Doing what needs to be done

I don’t love my job.  I work for a big corporation, and sometimes the decisions of the upper management here seem opaque.  They prioritize profits over the needs of the workers, or of the students we serve, and admittedly some of our recruitment tactics seem like they take advantage of our students’ lack of sophistication.

On the other hand, I don’t hate my job.  I have my little library world carved out here.  I feel necessary, I get to do basically whatever I want, I get a nice paycheck relative to the norm in my profession, and even though I have seen it a hundred times, I still get a little verklempt at graduation.  Those are my kids walking across that stage, every one of them. 

I am certainly open to other career paths.  I have days I worry about my long-term stability with this company, and days I shake my fist and think, “Those dirty double-crossers!”  I know there is no moving up here unless I leave the library and go for a deanship–and I am rock solid on not wanting that headache!  But I still see no reason to take a big pay cut to go somewhere else, like the place I interviewed last week.  If the interview had been stellar, and the organization had seemed like a perfect fit, maybe I would be working harder on realigning my budget, or selling a car, or pushing my husband to get a day job, like Mom thinks I should be.  But it wasn’t.  There weren’t enough plusses to the new place to make up for the big minus. 

And can I just take a minute here to rant about the practice of not putting an accurate starting salary in the freakin’ job announcement?  If I had known from the get-go that the job would be a 25% cut from what I make now, I never would have applied at all.  I and they would have both been saved time.  Post it, so I can know if I can afford to apply.  Sometimes in library world, people act like we should be willing to do this work for free because it is a calling.  I am passionate about libraries, but this is my job.  I have to make money at it to live, and acting like salary discussions are dirty and cheapen the hiring process is just ludicrous. 

I know I complain about my workplace, and so to a large degree, it’s my own fault that I am getting such a push to take any new position at all.  Mom means well, and I know she is somewhat informed by her own recent retirement from a similar company.  She got out of a place she decided was dirty, and so wants me to, as well.   Others that have suggested I just jump and get a second job or something to make up the difference also think they are looking out for me.  But none of them have to pay my bills, or determine what are acceptable compromises in my life.  

So in short, if offered, I probably won’t take the job.  And I know I need to tone down the complaining and maybe accentuate the positive a little.  That doesn’t mean I won’t keep looking at opportunities, but it’s okay that I am comfortable here for now.

 

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Why I am reconsidering this whole church thing

I am not particularly religious.  My childhood Sunday School teacher would be horrified to hear that,  because she tried really hard to teach me to be a believer, but then I went to college, and learned about the Council of Nicea having a vote to decide what was true and what wasn’t regarding things we are supposed to take on faith as gospel, and that was the end.  If a bunch of old men had to fight it out over these things, and there were alternate ideas that they were fighting over, how can any of this be true?  I did attend a very nice church while I was there, because I liked being part of a group, and the preacher had a version of Methodism that was tinged with a big dose of hippy liberalism, and that suited me right to the ground.  But that was there and then, and this is here and now.

Now I am married to a recovering evangelical who bristles at the thought of attending a church service for any reason but to get a paycheck for a gig, and who holds the view that most religious folks are giant hypocrites, a view that it is hard to refute.  I mean, how can you wear a bracelet that says WWJD, and then preach hatred and damnation in the name of the man that ate with lepers and prostitutes and said that whatever you do unto the least of these, you do unto me?  Now I live in the Bible Belt where ironically the most vocal people latch onto the ugliest, most exclusionary parts of the Bible and consider it justice to ignore the parts about blessed are the meek and the poor and the lame, and about caring for widows and orphans–at least the widows and orphans that aren’t part of their circle or don’t look like them.

On the other hand, not having a church home means not having a set of rituals for big things in life.  I have been to more than my share of funerals in the last couple of years.  I have friends going through the planning of one right now, for their mother and sister.  They don’t have a church, and this means there isn’t a pastor at the ready who knows them and can preach a funeral service that is comforting, and come sit with them while they rail about why God would take their family like this.  There aren’t any church ladies stopping by with casseroles to feed the family when they just can’t handle thinking of this themselves, and there is no set plan for the way the service should proceed or who should speak, or how to do a luncheon reception afterward.  They are having to negotiate all of this anew.  It was the same way when my friend Jack died.  The pastor didn’t know him, and had no connection to the family, so though he did his best, it fell flat, and his wife was left with a lot of Wal-Mart gift cards and bumbled attempts at comfort via telephone (mine included), but a shortage of people who showed up at the door to take care of her family’s needs when she was too distraught to do it.

I miss that sense of community I grew up with.  I miss it on their behalfs, and I miss it for us, who will undoubtedly have need of ritual to soothe us in a time of grief. I miss knowing that when there is a death, the pastor’s wife will call the prayer chain, and they will put in motion their well-practiced “feed the family” show, because they already know who makes the meatloaf for the reception, and who makes the coffeecake, and who goes to sit with the family and pray.  When K’s mom died last year, the old ladies that showed up out of the blue with biscuits and chicken and potato salad were, quite literally, a godsend.  No cooking while crying for the people coming to pay respects–food just showed up!  Honestly, I feel sad, and a little guilty, that I am not taking my turn making that effort for people, and easing their sadness by being present with a hotdish and a warm hand to hold. I feel awful that I am not in my hometown this week to be doing that for the Spencers, and that there isn’t anyone doing it in my stead, because we’ve all become too disconnected from each other.  I fear that by not paying my dues for that now, I set myself up to be left on my own when I need a community to rally around me, and give me the comfort of ritual to ease my burden.

I think I need to find some sort of community.  I think I need to find a church.   

 

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