Archive for July, 2014

Where Have You Been, Mr. Winemaker?

Right, then…

It’s been over a year since I last posted and a lot and a little has gone on with MIMW2 since then.

The Executive Summary in a Shade Over 200 Words. 

Since the last post, my consulting business dried up, I suffered a bout of depression that led to isolation, gaining weight and generally doing nothing. In May of 2013, I got a full-time temp job that was supposed to last for 3 months, but kept getting extended. At the end of the summer, feeling that long term employment was more secure, I bought a “new” car (2004 Volvo XC70) from a friend to ease the pressure of commuting on my aging 4WD Toyota (it still runs great, but at 237K miles, it’s going to need some work, soon). I also met someone who has a 5 y/o daughter, which is both enjoyable and challenging. I just got back from a week exploring Bryce Canyon and Zion NP’s as well as Cedar Break NM. Tomorrow that temp job that kept getting extended ends as the company is hiring me on as an FTE. I’m planning my next adventure – a longish weekend (6 days, if I can swing it – it’s odd having to “ask” for vacation, now; the plus is that I get paid for it) involving taking the motorcycle up to Portland for my friends annual Talk Like a Pirate Day party.

That about brings us up to the present. Now, some detail

The End of the Business

My business has always relied on taking overflow from the other independent consultants that had too much work to handle. This was also in addition to having a steady 2 to 3 day/week gig in order to keep income flowing while awaiting payment for the other jobs. While somewhat tenuous, this model worked well, and allowed me to plan and execute my random outings (backpacking, motorcycle riding, training for hiking Half Dome, etc…). True, I had to rent a room in a house in order to keep expenses low, but that was a worthwhile tradeoff, in my opinion.

In early 2013, two things happened: My steady 3-day/week gig ended and the independent consulting dried up (to which nobody knows why). As a function of this, one of my main sources of work decided to quit consulting and go back into the corporate world. Basically, all forms of income stopped. So there I was, burning through the cash I had on hand, waiting for the checks from my last jobs to come in and applying for jobs (which I was doing, anyway, but now with increased purpose).

Interesting thing I learned about applying for jobs: It’s virtually impossible to contact a person, even just to put a name on the cover letter. Resumes are sent in to an unnamed recruiter, who feeds the resume into a bit of software that matches up key words. If you get enough matches, then you go to the next round; if not, then not. That’s it. During the first round, no one actually reads the resume to look for transferrable skills, or understand the work that has been done and interpret data. It’s all software-based.

The pisser is that more often than not, you hear nothing back – even rejections. So it’s equivalent to calling out into a canyon and not even hearing an echo. Aggregated, that lack of acknowledgement can play hell on your well-being.

Depression and Anxiety

Do I need to explain how lack of income, dwindling savings and the looming threat of having to move back home can lead to depression and anxiety? No – of course I don’t. But, as I tend to do, I isolated and – as I don’t drink – turned to food. Not proud of this, other than the fact that I did not go into the bottle, but it’s something that I did. In retrospect, I could have done some things different, it’s true. But when you’re in the middle of it and can’t see past your next failure, you’re not up to planning good times.

Probably most depressing was the stacks of unread magazines that I threw away: Outside, Backpacker, Runners World, Men’s Journal. I could not even bring myself to read about any of that. While I had plenty of time for an adventure, I did not have the money; as always that’s an elusive intersection.

The New Job

This is where networking saves the day. Someone that I did some work for, got a call for a 3-month temp gig doing hazard reviews on a construction project. While it was significantly less than her rate, it was right in my range. So I went from zero work, to working 40-hours/week, just like that. Hell, I can handle that for three months. I’m sure during that time, consulting will pick up and after the job is over, I can go back to my phoney-baloney bullshit lifestyle. …and pick up, it did: In the middle of 2013, I started getting calls from other consultants asking if I was available to help out with work. But by that time, I was fully-booked, but told them that I’d be available after August, sometime.

…or, not. Apparently, I’m good at what I do as my boss kept extending me. First another three months, then six months. Always a good thing, but there’s always that end on the horizon, when doing a temp job. So you enjoy yourself now, but try to put a little away for when it ends and don’t make any big plans.

Some People Claim That There’s a Woman to Blame

The SO is a fourth grade teacher, which means she knows exactly how to deal with the likes of me. She works with the wife of a close friend and I had actually met her a couple of years earlier at a party. At the time, she was in the middle of a bad marriage, so not much happened. Last year, they finally separated, and we started dating. She’s smart and well educated, which I like. More importantly, she likes my sense of humor, which is good. Also, we seem to travel well which – if you ask Bill Murray – is most important, I’d guess.

New to me is that she has a 5 year old daughter. She’s cute, sweet and a sociopath. Of course, when I say that to others that have kids, they just nod their head and say “Yep, that’s how they are” so I guess that’s normal behavior for a 5 year old. At least she’s not an outlier.

While she does like her Barbies (I’m talking about the daughter, mind you; not the SO) she likes to go outside and play. While tree shopping during Christmas, the SO and I were hauling the tree back to the car, I turned to see the girl on the ground playing with rocks – so that was a good sign. Another good sign: Recently, I rode my motorcycle to meet them for dinner, after which she wanted to see the bike. A couple of days later, I came over to visit and she had a toy motorcycle and sidecar (as in The Mouse and the Motorcycle, I believe) that she was playing with, to which I responded: [Fist pump] “Yessss!”

Of course, her mother was not as thrilled as I, but mothers can be that way.

Also, we recently took the girl camping for the first time which – in between meltdowns due to being five – she thoroughly enjoyed.

Chris Rock did a bit about how a fathers number one goal is to keep his daughter off of the Pole. I figure I can improve upon that in avoiding the creation of another Kardashian (Read: Nothing wrong with being pretty, but don’t make that your only skill; be able to do stuff, too). I think I’m well on the way as far as that is concerned. But just to be sure, I’m planning on taking her to the climbing gym.

The New Car

My friend bought a Volvo XC70 in 2005, which she loved for nine years. But, she’s fickle and likes to change cars ever four or five years, so she was done with the LTR and bought a new S60 (which they flew to Sweden to pick up – plush, no?). She offered me rights of first refusal and a killer deal. Mind you, there was nothing wrong with the Toyota and I wasn’t looking to get rid of it, but it had 234K miles at the time and I wanted to be able to roll it into recreation duty and not just drive it to death on the commute.

Whenever I imagined myself owning a European car, I always saw it being a Porsche (Boxster S, to be specific; I don’t care if Porschephiles don’t like it), not a Volvo. Especially not a wagon. Yet, there it is: At age 42, I own a Volvo wagon and you know what? It’s awesome! Probably the nicest car I’ve ever owned. Not a speed freak or a great handling car, but just great.

Also, it feels so adult driving it. Case in point: I took the SO to Mendocino for her birthday. Driving home down Highway 1 we were listening to Jazz and just enjoying the ride. At some point I assessed the situation: Jazz, coastal road, European car. I said to her “I feel like an adult.” She replied “Yes! I was thinking the same thing! This is so grown up!” Then we high-fived. Mind you, we’re 42 and 46, so it’s funny that we experience this feeling now.

So that’s it for now. I’ll cover the Bryce and Zion trip and the upcoming Motorcycle Adventure in separate posts as this is running a bit long.