Mike Bland

Unfinished Business

The Great American Road Trip is long since over, I've semi-retired from the tech industry, and I've decided to return to Berklee College of Music.

- New York
Tags: Berklee, GART, Google, music, personal

A few bits to wrap up the past few months, for those with whom I’ve lacked the good fortune to communicate directly.


The Great American Road Trip ended on February 23. From Sheridan, WY, I made it to Rapid City, SD, with stops at Mt. Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial; Mitchell, SD, home of the Corn Palace, and where I was forced to recall the defensive driving technique of pumping one’s brakes after driving through significant amounts of slush; Davenport, IA, after having a raccoon run under my car and bounce an excruciating number of times just east of Des Moines; South Bend, IN, which I hadn’t before realized was the home of Notre Dame; and Cleveland, OH, where I made my final touristy stop at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum. Verdict on that: Nice collection of rock ’n roll “stuff”, but not as moving a story as Sun Records or the Rock ’N Soul Museum in Memphis. The next day I drove straight back to NYC.

Crossing the Rubicon

The trip did not produce any magic revelations as to what to do with my life. Prior to our second trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon in April, I was contacted by a recruiter via LinkedIn, and persuaded to talk to a couple of her colleagues about a couple of their clients. One of them, another very well-known Internet company, seemed very promising, and over the Arizona vacation I had positive thoughts about the prospect.

[Again, we almost decided to move to Arizona. It will likely happen someday, but not today. It resonates with us. Blood Into Wine is now one of my favorite movies.]

Upon returning from Arizona, I met a couple of engineers from this company for lunch. Nice lunch. But by the end, it was clear to me that I don’t want to work in the tech industry anymore, at least not for now, not for the foreseeable future. I passed.

Yep, I’m officially semi-retired. So now what?

The weekend following, we went to Boston. I hadn’t been since dropping out of Berklee College of Music during my first week. At that time, I’d hardly ever made it out of Virginia, and even then I’d never been beyond a bordering state. City life was beyond my adaptive abilities at that stage in my development.

This time, Boston seemed so charming, so relaxing. From memory, I found the Berklee dorm, then the main building. Yolanda made me go in, and pressed me to ask for a course catalog; they gave me an admissions packet instead. And for the first time since my sabbatical started last June, I had an idea that made me say HELL YEAH!: I decided to try to return to Berklee.

Crazy as the idea sounds, those old sayings about “Leap, and the net will appear!” and the universe moving to help those who set out on a course of action appear to apply. While looking for application information on the Berklee website, I found an article on completing unfinished business. The punchline: Berklee has a very liberal returning student policy that may enable me to reenroll without reapplying. I’ve contacted the Returning Students Coordinator, and I’m still waiting for the final word, but she was 99% sure I could just reenroll when last we communicated.

This is all bizarre and still uncertain, which can be scary. But this challenge is the first thing that has given me clear direction and purpose since leaving Google.

Regarding Google and this blog in general

I have not used or even looked at Google+ at all for months now, nor do I ever intend to do more with it than announce blog posts for those who don’t use the email or atom feed notification methods (and to provide a forum for commenting on individual posts). I’ve plenty distraction after discovering thegearpage.net and hacking on guitar effects pedals and building my own custom instrument cables. In fact, I’ll likely start posting mostly about that kind of geeky stuff, as well as music-related topics, as time wears on.

That said, there’s still a good amount of Google testing/fixit/grouplet history that I’ve yet to finish writing about. Truth is, I was very unhappy by the time I decided to leave Google. I’m not yet ready to express my reasons publicly, and today I realized why: I’m still in mourning. Leaving was actually a very sad affair for me personally, and I need to finish working the grief out of my system. Without realizing it, that’s why I began the series of Google posts to begin with, and that’s why I will pick up writing them again very soon.

There was a lot of beautiful good that Google brought into my life, and my posts aim to remember as much of that good as I can. If others are entertained by it, or possibly even inspired by it, even better.