Journal

Personal Documentation

It’s scary how important factual and accurate documents are to a country’s national history. Here in America, where I live, our historical documents (e.g. The Constitution, Bill of Rights, Letters from an American Farmer) lay not only the groundwork for our nation but hold the conversations, actions, and thought processes of generations before my own. Yesterday, Richardson1 mentioned that Trump supporters submited false election certificates to the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), actually affixing the state seals of Michigan and Arizona to the papers (I won’t mention how ridiculous this attempt at subverting our democratic process was).

Hard

I’m about 10,000 words into my first full draft. I’m pulling scenes from previous drafts—can you call it a draft if you haven’t completed it yet? I’m roughly on track to finish the first draft by the end of the year. Of this, I am proud. But it’s hard, right? I work a full-time job—one I just started. Roughly, I work around nine hours a day. Nine hours of mostly meetings, mostly sitting in front of this screen at this desk, being on since I’m a manager.

Word Count & Mediocrity

Let’s talk word count. There are quite a few rules around word counts, speficially around genres. I’m working on a historical novel, which puts me in the camp of science fiction and fantasy, although it shouldn’t be as long. In the various searches I’ve done, I see a good length for historical novels are in the realm of 100,000 words to 150,000 words. Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See comes in at 147,900 words (probably one of my favorite books).

Pandemic Change

This morning, I read in Saturday’s Washington Post Lifestyle section that although the pandemic won’t make us nicer people, it may change us1. And that article linked to a New York Times opinion piece2 about being a different person after the pandemic by making a concerted effort to do so. It’s a nice sentiment: using a world event to spur internal soul searching and metamorphosis. I am a believer in all things changing.

Irish Whiskey

Irish whiskey runs through these canals, the many waterways that power my arms and legs and heart and the two eyes that watch these words fallow out of a chaotic mouth, purple lips in front of my violent tongue. Lowball glass, cool amber puddle masks the explosions that are on fire on my teeth. I have the slow slumber of unbucolic pastures. My thoughts are the mine field of an erupting volcano—the cool crust of a recent explosion, hot magma veins oozing mucus of bad blood.

Procrastination

It’s Saturday morning. I’ve got my coffee, the cold winter sun slanting at a sharp angle on my backyard, stark trees and their thin shadows lay cartographic lines across the grass. Every couple of minutes I look at my coffee cup, take a sip, think about getting up to get a refill, look over to my headphones and think music would be good if I want to write, think about getting up to refill my coffee and pick up my headphones, ponder what music would be good, look outside again, scratch my arm, uncross and recross my legs, sniffle, look out the window, ponder what’s going on with my life, drift away into thoughts about a special someone, about how this woman can’t get her shit together and I am left in limbo constantly, think about how I should put myself first, think about how my heart feels, realizing I can’t quit her just yet, think about what her mother has to do today—put her dog down—think about my own dog that died a year and a half ago, get sad, sniffle, look out at the yard, remember that I’m going on an easy hike with a friend at 2, damn this virus and this pandemic, think about how lonely it has been, think about how lonely so many people have been, look at my coffee cup, take a sip, stretch, rise out of the chair, fill the coffee cup, stare out at the front yard, wonder how cold it is outside, walk back to the office, pick up the headphones, spend five minutes looking for a decent playlist, look outside at the backyard, sip my coffee, sigh.

The Year That Never Was

What if we just forget the world ever happened this year? What if we eschew the personal hells we endured, together yet separate? What if we think about the year 2020 in much the same way we view the thirteenth floor of a building? Technically both 2020 and thirteenth floors exist but we don’t acknowledge their reality. What happens if we just let 2020 lie there, unresponsive as a cadaver, and move on to the new year?

Forty-two

When I was a teenager, I would lie in the middle of the street late at night. The roads barely lit at the top of Wawecus Hill, the curve a dangerous liaison that licked at my delicate heart. I’d lower my body to the ground, the hard asphalt biting into my young legs, my breath coming fast. Spreading out my fingers, I would secretly wish for a car to come along and the will to stay put.

Homecoming

The new view from the home office. The rain is slow and drizzly. I can hear it falling on the leaves just outside my open windows. Other than the occassional bird chirp and the small clack of sound my keyboard makes as I write these words, the rain is the only sound I hear. In my kitchen, I’ve got a pot of coffee and, for the most part, everything is put away.

Changing Spots

One of my many nightly walks in New York City. This is Times Square. Three weeks ago, I took a train into New York City. Walking out of Penn Station, into the warm, late Summer air, my life felt like not my own. I found the PATH station on 23rd, walked down the steps, and saw a man squatting on the landing, pants around his ankles, a pile of human excrement beneath him.

On Change and Death

My sweet, little, old man passed away. I am bereft. Pugsy died a little over three weeks ago today. Those first few weeks, I was bereft and sad and lost. Now, I can at least hold an image of him in my head without immediately bursting into tears but if it’s longer than a moment, the tears start to crawl out of my eyes, escaping into the world, shouting their sadness.

Able Bodied Takes A Vacation

Two o’clock in the morning, I’m awake with a back that is convulsing with pain like a man on death row being electrocuted. This largely stems from the fact that I have spent a big chunk of the last thirty-six hours laid up on my roommate’s couch, on my ass, and sleeping in a most unnatural position. I broke my ankle on Saturday and the cause of which—falling down the stairs—seems to be synomynous with aging.

The Writing Process

Coffee, first and foremost, coffee. Writing happens in the early part of the day, before the monotony of daily life and the daily grind and the daily ritual of getting ready for that life and grind begins. Writing doesn’t begin, though, until after cleaning the dog bed used by an incontinent pug and making sure he has his cough pill, his water, his food that he will whine about for an hour until I start hand-feeding him.

Nicole and Her Horrible, Very Bad, No Good Fear

Sunrise over Watertown, Massachusetts I’m not often a person that is scared of new things. I will say yes to something new, at least once, and give it the ol' college try. Sure, I have some nerves going into anything new. First night of class at Harvard and I was a bit anxious (a solid B grade, by the way). Going to a tech conference on my own? Of course I’ll make friends.

Arch Linux & Difficulty

A few months ago, I bought a new Lenovo X1 Carbon. The machine is a dream: lightweight, fast, beautiful display, Windows the fastest I had ever experienced. Yet as soon as I got it in my grubby fingers, I installed Arch Linux on it. In the weeks since my purchase, I have reinstalled Arch probably half a dozen times, partioned my drives a million different ways, forgot to set the correct file type on my /efi boot partition, installed countless window managers, display managers, desktop environments, fonts, Wayland, PulseAudio, slogged my way through .

The Narrative

I am not a smart person. This has been the belief I have held since I became an adult. Having dropped out of two university programs, good grades always a struggle, and the naive idea that experience was a better teacher than a classroom and you have the narrative I’ve told myself for almost two decades. Eventually, the repetition of the statement becomes one’s truth, whether or not the statement is factual.

Changes

Change is the only constant in life. It is the one thing that may be counted on. Every sunrise, every breath, every morning commute, they are different each time it is experienced. No two are alike. Yet there is the high likelihood that they become similar, blending into one another to no longer delineate days but rather delineate years. The markers of our lives fuse together, making the passage of time feel short and inconsequential.

Thoughts on Time

I have a fear of getting older, of becoming sick. A fear of my lungs failing, losing my ability to move in this world. A fear of spending my most valuable days wasting behind a screen, wasting my most mobile years sitting at a desk, wasting the vitality of relative youth in one city, in one location. I want to tell you how I finally understand that time truly is the currency of life.

Letting Go

There was a time in my life where the end of the year would prompt a flurry of goals to achieve in the coming year. How did I want this new year to be different from this past year? What were my dreams and hopes for the future? Two years ago, I wrote it all down, as well as look back on the previous year, analyzing what I had done incorrectly or got just plain wrong.

The Berlin Wall

About a year ago, I became interested in Germany. I do not recall the why of it but only that I consumed anything I could get my hands on. It began as stories of what happened after the Germans were defeated in World War II and the horrors women had to endure at the hands of their liberating Russian soldiers1. A decade before the Berlin Wall was constructed, there was the Berlin Blockade from June 1948 to May 1949, which attempated to cut off supplies and transportation to West Berliners.

Apparently, Stories Do Matter

When I was twenty-two, I worked on a dude ranch. Powderhorn Guest Ranch1, located ten miles south of it’s tiny town namesake, in a valley in the Colorado Rockies next to the Cebolla Creek at around 8,500 feet. I was a ranch hand, which meant I did whatever needed to be done. We were a small team with new owners. We rebuilt a lot in those first few weeks before the ranch opened up: fences, horse stalls, culverts, rewiring the electrical, digging out the mountain side to fill in the low spots (first time I got to use a front loader).

Soul Shuddering

Maybe it’s turning forty or maybe it’s watching Pugsy grow older each day, his arthritis making it difficult for him to walk down our front steps. Maybe it’s thinking about going back to school and the price tag associated with it. Maybe it’s Trump and the horror at what is becoming of my nation. Maybe it’s my growing list of books that I want to read over at goodreads. Maybe it’s watching Malin and Johan of RAN spending the summer up in Alaska.

Identity

Since I started this website, almost a full year ago now, I have written under a pseudonym. Selene was my moniker and it really isn’t that far-off from who I am—it is my middle name. But, I used it as a way to crawl into a new identity, one not associated with my software programmer side. It was a way to explore writing, a way to remain anonymous to all the people I knew in real life.

The Ghost

Twenty years ago tomorrow, on October 10th, I killed someone. A woman. A mother. The time was a little after ten pm. It was a Saturday night. It was a stretch of unlit, rural highway. She was walking in the middle of the three lane road in a black cocktail dress, drunk and disoriented. I was pulling onto the highway and didn’t see her until too late. Because it has been asked before, no, I was not drunk.

Tech: My Setup & Philosophy

I spend an inordinate amount of time behind a keyboard and screen. It is my job, after all, to write code. Also, it is my hobby to write words that somehow make it into a story of some sort. I’ve wanted to write about my setup for a while; it’s total developer porn. If you’d rather just read about my philosophy regarding my setup—and the state of tech in general—hop on down to that section.

Seasons

There is only the mad dash through life, clawing and kicking out of the current version I have created for myself, trying to make it to the next version that I assume will be better than this one. I do not know why this is. I have always felt this way. The desire to leave and move on is ingrained in me. Change, the process of shedding one skin for another—location, job, career, body, nutrition, goals—is something I seem to crave and seek out.

Run Away

There’s a gluttony of run toward something, not away from it blog posts on the web. Therapy sessions, friendly advice, and early retirement extremists seem to pass on what looks to be hard-won wisdom. This pearl of knowledge has been touted as gospel. To be honest, it is a good piece of advice. It’s solid. Move in the direction of your life, your goals, your dreams. Don’t run from a decent job, a decent marriage, a life of comfort and certainty for one of the unknown.

Settling In, Settling Down

On this relatively cool Sunday afternoon, I’ve got my feet up, a Stella Artois on the coffee table, and a content feeling slipping around inside my body. This is not due to the Stella, since I’ve only just cracked it open. Rather, it comes from a feeling of accomplishment. Eight days ago, I joined Camp NaNoWriMo to write 50,000 words in 31 days and, as of today, I’m on schedule to meet that goal.

Dreamers & Doers

It’s a few minutes after four in the morning, and I’ve already been up for an hour. The first half-hour was spent trying desperately to fall back asleep. The second half-hour making coffee, firing up the text editor, and drooling over Instagram and Twitter (why do I keep mindlessly checking those apps?). It’s cold enough to open all the windows; I can feel the hint of the thickness that will increase as the humidity does.

A Reset of Sorts

Have you ever seen Complete Unknown? It came out a few years ago and starred Rachel Weisz and Michael Shannon. The fundamental premise is that Alice, as Weisz is known for most of the movie, is a chameleon of sorts. She becomes different people, lives different lives, is a shapeshifter. When things become too familiar for her, Connie becomes Paige becomes Mae becomes Alice. Throughout the movie, we find that Alice has shifted identities nine times.

It Really Comes Down to "Just Write"

I haven’t written in ten days. Not a sentence, nor a paragraph, nor even just a few words. Not here on this blog, or in my notebook, or on my work-in-progress novel (is it a work-in-progress if progress has stopped altogether?). My little You Need To Write app tells me I need to write 920 words today to be on track. The words have not come effortlessly to me. The last time I put pen to paper, quite literally, was when I was drinking a Bloody Mary at Reagan National Airport waiting for my flight home to Boston.

A Wild Heart Yet Practical Mind

The tattoo I had inked in Prague is just about healed. The memories grow fainter each day. The habits and monotony of pre-Europe continue to fall back into the slots they have claimed in my life. The joyous bits—the bits I wanted to pull from my chest, place them on a table, and point to each one exclaiming my happiness—are giving way to the anxiety of hour-long commutes and troublesome clients.

You Need to Write, the App

So, I built something yesterday. Something digital; it’s not like I can hand you a spice rack and exclaim, “Look what I have built! Look at those butt joints with squeeze-out and crooked brad nails. I built that!” (Yes, I watch a lot of This Old House episodes, and I Like to Make Stuff and frank howarth YouTube videos). Hop on over to the app, if you like: You Need to Write

Permission Into the Unknown

Currently, I’m reading A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit. I started it the night before we left Prague, while I lay in bed, windows open, listening to the sounds of the city fall asleep, a warm glow of whiskey sours emanating out from my belly and the low, rumbly gloom of an escapade coming to a close shadowing my eyes. I am only into the second chapter—essay, really—but something she wrote at the beginning echoes within me:

Untethered

We left Berlin just over an hour ago and are hurtling toward Prague at 160 kilometers an hour on a train. I sit alone, a tiny sliver of the outside landscape blurring past my eyes in the smidge of a window available to me. It’s chilly here on the train, as I’ve come to notice that most of the trains and planes I’ve ridden in these past few days are. The down jacket I have stowed away in my backpack remains packed; I need to toughen up.

In the Moment Feels

In between the staccato voice of the announcer, in between the different languages (of which I only understand English), there is the absolute tiredness that comes from being up for twenty-six hours straight, and the sheer joy of lifting away from the ground, the green of London falling behind, and blinding white clouds laid out like a rollicking, frothy sea. I have never seen the lush greens that encircle London. I thought New England was green when viewed from the air, but the green here bleeds into the waters where it’s a paler green.

Managing the Missteps

I didn’t write yesterday. I missed another day of writing my three pages or 750 words somewhere. I completely forgot, to be honest. I usually write in the morning: pop up out of bed, make my coffee, and then bang out my words. It’s usually an hour of writing for those 750 words, sometimes less, oftentimes more. But, since I have started my vacation, I woke up later than usual, and the day just got away from me.

Persistence, Pertinacity, & Patience

I’m back. A whirlwind trip to New York City to celebrate an old friend’s fortieth birthday and Broadway debut as part of the ensemble cast of My Fair Lady. What a joy! What an accomplishment! What a long time coming. Just outside the Lincoln Center Theater My friend, the lovely and talented Christopher Faison, has been in the performing arts ever since I met him back in 1995. For as long as I have known him, he has had one guiding…principle?

Bear Rising

This past weekend, I began purging. It started when I was cleaning the bathroom in anticipation of my mother coming to stay here and watch the Pugger while I’m in NYC. I had allergy medicine that expired in 2016, shampoo bottles half empty tucked into corners, and multi-vitamins that had never been opened (and yet were still expired). Many of these things came with me when I moved from Dorchester to Lincoln, after my divorce and the terrible roommate experience of 2014.

A Dream Almost Fulfilled

When I was a senior in high school, the movie Kicking and Screaming was released. My best friend at the time and I went to see it at the Niantic Cinemas in Niantic, Connecticut. The movie, about a group of friends having graduated college and resisting becoming adults, became my most favorite movie of all time. Of the two DVDs I still own, this movie is one of them (the other, The Princess Bride, comes to a very close second as favoritest movie).

Is Social Media Necessary to Be a Writer in the Modern World?

I have a love/hate relationship with social media. I believe that’s the case with most people. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m on the tail-end of Generation X or that my career is smack-dab in the middle of technology, but I am wary of social media. This is especially true after the recent revelations around Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. I knew the data that Facebook had on its users was immense; anytime I’ve had to build something with Facebook’s API, I am astounded by the amount of data that comes when a user connects the app I developed to their Facebook account.

Writing the Other, Becoming the Other

My grandmother was a devout Catholic. Each morning, she celebrated Mass at her local church. Each evening, she whispered prayers to her God. She kept a rosary in her pocket. Since I was the first grandchild she had, the name I gave her when I couldn’t pronounce grandma stuck with her until her death: Mumma. As a child, I loved visiting her. She was kindness and love wrapped in a ball of sunlight.

Move Slow, Find Balance

Finding balance is not something I am particularly good at. For the most part, I am a woman of extremes. All in, fast and furiously committed, singularly focused. When I get bored or tired, or things don’t happen fast enough, I move onto another task with the same ferociousness. The cycle repeats. We are cyclical creatures, are we not? My attempt at living life this way has proved useful and a bit successful.

Life is Hard. So What? Write.

Life is fucking hard. It’ll eat you up like a rabid dog chewing at your exposed ankle. Make a mistake or a wrong choice or find out cancer is riddling your bones and things get really difficult, real quick. God, or whatever fuckery created us, didn’t create a smooth path forward (well, apparently that god did and Eve decided to cast us into sin—let’s not talk about how that vilifies women, k?

You Have Unlimited Words

There is an endless number of words in your body. You’ve got tons. When you are born, there is no Word God that christens you with a finite amount of words you can put down on the page. It is entirely possible you could write every hour of every day of every year of your life and still not reach your limit. Whether the words are good or bad though is an entirely different story.

Doubt

It’s a black virus wending its way through your veins or a vicious storm on the sea’s horizon threatening the small, wooden boat you just finished building. Silly metaphors for a very real issue that I find myself grappling with on an almost daily basis. Do other writers experience this on a daily basis? Do other humans? Yesterday was a banner day for me. For the past few weeks, I’ve had an idea bouncing around my skull meat.

Time Is Not on Your Side

I’ve been quiet here on my blog this week. I’ve needed some time to sort through thoughts and feelings without having to be coherent or cohesive. There is something wonderful and raw in just putting pen to paper, morning after morning, following one sinewy thought to another without the specter of the public chomping at your heels. Not everything needs to be publicly consumable. The promise to myself, to write every day no matter the circumstances, has remained strong and true.

Maybe We Can

I know it’s not good to write about politics or religion. These topics are hugely divisive and problematic. It has always been this way. This current administration can be found in McCarthyism and the Civil War and any number of events between now and centuries ago. Each period in time has their own moments of fear and derision; this time isn’t any different. This topic comes up because of a show I was just watching with Obama and his eventual nomination for the presidency at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado.

Habit Is the Precursor

I’ve written a post a day for over a month now. I’m not sure if that’s an accomplishment or it’s sad that I think it’s an accomplishment. It is, however, the first time I’ve kept a commitment I made regarding my writing in over twenty years. In 1996, the year I graduated high school, I moved to Montreal to go to school to major in Creative Writing at Concordia University. I was Class Writer in my senior year, had written all of my young life, and even had a story published when I was in sixth grade.

Time to Start Dating Again?

I got back on OK Cupid again today. What the hell am I thinking? It started yesterday. I went to an intimacy workshop that a friend invited me to. I was too sure about it but he said to keep an open mind. I expect other people to keep an open mind and it’s only fair that I do the same. So, I went. It was an interesting afternoon, with hugging and stroking each other’s faces.

Loving the Giants

It’s going to be a difficult night to write here. I should have written this morning but I was busy doing other things. And now, the Super Bowl is on and I’m watching the Patriots lose two minutes from the end of the half. To me, this is a good thing. The Patriots should lose. Hear me out. I live in New England, born and bred here. I know I should be rooting for the Pats.

Late October, 1999

Thursday 28 October 1999 8:45 in the morning Well, I guess I’m in Pioneer, California, sitting at Amador Station off of Highway 88. What a crazy day yesterday… So began my journal entry from that day a little over seventeen years ago. I’ve spent the last hour reading through the earliest journal I’ve kept. I can remember it so clearly. It’s amazing how some memories are crystalline, pure as untrodden snow and others are as murky as a stormy shore.

Once a Toy

I was going to write about the time I spent on a ranch in California but, as I began to write it this evening, I realized that deserved more time than I want to give to this post tonight. So, I need to think of something else to write about. This is especially hard when thoughts feel like concrete being pushed through a sieve. And, I need to finish in a half-hour so I can veg out in front of MacGyver.

The Wrong Narrative

This morning, Jen over at Jen’s Life (I adore her URL), responded to a comment I had made on her post. In it, she asks, “Do you really REALLY want to come back west? If so, do it!” And, I thought, why don’t I move back west? If that is what I really REALLY want to do, what’s holding me back? I’ve dreamt of moving back to Denver for years, probably as long as I’ve lived in Boston.

Older Female Friends For Better Living

There are days when the words won’t flow. Today appears to be one of those days. Maybe it’s the meds I’ve been taking that creates this feeling as if I’m standing on a dock in a dense fog rolling off the water. I can hear seagulls off in the distance but there’s no point of origin. That’s me, right now. One of my high school teachers emailed me this weekend to see how things were going in my life.

Sister Lives

There are two fears that loom large in my life. The first is health; so much matters around that. The quality of our life is largely dictated by health first (and then money and companionship and all the other things. But, if you don’t have your health, nothing else really matters). After this past week of lethargic sickness, I’m ready to be healthy again. The other fear I have is regret.

Joy is Consistency

This past week has been one full of movies and television shows. I think I have stared at my TV screen for as many hours as I’ve spent with my face planted in a pillow fitfully sleeping. I don’t often watch this much but being sick and various cold medicines coursing through my veins has limited my capacity to think or focus; reading actively hurts my brain. There’s something deeply unsettling not having the wherewithal to think coherently.

Random Thoughts of a Sick Girl

I’m totally going to punch it in today. I’m still sick, my legs hurt, and I can’t stop coughing. I’m tired, a little cranky, and Pugsy pooped in the house twice today ‘cause I can’t move fast enough to get my achy, booger-infested face to the front door quick enough. So, here’s a bunch of random thoughts I’ve been thinking about. Judge Judy is funny as hell. My favorite thing she says to people is, “You’re useless.

Sick & Privileged Thoughts

A Tuesday afternoon and I’m still in my pajamas. Being sick is such a pain in the tuckus. The thing about being an adult—being a sick adult—means that you don’t get a day off. I’ve still had to work today. There’s a deadline looming tomorrow and I had to finish a project. Even when my head is swimming and the urge to give back last night’s dinner into the closest recepticle is strong, I still have to find the mental capacity to write code and think logically.

“How do you like your eggs?”

Last night, when I came home from meeting my eleven week old nephew for the first time (so small! so soft!) and after I had did what I was supposed to do for work, I was flipping through the television channels. On the local PBS station, I watched Sally Field open a screen door and step out on to a long farmer’s porch. I ended up watching the last hour of Murphy’s Romance, a 1985 film with Sally Field and James Garner in a May-December romance.

My Spirit Animal Is a Chameleon

I almost didn’t write here this morning. I took out my notebook, made my cup of coffee, and was about to put pen to paper when I asked myself why I didn’t want to write on the blog. I told my friend J about this blog yesterday, after we made a clumsy first recording of a podcast we’ve been talking about for a while. You see, now someone knows I’m writing.

More Than Parts

Funny story from tonight. I was running around haphazardly this evening, trying to rush back home because the Pugger was sick (I ended up coming home to a pile of warm poo stacked in front of his bed anyway). Running around the local Stop & Shop, I was walking toward the self checkout aisles because I am me and most times I’ve got a little fear of interacting with people. I mean, it’s not horrible and I’m pretty good at being friendly but, given the choice, I’ll more than likely prefer to just be alone.

Unconditional Love Is a Pug

I’m up early today. Woke up just after 4:30 this morning. This is when I used to get up religiously but haven’t been able to this past month. Not having a reason to get up in the morning isn’t conducive to leaving the comfort and warmth of my bed. I did have help waking this morning; the pug was walking around after pooping in his bed. I haven’t written about the pug in any detail, have I?

Debt Is a Prison

I’ve been meaning to write about debt. But it’s just such a soul-sucking, anger-inducing topic to me. I have had debt, in one form or another, since I was eighteen. Eighteen!! That’s twenty-one years. Twenty-one years of being prisoner to some company or another. My first debt was for school. Before I ever had a credit card, I took on five figures of debt. I know I didn’t understand the gravity of my signature on that promissory note.

Writing Isn’t the Goal

The start of the week is today, a Tuesday, after having the MLK holiday off yesterday. We’ve got a company wide staff meeting and then I have a smaller developer meeting a few hours later in the afternoon. I slept through my alarm this morning, having taken NyQuil last night to combat the slight cough and sore throat, as well as to just let me sleep through the night. And the news has reported that we’re supposed to get three to five inches of snow starting early tomorrow morning, although I may get more since I’m further out west toward the higher snow totals.

Dullness for Comfort?

What to say? It’s a little funny how I was going to write so much. Write about going to see Neko Case last night in Providence. Write about having my water out again and the non-stop banging in my crawl space for most of the weekend. Write about paying off my last school loan today. But then I started listening to music from the nineties, when I was in high school and bouncing around the country like an arcade ball.

4 Blog Idea Generators and 1 Sad Sack Writer That Will Make You Feel Better About Yourself

Coming up with topics to write about is hard. You don’t want to rehash the same principles day in and day out. What’s the point of your blog if you’re just going to repeat yourself with the same content but in a different way. I’ve always had a hard time convincing myself that writing on a blog isn’t a futile pursuit. Somebody has already written about the topic and, with the power of Google or DuckDuckGo (check them out if you don’t know about them), content can be found with a few keystrokes.

Self Bully

I think I’m getting sick. My throat has been sore and pasty for the past few days. A couple days ago, one of my coworkers coughed on me; I’m not entirely sure it wasn’t on purpose. I haven’t been sick in over a year. Not a sniffle. Not a cough. No aches or pains. I wonder if it was because I started smoking last year (again) and the sickness got killed off when it tried invading my body.

Words & Thoughts

Another day, another entry. It’s earlier today than I have been posting. About 6:30 in the morning. I woke up a half hour ago. Made coffee. Made the bed. Read an email that my sister is coming to visit my parents with their first grandchild. Mom invited everyone for an afternoon visit two weeks from now. The entire family will be there. It will be an interesting afternoon. I’m resistant to doing things with my extended family.

Between the Quiet and the Chaos

I work from home on Wednesdays. I actually have a better set-up here at home than I do at the office. It’s warmer and more comfortable. I’ve got large screens and the music playing doesn’t need to be piped through my headphones. Oh, and there isn’t the office chatter which gets to be quite the distraction. For years, I have thought that working remotely would be the best thing for me.

Responsible to the Crazy

One of the worst things is the blank page. Or a blinking cursor on an empty screen. Filling it without inanity is a herculean task, wouldn’t you say? So, I start with where I’m at: the time; the location; the fact my left forearm is bruised from something today; the tightness in my chest could be because I’m getting fatter and my bra is more constricting than usual or cancer is slowly growing in my lungs.

Promises to Ourselves Are the Most Important to Keep

I made a goal on New Year’s Eve to write 750 words (roughly three pages) every day. Either in my notebook or here on the blog or in a lengthy email. Something to just create on a more consistent basis. Tonight I am regretting it. George Constanza, in a Seinfeld episode, complains that his life is the exact opposite of what it should be. Jerry, in all his casual brilliance, tells George that “if every instinct you have is wrong, then the opposite would have to be right.

The Bear

The bear is awakening again. I can feel her stretching, the restlessness in her extremities, tired of being locked up and in the dark. It’s just the beginning of her stirring and, if I really want to, I could lull her back to sleep, for at least a few more months; maybe even a year or two. I’ve been cooing to her over the years here in Boston after my divorce, coaxing her back into a fitful sleep.

Turncoat

I’m bundled up—fingerless gloves and an infinity scarf, puffy jacket and heavy boots—sitting in front of my computer at work. Half of the employees are out today. The office is quiet; most of us with headphones blocking our ears and the low din of the pallid hot air dribbling out of the heating ducts a thin thread in each song. Deadlines have been met so we sit, pretending to work. I’ll let everyone go at two o’clock to start their holiday vacation early.

Wednesday Night, Pizza & Tempranillo

I bought a frozen pizza at the grocery store tonight. This alone isn’t all that special. I bought a six pack of eggs, some cheese and flour tortillas. I bought laundry detergent and creamer. And before all this, I bought a bag of senior dog food. A thought flashed through my mind and it hasn’t been a unique one: This is what sad, lonely women buy at the grocery store.

Should Programmers Learn Outside of Work?

I’ve been programming, in some capacity or another, since I was eight years old. I don’t remember if it was Christmas or during the summer that my parents bought the Tandy computer but I do recall sitting in front of that thing for hours, learning how to program simple, text-based games in BASIC. The manuals that came with the computer, especially the one on BASIC, was dog-eared and worn. I am a self-taught programmer (or web developer or software engineer or any other names for someone that writes code for a living).

Focus

I live about 20 miles outside the center of Boston. My commute into the office is just over 10 miles. This means that leaving home at the same hour as everyone else, the drive into work can be 45 minutes to an hour. For 10 miles. Luckily, I have a flexible start time so I can leave later than the rush hour commute and knock my time down to 30 minutes.

Memory

My memory is a ghost. She flits in, thin and wispy, and flits back out when I try to get a good look at her. I am not sure if this is an inherited trait from my mother or from the years of hard living. Memories come in short clips: a flash from when I caused my brother’s concussion when we were still in single digits; hiking in Baxter State Park during a high school trip; riding a horse for the first time; walking 4 miles home in heels after a night of endless dancing and meeting a boy.

Things Do Not Happen for a Reason

A few years ago, I read a book by Stephen Greenblatt called The Swerve: How the World Became Modern. It was the most difficult book I have ever read. Not in the sense of reading ability or using large words that my poor, addled brain couldn’t handle. No, the difficulty lay in how it caused me to view life, the purpose of it all, and my own place in it.

Redefinition

I can’t remember where I heard or read it but disappointment is the difference between your expectations and reality. It’s the same old story, isn’t it? We thought we’d be someone, we thought we’d be more than what we are. Hell, I was going to be a full-time, published novelist. I was going to be asked to give interviews and public readings. My stories and characters would be part of the world’s canon; well, if not the world’s, most certainly America’s.

Putting Yourself Out There

I am an introvert by nature. The website 16 Personalities has both pegged me as an Adventurer and a Defender (I suppose it matters on what day I take the test and how I’m feeling). But, in both profiles, I’m markedly an introvert. I prefer time when I’m alone opposed to out in social events. In groups of people or out in public, I feel very anxious and on guard. By the end of the event, I’m drained.

Emotion Vs. Logic

I am a roiling sea. I am the embodiment of a tumultuous, frothing storm. I am the physical manifestation of riotousness and disturbance and uproar. I am loud and vocal and loud again. Emotions cause my mood to bounce like a kite, a pinball in the deaf, dumb, and blind kid’s hands. Sappy commercials and a lovelorn Noah cause me to shed an actual tear. I am cold, calculating, exact. A knife’s edge.

Sad for My Country

I’ve had a rough week. Last Friday, watching the inauguration of Trump, marked the start of this low-belly angst; a turmoil in my chest. In the week since that day, I have watched executive order after executive order start to gut what America had become. At this moment, green card holders have been denied entry to the US, partly based on their political views, there’s the EPA media blackout, alternative facts have become an acceptable explanation for lying, and the threat of repealing the Affordable Care Act looms large.

Be Better Than You Are

I was going to start off this post by writing about how we live in a pervasive culture of you are better than you think you are and how detrimental that can be. But, why start a post about being better than I currently am by belittling what is someone else’s philosophy of life? Why promote a different world-view by contrasting something else entirely in a negative light? That’s not being a better person than I am now.

Leveling Up

One of the things I want to accomplish with Findom1 is a return to basics. A return to basics to improve my skillset and broaden my understanding of technologies and methodologies. Most of the projects at work are built on top of a company theme/template. In my side projects, I’ve either grabbed Bootstrap or Foundation to get up and running quickly. And, of course, ol' jQuery was there for simple animations or UI flourishes.

Thoughts While Hiking on New Year's Day

As a kid and young adult, I spent a lot of time outdoors. I hiked and backpacked, mountain biked and camped. This past decade, I can count—on one hand—how many times I’ve been outdoors. It has been one the great failings of this life that I’ve created for myself. This is something I knew a while back but it wasn’t until this morning that I realized how much I missed being out in the woods.

Deliberate

If you’re a fan of Casey Neistat, you’ve probably heard of Tom Sachs (Neistat was an intern for the artist between 2001 and 2004). Sachs has a video on YouTube that employees of the studio must watch, titled 10 Bullets. By Tom Sachs. It’s brilliant; you should go watch it. I’ll wait. To be honest, I hadn’t really heard of Tom Sachs (even though I have been a wild fan of Neistat) until I came across Laura Kampf’s video Always Be Knolling (I’m a newly minted fan of Laura and the things she creates; I want to be her in 2017).

Hesitation

I’ve hesitated about keeping a steady online blog because it is at odds with the thinking that A) I’m not special, B) it’s all been done before, and C) I’m remarkably concerned about security and privacy. Yet, this thinking prevents me from taking part in the larger conversation, especially around tech, privacy and safety. It prevents me from having my ideas and thoughts challenged, which in turn helps me grow both as a person and as a technologist.

A Life of Squares

I carry a notebook with me everywhere, which even the phone isn’t privileged enough to get (I actually forgot it at home this past Thursday). Inside this notebook, I write my to-do lists for the day, upcoming events, thoughts on life, concerns with work, partial blog entries…it’s a catch-all for my brain. (If you’re curious, I use the Leuchtturm 1917 Medium Notebook1). Inside of this notebook, I keep a piece of paper that I printed out from The Listserve from a woman named Laura2.

A Normal Day

Morning comes early for me. I’m usually in front of my desk by 4:30, protein smoothie and hot coffee in hand. A few years ago, when I was still married and the only alone time I could find was in the morning, I slowly moved from a night owl to an early bird. The wee hours of the morning were the only time I had to work on personal projects, whether it was writing code or fiction.

What Makes a Good Boss

When I was in my early twenties, I worked as a ranch hand at a dude ranch just to the northwest of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The hours were ridiculously long and the pay extraordinarily paltry but the experience and memories never-ending. It was also the summer I learned what it meant to be a great boss. The owner of the ranch was a late-30s retired Detroit cop who, along with his wife, had just bought the ranch that summer.

Starting From Where You Are

Human nature fascinates me. Our place in the universe fascinates me. On the whole, we’re a fairly smart species. We’ve evolved into complex, innovative creatures that have altered our physical world (whether this is good or bad is a matter of constant debate). Yet, for all of our brilliance, we have an almost uncanny ability to delude ourselves. Study after study has proven that we believe ourselves, on an individual basis, to be smarter than we actually are.