Monday, May 24, 2010

I never did like it all that much and one day the axe just fell

I'm "pursuing new ventures," which is another way of saying I'm out of work. I'm not sure how I feel about it. I spent the last two years working under the worst manager in my professional experience and hated every minute of it. I should have bolted a long time ago, but I had some stubborn belief that I would come through it and be vindicated if I worked harder and longer. A few too many months of 12-hour days and weekends that went by without notice left me burned out and resentful. My girlfriend told me six months ago that my job was sucking the life out of me and I often thought of that passage in Hamlet:

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable
Seem to me all the uses of this world!
Fie on’t! O fie! ’tis an unweeded garden,
That grows to seed; things rank and gross in nature
Possess it merely. That it should come to this!

My enjoyment of life suffered, especially my hobbies, and I saw no end in sight, no bright spot indicating that the end of the dark tunnel was nigh. When the news came Wednesday morning that I was being let go, I felt as if the weight of the world had lifted from my shoulders.

Working for my ex-company had its rewards. My first year there was with a great manager and great coworkers on a great team. The pay was good, the benefits were terrific, and the opportunities for growth seemed almost unlimited. Then the re-org struck. The product I worked on was cut, most of the product team was laid off, and the writing team I was on got re-orged into a different product. I wasn't long enough in grade to transfer to another position; besides, I thought I could stick it out. Plus, the company went through layoffs, which limited a lot of internal mobility.

It didn't take long to see what a dysfunctional group we'd been dumped into. The management was a snake-pit. My first glimpse of that came in a large team meeting when the group manager yelled out from the back of the room to denigrate someone doing a presentation about a product feature. No matter what, it is never acceptable for a manager to humiliate a report in front of his/her peers. In my new team, that was SOP. Upper management seemed to have no other reason for meetings that to rip apart lower management. The product ship date slipped and slipped and slipped. Upper management was replaced by other versions of their snakelike selves. The week before last, I witnessed the new group manager shouting, "Do you want to fuck with me! Go ahead, fuck with me! Bring it on!" to someone (unseen) in an elevator. The product is still slipping...

My new manager had the art of creating chaos out of every project she touched. She created churn in my projects and then blamed me for the churn. I talked to HR; I talked to my manager's manager. Some sympathy and support there—but nothing tangible. I was told I was good at what I did, no doubt, I was just on the wrong team or had the wrong manager (ya think?). My manager's manager's best advice was to jump ship, get a contracting gig, and await an opportunity for a full-time position in another product group. Fair advice, in retrospect, but not too comforting. Not vindicating. As my girlfriend says, I'm a stubborn man. Obdurate.

So now the universe is my playground (until the money runs out). I'm looking for contract work and a chance to get back into the company full time doing something I will love, something that provides an outlet for creativity, growth, experimentation, collaboration, satisfaction—everything, in short, that my old job lacked.

I'm also looking into options for creating a blog that I can monetize for either extra income or my whole income some day. If I have any talent at all, it's typing out persiflage on a keyboard. How do I make money at it?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

I am not dead

It's been some time since I last updated the blog. It's not that I haven't been busy—it's that I've been too busy. Work is a burden. My group at work is about as organized as a swarm of blue-light special shoppers at K-Mart. We seem to rush from crisis to crisis with too little time to actually do our core work. After several months of trying to stay on top by working 12-hour days and weekends, I've given up. I need to find something else to do in the company, or elsewhere.

I have been gaming somewhat. My friend Rick and I have a semi-regular Sunday boardgame date. We started by playing a lot of Conflict of Heroes and have now branched out into other things like Race for the Galaxy and an interesting title called Age of Napoleon by Phalanx Games. I've also had a few boardgaming sessions at The Panzer Depot where we played Race for the Galaxy, Command & Colors Ancients, and some Columbia block games.

Boardgames are a nice pastime when you don't have enough time, or energy, to set up a miniatures game. I'm eagerly awaiting the release of some of Academy Games' next releases for the Conflict of Heroes series. Most anticipated is the the Price of Honor - Poland 1939 module, which adds more early war armor, like Pz Is and the Polish tankettes, but also cavalry. I'm interested to see how these work in the system. The link on Board Game Geek shows that a lot of the design is done--you can see the full counter sheets and maps. However, I'm not seeing much about its release date other than "2010," which still has more than half its course to run.

Next weekend is another Kampfgruppe Commander game at TPD. I'm not running it, so I'm not sure what the scenario will be. I will bring my camera and take pictures for the blog. I promise.

Enfliade! 2010 is coming up. I've been the convention director for the last several years, as well as taking part in planning it for many years before I was director. I resigned from the directorship after last year and for some reason this year I find myself with such low enthusiasm for going. I realize that part of it is burnout from work and now that I've resigned myself to looking elsewhere, I feel much better. So, I've made my pre-registration for the convention and booked my hotel room after a long spate of dithering.

I'm also reading more. As I have mentioned, my cats are antiliterary, but we've come to a kind of d├ętente in recent months. The excellent Warrior of Rome series by Harry Sidebottom got me going strong and I decided to fill the time waiting for the next book in the series (due in July!) by re-reading Collen McCullough's excellent Masters of Rome series. It's every bit as engaging the second time around as the first.

Meanwhile, I've got contacts at work helping me find another position to escape to. I've had my fill of where I am and I know there must be something much more rewarding ahead.