Monday, May 30, 2011

Goonies never say die

My new job will start on Tuesday right after Memorial Day weekend. I remain very hopeful that this job will signal the end of my bouncing around trying to find myself. I can't honestly say I'm not any closer to finding myself now than I was a year ago. What I do know, I need a job. I can always look for myself when I have a regular paycheck and can afford the search. In the last weekend before going back to work, it seemed only prudent to spend the last two dimes I was rubbing together on a little fun. So, in the spirit of frivolous spending, we packed up the steel steed and headed out to Astoria for the day on Saturday.

We enjoyed this day with my Dad and his Wife and my step sister. For those of you that read my parent's blog, and are now trying to figure out my lineage, just sing to yourself the theme song from the Brady Bunch and will have the jest of the story. That said, the Dad portrayed in this post is not the same Dad you met in the Therapytravel blog. At any rate, we were also briefly joined on this adventure by my Sister, her Husband and my Niece.

For those of you that are not familiar with Pacific Northwest geography, Astoria is located far up in the Northwest point of Oregon where the Columbia river spills into the Pacific Ocean. It is area that is rich in history and wonderful sights. If you ever get the chance, it is a must visit destination where you can learn many things about Lewis and Clark, river transportation and military history. As for us, our fascination with the region always seems to lean a little more towards more recent movie history.

Kari re-enacting the jail break
 Back in 1984, Goonies was filmed in Astoria. in the 26 years since it was released, it has gained a cult following that keeps a steady stream of "Goonies" making a pilgrimage to all the filming locations in and around the city. The jail in the film was recently converted to a film museum that pays homage to the many films that used Oregon as a backdrop to their stories. We had to revisit some of our favorite sites and also make vain attempts at re-enacting some of the most memorable scenes.

We also had the pleasure of stumbling across a new restaurant, Cecil's Trolley Stop Grill that was on it's second day of being open. They were doing a soft opening and not yet doing any advertising. As you can imagine, We had most of the place and the staff to ourselves. They treated us like old friends and we were even paid a visit from the chef. Food was great at an affordable price with a view of the Columbia River that was just amazing. I look forward to visiting Cecil's again the next time I'm in town.

Bekah in front of the Goonie House. She refused to do the Truffle Shuffle!

The view from Cecil's Trolley Stop Grill
After visiting several other sights in Astoria, including a terrifying 144 step climb to the top of the Astoria Column, we decided to head south to Tillamook to visit the birth place of our favorite cheese. Yes, I'll admit, we are a strange crew. In an area that is so overly abundant with history and scenery, we seemed obsessed with our movies and our cheese.
Headin into the Cheese Factory

As luck would have it, Joni's Mom and Aunt were in Tillamook for the day from Eugene. We hooked up with them at the cheese factory and Joni got to spend some time visiting. We also loaded up on all our favorite cheeses and some ice cream.

Joni with her Mom and Aunt

Since my Dad, his Wife and my step Sister are all recent transplants from Southern California, we are hoping that we have many chances this summer to visit new places to show our recently inducted Oregonians all the beauty this place has to offer. In my opinion, you could spend a lifetime exploring the great Northwest and never take in all it has to offer. I am excited about starting my new job on Tuesday and hopefully having a little more money to spend on enjoying site seeing.

More soon

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Enjoying the ride

Last June when I was laid off from the Federal Reserve Bank, I had accepted the idea that my days of working in any bank were most likely over. Most of the experience that I had in banks all revolved around checks. With the onset of online bill pay and debit cards, checks have taken on the same status as typewriters and home phones. Just as kids these days would quizzically look at an IBM Selectric or wonder what that funny looking dial is on top of the old phone on great-grandma's desk, I figured that my career was also doomed to the archives of the way things used to be. No matter, I was OK with this, it was time for a change and now I had the power to choose the direction of my future. It was all in my hands and now I was going to have the chance to live life on my terms......yeah, right!

I started this blog with a quote from a favorite singer/song writer of mine. John Lennon in a song he wrote to his son said "life is what happens when you're busy making other plans". I don't think I could find a better quote to describe the past year of my life. The twists and turns, ups and downs that I've experienced in this past year would have most frequent flyers grabbing the little white bag conveniently provided in the seat pocket in front of them. Through it all, stayed on the ride mostly because I was curious about what may be around the next corner. Unpredictability in life isn't always fun but it certainly is entertaining. It's hard to lose interest when you're always saying "gosh, I wonder what will happen tomorrow".

So, I briefly owned a photo studio, went to truck driving school, briefly drove trucks, submitted hundreds of resumes to every company in town, crawled into pizza ovens, sent out a couple hundred more resumes, went fishing, rode my motorcycle, spent  time creating culinary masterpieces, decided to pursue being an electrician, studied get the picture. I also spent a lot of time in between each step being stressed out and worried about how I will pay the mortgage next month. All this time I never  did settle into a comfort zone that I felt would provide the stability that I was seeking. In fact, I'm not entirely sure I knew what I was seeking. I thought I wanted change but I had no idea about the trials that path would lead me down.

On Wednesday of last week I posted a comment on facebook about applying for a job with Staples. Underneath that, a former co-worker of mine told me to contact her for info about a staffing company that got her and several other former co-workers jobs at Wells Fargo. On Thursday I made a call to the staffing company and was set up for an interview on Friday. By the end of the 10 minute interview, the gal was offering me a job. She told me that she just fired somebody and needed to fill a position ASAP! As of right now, I have started the process for the background check. As soon as the background check reveals that I don't even know what handcuffs look like, I will be heading off to work for Wells Fargo. Which I must say, this is also in the best interest of Wells Fargo since they are the ones that hold my mortgage. All this seem like I'm going right back to where I started from, heading right back to the pit that I was so desperate to escape from a year ago. Well, I'm OK with that, it's a familiar pit and hopefully a stable one.

What happens next....not sure I should make any plans. I'm just along for ride and will allow life to happen.

Enjoy the ride!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Out of the frying pan and into the boiler

It's been almost a month since my last blog update, not that I have forgotten that my life bears slight interest to my adoring fans, I just felt there was nothing of any real interest happening in my life. I am happy to report that there have been some new developments that add great fodder to a blog writers repertoire.

As of the writing my last entry, I was attempting to teach myself algebra so I could qualify for an electrician apprenticeship. I made some great progress on the things I was able to learn but as things started to get more complicated, I came to some road blocks that I was not able to overcome. Since then, I have signed up with an online course offered through the National Joint Apprenticeship Training Committee. Completion of this course will satisfy all math requirements for the apprenticeship program. I am currently working through that course and still hope to one day become a "sparky".
Not all ingredients shown, that is top secret

Meanwhile, I also started applying for as many jobs as I could locate and also spent some spare time experimenting with some new recipes. As much as I love to cook, I have never in my life attempted a potato salad. After looking at several recipes, I was able to develop my own ideas of what I wanted my salad to taste like and what I was going to put in it. I am happy to report that the potato salad was a major success and tasted the way I hoped it would. I also made an attempt at a broccoli salad and a pasta salad. Again, the results were favorable and will be rolling out of my kitchen for years to come.

The pasta creation, very tasty!!

In the midst of all my cooking, studying, job hunting I was able to hook up with an old friend, Matt on facebook that I hadn't seen in about 13 years. We met for breakfast one day and after talking a little about my situation, he started telling me about one of his part time jobs with a friend of his. He climbs into boilers in mills and power plants to do inspections. He logs data about things that he finds so that the boilermakers know where to go to make repairs. Most of these mills and power plants shut down for a few weeks a year to do maintenance and they always shut down on the spring and fall. Matt told me that he would pass on my name to his friend and see if he needed any help. Well, I ended up getting a call from Brian on the afternoon of Sunday, May 1st telling me he needed me in Chehalis WA (about 90 miles north of me) at 7am the next morning. I told him that I would be happy to show. I quickly washed some clothes, packed my bags and headed out for Chehalis that night, not at all sure what I was getting myself in to.

I was faced with an opportunity but I hadn't the slightest idea what I would be doing. I set out with a small crew at the power plant and we went up to the 10th floor of the boiler. As we approached the boiler I noticed these small doors that were about 2' X 2' that looked like something you would stick a pizza in, not a person. Starting to feel a little anxious, I asked if I would be going through one of those doors. I was told that some of the ingresses are smaller than that. It suddenly brings to mind all the time I might have complained about working in a boring, air conditioned office thinking that I needed to do some outside work. Turns out, those complaints were born from lack of other knowledge. I was now in line to receive a quick lesson about why you should not complain about your job. After climbing in and out of pizza ovens for several days, I found that I was able to overcome or at least learn to deal with my fears of claustrophobia. Maybe, it was just more overcome with the greater fear of homelessness or worse yet, not being able to afford internet connection!!!!
Me in front of one of the pizza ovens. Yes, I do fit in there.

After learning a little more about the job, I found that this could be a good deal for some people. Because of the limited shut down season, the work weeks are usually 60 plus hours. The upside to that, you make great money in a short amount of time. Most of the guys I worked with only do this 6 or 7 months a year. The rest of the year, they don't have other jobs. Are you kidding me???? 6 months of vacation time every year???? All the sudden, cramming myself into pizza ovens doesn't seem all that bad. I'm still not 100% convinced that this will be a long term choice for me. For now, it is decent money and helping me preserve my indoor living conditions just a little longer. Should I choose to stick with this, I will be spending long stretches away from home but I will also get even longer stretches at home.

Life is all about learning. Myself, I'm learning a lot about what I can or cannot do, what I can overcome and what I am willing to do. No matter what happens, these are valuable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my life.