Oh, sweet, sweet relief

I finally got my first paycheck, and wonder of wonders, it is NOT less than the paycheck I was bringing home before as a contractor. For those who do not understand the significance of this, contractors typically earn 30% more than full-time employees, because of the benefits they don’t get. A full-time employee (FTE) has insurance coverage of several kinds, retirement savings, flexible savings plans for extra health expenses, and a number of other perks that usually skim off the top of the paycheck, making a sizeable dent in one’s take-home pay.

With this full-time job, that is not happening. Even with a percentage of my checks taken for the pre-tax flex savings plan, as well as my retirement savings (which my employer is matching).

I was nervous… with good reason. But wonder of wonders, I am bringing home the same amount of money I was before — AND there is quarterly performance pay for another little boost.

What an enormous relief this is. I can breathe again. I wasn’t sure how I was going to explain to my spouse that I bring home less money. They count on me “making bank”  — and so do I.

I can rest tonight. I’m having some supper, then it’s off to bed.

This is very good.

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Late night, and late morning, too

I had to work late, last night – as in, early this morning. We started an installation project around midnight, and we were all on the phone till 2 a.m.

The install didn’t actually work 100%, but my piece of it did, which was a huge credit to my team, because although we were the ones who had tested out our piece of the puzzle the least, we were the ones who actually had the least amount of problems.

We had one little thing we needed to re-do, but other than that, we were good.

Which was really what we needed to prove, anyway.

The rest of the extended team has to sort things out, but we’re good to go, the next time we take a crack at it.

So, I got to bed around 2:30, and I actually managed to sleep till 9:30, which is a rarity with me. It truly is. Typically, I would wake up at 7 a.m. and just be awake — which would have given me all of 4-1/2 hours of sleep. No good. As it was, I got about 7 hours of sleep, which is my minimum for basic functionality.

It’s been an exciting week. I had a phone screen job interview on Thursday, and I think it went okay. It’s a permanent job, not a contract, and there are lots of benefits and paid time off and all that. I’m not sure if the money is there in the paycheck, but it has lots of other perks to go along with it.

I thought the conversation went fine. It didn’t fire me up and get me really excited. It’s a job I’ve done a number of times in the past, so I could do it. I’m just not sure I really want to. After considering getting the hell out of my current job, it occurs to me that I’m actually fine, being where I am. I know I complain and bitch about things, but that’s to be expected — anywhere I am. If it’s not one thing, it’s another.

So, to make a change from the situation I’m in, which is safe and guaranteed and has plenty of money associated with it, and is actually really easy for me to do, might not be the smartest thing. My present situation gives me plenty of flexibility and leeway to come and go as I please — not to mention affords me plenty of time to work on my other projects, like this blog. If I transfer to a permanent, full-time position, then I’m stuck in the corporate world with a corporate job and all the strings attached that come with it.

Nothing’s free — least of all a “good job”. It has a price tag attached.

So, if it works out with the new thing, it works out. But I have a feeling it’s not going to give me what I’m looking for. I’ll go talk to them, if they want to meet, but I’m not putting all my eggs in that basket. And I’m interviewing them, not just being interviewed by them.

I have my pride. And I know my worth. I know the worth of my freedom, and even though I’m not fully vested with any one company right now, my freedom is worth it. Everything has a price, you know?

So, I’m still a little groggy from the late night. I almost fell last night, when I was standing up from the table. That’s not good. I really need to take care of myself this weekend and recuperate. It takes a lot out of me, to work late. More than I’d like. But there it is.

Main thing is, I did get 7 hours of solid sleep. And I have another day and a half to make up the difference.

It is so good to be home

Good to be home again

After more than 24 hours of go-go-going, with about an hour of sleep on the flight back home, I spent most of yesterday taking care of myself. I went out with some friends around lunch time, just to catch up, then I came home and slept. For almost 7 hours.

God, that felt good. I have been operating on 5-6 hours of sleep a night, with really long days — sometimes 15 hours of non-stop going — and it is fantastic to get to just STOP moving, and basically collapse.

I could do without losing the hour, thanks to changing our clocks, but that’s the least of my concerns, right now.

I have a big week ahead of me, with some significant projects. One of them is really behind – it’s overdue, and the folks I’m working with are just not happy about it. They haven’t been happy about things for several years, but I’m not the only one to blame. They don’t do what they say they’re going to do, on time, and then they come back to me, bitching and complaining about things not being “right”.

It’s generally unsatisfactory, and nobody is happy, but that seems to be how it always goes. Frankly, the fact that I’m able to get anything done under the conditions I’m working with, is a miracle. I have a feeling things are going to be changing soon in my life and work, so I’m not going to let it get the better of me and throw me off. These things happen. Nobody likes them. They’re awkward and uncomfortable, and they’re a pain in everyone’s ass. But that’s just how things are for the time being.

It’s all experience. Just that. Experience.

Speaking of experience, I’ve decide that whatever happens in my life, I alone am responsible for the experience I get from things. Yes, there are going to be really tough times and really easy times, too. But how I react to it, and what I get out of it, is on me. I can treat the tough times like they are victimizing me, and I am helpless to prevent them. Or I can treat them like lessons and opportunities to build up my strength and reach deeper within myself for more strength and endurance.

These past weeks – the past couple of months, actually, have been all about learning to deal with adversity and looking my imperfections and shortcomings and limitations in the eye. These are very public imperfections, which are resulting in frictions and drama with my workmates, as well as compromising my work product. In the past, I have really let that get to me, when I came up short, my focus and attention failed me, and I screwed things up.

I really beat up on myself, convinced that I was broken beyond repair, and I would never amount to anything. But that wasn’t actually accurate. Those were just times when I had the opportunity to see close up and personal just where I needed to put more attention and effort.

And when all was said and done, when I held steady and didn’t let things throw me in a hyper-personal way, what I had was a greater resilience and the ability to wade into potentially distressing situations without losing my cool.

That’s been a great boon to me, because the thing that my last TBI cost me — which also cost me my job(s) and almost killed my marriage — was my ability to stay cool. In the past, I had really banked on my ability to stay calm in the face of the storm, but after my TBI in 2004, I just lost it. I couldn’t keep anything together. I was so stressed and so fried by every danged thing, that I couldn’t make it through the day without melting down or blowing up over one thing or another.

It’s all a jumbled mass of shadowy recollections in my head, now, but I can remember a number of times when I just lost it — at work as well as at home. And I really know how that impacted me — lost jobs, friction at home, a fractured marriage and lost friendships…

Now, though, I’m getting back on my feet. I just got my tax refund back, and I also actually got a bonus this year, so things are actually looking up for me. I’m able to pay off a LOT of back debts, that have been sucking hundreds of dollars from me each month. It has taken me four years to clear out debts that were the equivalent of a year’s take-home salary. It has been a long, hard slog, but I am now making payments that will wipe out ALL my old outstanding debts, even my line of credit at the bank to cover my mortgage payments. I’m getting current on all my bills, and I’m consolidating and removing extra costs that I don’t need. I am now also in a position to do some house repairs which have been waiting about ten years — since I had my TBI in 2004, and I ceased being able to deal with, well, just about anything.

I’m in a position where I can actually fix the issues with my cars, and I’m considering getting a new (to me) car to replace my commuter car that’s nearing 150,000 miles and is starting to have the kinds of problems that older cars have. Radiator needs to be replaced. Back left strut needs to be fixed, rust around the edges, and so forth. So, if I can trade in the car I have for another one, it would probably be cheaper just to get a new-to-me car, instead of having to replace and repair so much on my current vehicle.

Having that influx of money to my bank account has just solved a whole lot of stress-inducing problems, the nicest one being that whenever I go look for another job, I don’t have to push the envelope on what I’m earning, just to get by. I’m not saddled with all these infernal debt payments, and I can actually work with what I’m making, rather than watching it trickle away.

Looking at all my numbers, I can see how I can actually get ahead in the coming months and years, which is a great feeling, after the past four years of being trapped in a cycle of debt resolution, feeling like I would never get out from under.

Yes, it is really good to be home.