Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Catching up with an old friend

An old friend from High School (actually my brother Mike's only HS girlfriend, if you can imagine that) contacted me this week, and as we traded emails and exchanged news, I thought that there was the makings of a good blog post in the letter, summarizing my life, and family. So here it is -- a document for history.

I went to your page and took a look at your photos -- your daughter is so cute!! It looks like she's going to be a red-head, huh? I have a lot of those in my family (lots of Scottish blood) What a sweetie!

Yeah, Elizabeth is really cute. We really hit the genetic jackpot with a red-headed girl on our first try! She also has a very easy temperament -- we call her Sweetness because, as you say, she's so sweet.

I didn't have a chance to read everything you wrote, but it looks like you have found a good, supportive group of people in your community. That's always really important. I've lived in a bunch of different places since high school, and I never feel at "home" until I've got a good group of friends.

I really do have a good group of friends here. I'm pretty shy when it comes to meeting new people, so it's hard work making friends. Luckily, most of the young mothers at Church meet Mondays at the beach, and Fridays at the park, so there's lots of time to talk.

As for Peter, I hope he finds another job soon. That's really tough, and I know a lot of people are going through what he's going through right now. I don't happen to know anyone looking for a novel editor, but I'll keep my ears open. At least there are lot of different industries in CA. I'm sure he'll find something soon.

This is the most stressful part of my life right now. Peter could do a great job in a lot of different industries, but he only WANTS to be in publishing. sigh. We do have a couple of good leads, and we're hoping one of them pans out. Until then, he has a temp job that says they'd be happy to keep him as long as he wants to stay, so at least we can get by without the whole hassle of going on welfare.

I assume you went to BYU -- when did you graduate? What did you end up majoring in? I recall that you (like all your family) were quite brilliant in high school. Did you have a career before starting you family? I always saw you as a doctor, for some reason. . .

Yeah, I went to BYU (that's where I met Peter, though we didn't get married till years later). I did a semester abroad in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1997, and graduated in 2000. I majored in Elementary Education. Directly after college, I began working for a company that makes Practice Management software for dentists, converting databases. Then I moved back to Ohio and taught school for a year until the tax base dropped out after 9-11 and all the junior teachers got laid off. I looked around and said, "I'm single and unemployed in Cleveland! What am I doing with my life?" and moved to California to start over. I lived with my grandparents and bounced around some part time jobs and substitute teaching --hoping to get a full time teaching job -- but they were having bad times in Ca too, so I ended up taking a job at an insurance brokerage doing filing and administrative work.

I got tired of some of the tedious parts of that job, and started writing programs and automating databases to make the computer to them for me. My bosses noticed, and put me on a team that was trying to do that for the entire company. It was a fun job with lots of opportunities to hobnob with the bigwigs and travel, and do creative stuff, but there was a high stress component too. The database we were working on was keeping track of billions of dollars worth of insured property and millions of dollars worth of premium, and a break down on a key day could be catastrophic. It was also my job to divine what people wanted the database to be able to do, when they couldn't put it into words themselves.

It was while I was at that job that I met Peter again, and we got married. Once our debts were paid off, I quit in order to get healthy enough to have a baby (the stress took a toll on my mental health, and that took a toll on my physical health).

I thought about going into medicine when I was in Jr. High, but quickly realized that while it might be interesting, I would be responsible for saving (or not saving) people's lives and health and happiness, and I knew that I wouldn't be able to take that kind of stress -- especially not if I made a mistake. Since I ended up with a breakdown when I was just dealing with money, I think I made the right decision.

I didn't really get a chance to ask Mike about the rest of your siblings. I know that he mentioned Doug was doing really well, and was doing some project with the Department of Defense. How is everyone else doing?

Mike's in Mt. View, Ca with Google. He's married with three boys (about 9, 4-5, and 2).

Doug just left his job in Ohio with the Air Force, and he's moving this week to Maryland, to get more schooling in his particular field of computer graphics and programming (paid for by the military) so that he can eventually make even more fancy ways to enhance and compile satellite images in realtime on the battlefield. He's married and has a son (about 4 or 5 years old).

I'm here in CA, as you know. Married with a 7 month old daughter.

David is in Oregon, pursuing a doctorate in Chemistry. He's married and has a son who's about 18 months old, with another baby on the way.

Steve just got married in March -- so no baby news yet from them. He lives in Columbus Ohio where he's working on a Master's Degree -- he wants to be a school counsellor, perhaps in an American School on a military base overseas.

Heather had her first baby, also a girl, a few months ago. She's living in Texas with her husband.

Mom and Dad are still in Amherst. Mom's parents moved in with them late last year, and Grandma has been in and out of the hospital and rehab facilities ever since, so that's rough on Mom. Daddy retired from Ford, and is having fun working on all the projects and inventions he never had time for when he was working.

I hope you'll keep me posted, and I will continue to visit your blog page to keep up with you and Elizabeth. Let me know if you're even in the Phoenix area, and we'll have to get together!

That would be fun! It's good to hear from you.