Mon 06 February 2017
The last few months have been a bit hectic, let's say that.
In work, a few things happened. I got promoted to 'Director', which is the top end of the management progression, bottom of executive. What either of these mean, I'll probably never know. About a year or so ago, I expressed a bit of existential angst about how my job had become more about pottering about among the various pies I had a finger in, making generally well-meaning statements and giving advice. I felt like I wasn't getting a lot of work done, frankly. My boss at the time said "This is what a Director does", and that was a bit terrifying. I guess now I know what it feels like (all over again) to go from full-time engineering getting-things done to management, yet done in some other stratum. Your tolerance for delayed gratification has to go up another notch, as the stuff I'm up to now has a 3-5 year timeframe, as opposed to yearly or so, as opposed to quarterly.
It's been fun times thus far. Trying to find the balance between getting stuff done, and being hands-off. I honestly think getting this balance right is one of the primary things that stands in a middle manager's favour - the balance between getting stuck in and not letting the people under you grow, and feeling like you're not really doing anything. It's also a very situational thing. Every time I've gotten promoted in the last 5 years or so, I've thought "Right, that's me I guess. Topped out.". What this means in my head is that I've honestly no idea or concrete advice for other folks who want to go down the same path. Every Director I've ever spoken to about it had a different story. They're not going to tell you how to do it, they can only tell you how they did it.
The other thing that happened is that I guess I'm now head of SRE for Dublin. Again, this role means different things for different people - I'm not terribly figurehead-y in some ways, and I'm lucky to have lots of great folks around me to make sure I get mercilessly taken down a notch if I'm doing not enough or too much of things. I'm also happy to be back into the 'existential terror' mode of operation. I believe everyone should be reasonably sure they can do about 80% of their job. The other 20% are what keeps it interesting. This only happened a month ago, so I'm still figuring it out.
Lots of stuff here as well! I am adulting very much, after a few years of not so much. I am generally bad at adulting so this is good, I guess?
Firstly, and I guess most significantly - myself and my partner of 8 years now live together properly and for realsies. There are various and sundry private reasons why this wasn't the case, and the thing that happened to make this happen is also private, but this is a big deal for me - sharing my life with someone else in so complete a way is a new thing for me (yes, despite being nearly 40, I've never actually lived with someone I was going out with). This has done wonders for my general well-being, in many, many small ways.
Semi-related - we're selling the house I bought almost 3 years ago, and moving into Dublin city proper. This was something I was thinking about for a long while, and the above thing also precipitated it. There are a couple of reasons why this is happening now, which I guess are relevant to most commuter-town folks.
For reference, I currently live about 40km outside Dublin, and I work in about as far east (i.e. the opposite end) in Dublin as you can. I commute by car or motorbike mostly, and it takes about an hour, at best. I've been doing this for 10 years. I had figured this was worth it, as I like having privacy, space, and so forth. Also, the way the property market is, you get about twice as much bang for your buck compared to living in Dublin. Even if there were houses and gardens the size of our current place in Dublin, you're talking most of a million quid, whereas we're selling up for not even close to half that, and doing well out of it. Things are amazingly Dublin-centric.
I guess the reasons break down to:
- Commute finally killing me.
It's getting worse rather than better. Economy is recovering, lots of people have cars and need to use them. My commute took 45-50 minutes on a good day 2-3 years back. right before christmas, I had a few days where it took over 2 hours. Fuck everything about that noise. I think having the motorbike took the sting out for a bit, but I realised back in the middle of last year that I was literally driving into Dublin every day, including weekends. Why don't I live there? Good question, obvious answer.
- Health (mental and phyiscal).
I live along a main road. There's nowhere to walk if you don't like being run over by a truck. You have to drive everywhere. What this meant in practical terms is that I got little to no exercise, unless I made a point of it, drove to a place, exercised (walking, cycling, etc.), and then loaded up and went home. Back when I lived in Dublin before and moved out to the country, I distinctly remember putting on about 10kg just by missing out on the walk to the bus stop or down the shops. I spent a good chunk of the last 2 years getting literally no exercise. Walk 10 feet to the car, into and out of work, then that's it. I've put in about another 10kg in the lat 2 years, with really no sign of it slowing down. There was really only one way that was going. I'm not a gym person, and I find it very difficult to rationalise or will myself to get exercise that doesn't have a 'point'. I'm the least physically fit and heaviest I've ever been right now. I'm getting to an age where that's actually pretty dangerous. I'd rather wake up now than in a few years when I have my first coronary.
Secondly, it's just secluded. I don't have an active social life. I went to a pub a few weeks back on a whim, and realised I haven't done that in probably a year or more. All the folks I'd go to the pub with are either work peope, or live in Dublin. I already have pretty severe social anxiety, that isn't getting helped by living in a hermitage. So, even if it makes me a bit uncomfortable, something has to change.
Services for peope who live outside cities and large towns are getting worse, rather than better. Ireland has always been a city-centric (and specifically Dublin-centric) country, and this shows no signs of going in the other direction. Broadband is pathetic (I get about 50Mb on an LTE connection, with a 20GB per day download limit). In the last few years, getting tradespeople to come out to a place has gotten harder as the economy picks up. Case in point, my electric gates broke down a few weeks back. The original installer said "I won't be able to come out to you for at least 3 weeks", and replied "dunno" when I asked what else I could do. Rural Ireland is kind of fucked. By that I mean living outside towns. I could move down the road a mile and probably do a lot better with services - the appetite to go the last mile is just not there.
- Because I can.
I've been pretty lucky in that I have a job that pays well, and I really don't have any outlays or expensive habits (aside from Airsoft kit, which granted isn't that expensive in the grander scheme of things, if you compare it to golf or something).
So, I have the ability to live in Dublin, that I perhaps less so had 10 years ago, when I first moved out. So, it's time to embrace the privilege a little bit.
Anyway, all these reasons got written down sometime last year, and we started looking, as well as putting our place on the market. It sold reasonably quickly, and right now we're going to rent for a bit and take our time. I'm going to have to get used to some stuff I used to take for granted (being able to walk! to a shop! public transport! taxis that don't cost 80 quid!), and I'm looking forward to it.
Of course, all of the above manifests itself as my being a ball of abject stress for probably the next 6-12 months. But, it'll all be worth it, right?