Monday, May 08, 2006

Being restored to sanity - sorta

When you see some mud upon the ground
You lay down so she don't have to walk around
You think that will protect her from the rain
But she'll never, ever stop the pain

She walks all over you (she knows she can)
You're the carpet man, yeah, yeah
You're the carpet man...

("Carpet Man," from Up, Up & Away: The Definitive Collection by The Fifth Dimension)
Well, it's been an interesting week here on the south side of Chicago. Opportunities for growth, some of which have been accepted gladly, and some of which I have definitely backslid from. The song snippet from the Fifth Dimension leads us into the first topic..

Something in me broke (at least temporarily) last week concerning my work. I'd spent the last weekend bouncing between resentment and resignation about the hours, about my new boss, about what I felt was expected of me (cheerful martyrdom) versus what I was willing to commit to (snarking, resentful sloth, basically). I kept trying to get to the "we have ceased fighting anything or anyone" AA-standard for serenity, but it just didn't work.

Finally, I had a sort of epiphany. I realized that for the foreseeable future, the broken business model established by my employer means that Monday and Tuesday nights are going to be insane. Period. That part, at least, was undeniable.

Every Monday is going to last until about 8 PM, without fail. And every other Tuesday night is pretty much guaranteed to go to 2-3 AM on Wednesday. Since we have no shift workers, that means an 18 hour day (yes, since we're salaried, that means 10 hours of unpaid overtime). And there's nothing on the horizon that's going to spare us from that. So the breaking-point I came to simply said:
OK, that's fine. Mondays and Tuesdays are write-off's. Period. I can accept that.
But that's all the bastards get. Wednesday through Friday, and the weekends, are mine
Now, I have no idea whether my new boss will accept that or not. But I have to admit that there is a part of me that really doesn't care, one way or the other. That's all I've got to give for what they're offering. If they wanted to make us hourly and overtime-eligible, that might be different. But not for flat salary. Sorry.

So as a French writer once said, les jeux sont faites - the die are cast. We'll see how the game plays out this week. "Hell week" starts in just over 12 minutes...

I started walking to and from the train this last week. A couple times, I had to drive, because of medical appointments on the south side. But I'm going to get more serious about it this week. I only "have to" drive one day this week - with a visit to a specialist on Tuesday and Hell Night Tuesday night. So the rest of the week should be good. I desperately, desperately need the exercise. Now if I can just get my ass out of bed in time to make it...

I'm finding a real spirit-healing reading The Wounded Prophet: A portrait of Henri J.M. Nouwen by Michael Ford. As I read it, I find that Nouwen was so much like me as to be uncanny. He lived a life of celibacy (at 12 years, I only feel like it's been a lifetime), and both of us struggled mightily with the desire for intimate contact throughout it. Though I would never compare my meagre speaking or preaching to his, we both had many others tell us of our writing and speaking skills, and how they touched others.

And I identify with Henri's simultaneous desire for humility, side-by-side with a need to be the center of attention. But most of all, I understand the drive to share spirituality out of my sense of brokenness, from my sense of not-quite-measuring-up, rather than from a sure and certain knowledge that "I've got the answer for you." Perhaps that gift - the understanding of being "the wounded healer" - is the greatest gift that Nouwen ever gave me. When I first heard of it in Don Messer's Contemporary Images of Christian Ministry, I knew I had found my vocatio, my calling.

So that's been pretty cool. The niggling annoyance is that the paperback version of the book (which I got fairly cheap) is now falling apart - the first 15 pages dropped out while I was reading it yesterday. (Amazon to the rescue - I found a used/very-good hardcover edition for not that much money to replace it.)

I'd been told by my GP physician that I needed to redo the sleep-apnea study I did 3 years ago - that it may well be my overnight oxygen levels that are causing my lack of energy and listlessness. Of course, in classic fashion, I was wait-listed with a date of August 4th. But last Thursday, I got the call - there's been a cancellation, it's short notice, but could I come in tonight? You bet I could.

That brought both good news and bad news - yes, additional CPAP pressure will help restore some vigor. But the other news is that my weight is apparently causing most of my apnea events - which means that added to all the other good reasons to start the walking is the fact that my sleep problems are at least partly tied to my obesity. As my sponsor said, "So...have you had enough yet?"

I continue to find hidden gems in my music collection as I digitize it. My post about the "up to your ass in brass" classical CD brought a message from a friend in KC who is a brass lover, which was cool.

I am looking for interests to pursue beyond just work and AA (yes, I know, I need to put blogging back into the mix!), but one of the blessings of being in Chicago is the Old Town School of Folk Music. You may find it hard to believe (I do, at 49,) but I'm actually thinking of taking a guitar class there. Gotta do something with my soon-to-be-free time, eh? (Now if I can just convince my friend Tom to loan me his spare guitar...)

Ok, that's it - gotta get to bed...


Peter said...

Yo! Guitar man! Go for it!

Hope said...

I just wanted you to know that when it comes to sobriety and how to walk the walk I think of you as a mentor. I learn from the way you continually reassess your life and make different choices and decisions. I read how you decide when enough is enough and what conclusions you come to about changing. It's not about walking it in perfection but that you keep walking it with such honesty. Thank you for sharing your journey.

Vic Mansfield said...

When we look at someone like H. Nouwen and discover how very human he was, how like us all he was, it gives one hope for us all. He was truly a man of God.

I can relate to the apnea; I've got it bigtime.

Guitar lessons? At your age? Go for it! Also, see if there is some kind of a contra dancing group in your area. Talk about great exercise!

Let the journey lead.

Cheers, Joe.

bobbie said...

ah, prepare for the callous build up man! go for it!

this post has a ring of hope to it - i'm excited for you! each new day if fresh and waiting!

thanks for sharing your e/s/h!!