Ok, I started this last Friday, so stick with me on this…
Here I sit at Boston’s Logan International waiting for my flight back home. As I recover from the weeks activities, I am slowly becoming aware of how much my life has changed in the past year…
This will be a protected entry as I recap the past weekend in Boise and talk about some work feelings which I don’t necessarily need my new teams to be reading quite yet. Not that anything is bad, I just want to be able to speak openly and candidly about things.
So, let’s start with Friday Sept 5th… I started the day tired due to not enough sleep from the night prior. When I woke Friday morning, I knew that for the next week I’d be running off the same amount of deprivation and just resigned myself to being tired. It is actually a bit amazing at how, once you stop worrying about getting sleep, that sleep doesn’t really matter. I think that was the key for me over the weekend and well into this week; I just didn’t care how little sleep I got and powered through my days on a surprisingly small amount of coffee.
Once Jean got home from work, we tossed our bags into the car and headed out to PDX for our 7:40 flight to Boise. As typical, we sat down at Capers Café for dinner and drinks… and amazingly enough, Don the bartender recognized me and asked where I’d been the past few months. I was amused, and it tickled Jean that the bartender remembers me.
The flight itself was short and uneventful, which is just how I like it. I think we were only at cruising altitudes for about 10 minutes. Before I continue I should probably explain who we were going to visit… our friends Jason and Stacy live in Boise with their 4 year old boy Tiernan. I know Stacy from back in Jr.High when we were a couple for a brief summer. Yup, Jean and I went to Boise to spend the weekend drinking it up with an ex-girlfriend and her husband… it sounds so salacious when I say it like that though.
We had connected with Jason and Stacy when they were out in PDX a month or two ago, and found we really got a long well. So, when they invited us to stay with them in Boise for a visit, we jumped at the chance; after all, they drink nice wine and enjoy good food just like us so we KNEW it would be a fun trip. I’ll say it right now, they couldn’t have been more gracious hosts.
We arrived in Boise around 10pm and Jason met us at baggage claim. By 10:30pm we were in their backyard feasting on all sorts of Hors D’oeuvres and going through glass after glass of some outstanding local wines.
It was truly one of those nights where everything just settled in to complimentary synchronicity; the conversation was stimulating and honest, as was the wine. It was a perfect start to the weekend, even if it did spill over into the next day ( I think we were up until around 2am).
Saturday found us in downtown Boise at Art in the Park, a Taste of Boise, and an additional tasting at a local wine Co-op. While the “Taste” was fun, it was a bit disappointing, especially having done a Taste of Oregon just three weeks prior.
Dinner was at John Mortimer’s restaurant, the name of which escapes me presently. I had an excellent lamb shank that was braised to perfection, though I think Stacy’s dish stole the show as the sous chef’s presentation of the trout was just gorgeous. As with the night before, the conversation flowed with ease.
Later that evening we retired to the living room at Jason and Stacy’s and ended up sitting around drinking wine and singing songs as Jason played the guitar. It was like reliving some of my highschool and college days… I don’t think any of us had done that in AGES. Needless to say, it was another late night.
Sunday was more wine tasting, but this time we ended up out at the vineyards. I’ll admit, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Idaho is actually producing some decent Syrahs. The last vineyard we stopped at, Hell’s Canyon, we were greeted by the winemaker and treated to more rousing conversation. As I was warned, he is a friend and client of Jason’s landscaping business and is fairly comfortable with Jason and Stacy… and I was able to reap the fruits of that relationship, literally: the winemaker treated us all to some barrel tastings of his reds. Unbelievable is about the only word I can find to describe his 2004 Syrah that had some very intriguing complexities and a story to match.
Unfortunately our flight out was 7pm that night, so we were set to a specific timeframe and still had dinner to grab, so we headed on our way to Barbacoa for a dinner of appetizers and cocktails. It was a fabulous way to end the weekend as we sat out on the patio at Barbacoa, overlooking the lake as the sun dropped in the sky, and made very vague plans to do it all again…
On the flight home I realized that I’d only have about 6.5 hours in Oregon before I was back on the road to Boston for some business meetings. Just thinking about the lack of sleep was making me tired… or maybe it was that gimlet I had earlier… who’s to say?
(as I write this, the first class steward has just refilled my syrah for a 4th time and taken away my plats and flatware as I have finished my chicken dinner (with an artichoke cream sauce) I love first class!).
So, back to my tale… at 4.20 on Monday morning my car arrived to take me back to PDX for my 7am flight out to Boston. As much as it sucked to get up that early with so little sleep, I was indeed excited to get out to see my new team, but more importantly, Steph.
You see, Stephanie is one friend whom I have known even longer than Jean. She and I were in elementary school together and have been close ever since. When she moved to Boston around 1995, I assured her we would visit… 13 years later, and I still hadn’t made it out. For shame, really. My only excuse is that other financial priorities too precedence. Not a good excuse mind you, but the only one I have. So you can imagine how happy I was to find my new team was based only 15 miles outside of Steph’s city…
I got into Boston around 3.30pm on Monday which gave me just enough time to get my car, get to the hotel, and freshen up a bit for dinner. I was able to meet up with Steph at her place, since I was smart enough to pack my gps (there’s no way in hell I could have done this trip without my handy sidekick!). We made our way back to South Boston to grab dinner at an Ethopian joint called Addis (if memory serves), and had an outstanding dinner together. The food was fabulous too 😉
Tuesday, however, was the day of penultimate work. Ok, that may be exaggerating a bit, however this was the single day which I had been preparing for over the past two weeks. I was given the task of making a presentation to a group of directors and VPs with regards to my goup’s requirements for a particular project. Now, that in and of its self wouldn’t have been so bad except for the fact that I despise speaking in front of groups no matter how small, and for the fact that I was very heavily protected from this type of thing prior to joining IBM.
In either case, I have a great team I am leading who helped devise an outstanding presentation which made my job of delivery a piece of cake. Yes I was still unbelievably stressed prior to standing up, however with the backing of my team, that stress was unbelievably diminished and no where near the panic I had been experiencing the two weeks prior. I count myself lucky to have been able to walk in to that meeting head held high knowing I was completely prepared.
So, yes, the meeting was a success and we were able to make some large amounts of progress because of the face to face environment which may not have happened otherwise. Because of that I absolutely count Tuesday as a rousing success for me and my team. Additionally, it would seem I have become a blip on other people’s radar now, so I guess I need to step up and really drive this one home. While I have never been intimidated by executives, I AM starting to understand why having that visibility in such a large corporation is important.
Tuesday night, I headed out to Temple Bar in Cambridge to meet up with Steph and meet her best friend Jamie, whom I have heard so much about. The three of us had a fabulous dinner, replete with a chocolate fondue dessert, and then called it an earlier night due to exhaustion all around.
Wednesday morning greeted me far too early, but with the knowledge that this day would only be a ¾ day at best AND I wasn’t presenting anymore. I just had to answer questions and work towards resolutions, which really is what I am best at; I am a problem solver so this day’s workshops were right up my alley in terms of finding solutions.
Amazingly, we actually ended early, at which point I joined a few people from the meeting for lunch, returned back to the board room to continue a bit of work, then headed back to my hotel to finish up some other work and meet up with Steph for another dinner, this time with her boy-friend Izzy.
Because I had some extra time, Steph was able to pick me up a bit earlier than expected and we headed downtown to take care of some business at City Hall, and then found ourselves at the Green Dragon. For those history buffs in my readership, that would indeed be the same Green Dragon Pub which played host to the “Sons of the Revolution”. Coming from the west coast, having historical buildings/businesses with such deep relevance to the birth of our nation is a daunting thing. It really took a good amount of intentional concentration to not be distracted by all the structures and architecture and not get hit by a car as I just gazed at everything which surrounded me.
Sadly, it was while sitting in the Green Dragon when I realized, in a moment of embarrassing clarity, that Samuel Adams IS a local brew. See, whenever I travel, I always enjoy tasting the local flavours. Typically, if at a bar, I will glance over the taps to see if there is anything interesting… and ALWAYS skip the Buds, Coors, Millers, and Sam Adams pulls since those are nearly always present and never local… Oops, my mistake this time. So I obviously had to go for another round once I realized my faux pas. Needless to say, the Sam Adams I had at the Green Dragon did indeed taste of Freedom 😉
Moving on, Steph and I made our way out to meet up with Izzy at a local Tibetan restaurant in Cambridge called Rangzen. A small little place which seated us as the first customers of the night around 5pm. I couldn’t tell you what I had, but in my estimation, Tibetan cuisine is akin to a mix of Indian flavours and varying cooking styles of Chinese (Szechuan and Cantonese stand out in my mind). Absolutely wonderful food, and accompanied by great conversation once again. Sometimes I really do feel spoiled by my friends.
Sadly, Izzy was on a time crunch due to band practice, so we only had about an hour or less to kill at his favourite bar called River Gods. This is a small bar within walking distance of the Tibetan place, with a VERY funky neo-retro-Romanesque-pagan vibe, which oddly enough was very comfortable and had a great soundtrack spinning from the DJ booth. We did manage to stay out later Wednesday night, but still made it back before it became tomorrow morning, so all was good. Sadly, this was the last night I’d be seeing Steph as my new team had plans to take me out and play Thursday night.
Thursday found me braving the morning commute traffic out of Cambridge and into Lexington to find my team’s building at the IBM campus. I was lucky enough to run into my new boss as I walked through the front door, so she was able to promptly show me where I needed to go and as such got me settled far earlier than I had anticipated… Oh and she brought doughnuts in my honour too, how can THAT be bad?
Thursday DAY was pretty much a wash. One conference call that took up most of my time, and then we called it quits early to get to ‘happy hour’ more quickly.
My new team ended up taking me to the Harpoon Brewery for a tasting, and then it was off to Prezza in North End Boston for dinner. Excellent!! Apparently we were dining with the owner of the Red Sox the same evening as well (John Henry is the name that was bandied about, though I wouldn’t know him from Adam….). From dinner, we hit a small bakery for canoles and whatever else everyone felt like indulging in (none for me thanks, tooo sweet). Then it was off to a roof-top bar for more drinks and stimulating conversations. In the mix I was treated to a very nice cigar courtesy of my team lead. What a guy! After to rooftop bar, we dropped one or two compatriots and made our way over to the Black Rose to finish off the evening.
And finish off we did…. We sat in the upper for an inordinate amount of time. Drinking and talking up a storm. It was one of those nights that had the perfect cap to it. I was able to bond with my new team mates and settle into a comfortable relationship to help build on in the days/weeks/months/years to come while working with them. Honestly, it was nice to just relax into an evening and not worry any longer about how I would be perceived. I was able to let go a bit and be myself… and that seems to have made all the difference. I was comfortable, and so were my team mates. What more could you ask for?
Of course Friday morning came far too early, and in fact I barely made it out of my room before checkout time. Luckily I was able to make it to Logan Int’l airport early enough to checkin and score an upgrade to first class for my flight home; which for a 6.5 hour flight was SOOOOO worth it!
I finally made it home around 10pm Friday night, which made for a long day, but thankfully Jean was able to stay awake to greet me when I got in. That made for a very nice homecoming after a week on the road…. Now, I get to do it all over again when I go down to Irvine later this month for another week of work, this time for 3 days of training rather than presenting, so much less stress all around. Then of course it is back down to Bakersfield for GWW a week after my Irvine trip… So much travel so little time!