Adventures of a Modern Day, Middle-Aged Hero, on the Glory Road(to family security)



Just came back from dinner for my daughters birthday.  As expected, I was not able to convince her that something other than Shari's was her favorite restaurant, but, while it's never going to be excellent, it's also very rarely bad.  Tonight's dinner had that extra dash of excitement because Wednesday night at Shari's is 'Free Pie' Night, which means by 5:30, the line is out the door.  We got there early enough that we got a seat right away, and the 'Free Pie' offer meant that everyone got to pick their own birthday pie/cake/ice cream.

It was a good birthday dinner, and a very good birthday for my daughter.  She was happy with her presents, and cheerful and sunny as only a 6-year old on their birthday can be.  If I could bottle that mood and the feeling you get from being around her when she is in that mood, I would be a rich, rich man.
As promised earlier, a picture of her in her new glasses, looking closer to 15 than 6.

In other news, between my daughters birthday this week, and the fact that I went over my one year point at my new job this week, it feels like a time for some reflection.  

There are times I am not sure I made the right decision quitting the Shipyard and taking this job.  There are many, many reasons for this.  Among them is just the fact that even though I have been here for barely over a year, I am still nowhere near as good at my new job as a I was at my old job.  There is a lot of disappointment at myself there, as well as worry that I am letting my boss, who went out and recruited me, down.  He hasn't said that, it's all just internal self-pressure.  The Shipyard, and Naval Nuclear Power Program, are Zero-Failure organizations...the smallest mistake is hammered down.  While Hanford(and most of the real world) are not run to that same standard, it is the standard I have become used to over the last 18-years.  I am constantly falling behind and losing track of things trying to work to my old standards here, and am having a really hard time training myself to lower my standards, and as my boss says, 'adjusting my definitions of success'.  There is no submarine to get to sea here, proving that me and my team completed work successfully.  

Professionally, things aren't bad enough that I have been willing to quit and go crawling back to the yard, moving my family a 3rd time in one year, BUT....if someone with a time machine showed up asking me if I wanted to roll back the clock, knowing what I know now...I think I would say yes.

Luckily, my professional life does not exist in a vacuum.  I get to go home at night, and on weekends, and so far, that has made up for the reservations I have about my career choice.  

At the Shipyard, I could have expected to work about 650 hours of OT in the last year.  Here, I worked 60.  Add in the 8/9's schedule where every other Friday is a scheduled day off, and I have worked way fewer 5 day weeks than I have 4(or 3) day weeks.  All told, I would guess I have gotten to spend and extra 12 hours a week with my family....and, it's not just the quantity of time, it's the quality.  When you work 650 hours of OT a year, and finally do get a weekend off, you don't want to go spend a few hours in the car to go look at a waterfall, or visit a museum that might or might not be worth the trip.  You want to sit on the couch in your underwear and brush Cheeto's powder out of your chest hair.  

The last year has been pretty fantastic from that point of view.  There are actually times I worry that my family might get sick of having me around, after getting used to not having daddy around so much.  I've seen it happen to more than one guy when he rotated from sea duty to shore duty in the Navy, and know that sometimes families have just as much trouble adjusting to time with each other as they do time apart from each other. 

So far, the good outside the fence is outweighing the bad inside the fence.  Over the last two weeks, my company has been undergoing a roughly 12% 'Reduction in Force'(layoffs) and I survived that.  In the aftermath, some people are moving around, and I am hoping that I am able to use this opportunity to start with a fresh attitude.   

Finally, now that the RIF, which has been hanging over folks for about 2 months, is complete, I can begin taking some drastic measures on my house, which still has not sold.  Truth be told, if it wasn't for that house still begging me to move back into it, I probably wouldn't think as much about going back to the Shipyard.  I know I wouldn't.  We are going to lower the price another six thousand, while my wife and I try to decide whether we want to go the 'Short Sale' route(which is what my agent is recommending) or since it is looking less likely like I am going to run away with my tail between my legs back to the Shipyard, close out my 401K there, so I can have more cash on hand to cover a non-short sale closing.  It's the decision between messing up my credit for 2-3 years, so I won't be able to buy a new house, OR using all the money I thought I would use for a new down payment to close out my old house, meaning it will still be 2-3 years before I am able to buy a new house.  Six of one, half-a-dozen of the other...both results will be the same, and 5 years from now, it won't matter, so why sweat it out.  

Looks like the only real solution is to go buy more lotto tickets.  Maureen totally struck out on the scratch tickets I bought her for her birthday...

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