I haven't posted in this journal for the past 4 years, or been very active on deviantART in that time period either. So, I figured that I would post an update this fine Black Friday for those of you who still stumble upon my profile once in a while.
A lot has happened in my life in 4 years. I got a job as a Web Designer for Mattress Warehouse and worked there for about 3 months. It didn't work out. They didn't really need a full time web designer and I just didn't fit into what they needed. They kept me on under contract to periodically update their websites though. I stopped working there full-time in the end of November 2006.
I began searching for another job in Web or Graphic design. I did a few very small jobs that paid next to nothing and taught myself more CSS and Illustrator techniques. In early January 2007, I received a call to schedule an interview at T-Shirt International in Culloden, WV. I had never done T-Shirt design before, and had never really thought about it, but at least I had an interview. I still had Mattress Warehouse work to do and a few days until my interview so I figured I would just spend the time until then relaxing for a few days. I was wrong.
At around 11pm on January 13th,2007 I got out of the shower to hear yelling outside my 4th floor apartment window. I thought it was just drunk college students until I stuck my head out the window to tell them to can it. That's when I saw smoke and flames shooting out of the apartment building (Emmons Jr.) that was attached to the one I lived in (Emmons Sr.).
Not really feeling in any danger, since it was not MY apartment building on fire, I quickly got dressed and ran down the stairs and outside to see what was going on.
There was a firetruck with a ladder spraying water into the 2nd floor windows that had pillars of smoke billowing out of them. It was very intense and surreal. I took a few grainy photos with my phone and then just stared in awe.
Apparently, while I was outside, a fireman had gone into my building and pounded on everyone's door to urge them to leave the building and get to safety. I ran in to my fiance who was frantic and angry at me for leaving her in the apartment. She had been hunting down our 3 cats and trying to get out of the building as fast as she could. She managed to find all of them, so our family was safe.
This is a very long store so I will cut it short here. It was a terrible experience. 9 people died in the fire. Emmons Jr. was completely destroyed and much of Emmons Sr. suffered massive water damage from the fire hoses. My neighbor down the hall wasn't home during the fire, so she couldn't get her cats out. They died of smoke inhalation. It was horrible.
Emmons Sr. was deemed a lost cause, so I was homeless along with my fiance and everyone else in Emmons Jr. and Sr.
Red Cross was a huge help (Salvation Army sucked, so donate to Red Cross instead). They helped us and our next-door neighbors find a nice house to rent together.
In the following few days of confusion and sadness, I had my interview with TSI. They liked my artwork and told me they would call me. Thankfully, they decided to hire me and I told them I could start after I got settled in at my new place.
I worked at TSI for about 3 months. I picked it up really quickly and they say I was one of the best workers they have ever had in my position. I really liked the job and the people I worked with every day, but I wasn't making as much as I wanted to, and wasn't doing the type of work I really wanted to do.
While I wasn't actively looking for a different job, one found me. I received an email from Terradon Communications Group saying that they are looking for a User Interface Designer. The president of the company had remembered me from a training session he had given me that was provided by Mattress Warehouse. I must have done something to impress him for him to remember me like that.
I went to an interview and they offered me a job for a decent amount more than I was making at TSI. It was a very difficult decision for me to make emotionally, because I really loved working with the people at TSI, but I decided to take the job, but not without finding a replacement for them.
A friend of mine was working nights in a warehouse and I thought that he would be a good candidate to fill my shoes, so I gave him a crash course in what I did and took his resume to my boss when I told him about my resignation. He hired my friend and I spent my last 2 weeks there training him. They had a going away party for me with boob-cake!! I will miss those guys.
I started work at Terradon Communications Group the following Monday. The first few days were just getting my workstation set up and HR stuff. The next week was when I really started to get into the stuff my job is about. It was overwhelming at first because I was very unfamiliar with the programming language they used, but I am a quick learner and figured it out after a few months.
At some point, I got tired of using some of the things available to me because they just didn't work very well or required too much work to customize for every website I designed. So, I took it upon myself to figure out how to make my own. This is where my journey into the world of Asp.NET programming really began.
After a couple weeks of digging around in code and asking questions and receiving guidance from some of my co-workers, it clicked. I understood it. From there on out, my mind is constantly thinking of new, better ways to do things. A new avenue of my career opened up.
After working at TCG for almost a year, I got tired of my 80 mile commute. Especially when the gas prices were over 3 bucks a gallon and my car only got 19MPG. I also got tired of throwing my money away on rent. Since my fiance had finished school at Marshall, we had nothing holding us back from moving, so we decided to find a house.
My aunt is a Real Estate Agent, so she helped us out. She pointed me in the direction to get my loan approved and an incredible First-Time-Home-Buyers interest rate of 4.99%. I searched the MLS database for houses close to where I work to find the perfect one for us.
It was very difficult to find anything that we liked. We had lived in a 99 Year old apartment with high ceilings in every room and tons of space, then moved into a huge old house with the same high ceilings and huge rooms, and we became accustomed to this atmosphere and couldn't change.
Most of the houses we looked at had low ceilings and small rooms and just wouldn't do. We found one house that was actually below our planned price and it was about 100 years old but had been redone inside and out. The rooms were huge, the ceilings were high, the attic was awesome, it had a decent sized yard and was 2 miles from my work. And even though my fiance didn't like it because of the closeness of the neighbors and other reasons, I thought I had found the perfect place for us. But, someone was already under contract to buy it, so I spend the next 2 weeks waiting for something to go wrong so I could jump in there and buy it. Nothing happened. The deal went through and I couldn't buy the house. I was seriously sad about it.
The search went on. I set up viewings with my aunt to several houses after work and continued to search the MLS database for something like what I had found in that other house. I couldn't find anything in my price range.
Then, one day while my aunt and I were looking at houses in the Teays Valley area, she told me about a house that had been on the market for over 2 years but was very old and historic. We decided to stop by and take a look on my way back to Huntington. WOW!! It was awesome. I remember walking in the front door and seeing the beautiful hardwood floors in the foyer and the wooden banister of the stairs just blew me away. The ceilings were high, the rooms were big and plentiful (4 bed rooms, living room, den, dining room, utility room, huge kitchen, and a recently built detached 2 car garage) I loved it, and I knew my fiance would to.
While the house was perfect for us, the price tag wasn't. It was listed at $150K, which is $100K less than it was listed for 2 years before at $250,000. I mentioned it briefly to my fiance so as not to get her hopes up and continued looking.
That following weekend, my fiance and I had plans to view a few houses with my aunt. We went to several that we had found on MLS, but didn't like any of them. On the way home we decided to show her the cool old house that I mentioned earlier. She loved it just as I thought she would. But we still couldn't afford it, so we continued to look.
The next Friday I got a call from my aunt at work. She called to tell me that I could get 4.99% on my loan now and I needed to find a house fast or else I would miss out on that low interest rate. I told her that I would try, but I couldn't find any more houses in MLS that I wanted to look at. I hung up and went back to work. Then, she called back a few minutes later to tell me that the party who was selling the awesome old house was about to foreclose on it and were willing to take lower offers on it. This was fantastic news, so I had my family get together and go back to the old house and take a serious look at it to see if it was a good decision to make a serious offer. They all agreed that I should make the offer. So I did a bunch of math to see just how much I could afford and made an offer of $115,000 with a $3,000 cash allowance for appliances. We went home, went to sleep, and waited for the answer.
The next morning I got the call from my aunt about the offer. She said that they made a counter offer of $130,000 and they were planning to show it to some other people. I countered that offer with 117,000 with $2,000 cash allowance. They countered with $125,000. Still do much. I knew that $120,000 would really be pushing it based on my estimated calculations so I told my aunt that it was as high as I could go and my final offer $120,000 with $2,500 cash allowance. They accepted. I had just bought my first home.
A few weeks later we were moved in to our new home. We were so happy. Also, after getting a great deal on home owners and auto insurance bundle, coupled with my new 30 mile round-trip commute as apposed to 80, My monthly expenses were roughly the same as they were renting half a house in Huntington. Everything worked out perfectly.
So, here I am now. Living happily in my lovely new home with my fiance, whom I am marrying in April 2009, and our 3 cats.