Blog

It's been a while since a real blog post. So sit down and hold on to your hats, because there's some things swimming around in my head that need to be put down in words.

Prologue

It's been close to a year and a half since my last girlfriend and I broke up. For those of you that aren't friends with me on social media, I dated someone for a couple of months right after moving to Boston. It was a fast and bright burning relationship with a lady that I really liked. Her name was Dani, and I still think about her. It ended when I realized, thanks to good friends, that she was manipulating me. It wasn't maliciously intended, from what I could see. I think it was mostly her self consciousness and immaturity that caused her to do it, but it wasn't ok. So I ended it, but left it open to friends. We continued to hang out, and slowly things were returning to where we were before I broke it off. I realized that I was letting her back in and allowing her to manipulate me again. So I officially cut ties and walked away. It sucked for both of us, but it was what needed to happen.

There are things that relationship taught me. The first thing is that I wanted to be in a relationship again. I enjoyed having someone that I could be close to again. I had missed that more than I realized. The second thing was that I knew what I wanted in that relationship. Much like Dani, I needed someone that I was attracted to on a lot of levels. I also needed that person to be mature enough to be in a relationship... to know who they were and what they wanted. Dani was 25, and while there are many 25 year olds that are mature and what not, she wasn't quite there. Lastly, I truly needed someone I could trust. Given what I've been through, that's hard for me now.

I gave it a few months, after that relationship, since it was such an intense time. I needed to adjust to the city and settle in to the new job. Then I threw myself on OkCupid and started meeting people. I went on a few dates here and there, and nothing really landed. I finally met a lady that I seemed to get along with a lot, and we had fun. We went on a series of dates, but there was a problem. I wasn't feeling anything at all. Nothing. So I was honest with her and told her I wasn't feeling anything. I felt bad, because she really liked me.

I thought to myself...maybe it was just her? Maybe there was something I was subconsciously not interested in or something? So I tried again. I met another lady. We went out on a few dates. Same thing...had fun, enjoyed her company... but again, I felt nothing at all. I was honest with her too and at this point I knew it was me that was the problem. So I deleted my dating profile and decided to just not date.

The thing that was bothering me though... Almost all my dates and girlfriends since my former long term relationship ended have had my heart feeling very overprotective. It switches into self preservation mode at the first sign of any issues and while that's great for me to stay emotionally safe, it essentially destroys any relationship I'm in. Was this basically how things were going to be going forward? Sure seemed that way.

Enter about a year later...essentially the end of December / early January of this year, and I had been feeling pretty lonely. As I inch closer to middle age (yes I realize that's technically a ways off yet), I realize that I'm not getting any younger. Dating will only get harder as more lines show up on my forehead and what not. There's really no time like the present, and no one's going to just fall into my lap. So I made a goal of re-entering the dating scene, and I've done that. I no longer like dating apps, but it seems like how it's done these days. So I put myself up on Her, the dating app for women seeking women, and it's certainly been interesting. I've gone on about 2.5 first dates a week for the last three weeks. It's cool that I'm getting a decent amount of positive attention on the app, but it's overwhelming and exhausting. I've dialed back my usage of the app overall to slow things down.

Self Perception

So, all of that leads up to the topic at hand. It appears that the rest of the world sees me differently than I see myself. While this is probably true for everyone, it seems the difference for me is pretty drastic to the point that I wonder if I have some sort of body dysmorphia going on.

I've never really thought of myself as attractive. In college, prior to transition, one of my best friends at the time sat me down and told me that women weren't looking at me because I was an ugly, weird, freakish person. They were looking at me because I was attractive. I had been picked on so much growing up for being a nerd and what not that I had always assumed that was the case. Hell, even all the TV shows and movies said that nerds were ugly and unattractive. No one liked nerds. This was my worldview. I just assumed that's how I was perceived. Looking back, there were a number of women that were probably really in to me, but I literally couldn't see it because I had this view of myself.

Hearing my friend tell me this was surprising and eye opening, but you don't change your view of yourself with one friend overnight. I don't think it ever really sank in, and honestly, I still didn't really have any confidence. I've always been shy and quiet when it comes to dating and what not. So nothing really changed.

Then the fire nation attacked...

Actually no. I left college for a year to deal with depression related to gender identity, came out as trans, and started transition a year or so later. Society largely treats us trans folk as if we're unnattractive, unwanted, and freakish. So I just settled back in to my prior mindset. I had a hard time dating in college and afterwards. So that self image basically was well reinforced during that time. 

So enter the present day dating situation and I've heard the following statements. Also, for clarity here, I'm not bragging here. Stick with me:

"You were the most beautiful woman in the room, and I just can't get over it."

"I'd wager most eyes in the room are on you. You command attention."

At a queer ladies event: "...I noticed you holding court (it may not have felt like it, but that's what it looked like)"

"I'm going to kick myself in the ass if I don't talk to this woman."

"She's stunning!" - multiple people

"By all conventional standards, you're a knockout."

I literally don't know what to do with these statements. My jaw drops and I am seriously like "No... that can't be right" because to me it's not. There are rare times I see myself in the mirror and think I look reasonably attractive. Most times, I see a tall, gangly, kinda ugly person that likes to wear makeup. When people say compliments like this, it's so disparate from what I see myself as that I honestly have no idea what to say in response. People are like "Accept the compliment and say thank you", but to me it's literally like someone saying that the sky is red and I should just accept that. So I am typically dismissive of these compliments as according to my self image, they couldn't possibly be true. Though I also realize this is rude. So I've attempted to start saying thank you regardless.

So this brings me to my original thought of body dysmorphia. I've heard these compliments enough now that logically I have worked out that they couldn't all just be people being nice / taking pity on me. There has to be something to them, and therefore the issue has to be me... yet again. So I must be seeing a distorted image of myself when I look in the mirror, and it must be my lifelong conditioning that I'm unnattractive that's ingrained in me. I have brought this up with my therapist, and we're working on it. I think it's going to take a while though.

I think there's also a concern that I have related to accepting this "I'm apparently attractive" thing: ego. If you read far enough back in to my blog, you'll get to a point about 10 years ago when one of my ex's rightfully dumped me and cited my ego at the time. She was right, but my ego was never about my looks. It was related to my collegiate experience and so many people telling me that I was important and doing such amazing and important work. It really fluffed up my opinion of my importance, which led to my asshole nature then. I do not want to get any sort of inflated ego about myself ever again. So if I accept that I'm attractive in any way, how do I integrate that in a healthy way? I've also brought this up to my therapist. She's less concerned about it than I am citing, ironically, my own experience and concern as a reason it wouldn't be an issue. I'll probably always be concerned about that. I never want to be that person again.

Trans Wall

So back to the dating thing. It's never been easy for me. I'm happy that I'm getting a lot of positive attention. However, despite it being two thousand and fucking eighteen, there is still a ton of intolerance around being transgender. It's a damned wall in the way most of the time, and it suuuuuucks.

The Her dating app is very inclusive with identities and what not. I can put trans female as my gender identity if I so choose. However, I don't out of principle. Why? Because trans women are women and it shouldn't fucking matter. Side note, sorry about the language, but a good f bomb really drives that point home, you know? So, reality...it does matter to some people. In a lot of cases it's a total deal breaker. Fuck them, but it's true.

So, there are two schools of thought. 1. Don't put trans on your profile out of principle. Meet more people. Get rejected more often because of the label. But potentially meet some people who would never have considered dating trans and now will because they've met you first before judging you for a label. OR 2. Put trans on your profile and let those bigotted women self filter themselves out. Anyone who responds should be ok with dating a trans woman.

I've always gone with 1 because I've lived in places where the dating pool is just super small and let's face it...the midwest is a bit more narrow minded. So I chose to meet more people because I feared that no one would show interest at all if I said I was trans on my profile. Now that I live on a coast, I've been seriously considering switching to 2 because there's a lot more people open and accepting of trans women here. However it still makes me angry because I'm a woman and as I mentioned before...it. shouldn't. fucking. matter.

Case in point: over the last week, I had a lovely Irish woman start chatting with me on the app. We hit it off, and we eventually started texting. I hadn't come out to her yet as trans, and I didn't know when that would occur as it hadn't really come up organically. She did some sleuthing and found my facebook profile. One of her next messages to me was "Is there something weird or strange about yourself that you need to tell me?" Seriously. She thinks it's weird or strange that I'm trans. I said "Oh...you mean like, I'm building a robot? That's pretty strange, right?" because fuck her. When she finally asked me straight away if I was trans, I was like "Oh! Well yeah. But that's not weird or strange." Needless to say I stopped talking to her. My point here is that this is still how some people react to being trans, and it's not ok.

I was having conversation with another trans lady recently, and we both noticed that there seems to be an age gap in trans acceptance. People in their 30s right now are much less tolerant than people who are younger than 30. My ex girlfriend, for example, thought it was amazing and awesome that I'm trans. The younger people seem to celebrate trans identities. That certainly gives me hope for the future trans folks, and it also makes me a bit jealous for those who are that age. It's also why I've considered dating younger, even though there are challenges, as mentioned earlier, associated with that.

It's just so frustrating that even if and when I finally accept any sort of physical view of myself that includes me being attractive, the fact that I'm trans will always be a wall I have to scale to meet people. I could be as beautiful as Helen of Troy, and I'd be rejected because I'm trans. Sorry for dwelling on this, it just makes me so angry.

Interests

So one other thing I've noticed: a lot of the women I've met through this app are what some of my friends call "normies". By that, they mean they are not interested in much of the eccentric things we are all interested in. I'm a giant nerd. I love video games, sci fi, technology, nerd culture, cosplay, HEMA and sword play, etc. I'm not just interested in wine, bars, and going to the beach. It's weird because I feel like I have to explain myself on dates. "No...you see Star Trek is cool because it's an allegory on society...and spaceships are cool."

I think, despite the fact that I have lots of lady friends that are interested in these same things, I feel like in a dating situation, so many women are not interested in these things that I have to defend my femininity somehow. That liking video games is somehow inherently masculine, and that it reinforces the trans identity somehow. I'm also using somehow a lot in this paragraph...       somehow.

I hate this as well. There's nothing wrong with being interested in any of the things I'm interested in while also being a woman. So why am I constantly feeling like I have to defend these interests?

Closing Thoughts

All of this makes me seem like I'm not enjoying dating and am just really angry. That's not true. I'm having fun. I'm getting out and meeting people. I'm feeling like my life is full and vibrant right now, and that's fantastic. Hell, I didn't even write about how I went to New York City this weekend and hung out with a bunch of my best gay lady friends in the lesbian bars there. It was awesome, and I had a ton of fun. It had been delayed a week due to weather. Originally it was supposed to be birthday fun in NYC. Ultimately it still was.

Seriously...sometimes I look around at my life and how I've gotten here. I live in Boston. I take trips to New York City. I work for a kick ass tech start up. I love my job. I get to go to events at big companies like Google and feel all cool. I have friends all over the world. I think about all this and I feel humbled and amazed. I never expected any of this. I think to myself "Wow! This is my life now." I'm thankful for what I have and for all of you. I have said it on Facebook, but it's worth saying here too. Thank you, all of you, for being my friends. I really do love all of you.

 

At Year's End

It's that time again, folks! 2018 is here and wow, did it arrive super fast! As per usual, I didn't blog much. I thought about it a lot though! If only I had a thoughts to blog post brain extension to solve this problem... OH WAIT! I do! (looks at hands) I guess I'm just lazy then. Anyway, you know how this works. Let's look at last year's goals and see how we did, then make some new goals.

Last Year's Goals

1. Learn at least 3 new programming languages Fail

After I switched jobs, I actually had very little need for this. Anything that I would have learned wouldn't have been used, and thus quickly forgotten. I still think there's value in it, but it just became a low priority. So while I failed at this, I'm not broken up about it.

2. Learn at least 3 front end frameworks I don't already know - Success

I didn't learn 3. Technically one of the frameworks I learned I started learning in November of 2016, but I don't think I felt really comfortable with it until well into 2017. So I'm counting it. I also didn't learn the frameworks I listed, but I still learned 3. So I win.

3. Follow through on at least 2 personal coding projects not including this website - Fail

My personal priorities changed after the first few months of the year. I continued working on this site into April, and then I took a break because it was soaking up all my freetime. It wasn't a bad thing, but I wanted to do other stuff. I think once I headed out to Google I/O and switched jobs, the year got away from me. I spent time planning out finding a new place to live, finding another vehicle, planning a trip / surgery in South Korea, and suddenly it was December. Oh yeah, and once the Nintendo Switch arrived...all freetime was gone.

4. Get out of my house / comfort zone more - Huge Fail

This is an ongoing problem for me that really needs to change. Spoiler Alert! This will be a goal again this year, only with a measurable part. One could say "Jess, you flew all the way to Seoul! Does that not count?" and the answer is...I guess? I don't think of it that way. I don't play video games on weeknights. And I've been playing a number of huge, open world games that take forever. This is what took up my weekends this year, which means I've not been going out and doing shit. This is a problem. I love these games, but I need to get out more.

5. Don't settle anymore - Mixed

I'm no longer settling in a lot of ways. I went out on dates this year, and despite there being a lot of interest from the other parties, I was feeling emotionless and empty inside. So I ended it rather than continue on. That's good in a number of ways. I also made some really solid choices on what I want in a job / employer that has been super awesome for me. So you might be like "Isn't that a success then? Why is this labeled as mixed?". You're right, it probably should be, but it's also mixed because I don't think I'm satisfied with how dating and my love life has gone since making this goal. Is that because I'm not settling? Debatable...probably not. OK FINE! This goal is a Success.

6. Stop thinking and start acting / doing - Fail

As per usual for me, I still am thinking and not doing. There were a few times I didn't let this happen this year, namely with getting a gym membership and going (at least for a while). This is continually a problem though. The only major goal I set and accomplished is building a VR gaming machine. Much like the social goal, I need to make this more measurable.

7. Get my retirement plan in order - Giant Fail

Much like the opening statement of last year's definition of this goal, I've been actively avoiding this. I do eventually need to address it though. I need to get my priorities in order for it.

8. Learn to not hate cardio - Impossible

So... I tried. I gave it my best effort. I learned that I can do cardio, but I will never stop hating it. What I can say is that I like what cardio does for me, and I like how my body feels after working out, in general. I plan to return to the gym after the new year's rush ends. So like...February. Cardio will be a part of that. I'm not going to enjoy doing it though.

9. Make use of my passport - Success

I went to South Korea! Passport used! *success music plays*

10. Visit friends as often as possible - Mixed

My goal was 4, but I didn't get to that number. I visited friends in San Francisco. I visited friends in New York. I also visited Family, which only half counts because that's always planned. I didn't travel more than that because time got away from me, and stuff (Zelda, moving, Korea) got in the way. I've already got plans to visit 3 different friend locales in 2018. So I'm sure this will get better.

Final Verdict on 2017 Goals

3 successes, 1 Mixed, 5 Fails, and 1 deemed impossible. It seems 3 successes is my standard now as it's happened for several years in a row. Consistency is not improvement though. I can do better. Overall though, what a whirlwind of a 2017. I never would have expected I'd fly to the other side of the world to get surgery this year. The unexpected is exciting, and I want to keep that up. Onward to 2018!

 

2018 Goals

I did categories last year. It really ended up only being two categories. So we're not doing that this year. I might have some goals that have logical grouping, and if I do, I'll put them next to each other. Otherwise, I'm rather looking forward to 2018. I think it's going to be a great year.

Alright, let's do this! Leeeeeeeerooooooooooooooy Jeeeeeeeeeeeenkiiiiiiiiiiiiiiins!!!!!!

1. End the great hermitage of 2017

Yes, this is my "Be more social and get out more" goal. It's number 1 because I think it's the biggest thing that really needs to change going into the new year. I love my me time, and like any introvert, I love cancelled plans. I need a balance though. I always feel great after going and being social. So my goal for this year is to do one social thing a week. It can be arranging plans to hang out with a friend, going to a meetup, a facebook event, or a party. It just can't be professional related or going to the gym. Those don't count. Valid excuses include being sick, injured, weather issues, or extenuating circumstances. I also give myself 3 passes that I can use up at any time. Stupid introvert brain...

2. Build some things, dammit!

This is my "turn thoughts into reality" goal from last year. This year it'll be measurable. I have a number of things I want to see happen. So we're doing a sub-list.

  1. Make every other Sunday "Project Sunday" where I dedicate time to build / make something.
  2. Make or finish 4 costumes
  3. Build out more website features to this site, namely the commenting system, pagination, and blog navigation
  4. Pull R2-D2 out of hiatus and add more stuff to him (dome for sure, legs are a bonus)
  5. I need sword mounting / storage gear that displays well in my apartment. This is something I could definitely build myself.

3. Reprioritize financial goals

2017 was expensive. Moving cost me a lot due to using a rental agent, hiring movers and having to do first and last month rent. The Korea trip was as expensive as you'd think. I hadn't expected to spend so much this year. So, I have plans to shift my goals to other things. Here's another sub list.

  1. Allocate more funds to savings
  2. Spend more on clothing (more on this later)
  3. Put some funds towards R2
  4. Put funds towards my apartment (more on this later)
  5. Save for laser hair removal on my legs

4. Replace my wardrobe

Since moving to Boston, I've gone shopping only a handful of times, and I've not enjoyed much of any of it. I think a lot of it has to do with the styles that are in right now. I'm really not a fan of the 80's resurgence, as no one could ever say the 80s were good fashion wise. I've also been so darn lazy with my wardrobe choices most of the year too, which has annoyed me. I've done the "software engineer uniform" for a large part of the year, aka t-shirt, jeans, and a hoodie. Don't get me wrong, it's comfortable, but it's literally the least I can do. I know from the past that when I put effort into my clothes and stuff, I feel really good about myself. So, I'm going to make an effort to do that this year with my clothing choices. I especially want more dresses in my life, as I wear them rarely right now. Part of that is laziness with leg shaving, which is why my prior financial goal bullet point of funds for laser on my legs is there. I have long legs and dark hair. I'd wear dresses more if it wasn't annoying to shave them.

5. Make my apartment feel like a home

I moved in August, and I'm still using a folding table instead of an actual table for my dining room / eating space. My guest room is a mess. I've got one or two things on the walls, and I have no curtains hanging, despite curtain rods being present. Obviously given the Korea trip and the aforementioned cost of moving, home goods have not been at the top of my list, but I want to get to a place where I feel less embarassed having people over. I need furniture, rugs, curtains, a table, a better desk, and wall decorations. By January 1, 2019, I want to have a place that feels much more cozy.

6. Keep off the weight

I didn't mention this earlier, but I lost over 10 pounds this year. I saw a photo of myself at Google I/O in May, and all I could see was my belly. I was really self conscious for quite a while after that. I'm sure no one else ever noticed it, but it's all I could see. I have an ideal healthy weight that I hit right after getting back from Korea, and I felt really great about it. Part of it had to do with working out, eating better, and then having surgery, which made me not want to eat for a bit. I've since gained a few pounds back, but not a lot. I'd like to keep myself hovering around that goal weight. I like how I feel about myself when I'm there.

7. Learn how to do hair stuff

I made a goal in years past to learn how to do eye makeup better, and that went exceptionally well. I get compliments on my makeup frequently now, which is awesome. Plus it's super fun, and I enjoy it. It's contributed to an addiction to Urban Decay makeup and a need for more makeup storage though. So there are downsides. Ha! Anyway, I've never been confident doing anything with my hair other than blowdrying it and what not. I absolutely love the loose curl look, and I have everything I need to do it. I just need to try it and get comfortable with it. I want to change things up and try all sorts of things. YouTube should help me here, but I think the biggest concern for me is melting my hair or burning my hands. So wish me luck!

8. Learn three.js

Here's my one specific coding goal. Three.js is a library that allows full 3D animation on the web using canvas. I love doing animation on the web, and I've wanted to learn 3D for so long. I think this would be a great entrance into that realm, and it has both personal and professional benefits. So this is a solid one for me to take on this year.

9. Swording

My relationship with HMA, sword training, etc, has been a rough one this year. I left my sword club towards the end of last year partly because of injury and the other part because I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't having fun, and I asked myself if I'm not having fun, why am I doing something? So I stopped. I've been thinking a lot about my history with sword training, what I love about it, and what I don't. I've realized that I really don't enjoy classroom environments for it. I like to learn and get better, but I don't learn well with physical activity in a classroom / drill environment. I need a balance of classroom and sparring to really enjoy it. I realized that I missed the approach my past groups had, which happened to be reenactment groups. While I don't care much for taking on the historical personas and what not, I love the training and camaraderie of those groups. The swordsmanship and techniques there may not be HMA quality, but who cares? The HMA community also seems to focus entirely too much on tournaments and competition, which really doesn't interest me. So I'm trying to figure out what I want to do in relation to this. I've considered spending more time with the Viking Irish, and I'm also strongly considering starting my own group of Amazon fighting women. I just need to work out the logistics. Regardless of all of this, I want to get back into swords in a way that feels healthy for me. If it's not swords, than maybe it's a local parkour club or something. That'd be cool too.

10. Dating / Finding love

As I mentioned earlier in the 2017 assessment of my "Don't settle" goal, I wasn't feeling dating much this year. My heart wasn't in it. I've been thinking a lot about my feelings and why it hasn't been there. I know I'm so overprotective of my heart being broken now that it's kept me from opening up. I'm hoping to change that. My mother told me a story over the holidays about my grandmother and her history with love. I never met my grandfather. He died from cancer years before I was even a thought. I realized I never saw my grandmother with anyone new. I asked my mom, and she told me that my grandmother did attempt dating. She met a man who ended up lying to her face and cheating on her. After that happened, she never dated again. She spent 30 years of her life alone, largely as a hermit. I never knew this, and it really made me think about how similar our situations are / were. I don't want that to be my story, too. So my dating hiatus ends with 2017.

Closing thoughts

Given how 2017 when, I think the theme of 2018 is "Expect the Unexpected". It was an interesting year, and I expect 2018 to be even more so. Let's plan on seeing each other this year, you...friend that's reading this, and let's make it a fun time! See you soon!

Hey all. It's been a while. A lot of things have happened since any major update I've done in the past...geez...two years? Damn. I obviously don't write in here as much as I used to. Believe me, I think about it a lot. Yet I don't write. I don't know what changed in the last several years, but I've just kind of gone with it.

I'm not going to go over all the changes in my life since then right now because I came to write with a purpose in mind. Perhaps I'll do a more full life update later. Briefly though, for anyone that doesn't know, I no longer live in Iowa. I moved to Boston, Massachusetts about a year ago. There are a lot of reasons behind that, but to make a long story short, I needed a change. My career in Iowa reached probably the height of what it was going to be, and I wasn't growing anymore. I saw a few really cool opportunities, and one of them landed me in Boston.

Now, that out of the way, on to what's really on my mind. I've been feeling a bit empty, to be honest. I hesitate to use the phrase "Dead Inside" because I think that's too harsh. I should be more specific, too. I feel this way specifically when it comes to relationships and love. It's a feeling that's been persistent for a few years really. I don't think it goes as far back as when I first moved to Iowa and got my heart broken, but it could have started there and grown over time. I really don't know.

I have had a few relationships since then though. There were a couple of short lived girlfriends in that time, and they did make me feel pretty great during our time together. The problem for me is that something has happened in those relationships that has caused me to pull away. In one case it's been entirely my fault, in the case of a cautious, over protective heart and reading too far into a behavior. In another it's been realizing that I was in a relationship with a manipulator, despite my feelings towards her otherwise. It really sucks knowing that you really like someone, but they're wrong for you.

Since those relationships ended, I've made numerous attempts at dating. I've noticed a trend though. I feel nothing at all anymore. I haven't had butterflies in a long time now. I've been on dates with people who I should very much be interested in: smart, funny, beautiful, talented women. I go on dates and have fun. I geniunely enjoy their company, but there's just been no spark for me. I've had several women now that I've had to tell that I'm just not feeling anything. What's worse is that I know they really like me. They've told me so.

What is wrong with me? Why can't I feel anything anymore? It's this weird sensation like...maybe I'm just not meant to be in relationships. It's gotten so bad that I just stopped trying to date. I shut down my dating profile. I don't know if I'm just taking a short break or if I'm done for a good long time. I guess we'll see.

I've been thinking a lot about getting older, which is probably normal for someone who is in their mid 30s. I think Boston Pride was a bit of a catalyst for me in that regard. I was hanging out with some friends, and we went to this ladies outdoor dance party. We were surrounded by women, a lot of which were in their early to mid 20s. All I could feel is how uncomfortable and self-conscious I was. I was keenly aware of the shape of my body and how unhappy I am with my level of fitness lately. I was first feeling this at Google I/O this year, and this only exaccerbated those thoughts.

I haven't been doing anything with HEMA lately because of my lack of a car (I sold it last year) and how difficult it is to take a giant sword gear bag on the bus or train. Combine that with various foot problems I've had since moving here and a general sense of discouragement, and you can understand why I haven't put a lot of effort into going back. So I joined a gym and started going as much as I can. I've since lost 6 pounds since Pride about a month and a half ago. At least I'm doing something to help in a positive way. There's another big change coming, but I'll write about that later.

So yeah, between the confidence issues and the lack of ability to feel romantic feels, life is pretty blah right now. I've made some friends here in Boston, and they're great. I deeply miss my Iowa friends though. I wish I could move them all here to be in Boston with me (those of you reading this should seriously consider it!). I'm so glad that my professional life is going so great. At least I have that.

There it is. My first substantial post since becoming a New Englander. My apologies on one thing. I've not had time recently to add comment functionality on the new blog yet. So for now, feel free to comment on the Facebook post.

Live Long and Awesome.

 

Boston

Another year has gone by, and what a crazy year it's been! I've switched jobs, moved across the country again, and even sold my car! With all that happening, sadly, this is my FIRST post since last year's resolution post. To be fair, I rebuilt my website this year, and for a good portion of 2016 I didn't even have a system for writing posts. This post is about a week late due to the fact that I spent the last two weeks building out support for my blog on this version of the website. So...excuses out of the way, let's get on to the reflection on last year's goals.

Last Year's Resolutions

1. Write at least 6 posts or videos Giant Fail

This is really no surprise to me. My excuse for the blog is in the opening paragraph, but that doesn't explain my lack of videoing too. I've seen comments on my YouTube channel marking two years time since my last video. My priorities have been elsewhere, what with the move and getting situated here in Boston. I don't know that any videos will happen again until I leave this apartment for a larger space. We'll see though.

2. Make measurable progress on R2-D2 - Success

Admittedly, my statement in the paragraph following this goal was to have frame, dome, and legs in place. However, I learned how unreasonable that goal was after I got started. I'd have had to put a lot of money and time in to get the dome and legs done. However, I DO have a complete frame, which is definitely measureable progress. All things considered, it's a lot of progress given the disruption in my life this year. You can see photos of my R2 frame here.

3. Do something physically active at least twice a week - Mixed

Some weeks have been better than others with this. When I was in Iowa, I was very regularly doing HEMA at least once a week. Sometimes I was doing home workouts. Then I moved. Now, while I'm a member of a HEMA school here, which is supposed to be twice a week, I'm not always going twice a week. I'd say it's more often once a week than anything. I am, however, walking a lot every day now that I don't have a car. According to my smartwatch, I'm meeting my heart activity goal every workday. Still, I'm not quite sure I can say I'm active enough. So definitely mixed.

4. Take at least 2 trips somewhere for myself - Mixed

I've actually traveled a lot this past year. I went to San Francisco for a week in May. I went back for two days in June. I moved to Boston. I traveled to Norwalk, Connecticut and Rochester, New York for work. I went back to Wisconsin twice and Des Moines once. Some of these trips were for work. Some of them were for professional development. Some were for visiting family, but only one of them was really because I truly just wanted to go somewhere.

5. Create a healthier food plan and follow it - Another Giant Fail

Why is food so hard? Two years in a row now I've said this, and I've failed miserably. I am so damned lazy when it comes to food planning. Seriously, if I planned for food, I'd save so much money! Such a waste.

6. Drink more water - Fail

What can I say? I like soda. I like water too, at certain times like after a workout, later at night, when I'm outside in the hot sun, and when I'm dehydrated. Unfortunately when I'm not in those scenarios, I go for the sweet stuff instead. Bad Jess! Bad!

7. Pick up new hobbies / re-learn old ones: aka sewing - Fail

I did not do this. I have no excuse. There was time. I just... didn't.

8. Improve my makeup skills - Resounding Success

Thank you, Sephora free makeup classes! I got really good at the smokey eye technique in the third quarter of the year. I'm actually really proud of it. I still have things to learn. My next goal is liquid eyeliner. I tried it out for the first time today, and holy hell was it bad. I need lots of practice before I can be seen even in private with that stuff on. Regardless though, I'm enjoying learning more. It's fun and makes me feel good about myself.

9. Do something creative for myself - Success

My easy example is this website. I built the beginnings of it back in May / June, and I've been ever so slowly improving it since. Yes, some of it is technical, but the design elements are entirely my own. I'm really proud of how it's turned out so far.

10. Stay emotionally healthy - Mixed

With all the change happening in my life this year, my emotional health has been fluctuating a lot. It's been especially challenging with being alone and so far away from all the people I love so much. I am making new friends, but even with that, my emotional stability has had some extreme highs and extreme lows this year.

Summary Judgement of 2016

We have 4 fails, 3 successes, and 3 mixed results. That's actually exactly the same results I had in 2015. So at least I'm consistent! Shooting for 60/40 was definitely aiming for over acheiving. What a crazy year 2016 was though! It feels a bit like I've been swept into a maelstrom and I'm trying to find my way to smooth water. I know people call it a dumpster fire of a year. It wasn't quite that for me, but it was all over the place. I hope 2017 is smoother, though I expect it probably won't be.


2017 Goals

Goals, you say? Why not resolutions, Jess? Isn't that what they're called? New Year's Resolutions? Well, person reading this post, in reality that's not what these have become for me. I came to the realization this year that I'm really just setting goals for myself for the year. So why not just call them that? Furthermore, I'm going to divide them up into categories just to make it more complicated. So here goes:

Professional:

1. Learn at least 3 new programming languages

Continual learning is really important in my field, and plus, I just want to keep getting better at what I do. So I want to find at least three languages and learn them reasonably well. Right now I'm learning TypeScript. So that's one, I guess. Though it is a bit cheating since it's an extended version of JavaScript.

2. Learn at least 3 front end frameworks I don't already know

I'm very comfortable in Angular 1 and 2. This site is built with Angular. I'd like to learn React, Ember, and Vue. They're all very popular frameworks, and I think learning each one gives me much better insight into the front end as a whole. I think this goal flows into the next professional goal as well.

3. Follow through on at least 2 personal coding projects not including this website

Lately I've found coding at home to be addicting, which is a drastic change for me. In the past I've found it has burned me out. Now I'm just eating it up. I've been staying up way too late some nights coding on this website. Whole weekends have vanished into this project. It's been a lot of fun seeing it grow, and I'd like to see that happen with other project ideas I have too.

Personal:

4. Get out of my house / comfort zone more

Seriously, I stay in too much. I have always been perfectly comfortable staying in my apartment for an entire weekend lost in a video game, working on a project, binging a show, or what have you. While I know there's nothing wrong with that, I feel like I've been such a hermit over the past year. I know it contributes to my emotional health fluctuations. I need to get out there and be social. I'm not going to grow as an individual if I stay in my comfortable places and bubbles. I need to go out when I don't feel like it. I need to go to places I wouldn't normally. I feel like I'm not really living, and well...cliche but you only live once.

5. Don't settle anymore

I've done a lot of settling in my life. I do things because they are seemingly the best thing at the time regardless of whether they are the thing I want or not. This is bad. This is not acceptable. I need to change this behavior. I need to start saying no to things I don't want and yes to the things I do. If the things I do want are not there yet, I need to wait and / or work harder to get them. If there is any goal for me in 2017, this is it.

6. Stop thinking and start acting / doing

I have a LOT of ideas. Some of these ideas are creative writing. Some are web projects. Some are start up ideas. Some are just weekend projects. What do I do? I think about them a lot. What don't I do? I don't make them a real thing. This is another thing that needs to change. I think my motivation at the beginning of this year has been great. I just need to keep up the momentum.

7. Get my retirement plan in order

I've been actively avoiding this, to be honest. It's one of those things that I know is really important, but I just don't want to think about it. I need to though. I have retirement plans at several different former jobs that I need to get rolled over, and I'd like to have a solid financial direction other than "save a bunch". I've been doing that last part, but I need to figure out how real adults do this.

8. Learn to not hate cardio

Yes, this is the obligatory "I need to get in shape" post. In truth though, this is less about getting in shape than it is about how much I really hate cardio. Cardio hates me too. We're not on speaking terms. I have no trouble with strength exercises. I just hate that high heart rate, no air in my lungs, need lots of water feeling. I know it really needs to change, though. That's what keeps a heart and body healthy. Stupid body and it's stupid needs... *grumble grumble*

9. Make use of my passport

Now that I finally have my passport, I need to make good use of it. Right now there is the potential for 2 overseas trips this year. I need to follow through on at least one of them.

10. Visit friends as often as possible

If I've been feeling lonely, there are ways to solve that. I have friends all over the country. I need to visit them more. I know without a doubt that I will feel better about life after seeing people I care about. I need to make this happen. There are 12 months in a year. Let's see if I can visit friends in different parts of the country at least 4 times. If that number is greater than 4, it's a giant success.

Closing Thoughts

As I mentioned, 2016 was all over the place for me. I hope 2017 is smooth, easy going, and fun. I really hope for the fun part. I hope you have a great 2017 too.

It's that time again! That's right, folks! We're going to look back on the past year's resolutions to see how we did. Who is "we", you ask? You clearly ask too many questions. Anyway, on to the reflection.

Last Year's Resolutions

1. Stay Active - Mixed Bag

This definitely didn't happen with regularity. I'd say I was as active in 2015 as I was in 2014. I was in the gym a lot in the first couple of months all the way through March. Once Meat got sick, I stopped going with regularity like I had been. Then he passed, and I really didn't have much desire to work out for a while. I picked it back up in July and was really good about working out at home for several months. Then I got sick, and I never really got back to it. Now I'm back in a sword / fencing group, but that's only once a week. So I could use some improvement.

2. Eat Better - Fail

This is continually a problem. I don't cook for myself often enough. I'm eating a lot of frozen pizzas, pot pies, and other really not great foods. Sometimes I come home and have a bowl of cereal. I know other adults do this same thing, but that doesn't make it good. I just tell myself that to make myself feel better about it. What I really need to do is plan ahead for my meals rather than figuring them out on the fly.

3. Spend Less time on Social Media - Fail

Another ongoing problem... I read the Nerdist book last year, and Chris Hardwick talked about how social media can just soak up time with no valuable product on the other side. He created a way to manage that time, and I should follow in his footsteps in that regard. There's so much I could be doing with my time that would be better than what I have been doing.

4. Follow through on personal projects - Fail

I think my biggest problem here is that personal projects have been code related. In order for me to do anything code related at home means I have to not do code related things at work. Since that's not going to change, my personal projects will. In August, I decided to start a new hobby: building an R2-D2. I've already made some progress on it. So hopefully 2016 will be more successful in this arena.

5. Less Frivolous Spending - Success

While I think there's still a bit of frivolity in my spending habits, this year forced me to spend less. The house going on the market was a big part of that. The cost of rent AND half of a mortgage really forced me in to spending on things I need rather than want. I cut my expenses to the bare minimum, ate bag lunches, and still managed to save money each month. I'm really proud of that. I came out the other side better than I ever expected to. Here's hoping I keep it up. There's already good signs of that. I've cancelled unnecessary or unused services, switched to less expensive providers for others, and thoroughly researched anything else I needed to spend money on. Here's to a good financial future.

6. Less screen time overall - Fail

Considering my work is screen time, and I'm a technology fanatic, this was probably a bad resolution to make. Now I have a smart watch too. So screens are not going away for me. I honestly think that better management of #3 would make this a moot issue. So I think if I focus on that, things will be just fine.

7. Read More - Mixed Bag

I definitely have acquired more books in my Audible account. I started off the year pretty well. That continued through the middle of the summer. Every time I mowed the lawn, I was listening to a book. Same went with driving out to D&D on Sundays. Unfortunately the Sunday gaming ended. A few of the books I was listening to were not keeping my attention OR were giving me anxiety. So I switched over to Nerdist podcasts, which was great. Still, I should get back to reading.

8. Have Fun - Success

While there have been down times for me this year, I've had a lot of fun. I went to two comic cons. I spent a lot of time with friends. I'm in a Pathfinder and Star Wars RPG group. I started fencing again. I saw Star Wars. I started dating again. I let myself have fun with photography all summer long. I had a lot of good times this year, and I'm quite happy about that.

9. Learn a New Skill - Success

This wasn't quite what I had in mind when I created this resolution, but I think it fits. I have joined a fencing group, and now I'm learning a new weapon: German long sword. It's so much fun, and I'm so excited to keep learning. With my R2-D2 project, I had hoped it would be something related to making stuff, but that project is a bit more slow to get started than I had hoped. So, that new skill set will be learned in the next year.

10. Stay Happy - Mixed Bag

Between Meat passing in the Spring and the struggle of selling the house, I had a really rough down patch in the middle of the year. The rest of the year wasn't so bad. Keeping active really helps with staying happy, and I think each time I've gotten down, working out has helped pick me back up. I do feel like depression will be something I flirt with for the rest of my life, but at least I have all the tools I need to combat it and keep it at bay.

Overall Verdict for 2015

Doing the math, there were 3 successes, 4 fails, and 3 mixed. I'd say with that, it's about a 50/50 year for me. There were two big hurdles that really hit me hard, and now that I'm through those, there's nothing in my way. I'm sure 2016 will bring some new ones, but hopefully they won't be as huge as a house in Texas was. Let's shoot for 60/40 next year.

2016 Resolutions

For 2016, I'm going to do something slightly different. I'm going to make each goal measurable. That way it's not just a nebulous thing that can be fudged. Measurable also means easier to work towards and achieve. So here goes:

1. Write at least 6 blog posts / videos

I wrote 2 posts last year and made no videos. I really got lazy with video production, and that needs to change. I do enjoy it and people have been asking on my YouTube channel when I'll make more. So I really should. Plus, I need to post when I'm not just down, which seems to be what my blog has become. I'd like to change that, and concrete number goals are better than just "post more". So 6 is a good goal.

2. Make measurable progress on R2-D2

This one should be a fairly easy goal, but it still is worth writing down. For those that don't know, I decided in August of 2015 that I needed a new hobby that wasn't coding and involved creating something with my hands. After having seen home built droids at Planet Comic Con, I though that would be super fun. So I've joined the R2-D2 builders club. I'm on a waiting list for a frame right now, and while that's progress, I want appreciably more progress. I want to end the year with the build looking more R2-like and less "pile-o-parts" like. So for measurability, let's say frame, dome, and legs need to be present. Some of the skin finishings would be added bonuses, and anything beyond that is extra credit.

3. Do something physically active at least twice a week

This is easily one of the hardest one of all of them. I'm going to fencing again, which is about once a week. However it skips a week every month. So, that will require some monitoring. I'll need to add something else to the regimen too. I've ended my expensive gym membership, and I may start something like DailyBurn or similar.

4. Take at least 2 trips somewhere for myself

I've been out of college for 10 years now, and I've never treated myself to a real vacation involving traveling somewhere. No, Wisconsin doesn't count. Neither does the Twin Cities. It can't be traveling for a conference either. I need to go somewhere just for me. I'd love to go to Europe, but I don't know if that will happen this year. I'm thinking NYC and then I'm not sure where else. Suggestions are appreciated.

5. Create a healthier food plan and follow it

This is another of the more difficult resolutions, especially since "Eat Better" was last year's, and I failed that one. Still, this is important. I need some sort of system for planning for meals that doesn't involve frozen meals or a lot of pizza. It would be great if there was a website for this kind of thing. I need a schedule with an ingredient list and prep instructions for my week. Basically something that would create my shopping list and have everything mapped out. I'll have to look to see if that exists. Either way, that's what I want, and hopefully if it doesn't exist, I can create it myself. The biggest challenge is combating my own laziness, though. I get home from work and don't want to do anything. Hopefully the plan can help fight that. Measurable goals: cook a decent meal at home at least 3 times a week. Stretch goal: 5 times a week.

6. Drink more water

I've been making inroads with this goal at work already. I have a water bottle, and I've largely swapped soda for water there on most days. I do allow a cheat day, which is fine. However at home I don't drink as much water as I should. I have too many options. I really just need to remove soda from the house again. That will help a lot. Measurable goals: 32 oz a day of water.

7. Pick up new hobbies / re-learn old ones: aka sewing

Yes, I know that everyone sits and watches Netflix a lot or possibly plays video games. However, I'd like more productive time as well where I'm doing something I enjoy and get something tangible out of it at the end. That doesn't mean I'm going to stop watching TV or gaming. It just means I'd like to swap some of that time for hobby time. Sewing would be good, which means I need a sewing machine. Other hobbies may pop in as well. Measurable goals: finish my Jedi costume.

8. Improve my makeup skills

I have taken steps with this already by replacing all my crap makeup with decent stuff. I still feel like I barely know what I'm doing though. I got a cool urban decay eye shadow palette for Christmas, and I know enough to make a mess of things. I've been largely successful so far, but I'd like to get to the point that I feel like I'm somewhat competent in my skills. I guess this means practice. Sorry friends, you might see Raccoon Jess sometime soon. Measurable goals: Hmm, not really sure. Maybe post some selfies and get people's opinions? I'm open to suggestions.

9. Do something creative for myself

Photography doesn't count in this case. Yes, it's creative, but I want to do something other than that for this resolution. Plus, I don't think I'd describe my photography as creative. It's more just capturing nature in a moment I enjoyed. Maybe it's writing something. Maybe it's creating a video that's not just a talking head. Maybe it's doing something with animation. All of these things interest me. It's high time I get these ideas out of my head and on to some sort of medium. Measurable goal: at least one uniquely creative thing put out there for the world to see.

10. Stay Emotionally Healthy

I feel like this will always be in my resolution list because it's so important and so difficult. It's not exactly measurable, but it's still something worth writing down. As I wrote earlier, I feel like I'll flirt with depression for the rest of my life. There will always be up and down parts of my year, but the goal is that the up parts of the year far outweigh the down parts of the year. Another important facet is to not let my anxiety control my life. Here's to a healthy emotional 2016.

Closing Thoughts

2015 was a transitional year for me. The house is gone now. There's no more anchor keeping me in the past. Here's to making 2016 and beyond one of the best years on record. Happy 2016, everyone!

P.S. I thought it helpful to add that this year I have a friend that wants to help keep me honest on my resolutions. We'll be checking in quarterly to see how things are going and hold each other accountable. So there's that. I'm also strongly considering moving my blog to Tumblr since...why not. I really don't use this website for anything else, and well...tumblr seems pretty awesome. I'm sure I'll keep everyone posted.

Hehe...posted... :D