Tag Archives: work

Back to work, you

Karl Dandenell by Richard Man
Hey, wanna buy some fiction?

For those of you following my employment interregnum, the saga takes a new turn next week. Pending final paperwork, I’ll be jumping into a short-term contract at a large utility company. Technical writing! Documentation! Manuals! This should be a regular 40-hour gig (as opposed to the piecemeal stuff I’ve been doing since April).

May marks five (5) months of active searching and interviews. In fact, I had an interview the afternoon I returned from the Nebula Awards conference. (See teaser photo above.) While that role didn’t materialize, I received a firm (and better) offer from another company. Huzzah!

I’ll admit it’s been a while since I’ve taken on a serious project. Let’s just say that my last quarter at Previous Gig were not the most intellectually challenging. They didn’t really grok my skill set (and were struggling with their own internal processes, but that’s a much longer story).

The conference, BTW, was the first in-person SFWA event I’ve attended since the Before Times. It was held in Southern California, right across the Disneyland. Talk about cognitive dissonance. Attendance was about half as many (physical) attendees, although there the usual plethora of excellent panels. Perhaps I can watch the recordings for those I missed. As always, the time went by too quickly and just saying hi to folks proved to be a challenge.

The event did give me a chance to spend time with an old friend and give him a signed copy of The Science Fiction Tarot. I’m particularly pleased with my contribution, “The Schadenfreuders,” and will be joining other authors this weekend to read selections from the anthology. If you decide to buy a paper copy, ping me and I’ll send you a signed book plate.

Writing continues. Naps may have to be curtailed for a while. The cats will not be happy.

Catching up after a week of SNAFUs

There is a great irony in being Between Gigs. You have no money but lots of time. Then Tasks and Urgent Matters dance on stage, blowing trumpets and hauling your ass out of bed. You need to look for work and you want to write. Then, hey, the physical objects in your previously employed and relatively comfortable life begin cracking, groaning, and downright breaking.

Some of it was inevitable: an 12-year-old iMac that couldn’t support recent software updates and therefore, could not run critical web-based software; an electric kettle (3 years) with a worn power switch; a printer (5 years) with an intermittent power glitch; a router (8 years) that kept losing Wi-Fi connections; and another iMac (5 years, but upgraded) with a bad microphone and a hairline crack in the display. Plus, the Pocket Panther was behind on his regular vaccinations because the reminder notices were caught in the Spam filter.

We are replacing things (thank Buddha for emergency savings), the cat is healthy, and the lovely folks at the state Employment Development Department (i.e., Unemployment) have released some overdue benefits after I convinced them that I was not, in fact, part of an organized crime heist to plunder California.

I have been writing. And submitting. Which means more rejections. And a few sales! In fact I was able to add a new square to my Writer Bingo: 2 sales in one day. Both were flash stories and you can find them at Stupefying Stories here and here.

There are two lengthy Revise & Resubmit projects underway, and I’ve completed final edits on my contribution to Kickstarter project: The Science Fiction Tarot. I’m very excited for this project, first because it’s a cool concept and second, the preliminary was, well, very cool.

I continue to work with Cat Rambo, whose insights and gentle ass-kicking keeps me on deadline. I’m also trying to beef up my reading of contemporary fiction (so much good stuff!) and re-visit some old friends. Kurt Vonnegut’s prose still delights. Ursula Le Guin is a master. Daniel Keys Moran reminds me that very good books are too often derailed by publishing travails and general life challenges. And so it goes.

Thanks again to the small but merry band of writers who join me in the Interwebs. Some days I don’t know how we manage to light the headlamps and ride the creaky elevator down into the word mines, but we do.

Saying goodbye to the cubicle (for now)

AKA 8 months and done

Last week I drove into the Oakland’s Uptown neighborhood to meet a friend for lunch (outside in the cold wind) and then head into my nearby office building to clean out my desk and cubicle.

Eight months ago, my team went from working remotely 2 days a week to 5 days as part of the Shelter in Place. We didn’t know how long we’d be gone, and most of us took only the essentials – laptops, peripherals, paperwork. We left behind coffee mugs, photos, tea bags, pens, and desk toys, like my bendable Pink Panther. (Side question: is a yoga toy considered an action figure, or a “steadily held pose” figure?)

For many years, my daughter would give me toys like this (and coffee mugs) and artwork because she knew how much I didn’t like going into the office. The truth is I didn’t like my job. The office was merely the embodiment of that. So she and my spouse did what they could to brighten up my desk/cubicle.

Last month, the Powers That Be at DayJob decided that IT group had no business renting three floors of expensive office real estate in the Bay Area, so they started canceling leases and ordered us to come and get our shit. We had to sign up for 90-min slots so we wouldn’t crowd the elevators or breathe on each other in the hallway. Everyone wore masks. It was all very civilized.

And it was still pretty weird. My cube was on the 11th floor, and between March and November a new skyscraper had sprouted up a few blocks away. Its rising skeleton was clearly visible from my floor’s conference room. Eventually, the new bilding will block part of the view of the Bay Bridge. Not that it’s going to affect me anymore.

I took this DayJob because my last company decided to move most of the web operations to Japan, and my manager and my technical support buddy at the next desk both quit to take other jobs. There didn’t seem like much future there, and the commute was a pain, so I pursued this gig.

Oakland was much closer to home (although in a more challenging neighborhood, to be sure). Once I arrived, though, my new department got shuffled in a re-org and two of the people who interviewed me quit. Then the contracting company changed and two more co-workers quit. Another one was fired.

I ended up in a team of 4 people plus several permanent “remote” workers whom I’d never met in person, including an inexperienced manager with a project list that seemed to change randomly.

So I had conflicting feelings about cleaning out the cube. On the one hand, it felt like leaving the job. On the other, nothing much had changed. I took my box of toys, tea bags, etc., my extra sweater, and drove home. Then I fired up my laptop and continued working.

When the Great Pause is over, I’ll definitely look into another DayJob. I think I’ve proved I can do the work without having to sit in conference rooms and shiver under the AC. I might end up doing something outside the Bay Area. Who knows?

It would be nice, though, to have the option of sharing a cup of tea with a co-worker who isn’t already living in the house.