hankrules2011

Book reviews, health, hockey, publishing, music, tech

Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

New Job!

Posted by Scott Holstad on March 11, 2013

I started a new job today! I’m very excited. I’ve been unemployed for a VERY long time, not counting some part time contract work I did out of the house for awhile last year. Didn’t bring in much money. I’ve been looking for awhile, but it’s been frustrating because in my small city of Chattanooga, there aren’t very many positions for which I’m qualified.

I have three degrees and years of experience as a writer and editor, mostly as a technical writer. I also have some experience as a project (and program) manager with several companies. Awhile back, I interviewed for a proposal writer job with a company that managed prisons, but for whatever reason, that was not meant to be. In November, I interviewed with a large government agency for a technical writer position and my first interview went very well, but the second one was a bust. Seems like they didn’t know what they were looking for. The main guy seemed to want a developer, which I’m not. Back in L.A., I could have gotten a tech writing job any day of the year, and in many places, there are project management jobs too. Chattanooga’s a different beast. Just not much to choose from. So, I’ve been using Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder, LinkedIn, and others, but I found this job on Craigslist, of all places! It was for a technical writer/project manager position with a company based out of Atlanta that would allow telecommuting for the right person. I applied immediately.

I usually wait to be contacted, but I hadn’t heard from this company in about a week, so I sent a follow up email and got an immediate response from the CEO, telling me he wanted to conduct a phone interview. I was elated. So it happened. And it went pretty well. I think we hit it off and we talked about a lot for a good long while, and then he told me he was going to forward my information on to the Director of Project Management, for whom the position would be working, and I would hope to hear from him. I heard from him that evening. He set up a phone interview for a couple of days away, and that worked out pretty well. We also seemed to hit it off and talked a lot about his company and his needs from this position, and he asked some tough questions, but I think I did OK in answering them. He asked me to send him some writing samples, and he especially was interested in anything I might have that was translating technology to a non-technical audience. Well, I have a lot of that sitting around! I emailed him four articles I wrote while at EarthLink that translated techie stuff into easy to read info for our non-techie customers. One was on TCP/IP and another was on secure file deletion utilities. In addition, I emailed two user guides I wrote for some products I worked on while in the engineering division of a company that manufactured specialized telephones. He must have liked them, because he wrote back and wanted another interview and wanted me to do a writing exercise for him. He emailed me some details that he wanted me to use to draft a project change order, fairly detailed. I spent three days on it before getting it back to him. I was pretty detailed. I had no idea whether he would like it or not, but I got a call from the CEO asking me when I could start, offering me the job!!! I told him I could start today (that was two weeks ago), and so I did.

Now, it’s not a perfect job. It’s a contract job, so no benefits, but it’s a long term contract, for something like three years and with the way this company creates its contracts with its clients, it’s quite possible I could be there for awhile longer, if they like me. It’s a very good situation. Last week, they asked me if I could participate in some conference calls with a new client of theirs, so I could get in at the very beginning and be a part of the process from start to finish, so I did. But today was my first official day and it went well. I mostly read tons of documents, mainly dealing with quality management from their perspective. It was highly enlightening. I’ve been preparing for this by catching up on reading some project management books. I especially have to dive into a book on Agile project management methodologies, which this company employs, and an area I’m sorely lacking in. It’s all the rage, but I’ve never worked for a company that used this method before, so I really need to get up to speed quickly. But the net result of all this is I’m very grateful to be employed again, and I think this will be a great company to work for and I think it’s a great opportunity and I couldn’t hold it in anymore — I had to spill. I have a new job! Awesome.

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An End of the Year Post — 2012

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2012

Last December 31st, I wrote an End of the Year Post where I wrote about highlights (and lowlights) of each month. I don’t know that I’m going to do that this year, but I’m going to try to list some of the same types of things for 2012.

In January, I was still recovering from a major December surgery — a sigmoid colectomy. They took out 25% of my colon. They also took out my appendix while they were inside me. It took me a full 10 weeks to recover from that surgery. January was a month spent resting and recovering. My mother had her birthday and we celebrated. She’s getting fairly old though and that’s a little depressing. My father celebrated his birthday in February. He and Mom are in fairly good health considering their ages. In February, my then-girlfriend and I traveled to Maryland to visit her family. It was a good visit. We saw 18 cops in Virginia on the way up and 18 on the way back. All but one had a car or truck pulled over.

In April, my girlfriend celebrated her birthday. She looks 10 years younger than she is. She’ll age most gracefully.  🙂 April also saw a new issue of Ray’s Road Review come out. It’s the online literary magazine for which I’m the poetry editor. Another issue came out in June.

We found a little Episcopalian church near us in May and started attending. We like it infinitely better than the Presbyterian one we had occasionally attended before. The music was better, the sermons were better (non-politicized), and the people were very friendly. We felt accepted right away.

On Independence Day, in July, I proposed to my girlfriend and she said yes! We’re getting married April 6th, 2013. On July 10th, we went to see one of Gretchen’s favorite bands — Crosby, Stills, and Nash. They can still rock it. Good show.

In August, I had to have another surgery, a neurological one to treat the pain caused by my Trigeminal Neuralgia. It worked for three weeks. Additionally, we were supposed to go to Knoxville to see Van Halen and we were pumped, but VH cancelled all of their shows and that really ticked us off. Very disappointing.

I had a birthday in September and tried not to be too depressed about it. That month, we were also undergoing pre-marital counseling. We want to get married in the little church we attend. Additionally, I was able to go see my longtime favorite musical group, Dead Can Dance, in Atlanta with my friend, Chris. We got second row, middle seats, and it was awesome. This tour was to support their first studio album since 1996, and it’s quite good. I wrote about the concert here and posted many pictures.

In October, I had to have two more neurological surgeries — one to anesthetize the Trigeminal nerve in my brain, and the other to literally burn it. These were my seventh and eighth surgeries since December, 2010. It’s gotten quite old. Another issue of RRR came out that month too. Meanwhile, Halloween 2011 had been a bust for us. We only got six kids, so this year we didn’t get nearly the candy we got last year and we didn’t even carve a pumpkin. And how many kids did we get? None! That’s right — not one. What the hell are all the kids doing for Halloween??? We live in a decent residential neighborhood. It’s not right.

November was pretty quiet, but the pain caused by my TN had been tempered by the surgeries, so that was good. Of course, Obama was re-elected and we celebrated our not having to move to Toronto if Romney won. LOL! Seriously, we were relieved and elated.

In December, Gretchen and I celebrated our second anniversary together. It was a more quiet affair this year than last, but it was still great to reflect on our past year together. In addition, another issue of RRR was published. I also had a job interview here that went great and I was told by the recruiter that I was one of two finalists for the position. I just had to undergo a second phone interview. I did and it was a complete disaster, which I wrote about. I’ve been looking for work for a little while now, so that was depressing. I think the person interviewing me thought I was interviewing for a different job, because he asked nothing about the position and all questions were about other stuff.  Of course we just celebrated Christmas, and it too was low key for us, but I was able to give Gretchen several Baltimore Ravens apparel items and some books while she got me a cool DVD, a Journey t-shirt and a Steelers stuffed bear. I’ve named him Beardy the Bear (I think) after Steelers defensive lineman Brett Kiesel. I’m still considering naming him Heath, after tight end Heath Miller, a Pro Bowler who’s had a great year.

All in all, it was a tough year for us health-wise (but better than 2011) and financially, but we grew closer together and bonded more with our respective families, so that was great. 2013 looks to have some challenges to it (I need a job!), but I think and hope we’ll have a good year and I’m looking forward to it. I’m especially looking forward to our April wedding. So, I wish everyone reading this a happy New Year and I hope that 2013 treats us all well. Cheers!

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Oh, I forgot to mention the death of my favorite aunt — Aunt Katherine — late in 2012. We all traveled to Winston-Salem, NC for the memorial service. There I was reunited with several great cousins and even met some new ones I’d never met before. That was awesome. On the way back, we stopped in Asheville to visit my old friend, Ami. It was wonderful to see her again.

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An End of the Year Post

Posted by Scott Holstad on December 31, 2011

As I sit here writing this blog entry, I am recovering from a very major surgery I had on December 5th. It was quite painful, I was in the hospital for awhile, I still am in discomfort, but I’m coming along quite well, IMO. It’s supposed to take 6-8 more weeks for me to heal, but I think I’m ahead of schedule. I’m grateful for that. My girlfriend and parents have been very helpful. I wasn’t allowed to drive for two weeks or pick up anything heavier than five pounds, and I was largely housebound after getting out of the hospital, but it helped having others around to help, so that worked out well.

As I write this, Christmas has also come and gone. This was a very meaningful Christmas for me. For the past seven years, I hadn’t really been “allowed” to celebrate Christmas, as my ex was against it for religious reasons. Indeed, it felt like I was let out of prison this year and I really had fun with it! I got my first ever Christmas tree (as an adult). It’s artificial, but I don’t care — it’s decorated and beautiful. I felt wonderful to have one up, and have the lights and give and get presents and do stockings and the whole works. Wonderful experience.

As I write this, 2011 is nearly over and 2012 is almost upon us. I think I’m going to do what everyone always hates and that’s run through some high/low points for the year. Yeah, I think I will….

  • January: This was a very difficult month for me. I had to have a second eye surgery, following one in December, in order to help me see again. I was undergoing blood sugar problems and tremendous head/facial pain. My ex and I were having significant relationship problems, and I was having job problems, largely because of my health issues. I also made a move in January, a temporary one, but still a hassle.
  • February: Another difficult month. I decided to quit my job to concentrate on salvaging my health. I was seeing up to two and three doctors and specialists a week in order to find out what was wrong with my head in terms of the tremendous pain I was experiencing. Sometimes I didn’t feel like I could keep going on….
  • March: My buddy, Chris Duncan, offered me the opportunity to serve as the poetry editor for an online literary publication called Ray’s Road Review. I pondered it for a week and then accepted. And I must say that I’m grateful to Chris for this opportunity, as it’s been enjoyable and fulfilling all year long. I hope to stay in this position for as long as Chris sees fit.
  • April: Continuing to strive to find the source of my head pain, I underwent a lumbar puncture one neurologist wanted me to do for testing. It felt quite odd. April was also the month a long term friendship started to blossom into a wonderful relationship. So, a good and bad month.
  • May: May was big. My relationship with my ex legally ended after months of legal goings on. I found a pain management specialist who believed my pain was the result of Trigeminal Neuralgia, also known as The Suicide Disease as it’s widely considered to be the most painful condition known to man. I underwent a Gasserian Ganglion Block procedure, which confirmed his diagnosis and I embarked on a new life of research into this disease and treatment options. Two days after my surgery, I wound up back in the hospital for five days due to remarkably intense abdominal pain. It took awhile to recover from that. In May, my new girlfriend made her first trip ever to the state of Tennessee and here to Chattanooga. We had a remarkable time together.
  • June: June was a month I started looking for a place for my girlfriend and I to move in together here in Chattanooga. She had decided to relocate here to invest in our relationship, a wonderful thing to have happen. Meanwhile, I had severe blood sugar problems and had been put on an intense new extremely low carb diet in order to gain control over the blood sugar issues. I lost some weight and that was good.
  • July: In July, several medications I take regularly were changed or replaced with stronger medications, making it extremely difficult for me to function for weeks. Some of these meds had extreme sedative effects, and I was still experiencing my head/facial pain, so I spent much of July in bed, literally. The one good thing was that my girlfriend came back for another wonderful visit. We had a very special time.
  • August: In August, I underwent another Gasserian Ganglion Block for therapeutic purposes related to my head pain. August also saw a recurrence of my abdominal pain, putting me on new meds for extended periods of time. The big news, however, was that my girlfriend moved here from out of state and we moved into a nice new house my parents helped us find, with our two cats, so we formed our own little happy family and things were starting to become right with the world!
  • September: I had a birthday in September. I tried not to be too depressed. LOL! My girlfriend gave me the new Bukowski book, among other things, and that was sweet. My abdominal pain was pretty intense and the meds weren’t helping too much. However, home life was very good, and that was a wonderful change.
  • October: I found myself in another surgery center this month, the result of which was a recommendation to see a big time general surgeon to discuss major surgery. *Sigh* October was also the month for Halloween though, and my ex had never allowed me to celebrate Halloween, again for religious reasons, so this year I bought a TON of candy, some decorations, a mask, a costume for my girlfriend, and we carved our first pumpkin together, which was an awesome experience. Our only disappointment was that we didn’t get too many trick or treaters and had way too much candy left over!
  • November: November was a month of significant depression for me. My father had a very serious surgery of his own, which was nerve wracking, and my major surgery was looming. Life didn’t seem too good. A highlight was Thanksgiving. My girlfriend’s youngest son (she has two) flew in to visit and, along with my parents, we all celebrated Thanksgiving together and we had a lovely time. It was nice to have company.
  • December: Well, I’ve already written about my surgery and about Christmas, so that covers most of it. I put our anticipated 2012 budget together yesterday and am trying not to be too depressed. LOL! I’m going to have to start thinking about looking for some type of job soon, even though I don’t feel physically up to it yet. Gotta generate some income. My depression is improving, and that’s been welcome. And it’s been a really great month. My girlfriend and I celebrated our first anniversary together (we gave each other beautiful watches!), we sent and received dozens of Christmas cards, I received 57 get well cards (most from family friends), we enjoyed spending Christmas with my parents, we gave each other some lovely gifts, and now I’m sitting here bathed in bowl games and loving it!

Well, I guess that covers my “End of the Year” blog post today. It was a hard year, but a good year. I’d like to start blogging more next year, but I often just really don’t have the energy. And I feel like I have little of interest to write about too, so there’s that. Nonetheless, I wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope that 2012 treats everyone right. Cheers!

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20 Questions

Posted by Scott Holstad on June 26, 2011

20 Questions

Delete my answers and substitute your own. Enjoy!

  1. I’ve come to realize that… I have taken far too many things for granted in my life, even when I thought I was not doing that. It’s a tragedy & I’m trying to remedy that.
  2. Reconciliation is… ideal, but not always realistic. This is exactly the opposite of how I have felt my entire life, but I have wasted way too much time over the years trying to reconcile (or even simply remain on the same friendly terms…) with various people for various reasons and I can count on one hand quite easily the number of times it was worth the effort. Move on.
  3. I talk… more than ever, if you can believe that. I have a lot to say. I spent the last 7+ years living with someone who really didn’t like to hear me talk much, but who preferred watching TV. Like 24/7. For years. Yeah, good times. I’ve got a lot to say and a lot stored up, so sorry….
  4. I love… one special individual more than anyone I ever have at any time in my life, to a shockingly higher degree than I ever knew was even possible. Yeah, I admit it. I also dearly love my parents, my kitties, and several of my good friends who have stood by me over the years. My list of friends I “love” has diminished greatly over the past two years. Pity.
  5. My best friend/s… are fewer than I thought in number, but are critically important to me and people I feel confident I’ll remain loyal to forever and who will be there for me forever. I’m blessed in this regard.
  6. Love… is a newly important word to me, as most of my life it was largely an abstract concept, outside of my loving family. In my middle years, I have been blessed to discover what I now believe “love” is and is meant to be, and I had no freakin’ idea this was a possibility.
  7. Marriage is… hit and miss. Usually a mistake. Usually entered into too soon and without sufficient forethought. A business partnership. Yeah, I’m jaded.
  8. Somewhere, someone is thinking… “I wonder what that whining, bitchy drama queen Scott is going on about now.” Seriously. You think I’m joking….
  9. I’ll always… remember times, places and the special people who have gone out of their way to save my ass in the biggest and worst of situations. Foremost among these are my parents and my best friend, Marcy. Emily, Jim & Eunice, Arnold & Sarah, and Ami have been there for me too. Many thanks.
  10. I truly relax… nowhere. I stopped being able to relax years ago and now I no longer know how to, which is pathetic, and I even feel tremendous guilt if I even make an attempt to relax! Therapy is clearly in order.
  11. My cell phone… is my life. I store everything in my iPhone. I’m not kidding. If that ever disappears, I’m more screwed than if my wallet disappears.
  12. When I wake up in the morning… I now thank God for allowing me to see the sun rise once more, to be able to draw a breath, to have friends and family (and kitties) who love me. I no longer take these things for granted.
  13. Before I go to bed… I talk to my special loved one for as long as possible in order to end each day on a positive, loving and blessed note.
  14. Right now I am thinking… that I have a lot more to be grateful for than I – or most other people – would typically realize, looking at circumstances.
  15. Babies… make me break out in hives. I’m horribly allergic them. Always have been, always will be. I find them quite distressing.
  16. I am committed to… doing everything possible to survive. And to love and live more strongly and sincerely than I ever have in my life before now.
  17. I miss… my cat Rocky, who died in August 2007. I also miss seeing and hanging with my best friends back out west, including Marcy, Celeste, Marc, Emily and Rachel.
  18. Tomorrow… is a hope and a goal, but not a guarantee.
  19. I really want to be… healthy enough to live long enough to have a quasi-“normal” life and a happy one, to whatever degree that is possible.
  20. I hate… people who don’t understand and who don’t even try to make a serious damn effort to understand.

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