Posts Tagged ‘ decisions

Where Do You See Yourself In Five Years?

1

My employer has a pretty standard set of interview questions, and since it’s been a long time since I interviewed externally, that’s all I’ve had to deal with over the years. They are much more focused on how you’ve handled a situation in the past and much less concerned about how you will handle hypothetical future situations near as I can tell. I’ve also been on the asking side, so I’ve seen some of the methodology. But I can tell you the book does not have any of those esoteric questions (at least that I saw) about what kind of pizza topping you’d be or how to solve random problems that you would never actually encounter like what you’d do if stranded on the moon with these five objects or where you see yourself in five years. This isn’t to denigrate those questions. Well, except for the last one. That one, while not worthless, is the kind of question I like least, a question that just opens people up to poor answers. Seriously, what are you going to say to a question like that? I understand the point, but I can’t even tell you what I’m going to be doing tomorrow, let alone in five years. I can tell you what I plan to be doing (which I see as the point to some degree), but the problem is the further away you get from what you are trying to forecast, the more difficult it gets, the less useful that plan becomes. I am working in a role that essentially didn’t exist 10 years ago, and sometimes I’m applying for jobs that didn’t even exist five years ago. I’m supposed to forecast that? Anyway, it’s really hard for us to figure out where we are going. It’s great to have ideas about where you want to go; I have them too. It’s just important to occasionally look back and see just how off-base they were because we’re really bad at predicting the future. It’s hard enough to trace a path back. If my previous boss had asked me where I saw myself in five years when I got my last job, I probably would have said Wells Fargo, but I don’t know if I would have believed it. I probably wouldn’t have said San Francisco. If I had, it would have been a guess on a very long list of guesses.

2

Recently I decided to go vegan. I’ve been building to it for a while, honestly. And I had just reached a point where I said to myself, you know what, why not? If you want some grandiloquent explanation as to why, I’m afraid I don’t have one. Health is a consideration, of course. And ethically speaking, I get the arguments, but that wasn’t a tipping point for me. It’s the same with the environmental impacts. I get all of those things, but I can’t give you a nice succinct statement as to why if that’s what you really want because I don’t have one myself. Because I can seems like a weird way to answer that question, but it’s the closest to the truth.

Now I’m not here to tell you what you should do. All we can do is put information in front of each other. It’s up to us as individuals to decide what to do with it. And honestly, I don’t really care what you choose to eat. That’s up to you. That’s not a judgment, either. That’s how I approach my own life as well. I have to be the one to make the decisions, no matter what anyone else says. It’s something I learned to truly embrace when I came out, and it’s been a guiding force in my life ever since. Many things, we have to do ourselves. This isn’t to say that we don’t have good support networks that help us, or that some of us don’t have better opportunities or access than others. Some of us obviously do. I’m no exception. It’s just to say that even with those sorts of things, we all still have decisions to make that no one can make for us. Whether we can follow through with them? That is a different discussion altogether. But in this case, where I am right now, with what I have access to? I can.

I live in a time where it’s easier to go vegan because there are a lot more options. I have access to tools, simple things that make life easier like a smartphone that can help me find places nearby that I might not have known about otherwise or even a reliable internet connection at home to figure out the same things. I live in a place where I really have a lot of options when I go out to eat, or even when I’m buying groceries. Of course it still takes effort; there’s still work and considerations and questions when I go out. There’s still habits to change. But mostly, it’s just that I’m in a different place in my life than I was years ago, a time and place where it just makes a lot more sense to me. Whether it’s because the ethical cost of the decisions I make wears more on me now or it’s because I’m more cognizant of what I put in my body because I just can’t get away with what I could even five years ago or just that I can is hard to pinpoint. It’s probably all of those things, and a lot more. Was it a possible future in the past? Of course, because here I am. Was it a probable future? That, I’d have to say, seemed less likely even a couple years ago. And yet, here I am.

3

The Golden Gate Bridge is about a mile and a half across. I’ve walked it a couple times and I’ve ridden my bike across it a couple times as well, but finally, on Saturday, I did something I’ve been meaning to do for a while now: I ran across it. It was kind of annoying, to be honest. Super-windy and full of tourists that weren’t paying any attention. And while I’m used to some degree of that in Golden Gate Park, at least there they can hear me when I try to get their attention. But the views? You really can’t beat them. Plus, it’s a beautiful run to get there from my place, up and through the Presidio and out to the old batteries. I ended up going it was just over 11 miles. It was a nice way to kick off my Saturday morning, though it meant I didn’t particularly care to do much else the rest of Saturday.

I’m not entirely sure at what point the switch flipped, but since I’ve lived here, I’ve come to think of myself more as a runner. I hated it in high school, and over the years had sporadic bursts where I tried to run a bit more, but I never really put anything solid together until just before I moved here. And while it’s still a challenge to get out as much as I’d like, I still find myself at least doing a 4.5 mile loop through Golden Gate Park with enough frequency, down to the bison and back, more often than I even thought I would when I moved here. Part of it is a function of the fact that it is a bit more difficult to just get on my bike and go for long bike rides here. Part of it is that I have spent more time running. Once a three mile run seemed to be an insurmountable challenge. And though I was out for quite a while yesterday, it didn’t really feel like a challenge in that same way. I was pushing my body, sure. But I knew I could do it. Like most things, a lot of running is mental. And it took me a long time to get over that initial hump, to get to that point where what was once felt like a long run is now a short run, to know I can do it instead of wondering if I could. Though I’d still like to do a better job with it, it’s less a question of when I’ll run and more a question of when I’ll do the other things I need to get done after work.

4

I know there are reasons why people do, but I still can’t fathom why so many people choose to drive in this city. Even when I moved here initially, when I still had my car, I chiefly drove it once every week or so to make a Target run. It was not something I used to get around town. Have you tried driving here? It’s awful. And though it took me a while after I got rid of it, I have finally become the bike commuter I knew I could be if I just didn’t have a car. Of course there are times I miss it. I probably would have gone to Bridge School with a car; not that it would have necessarily been quicker, just that it would have given me greater latitude. As it was, I didn’t particularly want to deal with Caltrain, and no one I knew expressed any great interest, so my next trip to Mountain View will just have to wait.

As long as I live here, I don’t envision a future where I’ll own a car. But there I go again, forecasting. It’s hard to say. What if one of the parking spaces opened up in my building? Or if I were making more money? Or if my job were no longer in the Financial District? Lots of things could impact my decision vis-a-vis car ownership. Lots of things enable it right now, the fact that I’m able, that I live close to where I work and much of what I do after work, that it’s actually basically the fastest way to get from place to place much of the time. Suffice to say, I don’t see a time where I will enter into getting a car again lightly. I will definitely think about the impacts a decision like that much more. I no longer view driving as a birthright, something that was just what you did to get around the suburbs and reach your far-flung friends. But it stands to reason that if 33 year-old me has a drastically different view point on the issue than 18 year-old me did, who knows what 48 year-old me will think? At present, I do not know exactly what circumstances could change my opinion that I am a bike commuter and a bike commuter first. But that’s still a pretty new label for me, so perhaps I shouldn’t get too far ahead of myself.

5

Tomorrow morning will be like any other morning. I’ll get up for my 9-5. I bike in and it’ll take me between 24 and 26 minutes depending on which lights I catch. I’ll get a coffee at Coffee Bar, hoping the medium roast is the grab and go; I used to be a dark roast kind of person; then again I used to never drink coffee. I will sit at a job I’ve had for a year and a half and now people will ask me questions because I’m one of the experienced ones. I’ll eat a lunch I brought in because I’m in one of those phases right now, and when I’ve pushed enough widgets, I’ll reverse the bike ride back out to Inner Richmond. If there’s time, I’ll go for a run. If there’s not time, it’s probably because I’m going to a show. The World Series may well blow all those plans up. Because really, that’s all those things are. Plans. Some of those plans, like my job, are a means to an end, and something I’d never consider blowing off. You just can’t do that. Or at least I can’t. Not where I’m at right now. But most of those plans are highly fluid. Perhaps one of my coworkers will suggest Tlaloc and instead of leftovers, it’ll be an ensalada nopales and that wonderful pumpkin seed salsa they do so well. Perhaps I’ll get a text that an old friend is in town and wants to grab drinks somewhere after work. I still have the plans. I still have an idea of how tomorrow is going to go, and I still made preparations for those plans. But if you really want to know how it’s gonna go? Ask me again in a couple days.

Infrastructure

When Nextbus says that the 31BX is 5 or 6 minutes away, that’s when I should be out the door. When it says it’s 4 minutes, I have to hustle, but I can still make it if I leg it. Otherwise, I may as well plan an alternate or wait for the next bus. Yesterday, I left when it said 4 minutes, made it down to the bus stop, and proceeded to wait another 14 minutes for the bus. By the time it came, there was another 31BX immediately behind it. At least my ride wasn’t overfull as I got on the second one and waited to get to the Financial District. After 9 am instead of before like usual. It’s not like I’ve got anyone watching the clock telling me I have to be there at a certain time (though some people do), so it doesn’t matter which of the morning buses I hit in that regard. And yeah, I have my phone, so I can see what everyone’s been saying all morning on Twitter instead of just standing around. While it’s not how I plan to use 14 minutes, as a now-everyday rider, I know I am going to get lots of chances to use small bits of time like that. For me, the challenge has been deciding what to do with those small spaces. Mostly, I’ve decided to use them to read and write since I have the time and technology to do that.

There aren’t many other buses that I always try to catch at the same time, so it’s less pronounced. But at least once a week, I spend 10 minutes longer at 6th and Balboa than I had any intention to. I understand that is currently part of being a bus rider. What I also understand is if, as a society, we truly want people to embrace the use of mass transit, that needs to change. It seems to be a paradoxical situation, with ridership being hard to come by if one can’t count on the bus and transit systems and tax payers not necessarily excited about pouring more money into a system that people aren’t taking advantage of. That certainly felt like an issue in the Twin Cities with the buses unless you had the fortune of taking the right route. I rode them on occasion, mostly after I lived in Saint Paul and lived, but I never depended on them like I currently do in my carless state. Technology has made it easier, for sure, as I can actually check on the times, but it just seemed like a lot of the buses I wanted in the Twin Cities were every 30 or 60 minutes. And while there inclement weather could make a frustrating ride even worse, here in San Francisco, we don’t have that excuse. So what do we have?

While I was dealing with my normal morning commute, some Google employees in the Mission were getting ready for theirs. In San Francisco, that means quite likely getting on one of the large charter buses that ferry people from San Francisco where they have more of a desire to live down the Peninsula to towns like Mountain View and Sunnyvale where many of the tech companies you’ve actually heard of are, some 35 to 40 miles away. Except, at least at 24th and Valencia yesterday, they were held up by protesters. Protesting what? I am still not entirely sure what the overall effect of the gentrification protest was given the false umbrage that some entity tried to generate with the too-perfect, not real Google employee-protester spat that they just happened to catch on camera. I believe the overall point, though, was to protest the sharplyr raising costs of living and to intimate that these Google employees (and by synechdoche, all techies and tech culture) are destroying the real San Francisco and its spirit, etc as if they somehow single-handedly also influence zoning laws in addition to making money.

Now I have some problems with this because false umbrage is certainly not the way to deal with it. I’m hard pressed ot think of situations where misdirection helps. As annoying as my bus ride is at times, I know I am going to be at work in 35-40 minutes most mornings and I have several different routes I can take if one experiences an issue, all paralleling each other by 2 blocks. I could hop on my bike and be there in 25-30 minutes. Hell, I could even walk to work in a little over an hour if I hustled. Not saying I am about to. Just that I can. I both have the fortune and the desire to live fairly close to where I work, and it still takes a ton of time.

When I was looking at places, I had in mind what I wanted. I like a walkable neighborhood, with amenities and bus stops nearby. BART would have been nicer, because it tends to be a bit more regular, but that’s not a lot of the city when you get down to it. Civic Center, Mission, Glen Park, Balboa Park are the locations I could affordably see finding something near, and any closer in and I am walking distance anyway. I’d previously lived in a moderately walkable area downtown Saint Paul (you need grocers) and a highly walkable area in Uptown in Minneapolis (you I didn’t quite appreciate until the end). I know I like it.

The thing is, I am not alone in that. A lot of people here in San Francisco want similar amenities out of where they live. Not everyone here has the fortune of having a job that’s also located in the city. A lot of those jobs are across the Bay, down the Peninsula, miles away. Now I am a big proponent of living close to work. It’s something I’ve always angled for in my jobs. So I get the argument that people could just live in those cities that dot the Peninsula. But that means giving up a lot of the gains here in terms of walkability and proximity to events and random things that happen because this is San Francisco, dammit. Plus, at least out here, it’s not any cheaper to rent or buy in Mountain View than it is here in the city, which is one of those arguments that exists for suburbs (that I don’t really agree with).

But what about the cost of transit? Short of Caltrain, there’s not a lot of great options for getting south. And I don’t know how that would be for a commute versus a leisurely ride which is what I was in for the last time (and first time) I rode it. Certainly driving down to Silicon Valley isn’t a great option. I know people who do it. But that’s a lot of gas. And a lot of miles sitting in a car, alone, getting stressed as I imagine just about any driver gets. I know I do, and I know I have seen most people I have ridden with in my life have a moment or two, especially in rush hour traffic. So while I get that there are still issues to navigate in terms of where those corporate shuttles pick people up, and whether Muni sees some money back for use of their space (though isn’t that an allotment of civic space?), the actual idea behind the shuttles isn’t really what bothers me.

What bothers me is that those shuttles are the best option for Google or Genetech or whatever other companies use them in a lot of cases. They have a lot of employees who might take a public mass transit option if it were a bit easier, a bit more timely, had less transfers, etc. They are already taking mass transit. Is the umbrage that these companies are doing something to help make it more possible for their employees to live where they want to because our infrastructure, designed for cars, most of them single passenger rides, has let them down? The problem isn’t that Google thought to get a coach. The problem is our society has failed us in the promise of delivering options of getting around almost any way than by car in most of our major cities and greater urban areas in the US.

I know the bus is going to be late some days. Because it’s at the whims of traffic. And I know there’s not really a great dedicated bike route for me. Those are my two realistic options currently. But why aren’t the roads designed to better serve those modes of transit as well? Roads existed well before cars. People still had vehicles to park, though the vehicles were different. They were not invented for cars, though they have certainly been geared toward them in the last century. It does us all a disservice to continue to view them as such. A roadway for cars is a way of getting people from on point to another. So is a train line. So is a bike lane. So is a sidewalk. What seems unique is that when we talk about changing those paths in our cities, it seems to be about what the car has to give up, like it just earned those parking spaces or extra lanes or direct routes. It didn’t. As a society, we allocated that. I, for one, would love to see society allocate a bit differently.

People don’t like buses because they are crowded and late. People don’t like biking because it’s not safe in a lot of places. People don’t like trains and rail cars because it seems unless you live in the right spot they aren’t useful or they’re too infrequent, though they certainly seem to prefer them to buses. People don’t like walking because there’s nowhere to walk to. People don’t like all of those because they take too long. Driving can be faster. Driving can be more direct. Driving can be the best option because there’s nothing else in between. Driving also offers comforting illusions of control. I can try another route. I can leave whenever I want. I don’t have to wait for anything. I get all of those thoughts, I’ve thought all those thoughts. And I like driving when it’s not bumper-to-bumper traffic and non-stop stress. There’s nothing quite like rolling down the open highway, stereo blazing as you head toward wherever. I don’t think there’s a big problem with roads.

But there’s a discussion to be had about how we use our space, especially in denser urban areas where the default assumptions are toward cars and driving and have only recently started to shift back toward other uses. I don’t think corporate buses are an end-all solution to that by any means. Driving is the best way to get from point A to point B if we keep making decisions at a municipal level to support that over other means of transit. Buses might get someplace faster if they had dedicated lanes. Biking would be easier with direct protected bike lanes and might be a more alluring option. As cities, we have options about how we approach that. Personally, I’d like to see some different ideas on the table other than adding a lane to a highway because it’s congested. Why are people on those highways in the first place? What are some options to ameliorate that? Those are more complicated issues that touch not only on road use, but zoning and land use. If more people want to turn toward more urban environments that are more compact and provide the kind of amenities that cities do provide, how can we help create that?

I get that’s not what everyone wants. I personally don’t see myself ever moving back to a suburb. I just don’t see the point for me. I fail to see how they provide the things that I appreciate most out of where I live. If the calculus were skewed such that my job were out in the suburbs, I would still try to live in a city. I’m an urban girl. I know I’m not representative of the whole, though. But it does seem there are a lot of aspects to life in the US that are geared toward a certain way to live. Suburbs haven’t been around forever any more than the roads that wend their ways through them. They were a product of the times. Times have changed. I hope we are changing with them. It’d be nice to live in a city where the buses are on time.

Coin Flip

I’ve heard it said that coin flips tell us how we truly feel about one of the two options. That is to say, we know the outcome we want when we find ourselves fervently wishing for one or the other as the coin flips through the air. And me, I am inclined to agree with that. It can be quite revealing to see what it is that I want when I am forced to make supposedly equal decisions. That isn’t to say I have any decisions to make right now, though. My problems cannot be solved by a coin flip. I am waiting for other people to make decisions right now, and all I can hope is that if it comes down to a coin flip, they listen to whatever it is that they heard while the coin was in the air.

This isn’t an attempt to be intentionally cryptic, so I shall explain. I recently applied for a Financial Crimes Consultant 2 position (oh how we love our titles) with Wells. In San Francisco. Which in it of itself was a bit of a decision. I just bought a place, it seems. And moving 2000 miles, or even entertaining the thought, is a bit daunting. Right, it’s a complicated thing, and as with most cool complicated opportunities in life, I have had ample chances to talk myself out of it. But here’s the thing, it’s not my choice until and unless the put an offer on the table. So why make too many decisions before that point? Either I am going to get kicked out of the pool or they are going to make an offer. That’s the first point I have a major decision beyond the initial one. Obviously a lot of other decisions cascade out of that one, but why not see where it goes?

Certainly, it can be difficult to embrace that sort of mindset. If I have seemed a bit distant or out of character in regards to my planning, well, hopefully it makes a bit more sense in this context. I am not planning like I am going to be living somewhere else, but at the same time, there are few things that have come up in the Twin Cities that I couldn’t just figure out after giving this application time to play out. And at this point, I highly doubt I will be moving, given that the process has dragged on for a while. Then again, Wells is a large company and there are a multitude of reasons these things can take a long time. It’s not unheard of for people to hear back 3-4 months down the road from interviews, at least anecdotally speaking. Now who knows if the people I talk with are just trying to assuage me because that’s what I want to hear. It doesn’t particularly matter. What does matter is that I was being a bit backwards in my logic.

See, I just spent all this time talking about how I haven’t had decision points. And that’s true, I haven’t. But the same applies to things here in the Twin Cities. Sure, if I up and move, it’s a pain to get rid of the concert tickets I might buy for shows down the road. But it’s doable. Now I don’t think I’ve particularly missed out on anything yet, because I think the impulse to take the options that are in front of me is pretty strong, but I have been avoiding some commitments on the basis that I had applied for something (and in fairness, had gone a decent way into the process on). Have I just been using it as an excuse? I know I’m not always the best person at saying no, but I don’t think that’s it. I think it’s just the inherent hypocrisy in all of us. Our ability to apply different logic to different situations in ways that doesn’t make sense always strikes me as one of humanity’s most fascinating aspects. I am by no means immune. So it’s something I need to constantly question when I see it present in my actions and thinking.

To that end, I have applied for yet another position, same title, but this time a little closer to home (though further from where I live now) in St. Louis Park. Well, it’s across the street from the GMI main campus. It doesn’t feel like it’s in St. Louis Park, that’s for sure. But that is neither here nor there. It’s in the area that I’ve been targeting all along (Fraud Risk Management for those of you keeping score at home), so it’s not that surprising that an opportunity came up that I’m qualified for since, you know, that’s what I’ve been working toward. The position itself is definitely something I’m interested in. And all the hypotheticals around it, well, they are just that right now. Again, it’s the same logic. I’m not wantonly looking for whatever’s next. But I have applied for things over the past couple years that both seem interesting (as much as one can glean from a job description, at least) and that I’m qualified for. No one’s gonna come along and just give me that next job. Who knows? Perhaps I’ll go through the whole process for the job here and get offered a position in SF. Perhaps I’ll get offered neither. Really, it comes down to the same overall process. All I can do is what I can control. I can control going in and giving good interviews. I can control looking out for myself and trying to push myself professionally. I really don’t have any intention of getting too bogged down in the details. Perhaps I’ll be trying to sell my place. Perhaps I’ll be trying to figure out the logistics of a bike ride to the west metro from my place as my commute. Perhaps I’ll be doing nothing more than continuing to do my job and waiting for the next opportunity that looks like a good fit to come along.

Me, I’ve never been one for flipping coins. It’s a lousy way of determining most outcomes. Most times, I find I know what I want to do, but I’m just afraid or lazy or a lot of other adjectives. A coin doesn’t change that. I can. Like the jobs, I’ve just gotta try. When I look at a lot of aspects of my life, I can see that I’m not always trying. Anyway, it’s not about making the right decision. Who knows what the right decision is sometimes? It’s about making decisions, about being ready for them when the come, and not dwelling on them in the meantime. In respect to the two jobs so far, I’ve done what I can, and if it’s not enough, then I’ll revisit what I did and see what I can do that better next time. Though I’ll probably do the same thing even if I get an offer, because at least professionally speaking, that’s the kind of person I am. All I can do is keep going into work and doing my job in the meantime. And while by no means magical, the rest will take care of itself. Or rather, it’s other peoples’ decision. And you know what, ignore what I said earlier. I hope it doesn’t come down to a coin flip.

Why Your Life Is A Lot Like The Weather

Life is all about making the best decisions with incomplete information (some day I’ll talk about how poker helped me with this, but that’s for another time). There are so many things we can never know with certainty, the greatest among them being what would happen if we took the other path. There’s a reason that’s a popular contemplative idea, from the simple and frequently misunderstood elegance of “The Road Not Taken” to the importance of minutiae in Sliding Doors. Frequently paired with that concept, we see the importance of those decisions and actions in the past, whether it’s saving a nurse or your father (seriously, alternate history has a strong bias that people who should do have to die) or just something as simple as missing the train like Helen did. Maybe it’s just how we make sense of all of it or justify the decisions that we made or the things that happened in our lives.

Even in our own lives, it is much easier to look back in retrospect and ascribe importance to events so simple as deciding to walk down 6th instead of 5th or missing the bus we normally take or deciding to interject in a conversation with a stranger who will later become a best friend or a spouse. The thing about that bias, though, is that we are making those kinds of decisions all the time. Whether to respond to a stranger when they say something at a bar or a show, whether to initiate that conversation, what drink to order, which line to stand in. And of course all those things make a big difference. Maybe we don’t get caught up in the small decisions as much because they feel small (even though they can be just as important in retrospect), but we do tend to get caught up in the big decisions. College, marriage, homes, jobs, those sorts of things. Or maybe we don’t want to think that there’s basically equal weight to a lot of the things that go on in our lives (that is to say, not much) and that some decisions tend to rise above in our own minds.

I used to be the kind of person who got caught up in all of those branches. Not to say that one shouldn’t plan, but I liked to look too many moves ahead. This was especially paralyzing just prior to transitioning as I spent far too much time forecasting how it would go when I told certain people I was transitioning and what effect that would have on my life. I was doing all of that because I was trying to maintain some modicum of control over what might happen. The more possibilities I explored, the more I could think about how to best structure what I was going to say or do to minimize outcomes that I did not want. Not to say that we as individuals shouldn’t be mindful of the impact of what we say or do to each other, but it can rather quickly become a mindtrap. I wanted so bad for everything to work out perfectly when I told someone what was happening with me. And I quickly learned that it’s impossible. You can guess what impact the things you say and do might have on others, but you just can’t truly predict it.

I am thinking about this all again because I stand at a point where there’s a lot of big decisions. The paths just keep splitting and splitting and in some cases overlapping. Professionally, I’m trying to figure out what my next job is. Is that within Wells or not? In the Twin Cities or not? Because that affects whether I rent or buy. And what I do with my money. I just got this First Avenue membership, so do I really want to leave here? What about all the other sunk costs that are secretly sitting around my apartment and elsewhere in the Twin Cities? And I have quite a life here, and a lot of friends. But going too far down those branching paths is no way to live. That isn’t to say that when I see a job posting in a place like Billings or Portland I don’t spend a few minutes learning a bit more about the city, from the amenities to the potential cost of rent. It’s just not getting caught up in it. It’s worth taking a look of course, but it’s not like I have a place to live picked out in a city just if I move there.

We have to make informed decisions, but we are always, as I stated at the start, working with incomplete information. There’s just no one way to now the outcome of the decisions we make in totality other than looking back and seeing what happened. But we can’t use that to extrapolate what would have happened had we decided the other way because we lack the definiteness gained from having lived through something. And that isn’t even getting into the fact that the next opportunity might not have even occurred had we decided to turn left instead of going right. It’s all just a lot of guess-work. And in that way, we are all like weather forecasters. They run tons of models to try and give us an accurate idea of what the temperature will be, what the precipitation will be like, and we use that to try and figure out whether to grab a coat, an umbrella, or sometimes in some cases whether to take the day off. But no matter how many models they run, at the end of it all, the moment you step out the door, it’s a life of possibilities. And what weather you encounter? Well, you will just find out.

I have no offers on the table currently. I am not trying to decide whether I want to spend a few years in Billings in anything more than the abstract, any more than I’m trying to decide if I want to stay here for the next few. I’m thinking about both just a little bit, but not too much. Because right now, both are possibilities, but right now I just don’t know. I’ll figure it out as I get there. What I decide is the important factor in a year or two may not seem in any way significant right now. I just have to be flexible and open to all the potential wonderful branches that life has to offer. They are all opportunities; we all have to take risks sometimes. Moving to Billings would be more of one than staying right where I am, at least from a simple surface look. It certainly feels that way when contemplating moving someplace where you have no roots. But I doubt if it logically is any more of a risk. And like I said, there’s just no reason to worry yet. I still have to wait to see what the respective hiring managers out there think of my resume. I think I’m qualified and I certainly know I’m ready to take on whatever challenges await, irrelevant of what I decide. And there’s not much more I can do but what for them to come up. And maybe do a touch of Googling.

What’s In Store?

I took a break for a couple weeks. I do not think that I would have had anything particularly coherent to say for the majority of that time, so I doubt that you are missing much. I still need to clean up the year in music 2010, which I will do tomorrow, but for right now, I wanted to bookend my last entry with a couple notes. First, it’s good to be back in Minnesota, healing up and getting healthy. If for some reason this is the first place you find information about what’s going on in my life, I am doing well, there were no complications, and there were lots of awkward comments from nurses and doctors about how good my vagina looked. Goes with the territory of being in a hospital I suppose…my surgery was on 01/05/11, so I’m not more than week past it, and while my energy level has certainly not recovered, all around, I feel pretty good and can get around decently, minus this ridiculous donut that I have to sit on whenever I am on a hard chair or surface. I have an abundance of time off, which I am hoping to use to catch up with several things, but also to try and write daily (though maybe not post daily); there’s also some junk sitting around here that has eBay written all over it (if you need Genesis games, let me know!), and there’s some general relaxing and lazing about that’s long overdue. I’m not going to another show until Feb. 6th as of present, plenty of time to rest and heal up and use the rest of January to clean up, find, and think about more music. There’s a couple books that I’ve been meaning to get to, a couple I’ve been meaning to write about, and as always, there are a couple surprises. So I shall not be bored until Feb. 21st (my return to work as of present), that’s for sure. And while it’s good to have all those quotidian things to occupy me (and good to get some of them done…finally), my mind, my mind it turns to greater things.

As I stated last time, it’s not like I’m ever done. This is always a process, transitioning. But in the grand scheme, I am done. There’s a few more pieces of paperwork to shepherd through and worry about, and I still have to change my birth certificate, my sex with SSA, and my passport. That’s not much, though, in the sense of all the things that I have previously had to deal with or done as a result of transitioning. And I am left with a lot of questions about what is next, personally and professionally. A lot of doors that weren’t closed, but I told myself not to mess with for the time, are once again open. Is it time to leave the cities that I have lived in my entire adult life (really, I can’t count my time in college as being an adult in the same sense)? What about all this writing I have sitting around on computers, in notebooks, in my head? Or the instruments that I occasionally bang and strum, but mostly collect dust? I know I’ve mentioned this before, but I don’t know if I can properly capture the feeling that goes along with it in writing. It suddenly feels like I can do anything again, a feeling that I haven’t properly felt, well, ever. And it’s not totally true. I’m not just going to quit my job tomorrow, and or even without having a really good plan about what is next. But I finally have the time and energy to really say to myself, what is next? I come up on my four year anniversary this year with Wells and it is worth questioning, is this the horse I want to keep riding, and if so, what is the next step? I already know the next step I want to take professionally by getting certified as a CFE, but if anything, that should only increase my professional options. Most days, I like my job and I like the company I am with, but how am I going to grow with it, and do I see a path that makes sense for me in it, most of all? Or is it time to try and find someplace else that I think is a better place to grow? That isn’t a question I really dealt with, and it was fine. It gave me time to grow professionally, and frankly, I didn’t really want to wrestle with insurance and all that stuff in the middle of a rather intensive process like transitioning. So, while on the surface it’s all a bit overwhelming, mostly, it feels really good to think about what is next. There are going to be pros and cons to it all. Sometimes I can’t bear the thought of leaving Minnesota. Sometimes I can’t bear the thought of staying. I went through the same set of questions with a little move from Minneapolis to Saint Paul, I can’t imagine that the questions, pros, and cons are any easier on a bigger scale. But it is nice to be able to entertain. And to know that all the decisions I make have multiple facets. Surgery helped me grapple with that. Obviously, there are some risks, however minor in some cases, involved with having an operation. While it seems more irreversible than a lot of other decisions, I doubt that it is. We make decisions about our career that are difficult at a certain time to change. Not impossible, but difficult. The longer we go down a given path, the harder it is to deviate from it. At some point, we all (hopefully) chose those paths with some amount of recognition, though I doubt any of us can have total recognition of the realities of the choices we make until well after them. Every one of us has been doing that, even if what I did seems more permanent in some senses. You may argue otherwise, but I challenge you to think about some of the decisions that you’ve made and realize that there are plenty of things you can’t do over, and even if you changed what you are doing now in respect to them, they wouldn’t be the same. I stand at a decision point again, a rather tangible one, that could affect the whole rest of my life just as much as surgery the so recently passed. If that seems to be a bold statement, well, I feel it is.

I feel a lot more confident about these kinds of life decisions. Not that I will always make the best decision, but that I have the skills to make the right decision at the time. I did a lot of things that I didn’t necessarily want to to put my life on track, including getting a job that I wasn’t so sure of at first, but was rather important. That has blossomed into a better situation, and I know sometimes what appears to be the best decision immediately will not be the best decision for me in 5 years. But I also know that I just have to take the facts, think about things at this time, and make a decision. No amount of hemming and hawing is going to change the fact that there are still choices to make about where life is going. I don’t regret almost anything about transitioning, and the things that I do find regretful have more to do with how I handled the situations that came up, not the decisions themselves. I can’t do it all, that’s just maturity speaking. Choosing to live in Saint Paul, for example, means that I experience more Saint Paul things, but less of Minneapolis than I used to on a daily basis. It has forced me to think, even in terms of a short distance, of the things over there that are truly important versus the things that were convenient to that locus, in my case, Uptown. I have reconfigured, found replacements, or learned what is still worth driving over for. I have met new sets of employees at new bars, restaurants and shops here in Saint Paul. None of which would have been possible had I not moved to Lowertown. I choose to focus on the sense of discovery that comes with this, not the sense of loss. Sure I don’t ever go to the CC anymore, but you know, maybe I’m not that person anymore anyway. Most definitely I’m not that person anymore. And as I said, this is all on a smaller scale. All those things that I miss, they are just 10 miles away, and it’s pretty easy to get in my car and get to them should I ever truly feel the need. But the things I missing Ames, they are 210 miles away, and the things I miss in Virginia, well, they are 1100 miles away. The scale may be larger, but each move has entailed giving up certain things to find new things. Some can never be properly replaced (here’s looking at you, Battles), but that has just as much to do with time as it does place. You don’t need me to tell you that, think of the bars you used to go to in college, and the times you’ve been there since (if you have), or the coffee shops, or little places that make up a sense of a place. Invariably, we are different people when we go back into those spaces, and while our reactions may vary (from our elementary school seeming so small now to our favorite local haunts feeling occupied by people we are no longer like in college), they are impossible to escape. We are all probably changing in more ways than we realize all the time. Or maybe just in more ways than we’d like to concentrate on.

So what’s in store? I don’t know. I don’t have to figure that out immediately. I have to take some time, take care of myself, and keep plugging away at little things that make up my daily existence. Some of that has been going on for a while, such as taking stock of what I truly consider my lares and penates. Some of it is new, like dilation. Some, some’s just what I do to help the time pass. I will keep thinking on the subject for sure, keep exploring, and most of all, true to consider what makes the most sense for me. It may not make a lot of sense to you, but hopefully whatever enterprise is next doesn’t seem that foolish on the surface. That said, feel free to talk me out of anything truly ridiculous. I can always use some outside perspective.

As a final, unrelated note to most of this, thanks to the support of everyone of the past few years with the process of transitioning. Special thanks to the people I saw in California, either in LA or San Francisco, and if I saw you in both places, well, just consider that doubly special. It really meant a lot just to see some familiar faces, to catch up over coffee, to try a little bit of a Bakesale Betty chicken sandwich, or go shopping on NYE and get free champagne. It’s the really the little things, and all of those little things made for a wonderful time, both before and after surgery. So thanks again to all, but especially those of you in the past couple weeks, whether you schlepped me from to or from an airport or just had the good sense to feed me, please know that it’s appreciated.

 
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