Saturday, July 27, 2002

Convertibles are so cool

It was a beautiful day today. Granted I was up late the night before and slept until 10 am, but the day I did see was wonderful. The night before I had dinner with my friend Christopher. It dawned on me that I have known him longer than anyone else, aside from my family. How long would that be? 22 years. We met in 9th grade. Our lockers were only a few apart and his door opened so that I could see the inside of his locker door. He had this picture of an old man with a cigar stuck up his nose. It was gross and I told him so. He laughed. So when we met in the graphic arts room later that year, we already had this antagonistic relationship. We’ve been friends ever since. I’ll note here that he still does things to get a rise out of me. Last night it was sticking his food-covered tongue at me. This time I laughed and told him it was gross and to grow up. But really I hope we never do.

But I digress, let me get back to today. I have been teaching Christopher the ways of the mobile phone and had planned on going to pick one up for him this afternoon. I had coasted across the bridge with my gas gauge on E last night, so getting gas was priority number 1. My gas gauge doesn’t have the nifty little light that tells you when you are really empty and the last gallon is being consumed. So I try to keep things well above E most of the time. I kept expecting her to sputter on conk out on me, but she didn’t. Another catastrophe averted. I thought things would be okay since my cell phone had a fresh battery and I only seem to need to call AAA for assistance when I have a low battery and no spare.

So fresh from the gas station I head off to the city where they must have been giving something away. Why else could the traffic at noon on a Saturday be worse than any time I have crossed on my way to work in the morning? I arrived to hear the new Robert Plant CD blasting on the stereo. Christopher decided to hold off on the phone until later but wondered if we could go to Target instead? Of course we have to drive some where, the top is down on the Miata and it’s too nice of a day to be inside. We brought CDs to play. It would have worked out great if my tape player hadn’t kept ejecting the speaker/tape doodad that you use to hook up a portable CD player. I guess I better buy one of those head cleaners when we get to Target.

I’m getting better at getting around in the city. I managed to find the way to the Target in Daly City without getting too lost. We shopped, bought mundane things like paper towels and soap, had lunch, bought a cool plant and headed back. It was a fun day with a great friend in a cool little car.

I am so glad that I bought it just over 5 years ago. It’s been fun and economical. We used it to carpool to work saving bridge fare and getting from home to my office in 20 minutes during rush hour. The numerous trips out to see the area or just running errands is so much more fun with the wind in your hair and the sun on your face. Sure I’ve bought my share of hats and sunscreen but it was all worth it. I got my title in the mail the other day. So now the car is all mine. Some days I wish that she had a more spacious trunk or a back seat, but most of the time she’s perfect the way that she is. I love driving people around who have never driven in a convertible before. I love the sheepish smile they get when I ask them if they’d like it if I took the top down. Playing with the wind is way cooler in a convertible. Even if it’s a little cold out, I can always turn on the heater. Some days I think about what I would get if I had to buy another car. I go through all the options but today I know I’d get another car just like the one I have now. I know that when I’m old and looking back I’ll remember how cool it was to have had a convertible. Who knows maybe I’ll still have one then.

Thursday, July 25, 2002

Keeping busy

I've been thinking of things to share for a while. I've been busy working. The last couple of days I have actually had full days where I'm not keeping busy. There is still a lot to learn, but my mind has been more task driven and now I have tangible tasks to do. So I'm happy about that.

I've been working out my plan for a simpler existence. Living with less (eventually, really I'm working on it) and finding ways to live on less. The past couple of months house-sitting with just the bare essential possessions has made me see that it's possible. Sure I still look at things that I think I need, but the desire doesn't burn as hot as it used to.

I've been gathering material to start studying to get certified as a Microsoft Professional. I enjoy learning new things, so I just need to kick it up to the level where I can pass a test on the subject matter. While I do find pleasure in being knowledgeable in many different areas, it's hard to find my focus. It seems like the right time to do that now.

I've been noticing things outside of my head more. I think having more time for quiet introspective is to blame. Just the amount of time I spend in my car is enough. For example there is this one exit ramp off of highway 280 into San Francisco that just scares the shit out of me. It's got a swoopy sort of beginning that dips down before a steep incline that turns to drop down onto Sixth Street. In some ways it's like a roller coaster ride in your car. Often the traffic gets backed up, so you can't get a fast ride. Going slowly this evening I notice how low the barriers were on either side of the exit ramp. I was stunned at the potential danger of this and wondered if anyone ever thought about doing themselves in by forgetting to turn. Dark thoughts. I liked it better when I pretended that I was riding the roller coaster.

On a positive note, we have cracked the third cat. It's only taken a month and a half, but the last cat is letting us pet her and has been 'hunting' leaves and bringing in for us. Rather than just putting them in the compost tin, we've been collecting her 'love' for us in the cast iron kettle that sits on the garbage can. So now they all fight to sit on our laps in the evening and I am escorted upstairs to feed them breakfast every morning. It's just too cute and Cabala and I are enjoying it while we can.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002

Things are always changing

Well it’s been a while since I’ve updated and there are lots of reasons for that as you may have already surmised. One task that’s been occupying my time is searching for an apartment in the city. The house-sitting job has been a godsend, but with a mid-August return date, I needed to get my butt in gear to find some permanent digs. I’d put off picking a specific location for my new home while I was job searching back in April/May. Now that I’m working almost full-time for the research consulting firm in Burlingame, it made sense to find something on the other side of the Bay Bridge.

While I am still searching for the dream job (you’ll see more about that eventually, but send me a note off-line if you want to help me find it sooner) I had been leaning toward moving back to SF, rather than other places in the area. The climate, diverse people and attitude suited me more than other places. So, I started looking back in July. I have to say that craig's list is a great source for all things and I can’t recommend this community bulletin board enough. I was introduced to it by my friend, Brian, when we worked together in NY and I was looking to move out to California. Thanks Bri! I decided that I wanted to live some place convenient to commuting to the peninsula, had reasonable parking, a neighbor feel, trees and of course a nice apartment with cool roommates.

As much as I could go on about the minutia of my search, I won’t. It was fascinating to me and I suspect less so to anyone else. I did look at a bunch of apartments. I was afraid that I’d end up picking the first one I saw. It wasn’t that great, although the view of the Pacific Ocean was to die for. This would have made me very popular with visiting friends, but living on a fog bank wasn’t going to cut it for me this time around. So I ended up in the Mission district on a tree lined street close to public transit but with reasonable parking (In the four trips I’ve made to the apartment I’ve found a spot within a block or two) with 2 laid back, neat (clean-wise although they seem neat in a cool way too) housemates. There is even a back yard should the need to barbeque arise and enough storage for my basic needs. Yeah, a lot of my stuff will stay in storage. I’ll be looking for the cheapest and most convenient possible way to store the remainder of my stuff for a while. I am hoping the ‘out of sight out of mind’ approach will allow me to let some of it go eventually. I *really* have a lot of stuff.

And I guess the other big thing is that I have a job. I keep pretending that it’s not, but I keep coming to the same place every morning and working on non-personal things all day, so it certainly seems like a job doesn’t it? I’m not sure what my title is and I do pretty much everything without any specific focus it’s hard to describe my job. I have a support role in the company (small- working with a husband & wife team) and have prepared sales and marketing materials, answered the phone, developed a project timeline for the marketing of an upcoming study, updated the contact database with new clients, organized a pile of technical equipment, provided software and network support. I will be doing more sales and marketing things which are different than the computer/network support I’ve done in the past. I like the fact that I was hired based upon my potential to do this sort of work and that I’ll be able to do a lot of different tasks outside of my primary career path.

I think I like it. Today I was very happy with my decision. Other days I fluctuate. It’s a little scary to be out of my element, but there were a lot of days when being in my element sucked big time. With every job you do, there are tasks you enjoy and those you don’t. I ended up doing a lot of tasks I hated because I was paid a generous wage to do so. Now I’m rethinking the whole thing. I made a lot more money before, but it was spent without enough thought and didn’t go as far and last as long as it should have. I’ll be poor and in debt for a while, but I am hoping that I’ll find something that will make me happier in the long run.

What are you happy about these days?