Thursday, July 12, 2018

Someone else's bad day

A year ago, I walked into my supervisor's office knowing full well that the conversation would not be a good one. The month prior, as my colleagues around me received news about promotions or transitions, my requests for meetings had been met with silence. It was when one of my coworkers texted me about an urgent coffee meeting, alerting me that I no longer had access to an upcoming course's class website that I connected the dots about my contract not being renewed. The meeting with my supervisor confirmed my fears.

Over the next few months, I would learn how badly my situation was being handled, with those higher up in admin confessing that all of this was not only handled poorly but in a manner that made them worried about a potential lawsuit. On my end, I was determined to exit with grace and as many good reviews as possible, much to the shock of many of the professors and administrators I worked with (hence some of the candid confessions). It was hard to be the pariah walking those hallways, fighting to complete my work to a standard I would be proud of when others were actively avoiding me. But given I was the one with the paper trail for cause, there wasn't much that could be done as I prepared for unemployment.

This past week has been a hard one because today is the day that my new place of employment is firing one of our team members. The situation is entirely different as there is SO MUCH documentation about this employee, including action plans for discipline and documentation of clear goals/expectations not being met. Basically an open-and-shut case for HR. Yet it's been damn hard given my own experience and mistreatment, leaving me wanting to curl up into a small ball as even though it is the right decision for this organization; it's just going to suck.

Last night Grey and I had a long conversation about all of this, tying in with some news on his end. While in Boston, he had lunch with one of his former supervisors (who we call rockstar midwest guy) and learned about the drastic changes that happened when he announced he was quitting after they failed to hire him on permanently due to one asshole supervisor. That basically everything on the project of this asshole supervisor continued to fail, with her blaming others and firing people to cover her butt. That when the team finally decided to take Grey's advice and implement the plan from rockstar midwest guy that everything not only worked, but worked better than anyone anticipated. That rockstar midwest guy is also successfully shopping another device Grey created with him and word is getting around. And that finally the other member of this team was permanently hired after Grey's supervisors freaked out and declared they couldn't loss anymore people from a team that was getting things done. That it basically took him leaving for all this amazing change to happen.

Reflecting on all of this last night, I remembered that too often people stay in situations that aren't working. Whether it's a job, a career trek, a relationship or even roads to family expansion, often we stay because the unknown terrifies us and we are determined to find a way to overcome. But sometimes, the best solution is to cut our losses or be kicked out of the nest. The freedom from having the choice in continuing down a toxic path allows us to find new roads and grow in ways that can lead to opportunities and experiences we never imaged.

A year ago, I was miserable. I was teaching a summer course and gearing up to teach another class all in a manner that I deeply believe doesn't work. I didn't see a path forward and was going through the motions under the guise that it was just a matter of getting others to see my viewpoints. The moment I learned my contract wasn't going to be renewed, I started taking chances that I didn't consider before, giving me connections and opportunities that have lead me to this current position that basically was created while I was in the interview for another one.

Looking at my team now, we have so much we need to do before the school year starts. Reagents to prepare, curriculum to update, an event to finish planning not to mention social media to get off the ground. All of which has been stalled by this current person and creating a lot of frustration, meaning it's not a good fit. But all of it is something that I am excited to be a part of as it meets a goal and mission I believe in and have long sought. And it's a team I not only enjoy working with but also believe has a shared mindset.

Today is going to be someone else's bad day. There will be tears, anxiety, anger and even some hatred. But my hope is that this low is the beginning of a new chapter for this person, leading them to things they could not have imagined. Just as it was for me.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

All the things

It's only Wednesday. That's the only thing I could think of while laying in bed this morning, willing myself to get up and prepared for the day. It's only Wednesday and yet the amount of things that have happened make me want to crawl back under the covers.

Like the fact that Grey is currently back in Boston for work, doing a full-week of training for a new product from his company. The emotions surrounding having him literally doors away from former colleagues and walking the pavement where so much crap happened has been a lot for both of us.

There's also the doctor's visit the Beats had yesterday that resulted in mixed news. She-Beat's hearing is excellent and her surgery from May has resulted in her making huge gains in speech, behavior and healing. She graduated from ENT yesterday. All while we learned that He-Beat hasn't healed from the ear tube removal surgery, resulting in him having some hearing loss and the fact that he is struggling more with behavior. Basically the surgery he is having in September for resolving sleep apnea is also needed to put new patches on the holes in his ear drums, making it from needed to urgently needed.

Then there's this new lyric video from Death Cab for Cutie that made me cry. I know the intersection Ben Gibbard is standing in and there are so many memories from walking those streets, including the costume shop where Grey rented his tuxedo for our wedding. All being destroyed for condos. It's hard not to feel lost when something that was so loved is coming to ruin around you, changing into something else. Death Cab says it better than I ever could.

There's also been drama at work, consisting of a 3 hour meeting on Monday where we discussed potentially letting go of someone on the team. I was in a complete panic for the rest of the night, even though it's not me that under this lens, because this decision directly impacts someone's life and I know intimately what that impact can look like.

Finally, there's the fact the Beats are turning 5 years old at the end of the month. Both extremely excited about the prospect of all that comes with this milestone. Flipping through old photos, I've managed to trigger myself a few times from memories of NICU. How insanely fucking hard that experience was, feeling like a failure to both of them and spending so many time since trying to make up for that failure. Yet somehow, they are thriving; a testament to each of them and how amazing they both are. 

In short all the things and all the feels that come with those things.

And it's only Wednesday.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Beginning of the bike chapter

For the past 3 years, Grey and I have talked about bikes for the Beats. Given how important biking is to Grey (and I enjoy it myself), this activity seemed like given when we started talking about expanding our family. The unforeseen hurdles we faced, though, stopped us dead in our tracks for proceeding with getting these two their own set of wheels. First being the financial expense, with recommended bikes running close to $400 each, combined with an issue of storage not to mention an area to practice. Despite our desire, we were struggling just to get Grey back on his bike making this goal for the Beats seem impossible.

Last month, that started to change. First with moving to the Bay Area, where bike culture borders on cult-like, we easily found quality bike shops that weren’t limited to the upper-middle class. With a lot of pushing and nagging reassurance and promise to make time, Grey finally got his bike out of the moving box it's been in for the past 3 years, got it tuned up and found a trail system he enjoys.

But the ultimate push came with seeing both Beats standing on their tip-toes, watching the neighborhood kids through their bedroom windows as they would zip along the green space on their bikes. The scene was like a thousand knives to my heart, with me hitting a tipping point this past weekend.

On Tuesday, following a morning of curriculum evaluation, I ventured across town to an organization called HopeBIKES, an organization that not only refurbishes used bikes but also offers employment and training to those with developmental disabilities. Upon walking in the door, I spotted exactly what I was looking for and within 30 minutes I was heading home with the below and some helmets, total damage being ~$140, complete with a plan for how we would be spending our Fourth of July holiday.

None of this has been perfect. Grey has been insanely busy with work, getting ready for 3 weeks of extensive travel for a new product his company is launching, meaning not only has he not been able to be involved with this process, but he also had zero clue what I was doing Tuesday. In addition, the original plan of removing the pedals, turning these into balance bikes, was thwarted when I learned that the seats couldn't be lowered enough for the Beats to get their feet flat on the ground. This meant installing training wheels for their first day of riding (the ultimate failure for anyone who subscribes to bike culture). And space is still an issue, with it becoming apparent that the 4 moving boxes, including the one containing my bike, in the living room I've been ignoring can't be ignored any longer.

Despite the pain and fighting from training wheel installation, yesterday was spent with two almost 5 year olds pedaling around the park, insisting on more and more laps even though it was getting late. And at the end of the day, when they saw the older kids biking around the green space, they talked excitedly about joining in instead of looking on with longing.

To be determined if any of this is considered a win. But suddenly one dream of getting these two on bike trails doesn't seem so far away.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The outsiders

On Saturday, in an effort to beat the heat, Grey and I contacted our apartment complex manager and asked for access to the pool. The property has purchased by the current management company a little over a year ago, resulting in everything being renovated from the interiors of each unit to the grounds and the common areas. Due to this the pools haven't been available until recently, and with temperatures reach to the 90s Fahrenheit (30s Celsius) access has been almost a requirement.

For a little over an hour we had the pool to ourselves, with the Beats splashing around, Grey and me getting in a couple of laps and all of us cooling off. But during that time, I noticed that most of the neighbor kids were peeking out at us, looking at this family they both didn't know and didn't trust.

It's been a weird experience to move into a complex that is actively undergoing transition. Those moving in that look like working professionals do well with Grey and me, but winning over those that have resided here prior to new management has been a bit of a struggle. To date I am on friendly terms with at least two families that have resided here for close to 20 years, with them helping me relearn Spanish (English is their second language) and slowing coming to trust Grey and me. But other neighbors still see us as outsiders who are threatening their previous way of life. Between porch piracy (which we've now resolved with getting packages delivered to Grey's work), some minor vandalism (resolved by installing a security camera), some intrusion onto our designated parking spaces (resolved following asking people to move, which has left them dumbfounded) to simply using the green-space in the evenings, it's become clear that some here don't want us.

The hard thing about all of this is I get where they are coming from. Grey and I are part of a wave of change that is happening, marking a change in life for some of these residents. But what isn't talked about openly is that though we may be seen as the problem, the truth is those that are driving forces purposefully have remained removed and invisible. And they don't like it one bit when I draw attention to them.

The bee hive incident is something the neighbors still talk about, giving those that don't want us here pause. Apparently many have never seen such a rapid response from management to a situation that was impacting their homes and I'm starting to have some neighbors approach me with questions about other maintenance issues (like not having running water). In addition, due to my continued conversations with these two families, word is getting around about the work I do. To say there's curiosity is an understatement.

Given all of this, there's currently an element of frustration with home. Grey and I always intended this space to be transitional; a West Coast landing zone. That said, my new-found goal is to win a few more of my neighbors over, hopefully breaking some of the misconceptions about white Americans while opening the lines of communication. It's too important not to try.

Monday, July 2, 2018

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