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Hello Goodbye...
I wanted to sleep, but I guess I...
Don't have the strength to sleep tonight...
Another day and I'm on my feet,
yeah you're the reason I'm afraid...
The reason I'm afraid...
and I want you to know,
It's killing me.

Don't know if anyone here has ever heard of DC Talk - it's a Christian rock band, or something similar, I think, but I heard them once at a retreat as part of my confirmation. I don't like most of their music, but this song has stuck to me like glue over the years. (The song is "It's Killing Me", for the record.)

I can't sleep. I want to go clean some more. I should do work instead. I just posted an entry that I forgot to last night, about the cleaning I did yesterday -- the house actually has areas of it that are *really* clean now, places I can go and sit and not see any mess. This is pretty new. I should not clean the whole house.

My head is all fucked up inside. Everything I do right now is the wrong decision: I wish I had a punching bag, so I could go and beat the shit out of something until I'm in tears and fall back asleep.

Instead, I'll probalby sit here, and play around on the computer, doing absolutely nothing of any use to anyone, until the sun comes up.

Sometimes, I wonder what would have happened if life had been different. The punching bag made me think of it - I started thinking that if I was at UIUC, I'd have access to a weight room, access to a way to get frustrations out. Although I suppose even WIMPE is closed at 5:30 in the morning. What if i was able to get up in two hours, walk across lightly dew covered grass to a mostly empty athletic facility, and rode a bike as hard as possible? What if I didn't have anyone to worry if I wasn't home when they got up in a couple hours, and I could ride south to the cow farm at UIUC and sit until dawn in a hoodie, watching my breath condense and the sun rise?

What if I had gone to MIT, or Stanford, instead of UIUC? What if I had taught myself to code not little things, but big things, right from the beginning, and had gotten myself such a name before I left high school that people actually had heard of me? Would that have changed anything? With almost-perfect SAT scores and a decent GPA, could I have gotten into MIT?

Could I get in now?

I don't think either is the case, to be honest. In a few more years, there's a chance that my name might mean something to people, but I'm not there yet. I'm still a developer working under the umbrella of other companies - no one has bought something I made.

But maybe it's almost time. Maybe I'm getting there. Maybe dropping in on a few classes, attending lectures and meeting people there will let me make some connections, get people who are there to be able to recommend me, somehow get me in a backdoor when I never could have gotten in the front.

Or maybe it won't. Maybe I'll finish off school at some po-dunk community college, and no one will ever care where I went, because it really doesn't matter. Maybe my resume will be complete without a four year degree. Maybe I can be successful without school, and it's not just luck that's getting me through.

There's so many what ifs that run through my head all the time. So many. And I don't know whether they matter or not, but I'm feeling more and more disconnected from everything, especially the now.

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What if I had taught myself to code not little things, but big things, right from the beginning, and had gotten myself such a name before I left high school that people actually had heard of me?

Is this something that's important to you?

I guess the concept seems odd to me because I never had that aspiration -- to "make a name for myself" in the world, to have people all over the place recognise my name. I suppose I figured, if I've even thought about it at all, that there are some very famous people, and that's good for them, but that most people aren't that famous -- and that that's not a bad thing. They can still be good coders.

They may be famous in a small section of society, for example for having written a nifty tool -- say, simont whom I consider a bit famous but who won't have the same "name recognition"(?) of a Linus Torvalds or a Steve Jobs.

So aiming for wide recognition seems like a rather lofty goal to me. (Oh, and I suppose I mostly thought that many famous people did not necessarily set out to be famous but became famous through accidents of "being in the right place at the right time".)

I think that reputation can be considered a major influence in a number of relatively important things: ESR, for example, would probably have no problem getting a job consulting for a number of important firms on Open Source, nor getting himself status to be able to audit classes at MIT, since big names will draw in attention from others, and that's the main goal of colleges in the US.

With increased repuation -- to the point where general application reviewers would actually be aware of my name -- the chances that my application wouldn't just get tossed in the junk pile would be higher. Getting past that initial "I don't like the way his handwriting looks" cut can be significant in a lot of situations, job applications and college applications among them.

I don't have any specific desire to be famous for my own benefit: I've never wnated to save the world, although making some money off the effort I put into publishing my work would be cool someday. I'm well known in enough circles that it's cool - I mean, Marc Andreesen reads my weblog, that's pretty nifty. But that doesn't get me name or face recognition on an application to college -- and that's where I'd need it more than anything.

Even in a few years coming in as a non-traditional student, I'd still probably be competing against thousands, and sticking out in a crowd can be a major boon.

Just because I think maybe it should be said... it is okay for you to take a vacation, you know.


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