Saturday, January 15, 2011

unhappy trainer girl (warning: this blog post contains self-pity and ranting)

so what i had feared has become a reality now. on thursday, four days into work this year, i was told that my contract for one of the two projects i am on at 'die berater' (the company i have worked for most of the past seven years) would not be renewed in mid-february. which means that instead of 37 hours there will only be 21 hours of teaching, which in turn means not enough money to live on. what we get paid is ridiculous anyway, but the money i make for teaching 21 hours plus (unpaid) prep work is less than if i worked at a supermarket checkout for about 20 hours. there is a slight chance that they need someone on another project, but i am not counting on that. which, of course, means that i have to look around for a completely new thing. which, in turn, i don't fancy for several reasons: i have always felt comfortable at the company, i have some super colleagues, i know the ins and outs of the job, the market isn't exactly ... um ... huge, the AMS (unemployment services) has to cut down on classes and therefore institutes whose clients are primarily unemployed people have to let trainers go. i had hoped for some stability this year, financially and health-wise, and the plan was to try for a baby and move into a bigger flat. sigh. this new situation doesn't exactly help to get rid of my anxiety and depression either.

what's bugging me most at the moment is the phrases that people throw my way, be it those responsible for the projects or colleagues, friends, acquaintances, but mainly the former. for months now i've been told that i do a great job, that i should not worry about not having enough work this year, that i am such an asset. okay, i am not the only one they let go (3 out of 8 were told goodbye), but still. being told that i am no longer needed sandwiched between statements such as "we really love your work" and "i really do not want to let you go" and "we are so, so sorry" and praise for my contribution to the team, well, it doesn't really make me feel better. the obvious question that comes to mind is: "then why ARE you doing it?"

then, again sandwiched between the above phrases, it's "you know, [insert name/s] has a family" and "[insert name] is much older and won't find another job so easily" and so on. so does that mean that if i happened to be as good or not as good a teacher but had a young child, i would still be on the team? if i happened to be 59 instead of 39, i wouldn't have to leave that team?

apparently they also talked to one colleague about working only part-time, asking her if she wanted that. well, guess what, she doesn't. neither, by the way, do i.

and then i keep being told that with my qualifications and experience and being the reliable, punctual, fun, lovely, fabulous, super-motivated trainer that i am, i won't have any problems finding a new job. yeah right, since all these things obviously counted for so bloody much at this place. if all that doesn't help me keep a job, how is it going to land me one out there, where all i can do is claim that i am [insert strength/qualification] but have not even proven it to anybody? that is just twisted, really, and it actually offends me.

and then the nasty suspicion does creep in that the two weeks sick leave in november and telling my project coordinator about my burnout were a mistake, that they influenced their decision.

so, once again, pretty much everything is up in the air. i'll have to ask around and network and apply for jobs (not easy to fit into a 50+ hours working week plus commuting plus the photography classes). another thing that doesn't help is that the last time i briefly worked for a different company from die berater, disaster struck: the company, venetia, went bankrupt and i will never see those approx. 3500 euros they still owe me. there's been too much change and instability in my life over the past 4 years, and i am finding it very, very hard to be positive about this whole situation.

having gotten this off my chest and having been allowed to feel sorry for myself, i want to share the video of j. k. rowling's commencement speech at harvard with you. i've loved this since i first heard it a couple of years ago, and one of my poet friends posted it on facebook today, quite appropriate at the moment, what with me thinking about failure a lot lately.

J.K. Rowling Speaks at Harvard Commencement from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

today's song of the day is by the delightful sia and includes these lines:
You see fear is only holding us back
Look closely amongst all your peers
There is usually one thing that keeps
Us off track
It is fear, it is fear, it is fear

and in order to end on a lighter note than this, here's a little story connected to one of my photos from istanbul:

i love the internet for things like this: a myriam from gatineau, canada saw this picture i took in istanbul in september 2010 on my flickr photo stream and contacted me to tell me she had pictures of the very same cat and its siblings. we eventually figured out that we met the three cats within a few days of each other and exchanged pictures of them. :)

song of the day: fear by sia.

Friday, January 07, 2011

breathing life into my blog

i thought i'd try and breathe a little life into my blog once more ... i am planning to post songs, photos, and poetry if and when it happens. we'll see how that goes.

the last couple of months haven't been too great. i was once again diagnosed with (mild) burnout, i had anxiety/panic and depression issues once again, particularly during the second half of november, when i was off work for a full two weeks, and then again around christmas. the doctor wanted to get me back on the meds, but i refused to. i am just not prepared to go through the side effects again, so i decided to see how life goes without medication, though if a certain line is crossed, i might have no choice but to go back on the sertralin. i had a few panic attacks, once had to take half a xanor, and i am very grateful for having heinz by my side, who's been super-supportive.

i haven't talked about my issues as much as i used to, at the beginning it was because i felt pretty much like a total loser and i withdrew. now that the holidays are over and my friends are back in vienna - and i am feeling better - i am sure it'll be easier to talk about it. funny though - i opened up to two people who i don't know that well (a former student, and an old friend who's reappeared in my life) - and both of them rewarded my openness with opening up themselves: and both of them have burnout and anxiety and depression issues as well! it just shows me, once again, that i am not alone, and that more people than we imagine have to deal with these things. i have been seeing my therapist more regularly, and i hope to come to terms with a couple of problems/issues.

it certainly hasn't helped that things at work have been changing quite a lot, and not particularly for the better. i am not sure what happens when my contract finishes on 18 february - there is a possibility that i will then only get a contract for 21 hours of teaching (instead of 37), which might be healthier, but would also mean that i'd have too little money to live on, which is a bit of a down side. so i have been worrying a lot, and we all know i am very good at that.

for christmas, i got what i wanted, only not quite the way i'd imagined it: i said i'd actually prefer to be left alone and not see people etc. so as soon as we arrived at heinz's family's in styria, i was down with the flu. the fever knocked me out for a few days, but the virus affected my respiratory tracts quite badly, and i am just now getting rid of the cold completely.

so my long christmas break was very different from what i'd planned it to be - i didn't get to see my family, i didn't take all those long walks i'd meant to take, i didn't take many photographs, i didn't read as much as i'd planned, i didn't meet many friends, i still haven't done my photography homework. instead i really looked after myself in terms of getting over that flu bug completely, i stayed in bed and slept more than i actually thought i could sleep. i did a lot of filing and putting things in order, i finally finished editing the istanbul pictures taken on our trip there in september, and heinz and i cleaned the kitchen top to bottom and inside out. i've been tinkering with older unfinished poems and scribbled down a few new ideas, and i even wrote a complete poem. and now that i have become used to sleep-ins and doing what i felt like doing, it's one weekend between me and the stressful world of work!

i've spent a lot of time with leonard cohen lately - his music, his lyrics, his poems, a documentary, his biography. i have so much admiration and respect for his talent, for the man, and though i have been a fan for a long time, i feel that my admiration has never been quite what it is now. whatever music comes and goes, i am sure leonard is here to stay in my life.

but of course, i have discovered singers and bands over the past year that were either new or not very well-known to me. there's the highly talented lisa lindal, the gorgeous and funny sia, brilliant singer sissel, the incredibly swinging ditty bops, norman palm, jill barber, melody gardot, wendy bucklew, the fabulous eilen jewell, the trishas, amelia curran, the adorable kate rusby, chris garneau, emily rodgers, the fleet foxes, the handsome family, and very recently swedish sister act first aid kit. lots of ladies on this list!

i've spent some time (re)reading poetry collections by arlene ang, kelli russell agodon, jayne pupek (who passed away much too soon last august), ros barber, john siddique, carolyn guinzio, valerie fox. 2010 was more successful in terms of poetry than 2009 and 2008, though that was not exactly such a challenge. i managed to write some poems, and i sent out a handful of submissions, all of which resulted in publications. that was encouraging - especially because several of the published poems were brand-new. looks as if i still have it in me! i also did a reading with sylvia petter, which she'd invited me to. i worked hard to prepare for the reading, and it paid off. i loved every minute of it, and though the audience was small, the people were incredibly disciplined and very appreciative. i definitely want to do another reading this year, we shall see what opportunities come up.

i finally went and enrolled for photography classes last september. it's a ten-month course, and it is very interesting, demanding, time-consuming, and fun. i have learned a lot, i've been experimenting, and i look forward to learning more.

and here's my song not only of today, but the last few days - such sadness, such beautiful lyrics, such a wonderful video, and the voices of stuart staples and the beautiful lhasa, who died so young early last year:

song of the day: that leaving feeling by stuart staples & lhasa de sela.