I’m still here.

Fair warning: I’m going to ramble here for a little bit. I used to write my blog as a personal journal, and that slowly shifted into its current state as a semi-neglected platform for interesting quotes, random essays and commentary, and the occasional video. That’s likely what it’s going to continue to be, but sometimes you just need to get back to your roots and have a proper life-update braindump.

… in which our intrepid author talks about work.

I don’t really talk about my job very much. I’m not my job, but it is what I do 8-10 hours a day, so you’d think I’d mention it more. Quick summary: until recently, I was working as a Software Test Engineer for a company called Experis, up in Portland. We had (well, they still have) a contract with Microsoft, acting as a test facility for their games division. It wasn’t a bad job: they actually took testing seriously, provided training for their employees, and paid pretty well for games (so, not quite as much of a gap between it and doing the same job for any non-gaming-related part of the software industry). There was a good sense of camaraderie, and I worked with some damn good, talented people. All that said, I’d been there for three years and it was time to move on, so I started looking elsewhere.

A friend graciously took the time to rip apart my resume, which was kind of an amazing experience — the end result was significantly stronger than any resume I’ve had before. Just to see if it’d get any better traction, I applied to a few companies that were long shots (well known companies that were considered to have a high hiring bar but that I’d love to work for), and ended up getting near immediate turnaround on my applications. I went through the interview process, and ended up receiving an offer from Dropbox. I started there as a QA Engineer last December, a little over four months ago.

Let me tell you a little bit about Dropbox, for those who are curious: everyone is really smart, ridiculously talented, and crazy driven. They work hard for their successes, and don’t take it for granted. It’s also a fun and interesting place to work, and they treat their people well — the sort of place that trusts their employees to do the right thing both for the company and for their own wellbeing. I don’t regret taking the position at all, though I am at times amazed that I managed to convince people that I should work there. (I realize this may sound like I’ve drunk the kool-aid, and I don’t mean to make this a gush-fest for a company. I know they aren’t perfect, and at times my work can end up being stressful. It’s still a damn sight better than a lot of other places, and I appreciate that. I will say, it feels good to work for a company whose business practices and ethical stances are something I generally support, and seems to genuinely value its employees.)

So… yeah, that’s work. I didn’t really expect to be doing QA for as long as I have, but something I’ve found is that most people in QA say the same. A lot of the most capable QA and test engineers I’ve met have backgrounds in other things, and ended up sort of “falling into QA” and then discovering they enjoyed it and were good at it. We’ll see how long I keep it up.

Life: what’s up with that?

Work has been good. Life, on the other hand, has had a few hurdles I’m working on. A big one is that I effectively uprooted my life to move here. I’d been living in Portland for a little over 5.5 years, and still really liked it there. I’d been dating someone for 5.5 years (we met not long after I moved to Portland), and ended that to come down here. (Why end it? It’s complicated and the details aren’t something I want to bring up here — the easiest summary is that I’m a jerk who is trying to be pragmatic about longer term goals that may or may not ever happen, at the cost of heavy emotional turmoil right now. We’re still really close, which makes things both easier and harder, if that makes any sense.) Not trying to be all angsty, but hopefully it gives some context when I say I have stuff that’s been weighing on me that I need to finish processing mentally and emotionally.

I’ve got to admit, I’ve not really fallen in love with the Bay area. There’s so much consumption and commercialism, so many people around all the time, so much rushing. I’ve never been very cosmopolitan — I tend to seek out solitude to recharge, and that’s hard around here. Case in point: a few weeks ago, I tried taking a drive down to the coast — out to Half Moon Bay, then down to Santa Cruz and back. There was no point on the entire drive that there weren’t people around. Every pull-over, every beach, the entire drive, and not just one or two cars, either — it was packed. It’s hard to find solitude, but easy to feel isolated. That’s sort of the antithesis of what I like.

It also makes me vaguely uncomfortable that I’m part of the tech scene here, given the sort of tensions between the tech companies and, well, everyone else in the area — the social and cultural disconnect is really concerning. My company is at least actually based in SF, and thus paying municipal taxes and supporting the community to some degree, compared to being based elsewhere and just having all our employees with more money than sense live in the city because they want to live somewhere “hip.” (Heck, I do the opposite — I commute into SF for work, because I don’t want to contribute to the sort of out of control housing prices that are going on there.)

This is mostly just kvetching: my life is pretty good if these are the things I have to complain about. I chose to come here, after all. That doesn’t invalidate my feelings, but is more of a reminder to myself to place it in perspective and not forget the context of my complaints.

So, something else I don’t talk about too much, but is kind of relevant: I’ve been battling depression off and on for a long time. I’ve been lucky in that I tend to remain productive through it, albeit for bad reasons like guilt over letting others down if I submit to how I’m feeling. I was already dealing with a relapse while in Portland, but moving down here has not helped. I’m being proactive about it, but there’s still a ways to go before I feel like I’ve got it back under control. (I’m a firm believer that chronic depression isn’t something you “cure”, in the same way that you don’t “cure” alcoholism. You have to keep vigilant, you have to keep mindful so that you don’t slip.) The depression has had some follow-on effects: less energy for social endeavors, more avoidant behavior, more social anxiety about meeting new people, less communication with existing friends (to those who’ve reached out: thank you, and I’m sorry that I’ve not been better about reciprocating). Suffice it to say, I’m looking forward to getting all that under control.

Moving Right Along

It seems like kind of a downer to close by talking about depression, even if it is mostly just a “yep, dealing with it.” So: I promise I’ll post something more fun before my birthday (which is in like a day and a half). Also: I’m confirmed for flying back east in July! There’ll be a week at Squam, but otherwise I’ll be around and interested in seeing people. East-coasters: consider yourself on notice! Also also: I’ll be heading to Portland at the beginning of May for a conference. Portlandians, let’s hang out!