Wednesday, 24 December 2014

That time of year. Again.

I have written a number of versions about my stance on this time of year.
There was the letter version.
There was the summary version.
There was last year's version.

And undoubtedly plenty more for those who have been unfortunate enough to see me shudder when the 'C' word is mentioned, let alone when the tinsel comes out.

So this year, I thought I would take a leaf out of a recent book - pardon the pun - and tell it as it is.

Ready? Here we go. Hold on to your hats. And the reindeers' reins while you're at it.

Hello friends near and far!

Hope you are all well and looking forward to the festivities.
As ever, I cannot wait for it to be over and January 2nd will not come a moment too soon.
It's been a year of ups and downs here at LCM HQ.

After a stellar year gallivanting round the upper echelons of senior management, things came to an abrupt halt when my replacement finally showed up and took over the role. I'll be honest, that is what interim management is all about ('interim', not 'forever'), but the fact I hadn't even met the new fucker, let alone interviewed him for the role I had prepared, tidied up and restructured did leave me slightly perplexed. Go figure. I did hear mixed reviews about his tenure post departure, so small mercies.
Anyway, that was that and I headed back out into the wilderness of consulting and other management positions. Glory, glory, here I come.

The horizon was pretty bleak.

One upside was finding in the midst of the previous company a fabulous individual with whom I then started working on other new projects. We set up a joint venture and proceeded to get many fingers in many pies (not revenue generating, yet), but BY GAWD it's a bloody hard slog setting up a business and getting things off the ground. You'd think I would know this after some fifteen-odd years in the consulting world, but reality always hits you round the head with a very unsubtle clout, just as a reminder.

I have been feeling like a hamster on an eternal wheel going nowhere in particular. Networking, meetings, proposals, discussions, more networking, more meetings... repeat. Ironic since this management lark and pitching for projects is nothing new, but... ever feel like grabbing people by the lapels and shouting in their faces, "JUST GIVE ME THE BLOODY WORK you fool!"?

Yes, that.

Oh, and then there are the other people who waste your time. Who will not be drawn into any sort of commitment, or agreement, or communication. Yet they persist in stringing you along in the off chance that something, just something, might come good. And milking ideas and proposals you discuss with them -  under the guise of "exploratory talks" - with not a word of thanks or acknowledgment either. Exploratory my arse. The only thing they are exploring is how much they can tap you for ideas and insight and leads without forking out a penny for your services.

Well. They can also fuck right off. Enough.

Same for all the extra 'free' stuff I have been foolish enough (or nice enough, you decide) to take on. I calculated that if I had charged daily rates for all the hours I put in for this type of work, I would probably be able to take a year off. At least.

Which leaves me at the end of 2014, in this time of enforced festive cheer, contemplating what I have become and how the bejeezus this could ever have happened.

I have turned into a SAHM. And a very grumpy one at that.

The 'role' is just not me. It is not what I set out to do when the kids came along. It is not where I ever saw myself at any point in my career. I love my kids, but I hate this role. It depresses me beyond reason even though I should probably be grateful.
Well, I say 'should', but really? It's just not me, like I said. That's it. So gratitude actually has nothing to do with it. Disgruntlement does. In buckets.

But the kids are great. Growing exponentially, eating us out of house and home, and becoming increasingly lippy as they slowly approach the teenage years (another couple years yet to go, not that you'd know it). At least they do their own washing and run errands to the shops for me now - even though they all know my card PIN number, probably not a good thing. Well, given the bank balance it hardly makes any difference really, come to think of it.

The amusement arises from random exchanges, such as Widget declaring with delight that they had a session at school on "religion and sex education". Interesting, I thought. He actually meant 'relationships' and sex education, RSE in school acronym talk. But his version sounded much more fun.

Blossom now states I am "too slow"for her to go running with. She's right, but that's what happens with age. You may become less tolerant, but you also get slower. We have not yet ventured out cycling together, but I dread the occasion as I am liable to be left behind there as well. And that'll be with her on a single-speeder and me on a road bike with gears. Embarrassing.

Mr Man has only a few centimetres more before he reaches my height. On a recent school trip to visit the Weihnacht markets in Germany (departure 10.45pm on Thursday night, return 4am on Saturday morning, no rest for anyone) he had no suitable shoes for the predicted cold weather conditions. He borrowed my Timberland boots, last seen worn by yours truly in a photo with this same child when he was one year old and riding on his father's back in a baby carrier in New Zealand. How did that happen? His verdict? The boots "were okay". Excellent.

OH queries "So what did you do today?" when he gets home in the evenings, then continues to answer emails/take calls/do other stuff while I answer him.

He says he is listening ("I can multitask!") but I put him to the test. I told him I was running away with the postman and that we were planning to adopt a baby gorilla before selling his car to make up the shortfall in my salary. He didn't bat an eyelid, but looked up some fifteen seconds later and merely said, "Hmm, what?" Yes, exactly. Oh, and he still does not 'get' twitter. Never mind.
Thank goodness for Kevin and great friends who keep my spirits up.

So, vale 2014 and may you all rejoice and enjoy the festivities.
I will be thinking up new strategies to drive my business forward and finally get some projects underway that will pay me a living wage, hopefully more.

Until then, OH will be in charge of the cooking, the kids can dismantle the tree, and I will take myself off for a very lengthy solo bike ride, because, I know all too well, no one likes a long face this time of year.

Have fun.


(c) Gary Larson

p.s. (thank heavens for electronic updates) I forgot to add that one of the upsides of not being in full-time gainful employment this year has been spending an inordinate amount of time mucking about on bikes, on runs and in lakes (swimming of course, what did you think?) all of which has led me to complete (for no particular reason aside from 'because they were there' and possibly also 'I did not really think about this thoroughly') the London Marathon, Tough Mudder, the Bacchus Half Marathon - highly recommended - and even get an age category first in the South Coast Triathlon. Get me.
Okay, so they made the latter a duathlon because the sea conditions were so rough "even the lifeguards are refusing to go in the water", but anyway, I got the goody bag, so there. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it.
It's the small things people, the small things.


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