Thursday, March 19, 2009

This is shaping up to be a tough month

My company had another one of those employee meetings today. I'm not at liberty to say what was said in the meeting, but let's just say it was another dose of bad news, the worst yet, but certainly not the last in a heavy regiment of bad news.

We were all herded into the press room, a cavernous cement warehouse that's always quiet in the afternoon. The first among us had to wait a while. The walls dripped with anxiety and a fierce silence. Small jokes crackled and dissipated. The air had a finality to it, cold and sterile, like a morgue.

I leaned against a post, unable to stand on both feet. I felt like the one trying not to burst out laughing at a funeral. The morbid urge almost seemed logical. It seems like we're just getting what we paid for in this crazy backward economy of ours, throwing around fake money and goals until neither have much meaning. Funnier yet to be a journalist, part of the very entity trying to carve out some sense in this cold war of financial panic, only to learn we're next in line in a toppling house of cards.

So do you fall down or brace yourself to prop up what is certain to become an unbearable load? Neither option really ends well. Thus, the silence.

After most everyone had filed out of the room, my boss approached me. "Is this the part where you bolt out of the building screaming and I never see you again?" he asked.

"No," I said. "I'm not going to do that. Yet."

He looked up, toward the door. "Why?"

I smiled. "I think you know me well enough by now to know I'm not one of those people motivated by money. Good or bad."

"That's good," he said.

I shrugged. "Or bad."

"And next month?"

"I'm still going," I said. "Either way."

"But you're coming back?"

I smiled. "That seems hugely optimistic at this point, doesn't it? But, yeah, I want to be optimistic."

He shook his head. I didn't envy his expression. It's tough to be a manager in tough times. Better, I think, to be one of the tucked away rank-and-file. "You seem to have a good outlook," he said.

I laughed and held up my right foot, with its thick wool sock hanging out of an ugly medical sandal. "You know, when you have hobbies like mine, regular life never seems that bad."

We returned to our desks, grateful, as they say, to be living and breathing.

The rest will be OK. One frozen-toe step at a time.


  1. ...

    Would that the world had your kind of perspective, Jill. Wow.

    "The rest will be OK. One frozen-toe step at a time."

    I'm putting this quote on my wall...

    I wish you good luck and Godspeed!

  2. Hawaii is looking better and better isn't it? Especially w/ cold sensitive feet.

  3. I think you have to experience the depths of challenge before things like jobs, bills, and other trivial worries become just that - trivial.

    Your outlook is amazing, awesome, and if we had more of it in this country we'd be better for it. Keep rockin'

  4. Urgg. The economy is wreaking havoc all over the place. But think of it this way: you had to stop biking for a while because of one lousy misstep on that ice. And now you are recuperating and looking to figure out how best to get back on that bike. The economy will also recover and while journalism may not be the same when it does, I know you are a master at improvising. That's the kind of person the profession needs in the first place.


  5. Is it not ironic how we place importance to each individual part of our life when in reality it is the experience itself that places the importance of each part of our life. I too am dealing with the impact of an economy that I wish to not have any part of but am so tied to. I would only wish to have half of your courage in life as to not be tied to any one thing! Thank you for your courage! Peace

  6. Don't tell me they cut the Juneau society column!

  7. You are wise beyond your years Ms. Homer

  8. These are scary times. I love your perspective on life. The love of money (or search for it) has wasted many people lives.

  9. Well, you could always come south to Seattle and work for the PI ... um nope, I guess that's no longer an option. Well then, how about the Times, a daily who's recently stated mission is to try to continue publishing until the end of this year.

    The music industry, the publishing industry, transportation, energy production, natural resources, health care/medical, ... so much change.... ahead. It will be interesting to see where these things are in 20 years.

    Yr Pal Dr C

    PS: About your return to riding post yesterday:

    The issue is not your fitness or recoveryso much as time. You see yourself bleeding time (and fitness) and it seems that it has been quite some time since you were doing what you like.

    As an charter member of 'Overdoers Anon' let me say that it is better to wait now than to suffer the consequences of rushing it some years in the future.

    At 60 I awake every day with aches and pains that I can trace with a straight line back to foolish over use or rush to recovery efforts in my late 20's and 30's. Take it easy now so you can take it hard in the future.

  10. "It seems like we're just getting what we paid for in this crazy backward economy of ours, throwing around fake money and goals until neither have much meaning"

    -- I surely wish someone would have stopped this mess a long long time ago... unsustainable what they/we created. Its simply human greed run wild.
    I live sustainably, somewhat.
    I don't own a big house.
    I have a used auto.
    I bike to/from work each day (no stress to the infrastructure).
    I recycle.
    I try to conserve.

    It's tough. Every moment has to be thought through.

    The problem is today's societ expects everything... big houses, big cars, big stuff... Almost a human right. When a lot of this stuff is luxury.
    We can't always get what we want, but we can do just fine with what we need.

    I fear those that over spent with families. I fear for the poor, because they just become poorer as things inflate... (food, shelter...).

    When housing goes up worry. The cost of living goes up with it.

    There are 6 billion people on the planet.
    I would fear running out of energy.
    That's my biggest fear in Canada.
    Without energy we die.

    I'm trying to raise awareness of this situation so the world tries to use less... as we spiral out of control...
    This thing we call the economy. Its so far removed from reality - nature.

    We must all respect nature for she will sooner-or-later not respect us.
    Sad as it may seem. We can't all continue on the way we have.
    Just way way too many people on the planet to do so...

    We all need to change our ways.
    I surely hope someone is willing and able to do that... soon.

  11. Sorry to hear this, Jill. No matter how optimistic we are (and no matter how much planning we have done against this day), it is still hard on people and hard to be a part of...your manager, in particular, can use some support now! He has the unspeakable job....Glad you told him you plan to return. He no doubt wishes you would just stay and help.

  12. you don't really need feet. that's why we have pogo-sticks.

  13. "I felt like the one trying not to burst out laughing at a funeral. The morbid urge almost seemed logical."

    This is how I always deal with horrible situations. I joke around. I can't stop. It's just the way I do it.

  14. One of the things that scares me most about this upheaval is the demand for cheerfulness. Numbers don't lie and the numbers in every sector of everything are dreadful, yet the demand remains for an upbeat outlook. "When the economy turns around..." where will the occupants of the Dorothea Lange Tent City in Sacramento be? What will a tent city in Alaska look like? Perhaps like snow covered trees bending under the weight of the snow?

  15. The only way to become stronger is to suffer. America has been too soft for too long, with everybody getting what they want with easy credit. It's time people learn the difference between needs and wants. The people who lived through the Great Depression were the same ones who fought in WWII, and became known as The Greatest Generation.

    Adversity breeds character.


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