Was it Two Septembers ago? It Seemed Like Yesterday

September is ruined, it seems.

September is my time of reflection, just as it was 2 years ago.  I looked out upon Chevy Chase in Lexington, on bi-monthly afternoon off, and I was both over-caffeinated and sad.

Today isn't all that different:  I'm pensive, alone among a crowd, and over-caffeinated.  I'm a Christian without a church home, a football fan without a team, and a father down one child.

How did we get here?  The man writing on that patio in 2014 was actually on the rebound: He'd learned the folly of pursuing The Company.

The Company had asked him many times to do what was necessary, and he happily obliged.   Somehow, it was the one safe harbor in his life, where being a "confident, capable" person was somewhat true.  He wasn't a failure there, as a husband or a father.  For seven, ten, or twelve hours a day, he could make things better, make things work.

Until he couldn't.   They broke him in 2011, irrevocably.  He got the big call-up as they say in baseball.  An ill-defined position something like "Principal Engineer."  Talk about a recipe for disaster!  Requirements for that position:

  • An ability to maintain perspective no matter the circumstances.
  • Good boundaries, knowing where your responsibility both begins and ends.
  • Ability to cede ultimate responsibility to the "decision maker."
  • Ability to delegate.
  • Ability to micro-manage others as necessary.
  • Keeping things professional, leaving emotions out of any decision.
  • General self-image impervious to both direct and indirect attack from those with some sort of axe to grind, both individual contributors and the innumerable middle-managers you'll deal with.
  • No outward sense of paranoid, but a constant vigilance to CYA at all times.
Let's be clear: A different person would relish this position, both the power and the perks.

...just not me.

It's time I put it away.  In any case, in 2014, this happened
That's the context of that 2014 post.  I was about 9 weeks back into serious development, and I'll never regret it.  In the next 18 months, I would:

  • Help write the Identity Provider all of our Cloud stuff would depend upon
  • Help roll-out our solution in Europe
  • Help spur a transition to Amazon EC2
  • Really get to use Ruby, RSpec, Capybara, and the wonderful Ruby ecosystem.
  • Write a damned-slick screen-scraper/login driver using NodeJS
  • Get to operate that solution.
In short, I had a blast, and I got to work with the sharpest at my company.

I was uneasy, because I was doing something I wanted to do.  I had plenty of people asking me what the hell I thought I was doing.  I had several people (apparently) nervous I was trying to usurp their authority (I wasn't).  I just wanted to code, and make stuff, and get better at it.

In summary, as I now sit in a combination cafe/froyo stand just west of Lakeline mall in Austin, with the sun moving towards the horizon surrounded by people with macbooks, I'm happy I'm at a place where I get to code so much that I sometimes go home with my fingertips sore.  I learn stuff, every day, and I get to interact with some great people.

I haven't yet scratched the surface of Austin, from its strange fascination with Tacos, cycling, and hippies.  I haven't yet figured out how to be Dad and Husband adequately....maybe I never will.  

At best, this is a ramble, much like my transition down here.  Trying to snatch a plot out of a stream of consciousness 2 million people wide, all trying to make sense of "life its own self" as Dr. Bud used to say.

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