Saturday, July 5, 2008

I, convalescent I: Remembering JBoss

For somebody full of nervous energy, the hardest thing is to be still. The only other time in my life I have been in a similar situation was six weeks of bed-rest before giving birth to twins in 2002. My husband bought me a laptop and set-up wireless in the house for the first time. I can remember having about two hours a day in which I could get some work done, something that probably saved my sanity. At any rate, this weekend my parents have taken the three older kiddos for the first time in as long as I can remember, leaving us with His Babyship (ok he's not a baby anymore, he's 18 mos. old) who's chirruping about, the house with his nanny, and there's my husband--which leaves me with Time To Write.

Remembering JBoss

The difference between now and my bed-rest with the twins was a sensation, then, of germinating something, both biological and externally, with the fast growth of the company. The other day, a chance coincidence brought my husband back in touch with a figure from our previous life, a company that was an early on-site training customer. My husband didn't at first remember the name (nobody who knows him should ever be offended by this trait), but I eventually did because it was connected with that refreshing novelty of Getting Paid, something my upbringing had not quite led me to believe was possible in the context of independence, rebellion and Having Fun. Although, much of the early work was certainly mundane, much concerned with setting up trainings and Java User Group talks, arranging wires, signing checks, reading legal documents and approving contracts--that I laugh when I read about business school grads wanting to be entrepreneurs because I have a hard time reconciling that sort of risk-avoidant, professionally conventional stamp of social approval with getting your hands dirty with the unglamorous work and the professionally and socially dubious status of the old-fashioned entrepreneur (he who has no money and no patronage). So, we built a company in the shadow of a standard and a brand built by my husband's former employer, unofficially barred from JavaOne, we ran our own dog and pony show at the bar next door. The neighbors and social acquaintances presumably imagined my husband and I sold novelties out of the trunk of our car, and those people who had heard of us professionally told us we were "crazy," although being from the South, there is a distinction. When you're poor, you're crazy. When you're rich, you become "eccentric."

The high point in our public awareness was the day The Industry Billionaire, whose public persona channels Genghis Khan, that is if Will Ferrell played Genghis Khan with the sort of one-liners Will Ferrell would use (disclaimer, my husband has met Genghis; I have not. If I did, I would like to talk to him about his Japanese garden). Anyway, The Industry Billionaire let it be known through his flunkies, that he might Have An Interest in us, an interest that quickly waned once he learned that we had shortly thereafter sold ourselves to a smaller company. At this point The Industry Billionaire publicly congratulated himself on not having bought us (IBM and BEA then publicly congratulated themselves that they too "passed" on us, even though they never were real contenders). He speculated that he could just as easily rape our technology and toss it into the gutter without the inconvenience of having any dealings with such contempt-worthy beings as ourselves and Our New Patron.

They say the English 19th century novel ends with epithalamion; the 19th century French novel--the French being more cynical and worldly--although, rather amusingly, they imagine the English to be far more pervy than they are: witness le vice anglais--begins with epithalamion and goes downhill from there. The American 19th century novel, from what I've gleaned from my Totally Useless Education, was less concerned with social mobility (thank God we got out of the fucking village) than with the epic battle of Man vs. Nature (think Melville's "Moby Dick") and surviving amidst the flora and fauna of the New World. At any rate, my problem with the American 19th century novel, being a 21st century sort of American girl, is what if you reached the frontier 20 years too late? The frontier's already mostly carved up. You claim your territory, then you take a look at the plot of land adjacent to yours, the adjacent land-owner takes a look at the menacing rancher from across the river and before you know it, you wake up with a splitting hang-over after a shot-gun marriage in Vegas. There's blood everywhere and the lizards are crawling up the walls. Maybe I'm getting a little too Hunter S. Thompson "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," here. Maybe "Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman" is better? Hmmh?

2 comments:

Tom said...

I still think Genghis Khan would like to be Red Hat one day : )

Nathalie said...

Why would that be?