Thursday, November 14, 2013

4:11 and the sun is setting in my office. The light slants across my keyboard, and I’m typing away. Listening to a conference call with some of the most annoying people I’ve ever met. The big boss around here is leading the call and is So! Perky! And! Fake! I can’t stand people like this. To sum it up, this is a woman who makes more money than the president of the united states, and still talks in baby talk like she’s just a gosh-darn, good ol’ gal y’all. And then can turn mean as a snake in 20 seconds.

But, eh. I’ve dealt with worse, I’ll deal with many more like her in the years to come.

Elizabeth posted this quote this morning, and I very rarely ever stop and consider the weight of words of a quote anymore. It feels like I’ve heard every platitude under the sun by now, and these days, I feel too rushed and frantic to pause.

Do not be overwhelmed by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

-The Talmud

Working in healthcare policy right now is very hard. It’s been hard, from almost the moment I had this dropped in my lap in 2006 and it took off into this career I’ve grown into. This city is in firing squad mode about, and I have friends and colleagues in the government that feel more like indentured servants than employees. One testified on the Hill yesterday, and since his summons to appear before Congress came, he’s slept on the floor of his office. It just sounds like a nightmare over there right now. Don't get me wrong -- this needs to be fixed. It should have never happened this way. Things could have been done so much better.

I touch Obamacare’s reimbursement/insurance/payment issues in my career, but it isn’t specifically my day job, and I’ve been guarded from the onslaught of criticism. But our time will come. 2014 will be our heavy lift; it will be our triumph or our downfall. I know I am being cryptic, and it’s nothing secret, just nothing worth going into.

Work is consuming me. So much (not the public stuff, more like office dynamic stuff) is going wrong and I feel like I’ve been on a steady decline all year as far as morale. And now I’m sitting at the bottom. My coworkers all bring their complaints and problems and hurts to me because I’m senior to them, but I’m not their boss. So I have the pleasure of listening and being dragged in, but having no authority to fix anything.

Ah lah, as Mary Moon would say.

The other night I dreamed I was prepping the CMS Administrator for her appearance before Congress. I had been emailing with her during the midnight hour the night before, and she had gone before Congress that day, and I guess this creeped into my mind at rest. I was sitting across from her and she kept asking me questions I couldn’t answer, and getting more and more mad and insistent. Uh, paging Dr. Freud please. I can’t quite figure out what all this means. Geez.

And I don’t have the answers. Things with this law aren’t perfect, things that we’re doing on our end aren’t perfect either. We’re slowly turning a ship in the middle of the ocean. S.l.o.w.l.y. I can’t be burdened with the enormity of it all.

But nor do I feel free to abandon it either. I’m seven years in, and I feel entrenched in this. Invested. Stuck. Honored. Lucky. Caught. Attached.

I suppose this all seems very dramatic, the ravings of a mid-level employee, mid-level in life. But it has been consuming me for so long that I’m putting my head up to realize that life is too short for all of this, surely. I can’t be dreaming about the office every single night. I need more.

No good way to end this, so I’ll leave a snapshot of my view, and know I am thinking of each of you as I type these words.


Ms. Moon said...

You probably have no idea what an incredible post this is. That is a piece that could be published anywhere.
And should be.
Keep trying to turn this ship around. We need it heading in the right direction. So very, very much.

SJ said...

Mary -thank you so much for saying that. I love how much you encourage me, all the time.

The Bug said...

I'm here from Ms. Moon's blog, where I see you comment. I was going to say that you should work on a five year plan to take you somewhere that you'd be happier. But I don't know if five year plans work anymore, in the world the way it is today...

And I was going to give you the name of a blogger friend from DC who does body work, because if your job is making you crazy then maybe she can help with the stress, but I didn't want this to look like a troll comment :)

So I'll just say that I hear you and I wish you well. You might think you're mid-level but your work is important to so many people!

A said...

I've been very disappointed with the administration, but good clear-eyed people like you working on this mess? That's what's hopeful.

Mel said...

Oh the grind you've been living, especially in this last year, with so much hope bashed by so much criticism, negativity and outright sabotage for any meaningful healthcare reform. From where I sit, it is so very depressing to watch unfold. Of course you are tired, and I know what you mean about being the caring older employee everyone else talks to - your inner fix things crusader is helpless here, and that's a crappy feeling too.
You all work so hard, and I hope you can look back on this with some distance and feel proud and accomplished. And good grief, take care, rest, get a massage, do silly things to keep you from getting sucked into the mire. I hope things look up, or you find a way to work in your industry and feel good about how you're spending your time. I'm hoping for ebbs and flows toward something that looks like progress.
And that Elizabeth quote? Blew me away. I want to print it out and post it everywhere. It's lovely.
So are you. Hang in there :)

liv said...

I HATE fake perky people! They give me a massive headache. Sorry you ever have to encounter them, but they are a stubborn part of the corporate world aren't they?

Elizabeths' quote from the Talmud was spectacular, as is she, you, me, all of us who congregate here - inspiring and embracing each other. I see your post as an embracing of all of us who read I know you see our comments to you as the same. x

As for the ACA, (I am one of the few who don't like calling it Obamacare - the republicans use that as a sneer, yuk!) I believe you're going to get it turned around and it will right itself just fine when people really start seeing the benefits of it. Not to worry. Good will triumph.

And I am SOOOOO happy to see you have a window!!! I worried sometimes that you were stuck in an inner office with no sky or clouds or trees to see and to remind you that there is a world out there....waiting for you. Just look out there and remind yourself that it is waiting for you. Waiting for you to finish this project and move on to the rest of your life.

Thanks for writing :)

SJ said...

Bug -thanks for coming by! I don't mind at all you sharing your friend's name with me. Shoot me an email at Five year plans are hard. I wish I felt more secure in my location/job/everything to feel like it would be worth making one. It's definitely something to think about though.

A -I know. I can understand that, and as staunch an Obama supporter as I was and am, I have been very disappointed with many things in the past couple of years.

Mel -thank you for your kind words, and for always showing up for me. It really has been depressing to watch unfold and I feel like screaming because I KNEW this was going to happen. And I have the insider knowledge of a mosquito. Everyone knew.

Liv -you know, I always use ACA professionally but it's called Obamacare so much that I honestly have started reverting to it. It's kind of sad that that's the case. I often stand when I'm on calls, and look out the window. I'm so glad to not be stuck in cubicle land for this current position and to actually have an office with a door. Small blessings. And shields me from a lot of office drama crap! <3. Thanks for writing.