Before the Y2K scare, I worked for an architect in Chico. It was a small operation and I had way more responsibility than I would’ve ever received in any other firm. My boss, although probably feeling some pride for me deciding to pursue architecture, tried to dissuade me from the profession. I did not listen. Off I went to architecture school.
Those days I sported my black architecture school uniform, had LOTS of ideas, and suffered regularly from delusions of design grandeur. I never really had a plan of what sort of architecture I would create beyond school and thought I’d likely become a generalist, akin to my previous boss. Instead the Army moved us to Tacoma and I joined a very large firm. It was divided in studios and each specialized in different project types. Cross contamination was limited. I became very proficient in Office and Retail buildings. Vanilla shells were cake and to this day I can turn a Tenant Improvement like a boss. I thrived in the energetic atmosphere.
I continued doing these very same jobs on my own, when they popped up and my boys would permit. I can’t say I ever thought about pursing something different. When you aren’t careful, proficiency can breed complacency; a common plight in every aspect of life. In truth, I’ve been aching for something different. After six years of surviving the endless laundry and dishes, the thousand “why?” questions, the terrible twos and threes – TWICE!, back to back, and most notably a lot of physical fitness, I am ready. It’s been a wild and fun ride with my boys and work on the side, but time for a change.
As we faced our major life shift, Vance leaving active duty, it seemed the perfect time for me to stretch my wings a bit. Since John still has a year of preschool left, I needed something very flexible. Granted I could have lobbied to join the large firm in town, enter a studio and hone a new specific skill set, but that’s not where my heart lies any more. Thankfully, I have the freedom to try something different. I alluded to the possibility of working for a long time engineer friend of mine a couple months ago.
Allude no longer. This was my first official week on the books as Hawaii/Arizona transplant* architect at Realm Engineering. The guys at the office seem to be tolerating my endless questions of daily operations, dramatic outbursts and general chattering in the background. Although, they would probably appreciate me eating fewer “you pick” organic plums from Geearbee Lane before heading to the office in the future.
The firm is more like the one I worked in before heading off to architecture school, lo those many years ago, just more engineering based. We’re also flirting the edge of architecture as I head in this Fall to retest for my California license. No studios, no specialization, we’re all doing it all. Together. It’s the perfect fit for me. Soooo, what did I do my first week on the job?
Visited a once thriving carpet store, now abandoned, vandalized and home to a horde of pigeons. It may be realized as a church, if the building department shows a little latitude and the resident crazies don’t scare away the congregation. There’s been plenty of desk work, plan submittals to clients and the building department and most notably a site visit that included a couple donkeys escaping their pen, by way of a dog. I kid you not. The intent of the visit was to talk to the owners about an addition to their residence; the donkeys were just added entertainment.
If I had looked into the crystal ball of my architectural future, I can’t say I would’ve ever seen this coming, as I surely never imagined a project that would include donkeys on the run. Ha! The abandoned building is pretty glamorous for architect types. So much possibility and promise. The chance to really revitalize an area overrun with drug infested homeless. Of course, that’s the idea anyhow. Reality and client finances are entirely different.
And how does my family feel about mom taking a job outside of the house? On my first day going in, Brendon exclaimed, “I’m so happy for you! A real architect job. How special for you!” It is special for me in so many ways. It marks the true re-entry to working beyond being a stay at home mom and allows me to return to something I have greatly missed. Architecture and the office atmosphere.
*I’m a rule follower and you know if I don’t put my out of state architect status, the California Architects Board will be after me lickity split. I just know it!
This post is dedicated to Sparkle, Secrets, and Bacon. I miss you ladies! We will always have Kauai. *sniff, sniff* ~ Giggles