September 8th, 2015


SF, Portland, and elsewhere

42 has come and gone, and I still haven't gotten The Answer. If anything, things are more unclear than ever.

An awful lot of people I know are moving, having existential angst about their work, or all of the above and then some. This weekend, I had dinner with my landlord, his wife, and a friend of theirs from chat; he's working for Slack (the new company hotness du jour), and has kinda-sorta moved to San Francisco... and can't find anywhere to live. Apparently, even the tech companies are saying that they can't get people to come work for them due to the housing situation. Most of the fun people I know have either moved out of the city, have hooked up with folks who are in the tech industry, or have fled the state entirely; I know at least six people who have moved to Portland in the past few months.

San Francisco is not the city I remember from the late 90s/early 00s; I can't conceive of a warehouse party being thrown in the city, nor people renting out a big communal space. Many of the arts groups (Cellspace, Antenna Theatre) have either shut down or moved out as well. The city is rapidly approaching a state of being expensive and frou-frou and No Fun, and those effects are spreading out to the other cities in the Bay Area as well - not that many of them had thriving arts or culture scenes themselves, other than Oakland/Berkeley.

Going to Defcon in Vegas was more interesting than I thought it would be, but not because of the convention. It turns out that I miss having a car (and the ability to just get in and go somewhere for an unspecified amount of time), and sunlight and warmth. The people there were a lot friendlier, too; in some ways, it was the opposite of SF.

The problem is that most of the jobs I'd want to work at are still in the Bay Area. Since I have no kids, no partner, and little in the way of furniture I could conceivably pack up and move halfway across the world again with little notice... but I have NFI where I would want to go or do with myself. Of the big or well-known tech companies, there are only a few for which I either haven't worked or would want to work, and those are sounding kind of dubious themselves. (e.g. I've heard that SpaceX is kind of like videogame companies in that they'll take in the bring young things who want to do SCIENCE! and promptly use them for all they're worth and then some; Apple is full of raving paranoia; etc.)

None of this is helped by my depression having been especially bad over the past couple of months, topped off by a gout attack that kicked in right before Defcon began: not only am I lacking in motivation and want to just lie in bed all day, I have stabbing pains in my shoulder/upper back. Waking up out of a sound sleep due to little crystals in your joints going shankity-shank-shank-shank is no fun, let me tell you. And then there's the political bullshit and upheavals at work; the oldtimers are fleeing in droves; my tinfoil handcuffs are increasingly appearing to be made of actual tin, and rusted tin at that.

Even when I've been at my happiest and best-adjusted, I've never had an especially large amount of things that I've felt driven to achieve or attempt. When I'm like this, work is about the only thing that seems useful or tenable, and it takes most of my remaining energy to keep up the 'perfectly normal human' mask; going out and about and being social is beyond my capability most days, even if it's something as simple as going out for drinks with my coworkers someplace nearby.

I'd like a new body and a new supply of spoons, please.