Monday, March 08, 2010

Of Powerlessness and Fences

Have you ever been in that situation where you really really need something from someone and they just…ignore you? It's work related so I won't go into tedious detail, but that was my situation a week or so ago. An important meeting was looming, a meeting that included people who make up a big part of our business but are not technically part of our company so have a huge incentive to make nice. I asked several times for meetings, to collaborate…and nothing. Finally my boss stepped in and the collaboration happened, but I felt superfluous at best. It weighed on me for days, both the dread of the big meeting and the frustration around the process. And of course I didn't feel very good about the big meeting when it did happen. It's over now, though it's a recurring event, so the dread is looming once again. One of my vague New Year's resolutions was to do some sort of public speaking and I tried to take comfort in the thought that the meeting was some sort of preamble to public speaking, but that didn't help. I just got nervous and nervouser. But the situation got me thinking about power, and the ways I've used it over others or been at its mercy. And about how power is conferred--or not--in the first place. Was there anything I could have done to defuse the situation? Or taken control? After all, it's not like anyone designated them as having the upper hand. Um, unless that was me. Could I have just not cared about it, perhaps? I do wish I could flick that caring switch off and on at will. Well, looks like I'll get more opportunities to work on it.

Rex has continued to regularly escape his vertical restraints to roam the neighborhood, much to our chagrin and concern. On Sunday, M spent some thoughtful time at the home improvement store and came home with new fencing we intended to reinforce the back fencing that's been here for much longer than the decade we have, the one section we haven't replaced since moving in, fencing that seemed to be made for creatures low to the ground, and later layered with chicken wire for extra "security." These layers sit several feet in front of the ugly 10-foot chain link barrier the synagogue folks installed a few years ago. Also much to our chagrin, making us feel like we skirt some sort of prison compound. As we pulled the new green-painted wire fence across the old sagging rusted incarnation, I suggested we pull down the old stuff, the green version being so much less visible. And as it came down, I suggested we not replace it, but rather do away with it altogether, extending our side fences to tie into the back chain link fence. Which is not exactly legal, but it's not like the synagogue folks maintain that narrow spit between fences. If they wanted it, they would have installed their fence right up against ours, right? So we ripped up the old where it had become entangled with the tall spring grasses, yanking up the metal fence posts from the spring muck--if it had been August, I'm sure we would have been more like pretenders trying to extract Excalibur from the stone, but they came up without much effort. Though we probably would have procrastinated this "honey-do" for months if we had thought about it, it didn't take us long once we got going. We didn't poke out any eyes or other organs with the uprooted fencing that seemed to flail around with a life of its own at times. No poison oak so far. Best of all, apparently the dog didn't escape today, though we'll have to confirm with the neighbors. And suddenly we have a little more yard and a little less visual litter to contend with.

A note of karma: way back in late January, I finally found that perfect shelf/media console for the TV and the last of our books. We picked it up in early February, and I've been enjoying how the door to the bedroom where we put it just barely slips by, and how it holds the music CDs and DVDs and the last of the books. Maximizing space, baby! I kept and eye on the mailbox--I had reluctantly purchased it from Macy's, they of the usurious credit card charges--I didn't want to miss the bill and pay a late fee and the outrageous interest fees. Nothing was forthcoming in January, the month I ordered it. Nothing in February, even though we had taken delivery the first weekend of that month. Was my bill filched? Accidentally on purpose lost by the mail carrier whom Rex had laid teeth on? Just a few weeks ago I trepidatiously opened an online account to check my balance. Zero. $0! I told myself I would have paid that balance if I could have, but we had long ago recycled the packaging and I had ordered it on the phone so didn't have any paperwork. What was I supposed to do, march into Macy's and demand to give them several hundreds of dollars they had no record of? I made financial atonement by taking friends out to a pricey dinner and moving a little into savings and paying off a little more debt on another credit card. My heart skipped a beat when I received a message in my Inbox from Macy's a couple of days ago, but it turned out just to be a thinly veiled invitation to continue shopping. So of course, just as I'm convinced that I'm free and clear and would have done the right thing if I could have, today the paper bill arrived, presenting me with the right thing in black and white. No extra or late charges, but I do indeed owe every penny. Ah well! I have no regrets. It's all been money well spent.


At 4:09 AM, March 09, 2010, Blogger K2 said...

I bet it would have continued to bother you if the bill hadn't come.

At 6:43 AM, March 09, 2010, Blogger bren said...

I have no doubt that your public speaking will get easier for you the moreyou do it and that you will actually enjoy it. You can be playful and very entertaining in front of a group.


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