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.
Life

via GIPHY

During my last post I was so busy pondering my summer/fall hermitage that I forgot that it was my 2 year code-a-versary. And today marks exactly a year since I quit my agency job to study web dev full-time! Time flies!

I already covered most of my personal growth in my previous post, but now I can check another thing off the bucket list – I scored my first software development job!

Career change?? CHECK.

I’ll be starting on the 14th, right after I get back from RubyConf. I’m pretty nervous about the transition, but at the same time incredibly relieved and excited. I honestly didn’t know how long it was going to take me to find a dev job, let alone the right fit, and this job and company are pretty ideal for my professional goal of growing as a developer.

So, what will the next year hold? I don’t know, but I’m pretty sure that things won’t slow down.

Life

Last week I visited a friend for lunch. As we were catching up, I apologized for not being more available. I’ve been a hermit this summer/fall. To be honest, I hadn’t been out and about because I’ve felt embarrassed that I wasn’t where I wanted to be professionally by a certain timetable. For some reason I was determined not to show my face again until “X” happened, and I would have some sort of good news to share. In the past it was “I’m not seeing anybody until I finish my program.” Now it’s “I’m not coming out until I get a job.”

My friend said that that was silly because why would my friends care? Friends are there to support you. I don’t know, I felt ashamed, and shame is a strange motivator.

This feeling applies to blogging as well. I’ve been reticent to blog about what’s going on in my life because I’d like to have positive news to share. All I’ve been about is coding, and hey, I have an entire other blog for that.

At any rate, here’s an update on my life.  I finished my program at the end of July. Sweet relief poured over me for about a day, then it was on to the grind of finding a job. Given my freshness, I just didn’t feel “ready” to start applying for jobs. So I set up coffee meetings and studied up on algorithms and data structures. After about 3 weeks I started applying.

I’ve been job hunting for about two months now, and it’s been a trip for sure. At the beginning I was anxious and afraid that no one would take me seriously. I just didn’t know what to expect. I was cautious about taking that first step – applying to a job, or contacting someone cold on LinkedIn or via email, or approaching people at meetups. Now, several months in (and one month-long intensive technical interviewing course later…), I have forced myself through so many uncomfortable situations that I had no choice but to grow.

I’ve gotten over approaching people, both at meetups and online. Meetups are still hit or miss, but I go to several per week, and I’m starting to recognize people, which makes me more inclined to go. People have generally been very friendly, and the few times when it has been awkward I just ate the free pizza and left.

As for contacting people online, I’ve tried to get away from the feeling that I was “bothering” somebody. What else is LinkedIn for besides the professional game? If people didn’t want me to contact them, why would they put their contact information online? HMMMM?

I can’t say that I’ve gotten over my nervousness during interviews (whether it’s phone, tech screen, or onsite), but I can say that I’ve let go of the emotional baggage that comes with the process, including rejection. Being rejected doesn’t mean that you’re not a good developer. It may mean that you had a bad day, or you didn’t study enough on a particular topic, or maybe you didn’t build good rapport with the interviewer. Or on their end… maybe they had already decided to hire someone internally, maybe they lost funding, maybe they’re looking for someone with slightly different skills. I’m trying my best to move fast and embrace rejection.

One thing that has helped is keeping detailed notes about each interview, usually noting specific questions asked, thoughts about my performance, and opportunities to improve. For the coding challenges that ask me to spend 1 – 3 hours of my time, I’ve tried to spin it into at the very least a post for my coding blog. And if I’ve had a positive interaction with an interviewer even if they rejected me, I’ll still ask to connect on LinkedIn. I like to think of my LI network as a blob that is slowly engulfing San Francisco.

Besides job hunting, the other major thing that I’ve had going on has been dogsitting. I have an account on DogVacay, and since May or June, I’ve had the privilege of being paid to care for dogs. While it is work, the puppy therapy has been wonderful for my mood and general health (so… much… walking). Surprisingly I’ve gotten enough “regulars” that I don’t advertise anymore.

I mean look at these guys. So adorable. <3

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Other things coming up… Right now is one of my favorite times of year. I’m loving the autumn chill, crunchy leaves and the pumpkin spice (although Trader Joe’s kind of went overboard). No Halloween plans yet, but I would like to get the boredom scared out of me. In November I’m going to Cincinnati for a Ruby Conference.  Then it’s my birthday, and then it’s the holidays, then it’s 2017. Damn!!