I would go back to my bench, which was at the other side of a huge pile of…everything. Returned equipment, new equipment, etc etc. I re-arranged that stuff for a while until I had a clear space around the bench, barricaded in by walls of cases and boxes and etcetera, easily six and a half feet high all the way around…the only way in or out was a passage just wide enough to slide a roller case through – less than 3 feet wide at best – and was blocked by a pallet jack loaded down with 600 lb of desktop machines, so I could easily pull up the drawbridge…I sat there, no sound other than the tinny streaming radio from the UK and the occasional chime of a rebooting system, and churned out laptops for eight hours straight. Sometimes nine or ten. It was mind-numbingly dull…but it wasn’t customer-facing, it wasn’t physically strenuous, I could sip on a Dr Pepper and hear some music in the background…basically, all the alone-time I needed.
Man alive, what I wouldn’t give now…not to be customer-facing, and to be able to just build up the wall and get to work…
The first entry in this series was looking back less than four years. That was over a decade ago. The days are long but the years are quick.
During the process of recovering from the Thanos-strike on mine host’s servers, I stumbled across other things I’d written down and stashed during that same era. December 2007, January 2008, when I was first coming to grips with bottoming out on depression and the realization that I’d made a huge mistake leaving Apple (arguably the second-biggest mistake of my life, in retrospect). And I was thinking about what I’d like my life to be like if things ever got better, and why it wasn’t doing so…
I’m depressed by the prospects of staying at this job, with its poor prospects for growth and its crap leave policies, because I am afraid that it will keep me from being able to do what I want. The problem is, i don’t know what it is that i want…. I want a job with people I can be friendly with, with the ability to work from home occasionally, with actual leave and maybe free coffee in the mornings and not lifting hundreds of pounds a day. I know damn well these jobs exist – because almost everyone else I know HAS ONE.
-7 Jan 2008
I made a list of the things I wanted to talk to the shrink about: the drama and trauma of my family back in the old country, my dismal view of a political culture that just kept getting more stupid and backward, my constant abiding fear of making the wrong choice, how much I miss having somewhere to belong, and my inability to stop wishing for a better past. And ten years on…there we are, just like always, except I may have finally stopped that last thing.
In fact, some of the other concerns have gone by the boards. I’m now in a job where I can listen to audio all day (even if it’s podcasts and not streaming now) and do have free coffee and don’t have to pick up anything heavier than money, and I can go out of the country for three weeks at a time and work from home when I get back. That’s not nothing, and even though it took a long time and a lot of misery to get here, I’m here. I dealt with the problem of supporting a bunch of crap football teams by…getting out of college football for good, more or less. We eventually made a decision on having kids, and although I’m sure I’ll have regrets someday, in retrospect it was absolutely the right call to make. And my need for a pub or coffeehouse was pretty much sorted out by the use of the big recliner downstairs, a 20 oz Yeti tumbler, a stream from RTE and a set of headphones.
I adapted and performed, in other words. There were a lot of things I couldn’t and can’t change, but I’ve managed to (slowly, eventually) wrench my own life into something I can live with. And when I look back at Black October fourteen years ago, I think of all the things the guy skulking behind the Pelican cases had yet to see: London. Ireland. Japan. A surrogate big sister. A goddaughter. A long-lost cousin who more than anyone knows What It’s Like. An iPhone or nine. A new-age Rabbit and a hybrid Malibu. Vanderbilt bowl games and San Francisco World Series trophies. Giants in San Jose and Warriors in Santa Cruz. Steel toed Blundstones and Alden boots and plastic Birkenstocks. Twitter and Instagram and SBNation. And a world gone horribly, horribly wrong in ways that were inconceivable even from the political depths of 2004.
Life happened while I was busy making other plans.