Mr. Sensitive

August 5, 2010

Plan Vier

Filed under: Me Myself and I — lbej @ 17:49
Tags: , ,

It has now been seven months since my final victory over professional success, and I have been busy.  Many spiders are dead, and so, perhaps, are many of my own worst impulses.  I can’t feel them anymore.  I gave myself time, and time gave me peace.  It’s really pretty neat how that works.  The house is better, the family is better, and I am better.  And for perhaps the first extended period of time in my life, the progress I have made has gained more for me and those I love than it has cost.  It’s been really great, and it would be enough…if it were enough.

I will never again do what I used to do for a living.  There was nothing unethical, there was just a lot of stuff that didn’t make a damn bit of sense.  Too many times we couldn’t do the smart thing because there was a policy that said we couldn’t.  Even more often we were forced to do a stupid thing because the policy said we had to.  Somehow, I was okay with that…until I got to write the policies myself and see the way they were approved.  I didn’t understand how arbitrary it was until I was the arbiter.  Again, nothing unethical to it, just nothing sensible either.  How many levels of approval will be enough for the regulators?  Four?  Five?  Let’s make it five even though we know no one above the third level of approval will understand or care about what they’re approving.  Where should we set the risk limit?  $2 million?  $20 million?  Let’s make it $20 million even though we know the LOB manager will freak out and shut everything down if the unrealized loss gets near $200 thousand.  That’s how it went.  The point was to comply, not to make money or manage risk.  I had no interest in making a bunch of rules because the people who make rules say we don’t have enough rules.  But I was a good risk manager.  And the way a good company rewards you for doing a good job with your work is by promoting you.  Yay, right?  Thing is, the more you get promoted, the further your career path takes you from the actual work you were good at doing.  Senior managers don’t do anything, they lead the people who do.  Actually, they lead the people who lead the people who do.  And they have lots and lots of meetings to talk about people who are doing things they would have no idea how to do themselves.  Oh, but it pays.  It pays well to do this particular sort of nothing for a big company.  And if you like managing people, I see how it could be satisfying.  But I don’t and it wasn’t, so no thanks.  I also have the problem that I don’t have any use for managers who don’t know their stuff and aren’t bothered by their ignorance.  I don’t take direction well from people who don’t know as much or more than I do, and as I mentioned, the more senior a manager is, the less she is likely to know about anything in particular.  The perverse effect of that is that the higher I rose in my company, the more senior my managers became, and the less use I had for them.  If you don’t know what to do, don’t tell me what to do.  I can go back, but I don’t want to.  I don’t want to do things just because I can, I want to do things because only I can.

So I used to write books.  Probably you know that.  But if you know that, you also know that was before, so it’s weird to think about writing again.  I’m not going down the “alcohol is my muse” nonsense road, not even a little bit.  I don’t think being a drunk helped me write the three books I wrote.  I did the first one before I started drinking, so that’s out the window.  But it will still be weird to do it again.  My brain got completely rebuilt, much like an engine, and until I really floor it there’s a part of me that wonders whether I’m just going to be sitting there like Ben Quadinaros in the Boonta Eve podrace.

You’re welcome for the greatest simile ever that just happened.  If you need to rewatch Episode I to get the full sense of it, please do so.  It’s better than you remember.  Not good, but better.

Now it so happens I have an idea I might can do something with.  I don’t know if I can do the things with an idea that I could before, but I’d like to know.  So that’s what’s happening.  Of course, I’m not writing the first paragraph tomorrow.  I put a lot of research and mental preparation into building the structure of a book, and that’s got to come first.  I’m giving myself until August 25 to get ready for even that part of it.  I’ll buy some pencils, have some dreams, stuff like that.  The girls go back to school that day, and I’m going to drop them off in the morning, come home, sit down in my office, and do what I do.  Or did.  I’m calling it (the effort, not the book) Plan VierVier is German for four, as this would be my fourth book.  To my non-German readers, vier is pronounced like the English word fear.  And that is emphatically not a coincidence, as I’ve definitely got a little trepidation happening.  It can stay, no problem, but so far there’s been hesitation, too, and that’s what’s got to go.

To my German reader, if I have one, I would like to ask if I might borrow the tank some time.  Don’t be coy; I know it’s under that tarp in the sub-basement.  I won’t tell France, I promise.  I just want to show it to some spider friends of mine and then I’ll give it right back.



  1. Good luck with this. I am learning something about reconstruction, so I can understand the trepidation and dislocation (to use that word again; it’s a fan favorite around here). The thought of you writing again makes sense, though. It’s like the universe righting itself, if the universe does that kind of thing.

    Comment by Marcus — August 5, 2010 @ 18:23 | Reply

    • I used to dislocate my shoulder every which way all the time. The diagnosis I got was “multi-directional instability” of the shoulder, and I had to have surgery. I think I get a little MDI in my head sometimes as well but I’m going to hold off on the lobotomy.

      Comment by lbej — August 5, 2010 @ 18:55 | Reply

  2. Also, here you go: Ben Quadinaros. If I did that right, it’ll be a French site (the first one that I found?) with a hilarious picture of him yelling at his podracer. I think he should always be the metaphor for disastrous failure at the start of something.

    Comment by Marcus — August 5, 2010 @ 18:25 | Reply

    • Do you think he looks French? I think he looks French. He reminds me of de Gaulle.

      Comment by lbej — August 5, 2010 @ 18:50 | Reply

  3. I am so excited!

    Comment by Charlotte — August 5, 2010 @ 20:37 | Reply

  4. I can’t wait! May I please request copies of your first three books?

    Also, I think you should turn this blog into a book.

    Comment by Alison Buckley — August 6, 2010 @ 10:46 | Reply

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