Sunday, August 24, 2014

Still in the honeymoon stage.

Life has been getting interesting and starting to feel a bit more stable in VanPort.  I have to make a horrible 10 mile commute to/from work (coming back usually takes a good hour): those that live in Vancouver tend to be like me - work in Portland.  The job seems to be going fine - it's like a giant three dimensional puzzle that is slowly coming together.  It's a steep learning curve and everything has to be pretty darn accurate and if it's not, then it will be known... so accuracy is critical.  This is true electronic health records and the processes are definitely challenging switching between systems... along with quotas and various responsibilities assigned each day.  It's a highly centralized system.

I hope sometime soon I'll be switching everything over to Washington residency.  Eventually, Oregon is in the picture and for now I'm solidifying my base.  It probably won't be until November or so - after my 90 day period before I know whether I stay or get let go.  A 6-9 week training period has been compressed into a 4 week process and as accuracy increases, so must productivity.  Goals must be met!  Well, the sooner I can get Washington residency, at least if I fall flat on my face, there'll be WA unemployment to back me up while I look for a job I can better haul ass in.  So I'm cautiously optimistic.

I've been also diving into some music, building my collections once again.  My paper list was started and I'm slowly adding to it but also keeping an eye out on new releases from favorites.  There's still much more to see, and even shows to go to - I have only scratched the surface.  I'm glad Portland is pretty much a main stop over for bands heading up to or coming down from Seattle.  There's also a lot of really cool free stuff out there - whether it's at the bookstores or in the music store.

I've been spending time with two new friends, Beth and Taj.  Beth has showed me around but because of her ex's schedule (who she is room mates with), I have been unable to keep up and meet with her.  Then again, that's what social networking is for.

Then there's Taj.  I've been spending a lot of quality time with her and it's great that she's in Portland and has some awesome room mates.  She's a very caring and open person.  She's very involved in the Burner community (people who live their lives according to the Burning Man principles, but also go to Burning Man).  Yes... THAT Burning Man.  While she tends towards the "polyamorous" side of relationships, (and I'm still trying to understand the process), she has shown me and taken me to some exciting local eateries and events.

With Kai coming in about a month's time, I'm in the process of trying to save as much $$ as possible so I can have him and his mum flown up here on a weekend.  Even though I'd prefer much longer time it's not feasible at the moment.  It breaks down to bad timing in many ways: the move up here and not having a place of my own (yet).  However, once they're gone, I'll be able to hunker down into my job, save as much as I can for the move across the river and become an Oregonian... possibly by the end of the year or the first part of it.

Fortunately Nysa and Frank has been putting up with me and I've been trying to give money where I can to help them with the cost of me staying - even if it's still couching surfing.  Funny enough, I don't miss Las Vegas at all - yes, some family and friends, but at the moment it's still the honeymoon period with the PNW.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Voluntary servitude

My slavery begins tomorrow morning - I will be stuck in the morning commute from Vancouver to downtown Portland for more than an hour (folks, it's only 9 miles away and on a traffic-less freeway it's about 15 minutes max).  There's plenty of free parking and a lot to see - especially on the Williamette.  I have already filled out a lot of paperwork that came in a large white envelope costing over $5.00 in postage and as a result, I ended up with a callus on my finger from writing so much.  Everything from background check all the way through the benefits package (which won't take effect until after 90 days)... just short of a 401k plan.  Health insurance costs are about 33% higher than what they were taking out back in Las Vegas.  But it looks like a decent insurance package and I'll end up with a PPO program with a (moderate?) deductible.  I'm hoping I'll never have to use it, but you never know.  So I am a little nervous but we all have to start somewhere.  In Vegas terms, the pay is decent, in PDX, it's probably right at the income line.  But I'm not complaining and I'm actually hoping that this will become another long-term job because it appears to be a good practice to be with. The new job is coming just in time as well since money is evaporating.  What I have left will be used primarily for gas and some additional "business casual" clothes.  The first paycheck can't come soon enough.  The biggest goal is to move to Portland and become a Portlander around the first of the year - mainly to avoid traffic and because that's where the center of most of my activities have been.  I can see why Vancouver is referred to as Vantucky (due to its' redneck and slower paced conservatives).

After doing research, I do not see myself taking the Max on a regular basis.  I like my car because of the personal freedom it offers and it's my tiny little bubble of independent travel.  Even if the gas prices are amongst the highest in the nation, provided I do this carefully, I can do this right.

There is so much to do: pull out clothes for tomorrow, shave, make lunch (!), run through my internet feeds and be in bed by 9p so I can be up at 5:30!  Yikes!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

A breath of fresh air (sort of)

After about a dozen applications and various e-mail inquiries, I landed myself a job interview.  I thought I'd be nervous, but was actually quite calm about it - in fact, everything went about as smooth as could be.  And with my first interview I have a job at a large cardiovascular office in Portland and because they're electronic, I will be working at their corporate offices.  I do not start until Tuesday, August 5th but that's fine because it'll give me some time to go out and get things done.  Unfortunately I cannot use my scrubs as it is a "business casual" environment (hell, I don't even know what "business casual" is - but I'm sure after a few days, I'll get a good idea what it means to dress like a zombie).  This means another set of wardrobes.  I am fairly optimistic as they're paying me more than I expected, though I do say that with caution.

I've been doing some more exploring in Portland and hanging out in the depths of what the locals do.  Yes, Portland is full of weirdos and it's part of the culture - it's awesome.  The not so awesome part is the lack of parking, especially when a lot of the venues are on major streets and parking can be several blocks away.  It's probably not uncommon to get parking violations (I already landed an $80 one and paid it off)... and the threat of having the car towed, which they have no problems doing.  I can see why Park N Ride and mass transit is a much more affordable and convenient option, which is why a large minority do not drive - they take the Max and/or bike it.

Portland is broken up into several districts which are distinct from each other.  The tourists have downtown proper - but to avoid the congestion of touristy locations, the outer districts tend to be better.  Each district has its' own section of main street that has everything a community wants - shopping and food.  One of the best district in the city is the Hawthorn district, there is just all kinds of awesome in that area - and its' on the east side of the river.

There is still so much to see and for now, the job gives me more stability and the beginning of something bigger.  Hopefully the living conditions get better and building a living base from which to jump into adventure will get better as I find solid ground.

Monday, July 7, 2014

2w1d

So let's see here - it's been two weeks and one day since I have moved from Las Vegas, NV to Vancouver, WA.  Ideally Portland, OR would've been nicer, but I'm fortunate enough to have some really good friends out here and so I'm couch surfing until I land a job and get settled enough to venture on.  I have a few applications out there and waiting for responses and every other day I'm on the internet looking for job opportunities.

Portland is the shit.  It's just as awesome as it was 3 years ago and now that I'm exploring around and discovering the outdoors more, I'm falling in love even more.  I just need that stupid anchor of employment.  Ugh.  The only thing I have to get used to is the short on/off ramps/interchanges: it get's worse when you get into metropolitan Portland ("pdx" henceforth).  The freeway system can be a little confusing as well as the streets - and it doesn't matter what side of the rivers you're on.  I'm sure there will be a day when I can take my Garmin and bury it - but I suspect it might be a while.

In the short time that I've been here, I've been down the Columbia River Gorge (gotten lost on a trail to some hidden falls), been down and through St. Helens, across to Longview and back to Vancouver.  Explored a few places, broke my 300mm lens (which I'm seriously bummed out about), and having an interesting time.  I also plan on going on random roadtrips to grab as much of the outdoor and natural surroundings as I can.

It's also time to try and make some friends, check out the music scenes and get more accustomed to the area's nightlife and realize that it's not a 24 hour place - life out here is too nice for that.

Noteworthy facts: don't fill up gas in Oregon because the attendants have to pump it; not all gas stations are convenience stores, some are actually garages; don't buy smokes in Washington; and yes, there are mosquitoes.  Despite my protests, they still want to suck my blood.