This is my third attempt to write this.
Alright, it’s been a month. (Or it was on Wednesday.)
I’ve got a knot in my shoulder from carrying my laptop everyday. The IT band on my right leg is tight from so much walking. I’ve gone through three bottles of sunblock.
I remain charmingly pale. I’m losing weight and my legs are looking just a bit more shapely. And that laptop?
You guys. I’ve already learned so much.
So yesterday I connected my server, which was generously sold to me (rented?) by Digital Ocean for the handsome price of $5/month, and which is housed in a warehouse (or wherever) somewhere in San Francisco (or thereabouts) to my laptop, which was sitting on the desk in front of me.
But I was suspicious of whether it worked (after all, they were both happening on my screen) so my friend Peter, who lives in Waterloo, Ontario, tried, and we chatted over the most primitive chat possible, our words interrupting each other and overlapping. This too was a lesson in how sockets work.
Then I set up a slightly more sophisticated (?) server that said hello and told you the time when you connected to it. Reports of success came back to me about that too (via Slack – don’t use
nc for chat, kids).
I really like servers.
I saved for months to come here. I quit my job. I won’t hold my sons’ hands for three months. I will return to San Francisco unemployed and inexperienced and basically hoping for a miracle.
But oh man, the opportunity to computer, exclusively, for three months. I haven’t even done all the tourist-y things I said I’d do, and I sort of don’t even care. Every day I am learning, and that’s so much more interesting than wherever the Empire State Building is.
Before my flight to New York I stayed up the entire night anxiously packing and setting things right in my little San Francisco apartment. A friend kindly kept me company until I had to leave for the airport. I have this clear memory of being frozen at the door, at 4 am, as I left and him asking, “How much are you freaking out right now?” His voice was steady; I was not. He gave me a hug.
My first days were stressful. New environments and new people overstimulate and exhaust me, then there was the challenge of starting at Recurse Center, the pressure to Have Something To Show For Myself, and the agonizing homesickness. After my first day at Recurse I got lost trying to find the right subway entrance. As my disorientation grew, a friend back in SF messaged me; “I miss you” was all the push notification said. I stood on Canal Street and cried.
Sometimes shit is hard.
At RC, you can go down a rabbit hole and it’s literally the best thing because there are people there to show you around every bend. Or you can go it alone, that’s cool too, but if you get lost it’s still fine because, again, there’s always someone there to help you out.
My rabbit hole looked something like “I want to write a server!” -> “Wait. Oh. Huh? What is … what?” -> “Ok, sockets!” -> “What do you mean a socket is a file?” -> “ok nerds, wtf is a file” -> “how do computers even” -> “let’s convert decimals to binary!” -> “so that’s what a byte is!” -> “huh? pointers?” -> “I guess I’ll learn C?”
I got bored with C and climbed back up to sockets. But it seems some folks are still waiting for me to decide to do Nand to Tetris. (I mean, probably not. There just isn’t time.)
About ~2 weeks ago things magically got better. I don’t know if it was because a couple of SF friends bought their plane tickets to visit me, or if it was because I started making RC friends, or if it was because I found that server-shaped rabbit hole, or I don’t know, maybe it was just I got my period and my hormone levels returned to whatever.
In any case, I’ve been a lot happier since then.
This has been a pretty emo post to just put out there on the internet, but that’s ok because I’m a little emo. (Iiiiii am composed entirely of water and feelings.)
In my past life I was a psychologist, so I tend to be Pretty OK with feelings, especially hard ones, and sometimes when I have them I take them out and examine them a bit. Oftentimes I find poetry makes this easier. Poetry is like normal thoughts set to music (but without all the extra emotional content that actual music tends to provoke, and oh man, that’s another conversation entirely), so if you know that, you can use it as a framework for identifying and processing capital-F Feelings. Or at least I can. YMMV.
I was walking uptown on Broadway, near maybe City Hall, a couple weeks ago and trying to remember Shakespeare’s Sonnet 43, which ends:
All days are nights to see til I see thee
And nights bright days when dreams do show thee me.
At this point both New York and computers have got some context around them. I have a mental model of each with connecting nodes instead of just free-floating ideas out here that make no sense (you can’t see but I’m waving my arms around to suggesting the degree of nonsense – there’s … a lot of waving).
But but but, I still miss home. I wake up every morning and think of how many days I’ve got left (50!).
I miss my kids. My 9-year-old’s backpack was stolen from the playground the other day, and – I cannot emphasize this enough – I wasn’t there. I had to hear about it, after the fact, hours later, over FaceTime.
Literally nothing makes a stolen backpack better but a hug and cuddles. The thing I cannot do.
So yeah, this New York adventure better be worth it. A job that pays actual money so I can afford a bigger apartment and finally, finally, finally for the first time in 3 years give my children a home.
I miss my friends. All my friends – former coworker friends, grad school friends, friends I have because I used to date them or I used to date their friend. I know lots of people, it feels like. I talk to some combination of them every day, but for some of them too, things are hard lately in ways where the only solution is to sit quietly and very literally be there. This is the thing I cannot do.
I have said this before to people, but I’m pretty sure all I want in life is to take care of the people I love. I am doing my best from 3000 miles away, but it is challenging and frustrating.
Before I end, can I just, just for a minute? It’s my dumb blog, I can do whatever I want. I need to tell you about some of my friends for just a minute, the ones who typey-typey.
So. They are a pretty remarkable collection of people. They taught me to program in the first place, and they’ve kept it up, even though I’m no longer bouncing around the office asking for help. And sometimes, like yesterday for example, I had a question about sockets, and I got a lesson in IP and TCP that kindof blew my mind and also helped sharpen my mental model of “how do computers even.” But the thing I like best about these folks is how willing they are to explain things to me and how excited they get. Sometimes they are grumpy computer grumps who grump along grumpily, and I like them then too (I really like grumps), but oh man, they are wonderful and beautiful creatures when they get excited about computers. It’s like, when people get excited about something, they light up, and that light necessarily shines onto you, and then you too get to see things better.
People should always talk about what makes them excited, is what I’m trying to say.
I got nothing else, and I’ve got to get to work. Just 50 days to go. <3