Monday, October 27, 2008

The Ho-Hum and the Whirlwind

I admit to being remiss in posting. It has been over a week since I last wrote. An interesting combination has kept me from my writer's post.

The Ho-Hum of life with a child in school. As of the beginning of September, our weeks have fallen into a strong routine. We're up by 7am, which needs us down by 8:30 that night. I drive the 20-30 minute ride to bring L-- to school every morning, and return around 9am to help S-- prepare for her day. We must lunch around noon to be ready to leave by 12:30 for the ride back to school. We'll stay and play for up to 30 minutes before climbing back into the car and heading home for some much needed quiet time. This leaves S-- and I only 3 hours of free time every morning, which have quickly filled. We host a playgroup. We belong to a Bible Study. I've joined a photography class. And we do shopping and coffee with friends as well. Life has become more routine that either S-- and I enjoy, although each of our attachments are worthwhile. And the routine of each of them leaves a distinct lack of notability in our day to day lives.

While our every day lives leave me with little to blog about, our emotions have been through a whirlwind. Close and dear friends are facing the potential breakdown of their marriage. As painful as it must be to watch close friends struggle through something as difficult as the breakdown of a marriage, it especially hurts us to be so far away. We are torn, as life here has become quite comfortable. We have many friends, a wonderful ayi, a friendly driver, a perfect school and a comfortable home. Our community feels no impact of the economic crisis. And yet, we can offer no more than a phone call when people at home may need us. Or when we may need them.

Making matters more complicated, Dave is quickly reaching the conclusion that his job must change drastically. A quick refresher course on Dave's work situation. He accepted the job in Shanghai on the assumption that his role would be that of a consultant, but within a few months of his arrival, the manager of his department resigned. Dave was the most senior person on the team, and was quickly promoted to running all of China.

Unfortunately, this promotion did not come with a relaxation of his prior resposibilities or with an actual promotion in pay or recognition. It did come with the mess that the previous boss had left behind - many disgruntled employees, quite a few of whom followed her to her new employer.

Dave struggled through an ugly year of losing staff quicker than they could be replaced, and working more hours than was good for his family... this alongside everyone else on his team. Thankfully, someone on the team was promoted to manager as of October 1st and Dave has been released from those responsibilities, back to his original position.

The trouble now is that the old position feels like a demotion. It leaves him bored, and frustrated with a lack of power to make any worthwhile changes. Furthermore, the corporate world leaves him unfulfilled. It is time for a change, although we've little idea what that change may be.

I post the details because I am struck at how universal our story is. So many of our friends have struggled through crisis at home, struggling in part because they couldn't be nearer to their loved ones. So many of our friends feel unsatisfied with the amount of hours their employers expect, and the emptiness that comes from devoting so much of your time and energy to mere profit. And I know that the business of day-to-day life rings true everywhere.

At this point, I've no prognostics. We worry about the marriage of our close friends, not sure how it will change and where their lives will lead. At the same time, we wonder about where God will lead us. Dave's interests are varied and his skill set is broad. With rather specific experience, he has narrowed his options a bit... but those extraneous Master's degrees always seem to creep in as well. And it is certainly possible that things will turn around for Dave in his current position, making Uncle H-- a fabulous employer for the next decade. I'm not confident that we'll be here for more than 9 months, at this point. Although where we'd go next is anyone's guess.

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