Monday, July 27, 2009

Giving in.

Within the next week, I will know whether or not I have a full-time (salaried!) position at a gym here in Houston. I'm still in disbelief. I was enjoying being the aerobics nomad, teaching at 6 different gyms while I expelled the toxins that were put in my system by the corporate job I had.

So that got me to thinking about what set me off on this path of eschewing that corporate life for a new one. What can make someone give up $55,000 a year (at least) in income? Especially when that person was raised in a family that never had enough money?

The answer is....a confluence of forces. I think that if you have a "good enough" job, where you're pulling down the money to cover your liabilities and you're not emotionally compromised at the end of the day, you're in a good place. But when that "good enough job" turns into the vehicle that is driving you to depression, rage, and is time to go.

Had I not left it so long, I could have organized a proper job search and found another corporate job that I would have liked more (at least temporarily). The pseudo-flexibility offered by my old employer, and deep friendships of offshore and onshore associates kept me rooted there.

One day, driving to the office became too much. I actually envisioned driving my car into a tree to keep me from going into the office. As someone who has had accidents eerily similar to is definitely a red flag of warning.

But...ah, the tipping point. Not often are we as people able to identify that turning, that tipping point.

I can.

It was having my husband's wonderful, brilliant aunt and uncle die in a head on automobile collision the day after our wedding. These individuals were the most conscientious and precise people that I have ever met. But no matter how extensive you plan something....some elderly asshole who shouldn't still have a license can always cross the median and end your life.

And alter the lives of anyone that ever loved you. Tragedy like this radiates out like an earthquake, there is an intense epicenter of grief, destruction, and tragedy to those immediately affected, but there are aftershocks that shake the most remote of friends and family.

I hate this stupid corporate phrase. But their death reminded me that "at the end of the day", we have control over nothing.

I have always been really sensitive to random life upheavals. This is because I am a control freak. I think if I can control everything, I can mitigate any potential damage that may come. Despite the fact our home sustained minimal damage from Hurricane Ike, that whole experience jacked with my emotions.

So you can imagine how something like the death of beloved family members the day after our wedding...and considering they'd never have been in Austin if not for Chris and I....can screw with your mind.

However, I cannot credit this death alone with why I left my old job. I think one of the first red flags became apparent when I was writing a shitload of queries and doing a lot of systems testing one evening at work, and my iPod Shuffle chose to play "Dogs" by Pink Floyd.

Talk about timing.

Here are the lyrics to that song:

"You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need
You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you're on the street
You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed
And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight
You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking.

And after a while, you can work on points for style
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake
A certain look in the eye, and an easy smile
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to
So that when they turn their backs on you
Youll get the chance to put the knife in.

You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder
You know its going to get harder, and harder, and harder as you get older
And in the end you'll pack, fly down south
Hide your head in the sand
Just another sad old man
All alone and dying of cancer.

And when you lose control, youll reap the harvest that you've sown
And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone
And its too late to lose the weight you used to need to throw around
So have a good drown, as you go down alone
Dragged down by the stone.

I gotta admit that Im a little bit confused
Sometimes it seems to me as if Im just being used
Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake of this creeping malaise
If I dont stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?

Deaf, dumb, and blind, you just keep on pretending
That everyone's expendable and no-one had a real friend
And it seems to you the thing to do would be to isolate the winner
And you believe at heart, everyone's a killer.

Who was born in a house full of pain
Who was trained not to spit in the fan
Who was told what to do by the man
Who was broken by trained personnel
Who was fitted with collar and chain
Who was given a seat in the stand
Who was breaking away from the pack
Who was only a stranger at home
Who was ground down in the end
Who was found dead on the phone
Who was dragged down by the stone."

I had to pause my iPod to catch my breath. C'mon now. I had spent 4 years at The University of Texas. You really, really think this is the first time I thought deeply about Pink Floyd lyrics??

And yet. Something resonated in me while I pounded away at debugging SQL and updating test plans. I think the part that got me was the final four lines:

"Who was only a stranger at home
Who was ground down in the end
Who was found dead on the phone
Who was dragged down by the stone."

I knew I was the "stranger at home". I don't think I was any longer the person my husband met in college. Part of that was the natural progession of life, the other part was that this job had given me this darkness and cynicism I never had in college. Don't get me wrong...I was always cynical about politicians and loved nothing more than a convincing conspiriacy theory back then. But that to me is typical of anyone coming from the suburbs into a "real" city.

I was "ground down". Thank god I had kept up my aerobics teaching jobs. I think that the BDNF (brain derived neurotropic factor) and the empirically proven boost to mood from exercise had kept me active enough to remain moderately functional.

The last part that really resonated me was "dragged down by the stone".

Whatever your "stone" is, it can drag you under. Mine was my current job. And other things. But primarily that job.

So it was time, to cut the rope that adhered the stone to my neck.

I had this bizarre moment of clarity when I was chatting with the night desk attendant at 24 Hour Fitness when I checked in for my 5:30 AM class.

He asked me, as he always does, how I am doing at 5:19 in the morning as I race in to start my 5:30AM class. And I tell him I'm still waking up, and ask him how he is doing.

And he says, "Great. Better 6 feet over than 6 feet under."

I stood there a little bewildered (in part due to the time of day), but then fully processed what he said. You can read that response as hopeful or cynical.

Confucius say..."read it as hopeful".

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