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Let’s hope I don’t pull to many and unravel!

*****

John, apparently, just needed a weekend off. He’s fine now, and has even said he’ll continue AI training with me prior to our next schedule class, which is the end of September/October. Part of it is, apparently, that he didn’t want to train with Jeff, since he felt a heck of a lot more comfortable with Greg and he’s a little worried about the politics involved. This is absolutely a-okay with me, as I’m wary of said politics, too.

I’m a little ticked off that I spent so much time worrying about him and it was something so small, but I guess that’s why I care. He could have just said he needed a weekend off, but maybe he didn’t know for sure until he took it. Who knows.

I’m just relieved that it seems to be over, he’s recharged, and ready at least to get on with the AI training. Good stuff.

*****

The class dives this weekend went well. It was warm, sunny, clear, and with no noticable waves orsurge. Which meant, of course, that the plankton were out in force, and viz was about 5-8 feet. It cleared up as the day progressed, to about 10-15 feet.

We actually, amazingly enough, did three dives Saturday, which we always say we’ll do and never actually do. The students did well.

I had the two teenager-ish boys and their dad to work with. The dad did excellent, and so did the sons, especially when it came to air consumption and buoyancy. I managed to find two giant rainbow nudibranchs and another small white one that I haven’t figured out what is yet.

I also did a bunch of tours in the kelp with the boys, who seemed to like swimming in among the kelp. Sometimes students get nervous, as it can be really pretty dark, but they enjoyed it.

Decorator crabs were out in force, and they had fun putting crabs on one another and seeing how long it took for the other to notice or the crab to fall off.

I got some more experience touring and doing surface skills, and it went well.

My drysuit was awesome, and I was just as excited for the third dive as I was for the first, which is a new occurrence. It was too hot to be standing around in warm fuzzies in the sun, and it’s tough to quickly get out/into a drysuit before and after using the bathroom, but that’s all made up for in the water.

It was a great time, even if John wasn’t there to share it.

*****

Alisa has finished her AI training. I helped out this weekend, doing some dives as her “student” and messing up on certain skills to see if she’d notice and correct me.

She passed, of course, and very well, too.

Now I’ve just got to get done before the next class so we’re at equal level whenever Greg needs us, which is basically the next class.

*****

I drove Greg to and from Monterey both days, and we did some talking that was very nice. He said I have the right mix of confidence in myself and caution in the students, and he thinks I’m doing a great job. That was a great picker-uper. I mentioned that I’d felt a little left out lately and we addressed that, so hopefully it will get better.

I think he’s aware of the “world revolves around me” personality that Alisa has, and that she’s overshadowing the rest of us. There’s not much we can do about that, but he knows that I, at least, wouldn’t mind a little more attention.

We talked about Alisa and Jeff a bit, and training and John’s and my issues with that, but that was mostly a private conversation. Sorry.

Let’s just say that most problems at this point have been addressed and Greg is aware of them and is likely to do his best to remedy the situations. I’m feeling pretty good about my relationship with him at this point, and my abilities and training, plus my future as an AI by the next class (cross your fingers!).

*****

Amelia has asked me to do another bike ride with her, this time a 100-mile, 5000-foot climbing one in Sonoma. I’m a little wary, based on last time, but I figured we’ve gone biking once and survived, and this might be a good way to exercise any remaining ghosties.

We talked on the phone a week or so ago for about 2 hours, which was excellent. We’ve kind of drifted apart recently, and I think that potentially a chunk of that can be laid at my door, as I’ve been reluctant to do too much reaching out, both for it being taken the wrong way and to protect myself from being hurt again. Plus, she’s obviously become close friends with some other girls in my absence, which is all well and good, but I’ve got some jealousy issues. I’m working on it, though.

Anyways, so the ride. I don’t have time to train, let alone train at a level close to 100-mile rides or for giant hills in the coming weeks, but I figured I’d do what I could and just do the ride and hope it wasn’t too bad.

*****

Except that I then realized that the next ocean session for the next class, where I plan to be AI, and the bike ride are on the same day. D’oh!

I feel like my responsibilities to a larger collective lay with Greg/Ben/James F and helping with the class, especially in light of my talks with Greg about my goal to be AI by the next class and our vague training agenda to achieve that.

So I’ve been given a tailor-made excuse not to do the ride, which the paranoid part of me is very, very relieved to have happen, but the rest of me is bummed about.

I wanted to prove to myself that (a) I could do the ride and (b) I could do it with Amelia, and (c) everything was okay with Amelia. I’ll be doing the class, since I have a responsibility to do so with those guys, but still.

If it was something else, something not for personal fun, I think Greg would understand, but he’s made some sticky comments lately about staff missing critical portions of classes (pool, ocean) to skiv off and do fun stuff.

Not much I can do at this point, but I haven’t told Amelia yet.

She’s currently got a lot on her plate with a sick friend and work and all, but we’ll get there eventually.

*****

And finally…

Quite randomly, not connected to the above.

We’ve started our search for a house, as we were actually approved for a loan. The places within our budget, of course, are not great. They’re kind of dumpy or don’t have room for people who need lots of outside space for lots of scuba gear and bike gear and whatnot.

However, our realtor did show us a place that’s $150,000 over our budget (yeeaaahhh, no problem there) that she’d talked about to us prior to us getting the loan.

The place was last updated/decorated in my grandmother’s era, right down to the appliances, the paper lining the shelves, the linoleum patterns, and the (thankfully now replaced) blue carpet. Wow.

It would require probably $20-40,000 worth of work and new everything in the kitchen, and a significant portion of the bathrooms, and all the lights and doors and whatnot to modernize it so we could resell it for a reasonable amount, but it’s got a ton of potential.

There’s a huge yard, fenced in, so it’d be great for gear and bikes and everything, and the possibility of a dog in the future. The house size is perfect. There’s a two-car garage. The HOA dues aren’t bad. It’s close to John’s work. It would give John a project to redo it, since I know that’s something he knows how to do and likes to do and sounds like he wants to do.

It’s just way out of budget, and if we’re going to try something like that, there might be a lot more and better options.

But it’s a start.

This is going to be a very scary and trying process, but I figure if we (and our marriage) survive, we’ll be that much stronger.

*****

So I think that’s about it. Now I’m wrapped up in learning two new procedures at work, doing a bunch of other first-time experiments, and having a meeting with Dr. M tomorrow where I’m planning on proposing to make a bunch of changes to our current plan for a manuscript. Hrm.

Wish me luck!

At the very least, I’m taking Rhiannon and Sam to the airport this afternoon, which lets me be home in time to go on a bike ride (for fun) with John, as he’s got the day off.

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Really? Go outside. Enjoy the day.

By this time next Saturday, I’ll be on a beach. Daquiri in one hand, sunning and relaxing. Sweet.

And if you want to go see Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer? It’s cheesy, but an entertaining 90 minutes. Might have helped if I’d seen the first one, but maybe not.

And Jeff? Awesome to go see movies with. We’re apparently both all about making snarky comments during movies, while John just smiles and nods and goes back to watching the movies. We all went out for James M’s birthday. Fun stuff.

And there’s Killer Bunnies in the works tonight.

But first? I’ve got three hours and nothing to do, and a $100 bucks that I made while swimming lifeguarding in the pool this morning.

This is the life. For the most part.

Now go outside and enjoy it!!!

So I want to stress that both Alisa and Jeff are my friends, and that I think they’re good people, good divers, and good PADI team members, and I respect and value their friendship.

It’s professionally that I have problems with them. I was venting a bit in the last post, so it may have sounded like I don’t think much of them as people.

Let’s put it this way: I’d go diving with them in a heartbeat, and I won’t dive with someone to whom I wouldn’t trust my life.

So yes, I feel threated by Alisa professionally a bit, and I have concerns about her plans to become an instructor at this stage, and I have concerns about Jeff’s role in working with and certifying Greg’s students. But that’s for Greg and Jeff to sort out, and it’s up to them to decide if Alisa is or isn’t ready.

The real thing that bothered me about the whole thing is Greg’s apparent involvement, which has been explained and fixed to my satisfaction by our conversation Sunday, and my relationship with Greg.

Now, I think some of the changes are in my head, given that I do feel insecure of my position around Alisa–this is due to simple lack of confidence that rears it’s ugly head from time to time. But some of it might be real, and eventually I’ll get up the courage to talk to Greg about it if I feel that I have concrete evidence.

So they’re my friends, and I don’t want to take anything away from that, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have professional differences that are hopefully getting worked out.

*sigh*

We’re entering hour 11 of a 15-hour day, the first of two, so you’ll have to bear with me here. I made a full pot of coffee at 6pm. And drank it. By myself. Gah.

So yes, it’s been a long day at work. But first, the recent drama…

John and I became Divemasters (DMs) back in January/February-ish. About six weeks later, Alisa became a DM. There are a couple other people in the DMC (DM candidate) program right now.

(Because your number is permanent in the PADI professional system, John will always have a lower number than me by one, and we’ll both always have a lower number than Alisa. Regardless of how fast she goes through the instructor development course. Ha!! I’m a little competitive when I feel threatened.)

It’s been observed/felt lately, by myself, John, James F, and who knows who else, that Alisa is a rather ambitious diver in terms of the professional ladder. This is great in some ways. She’s a great diver, and a good friend, even if I do feel threatened by her a bit (see below). However, the problem that some of us have with this is that diving came easily to her. She didn’t have to work at it, and has yet to have a “tempering” experience while working as a professional.

By tempering, I mean things like the dive where James F and I had to rescue two students who weren’t watching their air levels and ran out. Or the class we refer to as “Bowling for Students Class”, where a wave came and knocked nearly everyone, myself and the student who I was holding included, over and sent us backwards towards a stone wall. It’s a sobering experience to have to jump up, wearing 60-80lbs of gear, and have to chase after your student as she’s getting washed out to sea. You just do things like this without regard for yourself or your equipment because the student is what’s important. It’s scary, but that’s what you’ve gotta do.

I’d say I’ve learned a lot from these experiences about my role with respect to students, my abilities to help students, and generally how I can improve. She’s never had that kind of sobering experience where you sit back and go “oh shit”. And I’d like to point out that the class where we had to rescue people—her class. She wasn’t one of them, but we trained her not that long ago. WE TRAINED HER. We’ve all been there, done that, but she seems to think she’s entitled.

Maybe due to this, and maybe because it’s part of who she is, she tends to appear somewhat stand-off-ish, with a “better than thou” attitude and a “why don’t you get this, are you stupid?” attitude towards students, particularly those to whom diving isn’t easy.

And lets face it: diving is not the easiest sport. Part of what I really enjoy about teaching is helping those students achieve their goals of becoming divers.

But it’s thought among some of us that she doesn’t have the right attitude about being a professional and teaching to really advance much past Assistant Instructor (AI) at this point. Not that she shouldn’t do it in the future, just that her attitude about it and her work with students needs to improve a bit.

Plus, it’s felt that she’s positioning herself for a take-over from James F and Ben, Greg’s Affiliate Instructors, and that’s JUST NOT COOL with some of us. I’m rather protective of my staff, even if they’re higher in the food chain than me, and I don’t want to see them get stepped on professionally or in their friendships.

So yeah…general unease, to say the least.

And I’ve definitely realized lately that the first person she’s over taken is me. Without me even realizing it. She definitely has an edge on me in prepping for classes, given that she can be there earlier than I can—her job as a baker is less demanding and timely. And she’s always first to volunteer—I never get a word in edgewise. Which is great that she’s helpful, but it ends up making me look like I never do anything. Plus there’s the baking thing….

I used to bake for the classes and staff all the time, given that I use baking as a stress relief and therapy of sorts. Lots of cookies and cakes for classes, muffins and breads for mornings at the ocean, that sort of thing. But since she’s come along, she tends to break bakery croissants and chocolate croissants, which are good (her partner’s a French pastry chef), and bakery cakes to stuff. Now, part of this is how I feel, and part of it is me being snippy, but I’ve never been a fan of bakery cakes. They’re always over done and never quite as good as you want them to be. Sadly, though, she always gets a ton of compliments, and they tend to be things like “You are the best baker ever, this is the best cake I’ve ever had.” Coming from Greg in particular, this hurts my feelings. I know he’s just being complimentary, and that’s how Greg is—over the top with the compliments sometimes. But still, what am I—chopped liver? Sheesh. But I feel, in my non-self-confident way, that I can’t compete with a professional baker, so I’ve just backed down from taking my baked goods to share. This isn’t her fault, but it doesn’t help nonetheless.

And finally, my interactions with Greg have changed. I don’t know if he’s less friendly, or there’s just less interactions in the joking around and giving each other a friendly hard time sense, or what. But things have changed, and I feel like she’s working to replace me, not just appear along side me in a staff sense.

I’m definitely the kind of person who prefers to be alpha female—problem is, I don’t like to fight for it. I prefer subtly running things from behind the scenes. I’ll be benevolent dictator of the world one day, but I’m unsure how to tackle this problem now.

So yeah…specific unease on my part, to say the least.

And then last Tuesday, a week and a half ago (oh dear god is it already Thursday?!?!), John and I were at the shop and saw Alisa and Jeff, another instructor at the Dive Shop, coming down from the classrooms, having obviously just worked on AI stuff. Which sucked, since we’d talked with Alisa and Jeff about doing it together. Greg included, of course.

They laughed this off, and Jeff mentioned he’d send out an email (which we got….five days later). They then proceeded, with Greg, who walked up about then, to discuss getting together Thursday at 4pm. Now, Alisa, with respect to her job, can be available at times like that. Neither John nor I can be—we both work until 7 or 8pm on an almost daily bases. Generally, on days I help with classes and need to be there by 6pm or so, I have to plan to be able to leave work early. Which, in fact, is a moot point, since none of them asked us if we wanted to be involved.

WHAT?

This REALLY pissed me off at this point. We talked it over that evening, and ended up talking to James F about it, knowing he already had some concerns about Alisa. And since we were all in the car headed to go dive, it made sense. And I’d like to point out we approached him in a “you’re our friend can we talk about this” sense, and not in a “you’re an instructor on the staff can we talk about this” sense. If that makes sense.

Basically, we (I) were pissed off enough to consider going to do AI with another instructor if this was how things were going to be.

I should mention here that Greg is really the only instructor that I’m truly comfortable working with, aside from James F and Ben, since my comfort level stems from my ability to take constructive criticism for what it is and not feel insulted. Bob may be the next best thing, but the other instructors he works with don’t yet fall into this category. So it would be fairly drastic for me to try and switch instructors/staff groups, and probably wouldn’t actually happen, just because there’s no one else I’d want to work with.

He shared our concerns that this WASN’T COOL, and commiserated that he couldn’t help us, since he’s not a high enough ranking instructor to teach the AI course. You have to actually go through the IDC (PADI’s how to be an instructor program) twice before you can train AIs.

Turns out, he viewed it in a friend sense and a staff sense and talked to Greg about it, feeling that it was enough of a problem that it needed to be addressed in a staff sense, not just in a friendship sense.

He moves fast, and Sunday we got a call from Greg. Greg had also heard similar rumblings from John’s co-worker, so figured he (a) couldn’t ignore it coming from two people, and (b) couldn’t ignore it coming from James F. Turns out, Greg wasn’t part of the planning for the whole “training Alisa in AI” thing, and was actually kinda surprised that Jeff was doing it. Apparently, Greg’s gotten a little uncomfortable with the level of involvedness Jeff has be having with Greg’s students, namely the DMCs and now DMs that are AIs-in-training. Especially since Jeff is Affiliate Instructor of someone else, NOT Greg.

So we apologized to Greg—basically, we explained that we wouldn’t have put it past Jeff to take Alisa and bolt with her to AI status so that he could sign off on her certification and get credit for it, and we wouldn’t put it past Alisa to bolt for AI and leave us behind, and Greg seemed to be involved in this.

Which brings up the whole potential problem of Jeff “poaching” students. Some people, myself included, feel that to most instructors, teaching is about helping students learn and have fun, but to Jeff, it is also about getting the certification credit, potentially at the expense of other people who might also need the cert credit, like James F or Ben or others. He’s made it known that his intention was to get to Master Instructor as fast as possible—given that PADI says you have to be an instructor for two years before you can do this, his aim was simply to complete all other requirements as fast as possible. And he’s not above getting there at the expense of other instructors, given ample opportunity. Opportunity was provided when Greg asked Jeff to help train the many of us going through the DMC program at the time. Jeff hasn’t backed off, and seems to be wedging himself in that doorway now that he’s been invited in a bit.

And he’s stepped on toes before of at least two other instructors at the Dive Shop. I was inadvertently involved in one of these situations, and am trying my damndest to stay out of this one.

John and I are intentionally trying to involve Greg and work with him, and limit our involvement with Jeff in the matter. Thing is, he’s a great guy, a good friend, and a good instructor, so it’s tough to also see him in this light.

But our first loyalty is to Greg, and to James F and Ben, so we’ll see where things end up.

However, consensus does seem to be that if he takes Alisa and bolts with her for his staff, it’ll kill two birds with one stone, and no one will be particularly upset.

Now, it’s 9:30pm, and I’m due back at work in 30 minutes, so you’ll excuse me if I take off now.

Stupid cells.

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