  I hate having to do that, but I'm not sure what choice I have.

Of course, there's the ongoing question of my future here.  I have the same title as the new people, with nothing to distinguish that I've been here for nearly a decade.  The only advancement for me would be to have my boss's job, which I don't really want.  It's way too political for me, and it would remove me from what I like doing.  In short, I would not be happy.

So, I move on to the next step in the interview process with all of this in mind, and the sting of having my vacation time squelched.

It's time I earned, but am not allowed to use.  Again, seems hardly fair.  I work hard and am proud of what I accomplish.  I don't need to be babysat and told when I can and cannot take time off, when I've earned it.

Would it be better in the corporate world?  It's hard to say.  I'm accustomed to academia, for better or worse.  What would the private sector be like?

Do I take these things as a sign, pushing me in another direction?  Or do I grin and bear it?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The First Hurdle

The first of many, I suspect, related to that opportunity in Utah.  I had a phone interview with one of their HR reps yesterday.  It was a good conversation, with a lot of good information.

Many of the questions were standard preliminary interview questions, such as "Why do you think your skills and background fit this position?"  I learned that the time frame for starting there would be somewhat flexible.  We could be looking at weeks or months, but before the end of the year.

It figures that I've already booked my flights to England for November!

The woman had a point that moving in the winter kinda sucks, especially when you're dealing with mountains.  But let the chips fall where they may.  If that's what happens, I'll cope with it.

She also said that their higher education division is "very interested" in my background.  You have to like that!  The company offers free health and dental insurance, 401(k), stock options, free gym membership...so, lots of perks.  There was just one sticking point.

The salary.  It's exactly what I'm making now.  When you make a move, you like it to be at an increase.  Sure, not paying for health insurance amounts to an increase, but that's not quite the same, it it?

So, I'm debating if that's something I'm willing to negotiate on.  What if I put forth another number, and they turn it down?  Would I refuse the job?

It's an excellent company with an excellent work atmosphere.  Very encouraging of the creative side of people.  They recognize the need for fun in the workplace.

While I was talking to her, I kept hearing a "thump" sound in the background.  She finally said something about it.

"I'm sorry for the noise.  I'm in a room with glass walls, and those sounds are Nerf guns being shot at me."

I can do Nerf guns. <grin>

Maybe I'll check out what houses go for in Salt Lake.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Is it time to go?

My previous changes in my professional life have had a common thread.  When I told my then-boss that I had a new opportunity and would be leaving, each said, "But we had plans for you!"

Each one had a grand plan to which I was not privy, with a place for me in it.  A chance for advancement to which I was oblivious, so I made my own path elsewhere.  I don't know how those opportunities would have played out, of course, but the path I've carved out has been a steady climb upwards.

It's not been an easy path, full of unexpected turns and twists.  Life is that way, though, isn't it?

Lately, I've been wondering if it's time to move on from where I am.  I've been in the same position for eight years now.  A little over two years ago, my employer finally got serious about my area.  They got rid of the albatross who was "leading" us into oblivion and hired a really high-powered woman who has been a positive force of nature here.  She's changed a lot of the culture, which ended to happen, and has more she'd like to change.

I've been her right hand the whole time.  The other team members have moved and changed, but we've stayed as the core.  I know she won't be here forever, but I also know that I don't want her job.  It's highly political, and I don't enjoy that kind of maneuvering and game-playing.  I'm no strategist, in those arenas.  I would be miserable doing that.

So, I'm left to wonder, what's for me here?

I love what I do, but I don't want to stay in the same job forever.  There are some things that I don't like about it, and I need some advancement.  I'm ready for more responsibility.  A need to be distinguished from the newbies here.  We all have the same title.  Nothing indicates that I've been at this since 2003.  Or that I'm the leader of a national organization in my field.

I would be foolish to not consider other opportunities, right?

Because there is one.

It would be a major move for me.  Literally and figuratively.  I would have to move to a new and much larger city.  I don't know anyone there.  I'd be quite alone...but is that so different from here?  I have no close friends here.  I have no confidante.  My support system is leaning on me lately, but that will likely change soon.  My dad's treatment options now have the real possibility of requiring them to move, as well.

I would also have to leave academia, for the most part.  I've not worked in the corporate world for many years.  It's a whole different ballgame.  Not nearly as protected, in some ways.  Companies go out of business; universities do not.  But it also carries more opportunity, if you're good at what you do.  So far, I've been good at what I do.

This is a really scary thing for me.  The idea of packing up and moving and starting over is daunting.  The idea of leaving what I know and risking my future is frightening.

But the idea of moving forward and upward, that's thrilling.  And it's a good company with a Google-like philosophy.  One of their job descriptions talks about attending monthly scooter jousting tournaments.  Not many would make mention of such a thing, much less actually have such a thing!

But good Lord, I hate moving.

What is a Blogget to do?

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Bloody Fucking Hell"

That's what my friend had to say about today, for me.

It started last night, actually.  When something in my mouth felt weird (don't laugh!) (okay, laugh), and I discovered that part of my tooth was gone.  One of the inward-facing sides is missing, exposing the inside of the tooth.

So, first call today was to the dentist.

Second call was to my mom because she would have to drive me.  I can't see well enough to drive yet.

"Okay, that's good," she said.  "I have have a call in to the doctor for your dad.  He's really in a lot of pain."

I knew he'd been hurting a lot lately, but I didn't know they'd doubled his morphine dose yesterday. And that it wasn't helping.

Suddenly, the tooth didn't seem so important.

They've been in a holding pattern for the decision on the specialists.  They went to Salt Lake and say a specialist there, a surgeon who is supposed to be very talented.  He said he thought the tumor was operable, but had to pass it by their board of surgeons.  So, my folks are waiting for word on that.

In the meantime, the pain intensifies.

Soon, I got a text from Mom.  "They're admitting him to the hospital."

I called and changed the dentist appointment.

"I'm really scared," she said.

It's heartbreaking to see him like this, in such pain.  He's a good man.  A faithful man.  A strong man. He's always been a presence.  John Wayne-like in stature. And one of the smartest men I've ever known.

He's so much more fragile now.  The medication damages his thinking, and he's not so lucid.

Yes, heartbreaking.

I don't know what the next few days will bring.  But it's scaring me to the core.  I shouldn't think out it too much because I can really run the "What ifs" in circles.  I feel I need to be prepared, but I don't know quite what for.

I have so many things I need to deal with right now, but this trumps it all.  The other stuff can go sit in a corner while I hope my dad makes it to this Father's Day.

Heart. Breaking.

Monday, June 15, 2015

They're all around, and they know

I think the veil was especially thin over the weekend.

Saturday afternoon, I got a shaky call from my mother.

"I just saw a spirit," she said.  My dad was resting in their bedroom, while she was doing dishes in the kitchen.  She turned around to go check on him.  That's when she saw a white figure near the little hallway to their room.  It rushed around the corner, into the bedroom.

She told Dad.  "Are they coming for me?" he joked.

She was still having chills when she called me.  We each had the same knee-jerk impression.  Could it have been his mother, hovering near her ailing child?  He had a particularly rough week.

They've always had odd activity in the house, since the young man who used to live there passed away suddenly (not in the house).  But this was different.  This was an actual figure in broad daylight, not just sounds in the night.

The dead felt close to me yesterday, as well.  Sunday marked three years since my dear friend passed from cancer.  I miss him so much and still, all this time later, cannot believe he's gone.

What I wouldn't give to laugh with him again!  I never got to say goodbye.  I wasn't sure how, and I just expected to have more time.  Then, he was gone.

His younger brother friended me on Facebook yesterday, then looked at all of the photos I have posted of him from way-back-when. he'd been with my friend when he passed.  I sent messages to him and their mother, letting them know I was thinking of them.

 I talk to his mother frequently and saw her and his stepfather when I was in Texas last year.  Afterwards, she posted that they'd had dinner with his "best friend from high school and forever." It made me cry.  I miss him so much.

Sometimes, I dream of him.  We are hanging out together and having a good time again.  We smile, laugh, hug, and hold hands.

I like to think we really are.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

The Latest Crazymaker

For the first several years that I was here, my department had a challenge being taken seriously.  We seemed to have roadblocks to getting anything of substance accomplished, and I didn't understand why.  My Old Boss would tell me it was because of the political climate, that our VP was against us.  I didn't know better.

Then came the shake-up, which led to the hiring of my new Boss.  That's when the depth of the harm he was doing was revealed, along with a few things about how he handled me.  For instance, I apparently should have had a title change years ago, but he was against it.

Long story short, we've spent the last couple of years rebuilding the department's reputation.  We've put forth a more professional front with our new leadership, and we've become part of the campus conversations on the quality of education.  We're known for doing good and being good to work with.

But it's new and fragile and easily smudged, if we're not careful.  Too many people in higher ed just want to best you and complain and argue.  We battle that all the time.  People try to bait us.  I often go to Boss for advice on how to respond to a potentially sticky question.  She's very good at maneuvering those situations.

Blogget might not be the most politically-savvy person, but I know how to be professional!

When Boss started, the staff consisted of me and one other person.  We started a search for a third staffer.  In the middle of that search, the other person quit.  That left just me on staff.  We hired two people.  Finally!  A full staff for what we needed!  Let the work commence, we said!

Then one of those people got fired.  That was a good and bad day.  Bad that we were now understaffed again.  Good because even with that person, we were in essence understaffed.

We have just finished a search for another new person.  If she takes the job, I worry about the influence this other staffer will have on the newbie. I mean, her work is okay, but she makes noise about wishing she was part time.  Essentially, she is, with the way she does her job.

I'm worried about a person like this, with a serious lack of professionalism and dreadful work ethic, and the impact she can have on this reputation we've scratched out over the last couple of years.  Some examples....

She doodles in meetings, then asks questions that make it obvious she wasn't paying attention.  And when I say doodles, I don't mean little inconspicuous sketching in the margins that no one will notice.  I mean broad scribbling across the page, arms waving, and holding up her handiwork to survey and admire.

And doing so while sitting beside that VP previously mentioned.

Then there was Monday.  I came in Monday to find that she was already in the office.  Good, because Boss was out of town, and she usually takes advantage of that situation by coming in late, taking generous lunches, and leaving early.  Except...

...she was filing her toenails.

...and then painting them.

...and then she announced she hadn't gotten enough sleep and went home for a nap.

...and came back later to do her nails.

Keep in mind that our offices are not isolated.  We're in a building with two other departments, and our offices get lots of foot traffic past them.  We are visible.  And Boss had just warned us that when she'[s not here, others in the building take it upon themselves to watch us.  The walls have eyes, indeed.

This coworker said to me, "Why should I care about that?"

I would have thought that answer was obvious.  Not only do they report to your boss what they see, chickadee, but they formulate opinions about your professionalism based on what they see.  That impacts our reputation, as a group.  Which impacts our effectiveness across the campus.

Have some damn common sense, why don't you?

Besides our reputation, I just find it personally irksome that I'm busting my ass, while she goes home to take a nap.  We have several projects going on and needed to report on some of them in a department meeting.  I had two pages - TWO feckin' pages - of notes for one project, while she had just printed a page of a web site.

I didn't let her talk, that meeting.  She opened her mouth, and my brain went "Hell no!" and launched into my notes.  And my ideas.  When I was done, Boss tuned to her.  She said, "Blogget covered all of the ideas I had."


Filing her toenails.  I mean, come ON!

You are not taking down me and all of our hard work because you want to give yourself a pedicure in the office.  I need to have a conversation about this with Boss, but choosing the right time and tone is essential.  Otherwise, I'm just running to tell Mommy, instead of pressing genuine concern for our department, work, and reputation.

I'll be a good Blogget, and I'll be careful.  But it will be said.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Very Special Specialists

When my dad went to Texas, he was being treated by the foremost expert in his kind of cancer, in the world.  Still, he had his issues with him and some less than stellar communication styles.

Coming home to continue his maintenance chemo has put him in the hands of other doctors who might not be the best in the world, but who have their fingers on the pulse of what's happening in this kind of cancer treatment.

Hearing from them at the same time that he gets the news that the tumor is growing is driving him to try some of these other recommendations.  So, he went to Denver recently to see some of these other specialists.

One can offer him an experimental option, a new chemo that will be aggressive.  And it might just make him sicker.  It's hard to think of that when you see a man who has already lost over 100 pounds and is visibly weakened.

But that doctor knew of another doctor, a specialist in new radiation options.  So, they went to see him, as well.  That doctor told them straight out that he's the best in the world at this kind of treatment.  And that he was sure he could reduce the tumor...with some risks.

Because the tumor is involved with the blood vessels, they do risk rupturing a critical blood vessel.  If that happens, he'd bleed out in 25 seconds, right there.  That's when this doctor told them two things.

First, if he had cancer, he'd take the 25 seconds over the alternative of living through the decline.

Second, he actually died once, and he can tell them that what's on the other side is so much better than here.

These things are tough to hear.  Especially since I think my dad was hoping someone would say, "Yes, I can cure this for you."  No one is saying that.  No one is going to say that.  In fact, they say they're buying him more time.  They cannot offer a cure,

So that's the decision he has.  Risk his quality of life or risk those 25 seconds.  If I'm scared, I know he has to petrified.  How must it be to hear that the end of your life in imminent?

He said to my mom, "I guess I need to get things in order."

Just when I think my heart can't break anymore, for him and for us, it manages to find a new kind of ache.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

Should I care?

Some background story on this one:  Jacob's oldest daughter has a crazy grandma. She orchestrated the child's return to Colorado, into Jacob's care, while she planned her own move here.  Once here, she manipulated the child and the situation to lure her away from Jacob.  She claims Jacob broke their relationship, but she is really the one who did.  She masterminded the whole crazy thing, and it was hard to watch - especially as someone with a conniving ex-husband who tried to pull something similar with my son.  And who apparently still lies about me to my kids, but that's another story.

The crazy woman had tried to pull me into the fray, when this happened a few years ago.  I made sure that both Daughter and I stayed out of it.  I wasn't about to have either of us be a pawn in her game.  After that, things went silent.  We've not heard from her.

Until now.

Guess who found me on Facebook?  Yup, crazy grandma.  She sent me a message and told me their latest news - and there was lots of it.  Many significant life events have happened for her and Jacob's daughter.

Then, she asked me some questions.  The nature of a couple of them made me pause.  Was she digging for information on Jacob?  For legal reasons, possibly?

She did mention a situation in which the information could be used.  That and more about him, maybe.  Should I be cautious about what I say?

I don't know what's happening in Jacob's life, so I don't know what I'm stepping on.  I don't know if there's already a legal issue brewing that I'm unknowingly being put in the middle of.  The only way to know would be to ask him.

Do I want to open that door?  And would it be misinterpreted?  There's so much about me and things I did that he twisted before.  I don't want this to be twisted to be something it's not.

Then, I have to ask, why do I care?  And should I?

I don't shut it off so easily, like he seems to.  Why do I let it matter?  But I do.  I wonder if something dreadful is going on and if I'll make it worse by talking to this woman.  Or will the information I give start trouble?  I don't want to feed the beast, as it were.

But I also don't want to deliberately start trouble for him.  I do have lots I could say to her, if I wanted to be vindictive.  The world is changing, but those wheels move slowly.  I don't really want to be vindictive, though.

So, what do I do?  I could let it fly and let the fallout happen.  Or I could ask Jacob if there's anything to tread carefully about, and risk having that twisted and thrown in my face.

I don't want to be cold and not speak to the woman at all.  She's had a lot of pain in her life lately, and there's no reason to be mean.

See what I did there?  That's what I'm talking about.  Why do I care?  But it seems I do.