Monday, June 28, 2010

Letting the Coworkers Know

Stress level over the past 30 hours or so has been pretty high.

Yesterday afternoon, I had trouble bringing my work laptop, a MacBook Pro, out of sleep mode. The screen remained dark. For a bit I feared that the machine had failed entirely. Later on I got the idea to try requesting pages from the web server that was running on it, and I got responses, so the machine was not lost.

I later verified that this was the symptom of an issue that existed with the video chipset on the laptop, and that Apple was replacing the part at their expense. So the computer will be resurrected in some way, but at signficant loss to productivity.

One of the lingering questions that has dogged me since I started my current job, way back at the end of 2007, was when should I let my coworkers know that a change in marital status would take place. Over that time, I've taken very discreet approach. I talk about the kids, but don't mention much about X.

Last week, after the divorce was finalized, a feeling of heaviness began to sink in. I needed to dismantle the facade and at least admit that I wasn't married anymore, so I didn't cringe when someone asked me a question about "my wife" and I was evasive about details.

I decided to have a conversation with another manager with whom I have a pretty high level of trust. I knew that she had been through a divorce prior to coming to work with us two years ago, and had some inklings that it was a pretty difficult one. I gave her some basic facts. She said she had sended that I had been "off" the last few days of work.

I asked her if she had any advice to offer from her own experiences. She said that the divorce made her feel like such a failure that she couldn't bring herself to let her coworkers know and wound up quitting her job after the divorce was finalized

After I wistfully noted that quitting wasn't much of an option for me, given support obligations, she recommended that I at least tell my boss and the rest of my team. She also gave me the contact information of someone who had counseled her with her own divorce.

Later that day, I broke the news to them. I think my team didn't know what to make of it. One of them wondered why I had chosen this time to disclose. Another said that I had done an amazing job of not letting on that there was trouble. I made it clear to them that what transpired had its roots well before I started working there, just so they didn't get the impression that working there had been a factor.

I felt like the weight had been lifted, but I also still had an awful feeling. This evening, I felt restless and depressed. I finally tore into a huge pile of junk mail, newspapers, and other things that had been sitting on the floor for weeks, the aftermath of an earlier attempt to clear the clutter off of a kitchen table. I managed to put a dent into it, but I was feeling stir crazy and felt like crying at times.

I will get through this. I have to.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

And Now, She is Known as Simply "X"

It's official. The divorce is final. I went over to the City County Building early on Wednesday afternoon to pick up the signed divorce decree documents. It had been a harrowing few days with work involving meetings, a stressful release, and an elusive database performance issue that was bringing the production environment to its knees.

Against this was a recurring stream of IMs, e-mails, and text messages from the woman who had been my wife for 14 years, two months, and three days. The 60-day waiting period from filing to decree review passed over the weekend, so she developed the (unreasonable) expectation that the document would be signed and ready to go on Monday.

When I called the office on Monday to check on the status, I got an answer that it wasn't done yet and that I should check back on Wednesday. She was not happy about that, badgering me to call the office back to find out why. Sure enough the slow grind of justice delivered on the schedule that they told me.

After her last nag message, which included the text, "Divorce ? ? ?", I was finally able to write back that the documents were ready and that I would pick them up in the afternoon. She texted back saying, "Thanks for taking care of this." I wrote back saying, "No problem. I guess you can now make it 'Facebook official' as they call it :-p ." She wrote back with this statement:

U know I didn't mean to hurt u. I'm sorry it had to end this way. I'm glad we can still be good parents to the girls. Thank u for giving them to me.

I didn't know what to make of that.

I felt a deep sadness after picking up the papers, a sense of acceptance that I had failed in this relationship... a lingering doubt over that feeling of being different, defective, and inadequate. I could not self validate in the moment.

Where do I go from here? There are still loose ends... getting the mortgage re-fi wrapped up, getting the house restored to order. Right now it looks like a scale model of the 9th Ward in New Orleans circa mid September 2005. I need to start making time for making new real-life friends. I need to start getting resumes out there before I lose my sanity on this job. I need to get some help.

Friday, June 11, 2010

And Soon, the Legal Bond Dissolves

Less than ten days to go.

That's right, it's ten days until the passing of 60 days since STBX filed petition for dissolution of our marriage. We've completed the county mandated "be a good parent" class, we've squared away the division of property and allocation of parental time. It now all comes down to having a judge sign off on the agreement, and it is finished.

The grounds for urgency from STBX was based on the goal of buying a new house and closing before the end of June so as to qualify for the tax credit, but this week she learned that those hopes may be dashed, for the bank will not loan to her with less than six months of employment at her new job. For those of you who are keeping score, her six month mark transpires sometime in early July. Still she wants the house.

Her quest for the house has affected me on a few fronts...

To qualify for her mortgage, she needed to be liberated from the the mortgage on this house, so I have been rushing to go through the meat grinder of refinance, and I am eating the cost of that.

It's a shame she has been in such a hurry because I could have done an assumption of the mortgage for about 1/3 of the cost, but it would have taken 90 days to get it done.

For the most part the refinance has gone well, save for the fact that my employer outsources its payroll and other HR functions to another company, and the underwriters wigged out when my paycheck stubs did not match the name of the employer.

Also, her quest to pay for costs of buying the house have required her to pick up some extra days at work. Combine that with dance competitions and recital, and you get a picture where the kid-free weekends have been few and far between. I am logging the requests for extra days, and if this becomes a recurring pattern that bumps up the overnights by a couple weeks, I will push for a recalculation in the child support because overnights affect the balance.

With the financial scrutiny over the refinance, I've also had to put the job search on the back burner. I can't do anything to spook them until we're past the refinance at best and maybe even until STBX closes on her house, since almost half of her pre-tax income is child-support payments.

With all of this in play, I think it becomes pretty easy to see why I feel locked in and out of control of my near-term destiny.

On the personal front, I think STBX is starting to date. A couple weeks ago, she asked me to keep the kids on a Wednesday night because she and her friends were going out and were planning on staying out late. The next morning, she called me and told me to take the kids directly to their sitter instead of her place because she said she had too much to drink. The next Wednesday, she asked me to keep them another night.

I'm not mad or jealous. Indeed, if she finds someone who "does it" for her, that will be great. Still, after the collapse in 2007, I was pretty certain that she'd never seek to reconcile, but I figured that she would remain very focused on the kids' lives at the expense of another relationship. Just goes to show how off base my perceptions and speculations might be.

Work isn't quite as demoralizing as it had been, but my faith in the leadership is fading.

My boss has backed off from the "bring me our IT guy's head on a platter... NOW!" stance, but I suspect that could come back with a vengeance if there are random glitches that impact her directly. My IT guy has been interviewing and preparing documentation for a successor with the goal of being out of there by the end of June or so.

The CEO had a talk with me a few weeks back and has decided that they need more of an empire builder guiding the development of product, and they've sensed that I find greater reward in the coding aspect of my work moreso than the manager stuff. I think what finally pushed them in this direction was pressure from their advisory board on why the developer team had not grown so that new features could get released at a higher rate.

So they are starting to look for a departmental VP, a role that they said they were going to fill during my promotion to Director last summer, but held off doing, most likely in an effort to get cashflow positive. As of this writing, they are starting to interview candidates. The part that puzzles me is that although they are looking to take on this new person, which will command a six figure salary easily, they are also holding the line that we cannot hire anything else other than a user interface engineer up through the end of the year.

Hiring in general has been a point of confusion for me, with the CEO telling me to hire as many new people as possible and the President telling me to be very measured in hiring. I report to the President, and she has to deal with the numbers much more closely than the CEO, so I think she has a closer lock on reality.

Burn rate shot up in March, shooting up from $100K-ish in the early part of the year to $500K in March. Much of that has been driven by aggressive hiring by sales and marketing. The EVP of sales they brought on at the beginning of February has been very high maintenance, both in terms of spending and dragging other department members into meetings and conference calls.

We could be at a point where we are out of money by late in the year. With VCs looking at our renewal rates and shaking their heads, I don't know where they will get the cash to keep things rolling.

For those of you who have been following the saga involving the Pacific Northwest Prima Donna Travel Agency, they finally sent out their initial e-mail a week ago, nearly two weeks behind schedule. The missed target wasn't due to any problems on our end. There were tons of technical bungling on their end in getting other pieces of the project into place. Our VP of Ops said that we are very much "under water" with this contract, and probably will be for a couple of years. My guess is that upper management went this route because they wanted a really big name logo on the site.

A burning out factor for my job is that the challenges I've had to face have migrated from ones involving technology to ones where people are involved. Conflict is much higher, and I have to deal with a lot of situations where I am on the defensive from the start.

The bumpiness of this journey, combined with my fear that I'm going to snap and say something inappropriate, has turned my focus toward whether I might have Asperger Syndrome. The obsessiveness over problems, my continued withdrawal from others, and STBX's behavior has left me feeling overwhelmed and inadequate. There's been several days where I've felt washed up and unattractive. I'm at a point where I need to get some help, even if it is just initially just reaching out to our employee assistance program.