I need to clean out my Message Inbox and start afresh; if I haven't responded to you in the past year, don't take it personally -- it's hard to get in a noding groove (or /msg groove) when large chunks of your day are spent juggling three projects, hunting four boogs, and answering five questions. Grooveless I have been. It's not the kind of workplace that would frown upon my noding; the suits, who would object, hand down their memos from on high and wouldn't know me from a delivery person anyway.

So I've got this huge backlog of msgs that make me dread looking at the Inbox (you have 177 more messages); to save time, my reply to you (yes, you -- you know who you are) is somewhere in this handy-dandy list of replies.

  • "Yes, I know."
  • "No problem, I don't mind."
  • "Yes, I read it, and liked it. Very good."
  • "We begin bombing in five minutes."
  • "That was due to the old E1 512-byte limitation on writeups."
  • "I'm actually Gail Greenwood."
  • "I agree."
  • "I disagree."
  • "Done."
  • "I'll finish it, once I figure out the concept of autonoding."
  • "Thanks, Mean Joe!"
  • "Bite me."
  • "I like Vast Conspiracy in the fourth, but I guess that doesn't help much five months after the fact."
  • "Nope."
  • "I'll add it to the node eventually."
  • "I'll add to the node eventually."
  • "I'll add two and two eventually, once I remember my name."
  • "I lost the first part of your message."
  • "I left my wallet in El Segundo."
There you have it.
I'm only a fifteen-minute walk from my office these days, so I'm spared the three-hour round-trip commute I had, back when I was living in my aunt's house in the Bronx. But the days drag even worse now, because I no longer have the crutch of coffee, coffee, and more coffee that served me so well in the past. Two or three months ago, I had to give up caffeine, because I'd started taking the supplement creatine (i.e. creatine monohydrate), whose effects are said to be muted when there's caffeine in your system. Now, at work, there are more afternoons where my brain drifts off into dreamland, my body gently slumps over the side of the Aeron (love those Henry Miller chairs!), and my eyes alternate between staring blankly at the monitor and staring blissfully at the backs of my eyelids. At first, I would give in and head to the coffee machine, but now my tactic is to take cigarette breaks -- the walk, the fresh air, and the smokes seem to help most times. There seem to be no complaints from higher-ups -- just as they've put up, so far, with my Rain Manness and my other shellshocked quirks, so the Dozing Man seems to be tolerated, especially since he's productive when not fighting off sleep. But I miss a good cup of coffee.

A couple of weeks ago, I passed my first year of service in this gig, my first-ever nine-to-five job. I've found it physically and emotionally challenging; added to the mix now is the occasional dose of paranoia (warranted or not, likely the latter), engendered by my first experience of layoffs at the end of July. It wasn't due to some dot bomb catastrophe -- the company's doing OK (we're told), it's just that the 2001 budget must have been written by Miss Rosie Scenario and cuts had to be made, in the face of mere OK-ness. Of the five programmers who were hired after Labor Day 2000, only two of us remain; in addition, three of our most beloved consultants are gone as of yesterday. Our overall workload, however, will be increasing (and already had been), and spread out over fewer employees. Oy! I think I'll have that coffee now, thanks.

There's the fear of "Am I the next to go?" in the back of my mind, unwarranted because we'd probably grind to a halt, on the programming side, if we were to lose another person. I keep reminding myself of that (and of all the projects in the pipeline) when the paranoia creeps in. I'd like to last at least two years here, since two years experience would look better on the ol' resume if I have to someday begin the quest for that second-ever nine-to-five job.

Did You Know? The original first sentence of Melville's Moby Dick was "I am Joe's liver".