Posted by: Elizabeth Anne Mitchell | November 23, 2011

ROW80 and the Letter of Doom

Life took a sharp veer on Monday; I’m still a little shell-shocked, but the silver lining is starting to appear.  Several groups at the day job have been working for a couple of years now on market equity raises.  We’ve not gotten any raises, not even cost of living, for over four years; therefore, we had fallen pretty far behind our peers in the SEC. We finally got letters on Monday outlining the particular raise each of us would get.  Mine started out okay, got interesting in the middle where it stated the amount of the raise, and then did a real “psych” at the end, when it said that since my boss had given me “below average” for not publishing any articles in 2010, I would get zero. Nothing–not in 2011-12, not in 2012-2013. If I publish several articles in each of the next two years, I can ask again at the end of 2013-2014, but there is no guarantee there will be any money, since this raise is funded by a special one-time pocket of funds.I’d just written a post a few days ago how academic life was a surrogate mother, friend, and, dare I say, lover. I can only relate the feeling I had reading the letter to that of hearing my ex-husband say to the marriage counselor, indicating me with a jerk of his chin, “She’s not worth working for.”

Bummer, eh?  But that silver lining I mentioned–it’s the freedom that comes with realizing that the guy you’ve obsessed over all this time really isn’t all that into you, and you can be your own person again.  Yes, it hurts, like the devil.  But as my husband says (pardon his Anglo-Saxon), “I read just the other day that a**holes are great motivators.  Now go out there and get something that will really let you write.”

Health:  My cough is ever so slowly getting better, thank goodness. The new specs are helping with the computer posture, so my contortions are lessening.  I am confidently sailing past all the candy and sweet stuff at work; it’s really strange, but a sugar-free Lifesaver will satisfy my sweet tooth now.  Thanksgiving may be a bit of a challenge, but I am a slow eater, and my sister-in-law and I can yak for hours, so I may manage to keep consumption low.

Exercise: Still at 30 minutes; my sister-in-law is a Black Friday fiend shopper, so I suspect I will make up my whole week on Friday 🙂

Family:  Sunday night I talked to my dad, who actually brought up the social worker’s visit.  It was a little weird to have that conversation with him, since he rarely talks to me like I am an adult, but it was a nice change.

Today will be spent driving five hours to Boca Raton to pick up youngest, then back four hours to Sarasota, where my brother-in-law and his wife live.  My sister-in-law is one of the sweetest people I know, and she will pamper us all.

Friends: I have kept up with some of my friends.  I still have to work on commenting on blogs; I fulfill my sponsor responsibilities, but I don’t make to everyone else.

Writing: I posted a non-fiction excerpt as Six Sentence Sunday, then did a fiction excerpt on Monday.  Except for cathartic vituperation and job applications, I haven’t written anything since reading the letter of doom.  I hope to get a gratitude post done sometime Friday or Saturday.  The articles will take a back seat to job applications for a while, probably as long as the rest of the round, but I hope to keep the blogging going.

Day Job:  Ha.  See above.

So, all my lovely ROW80 compatriots, have a very lovely rest of the week.  Those of you in the U.S., enjoy your Thanksgiving holiday with your loved ones.  All of you not in lands of turkey holidays, have a wonderful rest of the week and week-end. Please go encourage the rest of the ROWers here.

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Responses

  1. Elizabeth, dare I say congratulations on the freedom this news offers. It’s a perspective of what we can make of our life. Only we have control of our lives, though it seems others play a part. Enjoy your freedom and make the most of what you have accomplished.

    • Thank you, Nancy, for the congratulations, and they are entirely appropriate. It took me a little while, honestly, but I too see the freedom it has given me. I appreciate your dropping by. Have a lovely Thanksgiving! 🙂

  2. Ouch. In spite of that, try to have a good Thanksgiving.

    • Thanks, Ryan. I’m getting over the hurt, and seeing the silver lining. I’m also one of those southern women with the spring-steel spine, so I’ll be danged if it will affect my Thanksgiving. Thanks for dropping by, and have a lovely Thanksgiving break.

  3. Elizabeth…

    Letter of doom….Ha! I’d make a copy – then rip it up and burn it – ( In ridiculous Eezma fashion…she is my favorite Disney villainess…my kids call me Eezma, too) Then I’d laugh and forget it. – although it would come back to taunt me when I was paying the grocery tab later in the week –
    Filthy, stingy, dirty, rotten, no-good Oh, wait….I’m supposed to be laughing….er, *blushes*, pardon my manners…

    Maybe this is your ‘nudge’. Write, edit, publish. But do it on the pieces you want to. Write for yourself. If it be on history, medieval or otherwise, great. If a good murder mystery, that’s great, too. Fantasy? Ha! Your choice. ;}

    Sorry to hear about your let down, though. It is not so good to get that sort of news.

    • Thank you, Nadja. The thought of burning it is very appealing. Write what I want? Really? That sounds so very lovely. I almost want to sit down tonight and write, but it was a long day on the road. Dreams of what to write will sing to me in my sleep.

  4. Ooof. That letter is a harsh blow, but good on you for seeing the silver lining and taking what you can from it! There’s nothing we can do about some things, so the best things we can do is change others to make them better!

    Here’s to hoping Turkey Day’s a good, fun recharge for you and you come back from your turkey coma with guns all a’blazin’, Elizabeth!

    • Thanks, L.S. Yeah, it was a downer, but by changing how I looked at it, it freed me. Academia has this ability to make one think it is a life, not just a job. This incident broke the dream-state, thankfully. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving; enjoy the turkey coma!

  5. “Peter Gibbons: The thing is, Bob, it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care.
    Bob Porter: Don’t… don’t care?
    Peter Gibbons: It’s a problem of motivation, all right? Now if I work my ass off and Initech ships a few extra units, I don’t see another dime, so where’s the motivation? And here’s something else, Bob: I have eight different bosses right now.
    Bob Slydell: I beg your pardon?
    Peter Gibbons: Eight bosses.
    Bob Slydell: Eight?
    Peter Gibbons: Eight, Bob. So that means that when I make a mistake, I have eight different people coming by to tell me about it. That’s my only real motivation is not to be hassled, that and the fear of losing my job. But you know, Bob, that will only make someone work just hard enough not to get fired.” – Office Space

    That about sums it up for me. And it is quite freeing when it helps you clarify your priorities. Good for you for snatching that silver lining.

    Have a wonderful holiday and just keep ROWing!

    • Perfect quote, Matt. It is freeing; academia likes to pretend it is a monastic order, when it is much more like a corporation today. And like many other corporations, it has lost touch with how to inspire and motivate its workforce.

      I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, Matt. Thanks for dropping by 🙂

  6. How awful, both the letter and your ex-husband – better off without that one! But good that you see the silver lining despite such crappy news.

    Hope Thanksgiving brings you some joy and best of luck with the job applications! 🙂

    • Well, Sharon, my ex- was rather young, in his defense, but the marriage counselor was appalled. And yes, the letter was unnecessary–why tell someone the amount, to the penny, of the raise they are not getting?

      Ah well, I’m looking forward to writing what I want to do! Thanks for stopping by, Sharon; have a lovely weekend!

  7. Hopefully the new job will be less demanding on your free time, best of luck hunting and have a good thanksgiving.

    • Thank you, Katy, both for the good wishes and the Thanksgiving wishes! The join market is tough here in the States, but I now know to look for one that won’t bleed into my free time. I have hope that I can do that. Have a wonderful weekend!

  8. Ugh, I know that feeling. And I know the obsession and the let down. Jobs are weird like that. I remember I was down for awhile after my disappointment and couldn’t figure out if I was a waste of time or if it was the job that was sucking life out of me. Turned out to be the job. Each time I finally stepped back and moved on in another direction, everything got better. It’s still hard. And it still sucks. But you know along with everyone else that you rock and they will one day recognize that. Everyone gets their due.

    Enjoy your family time, keep up the good work, and remember that you are awesome.

    • Thanks, Wendy. I really needed to hear that I’m awesome 😀 because I’m having trouble feeling that right now although I’m having fun thinking about what I’m going to write.

      Have a wonderful turkey day, and a great weekend, Wendy!

  9. I am so impressed with the positive spin you have put on your letter of doom….I wish I was as resilient…I tend to cry on the phone to my mum (and anyone who will listen!) and lie in bed wallowing when horrible things happen.

    Have a lovely Thanksgiving and yes, there is definately freedom to be found from this. Chin up and keep smiling 🙂

    • Em, I was much like you when I was younger, but I’ve grown into a tough old bird. I’m still an optimist, so I tend to see the positive side. Now let’s see if I can get a job, lol.

      Have a lovely weekend!

  10. Besides all, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving!
    And drive safe!

  11. I’m really sorry about the letter you got. But maybe there’s a reason for it. Maybe there is something else for you out there that you wouldn’t even consider if you hadn’t gotten that news. I’m usually a pretty optimistic person and try to see those silver linings. I hope for the very best in your life!

    Keep writing! Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Thanks for the sympathy, Lauralynn, but I totally agree with you. I think there is a reason for it, and I agree that it means I should finally get out of my comfort zone. I’m optimistic, too.

      I appreciate your encouragement; I will definitely keep writing. I hope you have a lovely Thanksgiving, and rest of the weekend!

  12. Let’s here it for silver linings, even with the suck of letters.

    As for not getting even a cost of living raise, boy am I so there. And everyone wonders about how we feel about layoff but then considering that the last governor used that as part of his budget speech and threatening it every time, I’ve kind of gotten immune to that.

    Congrats on you goals.

    • Thanks for the encouragement, Nellie. Yeah, I have to agree that layoffs have been blustered about for so long, their shock value has totally diminished for me. I just realize how much I go above and beyond for a place that really doesn’t treat me any better (and in many cases, worse) than a big corporation.

  13. I hope this otherwise discouraging letter ends up giving you the necessary bravery to find something that works much better for you. Can you imagine how much better your writing and other areas of your life will be if the day job is inspiring?!?

    Wishing you much luck in your search. Cheering for you and sending a hug!

    • Thanks for the encouragement, and especially for the hug, Tia 🙂 I really do think it was a wake-up call in many ways. I would love not to be exhausted by the day’s work, or even if I was, to feel like it was worthwhile. That would make a lot of difference.


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