After a few weeks in Boston, I decided to move out to San Francisco and take my brother up on his invitation to stay with him. Plus, I wanted to find a job in that city and actually being there would be a big help.
My time in San Francisco was great, and if I could stay unemployed forever, that’s exactly how I would want to live my life. Simply, I had the life of an American housewife. I’d have a leisurely breakfast in the morning and visit the local farmers markets. On other days I’d go for a run or do some yoga at a wonderful studio down the street (the Yoga Loft, check them out). Then I’d experiment in the kitchen with cakes, pies, cookies, bread, and a host of savory dishes. My brother and his girlfriend Nikki were my guinea pigs.
A couple months after I got there my brother got a puppy. A little lab-boxer-pit bull mix that we named Newman (after the Seinfeld antagonist, of course). Here’s a ridiculously cute picture of him when he was still a baby:
I soon realized that raising a puppy was not the wonderland of cuddles, fetch and “awws” that I thought it’d be. If it’s anything like raising a child, well, count me out.
My life began being measured in hour increments, as the little guy had to be taken out quite often. I’ve now cleaned up more pee than I’m comfortable talking about. Every evening my brother and I would have an intense, 30-minute discussion of Newman’s bowel movements, his behavior at home, his behavior on walks, and what he’d learned that day. It was often frustrating and maddening, but in the end, how long can you stay upset at something that cute? Since then, Newman has grown up to be an obedient and loyal — albeit weird — young man, and I now miss him every hour.
Of course, all along I’d spend time applying for countless jobs around the Bay Area. It was tedious and disheartening as more and more of my applications went unanswered. I began to question whether I’d ever find a job.
I did receive an offer from my friend Ed’s company. They make unmanned aerial vehicles, or “drones”, to those who watch 24. They were forming a test team and were trying to beef it up with seasoned veterans of Big Aerospace testers. They ended up offering me a job, but it wasn’t as attractive as I had hoped (read: money), and in the end I was eager to live and work in a much larger city than Hood River, OR.
Finally I decided to see if I could go back to Australia and work for Kobold in Brisbane.
The immigration process was not what I expected. In my head I imagined myself striding confidently into the airport, my former boss waiting with a handmade sign, visa in hand. Reality was harshly different and months later I was still waiting for papers to even be submitted.
In the meantime, yet another friend got me an interview with his company, Space Exploration Technologies, in Los Angeles. I was vehemently opposed to living in LA at the time, but I decided to at least head down for the interview, just to see what it was all about. By the end of the week I had been offered a job and on the other side of the weekend I accepted.
I had seemingly come full circle, but I was confident I’d carry with me the lessons I learned traveling: to appreciate the arts, culture and character of the city I was in; to live locally and support the community around me; to take the time to enjoy life. I would soon find, however, that there’s a stark difference between learning and doing. Especially when you’re a rocket scientist.