First, the big news: I'm moving to Texas. I was contacted by a recruiter about two months ago now, and the offer finally came through (the CTO originally promised $85k + bonus, the COO wanted $65k + bonus, the CTO got them to bump it up to $75k + bonus, which I rose above my threshold for moving). I had to turn down another offer in Pittsburgh, for $50k, to take this one. I'm sort of dreading going through the whole moving rigmarole again, but I should have support from my dad and Ratha, and I should be able to devote a good percentage of my time to figuring things out. The work will be demanding (of course, living in Texas is the biggest demand), but I've been saying for a while that the purpose of this phase in my life is to make money anyway, and this should be a good way to do a lot of that.
Almost totally orthogonal to this and to the pressure I've been feeling lately at work due to the need to wrap things up, I spent this past weekend in Sarasota visiting Ratha. I said before I came out that we both needed to loosen up or the weekend would suck; I proceeded to do just that. In fact, the experience was subjectively much different than any vacation I can ever remember, and I kept trying to figure out how, but I was never able to quite pin it down, other than to say “this feels like a vacation”.
On Friday I flew down, grabbing a slice of pizza during my layover in Charlotte and reading We the Living (which I still have about a quarter of to finish). I got in after midnight, so we pretty much drove home and went to sleep. Still, I was already starting to feel the tension wash away.
Saturday we went to the beach. We drove around for probably an hour before actually reaching the beach and parking there. When we did get there though, the weather was beautiful and the sand was amazingly soft. We lay on towels and talked about philosophy, got in the water and swam a little, took a walk (talking more philosophy), lay some more, and took off.
In the evening we (mostly Ratha, actually) cooked Indian food, which was good if not terribly authentic, but I wasn't able to eat that much for some reason. Then we took a bath in the huge tub at Ratha's house (now totally deserted other than her, since her family has moved to Austin and she's just finishing out the term at USF) and watched The Incredibles, which was a good choice of movie—fun and not too dense. It was hard to get the temperature right, though, and the tub was huge and slippery. Still, we had Godiva chocolates I had bought at the airport earlier, and the mood of relaxation continued.
In the morning we (mostly Ratha again, though I helped) made breakfast, a bit late. It was afternoon by the time we left to go shooting. I was seriously tempted to buy Ratha a Kel-Tec pistol at the range just so I'd have a chance to shoot it, since I've been eyeing the .380 and 9mm Kel-Tecs covetously for a while now, but that seemed a bit too extravagant with how much the weekend would already cost, and I'll have a lot more disposable income in a few more months. We rented a Walther P22 (I don't like them much, since I seem to trigger the magazine release accidentally while shooting fairly often) and a Glock 23 (.40 S&W—I was pleased to find that, having basically mastered my Glock 9mm, I was able to make 3-4 inch groups (though not perfectly consistently) at 10 yards). We both shot pretty well, I thought, and it was kind of an interesting addition of adrenaline compared with the calmness of a beach and a bathtub.
Next we went to the Sarasota waterfront (beachfront? something-front…) We walked around talking more philosophy, sat down at Marina Jack and I had a mango daquiri, walked some more, sat some more; time passed.
For dinner we went to a fondue restaurant (one which, incidentally, has branches in many major cities including Dallas and soon to open in Pittsburgh). Apparently fondue is the “new sushi”. In any case it was extravagant and novel. There was so much food we decided when to move on to the next course based on when we got bored rather than when we ran out of food. I had a glass of white Zinfandel, since I figured it was criminal never to have tried it (I liked it), and for desert we had a white chocolate / amaretto fondue (so sweet that combined with the cheesecake and brownies it seemed excessive to me; it went better with the fruit). I must admit I was glad I wasn't paying, especially since I had paid for shooting earlier (which was far more expensive than it would have been back home; I'll need to find a cheap outdoor range in Texas).
By the time this was over it was quite late, so we went home. Next morning, we actually had to leave fairly early in order to have time for everything: Ratha showed me the USF campus, we got lunch (Middle Eastern) and then we went to the Dali museum. The guide there was helpful; however, he made me realize what a huge percentage of the meaning of Dali's works I would inevitably miss without someone to explain them to me or a huge amount of study. Just as we were finishing there, I got the call from the recruiter, telling me that the offer had been raised to $75k plus a guaranteed $10k bonus if I'm still working there at the end of the year (I had expected to have to give this up to get the offer raised that much). Ratha and I sat on a bench and talked a bit more, and then she drove me to the airport. We kissed goodbye and I left feeling content and hopeful, if a bit regretful at having to return so soon to the daily grind.
And now for something trivial, yet still noteworthy—bought my first pack of cigarettes today. Djarum Splash. Clove cigarettes. Almost thought twice about it while walking from my car to the tobacconist, due to my complete lack of knowledge of what to buy, but he was very helpful. I've been saying for a long time that I find whiney anti-smokers far more unpleasant than smokers, so now I can put my money where my mouth is. I don't intend to smoke often, though, and man, when I inhale it makes me cough so much I think I might be fine with doing it the “wrong” way.