Tuesday, August 17, 2010
This Magnificent Invitation
Poetry excerpts from the lovely... "The Luxury of Failure" by Maya Stein.
....After a poem had slipped through her fingers.
After she had broken someone’s heart.
After the taxman had taken her savings and the rain
had wiped out the garden. After the apology
....She did not despair but instead
welcomed the luxury of failure,
the velvet of it warming her skin,
how easy it was to slide into its open arms,
and nestle against its breast.
She thought it would take everything she knew
to fling her weight against it, shoulder it
from her path, sandbag the corners of her house
to keep it from leaking in and drowning the furniture.....
She had armed herself against the possible wreckage,
kept the medicine cabinet replete with bandages,
left a surreptitious trail of breadcrumbs behind her.
It turned out failure
was a tiny slip of a thing,
a drop of water that could topple
a clear-eyed note slicing a thousand cacophonies,
a single seed offering this magnificent invitation:
So, in February, after 2 years and 3 months with my company, I got a bonus of 70% of the total I would have qualified for. Everyone below me on my team got 100%. I was never told why my total was less. I wondered, but I didn't stress. All around me were the signs of my success...in the input from my team and from the directors and managers I saw daily, from all the people I hired. I was working for a new person, and chafing a bit from the smell of micromanagement. I had been working under her and her boss for a year. I had never met either of them...they didn't come to Tampa and they didn't invite me west to see them.
Still, I labored in self deception that things were fine. In April, they began to fall apart. I received a harsh criticism of my efforts and a message that I needed to improve my performance. 2 people left my team for surgery and we toiled through 6 weeks without them, short resource, pressure increasing. When I returned from vacation in June, I was abruptly told they would be moving to other teams and that I needed to do the job with the remaining people only... those remaining looked at each other sort of emptily, knowing that there was little we could do to keep the onslaught of too much work for too few people from drowning our efforts.
In June and July, I threw myself against the wall, "flinging my weight against it". Suddenly, last week, it was over. I am 56. I just had a kidney stone removed. I missed one day of work while that happened. I live in a place where there is 13% unemployment, and I am the breadwinner. For more than two years I was successful. Suddenly, people I had never even met told me my services were no longer needed.
And yet... to leave a place where nothing you could do was ever right....suddenly. Nothing was good enough. Everything was suspect. One false move and...you are done. It doesn't really matter what those around you think, because strings are being pulled in other geographies, and people who have no idea what you do every day suddenly find you wanting.
No one really knows as much as I do, how hard it is to get a job in Tampa right now. A major company just announced 500 layoffs. I have decimated the internet, reached out to people I know, looked all over the state, and come to terms with the fact that I might need to move to Louisville or Minnesota...somewhere where I could find employment and stay for free with relatives until I do so.
I am fortunate. I just landed a temporary job with no benefits at about 50% of my former pay. But it is good work. I start sometime next week when I clear the background screen. I can supplement my expenses from my sacrificed 401k balance. I may be able to find part-time work, in addition, to avoid draining it too fast. I know that this is a reprieve, and that I might need to move after the end of the year, if nothing turns up and the temp does not become permanent.
I'd like to be bitter, but who has time? I have had an onslaught of shocked phone calls, of people telling me how much I'll be missed. I know it, too, but am helpless to change the events. I just thank God for people being unafraid to let me know what they think. It has heartened me.
Still and all... a magnificent invitation. To begin again.