Sunday, June 28, 2009

Happy Early Birthday, America!

The towns in this area don't always have their Fourth of July celebrations on the Fourth of July. Go figure. Today, June 28th was July 4th for a local town here in Central Massachusetts.

With some new acquaintances of mine, I watched a local parade and then attended a good, old fashioned cookout. I felt like I had been transported back to the 50s for a short time. What fun! The parade was, literally, on Main Street. Could have been any Main Street in America...flags flying, old Victorian style houses lining the streets. People sitting out on porches, in folding chairs, watching, cheering, and clapping. And the parade was as Norman Rockwell as you could get. We had the marching bands, the bagpipers, the Town Selectman. There was a nice assortment of cranky-looking clowns and we had the horse riders from the local riding academy. A whole host of fire trucks from the neighboring towns (including my own), cruising down the street with sirens and horns blazing.

And of course, we had the veterans. From WWII and forward. Oddly enough, not many of them were in the parade -- maybe veterans don't care to march in parades any more...or maybe they're all deployed in the Middle East now-- but all were cheered and applauded.

America, home of the free and land of the brave. In small towns across the nation, this week will be full of the simple appreciation of this glorious and troubled nation.

As we watched the parade float by, I could hear local folks talking about budget cuts and how this parade would be the last. Are we losing the last remnants of old fashioned Americana...does it matter?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

settling in

Just about a month since I started the new job and I'm settling in. People are quite nice, I'm on the verge of getting into production mode (I'd better hustle, I've got a July 20th deadline and a heck of a lot of work to do!), and the commute is easy. All in all, I'm feeling rather relaxed and comfy. For the first time, in a long time, I'm not particularly worried about how fitting in or being part of the "in" crowd. I find that I don't really care about the whole "corporate bonding" thing. I'm just happy to have some interesting work to do and a place to go every day. Working at home was easy and convenient, but overall, not good for me on an emotional level. Much better for me to get out and about.

There is one vague bit of uneasiness. When I was interviewing for the job, one of my friends wrote a wonderful, unsolicited recommendation for me. My friend knows one of the principal people in the company and the recommendation impressed that person greatly. I have mixed feelings about this. It was an incredibly kind and wonderful thing that my friend did. I didn't ask for it -- my friend took it upon herself to do any good friend would do. I would do it myself.

On the other hand, I can't help but wonder if I would have landed the job on my own merits. Of course, that's the point of getting recommendations...they DO help you to get a job. And, I did work on a project with my friend. And did a good job. But still, there's a vague sense of unease. In time, I will prove that the recommendations reflected the truth of my abilities. Until then, I will need to deal with this vague whisper in the back of my mind that questions whether it was how well I interviewed that was the primary reason for my new job or the words of others.

I suppose, in the long run, it really doesn't matter. What matters is where I am today and what I plan to do with the opportunity.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Taking a look at the other side

Yesterday, was one of the final days of Gay Pride in Boston. My good friend B (who IS gay) asked me to come along with him and a friend of his. So, there I am, a straight girl hanging out with the gay guys. It was a hoot. General observations:

Gay or not, Americans are fat. We went to a block party and, yes, lots of pretty men were there (alas, none of them noticed me, but several did cast a long glance at B). But there were also a lot of shirtless, flabby men. With tattoos. And not half as many drag queens as I expected.

Lots of good dancers. Yup, the gay boys do have rhythm...even the white ones. Now that I think of it, most of the men there WERE white. Possibly a Boston thing (yes, we in Massachusetts claim to be liberal, but there's still quite a bit of segregation that goes on)

The lesbians don't party with the men...they have a separate party elsewhere. Now that I think about it, that makes sense. Why would they want to party with men, when it's only the women that are of interest to them?

We didn't stay long at the block party. B's friend explained that the later the hour, the more of a meat market it would become. Neither B (who is in a committed relationship) or his friend were interested in staying long. I was kind of glad about that. I'm not fond of heterosexual meat markets -- I'm sure I would not have liked a gay one any better :-).

This is the first time that I've seen B in his "element." Most times when I see him, we're with a bunch of straight folks and I tend to forget that he plays on the other team. He's a dear, sweet, man, so his orientation doesn't matter to me at all. But it was a rather strange day to be reminded of our differences.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Time for serious renovations!

I've noticed a real difference since I started going to an office regularly. While I enjoyed the flexibility of working from home (if I wanted to take a nap, I could), I feel less like a recluse now that I get out of the house every day. So much better!

I'm content with the new job. People are nice enough. Once I actually start to produce something, I'm hoping to be able to show that they did hire a competent person. They're in a big hiring mode...which pleases me. While I don't mind small companies, I perfer ones that have a bit more bulk to them. In another month, the company will likely add another 10 people, which will provide some nice "bulk."

Now that the job issue is settled, I can turn my attention to other things. The very odd thing about being unemployed and the work at home job is that I ended up saving a lot more money than I expected. I'm still not sure how I ended up with the extra $$$. I was careful about spending for awhile, but not exceptionally so. Be that as it may, I have plans for the extra cash. Namely, fix up the condo. There's a very long list of improvements that I need.

First on the list, is a new refrigerator. The old one continues to make odd sounds and it's making me nervous. I think I've found one that will just fit in my available space. For extra measure...I think I'll get someone in to trim the apron on the top cabinets, just to give me a bit of extra leeway. After the's time for new carpeting upstairs (oy! how to move all that furniture???). After that, upgrades to the kitchen and bathroom floors. Then, finally, redo the counter tops in the bathrooms. Also, some touch-up painting and caulking. Oh, and replace the fixtures for the tub in the master bath.

Whew...that should keep me busy all summer and into the fall. I'm quite excited about the neighborhood clean up day that's coming along next week. A chance to get rid of a bunch of stuff!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New kid on the block

It's hard to be the new kid on the block. You don't know the people, you don't know the routine. You stick out in the crowd and yet, feel invisible at the same time.

Now, I'm not a naturally gregarious type of person, so it takes awhile for me to be part of the group. So it has been at this first week of the new job. Each company has a routine for new employees. Often, there's a lunch, a meeting, an email announcement. Because of a big deadline at the new place, none of these things have taken place. On my first day, I was walked around the room, introduced, and then left in my cube. I've had a meeting or two, asked a question or two, but mostly, I've been reading. Trying to learn the product, the new technology, and so forth. And reading. And wishing I could have taken vacation time, the way I originally had hoped.

Next week will be different. The work for the big deadline will be done. I will get my new employee lunch, there will be an introduction email (so my new manager says), and I'll start attending the weekly status meetings. I think I'm going to like the new company, but I sure wish I wasn't the new kid on the block.