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Having my roommates move out a few months ago was a surprisingly emotional experience, but one bright spot of the transition was that Ryan and I got the perfect chance to redecorate.

I’ve lived with other people’s ragtag furniture for eight years, maybe more. There was never a good time to redecorate, even when I became the master tenant. My roommates taped up old maps, strung up Christmas lights, and there was a leftover super heavy and hideous couch. There was also a large bookcase/entertainment center thing. It was very college dormroom.

I have an aversion to spending big money on furniture, it makes me antsy just thinking about how I’ll get rid of it in the future. I also thought that I was going to be moving, so there was no point. One time about a year and a half ago, Ryan and I tried to redecorate the living room. One of the roommates seemed unusually upset by the idea of change, so we put it off.

But shifting to new roommates meant a fresh start. Ryan especially wanted to throw everything out and redecorate from scratch.

BEFORE


AFTER

After getting the carpets power washed and having a wonderful man named Jesus drag the couch and bookcase to the dump, we had a blank slate.

I’m not sure why, but I was stuck on the idea of an orange living room. Ryan was really stuck on mid-century modern. We both got our way. We’re still thinking about art for the wall above the couch, but for the most part, I think it’s come together. I’m  glad we went with the orange, instead of chickening out and going with a blue or a green (which also would have been lovely, but a much different vibe). It’s so punchy, and has such warmth no matter what time of day.

The couch and rubber plant came from shops in the neighborhood, but everything else we found online (Wayfair, Amazon, AllModern).

Including these ridiculous ‘Mongolian Fur pillows.’ They arrived wild and free like the pillow on the left, but after a little brushing (with Ryan’s beard brush), the pillow looked soft as an angora bunny : D.

Anyways, that’s it! I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Travel

Mid-Summer

With as rarely as I’m posting these days, maybe my blog post titles should just be the seasons. Umm.. let’s see, what have I been up to. I visited my mom in Los Angeles. This was my first time flying in to Bob Hope airport in Burbank, and wow! It was such a nice experience. Way better than the stress of LAX. Would fly again.

LOS ANGELES

Last time when I saw my mom at Christmas we went and saw La La Land. Not gonna lie, was heavily influenced by the movie to go visit Griffith Park & Observatory. It was quite lovely trekking through the park and then making it to the observatory on the top of the hill. Our timing was perfect, and we arrived just in time for the planetarium show, which made me nauseous.  So realistic!

Want

The next day we checked out the botanical gardens, where the main draw was the garden’s resident peacocks. I figured that it would be nice to see one or two, but they were everywhere when we walked in. In the first ten minutes we even stumbled upon a peacock in full glory.

Seeing a peacock at 100% meant that we had to take photos with the peacock. I’ve never done this before, and to be honest, I found it a little scary. The peacock was vibrating furiously, chasing after peahens, and making lots of mating calls. EEK! Even when we passed the main peacock dating hub, and were on the very outskirts of the park, we never stopped hearing their mating calls.

It was father’s day, and my aunt wanted to have a big lunch. Of course, everyone was already off doing holiday lunches with their fathers, so instead I celebrated with my mom, aunt, and grandma, all of us father-less. It didn’t make me sad, it was just an observation at the time, but later I found myself thinking about the differences in how we all processed the fact of this loss.

An insane line around 3 blocks for… donut ice cream sandwiches?
Pastry pit stop @ 85 Below, a Taiwanese bakery chain
There were all sorts of whack mayo/corn/squid ink pastries, but I was curious about the coffee. The house coffee was a sweetened milky americano.

All in all a successful trip.

What else? There was Pride. I ran for a bit in the Trans march since I was out and about right when it started, but I haven’t participated in Pride in years, really. It’s always a hot drunken mess.

DOGSITTING

It’s summer, so dogsitting is ramping up. I’ve got about a grand worth of work coming up in the next few weeks, which means I’ll be busy! I took care of two BIG dogs, but they were just the sweetest and laziest dogs ever, so no troubles there.

Cuddlebugs

READING

The service I use to check out e-books and audiobooks from the library (Overdrive) just released a new app called Libby that makes it much easier to check out & read/listen to books, and I’ve been loving it. Previously I would log in to Overdrive on my computer, download the books through Amazon, then send to my phone, and for the audiobooks, that was super tricky getting them to the phone and in the right format. I’m currently reading a biography of William Tecumseh Sherman, Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking, China Rich Girlfriend, and listening to audiobooks of  Furiously Happy, The Price of Salt & James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time.

APARTMENT

Things have been super stressful at the apartment with multiple roommates moving in/out. It’s been utter uncertainty, chaos and drama for about a month, and that was starting to wear on me. I found myself feeling very sad about all the changes, even though I knew that everyone was doing what was best for themselves, and that we have to change to evolve. I dunno, you live 4 years, 6 years with a person and you will feel something when they leave.

NEW JERSEY

With all that was going on at home, I was looking forward to visiting NJ for a wedding. I was a bit confused about what to pack since we were staying on the Jersey Shore in a little beach town, but the event was at a Yacht Club and ‘black tie optional.’ Also I had checked the weather, and it was high 80s, alternating between cloudy and storms. Um… Not great beach weather.

Once we had settled in to our crappy beach hotel, Ryan said he needed a tie, and the closest real shopping options were outlets in Atlantic City, about a half hour away. I was tired, but we weren’t doing anything else, so I went to AC. It wasn’t particularly bustling on a Friday afternoon.

There is a Western themed hotel. Not a bad idea, but the props were pretty janky
There were the Atlantic City version of tuk-tuk drivers… You sit in a bench and they walk behind you, pushing you down the boardwalk. It looks very strange. Like a couch just drifting down the road.

Amid the fake … everything, I found a little bit of reality. Back in the day the beach was segregated, and Chicken Bone Beach was the tiny strip of the boardwalk/beach for black folks. It was called that by the whites because supposedly people were leaving behind their chicken bones in the sand. At first I was aghast at the naming, but it turns out that the local community is trying to reclaim the name. From the Wikipedia page, it sounds like this was a pretty hopping strip, with all sorts of community events and celebrity sightings.

Right as we were finishing up our shopping, a flash rainstorm hit and we were drenched. We ran to an Old Navy to wait it out, but it just didn’t quit. So for the whole ride back we were soggy and grumpy. Oh, also I was terrified because it was really hard to see driving in the storm. Ryan was calm about it, but how can you be calm when you can’t freaking see?

Walking the main drag, looking for pancakes
Hydrangeas were everywhere.
Small town, big breakfasts!
Ryan breaks his 8 month sobriety just for a night. It was a beautiful wedding, but I felt a little out of place since nearly everyone at the event was either family or had known  each other since middle school. Middle school???
8am beach bums

I got lucky with decent weather the last 2 days of the trip and that meant some quality beach time. On the last day I got up early and slightly hungover just so I could go swimming one more time. Later that day we made it out to see Ryan’s parents, and then it was off to the airport hotel to veg and watch Game of Thrones.

Obligatory beach selfie

Well, that’s most of what I’ve been up to. And back to the housing situation – three weeks into new roommates, and everyone is still not all moved in. There’s quite a bit of redecorating going on, so the house is going to be chaos for a bit longer, I guess.

Life, Travel

Spring

Last month I hit up the Codeland conference in New York. Codeland was a completely new conference run by the folks behind the CodeNewbie podcast, and I had decided to attend on a bit of a whim (you know this is starting to be a theme with me and conferences, I should really put some more thought into this). At the time when I booked everything I was feeling a bit bedraggled, and the thought of getting out of town, even for a conference, sounded good to me.

Coffee believes in me!
Battle of the bootcamps – Pros and cons of bootcamps, or… are bootcamps a scam?

It turned out to be a good choice. The conference had some really strong content, and an amazing vibe of acceptance and inclusion (it was woke as fuck, as I said in my coding blog). It’s strange. How do you create an atmosphere like that? One thing that they did do was offer tons of scholarships. I think there were 50+ programmers there for free.  It was a conference focused on new programmers, so that might have checked some  egos at the door. It was also a single track conference, which was new to me. I was stuck in the same room with a couple hundred other people 9-5 for 2 days. We should have gone insane, but we didn’t. The Bollywood dancing helped. Oh! I also ran into a few folks from my bootcamp that I recognized from their Github profiles. Great to meet people in real life.

We’re BFFs – Best Food Friends <3

I got to stay with my friend Michelle and even though we didn’t do too much, I somehow ate SO MUCH FOOD. Food bloggers, sheesh. Feeling like I should be social, I also set up a few happy hours and met up with some other friends, new and old. It was exhausting to fit that in around the conference, but the right thing to do.

Cherry blossoms @ Brooklyn Botanical Gardens === selfie time. Peep the fashion blogger in the middle. She was standing stone still while her photographer (boyfriend??) clicked away. So awkward in real life.
3 people, 3 pizzas, duh.
Taking my friend Natalie’s dog to the park for some beginner puppy training. Informative for everyone, and the pup pooped outside for the first time ever!!!

One thing that surprised me was that while I was there, I had absolutely no urge to live in NYC. Everything just felt like so much effort/so far away, and I was in Times Square for the conference, which probably was the worst possible place to be.

I also had terrible public transit luck, getting stuck on the subway during a massive power outage on my way to day one of the conference. I was stuck for a half hour, missing the first few talks. Others weren’t so lucky, and sat in dark trains for an hour or more. Then on my way out to the airport the AirTrain was busted. The unmarked shuttle bus was packed with unhappy people, and whenever we stopped at a terminal, people waiting to get on couldn’t because tourists did not want to get off or move in away from the bag rack to let others on. One lady who I guess was really late for her flight begged for people to move back to make space, but nobody moved. She became angry, and yelled at us as we puttered away. Sitting next to me was a very dapper gentleman rage posting on Facebook about the incompetence of the MTA(“This is sooo New York”). Once I got to JFK, my flight was delayed an hour. Then 2 hours. Then 3 hours. I later learned that SFO was doing some pre-scheduled maintenance of the runways, going from 5 runways to 1*. WTH. It was chaos, and flights to SFO were getting pushed back and cancelled. I didn’t get in until 2am, and had to pony up forty bucks for a cab home, which normally I would bitch about, but really I was just so relieved to be home and done traveling. What a mess!

* For 9 weekends April to June there is maintenance. It’s still a shitshow, I learned as Ryan’s flight the other day was delayed terribly just like mine. This is just going to continue, so why can’t they just reroute flights to Oakland? It’s better than a 3-6 hr flight delay/cancellation every weekend.

Drowning my transit sorrows in Shake Shack. And then there were like  3 more hours to fill.
2 am, time to find a cab

Speaking of homes, I’ve made more progress in the process of applying for a Below Market Rate apartment.  I finished my apprenticeship in April and got hired on full time as a software developer, just barely making the max income cutoff. With my income looking steadier, I was finally ready for my one on one counseling session to go over my goals and budget for househunting. The housing counselor was initially kind of hostile and challenging toward me. He was giving me shit about my proof of income, then he really wanted me to tell him about Yale, and how pretentious my classmates were, but I wasn’t biting, and hello college was forever ago man. Eventually he softened up, and by the end he was encouraging, saying that I was in a good place to buy (good income, no debt, etc.). He approved me, pushing me on to the next step. I just need to get pre-approved for a loan, and then I can start applying.

I feel a little anxiety about going to the next step, and it’s for a silly reason. I have to pick a person from the suggested list of providers, and then call and schedule an appointment. Then I have to gather all my paperwork and go there, and go over the numbers all over again. I’ve got inertia, and it’s because I don’t want to make a phone call and go to a bank to do more paperwork. Isn’t that stupid? Why can’t I just do this online, I said to myself. But no. PHONE. HOOMAN INTERACTION. I think the internet is making me socially stunted.

I still waver between “meh” and “no” on the whole buying an apartment thing, but  even if I don’t continue, it felt really good to run the numbers with an objective third party and hear that if I wanted to, I could buy an (below market rate…) apartment by myself. These scenarios involve tapping my retirement or borrowing $ for a down payment, but let’s just ignore that and say I’ve made it! Woot!

Life

January and February weren’t so hot for me. It rained nonstop, and I fell into a bit of a funk. I was tired all the time, overworking myself, and feeling disconnected from others. No bueno.  Here’s a blog post from February that I found sitting in my drafts:


In January there was a mini film fest at my local theater celebrating the work of the Spanish director Pedro Almodovar. About a week later there was also the annual David Bowie dance party at a club in my neighborhood. Bowie and Almodovar are both incredibly glamorous and dramatic artists, and most of their work revolves around sex, drugs and rock and roll. At the time I found myself longing for a bit of glamour and art in my life. Instead, all I got was druggie drama.

I think that my tweaker burnout upstairs neighbors must have made the same New Year’s resolution as I did – be more social.  Multiple times a week they stay up high all night playing dominos, golf (?????), drinking, and who knows, probably doing woodwork. Their hangouts mirror my desired sleep schedule, starting at 10pm and raging til 7 am. Sometimes they go on even longer into the day, making it who knows how long, 18+ hrs of partying. As I’m writing right now, it’s been about 14 hours of this bullshit.

Where am I going with this? I guess I haven’t felt rested in a long time.  Every  day I say some variation of  “I’m tired.” I feel stuck. I don’t want to do anything or go anywhere. I just want to sleep all the time. It’s been raining all day, every day  for months. Life seems dirty and grimy. Yesterday I was commuting to work… lately it’s been incredibly crowded because of the rain, so we were marching together like grumpy wet cattle, and as I looked down at the steps as I climbed the stairwell, I saw a GIANT naaaaasty pile of human shit. I found myself thinking “Oh no! I should warn this guy in front of me!”, but nothing came out of my mouth, not even “Holy crap!”, which would have been a great pun… Thankfully he didn’t step in it, but then for the rest of the day I just felt incredibly guilty that I couldn’t even warn somebody about shit. And I know that is absurd.

How does one break out of this jaded  and useless “I’m tired” cycle? I don’t know. Waiting for this one to pass.


Ooooooof. It’s April now, and I’m feeling better. I tried to figure out what exactly I did to break out of it, and I’m not sure. To be honest, it stopped raining everyday, and that made a huge difference. I’m biking to work most days now, and I’m back to running regularly. The exercise really helps my emotions, which makes me feel like such an animal.  I got a little bit better at my job and as a result I don’t feel like I have to take my work home all the time to “catch up.” I’ve been trying to reach out to friends more, but that’s a mixed bag. There was a point in Feb when I was getting rescheduled/cancelled on multiple times in a row. That’s life, but it was still hard not to take it personally.

You know, it’s kind of terrifying that something as simple as the weather could fuck with my head so much. I can’t control the rain, but I can plan things to look forward to. I’ve got dogsitting gigs booked out until June, and I have a few trips that I need to plan, including a trip to NYC in a few weeks.

Ummm… what else is going on…

  • I’m still obsessed with the Fat Guy (not) cycling across America, and have started watching pirated episodes of My 600 lb Life on YouTube. Don’t ask me why. I don’t know why.
  • In March my mom’s laptop screen died. After a week of back and forth texts and calls, trying to diagnose the issue of 3 different and very much broken computers over the phone, I decided to just buy her a  new Chromebook. Looked at Amazon, watched a few videos, and ten minutes later, click, new computer on the way, done. At $80 to diagnose/fix the old Chromebook, a new computer at $200 seemed like a no-brainer. It felt really good being able to throw some money at a problem without worrying at all about the cash.
  • I helped my unemployed roommate get some part time work at my company, and I feel good about that too. The whole process has been completely different than working at a larger company. It’s much more casual and nebulous. For example, there was never, and probably will never be an official job description for the contract work she’ll be doing. At my previous company there would have been so much red tape. It’s really interesting. +1 for small companies.
  • Ryan and I are going through the steps to enter San Francisco’s BMR housing lottery (mandatory workshops, counseling, looking into loans, etc.), but I don’t feel too attached to the idea. Actually, if you know me, I loathe the idea of home ownership. But hey, it’s something to do with my time. As Ryan says, at the very least I’ll have something to talk to my mom about.
Life

 

It’s the last day of the year! 2016 was okay for me. Mostly it was all about keeping my head down and working hard. Things finally paid off near the end of the year, and I breathed a little sigh of relief before I got back to the grind. It seems like it was a harder year for the people around me. I saw friends and family go through a few really tough transitions – moves, lost jobs, illnesses, divorces… And even if your personal life was fine, just on a global scale 2016 was a dumpster fire of a year, which is depressing.

I did meet my modest goals from last year:

  • Finish my program and find a job (aka the BIG goal) – Check. I finished Flatiron oh only about THREE months after my “worst case scenario” due date for finishing. I took a month off to study for interviews, then went full throttle through two months of interviewing to score my first programming gig. Things didn’t go down at all like how I’d hoped or imagined, but I’m pleased with the final outcome.  I like my new job a lot, and I feel really lucky that I get to code all day long with nice people. So yay, career change.
  • Network with the San Francisco dev community – Check! In January I met other Bay Area folks in my program, and they’ve been a great support group throughout the year. We had a few happy hours, study groups and even went down to Netflix to watch a documentary about computer science and minorities. Oh, and we went to our first hackathon as well. We got nothing accomplished, but it was so much fun. I also attended 2 conferences this year: ForwardJS in SF, and RubyConf in Cincinnati.
  • I also eased my way into the programming meetup scene. Favorite events: Women Who Code’s Beyond the Basics nights, FreeCodeCamp’s weekly study group, Code for San Francisco’s Weekly Hack Night. I went to so many events that I finally started recognizing people!
TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon with my Learn buds
TechCrunch Disrupt Hackathon with my Learn buds
  • Redecorate apartment – Check! There were lots of little changes here and there, but most notably we totally redid the little room, making it into a study and guest room.

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  • Maintain and grow close relationships. – The new guest room got a fair bit of use. My mom visited several times, my cousin came for a weekend, Ryan’s brother stayed with us, and a few other friends and family members stayed as well.  I mentioned in one of my last posts that I was a major hermit for the summer and fall. That’s not great, and I can’t say I’ve been way better since starting a new job, but I’ve been trying to keep in touch with friends online at least.
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House of Prime Rib. The smallest person gets the most meat.
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My aunt Charlene was Woman of the Year!
  • Stop looking like crap – The jury is still out on this one. My company is very casual, so I don’t have much of an incentive to look nicer than normal. I’ve been having  a lot of luck with ThredUp, so at least I’m not spending much money while I try to figure out a new style.

2017 Goals

Given all the crazy sad shit happening in the world, this sounds selfish… but in 2017 I’d like to focus on self care.

  • Read daily – I renewed my subscriptions to The New Yorker and The Economist, and I’ve figured out how to listen to audiobooks from the library.
  • Drink tea daily – I am not sure how, why or when I stopped regularly drinking tea, but I’ve rebuilt my tea stash, and now I’m back in the game. TEA LIFE.
  • Do yoga daily in the morning
  • Drop some big $$$ on dope skincare – Yep, it’s finally time to upgrade to the good stuff. Serums! Retinol! Hydroquinone! Let’s do it!
  • Visit friends and family. Be more in touch.
  • Travel – Beyond seeing friends and family, I’m interested in Scotland, Cuba, Nepal, and oh yeah, going on a cruise, preferably one of those old people cruises they advertise on NPR.
  • Work – Keep learning and working hard to be a decent software developer. Be a thoughtful coworker. Hit up 2 programming conferences. Continue going to meetups.