Six sentences that (might have) saved the world

It’s been one of those weeks — lots of fretting about my job and feeling overwhelmed. Which is rather silly because my job in no way represents life or death (except for me, and only in the livelihood sense of life and no way at all in the sense of death, except if I die I won’t have to do it anymore). But fretful I’ve been, including reaching out to a couple understanding friends to talk me down from the proverbial ledge. Ironically (and weirdly) soon after, I got a couple of unexpected, positive, reinforcing, all’s-right-with-the-world bits of feedback that made me feel that perhaps I really can do this job I’ve been doing for almost 15 years.

Then I went on to have a pretty good day. In true Libra style, the scales were returning to a balanced neutral.

But no, not quite yet. A project I worked on a couple months ago finally hit the presses today (and by presses I mean my client’s website), and I got to see the finished product. It was mostly what I remembered, except for the end.

“But it just…ends,” I thought. I had no idea how I had ended it, so I went back and looked. Of course, possibly the best six sentences ever written about tax risk had been lopped off the end.

Gone. Soul-crushingly gone.

Is that too dramatic? My soul is not easily crushed these days. I have grown more and more numb to editors’ liberties over the years. I understand that I get paid whether I’m happy with the finished product or not, and usually I’m OK with that. But sometimes…sometimes I feel sad for what could have been. What should have been.

I should have been asked — “Hey we’re running a little long, can you trim 6 or 7 lines from this (two-page) write-up.”

“Of course,” I’d have said (rolling my eyes), and then I’d have agonized just the right amount over what to cut. I’d have thoughtfully trimmed a little here and a little there. I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have sent it back without the last six sentences — passive-aggressive much?

And so…just to restore a little balance to my Libra soul, and just in case they really did have the potential to save the world, here are those six sentences:

…: As the adage advises, the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.

First, is the organization asking the right question of its customers? While U.S. FATCA compliance may have begun with asking, “Is this customer U.S. or non-U.S.?” that is not the most effective way to deal with the now global myriad of regulations. Better practice would be to ask, “What is the tax residency of this customer?” Second, does the organization have an onboarding process in place and functioning to collect the required documentation from individuals and entities?

These are the basics, and once these questions have been satisfactorily answered, organizations can move on to tackle requirements that take effect at later dates, such as reporting and certain types of withholding.

World without end, amen.

It’s unhealthy for people to never express any kind of
negativity or doubt. 
To have balance, you need to address
that side of your thoughts 
as well as the positive.
Otherwise, you tend toward crazy.

~ Shirley Manson

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Forget me not…unless

I haven’t posted in a long time. Haven’t had the motivation, or the inspiration, to write, and that’s OK. Life stuff goes on — work, house, garden. Repeat. Weeks go slow; weekends fly by. There’s never enough time to do what we need to do, let alone what we want to do.

We have, however, made some exciting (for us) progress in the last few months, including completing our 3-year sunroom project and redoing the last (worst) bedroom to turn it into an office for Mike and an occasional guestroom. They’re both great transformations and useful spaces — I’ll post pictures one of these days. Of course, lots of other projects are still ongoing, and it truly does get old. We marked 8 years in the house in May — 8 years at hard labor is a long time, and while I can see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s still frustratingly small.

But this isn’t about that. What’s bothering me lately is my inability to focus on work the way I used to. I’ve made some mistakes the past few days on a particular project, and it’s just not like me. Catching inconsistencies, keeping track of a lot of details, grasping the problem and running with the solution — that’s pretty much what I do or, at least, what I’ve always done. So failing at that is both embarrassing and worrisome. I know I’m not enthused about work these days (is it retirement day yet?), but I should still be able to do the work.

Today it hit me that maybe I can blame the lack of concentration and general ennui on middle-age brain or collapsing hormones or, God forbid, the coming of “the change.”

As depressing at that thought is, at least it’s a temporary thing. A transition to get through, instead of the new normal. Your mind and body do eventually stabilize, right?

Or is this the beginning of the end, signalling that I’m losing my ability to do good work? That the last 25+ years was a good run, but it’s all downhill from here (and not in a good way — funny how “all downhill from here” can be positive or negative, depending on the context). That other people will now be gently correcting my mistakes, rather than the other way around. That the next 20 years of my work might just be a little shoddy.

Ouch. (Or as we say in the ’Burgh, “ahch.”)

I accepted it when my brain wasn’t as johnny-on-the-spot as it used to be. When I couldn’t answer the Jeopardy questions fast enough (or at all). When the right word didn’t leap onto the page, but had to be pulled from the depths after some painful mental gyrations or roundabout online searches. But this I don’t want to accept. Being good at my job has always been an essential part of who I am. I’m not ready for it to be who I was — not ready to say good-bye to me. 

Unless that lottery thing comes through, of course. Then it’s bye-bye Ms. Anal-Retentive-Writer-Editor-Proofreader and hello Ms. Woman-Who-Hires-People-To-Finish-Her-House. Maybe the key is just finding something else to be good at?

whoIam

Take your work seriously, but never yourself.
~ Margot Fonteyn

Friday wine and whine?

I emailed my husband around 3:30 today to whine that both calls I had built my day around had to be rescheduled (but only after I had dialed in) and I was still in my pajamas and I needed a drink.

I’m sure he loves getting mail like that.

But oh how I needed a drink — it’s been a week. (And by that I mean a bear of a week, not a week since I’ve had a drink — although it’s been nearly that, too). Two (bearish) weeks actually. My brain is full and randomly deleting things it shouldn’t. I’m stressed over something I have to write that I don’t understand. I’m tired of writing things just to give someone else something to rewrite from. I’m itching to do something creative, and reduced to scratching out drivel that pays the bills.

A little later, energized and brilliant after an iced coffee, I had visions of starting a regular Friday wine and whine.

Fun for me, but not so much for you. I don’t really need to whine online any more than I already do. And I certainly don’t need a designated day to do it. And if I was going to pick a day to whine, it probably wouldn’t be a Friday.

But a Friday wine post? Very doable.

Here’s the first. In the big glass — the one that normally just pretties up the china cupboard. And here’s to many more to come — (posts? glasses? not sure yet) with or without a side of whine.

wine friday #1

I like on the table, 
when we’re speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
~ Pablo Neruda

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