10/13/04: the heat is on

I was hanging out in Delaware last Monday and got a call from Enterpulse (the company in San Mateo, CA with whom I've been having phone interviews) who said, "Can we fly you out to California on Wednesday to interview at Visa?"   They booked me some plane tickets, rental car and hotel. I flew out Wednesday morning and caught the 8:30am flight. The night before, in typical Jill fashion, I didn't get to sleep until about 3:00am, and I had three alarms set for 5am.

I almost missed my flight out of Philly, but some puppy-dog eyes at the nice security check-in guy got me to the front of the line (sometimes it doesn't hurt being a chick). I felt sorta guilty for cutting everyone, but ya know, sometimes ya gotta do whatcha gotta do.

I got off the plane in SFO, grabbed my rental car, checked in at the hotel, freshened up, got changed and went right to my interview; the timing couldn't have been more perfect. The interview went really well; I met with just one person, Phil, who is the guy I'd be replacing. He's been doing the job since April, and he was very honest about the job and the goodness and suck that goes with it, and I totally appreciated his candor. I got out of there around 4:00 and drove around town to get a feel for San Mateo, Foster City and the surrounding areas. John met me in San Mateo Wednesday night and we went to Fusia (a cute Asian place) for dinner, drinks and a failed karaoke attempt due to blood-alcohol levels of 0.00. We had a great time, and it was sooooooooooo awesome to see him again and reconnect. Eeee! He headed back north and I slept in an unusually comfy hotel bed, grabbed breakfast at the hotel diner in the morning and bopped off to day 2 of the interview process.

Day 2 was the technical grilling portion of the interview process, and I also met the client folks with whom I'd be working most closely. Again, I felt really good about how it went. Apparently the grillers did as well, because the unanimous consensus was "Hire this chick, even if this gig with Visa falls through, there are a billion things we could use her for!" The HR chick said that I "wowed everyone," which is always nice to hear. I told her that I still have a job interview in Wilmington on Tuesday I need to attend, and she said, "If we send you flowers and chocolates every day between now and Tuesday, would that sway your decision to move out here?" It's nice to feel loved. Anyway, the San Mateo gig pays a ludicrous amount of money, though from what I can tell I would be working pretty hard for that cash initially. It's not an easy job, but I guess in the grand scheme of things it's not like they're asking me to build a skyscraper or something. I'm sure once I get my feet wet I'll be fine. It's mostly personality management; I'd be getting paid to use my mad Jedi Mind Trick skillz.

The scariest thing about the job is that they were very clear about two points: 1) Visa is Enterpulse's biggest west-coast client. If Visa stops liking Enterpulse, then Enterpulse closes the California office. So, I can't screw this up.   2) If I take this job and I hate it, I can't bail out on it after a few weeks; I have to commit to it for the long-haul. So, my safety net of "Oh, if I hate it I'll just quit and come back to Delaware" isn't so much an option. I mean, they can't arrest me or anything (ha), but I couldn't, in good conscience, screw over a company like that. In all things in my life, I like to keep half an eyeball on an escape route just in case. Dunno if I'm a committment-phobe or just someone who likes to have a safety net, but either way, said safety net has just been removed, and I hate that.

Anyhoo, they weren't sure if I was going to interview with a few more people on Friday, so my flight was changed to Monday. This was cool because it allowed me to stick around for the weekend and get my head on straight about things here so I can make a better decision and all. John is supah-excited about me getting the job, and he's been so positive and encouraging and super-awesome throughout this whole process.

I also wanted to use the weekend to get a better sense of where I could live. I like Inner Richmond (where John currently is), but from a commuting perspective it doesn't make too much sense. Alas, this gig in San Mateo might only last 6 months and who knows where my next thing could be... so I think being centrally located is key. John said he wouldn't mind getting a bit more centrally located too, so hopefully we can find a neighborhood that makes sense for both of us.

Speaking of commuting, my interviews ended around 3-ish on Thursday, but I purposely hung out in San Mateo until after 5 because I wanted to try the evening commute in the thick of rush hour up the 101. The traffic moved just fine; I got to Geary in about 30 minutes, so it's nice to know the commute isn't some 763286 hour thing. San Mateo / Foster City isn't such a bad little spot either... kinda suburban in places, but it seems to have the things I need, as well as tons of new apartments. Foster City is brand-spankin' new-- built on a landfill! Yeah!

Anyhoozle, John had some career fair thing Thursday night which kept him until 9-ish, so I had a bunch of time to kill (homeless! In the rain! hah). I wandered around the Inner Richmond neighborhood, got dinner at my favorite thai place ev-ar and I gotta say, it felt really nice to be back. I loved watching the fog roll in... made me very happy. After dinner I had about 40 minutes to kill so I plopped in the Javacat and got a cup of amazing ginger lime tea and sat on the couches and read the free papers. I kicked myself for not nabbing the opportunity to call up my craigslist pal because that would have been a rockin' diversion.

When I got back to John's place Thursday night, we were just so excited to see each other. He was totally jazzed about the career fair thing and we were buzzing about our respective good news. I love it when he gets excited about stuff-- he gets bouncy.

On Saturday we spent the majority of the day at the Marina watching the ComBots competition (Battlebots!) and we had the BEST time EVER. Holy cow, it was so much fun, we were clapping and yelling and watching sparks and shrapnel fly all over the place. We took tons o' pictures and video, and I'll be posting them soon. Afterwards, we caught up with John's rockin' brother-in-law Richard who was in town for a conference, so it was cool to finally meet him. We went for sushi on Geary and then bummed around the Sony store to play with the gadgets. Richard was going to meet some other friends of his, so John and I went to see Shaun of the Dead (Oh my God, go see that movie... it rocked!) and then came home and crashed.

Sunday we went to Ikea, we walked around the store painstakingly measuring things and carefully planning what would go where, and when we reached the warehouse, frikkin' naturally they didn't have what we were looking for in stock. We stood looking at the empty space on the warehouse shelf where the beech LACK should be, just stunned in total disbelief... though now that I think about it, every Ikea attempt in my life has yielded the same results. From now on, it's Ikea Online for me. Let those dorks deliver it; my time is worth the extra few bucks in delivery.

On Monday we headed to the airport and said our goodbyes, and I knew that I had some major deciding to do. Instead of ruminating on the plane, I slugged down some Nyquil in hopes I'd sleep and not cough all over the place... though the plane sounded like a TB ward without my contributions. I sat next to a cute old couple on the plane and we got to talking. I asked them what the secret to their long marriage was (46 years) and the guy said, "Finding someone who will put up with you. And as far as she's concerned, she just had to find the most perfect man in the whole world." They rocked. :-)   Anyway, I got home to Delaware around 12:30am and slept until the next afternoon.

It's cold here, now. I had to turn my heat on.

I was supposed to meet with InfoSystems yesterday (Tuesday), but as per usual, they haven't called me back to set up a time to meet and talk. I called my ISI spies to see if the guy I was supposed to meet with was even in town, considering I left him three messages of increasing urgency and still hadn't gotten a call back. My spy confirmed that yes, he's in town but was very busy. If I don't hear from them by Friday, San Mateo wins by default. I'm tired of waiting around for these clowns.. I've only been waiting since July.

It's scary to think I have this huge decision to make, you know? Do I move all of my crap out west, relocate, take this hugely-paying but hard job in a foreign place, leaving my absolutely amazing friends (including Jeremy, my best friend in the whole world), my family, my coffeehouse and musician collective that gives me endless satisfaction... or do I stay in Delaware and earn a few bucks less (still a good salary) and keep all my peeps and contacts, but then miss out the magic that is there?

My motto is: "I would rather regret having done something than having not done something." But in this case, I'm just so unclear as to the correct path.

You might be asking yourself when I would be starting the San Mateo job. Welp, here's the data... they want me to start ASAP, but when I asked them for other options, here's what they said:

In terms of start date, we could look at starting you shortly, but providing a long weekend or two to assist with the move. I believe the drive took me about 4 days when I moved to Atlanta from Reno. We could also plan something like you taking the week of Thanksgiving off entirely to move. Or we could delay your start date while you pack and move. Of course Dean would like to have you start ASAP (as I'm sure Phil would :) ).

Let's chat more about the details when you have a chance, but we are flexible and want to determine a win-win situation.

John has said 100 times that he'd be very happy if I moved out west. I can't help but be scared that if things work out with him, then returning to the east coast where my heart really is would probably never happen. I wouldn't raise my hypothetical kids out here, I wouldn't be close to my parents and brother's family, I wouldn't see the leaves change. I would always feel like a stranger in a strange land. That Ben Folds song, "Don't Change Your Plans" is echoing through my head and every word is rendering me immobile. But Steve We said to me last night, "In your adult life, have you ever felt like you were in a place you could call home?" I said no. He said, "Well, maybe you haven't found it yet. This is how you find it. You go."