Saturday, April 21, 2007

Chasin' that Silicon Rainbow, Livin' that Web 2.0 Dream

Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel
As the images unwind
Like the circles that you find
In the windmills of your mind

-- Noel Harrison, "The Windmills of Your Mind"

First of all, thanks to all who have offered up congratulations on my recent job offer, and thanks to all of you who have been posting comments of support in this odyssey.

The news of a job offer this past Thursday seemed to scrub away whatever traces of hurt were left from the rejection the week before. To be honest, it came as a surprise to me. I sensed a good rapport with the interviewers, but I wondered whether I actually had the technical prowess to make it into that stratum of the developer universe.

For the first time in a long time, a feeling of peace traveled with me on the 40-minute commute to work on Friday. A part of me felt like a Survivor contestant who had just taken possession of the Immunity Idol. I could play the game as best as possible, but at the end of the day, Tribal Council wasn't going to extinguish my torch.

I got a phone call from one of my interviewers on Friday afternoon. She wanted to make sure that I had received the job offer details via e-mail and gave me her cell phone number so that I could reach her if I had any questions over the weekend. Her comments and the tone of her voice made it clear that they were enthusiastic about me, and she could probably tell by my remarks that I was clearly excited about the offer, too.

I still have interviews left on my calendar. There's one penciled in for a week from this Monday down in the Music City for a subsidiary of a music licensing organization. It's interesting work, but it's a contract-to-hire position, meaning after six months, I could be looking for a job again.

There is another lead for which I have done two phone interviews and provided a code sample. The word as of late this past week is that they want to fly me in to their offices in New England for a face-to-face interview. The pay could possibly be even more than the job offer I have on the table, but the company is privately held, and they've been somewhat secretive about their project, which makes me wonder if the line of work could be adult oriented.

My gut feeling is that the Silicon Valley offer is going to be the best deal overall. The company is doing well, and it just reported another bang-up quarter on earnings. From my visit to their offices, I know that it's a lively place that fosters creativity and fun. I believe that at this job, my skills will grow and mature in ways that will benefit me in the long run.

There's a lot I need to ponder before I say "yes" to this offer, both out of fairness to my family and my prospective employer.

Right now, the offer details are statistics dancing around in my head. The HR folks were supposed to send me some information on Friday, but it never arrived in my webmail account's inbox. I suspect it was the victim of an overly aggressive bulk mail filter, so I have requested that they resend the information to a separate account.

If I take this job and we relocate (the latter being a big if, given the rigid stance my wife has taken), there will need to be some thinking on the execution timetable. I know darned well that Chaos Control wasn't joking when she wrote about the sky high housing prices in the Silicon Valley.

We don't have a huge stack of cash to plonk down on a down payment, so in reality, I would probably have to move out here alone and live pretty modestly so that we could save up some money and pay down the debts back home. After that, I would make use of the relocation package from the employer to get all the big stuff moved here. During the job offer phone conversation, I felt out the possibility of deferring parts of the relocation package, and they said they could do that.

From a quality of life standpoint, I think the kids would benefit greatly from growing up out there, both from the standpoint of academics and culture. Two bloggers who know the area well have offered up advice and resources for getting settled down.

As for me, I could see myself throwing down roots there. I'm not someone who needs a lot of space or a big house. Indeed, when we moved to our current location, we shunned the vinyl clad McMansions, so popular in this area, for a 1,250 sq. ft. ranch built back in 1961.

The hard part will be convincing my wife that this is the best thing to do. As I mentioned in the prior post, she was on the verge of tears on Thursday night when I gave her the news. In terms of timing, the news of the offer couldn't have been more stressful, since our eleventh wedding anniversary was on Friday.

She hasn't expressed an interest in discussing the offer at all. Keeping Schnarch's advice in mind, I've been trying to keep my role as "high desire" partner from badgering her into making a choice. The good thing is that the prospective employer said that they do fly out couples when the spouse is reluctant, so at least she would get a chance to see the area firsthand.

At some point, she has to weigh her comfort against the long term financial security of the family. My skill set doesn't find much demand here, save for dead-end maintenance programming roles and contract jobs with no benefits. Even if I don't take the job and stay here, she might find that I am so unhappy with my lot in life that I refuse to remain in the marriage.

The challenge for me in the days to come is to look really hard at my anxieties and learn to tolerate them. If I do take this offer, I will be charging head-on into a lot of old fears... fear of a new place, new job, the potential of making mistakes, worries about whether I'm doing the best thing for everyone. You name it.

The worries about doing the best for everyone weigh especially heavy. Every once in a while, a song will pop in my mind, the lyrics of which reinforce the narrative of conformity. A good example is Chad Brock's "Ordinary Life", which spins a yarn about a man who winds up regretting a choice to put career over family. On the flip-side, I have to say that I'm nowhere near the feelings expressed in Gary Allan's "Right Where I Need To Be".

When I sink into this state of psychic entropy, I have to keep in mind that these fears must be experienced as part of growing into a more mature me... someone who is more confident in his abilities and can live up to his potential. I hope that in going through all of this, I can finally use the windmills of my mind to harness the energy of my life instead of fueling the confusion.
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