Thursday, October 18, 2007

Sorting Out this Infernal Stack of Aging Envelopes

Have you ever been through a time in your life where you just don't want to open your mail? Maybe you just got tired of hoping that something you'd really want would arrive. Maybe it's because most of what arrives are bills, or maybe they're even past due.

Perhaps the direness of your situation makes you take those "You may have won $100 million" announcements personally, and rather than just shrugging them off as just another lame marketing gimmick, you just get into a state of outrage thinking, "D@mn it! Where's my $100 Million?!!" You run the envelope in the shredder proclaiming the likenesses of Ed McMahon et al. to be postal persona non grata ad infinitum.

Did Kramer seem quite reasonable during that Seinfeld episode where he goes to demand that mail delivery be stopped altogether? At some point, you know you need to tear into that stack and clean it up once and for all, but you just can't summon the energy in the moment to do it.

No, that's not what's really happening in my life, but it's a really good metaphor for explaining why I haven't felt much like blogging. Subsitute "junk mail" and "bills" with "difficult situtations" and "unattended negative feelings", and that pretty much sums it up. I've been fighting bouts of hopelessness. I've been having trouble sleeping through the night. I've been feeling anxiety over the lack of any physical or emotional intimacy.

The death of Do-No-Evil as a job lead continues to have a negative impact of my job search motivation. I've set up some automated search agents at the usual and customary job boards to feed me national leads, but that's about all I can stand to do. One of my readers suggested to me in private correspondence to check out the sites at cities I'd like to move to for leads, citing that the reputation of the big job boards is deteriorating with employers. I might just do that, but as of yet, I haven't been able to push myself to execute.

As I mentioned, I've applied to some local companies. I did an interview a week ago with Safe-T-Call for a three-month contract position on Thursday. On Monday, I did an interview with The Amazing Music Floating Price Machine Co. on Tuesday. In a couple instances of small worldishness, I learned that a good chunk of the company's development staff graduated from my alma mater, and the CEO is from my hometown. Both interviews seemed go go well, but they said it would be a week or two before they would have a decision because they had other candidates to consider.

Tomorrow I have an interview with Susie Student Loan Co. for an application security analyst position. I think that there is some potential there, but I suspect that I may not get the offer because they are wanting someone with .NET Framework know-how since they are a big Microsoft shop, although they have quite a mix of other technologies from mergers and acquisitions past.

True to form, Large Indigo and Local VOIP Co. haven't responded to the job applications I submitted a couple weeks ago.

The standards body work continues to consume most of my time at my current job. The next submission deadline is November 12, and we'll probably make that, but there's still a lot that needs to be done in terms of supplying content for the survey of standards and specifications. I've been trying to get representatives from corporations to contribute their input, but with the exception of two reps, my requests have been met with a collective yawn. Yet, they want this to move forward. And I still don't fully grok what we're trying to accomplish because to do so would require me to learn about five years of arcane knowledge in a couple weeks.

My boss has asked me to resurrect some proprietary compression code so that he can start working on it again. It was actually the first project I worked on here, almost two years ago. It hasn't been touched since the spring of 2006. The original client for whom we were doing the work, has been in bad financial troubles -- shareholder lawsuits, creditor revolts, accounting irregularities, and the threat of stock delisting.

I suspect he thinks we could reuse it for the client for which they're currently doing consulting work. He wanted me to get the code working for the new version of the development tool he wants to use. However, I found out through a rather paninful process of troubleshooting, that it's just not possible to do the job using the tool. You have to buy a license for the higher end tool, which will cost several hundred bucks, which they will refuse to spend. 'Tis as if Pharoah himself had asked for bricks without straw.

I'm not sure why he's so motivated to develop another proprietary compression algorithm when the domain for which he's like to use it is so saturated with other industry standard algorithms. How he thinks his brilliant mind will outdo an array of experts who spend their lives on this stuff is beyond me. Methinks he's looking to collect licensing fees of some sort. But, then again, it could just be more busywork for me to do so he looks like he's doing a modicum of management.

Then there is the health insurance. We are on a new plan now, with a high deductible and a health savings account. For family coverage, it is a $4,000 deductible, and the maximum contribution that we can make to the savings account something on the order of $5,800. The monthly premium goes down $177.25/month, so we'll be saving $2,126.94. But since the deductible quadruples with no co-pays, that decline in premium and then some needs to go into the HSA, so in effect my net income continues to shrink.

My wife has started gearing up for life on her own. She requested and got from her employer permission to increase the number of hours she works per week from 10 to 32. That will make her eligible for her employer's health plan. She wants me to go on that, too, because it will be a lot cheaper than what we have. My employer still wants me to stick with the plan so that they can make good on a promised one-time $1,000 contribution to the HSA. However, I don't know whether I'll have tax liabilities should I get the money deposited then quit before the end of the year. It shouldn't be this complicated.

I've talked with my therapist about depression the last two sessions. She says the sleeping problems could be rooted in it, and has instructed me to keep a more regular sleep schedule and keep a journal of when I wake up. She's also reminded me that I need to set aside some time for myself, even if my wife has increased needs for me to watch the kids as she starts to work more. I'm to get a sitter, if necessary. I can't argue much with that. :-)

There is one other thing that has been weighing heavily... I am feeling very alone these days. Part of it is the earlier nightfall and the spooky twilight breezes. There has been some realignment in friendships, too, case of disruption in some Bowenian triangles, which can be very jarring.

But I'm really starting to miss touch. It's been over 20 weeks since my wife and I did anything sexual. And it's been even longer than that since we engaged in anything close to loving affection. I know that I don't want this from her anymore, and she seems to be doing quite well without any from me, thank you. I also know that from others' blogs, there are those who are facing worse droughts and living. I really need to get myself out of this limbo and move on because it's sapping me of energy.

I need to revitalize the narrative of my life, because right now it's stuck in a swamp.
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