As it always does, Thanksgiving week has arrived, bringing with it family, food, and hours of sub-zero camping out in front of stores for incredible bargains (for other people at least, such bargain hunting requires being awake at hours I’d probably never be awake at if I could help it.) Owing mostly to the now standard three months of wall-to-wall Christmas (it would probably be four, but they’ve got to find somewhere to stick all the Halloween stuff) we get subjected to these days Thanksgiving has a tendency to sneak up on you, but at the same time it also seems that at some point the whole thing turned into one big weeklong turkey-flavored blur. I’ve already spent several evenings over the past week and most of my Saturday afternoon working on Christmas ornaments for the annual Vanderhoeven ornament exchange (you’ll be seeing more on the ornaments after Thanksgiving, since several of the attendees will be reading this and I don’t want to ruin the surprise,) and tomorrow evening is the first of several Thanksgiving dinners which will be consumed over the course of the week, with a drastically shortened work week somewhere in between all that. In a way I almost look forward to Thanksgiving more than Christmas these days, but each of these is enjoyable in their own way.
Of course, with Thanksgiving comes the annual family tradition of going around the table before (or occasionally after) dinner and talking about some of the things that each of us is thankful for. For the past two years I have also done Going Around the Table Blog posts as well, and once again the time has come to count my blessings and take another trip around the virtual table. Although a lot of my relatives seem to have pretty much given up on Blogging over the past few months, my sisters have been doing things that they have been thankful for as a theme on their Blog posts all month now, so at this point pretty much all I’m doing is trying to catch up.
In preparation to write this post, I have gone back and read the past couple of Going Around the Table posts that I have done in 2008 and 2009. Back in 2008, I was at a point where I felt like I was finally making some progress toward my long-term goals after years of stagnation, but was also at a point where I was just beginning what would ultimately be a fairly lengthy challenging period, first being out of work for six months , then ultimately having to settle for a Microsoft contract which was a signifcant downgrade both in pay and a significant step backward in my long-term career development. Although the team I was on had some good people on it, the work was repetetive and things didn’t work right a lot more often than they did work, making the whole thing quite often a frustrating experience. Even so, the job was getting the bills paid without too much trouble, and working is always better than not working, so I certainly can’t complain about that. Thanksgiving of 2009 saw me at this point, where I had gone through some challenges and knew that there were more ahead, but I definitely knew that I could have been in a lot worse shape than I was, and I was certainly thankful for what I had.
Fast forward to the beginning of this year, and once again I was facing a great deal of uncertainty. The Microsoft contract I was on had come to an abrupt end, and prospects for finding another Microsoft contract without having to go through the 100-day break in service looked shaky at best. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for an opportunity for some short-term work to come in, and within 2 1/2 weeks, I found myself reporting for a 2-3 week contract assignment for some company I had never heard of in a 120-year old third-floor walkup in Pioneer Square, where I was promptly informed that I would be testing the Beavis and Butt-Head app for iPhone. This, of course, thoroughly horrified my mother, but the pay was good, and it was giving me an opportunity to work in some new things Don’t tell anyone this, but the day I walked into this place was actually the first time I had ever used an iPhone (well, an iPod Touch) for more than a few minutes of playing around with a demo unit in the Apple store. Fortunately, nobody seemed to notice this (filing some 15+ bugs against the app on the first day probably helped), and apparently I did a reasonable enough job with this that the 2-3 week contract ultimately turned into seven months, providing opportunities not only to work with iPhone and iPad, but also with Android (which I hadn’t used at all before that) and Blackberry (which mostly served to make me wonder who in their right mind actually uses this stuff, but that’s another post.) If there was one thing that I really got out of the time I spent at Teleca, it was the realization that although I have (mostly) enjoyed the time I spent contracting at Microsoft and had learned quite a bit from it, at this point it had really turned into a dead end. Getting some time to get outside of the artificial bubble that Microsoft forms around itself and getting a chance to work with and gain some skills with competing products has turned out to be very good experience, and one that I am certainly thankful for. Getting into a FTE position at Microsoft was one of my long-term goals for many years, but now I’m not so sure that would necessarily be the right path for me to take (although I would certainly consider it if the opportunity came up.) I’m glad that I got a chance to figure that out without necessarily needing to do so the hard way.
If you’ve been reading the Blog you’ve probably already been through the 2,700 word epic I wrote about the whole Amazon/Motricity situation (if not, scroll down a couple of posts and prepare to have your insomnia miraculously cured,) so I’ll refrain from rehashing that again here. To make a long story short, as Thanksgiving 2010 arrives, I am finally getting into a more stable job situation with a good salary, good benefits, paid time off, room to grow and a walkable commute, and although the past 10 1/2 months have certainly been an emotional roller coaster in ways that have both been expected and completely unexpected (with more ups than downs, fortunately) I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities that I have been given even if they do inconveniently all show up at once, and that I know that the Lord is continuing to watch over me in spite of my shortcomings. I am also grateful for my family (which has grown once again this year as Jared and Emily’s first son Benjamin was born in May) and the support that they continue to provide. I am also grateful for my other nephews (Connor, Corey and Brooks Jr.) as well. Unfortunately, I’ve had to come to the conclusion this year that my whole Mean Uncle Brian routine was never going to work out, so I’ve decided to go with Crazy Uncle Brian instead. I’m also thankful that in spite of the various difficulties that I’ve gone through over the past couple of years, one way or another I’ve always been able to make it through everything in one piece, and without ever reaching the point where I have been unable to pay the bills. A combination of my parents’ teachings and experience (quite a bit more experience than I’d like really) has taught me to be careful with money and to plan for the unexpected (which in most cases has turned out to be a lot more expected than I’d care for,) but the right things always seem to happen at the right times. One way or another (and as I’ve said before, lately it’s been happening mostly in the “or another” category) things always seem to work out, and it is perhaps for that which I am most grateful of all. There are still some things that I need to fix and that I need to find (foremost among those being a wife) but I’m grateful for all that I have.
Anyway, for those family members who might be reading this, if for some reason you haven’t been doing posts on things you’ve been thankful for all month, feel free to dust off your badly neglected Blogs and put together a post of your own.