January 15th, 2017


when colleagues make you reflect on your year...

Urgh, i had so much too write about this week and... well, i didn't. This is pretty much exactly the reason i can't keep going like this much longer. When i get home, i am exhausted. I don't want to do anything. I am not sure if it is depression or chronic fatigue or mild alcoholism, but once i'm out of the office it's all i can do to cook dinner before collapsing into bed to watch some TV or tumble into a wiki hole.

So, the big news of the week is that i "came out" to the rest of the company about my resignation. I talked privately with my most senior team member about transitioning the team lead role over to him. He felt ready to do it, given the transition period, and when i talked to the other guys they felt okay with it too. Hopefully it won't shake up their professional development or our team's output too much. What it did do, and this surprised me, was basically trash everyone's morale for a few days. And not just on my own team. I know i do a good job and people in the office like me, but one colleague shared that she cried when she got home, and a lot of the guys were pretty misty-eyed on the day (as was i). It seems ridiculous given i've only been here about 18 months, but i guess it's a small company and everyone knows i give everything i have to it when i am in the office. So... yeah. Happy-sad.

What was interesting was trying to explain my reasoning. My on-the-record reason was that 2016 was very tough for me personally and i needed to take some time away to try find myself again. I mean, that's basically true, but why was it so tough? Losing David Bowie was probably the most impactful celebrity death of my life since Frankie Knuckles. Brexit completely shattered my (admittedly fragile) sense of cultural identity as a European. For most of the summer my neighborhood was patrolled by riot police due to a local politician flexing his muscles at the punks, anarchists and (ex-)squatters that make this community what it is. And, dear God, the results of the American election has left many of my close friends despondent and in in legitimate fear for their wellbeing. But it wasn't all bad.

Some cool things happened in 2016 too. I was promoted to team lead for the third time in as many jobs, and i know i did the job much better than i ever have before. I am learning how to be a great manager and how to really help my guys be the best they can be. That felt good. I decided to try eating vegan and - barring the challenge of eating out in small-town America - have been very successful. I love that i have been able to lower my carbon footprint just by changing my diet, and it's helped me realize how much great food i can cook that doesn't need refrigeration. (That's gone in my mental survival kit for the fantasy retirement where i full-time in an RV.) I started walking to work. At first because the subway was closed for a week, now it's mid-winter and i am still making the 45 minute trek each way. It's a glorious time free of internet and people and stuff, i just get to look up at the sky and wander. I quit smoking! I fucking quit smoking! I mean, i "sort of" quit a couple years ago when i switched to vaping, but now it's for realsies.

I was going to say i cut down on my drinking, but yeah, that didn't stick.

Anyway. Point is, i really did take a lot of positive steps last year. Sure, i didn't go out clubbing much, and i withdrew even further from my (local) friends, and i lost pretty much any interest in anything besides TV shows, cheap beer and politics... but it wasn't a bad year. I didn't end up in the hospital. I didn't break up with any loves of my life. I just got tired. I got tired and demotivated and realized it was time to change the scenery.

I don't know what's next. This year could be great, could be awful. Could be like last year. I just hope i come out of it a little less tired and a little more content.

So yeah, i guess my real reason for quitting ain't so much different from the on-the-record reason after all.

music memes from the facebook

So, there is this meme going round Facebook the last couple weeks where you post 10 albums from when you were a teenager. I've kinda been resisting doing it because ugh Facebook, but then i remembered mom writing me half-sad at New Year's that she always likes when i post something, no matter what it is, because it's all she ever hears from me. Yes, i am a shit child. Anyway, that's a different post. This post is about being a teenager.


Ten albums from my teenage years that left an impression on me. (In no particular order.)

1. Exxos - Dune
2. Scooter - And The Beat Goes On
3. U96 - Replugged
4. Nine Inch Nails - Further Down The Spiral (Halo 10v2)
5. Underworld - Dubnobasswithmyheadman
6. Kosmik Kommando - Freaquenseize
7. various - Mission Underground (Djax-Up-Beats)
8. various - Interference - Live At Love Parade '94
9. various - Chicago House 86 - 91: The Definitive Story
10. Synchro - Science Friction

At the time i hated buying compilations and vastly preferred artist albums. But now look. Without a doubt these compilations completely changed my life. Honorary mention to The Immortals - Mortal Kombat for indirectly introducing me to some of my oldest friends.


Because it's Facebook i couldn't really go into the depth these albums deserve. I could write several entries on each one. But what i think is particularly interesting is that compared to my friends' lists i have next to no rock or pop music on there. It's not like i didn't listen to the guitar music of the time, but i've forgotten most of it now because ... well, it was just background music. Certainly not something that touched me enough to spend my hard-earned dish pig wages on.

It occurred to me that the only two periods of my life where i got into a lot of guitar music were when i was a hair metal-loving tween and when i was a suicidal manic-depressive twentysomething. Both of those periods in my life suck suck sucked. I was so fucking unhappy. But i think i might be unusual in that for most of my teenage years i was actually pretty happy. When i reflect on those times i look back so fondly on all the discovery.

I never ceased to be surprised and overjoyed. The thrill of finding a new record label, or a new subgenre, or a wild new synthesizer sound... I was filled with inspiration. The years 1994 through 1998ish i wrote more music than i ever did before or since. I taught myself how to arrange, how to program synthesizers, how to mangle samples. I started going to raves, i started going to clubs. God knows i had my fair share of teenage angst, but it would be dwarfed by the despair, anger and bitterness of most of my 20s.

The thing is, even though my 20s weren't all that long ago, the memories of my teenage years seem so much richer. I guess your brain kinda mutes the bad memories. And, with it, the music i listened to at the time. I guess i associate electronic music with the best times in my life, with my happiest moments of mystery and escape and wonder. The production tricks don't bamboozle me any more, but when i hear a soulful synth solo i never heard before, even today it takes me away.

It's why one of my biggest hopes for 2017 is that i will get back into music again. It's the reason why i moved to Berlin in the first place, after all.

Here's a song that i don't think ever made my drunken funeral tag posts, but it's one of my favorites of my teenage years. Deep Space Network - Earth Interlock. One of the most beautiful uses of a 303 ever. The portamentos are straight-up poetry.

Oh Sunday. The tangents i will go on to avoid having to think about going to work tomorrow.