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I write so my brain doesn't stay so full #100Days

Hate

They say you shouldn't let hate fester, but I hate you.

Try as I might, I can't stop it. In meditation, they say you have to feel your feelings. You can't push them out; you must sit with them. I feel waves of hate, waves of despair that I let you so utterly ruin me. I hate you. I will not forgive you. I wish the furies upon you. I wish the fate of Prometheus for you. I wish you to suffer daily. I wish you to know it was me that summoned hellfire and demons to torment you. I want you to hurt, because I hurt so badly for so long, and you didn't care.

I hate you. I am so mad at myself, and I don't know that I'm mad at myself in spite of you or because of you. How could I be so stupid? How could I sign such a lease? How could I have been so hurried, so care careless? How could I have made so many missteps along the way? Well, because I trusted you. I trusted you to stay with me, to care for me. I trusted you to be my partner. I'm mad at myself for expecting that, because you never were. I expected those things because I'd constructed a fantasy. But you were never good to me, and I hate you.

I should have hated you early on. I should have known to hate you from the moment you chose his side, the side of your friend sexually harassing me. I should have know when you sided with scum, and acted like I was the problem. But I was in too deep, too long. So now I'm left to hate you.

I hate you for the horrific way you mentally tormented me, as if a pandemic wasn't enough. You made me jump through hoops, to play your little germophobic games. You counted how long I washed my hands. You always noticed whether I'd used hand sanitizer. You wouldn't even touch me if I'd gone out in public, until after I'd showered. I couldn't touch my face, or my hair. I couldn't eat finger food. You would scold me, judge me, shun me, if I accepted food offered to me by a friend. Your hawk-like eye would follow me, every touch of my phone, you watched, waiting for me to wash my hands again. I could do no right. And you'd shun me for being germy, for being unclean. You made me feel as disgusting as a piece of refuse clinging to your shoe. In your eyes, I was trash.

You demanded everything from me. You demanded everything be done your way. I couldn't use your coffee grinder, for fear I would break it. You demanded the bed be a certain way, for your sleep. You demanded the cups be rim up, and the couch be at a 45 degree angle, and the U Haul be loaded just the way you wanted. You demanded everything be plastic bagged: chips, masks, wet wipes, trail mix, anything, all taken from it's original packaging and zip-locked. You tortured me with your demands. You made me live in fear of pushing you over the edge.

I saw what happened when you went over the edge. I didn't now how to handle it. One time, something touched something else it wasn't supposed to... a fabric touched a dirty piece of concrete. You were nearly catatonic for days with fear, anxiety, worry. I cared for you. I soothed you. I reasoned with you. I listen to you, supported you, helped you. I gave you so much, but you never gave anything back. You took and took and took and took. You drained me of all my life force.

And when I needed something in return, you refused. I needed love. I needed care. I needed you to pretend to care about anything about me, the books I read, my garden, my family, my crafts. You cared about nothing. You didn't care about me. After two years, you couldn't remember my brother's name. You'd spend many evenings with him. But you certainly knew you didn't like him. And you made sure I knew it too. I hate you. I hate you for not remembering my brother's name.

In the end, after months of seeing almost only you, after a year of a world in pandemic, you stopped touching me. You acted like I was disgusting. Like I was germy, unclean, unlovable. Unwantable. You made me think there was something wrong with me. And when I finally, finally, finally melted down, you blamed me for being selfish. I will never forgive you. I hate you.

If anything you say about your dad was true, it's a good thing he's dead. He'd be disgraced to see the pathetic excuse for a man that you've grown into. You're unimpressive, emotionally and mentally unequipped to handle this world. It's very lucky your mother has so much money; you'll need it to keep you afloat, because you have no prospects. I hate you and I am disgusted, repulsed by you.

I hate you. For your emotional abuse and gaslighting. For the way you stole years from me. For the convoluted, arduous housing situation you made me extricate us from. I hate you. I'm not proud to say how long I will burn with this hatred for you. You've ruined me. I become a little bit more of myself again every day, but you broke me in a way I didn't know I could be broken. I hate you. I pray for every woman who falls into your path. May you run away as fast as you can.

My Pledge to Y'all

I am making a pledge to you all, here and now.

I pledge to submit my novel to one publisher by the end of the month. If I don't, every one of you who reads this can come to SoCal and demand that I take you out for a beer. Every. Single. One of you.

It seems like a pretty empty consequence, because I don't believe my readership is that high, but I will pretend like the consequence is actually that I have to pay for thousands of beers. And while I would love to have a chat with most anyone over a beverage, I would not like to pay for it all. So, this is my pledge.

What's the impetus now? Well, I have been listening to "Big Magic" by the Eat, Pray, Love lady, Elizabeth Gilbert. Firstly, the books has me inspired again. Its message is part of why I'm back on my writing kick. But specifically, she calls out that finished is better than perfect. It's trite. It's obvious. We've all heard it before. But clearly that message hasn't really made a home for itself in my brain until now.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a novel for NaNoWriMo. Then I did NOTHING with it. I tried to edit it to a "finished state" but never really got anywhere. All that writing, for naught. When I hemmed and hawed recently about it not being ready for print, that it needed editing, my person pointed out that that's what editors were for. Editing. It's in their job title. And honestly, why worry about it being perfect? It's probably not. And if it ever does get accepted, I'm sure the editor will have notes that will require some fixing anyway. Why not just wait for some notes to come, eventually?

Plus, if I do send it in, and it ever gets read, maybe I'll get some focused feedback, instead of just me trying to clean and tidy my novel in a vacuum.

Anyway, I found all these how-to-send-in-your-manuscript pages online. But I think I'm going to ignore them. I'm not going to go to so much effort to make it all perfect.. I mean, I don't do much in the way of spiffing up my resume when I job hunt. Why would this be any different for me? I hope that me, my work, the audacity of being a little-less-than-perfect, will speak for me and charm someone.

So. Anyway. I'm going to submit a manuscript to my publisher. To get me there by the end of the month, I'll list out my to-dos...

  1. Combine all the chapter files into one master file of the story.
  2. Spend 30 minutes looking into publishers and pick one
  3. Fill out the nonsense and send it in.

Goal for Sunday: Step 1.

Work, Work, Work

In the middle of the workday, a good employ happily types away on their keyboard, answering slacks and emails. Tech workers, who tend to be spectacularly spoiled, should be please as pie with their situation. Imagine, a trendy tech worker at their standing desk, whistling tunelessly, merrily doing the tasks of their work, bask in the beauty of zero commute, a fine salary, and other myriad perks. Blech. I have a great job, yet I am disgruntled and bored and grumpy. This job seems all for naught.

I work at Headspace as a Devops/Cloud/Infra engineer. Essentially, I'm a terraform monkey. I'm a github-PR-approving stooge. My work dispirits me, leaving me want to flop listlessly on the couch due to the passion that's drained out of me, sitting on a puddle on the floor.

In the year I've been here, achieving HITRUST compliance ate up a large portion of our efforts as a team. We jumped through hoops, doing work that at times was interesting: encrypting things, creating automated backup schedules for other things, securing things, designing alerting schemes for other things. However, there was a lot of documentation. Either way, this work could have been fine and mostly alright, if we'd had a decent project/product manager assigned to it. It could have even been passable if we'd had a manager/tech lead with some passion for seeing this thing through. But most of the project was led by an IC who wanted desperately to not be a manager or by a new IC-turned-manager (who then quit mid-project only to return after HITRUST was over. Is there a sour taste in my mouth? Yes). In short, the team lacked concerted, focused guidance on what the fuck really needed to be accomplished by July 31st. Why July 31st? No one knows. Some higher-up decided on July 31st before having any true understanding of the scope of the work. What a joy and a blessing to have deadlines handed down from benevolent overlords.

For a while, I said "Well, it's okay. My team is awesome". And they are indeed nice. Fine. Quiet mostly. Kind of hard to relate to. Actually, pretty distant from me (except for one guy who rides motorcycles and another guy who likes plants). And they are all guys. Why am I complaining about this anymore? It should surprise me. Getting on a team with another female would be so nice but I'm basically over expecting that. I just miss it. I can't put my finger on why I want it so badly. But I do. Actually, there are only 3 female engineers at the whole company. There are 3 female managers in engineering that I can think of; that's pretty okay. But, that's not the same as having female peers. I feel pretty alienated and alone most of the time.

Anyway, by July 31st, I felt burnt out. My enthusiasm for Headspace and its mission waned in an epic wave (especially when we decided as a company to get rid of free content. Headspace and meditation for everyone, my ass). Since then, my motivation has returned slowly over time. However, directly after that, I went through a breakup with a long-time significant other, whom I'd moved out to CA with and signed a lease with. So, in the last few months (amongst a heap of personal travel), I had to sort out breaking an unbreakable lease, arguing with my ex about his responsibility for his portion of the rent, and finding and moving into a new place. (All while taking flack from a inflexible landlord who wouldn't let me sublease, despite it being in the lease and being the responsible party in the house while my ex lived with me and acted like a man-child.) On the plus side, I'm a lot happier, especially because I've gradually realized my ex sat comfortably on the scale of mildly emotionally abusive, so being rid of him has left me in better spirits. So, you can see why maybe I'm not at my best.

Oh, also, I realize I'm getting paid anywhere from 8k-10k less than my male coworkers, based on a couple of their quotes.

Anyway, work and the benevolent overlords finally decided to straighten me out. At the end of October in my Monthly Check In (MCI), I was informed that my output had slipped over the past few months. (It was implied that I oughta fix it.) However, there hasn't been any real clear outline of what that exactly means. So now every meeting and 1x1, I approach with lackadaisical fear and dread, knowing that I'm going to be lectured, coaxed and coached into some version of a PIP, whether that's squishy or firm.

I hate it. I hate my job. I don't really like my team. I've never really clicked with my manager. I hate the working style. Why the fuck am I here?

Skydiving Blog Draft + Other

This is going to be a double-post; it's actually going to go on my for-real blog. But instead I'll just write a draft here, instead of writing a draft on Google Keep, which is the worst process for writing. Actually, I have come round to realize that most of my processes aren't very good. Actually, I've come to feel pretty ineffectual at life recently, and it's hard to label what it is that makes me feel like I've done such a bad job at life lately.

I will try to enumerate, before diving into the blog content:

  1. I'm very bad at keeping up on the internet. Or on movies. Or anything related to modern culture. How do people find memes?
  2. I am not sure how to do Instagram stories. Nor do I really know when something should be an instagram story vs a snapchat. Vs. When do people just take pictures any more? Do I save them? Do people make scrapbooks? What if I'm old and want to look at my photos and they've disappeared into the ether? How does one make a tiktok? Why would I?
  3. I can't seem to manage the intake of media... How do people manage to keep up on their slack, instagram, text messages (across far too many platforms... GroupMe, Whatsapp, Signal, etc. etc)
  4. Where do I get my news? What news is even valuable anymore?

Man. I just feel like I'm losing my edge. I'm getting dumber. I just feel like I'm context switching 24/7 and I get in trouble when I try to stop. "Be more available on slack" they say. "Respond faster to PRs" they insist. How am I supposed to DO anything? To THINK about anything?

Maybe I'm just slow. Maybe I just need more time to read, time to think, more time to let things simmer. I simply have trouble just digesting as much as I feel like I'm supposed to digest. How can I spend time learning new things I can barely keep up reading articles people are sending me?

It's like I've forgotten how to have curiosity for the right reasons. Or maybe how to be curious? I spend a lot of time wondering if I'm asking a stupid question. I spend a lot of time worrying that someone will have already answered the question and I missed it because my brain was scattered elsewhere. I wonder if I have adult ADHD. I wonder if I have something else slowly getting unscrewed in my brain.


I'm sponsored! Woot! Man this feels uninspired as I type it but I have a caffeine headache and they say that the first thing to do to get better at writing is just to write. So, here we go:

Gosh this is going poorly. I guess this is why we write drafts.

I'm sponsored!

By who?

How?

  • I got up the nerve to ask! Because a lot of people told me that I'm good enough, and I'm glad I listened.
    • SD girl squad
    • Eric belly teammate
  • Why is that notable? Because I didn't have the nerve before.
  • Why didn't I have the nerve before?
    • I spent a lot of time thinking I wasn't qualified to be sponsored. That you have to have world records. That you have to win Open class at Nationals. That you have to run camps and be tunnel coach and have a cult following.
    • Why? Because I was dating a guy for a long time to made it clear to me that I wasn't good enough
    • Made it clear I wasn't impactful enough. Made it clear that I wasn't a very good freeflyer. Made it very clear that my efforts to build a belly community in CO or to pursue belly at a high level were not worthy, were not impressive, were not even worthy of much respect.
    • Why did I date him for a while? Well. Idk. I lost my brain during covid I guess.

Here's the thing: You are good enough. You are worthwhile. You should work hard and dive into the thing you're into, whether that's competitive belly, freefly records, or trying to eat a donut in freefall. Do it, believe in it, and surround yourself with people who support you and see you for the amazing person you are.

So what now?!

  • I am still figuring it out
  • I feel like like I've been lost after COVID with changing disciplines and the move
    • Untethered to a DZ (but would like to be a bit more tethered to a DZ)
    • Hard to be tethered to a DZ with so much going on
    • Hard to be tethered to a DZ with so many good ones around
  • Want to support women in the sport
  • Want to support competition
  • Want to share what I've learned
  • Feel a bit of saturated market feels
  • Want to maybe get involved in USPA?

Designing Your Life

For what has to be the dozenth time, I'm trying to read/listen to Designing Your Life. I can't help but wonder why its taken numerous listens to really get started. I'd really like to design myself into something that works for me. Honestly, taking that much responsibility seems pretty daunting. And due to a lot of recent events in my life, I'm easily daunted right now. Sometimes, the overwhelm of possibilities just seems like too much to face up against and I instead listen to a podcast and resolve to design my life in the future.

But I'm trying again. Why now? Certainly because 1) some things need to change 2) I have magicked away some old problems, so why not create new ones? Or maybe identify and fix new 'design' problems. (Thus far, the book has emphasized that design is about solving wicked problems.)

So Today's Writing is just an exercise from the book. I'm trying to figure out my Love-Play-Work-Health Dashboard status. The idea is that each of these is a category and you're at empty, full or somewhere in between.

Love:
Damn good, actually. After having a really unsatisfying relationship for about two years (and during Covid, yay!), I'm in an incredibly fulfilling relationship. I could do a little better about connection with friends and community. I feel a little more out of touch with my family than I have in the past. I did just get to see Wiemer, which is awesome!
So, love 80%

Play: Almost none. Well, this. Writing is play for me. Especially this forum where I'm just out here, writing for writings' sake. Cooking too. I love cooking just for funzies. The beauty of cooking as play is that I can knock out health and play in one go. I did just get a cookbook from the library that has skillet meals, so I could try some of those out. I'm not sure if the answer is to add more activities in play, or to just play more.
So, play 50%

Work: Boo. I don't like my work. Headspace is pretty uninteresting these days; I liked our mission before but now it just doesn't feel... important enough? Big enough? It isn't compelling enough to want to keep slogging through. Work holds a number of design problems that I'll probably eventually get to solving. For now, I'm just trying to do the assessment. Well, then there's the skydiving portion of work. I love skydiving but in some ways it feels like my work. But not so much lately. I could bump that into play for a while.
So, work 10%. Oof. Bad.

Health: Okay. Right smack-dab in the middle. My vegetarianism has fallen off the wagon. My water drinking has fallen off the wagon. But I'm still drinking less and I'm not eating complete shit, so that's good. I'm drinking a fuck ton of coffee these days and I'm not exercising. When I say all this, my health sounds worse than I realized. Also, I'm not meditating.
So, health 25%. My health isn't broken, but I'm coasting.

Questions from the Worksheet:
What do I observe and am I being fair? Work and Health are def the low boys. They could use some serious upgrades. Work makes it really easy for my health to just spiral downwards. My work actually really kind of casts a gray haze over everything. Am I being fair? Yeah, I think so. I mean, life is solidly okay. I'm still recovering from the whiplash of a breakup and a nasty issue with a landlord. I'm still a little bummed from Nationals too. But I think there are some upswings coming. For today, this feels fair.

If I could make one incremental adjustment, I think I'd have to choose to make it in health. I get such a mood boost from just feeling as if I'm being healthy. Drinking water, running, doing yoga, meditating, eating healthy? All of those things boost my mood, if only because I think smugly "Good job you, look at you adulting!". So I would make some changes to health. And I believe that change would be enough for me to tolerate the mess that is my job these days.

Potential incremental changes for me:

  • Less caffeine
  • More water
  • Stretch Daily
  • Get back to working out a couple times a week
  • Eat healthier (a salad a day?)

Okay. I think the value of a morning routine might be the thing to start with. I really liked smugly drinking my morning glass of water and I've stopped doing that. It would take very, very little to do that every day. I think I could aim extra high and go for a couple sun salutes after I get out of bed. I'll try these things for two weeks and report back.

Based on this worksheet:
https://designingyour.life/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/DYL-Love-Play-Work-Health-Dashboard-Worksheet-v21.pdf

It Whispers, so Listen

I remember back to when the Live Strong bracelets ruled the fashion circuit of high school in Southeast Iowa. Everyone had a couple: different colors, different causes. I'd talked Katie Schaeffer into being my friend. I'm not exactly sure how. She was a year older than me and I always assumed I annoyed her. I think some people just appreciated the attention from my obnoxious antics. Either way, we were in Biology together. We'd sit together and eventually, I talked her out of her bracelet. Realistically, I probably traded it for snacks or candy. It was teal, and it said "It whispers, so listen." I had no idea what it meant; I liked that.

Sometimes, I stop and think that about life. I think about the fact that life whispers, so I have to listen. It's a very goofy sounding statement. But sometimes, it just seems that if I pay attention, if I listen hard enough to the random happenings of my life, there seems to be something there. Sometimes it's a pattern. Sometimes it's a little urge that speaks to you, pulling in one direction or another. Sometimes it's a wisp of inspiration or a breath of an idea. But there is something in my life, I believe, whispering out a throughline.

In the end, I found out that it was a slogan for ovarian or uterine cancer. I guess that's a pretty good cause, in the end.

I want to write more, but I'm so tired.

My Dream Car...

I started to write this without a cup of coffee, then I realized that I'd strayed too far from god or the god-like substance that fills time and space making flowers smell nice, sunsets beautiful and mud feel luxurious between my toes.

Anyway, I need coffee first.

I hoped that inspiration would come while I made coffee, but alas. The only thing I got from making coffee was a cup of coffee. Which, as it turns out, is a very satisfactory outcome.

I wanted to do some clever writing and express insights that are relevant, important. But I think my gravitas is on a coffee break as well, so we'll do something else today.

If I could design a car, the perfect car for me would:

  • Have a coffee dispenser that would dispense coffee at the perfect temperature for drinking. It would also have an easy cleaning system, so that my car-coffee wouldn't acquire a stale, burnt-diner-coffee character.
  • Have a neon interior but probably black or gray on the outside
  • It would have a sensor that judged my parallel parking and gamify it for me. If I did a good job, the car would loudly announce (both inside and outside the car) how well I had done and praise me. For example: "What an excellent park job! You're proof that stereotypes about women drivers hold no water." or "Parallel parking, check! You're talented and gorgeous"
  • Instead of rolling coal, when I slammed on the gas, the exhaust would fire sprays of glitter
  • The radio would have a feature that would let me hear the music other cars around me were listening to. This would either let me take part in their joyful dancing, judge their lack of rhythm, question their talk-radio or podcast choices, or find new songs and bands and media.
  • The maps algorithm would be smarter than Google's.
    1. It would never give me directions within a certain radius from home. I know how to get out of my neighborhood, Google
    2. It would prioritize mom-&-pop/local options for coffee, restaurants, etc.
    3. It would get smart about my favorite brands and look for those first. For example: show me Sprouts or WinCo before you show me Walmart Grocery, plz
    4. It would highlight points of interest, like museums, parks, etc.
    5. It would allow me to say "Ooh! What's that building?" and try to wikipedia it or the history of that building for me.
  • Bench seats in the front for when you have 2 friends and no one wants to sit in the back
  • Seats facing backwards like my first car, a Taurus station wagon
  • Obviously, seat warmers and a steering wheel warmer. And a butt massager in the front seats, for when you're on long drives and your butt starts hurting.
  • Like those houses that have a vacuum panel built into the floorboards, the car would have a little vacuum and hose built in, so I could clean out my car without as much of a hassle.
  • Have more clever organizers for all the things cars need: Pens, Gum, Post-its, Ibuprofen/Aspirin, Sunnies, Phone and chargers, Chapstick, Hand lotion, etc.
  • Built in little greenhouse in the back window
  • Obviously run off of an alternative fuel. Like maybe off of kitchen compost or something.

Alright. Day 2, done.

Writing into the Void

A lot of times when I write, I'm writing into the void. In this case, the void is just corner of the internet that it's really unclear if anyone reads. I'd say screaming into the void, but the sound in my ears seems a lot more like clacking. On the first day of my 100 days of writing, I'm clacking into my corner of the internet where it's not clear if readers exist or not. But in truth, I don't care. Readers are not why I clack.

Well, let's dive in.

Apparently, my life looked in the mirror this year and saw the reflection of a tall tale. Because my life veered from vaguely predictable to erratic and Hollywoodian at best.

Even when my life dwelt in the realm of predictable, it was quirky. I've always been weird, but times of living by myself bring out the strangest in me. I love weird experiments, like homemade kimchi without a real recipe or teacher, or like sewing a dirndl without a pattern out of very thick free table cloth, or like making my own deodorant, or something. For being a born-and-raised Iowan, moving myself to SF for a while signified I had quirked my way out of being a typical Midwesterner.

But my life carried with it a substantial dose of Midwestern pragmatism and forseeability. I had a career as a software developer and was meandering down the path of general professional success. I had aimed myself towards a respectable future, one with destinations at "a dutiful, durable husband" and "a couple pregnancies" followed by "empty nesting" a lot later on. My course trudged towards boring, despite its promising roots.

But here's where it all went wrong. Here's where the unreal began and never seemed to stop... Here's the inciting incident and then the proof that we've entered a parallel universe that's much more interesting and cool.

Inciting Incident: I drove from Big Sky, Montana to Virginia Beach, VA in one straight go running from the Corona Virus.

Proof that Things have been nutty since then:

  • I moved back in with my parents for a bit and learned to juggle
  • My very best friend just croaked abruptly with no warning. That's pretty unreal
  • A global pandemic shut down California, a place where I'd just recently moved
  • I started dating my ex-ex-ex
  • I'm living by the beach in SoCal again

My life feels like the plot of the strangest movie. I had a sad, boring love life with a go-nowhere boyfriend. I ran back into my ex. He sees me and comes over to talk, just to make trouble. I get startled by his presence even and my heart opens just a crack, a change from the icy cage it's been (as hollywood would cast it). I do something unpredictable as the main character and decide to go chat him when I see him later at the bar (or in this case, the Tiki at Skydive Chicago and this was the biggest skydiving even they host, Summerfest). I even specifically tried to look cuter because I knew he was there. I blew dry my bangs. I wore a dress. I rimmed my eyes in black mascara and liner because that effect turned my eyes from boring denim-jean blue to a dimmed icy-blue. I put on my favorite perfume, Alien.

Things felt almost scripted. At one point, I looked up and said, "Are my bangs okay?" and he kind of peered and brooded, trying to decide on an answer, I interrupted him and said "Fix them for me". He reached toward my forehead and tousled and touched my bangs. I reached out and touched his bicep as he smoothed my hair. I'd never done that before; I don't know where the inclination to ask for an intimate moment had come from. As I said "Good Night" and walked away, I touched his arm.

But from there, I was swept away. While my go-nowhere boyfriend had been sliding boringly into the oblivion of my conscious, my ex-ex-ex smashed through the walls of my brain kool-aid man style and I was hooked. I was over. I was done. For a man that'd I'd sworn off 5 years previously, he captured my heart again faster than I would like to admit.

I blame it on his smell, on his taste. The first hug I gave him in five years knocked me over with a warm familiarity. I wrapped my arms around his shoulders a bit formally, but the curve where his neck met his shoulders had a familiarity that shocked me. When he pulled me a little closer than I expected, I caught a whiff of his skin, of his hair. My knees went weak.

It's been history ever since.

I'm dating my ex-ex-ex. I just moved out from with my ex three days ago. His ex just moved out today. We all skydive and that's a tiny community. What a weird, quirky world. I'm sure that truth is stranger than fiction.