Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Movin' On Up ...

(This is NOT my office ... )

Well, I've been at my new job for just over a week now ... and I'm already on my third office.

Yep, office, not cubicle, office.

Now don't be gettin' all huffy about me being all hotsy-totsy and stuff. The floor is set up so that the CFO, the two accounting managers, the benefits administrator, and the two senior accountant have offices (with a wall full of windows facing the interior and doors that are almost never closed). When I first started, they put me in the Benefit Administrator's office, since she was on vacation. Then I moved to the Accounting Operations manager's office for a day since she was at a conference in LA. Today, they moved me to my next home, hopefully for a while.

It's the Chief Financial Officer's (CFO's) office.

With windows.

And a HUGE desk.

The CFO is now in a smaller office next door to me.

(Okay, okay ... disclaimer: They've had lots of turnover in the past few years, at all levels. The current CFO is just an interim CFO until they can hire someone permanent, so he's only there 75% of the time. And, I'm sharing the office with another person - but he gets "the table", I get "The Desk". And, the interim CFO took the big comfy leather chair with him to the smaller office. I have a regular desk chair with faded blue upholstery that clunks whenever I turn it).

Still, if I can get a picture of the office and my desk, I'm gonna post it.

They like me, they really like me!! (They do, but that's another post in itself ... )

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Longing for Home ...

(Hat tip to my cousin Jo and her blog for the title to this post ... )

Last night I got an e-mail from my friend MC. She and I have known each other since about 5th grade. We played in band together throughout grade school (Virginia Lake), junior high (Walter R. Sundling) and high school (Palatine High - go Pirates!). She is the one and only person with whom I've kept in touch for so long, although she keeps me up to date about people from our past (she still lives in the Chicago area). We aren't in touch very often, but when we do e-mail each other it doesn't seem like any time has passed. We try to see each other whenever I return to Chicago, although that's not very often. I think the last time I saw her was around Father's Day in 2005, a few months before my Dad passed away. We went out to lunch, and when she dropped me off at my Dad's house she came in to say hello to him. They hadn't seen each other in years, and although she spent a good deal of time at my house during high school and college, his mind wasn't where it used to be and he didn't remember her very well until he saw her. I remember that she talked to him for a few minutes, and the tears running down her face ... he was so old and frail and was on oxygen 24/7. She's always been such a part of my life, and while I know it was hard for her to see him like that, it was very sweet.

She's married, with a wonderful husband (I remember back when they were first dating and my thinking what a good guy he was) and two absolutely beautiful children (a boy and a girl), a gorgeous home, and until recently a darn successful career in customs compliance (she's decided to be a stay-at-home mom, at least for a while). I've envied her life, but in a good way - she's smart and has a good head on her shoulders and has earned everything she has. I absolutely love her parents, too, and they've always been so kind to me. They still live in the house they did when I lived in Palatine, just a few blocks from my Dad's old house (where one of my brothers still lives).

Every time I hear from her, although we're pushing 40 and have our own lives, it brings back a flood of memories and takes me back to my hometown. I miss that place like crazy; not that I don't have a wonderful life here in Seattle, but no other place in the world makes me feel like that town and neighborhood, and never can. It's not necessarily a sad feeling, but I do miss it. She reminds me of way back when my parents were both still alive, when things were easier and carefree, of homecoming games and rushing to your locker between classes and TP-ing people's houses. She also reminds me that life goes on, that it's good to have a childhood home and family memories to ground you, that no matter where your life is now you have a history that defines you. I wrote in a previous post about my need to be in touch with my past and how it helps to keep me centered; well, MC is a big part of that. Even when we go months without being in touch, she's always a part of who I am.

Here is part of an e-mail she sent to me last night:

I just spent some time reading your blog - - the photo of you on your first day of school brought tears to my eyes. Your Mom was such an incredible lady – and you lost her way too young….it breaks my heart. When I read things that you have written – your letters when we were young, emails, and now blog – it just brings back such a flood of emotion and feeling from the past. What a crazy time in our lives when we were young. The moments went by quickly, but the hours seemed to last forever :) you know what I mean. I feel like even though we don’t keep in touch nearly as often as we should, in a way we will always be connected – and I feel like I will always “know” you. I can’t explain it really, it’s just how I feel.

What a great message to get. All of the craziness of the past year or so - my Dad's death, big changes in my finances (good, for the most part), career changes (I've posted a lot about that recently!) ... she has reminded me in one night of e-mails that it's all a part of life, and I still am who I am. It all is what it is. What a gift.

I'm going to look for pictures of "home" and probably post them soon.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

And then there were three.

The nursery I interviewed at offered me a job.

I was offered a temp-to-hire position which I'm currently working at.

I came home from work today and had a voice message ... from the firm I had been with for seven years before leaving a little over a year ago. They want to replace an account manager and called to see if I'd consider coming back.

I was more than a little amused to hear from them. I called the manager back (who is now their controller) and we actually had a good conversation. So, we're going to get together for lunch and discuss what they have in mind. I don't have any big desire to work with them again unless there have been some major changes in the culture of their finance department, but I think this person knows where I'm coming from and what the negatives were that made me leave. We will have a very frank discussion when we get together, and I'll see what she has to say and offer to me. I, in turn, will let her know what I would have to be offered to consider returning.

I feel very important lately. But I'll try not to let it go to my head. It's looking fat enough lately as it is ...

Monday, February 19, 2007

"How was school?"

So my first day of "school" is done.

All in all, not bad ... not bad at all. New classmates seem nice. Teachers are pretty cool. The school itself is pretty cool, too - big atrium with a giant skylight goes right through all four floors of the building, so it will be bright and sunny - when it stops raining.

I don't have a desk/cubicle/computer of my own, so I'm temporarily in the Benefit Administrator's office while she's on vacation this week. But, we were having network issues and I had to move to another workspace (of someone else who was off today) so I could log on.

One of the accountants showed me the cash receipts booking and processing procedure - I guess I'll be a back-up person for that. I HATE doing cash receipts; it's pretty entry-level but VERY complicated for a huge medical clinic like this one ... but oh well. Of course, there were tons of issues with the deposits, and lots of "it's NEVER this bad!" going on ... but oh well. And lots of issues with my system access not being set up correctly - but oh well. These are the kind of things that happen when you bring someone new into a finance department, so no biggie.

The accounting manager who brought me on board apologized that things are so crazy and not quite functional at the moment, and said that it will be like this for at least the first week or so. I'm supposed to have a meeting with her tomorrow morning to talk about "big picture" stuff, which we didn't get to do today since she was in meetings all afternoon. I also didn't get a key card yet, so I will have to call someone in the department tomorrow morning when I get there and have them come down and let me in the building. THAT one I don't like. But oh well ...

Overall, honestly, I liked it. I'll have to hold off real judgment for a while until I see how things really truly work there and what my role will be, but it's nice at the moment that I'm seen as a bit of a savior. I'm not sure what to wear for that role, though ...

And now, for your viewing pleasure ... a very few pictures of my day. I didn't take any pictures inside the building, of course, or after I left (just darkness and rain - y'all have seen that, I'm sure), but the beginning of the day:

"The Pink Room". This is a spare bedroom where our clothes and ironing board live. We bring all the tropical plants inside in the winter to enjoy sunlamps - hibiscus, plumeria, anthurium, cirius and jasmine. Nothing's blooming at the moment, but it's a nice room to get dressed in during Seattle's gray wet winter days.

Getting ready to leave in Joe Jetta. Yes, I drove to work today, even though it's so close - it's a holiday so parking meters are free, and the buses are on holiday schedules - so I could get there 35 minutes early and stand around in the rain, or get there AT 9:00 (with the possibility of being late). I chose to let Joe get me there. (Note the time is 8:22 a.m.)

Found a parking spot right across the street from work. (Note the time is 8:31 a.m. Yeah, it was ridiculous to drive - sue me)

The Building. Finance is on the top floor (this isn't the clinic, which is two blocks away - this building houses Finance, IT, and business relations). Whoever leased the building before the clinic had a small fitness center on that floor. The restrooms still have showers, and there is a sauna just off of them. Hmmm.

Me waiting to get into the building. I know, I look sleepy, pasty and fat in this picture. It's the flash. And the bad rainy-day lighting. Really. I look better than this. Really.

(And no, I didn't wear the same pants as in my kindergarten picture from yesterday's post ... black wool, with black socks and shoes, thank you).

Thanks everyone for all your warm wishes. I'll keep you updated as to how it continues ...

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Pencils ... notebooks ... new backpack ...

(My first day of kindergarten - 1972)

So, tomorrow I start my new job. At 9:00 a.m. I'll be let into The Building (it's a secure entry) and see exactly what it is I'm in for. And honestly - I'm not completely sure. I know it's a new position, to help absorb overflow work from the accounting manager and others. I also know that they are a little unorganized right now, and part of my job will be to pull together an idea of just how unorganized and start getting things in order, including writing policies and procedures and recommending possible changes in the department structure. I also know that they are scrambling to even have a desk and a computer ready for me. So ... this could be fascinating, or it could be a test of my ability to stay calm in the face of chaos.

I vividly remember the feeling when I was a kid as the first day of school was approaching each year; not exactly panic, but an increasing sense of unease. I've always been a big worrier and have spent my whole life working at controlling my habit of obsessing about upcoming changes and "what ifs". I TOTALLY have that feeling today - the nervousness, the queasiness. The only way for me to work with that is to stay busy and make sure that there's nothing for me to forget or be rushed through in the morning. I'm getting all the housecleaning and laundry done today so that nothing has to be done during the week, picking out my "first day of school" outfit and getting it ironed, getting something ready for my lunch, packing some things into my shoulder bag. I feel like I should be looking through an assortment of brand new, multi-colored folders and notebooks and pencils, loading them into a brand new backpack, and putting it next to my brand-new overly-bright new Nikes by the front door, just like I did before starting 5th grade. It's amazing how well I remember that feeling, and that I'm feeling that as a middle-aged (!) man. Silly, isn't it ...

Friday, February 16, 2007

"Until I die, there's only you"

If you've read anything about me on this blog, you know that my background and education is in classical music. Many of my friends in college and in graduate school were singers - and in academia, especially in a well-known music school, that means "opera singers". There are a lot of stigmas that can be applied there - and many, I admit, are quite true.

Being a gay man (oh stop, you did so know), I also have a weakness for musical theater. Yeah, a lot of it is meant to blatantly tug at the emotions - but the good musicals do that so well.

Now, if you combine an operatic voice with musical theater - well, sometimes moisture occurs.

This is from a tribute to Andrew Lloyd Weber, I think for his 50th birthday (it's about 9 years old). The singer is Dame Kiri Te Kanawa - she is a renowned soprano from New Zealand (part Maori). What is amazing is that no matter how dramatic - and high - the music gets, she almost looks as if she's simply speaking. Whether you like classical music or not, just imagining producing this sound from the human body is nothing short of incredible. Honestly - try to create the sounds that she does, in what seems like an effortless way (trust me - it AIN'T effortless!).

Anyway - here is an amazing performance of Dame Te Kanawa in 1998 (just under 5 minutes - and worth it). I could listen to her over and over and over ...

The lyrics, if you would like:

The heart is slow to learn,
the heart is slow to learn.
These feelings that I feel
are foolish but they're real.
I'm wise enough to see this love will never be;
and each day's like the last when living in the past.

I know it's mad, and you won't return,
but then, as I have said -
the heart is slow to learn.

I've never loved as I have loved you;
Why is love cruel? I wish I knew.
Say what you will - it doesn't matter.
Until I die, there's only you -
until I die, there's only you.

The heart is slow to learn,
the heart is slow to learn.
You'd think there'd be a way
to shut out yesterday.
Perhaps if I just thought
of all the times we fought,
I'd try to let us know there's still no letting go.

I know it's mad, and you won't return;
but then as I have said - the heart is slow to learn.

Why is love cruel? I wish I knew ...

Say what you will - it doesn't matter.
Until I die, there's only you;
until I die, there's only you.
Why is love cruel? I wish I knew.
Say what you will - it doesn't matter.
Until I die, there's only you ...
Until I die, there's only you.

The heart is slow to learn.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Who sez I ain't employable???

So I mentioned the other day that I interviewed for a job at a nursery. Well, I got a voice mail this morning offering me the job.

Now, I've also been working with a variety of recruiting firms for the past month or two, which hasn't panned out very well just yet. But, yesterday I got a call from one of them about a temp-to-hire position with a big medical clinic not far from my house. Honestly, it seemed like a long shot from what the recruiter told me of the position - but I said, what the hell, go ahead and present me to them.

Well, they want me, too.

So - two job offers this morning. I certainly wasn't expecting that. I accepted the temp-to-hire position and am starting Monday morning. It's in my field, it's about a mile from my house (read: walk to work!), it pays more than my last two jobs did (and almost three times what the nursery job would have), and it could lead to a permanent position if they like me and I want to continue on there.

I am still in the running for a job with a company that I really want to work for - I should have an interview coming up in the next week or two. And honestly, I felt horrible telling the nursery that I couldn't accept their offer. But, I got a hugely-needed ego boost (more like scraping-my-ego-off-the-road) and something new to look forward to.


I won't tell what I know of the new job just yet ... because I think I may have a lot to post about next week. :)

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

February 12 of 12

I'm a little late with my 12 of 12 entry, but I've been having big problems with Blogger. I've just upgraded to the newer version - I hope it helps ...

These pictures were all taken February 12, 2007 in Seattle and Medina, Washington, U.S.A.

9:38 a.m.
Me dressed and ready for a job interview. I decided to apply for a job at a plant nursery for something to do while I'm looking for my still-elusive dream job:

11:13 a.m.

The Nursery. It's in Medina, Washington, just across Lake Washington from Seattle, on the Eastside. Bill Gates' house is nearby:

12:47 p.m.

The Space Needle seen from I-5. We're sitting in traffic heading to Chinatown for lunch (Scott had the day off and came with me to Medina):

1:04 p.m.

A group of school children on an outing. You can't really see it, but they are all tethered together:

1:26 p.m.

Lunch at Kau Kau in Chinatown (actually, in Seattle it's called the "International District"):

1:50 p.m.

The doorway of a very old, scary pet fish store off of an alley. Scott loves this place and bought a fish for one of the aquariums:

2:12 p.m.

Cherry trees blooming:

2:13 p.m.

Looking towards downtown at some different types of architecture:

2:42 p.m.

This roll was sitting on this bike stand when we parked the car. It was still there an hour and a half later:

3:06 p.m.

Back home. Some forsythia branches I had brought inside are in bloom:

3:22 p.m.

This man in the tow truck had been sitting around when we got home. Then, he sprang into action! Apparently he was repossessing a neighbor's car:

3:47 p.m.

It's warm enough to spend some time in the yard with the dogs. Some snowdrops are already up and blooming:

My 12 of 12 day ends there; the later pictures didn't turn out very well, and I had a hard time paring down all the day's pictures to these! Hopefully they'll get more interesting each month ...

Thursday, February 08, 2007

I SWEAR I'm not making this up ...

A theater in Florida received a complaint from a passing motorist because of the title of an upcoming play that was displayed on a marquee out front. The woman was embarrassed because her young neice was in the car and had asked her what an unfamiliar (to her) word meant in the title. Apparently the woman was "offended [she] had to answer the question".

The offensive play is "The Vagina Monologues".

So, the theater changed the wording on the marquee to this:

(I can only imagine the way this woman's conversations with her OB/GYN would go ... )

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Thanks, Stadium Pal!

I had meant to post this before Super Bowl Sunday, but I forgot.

Enjoy ...

(a little over 5 minutes ... )

'Til Death (or lack of children) Do Us Part ...

This is hilarious.

The Supreme Court in my own dear little Washington State previously upheld the 1998 Defense of Marriage Act, banning same-sex marriage and specifically mentioning "a state interest in furthering procreation". Now, an initiative has been introduced responding to that - by suggesting that heterosexual couples would be required to have children within three years of being married, or have their marriages automatically annulled!

Now, the pro-gay Washington Defense of Marriage Alliance, who is sponsoring the initiative, has itself admitted that it is absurd and has no hope of passing. Still, I think it's brilliant. What will the next argument be from the Supreme Court banning same-sex marriage? It's not traditional ("that's the way things have always been done around here")? It's not what God intended (one interpretation of the Bible, yes - but don't forget all the sanctioned polygamy in the Old Testament)? It's a sin (again, an interpretation - and don't forget that pesky "separation of church and state" thing!)?

I'm looking forward to the debate on this. Thoughts?

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Donnie Davies hoax/satire update ...

Yeah, I know, we're all sick of the story. I've still been watching and waiting for more of the story to unfold, especially after Donnie was "outed" as Dallas actor Joey Oglesby.

For some reason I looked at Joey Oglesby's MySpace page today, where he had just posted this response to the whole thing - denying that he is the same person as Donnie Davies. His denial still sounds a bit ambiguous, though ... so I went back to Mr. Davies' webpage and to the webpage of his band, "Evening Service".

Now, MySpace (supposedly) had shut down both Donnie's and Evening Service's MySpace pages ... but on the band's website, they wrote that MySpace has replaced the Evening Service MySpace page.

It's quite a different page ...

I know, it's all been some weird parody and hoax - but I'm still waiting for the punchline. I'm thinking these people were expecting some reaction from the religious right, which they didn't get. So did it succeed, or fail?

Friday, February 02, 2007


Well, it's official. The Dream Job that I interviewed for on Monday is another "thanks but no thanks".

I called their recruiter this afternoon to see where they were at in their decision, and she said she'd talk to the account manager and call me back. Instead, she e-mailed me and said they were moving forward with other candidates. Then I got a standard form e-mail ten minutes later saying the same thing. I really wish she would have called me instead. Maybe I'm being old-fashioned, but that would have been so much more personal.

Bleah. That's how I feel right now. Just bleah.

Good As You takes on the Beefman!

I've commented before that Good As You is my favorite site that counteracts the crazy anti-gay agenda. Today, he takes on a threatening comment he received after appearing on PBS' "In The Life", which focuses on GLBT issues.

Now, first off, watching him (Jeremy Hooper) on this segment really inspired me. His site doesn't attack, but rather uses humor to disentangle the warped "logic" that tends to be so pervasive in anti-gay messages. He has turned negative personal experience into something so positive it can't be ignored. Without knowing him personally, I'm proud of him.

Secondly, as is his way, he doesn't attack the attacker but instead, the message. He has exposed the commenter as Nick Peronace, head of a Philadelphia beef distributor named Enterprise Steaks. As Jeremy says, perhaps some of Mr. Peronace's customers would not be happy knowing that they are doing business with someone with such archaic and violent views. I know that I have some friends and some readers who are from Philadelphia ... so far be it from me to suggest any action, but if any of you want to spread the word, I certainly can't stop you ...

Thanks, Jeremy, for everything that you do!