Here is an example of a story of mine that usually never makes it to LJ. Last week I went to a coffee shop in downtown Nashville to meet with a guy who is giving me some contract iPhone work. As with most events in my life, it didn’t really happen until I told Steph about it. “We met at Fido,” I said. “I forgot that it’s hard to park there. I have nobody to blame but myself, because I am the one who suggested it.”
“You have a note on your iPhone that says you don’t like Fido,” Steph said. I was utterly taken aback. I had completely forgotten about that. There was nothing for me to do but laugh. “Well, I guess you can be nostalgic about unexpected things, when you’ve been gone for as long as I have,” I said. Weak attempt at a save.
I think it was two or three years ago. Steph and I went to Fido, and it was super-duper loud. Couldn’t hear myself think. I angrily started a new note file on my phone, to remind myself of places I didn’t want to go to again. Later, I added another no-no-place: PM, the trendy restaurant on Belmont, blacklisted for crappy service. Due to the magic of iTunes syncing, that file is still around, on my current iPhone. I’ve barely thought about it since. But Steph remembered, of course. She doesn’t have all her brain cells clogged up with song lyrics from the seventies, so it’s easier for her.
Among many things I’ve learned from Steph is that I have a tiny comfort zone. I can think of a few indirect things she’s said to try to steer me towards coming to that realization for myself, but that doesn’t work on me. I learned I’m intolerant due to contrasting myself with her. Her comfort zone is ten or twenty times larger than mine.
This is a real problem for me. When I’m at my best, there are few people in the world who can top me at my specialties. But it takes precious little to knock me out of my orbit and make me incapable of that kind of achievement. I strive to live outside the mainstream, and one important qualification is being able to roll with the punches.
One (sad) reason I am able to get along with Steph so well is because she is the world’s foremost expert on what I do and do not like, and she modifies her behavior accordingly. When we are in the presence of a third party who is doing something she knows I will not approve of, she gets visibly upset, barely able to restrain herself from telling that person to knock it off. This is both flattering and heartbreaking. What have I done?
I was going to write about the end of my job with the D.C. software firm, but I think I’ve changed my mind. I don’t think I can do it without descending into bitterness. This was without a doubt the worst job I’ve had since I became a professional programmer, circa 1990. I kept holding on, hoping against hope, because of the able-to-work-remotely part. I though I could just coast along in this mediocre job, cashing the paychecks, while getting my personal life in order. Once I was back in Nashville and actually working remotely, I lasted two whole days.
I’m tired of structuring my whole life around my job. I wanted it to be the other way around for awhile. But I’ve always had very specific needs in regards to employment or else I’m miserable and I’ll quit, which means most of my effort has to go to keeping myself employed. Right now I’m sponging off of my mom, so I can get by on very little money. I’m making a small amount from my iPhone/iPad card game and a little contracting, so that should be enough to keep my gas tank full and my iPhone bill paid. I have some time to figure out what I’ll do next.
I knew the D.C. place wasn’t an A-level employer when I started. I’ve been in only one of those in my entire career. I could have parlayed that one California job into a lifetime of follow-on A-level jobs, but I blew it. I just didn’t have the necessary social skills back then.
I feel that I’ve finally got the raw materials at hand to make a pretty good life for myself, but I’ve still got a lifetime of bad decisions to overcome. Earlier versions of myself have not given current me very much to work with, other than the 20 years of programming experience, which is just enough to get me into mediocre jobs that pay pretty well. God knows my relatives haven’t helped much either.
So, yeah, whatever, another setback. I’ll deal with it, like always.