How Life Changes in a Moment

psychiatrist is in, charlie brown
I was working from home last Friday. I'm in the middle of taking over a project that is 9 months overdue and has a critical delivery by December 1. +1 called and asked if the kids were up. They weren't (I, 23, lives with us at the moment - a boomerang child and C, 15, is spending the month with us during his summer holidays). +1 said he's coming home ... he'd been laid off.

He'd worked at the mental healthy hospital for 12 years but we were reading the tea leaves in January and suspected this was coming down the pike ... someone on the board had it in for him. It's nonsensical but businesses, even non-profit ones, don't necessarily operate rationally.

So we had a good Father's Day weekend and nothing more was said. We gathered the boys last night and delivered the news.

On the upside, my employer has offered domestic partner health benefits for 2 years now. +1, I and C are on my health plan so we don't have to worry about health insurance. I have a good job with good prospects so the bills should continue being paid.

I encouraged +1 to think about a more fundamental question -- where does he want to live. We've been in H-town because of his job and for the youngest but this is an opportunity to cast a broader vision of possibilities and they don't need to be restricted to this city. So he's thinking about that.

Life goes on. Work needs to be done. The kids need to be taken care of.

A, 20, who had her first child a year ago January got engaged over the weekend. J, her boyfriend and the father of their child, proposed and then announced another addition to the family due in November. They're taking the hard road but at least they're both stepping up to it. Their wedding is in August.

It's gonna be a busy summer.

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Getting going, getting organized

cyberhead, busy
I'm having difficulty getting started this morning. Overwhelmed is the likely reason. I've got a long list of things I need to get started on with the house to ready it for sale. Whether we put it on the market or not is another choice, another *thing* starving and grasping for attention.

I got back a week ago from working in India a month. I was working with a small team of people in Bangalore getting them up to speed and started on some work they're doing for my company. It was an interesting experience. The first time in an unknown place can be frightening; there's a sense of claustrophobia (or, perhaps more accurately, agoraphobia) dealing with the great unknown; navigating unfamiliar language, customs, culture, transportation and food. I think I was able to overcome some of the culture shock ossification that I felt - at least a little. I didn't come back any thinner so I must have done alright in the eating department despite the almost total change in cuisine required.

There is a tax return to be prepared by the end of the week. There is work to do (first must get organized). There are vacations to plan. Well, not vacations really -- mom is having a knee replacement surgery so need to be there with her at the end of June/early July. That rules out Wild Goose, I guess. I want to go to Greenbelt but the plane tickets are running @ $1100 right now - mostly fuel surcharges. That's a bit steep in a year when I'm trying to pare down the credit card balances.

A Telly Night

schroeder, creative
Season premieres of DH and B&S tonight. I'm not so keen on the housewives but am looking foeward to what Greg Berlanti is going to bring us this season.

Time is flying and running out

chicken, gossip
Wondering how those two metaphors work together.

Work has consumed me since May-ish and now I'm slowly coming up for air.

Just in time to get organized and sort out the final details of the Civil Partnership in Scotland Thanksgiving week. I've got the venue booked with downpayment. Need to pay the balance.

I've contacted the registrar in Aberfeldy and she seems helpful so I'm thinking I can make arrangements via email which is helpful. So I need to finish that.

After that, it's only flights and we've settled now on who we think we need to book seats for so I can get on that.

The heat is slowly giving way to the barest hint of autumnal coolness. I've taken to driving to and from work with the sunroof open (but with the A/C still blasting). I'm just glad to have gotten through August and almost September without any severe tropical storms heading into the Gulf. Would that they all simply run up the east coast harmlessly.

+1's daughter is pregnant so partner will be a grand-dad in January. She's barely going to be able to fly to Scotland for the CP but she really wants to go so I guess I get to spend the FF miles to make that possible.

As mentioned, since May, I've been flying almost weekly to Chicago. We also had a wedding for a nephew in Iowa in August and we've another in Denver in October. So the FF points thereby gotten are sure welcome and I've made elite status (the hard way) for 2011. That definitely helps. The customer I've been working with will be going into production in October and it's been a long, hard haul so the end-in-sight is definitely welcome.

Trying to stay up with grand-kids, kids and siblings birthdays. I haven't seen my oldest's kids for over a year now and I miss them. I need to make the effort but with so much else going on this autumn, it's tough. I was slowly getting the debt worked down but with having to purchase a replacement car for +1 last autumn (his Acura was totalled in in minor rear-ending on his commute) and the upcoming CP, I've had to give that up until next year.

I try not to get down about being in debt -- I don't like it and I'm not used to it. I'm getting itchy feet again -- I want to sell our place and downsize for awhile so that we can be positioned to move when the opportunity arises. In my dreams, we'd go to the UK but Denver, Portland or Seattle would be fine. The job market in high tech segment in those cities is suffering so I'm glad I have a great job with a healthy company at the moment. I enjoy what I do, the people I work with and the challenges that are offered me. I just wish I got paid a bit more or had more paid time off to enjoy life a bit more. I'm thankful ... there are so many who are in much worse places so getting a regular paycheck and having a semblance of employment security and getting to work with great people is truly a blessing.

I think I'd write more here and I have missed using this as a means of reflection. I tried setting up the email posts and that didn't work. Must try again.

I turned the big double-nickel at the beginning of the month. Almost 10 years since I came out and upset the apple cart of life and routine. And now I'm in another domestic routine. I'm of two minds about that.

There are some things that I want to do yearly that I've not got to do this past year. I had to give Greenbelt a miss this year (saving on expenses so we can enjoy the CP) and I really want to make that a priority. The Wild Goose festival starts up in the US next summer in North Carolina and I'm trying to get my organization involved with that ... a ground floor opportunity. I want to go skiing this winter. Youngest son and his wife and I have discussed setting aside some time annually for family time together and I think I could organize it around a ski holiday in Colorado ... that would be the bomb.

Youngest son and his wife became parents a year ago and I love spending time with them and their son, when I can. Since they live in Wichita it's a challenge.

I miss my friends in the UK terribly. We have built up a tight social network with friends here in Houston and that's been a bonus. One of our friends is celebrating her 60th by taking a Caribbean cruise the week of Valentines Day ... we've decided to go along and make it a honeymoon cruise. I haven't been to sea since I worked on big, gray yachts so it should be fun.

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Checking In

got geek
Facebook has assimilated me. Dang. That and I can't access livejournal from work so in the moments when I might do some reflection, I don't have the ability to do it. I think there's a way to post via email ... will have to check that out.

My paid membership elapsed so I logged on today to reinstate.

Life is going along reasonably well. I'm enjoying what I'm doing at work though I'm really looking forward to getting the SAP certification out of the way. I seriously do not like using the SAP tools ... they're a nightmare only a german could love.

I spent 5 days in Mountain View a week ago doing a course to use another integration tool which is much nicer. I'm looking forward to diving into that once I get the SAP work finished.

We haven't set a date for the wedding. We were originally thinking August just before Greenbelt but my nephew is getting married on the 21st. So I've been toying with ideas in October or November. I'm leaning towards getting married in Iowa as it would be less expensive and it would be a marriage as opposed to civil partnership. Going to Scotland for the CP is the sentimental choice. I need to sit down with +1 and have a serious chat and set the date and locale and then start working on everything else to go with it.

The step-daughter hasn't registered for school after two semesters have gone by. Her dad gave her a month to get a job or make other living arrangements. I have low expectations for how that's going to work out.

Generally annoyed at politics. Have been enjoying staying up with the Prop 8 case in California but don't have high hopes that SCOTUS would rule favorably once the case gets in front of them. Too many anti-gay bigots and not enough precedent at the moment.

It's a gray, warm (22C), humid day in Houston. I did get some cleaning done so feel good about that. I want to see 2012 and Avatar (in 3D) at some point but haven't figured out when.

Live goes on. Obla-di, obla-dah, hey.

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Greenbelt 2009

chicken, gossip
Greenbelt has come on gone. Every year as it approaches, I wonder if I've expected too much of it and having already spent the money on the ticket and flights, go ahead and go. And then I get there and it seems comforting and familiar and a bit like a spiritual home that is good to return to. There are friends to see and programmes to dissect and a diary to fill out and social events to plan and quite quickly I'm caught up in the excitement and fervor ... I attend the first talk, performance, worship service, social gathering or whatever and the frenetic activity begins.

I drove out to Cheltenham Friday morning after hiring a car at Heathrow. Next year, I'll plan on going out Thursday and stay overnight as I ended up staying in a hotel in London and I'd much rather be in Cheltenham for the pre-festival goings-on. The drive out to Cheltenham from London via Oxford on the M40/A40 was lovely as usual with only a few traffic queues. Even things like stopping at a services area for a late breakfast and snacks was a small, delicious treasure to enjoy.

I had lunch at James' with Trev and had a relaxing and refreshing start to the weekend. It was good to catch up and James is the host-with-the-most. The food was great and the day was sunny and perfect for enjoying in the conservatory that serves as James' dining room.

I was texting back and forth with friends who had saved me a spot for a tent. I met Caroline and Geoff at the box-office and put the tent, sleeping bag and air mattress they brough into the car. GB claimed they'd mailed me my wristband and materials. I didn't recall getting it so they re-issued. Later, I sheepishly discovered going through the pile of mail I'd stuck into my backpack before leaving home, I found the GB envelope.

I drove onto the site with the car (a massive, black Skoda Octavia TDI) to drop off my kit at the campsight. Anna was there and directed me in. She and Paul helped me set up the tent for which I was grateful as it was a bit blowy. She and Paul had just gotten engaged which was fabulous news (they got together precisely one year ago at Greenbelt in the beer tent on the last night!). I observed over the weekend that people I've come to know through Ship of Fools and Gay Christian Network have been getting on with their lives (as I have), meeting partners, getting married, having children, starting new careers, and so forth. It's a blessing to be involved, even if peripherally, in so many wonderful peoples' lives.

There was a SoF social gathering in the beer tent at 18.30 and I ended up meeting some folks from GCN there too. There were about 10-12 people from GCN at the festival that I ran into throughout the weekend.

Speakers I heard:
Rob Bell (his new talk "two kinds of new" plus an interview that was quite pointed in parts)
Bishop Gene Robinson (twice: http://www.thisisgloucestershire.co.uk/gloucestershireheadlines/Controversial-bishop-divides-opinion-Greenbelt/article-1296086-detail/article.html)
Michael Ward (on his theory of the code behind C.S.Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia: http://www.planetnarnia.com/reviews/the-narnia-code)
Susannah Cornwall (on being intersexed: http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/festival/2009/lineup/event/2663)
Miri Weingarten (on the state of primary health care in Palestine: http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/?a=1427 )
Maggi Dawn (excellent as usual; thoughts about feasting and fasting: http://maggidawn.typepad.com/)
Nadia Bolz-Weber (a.k.a. "Sarcastic Lutheran" http://www.sarcasticlutheran.typepad.com/)
Dave Tomlinson (Standing in the Long now; vicar of the church I attended when I lived in London: http://saintlukeschurch.org.uk/)

Worship I attended:
IKON: Pyro-theology: http://wiki.ikon.org.uk/ (extremely well done and thought provoking as usual)
OuterSpace: http://www.greenbelt.org.uk/festival/2009/lineup/event/2600 (gentle, encouraging, safe and excellent music)
OuterSpace Eucharist (held at noon Monday -- much preferred over the mass worship experience on Sunday)

Performers I saw:
Duke Special
Foy Vance (Best performer I saw)
Slo Mo

Most significant event of the weekend: I was chatting with two random vicars whom I happened to be standing by in the queue to get into Rob Bell's talk. Somehow it came up that I was gay. Conversation about my particular journey followed. As the queue started to move, one of the vicars asked me for my contact details and we parted with a hug. Monday at the OuterSpace Eucharist, he turned up and came out to me.

Best event of the weekend: Beer and Hymns on Sunday afternoon. Thanks to Paul, Anna and Clare for arranging the beer and getting me in because the bouncers were being a bit facist this year. I know I'm daft but I absolutely love singing "Jersalem" with 600-700 other punters whilst brandishing our pints high! I was next to a group of uni students and we cooperated on singing complex harmonies (many to hymns which aren't familar to American ears -- at least, the tunes aren't!)

On A Holiday

cyberhead, busy
I've been in the UK since the 26th. I hung out with Charlie for a day then headed back towards Heathrow to hire a car and left for Cheltenham Friday morning.

Greenbelt was wonderful, as per usual. Good friends, thought-provoking talks, unexpected serendipity, good music, good beer, good food, excellent weather, very little mud and so forth.

I came back to London on Tuesday to work for a customer for a few days before heading down to Brighton for the weekend.

I'll follow this up with a post about the details of Greenbelt.

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And the days and weeks roll on.

playful
Just living life seems to be a primary preoccupation these days. Drag myself out of bed, feed the animals, head to work, look up around 7 or 8 and realize that the day has simply flown by, go home, grab a late bite, crash, get up and do it all over again.

I'm long overdue for a reflective post.

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How Time Flies ...

joe cool
Last post was a day over a month ago. Facebook is sucking me in and I don't like it because I don't have a record of my ruminations like I do here my my lj. Oh well.

Gracie is in the shop so I did public transport yesterday. I'd just taken my seat on the train last evening when my phone rang - my youngest was calling me. He greeted me and then asked if I had $1000 to borrow. I said no. He laughed and said that he was just starting out our phone conversation in the traditional way. He was really calling just to catch up.

His wife is at 34 weeks and things are going well. They are staying in Wichita until after the baby is born. He's had only two job opportunities that looked interesting -- neither of them ideal -- and didn't get either. So they have to stay put until something more compelling comes along.

We plan to stop by the 27/28th of June on our way back home from our road trip to the Black Hills.

I'm looking forward to a little holiday. I enjoyed the weekend with Mom for my nephew's college graduation (a couple of weeks ago) but am ready for a bit more "fun things I want to do". It looks like Munchkinlette has passed all her courses and will, in fact, graduate from HS. We all rejoice. I'll expect she'll want to move in with us around her birthday (early August). Lots to do before that happens.

Work is chugging along nicely. I'm getting a little coding in and the folks who are working with me are making progress. There are things that are trying to distract me but I'm working to manage them.

The cats and dog keep us hopping at home. I'm beginning to regret taking on two cats. One is more than enough and my leather furniture has aged more in a few months than it has in years :(.

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TGIF Edition

happy dance
Another busy week gone by and the lion's share of my energy and focus have gone into work. It's a vocational hazard because I enjoy what I do. Back in '98 when I left Landmark to go to work for a management consulting company, my motivation was to get into a place where I'd have more customer-facing responsibilities. I wanted to grow in soft-skills and get closer to the coalface -- really understand what customers really need and how I could employ my skills to meet that need.

After about 4 years doing that, I came out, got divorced, moved to Houston and subsequently lived out of a couple of suitcases for the next 3 years. In Fall of 2007, I had the opportunity to move back into a development role and I took it.

Now I'm back doing what I love to do -- design, project management, coding, solving software puzzles but with the benefit of having had the experience of seeing things through our customers eyes. I also made the transition during that time from one industry segment to another. My entire career had been developing software for the upstream oil & gas industry. In 2006, I moved to pricing. The benefit to me was that I got to actually use my business undergrad degree and I've enjoyed it immensely whereas in the O&G arena I always felt a bit on the left foot because of a lack of an engineering degree.

So, oddly enough, I'm pretty content in my job even though it consumes me 9-10 hours a day and sometimes on weekends and it's stressful & some days I come in and end up working on urgent things that I couldn't have predicted without getting done the things I planned to do. Predictable and boring it is not.

Then there is the fact that I work with really smart people who challenge me all the time. I like that. Like Jack said to Helen in As Good As It Gets, "You make me want to be a better man."

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