Saturday, October 17, 2009

On Surviving

The more I look back the more I see clearly, the scars of the past follow me even now. The more I pursue the knowledge I feel I need, the more confused I get. Dispelling the blackness in the back of my mind is not an easy task if that is even possible. It’s only now that I realize what I’ve been running from most of my life and now I have nowhere left to run, just a back to the wall and a rearguard fight. The salvation I thought I would receive is nowhere to be seen, but I’ve made my choice now and I have o live with it. It’s funny how something I thought had no effect on me apart from material and locality has in fact coloured my whole existence, made me, for better or worse, who I am today. I kept thinking I was the one who was unaffected, who was above it all. Now I see the arrogance, the blinders that have brought me where I am today. I know now the deep depths at which my gut screamed to me, when and where I went wrong. I think I’m ready to listen to it now.

Surviving isn’t easy. It takes reserves of strength and climbing mountains that seem almost insurmountable, especially in the mornings and the stuffy afternoons. Everywhere I look I find walls, those that I’ve put up and those that have been put up. I found myself today falling into that old pattern, another checkpoint in the future where my life will change, begin. But now I’m googling how to start it now instead of further down the road. Fingers crossed and a strong heart.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Consulting Memories

These two songs bring back some vivid memories. Nervous, sweaty palms sitting in my soon to be beloved RAV in a furniture store parking lot. I hadn’t had a lot of interview experience and I just remember leaning back in my seat, breathing deeply as Rob Thomas and Sufjan Stevens washed over me, wandering what 9am would bring. Agoura Hills was grey and cold as traffic whizzed by on the 101, blurs through the tall wire and I desperately tried to remember everything I had read about the company. Little did I know then that I was a few minutes away from a two and a half year journey. A journey that seemed to last a lifetime at the time but now seems to have only lasted an incandescent moment, one that was one of the most rewarding, most frustrating, challenging and difficult experiences of my life.

Looking back on it now I wonder if I did the right thing, walking away from it all. Of course you tend to remember the good and forget the bad as with anything in the past. I know I wouldn’t give up that experience for anything but it still wasn’t quite for me. The team was mostly great, DD and MC providing their endless encouragements and patient leadership, CD with his erratic brilliance, SM with her mothering, SR providing the musical background, MD with his surfing tales and understated humour, DS being the most demanding boss I have ever had. I still remember sitting in my office and dealing with the unfamiliar sensation that I would miss most of my workmates when I moved on, a feeling I hadn’t had thus far in my working life.

The location was brilliant as well. Climbing the hills of Malibu, the ocean breaking in the background, golden sunshine breaking down the Pacific Coast Highway and Malibu Canyon drives past the houses of the rich and the famous. The chaparral and bush of southern California, the red earth roads and hard rocks of the trails I hiked. The characters were varied and interesting, Bob the contractor, gruff, father Christmasy but hugely knowledgeable, sweet talking the ladies at the City to get what I needed done, trying not to punch out the assholes at the City and County who were holding up my projects.

It was a great trip for those couple of years, being a bright shining star in that team, topping the company in productivity and earning quick promotions, closing out tough projects under pressure. Of course those are the good memories. And it takes some dredging to remember why I left. The 12 hour workdays, the constant requirement to keep running at high speed and keep billing out with no end in sight, the unyielding pressure to meet your minimums, the stress when there were a million things to do and the worse stress when there weren’t, the financial under appreciation and those hours stuck on the 101 in congealed traffic.

Most of all I remember the panic attacks in the morning, the nausea and insomnia, the drugs and pills to take the edge off living the American Dream. I think I made the right decision. Given the uncertainties I face now in making a living, I have my moments of doubts and weakness. But that trip in the end was not sustainable, it was not my niche.

Where that is though, I’m yet to find.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Head Honcho Outlook

The safari shirt and khakis threw me off. The tie was a mistake I thought as we entered his office and started chatting. Half way through I was even more disconcerted to note that he wore sandals, a most relaxed set of attire for a head of an IDO. Sometimes it’s nice to meet a kindred spirit, someone who has spent eons in the US (well in this case 16 years) and came back because he loves elephants. My heart sank a bit when he mentioned that he didn’t have any openings at the moment, if for anything I quite liked the US style phones they had. A Lankan location with a bit of the first world thrown in.

I know of late I’ve been moaning a bit, missing the high hourly pay, ants that are more discreet and less venomous and a room that doesn’t suffocate me at 2.00pm in the afternoon. I would apologize to those who have put up with me without complaint but of course there have been complaints. I apologize anyways because even I’m finding myself a bit of a pain in the ass. And that’s something for someone as self obsessed as me.

I quite liked the head honcho’s outlook though. “Those 16 years in the US, they were good, but that chapter is closed now. You CANNOT compare here and there, otherwise you go mad.” Truer words have never been spoken. So here’s to prickly heat, rathu kumbi, underpaid work, broken Sinhala, nagging grandmothers, squirrels chewing on my t-shirts and fucked up internet connections. Here’s to sunsets, impromptu trips to Yala and Short Stuff. Here’s to home, warts and all.

I promise I’ll stop complaining soon.