Thursday, July 30, 2020
Earlier today I found myself in one of those moments of tractionless inaction that people at the attention deficit end of the scale come to know well. I was in the midst of staring at logs and rolling back a broken deployment of MediaWiki while outside a torrential downpour was overwhelming the failing gutters and flooding the crawlspace under the house.
I was thinking that maybe we’d lose power again, or something crucial in the local infrastructure would get struck by lightning, and that maybe I should have somebody’s phone number in case they had to pick up where I left off. Then would I even have cell service in that situation? Not if it was anything like last time. I wished again for a landline. The kind that, more often than not, still works when the electric is out. (Albeit also the kind that gets struck by lightning, sometimes, and then your phone rings violently and bursts into flame, or at least that’s what happened in my aunt’s narrative about this.)
The cat, unsatisfied with the size of his afternoon meal, was yowling piteously at the back of my head. The rollback finished, the error logs stopped exploding, I copied an error message to file a task, I opened the issue tracking software in the wrong browser and copied the wrong 2-factor auth code trying to log in and found myself locked out.
Wait 57 seconds, it said. I knew instinctively that I had just hit a cognitive limit and was destined to lose track of all the pieces I was holding in my mind and that would be it for the day, more or less. At least I’d held it together past 4pm on a day I touched production systems.
It’s often like this inside my head. Not always, maybe not even most of the time, but not seldom either. Everything happens at once, and because of that nothing can happen at all.
Stimulants of one description or another would probably help, for a while at least, but I’m scared of a dependency on legal speed and I just can’t handle caffeine the way I used to. Weed used to help me dial in on things; these recent years it typically leaves me with the working memory of a goldfish (“the little plastic castle is a surprise every time”) and sprays my attention all over the landscape like my nervous system is some kind of malfunctioning glitter cannon.