Goodbye, IBM

Well, the day to leave has arrived.  I certainly didn’t expect to be leaving IBM except on my own terms when I retired in a few more years. After 33+ years, IBM has decided that I am no longer needed. Nor is the entire Emerging Technologies team that I was a member of.  That is what is really incongruous. We were a team that was working on forward thinking projects, exactly what IBM claims that it wants. Many projects, including the one I was working on,  had customers and were building new businesses for IBM.  Oh, but we didn’t have the name “Watson” in our title so we must not be useful and in the minds of the upper level folks, we “cost too much” (sarcasm intended).

My emotions vary between sadness and anger.  I am sad to be leaving a wonderful team and manager,  sad at what IBM has become, sad to be saying goodbye to so many friends and colleagues from over the years.  At least keeping in touch is easier with social networking sites but it isn’t the same as a friendly chat in the hallways and catching up over lunch.

I am angry that IBM is turning its back on so many dedicated employees.  I am angry that I am no longer valued, angry when I see IBM advertising job openings on social media, angry that I have to start over somewhere else. Angry that after 33 years I receive only 1 month of severance pay.  A few years ago I would have received 6 months due to my length of service.  In addition, by letting people go on the day before the last day of the pay period, we don’t accrue and are not paid for vacation for the last half of this month.  It is all just so petty.

I have found a position with a startup.  I will work part time  for the summer and we will both reevaluate the relationship in the fall.  I am continuing to interview for other positions and have had some good interviews.  Thankfully I don’t have children in colleges or significant debt to increase my anxiety.

Life goes on.  If I have learned anything over the last several years it is that nothing is guaranteed. There is no cap on happiness or  good fortune just as there is no cap on sorrow or hardships.  Tomorrow is a new day, new experiences await.

As for IBM, they lose.

YoYo Emotions

Isn’t it amazing how everything can be going great one minute and in the next something happens to change the mood? The last several weeks have been like that for me.  Several weeks ago I was laid off from my job.  Actually the entire department was let go so at least I can’t take it too personally.  After 33+ years at the same company it was quite a blow.  I’ll admit I took a few days to absorb it and to feel sorry for myself. But, it looked like my project was going to be absorbed into another division and I would still have a job.  My emotions evened out and I went back to working (mostly) as normal.

Then last week, I was told that the executives pulled the funding and I didn’t have a job.  Queue the angry, frustrated response and the rise in emotions (and associated “comfort snacking” – poor eating habits).  But, there was one last hope for funding…….nope, that didn’t come through.  I resigned myself to the fact that I would be leaving the company and I started looking for a new job in my desired field.

I was pleasantly surprised at the interest from my network to employ me. I suddenly have several opportunities to pursue, that is a nice relief and I don’t feel quite as anxious about the loss of my job.  Then today another wrinkle arrived, there might be yet one more opportunity to keep our group together. I’m not sure how I feel about that –  less than a week ago I made the decision to leave and find a position outside of the company.  Another set of emotions and questions.

I had a great phone interview today and an email from another potential employer (and dear friend) so my ego was well inflated and I was feeling really good about myself and my prospects.  That was until my mother’s nursing home called.

It thankfully wasn’t an emergency but they want to put her on an anti-depression medication because she is overly confused (she has Alzheimer’s but is still fairly functional and knows her family). I immediately called Mom and she is certainly confused.  She told me an entire story about one of her brothers picking her up and taking her on a long drive to visit their sister who was in the hospital.  And she is back at the hospital and need to call Dad (who passed away 7 years ago) to come pick her up.  That certainly set my emotions in a tail spin, brought my ego back down to earth, and prompted me to write this rambling post!

I guess the moral of my story is to never take anything for granted, wait a minute and the situation will likely change (for better or worse), and take a deep breath and carry on!


*For inquiring minds, I suspect my mother has a urinary tract infection as that has set off this level of confusion in the past.  I’ve requested that she be tested and not permanently medicated for depression.

Update: Mom did not have a urinary tract infection. The nursing home had increased Mom’s insulin due to high A1C values.  This resulted in her having some very low blood sugar readings.  Generally Mom does not exhibit “typical” responses to overly high or overly low blood sugar so they didn’t immediately make the connection with her increased demential and confusion. The doctor decreased her insulin back to the previous dose and Mom’s extreme dementia subsided. That is a huge relief.

The Best Laid Plans…

I just realized that it was 5 years ago this weekend that I was here at the condo with Gary. It was the only time after we owned it that we were here together. He had been here about 3-4 weeks working on finishing it ( we bought it unfinished) and I flew down to visit. It was great to be here together and look forward to finishing it and spending time here and learning about the area. This was also where he first experienced symptoms of his esophageal cancer, if only we had known then that it was more than a hiatal hernia causing problems. Hindsight is always 20-20.

It was a great time full of wonder and opportunity, I smile remembering it. Gary was so determined to finish the condo, I’m so sorry he didn’t. But I am also happy and proud that I took the reins and completed the job. I am happy to be able to spend time here and make new friends and explore the area. I love showing people the place and the staircase that he designed and built. 

I am thankful that I have friends to look after my home in MA. I am thankful for my cousin who makes time to visit Mom while I am gone. I am thankful for the memories. 

Here are pictures I took that weekend of Gary on the condo balcony.

Memory Triggers

It often surprises me what I remember and what triggers those memories. Sometimes I struggle to remember something significant from my past and other times trivial events come to mind. The other day I was stopped at a red light and was reminded of the programming that goes into traffic lights. They no longer just work on a static timer but respond to traffic patterns via sensors in the road. 

I suddenly remembered an object oriented programming seminar I participated in when I was working for Lotus Development Corporation 20 or so years ago. It was sponsored by Lotus and I attended with work colleagues. It was one of those days when I was feeling out of my league and dumb (probably for no reason but that is another story). I was fighting to stay awake in the class; I was catching myself nodding off. We were given an assignment to write an algorithm for a set of traffic lights and given the requirements for its operation. We worked in groups, I felt lost, either from not paying attention or perhaps not understanding. I didn’t enjoy the exercise.  But what really baffles me is that I remember that class and that exercise. It wasn’t a significant moment in my life. It isn’t something I needed or wanted to remember but there it is popping up 20+ years later. Go figure.

The other day when I was fueling my car a truck drove in pulling a horse trailer. I was reminded of when Gary had a trailer very similar in shape and size to a horse trailer to carry his tools. We had gone up to Maine for a long weekend where he was rebuilding a friend’s ski camp. We were on our way home and stopped for gas. A little girl in the car at the next pump asked if she could go look at our horse. I hated to disappoint her by telling her it wasn’t a horse trailer and there was no horse – I remembered being horse crazy myself when I was her age. Here is yet another insignificant but at least more pleasant memory, that is trapped in my brain.

It does really make me believe that our mind is so much more powerful and has so much more potential if only we knew how to tap into it better. There are other experiences in my life that I wish I could remember better but something in these two instances sealed them in my brain. And there are many more hidden in my grey matter. Perhaps it is just hitting the correct triggers to unlock many more. Or to finding the key to permanently lock or at least dull the unpleasant ones.

Does Time Matter?

January 7 has come again, the day I lost my soul mate. A day I can’t forget but wish I could. On this third anniversary I am traveling in New Zealand, 18 hours ahead of Boston. Do I pause to remember on New Zealand time or Boston time?

It really doesn’t matter, I think of Gary everyday. This date does stir up more memories than usual – hard ones. Life goes on and I move forward. And as I am traveling I smile and remember that it was Gray who encouraged me to go places and explore on my own as he was not interested in traveling.

Re-evaluating priorities

The end of the year always brings some amount of reflection. I think I have done pretty well adjusting to life without Gary over the past 3 years. I also think it is time to slow down a bit. I have certainly enjoyed vacations and participating in many activities but I feel like I can’t keep up with daily life as much as I would like. My activities make me feel like I am not lazy, but I really struggle to get through the more mundane tasks. I am always going “some” where or doing “some” thing. And then I am too tired to do the necessary things! I think I should remember Gary’s advice and, “slow down”.

Participating in activities with people is important and I have tried to place a high priority on doing things with friends. That doesn’t need to stop, but I also need to prioritize a bit better. Or perhaps I need to bargain with myself more. I won’t rush off to some fun thing until some other less fun thing is done. I will never get the workshop cleaned out if I don’t make that a priority. I will never get my office cleaned unless I make that a priority. I could argue that neither one of these tasks is absolutely essential but actually, to me they are. I need to feel more in control of my life. I need to get rid of excess “things”, I need to be able to find the “things” I have. I need to own my environment.

I’m not sure this post makes much sense to anyone but me. I’m proud that I have managed well over the last three years but it is time for me to feel more settled and to move in a determined direction. There are many bits of me that have been neglected, it is time to give them some attention.

Love’s Journey

How much do I love you?
More than the oceans, more than the sky.

How much do I miss you?
More than the oceans, more than the sky.

But yet I continue as each day passes by,
Spreading my wings and relearning to fly.


An alternate version:

How much do I love you?
More than the oceans, more than the sky.

How much do I miss you?
More than the oceans, more than the sky.

How can I honor you?
By trusting myself and re-learning to fly.