BlackHat, Defcon, BSides: Symptoms Of Withdrawl

Funny thing about how my brain works: I’m working from home, loving that Erin and the kids are right here with me. I’m getting a ton of work done, and the weather is perfect. But there’s a pull in the back of my brain, and it’s coming from Las Vegas.

Mood music (Despite my recent post about Vince Neil, I do like his cover of this Aerosmith classic):

I’ve mentioned before how I love going to security conferences. I like the feeling I get when I’m able to do a lot of writing about the proceedings. I like getting out of my familiar environment for a few days. I like seeing people face to face. This is all pretty normal. But I used to fear these events.

Because I lost the fear, I’ve come to like the travel to the point of greediness.

I did a lot of travel earlier in the year and it blew up in my face. More recently, I’ve been trying to discipline myself.

But the first week in August can be hell for anyone who has to stay home from Black Hat, Defcon and BSidesLV. If you use Twitter, there’s no escape. Everyone is tweeting nonstop about all the fun they’re having. I don’t fault them for this. They’re doing nothing wrong, and I’m glad they’re having a good time.

But I feel so disconnected and adrift. That’s my problem, of course. I have to work on it.

I don’t regret skipping Vegas. Not for a second. I need to find the middle speed between trying to do all the stuff I used to fear and keeping my feet where they belong, which is right here. Also, these events cut a little too close to my wedding anniversary, and I don’t want to miss that time with Erin. I’ve traveled during both kids’ birthdays and that was bad enough.

As you can see, I still have a lot of work to do.

And, truth is, this has been a great week. My days in the office have been productive and my work-at-home days have been the perfect mix between work and family. Kids grow up so fast. If I’m away too much, I’ll get home one of these days to find that they grew up and moved out. I am exactly where I belong at this moment in time.

But that little part of my brain is still twisted in a knot, jabbing at the rest of me and whispering in my ear about all the action I’m missing.

I’m embarrassed to admit it. But there it is.

I’ve been in this head space before. The last Vegas trip I made was in 2009, and in 2008 I missed the RSA conference in San Francisco. I felt twinges of regret, but life at home proceeded apace, and I quickly got over it.

This is simply how it is for someone with OCD. You usually obsess over all the things you can’t control. And sometimes, like this week, you obsess over the things you can control instead of simply being happy to be able to have that level of control.

That defines my struggle pretty well.

But it could be much worse. I could have a life at home that sucks so bad that I hit the road and stay there just to escape.

Instead, I am blessed with the home life I missed out on as a kid.

Despite that pull in the brain, I’m going to go savor what I have.

To all my friends in Vegas, keep the tweets coming. As rough as they can be on my fragile mind, I still like to see what’s going on from afar.


One thought on “BlackHat, Defcon, BSides: Symptoms Of Withdrawl

  1. Bill – I feel the pull too. I had my pass and hotel for Vegas all lined up. But we got home from family vacation on Sunday and a tropical storm/hurricane is heading our way here in Florida. I just decided I was better off at home with the family. But I feel the tug reading the tweets. You are not alone

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