Friday, June 13

Now that 2014 is 1/2 over...

I guess that means I'm a little overdue for an update.


Let's start with the job. This week I am literally between jobs. I submitted my two weeks' notice (well, one week) at Frontier Business Products on Monday. About an hour later I was told that Monday would be my last day at FBP. I had asked to stay until Friday (today) in order to close out a couple of accounts that I thought would sign up this week, including the completion of one fairly heft deal involving an out-of-state delivery network that needed to be coordinated and then signed for by the overall account contact that I had been working with for about 3 months. However, I was informed that I would still rate the commission for that account, so I was suddenly okay with not working the rest of the week. I also had nearly 70 hours of vacation time built up, so while it wasn't the same as "terminal leave" from the Marines, it was good to walk out with a little cash in my pocket. Starting Monday I begin a new job and hopefully a new career path. I won't go into too many details here other than to say that I hope to eventually (soon) be in a place where I can have a positive impact on the lives of fellow veterans.


So the job I had for the past 20 months is gone and my new one has not started yet, so what else is new? Well, we've been a little busy to say the least.


The kids have finished school for the summer. Both passed! (We were honestly a little concerned about one of them having to repeat, but that is not required... yet.) They were both in dance classes over this past season and the end of year recitals were this past week. They did a great job and I am very thankful for the professionalism of this studio. Each recital was a time commitment, but they were smoothly run and (at least from my perspective in the seats) went well. Looking forward, Thing1 has indicated he does not want to dance again next year, but Thing2 has indicated not just a desire to keep dancing, but a hope of making it onto a competitive dance team. (Can we say "cha-CHING" here?) So that could be interesting. Camp for that starts in just a few weeks.


So, at least the home life is nice and quiet, right? WRONG!


We had looked at a new neighborhood development last year for Mother's Day (it's what she likes to do) and we went back to the same place this year for Mother's Day. This time, we decided to come back the next Saturday and officially put down some serious roots. We put down just enough to put our name on the lot and declare it "ours" and then the sales agent said we had seven days from then to get our current house on the market and it needs to be under contract within 60 days.
Wait... WHAT?? (If you look at a calendar, you'll notice that this was just before all of the end of school/dance recital stuff was about to get started.) Side note: we were seriously thinking of moving anyway, but AFTER school let out and dance recitals were over, and Grandma had gone back to California. So we cleaned. And then we cleaned some more. And then we cleaned again. The realtor who had helped us find and buy this house 4 1/2 years ago was now going to help us sell it. She gave us a list of staging tips and we got to work. Finally on Day 7 she came back with a sign for the yard and a camera. She took a few photos and we discussed the fine points of putting a house up for sale in today's market. We decided that we would "like" to spend our Memorial Day weekend cleaning some more and asked that we not have the house available for showings until Monday. Skip forward like, three days (Wednesday) and we are already on showing number 5 or 6 for the week (including one at 8:00 AM on Monday - Memorial Day) and we get a call from Wendy. We have an offer on the table. It's not quite what we're asking for and there's a slight catch in our exit plan: our apartment that we scrambled to find won't be ready until two weeks after the scheduled closing date. Counter-offer. Counter-counter-offer. And we're done. Our house is under contract for a little less than we'd listed for (but higher than we'd originally hoped to get and higher than neighborhood comp's) and our buyer will rent us back the house for the two weeks until our apartment is ready. Since that means we don't have to find a hotel or campsite, I'm good.


Oh, did I mention I start a new job on Monday and the kids just finished school for the summer? Did you catch that we had out-of-town visitor for about a week as well? And let's not even talk about Thing2's 10th birthday on Tuesday. I think there's a party somewhere in the near future, but I'm deferring to my better half on that one.


Yeah, this past month has been crazy to say the least. I guess that balances out the first part of the year when we didn't have much news to report. I will assume that at some point I'll put pictures together with words. Right now our new home is just a dirt lot, but the retaining wall that will keep the hill just behind us from sliding into our dining room has crept past our property and is making its way down the street. And just a few doors up the street there are gaping holes in the ground where our neighbors' houses will sprout over the next few months. I learned yesterday that our house will have the same orientation as the model, so we can really start to get a feel for how things will fit and where we'll put our furniture. We are excited and thankful to God for His blessings and I am sure all of this will end up in one of my wife's scrapbooks... one day.

Tuesday, December 31

I've seen this before

Today is the last day of 2013. What does that mean? In the grand scheme of things, not much. However, in our little corner of the universe it signifies that I have survived an entire calendar year without reporting for duty once on base. I did actually get onto Buckley for a business related errand, but that was just to expedite a co-worker's task so he could get on with his work without having to go through the body cavity search and background check to get in the gate.

So, what did I get accomplished in 2013? I participated in the Marine Corps Marathon. I finished in a time of 6:08:13, or something like that. I felt I was doing well until I hit the stretch just before the 1/2 way mark where they had placards with names and faces of fallen warriors. I just started thinking of people I know who could have been on those signs and it completely wrecked my focus. I walked a large portion of the 2nd half, but did finish at a running pace. Clarissa allowed me to crash at her place with the kids and puppies for the weekend and ran the race as well. (She did a lot better than I did, but she's run it before and knew about the memorials.) So this year, I'm hoping to do much better at the same race. I know what to expect and can take the training to another level over the summer.

What else did I get done? Well, I managed to fail out of school. I don't know what my problem is, but I think I can point back to the last time my name failed to appear on a promotion list. That led me to believe that it was pointless to continue and I just fell apart. Now I'm at a point where I recognize that I 'need' a degree to be worthy of getting a decent job in the civilian sector, but I'm still not convinced that "I" want a degree as much as my wife and mom want me to get a degree. Of course, I have few options because I need to set a good example for my kids, so I'm looking to take a class or two at Arapahoe Community College this spring and try to get back into Colorado Christian this fall. That could put some things to the test though, if I have to spend time at class when Jen has made it clear that she prefers that I come straight home after work to do my chores and relieve her of child care duties... but we'll see what happens.

I did manage to sell a few copiers over the course of the year. I didn't make a ton of money on commissions, but I did make enough to have a decent Christmas. I'm still trying to work a deal for our church and there's another church in Parker that I have drafted a proposal for, so that might be a good way to start 2014. Of course, I'm still looking for something else and now Jennie's started to zero in on jobs in North County so we can go home sooner rather than later. Personally, I think the kids have a better chance at success up here, but I did tell her that if I got a job in San Diego we could move back. She's been recruited by Jim Britts to become his admin assistant again when NewSong opens yet another satellite location later in 2014. We'll have to wait and see. This is all on God.

Happy New Year and let's see if we can keep this blog thing going this coming year, okay?

Wednesday, November 7

It (was) a cruel summer

A lot has happened since March. Let's see if I can hit the peaks and pits for you here.

Work:
The financial planning job I was looking out never materialized. The company still had the results of the personality test I took about 14 years ago (before I went to war, before I became a father, and before I spent 12 years as a career counselor) and their take was that people don't really change that much so I was not offered a position. The insurance sales job turned out to probably be a scheme. Jen and I did some additional research and found a ton of consumer and employee complaints against the company in general and the person I was in contact with in particular, so I told him "thanks, but no thanks" and walked away.

We survived for a while on Ohio's unemployment checks while I continued to search for work and we were doing pretty well, until my military retirement check started to arrive. See, I had asked if my retirement would affect my eligibility for UI and was told that there would be no impact on payments from my retirement check, so we decided I could focus on school and draw UI while I kept looking for THE job. Well, whoever told me that was apparently misinformed and the checks from the state were cut by about 75%. As a result, I wound up taking a job in the security field, with a company I had actually applied with before, but their offer at the time was not equal to what I was "making" through Ohio, so I turned them down.

So, after 20 years in the Corps, 3 combat tours to Iraq, and maintaining a SECRET security clearance for 15 of those years, I took a position as an unarmed security officer working in downtown Denver. My schedule was crazy: I worked 4 graveyard shifts and a swing shift on Sundays, but the pay was decent and we were able to get our heads back above water. Why is all of this in the past tense? Because last Friday was my last day as a security officer and I have just this week started a job in sales. I am in a training program to learn everything there is to know (as much as possible) about selling office equipment (i.e. copiers, printers, fax machines) and I am actually supposed to get out into the field a little bit today. So far I like it much better because the hours are better, although with the exception of drill weekends, it's been a while since I've worked an 8-5 job. So that's the work situation.

School:
In a word, sucks. Ever since I retired this past spring, I have not passed a single class. There, I said it. I am actually on a probation contract with the school to keep my enrollment open. I am only allowed to take 6 credits per semester (2 classes) and it's been very hard on my ego. However, I think I finally understand what the issue was. I was going to school because people in my life expected me to get a degree and move on. I was not convinced I ever really wanted a degree so I did not put total effort into my classes. And when those classes are online and I never have to see a professor or explain my weekly actions, well... you can see the results. However, as I told my student advisor, I have taken a step back, reevaluated myself, and decided that I don't want to leave a legacy of failure for my son and daughter, so I have decided that now I want a degree for myself. I had switched my major back to Organizational Management-Human Resources, but now I realize that I was painting myself into a narrow market niche. I have once again declared for Business Admininstration, with a minor in HR. Although this move does take psychology off the table for now, I am thinking that if I stay in sales, having a general business degree will give me a solid background to speak with other business people about their needs for document management. I have taken most of the fall semester off while I change programs (and jobs) and when the clock strikes 12 and 2012 becomes 2013 I will put all of this failure behind me and move forward. I will retake the courses that I failed to improve my GPA and my intent is not just to graduate, but to do so with honors.

Church:
Over the summer, our church congregation completed the buildout of a car dealership we had purchased over the winter and in early July we moved out of a small, old, building that people didn't seem to notice even though it is on a hill right in the middle of downtown Parker, into a large, well-lit, modern building... and we're already out of room in this facility. There is space upstairs that has not yet been built and there is storage space that will someday double the size of the sanctuary, but right now we are putting people into an overflow room for church. It's a good problem to have, right? I get the privilege of playing bass on stage once every few weeks. For a good bit I was on stage 2 or 3 weekends a month, but our new worship pastor held auditions shortly after we moved into this location and all of a sudden I am one of 4 or maybe even 5 bass players, so we have started a rotation. I like it because I appreciate it when I do get to play without the pressure of spending every weekend at church, unable to attend with my family. We have also joined a second small group, but I have not yet been able to attend those meetings, save once, thanks to the security job. Now that I have a "normal" job I should be able to go more often.

Family:
The kids are doing well. They are both in hip-hop dance classes this fall. Unfortunately, neither one was able to play sports over the summer because of our finances. We are looking for a new girl scout troop for my daughter because the one she was in (that didn't really do much more than arts and crafts) folded. On the flip side, my son is on track to earn his Arrow of Light in cub scouts and cross over to boy scouts in February. He seems to be enjoying it and I think it has helped him immensely in the world of social interaction. Jen still enjoys her work at the church and then there's me. Oh, we did lose one of our cats just a couple of weeks ago. Mozart hadn't been feeling well and he'd been to the vet several times to find out what's wrong with him. Then one day, he was completely miserable and Jen took him again. In short, the doctor said that all of his systems were shutting down so she had to make the painful decision to put him down. It sucked. We told the kids that evening and we all spent time crying together. Now the other cat is either starting to realize her brother is gone or she's coming to understand that she's now the senior cat and she has become a little more social and much more talkative. We are trying to figure out when would be a good time to get another animal and if we should try to find another cat or move into the realm of dog ownership. We're also looking at the possibility of moving into a bigger house in the next year or so. This home has been great for us, but it's simply not big enough for our growing children (and their friends) so we want to get some more space for them and a little nicer features for ourselves.

Politics:
Okay, I'll be honest. I am extremely disappointed in the results of yesterday's presidential election. I was sure that with $16 Trillion in national debt (that was "only" $10 Trillion just four years ago); the official unemployment rate at or above 8% for his entire administration (even though the real number is probably closer to 20%) and the murder of an American diplomat for the first time since the Carter administration just a few weeks ago that Barack Hussein Obama was done as America's top executive. I thought Mitt Romney, with his experience as a business man who had turned around companies like Staples and Best Buy, turned a failing Olympics into a successful (and profitable) venture for Salt Lake City, Utah, and America, and working across the aisle as a Republican governor in the very blue state of Massachusetts would be able to convince American voters that he was the better man for the job. However, I have underestimated the people on the coasts and here in Colorado. It seems that if you take money from those who have it and give it to those who are angry at others for their success and call it "fair" and if you throw in a "free" cell phone, then people will continue to vote for you, regardless of your success or failure. There is also rampant racism still alive and well in this country. How do I know? Because there are many who said that they would vote for Obama because he's a black man. How does the color of a man's skin make him qualified to be president?  What happened to the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr when he said that his dream was that people would be judged, "not on the color of their skin, but on the content of their character?"

So, as you can see, there are a lot of things going on. I am going to try to tone down my social network page and stick to the surface stuff like checking in at Starbucks, or posting pictures of snow when it comes, and leave the deeper stuff to this format. Guess that means I should start labeling my posts, but I'm just uncomfortable with labels as a general rule... NOT!

If you're still reading, thanks for taking time out of your life to get caught up with what's going on in mine. Thoughts? Questions? Comments?

Friday, March 2

It's just "Bill" now... again

For the first time in over 20 years I do not have a title attached to the front of my name. Okay, that's not entirely true. I will always have a claim to the title of "Staff Sergeant of Marines" but I will no longer be called that in the work place. Why? Because, effective yesterday, I have been transferred to the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve (FMCR). In other words, I am officially retired from the USMC.



Kinda scary...



On the negative side, I no longer have a guaranteed paycheck twice a month... but I will be getting a retirement pension for the rest of my life (assuming politicians don't mess with the current system). Although I am no longer covered by my active duty medical insurance, I have signed up for our retired medical plan and wouldn't you know it, the same doctor that my wife and children see is now my doctor. My retirement check, although not huge, is enough to cover our mortgage and the premium for this new medical plan... and I think there's even enough to keep the lights on at home, so we'll always have a place to live. My beautiful wife has a part time job that pays better than we thought it would, so we'll even be able to put food in the 'fridge... and we have plenty of clothes to rotate through for the forseeable futre... or until the kids grow out of their jeans and shirts.

So let's get back to this whole "work place" concept...

For the past 12 years I've been a career planner. In short, the Marine Corps' version of an HR generalist. I help with retention bonuses, make sure the paperwork for a new contract is filled out correctly, recorded, and then filed, conduct exit interviews for people who decide to leave the service, and so on and so forth. I decided that I liked that job so much that I want to be in HR when I get out (which is now, in case you forgot). So I started going to school to study HR Management. Then I started going to job fairs, posting my resume on a variety of web sites, and joining "professional" social networks like LinkedIn in an effort to find my next job. Finally, at a job fair, I received an invitation to apply directly to a company for work in their sales department. Hmmm... It's not what I was looking for, but they must've seen something, right? So I applied.

That job turned out to be hawking credit cards to travelers at the airport. Although I could do that job, it's not really what I want, so I turned them down. At the same job fair I applied for a job as a security guard (think "Night at the Museum" more than "Paul Blart: Mall Cop") but that doesn't pay very well, as you'd expect, so I turned them down... or tried to. I told the supervisor there that he wasn't offering enough money to make it worth my time, so he called me back and offered me better pay at a location closer to home... but it's still night shift and not much better than the money I could make on unemployment...

(Tangent: If Washington is serious about getting people back to work, cut unemployment. It'll encourage people to take whatever job they can find. My experience with the security post is a prime example. If I had no other way to make money to support my family you'd better believe I'd take the job.)

ANYWAY... eventually I received an email from a recruiter who saw my profile on careerbuilder and thought I'd be a good fit for his company. I accepted his invitation for an interview and two days and one follow up interview (that I arrived late for, but I called and told him I was running late) I was offered a job. This one is in sales as well, but it's a company that pools the buying power of multiple small businesses and gets them the kinds of deals that major organizations enjoy. They sell association memberships, but also health indemnity insurance and even a term life insurance policy. The kick? It's 100% commission. However, my success in landing two job offers in sales opened the possibility and I took another look at a company I actually tested for a long time ago. I now realize that back then I didn't have the confidence to sell financial investments and become a financial planner. Now, I think I do so I've applied for a position in a financial planning organization... that has offices in Southern CA and I hope to hear back from them before my deadline to answer the insurance company runs out. The bigger difference that appeals to our desire for some stability is that this latest position comes with a residual guarantee for the first two years while I build a client base.

Either way, it looks like I'm going to need to go back and get some more suits. I bought a couple of suits at Macy's last year and I have to admit... I look good when I'm all slicked out. But the point is, if I'm going to be in sales and insurance and financial planning, I seriously doubt I'll be able to get away with wearing jeans and athletic shoes to work anymore. (Bummer, right?)



Oh! So, back to the school thing. There's not much call or use for a degree in HR Management in the financial world, so I've changed my major. I am now pursuing a degree in Business Administration. Generic? Maybe. But my education goal doesn't end with a BABA. I am minoring in psychology and I want to pursue a master's in counseling after I graduate. I still have my sights on a possible career as a principal, and I figure I'll need all the insight I can get to deal with irate parents who will doubtless blame the teacher and the school when their child never does homework and then fails in class. Why would I want a job in education? Simple...

My father is a teacher. I have been a counselor and I enjoy helping people make good decisions. I figure the best way to combine those is in the principal's office. I wonder what it might be like to sit on that side of the desk for a change.

Have a great weekend and Happy March!

Monday, January 16

Birthday week musings

So, since we've moved to the Denver area, you might think that we'd become Broncos fans... HA!

I consider myself an Eagles fans, with a watchful eye on my hometown's team, the Bengals, and another eye on the team of my wife's home town: the Chargers. In fact, if quizzed, I'd probably know more about the Chargers than the Eagles anyway... but one team is AFC West and the other is NFC East, so it's conceivable that I could actually like both teams. Yeah, let's go with that.

Anyway, today is a day off for the kids thanks to Martin Luther King Jr's birthday. As such I don't have much to look forward to other than pushing them to clean their rooms and trying to get the house picked up a little bit more. We spent most of Saturday, before football started, really cleaning the main level and it looks really nice. The trick, of course, will be to keep it that way. Today is clean up the basement and garage day. I'll be getting my uniforms organized and sorted so that I can put them into long term storage.

Oh, did I forget to mention that I'm on terminal leave, awaiting separation from the United States Marine Corps at the conclusion of 20 years of service? Well, there... I just did.

Yep, after snow closed the base on the day my retirement ceremony was originally scheduled for, we were able to get the family and a couple of friends together, along with all of the Marines not on leave for the holidays, and my retirement ceremony went off without any further hitches. To keep the personnel requirements down, I asked for a color guard and a narrator and that was it. Everyone else was in the audience, which was good. I had invited several people to come, and many had planned to be there but the snow delay changed all of that and only one civilian family was able to make it, in addition to my family of course. Oh well... I've had to deal with delays and cancellations throughout my career so I shouldn't have been surprised.

-I was in the Delayed Entry Program for almost a year. I was supposed to go to boot camp in October, but kept getting pushed back until I finally went in February.
-I spent an extra week in boot camp when I failed my IST the first time and was dropped to the Physical Conditioning Platoon until I was able to pass. I took care of that the very next week.
-My graduation from boot camp was rained into the chapel instead of having a huge formation on the parade deck at MCRD.
-It rained for 28 of the 30 days that I was at MCT.
-When we decided to get married, my leave request for the end of June was denied and we had to push our wedding back to the end of July to coincide with the band's scheduled block leave.
-When I checked out of 1st Marine Division, where I'd been promoted twice and added a dependent, they literally asked, "You're who from where?"
-My promotion to SSgt was delayed over the weekend because my OIC at the time didn't want to do a promotion on a Friday. (True story)
-My son was born almost a week late... and that was only a month after the WTC attack.
-My return from Iraq in 2008 was delayed by a couple of weeks because I had asked to be on a flight that would allow me to be home for my son's birthday and was told that it wouldn't be fair for me to be home for a family event that others had to miss. (That's true story too... it was spite that kept me there two extra weeks.)

So when I scheduled my retirement ceremony for the Thursday before Christmas, I should have expected that it would be the one day that week when there would be enough snow to close the base to non-essential personnel. Since the following day was a planned family day for the Air Force, I had no choice but to move my ceremony to the Tuesday after Christmas... which I did.

ANYWAY... everything went well once we got started and now I'm a grizzly faced college student, trying to raise his GPA on one hand, find a post-military career on the other, and maintain the house on the other. (Kinda like the "world's greatest spokesman in the world" I have three hands...)

I just finished my last required Bible class. Well, sort of. I still have to turn in my final paper, but I'll get to that later today. My first class for the spring semester opened yesterday. It's online due to lack of enrollment. Really? A Business 101 class doesn't have three students interested for in-seat but the online section has over 10? (Only one other is from CO as far as I can tell.)

I'm also registered for another psychology class and a statistics class. I'm about ready to start my core classes for my major in HR Management, but the school I'm attending doesn't have a cohort scheduled to start until next year. I figure I have two options. I can switch majors, or I can switch schools. I'm not really crazy about either alternative, but I the latter option opens the prospect of earning a degree from a state school with a solid reputation. Of course, that means I'd have to shop and compare Colorado State versus University of CO. Hmmm... Rams or Buffaloes? That's neither here nor there. I'll finish the spring semester at CCU first and then worry about a new school later.

Anyway, that's what's happening here. Hope your new year is off to a good start.

Monday, January 2

Happy New Year!

It's that time again... a time to make new promises... or remake the same old tired promises. A time to look forward to the new year with anticipation and to wave a fond (or bittersweet, or just flip a finger) farewell to the year in the rearview... In other words: it's New Year's!

In keeping with tradition, I shall now reissue my usual proclomations of self-betterment... is that a word?

In 2012 I resolve to...
1) read my Bible
2) lose weight
3) post more regularly on blogger

As a new wrinkle for 2012, I have added a few more resolutions. I also resolve to...
4) find a job in the civilian work force
5) complete at least 8 more classes for school... on time
6) run 2 marathons

If you do not know me very well, then none of those resolutions will make much sense. If you know me a little, then they all make sense. If you fall under the former and would like to learn more about me, keep reading. Over the next few weeks I will probably post some memories of my time in the Corps and updates on the job search and school work.

Hope you all had a wonderful New Year's celebration. Now it's time to roll up the sleeves and get to work... as soon as I blow up some stuff on my facebook games. (SMILE!)

Friday, September 16

Happy Friday!

It's Friday. It's been a busy week, but I haven't spent a single minute in the office.

So where have I been?

I've been attending transition assistance classes this week. That's right. I've been spending the last five days learning how to write an effective resume, dress for success, and ace that interview. Now all I need to do is figure out exactly what I want to do when I get out of the Corps.

Wait, what?

Yes, I am getting out of the Marines. I have applied for authority to transfer to the Fleet Marine Corps Reserve. In other words, I am asking to retire at the end of February. Why that particular date? Well, there are a couple of reasons.

First, I think it will be pretty cool to have a retirement date of February 29. In the Corps all enlisted service members retire at the end of the month. The second reason is that I departed for the famed yellow footprints at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Perris Island, South Carolina in February, 1992. That means that I will have completed 20 years of service and it's time to do something else.

So, if you know of someone, or happen to be someone, looking for an experienced career counselor with years of office administration experience, give me a call.

Have a great weekend!