January 3, 2008

The right reasons

Overheard in my office today…

Marketing Guy: How are we going to measure success?

IT Guy: I don’t care, and I don’t care for all the right reasons.

IT Guy is totally my new Office Hero. Previously this honor belonged to Marketing Guy, who memorably described a data transfer process as a “festering shithole” and suggested we respond to irate customers with "Baby, you know we love you."

Office Hero's comment got me thinking about success, in a belated New Year's navel-gazing kind of way.

By some measures, this has not been a terribly successful year for me. I took a drastic pay cut to change jobs. I dealt with this change in circumstances largely by pretending it didn’t happen, instead of by “creating a budget” and “sticking to that budget.” I have not been doing yoga or exercising regularly. And I recently had to buy bigger pants when the entire ass of my favorite jeans ripped out after sitting down on the couch. On my birthday. Not that I’m still bitter about it.

Much of my knitting has not worked out as planned. Nor has there been as much knitting or creative and crafty time as I would like. But I’m pretty sure I don’t care, because many other things have gone very well this year. These things that have gone well are my Things I Did This Year that Made Me Happy.

1. Traveled to Munich, Oregon, Martha’s Vineyard and, well, Iowa. The Iowa trip mostly stands out because while watching TV in my hotel I saw the most horrifyingly/ hilariously inappropriate advertisement I’ve ever seen: “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit is brought to you by Intimate Options personal lubricant." Because nothing makes me want to get it on like watching a show about sexual assault.

2. Read some really excellent books. High points included Barbara Kingsolver’s Animal, Vegetable, Miracle and Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.

3. Continued to develop friendships with an exceptional group of knitters. You ladies inspire me, teach me and make me laugh in equal measure.

4. Finally started bringing my lunch to work almost every day. Baby steps to financial responsibility. Baby steps.

5. Knit 8 pairs of socks, up from 2 pairs the previous year.

6. Learned knew things – that glitter glue pens are awesome, that I really dig knitting lace socks, as well as how to do a yarn-over at the beginning of a needle, a provisional crocheted cast-on, a garter stitch heel and how to knit from a chart. I have also forever abandoned the idea that I will become a toe-up sock knitter.

7. (Mostly) stopped buying yarn just because it would cheer me up after a bad day.

8. I also had fewer bad days and fewer nights lying awake dreading the following day. Certainly there have not been 8-hour Saturdays in the office, 9 pm conference calls or checking email on vacation since I changed jobs. And every now and then I still get a little thrill that I work for this company, a company that taught me a fair share of what I know about cooking, and whose cookbooks and magazines I genuinely adore.

9. Walked to and from my new job nearly every day, three miles in total. Which does count as exercise, now that I think about it.

10. Finished yet another library school class, in which I rediscovered the Freireian notion of critical pedagogy, which holds that if you aren’t teaching people to stick it to the man, you’re condoning a dominant ideology that breeds passive consumers and workers. I haven’t been terribly impassioned about the librarian training in recent semesters, so it was wonderful to reconnect with the rabble-rousing activist yearnings that got me into library school in the first place.

Not a bad year, when you look at it that way. As for the bigger pants and the finances and the lack of creativity, instead of focusing on what I didn’t accomplish, I am saying firmly: I don’t care.

I made a big change in my life by changing jobs, and it takes a while to acclimate to those kinds of changes. For several months, I was working full-time at the new job, doing part-time contract work for the old job, and going to school. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of spare time for taking care of oneself or pursuing creative passions.

So for all the right reasons, I forgive myself for not accomplishing everything I wanted to accomplish last year.

I plan to spend this year refocusing on things that are important and make me feel happy: writing, reading, spending time with friends and other loved ones, getting at least some moderate exercise, cooking good food, and of course knitting.

I look forward to a happy, productive, creative and healthy New Year and wish you all the same.


Karen said...

What a wonderful post. I admire the choice to look at the good, and not dwell on the bad. And yes, you did have (and do) plenty of good last year. Here's to a 2008 filled with even more good and hardly any bad!!! Happy New Year.

Sarah said...

Geez you had a lot on your plate this year and sounds like you managed it pretty well. And I think you may get bonus points for making Oreos almost come out my nose when reading about the Law & Order SVU sponsor.

Siercia said...

Sounds like a very hard, but ultimately very good year.

I'm contemplating a similar kind of career shift myself - getting out of the god-forsaken (but well-compensated) world of computers and finding something that feels GOOD to do. Thankfully the husband's salary means I can do that a little more easily, but it's still a freaky prospect.

And OMG *girly squee*, do you work for Cooks Illustrated? Talk about someplace that seems like a dream workplace. Is it really as good as my brain tells me it would be?

Macoco said...

I'm so glad you made the job move. It sounds like you're a lot happier there. And damn it, make that budget! I was telling the gals on Wednesday that sometimes (like, maybe daily) I open mine up and just gaze longingly at it. You will feel virtuous just making the budget, and even more so if you try and stick to it.

Kristy said...

How brave of you to be proactive with your life, even though it involved scary things like changing jobs and pay cuts. And it sounds like the more negative things are somewhat temporary in comparison to the good things.

I hope you have a wonderful 2008!