Posted on January 22nd 2020, 6:00 am
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”