Wednesday, October 15, 2014

A tough nut

It has been a while since I have posted here.  Apologies.

There has been a shift in the Force.  I can't say whether or not it's a good shift or a bad shift yet - but that's not for me to "guess" right now.

I've written in the past how I struggle with my career sometimes.  I made a decision early on to be a consultant and the one time over the past 20 years or so that I found a company that I was ready to settle down with - well, that relationship only lasted 4 years.

As a result, the way my industry works is that companies identify that then need "supplemental labor" (call them what you want:  consultants, contractors, temps....all basically the same thing) for some special project or some period of time so they hire one on as an hourly employee.

The good news is that, due to the temporary nature of the need, the $$$ is usually pretty good.  But the reality is that these assignments come and go and once you're stuck in them the way I am it just becomes a way of life.  It's an entire process to find some that would be a good fit, to interview and agree on terms, to start, and end.

The fundamental problem in my world over recent years has been the fact that opportunities that I would want to do, or that would want me, are relatively scarce in or around my chosen home in Charleston.  As a result most of my recent projects have involved some level of travel.  Two projects ago I was commuting back and forth from Charleston to Releigh, NC (that got old after a while).  One project ago I was commuting between Charleston and Omaha, NE.  And, most recently, I have been commuting the 3.5 hours between Charleston and Charlotte, NC.

I struggle with this whole arrangement.  The fact that my career keeps me from the place and the people I want to be with bothers me more than I can express.  Most days I don't think much of it and simply accept it as the way things need to be right now.  Given a whole lot of factors I feel fortunate to still be enjoying a career that pays me well and that I enjoy more often than not.  I enjoy a certain level of flexibility that I need.  But I'd trade it all for a career that had some promise that kept me in Charleston.

Many people reading this probably already know most of this.  It's nothing new, and I've talked about all of this here in the past.  It's the complicated set of needs and balances that typically drive my world on any given day.


My contract here in Charlotte - my reason for being here - has come to an end.  It is time to find something new.  The timing of it puts me in a bit of a bind at the moment and I'm trying to deal with that.  But the process of finding "what next" has already begun.  I continue to be hopeful that the next (and final) "what next" brings me home to Charleston, but there are a number of things at play right now so we'll see how it all plays out.

I am not sad that things have ended, and there are no regrets.  It complicates my world right now, but  it will not be a highlight on my resume.  In contrast - my last contract (the one in Omaha) truly WAS a highlight....interesting work, wonderful people, positive environment.  I left that needing to be closer to things and people that are important to me and, if nothing else, it did that.  I wouldn't trade some of the things that this contract has enabled in my still-growing world over the past 10 months for anything.

One of the complexities to all of this isn't simply looking for work as a woman with a trans history, it's looking for work as an older worker.  Ageism is very much a reality once you get to a certain point and that weighs on my mind.  I decided early on to focus on things that I can change and my age is what it is.  Barriers to employment come in many flavors, and at some point in life that's just another one many of us face.

I'm not sure what point in a career a person passes "experienced" and gets perceived as "old".  There is one company in particular in Charleston that would be an excellent fit for me (and it leverages my Security Clearance, which I'd like to do), but they project a younger more fun work environment.  I continue to apply to opportunities that become available there and hear nothing back.  I sent an email yesterday inquiring what do I or don't I have on my resume that would at least provide an opportunity for some face-time with someone.  It's very frustrating.

That's the big news in my world right now.  Some of the direct impacts is that we had been planning to go to Daytona for Biketoberfest this weekend but now won't be doing that.  My cash-flow is a delicate thing at the moment so it's an expense I can't justify.  But we will see how this all plays out.  All I really want to do is to go home, but unfortunately that seemingly simple needs has proven to be a touch nut to crack.

If I've proven anything to myself it's that I can crack touch nuts.  And my biggest concern heading into this "what comes next" thing is the very real possibility that my worlds will continue to be separated.  Sigh.  We shall see....

Some photos from the past couple of weeks....

Selfie - October 2014

This is the result of a single ant bite.  Don't ask how it got all the way up there....

Low Country view...we took a long motorcycle ride stopping in Savannah and Beaufort

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