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December 2005 Chapel Thrill, NC



My first day of management training back in the late 80s in a record store found me in the back room with the store manager. She was describing the cramped store's storage system, telling me where things were and how they were arranged. She pointed to a shelf of CDs in their long box packaging and blandly told me, "This is where we keep all of our product."

At that instant I knew I was in the wrong job.

I went to work at the record store because (a) I needed a job and (b) I loved music. That the CDs weren't even being referring to as "CDs" was troubling enough. To have them referred to by the generic product was a bit too much.

Today I sat through my first Staff and Manager's Meeting. It's really three meetings rolled into one, with various layers of people leaving at coordinated times as certain things are discussed and then moved on from. Being a member of the "Senior Staff" I get to sit through all of them. It's all new to me, which helps make it fascinating.

As the various division managers were doing their rapid-fire discussion on the practical points on publishing a new title, I was reminded of that first day at the record store. Today was a sharp contrast. The people around me were doing serious work, all interested in putting out a good book not just a sellable "product".

"I'm Not a Programmer"

At the end of the presentation part of my interview for a teaching job at RIT we were discussing areas of interest and entry-level classes I'd be willing to teach. One woman asked about the beginning programming classes. My response was, "I'm not a programmer."

The correct response, of course, was, "I don't do programming now, but would love to learn it and would be happy to teach it."

The Old Job introduced me to programming on a daily basis. Nothing elegant, nothing in-depth, but just enough to access data in ways that the front-end interface didn't allow.

I knew the phrase from RIT was coming back to haunt me.

The description for The New Job I mentioned FileMaker Pro. I indicated that I had supported it, because I had.

Supported, as it turns out, has various meanings. To me it meant if the application stops working, I did troubleshooting to figure out why it wasn't working. To The New Job it means understand the database programming, fix errors within the database and create new features and reports that we need.

These two are not exactly the same as each other.

Guess which one wins, though?



Dec. 3rd, 2005 03:33 pm
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Cary Balloons

Cary Balloons

August 2005 Cary, NC


This morning and afternoon I spent some time working on an email to send out to lots of people about the new job.  It's nothing very new to anyone who has been following this lj for a while, but I'm posting it here for everyone here as well.
Hi Everyone,

Please forgive both the form-letter nature of this email as well as the anonymity of your receipt of this list.  I'm sending this to a long list of you and, hopefully, it will make it through any spam filters you may have in place and make it's way to you.

Back in May '04 I lost my job of 6 1/2 years.  Traumatic as that was, I was determined to get through the experience as quickly as possible.  The same day I was let go I started applying for a new job, hopeful that my experience would land me something fairly soon.  However, after a short time of sending resumes and cover letters into that black hole of email and online application forms and getting no responses at all I began to sink into depression.  Life, which had been difficult but enjoyable, had become nothing but difficult, with numerous financial pressures and the sense of  letting my family down on a daily basis bearing down on me.

As the weeks wore on, it was difficult to escape the feeling that my true worth (or lack thereof) had finally been exposed.  As depression will have it, I began cutting myself off from most of my friends.  My faith wavered, though I continued with my constant praying, unsure of why the pain was happening and not ending.

I continued to blog and writing and my photography became one of my few outlets, but that was small comfort for not having a way to support my family.

At the end of August I finally found a job with a small library software company in north Raleigh.  It was, by far, not the ideal job, but at least it was a job.  The steady paycheck was helpful, but the small amount of money it gave us constantly reminded me that I needed to continue looking for my next "real" job.

So, while I was working there, I kept sending out resumes on a weekly basis.  I had a few interviews, and in each case I was one of three people called in for an interview.  None of these jobs were all that special and none paid close to what I had been making.  Still, over 300 people had applied for each of these jobs.  I knew what I was up against and the kind of odds I was facing.

So, now, 18 months later, the skies have opened up and I have finally found that "next job."  As of December 1st I've become the IT Manager for the UNC Press.  Two days into it I've already learned how challenging the job can and will be.  I've also re-learned what it's like to have a staff genuinely happy to see me and value my time, attention and opinions.

The day after I accepted the position and put in my two-week notice with the library software company, I was driving home and realized I was feeling something that I  hadn't felt for a long time.  It took me a while to realize what the lightness and random happiness that I was feeling again was:  It was Hope

For those of you who offered me support in any way over the past year and a half, please accept my thanks.  If I've lost contact with you, please accept my apologies.  Truly, it was nothing personal.

As we have re-found Hope, I wish it for all of you and those you love this holiday season.  Keep warm and appreciate the people and things that you have in your life.

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Myrtle Beach Sunset

Myrtle Beach Sunset

October 2005 Myrtle Beach, SC


Somewhere in my back pages here I wrote about how my outlook on life has drastically changed since losing my job back in May '04.  I no longer have the optimism that I once had, I no longer have that unbearable lightness of being that I once had that made each day seem like a new adventure.  Or at least a tolerable day's journey into the next night.

My problem now is that the new job seems like a really good one.  It's one that I'm actually liking, that I think could be a really, really good one.  Despite the fact that I'm actually Management and Senior Staff, things are starting to feel okay.  Good.  Almost comfortable, even.

And that's the problem.  I'm not trusting all of this yet.  The staff at the Press all seem very grateful and happy to have me there.  They haven't had a real Desktop IT person there ever and are looking for someone to help with some of their critical databases.

That's all fine, but I'm afraid either they're going to decide they made a mistake because I'm not a database programmer (I never represented myself as one and the job description failed to mention this) and kick me to the curb.  Or something like that.

Bonn (and Seren) both say they feel like I deserve this after the long days and months of despiration and having to work at The Old Job.  I don't feel that way, feeling, instead, like I don't deserve much of anything.  I'm grateful for what little I might have, but something that seems this good just feels beyond anything I'd be given.

After one song lyric and two literary references I'll leave off with a cliche: I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop.  But I'm also praying that it doesn't.


First Daze

Dec. 1st, 2005 11:31 pm
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Brooks Hall, unfocused

Brooks Hall, unfocused

December 2005 Chapel Hill, NC


Briefly: first day at The New Job was good.  Busy and more than a bit overwhelming, but good.  I have my work cut out for me, but I think I'm going to enjoy working there.

The image is crap, but there you have it.  I'll try to get another one, in focus this time soon.

Today is World Aids Day.  [ profile] androkles has promoted this for a few days in his LJ, but the most moving tribute I've read belongs to my good friend [ profile] ruralrob whose entry today is both highly personal and intensely moving. 

If you aren't already reading his LJ, you should.

More later.  I'm hoping to have a computer set up at work tomorrow.  Maybe I'll even find some time to use it.


Done Deal!

Nov. 16th, 2005 04:33 pm
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I-40 South Skyline

I-40 South Skyline

November 2005 Raleigh, NC


Money was discussed. A bit lower than I had hoped for, but we agreed to a six and twelve month review with incremental raises as appropriate. (Proving my worth isn't a problem)

A target starting date was set for December 1st.

I am so happy and relieved!


Good News!

Nov. 16th, 2005 02:30 pm
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November 2005 Raleigh, NC


After a long morning of no word from The Press and a two-hour long lunch meeting I finally was able to check email just a short while ago.
"(We) all enjoyed meeting and chatting with you yesterday afternoon. During our discussion this morning we all felt that you would be a good fit for our organization and a good colleague to work with. If possible, please give me a call ... this afternoon so we can further discuss the position..."


This afternoon we'll, undoubtedly, talk money, which is fine by me. It will easily be more than I'm making and come with better benefits.

When I lost my job back in May of '04 I entered into the darkest days of my life. Since then I've managed to come back from the edge, but have known that things still weren't right. I was no longer mourning the loss of the normalcy that was lost with that job and it's salary, but the money worries haven't abated and, as most of you probably know, there's a whole avalanche of worries and problems that crash down around with that.

I really do hope and pray we're going to be able to start putting all of that behind us now.

My most heartfelt thanks and appreciation to you all for helping me through all of this and for your prayers, thoughts, wishes, crossed fingers and held thumbs!




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