Saturday, May 30, 2009

End of the Era

On September 8, 1992, I walked into the 35th floor of a high-rise in Des Moines, Iowa (yes, Des Moines has high rises) with my blue suit, white blouse, and sensible Payless pumps and my briefcase.

On May 29, 2009, I walked out of a 35th floor high-rise in Seattle, wearing a flowing black and white flowered skirt, black sweater and pearls, a black faux Pashmina shawl, and Jimmy Choos, carrying a lovely red tote.

Yesterday was the end of an era. I often say "Never say never", and I won't rule out the possibility of being back, someday. I did leave the firm once before, and came back. We made several military moves, so there were new offices every few years. Who knows what life will bring.

But I'm 40. I walked out of that office yesterday, leaving behind a million memories . . . and that's probably how they will stay.

Monday I start a new career, and one that my colleagues would be more than happy to have. I am so thrilled to have been given such a great opportunity in such an adverse situation, I don't think you'll ever be able to understand. I plan to use this to jump start the next era, and hope that it wears off on all aspects of my life.

I've always thought I was pretty good at what I did. Thought I was smart and technically competent. Along the way, I tried to be a good leader, a good mentor, a good example.

The outpouring of thoughts from people along the way have been telling. While there was an occassional comment about giving me a call for technical advice, the overwhelming theme was not that they would miss my competence. The overwhelming theme was that they would miss how I treated them as a person. Valued their contributions. Welcomed them in my jobs and in my home. Was honest and up front with them. Held myself out as a professional, even as the firm yanked the rug out from under me. Carried myself with grace and poise and a positive attitude up until the day I left. Was a leader.

This, more than anything, made me proud. I know I lot of people who are good at what they do. There are far fewer people who are leaders. How fortunate that these last 16+ years have given me that opportunity to be one.

Monday, I will lead a new charge. May I lead with this same presence.

Wish me luck.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

And PS . . . come visit me in the Bay Area!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

14 Years

May 28, 1995: Two fresh-faced, newly wedded kids wave to the guests gathered . . .

The new Mr. and Mrs., May 29, 1995. Did we ever look this young? And even at my thinnest, was I ever not so cheeky?

Respectfully submitted,
The Wife

Friday, May 22, 2009

The "I'm still sick" edition . . .

Which means I have too much time on my hands, while I wait for my man servant (I mean my 11 year old son) to bring me some hot tea to soothe my sore throat and wracking cough.

I'll admit that we're a household of Princess Bride geeks. Know too many lines from that movie.

My hubby is a big fan of a goofy web cartoon called XKCD.

I found this in the archives and it made me chuckle . . . as you wish.

Westley's a Dick

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Moment of Bitterness

Yesterday, amidst the hacking and stuff, I got an email from work.

Announcing the newest partner promotions.

It was oddly emotional. A list I was supposed to be on. A list I will never be on, now. Forever relegated to that "other" list that won't be mentioned and will be filed in the circular file with the "Join us as we congratulate Mrs Chako on her great opportunity" memo.

The list was decidedly shorter than previous years'. And more of the promotions were in South and Central America, than here in the good old USA.

I congratulated one of our guys in Mexico, because it was the right thing to do. Although, he often comes to me for advice on technical questions . . . but then again, his Spanish is WAY better than mine.

One of the names was an acquaintance who worked here in Seattle with me for a while, and has really done a lot to deserve his promotion. Multiple transfers, including internationally, dragging a lovely wife and two sons in tow, suffering the indignities of the US firm having him work at a level below his normal level because "it will be easier that way". He's a truly, genuinely nice, hard-working man and I'm proud of him. And in true form, he responded immediately with gratitude to my congratulatory email.

A few other names I recognized. Only one promotion from our area in my service line. A guy I taught staff training with. Who didn't impress me then. Or now. I guess its a time and place kind of thing. And maybe the fact that you knew and worked with our area partner when he used to be the office managing partner helps? Who knows. I didn't send him an email. My mother said if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.

I know. I admit it. I had a moment of bitterness.

And now I feel a little guilty.

See, in a week and a half, I'll be starting a great new job in a great city, with my family 100% behind me. Here in Seattle, there are still really talented people who should have been partners or something equally as good still looking for jobs. And yesterday, one of our partners who is similarly impacted by the economy, had his 30+ year career boiled down into a tiny paragraph wishing him well as he explored this next "phase" of his career. The unemployed "phase".

In June I start my next phase, and I think it promises to be a pretty spectacular phase. Only time will tell. So I finished reading the list, and after I sent the last "congratulations" that was truly heartfelt, I deleted the email.

After next week, its going to be defunct anyway.

So today, the only self-pity I'm going to allow myself is the "why do I have to be sick on my day off" kind . . . because all the rest is pointless.

But thanks for allowing me my moment of weakness yesterday.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Why Am I Being Punished?

I think I am a good person. Really. Most of the time.

So I've been sick all week. Really sick. Hacking cough, fever, congestion, hacking cough . . . did I mention hacking cough? My chest is sore from the effort, and my throat is raw.

Today was supposed to be a special day. Its a Friday. A paid holiday. A day off from work, without a day off from pay check. Normally, its extra special too, because its the day my housekeeper comes. Nothing like coming home to crisp clean sheets, sparkly toilets, and stuff, none of which you had to do.

I think I woke up in hell.

Oh, its Friday. And the sun is shining. But I'm still in bed with said hacking cough. ON MY DAY OFF.

To add insult to injury?

My housekeeper has officially quarantined my house until next Friday. No laundry. No freshly made beds. No clean sparkly toilets, unless I do them myself.

Apparently that "I'm old, can't risk getting sick, can't risk getting my husband sick, I'm the only wage-earner" thing kicked in . . . and she doesn't want to risk getting what I have.

Apparently you can pay 'the man' for most things, but not when viruses are involved.

Excuse me while I go set up for my pity party. If I don't hack up a lung first.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Marriage Thoughts

Drizz has a contemplative piece on his marriage today, and it made me ponder too. Fairy tales would have you believe in the prince and the princess and the happily ever after. But the prince and the princess didn't have to deal with mortgages and taxes and sick kids and roof repair and long hours on a job and lost jobs and relocations and other family crises and . . . well, you get the picture. Maybe the true test of marriage isn't how "fairy tale" you are, but how well you weather the daily grind. Tolerance, like love and patience and all that good stuff, is a virtue, too, you know.

* * * * *

That being said, this weekend was sunny, not just in the Seattle area, but in the marriage area as well. With the pressures of my current job dwindling as I approach the end of it, I have more time for the family, and am decidedly less stressed. And it has had positive effects on my relationship with the good Dr. We actually had a date and went to the movies. Held hands. He even put in a well-time playful ass-grab when we were supposed to be doing something else with the family. And last night, when I was sick as a dog, he brought me home a big bouquet of mixed white flowers. I guess he still tolerates me. And tolerance is a virtue.

* * * * *

Last night, in my coughing fits, I tried to finish up the business and personal taxes. This is usually a dangerous area, as it makes me cranky, and its an area of business where DrChako, for all of his advanced degrees, innate intelligence, and mind-numbing command of all things medical, has absolutely NOOOOOOO concept of or interest in. I can safely estimate that half of our marital squabbles usually revolve around the business and/or personal taxes.

My oldest son popped in to say "good night" as the two of us sat there going over some of the last details. Unprovoked, Son #1 said "Doing taxes? Thanks for keeping everything in order, Mom." Then he turned to his dad and said "I hope I marry someone who'll do my taxes for me." It made me feel good on a number of levels. First, because he is a sweet boy for thanking me. Second, because he's maturing and realizing some of the contributions we each make to running a household. And third, because I know that for as much frustration the Dr. has about taxes, in general, and more specifically, me doing his taxes, . . . well, somewhere along the way he's still managed to communicate to our son that what I do for the family (however painful it is for DrChako) is important.

* * * * *

I'm pretty lucky to have a good, thoughtful, patient husband.

Now if only I could get him to understand taxes . . .

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Monday, May 18, 2009

Manual Labor

As I lay in my bed, trying to fight off whatever latest virus seems to be plaguing me and my son (fever, cough, general lethargy . . . nothing swine-related that I can tell), I can hear the roof guy above my bedroom.

He's prepping the shakes to be power washed tomorrow, nailing down the loose ones, replacing the obvious bad ones. He's been pretty focused; hasn't really taken a break.

There are a lot of benefits to a white-collar job. The pay is good. The benefits are good. You don't have to tie yourself to a steeply slanted roof and hope you keep your footing. You get paid travel and expense accounts.

But now and then, when your brain is tired from the abstract world of finance and economic theories, when its full of academic accounting trivia that is like a foreign language to the layman, I kind of think that the roof guy hasn't got it so bad.

He's getting paid for each hour he works, and doesn't work for ones he doesn't get paid for. When he's finished, he can look back up at the roof and see and touch what he's accomplished. And he gets to do it all in the sunshine of late May in Seattle.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Friday, May 15, 2009

Clouds are Starting to Clear

Yesterday was one of those days where the clouds started to clear.

People shifted their priorities to accomodate me.

My son got straight A's in parent teacher conference.

We had dinner with an old friend.

My au pair gave me a hug and told me she's happy to be with us.

My husband looked more handsome yesterday than the day before (even with that facial hair stuff, which I guess is staying).

I put a few things in boxes this morning at my desk, to help start the process. And don't feel sad.

Today, the sun is shining here in Seattle.

Seems fitting.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

She Was A Stunning Bride . . .

Nuff said.
Respectfully submitted,
The Wife

Monday, May 11, 2009

DOL Rant - Revisited

So we show up at the DOL. Again. Well, first time for me, second time for the au pair. I am determined to show Dr. Chako that I can do this.

When we returned, the lines weren't as long, but we still had to take a number. We waited.

"There he is. The bad man." My au pair points to some guy at the end I haven't seen before. "He's the one who said 'no'."

I cross my fingers. Hoping he might have to go to lunch. Hoping he won't call our number.

When it gets close, I start feeling better. There is some old salt at the desk who I've dealt with before. I take a deep breath. Think sunshine and rainbows.

Sure enough. Old Salt is our guy. When our number is called, we jump up quickly so as not to lose his attention.

"Good morning . . . oops, good afternoon, sir," I muster with all the syrupy goodness of a Georgia sweet tea (which, by the way, is pretty disgusting to me). "You know, we were in earlier and got some confusing information. In fact, I'm VERY happy to have you helping us, as you've done this for my au pairs before and we've NEVER had any trouble . . . "

I go on to explain that I presented all of the same documents we had before when we've licensed our other au pairs, but that for some reason, this time we were told they were not sufficient.

"Let's check the system," he says, smiling. He must like sweet tea.

He takes all her paperwork. Scrunches up his eyebrows. "Why, she's not even in the system! They should have put her in the system and they could just ask for the additional paperwork when its time to issue her license . . . customers who've waited in line that long shouldn't have to come back and get in line."

Grrrr. Exactly what I was thinking.

But I smiled sweetly. "Oh, it doesn't matter now, sir. We're here now, and you're helping us and will get her in the system, I'm sure, and that's all that matters." At this point, the sugar is crystallizing in my throat and making me gag a little, but he seems to be smiling even more. He must REALLY like sweet tea.

He looks over the documents. "Well, you see, some folks . . . well, they might say that this document (holds up J-1 visa) isn't one of the ones on the list, but they can't think outside of the box. Me, I see it was issued by Homeland Security and has your address on . . . well, that's good enough for me."

"You know, that's exactly what I was thinking and exactly how you've helped us before. I guess I just assumed everyone else would be as thoughtful and reasonable as you." I am close to throwing up in my mouth, a little.

He tap, tap, taps on the keyboard a bit, and then asks her about testing. "She'd like to take it in Spanish, if that's ok."

"No," he says matter of factly. Then laughs. "I'm just kidding. Spanish it is."

We laugh appropriately.

"Terminal #10," he says. And so ends the DOL story. Now she just has to pass the written and driving parts, and we're good to go.

I had to rinse my mouth out when I got home. But sometimes a girl has to do what a girl has to do.

I got her in, didn't I?

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Friday, May 8, 2009

DOL Rant

I am convinced that the Department of Licensing is filled with miserable, evil people whose sole purpose is to make life as difficult as possible. And the sad thing is that if you want to drive a motor vehicle, you are completely at their mercy.

We are trying to get our third au pair licensed. Third is the key here.

Each time, we take in all their paperwork, sign some forms about her living with us, blah, blah, blah, present some documentation, and they test and get a license.

Today, the Dr. decided to try the procedure himself with the au pair (getting the license, not "The Procedure" . . . just clarifying). After waiting the requisite one hour, he was told she needs a thousand forms and paperwork.

None of which we have needed before.

So now I have to go back with her, and have a chat with them myself.

I can already feel my blood pressure skyrocket.

If I end of killing somone, will one of you bring my red shoes to me in prison during visitation?

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Monday, May 4, 2009

When It Rains . . .

It pours.

And no, I'm not talking about Seattle weather.

Its actually a sunny day. And ironically, I'm having to hit "Reply" and type "No thank you" to yet ANOTHER request to set up an interview with someone "interested in moving forward with you as a candidate."

I noticed that when I became engaged, and even married, the presence of a diamond (which might seem to be a good deterrent) actually seemed to spark more interest. Apparently, there must be some subconscious thought of "well, if someone likes her enough to buy her a diamond, there must be something good there, and I need a piece of that!" If I had a dollar for every time I've been hit on wearing full wedding ring regalia . . . well let's just say the current economic recession wouldn't sting as much.

I think the same thing applies in job hunting.

I spent the last month interviewing, sending out resumes, trying to stir up things in my network. Barely a peep.

Last week, after my verbal offer, apparently the bloodhounds sniffed "qualified candidate."

Since then:
  • Another company is "putting together a package" they'd like me to consider
  • A second company requested a second interview
  • Company #3 has an interest in my resume
  • Company #4 has reopened their hiring process for a certain position to be able to "consider" my resume which got to them late
  • Company #5 just sent me an email and requested I schedule a phone interview as they are "interested in moving forward"

I am very happy with my choice. I just find it ironic that everyone is ready to woo me now.

Must be the VP thing.

Or the red shoes.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Sunday, May 3, 2009

California Will Be Good

Along with the excitement of a new job, new career, new home . . . well, comes a little angst. After all, well . . . its a new job, new career, new home. The Dr. needs to get licensed and find a job. We need to figure out where exactly we will live. Where we want to live. Where we can afford to live. I need to get two kids enrolled in school. Figure out where all the stuff is again - grocery stores, health clubs, pet stores. My oldest son is worried about making friends. Only my little guy is 100% ready to get a new house.

So I've been compiling a short list of all the positives:
  • I'm a VP
  • More sunshine
  • Less snow - I don't have to test the AWD
  • Less rain - I can wear the red suede and patent shoes more often
  • Closer to my gal pal Betty . . . can you say "shoe-shopping?"
  • Closer to Vegas
  • Son #1's surfer dude hair might actually be used for surfing
  • Did I mention more sunshine?

That's enough to work with for now. I just have to keep this list longer than the other list, which includes:

  • Getting the house ready to sell
  • Finding hotel/corporate housing for me while I'm still commuting, so I don't have to use up the family housing allowance I'm granted until I'm actually ready to bring the family down
  • Getting the house ready to sell
  • Planning my commuting weeks
  • Getting the house ready to sell . . .

Let's stop now . . .

A big thank you to all of you who commented . . . Hopefully, with one big thing behind me that's no longer consuming me, I'll have a few more hours in the day to stop by and comment for you.

Love you all!

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Search is Over

Today, I have a job.

Before I head to the Cinco de Mayo party we're invited to, I will have signed and sent the necessary paperwork to seal the deal.

To say I have a better appreciation for those of you who have lost a job, fear losing a job, or have to deal with spouses, family, and friends who have lost a job, . . . well, is really an understatement.

You can't begin to explain that sick feeling when you're told. The way you sit in your office trying not to cry and do your work like nothing is wrong. The way you can't find the words to tell people you work with every day. The way you find the words to tell the few family members who'll understand, and still can't get them out without crying. They way that no matter how many times you hear "this is an economic decision and has nothing to do with your qualifications or ability" . . . and yet you still can't help but wonder.

I was fortunate. It wasn't a money issue for our family, and I know there are far more people for whom this news is beyond humiliating and demotivating . . . its financially devastating. I have a great husband who has the ability to support our family very well.

It was about personal pride. Accomplishment. 16+ years of working my ass off to get the next big thing. Not only the financial reward, but the challenge too.

In one conversation, it disappeared.

I've spent the last few weeks writing, and re-writing, and re-writing my resume. Tweaking it each time I sent it. Had interviews and conversations. Talked myself silly. Got at least one "we're considering candidates who's qualifications more closely match the client's profile" without any explanation of why I don't match. Its been a full time second job.

For weeks, nothing. Then last Friday started the ball rolling down the hill. I had an interview here in Seattle with an interesting company that would have been a great opportunity. They liked me. Called me back for a second interview immediately. At the same time, another company called and wanted to talk with me. I'd had an interview almost a month ago, and gone back for a second interview with another company, so I sent an email to ask how the process was going.

By Monday, I had a phone interview with one company, a second in person interview with another company, and a request for references from the company I originally interviewed with in California. By Tuesday, I had a verbal offer, with others waiting in the wings.

Yesterday, the compensation package was delivered to support the verbal offer.

And it was good.

And between the interview and Friday, they had also elevated the position to Vice-President level.

Today, after I finish this post, I'll be accepting the offer. It will require a move to California. But the family is behind me, and it will be the beginning of the next great thing. I mean, how can it be bad? It's a VP position with a Dow Jones company, using the skills I have gained over the last 16 years and interacting with executives who run one of the biggest companies in the WORLD.

A month and a half ago I was sad, frustrated, uncertain, and months from a layoff.

Today, I'm looking forward to a new career, with the pay, the title, and all the challenges that will keep me interested. And a severance package from my current employer to smooth the way.

All is a little brighter in the world, today.

Good luck to the rest of you still searching . . .

Today, I have a job.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife

Friday, May 1, 2009

Vice Presidents Wear Red Shoes

Respectfully submitted,
The Wife

Let's Dance

Tuesday brought me potentially one of the biggest and best opportunities in my professional life. All that was missing was the details.

Last night, HR called to see if we could set an appointmet to discuss the details.

I haven't had a lot of sleep lately. Between job-hunting, and my actual job, and everything else (wife, mom, au pair trainer, etc.), sleep seems to be the thing that keeps getting reprioritized. Last night, after meeting a couple enormous deadlines yesterday, I was exhausted and went to bed before midnight. Knowing that in the morning, I'd receive a call that could determine the course of the next phase of my career.

The radio alarm went off. It was playing the song "Rockabye" - "Everything is gonna be all right . . . " I felt that nervous rush, thinking about the call, but hit the snooze.

Nine minutes later, the alarm kicked on with "if you get the chance to sit it out, or dance . . . I hope you dance."

Ok, I'm getting the message.

So now, I'm showered, catching up on a few things, and waiting for the 8:30 call.

I've got my red shoes on people . . .

Let's dance.

Respectfully submitted,

The Wife