6 months to the day, today. 6 long months ago I walked into the office here at the National Blood Authority and started work on a 12 month contract. They offered me a 9 month contract but I negotiated a 12 month term. I often thought – or more accurately, wondered if – I should have negotiated down to a 6 month contract instead.
So here I am at the half way mark.
Release into the masses
2 days ago my boss came into my room to say he has some bad news for me. I thought they were going to say there is no more funding for the second half of my contract, or something to that effect. Instead, the bad news was that I had to give up my office for a project team working on a new business case for more funding for some specific project.
That isn’t entirely bad news. I have been lonely on too many occasions and being out there amongst other colleagues in the open plan pod system would alleviate that to a large extent. That is probably worth the price of a loss of privacy.
So when I return after the weekend, I’d be back to the open plan system again – something I had been used to for so long already anyway, before I started this role, 6 months ago.
So I might spend some time on this the last day of total privacy in my own office reflecting on the last 6 months.
How has it been in Washington?
(Not quite the same scenario as Jimmy Stewart in “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” but coming to Canberra to work provides fertile ground for puns so what the heck…)
I took on this job for 2 reasons.
I thought – Tress thought too – that it would be good to reconnect with Kiddo. Having left home in 2012, we (I) had felt her life was on a trajectory that is taking her away from us. The connection had thinned out and I felt we were losing touch with what was going on in her life.
The second reason was the bird in hand reason. Accepting this work rather than hoping for another role in Melbourne felt like the conservative and therefore right decision. Especially given the former and most probably the dominant reason of reconnecting with Kiddo.
Once I had accepted the role, I stopped looking for work. There were a couple of interviews I attended before eventually coming to Canberra but those were developments of leads that had initiated prior to my acceptance of the NBA role. The latter interviews were in fact from Canberra via teleconferencing which I felt didn’t go too well. My mind was in a different space from when I came to Canberra and the medium of Skype just didn’t do it for me. I’d like to believe that had I remained in Melbourne, those developments might have taken on a more positive direction but one can keep guessing I suppose.
The work in NBA has been interesting for the most part but my frame of mind remains that this is a temporary role. This remains the governing factual circumstance. Given that, I want to – have always wanted to – find a role in Melbourne, where home is and where I want to live and for as long as the Lord would let me. If the NBA gives me any indication that this might turn into a permanent role I might re frame my outlook but at this moment given the factual circumstance, my desire is to return to Melbourne.
Main (first) reason
Reconnecting with Kiddo has been by and large a positive experience. Seeing her interact with her study group, social circles, church and church related (FOCUS) circles, has provided glimpses into her mind, heart and maybe soul. I have been grateful for this privilege.
Seeing her vocation pulling into focus towards (hopefully) academia has also been helpful to give myself comfort as to what she would be doing with her life, work wise. The alternative of doing any available public service work would likely prove more mechanically drifting but would none the less provide me with comfort in the knowledge that life will happen for her. I would not have been able to see this development with the clarity or assurance I now have had I remained in Melbourne so I am grateful.
Then there’s the 600lb gorilla sitting in the corner. Or more commonly used these days: The elephant in the room.
Mic is a fine young man. After sitting down with him for dinner (1:1) several months ago however, I asked myself what sort of man I had envisaged my daughter ending up dating. I have to be honest and say Mic would not have been that man. That man would have likely been one not battling with being underweight. Neater hair, fleshier face. Doesn’t walk with a swaying hip and way less effeminate. Doesn’t have a propensity for brown pants and brown shoes. Doesn’t talk with an American accent. Doesn’t come from a large (huge) family. Doesn’t slurp his beverages and generally makes less noise while eating. That man would not have been impulsive and would have a cooler and more deliberate judgment of actions and decisions.
It’s sometimes good to quickly deal with the negatives first. Therapeutic even.
That man I envisaged would have been someone who loves the Lord – tick. Intelligent – tick. Serious with his work – tick (I think). He would have been contemplative and thoughtful: Half tick and tick. Courteous – tick. Respectful – tick, probably. Witty – tick. Larrikin and often politically incorrect – no tick there – at all. Loves spectator sport – again, no tick there.
While an elephant in the room, what I think of Mic and where he is in my balance sheet is of no/far less consequence. What Kiddo thinks of him and where he is in her balance sheet is what really counts so I guess if she can deal with all of those issues or they don’t matter/matter less to her, that is the real 600lb gorilla sitting in the corner. But I guess that is a matter she/they have already resolved. My only wish is she/they would let her/their vocations land on a more settled spot/trajectory before they plan their next phase in life.
So in many ways the re-connection agenda has been met. Yet it is as though I remain an observer. While grateful to have been permitted to so observe, I have not felt as though I have re-entered her life. I am more a flatmate than a father. I remain alone in that sense. I feel as though my family is in Melbourne. Even though my daughter is here in Canberra, living in an apartment I share with her, I seldom feel I have family in Canberra. In that sense the re-connection agenda remains an “open item”.
I long for a positive element in my Canberra experience, which I can write home about. Maybe that is why I remain without prospect job wise, in Melbourne. Perhaps I am meant to remain in Canberra for the next 6 months to see out my contract so that the re-connection agenda can be closed. I just need something to clutch on to I guess.