That is how my day started: crash! I woke, groggy from lack of sleep, driven out of bed by the sound of the 7 a.m. pounding that greets my weekday mornings now – two massive pile-drivers, pounding away at the bedrock at the end of the block, chipping away a hole for a new foundation from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. with a half-hour for lunch. Although I wear headphones on conference calls, the people on the other end of the line ask about the noise, that is how loud it is. I ventured down to the basement the other day to do laundry and the sound was overwhelming, the vibrations disturbing. Welcome to life in the city.
But that was not this morning’s crash. This morning I was on the 8 a.m. conference call when there was an appalling crash from within my apartment that drowned out the heavy machinery. “Are you alright?” my colleagues chorused. I replied that I had to go, The Cat must have broken something. “It sounded like an entire china hutch had fallen over,” someone remarked later in the day.
Nope, just my husband’s favorite mug, smashed to smithereens.
If it had been my favorite mug, I think I would have burst into tears. Instead I grumbled as I chased the culprit into the (cat-proofed) bedroom, dug out the broom and dustpan, cleaned up the mess, vacuumed the kitchen, and took out the trash. I have been in a grumpy mood lately. Perhaps it’s the constant noise, or the isolation of working from home, or the weight I’ve gained from sitting around all day, or the lack of sleep because Somebody decided to use my face as a springboard over the weekend and scratched my eye, and I have not felt much trust for sleeping in bed since then.
Perhaps it is worry. Concern about my mother, who took a 13-week vacation away from home after not having moved about on her own for months, and who slept through my visit when I saw her in Florida in January. My mother who, before she left, told her assistant that she was feeling much better and didn’t think she needed anyone at home with her – a discussion she said was taken out of context when I confronted it with her – and, so, is returning home to find that her assistant has given notice. My sister, the local caregiver who has little patience with her self-appointed role is going to love this.
Maybe it’s disgust and revulsion at the politics of the moment, where the highest official in the land, the person who represents us to the rest of the world is brazenly boiling the frog until the day when he really can shoot someone in the face on Fifth Avenue and get away with it. And the media eggs him on from both sides because anger sells, and the Senate sucks up to him because he appoints conservative judges. It reminds me too much of a situation I was in a couple of years ago, which is one of the reasons I got out of that situation. One sociopath at a time exceeds my limits.
Perhaps it is loneliness. Working at home in your apartment all day may sound like a dream job to some. To me, it’s hell. I like being around people. And I would certainly be more productive in a quieter environment, without crashes without and within.
Or perhaps it’s unrealistic expectations at work. Like many other people, I like to feel good at my job. Right now, I’m doing something that everyone else decided I would be good at – establishing a company-wide PMO. And I know what I need to do to be successful at it. But I am a one-woman show right now and it’s a little challenging to build it from scratch without help. Just about the time I start making progress, I get pulled away and progress grinds to a stop.
Grumble grumble bitch and moan.
Maybe it’s just that I’ve never liked whiners and complainers and I hear myself becoming one. Caught in this ever-descending spiral into darkness this morning, I cleaned up the mess, plugged in, and went on to my next video call. As I was wrapping up, my phone rang and the call went to voice mail.
I checked the area code. Most of the calls from that area are spam calls, Marriott vacations, car insurance companies calling to warn me that my (non-existent) car was in danger. I listened to the message.
And my whole day changed.
Suddenly the sky got sunnier, my work seemed easier and faster, my office seemed warmer. I put on a fast-paced album that I haven’t listened to in over a year and sang along between meetings. I even (almost) forgave The Cat for being a destructive, cantankerous rescue instead of my beloved calico.
What was this call?
At a trade show I worked recently, I had a brief conversation with a retail executive who sought me out to talk about change management. I hadn’t met him before, the people who work at his organization that have seen me in action aren’t in his area of the business. I’m not sure what got us started talking – the week was so busy that I have a vague memory of him striding by our booth then doubling back to demand that we discuss change management – but he had an interesting challenge and an interesting approach.
The call was from him asking if we could continue the conversation, see if my company’s services would meet his needs.
And I realized why I have been in such a dark mood lately, why my natural optimism and resiliency has been missing.
I am a change management person.
Yes, I can build and run our PMO and I will and it will be great. It will be heavily influenced by change management and my colleagues had better be prepared to like that because that’s the way I roll.
And I need a change management project to do, too.
Sometimes the things weighing us down can be discovered only after many sessions of meditation, therapy, and nightmares.
Sometimes the answer is obvious.