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August 21, 2017

Eclipse of 2017

In the morning, I fly back to Los Angeles.

On the plane, I force myself to talk to the person in the middle seat. Like, when I see someone, I sort of force myself to talk to strangers, because that's all that there is really. I just make myself talk to them. For good or for ill. It's all that there is. When you find yourself surrounded by strangers, you reach out to them. It's not much, but it's all you have, and it might keep you from drowning in a sea of anonymous strangers.

I talk to men. Women. Young. Old. It's good practice, for hitting on chicks, because you don't want to act shy/bashful/inexperienced/desperate. If you're really truly not trying to get anything out of the conversation, then that's the only real chance you have of not seeming desperate.

I haven't flown into LAX a whole lot. Only a few times, but I'm getting to know the airport. Slowly, but surely. So that now, when I fly in, I sort of half know where I am.

The only problem is that I can't find my glasses. I hear someone tell the flight attendant, "no, those aren't my glasses". Panicked....I realize that I can't find my glasses, and the stupid flying waitress must have them somehow. "Uh....where'd the glasses go. I think that they're mine." Like, if I don't have my glasses, I'm so fucked that there aren't words. This is a show-stopper.

"I gave them to the woman...she's up at the end of the jetway, dressed like me, but with a red jacket on."

So, I race off the plane, and I find the woman. and she has my glasses. I take them from her, and swap them out for the readers I was wearing on the plane. Lord. God.

I go outside, but this time I walk right to the KTM. It was only there for 4 days, so it's not quite as nerve racking as if you've been gone for a week or two.

Like, I mean, I ride the Honda to the airport, and then fly out here, and then I get on the KTM at LAX. I have both keys on the same chain. And, I always get them mixed up. LIke, I'll be sitting on the bike, and I can't tell you which bike I'm on. So, I try to shove the Honda key into the KTM. Again. I'm going to ruin my ignition switches doing this.

I use a GPS and Waze at the same time to try to verify my route to UCLA. But, what's funny is that, once I get them all dialed in, I'm starting to recognize my route. Like, certainly, I've been this way before. This is kind of fun. Maybe, this is the only really fun/exciting part of my work. I think, really, it's the only thing that I enjoy. Riding the motorcycle, learning new airports, new cities. New routes. New restaurants. Really, this is all that keeps me going I think.

I walk into the office, half blnded from the sun.

It occurs to me that, the further away people travel from, the earlier they get here. The people from the east coast are here first. The people that have an up and down flight from San Francisco (Wheels up to wheels down = 40 minutes), somehow get here last. Sort of counter-intuitive, but this is where we are.

There's no coffee, so the boss and I go for coffee. (The don't bring it to us on Monday for whatever reason.)

So, we go for coffee. Where were you this weekend? Where are you moving to? Like...these are sort of normal questions that you ask someone who flies every week. Like...these people are so close to sucide that there aren't words. You try to talk about your travels as though it makes sense.

But, of course, nothing ever works.

"I was in chicago. We're moving to New Jersey...." he offers.

"Yes...yes.." I mumble. Like, he could say that, "we're moving to the surface of the moon and I wouldn't be surprised."

I try to focus to courage to ask him a question. To ask him what I'm supposed to be working on. And why it matters. Like...these are the little things that bother me...like the little kernels of sand that you feel in your shoes and in your pockets. Things that gnaw at you, out of sight of the public. But things that worry you and gnaw away at your sanity. I could go forward without addressing them, but I feel like I need to push the envelope. To give words to my deepest fears.

"What is it that I'm supposed to be working on?" I ask him. Like, I'm running all of this SQL. I know that much. But what is it for? Why does it matter? When can I go?

Like, there's no end in sight and I really don't want to be here any more. I don't really want any more money. I wouldn't know what to do with it if I had more money. I just want to go away. I want to ride my bike down to Tierra Del Fuego. And I feel like I'm just in this holding pattern here. We're never going to go live. And we're never going to cancel the project. And they're just going to keep paying me until eventually, I'll get run over on the I-405 by some idiot woman changing lanes into the HIV lane illegally. And I'm going to go down onto the concrete going 60 mph with no insurance. Like...that's a very real possibility, and I don't really want to be here any more. Maybe the eclipse is a sign. Maybe not.

"This that you are working on is like a staging of the configuration data that could be used for the next integration test. We could use it for the next phase of Integration Testing or Parrallel testing, if we move it into a different environment," he offers. As if that makes any sense. Like, I just grit my teeth and close my eyes.

"Here, put on these glasses and you can see the eclipse," a young beautiful girl offers.

I stare at the eclipse briefly, and pass the glasses on to the next person in line.

Like, I don't mind the campus. The campus is beautfiul, but I really don't know why I'm here any more. I've been here for over a year, but I don't feel like we're any closer to going live. And I don't really want any more money....I just want to go get on my motorcycle and ride...for a long time....like for 2-3 months down in South America. I want to go exploring while I still can.

I don't really feel like staying here is helping anyone. I don't feel like the project is progressing. And I don't feel like having more money in the bank is making me any happier or more complete as a human being.

"Do you think that you can have the audits done of this environment today?" my boss asks.

"Yeah. Sure. I can have them done today," I reply, and I go outside to watch the eclipse with the eternally young, beautiful girls on campus.

We break for lunch as soon as everyone gets in, and, at some point, John points out that no one else is here. Like, we've all flown in from all over the country, and no one from UC is here. Like. No one. Now, granted, UCLA has an office that's a 15 minute walk away on Wilshire Boulevard, but they can't be bothered to come here. Not UCLA. Not Riverside. Not Merced. So, it's just us. Just a room full of contracters.

Posted by Rob Kiser on August 21, 2017 at 11:49 AM


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