LA: The First Week

IMG_7235I’ve been in LA for a week now it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster. My flight out was delayed by about 40 minutes because the crew was trying to find a flight path out of the strong jet stream to save time. Unfortunately there was no alternate route and we wouldn’t have enough fuel to make it without stopping in Las Vegas to refuel. The initial planning and Vegas gas stop delayed my arrival by about 2 hours. Overall I wasn’t too bothered; I’d rather arrive late than fall out of the sky.

My first night was uneventful. I arrived at the hotel at around 2 AM, tossed my stuff down, and went to bed. I slept for a few hours and woke up at around 6 AM to finish unpacking and get ready for work. The hotel I’m staying at is composed of multiple suites that are designed for long stays. I have a two bedroom, two bathroom suite with a living room and kitchen. The suite has a couch, table, desk, TVs in every room, marble countertops, and contemporary styling. The hotel has a nice outdoor area, grills, a pool, a tennis court, a laundry facility, gym, mini convenience store, and a bar. It’s across the street from a couple of plazas, next to a train station, and within walking distance of my office. It’s a nice place to stay for an extended assignment.

My first day of work was pretty busy. I found my way to work, made my way through the office, and met my team mates. After a tour of the office I spit the rest the day learning about the project I’m working on. One of my co-workers from Liberty was in the office that day and did some knowledge transfer as well. At the end of the day I headed back to the hotel, had dinner at the bar, and went back to my room. They day overwhelming since I was tired, trying to figure out how to get from one place to another, meeting new people, and absorbing a bunch of new information. By the time 9 PM hit I was ready for bed.

The second day was different. My co-worker had to fly back to NH and I would be by myself for the rest of the week. I had about a half day left of project information to learn and would spend the other half writing code. We are using new technologies to me so I spent the day learning. While I like to learn new things, I often feel very uncomfortable doing it. I like being an expert so I put myself under a lot of pressure. By the end of the day I felt very stressed out and my head hurt.

When I got home I had to find my way to a Target to pick up a few extra items for my extended stay. I needed some snacks and meals as well as a few other items that I had forgotten to pack. Target is too far away to walk so I took my first Uber ride. I’m so used to living in a familiar place and having my own car that it was very unnerving to trust my safety to a map and people I didn’t know. While I was concerned about being brought to a dark alley and murdered, I made it to Target and back safely. I felt accomplished for doing something on my own and ended the night feeling confident.

By mid-week I had a routine – get up at 6 AM to exercise, shower, have breakfast, and leave for work. I stopped at Starbucks on the way and grabbed an Eggnog Latte, which was delicious. Now that I understood the project, it was time to write some code. I was given a desk so I sat there for the day to take advantage of the extra monitor that it had. My co-workers were back in NH, I was sitting with a team I didn’t know, and I was still trying to figure out how to make everything work in my code. I felt very isolated. I considered popping into the team room to say hi on occasion, but it felt awkward because I was the only developer in the office; I didn’t feel that there was a purpose for me with the rest of the team. I made a lot of progress but still felt insecure about my abilities. My team is incredibly talented and sets a very high bar. I know I can meet it, but it will take some time.

The isolation of coding and disconnection with the rest of the team made me miss Sally and the boys deeply. It felt like there was a black hole in my chest that was sucking everything in. I longed for home and my old routines. I wanted to pick up the boys at school and see their excited faces as we walked in their rooms. I wanted to talk to Sally about our work days while we sat in traffic on the bridge. I wanted to rush to throw something together for dinner and scarf down my food while telling the boys not to bother each other. I wanted to sit on the couch and watch them play. I wanted to hug them. I wanted to read them a story and kiss them goodnight. I wanted to snuggle on the couch with Holly and catch up on the DVR with Sally. It was a tough night – one of the growing pains of being on my own.

I ended the week feeling better. I worked in the team room instead of a desk. This allowed me to socialize with the team and feel more included. I had made progress in my code and gained a deeper understanding of the project. I felt like I knew about my little area enough to be part of the conversation; to make decisions instead of just execute on them. On Saturday I did my laundry, talked to Sally and the boys, and then headed out on my own. I walked to the mall by the office to check out the Apple Store and then headed down to the beach. It was a long walk, about 45 minutes from my hotel, but it was easy and relaxing. I had a delicious meal at Rock ‘n Fish before walking the beach and collecting sea shells and rocks for the boys. Aside from a quick trip to Trader Joe’s I spent the rest of the night in watching Skyfall and a couple of episodes of Damages.

The week has been turbulent. I’m growing and stretching in many ways both professionally and personally. I’m learning new things and trying to measure up. I miss my family. I’m on my own in an unfamiliar place. I’m alone. It’s uncomfortable, but it won’t be that way forever. My feeling of insecurity at work will dwindle as I learn more and become more confident in my abilities. I’ll learn to be independent and I’ll figure out what to do with myself in my spare time. I’m still going to miss home, but I won’t be paralyzed by it. Best of all I will appreciate it. When I  think about my first weekend home all I want to do is hug my family for 2 whole days. I can’t wait to see everyone, see our house, see the dog, spend time together. This week will be easier. One of my co-workers will be in the office so another person to hang with. I’m heading home next weekend so I’ll be looking forward to that all week.

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