I wrote this 3 days ago on a plane.
I've been cooking up an end-of-year blog post, feeling like my 35th year was one of the best so far. I've been unbelievably fortunate to spend quite a lot of it traveling the world to tell people about The Commons on Flickr. I've spoken in front of hundreds of people, sat in meetings in the bowels of museums, pored over a photographic archive in person, sent a ton of emails that I enjoyed writing (wtf?), met too many fascinating people to list, made lots of new friends, and been honestly excited about what I'm doing.
After giving the opening keynote at the National Digital Forum in Auckland on November 27, then presenting at the Powerhouse Museum and the National Library of Australia, visiting with Commons members the State Library of New South Wales and the Australian War Memorial, I headed to Taipei for an exciting Culturemondo Roundtable event I was invited to attend. This Wednesday, I shook the hand of the Vice President of Taiwan, who was at the opening.
The next day I presented with Seb Chan, about our take on "Search & Find." That evening we all went to a lovely dinner at one of the best Taiwanese joints in Taipei. (Thanks to Tien Sing, Shadiral, Christina and Aleksandra for being such entertaining dinner conversation.) Then off for a wander in one of the massive night markets. I decided to jump in a cab back to the hotel with Jackie from NZ Live and Jock from Te Ara. It took a slightly long way home, we suspected.
When I got up to my room, I saw a text message from my manager, asking if he could call me on Friday at 9am. I wrote back to say I was going to be on a bus full of people at that time, and that I was awake now if he wanted to call. The phone rang.
"I'll just get straight to the point. You've been affected by the layoffs."
He told me he was reading from a script he was required to follow, and that he needed an address to send some sort of "Agreement" to me in Australia, and needed it sent back by December 19. Before I'd even finished the call, I twittered (to my private account):
"Wow. I just got fired." I was immediately distressed.
I stayed up until about 2:30am that night, chain smoking and talking to friends who saw my tweet and had responded - THANK YOU. I sent a formal request for time to transition The Commons program to whoever is to take it over: "A week should do it," I said. It was denied.
(It would be unfair to give anyone affected by the lay-offs special treatment.) It's not just my treatment I worry about here. Such a sudden movement makes it especially hard to continue the program effectively, at least for a while. So silly. I sent a few tersely helpful emails before my email account was closed. Couldn't resist. Don't let The Commons die, you buggers! Can't you see how wonderful it is?!?!?
Finally needed sleep. I woke up fairly early Friday and was immediately awake and tired. I got up and jumped on my laptop.
I was very upset. The speed of the lay-off began to sting. I asked Seb to cover for me at the conference. I couldn't find my brave face - THANK YOU.
Sent a quick, unsatisfying goodbye to the team. I watched as my access to various parts of the guts of Flickr fell away. I noticed how naturally I searched for any and all bits I could think of, just in the hope that it still existed. But no. I was shut out entirely within about 14 hours of the phone call.
Support from friends kept coming - THANK YOU. I spoke with my mum and dad. Very upset.
Watched The Net. It is that bad, but I didn't care. Ate some odd Taiwanese baked goods. Run out of smokes.
I declined Seb's kind nudges to head out with the conference peeps for dinner. I just couldn't face the idea of being cheered up. I was beginning to feel humiliated, particularly given what I was up to. You know, being in Taiwan at an international conference to talk about my work. Stayed in. All day. Plus, I'd cried so much I looked like a boxer who'd just woken up the day after a fight. Not exactly game face.
Realised I hadn't made it out of Denial yet. Packed to leave. Had to wake up at 3:00am to get to the airport.
Woke up on time. Was given some fruit by the people at the front desk - what a nice gesture! Drove for an hour through the empty Taipei streets. Got on the flight to Hong Kong. Now on Hong Kong to Sydney, where I sit now, annoyed by everyone. Still shocked. So fucking brutal.
Not what I had in mind at all.