Weeknotes S06E03

not talking about work

I am struggling with this blog and work. I think making things open makes them better, but I’ve also been aware that sharing early can have unintended consequences. If you don’t believe me, then I know you’ve never had a doctor wonder aloud whether the shadow on a scan could be cancer.

I think that working in the open when you’ve not formed a minimum viable idea is dangerous, because there will be gaps, and people will fill those gaps by themselves.

I’m also the semi-public face of someone else, and that means that this communication channel becomes a semi-official public face of that person. I don’t want them to have sign off on everything I write, not least because then they’d have to suffer through my poetry, but I’m also very aware that I’m caught in the awkward position of consequently not writing about work.

And my work takes up a lot of my time and my brain at the moment.

There is definitely an element of laziness and bad faith to this, because if I really wanted to I’d write everything and then edit it, reflecting carefully on inferences that could be drawn and whether what I’d written could be shared.

That would be extra cognitive load, and honestly I don’t write to give myself extra cognitive load. I write mostly to get stuff out of my head. It is one of the reasons that my blender barely goes past two. I don’t want to spend the brain energy world-building beyond that which already exists.

Consequently writing and speaking honestly about what is happening is very easy and very practiced, and the few times I’ve branched into surreal stuff it’s been very short. I’ve never expanded on the consequences of cannibalistic giants or demonic cuties serving coffee.

Perhaps I should, but I’ve never truly been able to shake the imperative to write only what I know. And my knowledge of Hellspawn trapped in a corporate gig is – I mean it’s not zero, but it’s not as much as I’d like to have if I’m going to write about it, you know?

Anyway. This has been a long excuse for why I’m still not able to talk about what I’m doing, and probably won’t in the future.

Sorry, but also not sorry.

some other small things

a work thing

A presentation I was planning to give to a small group of colleagues internally has been selected for a conference. At the moment apparently more than 300 people have expressed an interest in seeing it.

That is a lot of people.

I have a week to be so comfortable with the material that I can do it twice. Luckily I have a nice, easy, low-stress job which gives me plenty of time in the evenings to practice it oh wait no I don’t. I’m absurdly excited about this opportunity, but so nervous that I won’t get the message across. It is also, boringly, something else that I can’t yet talk about.

My life is not nearly as mysterious and exciting as it comes across here, I promise.

a date thing

there is no feeling more sublime than when you pay for dinner and they say “are you sure?” and you say “yeah, you can get the next one” and they do a little smile and say “sure, I’ll get the next one” because that means there’ll be a next one.

a meta thing

I’m not happy with these at all. I’ve not said much, and what I have said has obscured the truth rather than revealing it. I’m going to think more about what I do with this time and medium.

Weeknotes S06E02: Getting into the swing of things

we play with live ammo here

I had the gentlest of slap-downs today from someone with more experience than me, and it was deserved, so I’m going to talk about what happened. This is almost certainly the first time I’ve talked directly about something happening on this blog ever, so forgive any rough edges.

I was rewriting a presentation for my boss, taking on board some feedback we’d had about it. I was footling about in the speaker notes, writing in my usual overly flamboyant style and exaggerating the message. It was purely for my own workings – if I explode all of the words I can around a topic I can pick out the ones that actually matter. I’ve got a slide that’s six words long, and it took me one hundred words to get there. If I’d had time to write more, I could have written less.

Anyway. The gentle slap down was a colleague reading it and saying, dryly, “You have captured the direction but directed the style.”

Or, as I took it, “The idea is great. The execution is dumb.”

The reason I’m talking about this is because in the space that I work I’m so close to the centre. I am writing this as a reminder that working in a high trust environment means not letting playfulness be the enemy of good work: that despite my mother’s insistence I still sometimes forget to tidy my toys away after playing. And I can’t forget that now.

It’s a minor blip and the rest of the presentation is really excellent, and I’m so excited to watch her present it. This time just with the direction.

pity the addict

I took the smallest sip
A little lip-full
of coffee

it was wicked
and sweet
and strong

and the memory of it makes me tremble

NaBloPoMo #15

Day + 1 of a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome, which also happens to be Day 0 of my new role.

Oh, also: weeknotes! Let us slip into the familiar format, the way you do with your skin when you wake unencumbered on a Saturday morning.

Five things that happened this week

1I got a diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome and wrote about my immediate reaction. I didn’t write about the outpouring of love and support I’ve received from everyone I’ve told, but it was there, and I’m grateful to all of you. I got the diagnosis on Thursday morning and it – well, it didn’t feel strange at all. It didn’t feel different, and I didn’t feel worried. This is apparently symptomatic, and I need to reflect on how much of my personality to this point has been performative. How much of it is the friendly flesh-wrapper around something that’s human-esque but not quite there. At the same time, mind you, this may be a drastic over-reaction. The pendulum of human emotion makes big swings, and while it’s right to re-examine one’s life in the light of the knowledge that one has always been a little different, it is also true to say that not everything was false. We cannot avoid the re-examination, but I’m leaving this here as a reminder to be generous with myself. Like everyone else I’ve constructed a shell from cast-off words and my parents’ cloth and the things I thought I should say. I am going through the process of peeling those sections back to see what they covered up, and whether I should prefer to expose that part of myself, and in so doing carry less weight. At least thanks to my diagnosis I, unlike many, know what to expect in certain places.

2I abandoned my team. I left without saying goodbye. It felt strange to say goodbye, since I was moving no more than twenty metres, and yet I feel sure that I should have done so. Goodbyes are hard. Well. Early goodbyes are hard. Final goodbyes are easy. A bridge you leave standing is a temptation to return to the past; an ambiguity to be despised. A bridge that you’ve set alight will illuminate your way forward.

3I got really quite stuck on a technical challenge that I haven’t managed to figure out yet. I’ve also noticed already how much I miss coding, so if you’re reading this and wondering if some kind of technical solution might be a way of meeting a need then let me know. A good way of working out if you have unmet user needs is looking at your spreadsheets. If you need loads to manage all your data, then you might need me to code something for you. Please get in contact. I need to write something for a computer.

4I received mail! A letter from a friend who’d sat down and thought about me and written loads of words. It is the nicest thing in the world. I know us weeknoters say this a lot, but letter are absolutely lovely. Actually, now I reflect on it, is there a correlation there? That we’re naturally people who like writing and also like receiving considered pieces of writing from other people? Or is it that the desire for letters is universal, and it only appears that weeknoters are more eager for letters because we express that desire in public? Answers, please, in the format of epistles. And to my dear friend, I am writing your response, and I am grateful beyond words for your thoughtfulness.

5I started with a new therapist. Together we are going to explore the peculiar pathways of my brain. I am seeing this therapist on the advice of a dear friend whose opinion I trust without question. I wish I could have come to the conclusion by myself, but then it’s quite nice to let friends help you every once in a while. Besides, my brain is the thing that means I earn enough money to allow me to – let me check my email – yes, continue to not move into my new flat. I am a recent convert, and like all recent converts something of a zealot. Do, if you can, hire the services of a therapist. It is astonishingly powerful, if you can find one you can get along with. Mine has a dog companion called Eddie who is remarkably skilled in knowing the precise point at which the comforting weight of a canine skull is exactly the thing a fellow needs. Dogs are almost as good as therapists. The both together are a surely a winner.

Other writing this week:


November is National Blog Posting Month, or NaBloPoMo. I’ll be endeavouring to write one blog post per day in the month of November 2019 – some short and sweet, others long and boring.