So I won my case against Equifax and received my check at the end of last month. There was some media attention and my photograph (taken by my mom, in my favorite library) was in the New York Times. I find this all delightful. At the same time, like all good activism work, the struggle continues.
This has always been the hardest thing about being occasionally and intermittently ambitious: once you get the thing, really all you do is go figure out what other thing you might want to get. I remember this from when I finally visited the last town in Vermont that I hadn’t been to, Somerset. Jim and I celebrated with a beer and took some photographs and then the question was “Well what do you do for an encore?” (answer: go back and photograph them all, which I am in the process of doing). My dad had a few quotes he was known for, from Soul of a New Machine. One of my favorite ones was the concept of pinball: the reward for doing a thing you love well is getting to go do it again. Here’s a quote from Wired in December of 2000.
An engineer’s essential desire, after all, is to design and build a machine and see it through to completion, but completion itself is therefore not the ultimate reward. In the Eagle days, West called this paradox “pinball.” In pinball, he reasoned, the prize for winning is getting to play again.
This resonates strongly with me. What I am doing now–besides trying to have a summer full of books and outdoor activities and not full of grief–is starting a new super-part-time job–doing “product health” over at GitHub a few hours a week–and pinballing myself into some other interesting tech environment where I can offer constructive feedback about improving systems to make them more useful for everyone. Oh, and playing Scrabble.
Jim and I are entering our ninth season of head to head Scrabble matches. We’ve played 623 matches and I am up by eight games overall. He led last season’s 109 game run by one game. Our average has been 405 points per game. I often look at my Scrabble performance (and my internet trivia league performance) to gauge how I’m doing mentally. Spacey and forgetful = worse on trivia. Distractable and dopey = worse on Scrabble. I am doing okay on things. I get to keep playing. This is good.