My Life Since Graduation

(Written for my Williams College 25th reunion’s class book in 2014, updated in 2022.)

In the week after graduation I flew home to Oregon, bought my first car, packed up my meager possessions and drove to Mountain View, California, 30 miles south of San Francisco. Since then, except for a one year hiatus, I’ve lived within four miles of my first apartment. I’ve also worked in that same circle, except for a six month stint at Netflix, 15 miles away.

I came here because I wanted to establish residency in California before I started in on a PhD in Chemistry at one of the UC schools. I had a job lined up as a bench chemist, which turned out to involve working with a wide selection of the most corrosive substances known to man (fuming sulfuric acid! liquid bromine! antimony pentafluoride!). After a year of wearing gas masks and rubber gloves and burning holes in my clothes I wanted nothing more to do with chemistry. In foolish desperation I applied at a few PhD programs in the Philosophy of Science. The grad schools, perhaps sensing my desperation, wisely turned me down. A lucky break, since I hate writing papers even more than I hated lab.

So with no other marketable skills I stuck with chemistry for four more years, sitting in lab hoping an earthquake would come and get me the rest of the day off. In the meantime I went to a lot of rock shows in little clubs in SF and San Jose. I saw all the hot bands; I ruined my hearing; Kurt Cobain tried to bum a cigarette off me.

Eventually I got on-the-job training in Information Science and parlayed this into a job as a corporate librarian at a research firm. When the World Wide Web came along a couple years later I was already busy teaching myself to program, and thus I started my third career, in computers. A good thing, because “corporate librarian” is now the modern equivalent of “buggy whip maker”.

Outside of work I spent most of the 90’s trying on different versions of myself. Grew out my hair, grew a beard, got half a dozen tattoos, bought a mountain bike, wore skirts in public, got piercings in odd places, almost dated a man, dated a few women, bought a 1975 Porsche 911, shaved my head, raced the 911, grew out my hair and dyed it bright colors, bought another Porsche. Some things stuck, some didn’t; I finished the decade happier than I’d ever been.

A big part of that happiness was my upcoming wedding – in September of 2000 I married my wonderful wife Lori. A year later, having had some luck in the dotcom boom and feeling oppressed by the hectic pace of the Bay Area, we bought a house 100 miles north in Wine Country. The place was beautiful and calm and, alas, stultifying; we moved back to Silicon Valley a year later. We bought our house from the estate of the first owner, and having had enough of moving, I vowed not to move out except in a coffin (we’ll see how that works out).

For the following 20 years we have had a pleasantly undramatic life together. A stable career as a computer geek working on tools for software developers, a few cats, one major remodel (and another planned for 2023), no children. Lori and I collect books, books-as-art, contemporary art, and cocktail recipes. I spend a lot of my free time on a bicycle, often leading club rides up the steepest hills I can find.

In the last five or so years (as of 2022) I’ve fallen ever deeper into the world of Extreme Metal music. Lori is less than pleased, but I’m delighted to be excited about music again. I’ve also gotten very serious about mountain biking, even though it’s cost me a couple broken bones. Lately I’ve taken up photography as a creative outlet, and to have something I can devote myself to when I’ve broken my body too much to get on the bike. In late 2019 I scaled back my job to a three-day week, which is quite pleasant.