Friday, December 30, 2016

How Quickly They Catch On

On the way out of the office this afternoon, knowing that my coworker would be hosting a New Year's Eve party, I said to him: "Enjoy your party."

He said to me: "Thanks. Enjoy your quiet time."

What's funny is that this is a new job as well as a fairly new coworker; also funny how quickly they catch on.


Sunday, August 28, 2016

On The Torture Known As Interviewing

Earlier this year, my day-to-day existence underwent a bit of a shake up when my employer for nearly sixteen years decided to close their Seattle office. What had been a fairly stable livelihood for me suddenly went up in the air.

After enjoying a short respite from the rat race, the search for new employment began. It was not the fun kind of search, unlike a treasure hunt in every way; in fact, it wasn't something I would wish on my worst enemy.

For my profession, the interview process involves three parts; in general: 1) the first part was a call with the company recruiter, a short evaluation of my aspirations and general fit; 2) the second part was a technical phone screen lasting about an hour and typically involving some coding exercises on a shared screen; 3) the last and worst part was the in-person interview, which would last anywhere between four and six hours, and it involved lots of white-boarding, code exercises, and discussions to evaluate my emotional intelligence.

Multiply this excruciating process by however many interviews I had, and you can imagine what kind of state I was in. I was exhausted. I'm not one you would ever expect to be able to talk for five hours straight.

In hindsight, some of it was amusing. For instance, before each interview my various recruiters -- without fail -- would advise me to "be outgoing" and to "act like a team player". I did almost laugh the first time I heard that. I would have directed them to this blog, but I knew they were only trying to be helpful.

All I can say is that I'm glad my search is over. It's a huge relief not to have to be so damned extroverted. Hopefully the new job sticks for a while. I don't look forward to going through that again.

It's definitely time to start working for myself.


Monday, June 20, 2016

Silence Holds No Fears

Still no response, but now I wasn't going to say anything either. Silence holds no fears for me. I never feel the urge to fill it as so many other people do.

Excerpt from Just One Damned Thing After Another
by Jodi Taylor

I must say that, though I relate to this quote for the most part, I do feel the urge to fill silences at times; usually it's to make others feel comfortable. Any uneasiness that I feel isn't due to the silence, but to another's discomfort. I'm not heartless, after all.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Unapologetic Introvert

Whenever I meet someone who works from home, I immediately become very jealous. For many reasons, I know I'd like to do so myself again one day (I was fortunate to own a business when I was younger, and I absolutely loved working from home). Yesterday I came across an excellent article that expresses much of how I feel about the subject and about being an introvert in general. It's about escaping the workplace in order to more easily thrive as an introvert, and I wish I could share the entire thing. Instead, here's how it begins:

Sometimes people ask why I work from home. Well, if you must know, I work from home to avoid a lot of things: the average American commute time of 26 minutes, obnoxious open-plan workspaces that encourage nothing but the sale of noise-cancelling headphones to skyrocket, and the ever-enduring attitude that the ideal worker is the one who puts in the most face time, not the one who is most productive. But most importantly, I work from home to avoid something very painful: the need to be extroverted.

Excerpt from an article on,
The unapologetic introvert: I had to leave the U.S. to stop pretending to be an extrovert
By Chantal Panozzo


Tuesday, May 24, 2016


We live in a loud world, and silence is easy to spot. The quiet ones are anomalies. Exhibiting such unobtrusiveness doesn't always feel as harmless as it should. Ironically, we call attention to ourselves by trying not to. The best way not to be noticed, it seems, is to be noticed just enough. We learn to be social so that nobody will notice how unsocial we are. We find ways to get attention on our terms rather than when it's unwanted. Intentionally or not, we find creative ways to be ourselves.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Not A Mentioner

"It wouldn't be his way, to mention it," Augustus said. "Woodrow don't mention nothing he can keep from mentioning. You couldn't call him a mentioner."

Excerpt from Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurtry


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Moving Apart

Call got a plate of food and went off by himself to eat. It was something he had always done -- moved apart, so he could be alone and think things out a little. In the old days, when he first developed the habit, the men had not understood. Occasionally one would follow him, wanting to chat. But they soon learned better -- nothing made Call sink deeper into silence than for someone to come around and start yapping when he wanted to be by himself.

Virtually all his life he had been in the position of leading groups of men, yet the truth was he had never liked groups. Men he admired for their abilities in action almost always brought themselves down in his estimation if he had to sit around and listen to them talk -- or watch them drink or play cards or run off after women. Listening to men talk usually made him feel more alone than if he were a mile away by himself under a tree. He had never really been able to take part in the talk. The endless talk of cards and women made him feel more set apart -- and even a little vain. If that was the best they could think of, then they were lucky they had him to lead them. It seemed immodest, but it was a thought that often came to him.

And the more he stayed apart, the more his presence made the men nervous.

Excerpt from Lonesome Dove
by Larry McMurtry


Sunday, February 21, 2016

Where It Came From

I have two fathers: one who raised me, and one who I didn't get to know till later in life. The first provided an example for me as I grew up; the latter provided half of my genetic material.

My father, the one who raised me and adopted me, was usually a man of few words. He could be intense, but he was rarely angry. He taught me how to fix things, mainly by showing how it was done. I don't recall many of his words, but I will always recall his actions. I'm sure that I must have picked up some of his mannerisms and behaviors, but -- that being said -- I didn't see myself in him, nor in the rest of the family that I grew up with. My mom and my siblings, for instance, are some of the most talkative and social people that I know, so much so that it used to drive me a bit nutty.

As taciturn as my father was, he didn't mind the company of others, and -- believe me -- our house was bursting with activity and people. What felt like chaos to me didn't faze him at all. My impression was that he enjoyed large gatherings, and he seemed to do well in highly social situations. He was involved with our family, laughing often and readily; he was easy-going. Though he was less talkative, he wasn't withdrawn, as if he needed to recuperate (unless, of course, I count his cigarette breaks).

My mom called him "quiet", a term I eventually came to know well. She said it as if apologizing for him and for me all at once. "You're quiet, just like your dad," she told me. "You must have gotten it from him. Even though he doesn't say much, you should know that your dad loves you." I liked his quietness, but -- as much as I wanted to -- I didn't feel a connection with him because of it. I think what I took in most from my father's mannerisms was not his quietness but his calm demeanor.

My other father, the biological one, I met about fifteen years ago, when I had already been an adult for quite a while. I didn't know he was my biological father at the time, but it made sense when I did find out (after the DNA tests). Not because we look the same, but -- oddly -- because we act the same, very much so in some ways. It was a very strange thing for me to discover, considering I spent most of my life without knowing him or being influenced by him. I was astonished at how big a role genetic material could play. As long as I've known him, he's been on his own, and he seems to thrive that way.

One day I asked my biological father what he would have taught me had he been around when I was younger. I could have used his guidance, I told him, especially when it came to being introverted. His response shook me, leaving me empty, as only truth can. He said he'd have taught me nothing, and that we each have to figure things out alone. I knew he was right, but it still felt cold. Becoming who we are is a solo project, I guess, introvert or not.

Still, I don't think we start with a blank slate. We start with what's given to us. From my biological father, I've gained the tendency to dive deep and to fall within; to find enjoyment in solitude, nature, and independence. From my adopted father, I've gained peacefulness, the ability to relax and to laugh, even if quietly; to be open to the chaos of social environments, as uncomfortable as they may seem.

This is what I started with, and I'm thankful for it.


Sunday, January 3, 2016

Community Member

... life is a constant struggle between being an individual and being a member of the community.

Excerpt from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
by Sherman Alexie


When Parties Become Bummers

I've been feeling inadequate lately. I mean, more than usual.

I was at a holiday work party, and a friend told me that he didn't trust me as much as he once did. Apparently, what started this feeling of his was my avoidance of the monthly office birthday celebrations. Somehow he got the idea that I had promised to attend them all, as if that mattered, and because I haven't attended for ages his respect for me has diminished.

The whole thing is silly, but it cut me to learn that my friendships were so easily lessened.

He told me that he doesn't know me anymore, and that I should subject myself to the office birthday celebrations so that people could know me better. It reminded me of a quote that I heard in a show once:

"There's a selfishness to the silence of the cowboy. It forces others to carry the conversation."

At face value, I agree with this. Everyone is selfish in his own way. But no one, not even the silent ones, are forcing anyone else to carry a conversation. That's a choice. If you feel forced, then don't do it. If you want to get to know me, then talk with me. Don't make me attend some ridiculous office birthday party. I want to get to know my friends better, but it isn't going to happen there.

I often feel that the situation is hopeless. But this is what I need to accept. It's difficult to find a balance between too much and not enough in the friendship domain, or anywhere else for that matter. The very act of trying to find a balance is a selfish thing, and everyone does it. I'm not the only one being selfish, and I need to accept that I'm not going to live in an ideal world: ever. If I can get close, that would be amazing.

Until then, I've got to stop from feeling that I'm not good enough. I'll never be what everyone else wants.