Tuesday, December 28, 2010


A latecomer to the list of potential employers and cities, Gaithersburg entered the scene at a bit of a disadvantage. The other cities and jobs had been vetted, favorites were being picked, pros and cons laid out. It had an advantage, though: "The Plan" will take us to the FDA in a few years, and we'll wind up in DC. If we have to move, this would be a one time move for quite a long time (as compared with Boston, Philly or Cali, where we'd move there, then move to DC).

I've always liked DC - it was on my list of places to investigate coming out of college and only missed being selected by a small margin. I love the colonial feel, the east coast vibe. I love the deciduous trees and the cherry blossoms, and yes, I even like the government part (no comment on the content or output of said government). I like feeling so close to "where it happens". I love the museums and the art and theater. I love the winding roads through the rolling topography, and I love the smell of a wood fire hanging on the humid cold of a winter's night. That smell always takes me back to vising DC throughout my life.

I was born in the area - Maryland, technically - but we lived in Arlington, and 3 days later, that's where I came home to, for the next 2 and some years until we moved to Hawaii. I have pictures of me standing in snow higher than my head, and picking flowers with Mom. We went back to visit friends when I got older and that's when I fell in love with the Smithsonian and the Air and Space Museum. I could still spend hours, maybe days, wandering those museums, reading endlessly about the cool stuff.

I love the subway there, and the running paths, and still, being so close to the "history" of our country, the New England stuff as well as Virginia. In terms of weekend getaways, the location definitely meets the requirements.

All said, we were ready to like it.

And then...he went there. The job was not set up to be as good as the others. It would require lab work, much of the job would be at the lab bench - not exactly what someone coming out of grad school looking for a job is bargaining for (someone coming out of grad school looking for a post doc would be in that category). Then he met the people at the company. The company is successful, has a lock on their market and on a novel nasal drug delivery system. On paper, it would be a great place to work.

In reality, it was weird. The people were weird. The attitude was weird. It was confrontational. Many of the people didn't seem to have bought into what the requirements of the position would be, and why they should be that. As a new position, the idea was to look for this new skill set, not replicate previously existing skill sets, and yet many of the questions and responses seemed disappointed, or downright sarcastic about a difference in expertise.

The area around the company seemed nice, but not residential. It was trafficky, with big roads going everywhere, and with the job being so low on the overall list of opportunities, it was hard to even have the interest to look around and try to find that place to live and make a home.

The FDA offices are not far away. Ultimately, we are planning to wind up near there, and will most likely figure it out when the time comes, but for now, for a lot of reasons, it definitely is not the right thing.

At least one choice was easy...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


It comes to this: we have to make a choice.

We can stack rank the locations on all sorts of criteria...

1. Irvine
2. Seattle
3. Boston
4. Philly/DC

Finances - this includes compensation, +/- cost of living, cost of moving
1. Seattle
2. Irvine
3. Philly/DC
4. Boston

Big Giant Pain in the Ass, from most desirable (i.e. less pain)
1. Seattle
2. Irvine
3. Boston/Philly/DC

Other criteria could be: interesting areas of the city to explore, or beer community, or dog friendliness, ability to bike commute, quality and convenience of awesome tri training, coffee quality (damn, does this look like a Seattle type list to you too?), location with the best weekend get-aways, proximity to Priest Lake...they start sounding a bit trite - and I realize that all theseplaces have beer and dogs and coffee and quirky areas and cool get-aways. All of them. Even suburbanified Irvine has areas to explore. That is why they even made it to the list of locations we'd consider (sorry, Indianapolis).

In terms of less trite sounding comparisions...it's rather impossible to really compare the job quality aspect since each of the Boy's options are so different, and for me in my current situation, staying here is hands-down the best option. Of course, if you are in the camp that I should move on in my career, then I think they are all even in terms of my job prospects.

This choice is a complex web of finances, careers, real estate, adventure, pain in the ass, ache in the soul, tradeoff after tradeoff, relationships, change and more change. As much as I try to boil it down to a prioritized list, as the Boy said today, "there are so many intangibles I can't put a price on." And it's true. This choice will have to be made in that place we can't put a finger on, the bizarre equations and metric analysis that happens in the 90% of my brain I can't comprehend at all, but pops out with wonderful solutions and ideas when I least expect it.

As I further analyze the choice, there are multiple levels to consider. The first that comes to mind is the simple choice of staying or going. I can assess this independently of any location option. Just simply, should we stay, or go?
It inherently begs the question of where to go - would the place to go be worth leaving here...but I wonder if it's a bit like a relationship where the choice to end it or leave should be based on the merit of the relationship, not the option of others in the world to date, really. One should not leave person A to be with person B, because what if it doesn't work out with person B...the choice to leave person A was not made soundly. This is a bit different though because I am in a wonderful relationship with my city and don't wish to leave.

This was all much easier when we wanted to leave to move to Europe for a few years. That was a true desire to move and go do. I still felt queasy thinking about moving and the inevitable culture shock that would await me in a new country far from home and speaking a different language, career, etc. But we wanted to try that out.

In comparison, we have no huge desire to relocate, though we can see that there would be positives to each location.
I put on my adventure girl hat and remind myself that life is short. I've been here, in this wonderful city, and as my friend Dustin reminds me, there are other wonderful cities - you should go explore them too. Another friend talks about taking a vacation and that she doesn't want to go back to Cabo because she's "been there, done that" and life is too short to miss out on seeing new places to go back to ones she's already experiences. Same concept, right?

We, however, reminisce about places we've been and how wonderful they were, and want to go back. We want to have that dinner again because it was so good. We go back to the same restaurants because we love them. We have to remind ourselves to stake out something new. In this context, the move would be a giant shove into not having any other option than fully immersing ourselves in everything new.

My friend Cathy suggests flipping a coin and deciding to go with that. Any regret, or hesitations at that point indicate the true choice. When we "decide" to stay (as we do for a few days until another offer rolls in, or the situation changes), I have this nagging doubt that I've missed some crazy cool opportunity. It eats on me. It doesn't happen right away. It's like a pop-under ad - I see it when we go to "close the window" of opportunity with one of the other locations, and it stops me in my tracks.

Choosing to leave...the company in Irvine sent an offer that included the relocation package and I started reading through it. First I read through trying to understand all the terminology. I practically have my transparent green visor on and my half glasses as I type numbers into my printing calculator..."tax assisted...does that mean I pay taxes on it or they pay the taxes on the benefit..." Then I realize that no matter what, it's going to be expensive, and making a choice because of a one time cost is probably short sighted and I look up, take off my visor. I'm a human again. We would be leaving. We would be packing up our stuff and moving out, to something completely different. Big tears roll down my cheeks.

Who wins?

I thought it would be an easy financial choice, but it's not. It is true that a huge one time cost could impact our financial future for a long time, but I don't think any of these offers are of that nature. The relocation packages seem to cover most of the big costs, leaving some nebulous tax considerations, a potential loss of equity on our place (I don't think this would be big) and then just the investment of making a new place liveable (more of a choice than anything, how much we invest there). These costs would be offset by having a new income, and varying levels of signing bonuses. So, to make a life choice over a one time impact of $15,000 seems sort of short sighted, when considering the intangible cost of happiness, newness, time with loved ones, career growth, etc. Aside from the signing bonuses, the offers are all within a standard deviation of each other - pretty much the same.

Big tears don't really mean anything either. I had big tears when I moved from Denver. I had even bigger tears when I sold my waterfront condo and moved to this townhouse. All these moves needed to happen. I am happy now. I like where I went, and I like what I have as a result. This potential move would be the same: hard as fuck to do, but once we're settled in the new place and focused on the future...everything will fall in place, including the incredible nostalgia. I think I need to try to eliminate those feelings from the consideration.

So where does this leave me? What if I lived somewhere else...let's pick Minneapolis because each location is more hospitable than Minnesota...which city would I pick? Maybe that's bad - the beaches of Southern California would have an obvious edge. Ok, what about moving from...Houston?

I keep thinking that looking at it from another angle, asking the question a different way, will illuminate the right choice. I kept thinking something would make it easy - one location would have a way better offer, or one job would be the obvious ticket. But life had other plans...this is the classic "all things being equal, which would you choose" question, though less gory than most of the "would you rather" questions (I still think I would rather eat a mouthful of 17 live bees than chew shards of glass, thank you).

In any case, though...

How lucky are we? In this economy, we have multiple amazing offers and opportunities to choose from? Neither of us will suffer from any of the choices; both of us will gain and grow. There isn't a bad choice among them: staying, going; east coast, west coast; big company, small company. This is exactly where we wanted to be.

Monday, December 20, 2010


When faced with making a tough decision, I think it's very important to choose the best strategy for making that decision. Relocation is a good example of the need to select the proper criteria and evaluation method.

This seemed a lot like Tic-Tac-Toe, and we kept tie-ing.

So I had to try another method.

It still wasn't quite adding up. So I tried a little something different.

The more I thought about it, well....

And finally I settled on the only choice that would allow me to truly take into consideration all of the factors, weighted averages, criteria, feelings, finances, pain in the ass efforts, oranges, carrots and bumblebees I had to consider.

This should DEFINITELY make things easier.


Perhaps this is a love song for the city I call home today.

In college, I made a list of places I wanted to live - to help with the job search, of course. My list included: Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Denver and Washington, D.C. I got pretty close to an offer in DC, and was on my way to one in Denver, when something worked out here in Seattle. That was 1998.

I've lived all over this city since then - starting from the sketchy neighborhoods near Sea-Tac airport convenient for my job, to the waterfront in Federal Way (south of the city), to a stretch in Tacoma/University Place, and now north of the city in a relative no-man's land that makes it convenient to get around. I've been a tourist, I've been a tour guide, I've been a newbie and I've been a local. And I haven't even scratched the surface of this amazing city.

There are museums I haven't been to, concerts and a music scene that I've barely forayed into. There are gorgeous parks I've never seen. There are areas I still want to explore - I'd love to eat in every restaurant in Wallingford - and breweries I've yet to go to.

This city of beer and independence, of scorn of corporations and love of liberal angst, this city has a place for everything, from up and coming art and music, to established venues that are still able to stay new and cutting edge. There are dive concert joints to get lost in the darkness of, holding a unique drink and listening to music you know someday will be known broadly, if not commercially.

I love the familiarity here. Growing up as a military brat, I have attempted to call several places "home" throughout my life, but now, nothing holds a candle to this city in the emerald green of the Pacific Northwest. For a nomadic child, the discovery of a home is a powerful, emotional thing.

There are the football tickets, and the tailgating with friends so wonderful they are worth standing outside in the 7 degree weather with whipping wind, or in 42 degree pissing rain for 4 hours.

Pike Market - the scene, the flavors, the shops. Market Spice tea and Piroshkies, or a Dungeness crab salad at the Athenian. Belltown and Fremont and Ballard. The ride around Mercer Island that I still haven't done. The view of the city from the ferry as we escape to another island, even if just for a few hours.

Gosh, Victoria and Canada, and can you believe I've lived here since 1998 and never been to Whistler? I've been dying to discover more about Vancouver, go run in Stanley Park and drink my way through the Gaslight District. Yes, there is no shortage of newness and adventure right here in our own back yard. But no. It is not THE Adventure. They are mini adventures. And yes, every place we consider will also have mini adventures.

There are things I'm sort of ashamed to admit about myself as well - this yen for adventure can be a lot of bark while I'm safe in my comfort zone, and I've made every effort to make it as comfortable as possible. I can't tell you how much I love my friends here, the things we do, our ability to get together, have traditions year over year.

The nomadic child in me can get woken up - I've kicked her awake in the last few months, and she stirs, knowing she can enjoy a lot of places, and that the things she loves about Seattle may not be the same elsewhere, but that it will be fun to find those things, and to appreciate the differences. She reminds me also, that as much as anything is permanent, so too would be our move away. It would be no more permanent than anything - lasting only until our next move, and there will be a next move as we execute on "the Plan".

Staying here means more rain, and darkness, two things grating on our psyche. Rain slickers on the bike and always being in search of truly waterproof and truly warm biking gloves. Staying here means knowing intimately all the details ad requirements to purchase lights for one's bike to see the path when biking in the dark at 3pm. Or running. In the dark. At 3 pm. Staying here means opting out of the adventure.

Staying here means being able to finally live here, as two human beings, as opposed to one human and one grad student (and it may be that only grad students and their significant others know what this really means, but trust me, there is a big difference). It means we can both have jobs, incomes, and the time to do the things we have wanted to do over the last 7 years but not been able to because of the incessant and insidious demands of school.

Staying here means keeping our house, no hassle of moving - and all the financial benefits that come along with it. Staying here means we can still go to the lake, still spend time with Mamo Mary while we have it, still watch our dog run on the beach with Sonnie and Yeti while she still can. Somehow, the thought of leaving makes it all too real just how short the years we have with those we love are. Staying means more time, no matter how you cut it.

Staying means I can stay working where I am, and I can see my teammates more often. Staying means that if I decide to move on from this job, I have a built in network to leverage for my next career step.

Staying means continuing to better myself in my favorite triathlons and other races - and yes I suppose this is negligible up against bettering myself AND discovering NEW races, but it's still something I'm looking forward to. Staying means home improvement and the money available to do it - hardwood, new appliances (DISHWASHER!), painting, new sofa.

Staying means giving up the other possibilities...all the dreams and thoughts and adventures we were getting so excited about, from surfing in California to exploring the New England coast and Harvard Yard and everything in between. Staying means it's easier to visit Dad, but less convenient to go to Europe. Staying means some friends will leave us to go on to new adventures.

Nothing stays the same. Staying can't mean keeping things the same, and I have to say, that's not at all what I want. I want to dig in more, continue to branch out.

Seattle, you are making this a tough decision.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


California dreaming...on such a winter's day...

Bicycles everywhere, the beach just around the corner - open markets and concerts in the park, art festivals galore - southern California really has an edge on the market with it's weather and all the summery things that go with it. In Seattle, we explode with summer festivals in the same way, but the allure of a year round summer is wickedly persuasive.

Amazingly, one of the cheaper real estate locations we have been looking at, it is more manageable than Boston, and seems that where we would be able to afford and get the quality we are looking for would coincide with a place that also includes the great things we'd enjoy moving to the area for.

Palm trees, surf boards, the renowned Coffee and Cars get togethers as well as the active Porsche 914 club and a climate we could take Grandpa's car out any time, top down, and really get to enjoy it...this list could go on and on.

My fears: feeling isolated in a sea of superficiality, the LA mentality, the incessant focus on image over substance, horrendous traffic, morphing into a huge suburbia that strips away the indie uniqueness we relish here in the Pacific Northwest.

How long would it take for my Seattle Ice to melt in the southern California sun? Be washed away by the waves like the red in my hair, the familiarity of a warm smile for everyone defrost on my face and eye contact become the regular greeting to another human being?

I find hope that the suburban homogenization can't really overtake an area that has such a basis in art festivals and culture. The abundance of creativity and talent seem to promise excellent local entertainment. The local convention centers and concert halls have legitimate awards of excellence...

Further, in it's defense, the conduciveness of the weather makes bike transportation a real option, not just for eco-reasons or for fun, but even to avoid traffic.

A great job would await the Boy, working for a company that generates insane profit and has strategically positioned themselves very well. The campus is lush and beautiful. More great benefits come with the position.

The reality? Although we complain about taxes and government funding here in Washington, the reality of the California bankruptcy promise interesting tax costs - everything from property taxes on top of property taxes, income tax, and "other" taxes we have yet to imagine. We would jump from Seattle liberalism to that strange brand of politics unique to California. Somehow, steamed celery and Hollywood dream sponsored government may eventually seem normal as I ride my board in on a wave and throw it on top of my VW bus. Or would that be as I throw my Coach bag in the back of my convertible BMW with my freshly manicured nails...

I'm still imagining the warmth of the sand under my blanket any time we wanted to grab our beach cruisers and head down to the beach, the promise of a sunny day and all the vitamin D a girl could handle. The Boy's hair would bleach almost white in the sun and it would be hard to imagine an off-season where a run or a ride didn't sound like a wonderful thing to do.

And yet, I know it would get old. I forlornly consider my cashmere sweater collection, what it will feel like to neatly fold them all, put them in a vacuum bag and seal them up for storage. Endless summer days, stretching throughout the year...I will yearn for boot season, for a rainy Christmas, for a reason to crave soup. The words will escape my mouth, with their familiar whine, about being too hot to run, too sunny.

The vacation list would alter: warm escapes like Mexico would be replaced with Tahoe in the winter and other cold/snowy/rainy locations, Washington wine tasting weekends would become explorations in Napa Valley.

I would work from home, maybe a sales office - similar to the options in either Boston or Philly, but trips back to Seattle for work would be easier. For some reason, the promise of sun seems to soften my fears of home office isolation, perhaps because I'm imagining that everyone will be engaging and social out and about. I realize my imagination is tying these things together, and that isolation will still be a factor for me to deal with. The metropolitan area is large and so close to Silicon Valley, that I know I will have options should the working remotely (or any part of my current job) no longer be a fulfilling situation.

...all the leaves are brown, and the sky is grey...I've been for a walk on a winter's day...

Yes, SoCal is intoxicating and alluring...the decision gets harder.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


A quick drop in to the Genius Bar at my local Apple store was a bit of a rude awakening.

The Genius Bar guy was a total douche and I could feel the vibes of “what a stupid girl” just oozing off him. Everything I said, suggested, or inquired about was either “black magic or goat sacrifice” (dude, I can’t make this crap up – he really said that!) and when I mentioned that software got installed without my approval the disdain dripped from his voice as he told me that was “impossible,” clearly inferring that I was a complete dingbat who didn’t remember clicking the “I approve installing Big Bang Board Games” box when it popped up.

In his world of black and white, my shock of red, of possibility, of curiousity, could not co-exist. He inadvertently taught me i command and I did my own research.

To the general customer, in fact to me, a more than once customer not only of the Apple store, but the Genius Bar, it occurs to me that their job there is not so much to fix problems as it is also to maintain their reputation. I realized the duality of Douche Genius’s role as he was telling me it was “impossible” for my computer to have a virus, no matter what I observed happening (yes, in fact that software DID install itself and I did NOT have to approve it’s installation) or what others on the internet performing similar functions ALSO reported happening as being identical. In the world of the Genius Bar, it is probably equally as important to maintain the reputation (that there is no such thing as a virus for a Mac and therefore you must be a dithering idiot) as it is to actually fix the problem. In fact, I realized (as I wiped his slime from my mind), if the Genius guy is really good, he can probably convince the customer that there is actually NO problem at all, and maybe even that they should upgrade or buy an additional problem. The Genius Bar is actually genius marketing, not really genius technical resolution.


And slimy.

Honestly, I have been to the Genius Bar at least 3 times, and not on a single time have they fixed my problem. On one of the occasions, they actually convinced me to upgrade something (“The reason iWeb is not publishing is because you need the newer version which updates only the new pages, not the entire blog, which is timing out,” he said. I bought. It solved the problem.) The next visit was because my mail was not sending – I could receive fine, but sending was erroring out. He fixed it in the store, but it was still broken when I got home, on my own network. A fourth occasion brought me in to see if they could figure out a way to recover files from my 1990 LCIII and put them on my MacBook. Struck out; gave up. Then there was this time. Of all the experiences, the LCIII file recovery was the most rewarding and potentially helpful, the outcome just doesn’t reflect it.

I still love Apple and everything it does. This computer, now 4 years old, is running much better than any PC I ever owned (except maybe that Toshiba from 1998, and the Dell I had that rivaled the Macbook Air sure did some hard work for me). They are solid computers that run optimally most of the time, and yes, I’ll say that I even prefer Genius Douche over the PC “slimeball techie guy next door” or the Geek Squad. I’ll take the Apple awesomeness with a small side of suboptimal douchiness; the tradeoff is not so great and the options pale in it’s comparison.

So yeah, Genius Bar, I guess I’m glad you’re there, but more than anything, I realize your true purpose: Genius Marketing.


I traveled more to Philly in my previous life (more so than Boston), and I remember walking down one of the city streets, from my hotel to get coffee on a quick break from work, and absolutely relishing the fact that I was here, in one of the great historic cities of our country, working, walking downtown with a sense of familiarity and the satisfaction that came from it. At the age of 21, I imagined living in Philadelphia. I liked the idea.

Downtown Philly is manageable, it is walkable. There are interesting historic landmarks everywhere, from an unexpected tiny graveyard preserved behind aging stone and wrought iron fencing begging to be explored, to historic buildings brandishing the fire insurance badge created by Ben Franklin, to the museums (the Ben Franklin one was quite interesting!), to the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. It is inspiring to think of the history, the choices, the events that took place here.

I never ran the steps at the library, and I didn’t get out much, but I have had cheesesteaks from both Pat’s and Geno’s, although being 10 years apart, I really couldn’t tell you which was better. Pat’s was a more “colorful” experience for sure. I bought scrapple and shoofly pie from the Amish at the Reading Terminal and wished I could explore Amish country.

I realize there are a load of bad areas of Philly – run down, ghetto, scary places. But there are just as many nice places as well, most of which seem to be in North Philly, more where we would be anyway. Philly also has public transportation, commuter trains, etc., which are probably ok to to use in the decent parts of town, and especially for commuting needs.
Googles of Philly related to quality of life tout the accessibility, manageability of the city and more than anything, the arts culture there. It is about a one hour train ride to NYC and another running community. The biking might prove to be a bit less convenient, with North Philly consisting of township after township connected by narrow, high speed roadways, but I’m sure the cycling community has something they do – being that there are several cycling clubs in the area.

Another city of 4 seasons, still in the New England area, it has a similar intrigue to Boston. I would be able to work remotely, or on occasion, actually commute to one of our call centers in Allentown, another hour commute away. Still the city is large enough that should I wish to do something different with my career, there would be many options.

The Boy’s job would be in West Point, a big pharma position that most drug developers would drool over. This is a position working with the best in the industry, with lots of support, and lots of corporate structure. There are many people with exceptional expertise to help for the mere price of asking. The drawbacks of the position? Big pharma and all the structure (as much as it is a benefit, it can be restrictive and limiting) and a potentially grueling workload extending late into evenings and monopolizing weekends as well. Haven’t we had enough of that in the last 6+ years of grad school? This position would pay the best, and living north of the city, we could find housing on par with the prices here in Seattle. The corporate campus is impressive, sprawling over many acres, there are vans and bikes to be borrowed to go from building to building, sports fields on site and a nice gym. I guess if you’re working late and weekends, accessibility is key. They also have a pension that employees can qualify for after only 5 years.

A tough choice – the tradeoffs of big pharma, with the paycheck, with the potential of long hours – how can you tell on the outside if the balance of work and life, pros and cons, is really there?

Provided we have time together, we still would enjoy the area, exploring, nearby cities and New England attractions. The cold and dark of winters is still a nagging drawback, but only because of some of the other options.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Finger

You know, the best thing I ever did creatively (no, it wasn’t that post about intangibility, or the one later about tea) was to get mad. My friend, who is very talented both as a writer and photographer – she might not believe me, but it’s true – and even as a business analyst, mentioned this quote from some asshole about writer’s block meaning you shouldn’t be a writer. I wonder if that guy knows he inspired me by being such an asshole. M mentioned this in passing, in an email, and it so angered me that I felt I had to prove him wrong. And I started blogging.

That was 4 years ago.

I’m still blogging. Maybe not as often, maybe not always with the quality I’d like, but I’m still doing it, and I’m still honing my craft. Why? Because I got mad.

When I was a kid, I watched my mom get mad every time someone told her no, every time someone told her that I had an issue. I watched it spark her energy and get her going; maybe it’s a bit of her in me – don’t you tell me I can’t because I WILL GO do it, just to spite you.

Somehow, over the last 4 years, creatively, I’ve gone through some cycles – the post a lot cycles, the creative spark cycles, the boredom with my voice cycle, the journalistic reporting of my current events, a few efforts to redefine my vision.
I think I’m in one of those cycles now – a combination of stagantion, indecision, and crippling self doubt – and perhaps that’s what I need: some good old fashioned anger and spark to prove someone wrong to get me going.

Motivation is good, and I can’t tell you how amazing I feel inside when I get a comment or an email that something I wrote, or photographed, has touched someone, or helped them see something in a new way. But, it is a lot harder to live up to something amazing than it is to flip off something awful and say, “Fuck you!” by doing that very thing and intending to show up that critic, be it internal or external. Apparently, my inner critic really backs down to that kind of treatment.

Writer’s block, my ass.

Here we go again!


My Google Searches Today:

How to migrate iWeb site to WordPress
Big Bang Games 4 in a row
How to remove a virus mac
How to install AppDelete
How do I tell what is using hard drive space mac
How do I run disk utilities mac
Disk utilities mac
Genius Bar appointments

Not a good day.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


What entices me about Boston? I close my eyes, take a deep breath and slide into a daydream…

East coast – so different from where I’ve lived my “aware” life. Although I was born in the DC area, I left before I could form memories, and my trips back were numerous in my early 20’s, but were mere visits. The difference of East Coast vs. West Coast intrigues me. The architecture, the formality, the brusque speed of life, the recorded and celebrated history there (so different from the native history here, limited by lack of western documentation practices) make it compelling.

I would work from home, I imagine. And that home might be more colonial looking, east coast feeling – why not, if we move there? I imagine colder winters, wool coats in contrast to my rain coat of this season in Seattle, scarves, snow. Taking the “T” to Beantown.

The streets of Boston were designed by a masochist, I read on website after website. What is it like to live in Boston? I query in Google. It sounds like the Seattle of the east coast – similar climate, but a bit colder in the winter, and maybe a bit more humid in the summer, but the temperatures are not that different, at least from what I’ve found so far. I’m a bit incredulous – not quite a believer.

Boston is a running town – the marathon, proximity to Allentown and Runner’s World. Boston is educated. Boston boasts literary tours and colonial history, universities respected worldwide.
Truth be told, we would not live in Boston, but outside it, near Waltham, which is about 10 miles away. It seems to be about a 30 minute ride by public transportation.

Weekends could be spent exploring New England. A short trip to Manhattan, or up the coast to see fall trees or spring blooms. The evocatively rugged Maine coast, the proximity to all of New England – it seems the most European angle on America, and yet, decidedly American. It’s the other side of this west coast, left coast, coin. Can one understand life in America without having both sides of the coin? I ask this, consciously leaving out the substance in between that does not compel me at all, for any amount of money, and yet forms the vital center of that coin. Coastal is where my heart is, even if it’s a few miles inland, just so long as it’s not thousands.

Last time I was in Boston was in 1999 – eleven years ago. How much things must have changed, and what I was able to see was not even a scratch of the surface then. I remember being lost driving around, and asking another motorist for directions and being told “I can’t even begin to tell you how to get from here to there!” (We were within sight of our destination.) I snuck away from work and had coffee in Harvard park, watching the students, my age, play chess in the square. I walked the literary tour, and with my mouth agape, gazed up at the lantern hanging over Nathaniel Hawthorne’s house. This was the oldest architecture I had ever seen, at that point.

That trip was fun – but what that trip was NOT was a way to figure out if I would like living there. And yet, that’s what it has become. Would I like Boston? I dunno – but it seemed cool, and we could find out for a few years…
I am scared; I am curious what that life East of Left would be. Who would I become? How would it change me, and will the tradeoffs be worth it?

Of course there are tradeoffs. It is cold. It seems less friendly for biking. It is far from the lake. It is far from our friends. We would still not be in the heart of the city – on the outskirts, with the benefits and drawbacks of that. It is more expensive. I would work remotely – isolated. I don’t know if I can handle that, or for how long. What would become of me, curled in my colonial cave? Venturing out with my camera, safely secluded behind my lens…I know my tendency toward isolation and it would take concerted effort to overcome.

Suppose I didn’t like working remotely – Boston is big, Boston is busy. There would be a lot of opportunity to move on, career-wise. What would I find?

Together, the Boy and I – our life built around us and our dog, East Coast style, running in the city of running, finding new triathlons, new summer vacations while yearning to let the dog run with her friends along our beach at Priest Lake…the Boy finally dig into the world he has dreamed of for years of hell in grad school, finally able to do the work that so compelled him to go back to school and endure these years…he will do this no matter where we go, but in Boston-Town, he will find a small company and have growth potential across the drug development lifecycle. He’ll be able to apply his knowledge not only from school, but from working in small pharma before going back to school, and be able to uniquely prepare for our long term goals. The job won’t pay the best, but will appreciate him and be rewarding in the type and spectrum of work.

This will be a tough choice…

Monday, December 6, 2010


Earlier in the year, much much earlier in the year, when I laid out some vague sketches of goals, the road looked shorter than it turned out to be. A deep dip, and a rise back to the level, it was indiscernible to the envisioning eye, though we could assume something like that would happen. The goal was to figure out our future, dream up the possibilities it could have, and then create that future.

We are finally at that point, and as we thought, the options are falling in our laps. The future is really ours for the creating, in all realistic senses. Europe seems to have fallen off the map, but through no lack of trying. As I write this, our map looks like this:

As you can see, our dreaming will be coastal. From here, I’ll dive into the separate dreams over the next few days…and then, we wait to see what unfolds…