Tug-of-War with Tonglen

Ugh!

I played too hard over Memorial Day weekend to feel sufficiently rested for work, and I am cranky. http://dreamermadwoman.blogspot.com/2013/06/san-rafael-swell.html I started out the morning being friendly enough with my office mate. I felt patient as she recounted everything that’s happened since we saw each other last week. For about an hour. Then I tuned her out and began a new project I’d been handed. However, as per usual, I was given no instructions with my assignment and quickly grew resentful when the natural investigative resources I have were exhausted and I simply sat in need of TRAINING, already! Meanwhile, the crone at the other desk is still talking about her 2 pulmonary embolisms. And eating a cinnamon roll.

I didn’t want to bother my manager, who assigned the task, because her instructions had been to ask my officemate, should I have any questions. This time, my co-worker can’t even try to explain it to me – starting at the dawn of time – because she just doesn’t know. So she stands over my shoulder shouting in my ear, “Try this. Try that.”

I DID!!!!!

And… she spits.

I wonder if I really need this. My friend Dave, who got me into Africa Heartwood Project, works for the city and comes to my office every now and then. He asked me 2 weeks ago on the way to another performance with the group how I like it here. I confessed I didn’t yet and why (the training issue, not my disdain for a poor, infirm woman). He reported that this office seems to go through a lot of temps. “Maybe that’s why,” he speculated.

I’m miserable.

Is this a chance to practice a new spiritual/life skill or is it just a waste of my time? I’m an awesome temp. I’m always working. I don’t need to feel like this. It’s certainly not worth the wage. Is this an instance of wishing to avoid uncomfortable situations and emotions or can I simply leave a circumstance that doesn’t suit me or meet my needs? (“Simply,” in that context, meaning without feeling disappointed in myself for not following through or finding a workable solution.) I cannot be a useful employee here because no one will demonstrate what’s expected of me. I’m bored and aggravated.

I don’t know what to do.

“So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.” – Benjamin Franklin

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Professional Challenge

Even while closing yesterday’s rant, I had the thought that this might be an opportunity to live Tonglen. I only recently discovered the concept for myself. So far it has uplifted and excited me. Now it’s real. Tonglen is not easy. Tonglen is a tool that requires application, discipline, and intent.

I intend to succeed. I don’t know what that will look like. To date, when she’s begun a new story (which she finished 5 minutes ago), I’ve not responded at all. I totally ignore her. I feel so rude. I’ve tried the polite, silent smile or a glance of acknowledgement, but it’s fuel. Best to continue unresponsive. I think she’s used to it, sadly. She doesn’t seem to notice. The challenge is to not curse her every time she speaks.

Additionally, I must recommit to doing my job with integrity. I confess, hating my post, I have phoned it in. I resent that I have no training, yet I’m charged with a task I have no resources to complete… except to ask her. (Remember, she’s growing senile. She can still do it, but she can’t demonstrate how! And she starts at the advent of this strange box called Computer!!!) Worse, asking for her help is an invitation to hear her script. She begins with renewed vigor, and recites ALL OF IT.

My response has been not to do it, my job. “What do I care?” I rationalize. “I’m a dirty temp.” And, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”

Awful!

I have defined my new professional challenge. I accept this opportunity to live Tonglen. Ugh.

Job [Dis]Satisfaction

It would be hard to overstate how much I dislike my current assignment. I’m surprised, really, by how difficult a time I’m having here. I LOATHE this place! I’ve withheld judgement during the learning curve, which can be… bitchy (on the inside, only, cuz I know me and I know it’ll go away). However, I’ve been here for a month now and my disdain only grows. In fact, it’s becoming personal.

I hate the people I work with, except for one, who is quirky, stylish, smart, hard-working, and ambitious [simultaneously pursuing graduate degree], and the others who just do their boring tasks quietly, if vacantly. The 2 women whose professional lives most impact mine NEVER SHUT UP. I’ve tried to be patient, because I’ve had/ will again have this problem myself. But seriously, shut up! What makes you think we care about the minutia of every nuance of every idea and event in your life!?

One is very old. Seventy-nine! She should have retired five years ago at the very least. She doesn’t take care of herself, eats candy and doughnuts all day, then complains about the consequences. I know how thick her blood is, and she showed me her cellulitis!!!

She thinks her conscious stream of thought interests everyone else, and she’s losing her memory. “She must be very lonely,” I tell myself, urging patience. I’m a story repeater, after all, finding myself so utterly engaging and my stories so entertaining that they warrant second, third, and life-long reiterations. She was surely this character, too, when she was bright, young, and relevant. But I cannot take it. (Of course, I can.) Still, I want to crawl out of my skin or tear into hers!

I worked in hospice, for god’s sake! I’m terrible.

I haven’t struggled with guilt like this… ever. I’ve felt exceedingly blessed by the seeming-effortless skill I have of recognizing guilt as a signal for repair and restitution, or simply a destructive emotion that, not serving me, is quickly discarded. I’ve never sat in guilt this long. Feelings of hostility plague me; their amplitude alarms me. It’s affecting my life, and I’m in charge of that choice.

So I feel angry with myself for giving that power away, and giving so much sway to base and compassionless emotions. I actually have compassion training! I feel weak and defeated. And ever-impatient, screaming inside, “SHUT THE _____ UP!!!”

This woman makes the other prattling municipal drone intolerable, when normally I could tune her out like an inconsequential gnat. “You are not clever,” I want to inform her. “And saying the same sarcastic thing 3 different ways does not change that.”

I consider the practice of Tonglen. I breathe them in, because we are all irritating. I breathe them in because we are all irritated with our fellowman and our jobs some days. I breathe in my anger and personal failings, because we all fail. I breathe out patience, compassion, and understanding for myself and others, all the while feeling fake, ungrateful, and empty. I’ve spent time praying that I can stand to do this for a year. I made a commitment I wish to honor. Furthermore, I have a lot to learn, gain, and offer here. I also feel vulnerable being so candid about the ugliest parts of myself. Right now I just feel like crying. It’s the first time I’ve given concrete voice to what’s been sapping my energy for the entirety of this, my favorite month of blessed early Spring.

“God loves April babies more, but May’s his favorite month.” And I’m a total bitch.

Get After It, Hot Stuff!

So, my assignment at the dealership came to an end but then the cashier in the service department panicked that she would be alone until the new girl started back there, with month end and first of the month coming up… so off I went to the money pit.

One of the service writers is gorgeous, a stallion of a man. Like, as hot as the owner of the detail shop, with whom, incidentally, I still chat it up. In fact, I asked him this week if he’d jump out of an airplane with my friends and me on my 40th.

“That’s crazy,” he marveled. “Just yesterday my buddy said, ‘We need to go skydiving again soon.'”

“Bring him!”

“But that’s crazy,” he said again. “We were just talking about it.”

“Hm. You should pay attention to that.” (We’ve talked spirituality and “knowingness.”)

I told him the time and place, and asked if he still had my number. He put his hand on mine and winked. “I’ve still got your number.”

“As well you should,” I reminded him, placing my other hand on his. “‘Til next time, my unavailable friend.” (Still in love with ex-wife.) I hope he comes!

Back to the stallion… I’ve been tossing my hair and beaming when he comes into the office, and I’ve suspected that he’s lingering longer and longer, but I just couldn’t be the one to make the move with him. Yesterday, we got talkin’ movies. “Oh, I need to see that again!” I laughed, when he quoted “The Big Lebowski.” After lunch, he handed me the DVD. He’d gone home to get it. (God, he looks good kitted up in motorcycle gear!)

It just so happens that I have a copy of the other movie we talked about and this morning, very nearly this moment, I walked in and put it on his desk, my number included. “I know where you work,” I said. “I’m not really giving you my number to get my movie back. Unless you’re not available. And then I am.”

Tomorrow is officially my last day.

I’m, Like, The Bravest!

And he’s, like, the hottest!!!

So temping at the dealership, this Adonis comes in all the time to detail our used cars. The first time I saw him I had to catch my breath. (I’m telling you, like, the hottest!) He asked where the old receptionist was. “I know nothing,” I shrugged. “I’m the temp.”

“That sounds like a movie,” he said. “‘The Temp.’ Actually,” he went on, “You look like you could be in a movie.”

Hm.

Luckily, knowing nothing, my blushing and stuttering could be explained as first-day-on-the-job incompetence and I pulled off Lovestruck pretty gracefully. I asked Darlene to help me, and he and I have been flirting ever since.

I decided I was done with waiting, so today as I wrote stock numbers and peg numbers, I grabbed a Post It and wrote my number. “So… there’s a movie I’d like you to see,” I smiled. “It’s called ‘The Temp.'”

He laughed, and then we talked and talked until I got busy and he had to get back to work. On his way out, he asked something but my phone rang again. I waved him off, saying, “We’ll talk, we’ll talk. Let’s go out.”

Weeeeeee!

Word On The Street

I sound like a redhead!

The lovely woman who’s been assisting me in this super fun assignment at a car dealership told me the most curious thing this morning. Her sister calls quite a bit, it seems, and said to her, “I just love Christie! What does she look like?”

Darlene described me.

“That’s exactly how I imagined her! You have to take a picture!” Ha!

As for the super fun position? In 2 days, the salesmen had given me a nickname (Tiny Dancer). In 2 weeks, I’ve had 2 dates with 2 different gents, and I get chatted up more here than I have in my entire life! Very reassuring for the 40-year-old ego…

So far, I’m 3 for 3 at being offered (in some cases, begged to take) the full-time position. Very reassuring for the professional ego…  

Wonder if I sound like I’m going gray. 🙂