The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

November 27, 2013

Going Around the Table, 2013 Edition

Filed under: Holidays — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 12:19 am

Well, once again it seems that Thanksgiving is fast approaching.  This shouldn’t be too big a surprise to anyone really (although one or two people I know might want to occasionally double-check the date before they take the wrong day off of work,) but to be perfectly honest, it’s managed to sneak up a bit on me this year.  Work, as always has been keeping me pretty busy lately.  Things have actually been slowing down somewhat for a few weeks now, but the past few days have seen things flare up, and just this past weekend a problem with a test vehicle in California ultimately required a last-minute trip to San Jose to sort some things out, as outlined in my last post (more on this coming up soon.)  On top of that, me and my friend are now less than two weeks away from the vacation we’ve been planning for months, and trying to get things in order for the trip is taking a fair bit of effort.  It’s amazing just how much work can go into what is supposed to be a relaxing (for once) vacation, especially when you need to account for formal nights, “smart casual” outfits for the dining room on the other nights, not to mention all the arrangements you need before and after and all the stuff you need to plan out.  Sure it’s a lot of effort, but if it lets me spend two weeks conveniently forgetting about work, then it’s worth it.

Anyway, as has become my custom over the time I’ve been writing this Blog, as Thanksgiving approaches it is time for my annual “Going Around the Table” Blog post.  For those of you unfamiliar with this, in the Vanderhoeven family we have a tradition on Thanksgiving where just before we all sit down to dinner we each take a turn going around the table and talking about some of the things we are grateful.  Naturally I participate in this along with everyone else, but for a number of years now (I believe this will be my sixth one) I have written a Blog post as well talking about the things I am grateful for.  In a way, these posts also act as checkpoints of a sort, something of a miniature encapsulation of my current state.  When I go back and read some of my previous Going Around the Table posts, it’s generally pretty clear when things seemed to be going well, and when things seemed to be a struggle.  Regardless of where I was (and where I am) I have still tried to be positive about things, and know that I wouldn’t be where I am without some help.

This past year has definitely been an interesting one (well, when you think about it every year is interesting, but the definition of “interesting” rarely seems to stay in one place.)  When I wrote this post a year ago, I stated that in many ways I seemed to be in something of a holding pattern at the time.  There were many things in my life that could have gone one way or another, but didn’t seem to be going anywhere at the time.  Fast forward a year later, and although there are still a number of those things that I haven’t quite managed to resolve yet, but quite a bit has changed in the past 12 months.  A year ago, I was rapidly approaching the end of a contract on the Kindle team at Amazon that I had enjoyed and felt that I had done quite well at, but which had pretty much wound down at that point and didn’t look like it had much long-term potential.  That ended (as expected, with plenty of advance warning) just a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving.  At the time, I had planned on taking it easy for a bit before moving onto the next thing, but the next thing showed up a lot sooner than I expected.  It was just a week and a half after the end date on my Amazon contract that I found myself starting my current job with Airbiquity, where I now test software for use in luxury cars.  Although the pay here is significantly better than my last job (and even there I thought I was doing pretty well,) I do have to admit that the first few months were rather difficult for me as I tried to get used to the system I’m working on and deal with some people I found it difficult to get along with at first.  The project I’ve been working on has consistently been challenging, and at times has taken up far more of my time than I would like, but as the past year has gone by, I feel that I’ve managed to gradually figure out things reasonably well, and over time I found that the people I had trouble with at first became a lot easier to deal with as I got to know them better.  That doesn’t mean that things aren’t still quite challenging at times, but at least they seem manageable.  All in all, even if it did take some time to get settled into it, this job has definitely been a good opportunity, and it’s allowed me opportunities I haven’t had in the past, so I’m definitely grateful for it.

Elsewhere, it seems like everyone else in my family has been changing quite a bit, and yet I’m still in pretty much the same place I was a year ago.  Over the course of this past year, my parents have moved out of Redmond to a lovely new house in rural Snohomish County, and even though they’re still close enough to visit, it’s a lot longer drive to get there now.  Also during the course of the year one of my brothers and his family moved out of the area to Provo (and added a daughter recently) while he works on a degree at BYU, and my other brother (who lives down there already) got married in May.  One of my sisters also added a fourth boy to their family, and my other sister’s husband has just finished a PhD at WSU.  Me?  I’m pretty much in the same place where I have been.  To be perfectly honest it’s a rather comfortable niche with little to complain about.  At times it does feel like I’m still a little bit stuck in a rut, but regardless of what may be happening elsewhere, at least I do have the sense that I’m at least making forward progress on things, even if it isn’t as fast as I’d like it to be.

But if there’s one thing I’m truly grateful for this year, it would be the friends I have and the opportunities I have to spend time with them.  There is one friend in particular who has become my frequent traveling companion and confidante, with whom I now find myself spending a great deal of my time.  In the interest of maintaining privacy I’ll keep from talking too much about her here, but if she’s reading this I want her to know just how truly grateful I am to have her around, and how nice it is to have someone with whom I can be comfortable just being myself.  I know we each have our own sets of challenges and complications to deal with, and I can appreciate how much it helps to have someone to share them with, even if I do have a tendency to overexplain things at times and occasionally have to be reminded not to get into swordfights with small children in gift shops (long story.)  I’m also grateful for the opportunities we’ve had to travel together over the past couple of years and the ones we have coming up.  Sure I could travel on my own if I really wanted to (and I have done so in the past on occasion) but it’s just so much better to have someone to share the experience with.  And in the end, that’s what makes all the difference.

Regardless of the circumstances I happen to find myself in at any given time, there’s always plenty to be thankful for.  And even if things aren’t ever quite perfect, at least I can see them heading in the right direction.

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