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Everything Changes

Everything Changes

A new year, a fresh challenge.

I’ve been working in the Technical Communications field my entire career. From those first days, stumbling my way around FrameMaker 4 with only a vague idea of what I should be doing (and largely using the FrameMaker User Guide as a sample of both approach and layout) to my current incarnation as Product Information Manager which involves running a team of 6 technical writers, looking at what other services we could offer to other parts of the (now) global organisation I’m part of, not to mention running a developer community website and generally advocating a product view wherever possible.

Actually, make that my previous incarnation.

As of today I’m changing roles, with a new job title of Product Operations Manager.

I’ll be working within the Product Management Team dealing with operations issues, planning and so on, and generally helping the Product Managers, and Senior Architects do their day jobs (the phrase ‘herding cats’ has been used on more than one occasion so far).

It’s very exciting, a little bit scary (in a good way), and a big step out of my comfort zone of technical communications. Whilst the principles of managing a team with multiple deliverables and differing focus areas is something I’ve been doing for a while, it’s good to have a new challenge.

The new role will take me away from technical communications, and whilst I’ll still retain a passing interest I know myself well enough that it’s only a matter of time before I lose track of developments and trends altogether. I am a sucker for new things!

I’m not sure what that means for this blog, or my other interactions with the technical communications community, but I’ll figure that out in good time.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a job description, a new boss, new teammates and a whole new world to get my head into and it’s all kicking off this week. Hence why I’m sat in a hotel room in Sunnyvale writing this blog post.

Anyway, first things first.


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Faith less

I can’t get no sleep.

That was pretty much the story of last week, with a million and one thoughts rushing through my head. I’d go to bed, read to relax and drop off, only to awaken a couple of hours later, wide awake. Sometimes I’d get back to sleep after a couple of hours of tossing and turning, sometimes I wouldn’t and so I’d try and be productive, mostly in an effort to empty my head as much as possible.

I hadn’t actually realised that was I suffer from in this instances, for they happen every now and then, is insomnia.

I always thought that was purely for those that couldn’t sleep at all, not for people like me who, now and then, would have periods where they couldn’t stay asleep.

Insomnia, or sleeplessness, is a sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired [source]

I’ve had this in the past, but it’s only recently I’ve realised that it usually occurs when there is a lot going on and that it’s partly driven by my fear of forgetting something. My memory is awful at the best of times, so when there are a few things going on I think my brain resorts to keeping me awake to get me to write things down…

Thankfully it’s passed, the last couple of nights have been mostly unbroken. Here’s to a few more as it’s gonna be another busy week.

I’ve just finished doing a couple of hours work today, and that deliverable needs to be ready for Tuesday for a big milestone in our current project. On Wednesday I’m off to Belfast for the day, my first time, although I doubt I’ll get to see much of it as we fly in at 9.20 and leave at 4.30. A few more busy days then on Sunday morning, bright and breezy, I’m off to California for a week, again with work.

No rest for the wicked it seems, quite literally in my case at times!

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Travelling home

Dumbarton Common, rainfall at dusk, originally uploaded by Gordon.

The train pulls out of the station, slowly gathers speed as I head to my home town. I am cocooned in steel, my music and my own thoughts. Face tingling from the fresh air.

There are several stops to be made, familiar names from my past. At one stop a man alights and heads down the platform, bulbous headphones sit proudly on his head. In his right hand he holds a carrier bag, contents unknown, in his left he carries the rhythm of the music that he is silently, but passionately, singing along with. His step falters and I wonder if he’s about to fall, but no, that drop of his knee was in dance not error. He is happily oblivious to the world.

Music can have that effect.

The train moves on, passing schools and shops, houses and tenements. Another station and as the train pulls out I glance over at a tenement window, attracted by movement. There, framed in a window, a shirtless man looks out, he surveys his view before lazily stretching and dropping back into the darkness of the room.

Familiar views of an oft travelled path continue to reveal themselves, 70s style tower blocks loom into view, peering over us as we speed by, shopping centres illuminate the afternoon gloom and then the River Clyde appears, dark and grey, ever widening, as it continues it’s dull eyed journey to the sea.

And on we speed.

I get off the train and start to walk, taking in the memories as the slowly float into view. Past my primary school where life was simpler, past the house of where Aunt Irene lived, no longer with us. Tinge of melancholy.

A story my Mother tells pops into my head.

Me as a young boy, on the way to primary school, sitting on the wall outside my Aunt Irene’s house. My Mother had overslept and on waking to found me gone, panicked and started phoning round. On answering, my Aunt Irene assured her I was just fine and that I was sitting on her wall, daydreaming.

Onwards now, past the entrance to the lane to the school. Sudden memory of a first kiss. Past the tiny street an Uncle used to live on, his bachelor flat a wonderous place for an inquisitive boy and the first place I heard Michael Jackson’s Thriller. It was also the scene of a chaotic meal, hosted by French friends of the family. To this day I’m still not sure if Pascal was winding me up when he said I would only be allowed one plate, so to wipe it clean with bread before the next course!

Onward to the street I grew up in, past the gardens I used to play in, the houses frequented. Too many memories to list, all suddenly flooding back. Overwhelming. Happiness and laughter dominate.

And then I’m home, as it will always be. My Mum waves from the window, I smile and the lyric flows over me once more:

I haven’t seen my mum for weeks,
But coming home I feel like I,
Designed these buildings I walk by.

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