While I haven't been happy watching an Albertson's fill a once-empty field by my apartment complex, I have to grudgingly admit it's been nice having a grocery store so close that I think nothing of going out for a couple of ingredients for a breakfast, or stopping for a fresh side vegetable on the way home from work. I've gotten back in the habit of cooking meals--not just one-dish pasta creations or frozen entrees, like I've been doing most of the year when I haven't just eaten out. Steak with mashed potatoes and zucchini one night, orange habanero grilled chicken with rice (and the rest of the zucchini!) the next; last night a roast salmon with a ginger peach bourbon glaze, broccoli tossed with lemon and garlic and French bread with olive oil. (The glaze was actually one of a collection of sauces that Dusty Rancourt sent me for Christmas.) This morning, citrus French toast. Given my thoughts about employment and financing, this is a good habit to get back into, of course--all but the most extravagant groceries end up making at least restaurant-quality meals at fast food prices or less.
As I write this, it's the fourth of July, just after two in the afternoon. I'm in my car watching a torrential rainstorm on the Gulf of Mexico at a beach in Crystal River.
I can't say I know why I went out driving. I have things I should be doing--although since some of them are on the computer, I can do them from on the road. I think I'm on my way to Cedar Key, an island that's actually toward the northwestern coast of Florida (not down in the Keys)--kind of a bastion of pioneer Florida. But maybe not. I'd assumed I'd be doing stuff with local friends today, but by the time noon hit, nobody had shown any signs of life. As always, they have my cell phone number.
I took the Suncoast Parkway up here. The Parkway is a toll road that runs along the west side of Hillsborough County, starting right about where NetPoodles' office is, and goes up through Pasco and Hernando counties to the Citrus county line. (Crystal River here is in Citrus county.) On my way, I circled the NetPoodles building. I'm not sure why, either. I think part of me wondered if I'd see some of the execs there loading important stuff into unmarked vans. When I left the office on Wednesday, I took my programming books and a few other important things with me--things I wouldn't want to be on the other side of a locked door if I find one some morning soon.
It's quarter to seven now, and I'm at a Fazoli's (an Italian fast food place) in Ocala. I did indeed get to Cedar Key and wandered around its dockside district for a while, as the clouds were clearing; then I drove up through the nearby National Wildlife Refuge to Gainesville. I went looking for the mystery In-and-Out Burger--the chain claims to be only Southern California, but it's apparently "Southern California and the one in Gainesville we don't mention on our website"--with no success in finding a map to Hawthorne Avenue or a local who knew where it was. Since their burgers aren't really good enough to go on a manhunt for anyway, I headed to the interstate, and now here I am.
This isn't the way I'd have expected to spend this July 4th, although I really can't complain--it's been a nice enough time so far. I'm faintly surprised that I haven't gotten a call from anyone about dinner plans (if I had, it'd have been fairly easy to get back to Tampa at a rational time). But only faintly.
So now what? Make a list of companies I might want to work at around the San Francisco Bay area--scratch that, I already have a list--and do a mass e-mailing? "With over a decade experience in print and web graphic design, professional writing and editing credits, and recent Unix web software engineering work, I'd like to offer my services as a web designer and developer for your company. Here's my résumé. I'll be in your area in [some week in mid-August] in preparation for relocation, and would like the opportunity to set up an interview with you then." Or something. I'm still interested in technical writing, too, but I suspect that would be a harder sell except in specific cases like the Apple technical writing position I recently applied for--which I'm pretty much qualified for, at least by my own estimation. (And of course saying "web designer/developer or technical writer" would only seem slightly more undecided than "web designer/developer or yak herder.")
I returned to my apartment complex around 9:00 to discover that people were gathering around the field opposite the entrance, as if to watch fireworks. (The field that became an Albertson's is to the other side of the apartments; the field with the crowd is scheduled to become a Publix.) I parked, got a pear cider and headed back to the field to watch--a bunch of people shooting off Roman candles for about ten minutes. "Okay," I said to myself, "I give." I walked back toward the apartment clubhouse, and then the real fireworks show started--I sat with maybe a dozen other people around a pond behind the clubhouse. A great view and a surprisingly good show.