Life Changes

Be still my beating heart, I am actually posting a typed entry along with a video :).

Things are undergoing some major changes, I have mentioned some but not very clearly. Today is my last day on the job as a State Auditor (tomorrow is my last official day, but I took a furlough day to take it off). I accepted a position with the County as a Senior Accounting Analyst. Its a lot of changes, but I think overall it is for the better. I start the County on October 8th (next Monday).

The biggest pros are money and travel. Currently as a State Auditor my pay is lower mid range for my profession, and I am almost capped out. The problem being is the state already has us under a 3% paycut due to the economy and no COLA (Cost of Living Allowance, increase for inflation) for the last four years. Supposedly this year we will get the 3% paycut back (no COLA still) but the state is short by almost a billion dollars again and we all know we wont get it back and in fact it may go up to a 5% paycut. This doesn’t include the fact that in the last four years my benefits out of pocket cost as quadrupled (yes four times) and the coverage has dropped so much its almost a why bother (but not quite).

Local and federal government (at least in Washington) pays more than state. My new job will start me above the max I can make with the office, the benefits are better and and cheaper. Both of these things alone are worth it. In addition I get my own cubicle, dear god how I look forward to that. I like moving around for the fact that if something goes bad I only have to deal with it for a few weeks. However, I am tired of working out of basements, electrical closets, no bathroom within five miles. Having my own space will be great.

Another reason I took the County job specifically is I have audited them three years in a row. I am familiar with the operation and the position I will be in. I will be directly across the table in conferences from where I hae been currently (meaning I am one of the people being directly audited). The people there are pretty damn cool as well. The Controller and the lead Analyst are both ex-State Auditors. The person I am replacing was also a State Auditor so they will understand that while I know how to audit fund balances and controls, I don’t have the other side experience. They are already prepping to get me training.

Oh, and  a side note, I have the same retirement. All local/state employees in Washington (except for three cities that have their own reitrement) use the same retirement, so I maintain my same retirement with no drop in contributions.

Another huge reason for the jump is travel. Right now I put 20+ thousand miles a year on my car for my job, depending on the audit. I spend up to 1.5-2 hours each way in travel (also depending on audit, probably at the moment closer to 1.5 or slightly less). I don’t get reimbursed fully due to state cuts and my work days end up being 11-12 hours for only an 8 hour job (that is the worst side, it can go down to a 9-10 hours normally). The County building is directly on the “Swift” route of buses. The Swift is a bus line that has something like 12 stops along its entire route (which spands from Everett down past my house in Lynnwood, approximately 15 miles). I live four blocks form a Swift stop, and the County is a Swift stop. It means that I can get on a bus, and 35 minutes later I will be at the County, not driving. 35-45 minutes is the absolute minimum drive for me with my new apartment so it matches up. Plus the County reimburses for the bus pass.

Another thing I hadn’t realized I wouldn’t  miss was lugging all my equipment. A overstuffed backpack with a laptop, and then a roller suitecase with printer, router, paper, manuals, and office supplies that i lug everday to whatever audit site I am on. Now I will just get my coat on, maybe bring a lunchbox and if I want to bring something I can use my own backpack, but I can mostly just walk on the bus with no luggage.

I have a lot of spite at the moment with the Auditor’s Office. I will probably post some on it later after I start my new job. Even with the spite though, I will miss some of my coworkers, and the ability to walk away after a few weeks. However, I have had problems in the office with supervisors so its not like I can walk away from that. So I guess I am wrong, its not so easy to get away from drama.

TL;DR: I am leaving the Auditor’s Office this week, this is my last actual working day. I start at the County as a Senior Accounting Analyst (basically a Fund analyst) on Monday for better pay, better benefits and my own actual cubicle :).

edit: I uploaded a quick video for those of you who don’t want to read. I am trying to do both video and post at same time. Oh and I didn’t prep for the video so my appearance not the best 🙂

High Anxiety

The last week has been full of anxiety on many fronts.

Work: We have a new manager (temporarily) and that has been stressfull. In some ways he is pretty cool, he will back you against an entity without thinking. However, like I have bitched about earlier he sucks on interpersonal interactions. He has further limited the flexibility of my job, which sadly is the only positive at the moment. With paycuts, benefit cuts, and no COLA in the last five years the biggest plus for this job is our schedule flexibility. He has instituted (at least until my old manager returns, if they don’t keep it permanently) changes that are limiting the flexibility. So that has been stressful. I don’t hate my job, its still not a bad job, but its frustrating.

Possible Jobs: City of Mukilteo was a no-go. Not a big deal, I suspected with as many experienced people that it wouldn’t pan out. However, now a week from Friday I have a job interview with the City of Seattle as a Senior Accountant for the Department of Retirement Services. It pays about the same as that Accounting Manager job (minimum it starts 15% more than I am making now) and the benefits are a lot better. The only stressful thing would be its the same job day in and day out and I tend to get bored, and the commute. Although I found if we get that new apartment its only a 40-45 minute bus ride from a block from my house to the front door of that job, so it wouldn’t be bad at all. If this doesn’t work out, I probably won’t apply anywhere until winter, which case I will apply at Fed jobs since it takes six months to get hired. So if I apply at the end of this year, I should get the interviews around my five year mark with the office.

Although, even with all the bitching I am doing, my current job isn’t horrible. Its weird to have work that I don’t just bail on when I am not happy (in the past I bailed on jobs left and right, hence 50+ jobs into my career its weird to work four years at the same place). I think that gives me a bit of anxiety. Because of my retirement vesting in 11 months and because of the medical needed for wife I can’t just say “screw you” :).

Tomorrow: Tomorrow is probably the most anxious part of everything. I am going in to get snipped. Now first let me be clear I have no interest in kids. I haven’t even considered kids in the last 18 years at all. I don’t want kids, and if for some reason I did want kids I think I would like to either foster or adopt. There are a lot of kids out there that need a parent, I don’t need to make my mark with my genetics.

Yet for some reason last two nights have been full of nightmares and stress. I am sure the snipping is part of it, but I also suspect the relocation and job situation are just adding onto it.

Relocation: Relocation is a bit anxiety ridden as well. We haven’t heard back yet for sure, but the manager did call to say they are behind because the owner is sick. The new place is cheaper, only a block away from wife’s school and near several shopping/hobby locations. Plus its going to be closer to Seattle when I eventually get a different job.

It is a bit smaller, but we have already gotten a car load of stuff out of our current place, sold the weight bench (tattoo money) and its starting to look sparse in our current place. Honestly we don’t use huge chunks of our apartment, its a waste we have that extra space. I always feel better when we reduce our possessions. I guess its a flashback to being young and having to be ready to move at a moments notice (until age 24 I could fit everything I/We own into a pickup truck). I am hoping to cut out another 50% of my belongings, not counting electronics, before we move.

Oh, and one final bit of anxiety, our landlord had some people come in and measure our current apartment (she doesn’t know we are moving yet). Either they are selling the place, or they are going to try and raise our rent a second time (not worth it without a washer dryer). The landlord claimed it was for refinancing, but the wife said it didn’t feel like that.

So, I guess overall I am just saying I am a little anxious today.

Work

Well it has been a week off from work and I am feeling much better. I am still off on Monday and Tuesday so there is no complaints. However I have determined some sad facts about my job.

1. Our office is becoming more political, we are told to play nice far more often now with other entities then when I first started. I had one audit finding opinion changed on me in Olympia to something not quite so bad. However, the error was so bad that I had to do a write up in my audit workpapers saying that I didn’t agree with Olympia and why. I think I covered that a little.

2. I have always worked a lot of overtime, I work extra on the weekends, evenings, whatever it takes to get my job done. I don’t get paid overtime (whereas if I worked somewhere non-governmental I would either get OT, bonuses, or a raise).Hands down I am the hardest worker out of all the auditors on my team (and the other team members will say it).

However, I needed to take the wife to several doctors appointments and I asked for the hour off for each appointment (however, I would make it up same day, I was actually working more than 8 hours a day, I was just asking to take an hour off in the middle to take her). They had a cow because of the deadlines. They didn’t force me to do anything but there were intimations that I wasn’t working hard enough.

Funny enough, the temporary manager (our normal manager is out on maternity leave for the next 5 months) kept going on how my supervisor was implying I was slacking off. I asked him if he had looked at my schedule and noticed I was working triple the amount of overtime as any two other auditors. He said no, he hadn’t the time to look at that and he had to just trust my supervisor. Yet the very next words out of his mouth were “But don’t have a knee jerk reaction and maliciously work only 40 hours a week”. WTF!!!???!?!?!

I kept my words to myself, and moved on.

3. We just got informed that for the fourth year in a row we won’t get a Cost of Living increase, plus we will maintain the 5% paycut. In addition we just found out that the state is raising my rates for medical this month (not at the end of the year when we can select a different plan). I am now making what I was making in 2008 when I got hired…. A bit of frustration.

I do like the variety of my job though, although that is starting to fade with the politics.

4. Two of my coworkers are getting hired away for a lot more money, and the last two audits I have done the people who receipt payments for water bills make 15% more than I do (and they only receipt a few customers a day).

I just thought I would bitch and moan, but I do have some possibilities.

I just got a call from the City of Mukilteo, I applied for the Accounting Manager position and they just called asking if I wanted an interview on Wednesday. I am stoked. The payrange at the very minimum is 15% more than I get now, plus better benefits and will max out at 50% more than I get. I could focus on getting my CPA and CFE as well. The other cool thing is they have the same retirement system as the state so my retirement won’t be effected.

Honestly the biggest deal would be better pay for no travel. Right now I average about 45 minutes to an hour and a half travel each way (unless I luck out and get an Everett audit). Its not a big deal, but it eats up my time and four years later I make the same now that I did before.

I am not expecting the job, I know several people who currently do that job at other cities are also applying, but I am crossing my fingers. If this doesn’t pan out I will probably settle down for the rest of the year and at the beginning of the year I will start applying for federal auditing jobs (maybe even IRS Revenue Agent if I can swing it). It would still take six months to a year to get hired (if I got hired) and that would let me vest my 10% of retirement from the state.

I am feeling better though, this week off has been incredible (and I still have 3 days of furlough time and 6 weeks of vacation still available). So this summer I am going to take another week off in August.

Battling Stress

This week has been fairly stressful. Well to be honest the whole summer has, with the amount of travel and lack of relaxation has meant my summer went by for the most part without me realizing it. I am lucky now, I am working in Arlington so its only a 30 minute ride each direction. The audit there is going well, we finally had our brainstorm on Thursday and we also had the County exit on Thursday.

Also as a side note, I applied at the Health District as a Financial Systems Accountant. Basically its the person second in charge of the finance department for the Health District. The good points is the job is only a mile away, wouldn’t require any travel, would start at more than I max out at my current position (about 10-15% higher) but itself tops out near 85k a year (sadly enough I would be making 85k a year now if I worked in the private sector). The Business Manager will be retiring in three years and they are looking for the Systems Accountant to hopefully step into his shoes so it would be a move up higher into that position if things worked out. I have audited them for three years (and I am the Health District Specialist for the State of Washington’s Auditor Office) so I have worked with those people on a semi-regular basis. Also the duties they perform for the public are something I can believe in. In addition to providing health inspections, food handling permits, biohazard emergency response, CDC emergency programs, they also provide a lot of medical services to those to the poor. As a side note, if I do get this job I am going to probably have to get my CPA, which would be even more valuable in future job searches.

The disadvantages to that job is that I will be at the same place day in and day out (one of the reasons I enjoy auditing is I don’t get in a rut). Although, I have discovered now that I have worked three years and three months at my current job, that even though I move around I am still in a rut. I would have to learn the other side of auditing (being the auditee not the auditor) and it would also mean I will be living in Everett indefinitely. It is not that Everett is bad, I actually like living here, but we were planning on moving to Portland in a couple of years.

Overall though I think its worth it, if I could make a bit more money I could take care of my parents better. We might even look for a house if I made a little bit more. If we got a house I think I could convince my parents to come live down with us in a separate mother-in-law suite so we could offset a lot of their bills. It would also be working for a cause I could believe in and once you get into a position like that, its easy to get jobs anywhere in local governments as a Finance Director.

I think part of my problem lately is that, I am a little disillusioned. Our office is meant to audit local and state government agencies, unfortunately lately my office has been concerned with “customer service” with those agencies and in my opinion has “softened” up on our reviews (and on some issues) in order to not rock the boat. With all the budget cuts I think there is a fear that the local governments may lobby the legislature to slash our ability to audit. This seems sort of counter to what we should be doing. Times are tough, and instead of lowering budgets, softening our responses I think this is the time we need to be reviewing to our fullest extent. This is the exact economic environment that would pressure local governments into doing things with their funds that are not allowed, to cut corners in violation of RCW (state law) and to perhaps take position on financial/RCW issues that are more “grey” in their interpretation. I am sure my disillusionment will lighten, but I am a little frustrated on some issues.

So that was earlier this week. For some reason all week I have been unable to sleep much, enough that even though I had yesterday off I was up at 3am (so was wife), but we ended up going to bed around 4am and slept until 9:30am. I then get a call at 1pm yesterday and my dad told me that my mom was in the hospital. Evidently last night her shoulder hurt so she took her nitro, then she woke up again hurting, took more nitro and did this three or four times. My dad asked her to go to the ER, but she was too embarrased to have the ambulances come up. So my dad took her in this morning.

She is fine now, they put another stent in, one of the stents from her original heart attack in 2005 was closing again and she is feeling better. My dad is pretty angry with her for not going in the night before and I doubt he will let her get away with it. So I found all of this out yesterday, was a bit stressed but calmed down and I got to spend a great afternoon with my wife. Last night I had a cider, but as every time I have a beer or cider before going to bed I had stressful dreams and I ended up not sleeping well. I am not meant to drink 🙂

So here I am, early morning and feeling tired. I may go visit my mom this afternoon (she is coming home today), maybe while we are up in Bellingham (if we go) we will stop by the Lynden Fair, we haven’t been there in three years (actually four now that I think about it).

So overall I am having a stress reaction, but the wife is helping me battle it. I did a bit of meditation today and I feel a little better. I am starting working out again, that helps a little too.

Edit: I am evidently tired so if my above post came out redundant, at least you know why.

Productive Day and Strange Week

This morning has already been extremely productive (and I haven’t even hit 9am here). I woke up at 5am bright and bushy. This is strange considering I have quit coffee and my tea isn’t the largest habit. I woke up, fixed myself some oatmeal, worked on my CPA study material for about an hour and then deleted almost 2,000 duplicate photos in my iPhoto. I then backed up my photos. At this point I turned on Burt Lancaster’s 1964 movie “The Train” because I felt in the mood for an old school World War II movie. I then got on my exercise bike and did 30 minutes there.  Then I showered and am now backing up the rest of my stuff and I should be good to go, all before 9am.

Earlier this week was a little strange. I have been working out in a county school district doing their annual audit. Wednesday I got to work and noticed two older high school girls standing outside the window. They were probably 16-18 range. The little blonde noticed and and walked up and knocked on the window. I looked up and she waved at me. I smiled back and waved. Something told me I had just done the wrong thing.

After the next period (I could hear the bells) the girl shows up with three of her friends. They all knock, wave and giggle. I am now uncomfortable. There is something very predatory about a gaggle of teenage girls. I have always been uncomfortable being looked at by teenage girls, first in high school because I was attracted to them and felt shy, now because I am old enough to be their dad and am even more weirded out (not for the same reason). The flirting then commenced for the next 2 hours. I ignored them and didn’t respond but they came by every break. One of the admin people at the office commented that something had the girls in a strange mood.

This eventually stopped when another auditor arrived (a woman) and they left me alone for the day. Of course  gave me a hard time. At least I am not stupid enough like many guys to think they liked me (nor would I want them to). Its just a pack of girls testing out social boundaries. However, this morning I hadn’t had caffeine and I wasn’t in the mood to be nice (but I wasn’t mean). As I walked up to the building with my laptop the blonde came running over. She started asking me questions but I shushed her and said I had a question. She stopped and a huge smile came across her face. I then asked her what lipstick she was wearing, she said something (but I have no idea what it was except red). I smiled at her and said thank you, that my boyfriend would really love that color.

I had never intended to say that, I was tired and wasn’t thinking and that came out of my mouth. She just stared at me for a second, then the howls of laughter started up from her friends behind her. The laughter wasn’t directed at me, it was directed at her. I had evidently won some sort of exchange (not sure what it was). I wandered into the building and haven’t seen hide nor hair of her the rest of the week. Part of me feels a little bad, but I don’t have the time to deal with it, and honestly last thing I need is someone else seeing me talk to a high school girl.

Other than that, everything has been going fairly well. I hear the wife moving around so I should go 🙂

 

Another Dream

I had a strange dream this morning, woke up from it at 4:30am. I dreamed that it was the first day of class and the teacher handed us a test. It was hard to read the test, for some reason I didn’t understand the questions, or even what subject it was for. After an hour of dinking around with it I thought I had finished it. Just as I turned it in, I realized that it wasn’t the actual test, it was the test booklet and I needed to fill out the scan tron (but there were no multiple choice or anything). The class was letting out and I had to refill it out hurriedly still not able to read the questions. To top it off when I did it on the scan tron, the lights in the room were shut off and I had to use a tiny flashlight that didn’t work well.

It was a strange dream. Still not sure why I dreamt that, but it kind of sucked.

Other than that, life is going fairly well. I have finished an outstanding audit that should have been done by beginning of last September (they finally got their info to me) and I am close to being done with the audit after that, that should have been done in October. Of course I had to pull off Skykomish due to problems there, and I probably wont get to finish that until July or August (or later). I have 7 more workdays at the City of Snohomish, then its time to start the 3 month County audit.

Today I am going up to my parents. We are going to pay for and register for a time for my dad to take his driving test. Don’t get me wrong, he has been driving steadily, but hasn’t had a valid license for over 20 years due to warrants (a side effect of me growing up with bikers, warrants were fairly common). He is completely legal now and has to take the test to get it back. He will drive my car around (our car is the only completely legal car in the family, everyone else has car problems or no insurance so they are unable to pass the State Trooper’s inspection).

Once we have a date settled, I will go back later this week for him to get a little more familiar with the car and to take the test. When he passes, we are going to give him our truck and if need be I will help him get insurance. Unfortunately their health is not good enough to allow them to ride buses. My dad’s back is so messed up, as is his breathing, that he can’t walk the three blocks to get to the bus stop, let alone ride one.

When I get home today I will finish up my notes for the game tomorrow. Perhaps hubby will feel like running the solo game for me as well. If not, no worries I will just hang out with her. That is my favorite thing to do is just be around her.

Anxiety Dream

I woke up about 20 minutes ago. I am not sure what causes me to wake up at 2:45 am, especially first night after DST. It was not a horribly bad dream, it had me and hubby wandering some back roads up in Granite Falls. We met some younger people and she started talking to them about old punk bands. Nothing too horrible but I woke up feeling anxiety. It wasn’t anything that she said, I wasn’t worried about anything she might do, nor worried about anything happening to us (I may be getting a little long in the tooth, but still not intimidated by teens-mid twenties). The only thing I specifically remember being said was one of the people commented we must have liked punk in the ’90’s and hubby corrected them and said 80’s.

Fortunately I think I am starting to get tired again, I just don’t understand why I woke up feeling super stressed. I had a great day with my friends gaming, things went well there. I spent the last couple hours before bed hanging with the wife and watching “human sized sperm” special on National Geographic and I went to sleep next to my beautiful wife while she watched Wild Wild West on her laptop. I realize I get anxiety sometimes, I think its a family trait (and probably explains why many in my family do drugs or drink to go to sleep). I am just not sure what to do about it. Its not near the “holidays” when I get the crazy anxiety due to worries. I don’t think I am specifically worried about my family, so not sure why I am experiencing anxiety.

I wonder if its partially due to how early my current audit is making me get up. Maybe I am hitting a critical mass of not enough sleep and too much “have to be up extremely early” that my body and mind is freaking out. Or maybe its just my body and mind freaking out because there is something chemically wrong. I am considering options to help sleep, including working out more, maybe a drink, maybe trying to get up later (well after this audit maybe). I will have to work on that for awhile, now that I am feeling a bit more tired, maybe I can go back to sleep now.

Sunday Update

This week has been hectic. I have only seen my wife  for two days up until the weekend. I spent most of my time working on the  magic rules for shadowrun as detailed in  . On Friday the dell technician was supposed to show up to fix my PC, but he no-showed so maybe he will show up Tuesday. The good news is that my PC is still under warranty (will need new MB and RAM), this means I do not have to get a macbookpro so quickly (will still want one).

Saturday we spent the day visiting my mother, her fourth of 18 weeks of chemo. It was rough on her, but it wasn’t the chemo, it was the shot they gave her to keep her platlets up so she can keep taking the chemo. I baked her a peach custard pie (which I am going to have to post here) and sat with my parents for a couple hours. This week I also worked out a whole bunch. Our trainer ran us hard Wednesday, and then yesterday was even more intense. We worked for a half an hour on chest presses, bench presses, incline bench presses, decline bench presses. True, my capability is not what I would like, but he worked us hard. Then he worked us out for 30 minutes in the pool, swimming laps, crunches, water sprints. That truly was the ass kicker of the week, however it made me feel great (albeit tired). I think I am going to go swim laps starting later this week on top of weight lifting. I had not realized how much it hurt to do a single lap, that will definitely be a good overall workout.

I only have 7 more working days before I am done with Sultan. Then its one week at Everett, then two days in Olympia for training (and I am taking  with me, two days in a hotel with a pool). Then back to the city and county courthouses for another week. After that it will be three weeks of Coupeville over by Oak Harbor. That will suck, a 1.5-2 hour commute each way. The good thing is I will gain 2 hours of “exchange time” each day. By the end of three weeks I will have gained an extra 30 hours of basically vacation time. Well better get ready for the game, I will follow up with an after-game update tonight.