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My basement, posted by Derek

For me, coming out of the basement means something else.

It’s suddenly realizing that I’ve got 3 kids, a wife, and I could reasonably be called a mid-level executive, when 10 years ago, I couldn’t imagine having kids, thought being a manager was the worst thing I could ever do, and knowing that I would eventually find fame and fortune as either a senior *nix admin, a freelance RPG author, or both.

It’s suddenly looking around and realizing that all that stuff I’ve always wished I could afford isn’t the stuff I want any more (although I’m still gonna get one of those museum replica lightsabers when my wife isn’t looking).

It’s finding that, given the choice between going to a game night and staying home to help with the babies, I’m staying home to help with the babies (at least most of the time).

It’s realizing that I’m at the point where I’d rather just pay someone for a computer, instead of building one myself for half the cost, because the time I’d spend figuring out what’s top of the line and putting it together is worth less to me than the money.

It’s seeing my 15 year old daughter play WoW the way I used to (obsessively repeating instances until she has all the loot, running them 15x in a night until the right item drops, picking people randomly and whipping them in to shape), and listening to her wax sarcastic to everyone, wear a Star Wars shirt, and get annoyed about things that I used to rant about.

But it’s also playing MMOs on the couch with my wife, because we can afford new laptops, and that’s how we relax in the evenings.

It’s finding that it’s okay that I don’t have subs to comics any more – I can wait for the TPBs, and read 10 issues in a night, then hand them to my wife.

It’s finding that things I learned being a geek suddenly come back to help me later on.

It’s training myself out of my old habits, and learning that, in fact, you *can* learn to be a leader, even if it seems like a complete waste of time.

It’s realizing that I’ve found a niche in my career where being endlessly fascinated by patterns, details, minutae, and semantics is actually exactly what I need.

It’s waiting for the elevator and thinking “You know, I bet you could gather data for a week on stops and travel, and find the optimal floor for the elevator to wait on by time of day and day of the week, to reduce either the total distance traveled, or the time spent waiting per spot.” Then realizing just how few people there are in the world that think that way, and how that makes you valuable to a very specific group of people.

It’s having days when you have to explain to people, repeatedly, why you can’t average averages, why correlation does not imply causation, why you can’t just change one thing without others being impacted, and why, really, reports that aren’t repeatable and validateable are not, in fact, reports at all, even if they’ve been submitting them for months that way.

It’s learning that, the only reason your company is failing a key metric is because no one has sat down and said “What, exactly, goes in to this? And who, exactly, is part of the process? And why, exactly, do none of those people talk to each other?” then just asking the questions, and fixing the issue.

It’s being in Wal-Mart and deciding that, yeah, you’re gonna pick up 5 sets of the Star Wars characters you don’t have, and not being embarassed at the counter, or feeling like you have to say they’re for a child.

It’s finding that being a little eccentric at work gives you a bit more freedom, as long as it’s backed up by being good at what you do, and a couple subtle reminders that you are far more geeky and scientifically oriented than they could ever imagine.

It’s realizing that, were I to meet the me of 10 years ago, neither of us would really recognize the other, but we could still talk books, movies, games, and comics.

So yeah, I’m out of the basement, and I’m finding that life outside isn’t exactly what I expected. But damn, is it a good life. For all the cliches about not understanding what it’s like to be a dad until you’ve been one, and finding your purpose is to provide for others, and how much your life changes when you’re a husband, a father, a provider, and a quasi-grown up, they’re all really true.