I have lots of vague plans for the future, hopeful visions of what all
these years of toil will someday reap for my personal happiness. But I can
tell you a few things for sure:
I will absolutely, positively not win a Nobel Prize of any sort.
I am even more sure I'm not actually capable of doing anything silly enough
to win an IgNobel prize, either.
But whatever shadow of a sliver of a smidgen of doubt might exist about
either of those, I can finally admit with dead certainty, she isn't going
to call back. Or write. Or send a carrier pigeon.
I'd make a terrible doctor. Oh, not just because I don't have the patience, or the bedside manner, or the patience, but because I know I'd never make it past losing my first patient. I could handle the accidental or the inevitable death, but one day, sure as sunshine, one day it'd be my fault. And I don't have a healthy enough sense of my human limits to accept that.
As for friendships, I only spin a very few, and they mean a lot to me. They mean everything to me, frankly. And this time, I killed the patient.
Sure, the mailing lists, schmoozing, and skywriters might lead you to think otherwise, but the FoRK universe is really very, very small. Not just in the sense that everyone in it is connected by only a few hops, or is in the same socioeconomic class. I mean in the bare, statistical sense that there are very few people in it. Heck, this 'rich jet-set playboy' can't even give away three free tickets to Disneyland, that's how tight the noose is.
[Yes, I know this part of the argument is boring because I've already whined this way before]
Most of the explanation is that I'm a snob, I guess. I don't take well to hail-fellow-well-met aquaintances. I sit in judgment about, "is this someone I want to know for the rest of my life"? Admittedly, this is easy enough, since I'm curious/fascinated enough by anything at all to accept anyone who's willing to be known (which is how you can square the hauteur above with the open-admission policy on FoRK :-)
Furthermore, beneath the search for spiritual kinfolk is the even more ancient search for The One.
And I have arrived somewhere my One isn't.
Now wait, that was supposed to be my kickoff lede to this post, but I just realized that it juxtaposes incorrectly with the first vignette. I DON'T mean that in particular, the one who won't call is The One. Definitely not. I didn't leave my heart in San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Pasadena, SoHo (NY or London), Austin, Washington, Chicago, or Cambridge.
[My new UCI colleagues should close their ears at this point]
I mean that, in *general*, my hope for The One lies in those places -- not here behind the Orange Curtain.
This post is about arrival. I left Cambridge -- nay, ran away screaming -- but for what? And so comes the inevitable counterreformation. MIT, Harvard, Caltech: that was home, home among the wierdos and the crazies and most of all the nerds and geeks and the freaks. A few weeks ago, in my post about Disneyurbia, I said I abstractly regretted that there weren't any of my kind on the streets here.
Watching the IgNobel broadcast, I passed well past abstract nostaligia. I'm beginning to psychically hyperventilate, to feel asphyxiated by the lack of intensity. No one walks down the street reading a book! Everyone is so goddamned HAPPY! And now, now that I've left my latest orbit through Boston, I have the temerity to start feeling homesick? Pthuii!
But... but... but... before the woman who memorized the periodic table was the girl who memorized a thousand digits of Pi and the one who could sketch the Krebs cycle on a tablecloth. Where is my One???
Enlightenment is messy business. Around three in the afternoon, I ambled outside with my radio and my Fundamentals of Software Engineering text and plopped down in the sunlight in the center of campus. Alone in a crowd, so familiar, so comforting...
Now, I'm not silly enough to forget what I loathed Boston for. Weather as fine as an autumn day on the South Coast simply can't be explained to Bostonians. Oh, one can explain the concept of a sunny, balmy day, but never the absolute certainty that it just keeps rolling on day after day -- stability being so rare in nature, it became the totem of Boston culture, I suppose one could generalize.
And in the sun, I thought I'd try to catch up on the crushing (and crushingly boring) courseload and try to tune in to the supposed IgNobel rebroadcast on NPR. (don't forget, we're still talking about your lovably obsessive Rohit :-). [Actually, I caught a promo that headlined the awardees bracketed by NPR music, but the local station, KPCC, never broadcast anything today. Is is supposed to be after Thanksgiving, instead, like last year, or did I missi it?]
Instead, I relied on my deeper drive to laziness and used the text as a pillow and brooded under the sun. Nice, dark, death images. Not suicidal thoughts, mind you: just a very disassociated, distant sort of questioning the meaning of life and what I would get out of the next three or four years which loom soooo looong ahead yet will become mere punctuation once in the past. Why am I racing? Just to beat Adam out the gate? :-)
Enlightenment, or in this case, greed, has changed what I want. This is gonna be painful. I don't *want* the degree like I once did (*). My fantasies about being happy as unquestioned God of Web Protocols have shattered as naturally as they perhaps should. Instead, happiness is now built around this void of someone -- or some group, as you all and each are to me -- to share together with.
(*) footnote: this is a *good* thing: now that the degree is a mortal chit instead of a Holy Grail, I can realistically complete it. The first step to getting out is demystifying the damn thing.
I spent last night arguing with someone who steadfastly refuses to admit this first cause. How fulfilling can life possibly be *without* that drive? Don't demean it as mere libido! Most of you know what I mean here, but I suspect there are a few adorably oblivious FoRKs who thought as I did just, say, four months ago. I have to admit, I can't argue from first principles what 'a life' might be... except that you can't go back.
And so, napping on the lawn while the fire ants are nipping, what can I say of my decision now? Well, first and foremost, there's no turning back. I don't do doubts. I *will* bull my way through this (in both senses of the verb :-). No worries on that front. How, though? Possibly by recorking the genie. <snobbery> I know that this University can't be my geek home, my monastaeries of old </snobbery>.
Ah, hell, this is all beating around the bush. I'm just pissed that I just rended a thread in my web of friendships, and enraged because I don't know how or why. Sure, the facts can be read to say it's not my fault, but I don't care. When I want to be someone's friend, I damn well make it happen! :-)
But instead, work is still there: classes, ARPA PI meetings, consulting, WWW7 papers, another Web Journal issue, ... hell is other people, right?
And then, apropos of nothing, my pants buzz in the grass:
Subject: Page to 1792396@PAGEMCI
I was reading the FoRK faq and... Just wanted to say hello. I hope your settling in is going as good as my Portland move was in May. Peace and Postings..Your favorite whore--tom
What can I say? I love you all, Rohit