Friday, August 24, 2007


Turned 40 today. So far, it's something of a non-event, honestly. Got up early and headed to work, so that I could take a long lunch and clock out early without drastically impacting my cash flow (I'm freelancing/contracting right now, and this whole "hourly wage" thing is taking a bit of getting used to). Hit Pluckers, the local wing joint, and got my free birthday lunch, then headed over to Gelato's for free birthday gelato and to pick up a gelato ice cream cake for the family get-together tonight. Now I'm wrapping up a bit of graphic design work I've been plugging away at and will be heading home in about an hour. Then it'll be hanging at the dojang with Miranda for her judo class, after which we'll have pizza and cake with my family. Christine also bought me a nice bottle of Moet et Chandon to toast the end of my thirties, so that'll be terrific. But overall, tonight will be a mostly low-key affair.

The "real" celebration will be tomorrow night, when we have a sort of loosely organized open house/pot luck/drinkin' fest in my honor, with lots of work friends (past and present) and dojang denizens coming by to harass the old man. The going opinion is that a bunch of us will need to work out on Sunday to clear the toxins out of our systems, and who am I to argue? There will be beer, sake, and bourbon aplenty, and as long as I remember to eat and intersperse the potent potables with glasses of water things shouldn't get too sloppy.

Regardless, turning 40 is not something I'm all worked up over. I've said over and over -- I'm in better shape than I've been in years and I've made more friends in the past 2 years than I've made in the past 15. Simply put, I'm the happiest I've been in ages. The kids are great, my wife is awesome, we have a terrific house and terrific families and friend that love us as we love them. Life has its challenges -- among them the current frustrations in my career -- but if the worst thing in my life right now is having to work hourly for a while until the dust settles, then I'm waaaaaaaaay ahead of the game by almost anyone's standards.

I'm a lucky man.

Mood: Good
Now Playing: Lindsey Buckingham, "Out of the Cradle"

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Getting By

So, no updates for a while. A few of you folks have written, asking what's going on and wishing well and all that, and thanks for your concern and notes. Things are fine, if not outstanding or fantastic or whatever. Days go by, I'm keeping busy, etc. Honestly, I just haven't felt that spending time on self-reflection and evaluation would be time well spent lately. A bit counterproductive, if anything. Instead I've been working on being a bit more forward-looking, eyes fixed on the horizon. "Let me get where I'm going, and then I'll take the time to tell you all about how I got there...."

On the job front things are ... well, OK. I've landed some fairly open-ended freelancing work with the company so many of the folks I used to work with departed for, so that's at least a) keeping me busy and b) bringing in income again. I'm not sure whether it could lead to a permanent position, or for that matter if the position it could lead to is something I want -- I'm sure I could lock myself into the exact same job I spent the last 7 years performing if I really wanted to push for it, but that seems really shortsighted. While I'm not a big glory-hound, I do need to show some sort of progress, career-wise, on my resume, and just continuing to be a tech. writer (or a staff tech. writer, or a senior tech. writer...) isn't exactly going to help me move forward in my career path.

Of course, on the flipside, there's the pleasure of working with several folks that I really enjoy being around, and the lure of seeing things that so obviously need doing, and which are being done shoddily if at all by the people that are in place. Part of me wants to jump in a make a splash, regardless of whether it's the right decision for me, my family, and my career. Arrgh.

So for the time being I'm looking at this as income and stability that enables me to continue hunting for a better position elsewhere. Which is fine, really -- the money is good, the work interesting, and the majority of the folks are enjoyable to work with. So that's all good.

Still, the situation is frustrating. I continue to interview around town, and as usual I continue to hit the "you're too experienced for our outfit" wall time and again. Just had a spectacular interview on Friday, was told that I'm an exact, perfect fit for the job and the culture, but that they'll need to chat with the CEO to see if they can get within a reasonable range of my base salary. And it's not that I'm insanely money-hungry or anything like that -- for the right job I'd take significant pay cut in exchange for non-cash benefits, options, whatever -- it's that they know that salary is a big motivator to remain in place, and if they can't get close to what I'm used to it makes me very vulnerable to poaching. And well, fair enough. I can't argue that, nor can I fix it.

So, frustrating. For every 25 engineering jobs out there there's maybe 1 tech. writing job, and for every 20 tech. writing job out there there's maybe 2 for someone with my experience and knowledge. It's a numbers game, and a waiting game as well. Eventually I'll hit on the right spot, but for now I just have to pay the bills and keep moving forward. It's not an optimal situation, and it's a somewhat emotionally draining one as well. Interviewing is a fairly exhausting process, and I'm feeling a bit threadbare as a result. But it's what I have to do, so I'm doing it.

Otherwise, life goes on. The kids are on their final week of summer vacation, which is fantastic. My kids really benefit from the structure and order that the school day brings, and I think we're all looking forward to having the regular schedules back in place. Once the school year begins it will hopefully lead to plenty of substitute teaching opportunities for Christine -- this has all the hallmarks of a budding new career path for her, and I think that would be fantastic. To say nothing of the extra cash being a big help.

And Tang Soo Do training continues to lend a stable center and structure to my own life. We joke about how the dojang has become the center of our universe -- it seems that nearly everything we do these days has some connection to training. We often socialize with frineds from the dojang, often attends events that are somehow connected to the dojang, and even participate in non-Tang Soo Do training opportunities (like the rape prevention course my instructor taught yesterday -- Christine trained in the class, while I volunteered to be an "uki" -- Sa Bom Nim used me and the other two volunteers to demonstrate attack and defense techniques, and then we'd would work directly with the women so they could practice what they were learning on us. I must have been thrown to the mat 200 or more times. Ouch). We often stop at the Starbucks next door to the dojang for coffee, and me and the kids get our haircut at the bargain clip joint a few doors down as well. Quickie lunches or dinners all too often are sourced form the Subway next door as well. It's almost like our world has compressed down into this little nucleus.

But you know what? I think it's largely what's kept me sane over the past few months. No matter how crazy life has gotten, what with the job stuff, and stuff with the kids, and the family being away and apart for so much of July, the dojang has provided a solid center to my life. A place where everything just ... works. I know what I'm doing there, I know what is expected of me, and I just have to give it my best shot and try to meet my goals in the time I'm there. It's simple and clear. And when everything else is so in flux, having a place in your life that is so completely untroubled and uncomplicated can really make the rest of the nonsense more bearable.

Mood: Kinda tired (up late, up early....)
Now Playing: Neko Case, "Blacklisted"