How Is My New Job

At work, there are so many things every day that I do not type fast enough :). It’s a very different environment, different ways of doing things. In the beginning, I felt like Chad is breaking his promises and does not let me do the right things. However, it was not the case, and yesterday, we had a conversation that I do not even know how to describe. In this conversation, we started with some very practical questions, but then we went into a very theoretical discussion about levels of database modeling. I can’t remember when was the last time I discussed such things, especially as a part of my job responsibilities :).
It’s breathtaking how many things are out there for me to improve and to create from scratch.

As usual, one me is not enough:)

Hello, New Job!

My multiple posts about “life in general” and “history” will have to wait.

Today was the day.

I just posted my updates on LinkedIn, and LinkedIn is exploding. As for me – I am just happy. I didn’t even think I will be that happy. I already worked for BrokerX for a while, I already had fights with almost everybody, and I was sad to leave Braviant. I didn’t think today will make such a difference. But it did. 

Do you know what the best part of my day was? When I left work at 5-30, which was not early at all, I realized that I do not need to rush home to do work for my second job! I will have less money now, significantly less, both because my new position pays less and because I am losing consulting income, but I felt so happy! For the whole workday, I could 100% focus on the work I wanted to do for a long time! 

A couple of weeks ago, I posted an “I am so happy” picture on Instagram. I was referring to my new place, saying that I am so happy to live here.

Now, I want to post the same picture here, because it reflects my level of happiness πŸ™‚

Goodbye, Previous Job!

Yesterday was my last day at Braviant Holdings, and I had a Farewell Party. It turned out it was close to impossible to reserve a space anywhere in the Loop without a substantial deposit. If it weren’t for Vlad, who still knows everybody in the hospitality business, I would be miserable. But because of his connections, we ended up having a corner in Miller’s pub and had a great time.
I am very thankful for the people who came out to see me off in person!

The Soft Start

Friday was my “soft start” in the new company. I needed to start before July 1 to be eligible for medical coverage starting from August 1. It will still be three weeks on no coverage, but at least I will be insured for the next stage of my dental work.

First, Chad wanted me to “start” on June 30 and not bill eight hours of my work. But I told him that since we have “summer Fridays,” and I still have some unused PTO, I can just take half-Friday off and come to his office and make a full workday. It ended up being a great idea since it turned out their HR will be off the week before the holidays. So on Friday, I submitted all my paperwork and was onboarded. I had a badge to enter the building even earlier, so now it’s funny that I work at two places simultaneously. I joked with Boris that now there is no way back, “the marriage certificate is issued,” and Boris told me there was no way back a long time ago.

I am not saying it’s pure joy. I need to do a lot of convincing work with my new coworkers and my new boss, but I am ready for that. I know that I need to understand how exactly my work impacts the company’s financial prosperity. And I love that feeling when the SQL you deployed in production yesterday affects today’s bottom line πŸ™‚

My News Of The Week

On Monday, I did something which many people will consider the most stupid thing I could do. An official LinkedIn announcement won’t appear until after the fact, but I wanted to tell my close friends, especially because some of you know it was in the works for a while.

In four weeks, I will leave the company I am with now, and I will start a new position in an even smaller startup. I will work with my former colleague with whom I have wanted to work again for the past ten years. Or rather, we both wanted to work together, and the timing was never right. At some point, I realized that there would never be the right time. His new company is operating for over a year, and if I don’t jump in now, it could very well be “never”.

Now, why is it “stupid”? That’s because I am taking the biggest pay cut I ever have taken, and that’s what “normal” people don’t do. But if I would be in a position to work for him for free, I would.

I am not mentioning people’s names without their explicit consent, but some of my friends know whom I am talking about :). And yes, that’s what I started earlier in the year as a “side job,” which was the most delightful thing, but we quickly realized that what we want to accomplish can’t be accomplished as a part-time job.

So – yet another new life πŸ™‚

State Of Mind

I had one conversation at work today, which didn’t go well. I know why I started this conversation – I wanted to make sure that I tried everything that was in my power to remedy the situation. If I don’t start this conversation, I would always think that it was a lost opportunity. Now, twelve hours after this conversation, I am going through it in my mind again and replay the parts that went particularly bad. I almost want this conversation not happened, but I would then think that I didn’t try hard.

The worst part is that, in part, because of that conversation, I completed less than I could. This week was particularly bad in terms of the number of emergencies, and almost every day, I was putting up fires instead of doing project work.

At the same time, we had a minor crisis at my side job. And at the same time, I need to move ahead with all the processes related to my move. I feel like there are too many threads that I need to keep in control. Multiple papers related to my new mortgage, I feel like I am signing ten of them every day. Documents related to my house sale. Mom’s apartment and what we need to buy there. Painting. Appliances purchase and repair. My and mom’s dentist appointments.

Objectively, things are moving. But sometimes, it’s just too much :).

My New Thing

How should I put it? I didn’t start a new job, but I started a side job, which brings me immense pleasure.
That’s the job I am doing for my former co-worker and mentor, and doing something for him and together with him was something I’ve wanted for the past seven years.

I could tell that it was the right thing to do to start this project because I instantly felt ecstatic when I started to code. It had been a long time since I felt like this, and since I wanted to finish coding not because I had a deadline, but because I wanted :).

We talked about that project in the early fall, and I didn’t want (and could not) to start until I was done with the book. But the day I was done, I messaged him.

It is a very different environment in terms of how his team operates, how they approach tasks, and divide work. I am not saying it is bad; it’s just not what I am doing at my primary workplace. In some sense, it is good to get out of your comfort zone. Besides, he is a person from whom I can learn a lot, and I am eager to have this “ideas exchange.”

Usually, spring is my worst time of the year regarding what happens to me in all aspects of life. But it looks like this spring is an exception πŸ™‚

Trying to Finish Everything

“Everything” means the book and the rest of Christmas. With the book, after two or three extremely nervous weeks, I feel a little bit better. We are done with the first twelve chapters, meaning we already received the reviewer’s feedback and replied and/or made changes. We are making final edits on Chapter 13, and we have both Chapter 8 and 14 more than half-done. (We realized that we missed something after we were already on Chapter 11, that’s why it is out of order).

After those two will be completed, we will only have Chapter 15 and a Conclusion left; those two are small and do not require new examples (examples being the most time-consuming part). It is still a lot, plus we need at least one Appendix and a Glossary, and some pictures clean-up. So, it is still a lot.

Christmas. On Thursday, I finished decorating sugar cookies, partially in the morning before work, and the rest – in the evening.

Today, I baked one more batch of Russian Tea Cakes because I suddenly ran out of them, although I baked two batches at the very beginning of the cookies marathon. Also, I tried one more time to bake pumpkin and dates cookies. Last year, I didn’t like the results, but though it might be because I used my own pumpkin puree instead of the canned one, and I thought that the problem could be in the wrong consistency. This yeat, I used preserves, but I am still not sure whether I like the outcome.
I mailed the last batch of parcels on Wednesday; all the rest will be hand-delivered. And I am very glad that almost half of the parcels had already reached their destinations.

774 cookies. 118 sugar cookies decorated. 18 parcels sent. 15 boxes of cookies hand-delivered so far (or ready to be delivered), plus one giant box for the youth shelter.
… Now, it’s time to start packing the non-cookie presents πŸ™‚

My First Job In The USA

In the posts that described my everyday life in 1995/96, I tried to convey that it was pretty much unstructured.

I could repeat a million times that I supported my family all by myself, and that I conducted some scientific researches, and that I took kids to many cultural activities, and that I was such a superwoman. I could, but the truth is that I still had a lot of leisure time. 

In some sense, it was a good thing. Vlad and Anna didn’t spend eleven hours a day in the daycare; I could always stay home when somebody was sick. I could do chores on weekdays, and weekends were for all sorts of cultural activities. We would go to see a play every Sunday and to some museum every Saturday. Somehow, my personal life would also fit in the schedule. We did quite a bit of stuff with Boris without the kids. 

It was all good, but that meant that I never worked more than four hours a day.

I took pride in being able to complete the eight-hour workload in four hours or less. But that only meant that the expectations were pretty low. 

Now imagine how I felt when I started my first US job at VIN.net International. I had to be at work every day, and I had to spend nine hours there, no matter what, for the simple reason that I could not leave work on my own. 

Our workday was technically speaking from eight to five with a one-hour lunch break, but most people arrived earlier than eight. For the first several weeks, we lived in Des Planes, and I took a commuter train from Deer Road to Barrington, so I was abiding by the train schedule both ways. Most people didn’t go out for lunch but had lunch at their desks, and I did the same. The last time I had to be at work by a specific time was in 1988 when I worked at the Construction Bureau for the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. Even then, there were shifts. 

Now, imagine me coming to work by 7-30 AM, having lunch at my desk, leaving at 5 PM, coming home – and that’s it! On weekends, somebody would take me to the grocery store – and that was it!  

Remember, that was the time before the internet, so you could not surf the web at home, let alone work. And you could not sit at your desk reading a book, as it was in the time of the Soviet Union. No random trips to the city center. No theaters or museums. No window shopping or “looking what is out there.” Home-work-home. 

One of my school friends who by that time was lived in the US for a while wrote to me in her letter: it’s tough to get adjusted, but soon you will feel much better than at home – you have so much freedom here! Freedom?! Are you kidding me?! That felt more like a prison! 

Later, Boris told me that if back in Russia, I would ever spend nine hours each day, five days a week for several months, I could also increase my skills level dramatically. Maybe he is right:). However, I feel that the most critical factor at that time was the fact that I had to work a lot, that there was a lot to do, and that I had nobody to follow. For years, I knew that if I do not know something, if I do not know how complete a certain task, and simply if I do not have my own opinion on some technical topic, I could ask Boris. And he always knew everything.

On the one hand, I liked it. On the other hand, it made me wonder whether I could do anything on my own. Sometimes I felt that people would offer me a job or suggest a gig for the only reason that I was bringing Boris’s expertise with me.

I did not work with Sybase before, and I had to figure out everything by myself. And not just to figure out, but to support a production database. Again, no internet and almost no documentation. It was extremely rewarding after I figured out how things worked. I still remember the chills of seeing a SQL statement being executed, being needed, being meaningful. And at the same time, I remember the gloom of seeing the same twelve people for weeks and wondering whether it will be the same for two years. I knew that I was not seeing America and was not living in America yet. 

We didn’t know anything about Halloween, and although other explained the idea to me, I decided that we will do it next year. Elections passed, and people barely mentioned it. 

However, some events were about to happen and change my life dramatically. I didn’t know back then that the changes will be positive in the end. 

To be continued:)

My historical posts are being published in random order. Please refer to the page Hettie’s timeline to find where exactly each post belongs, and what was before and after.

New Product Launched, But Life Is Still Crazy

I’ve already mentioned that for the past several weeks, the workload was ginormous. All the efforts were geared towards launching a new product and then making sure everything works as expected.
Launching a new product was a big deal, and in the pre-pandemic times, we would have a big celebration.

Since we are effectively remote these days, with only a very sporadic appearance f people in the office, our leadership team came up with a very special way of celebrating our success. Each of us received a FedEx delivery of a limited edition champaign bottle, and on Friday after work, we had an online event. Our CEO talked about our plans for the rest of the year and the next year, and then people with different business functions talked about their challenges during these weeks.

And after that, we had a remote toast:

Continue reading “New Product Launched, But Life Is Still Crazy”