drwex (drwex) wrote,

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Interview Me(me)

Courtesy of silentq three excellent questions. If you want your own, say so in the comments.

1. Describe your latest lightbulb/a hah! moment.

I work for a living as a UX designer so I get a lot of minor ones of these. Like, "aha, I can make peoples' lives simpler by giving them one summary table of data rather than requiring them to click back and forth among twelve different forms to get their data."

Recently I've been working on a project that is both chemistry-heavy and math-heavy, neither of which are my strengths and I think I got it. Of course, we won't know until it's prototyped and we put it in front of users to test but it was pretty cool to have the insight to understand how this mathematical chemistry thing ought to work, and how I could present it to people in a way that was human-understandable.

2. What's been your greatest triumph?

Surviving my kids' childhood. People think I'm joking when I say that we almost didn't get through my elder child's third year unscathed. Then there are the parents who grimace and nod. I don't think I'm out of the woods yet, but I'm far enough out that I can see the light between the trees at the edge.

I am not a natural parent. I'm blessed with a partner who's beyond awesome and neither of us can fathom how a single parent manages. It's so much harder than anyone tells you, and so much more risky. It also doesn't play well with my own mental and upbringing baggage. But I think I've survived and in some sense succeeded.

Rolling back to a previous stage of life, I'd say it was getting my PhD. I might try to dredge up the details from the depths of time but suffice it to say that it was not obvious to me that I'd make it until I had made it. That's not glamorous, nor particularly enlightening to say. Triumphs should be triumphant, right? But sometimes triumphs are "I got to walk across that stage and get handed this piece of paper that impresses everyone else a lot more than it impresses me."

Rolling back even further I think there's a pair I could nominate. The first would be making a relationship with sweetmmeblue work. When we met we were living 2/3 of a continent apart, and both in other relationships that were in the process of disintegrating. We were each others' rebound, and we both brought our unresolved issues into this relationship. There's no way this should have worked. I think that it worked is mostly her triumph, though. Her relationship skills have always exceeded mine, and I'm a very slow learner. People who've known me a long time can tell you how I've improved over the last couple decades, but it's been a slow process.

Sometime after Pygment and I decided we were going to try and make this work, we ended up having a morning-after-late-night-party breakfast at some chain - I want to say it was a Denny's. We started to talk about each of our respective life goals: her career, individual practice. My graduate work. Our mutual interest in kids. We sketched out something like a plan, literally making a timeline on the placemat in that restaurant. I wish I'd kept that mat because we more or less kept to that set of goals and order of achieving them. To the point where at my 40th birthday I was able to look around and say "OK, I've achieved all the goals I set myself - now what?"

3. What's the one thing that you wish that everyone would learn?

That the future is neither so different from, nor so much the same as, the past. We (humans) have a bad habit of forgetting how slowly things really change, and a commensurate lack of understanding of how profoundly things do change, over time. Yesterday is a pretty good model for what tomorrow is going to be like, but "a pretty good model" isn't a guarantee, and rounding errors - or small deliberate changes - pile up. Next year may be a lot like last year, but it's not so much like two years ago, and it's probably a whole lot different from ten years ago.

William Gibson hinted at this idea with his famous aphorism about the future already being here. The world doesn't change uniformly and that thing that has taken over some particularly corner of the world is still unknown in a lot of other corners. Overgeneralizing about things like "the future" tends to lead people into all kinds of errors. That includes small-scale errors like in their relationships, and big-scale ones like failing to plan properly for the future. My older son is a couple years from (I hope) college and probably four years of that into full-time work. I think I have a reasonable idea of what kind of job he'll have and maybe what the world will be like when he goes to full-time work. My younger son might not enter the full-time workforce for a decade, and I have to believe I don't necessarily have a good model for what kind of job he'll be getting.

(This has sat un-posted for quite a while as I pondered it. I'm going to post it now despite its flaws. Ask away, ye who want to answer.)
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