Last week was quite a rollercoaster of a week.
The week began wonderfully: on a sailboat in the Chesapeake Bay, in the midst of nature and my family, being reminded of all that I like about the world and my place in it.
I was home for all of a half hour on Wednesday before I got the call. It was my boss, who said, "I have HR here with me."
My first thought: nothing good ever comes after that statement. My second thought: I wish I had saved more money.
I was told of restructuring at work. I'm luckier than most. In the new organization, I can apply for a new job that's much like my old job. I should know the outcome in the next month.
Others will not be so lucky. At our school, 45 people lost their jobs, 21 of them faculty. At our nationwide network of schools, 800 people lost their jobs. Last week a tough week--and I was only on campus for 2 days.
I've wept with the faculty who got the worst kind of news; we're losing 5 people from my department. I've wept for my youthful enthusiasm that believed that jobs in higher ed would be abundant and if not lucrative, at least fairly paid. I've commiserated with people who have survived this round of job cuts, but who wonder when they will be next.
And then, just to make life interesting, just in time for the 20th anniversary of hurricane Andrew and the 7th anniversary of hurricane Katrina, we've had tropical storm Isaac. Happily, the storm lost strength as it swept towards us. I don't really understand why, but I'm grateful.
I've updated my job search materials and applied for my job in the new work structure. I've sorted through piles and piles of paper. I've cooked and baked and taken naps. Am I ready for this week?
Our restructuring has left me with 25 sections to staff. I'll work on that. I'll take breaks from doing that whenever anyone shows up at my office to commiserate, to weep, to plan for the future. I have tissues, tea, mugs, and an electric kettle.
My English friend ended an e-mail by writing "Keep calm and carry on." I copied out that saying and posted it above my desk. I shall remember an earlier Englishwoman, Julian of Norwich, who is perhaps most famous for writing: "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well." I will hum that Jimmy Buffet tune: "Breathe in, breathe out, move on." I will hope that New Orleans is not about to have a hurricane Katrina experience again. I will pray for all of us to find the strength to weather the storms that batter us.
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