Watts (chipotle) wrote,

Looking back

I don't think of myself as an intrinsically insecure person, but I've been aware for years that I go through mood swings--and like most people who describe themselves that way, sometimes I swing right into a pit that's difficult to climb out of. I can tell myself my depression is irrational and that I'm just letting an accumulation of little things get me down (I remember this feeling being described somewhere as "nibbled to death by ducks"), but that doesn't help. The little things still get me down, and I find myself slipping into paranoid thoughts about work, friends and life in general.

This is part of why I haven't posted much in the last couple of weeks. Only part, since I'm not a big poster compared to some--but in this kind of mood I tend to start a lot of posts that don't go anywhere. One thing I have managed to learn about these moods is that "deep thoughts" that occur during them are very often things that are not only objectively shallow but can be things you'd regret acting on later. (There's a good reason for the advice "don't make any life-changing decisions when you're depressed.")

So. Objectively, I'm probably coming down with Tugrik's cold, which is not good timing for me since I leave for Anthrocon tomorrow. The complaints I've written about before relating to the annoying timing of my work hours, combined with the commute, still hold true. And all the feelings I wrote about on June 26th--underperforming at work, wishing I could parlay personal projects into actual income while simultaneously failing to make time for those projects--they're all still there, but more so.

And I know if I looked back in my journal a year ago, I'd find an equivalent feeling--or three years, for that matter. While my LiveJournal only goes back to 2001, I actually started it on a homebrew journal system on July 7, 2000, right after Anthrocon that year. From July 10, 2000:

I'd like to be doing something relatively creative, and by all accounts I could be making substantially more if I was in a full internet-oriented position. I think I've really been working up the courage to pull the ripcord; there are good reasons to stay with the company, definitely, but good reasons to leave, too. The more bored I get, the more the compass tilts toward "leave." When's the right time to bail?

When indeed. The unnamed company isn't NetPoodles, it's Intermedia. By "internet-oriented" I meant focusing entirely on the web, which was only part of my job at the time. Of course, as things went: I wasn't making substantially more when I left to go to NetPoodles, and I recall my new coworkers taking me out to lunch after the first week on the job there and asking me, "So, do you regret coming here yet?" For all the travails that ensued, the answer is no.

Yet, now it's mid-2003, just past the third-year anniversary of this journal and coming up on the anniversary date of my layoff from NetPoodles. My concept of an "internet-oriented position" has fallen on its face; while there's a lot of finger-pointing to go around, from "web designers" who knew HTML but had no discernible background in either graphic design or programming to the overzealous dotcoms that gave such people $80-100K salaries, the field has utterly collapsed. My background in print design and understanding of Javascript, Perl, XML and PHP isn't good enough. To be a web developer I'd need all that plus Enterprise Java Beans, C and DBA experience. To be a web designer I'd need a graphic arts degree, a marketing background and expertise in Photoshop and/or Flash. And in both cases, the salaries in Silicon Valley are frequently less than I was making in Tampa.

Ironically, it's the part of the Intermedia job that I didn't think would be useful that I'm using at my current position: data mining with Microsoft Office. I note with some wryness that my journal from 2000 wonders whether I should pursue data mining, and if so how one goes about it, a question that I still can't answer. (On August 1st of that year, I wrote, "I wonder if I'm fated to end up [in Silicon Valley] there eventually anyway.")

So. During these "mid-year crises" I have all sorts of ideas for what I'd like to be doing for a living: programming for myself, freelance web and print design, the canonical writer living alone in a cabin. But this isn't the mood to act on any of those things. (Not to suggest that such decisions should ever be made on the basis of mood.)

As it is, I have a few more prosaic concerns: finish packing for the trip, figure out what I'm going to do to get Dave Bryant's art up there since I'm agenting for him (I confess the idea of bringing "adult" artwork through security disturbs me, but checking the art also disturbs me, so...). And maybe continue working on that Cocoa programming.

Not that this could ever connect back with the "programming for myself" idea.


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