Each phase has its own characteristics. Its own banter, its own quirks, its own work and foosball habits. Each phase has its own video games, its own work-at-home policy, its own projects. And, somehow, each phase exists beyond work, marking in some strange manner the continuing storyline of my life.
The first phase saw AJ as my neighbor, in our old desk location near the elevators on good ol' Floor 3N. We didn't even have full desks there, and the beginning of that first phase is deeply etched into my memory; I started working on September 10, 2001. The AJ(1) phase was filled with evolving dynamics, as I was meeting Jordi, Lonnie, Brian, and John, as well as the rest of the team on the other side of the wall. We constantly used our headphones to listen to music, and we toyed with creating a music server out of a discarded machine.
Foosball was a learning experience, as AJ dominated the ranks and also strove to emphasize the beauty and science of the game and to elevate our play. The foosball of the AJ(1) phase culminated in the first Foosball tournament, in which Rooney and I teamed up only to crash down to an early exit. I worked on Sash--Sametime specifically--and I slowly learned what an extension, a location, an action, an instance, and a weblication all were. Mainly, I familiarized myself enough with the existing Sametime infrastructure to add group-chat support to the Sash Sametime extension. The 21R gang instituted work-at-home Wednesdays, and doggedly followed that mantra for many, many weeks. We ate lunch downstairs often and at the mall sometimes, and almost never brought lunch from home. On late Friday afternoons we played the demo version of the beta of Wolfenstein 3D.
I was living on the border of Cambridge and Watertown with Dodzie. Lynn was still at Northwestern, and we visited each other as often as possible. It was largely a waiting game, as I waited for Lynn to graduate so that we could begin our lives together.
In the first few months of 2002, our group migrated to the far end of Floor 3N. I was still next to AJ, though now we all had full-fledged cubicals, complete with rearrangeable panels and glass dividers with fish stickers. And so began the AJ(2) phase. We talked more and, except for AJ, listened to less music. Not long after the move, Brian moved on to his current job with American Express. Our passion for foosball cooled off for a while, only to be renewed with the summertime arrival of the Extreme Blue students. The second foosball tournament -- I don't remember the name of the Extreme Bluer I was paired with -- came to an abrupt end with the end of the AJ(2) phase. We almost never ate downstair anymore, though with the arrival of warm weather we ate outside often and played frisbee during our lunch hour. We brought communal sandwhich fixin's to work for a while, but didn't maintain the diligence needed to make that continue. I spent the better part of a month digging through the Sametime toolkit source code, attempting to solve a crash on Buddylist's close, and I spent the rest of my time developing an unnecessarily complex file-transfer extension as well as becoming more and more intimate with the guts of Sash. We discovered the joys of multi-player emulators, jousting regularly in best of 3, 5, 7 or 9 series of Tetris Attack.
I travelled several times to Chicago during the AJ(2) phase, culminating in my visit to Chicago for Lynn's graduation. Wedding planning heated up and Ithrew myself full blast into the arduous chore (ha!) of planning our Hawaiian honeymoon. I travelled to New Jersey almost every weekend in July. I enjoyed both the drunken antics of a bachelor party in NYC as well as the absurdly comedic antics of a weekday jaunt to Six Flags with the guys from work. Lynn and I got married on the happiest day of my life, and then we spent 14 equally happy days in Hawaii. And while we were there, AJ picked up and went West, heading to graduate school at Berkeley, leaving behind him an empty cube adjacent to mine. And so, as the first hint of an autumn 2002 chill was felt in Beantown, the AJ(2) phase came to an end.
But I was not to be without a neighbor for long, as Kevin joined our team and filled the vacant cube, beginning the Gibbs phase. The Gibbs phase was noteable for the large degree of change from the AJ(1) and AJ(2) phases. Sash came to a subdued end, having fought the good fight for many years, and our team turned our attention to life sciences, including Jordi, Lonnie, Elias, Simon, Sean and I, who turned our attention to the annotation project. The light workload of the summer was replaced by intense design meetings and the beginning of a significant coding effort near the end of the year. Ben, aka Rockhead, quickly filled in for AJ's abandoned position as one of our top foosball players, though foosball intensity has never quite reached the levels it once was during AJ(1). We still refused to eat downstairs for the most part, but there was a large increase in incidents of leftover previous-night-dinners brought to work for lunch. Tetris Attack declined, replaced by sporadic Final Fantasy III sessions (featuring Jordi as Terra!) Music was rarely heard or seen, at least until Jordi purchases his Big Ass Headphones late in the Gibbs phase. Gibbs provided an endless stream of brilliantly absurd ideas, always springing fully developed from the uncharted depths of his being. Two more members of our team departed, with Rooney accepting a new job in NY and Simon heading back to England pending a cross-country and then cross-world journey with Eva.
Lynn and I furnished our new home and found married life to be wonderful. Our familiy began to brave tough times, with incredible closeness, strength, and courage. I started playing in cousin Larry's monthly poker game, satisfying a lifelong (well, maybe decade-old) goal of mine. Rohit, Dodzie, Eugene and I (and Lynn) planned and executed an awesome trip to Vegas in January 2003. Lynn endured the mountains of work of a first year law student, and I endured the seemingly endless winter.
And then, a few weeks ago, the weather began to improve, and with Simon's departure on the horizon and Kevin working with Elias on Lobo, the end of the Gibbs phase drew close. So we said our goodbyes to Simon last week and at the same time saw Kevin trudge down the hall to share an office with Elias. The cube next to mine sits empty once more. Tumbleweed blows freely through it, as I think about what the next phase might bring. Undoubtedly it will see a continuation of the high amounts of work the annotation project entails, as well as a summer of basketball, tennis, and weddings. Other things are less easily anticipated, but no aspect of my life is any worse now than at the beginning of the Gibbs phase, and many, many of these aspects are better.
What, then, remains the same as I enter my fourth and as-of-yet unnamed phase of my IBM Life? Jordi, Lonnie, and John have never been far away, and as the months pass I grow increasingly fond of them all, as well as of the rest of our team, all of whom I know better and better with each passing phase. Of course, Lynn and my loving families have a cohesion, warmth, and love that transcends all phases and will continue indefinitely. And Lynn and I share a bond stronger than the most intrinsic forces of the universe.
And as a final shout-out, my life for the past twenty-plus months my shifting neighbors have marked the times, but all along I have actually had two neighbors at work. From day one, the mysterious Dunster House resident whom I had never known very well, the master of stir-fry, DDR, and friendship, and the man paid tribute to by a painting hanging on the wall of the corridors at work has been my constant and consistent neighbor at work. There may still be those members of our group that confuse Wing and I, but from introducing him to Friendly's on our trip together to BoV to watching the Nets sweep the Lakers in the NBA Finals last year (what's that you say? I can't quite hear you), to our late night IM conversations, Wing has become a tremendous friend, with my only regret being that we didn't really know each other sooner in life. If you don't know Wing, you should. He rocks.
I'll continue to occasionally update this space with the arbitrary goings-on of my life, but for now I look into the unknown expanse of this new phase with nought but optimism and anticipation, and I look forward to sharing it all with those close to me.