Saturday, December 20, 2008

Three Weeks In

Three weeks into my new job (lifestyle). The first week I was all aflounder, having no idea what I was doing or how to do anything. The second week I attained an idea of what my position called for: I began developing a training manual and course for new hires to our call center. I compiled all the VU, VUMC, VEC (VU Epidemiology Center), and department policies and job descriptions into modules and then began writing out specific plans for training people in interviewing techniques. I've made several Power Point presentations and edited and "tidied up" a few others that were in training files. I've begun working in partnership with one of my co-workers to develop a certification process to assure that new phone interviewers are properly trained and ready to contact respondents.

This is quite an exciting place to be. Basically, my new boss has said that our department is on the cusp of growing exponentially and for me to develop a training program for all the people we'll be hiring. I feel kind of daunted by this because I've never done any training or management in this field before but I've done a lot of research and have been on the receiving end of training many times and feel I have a clear enough idea of the "big picture" that I am making a good program.

Everyone in my department is very well educated. No one, outside my boss and her boss, knows that I have no formal schooling beyond high school. This is an Ivy League school; of course education is everything. I'm a little concerned about how people would respond to me if they learned that I am only self-educated. Yesterday, in researching interviewer training, I learned that the man who started NORC (my former employer at the University of Chicago) was uneducated. He was British and came to America to make his fortunes, doing door-to-door sales and then got into polling research and working with Roper and Gallup (the men who started those organizations). He conceived of an opinion research center that worked for the common people and got funding from major sources and support from universities to found what would become NORC. An inspiring "bootstraps" kind of story. I was happy to learn the story, although this was in the early part of last century when far fewer people had any higher education so I can't really apply it to anything in my life.

I am no longer car-free. I haven't ridden the bus in months. I'd go so far as to say I'm car-full, now. I have to drive about 10 miles a day. Carmac's school is one mile West of our house. I drop him off first and drive the 4 or so miles SE to work, dropping Zed off on the way. I park my car on the street next to Centennial Park and walk a couple of blocks to work. The weather has been rainstormy and very gloomy and chill lately. I really enjoy the walk, regardless of the weather. I wish I could leave for work earlier and park a little farther away so I could have a longer walk, but getting the boys to school on-time and not too early and then me to work on-time is a juggling act. And driving my scooter is not a possibility as I have to drop both boys off (unless we wanted to look like the photos one sees of Asian or Indian families of 3 or 4 or 5 all on a scooter). This is what I need:
I'm going to be saving all my checks for the next couple of months to buy a reliable car. To me, a car is a tool, nothing more; literally a vehicle to get me from point A to point B. I know I need something in which my three kids can ride comfortably with room for an extra kid or our dog. I need something very affordable. And I feel strongly that I want something fuel efficient and environmentally friendly (a relative concept, I know). I'm pretty sure I can't afford a hybrid. I'd love a vegetable oil biodiesel but I think it would be hard to find a reliable one that meets my specs. Generally, I enjoy researching things but I simply don't care anything about automobiles (scooters, motorcycles and autorickshaws, yes; cars, no) and feel overwhelmed by all the choices. I'm happy to learn from others and to take suggestions into consideration!

And where, I ask myself, is Spirit in my life right now? I know Spirit to be waiting patiently for me to get my head together and remember to become aware. God is not distant: I am. When life gets busy, immediate awareness of Spirit is the first thing I let go of; probably because I didn't have a very firm grasp in the first place. Thank God for grace.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Worry Night

I am not, by nature, a worrier. I have been blessed by the temperament which allows me to work on fixing problems which are within my control and letting go of all the other problems. I don't carry burdens around. I don't fret. I'm not one for floor pacing or nail biting.

I have a couple of friends and a mother who are worriers. They'll worry about most anything. If they speak with a stranger in a store check-out line and the stranger mentions she is having difficulty finding affordable trousers to fit her teen son, they'll worry about the stranger and her son. If they hear a news story about a child born on the other side of the world with a rare disease, they'll worry about the child, his parents, siblings, doctors and community. They carry burdens for family, friends, people they went to Elementary school with. They'll worry about things that other people insist are not problems. They'll worry about things that may someday become problems. They'll worry that they worry too much. They'll worry that other people don't worry enough.

As I said, I'm not like that. I own what is in my control and I am able to set down what is not. Except...about one night every six months or so: I call them worry nights. I have no prior indication when a worry night will come on; nothing presages a worry night and no particular thing seems to cause one, they just happen, like the weather (and another thing to not worry about: It's beyond my control so I don't worry). Last night was a worry night. I began by worrying about a potentially hurtful situation I may have inadvertently caused a loved one, which I can't mitigate. But the worry grew like fungus on a cold, damp wall. I worried about my job and my children. I worried about the old, junker car Hammy's parents have loaned me. I worried about the Nashville school system. I worried about the fact that I'd like to go to a fund-raiser at a school a friend teaches at but that I'll be too busy and tired to be able to go. I worried about having to work the day after Christmas and missing my in-laws' gathering and that they'll feel like I'm avoiding them. And then I moved on to the bigger world. I worried about pollution, about pedophiles, about genocide in Rwanda. I worried about things so far beyond my control as to almost, if they weren't so real and so horrifying, be laughable.

And now, on the sunrise of a new day, the worries have been worried and I can let go of them. The worry night is over and gone and I certainly won't worry about when the next one will visit me.