(I first shared this essay in a recent podcast.)
An online acquaintance, Reg, made my day a while back by posting this tweet:
RegLevy: Introducing a new friend to technology and encouraged him to #hackyourworld.
h/t @cmdln (srsly, just hearing him say that makes me smile)
I was glad to see that I am still having a positive impact. When I started to think about it some more, though, I wondered just how much lately I had been living up to my saying. Especially when it comes to this site and podcast, I didn't feel like I was doing a good job. Up until recently, for the better part of a year, posts and episodes had been few and far between.
I remember my first Dragon*Con. It was 2006 and I hadn't been to a science fiction convention since college, about a decade prior. I had been podcasting just a little over a year but still felt like more of a listener than a contributor. Many of the people I listened to mentioned Dragon*Con in their shows, especially the just formed podcasting track. I decided to go both to try out science fiction conventions again and learn more about how to podcast. In one of the panels I attended, when one of the panelists asked who was podcasting or wanted to, I remember standing, face flushed. When the mic came to me, I made some self deprecating joke about being a technology podcasting cockroach. You know, being among the first and odds among the last to podcast too.
I have mentioned a few times how hard the last year and a half have been, personally and professionally. From the portion of that hardship that I feel was self inflicted, I have been trying to learn, grow and improve. One lesson I have been dwelling on is how showing vulnerability may actually be a strength. I am only now starting to feel my mental well being coming back. By not finding healthy ways to reveal my vulnerability, I think I did as much to delay my recovery as anything I went through that caused me pain in the first place.
A problem being mysteriously fixed through no clear action of my own bugs me. A problem this weekend with my mixer is just such a case. After upgrading to the latest version of my operating system, a flavor of Linux that I prefer called Kubuntu, I could not get the software driver I had been using with my mixer working. I could get close but not to the point where my audio workstation would see my mixer. Of course I discovered this right when I sat down to record. Last night, last thing, when there wasn't time or will left for extensive research and troubleshooting left in the weekend. When else would I discover a problem resulting from upgrading my OS? Not when it would be more convenient to investigate and fix.
Chris Miller turned me on to The Jefferson Hour. A few episodes back, they got to talking about Walden. What struck me was the discussion of one of Thoreau's main points, apparently, about leading a deliberate life. This makes sense, he is most often quoted for his thought on the mass of men leading lives of quiet desperation. I am only a chapter or so in but have already encountered the quote. The context is his pondering of how so many of us go through life driven by perceived obligation--that we have a certain job, possess certain things, make certain choices.
I ended the web site and podcast where I had been discussing some of my other interests, in particular around beer, brewing and cocktail culture. I don't want to discuss the reasons why. While that project is definitely over, my interests and pursuits related to it continue. Once or twice I have brought those, here, with an OK reception. I've been thinking about how best to continue to share and discuss those interests. I am of two minds.
For a variety of reasons, not all of which I have discussed, this has been a tough year.
To be fair to others, I have only spoken of the positive reasons for my job change. The story is always more complicated and those complications took a great toll on me and my family. A job search is exhausting under the best of circumstances, let alone when you are dealing with some incredibly difficult personal issues. I have been touched directly by the spectre of mental illness that seems to be rife in the world of technology and only now is being more openly discussed. I am not prepared to share details though there are some broad topics I will discuss in a more personal way when I am ready. Suffice to say that everyone in my family is safe.
Yesterday I took what ended up being an epic walk. I have already written about how I have been walking more lately. Walking more has been easier over the last two months. I had been taking days off or at least working from home while focused on my job search. The other week, I had a sudden run of days in DC but hadn't yet come up with attractive walking routes to help me keep up my new habit. In looking around an online map of what was nearby, I found Constitution Gardens. The Gardens truly are one of the hidden treasures of DC and I wish I had found them sooner. There is a huge water feature within which is a small island that has a ring of stone engraved with the signatures of all those who signed the Declaration of Independence. The Gardens are a decent half hour walk from where I work. Worked--today is my last day and my new gig is located much closer to home, in the suburbs.
I sat across a table today from an account manager at a staffing firm. I didn't expect to be there. I had taken a phone screen the week prior, my first in-depth technical assessment, that I thought I had completely fumbled. Looking back at my notes from right after the call, I wrote in big block letters, FAIL.
I woke up late this morning, at least late for a weekend. Despite sleeping in, my mind and limbs felt heavy. I skipped my usual habit of making myself breakfast from scratch, instead throwing something frozen in the microwave. Out the window, the neighborhood was gray, wet from overnight rain. I felt unmotivated to keep at another, more recent habit, of taking brisk walks on as many days as I can. I will be traveling this coming week, I knew I should get out of the house to walk when I have the time and space so I feel less bad if I have to skip a day later on.