Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Confusion, Crisis, and Disillusionment: A Preface, Part 2

I didn't expect a preface to be worthy of more than one post, but I've realized that quite a lot happened before we left our mother country for Italy. I also seemed to have passively ignored the effects they had (and continue have) on me, and have realized that writing about them has proven to be a therapeutic exercise. Therefore if you haven't read part one you'll probably find the start of this one a bit choppy. On with it!

To further complicate my already my disheveled state of mind, my wife and I had finally decided on moving to Italy to study the Italian language after a year or so of wanting, scheming, and searching. We had nailed down an almost exact date at which we would leave the country, which left us with about 9 more months in the states. While our departure wasn't an absolute certainty, I had a hard time considering full time positions knowing that in 9 months I may very well be leaving. On the other hand, my bringing in money wasn't an option, so it was only on survival instincts that I searched high and low for work.

My first find was at a crappy real estate magazine that would require me to drive an hour and 15 minutes to work everyday in Daytona, which is one of my least favorite places in Florida. Now it's known by people in my profession that the pay scale in north Florida for our work is embarrassingly low, so when I tell you that this company offered me a laughably low amount, you better believe it was laughably low. After a half hour (or more) of talking, explaining, negotiating, and several calls home to verify some numbers, I accepted and agreed to start in 2 weeks. Why? Because I told them I was likely moving to Italy and that wasn't a deal breaker... and because I had been desperately (and unsuccessfully) searching for a steady job for several weeks.

Fast-forward 1 week. As I was driving to a nearby city to finalize a contracted project I had finished, I received a phone call from another company for a full-time position as a lead developer. The work was more interesting, the pay was much better, and the location more accessible, so that evening I accepted and broke off the deal with the other company. I don't normally operate in such a dog-eat-dog fashion, but desperation and emotions got the best of me. All of this time I was relentlessly stressed about the instability of my life, and almost exclusively by the fact that we would most likely be leaving the country in 9 months. I knew that it was highly unlikely for my new position (a typical corporate office one) to keep me on staff while I was overseas as that just wasn't the aura of the company. As such I fostered a contracting position on the side, one that would likely be able to come with me to Italy.

This is when things started to become fairly crushing. To keep it short, I worked in the evenings on the contract. Each day its needs became greater and greater, and slowly I began seeing my friends less, getting out of the house less, eating less, sleeping less, wanting to live less, etc. I had become a workaholic. I allowed this to happen not because I wanted to be, but because I felt I had to find some way of bringing in income while in Italy. Eventually the contract became a full-time position, and after 6 or so months at a corporate job, I left to work for the other company from home.

My health improved rapidly as I was eating and sleeping normally, surfing with a good friend on a regular basis, and enjoying life again as I had been accustomed to. Sadly this lasted for maybe a month, and my new full-time position became all-consuming once again. Why? Because the project was underestimated, poorly thought out, and generally misunderstood by its creators. I realize these are strong words and I don't bash, but there is simply no other way to describe the situation. It had become a living nightmare and I loathed it. Of course I allowed this to happen (again) because of the prospect of having income while in Italy. For a few months I sucked it up, all the while questioning how I had reached this point, was it worth it, did I remember who I was, had I chosen the wrong path of work ... the list goes on.

Finally the day came when we left for Italy. To quickly summarize: I trained someone to keep things afloat for the 2 weeks in which we (my wife, in-laws, and I) would be unavailable. We'd be traveling through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, before settling in Florence where we would begin our study of Italian. I had been telling the company owners from very early on that what they wanted was not attainable for what they had prepared for, and finally they listened ... or so it seemed.

I'll end here, and I think one more post should do for the preface ;-).