Update on my life

I haven't gotten to check in with a lot of people about my goings-on lately, for reasons you will soon understand. On the day of my birthday, this past January 19th, I had a job interview with a company called Extensis, which makes software for use by graphic designers and other professionals who need to manage large numbers of fonts, images, and documents. I found out about the job through two of my friends, who are now my supervisor and colleague, respectively. I do phone and email tech support, not my favorite things to do, but I'm good at them. Mostly, though, what makes this a fantastic job is the company itself. At a time when most phone-based jobs have been outsourced to massive call centers in countries like India, for a company to pay its tech support agents over $30,000 a year plus great benefits, is itself a refreshing concept. The whole company, minus a branch office in the UK, is located in one floor of an office building in downtown Portland, and we have a very friendly, casual atmosphere, with a pool table in the break room and a free beer fridge in the kitchen. I don't drink beer during the day, but the point is that they trust me to make that decision for myself. Anyway, before they hired me, my boss described the place as being stuck in 1999 -- right before the dotcom bust, when companies everywhere were making radical attempts to improve their employees attitude and stimulate the coveted "Innovation." Two days ago, for example, my whole department cut out of work early and walked to a nearby theater to watch Dave Chapelle's Block Party on the company dime. Not only was that a surprisingly good movie, I want to report that this strategy is proving very successful for Extensis. In extreme contrast to my last tech support job, they have made me feel like a professional -- not just some phone-monkey reading instructions from an online knowlege base. I'm motivated to become constantly better at my job, I'm not tempted to leave at the soonest opportunity and let them start over training another newbie, and when I'm on the phone with a customer I feel confident in my ability and freedom to help them solve their problems in the best way possible. Extensis gets all this from me in exchange for an "intangible" attitude of trust and respect for all their employees.

The downside is that I'm currently a contract worker, so I get no regular benefits and technically have no job past the end of April. My boss and his boss want to make me permanent since we're overwhelmed as it is, and great tech support is a large part of why many of our customers have been loyal to Extensis for over ten years... but the company is below its revenue estimates and the CEO has a hiring freeze in place -- so unless he can be convinced, or another agent quits, or some technical loophole can be found, the whole situation is rather out of my hands. I'm trying to enjoy it while I can.

Okay, now, this is an art blog, not some kind of Livejournal or something, and I haven't had much creative energy beyond what's required for work and my half-time classload at PCC... but I have had these paintings lying around since last summer and most of you haven't seen them since I never digitized them. They're only snapshots, but they're enough to give you the right idea. Maybe now that they're digitized I will go over them in Corel Painter sometime and fix all the massive technical problems.

Anyway, I'm now in the final drive to finish the last of my class projects -- I'll post it when it's ready -- and after that I think I will have enough spare time/energy to upgrade this blog's status from "temporarily suspended" to "tentatively active" and start making new shit every day. You'd all like that, now, wouldn't you!