Saturday, January 20

January Dogs Me

I hate January.

No more cheery lights hanging from the neighbors' eaves. No more hot tasty smells from the kitchen. No more anticipation of lazy family mornings or travel to loved ones' homes.

It's all replaced with gargantomundo bills in the mail, the icy breath of the Winter Bastard, and the dumbfuckingest invention of human retardedness: New Year's resolutions. (You know what you need to change. If you figure it out on August 14th, do it then. What's so special about January 1st? January is bad enough without punishing us with unrealistic expectations and guilt.) Added to this annual slump are two realities of Kingfisher's world, one fiscal, the other mental.

I love my new job as a Business Manager for five radio stations. But January 1 always signals the start of 45 days of torture. Most people think of accountant types as bean counters (call me that to my face and I stab you.) The truth is accounting is less about math and more about expressing operational results in a numerical language. It is using that language to divine future performance. The layman's perception of accounting as opposed to the reality is similar to the difference between learning your ABC's and composing a symphony. The goal of a GOOD Business Manager (or Controller, or Finance Manager, or Head Chief Asshole In The Corner Office) is soliciting the advice and expertise of other department heads, controlling the assets of the company to avoid loss or misappropriation, using a proactive approach to determine future weaknesses and strengths, interpreting performance good, bad, or indifferent, and communicating these to management. It is far from the simplicity of 2 + 2 = 4. It is a multidimensional skill requiring experience, sound judgment, communication skills, grounding in theory versus practice, knowledge of industry regulations, human resource issues, organization, tactical and strategic planning, a diplomat's ability to mediate issues between opposing viewpoints while attempting impartiality, policing policy and procedure, and a little oracle divination thrown in from time to time.

Now that I've bored you, I hope you see that January is a bad time for someone in my position. Last year's results need to be explained via "the books." All errors, ommissions, and poor procedures need to be addressed. This affects every department, requiring the afore-mentioned diplomatic skills to correct substandard practice. The promise of better fiscal performance this year needs to be analyzed, discussed, and planned. After this nightmare of events, the auditors get their chance to slash you with their swords. It's a no win. The best you can hope for is the Chief Financial Officer saying "It ain't what it should be, but it's better than it was."

As anyone who has read some of my junk knows, I suffer from depression. For eleven years my doctor has had it under control, and I'm happier than at any time in my life. But with the stress, scrutiny, and blah of this time of year, the many-headed hydra of depression's self-loathing, uncertainty, anger, and ennui chases me night and day.

I hate January.

Yesterday, after working nine long days in a row, several of them with a fever, I took a rare lunch break. I indulged in the personal touch of a haircut, then drove to a nearby park. It felt wonderful to walk in the cool sunshine across dormant grass and empty softball fields, watching after-school teens use their young muscles and expanding bravado at the skate park. Eventually I strolled into a bit of previously undiscovered and delightful therapy surrounded by cyclone fence.

The dog park.

To say exhuberance and innocence and joy abounded unbounded would insult the scene. There was ball chasing and butt nosing and lawn digging and dry humping and tail wagging and tongue dripping and dirt rolling and bark barking and sniff sniffing and running just for the hell of it. It was nothing and everything. Just one day in the sun, alive and free and happy. All the junk that is human perception faded to insignificance. All my curmudgeon jerkiness shrank to a point of stupid nothingness. One cute little guy saw me and ran up panting and smiley faced. I talked to him in a sing-song voice, calling him "Buddy." I don't know if that was his name, but my eager-to-please furry new friend jumped against the fence, locked his eyes to mine, and yelped a welcome.

And peed on my shoe.

Suddenly, I didn't hate January so much any more.