Let’s blog blog this one, and talk about what my life is like for a bit. Like it’s LiveJournal again! Those were the days. Here’s my 2015 in review and hopes for 2016; a brief, incomplete, mostly incorrect list.
Goodbye Sup, hello Reonomy
Sup logo, old Reonomy logo, new Reonomy logo.
My previous gig (the one that took me to New York) decided it no longer wanted to be a software shop, but instead make yogurt machines with the rest of their seed investment. I and the other software engineers were let go (sans one, working mostly in a hardware capacity for reduced salary, as I understand it).
I have no hard feelings: I met great people who treated me fabulously, who trusted and empowered me to work on their baby. Naturally I have OPINIONS about the product and company, many of them critical, but Sup was a gig that really turned things around for me professionally, and I’m extremely proud of what we built. Ask me (in person or email) about this if you’d like more detail 😄
If you told me my next gig would be in COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE ANALYTICS I wouldn’t have believed you, and almost didn’t take either the interview or the role when offered. Most of this was my sheer ignorance of what an opportunity this was, another part was a surreal interview process with a company that barely resembles the one I’m currently working at.
Left is company headshot, right is an outtake I happen to like.
I’m exceptionally glad things worked out how they did: I can say with confidence that Reonomy is the most fulfilling job I’ve taken since graduating. I work with some amazing people, have been stretched as an engineer in a number of different directions, work for a business that sells things to people for money by reducing inefficiencies in an underserved market, and am trusted with critical responsibilities.
I have criticisms! Many of them! But the presence of criticisms doesn’t make anything in the preceding paragraph untrue, nor have I worked literally anywhere else where I didn’t have substantial disagreements. As in any non-trivial software: there’s always bugs 😉
In 2016: I hope to continue to do well there! Barring some terrible unforseen cultural issue, personal failing, or obscene offer, I don’t anticipate leaving.
If I left, it would be to chase the siren song of starting my own company, since, as jwz points out, I’m spending my one and only youth producing outsized wealth for people whose main job is telling me and other people to do things and collect great rewards, and that’s only so cool. I’ve been pretty (perilously? carelessly?) open about the appeal of this (hi CEO!) but if I were a betting man, I’d bet that I continue Working For Other People. My professional life is usually the most stable slice of my Life Pie, and adding risk to my financials or poking my mental health hornet nest would require me to be on exceptionally good footing.
I wrote Ghostlight / Attended 60–80 shows
Missing is about 10 serials @ the flea performances, but they don't let you take that program home. Click for a larger version. About 2/3 of these are in Ghostlight. Each was a night or afternoon out.
I’ve been kicking around the idea behind Ghostlight since I was college, when I was just making the transition from Theater Kid With Aspirations to Software Engineer (back then I’d only taken a few classes, hadn’t formally listed my concentration).
Sidebar! At one of my acting programs, I’d heard a method from an industry vet that he said was Guaranteed™ to get you work as an actor: Build a Rolodex (I told you he was a vet!) of all your contacts from previous work, friends of friends, and/or from the pages of the industry rags. Then, literally every week:
- Monday: Drop off a headshot at the office of 5 of those people in your Networking Rolodex, randomly.
- Tuesday: Send postcards of your headshots to a different 5 random people from this Rolodex.
- Wednesday: Call a different 5 of these people. Ask what’s up, is there any work, what you’ve worked on recently, what you’re interested in, what they’ve been up to…
- Thursday: Visit a different 5 of these people, and have a similar conversation to the above.
- Friday: Take a day to yourself, kid, you’ve earned it.
Just kidding! Practice monologues, take classes, add to your Rolodex, and/or annotate the cards with details of your conversations, etc.
Over time, this is Guaranteed™ to get you work!
Shitty Ghostlight logo made with a free tool.
With that in mind, after a few CS classes, I figured there has to be a better way! Namely, when thinking of networking in the theater world, I wanted a way to take the data I had in show programs (every designer, actor, donor, etc.) and look up what people around me have done so I could use it in conversation without having to just memorize every show (“oh, I saw you worked with X, who did the lights for Y show, which I saw and appreciated that they…”).
That fed into “what if I could link the information in all the programs together and make it searchable” which then led to Ghostlight.
You can read a ton more about the ideas behind it on the About page and FAQ: for the purposes of this blog post, you really just need to know that I opened sourced it after some low moments and feelings of defeat. The source is here.
In 2016, I may, just may, continue to work on it. Knowing that others can see it and look at its awful code and deployed instance has me feeling more motivated since, oh, May. I don’t know if it’s enough to break the spell, but it feels nice again, and I’m reminded that I really did sink a lot of effort into this, and that I do believe such an app would be pretty valuable.
Fun facts about Ghostlight!
The first commit was on my third day of work at Reonomy. I absolutely never touched Ghostlight during work hours, but was amused at what the work for both had in common, and enthusiasm for one frequently fed the other.
The last code commit at the time of this writing is me literally using “good” and “bad” incorrectly, so maybe Crockford making me call myself stupid is totally legit.
I got back in the Theater game and ""“directed”"" a show!
Set for Fish Out Of Water.
I put “directed” in triple air quotes because compared to most directing gigs, my role was pretty minimal. Charly wrote it, performed it, and the show is about her, so I often describe it as her bench pressing while I was spotting.
I don’t want to undersell myself: we discussed the text very heavily and unearthed a ton of connections and narratives that would strongly inform the performance. We had 8–10 rehearsals, I kept her accountable for lines and during rehearsals. I also provided its sound and light cues (one of each!).
In the vein of more traditional directing gigs, I did make a number of suggestions for staging and design choices, but we decided that most of them were unnecessary or counterproductive: the strength of the piece is that this is a look at her and she is great, so embellishing that with any Cheap Theater Craft is almost to pollute it. This wasn’t a Benihana spectacle, it was more of a $60 piece of Fine Fucking Sushi that blissfully sits in your mouth reminding you that yes you are alive and that enough feels like something.
And I did it all from the totally uncompromised position of being a not-always-sympathetic subject in the piece itself, while also being in a relationship with her that was beginning to feel its seams stretching.
In 2016, I highly doubt I’ll do anything like this again. This was perfect because I loved and was heavily committed to both the work and the person behind it, was uniquely situated (given the subject matter and production realities) to be the director it needed.
I’m not opposed to the idea of getting back into making more theater, I just don’t think, given everything else I’ve got going on and my goals for this year, that I’ll be in a position to do this again.
I broke up
Get your popcorn, kids. Or not, because I uh, haven’t written anything yet and maybe it won’t be too interesting. But this is arguably the biggest thing that happened to me in 2015, it was definitely the hardest, and it feels remiss not to mention it.
I don’t often write about my breakups since it might make recovery situations worse, because vulnerability is hard, and because it’s damn difficult to condense a topic so rich with emotions, narratives, history, and high stakes into any prose that would suffice. So normally I just come up with a convenient rationalization like this one and opt not to write it, sparing me any real gut-spilling or public reflection.
But this story is mine too, and I’m trying to be more open, all things considered. I’ll say a few very high-level True Things that applied to us:
Charly and I were in the relationship hoping it would end with marriage and kids. We played the Marriage Game for keeps: no “let’s just try it and if it doesn’t work out we’ll just get a divorce”; a real, 60–80 year, for-life commitment to the relationship and each other.
A marriage and future like that were Strong Requirements for Charly: my understanding is that she’s wanted a nuclear family in a committed, monogamous, happy marriage more than any specific career goal or personal goal since even the first time we dated in our early 20’s.
Given all that, the responsible thing to do, if past a certain degree of certainty you’re feeling like you are incapable of performing a lifetime of the above narrative happily or sufficiently, is to end the relationship.
(Now that I’ve written some more but still haven’t finished, I’ll point out what I won’t write about, which I imagine is the popcorn-worthy bits: what led me to realizing the above, and what is “a certain degree of certainty.” Ask me, I’ll talk about it but I don’t want to write it here).
The aftermath was pretty devastating for both sides and recovery is still in-process. I wrote in the Ghostlight blog, when discussing why I put down the project:
In two weeks of living out of my gym bag I got a place, moved into it, and got new furniture. Three weeks after that I got a pup. […] Self harm has been “on the table” regularly. I’ve had weeks where I’ve probably cumulatively slept 28 hours. I’ve been going to a lot more dance classes, though mostly in the spirit of this. I’ve been an absent friend and family member.
Again, I’m writing about this in this post because coming to this understanding and acting on it was fucking hard, and I feel grateful that I found the strength to do it because it was a necessary development. So it gets on the list of victories and celebrations for 2015, even though there was no fist-pumping or joy, just a shitton of crying and despair but the knowledge that I’ve raised the ceiling for both of our futures.
I started getting therapy again
It’s not cheap, and this doctor is out of network (he came recommended; we’re doing very well so I’d rather not change). For both of those reasons, Aetna will likely make filing claims a colossal pain in the ass. In 2016 I hope I can keep doing this but if Aetna wins the red tape battle I might have to change some shit significantly.
But! Getting therapy in the first place: A victory that belongs to 2015!
I started dancing again 💃🏽
Mentioned above! Like that time I brunched, I’ve become the type of person I love to hate on because I can say the following:
I can tell you the pros and cons of the various Zumba instructors for Equinox gyms in Manhattan!
(no really, I can, hit me up if you want a rec or something)
Joking aside, this has literally been a lifesaver. I’ve lost ~30ish pounds since I started (Jesus, from where?! I was already thin…); more than that, I just feel 100x better. It’s not specific to Zumba: the Pon De FLO classes, and the class I took that was subbed by the Zoanee founder, have all been phenomenal, and I expect would work just as well.
In this specific way, I’m the most happy and fulfilled I’ve felt in years. The last time I approached this was when I was a regular at the Enshin Karate San Francisco branch, under Sensei Tomiyama, around 2012 (if you live in the Bay Area I can’t recommend his classes highly enough). I’m delighted to know I could feel this way again, and look forward to much more in 2016.
I got a dog
We’ll end with dog pics! This really deserves its own post.
I tag photos with him on Instagram with #sapogoeswoof. It’s been extremely challenging and extremely rewarding. I love this little guy.
In 2016 he and I will celebrate a year together in October, grow a little older together, and nap/cuddle a fuckton.