Friday, May 27, 2005

Mission accomplished

I’ve had a stupid afternoon – NOTHING done, spent half an hour looking around campus for my mobile phone when it was sitting in my office the whole time.

The only productive thing I’ve done this afternoon is realise that I hate mission statements. If I ever create an organization or a company or something, it will NOT have a mission statement. I’ll provide information on what the organization is/does, but I can bloody do that without giving it a wanky, self-important title (ie “mission Statement”) and if I start a company that makes, say, plastic bottles, I am NOT going to say that “Bottles Inc. is committed to serving its shareholders through the design and manufacture of superior products and services in the field of…”

I will say that “Bottles Inc. makes plastic bottles.”

Not that I’m likely to start a bottle-making company.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

the negotiator (or: playing softball)

I signed the job contract last Friday. My ‘negotiating’ was unsuccessful, despite (what I think are) some fair reasons:

  1. The salary was advertised as “internationally competitive” and it’s slightly less than what I made 2 years ago in Oz.
  2. The expected level of managerial responsibility was considerably greater than indicated in the job ad.
  3. The guy who previously did almost the exact same job was paid a salary 71% more than what I was offered. (He is more experienced, so deserves a higher salary, but this seems a bit out of whack.)

I had the usual frustrating experience with the director of human resources, who told me things I knew to be untrue – especially that he didn’t know if s ingle case where somebody successfully negotiated for more money (I know at least four people who did). I would have been happy with just a couple of thousand dollars more, but in the end I can’t complain. I have more than enough etc etc.

I probably could have bluffed and said I just wasn’t going to take the job. But I’m incredibly uncomfortable playing that game. I did talk to the director general, but not to try to negotiate – just to let him know that there’s a sense among some of the younger staff that they’re undervalued. I was nervous and inarticulate, and afterwards kept thinking of how I could’ve said things better. It occurred to me that if I was doing this about something I was really confident about, and where I felt I had strong knowledge (eg, some sort of political negotiation), I’d actually really enjoy it.

wombat vs fox

I saw a cloud that looked like a wombat today, while I was walking back to my office after lunch. Actually, it looked more like a fox than a wombat. Wombats are shitloads better than foxes, and I reckon a wombat would whip a fox’s arse in a streetfight (choice of weapon: very bony bum and cubic poo pellets). Please note that foxes are OK on tennis courts.

The wet season is fast approaching. It sends messengers each night now – giant clouds that herald its imminent arrival with an internal show of lightning, but minus the fanfare of thunder. It’s beautiful to watch, especially just after the sun has set and the sky is still peach- and apricot-warm.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The career guy

Gawd – I was officially offered the job today. Am actually feeling a bit better about it this week. Still, my feeling was pretty damn neutral. The pay they offered was slightly less than I was wanting. It shouldn’t matter, but my passion for the work isn’t such that I’m happy to work for less than I think I’m “worth” (whatever the fuck that means). That, and the way they’ve exploited J recently has left me feeling slightly mercenary. Problem is that now I have to try and negotiate, which I’ve never done before. They don’t have another option, though, so I guess I’m in a reasonable position.

I really don’t feel like actually telling people. A few people know and the news seems to be spreading fast around the institute. Even though, as I said, I feel better about it than last week, I’m not ready to jump up and down and hoohaa about it all. And people will rightly judge me as an ungrateful prick (ungrateful for my station in life, not for the job itself) if I don’t show some gladness. G already suggested that my distaste for the White Beach scene 2 weekends ago and my enjoyment of the same scene last weekend was a result of knowing about the job. I told him it was a statistical coincidence, but he was unconvinced. It’s true I was/am in a much better frame of mind last weekend, but that had much more to do with the slap in the face delivered by the bloody great argument D and I had. It seemed to snap me out of my malaise, to some extent.

My natural tendency seems always to downplay the importance of something, whether it’s a relationship or a job or my achievements or whatever. Often I think this is just realism (take my life achievements – their not awful, but nobody’s writing books about me), but I sometimes wish I allowed myself to get more excited about things. I'm getting sick of living as if wherever I am / whatever I'm doing now isn't what I want and the next step I take will get me to where/what I want. It’s gone on for too long now; I think I need to just start having fun wherever I am. Clearly there is some chance I'll never work out what the fuck I want; if I continue like this I'll be thinking that “I'll work it out soon” on my deathbed.

Forgive me the seize-the-day rant.

White Beach. Full of middle-class Filipino 20-30 year-olds, many of whom are bearing considerable amounts of flesh. Attire at most beaches here tends to be much more conservative. The beach is lined with restaurants and bars. The ones with dance floors are pumping out LOUD music, each song trying to compete with its neighbours for supremacy.

Two weeks ago I was feeling a bit crook, and seriously not in the mood for that scene. I scribbled some notes to myself for this blog:

White Beach – all about sex, and the potential for sex. For me, if I’m out of that market [i.e., not single] it holds nothing more than a bit of communal voyeurism: young, lithe bodies on a hot night by the sea.”

Rewriting that makes feel like a bitter old dickhead. Last weekend, somehow or other, I just had fun (plus about a litre of ‘mindoro sling’). D, her friend K, and C (pommy backpacker we met on the boat from Batangas to Sabang) got talking to a couple of others, and I bopped away with the kidz till the wee hours. The other two we met graciously let us crash in their room (6 of us to one single and one double bed). I wasn’t even hungover in the morning. Makes me feel 29 again.

Friday, May 06, 2005

Whiny, middle-class bullshit angst

So this morning my old boss here (chair of the job selection committee) calls me in and tells me that they’ve offered the job to the other guy (the guy I thought looked like he’d get it). There was all sorts of stuff about how everybody agreed I would be great etc etc (it was genuine; I think people do think I’d be OK), but the other guy had experience they couldn’t turn down – a private sector job building a serious publication from nothing, success writing funding proposals, software knowledge, training experience…

I wasn’t slighted, professionally – the decision was completely fair enough and, despite rumblings to the contrary, I never assumed the job was mine. My gut feeling was that I wouldn’t get it and in a lot of ways I came to see this as a good thing. The fact is that despite everything – interesting work (on paper at least) in international research/development, plenty of money (not great salary in oz terms, but way more than enough in the Philippines), wonderful girlfriend etc – I’m not happy here.

I don’t know if I’m just in a temporary trough or whether it is just living here. I have enough decent friends here, but only a couple of friends around whom I can let all the filters down and be truly honest. (And I’m so negative just now that I risk alienating them). I think that’s the crux of it. Back home I have a heap of friends around whom I can genuinely relax and be myself. I miss them a lot right now.

The wellbeing manifesto gets into this. I feel a long way from where the manifesto is pointing, and I’m probably facing the wrong direction.

Anyway, my initial reaction was quite numb. It was mainly negative but I think mostly because I was worried about D’s reaction, and what the fuck would happen between her and me and what the fuck I actually wanted. Nothing really connected with the job, or not getting it.

Then, this afternoon, one of the selection committee members leaks to me that over lunchtime, the guy has emailed to say he’s turning down the job and accepting a gig with Lonely Planet. And suddenly it’s mine. The committee chair unofficially confirmed this a few minutes ago. My response this time was more profoundly negative. All I could think about was “can I handle 3 more years here without losing it?” Maybe that’s the secret – maybe I need to snap and do something ‘radical’ (quote marks indicate that I’m speaking in relative terms) and finally take (what is really not that big) a risk and start living life the way I think I actually should, and the way I would advise someone unfortunate enough to ask me.

I told J about it; I’ll tell D tonight. Just now, they're the only people I can be truly honest with. Apart from that, I’m just dreading the handshakes and back-pats and congratulations when it’s official and everyone else finds out and I have to pretend it’s the greatest thing that ever happened to me.

Because I will take this job. I’ll do what’s expected and make what is regarded by the mainstream, by authority, as the logical, wise, sensible decision. My own thoughts scream at me that life is too short for this shit. Why do feel so much pressure to do what’s expected? I could turn it down, head home (relationship with D notwithstanding) and a year from now, nobody would even remember that I didn’t do what everybody thought I should. But no…

Ha. If the emaciated homeless kids wading through sewage in the Manila slums think they have problems, they should talk to me. I’ll give them some good fucking whiny middle-class angst to think about.