You can follow people online, even their relatively personal posts if you have them on Facebook, yet be in the dark about what is most significant in their lives. Some friends of mine was recently posting pictures of themselves smiling a Christmas party. The were also regularly tweeting jokes. My wife called them up to ask about getting together since we were going to be passing through their town on our holiday travels. It turns out their family is in the middle of upheaval and the wife just spent a day in the hospital with a severe depression/anxiety attack. Who knew? I’m confidant they will get through this – they are a spiritually strong and mature couple. This is a bump on the road. But it was invisible to outsiders, even to the relative “insiders” of social media contact. I was surprised to learn what was going on, but I shouldn’t have been surprised to learn that SOMETHING was going on.
I’ve been able to post here pretty steadily this year with several substantial essays this spring and nearly a hundred other thoughts here and there. But now, nothing for twenty days. What gives? Transition. After 13 years working full time in the public sector, I’ve decided to strike out on my own as computer programming contractor. I was able to get position with a fairly respected consultant. It’s risky though. Gone is the 6-month job security lag. I can be fired quite literally overnight. Gone also are all the benefits – I have to buy my own health insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, pay my own social security taxes, buy all my own tools, and there are no vacation days. Also, the work bodes to be much more challenging. I’m going to need to really bust my rear, especially for the next three months and the learning curve for several new languages and tools will be steep. That isn’t going to leave much time left for reading or blogging or, well, anything. I’ve already axed several extracurriculars with the kids that weren’t as high on the priority list. It’s been, frankly, an anxiety-filled couple of weeks.
So why? My wife and I have been married for nearly 11 years now and we were looking at our long-term goals and what could be done to accomplish them. One is to get a 100% telecommute job so we’ll have greater homeschooling flexibility with the four kids. Another is to get more cash to pay for ongoing medical expenses. Even after insurance, I was on the hook for $9000 in surgery expenses this past year for my daughter and it’s very likely she will need to have a similar surgery done in the next year. I can’t swing that. Something has got to change. Also, the administration of my current employer has made it very clear that there is absolutely no opportunity for any career advancement whatsoever. Raises of any sort have been permanently out for years, but now the one remaining path for improvement – applying for higher vacant positions within the company (Something I’ve done 4 times in a row) – has been severely restricted. How this is supposed to improve anything is completely baffling. Dilbert is funny because it’s true folks. Sometimes you can’t make this stuff up. I figured it was finally time to go, even if it wasn’t going to be easy. Finally, I really do look forward to the intellectual challenge. I’m a pretty lousy armchair theologian, but am equipped (from my childhood and steadily since then) to be a decent programmer.
So the bottom line is that activity on this blog is likely to be sparse for some time. I know there is only a handful of you who actually read this with any regularity and you are plenty busy yourselves, but if you are curious, that is what gives.