Putting down and picking up

I’m finishing some major bodies of work in my life this week. Today is my first day at a new role within my company. It’s a big change – new team, new office building, new industry. I’ve been working towards it for quite a while, and I’m very excited. I spent quite a bit of time doing *both* jobs (which makes you feel like you’re doing neither job well) so the concept of doing just one job has me slightly giddy.

Also, it’s my first day on the new job and I’m currently on a plane heading to a meeting in California. So I think it’s gonna keep me busy.

This weekend also marks the completion of another great task I’ve undertaken. We will be installing our new pastor. (You’re invited by the way. Wear red.) As you have likely heard me complain, I’ve been running the “next step in hiring a new pastor” process for well over two years now. It’s going to be a wonderful thing to get to switch from thinking about what work God wants us to do, to doing the work God wants us to do. It’s going to be a fantastic celebration.

People have been asking me, “So what are you going to do with your free time?”

AHAHAHAHAHAH! You’re so funny, people!

You see, I’ve been pushing off all the things that could be pushed off for quite some time now. But not all things that are pushed off can be ignored indefinitely. At some point you have to actually do some of them. And a few of them are feeling quite urgent now, while others just finally got to the top of the pile.

Chief among the new things I’m starting is – finally – our long-delayed attic project. The money has been saved. The plans have been drawn. The toilet selected. The tile agonized over. The contractor picked. The dumpster arrives next week. Which means that the attic needs to be empty like the week after. Empty empty. And maybe the vast linen closet too, with its mysterious Narnia-like depths. I never thought I was a hoarder, but attempting to clean out my attic is making me think I might have slight hoarder-like tendencies. I’m counting on the strength of last-minute-panic to help me get through it all in the one the day before we have the installation service for our new pastor. Right after I land from my California trip. And rehearse the installation music.

I’m dead meat. I know I’ll make it because I always make it. I’m just not 100% sure how.

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Moving On

I remember Grey’s preschool graduation – my first ever graduation as a parent. The little kids sang this song with a refrain that “Now I’m Moving On” and I got a little weepy.

This week marks a lot of moving on in the life of my family. There are three people who stand in the heart of my life who are marking major transitions this week.

The Certificate
The Certificate

First and foremost, my eldest son. On Thursday, we attended a graduation ceremony for the 4th graders, which as unexpectedly excellent and poignant. I think his teacher this year is the best artist we’ve had so far, and the artifacts she helped the kids create are very poignant. The music was good too, with the kids having mastered many more numbers than the usual concert pieces. I was struck at how capable and competent they all looked – these kids whose faces and names have been part of our life since Kindergarten or before.

The "I wishes" were interesting to read. One little girl's made me want to apologize for failing her. It was "I wish girls could play baseball for as long as they want."
The “I wishes” were interesting to read. One little girl’s made me want to apologize for failing her. It was “I wish girls could play baseball for as long as they want.”

Next year is Middle School. I think we all have questions and trepidation about that. Should the little kids continue to walk to school? (I’ve been super impressed at the walking they’ve all done – the kids walked pretty much 100% of the days this year, and have run out the door to not be late to walk with their friends.) What will Middle School be like? What’s the schedule look like? How do afterschool clubs work? Where are there crossing guards? The only way we’ll really figure out how it all works is to do it. It’s a big change.

2016 Walkers
2016 Walkers

So Monday, the kids head off to Camp Melstone for a summer of trying to remember their swimming trunks and towels, and sunscreen and bug spray and… and it will be great.

But Monday is a change in routine for someone else. On Monday, my husband starts a new job! He spent 8 years with his prior employer, with people he loved and respected deeply. Eight years is a very long time in today’s tech economy, and moving to a new role feels like a very big deal. Just the logistics of figuring out how you get to a knew job can feel daunting – never mind learning the new job! I’m excited for him, he’s excited for him… but it’s going to be a big change all around.


Her accomplishment numbers the millions
Her accomplishment numbers the millions

And then the biggest of the changes. My mother is “graduating” after 29 years of teaching school. I still remember her first day, teaching pre-K. She’s spent almost all her life teaching those early years of middle school. (She used to say, before, that if she were noble she’d teach middle school. She taught me never to admit what I’d do if I were really noble.) I was in 5th grade when she started teaching 6th grade at Columbia Crest. She’s had generations of kids come through her class and learn about geography, French, history, technology and how to be a good human. Many have come back with their 4 year degrees in hand to come sit on Mr. Stool.

Mom definitely has her face pointed to the wind of freedom, though. In fact, in what I consider to be an insane move (but one that is entirely in keeping with my family!) she’s crawling on an airplane on her last day of school to fly to London! I hope Mom and Dad have the amazing, international adventures that they both long for.


So good luck to all my loved ones trying new things. To my sons, heading to summer camp and middle school. To my husband, headed to a new day’s work. To my mother, headed to a new phase of her life! I love you all!

When you get caught between the moon and New York City

I got sent this week to New York City for three days of training for a new job.* I’d had more time than I expected between roles, so I had plenty of time to get well rested, ready, tanned, relaxed etc. By the time it was actually time to get onto the Acela and head south, I was READY TO WORK ALREADY. I really like taking the train (well, the Acela especially). It’s like air travel in not having to worry about anything, but unlike air travel it’s not a complete pain in the rear. You can even do things like stand up and move around and feel your feet.

We passed New London, home to my alma mater, just as the sun set.

Looking downstream on the Thames. Conn is upstream.
Looking downstream on the Thames. Conn is upstream.

But by the time I hit New York any thoughts of walking from Penn Station had fled. When the taxi pulled up to my hotel I told him I was looking for a HOTEL not a night club. “This is it!” he said. (He was, tragically, correct.) I walked into a lobby that was my antithesis. Loud music. Shockingly stylish, young people. The hipsterish of hipster beards. A freaking bouncer at whose “discretion” you would or would not be permitted into the on premesis night clubs. (Hint: I would pass pretty much zero nightclub bouncer tests. Ever.) There was a second floor pool – open air – that had a clear bottom so from the lobby you could see the perfectly toned figure of the incredibly courageous swimmers above.

You know how people say things like, “This is a no judgement zone”? I’d inadvertently stumbled into what could only be described as a Judgement Zone. I talked myself into this being a place for the testing and competition of difficult and hard won skills (fashion being both of those). That’s fine and all, but I’m not going to sign up for beginning tennis lessons in sight of the Wimbleton crowd, and so I didn’t really want to walk the gauntlet of carefully studied loveliness in order to hit the sheets.

I slinked (slunk?) up to my room, and proceeded to be – ahem – entertained by my neighbors for several hours.

The morning shone brighter, I’m happy to say. The beautiful people were all apparently hung over. The hotel is apparently near the YouTube studios. There was a cloud of young girls near the doors pretty much every afternoon. I stumbled upon them just as the objects of their affection emerged – bad skin and bodyguards – to watch them collectively lose their cool and take 10000001 selfies. Rumor has it that said object was actually a YouTube star. WHO KNEW. I don’t think it was Stampy Longhead who is my son’s YouTube hero.

Tuesday I got sprung from training a bit early. I’d thought we were going to have a mixer that evening (I was wrong) so I found myself with a night in New York, at liberty! It was too late to get to the Cloisters in time. I thought about the Museum of Fine Art, but it was honestly a really long walk and a few of us were meeting for drinks later in the evening. I would have ditched them to go catch an opera at the Met, but I hadn’t packed a gown – or even a dress. So instead I went walking and found the entrance to the High Line. I walked the full length of it (twice, since I went there and back again).

Given to me by a saffron-robed Tibetan monk wearing stylish sneakers. Apparently he had a vision of the donation I would give him in return. He was slightly wrong.
Given to me by a saffron-robed Tibetan monk wearing stylish sneakers on the High Line. Apparently he had a vision of the donation I would give him in return. He was slightly wrong.

I think it says a lot about me and my affinity for cities that the minute you put me in one of the world’s great metropolises I’m looking for the grass and flowers. I believe this is an unfathomable position for many of the folks I found myself with, but I really don’t love cities. New York, center of fashion that it is, I like even less than your average city. I’ll confess that I’m rather fond of both Boston and Seattle, which are more people-sized cities and in which I feel less conspicuously Not From Here.

I’m back on the train tonight**, Atlantic shore in sunset on my right instead of left. It will probably be full dark when I cross the mighty Thames, as the gloaming is already well advanced. Tomorrow I get to try my commute for the first time, find my desk, meet my team. I anticipate a bit of a challenging period for me, blog-wise, while my creative and mental energies are full of a new role, new company, new industry and less full of noticing the small life moments that are usually the _thrilling_ fodder for my blog. I’m sure we’ll muddle through, you and I!

The only time I didn't have "When you get caught between the Moon and NYC" stuck in my head was when I was walking on Bleeker Street.
The only time I didn’t have “When you get caught between the Moon and NYC” stuck in my head was when I was walking on Bleeker Street.

*This is pretty much all I’ll be saying about the new job, as has generally been the case with my employers. In the event I need to refer to it in the future, I will probably creatively call it something like New Job, or Job. If you happen to know what it is, I appreciate you failing to mention that here. But you can rest assured it represents a really good thing for me and my family.
**Reminder that I often write my posts ahead of time and schedule them!

Back in the saddle again

So I went back to work today. My extensive period of absolute leisure came to a close. Of course, it was significantly impacted by having no daycare on Monday, and Thane having a “vomit every 12 hours stomach bug” for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. But oh! The Tuesday!

Ah well. Isn’t that how it always happens? I did not program a DROID app. I did not clean the attic. I did not finish transferring things to the new computer. I did not conquer Mt. Laundry. I did play a bunch of FABLE, do three PT session, get excused from all future knee-related work, make a gourmet meal and take care of a sick little boy.

Anyway, I’d forgotten how darn tiring newness is. Everything was new today. New routine, new kind of commute (bus! at least until the T cancel it!), new worries (will I make the bus?), new failures (didn’t have enough money on my Charlie Card because the bus is an express, forgot my Kindle and really needed to have headphones for online training but didn’t), new people, new cultural expectations. Phew. New is hard. But I think once I get past the new and into the rhythm, this is going to be a pretty cool thing! Heck, their first expectation for me was to get a fully functioning IDE up and running on my computer. Niiiiice. I’m back, folks!

The Marathon

Sometimes your schedule sneaks up on you. Husband gone for 5 days, no problem! Hosting 20 – 30 people for pie? Sounds like fun! Bring it on! Church every Sunday morning and Wednesday night? But of course! Regularly scheduled roleplaying game? I do love some Deadlands (this game in particular)! But then all of a sudden you look at your calendar, and you realize that these things are happening back-to-back-to-back-to-back, with no unscheduled or off days in between. Oops.

I’m just getting off of one of those. While I could outline exactly why I’ve been super duper crazy busy every single night for the last week and a half (and every day of the weekend), let’s say that last night at 7:30 was the first full hour I could sit down and do something non-productive in about 7 days. And booooy was I ready for it!

This was not all the pies
This was not all the pies

On the upside, most of the stuff I’ve been so incredibly busy doing was a ton of fun. I’m happy to report that Piemas was a success. (Of course, you’d have to be an idiot to have Piemas be a failure. Make pie. Have other people bring pie. Eat pie. It’s not rocket science.) There was, to my great surprise, a preponderance of sweet pies. I thought that the savories would be overabundant, but no. They went quickly. There were also, as will surprise no one who has attended any sort of gathering at my house, a number of games going on. We did a quick an innovative redesign of the kitchen layout to permit the epic 2.5 hours of Agricola in which I was fortunate enough to get my hat handed to me.
Alternate kitchen layout for Agricola
Alternate kitchen layout for Agricola

My only regret with these fake holidays I love so much is that I don’t get a chance to talk to all of my friends in as in-depth a manner as I would wish.

In other news, my job is going super duper well (I think). The analogy I’m using is that I’m like a plant that’s been repotted. I was root-bound in my last position. Switching jobs has taken me out of that pot, broken the old root ball, and put me in this new, larger pot. In response, I’m throwing out new growth from all angles. I love it. It’s making me super happy. In the three weeks I’ve been here, I’ve met probably 150 people, learned an entirely new programming language and paradigm (and delivered real code to production!), participated in oodles of meetings, done the voice-acting for a quarterly presentation for the web team (which, for the record, I am not on), asked an apparently high profile question at the Town Hall meeting when we met the folks who will be our new bosses, and been asked by the Sustainability Director if I’d be willing to be in a video employee highlight discussing the role sustainability played in my decision to sign on here. New people, new tools, new technologies and I feel like I’m thriving. Hopefully my boss feels the same way!

The boys are doing pretty well. This was not my finest parenting weekend. I keep telling myself that as long as the boys do get focused attention, are loved, and it isn’t the only way life works — that learning to entertain one’s self is not a bad skill to work on. Grey seems to mostly really like his new preschool. It has the ups and downs that relationships with other children do have. Someone calls him a name and he’s down in the mouth. He plays tag with a new friend and he’s jazzed. But academically it seems superior. He’s just so much more alert to the social aspects, that he’s bound to spot any problems.

The DS is usually restricted to car use only
The DS is usually restricted to car use only

Thane. Ah, my Thane! What a giggly joy you can be. How frustrated you are getting. This was a hard weekend for him. He wanted to play the board games too! (Note: dice are a fantastic choking hazard!) He wanted to be with me at all times. He wanted to be down, he wanted to be up. I suspect he really wants to get out of the house. The deluge of rain this weekend was not amenable to this.

Anyway, we’re all doing well! I’m having a fantastic time professionally, and my life personally is full full full of love, joy, friendship and board games. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

Interim report

I think I really like the new company. I have yet to meet a colleague I don’t genuinely like, and I swear I met the entire third floor this morning. (Just about the only people I haven’t met are the guys next door — and I’ll get there!) As of about 3:30 this afternoon, I even got a real-o programming assignment in the brand new language/environment that I’ll be working in. I believe I read my panic and inability to figure anything out correctly as complete fatigue. This afternoon and tomorrow will be the worst of the ignorance, and then I’ll start climbing the hill towards competence.

It’s funny how much I find I know about things that aren’t actually useful. There was a discussion about contracts and pricing and I was practically jumping up and down because THAT is an issue that I UNDERSTAND.

Anyway, hopefully once I’m using less of my processing power for making friends, remembering names and learning new languages, I’ll have some left over for you!

So long, and thanks for all the fish

So I have now wrapped up all but one of the tasks I need to do for my old employer. My desk is nearly clean — the drawers hollow and coveted office supplies reallocated back to the central office supply location. My code is checked in. My documents backed up.

I’m done. I’ll come in tomorrow to do a little more knowledge transfer, and that will be the end of my 7.5 year tenure here.

This job has been such a long position for me that it’s very hard to imagine not being responsible for those things I’ve always been responsible for. It’s difficult to conceive of just walking away from the tasks and people and locations that have been mine for nearly my entire adult life. I find it hard to fathom not driving this drive, walking up the stairs, lurking for the mail, or changing the water on the water cooler. How will the plants I have nurtured for 3/4ths of a decade survive when I am no longer here to water them? It has become not my problem. I was always very careful, in my professional life, never to claim that things were “not my problem”. It goes against my own personal training to, with great intention, turn my back on the consequences of my departure (past the reasonable point, of course).

But there you have it. Tomorrow, I will turn in my keys. I, the only one who didn’t lose her mail key. I, the one with the server room key and the original card that opens the back door, when all newer cards do not. I will hand over this fob, this object that has inhabited my pocket every week day for longer than my eldest son has existed. I will pass it out of my hands, and know it no more.

I’m an extrovert in a nearly silent office with lots of quiet, heads-down programmers. Hours can pass in our office without a word being spoken. So in order to not go crazy, I have long wandered the halls of the historic old mill that houses our office. I visit restrooms floors away. I check on the mail hours before I know it will come. I answer phone calls while pacing uneven wooden floors. I’ve gotten to know well the other wanderers. My farewells to them have been almost as wrenching as those to my colleagues. The building manager had tears in his eyes and a tight grip when I told him I was leaving. People who have made up the casual cast of characters of my life are being set aside, to be met no more. Those I know the least, the shadowy figures, will never even be told that I am leaving. That an extra in the film of their lives is walking off the set.

Nails in the floor
Nails in the floor

Through bare branches I watch the Merrimack hurrying past, on its way to the sea. Construction has not yet closed down the old iron bridge, although it will soon. The floor under my feet is studded in the interstices between the boards with hundred-year-old cobbler’s nails, relics of the days when greater labors were done here. This place has known me through four pregnancies, two long springs and summers of pumping in a cold server room, heart break, headache, and cheerful Tuesday mornings. I have known it through flood, hot summer, changing walls and brittle winter chills. I know how the puddles in the parking lot ripple, even when there is no wind. I remember walking an empty cavern of a warehouse, calling the doctor for my first ever pregnancy visit. That cavern is gone, filled with refinished offices. I consulted with the owner on the colors of the walls, and discussed the filling up of the old building.

Here have I wandered, but no more. Here my feet know well the routes, my eyes note quickly the smallest changes. I greet strangers with the confidence that I can help them find their way. I watch the ebb and flow of the seasons across the mighty river.

No more.

My view of the bridgework and river
My view of the bridgework and river