Blog

Jessica stared at herself in the mirror in her Santa Clara, California apartment. She just finished up her makeup and was just about ready to head to work at her fancy new job. Before she attached her Google employee badge to her jeans, she looked at it, still in awe at it being a real thing. The fancy lenticular 3D effect made her nose look really strange, but she was pretty sure everyone’s face looked weird in these things. As she clipped it on, she felt a sense of pride at her accomplishment. She grabbed her purse and headed out the door, stopping to pat Scarlet on the head on the way out. “Have a great day, little girl!” she said as the door closed.

*Pause*

You may be asking yourself “What?...Google? California? Is this real?” and the answer is...yes. It’s real. But before that...let’s Tarantino this blog post.

*Rewind Sound*

At the beginning of 2019, I was in a pretty good place. The holidays had just happened and I was feeling really good about everything in life, really. Good friends, great job, and all in all, just happy. I had made some big choices to love myself for who I am. I realized and accepted that I’m ace. So many positive things.

It all changed when the fire nation attacked…

In all seriousness, it really feels like my entire world has changed, and that has caused a lot of things to get stirred up emotionally. As a heads up, this is likely going to be a very long post. I’ll do my best to break it up and put in headings. So if there’s something you just don’t care about, you can skip it. I’m not going to put a TL;DR section though as it kind of defeats the purpose of a blog.

Job Changes

I had no intention of changing jobs. I’ll put it that way. Early in the year, I was in love with my job and was thrilled to see it go where it was going. I’m going to be intentionally vague about what changed that because some of it is internal to that company, but I want to be very clear that I really loved that job and still love all the people there. Seriously. I love you guys, Spoiler Alert! I miss you, too.

To be succinct about what happened, some stuff occurred that increased my stress level to a bit of a breaking point for burnout. For a short three month to four month window, I was unhappy just because of how much was on my shoulders and how high expectations were. I’m really proud of the work I did and how well the team I lead handled things. They were all rockstars and still are.

During that period of high stress, I got an email from my Google recruiter. To back up again, I did my first phone screen interview with Google something like two and a half years ago. It was right before I took my job at Spoiler Alert, and I hadn’t expected to do well, but I crushed it. They invited me to the onsite interview, but I declined because I had accepted a job offer. So, they’d essentially been checking in with me every 4 to 6 months since then. Every time I’d received their email prior, I’d been quite happy and just said “No thanks, but feel free to keep checking in, if you’d like.”

This time was different. I had my shields down, as it’s been put. In other words, I was in a vulnerable place, and it was perfect, or imperfect depending on how you look at it, timing. I thought about that email for a full week before I finally responded with a “Let’s talk”. Honestly, I was getting lots of other emails, and I had declined all the rest of them. It took Google to really break through that armor, ablative, of course.

From there, the call happened, things got scheduled, and I started preparing. I studied for two months. I read two algorithm and data structures text books, one of which was graduate level, which admittedly was too math heavy for me. Some of it helped but a lot went over my head. I also did upwards of 50 practice questions and 12 mock interviews. Of those mock interviews, 2 were in person on a white board, 2 others were with Googlers that do interviewing, and the rest were all with other engineers online. It was a lot of prep work, and even with all of that, I still didn’t feel like I was going to do well.

Come the day of the interview, I was very nervous. I went in, did all the interviews, and I distinctly remember thinking about half way through the day of interviews that I was very confused, because it seemed like...it...was going...well?!! I remember solidly solving my final interview, and afterwards being like “Huh...what just happened? This is not how it went in my head. I’m supposed to bomb this. How is it possible I’m not?”

Seriously. I did not expect I would end up doing well let alone making it past the hiring committee and executive review. I expected that I’d return to my job at Spoiler Alert feeling downtrodden, but ready to continue on feeling like I’d at least done my best. Instead, I found myself with the prospect of having to put in my notice, pack up, and move.

Hmm, the way I’m saying this sounds like I wasn’t absolutely blown away, thrilled, and incredibly excited. So just to be clear, HOLY CRAP! I got a job at Google!!! I NEVER thought I’d be good enough to get a job at the company I’d aspired to be at for so much of my career. Not only that, I was hired as the senior software engineer level! This entire experience has been incredibly surreal and it still feels that way months later. Over the past several months, I’ve asked myself many times “What is my life right now?!!” because it’s just so hard to believe that THIS is what has happened.

So…after accepting the job, the next several months were a whirlwind. There was a relocation package, which really helped make things go smoothly. It was definitely the easiest of all my moves, but it was definitely still stressful and hectic. I had to deal with wrapping up all the things in Boston, throwing a going away party (which was amazing!), donate a bunch of stuff, throw out a bunch of stuff, pack things, ship things, book hotels and flights...it was a lot. And then suddenly...I was in California. Unlike previous cross country moves, there was no driving for days with a wailing cat. This time I flew...also with a wailing cat. I was put up in corporate housing for a while and then in late October, finally got moved in to my actual home for the next year and a half, at least. Now I’m finally settled in. What. A. Journey!

Stress and Tumultuous Emotions

With all this change, you may be wondering...Jess, how are you holding up? And you know what...that’s a good question. I’m doing ok, sometimes...maybe...I guess… I really don’t know. I said goodbye to all of my friends...again. I’m feeling a bit like a fish out of water. I went again from being a big fish in a small pond to being a small fish in a pretty darn big pond. I have zero clout and tenure at my new job. I have to earn all of that again. On top of that, everything is so different and there’s so much to learn. I keep having to remind myself that this is one of the biggest reasons I came...to grow and to learn. Growing pains are hard.

There’s definitely strong feelings of loneliness. I have more friends in the bay area than I had in Boston when I initially moved there. I knew my Aunt, Uncle, Cousin, and Tiff. That’s it. In the Bay, I know quite a few folks. The unfortunate thing is that I live in South Bay, and they all live in San Francisco proper. That may not seem like a big distance, but it’s actually pretty far, especially with traffic. We’re talking on average an hour to an hour and a half distance by car. So I don’t see them as often as I’d like.

That means I often don’t have anyone to hang with during the week or on the weekends. I have essentially used that time to focus on getting settled. I’m seriously moved in faster than I’ve ever been at any place I’ve lived. I even have artwork hung on the walls already. I took this move as an opportunity to replace a bunch of furniture that was getting old and really needed to be replaced. So a lot of my place feels completely new. My apartment is fancy compared to Boston, but it’s also way more expensive. I definitely miss midwestern rent prices!

As I’ve run out of things to do with my moving in and getting settled, I’m left with very little to do, and I’m finding my energy is gone. I’m feeling isolated, numb, and periods of light depression. I am definitely feeling less like myself. I’ve noticed I’ve had a harder time connecting with people. I smile and feel like I don’t have access to my full emotional range. I’m not smiling with my whole self. I can feel it on my face, and I’m certain others sense it, too. I had a moment the other day in which I smiled and immediately felt it drain off my face, which really made me worry since it’s a sign of depression in me.

All of this has made me feel more awkward than usual. I feel like when I’m at my fullest, I’m very charming, funny, and social. I post a lot of silly stuff online in those situations, and I haven’t been doing that. I know you all probably don’t feel like I’m awkward, but I have genuinely felt awkward the past few months. I feel like such an oddball. I think if I were to pick an appropriate meme, it’d be “Why are you like this?” I’m not sure how to combat it right now either. Maybe all this travel and holiday time will help, but I have no idea. I don’t have New Years plans this year, and I wonder how I’ll feel that night being alone.

Update: I did end up having plans on New Years, which resulted in some feels. Update in a future post.

Dating

The last time I posted was about coming out as asexual. I was ok with not dating at the time. It was all about loving myself for who I am, and for a while, that was true. I’ve had a hard time with it lately, and really that shouldn’t be surprising given how much has changed in my life lately. I’m working on it, but as I just mentioned in the previous section, I’m likely going to need some help to work on that. So dating…

Before moving, I was pretty ok with not dating. I was very happy with my personal relationships with friends and what not. I was also very focused on job, career, HEMA, and studying for my interview. So there wasn’t really any room for dating anyway.

After moving I got a notification on my phone about Facebook Dating launching, and I was like “What the heck...why not?”. So I created a profile and haven’t really seriously engaged with it. I have next to no expectations with it. I’ve chatted with a few folks and gone on a few dates, but really...I’ve had very little feels about the dates in general. Don’t get me wrong, they’ve been lovely women and I’ve had a good time, but that’s about it. I don’t feel a strong motivation to keep going.

Yet, I’m still on the dating app and still am chatting with people. What’s with that?

I’ve noticed that while I am attracted to women, my attractions don’t last. I don’t know if it’s a “Why am I even bothering?” feeling or just that my current semi depressive emotional state is what’s causing this lack of interest.

There’s a strong feeling that I have that’s like “You’re just so different with so many things to deal with...being ace, being trans, having a weird button phobia, having interests that aren’t what the average femme female is interested in.” I’ve talked about this feeling before, and I know it’s not valid, but it’s still a feeling that’s present that I’m having to deal with. I think it’s really impacting my confidence and my self worth.

I know no one knows how to date, but I feel like I’m exceptionally bad at it. I don’t know how to flirt and get super nervous / awkward when that opportunity occurs. Being ace, when people get all sexy times flirty, I just find myself not knowing what to say. I feel like when that happens, my date / person interested in me feels like I’m not that interested, and I don’t know how to circumvent that. Even with people telling me otherwise, I just feel like such a weirdo. I don’t know how to get around this.

I think the real reason I may be on this dating app is because of loneliness and the desire for true companionship, and of course...that’s why most people date, right? I just struggle with seeing my own value in a relationship and the fact that I just don’t know how to flirt. Again...I need someone to help me work through this because I know it’s not healthy.

I do really wonder if I should even keep this profile active and whether I should even bother with it. I feel like I’m wasting the time of the people I’m going on the occasional date with, and yet I’m still going on them. I really don’t know what that means. I welcome thoughts and input knowing full well that I’ll probably have to figure it out on my own.

Update: I disabled my profile.

Boston Dynamics

My time in Boston was short, but good. It felt longer than it really was, I think. It’s hard to believe I lived in Boston about as long as I lived in Des Moines. There are a lot of things I will greatly miss about Boston and a lot of things I really wont miss. The driving and constant sound of car horns is something I’m so glad to be away from. As bad as traffic is in the bay, drivers at least have common sense and courtesy, for the most part. It’s really like night and day. I also won’t miss the sports fan attitudes in Boston, with the special focus on Patriots fans. To those of you who are taking personal offense by that, I can already hear the comments about how everyone else is just jealous, blah blah blah. Seriously, you’re obnoxious. Cut it out. I don’t even like football.

I also won’t miss the accent. I know some people like it, but to me, it is off putting. New England is not known for being a very friendly place, and I think the accent just reminds me of that… and every stereotype Boston mob / cop movie ever.

I certainly won’t miss my commute and the traffic. That was awful. I remember how excited I was to live in a city with “actual public transit”, but now I’ve come to realize that there really are no American cities with good public transit infrastructure (feel free to correct me if I’m wrong here).

The things I will miss though...the friends and family. No question. I miss you all deeply. While Boston isn’t known for being super friendly, I feel like once they do warm up to you, they’re the most loyal people I’ve ever known. You guys are great and I promise I’ll visit as often as I can. Google happens to have an office there I can work out of once in a while, if I so choose. So rest assured, it’ll happen...when it’s warmer out.

I’ll also miss the HEMA scene there. So much cool stuff happening in Boston. My friends at Boston Armizare...there’s no other club like you. Thanks for giving me my confidence back.

I also miss my Boston GDG folk. The stress of that is something I’m happy I don’t have to bear anymore, but I loved the community and the folks involved. I’m still in touch and will likely see them all here and there in the bay area, but I do miss seeing them.

 Surprisingly...I do miss the weather. Crazy, right? I love the California is so beautiful most of the year, but there’s something to be said for seasons changing. Thankfully lately it’s felt a bit more like fall, and I’ll be doing a lot of holiday travel. So I’ll get to enjoy the chill for a few days, which is enough.

Oh yeah...I definitely don’t miss Dunkin. California has Krispy Kreme, which is orders of magnitude better than Dunkin.

I’m sure there’s a lot more I miss, but that’s what stands out to me right now. More as it develops.

Body Image, Weight, and Anorexia

Topic Change. Preface: No...I’m not anorexic. However, I was headed that direction. Don’t worry. I realized my relationship to food was unhealthy and I’ve started changing that relationship. Let’s talk about what happened.

I’ve mentioned in prior posts that I have body dysmorphia. I think that’s a common experience for trans folk. Earlier this year...back when I was still dating Anne, I had a situation in which I noticed my weight fluctuating up in a direction that was not normal for me. I couldn’t figure out why, but I panicked about it. So I started changing up my fitness routine and my diet to try to control it. I didn’t want to regain the weight I had spent a bunch of time losing over the past two years.

I started by following my friend Bobby’s lead and began intermittent fasting. If you’re unfamiliar with this trend, it’s a method of limiting the hours in which you eat food during the day. It’s common to do a 13 hr or 16 hr fasting window followed by an open window in which you can eat. This is supposed to prevent you from eating food during periods of the day when your metabolism is lowest, like late at night, and force your body to start burning fat for fuel.

This actually worked pretty well for me. I was doing mostly 16/8s with the occasional 13/11 and 20/4 fasts. For the most part this got things under control for me, but I also got it in my mind that I would probably lose the gained weight faster. I had recently gotten involved with HEMA again and was going one to twice a week. Unfortunately, an accident occurred that left me with a broken right thumb, which severely limited my ability to fence.

So with that gone, I decided to do something I thought I would never do: run. I figured that I no longer had a gym membership and didn’t want to spend a bunch of money to get another one that I likely wouldn’t use. Running is free and I essentially just needed to throw on some shoes, workout clothes, and go outside. I very quickly went from being unable to run for a mile without gasping for breath to running 5ks twice a week.

I was actually really enjoying it and I saw a big difference in my weight. I was monitoring it daily and dropped weight pretty quickly. I then saw some problematic mindsets start to set in. I thought to myself “Well...if I lose five more pounds, when I fluctuate up to THIS weight, I’ll still be happy with how I look”. So, I cut calories, started fasting more strictly, and I lost even more weight.

Here’s where things got really bad. After I hit a goal, if I ever saw my weight fluctuate up even a half a pound, there was a voice in the back of my brain that was screaming “OMG you’re going to undo all your progress!!!” So my goal would shift to “Never see this weight on my scale again”, and I’d work at losing just a couple pounds more so I’d not see it again. It was an unhealthy feedback loop.

At the time of moving to California, I was at my lowest weight that I’ve seen since high school. I was at 143 pounds. I’m 5’11”, and while technically 143 is still within a healthy BMI, I was definitely on the low end of the BMI spectrum. Side note, it seems some BMI scales are not the same. The one I’d been looking at suggested at 5’11”, I’d have to have been 135 lbs to really hit into the underweight range, which seems ridiculous to me as far as getting that small. Yet when I had my new hire health assessment at my new job, I was teetering on underweight according to the BMI scale they had. It really made me question things.

It was at this point that I stopped losing weight. I was in the gym twice a week and was probably gaining muscle, but all the free food at Google resulted in me gaining a bit of weight each week. My brain was seeing this on the scale and freaking the fuck out. I was trying to count / cut calories even more. I did three 20/4 fasts in a row to keep my weight below 145, and I was hungry all the time. I would deny myself food that was satisfying and then come home and binge on junk food.

Then October rolled around and I had to fly to Minneapolis for my best friend’s wedding. My parents met me there and when my mother saw me, her first comment was “You’ve lost so much weight! Oh my god you have no butt!”, and it really made me start to question everything. I largely was really happy with how I looked. I had a 4-pack stomach, working towards a 6 pack. I was able to do 5 full pull ups. I had some really toned arms, shoulders and was loving it. Most people were telling me I looked amazing, yet the people closest to me were a bit concerned. I was starting to get concerned, too. It’s weird having society tell you all this positive feedback about how you look when meanwhile, you’re unwell.

I think something that was telling to me about my dysmorphia taking over...if I ate any sort of reasonably sized meal, I just saw a giant food baby on me. To this day, I don’t know if it was truly there. I think maybe my brain was enhancing it to the point that I THOUGHT it was giant, but really it was tiny. My guess is that no one else even remotely saw it. I definitely found myself trying to hide it after a meal.

I was constantly engaging my core to hide it. Meanwhile I was hungry all the time and was constantly thinking about my weight and food. I would emotionally beat myself up when I succumbed to cravings and was thinking constantly about how I “just needed to fast longer to compensate for the junk I ate”.

I’m not exactly sure what changed, but in mid November I was just so tired of being hungry, was genuinely concerned for how much I was thinking about food. I was worried that maybe I was on the verge or even had an eating disorder. So I gave it all up. All of it. The diet. The fitness. The weight tracking. Etc. The only thing I continue to do very loosely is intermittent fasting, and I’m not logging it anymore. It’s only a mental background thing just because I know people in general shouldn’t eat too late in the evening for all sorts of reasons.

I feel better. I’m not hungry all the time. I’m also not as cranky. I also look fine. I know the one time I weighed myself since this decision I was already back up 5 lbs, and I’m ok with that, at least for now.

I’m also running an experiment. At the very start of the year, I had my hormones adjusted for the first time in probably 15 years. My doctor just wanted to play with my levels for various reasons. I was concerned about sex drive, and she thought maybe it might have an impact on that. Here’s the impacts it had on me: 1. My patience decreased. 2. It was harder to focus while meditating. 3. My costs on my prescriptions went up. 4. My anxiety increased. 5. I got migraines, and lastly...just a theory of mine… 6. I think it decreased my metabolism. My weight only started to fluctuate about a month after my hormones were changed. Hormones can have big impacts on metabolism, even with small changes. I wondered if maybe this is what happened.

So...I’ve returned to my previous levels. It’s been about a month now since then, and I feel like my weight is stable. I haven’t been measuring, but when I look at myself, I’m not feeling like I’m seeing much of a difference. I’m also feeling more hungry, which is a good sign. So I think this was the right move, and given that it’s the same hormone level I was on for 15 years or so, it’s perfectly safe.

So my goals now are different. The honest truth is that I absolutely loved seeing 4-pack abs and the definition in my arms. I really want to return to that fitness approach because I honestly would look at myself in the mirror after a shower or after a workout and be like “Damn! That’s cool!”. I was very proud of my gains, my strength, and I’ll be totally honest: my flat tummy. I just want to approach it in a healthy way. I think I’ll either hire a personal trainer again or a nutritionist...or both. I’m also going to head back to see a therapist again because this needs to be discussed with someone, as it certainly wasn’t healthy.

Society is fucked up. Being praised because you look thin and fit is contrasted with unhealthy body image. I certainly valued myself more the lighter I got and obsessed over everything body related. Body image should not be tied to self worth, and I’ll probably always struggle with this issue. I know there was a part of me that was like “Someday I’ll give up, eat everything, and immediately gain 20 lbs” and “Can I really maintain this lifestyle for the next 10+ years?”. The true answer is no, and nor should I.

Even more fascinating is how powerful body dysmorphia is. Just the other night I was talking about this with friends, and I looked back at some of the photos I took of myself at my lightest, and for the first time I saw a person that looked unhealthy. Prior to that moment, I saw myself in the photos as fit. I couldn’t see anything else but a flat stomach and tone. This time, I saw an emaciated figure that was in dire need of food. At that size, there’s no surprise I would always see a food baby on me as huge. There was no mass on me at all. I genuinely do look healthier now, and I need to remember that. 150 to 155 is when I look and feel the best. I should never be below that weight again.

Whiny Cat

If you’ve followed me on social media, you’ve most likely seen photos of my cat. Scarlet is a very sweet little girl, and I love her to bits. She is, however, getting older, and that comes with some health issues. She’s also gotten very demanding in her later years. Friends come over and see how social she is, and they love her to bits, too. However, they don’t see what she can be like when they are not there.

I’ll be blunt. Scarlet is a very whiny cat. She loves water from the bathroom sink. If she doesn’t get it when she wants it, she meanders around yelling until she gets it. If she’s feeling particularly bored, she does the same thing. If she just left the bathroom, doesn’t have fresh smelling food, isn’t getting pet in her preferred way, can’t find a favorite toy, etc etc etc...she gets very loud. It’s not just a few seconds of meowing. It’s literally every 5 seconds and doesn’t really stop. It gets annoying super fast, and it’s especially so when I’m trying to sleep.

Yelling at her doesn’t help, of course, and in fact, any sort of attention given to her just reinforces that if she yells, she’ll get what she wants. So all I can do is ignore her and somehow try to reinforce non-vocal behavior, which doesn’t really turn into anything. I suspect she’ll be this vocal for the rest of her life. I’m not going to lie. There have been times where it’s gotten on my nerves to the point that I’ve considered re-homing her. I love her and don’t think I could actually do it, but it’s certainly a thought I’ve had. She’d miss me and I’d miss her. I’d never forgive myself.

I really do wish there was a solution. I often wonder if there are just things that hurt, and that’s part of why she complains. She has asthma and I know the coughing fits she gets sound uncomfortable. I’ve had her treated various times for that, but it’s not going to just go away. So it could be a source of chronic pain for her. It may also be something else, like arthritis. I’ll need to find her a new vet in California and see what they suggest. No matter what, though, when she’s gone, I’m not getting another pet for the foreseeable future. I need some time without responsibilities over another life.

Update: (It’s taken me literal months to write this post) She may not actually have asthma after all. She recently had ear problems, which have been recurring for the last year. It’s her right ear. Periodically she’s had a floppy ear and has pawed and scratched at it. Each time she’s been given drops by the vet, and that’s helped. This time, my new vet told me that given her symptoms, she may not actually have asthma. She may have a persistent inner ear infection, and that might be draining into her throat causing her to cough a lot, which has possibly surfaced as the appearance of asthma. The telling sign that this may be the case was when she had an upper respiratory that got infected this past spring. She got a two week antibiotic injection, and this caused the coughing to miraculously go away for a time.

So now she’s on oral antibiotics and ear drops simultaneously. The vet and I are hoping that this takes care of the inner ear infection once and for all. Apparently they are notorious to treat. So, we’ll see. She’s still a whiney cat, but her spirits have been higher, as has her energy, since starting treatment. Her cough is gone, too. So maybe she’s been crying because her ear has hurt this whole time, and I’ve just been a bad mom and not realizing it. I’ll update at some point about her status.

Update 2: She’s completed her antibiotic round and ear drops, and her cough is gone. Her ear is back to normal. She’s not making regular swallowing noises anymore, either. Her energy is high again, and that means more whiney attention grabbing noises. But hey...that’s a good sign. She’s got a full appetite, too. I’m really happy to see her this way. Hopefully this is the last time I’ll treat her ears.

Friends, Family, and Change

I got to experience something this past October that I was proud to be a part of. Chris, my best friend for many many years, that has been written about in this blog many times...got married. I was his best person. His wedding was organized by his friends and was a wonderful affair. I flew in to Minneapolis to be a part of it about a month after moving to California, which means I had no PTO. So it was a short trip. I was truly honored to be a part of it. I got to give a speech, which went very well. I was told that it was the best of the speeches, but I’ll leave that to others that were there to judge. I certainly had fun giving it.

Being a part of that wedding was bittersweet. Chris and I have often joked about our dating curse in that when one of us is in a long term relationship, the other is not. I guess this means that I won’t be dating anyone for the foreseeable future, which is not surprising given where I am right now. Imagined curse aside, I’m both proud and happy for him and his husband.

In direct contrast to that, I’ve had a lot of thoughts of sadness on my mind this past year. I have an uncle that has been diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and another uncle has a form of blood cancer. It’s something that’s in the back of my mind at all times. I think often of my Uncle Mike, who inspired me at a young age. He got me interested in aviation, which, along with my long time love of Star Trek, pointed me in the direction of engineering. The honest truth is that I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without having had him in my life. So seeing him going through this has been hard. When I went to Chris’s wedding, I got to see him, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the last time. Hopefully I’m wrong.

And then there’s Daphne. I have friends all over the country and the world. I was excited to meet and hang out with some of my long time Facebook friends that live in the Bay Area. Daphne Dorman is one of those friends. We didn’t speak often, but we did know each other. I’d watched her journey into stand up comedy and connection to Dave Chappelle. When I got to CA, I was excited that maybe we might meet up. After a tiny earthquake on October 5th, I commented on her post about it. She hadn’t realized I moved to the Bay and we talked about setting up a time to meet up for coffee. I was looking forward to it.

Not even a week later, on October 11th, Daphne took her own life. It was a shock to the community, and to everyone that knew her. I still think about her, about what happened, and I feel truly saddened by what happened. I’ll never get to meet her and get to know her more. The world is lesser without her. We miss you, Daphne Dorman.

California Dreaming

Let’s pivot to something completely different. California has been an experience so far. It’s simultaneously exactly what I expected, while also being not at all what I expected. Let’s start with the things that were expected. It’s expensive. Hmm...I don’t think that really captures it. It’s REALLY expensive. I knew what I was in for, but wow...it’s a lot. I thought it was going to be next to impossible to own a home in the Boston area. In California, it actually pretty much is impossible. I could buy two reasonably sized midwestern homes outright for the cost of what I’d need just for the down payment for a smaller home here. In Iowa, I rented a 3 bedroom, two bath house with a full, unfinished basement, two car garage, and a lovely yard. Here in California I have a one bedroom apartment in a complex for triple the rent I paid in Iowa. You read that right. Triple. Everything here is more expensive: gas, food, taxes, utilities, etc. Even with cost of living income increases, it feels like I make less.

It’s also very pretty. I’m not going to lie, I love the mountain views. I love the temperatures, even when it’s chilly. We’re in the rainy season right now, and that means that it might rain once a week for a few hours. We had a real, legitimate rain last week that was the only full day of rain I can remember since moving. I look out my apartment window and see palm trees.

Traffic is awful...BUT...Boston was worse in a lot of ways. You may not believe this, but people actually give you space let you merge when you put your blinker on here. I’m sure my Boston friends are like “What? Why would you do that? You’re supposed to speed up to cut the person off!” I kid. I kid...or do I? Meanwhile, my midwestern friends are like “Yes, and? Why is this a surprising behavior?” Also...midwestern friends, rush hour is when it takes an hour and 40 minutes for your commute instead of 45, not when it 20 minutes instead of 15. ;)

People here are very nice, but very hesitant to commit to doing anything. Meeting friends is slow going. My typical approach to making friends in a new place is to go to meetups, but unfortunately there aren’t that many here in south bay. There are a few tech related ones, but I’m not interested in making tech my entire life. I have found Davenriche for HEMA, but I haven’t yet committed to how often I’ll be going. I hope that turns into a good collection of friends.

I guess to sum up, so far California has been a mix. It’s both beautiful and isolating. I really hope that changes.

Swimming in the Emotional Deep End

I guess to wrap things up, if it hasn’t already been made pretty clear, I’ve got a lot of emotions going on these days. I’m seeing a therapist again. I’m having a hard time being happy with both myself and my life presently, despite the cool job. There have been a lot of times I’ve found myself questioning whether I made the right move. While I was burned out and in need of some sort of change when I left Boston, I left a job that I really loved with people I genuinely cared about. I miss them deeply. I left some of the best and most amazing friends I’ve ever made. I cannot express how much I feel the emptiness of them being so far away and the loneliness that it’s left me feeling now. I took a chance on a dream that I really hope was worth it. Only time will tell. I know this isn’t the upbeat ending to this incredibly long post that you may have been hoping for given the start of it, but it’s probably the most accurate to my current feelings that I can really be.

If you made it to the end of this, please let me a comment hug on whatever social media you found this post through. I could really use it.

Crap...I never wrapped up the Tarantino’d beginning!

Uh...um...ok...here goes.

As Jessica walked to her car to head to work, she thought about all her accomplishments and adventures over the past year...and really over the past decade. To think that ten years ago, she was just beginning a brand new career transitioning from a video producer to a self taught engineer. She never thought she’d end up here. Who knows where the next ten years will take her.

She sat in her car, pulled on the seatbelt, and started the engine. As she put the car in gear, she thought to herself, “Let’s see what’s out there. Engage.”

What a crazy year! I haven't posted anything on what happened with most of my year yet, and I've been in the process of writing a big ol' update that's already upwards of 5000 words. I need to finish that up and post it, probably in parts. So watch for that, but some of the topics will be in the goal reflections below. If you follow me on the socials, you probably already know some of them. Either way, some big life events really turned my goals this year into a bit of a crapshoot. So I expect some not great results compared to years prior. Let's take a look.

Last Year's Goals

1. Stop using YouTube as much Fail

This was not a success. If anything, I watch YouTube more. It's frustrating because I feel like it's taken away from my enjoyment of other things, like TV series, movies, and life in general. I get home from work, and this is the first thing I turn on. I need better methods for solving this problem, whether it's an official annual goal or not.

2. Gain Flexibility - Fail

This goal went nowhere. Even when I was deep in the fitness this year, I didn't stretch enough. I should be doing it every day, but I never do. Just like with the prior goal, I need new approaches and strategies for making this happen. I have a few ideas, but I'll address that at some point in the future.

3. No-Hands CartwheelFail

I still daydream about doing this, but I fear that it'll never happen. I know I'd need more flexibility to make it happen. Plus, my life dramatically changed this year. So any sort of fluffy goals, like this one, really fell by the wayside.

4. Amazons - Fail

This is still top of mind for me. A lot happened with this group, relatively speaking. I created a logo and wrote up some documentation, but I didn't get farther than that due to outside forces. I had intended on starting things up in the Spring, and then I had to sideline everything due to studying and practice for an interview. That soaked up every bit of free time and energy. I'll be re-approaching this one this year, but maybe not as an official goal.

5. R2 Dome - Fail

For the same reason as the Amazon group, this one didn't move. After about March or April, my entire focus and free time went to studying and practice for an interview. After the interview happened, the energy went to planning for a big move. It's really only now during the last week of the year that I've really had time to relax and do other things. So hobbies can finally get picked up again.

6. Balance my life committments - Success

This happened as a side effect of my other life changes. I'm no longer a GDG Organizer. I'm not hosting things every week. I don't really have any social committments anymore. This is because I no longer live in Boston. If anything, I'm now way under committed and need more things to do. So did I balance my committments or over compensate? I'll say it's a success because I'm less stressed in that regard, but there's more work to do.

7. Less stuff and things & More Experiences - Success

I've definitely acquired less stuff and things. In fact, I've purged a bunch of useless stuff. I think that part of this goal was a big success. I think the more experiences part was less successful, but I still managed to do pretty well. This year I traveled to two foreign countries. I hiked in the mountain foothills in Los Gatos, CA. I visited California, Colorado, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Montreal, and Munich. I went to a pancakes and art show. I went to Disneyland. I'd say I did pretty well, but still room for improvement. See the 2020 goals for more details.

8. Carry Over: Make My Apartment Feel like a Home - Curtains and more... - Success

This is a whirlwind of a goal. I don't think I was on track at all until I moved, and then I overachieved. I've replaced about 80% of the furniture I owned out of convenience and necessity. I moved across the country again, and it gave me the excuse to throw away or donate stuff. There's very little in this new apartment that has stayed with me. To add to that, this is the first apartment in which I've hung stuff up on the walls within the first month of living here. Last apartment took me a full year to do it. So it definitely feels homey. I still need more wall art though. My bedroom walls are bare.

9. Carry Over: Replace My Wardrobe - Continuing Mission Success

I regularly purchased new clothing last year, and especially during the summer, I felt like I had a fun selection of cute clothes to wear. My fall / winter selection still needs work, but now I live in an area where it doesn't stay "cold" very long. So I might hold off on that need. I've also purged a bit when I moved, and I feel like there's still room to purge more. So I'll keep at it.

10. Love Myself / Body Positivity - Fail

This was a rollercoaster of a goal. For half of the year, I felt really good about myself. I loved me for me. I was running regularly until my knee became a problem. I was doing crunches, dips, push ups, and overall just felt really good. I started losing weight, not that I needed to, but intermittent fasting combined with the activity just made it happen. Honestly, I was in the best shape of my life. Then I got obsessed with it. Every weight fluctuation up, even the tiniest bit, freaked me out. I fell into anorexia. I'll leave the details at that for now, but the post I've been drafting has a ton of info on what happened. I realized what was happening and have since given up the fitness / diet for the time being, but body positivity was certainly a problem later this year.

I've also struggled with mental health since this move due to loneliness and just all the tumult associated with moving. Re-establishing a life and friends after relocating is very difficult, and only gets moreso with age. So I have a lot of work in front of me. I also want to restart my fitness routine, but this time with a healthy approach to weight. I'll talk about that later.

Final Verdict on 2019 Goals

As I suspected, this year was less successful than past years. I have a 4 out of 10 rating, which isn't great. It's hard to beat last year's 7 out of 10. I'll be approaching this coming year with maybe a bit smaller goals that might be more attainable. Also, I suspect I wont have nearly as much change going on in my life. So that might help make things a bit easier. We'll see.

2020 Goals

1. Get rid of half of my stuff

Half might be a bit too much, but for the purposes of measurement I'll be very specific. By "half of my stuff", I mean half of the stuff I have currently in my storage closet. This move really made me realize how much of my stuff I've just moved from one place to another without ever looking in the box. Rarely do I ever go into my giant box of cables. There's a few boxes with old pictures or newspaper articles that I once thought I'd want to have, but turns out I don't actually want them. I have 3 storage shelves, some loose items, and a dresser filled with stuff in my closet. My goal is to have at least one completely empty shelf, nothing on the floor, and several empty drawers in the dresser. My goal is to only keep stuff that I actually use. My plan is to go through a box or so each month and toss or donate what I don't foresee ever needing again. I'd love to be able to eventually only have one storage shelf of stuff. 

2. Do a big planned thing once a month

After leaving Boston, I realized I had things I had wanted to do the entire time I was there, but I never did because I would just do them some day. Turns out that just means I'll probably never do them. Now that I'm in California, I'm not going to let the same thing happen. So this year I'm going to make a list of 10 to 12 things I'm going to do and spread them out over the course of each month. The reason I say 10 to 12 things is because, well...things come up and I need room for that. Things I do will be stuff like going on a Napa valley wine tour, see the redwoods, go to Yosemite, jump out of a plane, etc. I'll try to post the list up somewhere to track it. I'm excited to make the list!

3. Improve my relationship to food

This will be a tough goal to measure. Over the past year I've realized I have sugar addiction issues. I binge some forms of junk food when I'm on diets. I sometimes under eat. I want to fix this. I'm not entirely sure what my approach will be, but I think making this measurable will involve talking to doctors and hopefully a nutritionist. My next goal will tie into this one.

4. Break my sugar addiction

I've had a sweet tooth my entire life. I learned to bake when I was very little, and once I knew how to make chocolate chip cookies, that wasn't going to stop any time soon. I've always got sugar a home in some form or another. I put it in my coffee. I order sweet coctails. It's pervasive in my life. I know it's a chemical and psychological addiction. I know evolutionarily humans are drawn to sweet. So it'll be tough. I'm going to attempt the 30 day no sugar added diet to break the chemical addiction. The hard part will be the psychological addiction. I don't know if that'll ever be gone.

5. Maintain a healthy weight

The next food related goal is weight oriented. I originally intended this as maintaining the unmaintainable weight I had reached this year (see upcoming post), but in realizing how hard that was, I need to figure out what is a good homeostatic weight for me and how to balance that with hunger levels and fitness. Combining this with my body dysmorphia issues makes this shit pretty hard. So I'll need third party help, I think.

6. Find a fitness buddy

Wrapping up the body image and fitness related goals, this fits in to the third party help part. I can be very self motivated with all of this stuff. I genuinely like how I feel when I'm being active. I love the after workout muscle soreness. It helps my mental health. I don't get sick as often when I'm active. It also has the added benefit of looking super toned. I loved my abs this year. The problem is when I do fall of the bandwagon, which happened in November of this year, I fall pretty hard. I also would like to just have someone to keep things diverse, help me push myself, and enjoy the whole process more. So I'll start looking as soon as I'm over this dumb cold.

7. Reduce my spending

I feel like this past year was a lot of unplanned stuff that resulted in too much spending. I have less committments now. I don't have to spend nearly as much money on food anymore. I feel like I should be able to keep my bills down to a minimum. I want to save for a house, and in the Bay Area, that requires a ridiculous amount for a down payment. So I have a long way to go. I will need to be frugal. So that's the goal.

8. Learn a language

The travel to two places where English is not the main language combined with having two coworkers that speak primarily Mandarin has made me want to learn a new language. In grade school and early college, I took a lot of Spanish. I also took a couple of semesters of Japanese in college. I feel like if I brushed up on Spanish, I could do ok pretty quickly. From there I could learn other stuff, since there's a lot of overlap. My boss has talked about trying to learn Mandarin, but that's probably going to be exceptionally hard. Mandarin is so different from anything I know and is a tonal language, too. So we'll see. If you have app suggestions for language learning, let me know.

9. Solve my loneliness

I was going to say "figure out my dating shit" as my goal, but that's not really the need. I'm lonely here in California right now. I live in South Bay, and my friends mostly live in San Francisco, which on a map is really close, but by car is actually pretty far thanks to traffic. So I don't see them as often as I'd like. I need social groups, friends, and possibly a significant other. I'm on a dating app presently, but I'm not focusing on it. I have no expecations, and that's made things much easier for me. I'm going to join some groups, like Davenriche sword school, and try to find others, including my own Amazon group, to grow my friends here. I'm also going to find a therapist to ensure I'm staying emotionally healthy. So I should have my bases covered. 

10. Take a real vacation

I've never done this. I travel for work, conferences, or to see family. I've never gone somewhere to just go. The challenge in doing this during 2020 will be that now that I'm in California, a lot of people now want to come visit me. Who wouldn't want to visit California and especially the San Francisco Bay area? It's a cool place with nice weather. The problem being that if everyone wants to come visit me, I may end up with no PTO to take a vacation. So we'll see how it plays out, but I'd really like to do something involving travel for fun.

Closing Thoughts

2019 went nowhere near remotely as expected. I'm hoping for a more average 2020 as far as excitement and change goes. Here's hoping these goals are measureable enough that I can accomplish a good portion of them. I think the riskiest ones are fitness and food related. I look forward to next year when I reflect again on how things have progressed. In the meantime, I wish you all a wonderful 2020!

Scarlet

Over the past fifteen years, I’ve gone from blogging all the time about all things to blogging once in a while when I’m sad or maybe a new years goals post. This is not either of those. I want to share some things that I’ve learned about myself recently that have been really world changing for me.

As many of you may know, I deal with anxiety and depression. I’ve been coping with both in healthy and unhealthy ways. Lately it’s been healthy by having a therapist I see regularly and by meditating daily. In fact, at the time of this posting, I’ve meditated 261 days in a row. I’m proud of myself for being diligent and committed to it. It’s really helped me, even on days that I have a hard time focusing on the meditation. The amount of positive impact this has had on my life has been measurable. My patience is higher. My ability to handle stress has improved, and I seem to be able to maintain my composure regardless of what’s thrown at me. I intend this practice to continue with me the rest of my life and can’t recommend it to others enough.

I’ve struggled a lot with being happy and liking myself. A couple of the phrases I’ve heard many people say is “Being happy is a choice” and “You have to love yourself before you can truly love someone else”. Neither of these really, truly made sense to me. I got the concept simply by reading it, but I never really fully understood it until I experienced it, myself.

So, to jump back, my 2018 goal of dating happened. I had it in my head that I’m getting older, that my youth is fading, and that I needed to meet people now or I’d never find someone. I didn’t want to be alone. I wanted to find “my person”, aka someone to complete me. I really put myself out there. I was on three or four different dating apps. I went on so many first dates that I lost track of how many I really went on. I met some really great people and some not as great people. I got attached to some, got hurt, and I hurt a few in the process. It...was a lot. Dating is hard.

Then I met someone towards the end of last year and entered into a whirlwind of a relationship that initially seemed like exactly what I wanted. I had someone to throw myself at and get it all back. It felt wonderful...until I started to notice a feeling that I couldn’t explain. People were congratulating me on my new relationship, and I was like “Wait...why am I not smiling?” I struggled to understand why after having something I had wanted for so long, I felt like maybe I made a mistake. Maybe this was too much. Maybe this was what I wanted, but it wasn’t what I actually need.

After several weeks of feeling this way, I started to realize that I wasn’t happy. I was overwhelmed. I was feeling suffocated by the relationship, and I didn’t know how to fix it. Then...I stopped and took a step back. I looked back over the last number of years and realized something about myself and my life. I...genuinely love my life as a single person.

I know this seems like a weird thing to say, but I hadn’t really acknowledged or realized it before. I looked at everything I’ve done, all the places I’ve lived, all the friends I’ve made, and all the things I’m involved in. I looked at my job and my family. I looked at the things I choose to do for fun and for leisure. I looked at all of that and went...damn...I love all of that. I love that I’m a very independent person. I love that I have so many vibrant friendships and that I’ve cultivated a full, enriched, and fulfilling life with people surrounding me that make life worth living.

Most importantly, I learned that I am amazing just the way I am. I’ve thought over the years that I was incomplete without someone in my life. Now I know that I need no one to complete me. I am complete as I am. I can now truly say without a doubt that I love myself. Achievement unlocked!

After realizing all of that, I knew why I was feeling the way I was. This relationship was not what I needed. It’s only what I thought I wanted. I was wrong. So I did what I had to do in order to be happy and honest. I broke up with her. She’s a lovely person and we remain friends. I have to thank her, too, because she helped me learn some of the most powerful things about myself that I’ve ever learned.

The important learnings don’t end there, though. I’ve also learned a bit about my sexuality, or, more specifically, my asexuality. I’ve realized that I’m further into the asexual, or ace, spectrum than I thought I was. I’m not just demisexual, I’m more in the graysexual area. For those not in the know on those terms, demisexual means that you’re not sexually interested in someone until you get to know them as a person more. Graysexual is more like...you’re just lower on the sexual needs spectrum. I’m not 100% asexual. More like 80% asexual. Sex is just not that important to me or much of a driver, and when I’m with someone with a much higher drive or need than me, it gives me anxiety. Turns out when it comes to dating, it’s actually pretty important to have someone that is closer to where you are on sexual need, otherwise it’s a challenge to navigate.

I’ve now been spending time in ace online spaces, and it’s really been helpful. There are a few great Facebook pages that I’ve been looking at. It’s been eye opening for me because all this time I genuinely thought something was wrong with me. I’ve talked to my doctors about libido as if it needed to be fixed. Turns out that nope, it’s just how I am. Not only have I accepted this, but I feel less alone in how I feel. The internet isn’t such a bad place sometimes.

So my world has shifted. My view of what I want in a relationship is different now. Whatever that relationship is, it has to fit well within the life I’ve built for myself. It needs to move slowly, have very little pressures around physical needs, and have a lot of room for independence. At the moment, I’m happy as I am, though. I’m not looking for anything and don’t know if / when I will again.

And yet another thing I’ve finally come to accept and love about myself: my appearance. In the past, I’ve dismissed compliments and even was extremely self-deprecating towards my own looks. My body dysmorphia has also been a complicating factor, but my ex girlfriend and all of you have helped me see myself and acknowledge the truth. I am a confident, beautiful, smart, and attractive woman. This has been one of the hardest things for me to accept about myself, and I’m proud of myself for finally getting there. Thank you all for helping me see it in myself.

Lastly, and certainly not least, I’ve realized that you, my friends and family, are the most important and wonderful part of my life. I am never lonely because I have you all to reach out to, to spend time with, and to enjoy your company. I am honored to call all of you my friends and to have you in my life. Let’s catch up and spend more time with each other. You all make life worth living, and I genuinely can’t thank you enough.

This writing is a memory worth encoding into my history. This point in my life is one of the most powerful self learning periods I’ve ever had, and I intend to use this as an artifact to look back on when I inevitably fall of this path down the road. I need to remember this moment. If you see me sad, remind me. Send me here. I will thank you for it.

Until next time, I love you all! <3

Boston at night

As another year closes and a new one begins, it's time yet again to reflect on how things went with last year's goals. I had so much going on and would have loved to write about thos experiences. Alas, I actually got so busy that I ran out of lifeforce energy to do so. 2018 was a hell of a year with a lot that happened in so many different ways from social goals to career growth. So let's just jump right in!

Last Year's Goals

1. End the Great Hermitage of 2017 - Critical Success

In 2017, I felt like I did very little. I had a lot of weekends where I had nothing to do and just played video games the whole time. By the end of 2018, I found free weekends hard to come by and very little gaming happening. I'm now to the point where I'm having to plan things months out because my weekends are so full. I got invovled in a number of professional communities including running a meetup organization, myself. This is a wonderful thing, but at the same time, now I feel the opposite stress. My time is so stretched that I am starting to feel like its getting out of my control. I need to start paring back instead. So, yes...resounding success. My social life is more vibrant than I think it ever has been, now.

2. Build some things, dammit! - Fail

I had a lot of good intentions here, but very little got done, and a lot of it is related to how full my social and professional schedule has become. What I did end up doing is a little bit of work on R2's dome. Other than that, nothing else was built or made. I have a few theories as to why this happened, but I'll get to that a bit later in the post.

3. Reprioritize Financial Goals - Critical Success

Of the list of five financial things I wanted to get done in 2018, I accomplished all of them. I've reallocated my savings amounts. I've been spending money on my wardrobe all year, and my options are looking so much better. I spent some money picking up R2's dome. I bought some rugs and some frames for my apartment, and finally, I just opted to do laser on my legs. It was less expensive than I thoiught. So I pretty much crushed it. 

4. Replace my wardrobe - Critical Success

As I mentioned in the previous goal, I've been regularly spending money on clothing, while eliminating my old clothes out of my wardrobe. I now have way more options and look way cuter throughout the year than I used to. I'm very pleased with this and there will be more on this topic later.

5. Make my apartment feel like a home - Success

I didn't fully crush this because there's still more to be done, but I've made a lot of progress. The main things I've done are buy some rugs for a few rooms. I also hung up some of the artwork I had throughout the house and picked up some more frames to hang other stuff up. I still have some bare walls and need to buy some curtains, but it feels much more homey in my place.

6. Keep off the weight - Critical Success

So last year I lost 10 pounds. My goal was to keep that weight off. Not only did I keep that weight off, but I lost an additional 10 pounds. So I blew through what I thought was my goal and set new ones. I now am the lightest I've been since high school, which is crazy. I'm extremely happy with my body right now, and that's wonderful.

7. Learn how to do hair stuff - Critical Fail

I genuinely did nothing on this goal this year. There's not much more to say about it. Fail.

8. Learn three.js - Critical Fail

Samesies with the last goal. I spent no time on this at all.

9. Swording - Success

I left last year wondering if I was even interested in continuing with HEMA and swords in general, and as I wrap up 2018, I have re-joined the fray. I've been slowly working on the Amazon group that I've been interested in starting, and during that time, I discovered a class called "Give a Girl a Sword" put on by the Boston Armizare. I decided to check it out and ended up just joining the club. I've been training a few times now, and this group really seems to fit my needs as a student much better. I'm really enjoying swinging a sword again, and I have a few deep bruises to show for it. I've already started investing in gear again, and hopefully the new stuff I bought will keep those bruises less intense. The Amazon group will still happen, but I also now have this as well. So I'm more involved in HEMA than ever.

10. Dating / Finding Love - Success

This was a rough one. It started strong. I spent the first several months of 2018 going on more first dates than I have in my entire life leading up to that point combined. I met a lot of women and almost gave up a few times. I had several women that I put entirely too much emotional energy into that didn't deserve that energy. I was led on for longer periods of time and ended up getting hurt a couple of times. I took a break for a few months and rejoined the dating fray in the last quarter of the year. Finally in the last week, I met someone that's pretty amazing, and we've spent a lot of time together in that week. Way to end the year with a bang! 

Final Verdict on 2018 Goals

Holy crap! I only had 3 fails this past year! And I had 4 critical successes! That's amazing! This is easily the best year I've ever had in tracking my annual goals. I never expected that. I mean, I know that people were impressed with me jumping into the dating apps and social goals right away at the beginning of 2018, but I didn't think it would end up like this. It'll be hard to compete with the resounding success of 2018 in the coming year, but I'll do my best.

2019 Goals

1. Stop using YouTube as much

I have been a bit annoyed that project ideas haven't moved forward as much as I'd like. I've taken some time to assess why that might be, and I'm pretty sure two things come to the forefront: Social Media and YouTube. I'm specifically calling out YouTube as the focus of this goal because I know my habits of late. I come home from work or get up on a weekend day and plop down on the couch. My first go to is YouTube and then I end up watching hours of short video content. While some of it is fantastic and educational, it's time I could be spending doing really anything else. Yes, everyone needs time to relax and vegitate, but I do it a bit too much, in my opinion. I'm going to cut back my usage to only three days a week.

2. Gain Flexibility

This is something I've thought about for months leading up to this post, but I've never been flexible enough to touch my toes. It's been since grade school that I've been able to sit cross-legged comfortably. I really want to change that. I want to be able to meditate with my legs crossed without pain. I want to get my knees down to the floor in that position. I want to be able to easily touch my toes and hopefully get to flat hands on the floor. And with all of that hopefully comes less risk of injury while fencing. 

3. No-Hands Cartwheel

This one is a bit on the weird side, but now that I'm back into fencing and am looking to start my own group, I want to learn some tumbling techniques that just look damn cool. I might be able to use them in cosplay situations or maybe even in my fencing classes. Who knows! Either way, I want to give it a go. I enjoyed gymnastics in my grade school years, and I think I could do light versions of it now, too.

4. Amazons

I mentioned this group a few times already, but I've actually put work into this over the last year. I started putting together foundational documents for the group. I created a Facebook group to gauge interest with a small group of friends. I even ran a few test classes to see how they would go. I learned that I'm a decent teacher and that there is a lof of interest out there. I know this could be amazing, and in 2019, it will become a real thing.

5. R2 Dome

R2-D2 has been my very slow moving project, and while I made some progress in 2018, it's moving far slower than I'd like. So, this year I will get the dome fully operational. I want all the hinges working, the dome polished, te holoprojectors in, and the logic boards / electronics in place. I think it's very possible. I just need to prioritize it.

6. Balance my life committments

Over the course of the last year, my life got progressively more busy and full. Now it's so full that I need to start thinking about slowing it down a bit. So my goal is to take stock and make sure I'm not stressed and anxious about all of this. I'm not quite sure how I'll measure success, but hopefully it involves saying no a few times to things.

7. Less stuff and things & More Experiences

I took a long, hard look at the last year, and I realized I spent a bunch of money on things. These weren't necessarily things I needed to have. They gave me brief bursts of dopamine filled with "Well that was fun" instead of something more lasting. So this year is intended to cut back on the physical stuff and increase the experiences. I want to have memories that will last a lifetime in 2019.

8. Carry Over: Make My Apartment Feel like a Home - Curtains and more...

The irony of just finishing up talking about how I need to have more experiences and then talking about how I need to spend more on stuff for my apartment. I do though. My house, while it feels better than it did, still needs some attention. I'm going to get curtains for all the windows, get a few more pieces of art to put on the walls, and replace some dead furniture that either broke this past year or is just old enough to need to be replaced entirely.

9. Carry Over: Replace My Wardrobe - Continuing Mission

I've largely been very happy with my wardrobe replacement over the past year, but it needs to continue. I've mostly tossed out my old shoes leaving me with very little to wear with cute dresses and whatnot. I need to replace those. I want to continue to find stuff that just makes me feel good about myself. I need jewelry to wear with all of my outfits. I need shorts, since I haven't had those for about a decade. None of this has to be expensive stuff, but I feel like it'll have to be an ongoing process.

10. Love Myself / Body Positivity

Lastly, and most importantly, I'm very hard on myself. In fact, I can and often am downright mean to myself. This has to change. I tear myself down emotionally, call myself names, and convince myself of all sorts of things that aren't true. I have body image issues that I have been slowly working through. All of this is a lot, and it will probably take longer than one year. Better to start now than to wait. In 2019, I will learn to love myself.

Closing Thoughts

2018 was a whirlwind. I made it through to the other side better than I started. Here's hoping there's some momentum there and that 2019 will see even more successes. You, internet friend that's reading this blog post instead of doing something productive, help me stay accountable. You're a wonderful friend for doing so. Thanks for sticking with me, and here's to a wonderful new year!

I do a lot of thinking.

Yeah, I know...profound. Seriously though. Since I go through depressive periods, I find myself thinking about what I'll leave behind a lot. It's a very morbid thought, but I guess now that I've hit about mid life, I can't help but think that way. I see the wrinkles in my face more. I think about how much longer I have with my parents. I wonder how long it'll be before I get cancer. I find myself wondering if this is normal for someone who is my age or if it's just me. Is it because I'm still single at 37? Does my loneliness naturally lead to these kinds of thoughts? These are things I think about.

My grandfather died of cancer many years before I was born. I think about what that must have been like. My grandmother was single for the rest of her life. I understand that kind of loneliness, and it's not fun. I'm sorry she had to experience that. My mother had breast cancer. I have polycystic kidneys, which means I am more susceptible to brain aneurisms. I'm on artificial hormones, which increases my cancer risk and my risk of stroke. These are things I think about.

I also think about a movie I saw back in 2013 called the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It doesn't have a high tomato meter rating but audiences liked it. I think about it because it's very similar to my experience in a lot of ways. Walter zones out a lot and imagines fantastical scenes happening where he is far more interesting and heroic than his normal, every day life. He has a dating profile that he has trouble filling out because he believes he hasn't done anything of note or gone anywhere interesting. Then he just lets go and lets the adventure take over. I relate to Walter. While many people look at my life and think I'm very interesting and have a lot going on, I certainly don't feel that way. I have a very vivid imagination that puts me in all sorts of fantastical places. My adventure doesn't seem to have happened yet though. These are things I think about.

I watch a lot of science content, and I was interested to learn about Stephen Hawking's last publication in which he tries to limit the multiverse theory with a framework that would make the concept testable. I imagine that an infinite multiverse yields infinite combinations. These infinite combinations means there are infinite mes out there with infinite variability. This means there's a version of me that's a bio female from birth. There's a version of me that's a bio male that's not trans. There's a trans version of me that's straight, a version that's bi, a version that's pan, poly, and everything in between. There's a version of me that somehow stopped aging at 25 and never dies. There's a version of me just like that, but was born in the 1600s and has lived 418 years already. There's a version of me where I'm a sentient tree. No, not like Groot or an ent of some kind. Just a regular old tree somewhere that can think about stuff.

There's a version of me where I have super powers, and no one else ever does in that universe. There's a version of me where I'm an optimist. There's a version of me where I've never experienced anxiety or depression before. There's a version of me where I've been abducted by aliens and live the rest of my life in space. There's a version of me that died in a nuclear holocaust. A version of me followed my musical dreams, but failed and ended up homeless. Another version of me did the same, but became a superstar. Another version of me is so depressed that drugs are her only escape. Another is an alcoholic. Another embraced religion instead of rejecting it, like I did. Another that embraced it to the point of fanatacism. I'm particularly fond of the version of me that discovers how to make the exotic matter needed to power the Alcubierre warp drive and the other version of me that followed my original dreams of being an aeronautical engineer that becomes an astronaut. Or the one that didn't let fear control her and took the offer she had to get a career started as an editor in Hollywood.

And of course...there's the version of me that's doing the exact same thing I am right now... Thinking the same thoughts and feeling the same feelings. If the multiverse is truly infinite, that means there are infinite copies of me doing this exact thing right now. These are things I think about.

What I notice is that I rarely think about the version of me that's married, the version of me that's always happy, or the version of me that's really self confident. I don't think about the version of me that's not lonely or depressed. I don't think about the version of me that's insecure in relationships. I don't think about the version of me that everyone else very likely sees in this reality's version of me: the person they all seem to like.

These are things I should think about.