It’s been a year since I left Texas. On Friday afternoon, June 29, 2007, I said my "good-byes" at Dell then jumped on a non-stop plane to Seattle the next morning. After getting to Seattle, I got a rental car, drove to Microsoft to get the keys to my corporate apartment, unpacked my two large duffle bags of clothes and personal "stuff," bought food and other necessities, spent Sunday with Rich (he drove up from Portland where he was setting up for the Fort Vancouver Fireworks Show) then started my first day at work on Monday morning, July 2nd.
 
A week later, teary-eyed, I drove Rich to the airport to fly back to Texas. At the time, I didn’t know when I’d see him again. Ahead of us was selling our Texas house, moving the rest of our furniture and belongings to Mount Vernon, buying a house, doing major remodeling, living apart for four more months, moving in together then finally moving everything from Mount Vernon to Kirkland… a few boxes at a time.
 
And of course, there was the challenge of learning a new job and getting acclimated at Microsoft and the surrounding area.
 
In retrospect, we had exceptional luck, selling our Texas house the day it was placed on the market, finding a house that’s an easy commute to Microsoft, and my landing a job on the main campus within walking distance of the Microsoft Conference Center. Being so close to the Center, I’ve been able to attend dozens of events and brown bags (Microsoft usually provides fabulous box lunches).
 
On Monday, I attended a brown bag for Washington Congressman, David Reichert. Other people that I’ve heard speak include Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed, NBC’s Middle East chief correspondent Richard Engel, political reporter and commentator Howard Fineman, and the Irish National debate champions. Hilllary and Bill Clinton also spoke at Microsoft this year.
 
The other day, I added up the number of hours of training that I’ve taken; it’s nearly 80 with many of the classes a day or more in length and highly specific to my job. At Dell, I doubt that I had more than twenty hours of training in four years. My first year at Dell, I wanted to take a series of six classes that cost $35 each. My manager said that there was only budget for three classes.
 
Every aspect of Microsoft is superior to what Dell offered from job opportunities to focus on customer requirements and satisfaction, emphasis on analysis and monthly calibrations to obtain desired results, employee benefits, and work environment. Even though I haven’t been elated with my job, I’ve enjoyed working for Microsoft and learned a tremendous amount. Plus, because I’ve completed a year, I can now look for another position. My top choices are Windows Live or the Health Solutions Group.
 
Equally rewarding has been a year of seasons in the Pacific Northwest from warm summer months to turning leaves in the fall, snowy days in the winter, the spectacular colors of spring. Washington is much greener than Oregon with temperatures 5-10 degrees cooler on most days. It also has many more mountains and the key population areas are significantly impacted by the Puget Sound and surrounding waterways. The water influences the weather and where communities can be built, starting in the middle of the state (Olympia) up to Canada.
 
We live on the "east side" of Lake Washington. Seattle is to the west, sandwiched between the Puget Sound and the Lake. It therefore tends to be more overcast and colder in Seattle than in Redmond and Kirkland.
 
This year was also an opportunity for Rich and me to deeper our relationship. We seemed to be at odds earlier in the year with the stress of my trying to get a job at Microsoft, Rich wondering whether he’d be able to keep his job and work from home, the unknowns of the move, and my accident, which left me in a wheelchair and dependent on Rich for two months.
 
It’s truly been an amazing year! Best of all, we’re back in the Pacific Northwest and intend to never, ever leave again!
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