Yesterday was 9/11. It's a day I try to never let pass without really remembering. I didn't watch any of the retelling, recounting, documentaries. I have done so a few times over the years. But the real images that I saw in real time between frantic phone calls with my sister in NYC on the actual day? Those will stay burned in my head way beyond the rehashed well-edited stuff they keep churning out.
The whole story - all three planes - it never ceases to just blow my mind.
One item I received in my email inbox at the end of the day yesterday: the final draft of my divorce decree. I looked at that email, looked at the 9/11 date and thought, "I'm declaring jihad on my marriage!" and laughed. My boss thought it was funny, too. I have a sick and stupid sense of humor. The other irony is that this is the 2nd "final" draft of the divorce decree. So is this the final-er draft? And the next one I get - will it be the final-est draft? Or will it just be like, "Final draft #12 in a series"....collect all 66! Trade with your friends!
I was very busy today. Work was work. Busy work. I'm rejoining the fully functional working adults that have been carrying my sorry butt for months now. Each day, I become more like the old employee I was. And that's a good thing. A few years back, when I was newly a mother of two, my immediate corporate America told all of us IT dorks that we'd need to buckle down, suck it up, put our noses to the grindstone and squeeze out just a tiny bit more blood from our proverbial stone. Since the Y2K projects that started in 1997, there aren't many IT people that haven't been working ridiculous schedules almost every year. So to come to people who feel like they're already working 24/7, not taking vacations, not watching their babies grow up and ask, hey can you guys start giving just a little more? Oh...and for the same pay? Yah, that went over big. I remember going to my boss' office and crying as I told her she might want to move me onto a less critical project as I could only give 100% and not the 120% they were asking. Kind of, hey, demote me to the piddly systems that won't exist much longer so I can try to remember what my kids look like. I remember the look of sheer disbelief on her face. I figured she was disappointed that I wasn't going to just give up leaving the work building altogether. But she was shocked I was worried about my ability to deliver. She said to me, "I get more out of you in 8 hours than some people give in a week." I was floored. And it felt damned good. From that moment on, I knew I was valued and I knew I kicked butt at work. And I realized many of my coworkers recognized it, too. That's an amazingly freeing feeling - to know you are valued.
Well, when my personal world shattered back around the new year, I went from that amazing 100% awesome worker to that 80% awesome worker. It just kept going downhill until late April. When future ex walked out the door, I became non-functioning, giant-pile-of-goo-on-the-floor, worker. Confused, discombobulated, zombie worker. I felt like I was in a constant state of Homer-Simpson - blank stare and drooling. It was a terrifying place for me. I was literally unable to fully contribute. I could plod along on the easier points of my job. But most points of my job are anything but easy. It's all brain work. It's all date driven and needed last week. It's all thinking on the fly, design a plan with which you can build the Taj Mahal after being given two toothpicks, a rubber band and $5. And we do it. Every year my team pulls miracles out of the depths of nothing. I'm part of a team of cream-of-the-crop insane people. You'd never know the cream-of-the-crop part to see us as a group. We're the doofiest looking bunch of miscreants. And you'd never know it by looking at the IMs or emails we exchange to alleviate the boredom of red-tape-laden conference calls. But they're all the bomb. And I hated feeling like I was letting them down. Dead weight. I can't stand dead weight.
But these beautiful people that can drive me out of my mind...this collection of weirdos that make me frequently consider a job as a dog-walker - they all rallied to me. I didn't even know it. I'm pretty sure my boss just went all Patton on them and gave them some inspirational direction on my behalf. Because suddenly, my emails were being answered by one coworker. Production problems were being researched and resolved for me. People were showing up on conference calls as "backup" and pretty much bailing me out. Smoke and mirrors, my friends. Smoke and mirrors. The new projects I was working on as the main point of contact for my team? Many people were shocked to find out I had been going through this. Because my team of freaks had covered my butt so completely, so seamlessly. They made me look good.
In the last few weeks, I have been much more my old self. Not quite 100% of where I used to be. But I feel like I'm actually carrying my weight - or most of it. And my team is back to having all of its parts. I've actually helped other people out by helping them when they were barely treading water. It felt good. Their image of me as frail is fading. I'm no longer that dainty fragile thing that might turn to dust if you say the wrong thing. I can't stand being treated like I'm that fragile. It's even worse when you really ARE that fragile.
So today, I felt like I gave a full 100% for the first time in a long time. And it felt SO good. It felt so good to crank out some critical stuff that was needed immediately. It felt good to mock up some screen prototypes for the web coders. It felt good to play liaison between the customers and my tech team. It felt good to bring the new guy up to speed on what we do. And it felt good to exchange silly IMs with my boss during mind-numbing calls.
I am humbled and awed by the people I work with. I mean, the absolute love & support they threw my way is nothing less than God sent. And I will try to keep that in mind on the next status call when we all sound like a bunch of lobotomized keystone cops.