Thursday, January 16, 2014

Spin Cycle

I have established on this blog before that I am not in good physical shape. That being said, I am not a monstrous behemoth, roaming the landscape snatching up trees to quell my hunger until the next herd of buffalo comes along.

I thought for sure that I was overweight. Close to obese, maybe. I knew that I needed to work on things, carve out time for myself, stop drinking so much, cut out the empty calories. I've read books. I know what the problem is.

Much like with all exercise starts and stops in my life, I went into the fitness center at my old college with gusto. I had it all figured out (again). Classes were the way to go. Left to my own devices, I will wander the area, pick up a few weights, run for a bit, do a bit of some random machine and then lose interest and wander back to my car. What I needed was a class. Where I was accountable for 45-60 minutes of real exercise. Those were the times I felt like I got a work out. Spin class scheduled for 5:30 pm? That cannot be a coincidence. That is the one for me.

Our instructor showed up ten minutes late, made jokes about people in the class, did not give any instruction on how to use the bikes and had a Manti Te'o meets frat boy vibe about him. Those are the things that went well.

I hustled myself onto the pencil eraser, ahem, bike seat that was perched atop the stationary motorcade to hell. I readied myself for some physical exertion. People said exercise was good for stress and I had a boss who perfected the vice grip. This would be a great day.

Turns out our instructor was into sado masochism and had us 'do hills' for a while. As I was new to this level of exercise, he pointedly asked me if I was alright when my face turned a shade of beet that us Irish do so well. The whole class looked worried as if I might cause a scene involving paramedics. I was determined to show them.

In the end, I made it through. I finished the class. Victory was mine. So was this bike, because I couldn't get off of it. While I mentally calculated how hard it would be to take it down the stairs with me, I was rescued by my husband who had finished working out and knew a problem brewing when he saw it.

We went down the stairs, me leaning heavily on him. I couldn't bend at the knee and I couldn't use any muscles in my legs. No amount of drinking water during the class had stopped the lactic acid build up and I staggered about like a broken ballerina doll to the car.

I don't think I need to tell you that it was the last spin class I went to. I don't know who is more relieved about that.

A Sense Of Humor

The powers that be, the universe, some deity somewhere is laughing at me for my  latest library book (Atheism, A Reader)... and one of them has a sense of humor. I think I like where it is heading.

I has been a long time. You must be wondering what happened. I bet you thought I was missing because I got a book deal. I am sorry to report (so very very sorry) that is not the case. What did happen, while far less lucrative, proved to be a much more valuable lesson.

Let's catch up... (insert montage of scenes from previous episodes here, capturing all the drama and major story movements). I was working at a community college and had a terrible spiteful bald man-baby of a boss who hated women only slightly more than he hated himself. We also had a character at the office, the "Indiana Jones" per his unusual safari clothing, was a sad old man with lots of personal problems, only topped by the boss himself.

One day Indy flipped out, yelling at me and throwing things. My attempts to smooth it over and deflect him made things worse. In less than five minutes' time, I witnessed someone break every workplace rule in an attempt to take their frustration with the boss out on me. Kids, I grabbed onto that vine like Tarzan himself threw it to me. I know a message from the universe when I see one. It was my ticket out and it was made of shiny gold.

That was in October. The ensuing two months were filled with drama. The boss was super nice (not wanting me to sue, I'm sure) then he was awful when he got wind of the fact that someone had written a note to district officials outlining his terrible behaviors and racist, misogynistic, sexist rants as well as misuses of public funds, you name it. It did not take long for him to turn his hate gaze on to me. HR was in a kerfluffle, trying to keep me stringing along all while doing nothing as the bureaucracy tied their hands behind their unusually stupid backs.

I made a move. In life, as in poker, sometimes you need to know when to throw down. Go all in, put on your best face and dare them to call you. It is a risk, to be sure. It paid off brilliantly.

Knowing the deck was stacked in an unfavorable way, I told HR to pound sand, that I did not need their help and that I was sure I could solve things myself with a lawyer and the local media, who just LOVES hearing about misappropriation of public funds right after a messy government shutdown.

A little time slipped by, things got worse, then....a meeting was called. But not with anyone I knew. Someone wanted to meet me. To see if I would be a good fit for them. They had a problem too. We met, it went wonderfully, they liked what they saw. I went back to work thinking - well, whatever. I won't hold my breath. I didn't have to. They uprooted someone to get rid of them and that person got..... MY OLD JOB!

Apparently this curmudgeonly little hobbit was a real 'treat' to work with and was bringing everyone down. The people I met really wanted some good energy and thought I could bring that to the table. A higher power of people got together and a deal was made. I felt a little like a football player being traded to a better team. The analogy ended up being very close.

My old boss got his worst nightmare- an older woman with no interest in going outside her comfort zone to do anything she isn't used to doing, with limited experience and no experience running the kind of office I left. My new boss is a wonderful woman with an outlook in life to help others get the tools and resources they need to be successful and to maintain a professional yet fun office atmosphere. She trusts me to do my job, she answers me honestly and tells me what she is thinking and wants my input.

The forces that be heard everyone's cries. My misery and the problems that plagued another place were put into a blender of mismanaged bureaucratic red tape and what emerged was magic. I have the place of work I deserve. So does my ex boss. Sometimes when you have nothing left, you have nothing left to lose. I took a risk, then another and another. It landed me where I am now. Imagine what might happen if I am willing to bank on myself again. This could be the beginning of a gambling habit that leads to that book deal after all...and there won't even have to be a bunch of cocaine stories involved. Viva la Universe!