October 29, 2010

Weird complaint (be careful what you wish for)

It looks like I'll be getting a promotion.

Which sounds great, but... (I hate to even complain about this. I have a job in the midst of 'The Great Recession' for which I AM grateful.)

They want me to become the "Studi0 Pr0duction Manager". It would involve making sure we have the personnel resources to cover the work flowing through our office. I'd be moving more into an Art Director/managerial role where I supervise and direct the freelancers.

My hesitation is because they aren't planning to replace my design role. The Boss Lady thinks that we get slow enough throughout the year that we don't need two full-time designers. Yet, it's fairly rare that I'm twiddling my thumbs: maybe two months of the year get a little slower, but the rest of the time, it's rare to work a 40-hour week. So now they are expecting me to remain 50% billable and be 50% administrative. I'd hoped for a job where I could have design optional, but not required. This way, it really sounds like they're just giving me MORE work without taking anything away. The theory is that I'm being empowered to bring in the contractors that we need, but we'll see...

I had to remember to thank KBig and Boss Lady for the opportunity. They both commented that I didn't seem that excited. I told both of them my concern that I'd end up doing 70% and 70% rather than 50/50. Jrex had a great suggestion: if I have design to do, I stay home in the morning and get it done, then come in for the afternoon to manage things. I'll have to discuss that with Boss Lady.

On the plus side, no matter what, I know that we're moving in late spring or summer. I get a promotion on my resume, a little more money (don't know how much yet...) and I gain some valuable experience. Knowing it's not a death sentence or a DOOM for the next few years of my ever shorter life, I can make it work. If I were staying here, I think I'd feel trapped.

Do I sound like a whiner? An ungrateful brat? I feel like one.

October 25, 2010

Too much to say

I've had blog posts sloshing around in my head since last Wednesday, but haven't had time to shape them. Rather than not writing, here are quick updates:

On Wednesday night, I scooted up to San Francisco to see a documentary by a college buddy: Adam Blank Gets A Vasectomy. Not a pseudonym. His name AND the (graphic) content. My brother was in town visiting his girlfriend and met us after the movie. We all hung out together a few blocks from the theater. When OTRbro and Adam stepped out for a smoke break, Adam was greeted by a stranger who declared, "Hey! I just saw your balls!"

Jrex flew to Dallas Wednesday morning and returned late Thursday night. His interview went REALLY well. They want us both to visit for another round. In Dallas, the collaborations, science, cross-pollination and technical capabilities are years ahead of what's happening in Portland. There's even a posse of ex-Hopkinites who would love to work with Jrex. Unfortunately, all that wonderfulness is in the center of Texas. Sigh. I asked Jrex whether it would be a no-brainer without me in the picture (since I'm clearly biased toward Portland). He said, "No". I asked why, "Because I saw Mt. Hood," was his answer, "If Southw3stern were in Portland, it would be an easy decision. I've had a feeling it was going to be a tough decision and come down to Dallas vs. Portland."

I've had the same feeling. Even worse, I'm scared that my "I'm won't do Texas" statement is going to come back to haunt me. My hope and prayer is that somehow it would all become more clear once we visit each city together. He's still got a second round coming in NYC, but at the moment that feels like a distant third.

Saturday, I drove over to the east Bay to visit old friends. I had a great time, and have a lot to think about after those visits (post-feminism, life choices that dim our brightness, contentment and the ingredients thereof and the mental/emotional fragmentation that come with motherhood).

Sunday night I flew to Los Angeles (after a three-hour fog delay in the airport). I'm here to attend Ad0be MAX. It's a show for developers and designers who use Ad0be software. This opportunity to be creatively refreshed and technically recharged has been amazing. I keep wondering how to create interactive/matchmaking opportunities for all these women designers and male developers. I'm also realizing how bored I am by conference design. I'm profoundly grateful that I've had a steady job through this Great Recession, but I'll be happy to move to a new city and find something new to try.

Anyway, that's why I've been a bit silent (both as a writer and a reader). I'm missing my blog fixes!

October 18, 2010

Survival is sweet

We naively assumed if we arrived at the crag by 9 AM, there'd be some open climbs. To further that aim, we hiked in for 2.5 miles (figuring most people would be too lazy). We were wrong. As we approached the big rock, we saw ropes attached to each anchor. Turned out the boy scouts set up climbs on EVERYTHING. As we were exploring the big rock (checking out the scary approaches required to clip in to the anchor bolts on the wall...hike a knife ridge 100 feet off the ground, anyone?) yet another group approached and started laying their gear out. They were setting up for a group of 20 climbers.


We turned around and explored a little herd path that ended up leading us to a nice smallish cliff. No one disturbed us as we flubbed around trying to remember the details from our class. Let's just say the first few knots looked VERY sketchy.

However, between the three of us (and a refresher book on climber's knots that I'd bought), we figured it out. There's something completely terrifying about preparing to walk backwards down a cliff knowing that YOU set up every single anchor and YOU tied yourself in and your hand is the ONLY thing keeping you from plummeting 25-feet. Yeehaa!

The photos of me rappelling are not so great, so here's one of me climbing back up instead:

Climbing outside with women that I enjoy has been on my life list for at least 8 years. I'm really excited that it might happen frequently for the next year (if we move in July as anticipated, it would be a bit less...). We're contemplating a trip to Joshua Tree in March, which makes me super happy. (Climbing J-tree is another item on my life list. Going there with Jrex merely to hike was TORTURE. Lovely and fun torture, of course, but getting back there as a climber is definitely on my list.)

I've been terrified to lead climb in the gym after taking an 18-foot fall a while ago. After being outside, doing two lead climbs in the gym on Sunday was a piece of cake (OK. OK. I had to stop four times to let the adrenaline 'shakes' subside, but on the second climb I barely had any fear surges).

Explanation of terms:

"Top Rope" climbs involve hiking up a hill and setting up ropes and other gear to create an 'anchor' at the top of a cliff. The rope dangles from two 'locking' carabiners that hang off the anchor system. To climb, we first lower ourselves down the rope (rappelling) and then climb back up using holds on the cliff. When done, we hike/climb back to the top to remove the anchors and then hike back out with our gear. Falling isn't that big a deal unless you're under an overhang and will then 'swing'.

"Lead climbing" means tying the rope onto one's climbing harness then climbing up the wall with the rope dangling below you. As you go, you pull the rope up and clip it into carabiners attached to the wall. Falling is a bigger deal because it's a direct force (not diluted by the anchor at the top). As I fall, I lift the person belaying me off the ground. Plus, I fall twice the length of whatever rope is past my last clip. Which means that when going for a clip that's 4 feet above my head, if I get to the clip and miss it or fail to clip in and then lose my grip, I fall 8 feet + whatever amount my belayer is pulled off the ground (I'm heavier than both my climbing partners, so I always pull them up). It looks beautiful in theory, but it's terrifying in person.

October 15, 2010

The End.

On my way to pick up the book "Bay Area Top Ropes". Earlier this week Graceful and I ordered the gear we need from REI to go outside and set up our own anchors. We took an anchor/belay/rapel class a month and a half ago.

We're going to try top roping all by ourselves (no guide) tomorrow.

This may be my last post. It's been a delight and a pleasure knowing you all.

October 14, 2010

Work and more work...

Last week at this time, I was in Vegas. I was just starting what proved to be 6 hours of edits and revisions to get a final version of a Keynote presentation ready for the clients. At 4:30 AM I emailed the final PDF to our team so they could review when they woke up.

As a designer, I was sick of being on the receiving end of last minute deliverables. When I was invited to participate as an organizer in what proved to be a 2-month process, I welcomed the chance to be part of the solution. Getting files to the designer AHEAD of the deadline was my goal.

I didn’t succeed.

It was so much harder than I anticipated to get the whole team to commit to decisions, to revise the writing, to just MOVE quickly. For the first phase I was able to pass all the assets to another designer. I worked alongside him to create charts and tables and help him get a 60 page book finished in 48 hours.

Then I was the one on the line to get the standup presentation organized and designed. I did everything I could to show the document ahead of time, to get the team to agree to the storyboard, but it’s hard to get an executive to focus before things are truly ‘hot’. It all got done, the presentation went well (haven’t heard the decision yet, but we heard that they’re leaning in our direction), but that last night was painful.

Now I’m suffering from more of the same. I’m back in my normal seat as a graphic designer, but I’m waiting for the discussion with our GM and KBig. It’s been rescheduled and reshuffled too many times to count. At the moment, its on the calendar for the end of October.

Quite honestly, our GM is in over her head. She’s a micromanager who has now been thrust into a larger office than she’s run before. Her management style doesn’t work for our office. She’s from the British Isles and used to a hierarchical system, protocol and all that good stuff. Our office is THE most collaborative and the most technologically savvy of all our global offices. People have been quitting almost every other week. And she’s so overwhelmed by details that she doesn’t have time to replace them.

Quite honestly, if I didn’t know we’d be moving (according to Jrex, not until July) and if I didn’t have the carrot of a possible new position, I’d be another one of those fleeing the ship. I don’t even know if I can make it until July, but I guess that’s not up to me.

On the Jrex job front, he’s heard from UMich that they don’t have room for him (he thinks the real answer is that he doesn’t have his own funding). Next week is the first round at Southw3stern. He has a second round coming up at Mt. S1nai and we have a round in Portland in November.

I guess my question is, should I be looking for a new job, knowing I might only be there eight months?

October 11, 2010

Aunts & Cousins weekend

There’s nothing better than actually feeling relaxed and happy after five days with family. It’s hard to sum it all up in a tidy package, so here are a few highlights and tidbits:
  • Driving the van turned out to be fine. It handled similarly to our Subaru and Aunt Bird was next to me and she was able to tell me how to parallel park the beast.
  • I found out that my uncle died over a year ago! NOW I feel bad about my post about him... I guess he’d developed lung cancer and died in prison. My aunts had visited him after their Mom died a few years ago. From what they said, he never expressed remorse, but he did say that prison was the best place for him because he couldn’t control his urges.
  • Apparently the aunts have traditions for their sister weekends. They usually have tshirts made, give each other jewelry and buy a commemorative pin. The aunts’ shirts were pink and said, “Who needs a therapist, I have a SISTER”. For the cousins, navy shirts with “If you met my family, you would understand.”

  • I always thought my Dad was the playful one (doing puzzles, playing card games, dancing), not my Mom. Being with her sisters showed me why she must have enjoyed him: our default option was to play together. I learned to play cribbage, we watched movies, and we obsessively put together puzzles (no one got to go to bed until the last piece was IN that 1000 piece puzzle, darn it).

  • When we figured out how to play music through the house stereo system, OTRsis exclaimed, “We should have a dance party!” So we did. We moved back the table and chairs then did a conga line, had party lines with a soloist dancing down the middle (including a very impressive ‘worm’) and in general had a raucous, fun time.

  • Every time one of my aunts said they missed my Mom, I asked what they missed about her. “She always made me think about God.” “How she lived her life.” “She read us the Narnia tales and she really made them come alive.”
  • When everyone else left for a wine tasting tour, my cousin E and I took off separately for a day of wandering the town of Point Reyes as well as a dash out to the lighthouse. We found some great buys including To Go Ware. It was fun to have a two-person day in the midst of so much big family activity. We’d been the last to leave the rental house and had carefully locked up. At the end of the day, as we left the lighthouse (with an hour and a half drive to get back to the rental house), we came into cell phone range to find texts and voice mails that everyone else had returned and they were locked out! We freaked out, but were on little twisty roads (which I took as fast as possible). After twenty minutes of non-stop guilt and not enough consistent signal to call out, we got a text that two of the aunts had climbed up to the balcony (which hangs over the cliff...) and managed to get into the upstairs door. Phew!!! Dinner was ready when we got back and no one was TOO mad at us.
  • At the end of the weekend, they were overjoyed to be able to pack up boxes of leftovers for me to take home. On previous sister weekends they’ve had to throw away food which was awful for them.

Who knows, if we move to Texas, I could be ‘host’ for the next one, too!