Laying low, letting the dust settle

snow covered buildingsIt’s snowing again. Or rather, still snowing. So, I’m going to work from home today. Take it easy. Focus on my work. Keep things simple.

I’ve spent the last few weeks clearing out a lot of extra clutter from my life. A lot of old projects were hanging around that were going nowhere. If something hasn’t gotten anywhere in 6 months, I need to learn to let it go. A lot of those old projects were years old — some of them older than 10 years.

Time to let it go. Just accept that they’re not going to happen, and they were never going to happen, in the first place, because I was following a “success template” that works for others, not me.

Frankly, a lot of the “recipes” for success that are out there seem completely foreign to me. They’re all about money and power and influence, which is the default First World mode, I suppose. But it’s just not for me. Personally, I’d rather focus on doing good work and being supported in doing that, without having to do all the marketing mental mojo that goes on.

As we’ve seen in the news, lately, online marketing can really be a problem… especially when it’s used to trick people into doing what you want them to do. Leveraging the weaknesses of human nature… deceiving… manipulating… I’ve been in that world, and it doesn’t sit right with me.

Anyway, it’s time to hunker down, watch the snow fall, and get some work done. I have a quiet day to myself, today. I think I missed a late work appointment I had last night — completely spaced out and forgot about it. So, today, I need to make up for that as best I can.

It’s another day. Life goes on.

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Starving today

bone with gristle on itI’m hungry today. As in, ravenous. I had my usual breakfast egg with some coffee, but that wasn’t nearly enough. So, I finished off a sandwich I’d made yesterday. I’m still hungry. This feels like the start of a migraine coming on, when everything feels weird and trippy, and I’m hungrier than usual.

It wouldn’t surprise me, if that were the case. It would make perfect sense, in fact.

Yesterday was a long day. I had to work, starting at 6 a.m., then I had to run some overdue errands. I had to prep for a trip to the next state, where my spouse and I were attending an art show by our friend who is literally on their deathbed. We were all hoping they’d be there, but they couldn’t make it.

Dying takes precedence. Especially doing it well.

I’ve had a lot of people pass in and out of my life. Death was a regular visitor to my family, when I was growing up. That’s what you get when you have a large family and you stay in touch with a wide array of second and third cousins (many of them once or twice removed). Grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends of the family… every year or so, somebody who meant something to me died, while I was growing up.

So, yeah, I have some familiarity with loss.

Plus, a lot of people have come in and out of my life through job changes, relocations, and just the usual migrations of people in these times. Whenever someone moved away, never to be seen or heard from again (this was pre-internet times), it was just as if they’d died. And that happened to me a lot.

It’s happened so much, that when people die, I don’t have the same level of devastation that others do. To me, dying is a mystery — which I’m not qualified to understand completely. I leave it up to The Great Almighty to work out. I don’t believe in hell, anymore, so I’m not really torn up when people die, thinking they might burn in fire and brimstone for all eternity. I tend to think of death more as a transition to a different state of being. The body dissolves, but it continues on. We’re breathing air that contains tiny bits of Beethoven, from what I’ve heard.

Anyway, yesterday was a marathon of sorts. I didn’t realize how tired I was, until I’d done my mid-day errands and had my shower… then started to crash. But there was no time to crash. I had to keep going. The 90-minute drive to where we were going took 2 hours (because my spouse forgot some stuff and we had to improvise & make stops at stores along the way). And when we got there, I couldn’t find parking. I couldn’t even find the venue where the art show was… it was really disorienting, and I was tired, so that was exciting.

I did find the place, though, and the evening commenced with way more social activity than I’ve seen in quite some time. I saw a number of people I used to hang out with a lot, and I did a lot more talking to like-minded people than I do on a daily basis. It was a very artsy crowd, which was a very different “feel” than the mainstream suburbanites I’m usually around. It wasn’t better, it wasn’t worse, it was just different. And doing “different” takes effort for me.

The ride home was trippy, too. I was even more out-of-it than I was driving there, and I nearly ran a red light. But we got home safe and sound, and I got in bed at a fairly decent hour. Slept like a rock. Strange dreams, though. To be expected.

Anyway, I have another full day ahead of me — a bunch of stuff to do this morning, then I crash this afternoon. All afternoon. The plan is to have a hot-hot shower at 1 p.m., then go back to bed and not set an alarm. Just sleep.

And that’s what it takes: a good balance between doing and not-doing, between going and resting. I’m at my best, when I’m hyper-engaged and keeping really busy doing things that matter to me. I haven’t done as much of that in the past couple of years, as I would have liked to. For some reason, everything felt like it was stacked against me, and no matter what I tried, nothing really worked out. But now this sense has unaccountably changed, and I’m feeling more optimistic and practically directed, than I have been in a while. It feels pretty good. I just need to remember to take good care of myself. When I’m starting to get signs of a migraine, take some time off to recover… and then get back into the flow with a good balance of what-is and what-will-be.

It’s always a balance, and now that feels even more important.

I’ve got stuff to do. I’ve got a life to live. There’s nothing like having someone close to you die, to remind you of how short life can be, and how important it is to bring your best to each and every day.

Duly noted.

Now, it’s time for another glass of water.

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.

Once again, I remember why I tend to favor contract work

abstract checklist with Xes beside the lines
A list of all the things I like about my job, right now — not a lot.

When I take contracts to work, instead of doing the permanent full-time thing, I have some actual control over my destiny. I also get compensated fairly for what I do, and I don’t have this blurred line of “exempt” status, which ropes me into working overtime and never being properly compensated for my work.

I can’t even count the number of times when I was “perm” that I pulled out all the stops to fix stuff other people had broken, really put myself through hell, and expected that my contribution would be recognized. But no. They just treated all the work like it was a normal thing for people to do, and they moved on. The promotions never came. The special consideration never came. Not even a bonus, for my over-and-above-the-call-of-duty work.

So, why bother? Seriously. I can make more money contracting, and since I don’t have any kids to put through college and my spouse is covered by their own insurance, I’m not bound to a permanent job for the benefits. I need the money more. And I need my freedom. The permanent full-time thing is a scam that works in the favor of employers, not the minions.

They can have it. They can keep it.

It’s time to break out of this annoying little mythology about “job security” and get on with making some serious coin. Yes, I need to pay for my own insurance. But if I land the right work, I can totally cover it. And I’ll be free to come and go as I please.

I looked at my savings over the weekend. By the end of this week, I actually will have four months’ worth of living expenses in the bank. Sweet. That means I have some leeway — not to quit work entirely, but to take a little time off between assignments. And also pursue some of my own interests on the side.

Please – please – please – let me get laid off this week AND get a severance package. So I can get on with my life. Contracting. Making the big bucks. And not roped into a life of indentured servitude, stuck with the spoiled fruits of other people’s screw-ups.

I’m really sick of this sh*t.

SO, SO ready for this long weekend

field of sunflowers with blue sky overhead
Summer is shaping up nicely, so far

Happy July everyone. The next week or so should be pretty quiet for me, as we’ve got a long weekend for Independence Day, and a lot of people are going to be out of the office on vacation both today and next week.

And what a relief it is. Things are continuing to be weird at work, as the merger is supposedly on track, and we’ll supposedly be fully integrated into the new company by the end of the summer. I’m giving a lot of thought to what I want to do with myself. I know I have not been 100% happy with my situation for a couple of years now. I miss doing web development, and I miss being with really technical people.

I’ve been working in situations where people are just skating by, for some time, now. And it wears on me. I really need to be around people who are sharp and smart and a lot more daring than they’ve been in my situations over the past number of years.

So, I’m working on my skills, getting up to speed with reading about the latest technologies, just getting conversant with them. This is really important to me, and there’s even a chance I might be able to do some programming again, after having been away from it for so long. It’s been more than five years, since I was able to regularly do programming, and it’s depressing me that I can’t do it. Programming is my “happy place” — I have such a sense of belonging and purpose when I am doing it… and after years of doubting myself and not thinking I could do it ever again, I think I may be wrong about that.

I have really struggled with learning new skills, since I fell in 2004. I could not read for a while, and I could not retain information, and I could not work with other people. I drifted from job to job, hoping I would find a better fit, but I could never keep it together long enough to make a “go” of it. And I couldn’t maintain my focus on my tasks — it made me incredibly anxious and emotional (and explosive), and it also depressed me. That hindered my TBI recovery, and it made things even worse.

So, I had to find a different way, in a different place. So, I got away from doing that work, and I did more project management since 2010. But as much as I enjoy project management, I’m still not able to really do the kind of work I love — building things. Inventing things. Making things that no one has ever seen before.

That’s my happy place. And when my brain is engaged in programming, I feel whole and useful and complete. Time has no reality for me. I’m just “in it”… absorbed… So happy. So content. It used to be like that every single day for me, and even when I was working for people who exasperated and frustrated me and had no clue what they were doing, I still got to code. I still got to make things.

I’d really love to get back to that… to have that sense of satisfaction and fulfillment on a regular basis… to be totally and blissfully absorbed in my work, like I used to be.

rundown house in a field
This is kind of what my programming career seems like to me

I had a dream the other night, that my spouse and I were looking for a place to live. We were back in an old neighborhood we used to live in, and we were shown a house we used to live in. Before, we’d been in cramped quarters, because there was all sorts of leftover furniture and junk from prior residents in many of the rooms and the basement. The house was even more run-down when we looked at it again, but we loved that house. It had a lot of rooms that were full of the same old junk that was there before. The lawn was grown up, the neighbors had taken over the garden plot, and the roof was leaky.

But this time I was looking at the house with a whole new view. It’s like I wasn’t looking at the old house at all — when I looked into the rooms with that familiar junk, I just saw opportunity. Instead of seeing a pile of jumbled furniture, I saw individual pieces that could be pulled out and restored. And I saw how we could clean out those rooms and have a really nice house, in the end. I could actually see the big picture — not just get overwhelmed by the jumbled mess in all those rooms. I could see a clear path to moving forward. And although the neighbors were suspicious of us at first, when they found out we’d lived there before, they were happy to think we might be moving in, so they could have some help with the garden and other upkeep around the property.

That’s kind of how this job search thing is going. OR should I say, “Career reboot”… I’m being smart about this. I’m inspecting the territory. I’m checking it out. I’m doing my research, and I’m focusing my efforts on first of all finding out what skills are in demand, these days… and then what I can learn / re-learn in a relatively short period of time. There is always the chance that I actually cannot get my head around the newest technologies. It could be that those days are over for me. But I have to find out for sure. I can’t just give up.

So, this weekend, I have a chance to “play around” with things a little bit. To just stretch my wings and see what I can do with myself — and what I can’t. I don’t want to run off on some boondoggle where I waste a lot of time and energy on things that really don’t pay off — and end up humiliating myself in the process. But in any case, I do need to get more conversant in the latest technologies, so I can hold an intelligent conversation with my peers.

And so it goes. In the past, I’d say, “I need to get a new job RIGHT NOW!”, update my resume, and then go after whatever came along first. Now, I have the ability to hold back while I do my prep work, and pick and choose what I want to do with myself. So I don’t get in the same sorts of situations I did before.

That would not be good.

I know better know. And I can DO better now.

Onward!

If I don’t move, I’m toast

loggerhead-turtleI swam again yesterday. Good thing, too. I really needed it, and I’m finding new ways to turn into a real workout – different strokes for different folks, you might say.

And I’m feeling pretty good, these days. Not sleeping quite as much as I’d like, but that’s okay. For now.

The main thing is that I feel like I’ve “normalized”, so to speak, with my energy staying pretty steady, and feeling pretty good, overall. Even when I’m not feeling great.

Man, oh man, did that business trip really do a number on me. I’m still not back to 100%, a month later. I feel like it messed me up for weeks prior, and then the crush of that whole experience and the “re-entry” to my regular life, has all tossed things into the air.

And I don’t know if I really want them to come down.

I mean, things will come down. They will get sorted out, one way or another, but I’m not sure I’m really that interested in keeping on with this company in the future. They’re going through a big cultural shift, in a few more months… and then over the coming years. But it’s just more big-ness. And I don’t think big-ness is what I really want.

In all honesty, I’m kind of done with the whole climbing thing. I’m done with the politics. I’m done with having to worry about what so-and-so thinks of me, and what they might say to such-and-such a person. Please. Like I have nothing better to do with my time.

Plus, I’m not convinced that I’m making the kind of money I should be. I’m looking around at other jobs, other opportunities, and it seems to me I could be doing a heck of a lot more with myself, that’s more satisfying — and more connected. My current position is very solitary, and the older I get, the more I value interactions with other people — people like me, with common goals and intentions.

My current situation is very entrepreneurial, you could say. I’m an “army of one” in the company, and I have to piece everything together myself. When I joined up, it seemed like a great thing. But now it just feels really isolating and frustrating. And with everyone counting down to the merger, people are less inclined than ever to collaborate, share, team up. Everybody’s circling their wagons, keeping out intruders. And that includes me… at least, that’s the feeling I get.

Anyway, I have to look on the bright side… and remember that there’s a pool at work. An amazing, Olympic-sized pool that’s clean and well-tended. And I’m not being constantly harassed and hassled by everyone around me. I need to find a good balance… and also keep an eye out for what’s next. Because who knows what will happen in another couple of months? You never know.

It’s exciting. And not.

So, I have to keep moving. Keep my eyes on the prize of my future, and keep my own goals and plans in mind. I have to remember just how far I’ve actually come in the past 10 years, and be thankful for that. These kinds of problems are really great problems to have, and this is far beyond what I expected to be possible, even just five years ago. So much has changed. And for the better.

The main thing is to not get stagnant. To keep my goals and plans in mind, and continuously move towards them. Steady progress. Always steady progress.

Onward.

And the “embracing change” emails start to circulate at work

In another couple of weeks, they’re going to start reorganizing the company I work for. And the best damn’ job I’ve ever had, may change. Forever.

That would be a record. Usually, they take at least a year to decide to go in a different direction, and I have to scramble to line something else up.

Frankly, it pisses me off, that all this is happening. It’s like the mainstays of my life are dissolving out from underneath me. My neuropsych is retiring, my PCP died, and now my job may be changing — if not going away entirely. I looked on LinkedIn. The company we’re merging with already has a bunch of people that do what I do. And they’ve been doing it longer. And they are generally 10-20 years younger than me.

Oh, God.

I’m 50 years old, and I’m sick of this sh*t, quite frankly. Part of me wants to just opt out and crawl under a rock. I’m actually really hoping that I’ll get an early retirement package. I haven’t been with the company long enough to take them up on their regular offering of early retirement at 50… or 55. But in the grand scheme of things, people who are older are members of “protected classes”,which makes us harder to get rid of, when the time comes to restructure and downsize.

That time always comes, eventually.

Always.

And I’m hoping like crazy that they can buy me out for a nice chunk o’ change that will let me skate along for a while — and free me up to do some other things with my life. It would be completely, totally awesome, to change careers, right now. All the drama of the tech world just gets stupid, after a while, and it would be awesome if I could do something different with my life. Maybe teach. I would be a good teacher — especially for folks who are coming up in the tech world after me. I could tell them a thing or two about how to have a resilient career through their most productive years. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s find work and keep working. I could teach others how to do it, too.

The main thing I worry about is my insurance. It’s expensive. Then again, if I got a package that paid for my insurance for 12-18 months, I would be so set. That would be amazing.

But who  knows what will happen? I think we’re going to find out in the next month or so. They already have people looking at how to reorganize things. They didn’t waste any time. And I’m guessing they’ll want to tidy up before the year is out, possibly to take advantage of tax breaks. If they can shed a bunch of people and pay out a truckload of money, then maybe they can ease their tax burden… and make things easier to rearrange in the new year.

For now, I’m hanging tight, figuring out my different Plans Of Attack. They sent out a link to a “change hardiness” questionnaire, and apparently, I’m a Master Of Change. Ta-da. Ha. Pretty funny. Few things are more difficult for me to navigate, than change — I just know what I’m supposed to do, and I do it, which supposedly means I’m adept. But all the while that I’m doing it, I’m dying inside. I’m in excruciating pain. I can logically think and function, even while I’m in blinding pain — I’ve been doing it for years. But that doesn’t mean I’m not suffering and struggling.

That’s the thing my neuropsych doesn’t seem to realize. It’s not that I’m compartmentalizing my pain and frustration and emotional upset. It’s that I learned an awful long time ago — mainly through long-distance running and having a blazing headache, 24/7 — how to continue to think clearly and function despite feeling like I’m dying inside.

Which brings me to the checklist for the next neuropsych I deal with:

  1. They need to be an athlete — former or present, preferably endurance — so they understand my own perspective on things and appreciate my emphasis on performing at the top of my game whenever possible. Athletes understand things that non-athletes don’t – and my present neuropsych is about as far from an athlete as you can get. They’d rather get a root canal, than exercise. That seems strange to me.
  2. They need to be a good conversationalist, so I can continue to practice my sequencing and flow and active listening skills. The one way that my neuropsych has helped me the most, is just being someone I can talk to without being judged or challenged or made to feel stupid. More than anything else, that’s been what’s helped me.
  3. They need to be easily accessible. All this driving back and forth to get to and from… it’s just hard on my system, and it really puts a dent in my week.
  4. They need to have an open mind. My current neuropsych seems to think they have everything all figured out, after having practiced for 40-some years. They’re a bit too brittle for my comfort, at times.

That’s my list, so far. Honestly, I could live with just the first two. And of course, all this assumes that they know a ton about brain injury and take the approach that recovery is actually possible.

Anyway, it might be moot, after my neuropsych leaves, because I might not have access to that kind of care, thanks to my insurance situation. But it’s a thought. Heck, maybe I could work a trade with a neuropsych to just stop by and talk to them on a regular basis about whatever — without them needing to “treat” me. I could trade some pleasant conversation with someone who’s bound and determined to get their life in order, as a counter-balance to all the other folks they deal with who need their help but have less determination and drive, and who sort of depress them after a while.

I could be a ray of sunshine in their cloudy day.

But who knows what will happen? All I know is, today I am driving to see my family for Thanksgiving. And I’m looking forward to getting away from all this.

I certainly am.

Onward.

Last day at the old job went well.

I had a really good last day – last couple of days, in fact.

I finished strong, only spacing out on a couple of meetings yesterday. I did just about everything that I intended to do – with the exception of pulling out every single strand of my knowledge and putting it into coherent documentation. That proved much harder to do, than I originally expected. Translating a lot of non-verbal knowledge into verbal streams that make sense to others, is no small feat.

So, I didn’t kill myself over it.

I spent far more time on just making sure that I left all my bridges intact, that I said good-bye to the people whose company I have really enjoyed, and whose help has really benefited me. It was odd, how many of the supervisors of other groups — who had plenty of interaction with me — didn’t even acknowledge that I was leaving or stop by to say good-bye… crickets, from that level of things. I did manage to connect with a lot of folks along the way, but I was also incredibly busy, and I didn’t get out of the building, at last, until after 6:00 p.m.  Folks told me to leave early, but I wasn’t done yet.

So, I left on a strong note. And I cleaned up my cubicle before I split. None of that nasty crap that people leave when they remove the pictures, unhook the computer, etc. Just a clean space left behind.

The main thing that I wanted to leave behind, was sufficient information and training to get people in a space where they can continue to succeed — and do even better than before. I also wanted to leave on a good note, which I did. I am very, very uncomfortable with good-byes (even though I’ve done so many of them, in my ~30-year professional career). And the fact that it was hard to say good-bye this time, too, says a lot about the connections I’ve built with people.

This time has been very different from other changes, where I am leaving to pursue something better, rather than only fleeing something worse. I’ve been a “professional refugee” for so many years, just going from one job to the next, in search of something better. The thing with my last job is that it is better in some ways than the one prior, but it was far inferior in others. And I realize now that, had I taken a different approach, I probably could have stayed at that other company indefinitely and really risen in the ranks.

Still, there were so many tough things about it — especially the commute — that I’m not sure it would ever work for me. However, if I ever want to go back (which I’m now thinking I may, someday), I know a few ways I can make things easier on myself.

But that’s all water under the bridge. I’m getting ready to move on to the next role, and quite frankly, I have so much opportunity to make this new job into something fantastic. They are giving me carte blanche  to kick it into high gear, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. In fact, the great things about my job-before-last, I can try to incorporate into this new job. And do it on my terms.

I can also incorporate the positive pieces of the job I just left, to make this new position what I want it to be. There were so many good lessons that came from the past year, and what I am finally learning is how to make the most of the good AND bad, while not letting shortcomings get in my way.

And on that note, it’s time to look forward. I’m planning on spending most of the day outside – starting with a long walk in the woods.

Time to enjoy being unemployed for the next 48 hours.

Onward.

Quick Update – Why not me, too?

Destiny awaits – a whole new life on the other side of this test…

I’ve been all over the map, lately, scrambling to get my job situation sorted. I actually got the job — and signed the offer letter and paperwork yesterday. Woot! I figured out that the one document I thought I didn’t have was attached to the email that had the link to the online form — it wasn’t attached to the form, itself. So, it’s not me. The instructions were just very unclear. I’m a little dazed about how quickly things have gone – and how smoothly. I’m a little suspicious, but who cares? I’m going with it, because good things happen to other people all the time… so why not me, too?

I have to take a drug test for my new job. I have to drive to a collection facility that’s a 30-45 minute drive from work. I have some time tomorrow afternoon, so I will call to make sure they can take me at 3:00 p.m., and then plan accordingly. It’s a little bothersome to have to do this, but other people have to do it all the time… so why not me, too?

Now I have to give notice. My boss is actually out of the office for the next two days, and I want to tell them in person, so that will have to wait for Monday. Unless they come in on Friday. I think they know I’m on the verge of leaving. They are not giving me a ton of projects, and they are keeping clear so that I can finish up the major initiatives I’m undertaking. They have been hinting about others in the division looking for work, and they seem resigned to it. So, they may be resigned to me going, as well. Other people are looking — who are actually less skilled and less experienced than I — and they are finding better jobs… so why not me, too?

Now I’m working on putting together a “play book” for whoever is taking over the work I’ve been doing. It’s not rocket science, the main ingredient is willingness to learn and work. Willingness. There’s a lot of opportunity for the people who want to go for it and are willing to put in the effort. I did it… so why not them, too?

It’s another gorgeous day here. Looks like the intense storms earlier in the week cleared out a lot of atmospheric gunk.

All good … onward.

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.