Saturday, 31st of December 2011
This post has been abridged / redacted to preserve the identity of individuals mentioned. If you know me well enough, ask and I might show you the unredacted version. Or you might be able to figure it out yourself.
My, what a year it's been. Mostly good, but pricked throughout with sadness on occasion.
Such a lot has happened, I've changed jobs twice. I left a good Infrastructure Engineer job in July for a promise of a better job at another company. I did 3 months of hard graft on a new infrastructure project there, only to find they'd chosen to make me redundant, and terminate my contract at 3 months. Bit of a bugger that, and the way it was phrased to me made it feel like it was a personal attack. The line I was given by the CTO was "You're not a good fit for the team", but that was actually bollocks, because everyone in the team confirmed my feelings, that I was actually a good fit for the team. A little stubborn, but that's a good quality in an engineer, I feel.
That was on the 14th of October..
Turns out, that my "redundancy" / "contract termination" / "whatever" came at a time when they also got rid of 2 product managers and a senior developer. Such is life.
So, I spent about 3 weeks job hunting, various interviews ranging from "yes, that sounds really cool" to "eugh. Massive company, sounds too boring for words". I picked up a week-odd's work of contract work related to my former infrastructure job, and that kept me entertained for a while long enough.
Soon enough, a good offer at a decent company turned up. I heard from my former colleague at the 3 month place, that a cool VFX company were looking for a DevOp engineer of my type of background.
I applied, and was interviewed twice. Turns out that I'd previously been recommended to them by a guy who'd interviewed me in the past, so it felt like it really was all meant to be.
I started there in the first week of November.. It feels like it was much longer ago, for some reason. Probably because I've been so impossibly busy. Still, that beats the original infrastructure job where I was impossibly bored.
There's lots of new infrastructure stuff to do there, and we're doing lots of stuff with cool tech. I'm not entirely sure what I can talk about, so I'll just say that it's all insanely cool.
This is good, because I was starting to feel quite bored of working for the same kinds of Web2.0 companies. Scalability, yeah, very buzzwordy for 2011, and important nonetheless, but once you've solved the problem, it feels very self-similar when you come to do it again for a different client or a different employer.
There will always be the same problems, namely Time, Money and Knowledge. Scaling a system takes time, the hardware and servers cost money, and the developers need to know how to make their code performant.
I don't think I'd go so far to say that I'm bored of Web2.0, but I'm certainly bored of the cheapskate mindset. I've said numerous times, both online and IRL, that if you want to play with the big boys, it's gonna cost you. There's some things you just can't do for free. Building decent software is definitely one of them.
So. I'm working for a VFX / post-production company. They did all sorts of insanely crazy VFX for some recent films. It's truly cool. There's plenty of *new* challenges, and very little of the same old web stuff. This is good. Sometimes all you need to keep you interested is a sea change. It certainly worked for me.
Until the 24th of October, my partner and I had been in a relationship (and also sharing a flat in Chiswick). It had become pretty apparent that we both wanted our own space, and the relationship in its current format had become pretty much impossible. I think it was all brought home to me when I wanted to start dating again, and to some extent, it felt like he already had. I got home from a trip a few hours earlier than planned, and there was some random guy on the sofa. I jumped in the shower, and by the time I got out, both of them had vanished, without saying a word. Definitely an uncomfortable moment.
I spent a very long time trying to rationalise the feelings that I'd once had, and whatever was left of them. I came to the eventual conclusion that what i really wanted was a companion. Someone I could chat to now and again, but not have any requirement to y'know, bugger them.
When it came down to it, this was pretty much what the relationship had become after a couple of years. We'd done Open Relationship Rules from the outset, initially because he was living in Spain, which made everything a bit tricky, but even when we were living together, in the same flat; sharing the same bed, we'd kept those rules because they worked better for us.
I think that should probably have been a bit of a better warning sign. I suspect in future, I'll be more aware.
So we broke up, and went our seperate ways. I moved out, and found a new flat.. A somewhat bigger flat, and a new flatmate. An incredibly nice guy, and we do get on well. And I'm glad that I'm not living alone. I think I'd have ended up feeling pretty damn lonely. I mean, there's nights when Alex isn't home, and it's quiet, and I think that if I were living like that all the time, I'd end up pretty bored and probably self-destructive. So yeah, it's good to have a new place, and a new flatmate.
I gather my ex is sticking in Chiswick in the old flat. He took over my share of the rent, but I suspect he'll fulfil his long-held dream of living around the corner from his office.
I tried dating a guy back in January, whilst I was still technically in a relationship, albeit an open one, with my ex. That turned out a bit weird in the end, as I was falling head-over-heels in love with him, and he wasn't feeling the reciprocal feelings. At least, not to the same extent. That was weird. I don't think I've been in that position for a very long time, and such, I'd forgotten just how hard it was to deal with. One of the things that makes us human, I suspect, is the ability to reflect on past experiences and imagine how alternative paths might have turned out.
In some regards, this is a good ability. Truth be told, it's a bitch, and hindsight is a killer when it comes to that kind of thing.
Still, he seems happier now with his new boyfriend. I suppose at the end of the day, that's all you can really ask for, for the best for your friends.
After my long-term ex and I broke up, I tried dating again, again. Possibly too soon, as I still found that I was craving solace in being alone. Not the best thing if you're trying to make a new relationship (albeit, only dating) work. I don't know what that experience has taught me. Possibly that I'm a busy bugger, and I'm happiest when I'm busy, and that potentially higher-maintenance individuals are unlikely to be a good fit for me. Perhaps it's nothing of the sort, and I was just trying too hard, too soon.
So far, it sounds like it's been a pretty depressing and gloomy year, perhaps.
But I've done some insanely cool stuff. I went up the BT Tower, and took photos. Photography has played a pretty big part of my life in 2011, too. I got back into film photography with a Nikon F301 and a Nikon F5. Perhaps next year I'll buy a video camera, and branch out in that regard too.
I went to a couple of awesome Winter parties, in a stunning tuxedo (that I now own). I've been blogging and writing technical articles a lot more in 2011 than ever before. I've got a Most Valued Blogger award and republishing arrangement from an online journal, and I'm looking to write some guest articles for some technical magazines in 2012. I'd also like to think about writing a book in the new year.
I'm going to summarise 2011 as a number of small setbacks, but a persistent push forward against adversity, between job problems and the woes of the end of a long term relationship. It's not all doom and gloom, and I know it could have been a lot worse of a year. But from my reasonably comfortable life, some changes that might seem small to others are quite large and affect me in different ways.
I find myself reminded once again of the phrase from Ulysses.
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield"
I first saw this phrase gracing the doorway of the Mechanical Engineering department at Birmingham University, and for me, it's always struck a chord.
So that's about it. The personal reflection and retrospective on 2011. Here's to a better year in 2012.
Tom can light a fire by rubbing two ice-cubes together.