Friday, May 28 2021

anti-journal 12



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2019-06-03 Monday

Good Morning Journal!

Well, it’s the final week before Marissa and I go to Vancouver. And I can tell you I’m really feeling the burn. This is probably the hardest Monday I’ve had in a while, as far as the “sunday scaries” go. This morning, even knowing there’s a fresh pot of hot coffee downstairs couldn’t get me out of bed. This morning I woke up at 4:55 AM to use the bathroom, and it’s hard to describe the pure bliss I felt getting back into bed, knowing I wouldn’t have to move for another 95 minutes (although this morning I took at extra 45 minutes).

I don’t know, Journal. It’s hard. Laziness is really starting to creep into my life. I find that the things I used to do with pride, I’m kind of going through the motions with. Even cooking doesn’t seem as satisfying as it used to, if I’m being honest. I’m grateful that in the meantime, while I’m battling laziness and apathy, I have still have the structure of chores and routines.

I don’t know where this growing sense of laziness and dread are coming from to be honest. Work has definitely been kind of crappy, but usually everything else around me manages to cheer me up, and I have no trouble living for the weekend. I’ve gained a bit of weight - maybe it’s just feeling slightly out of shape while the weather gets hotter.

Gosh. I even missed journaling yesterday morning, and I’ve been sleeping in later. Yesterday morning I threw myself into the very strange, tedious task of moving CloudFormation resources to terraform - which is good work, but I didn’t need to work on it first thing in the morning for as long as I did.

Well journal, I think I’m officially in a funk. And my best option right now might be to just wait until it passes. I’m here, right where I’m supposed to be, and I have a wonderful life, and I have a fresh cup of coffee and somewhere to go in five minutes.

Today I noticed an invite on my work calendar from some lady that teaches mindfulness. There’s a session this morning. I might go check that out, perhaps I could benefit from the extra quiet time.

This week, I suppose we just cling to routines until we feel normal about them again. That’s a pretty good battle cry for Monday, no?

2019-06-20 Thursday

Good Morning Journal!

Man, this cup of coffee is completely saving me today. It’s like I wake up, and I feel like I’m staring into the abyss. Then I take that first sip, and I immediately feel like a different person.

But I’m not here to talk about coffee this morning. I think I’m beginning to see a pattern forming with my anger. There’s plenty of entries in my anger log that show that I have outbursts when things don’t work right - like when I’m fixing code to do something, or a recipe isn’t working out, or when I can’t set up a computer to do something very easily. It even happens when I can’t beat a video game. I realized this last night while I was cooking dinner. I couldn’t get the potatoes and the kale to mix, so I started to rage and lash out. I blamed Marissa for buying the wrong potatoes (even though I told her they were fine the day before). It made me realize that I seriously lack patience. When something doesn’t work well the first time through, rather than working through the issues, it seems I lash out and blame other things. When I can’t immediately get code to work, I blame the idiot upstream developers. When I can’t immediately beat a video game, I blame lazy gaming companies and poor level design. When I can’t get someone’s computer working for them, I blame greedy software companies for making their licensing too paranoid and convoluted.

I’ve often explained away this tendency as “Oh no, I’m just very efficient, and things that aren’t efficient anger me.” But unplanned problems and random error are a part of the universe and they have nothing to do with efficiency, do they?

So what’s the answer? I think I lack patience. Because I lack the patience to work through the moments where my plan falls apart, I yell, swear, throw dishes at the sink, and blame others.

I think I learned in college that Plato believed there was power in contemplation - that if one wants to be brave, he should contemplate bravery. Or that if one wants to be a better spouse, he should spend time contemplating love and commitment. It is clear to me I need to contemplate patience. I need to incorporate time to reflect on this virtue regularly, and I think it’s safe to say that most of my contemplation occurs right in this text file.

So what is patience? I’m kind of drawing a blank. Now I’m really convinced that I don’t spend much time thinking about patience at all. I can see parts of my life that make sense because I lacked patience, but I don’t know if I’m ready to just think about the virtue itself quite yet. Yesterday while I was washing dishes, I chuckled because I remembered why I switched from biology to chemistry in college. I was doing really poorly on biology tests because I was unwilling to read and actively listen to the material. Of course, I blamed biology. “It’s all just rote memorization!” I said. And like with most of my outbursts, I was kind of correct. Biology is a lot of memorization, but isn’t everything? What fields are out there that don’t require you to memorize anything, either passively or actively? I turned to chemistry because I happened to be in organic chemistry at the time and it all made sense to me without having to read anything. I liked that you learned a system of rules, then just apply it to every problem.

I don’t think I’m a monster, or that I’m broken, or there is a problem with the way my brain works. I think in a way, my lack of patience has made me really effective with certain things. At work, I’m known for finding solutions very quickly and getting code to work very fast. I’m reminded of when we built all the new production pods last summer, and there were all kinds of new crazy architectural constraints that required lots of machinery to keep DNS records in sync. One of my proudest moments at work was when we designed this new system, and I got it into production just a few hours working off of a diagram we had scribbled onto a whiteboard.

I’ve spent pretty much my whole life practicing solving problems, but I think that has led me to treat everything like it’s a problem that I can solve immediately. So when something goes wrong, say, my butter sauce is starting to separate, the solution is that it’s my wife’s fault for not getting into the house on time. In reality, there is no solution. The solution is to keep practicing making a butter sauce, experiment with it, and through patience, work through the issues.

Let’s continue to reflect on patience today. To Thursday!