Second interview, second thoughts

handshakeI had an in-person interview for a new job on Friday.

All in all, it went well, I think. We seemed to connect well, and it’s the kind of work I want to get back into. I pulled together an updated portfolio of my work in a big hurry on Sunday morning. I had a lot to do, this past weekend — including an all-day event on Saturday and a ton of yard work and other chores on Sunday — so I didn’t have as much time as I would have liked.

But I got it all together within a few hours on Sunday, and I’m fairly happy with the end product. It also lit a fire under me to really pull together a good portfolio of my work. That’s the one thing I’ve been missing, all these years. To be honest, I never actually needed it before, because at the level I was operating at, and based on the companies I’d worked for, everybody just knew I could do the job, hands down.

Now things are different, though. We’ve got all kinds of people making all kinds of claims about what they can and can’t do, and the job market is glutted with posers. So, a portfolio is the first and last line of defense for both job seekers and employers.

Even if the job doesn’t work out — and I suspect it won’t, because I believe they have an open work space floor plan, and that doesn’t work for me. I’m a really “visual thinker” and rely on the part of my brain that processes imagery to do my job. So, if my line of sight is not blocked and I’m constantly being visually interrupted, I can’t do my work.

I learned that lesson loud and clear years ago. And I’m not going back to any environment that’s even remotely “open workspace”.

I’m also not a huge fan of long-ish commutes. My commute right now is pretty good, and the route also includes a number of stores, so I can shop on my way to and from work, without disrupting the rest of my schedule. That matters. It makes a huge logistical difference in my life.

I also can’t work full-time in an office. I need to work from home at least two days a week. I might need a nap, and I need to be at home for that.  Additionally, not having to drive my car every single day makes a big difference in my fatigue levels, as well as the cost of fuel.

Plus, the company wants me to come on as a contractor first, then get hired. I’m not sure I’m okay with that. It leaves a lot to chance, and while they may say they’re stable and supported by their parent corporation, I’ve been around long enough to know how quickly that can change.

Anyway, I haven’t heard back from the recruiter yet. Who knows what will come of it… But if it doesn’t pan out, that will be a relief, too, because I won’t have to make any more changes for a while. I can sit out the holidays and take my time off… and not worry about anything other than a few little projects I have going on.

That, and building out my portfolio.

Who knows what will happen? It’s impossible to say. But whatever happens, it’ll work. I’ll make sure it does.


Trial and error – the best way I know to figure it out

I didn't swim, but I did have a good walk.
I didn’t swim, but I did have a good walk.

Things have not been turning out the way I expected or planned, lately. Sometimes it’s been disappointing. But I’ve been making the best of things.

I bought some flowers the other night for my spouse.

Turns out they’re allergic to them.

Those flowers are now upstairs in my study, on the desk beside me.

I went out and bought a fresh bunch last night — ones I know they’re not allergic to.

Those flowers are downstairs on the entertainment center. They’re beautiful and they actually look better than the first bunch I got.

So, that’s nice.

I thought I was going to go to the beach at a local lake, a few days ago. I used to swim in that lake regularly, and I’ve been missing it. I took the day off work when the weather was perfect. I had everything planned. I’d swim, and then I’d sit in the sun and dry off and read a book I brought with me.

But when I got there, there were signs telling me I could not swim because of bacteria levels. It’s been dry here. The lake was low — scary low — and I didn’t want to take a chance.

Instead of swimming, I walked around the lake, found a sunny spot, and sat in the sun reading.

And it was nice.

Even if I didn’t swim.

Today, I’m considering telling my boss I want to be considered for a different position. One of the members of my team is leaving, and it would be a great opportunity for me to step into. I’m weighing the pros and cons, thinking about what I’d gain, and what I’d lose. In my current position, I have plenty of freedom and autonomy. I can pretty much do as I please, so long as I show results.

I’m concerned that the other position will have more responsibility, more limitations, more interactions with people I don’t care to interact with. There’s definitely more stress.

I don’t know if it’s worth it.

But I’ll never find out, if I don’t give it a shot.

Trial and error. Maybe I’ll just go for it, and see what happens.





Good start, focused start

Memory test for today. Let's see if I remember the shapes by the time I'm done writing.
Memory test for today. Let’s see if I remember the shapes by the time I’m done writing.

I’m off to a pretty good start, this morning. I’ve been grappling with some serious clutter in my study, which is making it hard to focus and keep my attention on the Main Things I should be doing. I’ve been pinballing back and forth from different ideas and different projects for some time. I’ve also been bouncing around between different directions I want my life to take.

Not being happy in my job, not being connected with my work… that’s a complicating factor, and the anxiety that comes with it is compelling me to flit-flit-flit from one idea to the next. I just need some relief from the anxiety, and that means I spent a lot of time clicking around to different websites online, I get all swept up in Twitter, and I have — yet again — an even more brilliant idea than yesterday, about what I should be doing with my life.

cluttered office
My office isn’t quite this bad – but it’s been close…

It gets to be way too much, after a while. And my study has shown the effects of it. I’ve had piles upon piles of papers that I didn’t quite know what to do with at that instant. Also, bags of stuff I brought home when I changed jobs… and never put them away… books I’ve picked up and meant to read, but never got to.

It’s been quite the challenge, keeping things in order, but I’ve been working at it gradually, moving away the things I never use or look at, to make room for the things I DO use and look at.

I do it when I can, and I did some last night, just getting piles of papers off my desk and onto a nearby chair. This morning, I spent the first 30 minutes of my day sorting through the stuff on my chair, throwing away things, organizing others, and putting stacks of papers that aren’t immediately pressing, but need to be sorted, onto another pile that’s not in the middle of everything.

I have some serious prioritizing to do — and that includes my entire life, not just my to-do items for the day, week, or month. I need to make some choices about what direction I am going, and how much energy I’m going to spend in the process. I need to make some choices about what I’m NOT going to do, so I can free up energy for what I AM going to do. In some cases, it means leaving behind dreams and goals I always had, and was particularly fond of, as a kid. It’s hard. But I have to do it.

I’ve already started that process, making some decisions and taking some plans off my plate. There’s more to come… and it’s quite a challenging process. I hate having to let go of long-loved dreams. But I’ve got to do a reality check — and also realize that some of my dreams are blocking my reality.

So, that’s the excitement for this morning. I’ve got a full day ahead of me, planning for my business trip next week. I’ve got my list of things to handle, and I’m taking them one at a time.

So far, so good. And with the right mindset and a good pace today (as well as a nap this evening), things should sort themselves out just fine.


Now, let’s see how I did with my memory test:


Now, that’s interesting… I had it flipped the wrong way. Got the elements right, but the orientation is wrong. The single line is a little short, too. And the hatch marks. But the circles at least are the same size and pretty much similar in dimension, along with the connecting lines.

Memory test for today. Let's see if I remember the shapes by the time I'm done writing.This is what I did at the start. I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could build on the designs from prior days — if I could “trick” myself. And yes, in fact, I did. Ha ha.

The interview went well – I think

Staying in the game

So, I had my in-person job interview yesterday, and I think it went well. People were pretty guarded, but that’s to be expected in a high-power position for someone who is high profile, as well. And that’s how things could end up with this job. High profile. They either really, really liked me, or they didn’t think much of me, or they’re on the fence. They’re having another manager meet with me next week, which means they at least want to move forward. It’s really hard for me to tell what the deal is with people, because being in a new space, bombarded by all the new stimuli, causes me to shut down everything except my proactive interviewing self. I’m performing. I don’t have a lot of leftover bandwidth to figure out what they’re thinking. I literally have no idea. But at least I’m going back. One thing I’m going to work on for next time, is not being so “tangential”. When asked a simple question, I ended up going off on a tangent, losing my train of thought, then having to gradually work my way back to what the original topic was. It happened 2-3 times, and it was a huge stressor. But I kept my cool, and I finished up okay, I think. I’m going to have to think about this, I believe. It’s definitely going to be more stressful, but it’s going to be better for my career. I’m hesitant about jumping at the first real opportunity to come my way in a long time, but in my experience, you have to. Opportunities like this don’t come along every day. Worst case is, I’m there for 2-3 years, and I’m not the happiest camper. But it would be a phenomenal career move. Just smart, in so many ways. The commute is longer. But that’s only when I actually go to the office. Most of the folks I’m going to be working with are located around the country, and the manager I interviewed with yesterday is actually based out of a home office, several states away. So, people there actually know how to “do the remote thing”. And they do it without hesitation. Which is what I’m looking for. Ideally, I’ll be able to work from anywhere – which means I can go anywhere, and work from there. It will free me up considerably. It’s what I’ve been needing. The other thing is that I will be a subject matter expert in this new role, using the depth and breadth of my technical experience — over 20 years’ worth — on a daily basis. Right now, I’m nowhere near that. People I work with don’t even know enough to realize that I am a subject matter expert. The company where I am now is very territorial. People have their jobs which may or may not include expertise, and nobody else is allowed to step on their toes. That means, you have people in key roles who may not actually know what they’re doing, but they’re never allowed to be challenged by anyone else, so you have folks clunking along, doing a poor jobb, and never being required to do more. No competition is allowed. There has to be room for everyone, no matter what. It sounds nice on the surface, but it’s a recipe for institutionally protected incompetence. Now that I’ve cracked that code, I feel better. I know it’s not me. I know how things work. And it’s not a big ole mystery anymore. In a way, this understanding frees me up to move on. I seem to stick with situations until I understand them, I’ve learned certain lessons, and I am actually free of pain and suffering about the situation(s). Then again, it also frees me up to stay, because I have no great investment in the company, per se. It’s literally a paycheck that supports the rest of my life, and in a way it’s a relief to get to that point. I’m literally in the best position, ever. I am working with people who have learned to love me (and vice-versa) at a company I don’t have a massive attachment to. I go to work each day and spend time with friends. I can show up each day, do that simple work, and have my time and energy free in many other ways to develop other interests, finish writing projects, and enjoy myself. I also have the leeway to build other technology of my own, and work on my consulting chops, so I can eventually strike out on my own. Not only that, but I have skills and experience that make me a subject matter expert, and I have the means to bring that front and center. I am getting noticed by companies, particularly this big one who is interested in me Anyway, lots to think about. I’m going out of town on vacation to celebrate turning 50, so I may not be back online till next week. And then I’ll need to play catch-up.  So, I’m probably “going dark” for a while. We’ll see how it all goes. I plan to spend a lot of time just resting and relaxing. Unplugged in some ways, more plugged-in, in others. Have a great weekend, everyone.

That One Pure Thing

Somebody has to wait their turn...
Somebody has to wait their turn…

I took time out over the weekend to focus in on getting some things done that have been hanging over my head for quite some time. I had an idea that needed to be developed, and so I developed it. I cleared everything else off my creative plate, pretty much, and I just worked on That One Thing.

And as it turned out, it was a very productive time. I really got a lot done.

I didn’t hash through all the other millions of things in my mind, which I also want to do. I focused on That One Thing.

Plus, when I wasn’t working, I did the other things that I need to do regularly — I got my naps, I did my morning workouts, I got some acupuncture, I went for a couple of hikes and long walks down the road, and I made some good meals.

And I got ‘er done.

Which is great, because I have a tendency to start things and not follow through. That’s gotta change, I know. I’ve been able to sorta kinda mozy along, jumping from one distraction/interruption to another, and piecing it all together bit by bit as part of a “flow”.

The thing is, “flow” for me is more about my pesky lack of resistance to short-term interference. This can happen when you get hit in the head a lot – like I have been. You get distractable and can’t sustain attention. Your mind knows it wants to focus on one thing at a time, but your brain just ain’t feelin’ it. It’s not just that it ain’t feelin’ it — it’s literally incapable of dealing with it. It just can’t.

My own resistance to short-term interference is almost in the single-digit percentile. It’s really, really bad. As in, 90″ of the people in the world are better at resisting disruption from interference, than I am. It’s not that I don’t want to — I do. It’s just that the wiring in my brain has gotten a bit frayed from all those concussions / mild TBIs, and it doesn’t light up as well as it might otherwise.

So, what’s the solution? Clearly, I need to come up with some approach that lets me function. I can’t go through life jumping from one thing to the next.

And this past weekend, I made some headway on things.

By realizing — after looking at my List O’ Things To Do — that I was never going to make progress, if I kept letting one thing trump another. I just needed to buckle down, make some choices, and Do That One Thing.

As purely as I could.

So, I did. And today I have an actual finished project under my belt.

And that’s pretty cool – not to mention a relief.

Happy Monday, everyone. Onward.





Focus… magic

Keeping eyes on the prize on down the road
Keeping eyes on the prize on down the road

So, I have my weekly schedule together. And I am focusing on one project at a time. And it is magical, what the focus brings me.

Just being able to say “No – not yet” to some of my projects gives me the energy boost I need.

Because I can actually get things done.

And I don’t have a gazillion competing ideas rattling ’round in my head, sucking my energy away.

Onward. For sure.

The cleanup continues

It gets to be a little much…

Time for more organization.

I’ve been watching Marcus Lemonis on “The Profit”, and I have to say, I’m inspired. The way he gets people organized so they can better run their businesses, is very impressive. The show only reveals part of the process, which I’m sure is much more arduous and drawn out, but the end result is impressive. Even the folks who don’t work out, still demonstrate important lessons about how to run things — and NOT run things.

My study can use some of that organization. I have been really busy, the past several weeks, and it shows. Papers and books and folders are all over the place. And I’ve been scattered — dashing from one shiny object to another.

Not good.

So, I’m doing something about it. I’m narrowing down the list of projects I’m working on and getting rid of some things along the way. If I can get better organized, I will have more time to work on specific things.

I also need to narrow down the list of things I am no longer interested in. It’s pretty amazing, looking around and seeing so many books and papers and collections of information about things I’m just not interested in, anymore.

But it’s tricky. Because my “interest” tends to come and go, and I’ve frequently decided “no more of that” and put away the books and supplies… only to have to dig them out later, when they suddenly became more interesting to me.

It’s all about choices, really.

Which is what I need to make.

And so I shall.


Broken key – common theme

This may be me, later today.

So, the space bar on my keyboard is acting up. I will be typing along, and it will decide that it doesn’t want to work. And I’ll have to hammer on it a few times, to get it to work. How frustrating. I have to keep stopping to get it to work.

I will be typing along, and see that a space didn’t go between a number of words, so I stop and back up and put in the spaces. And then I’ve lost my train of thought, and I can’t remember exactly what I was going to write. 😐 How frustrating.It’s not like my brain does well keeping things in “RAM” memory in my head, anyway. But all these constant interruptions keep slowing me down even more, so by the time I’m done writing even a paragraph, I’m a bit frazzled and fried.

I was thinking that maybe it was because of my bum left right thumb (see? the interruptions have me so turned around, I’m getting my left and right confused, and that normally never happens). I have been having a lot of tremors and twitching in my left hand,especially my thumb. Maybe I have less strength and/or coordination in it, so it’s not hitting the space bar as hard as it should. It seems like it happens more when I am hitting the space bar with my right thumb. But it also happens with my left,so I think it may just be the space bar, period.

So, I have a number of choice:

  1. I can put on my static-grounding wrist strap and try to take my laptop apart and clean under the keyboard and see if the key is getting jammed on something.
  2. I can change how I type, slowing down and taking time to really hammer on the space bar each time I use it.
  3. I can just keep typing along and ignore the missing spaces between words, then come around a second time after I’mdone and put in the spaces after the fact.
  4. OR I can buy a new laptop.

Choice #1 is a little tricky. There are a lot of screws in the bottom of this thing, and I’m not sure I’m up for the ‘adventure’ of taking this thing apart and putting it back together.

Choice #2 is a no-go. I’ve tried it over the past few days, and it is terribly frustrating

Choice #3 is what I’m doing now, and it’s irritating. But it also gives me a chance to go back and revisit what I’ve written up, so that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Choice #4 will probably be what I do — after I put in some extra hours next week to stash some cash. I need a new laptop, actually. And a new desktop. All the machines I have are is Windows XP, which is about 3 versions of Windows behind, and a lot of the programs that are available today just don’t work very well on XP. They crash or they take forever. I need a Windows 7 laptop and a Windows7 desktop. I’m not doing Windows 8, because I’ve seen it and I don’t like it. Windows 7 still works just fine, thank you.

This all seems like a common theme for me. Things go wrong — not huge things, but disruptive things that block me and keep my head in the wrong place. And I have to stop, slow down, re-do my work, etc. I forget things at work. I screw up and have to scramble. I am chugging along just fine… then I run into a roadblock and have to double back and rethink/redo my work. Argh! It’s so frustrating. It’s like nothing really flows. I have to keep pausing to adjust. And I can’t build up momentum.

I was reading a self-improvement book a few weeks ago, where the author was talking about how important momentum is — you need to get into a regular pace with things and get in a groove.And then you get carried along by the flow.  Maybe they do. As for me, I *think* I’m going along in the flow, making good progress, and then WHAM! I hit a speed bump or a pothole, and I have to stop and check myself, and make sure I didn’t screw things up permanently, before I can continue.

Like typing along — chug-chug-chug — and the space bar is not putting in spaces, so I keep stopping to fix the broken places as I go, and that completely screws everything up.

Frustrating, to say the least.

But I don’t need to solve that problem just now. I have a bunch of things to do that don’t involve a computer that I need to finish up today, and I’m feeling really good about them. I’m helping out some friends, and I’m doing some of my own things. And I’m going to take a walk before the day gets too crazy. I have a good feeling about just about everything I’ve got going today.Plus, my spouse is away on a business trip later today, so I will have 8 hours of uninterrupted focus time.

I love my spouse with all my heart, but alone-time in the house is a luxury I seldom get to enjoy. And it is heaven, to not have to make myself understood to anyone, not have to navigate other people’s emotional “stuff”, and just go about my business at my own pace.

Except… there’s the Super Bowl tonight.

Anyway, I’ve got the whole day ahead of me, and it’s good. It’s really, really good.

Three hours off, two hours on, three hours off…

It really is a beautiful night…

I’m up at 2:30 a.m., decompressing. Things at work are mighty tense, with multiple deadlines coming, and a lot of details to cover. I have done a great job, up till now, keeping things going, and now it’s coming down to the wire, and I’m realizing that there are certain things I let slip — either through oversight or just plain laziness.

Hm. Houston, we have a problem. People are freaking out, sending emails with partial (or wrong) information, getting all worked up over this, that, and the other thing. Rather than focusing on the problems, they’re focused on their reactions to the problems, which just makes things worse. I’m not helping my situation any, either, by focusing on the lack of cooperation I’m getting from key members of my teams. I’m getting way too worked up over it — and it’s costing me time. And now sleep.

Rather than lie in bed and stew about things, I’m up and blogging. I know I shouldn’t be on my computer, because the light from the screen wakes me up, but it’s the only thing that’s getting my mind off things. I’m reading a piece in the New Yorker about “Soccer’s Concussion Crisis” and how heading the ball isn’t particularly good for you. And I think back to my youth, when I was playing soccer a lot, remembering how heading the ball used to make me feel sick to my stomach, dizzy, wobbly… and more. I didn’t head the ball that much precisely because of that. It didn’t feel right. I didn’t feel right. And in retrospect, it probably saved me from serious damage from a lot of subconcussive impacts. If it hadn’t felt wrong and if it hadn’t thrown me for a loop and made me feel like crap, every time I headed the ball, I might have continued to do it — a lot — and ended up even worse than I am now.

Not that where I am now is any picnic. In times like these, when there is a ton of stress, and it’s going to be weeks till I get any relief (because of additional deadlines I’m chasing), it helps to remember where I come from… how non-functional I was, once upon a time, and how hard I’ve worked to get to this point. The fact that I’m struggling now — with some fairly high-level challenges that are way more complicated than most people who have been in my situation have faced, four months into the job — makes me feel pretty good about things. Challenges like these are part of the job, and I just need to stick with it and tough it out, so I can come out on the other side. I just have to trust — not only myself, but my team as well, who are standing by, ready to pitch in and help me out if/when I need.

I suppose it’s a sign of progress, but I’m still bothered and a little depressed by the whole situation. I feel like I’m stuck in this limbo of stupidity — everyone at work is so tired and maxed out from the constant demands of all these projects, that poor decisions are being made all over the place, and poor behavior is following suit. I feel pretty bogged down in everybody’s “stuff” — including my own — and there’s a part of me that wants to quit and move on… do something less demanding, so I can get a full night’s sleep again.

But then, if it weren’t this that kept me up at night, it would be something else. So, leaving is no option.

I can, of course, “leave” in other ways — distract myself with thoughts of other things… projects, books I’m reading, experiences I’ve had in the past, plans for the holidays. But that kind of leaving would only make things worse.

Oh, hell. I’ll just see if I can go back to bed. I’m getting tired again, and I need to lie down. I should be able to get a few more hours worth of sleep, so I’ll give it a whirl.

At the very least, I’ll be horizontal.


Yes, but I’m free

Not the life I always wanted

I woke up this morning with an image in my head — a horse tied to a cart, pulling it along. Kind of like this image:

It reminded me of the day I have ahead of me… pulling along the burdens of the company work for, together with all the other folks on my team who are hitched to their respective wagons of family and job and mortgage, and so forth.

It made me feel sad.

And I had a realization:

Even though I have had my share of troubles, even though I do not have a college degree or a “safety net” or a lot of security around me. I am free. I have never placed a huge premium on hitching up to anyone’s wagon, and in fact the expectations of others that I will hitch up to their plans and ideas and schemes (in return for money, respectability, and some measure of safety)… well, I’ve always seen through that. In exchange for money, I lose my freedom.

Kind of like today, when I have to go off to work instead of having time to sit quietly and go about my business.

And I realized — yet again — that I have made just about all my choices in life in order to preserve and protect my freedom — even if that meant I was going to expose myself to danger and not be part of the “gang” of compadres who were on the inside track to success.

So, as I prepare for my day, I’m thinking a lot about how I can really, truly be free. I have to work to make a living, and I have to trade my time and energy for the things that will keep me alive. But I have other things I can do, to keep my spirit alive, and I must remember to do those things.

Because, after all, I am free.