Abandon Text!

W. H. Auden once said: "Poems are not finished; they are abandoned." I have been abandoning writing projects for many years, since only the pressure of deadline and high expectations ever got me to finish, or even start, anything of merit. This blog is an attempt to create a more consistent, self-directed writing habit. Hopefully a direction and voice will emerge.

Friday, July 21, 2006

The Perils of Programming

I have spent the better part of the day trying to calculate how many kids in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools won the Presidential Fitness Award. It turns out that the SQL code necessary to figure out whether someone of a certain age and gender passed all the test is convoluted . . . not to mention that the data is dirty, ambiguous, and incomplete.

I like to program. It's something that I can groove on that often requires no conscious effort on my part. I sit down, and the programming happens. I am blessed to have such a valuable skill that I enjoy so much.

The problem is, I don't necessarily like the person I become when I program. Once I sink into a programming problem, it's hard for me to pay attention to anything else. My wife talks to me, and it seems to be coming from very far away . . . I suddenly realize that I missed the first half of what she was saying. I walk around the house, but I don't feel like I'm really seeing. Any capacity that outside stimuli have to invoke thought has been crowded out by the seething intellect, still stuck in a compulsive struggle to solve a problem. I didn't shower today . . . just couldn't seem to get around to it. I get a little bit zombified . . . or maybe I should say "anti-zombified" since zombies move through the world but have no mental life, while I am filled with mental life and practically catatonic to the world.

Thank God I don't have to do this all the time.


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