murky dive bar light
Friday, August 24 2012
I got up early and took the 7:30AM bus into Manhattan for a long working session that was intended to develop the frontend and backend code necessary to drive a complicated AJAX process. Unfortunately, though, the backend code I'd developed was in too brittle of a state to make much progress. I found myself puzzled by weird glitches coming from maddeningly-complicated recursive algorithms. Perhaps the code could have been written in a way that allowed me to rapidly diagnose and fix the bugs, but I don't know that debugging such a system would ever be easy even if it were built with the absolute best coding practices. Still, it was disappointing and demoralizing to be held up by these things. I also felt like I wasn't projecting much in the way of competence. Little bumbles and boo-boos that might otherwise have been trivial seemed to be highlighted by the problems with the code. One of these involved my having accidentally overwritten a method that it turned out I needed, and so I found myself wading into the git repository for an old copy of a file.
This is not to say that there was no progress today, but it was too slow and distressingly-fraught with tangents. Worst of all, now it seems pretty sure that a semi-hard deadline for next Friday will almost certainly be blown. But then it turned out that even the blowing of hard deadlines near the end of September would be survivable, at least on some level. Still, somehow this bad news would have to be communicated by the guy who runs the company, and that won't be fun for my boss. Also: I know what I'm going to be doing for the next several weeks: working my fucking ass off.
After work, I walked into the East Village in a desperate search for a drink. I ended up at Yuca Bar, some sort of bar/restaurant place on the corner of Avenue A and Seventh Street. The beer selection wasn't great and it was all in bottles, so I settled on a Stella Artois. During the walk, I'd been thinking about the state of my code and I'd come up with some ideas for improving it. So I opened up my netbook right there in the restaurant and proceeded to work on my local copy of the code, no internet necessary. I did a bunch of edits without ever attempting to run the code, though later I discovered I hadn't introduced any errors. It's miserable to edit code on a 1024 by 600 pixel screen, but I was motivated. By now the beer had taken the edge off of my anxiety.
One way you know you're becoming a real New Yorker (as opposed to a tourist, which I've mostly felt like in the City) is that the bums no longer have any special interest in you. Bums have a way zeroing in on non-New-Yorkers, and that includes me, even when they avoid eye contact and walk hurriedly. Something about the way we dress or our body language tips them off. But today I actually saw a bum putting away his cardboard sign as I approached. He was quitting for the day or was off to take a heroin break, and he had no hope in his prospects with me even from a distance.
Another nice thing to realize while in the East Village tonight was that it's going to be many years still before I start looking old in the flatteringly-murky light of a Manhattan dive bar. After I got sick of drinking Stellas and squinting at a tiny screen, I went to Wcou Radio on the corner of 7th Street and 1st Avenue and proceeded to drink two IPAs from the tap. It was happy hour and they were only $3.50 each, but the bar was sort of a bore otherwise. There wasn't even anything worth watching on the television, though on the barstool next to me, the young woman making out with her douchey-looking boyfriend was checking me out in the bar mirror. I'm telling you, that murky dive bar light is better than botox and a tub full of Just for Men.
At Port Authority, as we waited for our bus and, a woman eventually exclaimed, "That's the most annoying escalator in the world!" She was talking about the one that continuously provides an Escalator Safety 101 lecture. Then as we were boarding our bus, another woman said to me, "We're not there yet, but in a few minutes we'll be able to sleep!" To this, I half-heartedly exclaimed, "Ambien party!"
Back at the house, Gretchen and Sarah the Vegan were nearing the end of a partial bottle of red wine they'd split after a dinner of yummy pasta.
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