February 22nd, 2017
After trying some of the red pepper-flavored 7-up (a "novelty throwback!" claimed the sticker), I accidentally triggered the "under 21" button used to prevent the underaged from consuming aspertame. The soda fountain collapsed into a pile of clockwork, with only the creaky backup soda fountain still functional. Nobody seemed to notice. I made up for my accidental destruction by fixing the firmware in the bus that allowed it to fulfill color-tagged special requests.
February 9th, 2017
Current Music: Brian Eno, Another Green World
I had a technical phone screen today; I think it went well. After it was over, looked the person up on Facebook and found that we knew people in common, so that bodes well, too.
As it seems increasingly likely that my days in the Bay Area are numbered, I've been thinking quite a bit about what brought me here, what made me leave, and what made me come back. I originally came out here in '98, on the coattails of a friend who got hired by a network company. Silicon Valley was the place I had read about since childhood, the mythical promised land where there was high tech on every corner, all the big companies were in one place, and there were untold wonders to behold. Some of that was true, at least. (I'm still miffed that I missed seeing the Icon Garden at Apple with the larger-than-life dogcow
by a few months.) It didn't take me all that long to realize just how misguided some of my preconceptions were: most high-tech companies are utterly boring to wander through unless you adore cubicle farms or rows of tables; many of the companies are banal, boring, or both; and that it would be trivial for me to get from one place in the Bay Area to another.( psyche blatheringCollapse )
The upshot is that while there are people I would be utterly delighted to see, I just don't have the spoons to go see them. (Social anxiety means that I'm not too likely to suggest plans, either.) If I had a car, that would certainly help
, but that doesn't seem too likely. So.... between feeling somewhat trapped in the city and not being inspired by the culture or jobs around here (which is probably worth a post of its own), GTFO seems like it's the thing to do.
January 10th, 2017
From right before I was awakened: I asked the white-suited man next to me, "How does the economy of your planet work? Can it really sustain itself solely off of recovered shipwreck treasure?"
And two notes: I'm secretagentmoof on DW, although I almost never check anything there; and that I still post friends-only content here.
December 13th, 2016
I took the GRE general subject test on Monday, although from the get-go it didn't bode well; I completely failed to notice the "oh yeah, even though your time is '1PM', actually get there half an hour in advance" notice about 70% of the way down into the confirmation email until about 45 minutes before the test was scheduled to begin. Of course, the bus was being extra slow and off schedule, too. The test center was not actually all that busy, however, and I was able to take the test without difficulty - or more precisely, without any external factors interfering. Assuming the end-of-test scores were accurate, I did fairly poorly - 161 for both verbal and math, which correspond to 88th and 79th percentiles, respectively. I suppose from an absolute point of view those scores are decent, but I'm still used to doing much better than that. I'm rather bummed out by it.
In any case, I indicated that my scores should be sent to the (ALA accredited) Library Science program where my sister went, which isn't far from my parents' house. I had considered it a vague possibility up until a week or three ago, until I found out that they offer a concentration in digital curation - i.e. the preservation, curation, and archiving of digital assets; that made it a lot more compelling, especially given the number of friends and acquaintances I have who've been involved with the Internet Archive, Apple ][ software preservation, etc. Would I be able to finagle my way in, especially as my sister went there? Not sure. But....
My mom had emergency surgery last week; she should be home from the hospital now. She had remarked not too long ago that Dad was getting increasingly forgetful - and I had thought, when I visted her about two months ago, that she was also getting a little forgetful. While my sister is still in the area (and unlikely to depart anytime soon), I'm still somewhat uneasy, and have been wondering if I should be keeping a closer eye on them. In a few days, I'll be visiting them for the holidays, and will be there for about a month; a big part of staying that long is to see how well I'd be willing and/or able to live with them (or in the area) again. While there's an outside chance I'd move to LA (I have a pal or two who work for SpaceX, which is pretty compelling), moving back to Chicago in the next couple of months seems like it's the most likely possibility of my extremely vague future plans. I'm not sure what I think of this, especially given how conservative my parents are, and how much I reel in my more unconventional behavior. (Talking to them about things like transfolk or gender issues is an exercise in pokerfacery.)
So, yeah. "Unsettled" seems like the way to describe things right now.
December 3rd, 2016
I moved to Boston in Fall 1992 for a couple of reasons. The most overt one was going to school there, but one of the major contributing factors was that there were a lot of people I casually knew online, and who I thought I would end up being closer friends with. This did not end up being the case at all; while I got to know a few people (and still keep in touch with one or two), I ended up being fairly socially isolated. This is due to, amongst other things, severe depression and being even more naive and socially awkward than I am now - but maybe also due to expectations that just didn't end up being realistic.
I'm now wondering if the same might be, in part, applicable to my return to the Bay Area after living overseas. I see almost none of the people I thought I'd pal around with; many have moved out of the area entirely, many are close as the crow flies but far in practice, many because the amount of time transit would take freaks me out, sometimes because I can't get out of bed in the morning (or afternoon, or evening). Work took far more out of me than I thought it would, but depression and social anxiety add immensely to the barrier energy required to go out and do stuff. I had greatly overestimated the ease of public transit and underestimated the utility of having a car or scooter or whatever - and hip/heel issues didn't encourage me to walk around much, either.
Quitting my job has helped a little bit; I don't get unprompted suicidal ideation every couple of days at random, so that's nice - but there's still a massive undercurrent of sadness, unease, and alienation. On one of the rare days I went out, there was a punk flea market thing at one of the local clubs. Interesting vendors, nice music, crowds of people who looked like I should be friends of friends with them - and yet I felt like I didn't belong there at all. Riding the bus back to the apartment, I wondered (not quite aloud) what I was doing living here; not that I'm not working, I don't have a good answer.
The latest wrinkle is that my mom suddenly went into the emergency room and had surgery for a stomach ulcer; my sister says that mom is hale and recovering well, but I'm still not reassured. That I'm now at the same age where my mom saw her mother start to develop severe Alzheimer's has been weighing on my mind quite a lot. I suspect I'll stretch out my Xmas visit longer than originally intended, at least in part to decide whether I'd want to move back to Chicago or not, and how well I could deal with it.
November 17th, 2016
I have a number of friends - who are now more acquaintances these days, I suppose - that get very worked up about certain issues; they are emotional hot buttons for them. OK, I get that. However, it's gotten to the point that those issues are now sacred cows: discussion of them has more or less become verboten - not because anybody has out and out declared them off limits, but the reactions are intense enough that any further discussion immediately stops. This has happened on IRC, on FB, etc; it's a rather chilling effect.
The elections - and in particular, how and why Those People™ voted as they did - has now become one of those issues. I will freely admit that I'm freaked out by some of the results and announced appointments - in particular, that one party controls the House, the Senate, and the White House (assuming that Trump reconciles with the Republicans), Steve Bannon being Trump's main advisor, and Pence being Vice President. I am greatly disturbed by the reports of people doing awful behavior X and ascribing it to Trump giving permission to do so. But, I refuse to believe that the majority of people voted for Trump solely because of odious behavior X, Y, or Z; yes, there are some who did, but I believe this is not the predominant reason. (I've been following Zeynep Tufekci
on Twitter; she strikes me as one of the most down-to-earth analysts of what's been going on thus far.)
These sentiments are probably enough to get me unfriended by people on FB; oh well. Maybe they'll take up a collection to get me deported from the Bay Area, too.
October 21st, 2016
It's been a month since I quit Twitter; what have I done since then? Well... not much.
I'd been hoping that I'd be far more motivated to do more than I have - work on my personal projects, go out and be a tourist, leave the house more than once every three-four days - but nope, hasn't been the case. It feels like I've been lacking the activation energy to actually do stuff - assuming I knew what I wanted to do with any great amount of desire, which I don't, really. While not being happy, per se, with idling around the house there's been no wellspring of cabin fever, either.
The only thing I really have managed to do is to book tickets to Chicago for two weeks; the Cubs might make it to the World Series - something they haven't done since 1945! - and the city will be ka-ray-zee if they make it (much less win it). While I'm not that much of a sports fan, I remember saying in Jr High that I would probably visit Chicago if such an unlikely event happened; between remembering saying that thirty-odd years ago and tickets being hella cheap if you fly on Tuesdays ($127 RT SFO<->ORD) that was enough to rouse me out of inaction.
Still haven't figured out what I want to do if/when I grow up, but after reading autopope
's essay on the subject
I feel less bad about it.
September 30th, 2016
I'm now in my second week of funemployment. I've left the house all of three times so far, and one of those was going to the corner store. I think, in retrospect, I had underestimated the levels of freaked-out-ness and social anxiety I have; I would have expected I'd have wanted to go out and about more by now, but nope. A bunch of this is depression+anhedonia, to be honest - but the isolation has extended to being unwilling/unable to engage with social media as well, except in an extremely decoupled fashion (i.e. not much in the way of realtime 1:1 chat.)
If I've calculated things correctly, I could continue to live in SF (albeit, in a very frugal manner) for about two years without dipping into my investments; whether this speaks more to my lifestyle or my medicore rate of investments remains to be seen. Rent and health insurance are the two massive hits; insurance is probably going to be around $330/mo, at least partially because any sort of affordability metric is tied to how much one makes during the year, not one's current income. I'm probably going to have to COBRA for a month, unless I get my act together in the next 18 hours or so and sign up with one of the carriers. (That's $560/mo, ho ho ho.) I really hope I can do the vast majority of it online, as I'm still shying away from people enough that it'd be a formidable impediment if real live human wormbabies were involved.
I did start cleaning up the apartment, at least; that's something which I haven't had the spoons to do for... a year? Maybe two? Figuring out what the oldest thing in my fridge is will be an entertaining diversion. (Did you know that if eggs don't go rotten, they just sort of dry out into the shells and dessicated spheres?) I'm going to have to start explicitly scheduling activities and to-do lists pretty soon; otherwise, it seems like I'd be all too willing to just stay in bed and browse the internet all day. But hey, the house-cleaning was semi-spontaneous, so that was encouraging. Wubba lubba dub dub!
September 10th, 2016
Sep 21 is my last day at the company. Some of my coworkers said that they've seen an increased spring in my step since I announced I was leaving; some of my coworkers are freaking out; some are hurriedly scheduling meetings to get me to braindump. My manager has been very sympathetic and understanding, and has been supportive. Haven't talked to HR yet, and nothing's on my calendar, so don't know what's up with that. COBRA will be lots of not fun; I really need to start scheduling all sorts of doctor appointments Real Soon.
What I told my manager is that I'm tired, burnt out, want a long vacation, and that my plans thus far are to go sit on my ass, go be a tourist, visit Alcatraz, and generally be irresponsible for a long while. These things are all very much true. However, there are a whole lot of exacerbating factors. My depression has been particularly bad, and my (probably sperg-based) anxiety and irritability have also been through the roof. (Even just writing this has taken more fortitude than I had thought.) I don't like where the future of sysadmin seems to be going, and that's "mostly disregarded in favor of something like devops or docker on steroids, and not valuing how systems generally operate." I don't like how San Francisco - and the rest of the Bay Area, for that matter - has been turning out; I don't like living someplace where most of the people I know who ain't in tech are either mulling, in the process, or have already moved away to someplace they could afford. College students are having to commute for multiple hours to get to school, as they can't afford to live nearby. Artist lofts are but a dim memory; when the average 1br apartment goes for $3k, not many artists who ain't already in a rent controlled place are going to live here.
So, if I don't want to stay in my career, or possibly where I'm living, then what? Answer thus far: "buh buh buh buh buh". Maybe veer into InfoSec. Maybe take the GRE and try to connive my way into grad school despite not having an undergrad degree; maybe move back to Chicago and live at my parent's house and go to grad school if I do the former; maybe see what pals in SoCal are up to and/or how I like it down there. (At least one former coworker is at SpaceX right now.) Maybe try and figure out where I'll physically want to be in 20 years when it's a couple of degrees warmer and the coasts are even more flooded. I don't really know. If I magically became "fuck off" levels of wealthy, I might consider moving back to Japan and doing something with teaching English or videogame development or something - but short of that, it's unlikely I'd live overseas again. Psych care, and the meds required therein - much less "being fluent in the language to talk to one's doctors" - seems like way too insurmountable a barrier.
In the meantime, anyway, I'm hoping that going to sit on my ass for six months - the median time before I start to get cranky at having too much free time - will help clarify WTF I want to do with myself. I honestly have no idea what I'll be doing and where I'll be in a year's time.
July 29th, 2016
The other day on the bus, I had to consciously exert control not to rock back and forth in my seat from stress and anxiety; given that my repression of such spergy expressions is so ingrained and automatic, especially where anybody might see or hear them, it's disturbing that it almost got out without me noticing. There's no mystery what's going on: work has been stressful and awful, and has been for quite a while - not due to my boss (who's quite understanding and sympathetic to being burnt out), but because I see dumpsters all around me getting loaded up with tires and gasoline, with little I can do to try and sway people into possibly not doing that. Multiple shitstorms on the horizon with few ways to affect the outcome does not my anxiety quell.
That some of my teammates are just blithely doing shit and seemingly phoning it in ain't helping, either. Nor is the cresting of a major depressive episode. Or the multiple anxiety dreams that've made me wake up due to the terrifying notion that I've unintentionally and unknowingly either let somebody down or made them feel bad. None of those things generally cause me to break out in pimples, or make me (literally) sick to my stomach; yessir, that's stress, all right.
The most terrifying notion is if I quit, what the fuck do I do after that? Am I in a state of mind where I'd be willing and able to get another job in the area, assuming I want to stay in tech? Or do I pack it the fuck in, bid adieu to San Francisco, and move away with little likelihood to return? (It was hellish enough getting an apartment here in 2011, and it's even worse and about twice as expensive now.)
And, as always: what do I want to do if and when I grow up? Assuming I can actually do what I want?