So I Lied.

I don’t lie often.  And I suck at it, frankly, probably having something to do with having so little practice at it.

But yesterday when I said I didn’t have much to say, that was a lie.  Truthfully, I have a whole whole whole lot to say – and absolutely zero idea how to say it.  Not even to myself, I guess.  Which is problematic.  Hell, I decided I was going to write this post sometime before 7am today, and I’ve spent all morning searching for just about any sort of distraction in the meantime because I didn’t know how to approach it.  I’m even periodically switching over to another window in a vain search to find another distraction while I’m writing, and I’m only on the second paragraph.

That’s pretty damned sadly self-delusional, no?

So.  Truth.  (And when I say I have a lot to say…me!  Having a lot to say!…you know that means that you should probably take a pee break before you settle in, right?  Okay.  We’re good.)

Truth is, I’m a little depressed right now.  Okay, more than a little.  I’m depressed because there are large and important questions looming right now for which I have no answers.  And I hate talking (writing) about being depressed because I think it can be kind of contageous, and nobody really wants to hang out on a blog of some [Ned Flanders]Negative Nelly[/Ned].  It’s more fun to be funny.  And truth be told, while I’m not usually quite as happy-go-lucky as I portray here on ye olde blog, I’m not terribly far off, either.  I go and do and generally don’t let things bother me a hell of a lot – which has always been a goal of mine, and at which I’ve gotten much better in the past few years.  (Go me.)

I don’t like being down, and when I’m down I don’t like to overanalyze it too much because that requires delving into what gets me down.  (I should use the word “down” a few more times.  Down down down.  There.)  Delving isn’t a short-term solution, and a short-term solution is what I would prefer.  So, you know, if I don’t think about it and talk about it, maybe it’ll go away, right?  Sometimes it does, and yippee!  Sometimes not, and then it’s just…bleagh.

Today I’ve finally accepted that the Taoist Biker’s shiny Taoist Bike is broken down on the side of the road just outside the city limits of Bleagh, and the situation ain’t going to get any better if I send y’all postcards from Gigglesville.  And while I hate to be the Negative Nelly, I know in my heart that y’all will cut me some slack:  friends want to know so they can be there.  Which is a good thing to remember when one finds oneself in Bleagh’s zip code.

Anyway.  Enough beating around the bush.  There are two main problems facing me right now (and no, pitter patter is not one of them.  WTF?)

1)       My son (probably:  90%+) needs to change schools.  In which case, a school needs to be picked and enrollment finalized pronto.

2)      I hesitate to even post this because I’m somewhat paranoid, but I suppose at this point if my coworkers have found this blog I’m toast for a myriad of reasons anyway.  As I’ve actually said (even more cryptically) before, even in multiple locations, I’ve decided to change careers.

To address point #1:

My son is in a private school for kids with autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, and similar non-behavioral issues.  The school is designed to get kids up to speed so they can be placed out, which is fantastic.  The problem is that, as the years go by, the more well-adjusted kids are placed out.  Which means that the kids that remain provide less ideal social models.  We’ve thought for a year that our son was just about ready to move on – this past year, his transformation (at the hands of a truly fantastic teacher) has more or less confirmed this in our head.

Academically, we have no real doubt that he can handle the load (hell, he’s working well above grade level)…provided that his teachers can work with him a little bit in the “call his name before you ask him a question” and “make sure he knows exactly what’s expected of him” sort of arena.  Socially – well, we think he can handle it, but who really knows?  The problem being that we’re afraid that there could come a tipping point beyond which it’ll actually be harder for him to adjust.  So we’ve pretty much made up our minds to change him.

The problem is how to choose a school amongst many options (though I suppose that’s a better problem than the alternative) for a specific kid with specific needs.  I feel now for my parents, who had to make the fateful decision to move me up a grade with no knowledge whatsoever about how it would work out (another long story for another day).  There are no guaranteed outcomes here – and no way to predict how things will turn out.  We can – and will – wrack our brains and flog our souls trying to make the right choice, but in the end, it’s a crapshoot.  And that “known unknown” is driving both Dys and myself crazy.  (To be perfectly honest, it was the similar school-search uncertainty, disagreement, and paralysis when he was first diagnosed in kindergarten that helped push our marriage to the brink.  So there’s that, too.  And here’s where I publicly say “I was wrong about the school search then, babe.”)

To address point #2:

I don’t want to go into a lot of detail, because some decisions have yet to be made and more importantly, announced, but I’ve basically made up my mind to change careers, and I know what I plan to do next.  I just don’t know how to go from here to there.  I’ve known that for some months, but being out of this office for a few weeks and having to come back and face it, along with the typical year-end BS like reviews and plans for the coming year and blah blah blah just makes it pretty much impossible to ignore, and pretty hard to carry on.

I have a good job, and even better, I work with fantastic people.  But, honestly, I don’t have the fire for the work that I should.  I went so long in an absolutely miserable job in the Midwest that it took years here to realize that not being ready to kill myself and/or others at any given moment during the day did not quite equal professional bliss, either.  My job is important, and I’m good at it – but it deserves someone who has a passion for it that I’ve realized I clearly do not have.

I’m 35, and I’m old enough to know that I’m too young to just consign myself to some perceived soulsucking grind.  (If that makes any sense.)  I don’t want to sound too egotistical here, but I believe I’m better than that.  I think that, modesty aside, I’m a smart and insightful guy with a lot to offer – possibly even a chance to make a real difference in my world.  While as stated I think my job is important, it’s hard to pat myself on the back at the end of the year and say “Yep, I’m making a real difference.”  It’s more like an uphill fight in which the hill keeps getting longer every year, with very few opportunities (or outside encouragement) to look back and say “Wow, I’ve come a long way.”

I’ll be honest and say that I do in fact have nagging doubts about the whole thing, because almost anytime you leave a field that you’ve worked in for 10 years for an entirely new field, there’s going to be a pay cut involved.  And when you’re a guy like me, it’s hard to look at taking a pay cut and think you’re doing the Responsible Adult thing on behalf of your wife and child.  But I think seeing your husband or father eat himself day after day after day takes a toll, too.  I’ve never been all about the money – neither have my wife and child – and I wouldn’t advise anybody else to be.  So why’s it so hard to take my own advice?

Well ,this tailspin of an economy is a big fucking reason.  My career change will probably involve some more college class stuff, which will take time.  In the meantime, I feel like I need to let at least my close colleagues in on the big secret at some point – but doing so kind of puts me out there as the Guy Most Likely To Be Laid Off, and why wouldn’t it?  If you were the boss, and you had to choose who to let go, wouldn’t you choose the person who’s got one foot out the door anyway?  I know I would.

So anyway, there are big changes afoot for the TB/Dys household.  Change is hard; change is scary; change is stressful.  Especially because when you’re making big, long-term decisions about your child and/or your career, there are rarely choices that are obviously correct.  Except in the rear view mirror, and that’s only if you’re lucky.  In the meantime, the two of us try not to infect each other with our worry, (speaking for myself here) internalize it, and worry a little bit more.

We’ll come to the answers eventually – or, if need be, we’ll make choices with the best information we have, and live by them as best we can, in good Taoist fashion.  Until then, pardon my momentary breakdown outside Bleagh.  I’ll get ‘er fixed and be back on two wheels in a day or two.


15 Responses

  1. That was a post that deserves more than just a glib comment full of cliches and platitudes that “everything will get better,” blah blah, which is why I hesitated to comment, but then thought I’d put my two pennies in anyway.
    It seems like the general goal for us human types should be to look back on our lives with as few regrets as possible. To this end, sometimes making the choices that will lead to that can be hard as hell. It sounds like you’re in the midst of a couple of those choices, so it’s no wonder you’re not feeling tip top.
    I hope things start to come together for you soon and if not soon, that you’ll have the patience to keep trying.
    I hope that didn’t sound stupid.

    Nope, not stupid at all. And I can empathize with that “I want to say something more than ‘good luck’ but dunno what to say!” – I get that on other peoples’ comments from time to time!

    These decisions are big, but they’re not huge, and none of them are truly life or death. It’s hard to remember sometimes that if he has a bad year in his new school, we can switch; if I hate my new career, I can try again. Because that’s facing MORE scary change. But I think the more I remind myself that the only constant IS change, the more grounded I feel.

  2. I’m sorry you’re going through a difficult time. I hope it’s not awful of me to offer advice, since I’m younger/less experienced/not a parent. These things have never stopped me before, so bombs away!

    Frankly, I love this paragraph!

    1. This may be overly casual/totally incorrect of me, but maybe…don’t worry so much? From this distance, your kid seems really well-adjusted and happy, especially for a special needs child. My school environment changed constantly all throughout my life and I turned out more or less okay, and with little memory – much less resentment – of the choices my mom and dad made. I know you want to do right by him, but my bet is that you’ll find the right place, and if you worry and fret and go crazy over it you will making finding the right place a thoroughly miserable process instead of just a fairly tough one. I wouldn’t be saying this at all (cf not a parent) except that you said you have a number of places to choose from. You did not say that they are all bad choices. Hence, you have a problem that may work you into a parental tizzy for no reason.

    You’re right, of course, but I’m a little biased. My parents, with great intentions and imperfect information, made a choice that had deleterious and far-reaching consequences that they could not have foreseen – which makes me pretty gunshy about the whole thing. I’m probably putting way too much of my own problems into this, but it’s hard not to.

    2. My advice would be not to tell your colleagues of your career change. What purpose will it serve? You said that it’ll take you some time to prepare for this change, and so why sweat out that time wondering if you’re going to get laid off (for an additional reason) rather than keeping a somewhat none-of-their-business secret? Obviously you will have to give them notice when you change jobs, but why before? Maybe there’s a dynamic I’m not understanding, but I just don’t see what good it would do you/your job/your co-workers.

    I dunno, I feel like my immediate colleagues deserve honesty. They’re the closest thing to real-life friends I have these days. And besides that, there are a lot of other things that I could/should be doing with my time that I will probably be spending on said further edumacation – the fact that I’m not doing those things will raise obvious questions.

    There. My $0.02. Possibly with less value than the copper it’s made of. I’m sorry if I’m glossing over anything that’s a lot more difficult than it looks since it’s YOU and YOUR LIFE. (I apologize to Dys as well.) But being a Buddhist as well as a Taoist about this might not hurt. Detach, and look at it again.

    Good advice, and appreciated.

  3. 1. “Comma comma, down dooby doo down down.” There. A few more for ya.

    I won’t give you the earwig I had when I was thinking “down down down.”

    2. The whole shiny bike/Gigglesville/Negative Nelly/Bleagh zip code paragraph had me laughing. You’re such a dab hand at analogies!

    [Rossi accent]Gracie[/Rossi].

    3. What Kim said – life’s too short for regrets!

    That’s gospel.

    4. I have the (accurate, I feel) impression that you and Dys are much better equipped to handle the stress of a school change for The Boy than you were back when he was just starting school. What didn’t kill you before has made you stronger for NOW. So just trust that!

    True. And I think the boy is much better equipped as well, I think, which is something I thought of since I started writing that post. It’s good to keep in mind.

    5. I, too, had the, “Why am I doing this, again?” thought when I came back to work after having an extended vacation. I’m certainly NOT doing what I love, but have no idea how to make the leap from Here to There. Same as you. Same as anyone contemplating a major career change. There’s safety and comfort in monotony and “same ol’ same ol'”, after all. It takes a great amount of bravery to contemplate the leap, and I know you’ve got loads of bravery. As Calvin is fond of saying, “What’s meant to be will be.” Don’t let fear prevent you from taking advantage of the opportunities that come your way.

    Heh. If an opportunity was staring me in the face it would be easier. I know I have to go out and MAKE my opportunity – but I think I’m finally ready to tackle that.

    6. You’re good enough, you’re smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like you!

    Every time I hear that, I think of the SNL episode hosted by Michael Jordan in which he almost couldn’t say those lines without cracking up. If only I had his self-confidence!

    And his money, and his motorcycle collection, and his Superbike team…hmm.

    Thank ya, lady. Much obliged.

  4. Good luck, TB and Dys.

    You are a smart and insightful guy with a lot to offer so that’s what makes it easier for you to see that you don’t want to get stuck in a soulsucking grind. It’s a tough leap but time’s moving.

    I suppose that’s true – if I was a bonehead I’d have never noticed! Bonuses and penalties to smarts.

    One of the things, for me, has always been never wanting to say ‘I wished I’d. . .’ or ‘I could have. . .’ It’s why I went on tour (with everyone telling me I was an idiot for tossing away an established teaching career); it’s why I’ve said ‘Sure.’ whenever anyone’s asked me if I could write jokes, lyrics, ads, greeting cards, scripts, whatever, when, up to the time I actually sat down to write it, I had zero experience.

    My writing was geared to magazines with a sports specialty. I was nationally published when I was 16. In a sports magazine. Not really a stretch.

    Sure, I’d written a comedic novel for a writing class but that was about tennis. I had so many silly stories about sports in general it really was no more than reporting.

    But, one thing leads to another and, I end up doing sound production, directing TV commercials, all kindsa weird shit. I’m not saying all of it was successful (my mime clown thing REALLY didn’t work. I kept trying to ‘kick my own ass’. sorry for the obscure Shakes The Clown reference) but it kept things moving.

    You seem to have the plan now all you have to do is execute it. Once the cannonball into the pool splashes down, the redness fades and the ripples grow quiet, it’ll be easier to breathe again.

    Good luck guys.

    Thanks, man. I kinda accidentally ended up where I am now, and it’s nice – but I kinda feel like I washed ashore rather than picked a point and stared rowing toward it. That can happen pretty easy when you’re in your 20s and have no real idea who you are or what you want.

    This time, at least, I’m a-rowing.

  5. The Stuart Smalley with Michael Jordan is pretty much the only Stuart Smalley that I remember. I loved it because Stuart said something to him like “You don’t have to be the best basketball player in the world, Michael.” Michael looked at him, mildly, with his eyebrows raised, and everyone cracked up.

    “I don’t have to make the ball in the basket every time.”

    Heh. The memory still makes me chuckle.

  6. I am constantly struggling with my career. I am staring down the barrel at 35, I graduated college at 22 and have held 15 jobs. 15 jobs in 13 years. LOL.

    You just gotta do what makes you happy, you know? Get out there and find it. Afterall, you spend 1/3 of your life at work. Make that 1/3 count for something.

    Exactly. It’s the “making it count” that I’m after.

    Holy shit, did I just come close to quoting “Titanic?” No? Whew.

  7. It would be best to keep your plans away from your employer/co-workers for a while. That way you can do things on your terms and not get the situation forced on you in a time frame that you are not comfortable with…

    If it comes to point wher layoffs are about to happen, then you can speak up and save a job for someone else.

    I am WAY to practical to weigh in on the stay-or-go equation. I have never left a job on a Friday without having another one set up for Monday…but I am pretty sure you knew that is where I would be coming from.

    Same here, really. I would greatly prefer not to leave Job A until I had a set (and very nearby) start date for Job B – but when it all comes down, it may not be up to me, which is part of what’s so scary about the whole thing.

    I just think it would be hard to conceal from my coworkers, and I’d hate to have them find out from someone else, you know? But it’s true, as a guy from my biker forum said when he was worried about being laid off, “Change is best when you have a hand in making it.”

  8. “And truth be told, while I’m not usually quite as happy-go-lucky as I portray here on ye olde blog, I’m not terribly far off, either. ”

    Well, personally, I’d much rather read how you’re really doing than read something you wrote to entertain me. 🙂

    I wouldn’t advise telling my coworkers anything until you know something for certain. I know it’s hard, but it is just safer all around if you keep that close to the vest until you’re completely ready to fly.

    Is it at all possible that you can take the courses you need to take to prepare you to do ‘the thing’ whilst keeping the old gig?

    Whatever you decide, I wish you only the best.

    Taking the courses while I keep the old gig is the plan – but the fact that I’d be taking them from the college where I work is part of what makes it hard to keep it completely under wraps. This place isn’t so big that people don’t know each other in all sorts of strange and occasionally unpredictable ways.

    Thanks for the rejoinder to keep it real. I need that from time to time.

  9. I think it was great that you wrote this out and you don’t have to apologize for not being funny…this blog is “you”, so write how you feel! 🙂 Anyway, you have a lot on your mind, but if you look ahead you just have to envision good outcomes, and have faith that your decisions will lead to that…you can’t know everything before it happens, otherwise you wouldn’t be human…it’s just a bit of darkness before the dawn, it will work out! 🙂

    Honestly, writing it out was a good thing in many respects. I’ve found that to usually be true when things are really bothering me, even though I always seem to dread it before I actually do it nonetheless. (Which is really, really dumb, but anyway.) I think putting my nebulous fears into words so I can look at them objectively instead of cowering before some big vaporous cloud of Yuck is helpful, you know?

    Particularly helpful was talking (very briefly) to Dys about it later, and she said she was glad to hear my worries about the school thing because I hadn’t been talking to her about it…trying not to burden her, of course…which left her thinking she was the only one worrying about it, which wasn’t good. And we agreed that there really was nothing much to do but make a decision and go with it because there are an infinite number of unpredictable factors that we just can’t know, so best to accept it and deal. She also agreed with me that you guys had really great things to say, and we both thank you all for that.

  10. I was still waiting for the joke at the end…or at least the animation of the lady ready to pop out of her shirt…

    No matter how serious we get…boobs ARE still boobs!!!

    Hmm. Maybe that’s part of my problem – I’ve been boob-deprived a little too much over the past few days since Dys has been working from when I get home until after I go to bed. Heeeeeere, internet internet internet…bring me some boobies!

  11. I think all of us who read your blog would much rather hear about how you really are than read “made up stuff”.

    I get depressed every time there’s a major life change- I think it’s in human nature. Even when I moved in with Ian, I felt down for several weeks even though I knew it was a positive move, and I couldn’t really say WHY I was down. I think on a basic level I dislike change, even when the change is for the best! Weird, huh!

    On moving your son to a new school- I can totally empathise with how tough that decision must be. What does your son feel about possibly moving? That would be a big factor to me. What are the alternatives? Also you mentioned once before that his current school is a long way from where you live. Are the local alternatives any good? Does he have friends who go to any of them? That would really help with the transition. I am sure you’ve thought of all of this anyway!

    Career changes- I used to work as a recruitment consultant before the job I do now, and loathed every last single instant of it, to the point where I had a rash on my hands from stress and was bitterly unhappy. When I heard about the job I am in now, it really jumped out at me. It was actually a job which came up through my role as a consultant, so I had to then tell the directors that I planned to apply for it- that was effectively me handing my notice in and was the scariest thing I have ever done. Luckily I got the job, and here I am nine years later, really happy and still loving it. I think taking that deep breath and plunging into the icy waters of the unknown can be the worst bit. And, as mentioned before, I am queen of the hates change.

    I do think you should hold off on telling your co workers, even if you really trust them. You are not being dishonest in not telling them. I know it’s really hard to resist when they are your friends, but really, would it achieve anything? I can’t see any possible benefit to you in telling them, and by your own admission, it might even put your job in jeopardy if a redundancy situation arose. It ain’t worth it, at least until you have a more concrete idea on how you’re going to proceed.

    Sorry so long! I know all of this must be really scary. Wishing you and Dys good luck with everything.

    I’m the last person who should chide anyone for a long comment! 🙂

    There are good alternatives nearby – but it’s hard to say which is best. The nearby public school is so-so. We have school choice in this county so we could apply to get him in to different schools, but generally our work with the public school system over the past few years has not been encouraging (and would take a hell of a long time to discuss in detail, but you can get a taste here from this post of Dys’s. (I say this for the benefit of the readership at large, I know Suzy read and commented on it before.)

    The other nearby schools are Catholic, which we are not. Frankly, it’s something of a stretch to even call me a Christian, and I get pretty uncomfortable with the idea of my son being inculcated with religious beliefs at school. But it’s hard to deny that there are some absolutely excellent Catholic elementary and secondary schools in this county…schools that are probably on par with any in the nation. So I wonder how much of it is really a problem, or just an issue that I have that wouldn’t at all be an issue for my son.

    There are other good private schools, one of which we’re looking at closely, but it’s also a long drive. And my son really doesn’t have friends outside his current school, so that doesn’t really factor in. As for what he thinks – honestly, we’ve barely talked to him about it so far, and that’s one of the things we’ve been debating between us. We’ll see how that goes.

    Again, if I was positive that I could do this all on the sly, I probably would hold out on my coworkers – but I don’t think it’s reasonably possible. I’m just going to have to give it a whole lot of thought.

  12. How about this…only tell the coworker friends if/when they ASK what you’re up to? 😀

    That’s one of my options, definitely.

  13. I’m awful at giving advice about practical life things (much better with emotional stuff, go figure) so I don’t know what I could say, other than I’m thinking about ya.

    Thoughts are appreciated as well! Thanks, B.

  14. Wanted to personally stop by and thank everyone for the well wishes for us and just for being the decent citizens and friends to TB that you are. Y’all are a swell bunch. It’s like having great neighbors except that you never show up to the barbecue…

    On the coworker issue, it’s a bummer because, truly, it’s a damned if you do/damned if you don’t. All kinds of background we can’t really detail here but:

    If he does tell, the odds of being damned financially increase drastically (I don’t want to go so far as exponentially, but that’s not impossible). The logistics of this further factor in because the classes he needs to take can be taken free as long as he is in his current position with the college. Should he be chosen to be laid off because he’s been tagged as having one foot already out the door, then the financial hit is even bigger since we’d have to pay for the classes (and with what money?).

    If he doesn’t tell, the financial risk is still there but is hidden behind the risk of being found out — which is a WHEN not an IF. While, yes, that would suck to have his officemates then take on an US vs. HIM mentality at that point (and I don’t care how buddy you think you may be — if you’re hiding something like that while taking classes through the employer to make the change… no way they look at you the same way after if you aren’t the one who told them), this most definitely increases the financial risk exponentially when found out.

    This is also a very small group of officemates in a very small Division in a very large department of the college, which is part of the problem.

    Teh Suk!

    And sadly, we haven’t really talked to The Boy about the possible change yet because if you think we’re worriers, ya oughta meet The Boy. He has also stated in the past that he doesn’t ever want to leave the school he is attending, since he has seen many other kids exit over the years, he’s been anxious about that – even without us having EVER said a word about it. I REALLY want to talk to him about it, but we need to visit other schools and get some better information ourselves first. Le Sigh.

    [Eddie]This is all true.[/Eddie]

    Hmm. It’s funnier when he says it.

  15. I completely understand about the job change thing. I have completely lost my passion for what I do, but I love what I went to school for. If I could just get rid of all the BS that goes on at the workplace, I’d be fine. I’d keep your thoughts away from coworkers for not. You really don’t want to be forced to make a decision sooner than you are ready.

    I still have a while before I even feel ready to say anything – whether I say anything then, or what I say, is not something I have to worry too much about. But thanks for stopping by!

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