This song is beautiful, but it makes me think of your choir music and that stings my heart.
I love you, but I don’t know how to you sleep at night.
I’m going back to Vegas for That Hacker Thing In The Desert. My flight leaves Seattle on Saturday and comes back a week later. I’ve signed up for staff shifts at bSides and DefCon. Based on my previous experiences there, this is, by all accounts, probably a very stupid move. Last summer, before heading down this time of year for the same stretch of conferences, I wrote:
It is an awful place, but I am beginning to look forward to Vegas. The teal sky stretched like silk over the blind roads and senseless cacophony, the inevitable black t-shirts with witty taglines and open bars buzzing with abuse. It is not going to be at all like my last time there or the time before that or the time before that. Each visit before has been fraught with conflict, stress a thin note running through every decision. This time I will not be alone, isolated or rejected. I will not have been sent for to stand as a peace-maker to sordid drama, I will not have been brought along as a sop, I will not be going as a dismantled half. No matter how this week unfurls, (and it does have some very interesting possibilities), none of the previous scenarios will have a chance to duplicate. There will be a tribe this time, there will be people I care for who care for me. (My best medicine). New people, new skills. This trip will be unique and for that I am grateful. The city will not poison me. Though the Vegas strip is a manipulative construct, a gigantic shrine dedicated to the worst of the states, the people I will be walking with share my inherent refusal to genuflect.
In part, it was meant as an incantation. An unfurling of the best truth that might ripple outward and ahead of me, giving me solid ground.
Alas, in spite of persistent rumour, I am not a witch.
Instead, the drama came from a surprise direction. Not from my life, but that of a close friend. He had been having problems, at work, in his marriage, and was uncertain, suddenly, about his future. Finally, while in the least authentic city, his crisis reached critical mass. He couldn’t deal anymore. And though some parts of the trip were good and solid and sound, he leaned on me and leaned on me hard. The stress of it nearly overshadowed every other crappy Vegas experience I’ve had. (Which is saying something, that city is awful). He cried. He shouted. I gave out a lot of head-scratches. The peace-maker thing went into overdrive. It went up and up and up and eventually, if you will forgive the Spaceballs reference, went into plaid. Hackers are a fascinating breed, I love them, but when they crack, it can be extreme. When someone’s profession is built on being suspicious of everything-all-the-time and they get personal? I recommend you flee. Run, don’t walk, away.
In my case, it is absolute fact that my devices are no longer to be trusted. My trust been violated, my data and that of those closest to me has been stolen. All of my electronic communications with others has been intercepted and pored over with the same malicious and bitter eye that accused me, when I approached them as part of a whip-around air-miles fundraiser for a best friend’s family funeral, of treating them as a cash machine. And if this sounds paranoid, please note that not only did the perpetrator tell me to my face, they also produced evidence and later argued with me about it over google chat, (screenshots of which are saved on a drive that doesn’t touch the internet).
If you had asked me last year who they were, I would have proudly replied, “one of my best friends.” Now? I would be absolu-bloody-lutely be looking forward to Vegas, except that I know for a fact that they’re going to be there. They’re probably there already.
I’m not scared, precisely, but no, it’s not okay. I’m not okay. And that’s just how it is.