Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Counting down the days

I have neglected this humble blog for so long, so a quick recap seems appropriate.

I am a systems engineer a defense program.  Seven years ago I was laid off because the defense contractor that created and managed the project lost their rebid to continue it.   I was on the bench for 5 weeks, later picked up at another defense job that was decidedly beneath my skills.  Who could forget this post that answered the question "Say, Charlie... how goes the new job?" 

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Love is the only thing that can save this poor creature, and I am going to convince him that he is loved even at the cost of my own life. No matter what you hear in there, no matter how cruelly I beg you, no matter how terribly I may scream, do not open this door or you will undo everything I have worked for. Do you understand? Do not open this door.

Inga: Yes, Doctor.

Igor: Nice working with ya.

[Dr. Frederick Frankenstein goes into the room with The Monster. The Monster wakes up] 

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein: Let me out. Let me out of here. Get me the hell out of here. What's the matter with you people? I was joking! Don't you know a joke when you hear one? HA-HA-HA-HA. Jesus Christ, get me out of here! Open this goddamn door or I'll kick your rotten heads in! Mommy!

Oh, where to start??  No workstation on my desk at work yet, so I am still reliant on my trainer, who said to me, apparently in all honesty, "Gee, you seem to know a lot about computers and stuff!"

Due to the bureaucratic layers upon layers around and above me, I cannot rise about my level without the weight and anger of others, so I will do my time and move on. I found comfort in the following thought: had I took a real McJob at McDonalds, there would be a period of novelty, for a time. You know, the whole 'grab a bucket and mop', yada-yada-yada, the fries, etc. A few days, maybe a week, and then it would wear off. Well I didn't even get a few days of novelty and I despise this place (for several reasons I'll detail later).

Anywho, a few short months later I was picked up as a Subject Matter Expert for the very same project, but for the contractor that did win the bid. And after a time my SME status diminished a bit, as more and more people got skilled in the application.  And while there have been about the routine number of head-butting incidents with management  things went swimmingly in spite of the fact I commute 2 hours, each way, every day to the office.   It's crazy,  but it has allowed me to afford being the sole-income in my home and afforded my much-better-half the opportunistically of being a stay-home-mom (much to her pleasure).  I've done that drive for about 15 years now, so it's pretty routine.

Last August I got the word: the Army base that has been the center of operations for this job is slated to close this Fall (part of the BRAC program I won't describe again here).   I have been tapped to go to Maryland, where the new office is already built.  The daily drive of +160 miles is a bit much, even for me, for a daily commute.  Officially, I am to report to MD on 1-September, but as I've been assigned the project lead on the relocation efforts (my first hint I was included in the relocation), I will be reporting there on 15-Aug.

In the last year I have pounded the virtual pavement in search of a suitable position where I can maintain my sole-support role at home.  No such luck.  This week I learned I have a conditional offer:  a defense position, a.lot.closer to home for a reasonably close salary.  Just as soon as the contractor gets funding.

It's not perfect, but it's nothing to sneeze at either.  I am looking forward to hearing from the company in about 6 weeks, in the meantime, I called in a favor and will be crashing at a friend's house.  A spare room, less than an hour from MD, about 2 hours from home.   Making the best of things while I wait on the offer.

Things could be worse.  A lot worse.   So my chin is up, and I am looking towards the hope of an e-mail telling me news of funding.

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Friday, July 08, 2011

Advice for Couples

Recently, a friend of mine started dating again.  The guy is, by all measures, a stand-up kind of guy, is good to her kid, good to her, etc.

I happened to around when they were having an inevitable spat.  Nothing serious -- it involved packing for a getaway trip -- and while it wasn't at all an angry or otherwise over-the-top debate, each clearly believed they were right and the other was wrong.

At different points of the day they individually related their debate to me.  I guess I got that effect on people -- everyone tells me stuff.  I guess they wanted my insight (while I tried to avoid taking sides).

The guy at one point turned to me in front my friend and asked how my-much-better-half and I manage all these years with arguments.  I told him the secret I learned in the over 21 years of marriage:
At various points, in every relationship, there's going to be an argument, no matter how kissy-kissy you are, it's going to happen.    And for me, it always ends the same way:  sooner or later, someone always says "I'm sorry" and then she always says "That's OK, Charlie."

Well at this point they're both laughing.  Hysterically.  And the couple hugged and agreed my advice was funny but useful.

It wasn't supposed to be funny...  that is how it works in my house!

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