Monday, August 17, 2009


...but first: omg girls. I too have feverish - even desperate - dreams about a quiet house near a lake/mountain with a fireplace and space/quiet/solitude enough to calm my restless mind. I long for forest treks and dry sunshine and coolness. Of course, this dream would have to occur within a 30 minute drive of a Whole Foods and a well-equipped mall. Ha. But we're stuck here in Hawaii another 3 years. I already asked A if it was too late to ask for orders somewhere else. It is. True confession: I don't want to stay here another 3 years! Oh, I know, it will be fine. There is plenty of fun and adventure to be had here. But still... the idea of Colorado, the possibility of it, is stuck firmly in my mind.

I've said it before but now seems a fitting time to remind you all that I have a restless heart. I can't help but wonder if, once I get that next dream, I won't fixate on something else. Probably. Hopefully it can involve something other than moving somewhere new? I mean, I was totally itching to move away from DC; even thought I would love Hawaii (although I knew I was probably not going to particularly like my job). I loved my job in DC, but the vibe of that city just didn't resonate with me. But now that I am here... well... what can I say? Will I ever be satisfied?

When I was younger I wanted to be a writer, but I've never been very good at the creative sort. Like making up a story with characters. Or even writing creatively about my past. I'm good at prompted writing, the sort I do (or used to anyway, before I began this cognitively-dead job) for work. For a while I thought if I lived enough, you know, like really got deep into life, that it would give me fodder for a novel. Turns out no amount of cavorting, travel, drugs, sex, love, music, or drinking will ignite a creative spark, no matter how excessive, illegal, potentially dangerous or ill-advised. I sometimes wonder if I will be able to write through the lenses of time and wisdom - in other words, later on in life. It's definitely not something I feel capable of in my near future.

Why is it beginning to seem like I'm having a 1/3-life crisis??? The last time I had a life-crisis, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend and went back to graduate school. All with very little thought of where I was headed other than I like and have experience with foreign countries so something in international relations seems like a good fit. I'm not about to break up with A and school seems like a good idea, but for what? Maybe I just need a convertible and some strippers?

So. About that dilemma. Today at work, I discovered They want me to go to this VTC that is happening at 3:00 am here on Wednesday.

[Digression: This is another thing I didn't anticipate about this job: any VTC's with the East coast of the U.S. often end up occuring between 3 and 5 am because that is normal-time in DC. I also didn't realize how much travel they would want me to be doing, or the fact that ANY travel would require a whole day on a plane and at least one night of missed sleep. Plus two weeks of jetlag. I mean, you'd think this would have occured to me because duh, Hawaii is in the frickin middle of nowhere.]

Back to the VTC. I said, no way, I am not coming here at 3 in the morning. I told my immediate supervisor that if they really wanted me here, they were going to have to give me nighttime differential pay. I said, you guys forget I am not in the military. I don't think he liked that much. And I get little sympathy for being a civilian from the next-higher-up boss either because she was in the military for 20 years and likes to be a bitch about it and say, suck it up because I had to for 20 years. Whatever. Anyway, this went back and forth a bit, and I stuck to my guns. If you're going to have me come in here at 2:30 in the morning, you're going to have to compensate me with nighttime differential pay. In the end, it looks like another guy in our shop (who is a contractor and probably gets nighttime pay anyway) is going to go to the meeting. I have gotten up at 3:30 more than once already to come in here for a 5 am VTC. Not to mention all the weekends and sleep I have wasted so far traveling for these people.

So I am curious: what do you all think about this? Did I do the right thing standing up for myself and demanding what is technically rightfully mine if I work "after hours"? Or was it pansy - not sucking it up and taking the bullet? You know, for the team. Or whatever.

ETA: now that I'm reading this again, it's really irritating me that they just EXPECT me to come happily in the middle of the night without paying me the differential they technically OWE me under my contract. The fuck, government lackeys? I realize we're broke since we just propped up dozens of failing companies and we're about to flush billions more down the entitlement-loo with Obamacare, but your lack of any sense of capitalist principles is really starting to grate my nerves.


Katie said...

Good for you! If that's in your contract then you have every right to ask for differential pay and they are a bunch of punks for acting all put out that you would request that. You need to just write the next Twilight series and become rich and famous!

Black Daffodil Films said...

I agree...GOOD FOR YOU. At least they know where you stand now (which will make you doubly mad next time they have a ridiculous expectation).

I'm sure its taking every ounce of discipline to stay at that job right now...I'm sorry it sucks so bad!

Bisous said...

If you let them screw you over, they will just keep doing it! Maybe learn to surf if you don't know how already? I've heard that can make people philosophical and better able to stand a difficult job.

Jadey 0:-) said...

Government or otherwise no matter what you do they are going to try and milk you for it. But good on you for sticking up for yourself!


I agree -- good to draw that line in the sand. Can be tough with the government. There's an expectation that we all sacrifice our outside lives for the "greater good", and that we shouldn't care if our salary is not commensurate with our efforts because we're not in it for the money, personal gain, yadda yadda. Which I would say applies on the battlefield or during a crisis, but not so much for 3 AM VTC conferences with bureaucrats in Washington--the kind of conference that everyone forgets 5 minutes after it's over. I feel ya...