Another reason that I haven't been writing, I am ashamed to admit, is that I have been having such a nice time, anything I said would seem like bragging. The last six months, I have been a contract worker again, running my own business, and working from home. The best part is my "new" contract is to continue the work I've been doing for the past five years. The company I had been employed with was purchased, and I declined to be purchased as well. Instead, we agreed to a contract arrangement, which, frankly, pleases me no end.
There was a lot of planning and panic and trepidation regarding the startup of my new business. My previous attempt at self-employment ended in ignominy and an enormous tax bill, and resulting my taking employment in the first place. I refused to be a bad businessman this time. I got an accountant, special bank accounts, tax numbers, and corporate identity. Money goes into a special account from which taxes are paid monthly. It's a good feeling to write myself a nice fat check each month, knowing that everything is in order. Bills get paid, and the gig appears to be long-lasting. Not only do I get to work from home, I have very strict rules about when I can go into the office that pretty much limit office time to meetings only every month or two. Communication with co-workers happens by email and by chat, and the periodic phone meeting.
The best part of the new arrangement isn't what I do, but what I don't do. In my prior employment, I wore several hats. I was the server admin, the network manager, the IT procurement guy and the general troubleshooting guy. Except for the specialty equipment in the lab (which the lab folks handled expertly), if it had a switch, I was eventually in charge of it. While I can do this work (and there wasn't anyone else doing it at the time), it's not really my favorite work, and it frequently got in the way of what I really liked doing, which is writing code and adding features that helped the business work better. Now, not only do I not have the responsibility to fix or manage anything, I'm generally not allowed to. Like a huge weight lifted from my shoulders, my enjoyment of my job went way up the day I stopped having to give a shit about all the electrons and magic smoke in everything. All of my time is spent doing just the one part of my job I really enjoyed. It is fantastic.
I have friends who have shitty jobs and friends with no jobs. I know folks dealing with cancer, and I've known folks who didn't survive it. I have a job I really enjoy, I get paid really well. I'm healthy, my family is healthy. But feeling bad for my friends takes some of the enjoyment out of it.
Another result of this change is the opportunity for a change in location. The money is good enough to start saving, and the job requirements don't include any specific location. Several times over the last decade, my wife and I have discussed moving to the Pacific Northwest, but until now, we've never had both the means and opportunity to do so. Now we have both. Another factor we have been considering is our daughter's schooling. She starts middle-school this year, and we don't want to disrupt her friendships and activities at the high-school level. Se we either go soon, or we have to wait until she's done with high school. Our house is too small for us, so moving is really no longer a matter of "if", but rather "when". So the current plan is to move in June of next year. Now, we're saving cash and furiously researching neighborhoods around Seattle. It's very exciting, after having been in the same house for 16 years, to finally contemplate moving. And the Cascades really thrilled me when we visited them. We're all looking forward to the move.
Part of me, however, is very disturbed by the idea of leaving Texas. I have ancestors who came to Texas as soon as Anglos were allowed here, and their graves are all over the state. The dust of the state has been long incorporated into my DNA. I'm not sure I can live without BBQ and tex-mex in my diet. Leaving this state is big change, no matter where I might end up.
This is balanced against a set of irritations and frustrations that have developed over the years from living in this state. Culturally, I'm not so sure I fit in very well in this state at all. I enjoy being in Austin, but everyone admits that this city is very different from the rest of the state. Governor Perry has led a corrupt and tone-deaf administration that has swept money into the pockets of his friends at the expense of all the other people here. The cruelty of his administration is seen whenever they turn away federal funding for welfare, education, or health care. The election of Ted Cruz has been a particular source of embarrassment and irritation, one that has highlighted for me how far distant the culture in this state is from my own preferences and ideals. I'm tired of waiting for my fellow Texans to clue in when they all seem so confident that their insanity is genius.