"I don't think they fine you," I noted when I blew past another toll plaza without stopping to pay. It was - I'll admit - rather hit and miss as to whether I'd go online and remember to pay afterward. But I did like saving time by not stopping. And time went on while I drove home and back - all the while a certain state calculated my crimes and I ended up paying a rather hefty (in the hundreds, not thousands) amount to account for my sins.
I couldn't even get all that upset about it. I knew the rule. Broke it with said knowledge. And hoped I'd somehow avoid getting caught.
I applied a remarkably similar approach to my professional life for most of 2011. I was frustrated. Nothing was changing. We were all talk and so much of that talk felt like lies that I wanted to escape. So I did. I "worked" from home. I took naps. Did the bare minimum necessary and when even that became onerous, started working on only the projects I wanted, responding to Adam's pleas and threats with stark apathy.
I remember shaking my head at those silly managers one day last summer - I was walking to my car before lunch, having worked a couple or three hours, and was heading home to work no more for the day. And they weren't doing a single thing to stop me.
Except the annual review of 2011 performance was hardly permissive. They had to call my year 'uneven' because even when I'm not trying, I do pretty good work. But I was no longer the passionately dedicated Katie I once was. And I'd become so annoyed and superior that I wanted them to notice. And though I'd begged them to notice in so many ways, I was horrified when it became official. Ashamed and miserable and so very hurt.
Which is - of course - wildly irrational but pretty predictable if you know me well at all.
So I walked into the reorganization at a distinct disadvantage. Though I've successfully completed my probationary punishment with flying colors (my parents being unwell and having a clearly-defined goal really helped my focus), I should have realized that my chances at promotion were low.
Brother threatened to beat up the man who rejected me. And I thanked him and cried while he got increasingly angry, Dad in the process of dying beside us. That will likely go down as the worst few hours in my life. And though the job stuff was miniscule in comparison and I was the one who called and insisted on the news, I am angry.
Not livid. Just a cold, stern anger. As I can't find any of the emotion for Dad for leaving me or God for taking him, Mom for needing me and Brother for doing the best he could, I find I'm focusing that rage in the professional context.
Mom and I came home yesterday and I went to work this afternoon. I was embraced and soothed and patted comfortingly. Then I went to take a meeting about what I should do next.
"What do you want to do?" my new pseudo-manager asked (I'm in a sort of limbo right now as my former job no longer exists and I didn't get the new job). And I opened my mouth, closed it again and stared into space while I considered it.
"I feel devalued," I wanted to say. "I recognize why you might have chosen who you did - and he's fantastic - but I'm still insulted and unsettled by it for various reasons. So I want to walk away - to force the realization that I was valuable to this team and you miss what I brought to Industry."
Since I didn't say any of that, he finally mentioned a couple of jobs that he thought might fit. I nodded and said I'd consider it. Then he mentioned another job, but said he didn't think I'd like it. That he didn't want me to take it anyway as he'd rather I stay on his team. But that manager had said he'd take me in a second if I became available.
So - obviously - that's what I want. To leave my current team and learn something new. Change buildings on campus. Meet new people. Grow in another direction. Take advantage of some perks and embrace the disadvantages as completely worthwhile in context.
Plus - perhaps most importantly - there's enough of Daddy in me to want to say 'fuck it' and move on. Not very far and not moving backward, but making it clear that they have displeased the Katie (and her family). The thought makes me feel peaceful. So I'll take a couple days to think and then see what magic I can work.
The last time I felt this peaceful? Last night - just before dawn when I woke myself coughing. There was the brightest of stars shining in the window at the head of my bed. I paused while adjusting my pillows and stared at it, smiling when I recalled Mom asking Dad if he was picking out a star from which to watch over us.
She came in at that moment, crawling in the other side of the bed with Chienne close behind her.
"Look, Mom," I said and lifted my hand to point. "I think I see Daddy's star." And we smiled at it for a moment before going to sleep.
So we're going to be fine. I'm pretty confident.