Deep Down I’m Happy, I Just Want More Than This Provincial Life

Belle’s plight to seek out something more than an average life always spoke to me since the first day I saw Beauty and the Beast at the movies in second or third grade. It’s easy to get caught up in my mood swings, especially the ones that swing be down into depression, but everything in my life is pretty darn good. Even if I lose my job (again), things are ok. I’ve managed, in the last 10 years (and getting fired 3 times) to go from $50,000 in net worth to $1.5M in net worth. I’ve had two healthy kids. I bought a house in a very HCOL area and convinced a bank I’m worthy of a $1.2M mortgage. I convinced a man to spend the rest of his life with me in wedded bliss.  I haven’t jumped off a bridge or overdosed on any number of pill combinations despite that occasionally seeming like a practical solution to the impractical problem that is me and all the things I do or don’t do on a daily basis.

Things are pretty damn good, aren’t they?

It’s ok that things are hard. What isn’t ok is that I’m the type of person who will only be satisfied if I’m doing something meaningful in life–beyond raising two happy, healthy kids and buying a house and having a husband. I don’t know exactly what that is yet, but I’m on my way to figuring it out. It’s tough because I don’t deserve to be successful or unique or to do anything great–but then again, who the hell does? Maybe someone born clearly brilliant, with a ridiculously high IQ. But there are plenty of other people doing great things who weren’t born any different than I was. They may have had parents who taught them it’s ok to take risks and fail, who instilled in them a growth mindset, or somehow learned to go against everything they’ve been taught to take risks and believe in themselves–but other than that–how different are we really?

I spent a good chunk of last night, in between breastfeeding and half sleeping, watching YouTube videos about Adult ADHD. If you know me (or heck, if you read my blog likely) it’s pretty clear that if Adult ADHD exists, I have it. Out of leftover FSA money one year I did a neuropsychological screening and was told I do not have ADHD, but do have severe deficiency in short-term memory, anxiety, and depression. However, had I gone to an ADHD expert for said screening (I did not) I would have undoubtedly been told I do have it. The test used by the neuropsychologist to determine if I have ADHD, the click test, is far from considered an acceptable method of diagnosis by the scientific community, and yet for the last few years I’ve been walking around convinced I don’t have ADHD due to this test and my neuropsychological profile. Yet even the finding that my short-term memory is severely impaired is a symptom of ADHD. Alas.

I also feel like I ought to do something creative in life as people with ADHD tend to do better when working in creative settings and that’s what I went to school to study and that’s what I always though I’d do, but then didn’t, because I was too scared to take such a risk when I knew nothing beyond wanting to not be deemed a failure by my parents, especially my dad. Failure was asking for help–any help–once I graduated college. I was lucky to have my very expensive (too expensive in hindsight) college paid for by my parents, and they never fought me on my degree in the arts despite having no clarity into what a career in the specific field I majored in would look like, or how little of a propensity I had for its technical requirements. But once my final graduation photo was snapped, I was on my own. I had no college loans, but I still had to pay the rent. And then I figured out that having money was better than not having money, and having a lot of money was better than having a little bit of money, so that even with my non-frugal habits I could still manage to survive without asking anyone for help.

Since my creative dreams weren’t fleshed out anyway, they were tossed to the sidelines and my only mission at hand was to not run out of money. My “career dreams” were non existent. Which is ok. Lots of people work to work. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I’ve done that. In smaller companies, at the least, I felt like there was this energy of doing the impossible that I was familiar with from my creative pursuits. Sure, everyone wanted to get rich–but we knew it was a long shot. We enjoyed building something new together. At least that felt a bit more home to me, despite not being right. Had I founded the company–maybe then it would feel right, but inevitably with a thick-headed CEO who thought they knew everything (and clearly didn’t) I ended up, along with my colleagues, becoming frustrated watching our collective dreams turn into a company worth less than investors poured into it.

But in a big company, where money flows into bigger salaries and stock packages, especially for those considered rockstars, there is a clear focus on work for work’s sake. I sit back–fall back–and watch those around me operate flawlessly, with the energy of a doctor saving the life of a newborn child, to promote a product designed to help automate processes and save costs by removing human labor (amongst other useful but equally dystopian value props.) As I’ve managed to double my net worth in the last hand change of years, many others who, pre-covid, sit alongside me, are off on a rocketship straight to the .01%. And those fresh out of college, lucky with a relatively small grant that has turned a small amount into a large amount, are not set for life, but on the path to far greater wealth than I’ll likely ever see. These people work hard as hell (or fake it well enough that even intuitive I can’t tell the difference.) They send perfectly-scripted email notifications that thank everyone who contributed to a project while, barely reading between the lines, self-promoting their own work. These people talk the talk so well, from using all the business jargon without a hint of irony, to making everything sound so damn important. There’s humor as well, but a certain type of humor that is not dark or witty or particularly funny. It’s careful and redundant, and yet everyone laughs anyway because that’s what you do. Those who can’t do humor tend to avoid it until their boss tells them to throw a joke in their next speech, and we continue to laugh.

I’d rather get to the point, I guess.

What is the point? My point. My point is that I don’t fit in this world. I like making money. Clearly. It’s pretty incredible. Necessary, of course. How else does one pay off a $7k a month mortgage? Even if it’s $5k a month now with my FIL paying $2k a month in rent–in a few years it will be all us. Can we really afford this? I guess so. Eventually $7k a month will seem reasonable… maybe. Going rent for a house here was around $5k, so in some odd years it will catch up. But then there’s the cost of keeping the house functional. So many things have popped up. I’m now budgeting about $2k a month for house stuff. Some of it is must have, some nice-to-have, and maybe eventually we’ll be able to bring that down to a lower amount. This doesn’t include utilities and such, but everything else that goes into owning a house. It’s not cheap.

The house does kind of lock me into this high-earning lifestyle, even if I’m unable to get a job ever again that’s quite as high earning (likely.) That’s why this year is so damn important. It’s crazy that every 3 month I can make about $200k ($100k after tax) on top of my salary and such. I’m basically making 4 years of normal income in one year, which doesn’t make it possible to quit corporate America and spend my waking non-parenting hours on passion projects, but it’s a start. It has me questioning–from the moment I wake up the instant I drift off to dreamland–what the fuck is next? Do I seek another rocketship? Do I learn how to play the game better next time (and maybe not admit to my boss, in a momentary lapse of judgment due to the sleepless nights of being a new mom, that I’ve been fired numerous times in the past and that I think I’m overpaid — oops) and see whatever’s next as another step towards freedom to do something meaningful, whatever that is? I won’t see a stock package like this again unless I manage to obtain a very senior role which is a bad idea for numerous reasons even if I could do that–but staying in my current company won’t ever see this kind of income again either (I’m not getting stock refreshes since they don’t actually want me to stay–it’s clear I’m going to be leaving by choice or by force at some point and this time I prefer to do this by choice, I think, though a few months of unemployment and COBRA may be just what I need next year–but I don’t think I can handle the mental toll of losing yet another job. I should leave on my own, with my head held as high as I can hold it, weak neck and all.)

But–where was I? I guess, I feel like maybe if I lean into this ADHD thing and try strategies that work for other HSP with ADHD then… maybe I can find something that works for a bit longer than 3 months > crashing and burning in whatever new job I take on. Maybe it’s finding a different yet still decently-paid career. In order to afford this house, this $84k a year of mortgage/taxes/insurance, we need to make $300k a year (if you go with the 28% rule.) My husband makes $100k at the moment (though that’s 1099, so we can reduce that to $85k, which means that need to make $215k a year in order for our house to make sense. Anything above this is great. But I don’t have to make more than $215k. The question is, how do I make $215k consistently? If I can get on a career path where $225k-$250k is the norm and I can get one one that I’m decent enough at to not lose my job every few years then — we’re ok. If my husband can keep his job (which he will unless the org he works for goes out of business) then I just have to get that $215k each year and we’re doing ok. Not living a fancy life, by any means, but we’ll be able to pay the mortgage for the next 30 years.

That’s clearly not what I want, though — 30 years of my entire life being centered on making $215k or more. From 37 to 67, needing every single year to have a career making such income is pretty darn depressing. My dad died at 67. So there’s that. I don’t want this to be the rest of my life. At some point I want to be able to take a risk. Make something. Do something meaningful before I die.

Does that make me a selfish person? An unrealistic one? Maybe. But I have dreams. I might be getting old(er) and grey(er) but I’m not dead yet. My kids remind me of the dreams I once had when anything was possible. I didn’t notice the moment when life switched from everything is possible to practically nothing is, but somehow that switch triggered and I missed it while I was counting up my net worth and figuring out how to convince my boss to give me another 30 days before pulling another trigger to have HR walk me out of the building. The years just go. And soon they will be gone. How do I make any of this make sense while not putting my family on the street? I guess it’s not that dire. We’ve got plenty of savings now. Enough to ride of a few bad years. But I don’t want a few bad years. I want many good ones. And I’m desperate to find a path to them.

I’m Not Actually Jealous of SAHMs. Right?

Making money doesn’t make me happy, and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ll never find a job that brings me joy. So I have to find happiness outside of work. And I have to figure out how work fits into my life now and short term and long term. If I ever do save enough to retire early, then what? Would I even like being a stay at home mom?

I have friends who are stay at home moms, or who run their own business and work flexible hours and aren’t actually working to support the household but instead are running a business as more of a passion project. I’ll never be those friends–I don’t have a husband who is a senior-level engineer who makes enough to afford a Bay Area mortgage. And I’m ok with that. But I’m growing tired of paying a Bay Area mortgage altogether, 4 months into doing just that. Only 356 more months to go of paying $7k a month to live in a house that needs a good amount of work that will cost who knows how much more.

I went for a walk with my 2.5 year old last week and realized I’ve barely seen him lately. It’s hard now with a baby, but it was nice to have some 1×1 time with him. He’s at that age where he notices when you’re not paying attention, and when you are, even if you’re just sitting behind him while he doodles on a water mat or with chalk on the sidewalk. All my son knows of me is a mom who is constantly on her computer or on her phone. I want to change that.

But in 2 more months I’ll go back to work. I’ll likely work from home for a while. Maybe the rest of the year. I’ll be busy, if I’m so lucky. I’ll stay employed through the end of the year. And then I’ll see what’s next. I won’t be anywhere near Fat FIRE then. Especially not with this $7k a month mortgage weighing over my shoulders until I’m an old lady. My husband isn’t interested in earning more income. He isn’t interested in moving somewhere cheaper so I can have a little less pressure to maintain employment. So I can maybe spend a little more time with my kids before they become adults.

I guess seeing how old my 2.5 is — how fast childhood goes when you’re watching it form the lens of being a kid’s mom — of seeing my grandmother’s heart breaking over and over again when we talk about my dad, her first born, who died 2.5 years ago at age 67 — and you can hear the memories in her voice, memories I’m not making with my kids because I’m so busy not only working but also just worrying constantly about work and how I can’t manage the social/political pressures in the corporate environment… I’m losing precious moments of being a mom.

So I keep parsing my life to date to try to figure out what might bring me happiness and what won’t. I want to work, but not to make money, which is a privileged thing to even consider, and it isn’t actually logistically feasible right now, or maybe ever, but maybe I don’t have to make quite so much eventually. What if we get to $2.5M-$3M by the end of the year–which is somehow possible–then… could I shift the way my life works? Not here. Not in the Bay Area. But what if we moved? What if we went somewhere else where I could work remote for a company and make less or do something creative and who knows…

What I do know is I’m counting on work to fulfill me and it’s failing at that, and my life isn’t fulfilling me as I feel isolated and no one gives a shit about hearing anything about my day or telling me about theirs and I have a few friends but we rarely talk and when we do I never know what to say or I find my only friendships are just back-and-forth complaining which isn’t very positive and there hasn’t been much positive in my life except my children, and I’m not present for them at all. If I’m not present while on maternity leave, how will I be when I go back to work? My father-in-law is raising my toddler and while I love that they have a close relationship… I miss being a mom. Whatever that means. I’m not the mom I want to be.  And by the time I’ve saved “enough” it will be too late.

My husband gets upset when I talk about moving or doing anything drastic now as we’ve committed to the house his dad lives with us and we really can’t move now. I need to stop complaining about what I thought I wanted even though now that I have it I realize it isn’t what I want at all. I need to shut up and keep my head down and make it work, like so many people do. I’m not going to last forever in this job, but maybe I can get to the end of the year. I think it’s possible. I may get that salary decrease I’m expecting, but I’ll still get my stock as long as they don’t fire me. So, I just have to focus on this year. But I’m worried my mental health will be so shitty I’ll fail to appreciate any of the moments with my kids even if I’m actually here for them. And pretty soon my toddler will be a kid in school and I won’t be able to randomly take him to wherever during the day (not that we can do that now) and spend time together. I want to do those things now before he’s in school 5 days a week except holidays and a short summer until he’s 18 and then he’s off to college. We’ll never get this time back.

Can I manage to fight through this year and keep my job while also being a present mother? I want to figure out how to feed my toddler healthier food, keep the house clean, teach him new things. I see the way he looks at me now. I’m his mom. I want to have time to figure out what that means. Maybe next year.

Looking Ahead to What’s Next and Getting Through the What’s Now

I really, really, really want to stay in my job until at least the end of this year. I know it won’t be the end of the world if I don’t make it that far (even a few months into the year and I’ll have earned more than every single prior year of my life with the exception of 2020) — but, BUT… I really want to do this. I want to somehow, in the middle of a pandemic, in the first year as a mom to my second child, while trying to ignore the gnawing sensation of my ego being constantly ripped apart by a boss who has banished me from any semblance of leadership and telling me, flat out, that I will never, ever be a leader, hold on and get through it without any more wounds along the way.

But I’m also–exhausted. Sad. Upset with myself but also at the system that’s just… against working parents and especially new moms. I’ve got too many issues, I guess. If my mental health alone wasn’t enough to destroy my hopes of job stability, then we add in my having children. I don’t regret having children. But it does make it harder. Having to wake up every few hours to feed my child with my own body, well, that makes it harder. And I wish I could have stood up for myself more–but I’m not sure how that would have helped. Does anyone care why I’ve struggled? That’s just more reason to say I’ll never be a leader. So what if I tend to babble more on my worst days? I babble enough on my best ones. I’m not a leader. Not this type of a leader. Maybe not any type. I don’t have that kind of energy. I’m not consistent. I’m a ball of energy that can come in and explode and then need time to pick up the pieces and inflate again.

Maybe there could have been a little more support? I don’t know. On one hand, I’m completely to blame. I don’t expect anyone to hand hold here. On the other, some companies went out of their way to support working parents. To cancel performance reviews for the year. To provide time off and flexible hours. Others, like mine, expected us to just keep up. When I failed to meet a deadline there was no discussion of how I’m doing the best I can in a global pandemic while parenting a toddler and dealing with the exhaustion of pregnancy. I mean, who cares, right? I missed the fucking deadline. That I set. So, that’s on me. All of it’s on me. I shouldn’t have set an unrealistic deadline. And any deadline would have been unrealistic because my anxiety made it impossible to get the work done until I already was late and had failed. I can only do good work when failure is not only imminent, but it’s a sure thing. I can’t blame anyone but myself for that.

I don’t think the work was good anyway. But I guess it wasn’t bad. It seems some people thought it was ok. It doesn’t matter. I’m a never leader. And I cry about this every fucking day. Because she’s right. Because I can’t hold it together.

But my problem isn’t that I’m a never leader. Well, it’s that. But it’s more I can’t be relied on to do anything when anyone else is relying on me. That’s not a leadership issue, that’s an ability to keep a job issue. That’s an issue that has plagued me since I was fired from my first job as an admin assistant to every single job where I found myself too panicked to get work done. Why? I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t feel confident in the quality of my work. It wasn’t perfectionism, it was being embarrassed by how bad I was at my job because I didn’t know what I was doing. Sometimes I put out good work but in the grande scheme of things I never know what the fuck I’m doing. I don’t have the confidence or ability to fake confidence so people lose trust in me. They move on. They aren’t on my side, they’re against it. They say shit about me behind my back. They wonder why I’m still employed. Until I’m not.

This is a problem.

I could have been good at this job, too. I mean, I’m a never leader but at the very least I had some decent ideas, if anyone cared to listen. I had my hands tied. I tried to be collaborative, as I was told I was working in a silo and this was bad. Then I was told I was too collaborative, which is not leadership either.

It’s hard enough trying to navigate all this not as a tired pregnant mom in the middle of a pandemic, you know?

Is this an excuse or reality or a little bit of both? How much harder could I have worked? There was too much spinning and I was spun out. Off to “lead” a function that no one wants to fund properly and I must wait to be told what to do. And even in this role I managed to already mess up in a meeting where my former boss basically was on the verge of firing me at the end of it because I was a babbling mess.

I don’t think it’s this job. I think it’s my inability to do well in any job. So I need to fix that. But how? I have no fucking idea.

Junior level jobs still require you to be good at communication. Get shit done on time. The basic things I am bad at. What I’m good at is strategy and planning. But you don’t get to do a lot of that at the junior level. I just wish I knew what the fuck I was doing. Will I ever? Not when I’m this tired.

I go back to work in 2 months. That’s a world away but then it will be here in the blink of an eye. It all goes so fast. If I’m as tired then as I am now then I don’t know how I will make it. If I’m WFH that’s a good thing as I don’t have to drive half asleep commuting to the office but I do have to keep my eyes open on long zoom calls and try to appear alive when I’m clearly not. At least I’ll be too tired to physically appear jealous or sad or whatever when my work friend who is now in my former job is saying shit in a way that shows just how good someone can be at sounding like a leader as a reminder how I’ll never ever ever be that.

She’s right.

I don’t know what I’m good at. If anything. I just know I’m tired. Tired of constantly walking smack into walls. Tired of living on little sleep. Tired of being tired. Tired of reading articles about how working moms are not supported in society and feeling all righteous and angry for every other working mom out there but then when I turn to myself I feel guilty for absorbing any of that anger against “The Man” for me because I don’t deserve any of that pity or sympathy or empathy or whatever support should come with it, right? Other moms, they deserve to be provided something to get them through this but me? I’m failing for some other reason. My own reason. My own messed up issues that aren’t going away even when the pandemic is long gone and my kids are grown. I can’t ask for help because I don’t know what would help anyway other than maybe a personal cheer squad that tells me my work isn’t shit so I can just get onto the next thing and the next. Is it shit? I don’t know.

And I was on a performance plan a year ago and my boss clearly did that as a safe way to get me out and then I briefly was doing ok and that saved me for a short while and she was all excited that I managed to turn things around until I turned into a pile of shit sandwich on the floor. I feel and about it. I wanted to prove her wrong. Instead, I proved her right.

So I’m sad. And tired. And what’s new?

Wanting a Life That Isn’t About Making It to the Next Vest.

My spreadsheet has some good news — if I can hold out four more vesting periods, I’ll be able to afford taking a job with lower pay for a few years while I sort out a better career path. “All I have to do is just survive until 2022, and then… things will be better. Somehow. Or, at least different.” I think this to myself over and over again as my fast-growing toddler and infant cling to me and I realize that a year from now my infant and toddler will be, well, a year older–a big year of changes and growth that I don’t want to miss. I don’t want to “just survive.”

Then–there’s the fact that I’m almost 40. Fuck. How’d that happen? 40. It is just another year and yet it is–fucking forty. That’s old. No offense to my readers who are 40 or much older. Because there’s nothing wrong with being old. And certainly when you’re 70, 40 seems young. It’s a matter of perspective. But it’s one of those ages that when you’re a kid and when you’re 21 you think is old. Not to be morbid, but random people start to die at 40. Not a lot of people. And it happens before 40. And others live to 110. But you hear things like… just today actor Dustin Diamond died at 44. Cancer. He found out about it 3 weeks ago and just like that, he’s gone.

I don’t think I’ll die in my 40s just because I’m turning 40–but I certainly feel my mortality in a way I didn’t in my 20s or 30s. Time is always finite, but it is–finiter. And being 37 thinking “man, I just want to survive until I’m 39” doesn’t sit right, even if it means I’ll have (maybe) $500k more in my bank account. It’s fine to want to get through the year and do a good job at work to earn my keep and then some, but I’m so so so tired of spending my life waking up every day thinking how do I get to the next X. Friday. Vest date. Year end.

I’ve lost all passion for living. Not that I had a ton, ever. But I used to look forward to things in the short term. I don’t know how to anymore. Occasionally I look up and see my toddler cuddling with my husband and I feel like I’m watching my life as if it were a movie. How cute they look. What a perfect father and son. A little boy who is no longer a little infant who is no longer a combination of DNA in my belly. A little boy who soon will be a big boy and then a man with little time in between to even notice the transformation unless I’m paying close attention. And here I am, waking up each day thinking how I’ll survive to 2022.

I’m not going to change this mentality any time soon. Surviving until 2022 is still a major goal of mine. As I’ve mentioned before many times, it is the winning lottery ticket that I just need to keep in my hands for a short time via quality and on-time work and then the proceeds can significantly impact the stability of my family’s future. I just want to figure out how to stop playing my life like it’s a game and just start living it. But how?

I don’t know if this is depression or if it’s just what happens when you’re an adult who has lost her way. I don’t know if I take some pills to boost my dopamine that I’ll suddenly feel “in” my life again. Like, is this actually chemical? Is this why in periods of mania and/or depression I find myself craving chaos, something that shocks the system and provides a different sense of time. I get that from some healthy things… like starting a new job, for the first few months. Those early wins. The first months where unconscious bias of your hiring manager gives you the benefit of the doubt and tells themself you can do no wrong — after all, they hired you and you must be great. Your work proves them right.  You’re a shining star, picking things up so quickly. Impressively so. Until you’re not. Until everything great is expected of you, and anything less than excellent causes grave concern and achieving success becomes a higher hill to climb each time. The novelty is gone. It’s just another job. And you’re just another employee.

There’s seeking that thrill in work, there’s not finding it there and accidentally chasing it in real life. There’s stepping back and slapping yourself in the face with a big reality check and a reminder that your life isn’t meant to be some crazy adventure. Stability is good. Enjoying the little moments is what it’s all about. There is no plot. No  winning. No game. Well, the only winning is–actual survival. The health of your family. Helping your kids solve challenges. Inspiring them to do so on their own. Changing their many diapers. Getting them ready to face adulthood a little (or a lot) better than you did. Watching them grow. Spending time with your parents and other family members as long as they have left. Talking about meaningless whatevers. Disagreeing and debating for the sake of social entertainment. That’s life. That’s what maters.

Survival is pathetic. It’s basically a form of long-term suicide. Just watching the months and years go by. Experiencing all of it from the outside. Afraid and uncomfortable. Unable to say the right things but somehow perfectly capable of saying all the wrong ones. So you just get through it all. You kick yourself, constantly, for all the things you’ve said wrong. You wish to start over. You run from your past, even if your past was just a few minutes ago. Your life is survival and escape. And you’re so tired of it. You want to be normal. Happy? Maybe. At least just living for the moment instead of trying to get through the moment. It may be a pill is needed to make that possible.  A pill to fill my mind with the chemicals needed to wake the fuck up and fall in love with life before it’s too late. Hopefully there’s plenty of time life. But there’s never enough. So why waste it wishing the days disappear as fast as they appear? No good reason. This has to change. It must.

 

All I’m Asking is For is a LIttle RESPECT (just a little bIt)

Two things are blatantly obvious — when my division’s boss wants to keep someone, he throws the world at them. And when he (and those under him but over you) don’t care if you stay or walk, they treat you like less than a human being who isn’t worth their time. It’s painful, but they know as well as I do that I can’t walk unless I’m a trust fund baby (I’m not) or criminally insane (close, but not yet.) So they don’t invest any time in caring about informing me of such things as whatever kind of weird demotion I’ve been put through this year.

My new boss sent me a note this morning with my old boss CC’d about how my bonus will be paid out today (great!) and to let him know if I have any questions (uh… not so great, that means I’m not getting my full bonus, right?) Now, this year I’m lucky to get ANY bonus for many reasons —- the state of the world… being kicked out of my role and my old boss clearly wanting to fire me and likely being told by HR to wait until after maternity leave and such (no proof of this but seems to be true) I ought to be happy for pocket change as a bonus. My overall compensation this year due to my stock vesting is insane. A few percentage points in bonus distribution won’t put a dent in that.

But here is the deal — for the last 3 years… even last year when I was put on a PIP—I was paid my full bonus. I didn’t expect it last year. But that set a psychological precedent. And I know I 100% performed better this last year. I wasn’t perfect. Clearly. I suck at communication and I delivered a few projects late, even though that didn’t impact launch dates. My former boss really is over me as an employee on her team. She moved me to report to someone under her—because she doesn’t want to waste her time dealing with me. I frustrate her and she doesn’t want to have to interact with me on a weekly basis. She sees some value in my output—as long as she doesn’t have to be in meetings with me or manage me or—acknowledge my existence as a fellow human being.

So why should she take two minutes to message me and let me know I would not be getting my full bonus? Yes, I’m on leave now—but clearly she wanted to have my new boss share the news in an early review before I went out then they weren’t ready for that in time so it never happened. Instead of being honest about things and sending me a note saying something about my bonus payout and anything else hitting before I get back from leave (Ie any paycuts/title demotions) I was just ignored. Left to see my lower bonus hit my account and to do the math myself. Even the note this morning was super cryptic. “Message me if you have any questions” — from the new boss. Uh, yes I have a question… what is my bonus payout based on as I can’t figure out how this number came to be… unless my pay was significantly cut and I haven’t been told that yet either.

It really makes little sense. My bonus is supposed to be 20% of my pay. But the bonus paid out only makes sense if my salary is 150k (it’s 175k, or at least it was.) If the bonus is a percentage of 175 then I’m not sure how they got 30k. So my bigger concern is if they are flailing around when to tell me my salary has been cut by 25k. Which is possible. Anything is possible. I don’t see how I can report to my new boss as we both are at the same level in the org—so I imagine either he needed to be promoted this year, or I needed to be demoted. This is maybe all in my head, but I’m pretty damn good at intuiting these things. But if any of this is true, they really should tell me before I find out via my paycheck. I mean, if they considered me worth anything. Clearly they don’t. And it fucking hurts.

That said, everyone knows I cannot walk. The value of my stock, at least this year, is way too high. As I’ve noted before it’s a winning lottery ticket in my hand and all I’ve got to do, barring any unexpected layoff, is to hold my breath, smile with whatever dignity I have left, and take the high road until I can take the high road out of there next year. If I can take my ego out of it, I’m in a really good position to ride this out. It’s just a year now. And, I also think my old boss likes me as a person, unlike prior bosses who have fired me quickly, and she deep down wants me to win here, she just gets frustrated by me and has no time or interest in being my coach. She is undoubtedly looking at an even bigger lottery ticket, a multi-year one at that, and she sure as hell isn’t letting little ol me get in the way of wherever that rocketship is taking her. And I respect her on many levels too. I admire her work ethic, her ability to multitask and always deliver excellent work. So I am sad I let her down. That I am in this awkward place between staying and going. But it is what it is. It most certainly won’t get any better. My job is to stay employed 12 more months. To do a few really strong projects between now and then, despite being in the sleep deprived haze of year one of parenting and full-time breastfeeding. Uh, good luck to me.

I’m trying to approach the year ahead as one quarter at a time. Each is an opportunity to earn more than I earned in an entire year before starting this job, and likely more than I’ll earn in an entire year after leaving. Yes, it’s sick how I, at a time when so many are going hungry and not allowed to work, even as an employee considered an underperformer, am being paid so damn much. I don’t deserve this at all, and yet here I am complaining about getting like 85% of my bonus instead of 100%. But I know my company performed strongly this year, and my guess is a small batch of people were given less than full bonuses to manage cash flow and maybe to prevent any layoffs in the coming year should things take a turn given the whole world is fucked right now. And many companies didn’t even pay out bonuses at all, so I’m damn lucky to get anything (and they know that.) Right?

For all I know, everyone didn’t get their full bonus this year. But if that was the case it would be helpful for them to communicate this to be as well. Just some sort of explanation now vs waiting until I come back from leave and have a formal review. Then again my boss apparently thought I was returning in 2 weeks (um, 6 weeks after having my baby) — which is not correct—I’ll be out for 14 weeks, a pretty big difference. Not sure where he got the 6 weeks from but again you would think if he wasn’t sure he might ask me (I also mentioned Q2 before so not sure where he got the idea i would be back in Feb?) Anyway, yet another example of how this company clearly doesn’t give a shit about me. If they don’t want me to leave, they sure as hell are doing a horrible job encouraging me to stay—esp after this year when my stock pool is much smaller. I must be in the bucket of employees titled “meh” — subtitle “let them leave on their own… or not… we don’t care.” I’m guessing this bucket is also the first to be cut in any formal layoff, so knock on wood that doesn’t happen this coming year,

Ok, so the challenge here is how to put out incredible work while being so ripped up about how I’m sitting in horse manure at my company with no path to get out of it. So I have to sit in the muck and smell it all day long and still have a big ass smile on my face and pretend like I don’t notice I’ve been relegated to function in a big ol pile of poop. I can get up and shower and get out on my own, but man does life in poop pile pay well. I think I’ll stay a while. And try to convince everyone I just lovvvveee sitting in heaps of feces, watching my colleagues be wrapped in the finest silk and flown on heavenly jets, and doing my best creative work. Ever. Like some brilliant shit that makes them think, man, we ought to keep her around for one-more-quarter. Just four more times. Three more, really, once I am back. So doable. So smelly. Shit.

But before you roll your eyes at me and my situation, know that even my silk-wearing colleague who took over my role is struggling. I mean, I’m not sure if anyone notices or if he is just overly critical of his work, but he is facing the same roadblocks I did due to the disorganization of leadership and constantly changing direction. People think he is brilliant so he gets away with delays and such, as far as I can tell, but he sees that the whole situation is pretty challenging for anyone to thrive in. I guess that makes me feel a bit better about things. Not that he is being set up to fail as well, but that anyone in that role would struggle (plus I always had that role plus about 90 other roles making it impossible to focus on doing it well, kind of unfair to compare my performance in the position to his anyway, right?)

Well, I should be sleeping as it is 4am but I have a 3 week old who refuses to sleep in his bassinet so I’m currently under him as he grunts and farts away the night (until he wakes up and looks like a bird human from a horror movie, attempting to find my nipples fit his hundredth nightly snack.) This is what matters. I’m trying to separate work from life but it’s hard as work has always been my life. I don’t know how to make it not my life. Maybe that’s the problem. But if you look at anyone in my company, especially those on my team, who are successful — well they live and breathe their jobs. My former boss hasn’t taken much time off since she started at the company, and I’m pretty sure she worked a bit even on her days off. I think she subconsciously resents me a bit too—being able to not only take maternity leave, but also taking vacation days and using them. I took no more than my colleague but I’m sure she forgot how much he took and sees me taking a lot as I’m a mom with kids so obviously I’m not dedicated to my job. Maybe it’s all in my head but I don’t think so. Unconscious bias is real and when you already have a narrative in your head about a person every little plot point will support that narrative unless you actively try to reframe it (or, you know, care to.) Everything I do supports her story of me being a train wreck. Anything positive I do is quickly forgotten. My only saving grace is that compared to a few prior hires who were total asses (or rightfully spoke up for themselves amidst the craziness, depending who you ask) I have generally maintained a ridiculously good attitude about sitting in the shit pile. Instead of complaining about my partial bonus pay or asking for an explanation I just responded with a thank you. When my former boss told me on my half year review that I just don’t have the personality to lead, I shared that I believe one can always get better at things and I will always try to improve myself, but I am open to any role she sees fit for my abilities (and lack thereof.) i guess compared to a few of her former hires and the crapshoot of future ones, I’m at least loyal and do good work. That’s not me trying to keep my job, that’s just me. I care a lot. Too much. It’s a problem. I’m not some corporate robot. I’m in it with my full heart. I can’t be any way else.

So right now I’m setting a first goal for June 30. At this point of the year I should be at approximately $450k in income for the year. Should I lose my job at that point, I can walk knowing this was still my second highest earnings year ever. While I can make about 200k per quarter for the remainder of the year (and very much want to make that additional 400k) I HAVE to feel good about getting to the end of June if that’s all I can do. That’s just 10 weeks or so after coming back from leave. And barring getting caught up in any mass layoff, or losing my mind and telling them “what I really think,” I should be able to make it. That’s a huge win. Ginormous. I have to be happy with that. And I can still earn more this year… I could take 3 months off and get another job in the fall and still make over 500k for the year. It’s hard to see that as winning if I’m leaving another 400k+ on the table (when it is likely my income will drop below 200k in my next role) but fuck it. I have to feel good about all of this. My husband makes 100k a year yet still makes me feel crappy about maybe losing my job half way through the year. I don’t think he really should criticize me when I have managed to earn so much in a short amount of time. Maybe taking 3 months off this year, should I get fired, isn’t the end of the world. Maybe it’s the start of a new world. I don’t know. I’m tired. Tired of being in their corporate career that makes no sense to me. I don’t know what I want other than not this. I want to write, I think, but maybe movies or tv shows or something. I want to help people. To inspire them. And to be a good mom. I don’t know. I feel like — I am turning 40 in less than 3 years. And while 40 isn’t “old” it sure as hell not young. Fuck I can’t even make those 40 under 40 lists anymore at that point. I’ll have to encourage someone to start 50 over 40 who aren’t yet 50 who suddenly figured out their life’s calling but aren’t old enough to be on lists of people who did that when they were impressively old. Or something. Did I mention I have a 3 week old and I haven’t slept much in 3 weeks?

June. 30. I’m going to get there. Some how, some way. After that every paycheck and vest for the year is icing on this melted manure cake. I’m all for icing, but I’ve got to grant myself some grace. Or whatever. It’s important to recognize that even if I am falling apart in the flesh, on paper I’m kicking ass. And, in reality, I’m just, as always, holding on for fear life. So I’ll keep on keepin on.

433 Days Until Something Better.

I browse job postings on the daily. Usually they just depress me. I feel painfully unqualified for everything. While I’m in a better place than I was on my last job search, now with 3 years under my belt at a public company with a name that would be recognized, my experience still makes absolutely no sense when compared to jobs out there in the real world. But today, I found a job that actually seemed like it might be a good fit at a target company that is about 15 minutes from my new house.

However, I’m not going to apply. I’m tempted. Trust me. But between being on maternity leave and my earning potential over the next 433 days, I just can’t get into the process of attempting to get a new job. But I’m getting close to the time when I should start applying. I’m going to try to wait until 2022 before I start applying, and then I’ll let the resume outflow flood gates loose. Maybe I’ll get lucky. Or not. I guess as long as I have a job I’m in no rush to jump to the next thing. Maybe on Jan 1, 2022, I’ll still have a job. It’s possible.

I’m hopeful. 433 days sounds like a lot. But time still has its way of flying by, especially in the first sleepless year of having a kid. I’m hoping with the whole work from home situation ongoing people will just forget I exist. That’s not going to help me get ahead in my current company, but getting ahead is not actually possible anymore. I’ve lost any chance I had at a leadership role or promotion and am lucky if I don’t get an official demotion this year. So maybe I can just stay quiet, put out a few good projects, and ride the year out without people remembering I’m still on the payroll… at least until next year’s performance reviews and when I’m already at least deep in the process of applying for new roles.

But I’m so tempted to apply now and to get out. My ego is beyond beaten down. It isn’t what happened, it’s how it happened. It is a new leadership team forming for my group and not being told about it and not being placed on it — not being officially demoted yet clearly being removed from any strategic decision making. I am not at all surprised by any of this, I just feel like the least they could have done was given me a new title and explained I wouldn’t be considered a leader on the team anymore. Just some honesty and clarity. But I guess that’s too much to ask for when my boss is probably thinking I’m lucky I was pregnant and that she can’t fire me per some HR policy or something. Anyway. I’m trying not to dwell on it. I am lucky. and she could have still let me go as she has plenty of documentation on my failures and my admission of my mental health issues that get in the way of my doing a consistent good job. So. I know things are shit and they aren’t getting any better. Not at this company. It would be nice to think I could move up again. Redeem myself. It’s not happening. That’s ok. I feel humiliated and want to just put it behind me, but I can’t. Not yet.

I’m trying to focus on how to go into a new role — if I can get a new role — with a new personality. I can’t let any mania or depression lead me to admitting anything to my boss about how much of a mess I am. I need to hold it together. Keep my true self hidden. Figure out how to not overcommit and get everything done on time. I’m scared because I feel like I’m doomed to repeat this mess over and over again for the rest of my career. I need to learn how to control myself better. The last two years have been an exceptional cluster. It’s not new for me though, but normal cluster me with the exhaustion of young children is pretty much a recipe for getting fired. I can’t believe I’ve lasted this long. I put out some good work in between falling apart again and again. So I just have to get rid of the mess part and focus on the good work part. Somehow. Maybe next time I can not crumble as I always do.

It just feels like a lonely road. I don’t have anyone to talk to about this who gets it. My husband doesn’t work in the same industry and he’s watched me fall apart time and again over the last two decades we have known each other. While he used to be worried about it, he has also seen how every time I’ve gone through getting fired I’d find a new job that pays better soon after and he no longer is too concerned. He doesn’t like to hear about my work either way. My therapist doesn’t get it either. The only coworker who gets it is the one who took over my prior role, so that’s awkward. But he knows how messed up things are and how it wasn’t all my fault. I wish I had friends I could talk to about work shit. But I don’t. I mean I don’t really have many friends. I blog because who do I have to talk to about any of this? It’s nice there are people out there who read this blog and can relate, or at least understand this type of corporate environment and can see how it’s not completely my fault or have some context of even if it is then maybe it doesn’t matter. Maybe it’s ok to seek out a lower stress role and try to float, or something.

I’m tired of chasing money, I guess. Not that I was… the stock gains happened without chasing them. Now I have this crazy potential earnings amount on paper for this year and I freak out whenever I think of losing that lottery ticket. So I just have to calm the fuck down and carry on. For now. Then… well, then… I have to figure out what happens then. On my own. Because who can help me? Who would even start to understand… how I’m so “successful” and yet have no employable skills. People hire me because they think I’m brilliant and then they soon realize that I’m not. But how else can I get hired? I’ve only been hired because people think I’m special. Well, clearly I’m not special enough.

A Job Without a Title

When I was demoted/layered/whatever-you-want-to-call-it a few months ago, I was told I’m being moved to a new role, reporting to a new person, and didn’t have a say in the matter. As I was about to head into my maternity leave and was gracious to survive last year’s PIP by the skin of my teeth, and some information I knew via the grapevine via my colleague having already replaced me in that position, I knew it wasn’t worth fighting it. My choices were to agree to the change and do my best in the new role or to move on. With my stock package it makes no sense to move on, at least not now, but I’m still struggling with how it was handled and feeling like I failed myself yet again despite having done some really good work last year.

Of all the flubs in my demotion, I’d say the one that hurts the most is not actually having a new title. I was pitched the new role in a way that surely was HR- and legal-approved in advance of my leave (it’s not a demotion, it’s moving you into something that you can excel at!) I was clearly removed from direct contact with my then boss as much as possible–she seems to appreciate my work at a distance and prefer to not have to meet with me on the regular. My new position was not fleshed out. That too was pitched as my having the opportunity to build something from the ground up. However, my plans were ignored, my budget and project proposal not seriously considered, and any ideas I had brushed to the sidelines. It’s clear this role is not a priority and seems to be created for the illusion of not demoting me one month before my leave. Which, given the amount on the table I have to earn this year due to stock appreciation, I should be beyond grateful for. It just hurts. It hurts because I don’t even know what title to put under my name. I don’t even know if I’m still at the same respective level…

My boss initially wanted to have my annual performance review early, before I went out on leave. Then it got pushed a bit. Then I went out on leave earlier than planned, but I didn’t hide the fact that this might happen. So as it stands, I’ll know in a month, via my paycheck, if I managed to get a bonus last year. I should also know if I received any sort of stock refresh once that hits my account. I’m not expecting it, though. And that’s fine. I know they’re throwing the stars and the moon at my colleague who now has my former role. He is smart and hits deadlines so why not? Last year I eeked by with a standard cost of living raise (~1.5%) which was, of course, better than nothing, but also a clear reminder of how the company views me and the value I bring to it. I’m not sure if anyone who keeps their job at the annual performance review gets 0%, so I’m assuming the 1.5% is for the lowest performers in the company who aren’t asked to leave. That’s incredibly motivating.

I know it’s not just me. It is just me in that I fucked up majorly a few times last year in ways that could have been avoided. I know that the way things run is a bit all over the place, and to survive you have to just make sense of it all and have a ridiculous amount of confidence to make it seem like you know what’s going on so everyone else believes that you do. I just want to do good work, and that requires time to get the appropriate information. People to collaborate with. Perhaps a boss who cares about any of my work other than is it done on time and did anyone complain that I’m running late. While deadlines matter, a lot, some context for any delays might help. Or some support to brainstorm and come up with answers vs leaving me on my own and saying because I couldn’t handle it on my own I clearly don’t have leadership potential. Maybe she’s right. Maybe I don’t even care anymore about “leadership potential,” but I do care about career path so far as being able to pay my mortgage and not going a thousand steps backwards in terms of reasonable salary expectations over the coming years. As I approach 40, it’s clear that there are two directions to go here–up, or flatline.  I guess it’s the mom track. Or the ADHD track. Or the you-don’t-belong-here-but-you-occasionally-do-good-work-so-we’ll-keep-you-on-the-sidelines track and get rid of you when we don’t need you anymore. You’re easy to cut.

Apparently leadership requires a hyper focus on doing the things that have the greatest visibility and ignoring all of the problems that need solving. I tend to get fixated on fixing vs on making myself look good. That alone is a problem. So why am I not fixing that one?

I know this year is just a year and I’ll do whatever it takes to make it through. I’m so fortunate to be in a position where, as long as I don’t totally fuck things up (or get caught up in a massive layoff) I should be able to survive from now until Jan 1. But then what? My new role has no legs. It’s not like I’m going to stay at this company for 5 years in this new position and be successful. I’ll always be at the bottom of the pile when it comes to requesting budget and getting support of ideas. Even my boss isn’t sure what to do to support me as he also can’t get budget buy in for my projects that he thinks are important. Funny that when I joined the company 3 years ago I was in the weekly departmental leadership meetings. How far I’ve fallen.

It is just scary because I still don’t know what my career is. I have some idea of what I want it to be, but no idea how to get there. And I’m old now. Like, not old, old. But old enough that changing careers at this point is hard. Hard when you’re a mom of 2 young kids and want another and realize your career is 30 years more, max, and that’s maybe 6-10 different jobs, or less, until you’re retired, if you retire at typical retirement age. Those years will speed by in a blur. That’s life. You want to do something meaningful. There’s so little time left. But you have to pay your mortgage. And you’re not actually good at anything. Except writing incredibly long blog posts about how you’re not good at anything except writing incredibly long blog posts.

So, I’ve got this year to survive. And survive it, I will. Knock on wood. But then what the fuck do I do?

 

 

From Now to Rich in 3 Years.

What does “rich” mean? There was a huge debate on if having $1M makes you rich in one of my Facebook groups the other week. My argument was — no, $1M does not make you rich. It certainly doesn’t make you poor either, but it’s not what I’d consider wealthy.

Wealth, to me, is having enough in savings that with reasonable diversification and YoY growth, you never have to save another dime to support your future lifestyle. Your income, which can be passive or active if you feel confident you can maintain active employment and want to maintain active employment, should cover all of your bills and expenses until you age into one of your retirement buckets. You may only have one retirement bucket (i.e. age 67) or you may have multiple buckets (I have an early retirement bucket set for age 45, and another bucket at normal retirement age.

Wealth, to me, is being able to buy things like… a minivan… new… and a trip to Hawaii with a stay at a non-budget hotel… without worrying about it impacting my retirement goals. It’s flying my sister and mom to Hawaii and getting them their own room at the hotel for a week. It’s being able to pay to get my mother an in-home aide (or at least contribute to it) when she needs it, maybe even moving her across the country when she’s older, to be closer to us so she isn’t alone (if that’s what she wants.) It’s being able to spend like my father did–always offering to pay for meals for friends and family and tipping generously–but with the actual life savings that can withstand such spending, a life savings that accounts for potential fluctuations of the market and future healthcare and long-term care costs.

While I could do a better job honing these estimates, I feel good about my FAT Fire number. It seems to align with what I’ve seen others say — around $10M — to really reach the kind of wealth where your money continuously works for you. I figure if I ever get to $5M that’s when I can start dabbling in more complex investments like real estate. For now, it’s heads down with (mostly) index funds and a few individual stocks. This year is really the make-or-break year for my plan (though there may be future make-or-break years, but it will be difficult to encounter one in the near future where I have the chance to earn close to $1M in income for the year.)

Below, is a table on my current estimates per savings bucket. I am estimating a 6% YoY growth over time, which may be too high or too low, but as I get closer to retirement I can adjust down for more safety once I see how the years go. The current value column is approximately how much was saved in each bucket at the end of 2020. With 6% YoY until each bucket is accessed, I note the GAP in total amount needed for my final goal (ie retirement goal is $5M, if I didn’t touch my money at all and got 6% YoY now, I’d be $1.6M short. The cool thing is I’d have $3.3M, which doesn’t account for my taxable funds, and also is at age 65-ish, which doesn’t account for additional growth after age 65 since I won’t pull all the money out up front and will hopefully live much longer.

My “pre retirement” FIRE bucket is more or less my “Coast FIRE” bucket, which gets me to career freedom by 45. if I have $3M by 45 I can move into a lower-paid career (and/or take a few years off) and maintain the lifestyle I would like to have. If growth is stronger than 6% year over year we can also invest in building on to our current home, or move to a city that I prefer that we couldn’t currently afford.

2020 Goal Yrs Current Value Growth Rate “Real Value” GAP
Retirement $5,000,000 28 $651,000 1.06 $3,327,708 $1,672,292
Pre-Retirement $3,000,000 13 $833,074 1.06 $1,776,887 $1,223,113
College $600,000 17 $133,607 1.06 $359,773 $240,227
Home $2,000,000 28 $195,483 1.03 $447,251 $1,552,749
$1,813,164 total: $5,911,619 $4,688,381

2021, which is now THIS YEAR, represents a huge opportunity to get much closer to my goals. Even if I have failed to tap into the actual earnings potential I should have had at this company (my raises and refreshes have not kept up with my market value or initial grant offer), I’m still in a very, very good place if I can just hold out and remain employed until the end of this year. While anything can happen, and my mental health post baby may get the best of me, I’m really focused on surviving this year. (*note, the above doesn’t count total home value, which would be higher in 28 years since the mortgage would mostly be paid off then.)

This is why:

2021 Goal Yrs 2021 Value Growth Rate “Real Value” GAP
Retirement $5,000,000 27 $786,060 1.06 $3,790,653 $1,209,347
Pre-Retirement $3,000,000 12 $1,140,598 1.06 $2,295,108 $704,892
College $600,000 16 $261,623 1.06 $664,615 -$64,615
Home $2,000,000 27 $231,212 1.03 $513,589 $1,486,411
$2,419,494 total: $7,263,966 $3,336,034

 

By the end of 2021, if I can keep my job, and the stock markets don’t tank (ie we don’t have a civil war this year), I get much closer to my goals. Not 100%, but close enough that I really am already approaching Fat FIRE territory if I didn’t have such aggressive savings plans.

2022 I plan to switch jobs, so my income will go down quite a bit. At the moment I’m thinking I will try my best to stay until I get get the full $58k into my retirement for the year as well as max out the first ESPP period for the year, which ends in March. I’ll have to leave some money on the table at some point (unless I leave in March/April which is probably the ideal time to move to a new role), but I’m now looking at a transition around June. This assumes I make $200k total in 2022, including expected bonus that comes in February before I leave my current job. I’m kind of considering this part of 2021 plan, but since the actual receipt of income falls in 2022 it hits my 2022 goal plan:

2022 Goal Yrs 2022 Value Growth Rate Value GAP
Retirement $5,000,000 26 $929,224 1.06 $4,227,394 $772,606
Pre-Retirement $3,000,000 11 $1,314,116 1.06 $2,494,584 $505,416
College $600,000 15 $277,321 1.06 $664,615 -$64,615
Home $2,000,000 26 $269,085 1.03 $580,306 $1,419,694
$2,789,745 $7,966,899 $2,633,101

As you can see from the numbers above, with 6% YoY return expected, by the end of 2022 I’m SO CLOSE to my FIRE goals. I’m close enough that if I needed to I could stop working and probably be fine.

If I adjust to 10% YoY returns (unlikely but an easy switch in my spreadsheet), things start looking pretty crazy good. Fun to dream, right? If 10% YoY is in the cards, by 2022 I’m set.

2022 Goal Yrs 2022 Value Growth Rate Value GAP
Retirement $5,000,000 26 $989,310 1.10 $11,790,771 -$6,790,771
Pre-Retirement $3,000,000 11 $1,396,395 1.10 $3,984,077 -$984,077
College $600,000 15 $293,664 1.10 $1,226,709 -$626,709
Home $2,000,000 26 $286,934 1.03 $618,800 $1,381,200
$2,966,304 $17,620,358 -$7,020,358

 

Actually, things look really good already… with 10% YoY the total value of my current assets is $13.3M at time of use. Not bad.

2020 Goal Yrs Current Value Growth Rate Value GAP
Retirement $5,000,000 28 $651,000 1.10 $9,388,067 -$4,388,067
Pre-Retirement $3,000,000 13 $833,074 1.10 $2,875,997 $124,003
College $600,000 17 $133,607 1.10 $675,313 -$75,313
Home $2,000,000 28 $195,483 1.03 $447,251 $1,552,749
$1,813,164 $13,386,628 -$2,786,628

 

Of course I’m not going to bank on seeing 10% YoY. I probably should stick to 4-5% to be conservative and leave room for unexpected growth, versus the other way around. Either way, I’m really getting excited about these next 14 months. The next 14 months to a whole different level of living. I’m not going to change my spending immediately, and I don’t plan to ever actually stop working, but I can stop forcing myself into roles that aren’t a fit and that make me miserable. I can maybe start my own company or work for a non-profit or just do work that matters.

Even with 4% YoY growth the numbers don’t look horrible in 2022 if I hold fort. Sure, I don’t have $5M in retirement or $3M in pre-retirement at 45, but I’m at $1.9M in pre-retirement and $2.5M in retirement and nearly $500k in college for my kids. So this is all great news, if I can just survive a year with two kids, including a newborn and given lack of sleep, and a company that seems to want to set me up to fail and to get rid of me. 

2022 Goal Yrs 2022 Value Growth Rate Value GAP
Retirement $5,000,000 26 $899,962 1.04 $2,495,116 $2,504,884
Pre-Retirement $3,000,000 11 $1,273,976 1.04 $1,961,227 $1,038,773
College $600,000 15 $269,309 1.04 $485,011 $114,989
Home $2,000,000 26 $260,394 1.03 $561,564 $1,438,436
$2,703,641 $5,502,919 $5,097,081

This year is everything.

26 Hours and a Baby Later

He’s oddly blonde, for now, with grey-green-blue-who-knows eyes that, despite being forced out at his 37th-something week of gestation, look deep into you like they’re thinking more than a newborn ever could think, disecting whatever blur and lines in front of his face into something meaningful and not terrifying. He could somehow still be cooking in the womb for another 1-3 weeks, but instead he’s out in the world with all of the energy I’ll never have again. I’m icing all my bits that helped him slide out into the world. I’m a mom again.

My maternity care and childbirth was free, thanks to an HMO and decent insurance from my empower. I splurged $750 on a virtual doula who turned out to be invaluable support in this particular experience, and may be splurging on a social-distanced family photoshoot which I count as part of my childbirth costs, since I didn’t have to pay anything else to safely deliver this nugget. Even then, I’ve paid far less than most people who have kids in this country.

My childbirth was not the healing one I sought after the one I had two years ago, though it had its positives. Two years ago, after 2 days of labor, one scary deceleration that almost led to an emergency C section (and a horrible moment of being forced to wear an oxygen mask which made it impossible to breathe due to my claustrophobia-induced hyperventilation), and then my son ending up in the NICU with low oxygen saturation for 36 hours, and then my dad dying a week later after a long battle with cancer and a number of other health issues (unrelated), and flying out to the east coast days later to attend his funeral that my mother said wasn’t going to be a funeral and then ended up being a funeral (so I’m glad I went) but dealing with my own blood pressure issues and concerns after the induction for gestational hypertension, well, that whole experience was just bad and I wanted this birth to be different. I knew it would hurt, because that’s what childbirth does, but I wanted it to be more of a “normal” birth. One free of major complications. One closer to what I expected the first time around.

For my first son, my blood pressure approached dangerous territory at 39 weeks, and my doctor said I should induce. When I go to the hospital and they asked if I had a birth plan I said “it was to not induce” so that was out the window. While I had vaguely studied pain relief for a natural birth, I had no idea what was involved in an induction. In my head, I wanted to go into labor naturally. I didn’t understand the risks with my borderline blood pressure, or that making it to 40 weeks was basically already a huge success and induction at that point wasn’t that big of a deal. I pushed back a bit on the induction timeline and spent a night in triage with my blood pressure being read every 15 minutes. While the doctor did not want to let me go home, by morning she was convinced it was safe to let me go as my blood pressure levels were down significantly. But then an amniotic fluid check and finding of low fliud confirmed that I should stay. And the induction began.

All while I was having my blood pressure checked overnight, I was reading about the horror stories of every induction drugs and tactic on the market. One of the worst offenders, it seemed, was a drug called misopropital (cytotec), which is an ulcer drug not approved for use in labor, yet used all the time in labor (I don’t really understand how off label use is allowed when the manufacture is very opposed to it and has warnings saying to not use in pregnancy.) I opted to turn down the cytotec and instead have a foley balloon placed to “ripen” my cervix, which is the first step in an induction. The goal of the cytotec and/or balloon is to get you to about 3cm so they can start you on Pitocin, which is the better-known induction drug. Pitocin makes you have ridiculously hard and frequent contractions which move the baby down the birth canal and help you push the baby out…

While I felt good about refusing cytotec for baby one–and first births are known for being long so it’s impossible to know had I taken it if It would have changed things at all, or for the better–I did end up with a very long induction. I did manage to get an epidural after hours of painful pitocin contractions which had me screaming and moaning. While the epidural needle was not an issue for me, I got the epidural shakes after (which are apparently very common) and they were horrible. After that, it was all a bit of a blur until my son came out after 2.5 hours of pushing and despite crying was blue and taken swiftly to the NICU. All I could think of was the video they showed in our breastfeeding class about how the baby is placed on the mom’s stomach and crawls to the breast to begin to breastfeed, and how I was robbed of that moment they made such a big deal out of (and later I learned that also meant I would have a long and challenging journey to make breastfeeding work, requiring round-the-clock pumping and attempting to feed from the breast for 8 weeks straight.) And then, being paralyzed by the epidural and told I couldn’t go to the NICU to see my baby for hours, left me alone in the delivery room thinking my son was going to die and I couldn’t even be with him.

My son didn’t die. While it was scary to see him hooked up on all sorts of tubes and having low oxygen levels, he was released two days later and we never found out what happened. Apparently he just needed time to adjust to the world. And I spent the next 2.5 years reading all about birth trauma, and found my story wasn’t nearly as bad as most trauma stories. I read about women who were put to sleep for an emergency C-section and woke up to no baby in their arms, or those who were cut into while the numbing drugs weren’t working correctly. I read about some who were not induced when they should have been and were left to birth babies too large or in the wrong positions. Women who had every last symptom of preeclampsia yet who were ignored until it was too late and they had seizures and died on the delivery table, only to be ressuctated and  brought back to life to live another day. I realized my story was barely traumatic–and yet, for me, it was something I didn’t want to relive.

So when I got pregnant with my second, I both feared a worse childbirth, but also felt optimistic about my odds of having a good birth, whatever that means. I even started looking forward to my delivery–what laboring at home would be like. What I would be doing the moment I felt my first contraction. When would baby decide to come on his own? Could I handle natural labor pain better than one induced with pitocoin? Could I get through labor without an epidural (no way!) or, how far could I progress before asking for the epidural (I made it to ~5cm last time, which is pretty good. I made a goal in my head to make it to 6 this time. Maybe that would prevent a NICU stay. Maybe getting the epidural too early slowed down the labor last time? Who knows.)

But a totally natural labor was not to be for this little one either. My blood pressure started creeping up and because I had gestational hypertension with my first, suddenly borderline readings that my doctor ignored with baby one were indicators to induce me super early. My OB looked at two BP readings, including one I took a home during a virtual visit, and said I should be induced at 37 weeks.

37 weeks???

In the back of my mind I figured I might end up induced again at 40, but hoped that I would go into labor naturally before that. With an induction at 37 weeks it was practically a guarantee I wouldn’t go into labor naturally. My hopes and plans for a natural labor were again out the window. With such an early induction, I worried, would this be even worse than my first one? After all, with baby one, at a day before my due date my body hadn’t even dilated 1cm. Would this be a worse experience? Would I end up with one of those horrific emergency C sections I read about? Would I need the oxygen mask on my face for an extended period of time? Would my baby make it out alive? Would I?

In researching 37 week inductions I found that they were quite common for medical indications. However, while 37 weeks used to be considered full term, it now is concerned early term. Elective inductions are now required to wait until 39 weeks–because baby is still forming in those 37-38 weeks. Kid’s IQ is a bit lower for each week they are unable to bake. While 37 weekers tend to survive well outside the womb, I felt delivering at 37 weeks was taking something away from my kiddo. I felt like a failure to have high blood pressure so early. And while some of it may be my fault due to gaining too much weight again this pregnancy, many thin women also end up with blood pressure issues. If the precursor to preeclampsia, which it could be, then it is related entirely to placenta failure. Every comment from well-meaning friends and family to just reduce my stress in order to bring my blood pressure down reminded me how little is understood about these fairly common diseases of pregnancy–the same ones that make America one of the top developed countries for maternal mortality, often from conditions related to blood pressure.

While I was grateful my OB took my symptoms seriously (I’ve seen many women on my Facebook groups note that with similar blood pressure readings and other issues like headaches, abdominal pain, etc, which signify something more serious happening, they are ignored) I still felt like the actual date I needed to induce was not clear. The 37 week recommendation was based on one study from 2009 of 600 women and it didn’t sort out people who had mild high blood pressure vs those who had very high blood pressure, and it also had diagnostic criteria that were changed since the study and brought down. Some reviews of the study noted the recommendation was for induction at the END of the 37th week, and others noted they were for the beginning. I started to hope that maybe I could make it to week 39, go into labor on my own, ignore my liable blood pressure that was slowly spiking higher and higher at random, and the issue would just go away.

I switched OBs. My new OB agreed with me that my levels at the time were not high enough to merit induction. But then I also started reading about what happens during childbirth if you let your blood pressure get out of control. Things could get bad fast. I joined a preeclampsia group on Facebook and read stories of women who had no blood pressure issues at all one day and were seeing 180/110 levels the next. I read about the infamous magnesium drip that makes you feel warm and like you have the flu during your childbirth and recovery, but minimizes your risk of seizures. I read stories of women who died because their blood pressure readings weren’t taken seriously. I started to chicken out from my plan to put myself on bedrest and stay the course. I made a silent agreement that if my numbers went over 140 or 90 and didn’t immediately come down, I’d go for the induction. My new OB supported my taking readings at appointments after I came in to the doctor’s room and sat for a while. We discussed my anxiety and white coat syndrome, and she agreed that the first reading when I get to the office without time to relax may not be accurate enough for a diagnosis.

I made it past 37 weeks. A huge win. But I also started seeing some high readings at home. Some that probably should have sent me to L&D.  But I’d go into bed, breathe deeply, wait a while, and retake the reading and it would come down. The final weekend before I ended up inducing I was having two friends over for a social-distanced dinner in my backyard when my felt my heart pounding a bit. I went to take my blood pressure just to check I was ok and it came back at 150 over something. I started to panic and throw things in my hospital bag and awkwardly asked my friends to leave. My husband had me get in the bed and calmed me down and my BP came back to normal levels. We decided not to rush to L&D, but to get some sleep and reevaluate in the morning.

Every day I didn’t go to L&D felt like a win in my mind. Another day for my son to grow and get closer to full term. Another chance of hitting 39 weeks and/or going into labor on my own.

Unfortunately, my new OB was scheduled to be on vacation the first week of January, so I had an appointment scheduled with a new doctor at 37+5 (37 weeks, five days.) I knew it was a make-or-break appointment. I expected my blood pressure to be high, but did not expect the readings I got. Or that it didn’t come down on a second read, or when I took it on my home machine that I brought in to the office (which was lower but still too high.) The OB, who was quite nice about things, said I should go to get induced today and put in a call to the hospital to schedule my arrival in two hours. She quickly did a cervical check and membrane sweep, which hurt a bitch, and told me I was 1cm dilated (of 10cm) , 50% effaced (of 100%) and -3 station (you want to be +”3″ to deliver a baby.) In other words, while I was ever-so slightly more ready to pop out a baby compared to my first induction, it wasn’t significant enough of an improvement that I had any faith this forced labor would go smoothly. I felt sad and spent the next two hours mourning the “natural labor” I wanted and wouldn’t get, at least not this time around.

When I checked into the hospital I also synced with my virtual doula–a woman who used to be an RN who also had a lot of experience with evidence backed birth. We discussed options and she encouraged me to take the misoprobital this time. I agreed because at least it was something different. I was a little worried about the reports of it overstimulating the uterus and causing too many contractions which could put the baby in distress and harm the mother (possibly causing her to lose her uterus.) But, it sounded like the worst side effects were still pretty rare, and my nurses at the hospital ensured me it was a common and cautious course — they start you on 50mg, a ‘half dose’, and watch your reaction for 4 hours. If that goes well, they give you 100mg and wait another 4 hours. They do the 100mg up to 5 times. The whole process could take an entire day. I liked that — at that point all I could think about was how to delay my son’s birth so he could cook a little longer in utero. This would buy me an entire day. I was game.

The first dose made me feel a bit flushed, but didn’t seem to do anything else. The following doses similarly did little. I felt a few contractions here and there, but nothing that a doctor would consider active labor. This is normal with the cytotec, apparently, as its job is to ripen the cervix, not to cause contractions. Its side effect is that it can cause contractions. But that’s not its main objective. It always is used as a precursor to pitocin, my archenemies chemical concoction of childbirth. There were stories of, rarely, a woman going into active labor after taking cytotec. I thought–wouldn’t that be great, if I could avoid the pitocin altogether! What if cytotec puts me into a normal active labor? Maybe this could be a good birth after all!

When I finished the 5 doses of cytotec, including 4 hours after the last dose, the midwife on duty at the time met with me and suggested we immediately start pitocin. My cervical check showed I was 3cm–which was actually really good for the cytotec. I wanted to get to 5cm before starting pitocin, and I also decided to get an epidural before starting pitocin this time, so I wouldn’t have to feel those horrible forced contractions. She agreed to give me 2 hours and then we would start the pitocin. The plan was always to just see if I could dilate a little more on my own, get an epidural, start pitocin, have baby when baby was ready to come out.

At that point I started to feel a few fairly strong but short contractions. My husband and I asked if we could walk the hall and we were given the ok as long as we wore our masks. Over about an hour and a half my contractions went from non-existent to very hard and very consistent. I realize now they weren’t being picked up on the monitors, but because they were so frequent I had my husband track them on my iPhone app. Looking back I see they were coming every 1-2 minutes and were intense for 30-45 seconds. I’m not sure what happened during that 1.5 hours, but my body went from not ready to have a baby at all to…

3:30pm. I get back to the room and I’m telling the nurse things are getting really painful. I suddenly am thinking 4pm, my check in with the midwife, is too far away. I am ready to throw in the towel and get the epidural now. Start the pitcoin. I’m a wimp. This hurts. I’m told that these contractions are my own, that the cytotec is mostly out of my system. The nurse doesn’t seem to believe me I’m having such frequent contractions. We discuss taking a shower to help me make it to 4pm. She knows my goal of dilating to 5cm before the epidural and pitocin. She is trying to help me get there. She sets me up for the shower, wrapping my hep lock in plastic, starting the water…

A minute or so later, I fold over in crippling pain. I almost find the pain funny, as I might have laughed in horror at that moment. I knew something suddenly changed. I felt a slight trickle of water down my legs and I thought (wouldn’t it be funny if that was my water brea…

Then, bam, out came a Hollywood-style pouring of water onto the floor in two giant bursts. I could tell my nurse knew that meant the show was really starting. Meanwhile, I felt my body immediately change. I can’t explain it. I just felt super scared. I didn’t know that I was about to have a baby so soon. I just thought I was going to have to ensure this level of crippling pain for a long time before I could get an epidural. I screamed out. I need fentynl (which I planned to get one dose of before the epidural like last time, to take the edge off), I NEED AN EPIDURAL, I NEED IT NOWWW….

Just as I was beginning to panic, I started to be hit with wave after wave of really fucking painful contractions. I screamed in agony. The nurse scrambled to get the anesthesiologist and drugs. I somehow made it to the bed. It was about 3:45pm at that point. Suddenly a bunch of people were in the room. My eyes were mostly closed. The OB was there, sitting next to me, saying she needs to check me. I didn’t know what was up or down. All I was thinking was how am I going to survive this until I get this epidural?!?! Just as the OB reported out loud that I was 5cm, I informed the room that I needed to both go to the bathroom immediately and vomit and I would be doing both in due time whether they liked it or not. The fentanyl dose was administered about then as well, as everyone said I cannot go to the bathroom on the drug. I was like, well fuck that, I’m going here and no one can stop me. No one seemed to be telling me not to poop the bed, everyone seemed focused on not letting me vomit on myself… they gave my husband a vomit bag and asked him to hold it to my mouth. I pushed it away as it made me feel claustrophobic and I was like fuck this I don’t want a vomit bag on my mouth why can’t I vomit all over myself I’m dying anyway just let me vomit on myself…

At the same time, I started to “poop.” Well, I wasn’t pooping. The midwife said “you’re pushing past your cervix.” I had no idea what that meant but it sounded maybe not good? The next thing I hear is “you’re crowning.” I think at that point I let out an audible “what??” The next phrase out of my midwives mouth was “that’s the head.” Both my husband and I said “huh?” at this point, as she continued “one more push and your baby is out” and at that point I couldn’t not push, so out came baby.

He was put on my stomach and looked ok and seemed to cry a bit but moments later they said he was having trouble breathing and he was taken away to the NICU. Even though I didn’t have an epidural this time, I had flashbacks to my first son’s birth of him being taken away, and I was again told I couldn’t go to be with him. Instead of that happy after-birth moment with my husband and new baby, I was left on the delivery table with the nurse pressing my stomach to get all the blood out and ensure I wouldn’t hemorrhage, and my husband was off to the NICU to be with our son. No breast crawl like the video. No skin to skin (after the initial minute.) No feeling that good feeling you get after you go through something horrible but end up with a healthy baby.

This time, at least, in an hour they brought my son back to me. He actually latched well and breastfed for a long time. We all went to the recovery room together. We had a little time to enjoy together before my son began having respiratory distress again and ended up back in the NICU the next day. He seemed to have a lot of amniotic fluid that wasn’t pushed out of his lungs due to the precipitous labor, but no one really knows what happened. The doctors all said it wasn’t because he was 37 weeks, but I’m not sure I believe any of that. No one seems to really know. I wonder, most of all, if the cytotec caused the precipitous labor, or if that was really all me after it was out of my system. Why weren’t my frequent contractions picked up on the monitor? Was I having overstimulation at that point? Should someone have been administering a drug to slow down my contractions? Was there any damage caused to my son in that labor that wasn’t just due to my own body having a baby really fucking fast?

Well, baby is here now and after a few days of adjusting and sounding like he was drowning due to being filled with fluids, he is doing quite well. Everyone who sees video or picture of him notes that he’s “so alert,” which I guess is a good thing for babies. My pediatrician also said this, and then noted that he’s strong and active, and that he will probably be an athlete. My husband and I frequently note that he doesn’t seem like an early-term baby, especially compared to our 40 weeker first child who came out acting much more like a premie than this guy. He seems healthy now.

After all of that, you might think I’m bat shit crazy (I am) but I want another child. We’re still looking into IVF for gender selection, which I’m partial towards due to also being able to do genetic screening of the embryo, which helps as I’ll be around 39 and my husband will be 40/41 when we try for our third and final child. Even though that’s a bit of a ways off, and maybe will never happen, I’ve got a wish for that delivery… no high blood pressure. No induction. No NICU stay.

It could always go far the other way. But in my heart, I still want that moment. Closure. That “golden hour.” I want to end the trauma that is labor–even in its best form–with the reward that its meant to bring–a sweet, healthy poop machine lying on your chest, ready for the world. Can I at least have that?

Holy Hell 2020: $850k Total Income (Can We Hit $1M Next Year?)

Ok, let me catch my breath here. Because. What? I just added up all our income for the past year and if my calculations are right (they are) we made $850k in ONE YEAR in actual income (not counting investment gains.) This figure makes me kind of numb. You would think I’d feel rich (because when you make $850k you are rich even if it’s temporary) yet… I’m blinking here and feeling like, wow, even if I never make this much again in one year, I’m shocked that I did this ever. 

  • Shocked because I’m a bipolar woman who can’t hold a job.
  • Shocked because I’m pregnant with my second kid and struggle to be a mom and a full time employee and I constantly feel like I’m going to be walked out the virtual door.
  • Shocked because a year ago my boss put me on a PIP and I was supposed to be fired in July, but I held on for dear life to make this year a reality.
  • Shocked because in Silicon Valley, it’s probably somewhat normal for 2 adults in a household to earn this much in a year ($750k of the $850k was my earnings, $100k was my husband.)
  • Shocked because I don’t deserve to make this much.
  • Shocked because many of my peers and superiors likely made 2-5x+ what I made, and are likely going to continue to do that.
  • Shocked because wealth makes no sense and while many people struggle and go hungry in this country, and I am trying to figure out my place in how to help people while also knowing that due to my mental health issues I need to save a bit more aggressively than the average person, as I could hit a wall and not be able to work at some point.

This income won’t be our income forever. 2021 could easily break this record if the stock market holds up, but in 2022 we’ll be back to about $300k (which is still crazy good compared to the average person, but not holy shit we earned almost $1M in a year good.)

For the record, this has been my income and net worth gains since 2005. Clearly this year is abnormal. (This doesn’t include my husband’s income/savings, which have remained largely flat. If I keep earning like this maybe he can actually quit his job and become a FT SAHD!)

Year Income Networth $ Growth % Growth
2005 $15k n/a n/a n/a
2006 $35k n/a n/a n/a
2007 $50k $24.9k n/a n/a
2008 $60k $15.8k -$9.1k -37%
2009 $60k $32.7k  $16.9k 206%
2010 $120k $88.6k $55.9k 270%
2011 $90k $145k $56.4k 64%
2012 $100k $200k $55k 38%
2013 $110k $253k $53k 26%
2014 $125k $299.5k $46.5k 18%
2015 $160k $342.4k $42.9k 14%
2016 $190k $416k $73.6k 22%
2017 $130k $551.3k $135.3k 32%
 2018  $300k  $625k  $73.7k  13.3%
 2019  $400k  $1.05M  $425k  99.83%
 2020  $750k $1.6M  $550k  52.8%
2021 $750k 2.1M Goal $500k Goal 31.25% Goal

I’m still. Blinking. At my google spreadsheet. It is insane. Absolutely insane how much one can make a year if you hit the RSU lotto. And PLENTY of senior Silicon Valley execs make this every year of their working lives. And are married to people who also make this much. What do they do with all that money? I mean, if I could consistently make this much for even 10, maybe just 5 years I’d be set. Forever.

That would be nice.

My taxes are a nightmare but that was expected. We went safe harbor last year knowing we’d owe a lot. I was running these numbers to figure out how much “a lot” is and it looks like we owe about $50k for 2020. That’s ok, I have that set aside. What I don’t have so neatly set aside is 2021’s first quarterly payment. It’s going to be messy because if we go safe harbor (which we probably should) we have to do 110% of this year’s taxes owed.  Welp, that’s going to be $57k…

Typically, some of that would come out of salary. Now, some of it will come out of my RSU vesting and bonus (if I get one) as that will be paid out while I’m on maternity leave. But my maternity leave pay is much lower than typical pay and no tax is automatically paid on it. I know, boo hoo rich people problems — but we need to be careful because if we don’t pay enough estimated taxes next year we’ll have a huge penalty. The year after will be fine with my income dropping substantially. Next year is… well, basically in April we owe $100k in taxes. Hopefully no additional penalties there… I think we should be ok, as our CPA said we were doing fine on safe harbor as long as we paid 110% of last year (and we did automatically, since my total income went up so much.) But next year… it’s going to be rough if I lose my job at any point as we will be forced to massively overpay early on.

Again, rich people problems. Am I a rich person? Eh, I don’t feel like one. I guess I am? I did just buy a $1000 Roomba and a $35k bathroom remodel. But I still feel like I can’t afford a good kitchen table (we’ve never owned a good kitchen table.) So there’s that.

Next year–my wish is to break $1M income. It will be close. I’m going to have fun building a donor-advised trust as well. It might be wise to do that this year also, but I think I’m going to wait as I don’t have much of a mortgage deduction yet and I’m kind of scared about the tax situation so I need as much cash on hand as possible for the time being (plus who knows what random costs will come up for this house.) By the end of next year I should have a better idea of just how much I can/should put into a donor advised fund.

I mean, if I have some horribly traumatic birth and end up disabled (or dead) things are going to change quite a bit. If I don’t… then it’s full-speed ahead to some serious wealth. People on this blog constantly ask why I stay in Silicon Valley. This is why. I want financial freedom. FAT Fire. This dream is being built here. It’s certainly not a sure thing. But it’s worth it, as I approach 40, to know that I’ll have hopefully a large chunk of my adult life when (earning and saving a lot of) money is no longer a concern. We could always pick up and retire elsewhere and live a life of luxury too, but we love it here, and I think there are still great things for me to accomplish with the right company/team. Businesses to build. Problems to solve. There are a lot of things I love about working in Silicon Valley. I don’t love the craziness behind how people change when they’re chasing their next vest date, or needing to white lie to a board to get that next round of funding. But I do love a lot of the energy here. The desire to always improve things. Never settle. I probably would get bored most anywhere else.

Visit Us On TwitterVisit Us On Facebook