January 31, 2011

Edited to add

On Saturday, while Warm Efficiency and I were having lunch, I got two texts from my sister. She read my previous post as if Jrex didn't count himself part of my family. Being a space cadet, I couldn't even remember what I'd written so I looked up the blog on my phone. Warm Efficiency was curious about the blog, so I showed her.

She objected to the question about bulemia. "I never would have asked something like that!" She's right. I was trying to think of a question she might have asked. While I was often surprised by the questions, she would not have been that indelicate or rude. Mea culpa!

As for OTRsis, I just meant that while being close to my family is a deciding element for me, when he considered his list, he didn't need to consider what would matter for me. Of course he enjoys our family, but it's bonus, not 'essential'.

Our weighted list exercise? We both ended up with Dallas marginally ahead, but then started trying to figure out ways to make Portland work. In the end, it's a tough, tough decision and there's no clear cut winner.

On the other hand, we're in an amazing position just in having two strong options. He won't lose in either place. Sure, the lab work in Portland would be more challenging, and hiking around Dallas sounds depressing, but in either case, we'll have a good life in either place. Thanks for caring about the journey. I'm tired of thinking about it, so I wonder if you're tired of hearing about it!

January 29, 2011

Heading North

No, we haven't made a decision yet, I'm just heading up to SF to see one of my college buds. Let's call her Warm Efficiency. She is a petite Indian woman and was one of my best friends in school. Leading by example, she taught me that most people like to answer questions, even if they jump the 'don't intrude' wall I had back then. Sitting with a gay Republican in our crazy liberal college she asked, "When did you know you were gay?" Chatting with a friend who's part of a bulemia support group, "What do you feel like after you purge?" With me, "I hear everything you're saying to me, but have you told him that?" The power of the question. It's one of my biggest life lessons.

Anyway, I'm excited to have lunch with her. Two years ago, we did an afternoon with each of our husbands and her two children, but since then we've just met each other for lunch. There's too much to talk about to dilute it with extra people!

Without having read my last blog entry, Jrex told me to have fun and do what I want with the bonus money. Yeah! Might have to swing by Zahara and H&M in the city today...

Our retreat night is OFF. I couldn't get anyone to run up there with a check in hand to physically sign a contract on Friday. Who doesn't take info over the phone! Sheesh. We're going to hang out for the day next Friday at Only Child's house instead. No overnight, but no expenses either. Works for me.

Jrex is back from Portland. We're hoping to do a weighted list tonight. One of my coworkers told me about this. Picture a spread sheet. In the left hand column A you list everything that is important to you in a city. Then you assign each item a percentage number: the total has to add up to 100%. In column B, you put Portland, Column D gets Dallas. Then you go down the list and give each city a 1-5 rank. 1 is 'does not apply', 5 is 'has that characteristic in full measure!' In Columns C and E you multiply the rank by the percentage point for each city. Then you add it up and whichever city gets the most points wins.

We're thinking that he'll do a list where he just thinks of his needs and I do one that's just about mine (like I won't rank the quality of research and he won't rank access to my family). It's a way to neutralize the discussion and help us both get at our deeper dreams and needs.

Good times, right?

January 27, 2011

The rest of the story

Thought you might like a glimpse into the what's happening aside from The Big Move.

Yesterday was my work review. They "love having me in this position. Lots of wonderful feedback." Got a bonus check. Jrex and I have had lots of money discussions about my tendency to think of what I earn as 'mine' and what he earns as 'ours' (true). Dumped check in 'my' savings account so we can discuss what to do with it when he gets back. (Resist urge to run out and go clothes shopping)
In the past two weeks have had tons of emails, phone calls, text messages and chats with my friends and a retreat center to try to set up a SINGLE overnight with only four women. I could organize an event for 5,000 with less effort. Too many alpha women... I think I've managed to set it up, but sheesh.
I've started seeing a spiritual director. We've only had a single session, but even that was good. It's similar to counseling, but the goal is not for her to give me advice, rather it's for her to be a companion with me in listening for what God is doing in my circumstances and in me. Given all the transition in life right now, it feels really good to take time every other week to look around and evaluate my life.

The other bonus is that she's Asian. When Jrex and I have tried couples counseling it's been with white guys. The first one was wonderful, but there's a degree of explaining and understanding we had to do so they could understand some cultural stuff. For example, I can remember when Jrex and I were dating and he'd talk about parental pressure. "Sure, I get it!" I'd answer. Well, it was only after a couple years of constant conversations with his Mom and Dad about babies: when, how, what, are you? when, how, what, are you? when how what. Now! Do it. Go. When, how, what, what's taking so long? What's wrong with my children?! when how what... It took experiencing their relentless focus to understand and go, "Oh, PRESSURE. I thought you meant the way my parents asked me a few times if I'd done my homework. I had no idea what pressure really looked like." Anyway, it's convenient to be able to spend less time explaining some of the cultural background and cut to the deeper emotions.
Trying to set up a spring break long-weekend down to Joshua Tree with my climbing partners. We're going to put our top-rope anchoring training to good use.
We made the strategic error of adding Battlestar Galactica to our NetFlix cue. The miniseries arrived on Monday. By Tuesday night at 10:30 pm we still had one more episode to watch. I made Jrex stop and go pack for his Portland trip. Then at 11 pm (we had to scoot out the door at 7 AM the next day), he hits play for the final episode! This could occupy way too much of our free time.
Jrex and I are both rooting for Portland, but we chatted this morning and it's definitely not a slam dunk. More money than Texas, but in order to get a lab space with windows, Jrex would be in a building at the bottom of the hill. He'd have to take a tram to get up to the mouse facility and most of the core equipment. There are experiments where he extracts stem cells from cancer tumors and has only a certain amount of time to get them reinserted into mice. Factor in 10 minutes of travel time at either end of that experiment and it gets challenging. He's wandering around by himself today to do some hiking and thinking. It's tough that the choice seems to be between life outside work and career (in Dallas he'd share lab space with the founder of lung cancer research...).
If you want a glimpse into his life in lab that will make you laugh (and cry!), check out this video parody of Lady Gaga's Bad Romance: Zheng Lab's Bad Project (click here).

January 24, 2011

Pick a town, any town

(sung badly to the tune of "Oh Holy Night")

Oh neglected blog,
How long ere I have been here
It is a day to post something new.

A ne-ew post is gladly forthcoming
for yonder sits a new and glorious life
Where, oh where
will we live this summer? The answer comes
but not for us today... Oh where?
Where will we live?


The second trip to Dallas (third for James) was good. We explored an area called Oak Cliff south of the Trinity River. It's much grungier and more eclectic than Dallas proper. I don't have a better word for most of Dallas than 'sparkly' and I'm NOT a sparkly person, so I've just felt like I couldn't see myself there. Oak Cliff is definitely not sparkly. There's an area called Bishop Arts District that's full of funky little art shops, coffee houses and the best Mexican breakfast/lunch place ever. We had brunch there the day we flew home. I was able to order Mexican hot chocolate (not listed on the menu, but they were happy to make it for me) and Jrex had a veggie omelette with chorizo on the side. FANTASTIC. Looking at the people in the restaurant we saw workers in paint smattered overalls, a gay couple, a lesbian couple with their adopted child (or a very sweet biracial child they were babysitting...), two wealthy Hispanic groups, an older well-dressed African-American couple and a lots of other family groups. We both took a deep breath and thought, yeah, we could live here.

Poor Mom K, she'll never get the impressive home she'd prefer for us. We have friends in Dallas who bought a HUGE 5-bedroom house in North Dallas with a pool for $450,000. We're just not drawn to that style of life. Personally, I look at all that and think about having to keep it clean. I'm too lazy to own a big house with a big lawn.

Jrex got his preliminary written offer from S0uthwestern. He's going to have to counter them (no fun, but necessary). At the end of this week he's going to Portland by himself to evaluate the equipment and see what their written offer looks like. The director there said he'd get an offer he couldn't refuse. We'll see.

On a personal level, no matter how much better Dallas seems each time I visit, there are lots of reasons I'd prefer Portland. For Jrex, it's similar. The appeal of mountains and the outdoors is very strong for both of us. (All thoughts of family and OTRmama and her daughter aside) It's good to know that if Jrex picks Portland it won't be just for my sake (since that could lead to what-ifs and regret--which neither of us want for the other). On the other hand, if we pick Dallas, it's good to know that I could get excited about the little slice of Austin/Baltimore/San Francisco that we seem to have found.

January 11, 2011

Then vs. Now

When I started this blog I was working in Baltimore. The company was small, our clients were relatively intimate. The job itself probably took 60% of my time at work and rarely delved into my time outside work. I had tons of time and energy to invest in real world and blog relationships.

This job? Sheesh. I'm surprised to discover that being in a management position has drained any desire to connect with people outside of work. I'm tapped out. I've heard all the sob stories, interacted with all the people I can handle and want to come home and shut down. (Fortunately I still like Jrex and he's relaxing to be with at the end of the day, so that works out.) I don't like this work-only focus AT ALL.

I hate that when a friend texts me to join her in bringing dinner over to another friend, it feels like a drain. I miss reading blogs. I miss catching up on Facebook. I hate that working with the junior high girls feels like a HUGE sacrifice because it means I don't get to recharge during church, instead it's more people and more interactions and more drain. I don't like being consumed by work. This feels like a waste of my life. I liked who I could be in Baltimore where who I was outside of my job meant far more than who I was at work.

Jrex is interviewing in NYC tomorrow. In many ways I'd love to live in NYC, but if it means continuing on this same sort of 'career' path, it doesn't feel worth it. We'll see what happens (and obviously, there are other jobs I could do in New York! It would be fun to see what else is out there). He has verbal offers from the other two possibilities and I don't know if the job in NY is as ready to get an offer out the door. In two weeks we head back to Dallas and then he's hoping to head to Portland the week after that. Perhaps by the end of February we'll know what's next.

Hmm...maybe it's more than just my job that's draining. This is a lot of 'what if' to carry around in my head.

The point of this post is that I miss you all! Though you certainly won't know it as my silence stretches on and on...

January 1, 2011

The smattering of news (Happy New Year!)

We're home and vegging very happily. I love our New Year's Day food tradition: Korean dumpling soup in the morning, Pork & Saurkraut (via the crockpot) for dinner. Since I don't have that many specifically German traditions, having something my Mom made, that's definitely German, makes this feel like a truly bi-cultural day. Normally anything 'cultural' is Korean with the default 'norm' being muddled American culture (i.e., neither of us know for sure where it comes from, it's just there).

Christmas with my family was great. I love playing with my niece and nephew ("Let's play 'cat'. My name is Emmett and I'm very cute...Meow!"). I bought my niece a headband making set and we had a great time with her art-directing while I assembled. For my nephew I bought a rocket that rumbles and counts down from 5 to 0 when you pull a string. He carried it everywhere. One morning, I asked each of them what they think about when they go to sleep. Blonde Niece thought a minute, "Hmm...princesses and castles." My nephew piped up, "My rocket!"

My sister is a phenomenal woman. She casually whipped together a massive "Thanksgiving" dinner for Christmas Eve (my brother and Dad were out of town for Thanksgiving so they asked for turkey and the rest of the traditional food). When I mentioned that I should learn to crochet eventually, she pulled me over and taught me on the spot. We even visited a yarn store so I could continue my new addiction at home. I'm currently making a pair of gray "gauntlets" to match the FABULOUS hat that she'd made for me. It even has little ears on top so I look like a fashionista mouse. Love it. I've had at least 5 people comment on it (favorably) since coming back home.

Dad is settling in to life in Seattle. He's got a cozy little apartment not far from my brother and sister. He's still hunting for a church and working on connecting with people, it's really tough to walk away from 35 years of connections and venture to a new place so far away. I respect him immensely for being willing to pull up his roots and attempt the transplant. As in all things, it will take time to figure out the new life and where he fits in with my brother and sister's worlds (and where he creates his own).

Last night we discussed our highs and lows from 2010. Obviously for Jrex, getting his paper published was a huge high. He couldn't think of a specific low. He joked, "See, I'm becoming an optimist!" I rolled my eyes at him and he cackled in response (yes! Cackled. Bad boy that he is.) Overall the year has felt good, contented and good, but I couldn't really think of a specific high. "I know I'm supposed to say it was my promotion, but I don't really care that much about it. It was just a way to make something happen if I had to be in the same job for another year. For a low, our recent discussions of finances and how we're different from each other have been hard." Maybe he's becoming the bright side guy and I'm becoming the doom and gloom person!

Our toast (as we drank a Spanish 'Goliardo' 'Loureiro 2007' wine that was surprisingly good), "May the coming year be also filled with surprisingly satisfactory experiences. May we find rest in the midst of transition and may we enjoy it all with gusto!"

Anyone else have highs/lows from 2010 to share? Or toasts for the coming year?