– Ben Martens

2006 Year In Review

I'm writing this from Washington state. Sometimes I have to stop and remember that. I'm in Washington. Last year I complained a bit about nothing noteworthy happening. Maybe I was just gearing up for all the changes that took place this year.

The move from Jersey to Washington was the biggest part of my year. A few people weren't happy with me leaving while others were excited for the opportunities I had out here. The one common sentiment was "Wow, I don't think I could do that." I'm not the kind of person to randomly quit my job and move across the country. I put a lot of thought into it, and these are the top two reasons that I left.

  • Jersey isn't a bad state, but it's not me. Coming from Indiana it was a big culture shock that I initially rejected. That was a pretty close-minded reaction, so I tried to accept Jersey for what it was and enjoy it. New York, Philly, the shore, Baltimore, DC… they were all fun, but I kept coming back to the realization that it's not where I wanted to stay. I'm glad I lived there. I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, but I knew for sure that I wanted to leave. I wanted mountains. I wanted trees. I wanted lakes. I wanted some elbow room. I narrowed down my choices to Seattle, Denver, or Vermont/New Hampshire/Maine. Seattle was at the top of the list, so I specifically concentrated on getting into Microsoft. I gave myself three months to get into Microsoft before broadening the search. In that time I turned down a couple other fantastic offers because I wanted to let the Microsoft option run it's course. After 2.5 months I still hadn't heard anything so I started making some phone calls. Making the right phone call changes everythingand in about two weeks I had an offer.
  • I enjoyed my job, but it's no secret that I'm a Microsoft fanboy. I felt good with what I had accomplished at Lockheed. RickB and I put .NET on the map at Lockheed and put fear into the Java camp. We pumped out great technology with extremely short schedules and budgets that the other groups couldn't even touch. I was happy to have that on my list of accomplishments, but it started to feel repetitive. (Un)fortunately, we were so good at it, that we got pegged as the website guys. After a while, websites are all the same. I know I could have found other things to do in the Lockheed family, but Microsoft offered many more opportunties for the career path that I've identified. This test engineering job at Microsoft is a huge challenge and a new skill for my bag o' tricks.

Those were the positive reasons for the move. The negatives were harder to stomach. I've never had a group of friends like the ones I had/have in Jersey. I've always had a friends in other places I've lived, but we had a huge group in Jersey. I made friends there that I'll have for the rest of my life regardless of where we end up. I knew it would be hard/impossible to recreate that experience anywhere else. I'm not exactly a social butterfly, and it takes me a while to make good friends. I was NOT excited about finding a new social circle. That one reason alone delayed my job search for about 6 months.

I do feel like a bit of a hypocrite. Last year I wrote about how there weren't any major events, but the year was defined by good times with friends. So what did I do a few months later? I ditched my great group of friends and headed west for a job that I wanted. I still haven't figured out how that makes sense.

It was a tough decision, and I spent countless days in prayer about it. I had previously been nervous about the move from Indiana to Jersey and from Jersey to Minnesota, and look at what God provided for me during those moves. It was foolish to doubt that He'd be just as generous if Seattle was where He wanted me to be. He opened so many doors in the process of moving out here that the choice was pretty obvious.

So in May the movers came and packed up everything I owned. I attended a great party with all my friends and said my goodbyes. And then I took off on my one way trip to the great unknown in Seattle.

This is the third cross country move I've made. It's not easy, but it's intriguing to see the similarities and differences between them all. The first few weeks are insanely boring. I don't know anyone. I don't have anything to do. And even if I had something to do, I don't know where it is. But this time was a little different for two reasons. First of all, I was set on putting an end to rent checks. I spent the first three weeks talking to mortgage companies, looking at tons of houses online and in person, and having long chats with my realtor about interest rates, housing market fluctuations, and future plans for the Seattle area. Secondly, I had family here. I'd only met them once at Rachel and Luke's wedding, but it was a place to start. Thankfully they're not too crazy, and they've all quickly become great friends. My transition would be entirely different without their warm hearts.

But that's enough about the move. I did other things this year too! I discovered the Melting Pot, almost got tossed out of a Phillies game, spent a couple good nights at Chain's house, bought a house, attended the NASCAR race in Michigan, went to my first Mariners game, hiked and rode to some amazing scenery, flew back to Jersey for Jay's bachelor party, spent a few nights in a tent with great food, showed my parents the sights of Seattle, stood up at Jay and Juliet's wedding, spent Thanksgiving in Spokane, and kicked off the ski season with a bang.

I won't even begin to speculate about what might happen next year, but I do have a few goals:

  • Ski Whistler/Blackcomb
  • Make at least one trip back east
  • Take at least two camping trips
  • Take a motorcycle ride along Hwy 2 through Stevens Pass, through Leavenworth, and back through Snoqualmie Pass.

You'll notice those are pretty small goals. There's nothing too life-changing in there. That's because I'm finally feeling like I've planted myself in a good place. I'm here for the forseeable future. I might try to make the leap to a house with a yard at some point, but that's the only move I could see myself making and that won't happen for years. But who am I to predict the future? I've been wrong a hundred times before… and that's the exciting part.

Previous Years in Review: 2005, 2004, 2003