Stuck

I’m having trouble being happy. So far, 2007 hasn’t been very fulfilling or satisfying.

A lot of stuff is different this year than it has been in other years. The most obvious thing is that I’m not in school. That could have a lot to do with it. I feel my brain settling into its patterns, optimizing for my lifestyle and minimizing its energy usage. This never happened in school; I always felt like by brain was exercising and stretching, and now it’s sitting on its lazy ass in front of the game programming TV. I’ve hardly been doing any math; I haven’t come any closer to my goal of understanding the independence of CH from ZF.

But I’m afraid of going back to school. There is too much bullshit there. I want to learn, I want to work hard and stretch my brain, but I don’t want to fuck with that awful thing called homework which deprives me of relaxation every hour of the week. I’m not enjoying working at NetDevil very much, but I am really enjoying the working model—go into work, do stuff, come home, relax and sleep. It beats school: go to school, listen to stuff, come home, work, maybe sleep. I don’t want to mess with intro to voice class teachers who have meaningless expectations. At work, I can argue with my lead programmer and the director about the benefits of doing a task, so I don’t get caught doing meaningless stuff. I can’t do that with a teacher.

I want to go to school and take a bunch of linguistics and math classes, and that’s it. And I want to take two difficult, interesting classes at a time, so I don’t have to juggle intro to voice bullshit while I’m actually learning.

Or if I don’t go back to school, I don’t think I want to be a game programmer anymore. Certainly not a $6,000,000 game programmer anymore, but perhaps not one at all. Games are not interested in correctness; all they care about is “working”. But I care a lot about correctness. I get off on solving problems completely, not mostly. I think I want to work in compilers. Compilers really care about correctness, and I think that’s why I really like them. If you add an optimization to a compiler, you’d better be damn sure that the optimized code is always equivalent to the original code, otherwise you throw out your optimization.

One thing I am really getting satisfaction from right now is music. I love my improv band. I want to practice with them three days a week and then go improvising around Boulder. I’m getting a lot better at my instrument, especially when Charlie isn’t there (I think that’s my biggest problem with Charlie in this band; it’s not that he isn’t adding to the music, it’s that I don’t have to work as hard when he’s around, so my technique is not improving). Another path I think I would be content with is to stop working and stop school, and go music full-on. There is, of course, the money problem if I go that route.

But something else has changed in 2007, and I’m beginning to think that it has had a big impact. My relationship with Karlin changed from “soul mate” to “good friend”. I can no longer think of her as someone who will always be there for me. The stuffed poodle she gave me in 2001 isn’t working anymore, it’s just a stuffed animal now. I’m getting lonely.

A friend of Namaste and mine, Jenn, came over last night. The three of us went for a long walk and sat in the grass and talked and all that good stuff. But that reminded me that I need somebody to cuddle with; it was really hard to restrain myself from touching her hand or something. Yes, she’s quite beautiful, but I’m not usually tempted so (like Jude :-). I think that’s reflecting more of my emotional state at the moment than any particular attraction towards her. (Well, that’s not entirely true. I could write a whole post about the subtleties and complexities of that bear. But I’ll save that for another time, probably never.)

I get the feeling that this is an inflection point in my life, and that the changes in January and February were just the beginning. I keep thinking that August is the pivot, where I will make the decision about what to do next. But experience has shown me that when such tension starts building for something to change, it manifests itself much more quickly than we plan. If I start feeling like I’m eventually going to have to quit NetDevil, I wouldn’t be surprised if I got fired tomorrow.

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