I received my acceptance letter to the OMSCS program today (it’s an online master’s degree from Georgia Tech, profiled in this article), and here’s the sequence of how I felt:

  1. Yay! I see rigorous coursework and a career-related degree in my future!
  2. This is silly, they must accept just about everyone.
  3. (Checking a reddit thread to see backgrounds of people who applied, were accepted, etc.)
  4. OMG everyone has a CS degree. This is terrible, I don’t have a CS degree. I’m going to be way, way behind. What am I going to do?
  5. At least I can write about this in my blog post today.

We naturally tend to replay embarrassing moments that highlight our insecurities. Today I spent an embarrassing number of minutes asking my manager to allay my confusion about a piece of code that was essentially… two booleans working together. Ugh.

I think what could help is instead actively writing down positive anecdotes or feedback that made us feel  “Oh, I guess I’m all right.” For example:

My first semester of college was a struggle – my first class of my first day was Chemistry, and the professor asked us to discuss, as a class, how we would make a biological computer (Umm… what?? That question assumes knowledge of two subjects that are not at all chemistry). Then I nearly failed two physics midterms. All semester I couldn’t understand my math professor, I couldn’t memorize bioengineering reading as well as the pre-med students, and I felt like I was a lame, under-educated person from a merely average public high school – a person who didn’t belong in a class with innovative people imagining using DNA as bits.

But at the end of the semester, I’d managed decent grades in my classes, including Math 114. I was talking to a classmate at my dorm after final grades were out, and he said “Wow, that class was really tough. I already took multivariate calculus in high school, but I barely got an A.” After I got over the mild outrage of “WHAT? You already took multivariate calculus? I missed a memo!” I realized I was doing fine, because I got an A too.

There’s much negativity towards the concept of a routine – e.g. they’re rigid, boring, unremarkable. Sometimes I inquire about my friends’ routines, because otherwise no one bothers to describe their daily lives. It’s considered too dull to discuss, but I think it’s fascinating how it can be hard to imagine the details of the lives of even our  best friends!

I’ve come to relish my routine, and I crave it when it’s unavailable. It includes:

  • Programming
  • Going skating / some sort of skating-oriented exercise
  • Talking to Max
  • Talking to a group of close friends on facebook messenger
  • Attempting the NYTimes crossword
  • Writing (this month, at least)

Transitioning to a career in software was an important step for improving how I feel about my routine; at least, I’ve realized this in retrospect. When I worked in finance, I did all sorts of quirky activities to avoid admitting that most of my time was spent thinking about the stock market – I was the ultimate dilettante, weekend warrior, etc. Now, I don’t mind admitting that I spend most of my time asking computers to do things, or asking people how to ask computers to do things!

Savoring a routine depends on a belief that the routine helps us accomplish something we value. Partially this comes from an awareness of what doesn’t matter to us too. Last year I decided to give up watching movies entirely, because I noticed that no movie has ever changed my life. A few years ago I modified my wardrobe so I wear essentially the same thing every day, in different colors (I make exceptions for summer dresses).

One of my friends told me that annually, he considers how his life is going and makes decisions about what he should do regularly in the next period. Then he just does those things, without re-thinking those tasks too frequently. I think this sounds ideal, because it’s nice to combine deliberation with letting our habits drive us forward. In the end, our identities are unlikely to be the vacations we took or crazy things that happened to us, unless we fold those into what we do daily, weekly, routinely.

The answer is either almost never (if you want to hate yourself) or almost always (the more correct answer).

I used to believe in ‘ideal conditions’ – e.g. the ideal condition for practicing violin is when no one else is home and I don’t have to play in the creepy basement, or the ideal condition for studying physics is Saturday morning at a library carrel with a view of downtown Philadelphia. As an adult, I still catch myself superstitiously thinking about ideal conditions, but I’m starting to outgrow them.

Thinking about ideal conditions is essentially mysticism. The first instance I remember overcoming it was practicing running the first summer I lived in NYC. Prior to this, I was a timid runner, and so I usually exercised… at the gym (gasp! how embarrassing, right?). When preparing for a run, my thoughts would be a mix of practical concerns (“Have I hydrated enough today?”), organizational dilemmas (“Can I comfortably hold my wallet and my phone if I use my too-small pocket for my keys?”), and outright absurd fears (“What if I pass out in the middle of Central Park and can’t find the nearest subway?”). Before I dedicated myself to running that summer, it was rare I ever ran outside, because conditions were rarely ideal.

After running outside for many miles and not encountering any dire circumstances, I realized that conditions are almost always good enough to go running. Not to say there aren’t ideal days (my best run ever started in Riverside Park and ended with getting lost around the north end of Central Park during a light rain), but the threshold for “good enough” is so miserably low that only circumstances like major illness or injury should prevent one from going for a run.

Skating

I figured out how to do a lutz sometime around February. And then I forgot how to do it. Then I remembered. Then forgot.

I recently noticed that because of the variability, I’d started composing a list of conditions that seemed necessary for me to be able to manage it at any one practice session – whether I had a day off from skating the day before, how awake I felt, etc. Furthermore, I realized that this list kept me from practicing the lutz, because I’d assess how awake and well-rested I felt and decide in many instances that I wouldn’t bother.

But this is silly. The lutz is not easy, but I also know it’s within my capabilities. I know that even when I’m exhausted, I can jump up and make a full turn in the air, so I’m not without the energy to practice the lutz. Today I managed to land it eventually – not smoothly and naturally in a way that feels easy, but this ironically makes me feel a little better about it, because I’m recognizing it as a challenge of arranging my body correctly rather than a confluence of magical conditions.

Programming

I’ve resumed programming as a practice (instead of as a job) because I’m currently unemployed again (yay for free time! and eek for job-searching!). The co-founders of the company I was at decided to shrink back down to the two of them, so I’m actually facing technical interviews for the first time ever. I feel like I’m getting my comeuppance for sidling into my first programming job without interviewing at all.

It’s not superstitious of me to assert that I think best in the mornings; however, it is silly when I put off working on difficult algorithms for the sole reason that it’s after 6pm. I’ve noticed that when I properly commit to working on a difficult problem in the evenings, one of two outcomes arises – either I end up solving the problem and deciding it wasn’t that difficult after all, or I go to bed deciding it’s difficult but find it easier the next day.

In Conclusion

I find that it helps to hold two beliefs in my head to overcome the desire for ideal conditions:

  1. The outcome of practicing doesn’t matter. When I’m in a specific instance of practicing, it’s easy to start thinking that I’m on a path to something, and that the results in practice have consequences for how well I can eventually accomplish my goal. But that’s not really true, and I can only practice well when I believe that the results don’t matter. Try and fail at the lutz? Doesn’t matter, it’s just one attempt and the bruise will go away eventually.
  2. My goal is within my capabilities. Persevering through uncertainty is possible and can lead to good things, but it can also lead to wasted time and overlooking better things to do. Plus persevering through certainty is easier, so I try to believe in certainty whenever possible – i.e. “with practice, I’m 100% sure I can achieve X.” With skating challenges, I remind myself that as a healthy adult, I’m not nearing my physical limitations at all. With programming challenges, I remind myself that I’m a smart person with a stellar IQ and SAT scores (embarrassing to admit, but it really helps).

If you check the date of my previous blog post, you’ll notice that I’m also an ideal-conditions blogger – unwilling to post unless a wide range of conditions are met (I have to believe the writing is simultaneously high quality, fully considered, interesting, and non-offensive). I don’t know if I care enough about blogging to dedicate myself to a writing practice, but if I do, I’ll apologize in advance for the plethora of low-quality, half-formed, boring and offensive posts to come.

 

 

Hi! Welcome back to this blog thing. My life probably doesn’t look as interesting as 3-4 months ago, but I continue to have [amusing? perplexing? incomplete?] thoughts that I occasionally write about but never get around to editing for human consumption.

A Brief Update

I’ve settled into a normal life, I think. Work takes up a typical, work-like chunk of my time. Yesterday we had the luxury of girl scout cookies and working outdoors on the patio. The tech lifestyle I’m experiencing here is pretty great – it’s comfortable without being ostentatious, and my mornings are now so relaxed from only working forty hours a week.

Other stuff:

  • I’m still skating, still struggling with my lutz.
  • I’ve been re-learning Mandarin in preparation for a trip to Hangzhou and Shanghai in April – this was the main activity that edged out writing lately. In case anyone’s there – let me know!
  • I’ve been looking into developing for Android because it’d be nice to understand for my job, and I’m working on this app I’m calling “splunch” for now – for splitting a lunch with someone who wants the same food as you, because we could all use more lunch variety and portion control.
  • I’ll be in San Francisco the first weekend of April if anyone wants to meet up!

Books, for Guzzling

I found myself telling a few people recently that I feel like I don’t have enough time to read fiction. Given the vast array of real stuff that I don’t comprehend, it sometimes seems frivolous to worry about stuff that isn’t even real. But that’s ridiculous. I’ve been nourished by fiction this week. I was listening to this archived Radiolab podcast about how perhaps we don’t think unless we have words; this might be true. Sometimes reading analogies of your feelings in astounding phrasings is the best way to delineate things that normally pass by unnoticed.

Over the weekend, I read [/devoured] My Antonia by Willa Cather. I found it lovely to consider how our younger years cling to us and color our preferences for the future. At some point the main protagonist, Jim, remarks how Antonia (a friend since childhood) has been with him in all sorts of ways throughout his life, and that often his likes and dislikes are formed with some memory of her. When we know and love someone, we’re able to adopt their lens to see our world and sometimes we’ll adjust our habits to align with their values. Isn’t that amazing? Good love, like literature, it’s a way to step outside of ourselves to see more clearly.

I was also fascinated with how Jim’s cosmopolitan adulthood results in some “disappointment” in seeing Antonia’s life unfold – this judgmental tone recedes as Jim finds Antonia fulfilled in her life, but I think this is a common sentiment among those of us who grow up, move away, and hear about people from their childhood. In many ways I’ve been continuously struggling to reconcile my attraction to city habitation and a yearning for the quiet suburbs from my adolescence, weighing the symphony against the stars or weighing obnoxious food snobbery against posting links from upworthy (actually these two might be universal annoyances rather than region-specific). In the end there’s probably not much value in judging the superiority of  lifestyles; fulfillment is something we’re all capable of experiencing and typically the means that lead to real fulfillment are all decent.

Then the past few days I was addicted to reading Halfway House by Katharine Noel. This is a recent novel (published 2007) which narrates the story of a star athlete in high school named Angie, who suffers a mental breakdown and tumbles through a series of institutions, she and her family oscillating between wellness and terror. Much of this story was just painful, and I wanted to read to reach “resting points” where I felt like the characters were okay. But the language was also beautiful – kind of rolling and prickly; and then there was just memorable weird stuff, like a girl who razored a guy’s name into her skin (uhh what? she was ironically not diagnosed with a mental illness).

There was a lot in this book about understanding who we really are. Angie, having spent a long time on medication, wonders whether her real persona is the one that’s crazy without the medication, or the tamed one that’s often in a drugged stupor. Another character questions his identity upon realizing that his wife’s observant nature has colored many of his own thoughts or brought his thoughts to his consciousness. I think we all wonder about this somewhat – who am I really if who I am now was changed by very specific things in my life? Am I who I am now or am I the collection of various different versions of a person I’d be if I’d encountered different situations?

I think I’ll continue on this literary rampage for at least another week. Next up is probably either Half of a Yellow Sun (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie) or The Joke (Milan Kundera) based on a friend’s recommendation. (What else should I read?)

Books, for Grazing

Most of the nonfiction I’ve been reading (or staring at) has been programming-related. There’s so much I want to read to fill in the gaps in my developer-related knowledge. I’ve found myself amongst people who are fairly language-agnostic and feel that many new languages are simply re-creating and re-solving old problems. I could see this being the reality, although I’m met with my old problem of not wanting to form an opinion on such a broad topic without compiling research. So here’s some programming-related reading I’ve been looking at lately:

  • Unix Power Tools – because the command line is way cooler than any javascript framework.
  • High Performance MySQL – good SQL queries are stunning.
  • The Art of Computer Programming – trying to understand the math proofs at the beginning of this book is exhausting! But I’m trusting it’ll lead to something good, so I’ll try to keep everyone updated in a decade or so when I get further into it.
  • Also, Algorithms: Design and Analysis Part II taught by Tim Roughgarden is starting on coursera this week. The first part was great (and I’d highly recommend it to people coming out of a more practical program like DBC), so I’m hoping I can find time to do the second part.

2014: the year I gradually moved away from Manhattan

I started this year setting up a new apartment in Long Island City and obsessing about learning to ice skate. When asked, I’ve stated that I’m happiest in life when I’m on the verge of competence after a long period of learning and struggle, and this period fulfilled that – I finally felt established and confident at my job, in NYC, and in my local friendships.

But I was also anxious to figure out my next steps. I had informed my managers at work that I wanted to move on sometime in 2014, and so I spent a lot of time browsing quora and other advice forums, researching whether to look for a buy-side job or something else entirely. By the end of February I had accepted a place at DevBootcamp for the summer and in the spring I was offloading my work responsibilities to colleagues.

In July I moved to Chicago, and the rest is history (as in it’s historically documented in this blog) – having an enlightening experience at DevBootcampleaving Chicago, and moving to Portland. As of this week, I’ve accepted a job here and I’m going to be working at a finance-related startup (with a dog-friendly office) starting in January!

The future looms like Everest

Back in January when I envisioned leaving NYC, these potential changes felt insurmountable. Isn’t it going to feel so strange to leave this comfortable life where I’m building my 401k, where I know people, where food delivery takes 15 minutes? Thinking about the future too much often prevents us from making changes, because they feel huge, and reasonably so: we can’t envision the full details about a future in the way we can remember details about a past, and so we focus on our guesses of what’s going to be vastly different and potentially distressing. The fear of change and fear of the unknown is tied to the assumption that the unknown is far away from where we are.

To some extent we can alleviate this by composing a more thorough vision of a potential future. Whenever I considered moving somewhere this year, one of my first searches was “[new location] ice rink,” and then I’d look at the freestyle schedules and group lessons for any results. I made a lot of decisions around the desire to preserve proximity to figure skating: In Chicago, I lived in Lakeview to be close to McFetridge Rink, and I decided to live in NE Portland for the Lloyd Center rink.

Sometimes I felt silly and obsessive continuing this habit, especially when it didn’t even work out (I’m actually skating at Mountain View in Vancouver, WA because the Lloyd rink is closing for mall remodeling in 2015). But looking back, I think it was a good strategic move – it helped me narrow the distance between my present and a potential future and made the change feel navigable.

The present only feels far from “what could have been”

Despite changes over the last year, my current, immediate life doesn’t feel drastically different from my life in January. I still have my family, my friends (with a few midwestern additions), and myself (well, adjusted to nearly v.26 – the wisest and quirkiest yet). My diet is a shade healthier and more organic, with less restaurant takeout, but my soup consumption remains above-average while my coffee and alcohol consumption remains around zero.

I feel normal, and the distance from my previous-course life doesn’t feel far from here. It’s only when I carefully imagine that parallel universe that I notice the distance, and I marvel, “Wow, would I have moved back to Manhattan after my lease ended? Would I be collecting a ridiculous year end bonus? I never would have met X, who I’ve talked to every day this week!”

Getting used to it

It’s a cliche, but we can get used to anything, as long as we allow ourselves the luxury. “Getting used to anything” is vague; I’d describe it more specifically as a convenient forgetfulness that anything has even changed, or losing sight of the distance we’ve moved. It’s a little sad that some memories may get lost in these transitions, but I think it’s worthwhile – it allows us the strength to metamorphose.

(And we can always keep a blog to remind ourselves of how we used to be.)

 

Portland!

I’m happy to report that my first four days have been pleasant – my street smells like pine, and there’s been sunlight for two days in a row! I spent part of the weekend admiring creatively painted houses and buying adorable locally-sourced tiny things from stores with “supportland” cards (which was featured in comedians in cars getting coffee).

The house that I agreed to move into (after seeing 0 photos) is beautiful and green, and my roommates are great! They also have two dogs.

Kitten update – So I was requesting help on facebook to train Benny, the kitten that my roommates rescued a week ago (so nice to have cat-experienced friends, even if cats are overall weird), but unfortunately he’s been given away to a new family. The dogs were having a rough time getting along with him, so Benny’s now in a better home and I’ll be able to blog on the couch without holding a peacock feather to distract a cute but painful creature. I’m sorry he’s gone though – we had some cuddly sleepy moments together last night.

 

Thoughts on Moving

In the month or two leading up to this move, I’ve had a number of people comment that this move seemed like a risky and bold decision, since I have no job, no family, and no close friends here. I’m not sure if people actually believe this, or if it’s a statement originating from politeness (i.e. “that’s a bold move!” is nicer than “you’re crazy and you’re throwing away your career!”) or meant in the context of my outwardly risk-averse personality. Regardless, it’s been interesting to ponder, because this didn’t feel tremendously risky. I hope my reasons/conclusions could be helpful to other people like me considering relocations.

Money

Money is evil, it corrupts, and it doesn’t buy happiness, or so many of us debate. But undeniably, money buys things, and having necessary things frees up mental space. So having enough money and the expectation of earning enough money is important, because when you’re warm, healthy, and full of quinoa, everything’s easier – including moving and re-buying large but inexpensive items you decided to leave behind.

Having Stuff

It’s not completely about money, though – there are many high earners my age who don’t necessarily like their career path*, who wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving a stable career for a short-term educational program in preparation for a job that would pay significantly less (on face value at the start, anyway).

The financial feasibility of moving is clearly also a function of spending habits and dependence on having stuff. Keeping a low but sustainable standard of living lowers the risk of moving and feels great – it’s a wonderful comfort having a large gap between your baseline desires and what you could have.

For me, I’ve mostly accomplished this by living with roommates (which is also more entertaining and educational), keeping a reasonably short list of expensive items (I count ~5 items I own worth more than $300), and feeling naturally disinclined towards drinking, fine dining, and vacationing (which is slightly offset by a natural inclination towards hobbies).

Trusting People, Trusting Yourself

Having services like craigslist, airbnb, zipcar, etc. makes moving between cities so convenient, but it still requires trust – trust in other people and trust that the system will correct things if you encounter the wrong people. I’ve now found four successful room-share arrangements through craigslist, and currently I have full use of a borrowed mattress, a well-equipped kitchen, and beautiful living room furniture – just because I trust “random” people and they trust me.

Trust is also important in making new friends, i.e. believing that new friendships can be as meaningful and dependable as those from childhood. Sometimes my current friends are so good to me that I wonder how anyone outside of them could compare – but you have to trust that there are other people out there who can understand and accept you.

Ultimately, all of this relies on self-trust – belief that you can distinguish people who are trustworthy from people who aren’t. And more generally, this whole relocation is based on trust that I’ll figure out everything else too – like whether it’s weird to use an umbrella here and how to nicely tell people I don’t drink coffee.

 

*Aside – I’ve noticed that I often feel very defensive when people seem to assume that I hated my job in finance. I guess that’s normal since it was finance and I left, but I spent three years there because I liked it! I worked with great people, learned invaluable skills, and genuinely believed our work was more good than bad for the world.

As my time in Chicago ends (for real! I’ve shipped my bike to Portland!), I’ve been feeling a nostalgic longing to be in all of the places I’ve ever known. I want to be wading through a cornfield near the Susquehanna River, tripping over bricks on Locust Walk, admiring the Hudson from Riverside Park, and struggling to write blog posts at DBC Chicago, all at once, all the time.

Whenever I feel this way, I’m reminded of the Tralfamadorians from Slaughterhouse Five (yes, I used to be a huge Vonnegut fan, before I swore off dystopian fiction) – they’re an alien race that express puzzlement at the concept of time because they have complete awareness of all events in the past and future. It’s fascinating to try to apply this to a human life. We aren’t only who we are currently, but rather a collection of our past and possibly future experiences. Maybe we’re even a collection of experiences of everyone close to us, everyone we’ve met, everyone who exists.

I’m also reminded of how I’ve loved being able to see stars on the clear nights in this city. Stars are important, you know? Normally my thoughts are earthly and immediate, but noticing stars throws them farther – to the realization that we’re small in the universe, but we’re also part of something wonderful and much larger than we are. It’s a reminder that there’s beauty everywhere, even in (maybe especially in) darkness and calm, and that this spectacular view is accessible! To us! Merely by pausing and tilting our gaze upwards. How incredible is that? (How absurdly fortunate it is, that we have eyes, that we exist, and the universe exists too…)

It’s important to look often to things that are pure and inspiring, even when distractions are plentiful and there’s pressure to focus on the mundane present. It’s easy to stay wrapped in familiar things like work, relationships, buying things, eating, and forget that our reality is so much larger than what we can comprehend in any given day. But if we have the time to look outside ourselves, we’re able to measure our current struggles with perspective and envelop others in our reality.

Today’s been tough for me: I love it here and I’m devastated to be leaving, I still can’t get my nginx server running consistently (impostor syndrome, anyone? I’ll write about this once I’ve figured it out), and I can’t stand cleaning. I’m terrified to be moving, but I trust it’ll be okay: there are incredible things in my future (in all of our futures!) that the human parts of me don’t know yet.

To Chicago – thanks for the friends, the popcorn, the new beginning, the stars.

(My life isn’t really hard.)

Many people read and appreciated my last post on Dev Bootcamp, and I’m touched that friends and strangers judged something that I wrote to be useful. Just about everything I post here is almost not posted – when I click publish, I’m usually thinking “Ugh, this is not quite the high quality writing I want to present to the world… but I have other things to do, so I should get on with this clicking and the rest of my life.” I think it’s important to continuously express myself in published writing, but I constantly worry that my writing has typos, will offend someone, is boring, narcissistic, or otherwise adds to the useless noise of the internet. I expect many people feel this way, and I know the advice I would give to someone else with this problem would be that continuing to write and post despite the insecurities is the best way to become a more expressive, more relevant writer.

William Zinsser (the writer of “On Writing Well”) wrote a memorable essay on how he thought writing “wasn’t easy and wasn’t fun,” mentioning “it had never occurred to me that writing could be easy.” I’d highly recommend reading the essay – I first read it when I was 16, and it remains one of my favorites. As I gain more experience with working and learning, I’ve realized that most crafts are best approached as products of struggle rather than inspiration. To apply this going forward, I’m going to block out an hour each day to write something instead of blogging only when I think I have something good to say.

Next Steps/Leaps

Last week we attended career week at DBC, where we received solid advice on managing our online presence, researching companies, networking, and interviewing. Having an online presence is difficult! In some ways I miss the online presence I had in finance – basically as little as possible, lest someone might mistake my opinions for stock recommendations (by the way, nothing I write here is FINRA or SEC or whatever government organization-sanctioned stock advice!).

There are two major life decisions looming on the horizon.

  • When to get a job? I have savings and some project ideas, so I don’t feel financial pressure to get a job. There are two sides I’m trying to balance – on the one hand, I want freedom and time to complete my own projects, but on the other, I want assurance that what I’ve learned is economically relevant and that I’m in a supportive environment that provides external motivation to learn.
  • Where to go? Most of my [admittedly distracted and meager] job-finding/networking efforts have been directed at Portland. I’m pretty sure I want to move there, and I’m pretty sure I want to avoid the Chicago winter. But I also want to make sure it’s a good career move and that I’m not using the prospect of moving as an excuse to put off meeting people or applying for jobs here.

So if you have any advice on either of these decisions, let me know!

Writing Promises

There are two things I’d like to write about soon related to DBC and this programming industry. The first topic is networking and how it seems to be better/different in this industry, and the second is how to have the right type of confidence.

[Today’s writing was accomplished with the help of a timer and Iron and Wine’s “Around the Well.”]

What a crazy week!

Friday Finish

I just finished DevBootcamp on Friday, after a frightening bout of seriously freaking out before presenting final projects – I had approximately the third migraine I’ve ever had in my life (despite being reasonably well rested and feeling perfectly comfortable with our presentation), and I spent much of the morning prior to presentations curled up in the bathroom, staff room, and hallway worrying that I was about to throw up or pass out. Both things that terrify me. I just can’t thank everyone enough for getting me through that – my instructor, the rest of my group, the rest of my cohort – I hope that I’m generally a pretty reliable and easygoing person under most types of pressure, but I know that I completely fall apart whenever I’m sick.

Fortunately, I recovered partially by the time we were presenting, and all of the projects looked great! Then I took a nap after lunch and the migraine disappeared. What magic! So Friday was great, and I’ll probably write a little more about the entire experience later this week.

Saturday Drama

Saturday was another challenge. After three-ish years [mostly] together my significant other (I know it’s a ridiculous phrase, but as many of you know, I hate the term boyfriend) and I decided to part ways – me initially grudgingly but I know it’s the right decision. In the end I believe that couples should be firmly in love with each other, above just being supportive and comfortable with each other. Have comfort and support is important, undeniably, and I will miss that (he was also indispensable during my insanity Friday morning). I’m devastated, but I can feel grateful that I’ve become a better person from our time together. What more can I ask for?

Today and Beyond

Today I’ve been trying to stay busy and look forward to the future. I’m excited for a lot of things – practicing coding (looking at matasano crypto challenges in preparation for workshop Tuesday, sort of learning vim), skating tomorrow, learning how to play piano and sing again, considering where to move next (Austin? Portland?), catching up with friends I haven’t talked to in the past two months.

It sucks to not feel like a whole person, and I expect I’ll continue to feel a little lost over the next few weeks, with the combination of relationship and career flux. I’m going to do my best to keep working hard, trust that everything will be okay, and not inflict collateral damage. And I’ll keep watching Frasier and reading Dear Sugar in my dark moments, which I realize are not that dark anyway, relatively (although last night, there was a bug in my room that at some point crawled on my head! Eeek! I prevailed eventually over the bug, but that was literally a dark moment).

“The useless days will add up to something”

Well, it’s been a long week here at DBC. We learned rails over the weekend (not to mention I put up this blog – still proud of that!) and started a 5-day group project on Wednesday. My group is working on a rommate expense-sharing application modeled off my spreadsheet from back when I tracked expenses for the townhouse on the Upper West Side. It’s been wonderful working on something that could have real applications rather than toy projects – at some point I will write about how I feel about creating games while learning programming.

The roommate application fits under the umbrella of “things that could be good for the world” because I believe increased communal living among adults and nuclear families could be a wonderful thing for western society. Many people suffer from loneliness that partially results from not having a nuclear family or from being isolated to only their nuclear family on a daily basis, which could be alleviated if people belonged to larger, loosely affiliated groups that share spaces and responsibilities. My dream is to someday convince a bunch of my friends to take over a group of adjacent residences and raise children together as a group, cook and eat dinners as a group, etc. It could be highly efficient and beneficial to overall mental health.

I’ve been putting off giving a lightning talk on some sort of technical topic, which is required of us this week or next. I dislike the idea of looking into something purely to explain it to a group, so I’m sort of hoping that I naturally find the inclination to look into something this weekend. The things I’ve been thinking about throughout this program – natural language processing, statistics, image processing – perhaps one of those.

Other things on my mind – Chicago is a little warmer this week, had a beautiful moment of clarity in a sit spin attempt this morning (otherwise very wobbly on ice), and very hungry. Wondering how I’m perceived by my peers here, wondering whether we will keep in touch after the program.