Wednesday, May 22, 2013

You're the Monkey, Figure it out Yourself

I'm pretty sure that should be my company's motto. I'd forgotten what it was like being "new" to a job in this piece and what it is like is fucking frustrating. They pretty much give you seven different puzzles to complete only they hold back several pieces of some and mix in the wrong pieces in some of the others. You don't know you are doing something wrong until someone sees it and very condescendingly asks why you did what you did. They expect you to know what you are doing regardless of the fact that you've not been trained or given the tools and you find yourself wanting to poke the asshole in the eye.

I have been copying and pasting the same god damned values into different scripts for about a week or more now. This guy who is supposed to confirm my numbers continually tells me how I'm doing it wrong but only after the fact rather than giving me all the information I need to get this shit done in one go. He's nice enough and maybe it is just the way he carries himself but I swear to god he makes me want to scream. He acts vaguely superior and has said to me, in a very nice way, that I should know how to do whatever I'm asking. He expects me to know shit just because of my job title regardless of the fact that I've only been here a month, had limited training, and do not have a background in this shit. He's been here longer and has had more experience. But dude, really? We are meant to be a team all with the same goal so help a bitch out.

And I don't know what information got passed on because I think the people who interviewed me had a copy of my resume and words from my mouth stating that I'm not technical. They knew my skill set when they hired me. But no one else seems to because this one lady steady comes to me and asks me to look into shit and I just look at her and think "I don't even know where to begin with this". I didn't realize it but Awesome Lady noticed how stressed out I was and sat with me last week to let me know she's going to go to my boss and my boss's boss to let them know they can't expect me to have a full programmer's background and if they keep giving me complex things without training, their going to lose a good employee. She's right, to be honest. A girl can only go home crying throughout the duration of her commute so many times before she gives up.

I sometimes wonder if this move to Texas wasn't a huge mistake. I finally developed a good network of friends only to leave them. I got out of a bad position but I'm still stressed out only now I'm alone. Sure, I have Murdoch, but only sort of. He's what I'm calling a 'Kind Of Boyfriend' since I won't be seeing him any time soon and I don't always hear much from him (he's got a full time job and works from home but now he has a nearly four year old with him during the day). So he's there but kind of not.

But then I remind myself that it doesn't really matter if this was a mistake because there isn't a damned thing I can do about it. So suck it up and just get better.

Totally off topic but.... I'm listening to Morning Edition on NPR and they are talking about the motion to cut SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Programs). Apparently there is a group called "The Anti Hunger Group". Who, exactly, is "Pro-Hunger?" It's one of those monikers that groups pick to make those who disagree with them seem monstrous. It's like the term "Pro Life". I'm pro choice but that doesn't make me "pro death". See kids, semantics do matter. 

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Notes On My Life in Texas

On Driving
Before I say anything let me make one thing clear: this is about my life and experience. My experience involves living in East Texas and commuting to Irving/Dallas/Fort Worth for work. So when I talk about driving "out here" I am referring to things like my commute. What my commute is like is not necessarily the same as someone who lives and works in San Antonio. Disclaimer over.

So, here is what driving is like when it comes to my commute. I cruise along at 60 mph for about seven to nine miles before the crawl begins. The crawl lasts pretty consistently on the way to the office and on good days I hit speeds of 30 mph. That's not terrible and I average about forty five minutes to get to work. But it is the commute home that I find funny. Start out at about 45 mph or maybe even 55 mph before we all get our shit together and go 60 mph for the first nine miles. Then we slow down to anywhere between 10 and 25 mph for awhile. Every so often it seems like we are going to be able to drive like normal people so we all excitedly speed up to 35 mph only to hit the brakes pretty quickly.

That goes on for the entirety of leg two of my trip home. Leg one is 9 miles and leg two is about the same. Once I get to leg three is when I just start laughing. At this point, I've been heading towards Texarcana for a couple of miles but now those who are headed anywhere else have gotten off the road so speed can pick up and the congestion clears. But whilst the speed limit is 60 mph, I can't bring myself to go over 45 mph for quite awhile and am continually looking ahead to see how things look. After 9 miles of stop/go/crawl, my brain expects it and I almost just don't believe that I can go faster now. I don't know why that tickles me so much but it does. We are so accustomed to stop and go and crawl that once we get out of it, it takes awhile to break that habit. Stupid traffic.

Miscellaneous notes on driving:
  • People seem to really obey the "do not cross the solid white line" law
  • People usually let you in when you have your blinker on
  • Cutting one another off seems to be something Texan are taught in driver's ed
  • Highway 635 is, has always been, and always been a giant cluster fuck. I was warned before I even moved here not to take it.
  • You will find yourself driving short distances that you would ordinarily walk just because you can because it is so fucking hot (cross reference: Weather)
On Weather
Obviously, it is really, really, stupidly fucking hot. It is only May and we are going to hit the 90's today. I got into my car to drive the one block to the grocery store (see driving above) and I just felt like someone had wrapped be in wet wool. Open the car door, get inside and the humidity hits you and your whole body just starts to sweat. And have fun holding that steering wheel. Nice, right? 

One thing I do like? Thunderstorms! Texas evidently gets a lot of tornadoes, being part of the alley and all, so we get nice, loud, fun thunderstorms and I love them. Central Ohio tests the tornado sirens every Wednesday at noon but thunderstorms are few and far between. North Texas just had a storm that spun out 16 tornadoes and I think they test their sirens once a month. Weird, right? But hey, I'll take the thunder and lightening and be happy (I'll pass on the twisters though, thanks). 

Since I moved here in what is technically Spring but feels like center of Hell Summer, I'm pretty sure I'll do what other people do and what confused me when I was commuting back and forth earlier in the year: wear sweaters when it is in the 60's. I remember being in the office when the temperature was in the upper 50's and I instant messaged a friend in another department saying "why are these people wearing sweaters?!?!" His response? "You're in Texas". I was commuting from Columbus where the lows were in the teens and the highs were in the thirties so I was positively loving the weather and wearing short sleeves and shit. Everyone in my little department had sweaters, jackets, and snuggies. I found that to be hilarious but I'm pretty sure I'll be doing the same thing. After all, it wasn't too long after Teacher moved to Arizona that he was asking my mother to send him his winter jacket because it wasn't even going to hit 90 that day. And my friend Kara has told me that her kids think it is too cold to use the pool unless it is 90. Freaks. 

Sort of weather related but I just find it funny: When I was looking for a place to live here and people asked me what my requirements were, they all laughed when I said "central air". I guess it comes standard. Something that I found surprising is that covered parking is a feature at many apartment complexes. I asked Murdoch about that, asking if it had to do with keeping your car from bursting into flames in the summer and he said that was possible but that Texas also gets a lot of hail. That will be fun, I'm sure.

On Folks
Before I lived here, whilst just commuting, I was disappointed at the lack of accents in my department. One of my favorite colleagues, who I'll call Awesome Lady, has a very southern accent but she's from North Carolina. My boss has a bit of an accent but not anything you look for when you live in the south. The strongest accent of anyone is one of the representatives but that's because she's from El Salvador. I thought I'd be around a bunch of people with southern drawls and ya'lls. I shouldn't have been surprised given that Upstairs Kid doesn't have a southern accent even though he's from Louisiana and I've met many people from the south without accents. Still, it was kind of disappointing. I got over it though, when I became enamored by the fact that I'm the one with the accent. It's funny and one person in particular, who I'll call Kid, gets a kick out of asking me to repeat myself. 

But in Mesquite, where I live, I am satisfied because they do have accents. Not deep south drawls but just some twang that I like. Murdoch said he didn't know he had one until he joined the Marines and people at boot camp kept asking him what the hell he was saying. It's difficult to explain in print. He said things like "intend", "end", etc with kind of a long end sound. Oddly, he has a hard 'g' sound when he says the word "gang" which tickled me. And in Mesquite they do say ya'll. They also say "baby", "honey", and "sweetheart" to customers, which is adorable. Oh, and both in Mesquite and Dallas/Irving, people say "do what?" when they didn't hear what you said. I say things like "I'm sorry?" or "say again?" People say "beg your pardon?" But here it is all "do what?" I was pretty stunned when I first heard it because J said it and so I thought it was a weird thing from the Mid Atlantic/Maryland area. I told Kid that I was not going to start saying it but that I was going to start saying "man down?" when I didn't hear him just to mess with him. 

My belief that the further south and west you go the nicer people get has so far only been confirmed. People seem very accommodating. If you are in line at the grocery store with one or two items and the person in front of you has a cart load, they will tell you to go ahead of them. If you do something that is going to cause a delay (write a check, accidentally bring something to the register without a price tag, etc) and apologize to the people in line behind you, they are all "oh don't worry, you're fine". The mechanic I went to when Mama and I first got here? They had a guy drive us to Walmart so we could shop whilst waiting for my car. When we were done, Mama asked customer service if we could leave our stuff and get it when we got my car. The lady she spoke with said "I'm off in a minute.I can run ya'll home if you want." Total stranger. 

I've been told that people in East Texas are very nice but that you get some assholes in Dallas. I'm sure you do. You get assholes everywhere. People from everywhere here cut you off in traffic (see driving) and stupid shit like that but for the most part, I've found people to be extremely nice. 

I can't think of a better heading but let's just say that people like to talk here. They will get involved with your life if you let them and are happy to chat and catch up and this and that. I'm used to that from Ohio but I had a guy stop me one day when I was walking to the store because I was wearing a Phillies jersey. To be fair, he was from Philly but he's been here for years. He talked my freaking ear off. Everyone is just kind of neighborly. 

Which is why I'm trying to not meet my neighbors. 

The End
That's all I've got thus far. I haven't really explored anything because I've been dealing with a car that doesn't always start. I got that fixed (and was bent over by the dealership to pay for it) but I've just not explored much yet. There are things I miss about Ohio, such as my friends and having parks within walking distance everywhere I lived. Murdoch told me there is a park near his place/old place and I'll check that out but I miss being able to just set out on a walk to a pretty area. Last weekend I ventured out and just surveyed the strip malls and closed down shops. Not quite the same as beautiful gardens and canopies of trees. 

But all in all, I think I like it here. Once I get my driver's license, I guess it will be official. 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Belgian Beat Boxers

If loving them makes me a hipster, so be it.

One Month In

Where have I been? Working for the most part. As you know (well, those few who read this), I arrived in Mesquite, Texas on April 7. Mama stayed until April 9th and then I was on my own. I didn't have any furniture so I puttered around and napped and went to work on Thursday, totally confused about what day it was. Two days of work and then hit the weekend.

Not having much in the way of furniture (an air mattress and a patio set that I kept inside until I got the rest of my stuff), I got bored and decided I'd walk to the bar and have a few drinks, eat some, and knit. I looked like hell with my hair in a bun, my broke ass glasses on my face, no bun, shitty outfit. But I was content to sit there and chill and knit. Just before I was getting ready to leave, a guy sat down next to me and asked me what I was knitting. I acknowledged that it was a scarf and that that is the only thing I can do and we got to talking a bit. I'd had a few and was a bit tipsy so I don't remember the whole conversation (well, I was nervous too, so that doesn't help). What I do remember is asking him, half way through "so, are you going to ask me for my number?" That sounds confrontational but I just wanted to get it out of the way. He said yes and so I gave it to him. The last thing I said to him that night was "So look, I'm drunk, so I have to go." He was taken aback but very nice and asked if I needed help. But I wasn't plastered or anything, just tipsy enough to know it was time to go. So home I went.

The next day I was doing laundry when I saw that he'd called... 41 minutes earlier. So I texted him just saying "I didn't ignore you, I just didn't see that you called till now." He called me pretty much right away and we chatted, his saying "so you made it home OK?" and my explaining about not having been too drunk but not wanting to be "that girl" etc. He asked me to dinner that night. We hung out every night that week actually.

So what is he like? He's an inch shorter than me and quite thin. Oddly enough, this doesn't actually bother me. He's 37, a software engineer or developer or programmer or all three, and he's really enthusiastic. On our first date I remember telling him "you are really enthusiastic; usually that bothers me but for some reason, it doesn't with you." He very sweetly said things like "but you know you're pretty, right?" We quickly moved on from that topic.

He never went to college but taught himself to be a programmer and makes more money than most people I know and is also smarter than most. He served as a Marine for four years. He is scared of/doesn't like flying. His first ever flight was from Dallas to San Diego for boot camp. That was fine. His second flight was the first leg of his way home, from San Diego to Colorado. The plane almost crashed because whilst they were trying to land, another plane hadn't finished their take off so if the pilot hadn't pulled back up, they would have t-boned the other flight. He told me it was terrifying and just what you see in the movies, people screaming, crying, praying, the over head bins opening up and luggage coming out, the drinks trolley rolling down the aisle. They were going straight down and then went straight up, circled, and then started to descend again. He said you could hear a pin drop and that when the landed safely, people clapped. Then he had to get on a second flight to get back to Dallas. Who can blame him for not liking to fly? Now imagine that he had to fly to various places such as Croatia, Spain, and Japan during his time in the Core.

He's had a very interesting life and grew up in the country. I know how that sounds and I didn't get it at first either. Let's just say that one year he got a horse that he had to saddle break and that one year he was on the rodeo team in high school so once rode a bull. Yeah, country. His accent is adorable*.

Oh, and he was divorced in 2009. And he has three kids. His first kid is 17 and was born back in the day because he got a girl pregnant before going into the Marines. The other two are soon to be 11 and 4 and are the product of his failed marriage. He's a fantastic father, very involved in his kids lives, very concerned about their feelings and their future. When we first started dating he told me that he planned to eventually go for full custody. He had a plan to save money for x number of years so he could pay cash for one half of a house and have a lower mortgage. He helped find his daughter a ballet class and he was seeing her every Thursday for that and every other weekend with both of the little ones. Those Sundays were hard because he had to take them back to their mother and he missed them.

Then his ex said she was going to move to the East coast and take the kids. He said "fuck that" and immediately hired a lawyer. Long story short, the judge signed the papers on Monday (the ex signed away her rights the previous Friday) and so he now has full custody. This is his weekend with them and he is moving into the old family home Monday (his ex is moving to North Carolina the same day).

I'm really happy for him and for the kids. From what I understand, the mother, whilst not a bad person, is far more concerned with her own wants and feelings than her children. They need to be with him and he will be a great full time dad. I know he is happy as well. I'm also proud of him for taking action right away and not giving a shit about the money or stress or anything, just doing whatever it took to get his kids. When I left him this morning I told him I'd miss him. When I got to work I texted to wish him luck with the move and to congratulate him again because he worked hard for this and this is right. I'm happy for him.

So I feel a right shit for being sad for me. I'm not even that sad, just that weird sort of selfish feeling because I don't know when I'll see him again. We didn't hang out every day other than that first week so it isn't like I'm going from all to nothing, but I don't know when I'll see him next. I'm not going to meet his kids for some time, both because of how he feels and how I feel. He has a long road ahead of him and if he told me in two weeks he wanted me to meet them, I'd tell him no because it's too early.

I've never dated a guy with kids before never mind a full time dad. But I like him a lot and I'm going to do what I can to see where this goes because I want it to work. So I can't see him on any regular schedule, that's fine. If we can make it work we can make it work. In the mean time, I have a ton of shit to study for my job so that I can start feeling a bit less stupid.

But that is basically where I've been, working and hanging out with my boyfriend, Murdoch**. Wish me luck.

*One thing I love about living in Texas is that I am the one with the accent! I say "parents", "marriage", and "embarrassed" oddly, apparently. I don't say "go ahead", I say "g'head". It's fun being the one with an accent for a change! 

**Boyfriend was adopted at the age of six and his adopted parents let him pick his name. His first choice was Murdoch because that was his favorite character from the A-Team. They nixed it so he settled on something else but it gives me a lazy moniker :)