Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Trash and Treasure

A 10 minute meeting yesterday left me shaken. I was called into the provost's office for an early meeting. My work and "natural talents" as a "very gifted teacher" were praised. I was then offered to teach an additional class for the rest of the semester for a significant pay raise. Plus benefits.

And for the record: I do not shake.

The meeting itself was fast and furious, and it went more or less like this:

Namaste, the colleague that you were hired to replace last year when you came here is very sick and going on another sudden medical leave. You successfully took over this colleague's Course X last year, and we are hoping that you might be willing to do it again. Given your great success last year and complete professionalism in these matters, we are confident in you as our first choice. Are you willing? ...(This is when I replied, "Um..ok...let me see something on paper", much like a deer in headlights.) You are? GREAT!! Ok!! Then we're going to generously compensate you. How does a full benefits package and a whole lot of money sound?...

In the moments that followed my mind was fully fixated on "Full health benefits". I kept hearing it over and over again. This is what shook me. Full health benefits...

I shook as I considered the dental work I desperately need done in addition the number of health-related appointments I have been putting off until I can get myself back to a country that opens fire on women and children in the name of self defense, but at least it is civilized enough to have socialized health care. Lately, I have been placating some chronic inflammation in the ball of my left foot with generic, over the counter, anti-inflammatory meds because I can't afford to see a specialist out-of-pocket on my meager adjunct ala carte salary with no benefits. I try to tell myself that it is ok to take an Advil before working out. This is despite the fact that I know that my on-going state of mild flare is due to the stress I am under to teach full time already with no benefits.

And full-time salaried pay? (Despite the fact that I am, like, actually, working full-time already? I laughed at the irony. But yes, this is a lot more cash than I have ever made in my life. Ever. Maybe even combined.)

Still shaking, I considered the squeaky brakes on my car that need repaired. My mind raced over to the $4000 credit card debt I have been painstakingly paying down each month on my adjunct salary with no benefits since I returned from living abroad last year.

I shook as I realized that just two days ago, I was on the phone begging for research money from an organization that is yet to come through on the promise of supportive funds for my jaunts through the Holy Land last year. I was even remotely considering the idea of accepting money from an organization whose tactics I don't necessarily think are in the best interest of peace.

And speaking of making further deals with the devil, over the weekend I found myself seriously contemplating a phone call to the rabbi to request the $300 he owes me. It is the $300 I knew I would never see again (because apparently a man of G-d is sometimes not coincidentally a man of his word). Instead, I reminded myself that in 60 years, I will not need that $300 as much as a do in this moment. I also reminded myself that karma is a total bitch, baby--especially for hypocrites. Over the weekend, I remotely wondered why there isn't a greeting card that reads: "No matter how many times you perform holy prayers in exchange for lots money, especially when you owe a significant personal debt to a woman you once claimed to love as your partner, those prayers are just noise, dude." Or maybe something like, "No matter how much you pray instead of work for a living won't absolve your karmic debt to the universe for being such a self-centered, hypocritical douche bag in your real life, bubba." (Just sayin'...)

But I digress. This was misspent energy, and I refused to dwell on it any longer. I will never see that money again, and I need to look at it as the best investment I ever made to demonstrate to me that the rabbi is not someone who deserves my energy.

So, I have tentatively accepted the job, while awaiting further negotiations on paper. It's all somewhat overwhelming. Yesterday, I sorted my office and spent the day focusng upon the fact that I am teaching an extra course for the rest of the semester. More than this, I am teaching someone else's course on top of my own 3 courses. In doing so, it feels like I am bringing home another baby: someone else's snotty, teething, fussy, needing baby. Of course, I realize that I am getting a significant pay raise at a moment when the rest of the country is struggling to get to the holidays. I realize this, and I count my blessings and note my good karma...and focus on this as an opportunity...

But what's a girl with good karma (and an empty belly) with an opportunity like this? I bargained, ya'll. I bargained for a student assistant, for a title for the full academic year, for the reconsideration of my pay, for more research and travel money, matching retirement and a few other necessary accommodations. Good news is that I got what I asked for.

Easy, breezy...

(And, if things are totally nuts to begin with, all of this madness starts today.)

If one person's trash is another person's treasure, I guess you could say that I sure know how to spiff up the place and make the most of the situation. Of course, this is not to overlook a tremendous amount of hustling and some very focused hard work.

Sparklingly yours,



Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!! How exciting!!!

And way to bargain... As the Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want"...but it's pretty damn impressive when you do, thanks to your own hard work and powers of negotiation.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!! How exciting!!!

And way to bargain... As the Rolling Stones say, "You can't always get what you want"...but it's pretty damn impressive when you do, thanks to your own hard work and powers of negotiation.

Anonymous said...

Sparkling, indeed. You deserve this and so much more. Way to go, sister.

Kathryn said...

Congratulations, lady.

And by the way, I think of you so much more than I ever demonstrate. Working on changing that.

SeanG said...

Hard work pays off.

Laura said...

Well deserved. Rock on. And enjoy it!

Alan Ward said...

Money is just money. But it sure as hell is useful to get whatever else you want in life. Non olet!

Anne said...

So glad to hear it! Happy dentist visting!

VJ said...

That's really Good news N. I had a similar conversation with someone else who's in danger of losing her house. Another friend of mine (a guy) owes her money. To keep her phone running. We use her on a contractual and volunteer basis too. But it too was for about $300. My other friend did not see fit to pay her in time, so I did. And I told the other guy that I'd settle up with him later. But that she could not wait due to her precarious position. I can afford to wait, she can not, and I always told her that I'd 'backstop' her on it too. Now that may seem like someone taking advantage of me, but to me it's a relatively small amount of money, and I can wait. Everyone's in dire straights these days. Some more so than others.

But the Way people treat others AND their money issues tells us a whole lot about them. In this you are truly fortunate the Rabbi was not quite a 'man of his word', and showed you exactly where you stood in relation to his world early on. Yes, money well spent, sadly enough. It's one sterling opportunity the next 'bubba' would be supremely foolish to pass up otherwise too!

But good news, and hope you can schedule all those appointments before going to Jesus land! (That would be most helpful, right? Cheers & Good Luck, 'VJ'

Namaste said...

Thanks, VJ. You are right to pay it forward with the woman who is in hard times. I'm glad to know that you did this.

Thanks for the well-wishes, everyone. It's madness. It feels a lot like deja vu to where I was a year ago. But it's all going to work out just fine.



Caroline said...

Congratulations, Namaste. I hope this is just one of many smooth stepping stones in your enlightening journey in life, and that it helps you reach your next step in comfort.