It is currently 69F outside, 80F inside, and I have a box fan in the screen door to blow in the cool night air. The smell of springtime has filled my dim apartment. There’s a certain florid smell that permeates the night, and I am so in love. The night mists rise as the winds breeze in from the Gulf, bringing the smell of damp ground coming back to life. The smell of river rot, the deep, soul-churning waves of nostalgia as the blossom of trees begin to limit our views and cause us to turn away from the stars to each other. We hide away from the heavens to live it up on warm earth. We are so in love.
The past week has been one of meeting my limits and deciding that I had no choice but to push through them.
I’ve had to start riding my bike as my sole mode of transportation because, as many of you know, my car was T-boned by a Suburban with a cattle guard last week while commuting to work. Wreck notwithstanding, I’m having to relearn all those tricks to riding a bike; they say you never forget, but that’s just the balance/pedaling part — what you forget is all the mechanics of how much force to exert on the down stroke, how much you can twist your soles to get some grip on the up stroke, how to ride through the pain, how to choose the best gear ratio, which muscle groups to exert, etcetera. That’s all the stuff you forget, and it’s those walls I’m pushing.
Also, my job is one limit to be pushed after another. I know enough to deal with coworkers, but it’s the little things that make my job a job. I have to answer phones; I’ve been wracked with trepidation over that, and it still pangs me with dread when I hear a phone ring in the cube farm. But it’s my job; I have to answer and help the customers get their servers running. The more calls I take, the more confident, by turns, I feel about it. I still hate doing so, but life sucks sometimes. Eventually, I’ll get so accustomed to it that I’ll be able to rant everlong like a seasoned tech-support operator. That’s the hope, anyway. All the mechanical stuff of how to treat customers who secretly need your help even though they sound angry, knowing that it’s OK to put them on hold, that it’s OK to ask that they log into their customer portal and file a proper trouble ticket, and so on. The greatest of my worries is that I will say the wrong thing and look like the poster child for the company of fools — which I’m not, and which we’re not. The rest of my worries is not knowing what I don’t know, of which there are mountains. But my most seasoned of coworkers are still learning things, so there’s that.
But now that I’m 42, I’m finding myself in the thick business of being a grownup and having grownup problems. I have to find another car. I have to deal with insurance bullshit. I have to go to work. I have to make my way. These are limits, and it’s my vigilant battle to overcome the biggest limit of them all: my own fears. Nobody’s going to hand it all to me; I have to be the one to demand it.
Dark room nights
when phosphor meant something;
electrons flowed from cathode,
magnetic fluxes to deviate beams
serial flow to parallel screens.
Alone at terminals,
each character changed flyback hum
colors changed with programmed tone —
music of the transistors underneath,
and whine of local parts
was sound of distant hearts.
Dial tones began the laughter
play time on the line,
that magic place without face:
i spoke i, you spoke you.
In the middle, telemediated
we laughed, cried, winked
modem lights blinked
big thoughts thinked
on every drink.
Drunk by remote control
telepresent love extol
tribe without turf and means
but glowing phosphors and dreams.
It was a weekend. A span of time passed undetected, uninspired, uncaring, into the night. And now it is almost Monday. Almost time to sleep. 6am arrives too early. Beyond that, my first day on the phone. I am being pushed into it, face first; trial by fire, I guess. There’s really only so much I can learn on my ass; the rest, I have to learn on my feet, and I suck at that. The headache I’ve been carrying since Thursday will only get worse, and I’m going into the workweek with fear, dread, and stomach acid. If I had a sense of self, it would be destroyed by week’s end, I can guarantee that. I cannot wait until I come through the other end of the gauntlet and have enough breath to laugh about it.
This weekend has been blown on watching movies. Not even full movies; just pieces of movies. I’m transcoding my entire DVD collection to an all-electronic format to be served by the Plex media center running on my house fileserver. As each DVD is ripped, I have to do QA on the output file to make sure it plays fine, has all the proper audio streams, has closed-captioning, etcetera, before I transfer it to the fileserver. I’ve watched almost all of these movies shortly after I bought them, obviously, so I don’t have to watch the whole damn thing. But there are a few in my collection that I’ve never watched, so there’s that.
If I offended anyone this weekend with my foul mood or glazed stare, I’m sorry. Take it with a grain of salt. I’m a little pent-up and alone these days, more so now that I’m working full time. Bedtime comes earlier than society allows, so I drop into the cafe immediately after work, have a cup, maybe talk with anybody I recognize, and then I’m off to my apartment to do whatever it is that I do before bed. It’s a quiet, soulless existence. My job really is eating at my headspace, occupying my passing thoughts. Perhaps I’m still trying to absorb new data and my mind is too preoccupied at the peril of me not looking like a human. Feeling really fucking awkward lately, and that’s why.
I hope it all gets better soon.
Oh, I got a note from my webhost that they will be transferring my websites to another server, so there may be an outage some time this week. I certainly hope it runs faster; these 30-second page loads are making me angry. But at $100 a year, I get what I pay for, right? The upside of my current job is that down the road I have the option of grabbing a scrap server and hosting my own websites on my own dedicated system. That sure is a tasty-looking carrot on the end of that stick.
Well, I reckon it’s safe enough to finally announce to you fine folks that I am gainfully employed. I have been working at Hostway Corporation for the past two weeks doing Enterprise-level support for managed servers. What that means to you is that I work at the Internet. Not on the Internet — AT the Internet. Every time you look at a website or send an email or have a chat, your computer is making a connection to some physical server that’s sitting in some warehouse at the other end of a wire. This is one of those places at the other end of that wire.
Our customers are generally large companies or private individuals who run a bunch of websites. We own the equipment, we keep it powered and cooled, we make sure the wires aren’t crossed and everything is secured, and then the customers lease that equipment from us to do whatever they need. My job is to answer calls, emails, and trouble tickets from customers who need something changed or have a problem with their server.
Since the Internet doesn’t sleep, it’s a 24/7 operation, so someone has to be on staff in the datacenter at all hours of the day and night. I’m not thrilled at the prospect of shift rotations, but my application to the job was completely voluntary; I knew this going in. The past weeks of getting up at 6AM and filling my head with a wheelbarrow of new knowledge are wearing me down, but I’ll eventually get used to it. I think once the first paychecks start coming in, I’ll be a little more grateful. Until then, I’ll keep plugging at it. It’s a heavy load to take in, but I expect that with a new career.