Life Hacking: Phase Two

I finished my second week on my schedule. My first week was a little rocky, but the second week worked better. I only missed one day of yoga and meditation.

I am really surprised, but my house is coming along a lot faster than I thought it would. After I started breaking it down into manageable tasks, I made a lot of progress. Knowing that I was going to give away or throw away a lot of my junk really helped.

After the initial excitement of getting house clean subsided, I was still left with an empty feeling. I thought maybe I was just lonely, but I tried interacting with other people and it didn’t go so well.

I’ve felt rather empty since I went to CocoaConf San Jose. I couldn’t really put my finger on why. I still really can’t. It might just be a new phase of the depression, but I am trying to figure out what to do to fill the hole in my soul.

The meditation and getting my house clean is helping, but I still feel a lot of melancholy about the direction my life is going.

Doing What You Love

I saw Brent Simmons talking about his reflections on getting older at CocoaConf San Jose. One thing that he said specifically really connected with me. He said to do what you love.

He said that he loves working with text and HTTP. I have things that I love that I don’t get to work with because I don’t know them well enough to really make a go of them.

I met my mentor Brad because I wanted to learn OpenGL and work with GPUImage. He hired me to come work for him, but we didn’t work with those things. We did this really amazing project where we rewrote our robotics software in Swift. It was an incredible experience and opportunity, but I felt like my iOS and Cocoa skills were atrophying. I also had to drive sixty miles a day and I had no time or energy to work on the things I loved.

I started working for Black Pixel recently. I work remotely. It’s been really nice to not have to drive two hours a day and never see my pugs, but I am still not working on the things that I love. This is to be expected. I am a new programmer and we all have to work on things we don’t necessarily love. I am not trying to be bratty or anything, I am just trying to figure out how to balance out what people need me to do with what I want to do with what I need to do to keep from falling into a depression.

I like to dream about just quitting my job and spending three months doing whatever the hell I want, but I know that wouldn’t happen. I would be okay for a day or two, then my lack of structure and deadlines and accountability would throw me into a depression and I would get nothing done. I dream about taking a coding cruise where I spend a week working on whatever I want with no distractions, but I know I would go crazy not being able to check on Twitter every five minutes.

I might be able to get to this point at some point in the next few years, but I am not there now.

I need to figure out how to put myself on a path that I want to be.

One thing a lot of people ask me is how I wound up working for Brad. I got to work for him because I was very targeted and focused on what I wanted. I had a list of five companies (including Black Pixel) that I eventually wanted to work for. I decided I would not take any job that did not further that goal.

I talked to so many of my classmates who would not just specialize and get good at one thing because they felt like they had to know a little of everything in case someone wanted to hire them to do any of them. So there are lots of people who I talk to who complain about being stuck working on Java because it pays the bills and it’s too hard to make the move to something they didn’t invest capital in, like iOS.

This scares the crap out of me. I am terrified of becoming an expert in something I hate and then being too apathetic to make the move to something I love because it’s too lucrative for me to stay with what I am doing. This is trap. This is the path to the Dark Side.

So what do I do?

Getting Back on Track

I need mental discipline. I need structure. I am starting to work with this by setting up a schedule for myself. Now that I am through the first few weeks of my schedule, it’s time to evolve it a little.

I want to be a graphics programmer. I need to spend time learning how to do it and doing projects. This is what I am adding to my schedule.

My plan is to do something every week and write it up on Sunday. I have a tentative list of things that qualify for that something:

Learning Project List

  • Make a decent OpenGL Template
  • Write custom shaders for GPUImage
  • Analyze and write-up an explanation of the math and code in a shader in GPUImage
  • Read a chapter in a book like “Metal By Example” or “iOS Drawing” and then do a sample project based on what I learned in there
  • Work through a tutorial on Core Animation, Sprite Kit, Scene Kit, etc…

I noticed that people tend to want to talk to you about things you talk/write about. Right now I am talking a lot about cooking and depression and getting my house clean. I am afraid if I don’t talk about tech that people will stop thinking of me as a tech person. I want to talk about tech that I want to be an expert in, so I need to make time for it because it is important.

I have a few larger projects I would like to work on, but I don’t want to write them here. I think last year I said I was going to spend this year building an analog synthesizer and it bothers me that I haven’t done that yet.

My goal here is to have several talks ready on graphics programming for the Spring conference tour. I would also like to be able, six months from now, to plan a vacation where I go on a cruise for a week and I actually have the mental discipline to get a sizable chunk of work done. I want a plan of attack on one of my projects and I would like to be mentally at a point where I can take advantage of that situation and be productive.

Shout Outs

I want to give a shout-out to my boss Janene at Black Pixel. I tried to talk her out of hiring me because I am a mess and she told me that she knows and wanted to hire me anyway. I am going through some issues right now that I have been avoiding for a while. I feel like running away from my life sometimes. It’s helpful for me to get toxic thoughts out of my head and she’s been very kind in letting me just get them out even though I know they sound really bad.

I was worried when I left SonoPlot that I would lose my mentor, but I gained another one. I gained one that I need right now and I appreciate her helping me figure out what I am doing with my life.

Friending as an Adult Sucks

I started working from home about two months ago. During those two months I had three trips for conference talks and I spent about three weeks being too sick to do much of anything. I didn’t really think about how to deal with human social interactions until recently.

I have noticed that generally speaking, I like being alone in my house cleaning and cooking and doing other solitary activities. But usually around Wednesday I start to feel like the walls are closing in around me and I feel the need to leave my house and have human social interactions.

Since my divorce I have not had a lot of human social interaction. My ex-husband had a friend we used to do regular games nights with who would force us to actually leave the house and do fun activities. Three years ago he went to prison and our social circle contracted by a lot.

Over the last three years while I was learning programming I lost touch socially with the people I worked with at my last job where I actually made friends. I learned programming at a local technical college that was never particularly good at fostering social ties amongst its students. It had no dorm or any emphasis on extracurricular activities, so usually the only time you see your classmates is in class.

At my last job I worked with only three other people. One became a really good friend, who unfortunately is perpetually busy and doesn’t have a lot of time to hang out with me. Neither of my other coworkers would speak to me when they saw me every day, so they’re not going to come hang out with me now.

I am finding myself in the uncomfortable situation of trying to make friends as an adult.

Maker Space

This is the incident that prompted this post.

I have been trying to join a maker space in town for the last year or so. When I didn’t work from home I had no time to go hang out there. I was really excited about joining now that I am working from home, but I am kind of shy. I know a lot of people who know me don’t think that, but that’s because they see me in a situation where I know people and I know what to do.

When I started going to conferences and I didn’t know anyone, I could go and talk to the speakers because I at least knew who they were and had something I could start a conversation with them about. Now that I am a speaker I know other speakers and I feel more comfortable about being around a lot of people I don’t know.

I went to this space on Friday because I was invited by someone I knew tangentially. He showed me around and was very nice and I had a nice time. So I figured since people had met me and that when I came back today people would be friendly.


I came in and people looked at me awkwardly. I tried to join conversations with people and I got the “why are you talking to us?” look. I wound up sitting in a corner by myself when I realized I could do that at home. It reminded me of college when I had to work at the campus radio station my senior year and the students running the radio station were very insular and did not want to make you feel welcome.

Why is it so hard to make friends as an adult?

Knowing When to Approach

There are a lot of blog posts, primarily targeted at men, telling them how not to be creepy. A large part of that is telling them when not to approach women.

I get that if you’re at the maker space because you have a really important project to work on, you don’t want to make meaningless smalltalk with an insecure and obnoxious girl who is just there to hang out. I would not want someone trying to talk to me while I am running at the gym. If you are at a place to do something, you don’t want someone distracting you from what you are there for.

I just feel like no matter where I go or what I do, there is never a point where you approach someone. There are obvious things, like if you’re at the grocery store you don’t want to be harassed, but where is it appropriate to know you are going somewhere to meet other people who are interested in the things you are interested in?

The only gatherings I have found that exist where it’s okay to approach people and it’s even encouraged is dating mixers. I don’t want to find a boyfriend, I just would like a casual circle of people I can hang out with doing something so I don’t become a hermit and it feels nearly impossible to find one of those outside of an office job.


I feel like the people who are attracted to the same kinds of activities that I like tend to be introverts. They don’t go to a meet up with the idea that they are looking to make friends. They have enough other people they are forced to deal with in their day to day lives that they aren’t actively looking for anyone else.

Whenever I have tried to join a group that is dedicated to something I enjoy, like anime, people seem annoyed if you try to talk to them. They are there to watch anime, not make friends with other people who like it. It makes it rather difficult to find people who want friends who like the same things you do. Which leads to:

Activities with Pre-Existing Friends

When I was complaining about not having friends, people suggested a meet up. I went to a board game meet up and no one wanted to talk to me. They seemed actively annoyed that they were required to be in the same room with other people in order to play games. They didn’t want to be my friend, they wanted to beat me as quickly as possible so they could move on to someone who might actually challenge them.

I realized that I liked board games because they were an activity you do with people who are preexisting friends. It isn’t a way to meet other people who like what you like, it’s a way to bond with other people you already know and like.

Which brings me to my last issue:

Gender Issues

Lots of people have been complaining about sexism with the gaming community over the last year. This is my take on things.

My first major in college was engineering. I was the only girl in all of my classes. No one would sit next to me or talk to me. If I tried talking to them, they would cry and run away.

I think that socially awkward men live in fear of behaving in ways that are creepy. I think there are a few careers or hobbies that they have retreated to where there are no women and they can let it all hang out without worrying that someone will think they are creepy.

My dad keeps telling me to go and spend time with these guys because he thinks they will be all over me because they are happy to see an actual woman. It isn’t like that. They feel like their space is being invaded. It’s like when my brother shows up at my house when I am trying to relax. I can’t just feel comfortable in my home until he leaves. Even though he’s there to mow my lawn and do things I don’t want to deal with, it makes me uncomfortable and sometimes angry that he is there and I can’t do whatever I want. He will show up while I am still in bed and I have to fumble around half asleep looking for pants so that I can answer the door. I can’t take a bath or a shower. I can’t focus on work because he’s there. It’s very upsetting, especially because he just shows up and never calls to let me know he’s coming.

I think that guys feel that way when I show up at their maker spaces or their chess clubs. They want to have one place where they feel comfortable and for better or worse, when I am there I am taking that away from them. They just want me to go away from the one place where they don’t have to worry about someone finding them creepy.

It really sucks. I get where they are coming from. I am looking for the same thing and I have yet to find it and it makes me really demoralized.

So What Do I Do?

Part of this is a problem of my own making.

I have been very tired and depressed for the last few years. I have had people invite me out who are also lonely and I have turned them down because it has been simply too much for me to deal with.

I swear that the only time people invite me to go out and do something is when I am in my bathrobe getting ready to take a bath. When people try to invite me for things like Halloween, I am usually tired and know I will be tired then and I don’t want to say yes then bail on people at the last minute because I can’t deal with leaving the house.

I need to reach out to these people and find a way of making time to do things with them.

There are people out there that I know. I don’t necessarily need to meet new people, I just need to figure out how to stabilize the social circle I already have that I have let atrophy because I have been too depressed to maintain it. There is no point in reinventing the wheel.

I am hoping to get my house in order to the point that I can invite people out here to do game nights. I got custody of most of the board games in the divorce, but I have no one to play with. I need to try to organize things better so that I can maintain ties with people I already know.

I didn’t realize how lonely and isolating it would be to work remotely. I am connected to people all over the world 24/7 through my phone but I don’t have anyone I can call to play a board game with. I don’t necessarily want people that I see constantly every day, but it would be nice to have someone to see every once and a while.

Operation De-Stress: Week One Assessment

I wrote on Monday about my attempts to refactor my life. I am really stressed out and I feel kind of lost, so I am trying to figure out how to take care of my own mental health.

Scheduled Activities

I was on various medications for about a decade. I really did not like how I felt on them and I wanted to fix whatever the underlying issues were. I figured out that I needed a schedule for myself that I needed to follow and I needed daily meditation to be able to properly deal with my anxiety.

After I moved in with my husband, I stopped doing things I needed to be doing for myself. I didn’t meditate because my pugs would jump on me. I also had difficulty carving out time for myself because when you’re part of a couple it’s very difficult to say you need your own time. Most of the time you feel like you’re supposed to be doing everything with your significant other and I didn’t think to really push for what I needed to do to keep myself healthy.

I had kind of thought I should meditate, but I would only do it like once a month. I realized I need a schedule. I need something to remind me to do this regularly or I won’t do it.

I was really hesitant to try and set up a system for doing things. I am suspicious of systems, which is something I would like to write up as a blog post at some point. I tried to figure out what the simplest system is that I could implement that would allow me to be productive.

I started out small. I created alarms on my phone. I started with two, one to do yoga each day and one to do meditation each afternoon. I want to start with small changes and work out from there.

This week was not so good for the yoga. I only did it on Monday and Tuesday. On Wednesday I went to the grocery store before work. By the time I got home and settled for work, I had only been focused for five minutes. I didn’t want to interrupt my focus, so I missed that day. I had trouble focusing most of the rest of the week and I just didn’t do yoga.

I only missed one day of meditation. I found it very helpful and necessary on the days this week that I was lost and couldn’t focus. I am also trying to figure out when I need to go to my boss for help when I can’t focus. I had a bad few days and I wish I had come to her after the second day rather than waiting for her to ask me how I was doing. I am going to learn to be more proactive with asking for things I need to be productive rather than trying to just muddle through it because I am afraid to say I am having trouble focusing. After I spoke to my boss, she focused me and I felt much better.

Going to give this schedule another week to see if I can get on track with it. If I still have trouble I am not going to add anything else until I do better with what I am doing.


I hate going to the grocery store. I find it exhausting to go to the store. I needed to go for nearly a week and I kept thinking I would go after work, but I was too tired.

I figured out when I went on Wednesday why I find it so exhausting.

When I go out in public, especially to places like stores, I find it mentally exhausting. I want to do a surgical strike, go in and get what I need as quickly as possible. The grocery store is populated by people wandering around in ways I find unpredictable. They will stand in front of the stuff that I need. They will weave back and forth in the aisle so that I can’t pass them because I am afraid they will veer in front of me and hurt themselves because I am going to hit them with my cart.

Going during the work day when there are fewer people is helpful, but it still takes a lot out of me to deal with.

I had tried to figure out why I don’t like driving long distances and spending a lot of time in highly populated areas, and I think this is why. It’s helpful to know, but I don’t really know how to filter this stuff out. When I was married to my ex, I would follow behind him. It always pissed him off because he thought I was being submissive or something, but it was mentally easier for me to only have to keep track of and anticipate the movements of one person. One of our biggest fights happened when he started to behave randomly, stopping for no reason with no warning. I would smack into him because he wasn’t behaving predictably.

After figuring this out, I decided to try something I was tempted to do, but couldn’t justify the expense of: I am subscribing to a food service.

I chose Plated for my food service. It’s a little expensive, but right now I am just trying to make my life as easy as possible. If I don’t have to go grocery shopping as often because I am having a set of meal ingredients sent to me, then it’s worth the cost to me for my mental health.

My friend Kiera Herbert suggested I try CookSmarts which is a meal planning site where they send you a menu and a grocery list, so it’s like Plated minus the food. I noticed I never looked at it because the idea of having to leave the house to get the stuff I needed and possibly forgetting something was too demoralizing.

Based on my observation of my own behaviors, I expect I will start having meals and ingredients accumulate in my fridge in about two months, so we will see if this is something that works out or not. I am hoping that it will at least be a temporary solution to my mental exhaustion about figuring out how to feed myself. Also, I like that I am only getting enough ingredients for two servings of food. I am wasting a lot of food because most recipes and ingredients are targeted for families of four and I get tired of things before they go bad.

At the very least, this will be a good hobby project where I get kits of components where I can make things. I find these things to be very mentally soothing, so I am excited to see how this works out. I am counting the expense as not just the food, but as relieving myself of having to worry about things and being able to have a ready supply of things I get to make each week, which makes me feel better.

House Progress

Earlier this week I posted some really bad photos of my house. I also set an alarm on my phone in the mornings prompting me to clean the house a little.

Surprisingly, this alarm worked out much better than the yoga and meditation ones did. Even on mornings where I decided I would not clean my house, just planting the subliminal message into my brain about needing to clean was enough for me to do some incremental amount of cleaning.


I dealt with all the laundry that has been on my floor for the last few months. Some of it needs to be rewashed because of pugs. I was kind of surprised that there were things I just didn’t let myself see because I didn’t want to deal with them. I noticed there were wrappers on the floor in my pictures. I am like, “Seriously? I was so intent on filtering out all the clutter around me that I couldn’t be bothered to pick up trash in my room??”

It was kind of hidden, but there were a lot of books and video games under the laundry. I boxed and organized those things and moved them to the basement.


When I couldn’t focus this week, I managed to put the office chair together that I had sitting in the living room for a while. I vacuumed up the pug fur and at least deal with a little of the clutter in here. There is less I can do with this room presently, but I can at least deal with the obvious stuff like breaking down boxes I don’t need.


This doesn’t look like much, but this was a lot of work. This corner of my office had a lot of clutter in it. I had two boxes of business cards explode over the floor. I had a bunch of office supplies and a lot of books in this corner. I boxed the books and finally bit the bullet and threw away all the business cards. I kept a few from the first startup I worked for on the off-chance it actually becomes a big deal one day.

I kept having to sweep and clean this corner because there was a lot of pug fur that has accumulated over the last few years. This doesn’t look like a big deal, but this was a lot of work.

I am moving a lot of things I want to get rid of to the basement. The basement will likely be a huge project at some point in the future. I don’t want to just play musical clutter and move the clutter to the basement, but I do want to get it out of my living area and I do have a dedicated portion of the basement for things that I plan to get rid of.

General Thoughts

So figured out that scheduling things really helps me make sure that I get things done. I have been meaning to join a maker space, but I always felt too tired to come visit. A friend made an appointment with me a few days ahead of time to come visit and it helped me make sure I reserved enough mental energy to show up.

I am going to join the maker space and make appointments to go on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday nights. I would like to work on my electronics stuff when I go there. There is a wood shop and I would like to learn how to make electronics enclosures there. I think getting out of the house to interact with other people will be good for me. I also have boxes of books I need to get out of the house. Instead of trying to offload them all at once, I can grab a box at a time and process them incrementally.

I also would like to learn how to make French pastry and it will be nice to have a place to take my experiments to because I can’t (and REALLY shouldn’t) eat all the sugar I am planning to work with.

I am also not going to travel for a while. My company is having a Christmas party in a few weeks that I was going to go to, but it would require me to fly to Seattle for a few days. I really need stability right now and I think making that trip would be very disruptive to my mental health at the moment.

My trips the last few months have been amazing and it’s been great to meet people. I hope to see people enough to maintain my relationships with them, but not being home and having a regular schedule has caused me a lot of mental distress. I have not been doing things I need to do to maintain my mental health because I talked myself into thinking that I didn’t need to do this anymore.

I feel this week was fairly successful. I am looking forward to sharing more about how I am going to fix myself over the next few weeks. Sorry, but there are going to be a lot of blogs about cooking. I promise to get back to tech at some point, but I really need to deal with this stuff right now. I miss learning new tech stuff to write about, but I can’t deal with it right now. Hopefully I will not lose too many readers because I am talking about this now. I promise tech stuff will come later!

Olive and the Forever Home

I don’t write or tweet as much about Olive as I do about Delia. I have been thinking about her and my story of how she came into my life.

The Arrival of Olive

Delia, Olive, and Boo chilling on Ehren.

Delia, Olive, and Boo chilling on Ehren.

For much of our marriage, we had two pugs: Boo and Delia.

Boo was my ex-husband Ehren’s pug. He made the mistake of telling me that he bought Boo to win back an ex-girlfriend he had wanted to marry. This probably should have been a red flag, but I didn’t pick up on it at the time. I insisted that I wanted my own pug and we wound up with Delia.

For those who have never interacted me with me before in any meaningful way, I love Delia. Delia is my familiar. I go through a lot of pain when I have to leave her. Working at an office for a year was torture to me because I had to leave Delia every day.

I started to get worried about my attachment to Delia. Even though she wasn’t very old, I was perpetually terrified by the concept of her inevitable death. I was terrified that when she died I would be catatonic and be unable to leave my bed and care for myself. I decided I wanted another dog so that when she eventually died I would be forced to get out of bed to take care of the other pug and I would not be completely destroyed by it. (Yes, I know this is extreme and I have issues.)

I kept wanting to adopt pugs from the Humane Society, but my ex said we could not. Eventually the pugs would disappear from the site and he told me they found a good home and not to worry about them.

Then one of my friends made the profoundly stupid mistake of telling me that the Humane Society kills dogs after a week if they are not adopted. I found out later this wasn’t true, but I felt consumed with guilt. I started yelling at my ex that we had allowed all those poor pugs to be murdered because we didn’t adopt them. I told him there was probably a nice pug at the Humane Society right now that would die if we didn’t adopt it.

Someone is just a little crazy.

Someone is just a little crazy.

I went to the site and I found Olive.

Ehren was kind of tired of me demanding another pug, so he told me to go visit her and fill out the paper work.

I nervously walked through a hallway of cages that were mostly full of big pit bulls looking for Olive. She didn’t have a picture on the site, so I didn’t know what she would look like. I knew she was black and she was a mix, but not much else.

Finally I got to the end of the hallway and I saw this tiny ball of furry energy throwing herself at the door of the cage. I knew the second I saw her that she was destined to be mine. Then I saw that someone else had already filled out adoption papers and I got very sad. I was told to fill out papers for her anyway in case the other family didn’t work out.

I asked the people at the Humane Society if they knew Olive’s story, why she was at the pound. They told me that a couple had adopted her to try and save their relationship, but it didn’t work, so they dumped her at the pound. The lady told me that the girl in the relationship had wanted to keep her, but couldn’t find an apartment that let her keep pets.

This upset me a lot. I think of the dogs as family. The idea that anyone would either just dump a dog like an old shoe they didn’t want anymore or be forced to part with a member of the family really bothered me. I couldn’t imagine having to do that and it made me feel a lot of sadness for Olive.

The other family didn’t work out and we got to bring her home on St. Patrick’s Day 2013.

For a really long time, it was difficult to integrate Olive into our lives. We each had our own dog, so we didn’t really know whose dog Olive was. We both liked her, but we didn’t feel particularly attached to her. I felt very bad for bringing her into the house and not making her feel loved the way I loved Delia.

divorce —
nobody wants
the dog

Who is going to keep me??

Who is going to keep me??

When my ex-husband and I filed for divorce this year, we had two things we needed to deal with: Who would keep the house and who would keep Olive.

Neither of us wanted the house.

We bought the house six years ago with the idea that this was a starter house. I would start working and Ehren would earn more money and after a few years we would sell it and buy something larger.

We fell on some hard times and this plan never materialized. Neither of us wanted to live in the suburbs. For a while, Ehren wanted to live in the middle of nowhere, but then when he started working downtown he wanted to live in a more urban area.

I never wanted to live in Wisconsin. One reason I majored in journalism was because I wanted to be able to move to a lot of different places and I thought I would be able to do that if I was a journalist. I never quite got it to work because I didn’t know how to find jobs in other places.

When I became a programmer, there was always the possibility of working for Apple and moving out to the Bay Area. I had a lot of difficulty finding an iOS job in Madison and I was very angry and being stuck here and not being able to explore jobs in Chicago or somewhere else because I was stuck with the house and with my husband whose job kept him here.

Neither of us wanted the house.

I am watching you. I know what you think.

I am watching you. I know what you think.

I kept the house because the mortgage is a loan from my parents. We separated in winter and we knew we couldn’t just sell the house. Someone would have to stay with it and possibly never leave. Because I wanted the divorce, I took on the burden of dealing with the house.

Then there was the problem of Olive.

Olive is very crazy and energetic. She can’t live in a condo. She needs a large space to run around in. Anything else is simply not fair.

We decided that whoever kept the house would also keep Olive, so I wound up with both.

The Forever Home

A few months after Ehren moved out, Olive jumped into my lap. She jumps into my lap a lot, but she acted different this time. She grew very still and she gently placed her head in my lap in a submissive gesture.

I can be cute when I want to be.

I can be cute when I want to be.

This really freaked me out. I could not figure out what was going on.

Then I remembered.

Her earliest memory was of being adopted by people who broke up. The guy moved out of the house, the girl couldn’t keep her, so she wound up at the pound.

Olive had been waiting for months for me to take her back to the pound. She never grew attached to either of us because she assumed this was not her real home or family. She didn’t want to be hurt when she went back to the pound. Earlier this year she realized that she was not going back to the pound. She realized that Delia was her sister and that we were going to be together always, no matter what. She let herself bond to us and we’re now a family.

I realized I was doing a similar thing with my house.

I never thought I would be here for very long. We thought we were going to sell the house and move in a few years. I thought I was going to move out when I left Ehren. I thought I was going to accept a job at Apple or in Chicago or something and that I would leave. I never thought of this as my home.

One reason I let things get to the state they were in was that I didn’t know what I was going to do. I didn’t think I would stay here, so I didn’t get invested in making this house into my home.

Been spending a lot of time recently thinking about things.

I have been trying to escape from my life. I keep thinking I should be doing things that other people are doing. I keep thinking I should live in a city and go out drinking all the time and spending time with people my own age. I keep thinking I should join an online dating site. I keep looking at these idealized “Sex and the City” versions what I think my life is supposed to be.

I don’t like it.

I like being alone. I like spending my evenings cooking and drinking wine in the bath. I should probably drink less wine, but I like being by myself.

I like making things. I would like to get back to working on my electronics, but right now I am enjoying the time I am spending cooking.

I like my pugs. I like my little house even if it is in the middle of nowhere.

For better or for worse, this is the life I have chosen. I can’t escape it by moving somewhere else because I am not fixing the underlying issue of myself which is that I feel unfulfilled and stressed out. Going somewhere else and making superficial changes isn’t going to fill the void I have within my soul.

I am working to fix up my house because I let it get bad because I couldn’t think of it as my home. It was the temporary place I was using to hold all my stuff and where I was sleeping. I am now committed to staying here.

Olive and I have both found our forever home.

Best Friends Forever.

Best Friends Forever.

Operation Remodel: Before Pictures of My House


I have been writing recently that I am tired of living the way I have been living for the last year or so. I spoke yesterday about how I am going to try to stop myself from stressing out. Today, I am going to talk about one of the things I have been terrified for people to know about.

I have been asked how I feel comfortable talking about my struggles with depression and a lot of other things. I am less terrified about talking about those things than I am about showing pictures of my house. With depression, I can talk to people when I am not depressed and I seem like a normal enough person that it’s easy to forget I am depressed, so it worries me less than showing visceral, physical evidence that I am depressed and my life is a mess. I am tired of living this way and I have been terrified of anyone ever actually wanting to come to my house.

So, here are pictures of my house that I took this morning:

That laundry on the floor has been there for about nine months. It used to be in a large tub, but I realized I wasn’t putting it away, so I dumped it out. It actually used to be worse this morning. I spent nearly an hour putting laundry away before I realized I should document how bad things are.

This is the master bedroom. I do not sleep in the master bedroom. Right now it’s basically being used for storage for my clothes. This is the only room with at TV in it, so my PS3 and PS4 are in here along with a large chair. But this room is basically shut up and I never spend time in here.


I do sleep here. This is the only room I was allowed to keep anything in during my marriage. I would come home from class and find my things unceremoniously dumped in this room while I was gone. I got used to it being like this and I have been too depressed to do anything about it.

I have been sleeping in the bed that I have had since I was seven. You can see the pugs milling around in here. I did clear a nice path to and from the door so I don’t break my neck.


Since I had to keep everything in here and it isn’t very large, I got creative with my “organization.” When I get depressed I tend to buy a lot of books. I stored a lot of books under the bed. Sadly, since they are under the bed, I can’t get access to them to organize them or clean under the bed. There is a lot of pug fur embedded in everything because I can’t clean under here. My mom is concerned about me developing allergies to things because I sleep near this biohazard.

One of the projects at the top of my list is to clear this area OUT! I am probably never going to read 90% of the books under my bed, so I need to box them up and take them away. I have some books boxed up to take away, but I have trouble leaving my house to get rid of them, so that is another project I need to schedule. I can fill my car with books, drop them off at the used book store, then do my grocery shopping and just add it to my routine.


This was my desk in my old office back when my bedroom was my office. That desk used to be clean because I had to put my laptop there. Now that I don’t use it for anything, it’s covered in crap.

The iMac’s operating system is from like 2010. I use it for watching movies in bed.

There are boxes on the right hand side of the desk that are full of manuals from Final Cut Pro 5 and Logic 8 that I really don’t want to get rid of but I don’t know what to do with.


This is one of only three book shelves in the house. I made an attempt at organizing it at one point, but that failed pretty spectacularly. I made room for an entire shelf of Flash and Actionscript books.

I have had trouble figuring out how to organize my books because I don’t know which ones I will keep and how to separate them out. I have three general types of books: Programming/Tech, Cooking, and general reading. I would like to keep the programming books together and the cooking books together, but I don’t know where or how to do this and it paralyzes me from being about to do anything about it.


So this is my chair. It is part of a set of chairs and a couch that my ex and I bought. He took the other chair and the couch. I think he just ran out of room for my chair. It is primarily used by the pugs. Speaking of the pugs, that large box on the chair used to hold their food. I haven’t broken it down and recycled it yet.

The shelf in the background is the second shelf I have in my house. I was putting my tech books on it because it’s technically part of the “office”, but then I also started putting cookbooks on there and now it’s all discombobulated and it bothers me, so I ignore it.


This is where I spend most of my day. The large box in the middle of the room is a pink office chair I bought from an office supply store that was going out of business that I have been too depressed to put together.

From my spot by the computer, my area LOOKS nice and clean and organized because I can strategically place things in a way where I don’t have to mentally deal with the clutter and disorganization. Yay denial!


This last picture is a picture of my wall. It is covered with bare hooks because my ex-husband took a lot of the artwork we bought during the marriage. I got to keep the only piece I cared about, which was more expensive than the stuff that was taken, so it isn’t like I got screwed here or anything.

This is also the last bookshelf in the house. It started falling apart and it needs to be put back together again. So right now it’s this giant wooden piece of clutter that I mostly use to keep my stuffed animals away from Olive. I would eventually like to buy a lot of shelves for my various anime and video game figures and frame some of my nerdy art work and paint that wall. That will take a bit of an investment in planning and money that I just have been kicking down the road for a while.

Why I am Posting These Embarrassing Pictures on my Blog

I was asked by a lot of people this year how I had time to do all the things I have been doing. This is the answer. I have been working on books and conferences and a lot of other things not actually doing the things I need to do in order to be a functional human being.

It was easy to ignore this crap when I worked out of my house. I basically just used this place to sleep. I was never here and when I was here I was too tired or busy to do anything to make this place livable. I also was very conscious of my financial situation and I didn’t want to spend thousands of dollars that I didn’t have on furniture or organizational stuff for a house I never spent time at.

I used to daydream about taking my pugs to my parent’s place with my computer and for us to come home and find out the house had burned down. I hoped that the problem would just go away without me having to do anything about it. I just wanted everything wiped clean so I could get out from under this.

I refuse to believe that learning programming and writing a book are easier than figuring out how to organize my house. I have not given this the proper consideration I should have and I have to fix it.

I plan to come on here periodically and show progress in the house. If I don’t show progress then I really need some help. I am tired of living like someone in a mental institution. I am not going to turn into the crazy hoarder lady who dies because she got trapped under a pile of books.

Operation De-Stress: First Steps

Been writing recently about feeling overwhelmed and trapped in my life. I have been avoiding dealing with a lot of things over the last few years. I have spoken about my marriage falling apart. I hid from that by learning programming and throwing myself into my career to avoid having to deal with my life.

I have been alone for nearly a year now. It’s been rather difficult. I have had to learn some basic life skills like making sure I pay my bills. I have never done that before. I am slightly worried about taxes because I know they are going to be complicated.

I am incredibly disorganized. During the years of my marriage I basically wasn’t allowed to keep any of my stuff anywhere in the house except for one room. Even though it’s been a year, it looks like a crazy hoarding squatter lives in the house. I have not had the time or energy to organize my stuff because I was still throwing myself into work to avoid having to deal with my life.

There are a number of things I would eventually like to accomplish:

  • I want to organize my house
  • I want to have a regular exercise routine
  • I want to drink a lot less
  • I want to stop feeling overwhelmed by my life

I discovered recently that the best way to engage me in a project is for me to get to plan it out and write about it. If I don’t write about it, the complexity of a project gets overwhelming to me and I don’t know where to start. If I have to write about it and organize it into a story, I get more excited and engaged with actually figuring out what the first steps are. I also feel more accountable because if I don’t do anything I have to write about not doing anything.

So I am going to start a new series of posts on my blog about me using techniques from programming and applying them to getting my life back together again.

Right now my life code base is fragile. A lot of people suggested to me that I start doing exercise. I do walk for like half an hour a day when I remember to, but trying to implement a running routine was too much for my system and I crashed and burned. I would like to figure out how to fix the underlying stuff preventing me from being able to do that so that I can add running to my routine.

First Steps

Most of my physical and emotional issues are coming from stress. I have had a few periods of my life where stress has made me physically sick. I have given myself symptoms of full blown lupus and multiple sclerosis in the last ten years because of stress. I have gotten so used to the stress from the last three years or so that I don’t know how to shut it off.

I work all the time because I don’t know how not to work. If I have any free time I fill it with more work. I do this until I collapse. It used to happen at convenient times but now it’s happening all the time and it is interfering with the work I have to do rather than the work I am using to fill my life.

I also have developed a drinking problem. I have been joking about it for a few years, but I haven’t really had the energy or motivation to deal with it because there were other things that I made a priority.

Basically, the only way my brain knows it’s supposed to stop working is if I drink alcohol. I had a friend ask me if I started having lunch wine now that I work from home and I don’t because if I do then my brain will stop working. I have hardcoded a really bad habit into my brain that I need to fix before I destroy my health.

Rather than focusing on the alcohol part, I am going to focus on the learning to relax and stop stressing part. I think that is the first step to fixing all of my issues. They all lead back to that.


The first thing I am going to do is make a schedule for myself. I do a lot better on a schedule. I know most programmers don’t like them because it’s like micro-management, but I do better when I have a routine. Going on all of these conference trips has been fantastic and wonderful, but they really mess with my head. It’s difficult for me to get back on track when I come home from them and it’s difficult for me to get any work done while I am there because I have a lot of ritualistic behaviors I need to implement to focus on my work.

I have set up a few alarms on my phone that will bother me every day this week:

  • Wake up and spend some time cleaning the house (8:00 am)
  • Do 15 minutes of yoga (11:00 am)
  • Meditate (3:00 pm)

I used to do meditation before I got married, but I stopped because my pugs would crawl all over me and distract me. I am going to lock them out of my room and make sure I spend time each day not worrying.

I have a couple of yoga apps on my phone. I found a lot of the focus in yoga is to be mindful of your position and of your breathing. I really like running because I can just focus on my breathing and how my body feels, but I am not at the point where I can do that yet. So going to start small for a few weeks and try to work up to something more intense.

Said before that my house is in a really bad state. I have asked my mom to “pair program” with me to help me get the house organized. I need to buy book shelves and various other organizational structures to sort and store my objects because right now I have almost nothing. I do also have to clear a lot of crap out of my house. I have had depression and I tend to accumulate a lot of junk while I am depressed. I also get really bad about clearing out my emails. I used to keep only about 200 emails in my primary account, but I have ten times that and it’s all stupid crap like me emailing my mom that I got home from work safe after an ice storm three jobs ago.

The house part is going to be a fairly long-term project, so for right now I am going to focus on doing small amounts of things every day. Today I cleaned my toilet, emptied the dishwasher, and swept up pug fur. Hopefully tomorrow I can put the laundry away from the load I did back in February. I will spend ten minutes here and there boxing up books I will never read to give away. I still need to schedule time to get rid of the books I box up, but focusing on small steps.

Going to try doing those three things for about two weeks. I am going to try not to worry about anything beyond that. Self discipline is a muscle that exhausts easily and I don’t want to try too many things at once because I will get frustrated and quit.

I will do a post mortem at the end of this week about how often I did these things and if I feel any better. I’ll write about any challenges that prevented me from doing things on a day-to-day basis. I will also brainstorm about what the next set of challenges will be after I have integrated these into my life.

Happy Monday! Today is the first day of the rest of your life. Make the most of it.

I Need Help

I have written a little bit about my food situation and my weight on this blog. I have been on my own for almost a year and things that I put on the back burner are starting to boil over a little bit and I feel like I need to pay attention to them.

When my ex moved out of the house and I got to control my own food, I thought that I would lose the twenty or so pounds that I put on the last few years of our marriage. The marriage was going badly and I had started programming, which basically consumed my entire life. I figured after he left I would be able to eat the way I wanted to and that the weight would gradually come off.

The weight has not come off. It has been stubbornly hanging around. I have been somewhat passively trying to eat healthier. I cook my own food, which is usually things like chicken that are made up of lean protein and a lot of veggies.

I joined a gym a year ago, but I haven’t been able to go regularly. I would go once or twice, then I would basically become exhausted for weeks afterward. I didn’t get tired the day I went, I would just feel horrible and shaky for weeks afterward. I tried to push through it but I just kept feeling worse.

I know at this point it sounds like I am in terrible shape. I can walk all day and feel fine. I did that while I was out here in San Jose. I take a long vigorous walk each day when I need to clear my head and I don’t have the weird sweating or heavy breathing or heart pounding that you tend to get when you are horribly overweight or out of shape.

I think that my body right now is in a state of shock over everything that has been going on the last few years and, for lack of a better explanation, my code base is fragile. I can’t add new things to my life without my body completely freaking out. I wrote about having my conference plague that wouldn’t end and I can feel it giving out on me.

I don’t really know what to do. I am in trouble and I don’t know how to fix it.

I talked to Jaimee Newberry and she said that every time I talk to her, I am stressing out about being fired. I am constantly freaking out that I am letting someone down or not living up to what I need to be doing. I have been perpetually doing this since 2012.

Back in 2014 I had a few months where I basically never left my bed. I would get up, program all day, and basically drink from noon onward.

I have been abusing my body trying to catch up to where I think I am supposed to be and I just need to prioritize figuring out how to feel better. I am tired of feeling stressed out all the time. I am tired of feeling chubby and not really knowing what to do with it. I am tried of drinking every night because it is the only way I have to signal my brain that this is when my day is over. I am tired of being too mentally and physically exhausted to go to the gym and run because I actually like running. I would like to be able to do it regularly without causing a system-wide crash.

I need to figure out how to restructure my life. I need to find some other way to relax that doesn’t involve me automatically drinking wine every night because it’s the only way I can tell my brain to stop working. I am very ritualistically oriented. I have to brew my tea every morning before I start working because it’s the way I tell my brain it’s time to work. I need to find another solution for telling my brain when work is over.

I need to stop stressing about getting fired. I am not saying that I should assume I never will, it’s just that the perpetual worry about it is causing me a lot of problems.

I need to figure this out. I am poisoning myself and I can’t keep doing this.

The first step towards fixing a problem is to acknowledge that it exists. I need to make a plan to figure out how I am going to incrementally fix myself. I learned programming and worked on two books and I have been able to do a lot of amazing shit. I can do anything I put my mind to. I can do this. I just need some help.

Plague of the Damned

The last two months have been among the most stressful I have had since I started programming. It has been more stressful than writing my first book or working at my first real programming job or even as stressful as when I essentially dropped out of school due to a nervous breakdown.

In September, I took over the Swift tutorial team at Part of the reason for my decision taking over the team was related to my previous job. At the time, I worked for SonoPlot. I had worked for them for a year and I was trying to figure out where my career was going. I had spoken about this with the company a few times, and it was pretty well established that there was not exactly a lot of growth potential for me there. Most companies have management as a potential way for people to grow within their jobs, but at a company with a few people, that wasn’t exactly an option. Also, SonoPlot is a hardware company. Our software wasn’t the selling point, it was a peripheral. I was trying to figure out some way of staying there without feeling like I was just stuck in a dead-end job, and doing a part-time gig managing a team on the biggest tutorial site for iOS seemed like an ideal compromise. I would get some exposure, work with really smart people, and have a chance to impact the way that people learn this new language! Awesome.

Things did not work quite the way I expected…

I received an offer I could not refuse from Black Pixel. I had dreamed of working for Black Pixel eventually, but I didn’t think “eventually” meant “right now.” While I was talking to them, I realized I would be a fool if I didn’t accept the job. So in September, I started two new jobs, while also trying to finish working on a book.

I tried to get my start date to be after I finished a week of speaking at two conferences in two different states, but that was not considered an acceptable option. I have never traveled to and spoken at two conferences in the same week. I was home for only two days between them. I was really looking forward to doing what I always do after a conference, get right back to work and focus on getting things done.

This is not what happened.

My mom is the best. She brought me some medicine. And some stupid DayQuil.

My mom is the best. She brought me some medicine. And some stupid DayQuil.

A few days after I got home, I got sick. I mean REALLY SICK. I had had migraines in the past and just generalized exhaustion, but usually my body had the grace to have these things happen on weekends so I would just be annoyed that I didn’t work on my side project because I was stuck in bed.

I would wake up in the middle of the night coughing my lungs out. All of the muscles in my back spasmed. I was working from bed because trying to sit with my back muscles spasmed was just too painful. I took cold medicine that did nothing and I had to ask my mother to go to the liquor store for me to get some honey whiskey because drinking hot tea with lemon, honey, and a good slug of whiskey was the only way I could stop coughing for a short period of time. I finally reached a point where I simply could not work anymore and I had to finish my week early and take a weekend to get better.

That weekend was not enough.I was told to go to the doctor after that weekend to make sure I didn’t have pneumonia. I didn’t have a fever, my lungs were clear, and my weight was ten pounds over what my “overweight” marker is. I was not a happy ninja.

Don't mess with the Janie Ninja! She is sick and cranky.

Don’t mess with the Janie Ninja! She is sick and cranky.

Even though it’s good that I didn’t have pneumonia or consumption, it was kind of like, seriously? I feel like dying here and there is nothing you can diagnose me with that sounds really scary so that I am not just a wimp? I was offered prednisone, but that stuff scares the living shit out of me and I refuse to use it unless I am dying without it.

This past month has really sucked and been completely demoralizing. I am upset that my first month on my new job was taken up with me being gone then having the Plague that Would Not End. I am mad that I spent a weekend in bed trying to get better when it didn’t work and I couldn’t just start the following week bright eyed and ready to go. I am mad that I am still kind of sick and this will not fucking go away. I am traveling in a few days and I am afraid of picking up another bug that won’t fucking die. I am sad that the people I am working for have a bad first impression of me because everything I have been doing all slammed me all at the same time and my stupid body gave out and wouldn’t let me do anything.

I am grateful and appreciative of all the people I work for who were incredibly understanding about this situation. I know I have let people down and that vexes me tremendously. No one has made me feel bad about this. I am making myself feel bad because I hear myself giving this constant stream of excuses about why I am not getting work done and I hate this person I am being. I don’t have anyone to blame but myself and I am angry that it has taken this long to get better.

Here is what I am doing about it.

I am organizing myself. I am taking responsibility for the things I have not done. I am going through and trying to take stock of what I have let slide. I am working to fix it.

Take two pugs and snuggle in the morning.

Take two pugs and snuggle in the morning.

I have been pushing my body to its breaking point for the last three years, figuring it was just a crunch. I need to crunch to learn enough programming to get my first job. I need to kill it at my first job to avoid being fired. I need to kill it at this book to get a better job than that first job. I need to kill it so that I can learn all this awesome code from my programming mentor…

I can’t do that anymore. I need to make taking care of myself a priority. Yeah, it might mean that I miss out on some once-in-a-lifetime side project app opportunity that will only happen once that someone else might do or might just go away. I might miss out on an amazing conference. I might miss out on insert-cool-thing-here.

One reason that Xerox missed out on the computer revolution wasn’t just that they didn’t recognize the opportunity. They didn’t have the structure or the bandwidth to take advantage of it. Their business model and structure didn’t allow them to easily adopt producing personal computers. One reason Apple succeeded at this was because they gambled and went all in. Xerox could have done that, but it would have been a terrible business decision.

At some point, you have something to lose.

When I took up programming, I had nothing to lose. I had time. Time is important, but considering the return I got on that investment, it was a good decision. Right now I have basically made it. I am working at the company that was my dream job and I get to work with the people who taught me programming and to have an impact on how this new language is taught. I have career investments in things and as cool as it would be to learn virtual reality or electronics or even Metal, I need to offset the risk with the bandwidth it takes away from the things that are working for me now.

I am not going to give up on this stuff as a hobby. I simply have to acknowledge it for what it is and not think of it as an investment in my future. Making sure I have food and that my house is clean is more important right now than writing my own app or starting another book. I have people counting on me to do my job and I need to take care of myself so that I don’t let those people down and burn out.

Remind me of this in a month when I will inevitably talk about the next book I want to write.

One of these days I will play all of Mass Effect.

One of these days I will play all of Mass Effect.

Why Codes of Conduct Are Bullshit

For the last few years I have been watching people go back and forth about Codes of Conduct at conferences. I never really paid that much attention to them because I honestly didn’t care about them one way or another. I figured this would eventually go away, but it hasn’t.

There are a number of reasons I hate Codes of Conduct that I hoped I would never have to write about. I hoped that this would just go away or some other brave soul would address these issues and they would spoken about, but since it doesn’t look like that is the case, I am going to address the various elephants in the room no one wants to talk about.

Codes of Conduct are a Distraction

We are in the month of October, which, among other things, is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. I also think Breast Cancer Awareness is bullshit.

All those little pink yogurt tops that people collect at work and all the braless days don’t do a fucking thing to actually help cure breast cancer or help survivors of breast cancer.

Everyone is pretty aware of breast cancer and the dangers associated with it. I have the nice breast cancer pink Kitchenaid mixer and had my first mammogram when I found a cyst in my breast the week after I filed for divorce.

People are acting like CoC are some magical talisman that will suddenly make people behave. It’s like they picture Douchebag McBro sitting at his computer looking at a conference without a Code of Conduct saying, “All right! I can go rape at this conference!” You might as well hand out a rabbit’s foot to every conference goer.

All of this talk about making sure the wording is exactly right on your CoC is talking that we are not doing about addressing the underlying issues that make conferences unsafe.

Doesn’t Address the Way Assault Actually Happens

We have a collective fairy tale we tell ourselves about how rape and assault work. Pure virginal girl gets attacked in the bushes on her way home from Bible study by a stranger who attacks her. If something does not fit neatly within that narrative, it tends to get called into question.

Fact: Most assaults happen from people that you know well.

Let’s explore this scenario.

You are a woman have been going to conferences for five years. There is a cute, funny guy that you are friends with that you have seen a couple of times a year for the last three years. You’re both married, but you’re always happy to see him because he is your friend.

Suddenly, one day, after all these years, your friend starts touching you. You look around and you realize that you are alone with this person.

Your first thought is, “Fuck, why is this happening now?”

Your second thought is, “Fuck, how do I short circuit this situation to avoid losing my friend?”

Fact: Women are trained not to give a firm no.

Story time: When I was in fifth grade one of my male classmates would go around at lunch and ask people if they were done with their food because he was always hungry. After he asked all of us, he would ask everyone else in the lunch room, including first and second graders. After he did this for a week, the principal sat him down and said that he was terrorizing the little kids who were afraid to say no to this big fifth grade boy asking for their food, so they gave it to him because they were afraid he would beat them up. He genuinely didn’t think about it that way. He didn’t think about how his age and size would intimidate little kids and he felt bad because it wasn’t his intention to be a bully.

This is why some men who assault women don’t understand that what they did was assault.

Let’s go back to our scenario. I am 5’4. Most of the men at my conferences are over six feet tall. If you’re alone with a man who is a foot taller than you are, you are in danger.

Over the years, most women are socially trained to give a soft no. We grow up inundated with stories about nice guys asking out girls who laugh at them and treat them cruelly. We don’t want to be a bitch. More recently, we see stories posted to Facebook about ten-year-old boys shooting girls who won’t give them their toys. If you were born a woman, there is a constant cloud of potential violence that follows you everywhere you go.

When I go to conferences I have to sit at the end of the table or near a door because I am constantly figuring out exit strategies. I have trouble being on planes because of the number of people I am trapped with. I started paying extra to sit near the front of the plane and get off first because being surrounded by people with no ability to escape triggers panic attacks.

The person doing this is your friend and you think that you can find a way to shut this down where you don’t get assaulted either physically or sexually. So you try to put them off by saying it’s late and you’re tired or you have a headache.

The guy does not hear no. He hears, “Oh, she’s tired, that means that we can go back up to her room. She has a headache. I have some aspirin in my room. I can fix this.”

When the guy does not hear the soft no, or they start pressuring you into going with them, bad things start to happen.

I have PTSD. I was raped in college by a guy who talked his way into my dorm room. When we get to this point in the scenario, I shut down. My brain cannot deal with defending itself from an assault, so I basically withdraw into myself. Sometimes I black out because my brain will not allow me to record what has happened.

When I get assaulted, I don’t scream or kick. I shut down. I lose control of my body and go into shock. I don’t report my assaults because I know that the person assaulting me probably does not understand that they are assaulting me. They are waiting for a firm no. They don’t listen for a soft no or an enthusiastic yes. They start touching me, I shut down, they don’t hear no, so they assume that what they are doing is okay. Sometimes I don’t remember things after a certain point and that I can’t be used as a reliable witness about what happened.

I know within our narrative I am not doing my part. I am supposed to say no before the guy rapes me in order for it to “count.” But that isn’t how most women behave when they are being assaulted. We are afraid, we are disappointed that someone we trusted is doing this to us, and we are paralyzed because we do not know what to do.

It makes me angry when someone puts me in this situation. It is not fair. It rips out a piece of my soul every time this happens.

Which brings me to my next problem with Codes of Conduct.

No Talk of Personal Responsibility

I feel like the people in charge of the current tech feminist bullhorn are adopting the “Pedestrians and Bicyclist” form of personal safety and responsibility.

I live in Madison, WI. We have a university here where the students who walk and ride bike will walk into oncoming traffic without looking. Sometimes they will purposely look away from oncoming traffic and trust that the cars coming will respect their right of way and not run them over.

You cannot put your personal safety in the hands of other people.

In the case of the students, they don’t think about a driver that is distracted by their phone or their toddler in the back seat. They don’t take into consideration the crazy cab driver I had once who saw a student pull this and floored it and aimed the car at him.

Codes of Conduct talk about expected behavior. If you don’t behave the way you’re supposed to, you get kicked out. Seems fair, except it doesn’t address the damage done to the person being assaulted.

My understanding is that this recent push for Codes of Conduct are because of this incident.

In this incident, the person was assaulted in public. A bystander stepped in to break it up. The man lost his job. This is the best possible outcome that you can get from an assault.

Justine still is damaged by what happened.

It’s like the pedestrians and the car. Yes, you might have the right of way, but if someone is distracted and hits you, it doesn’t matter if they go to jail and feel guilty for the rest of their life, you are still damaged by their action.

Any conversation about safety at conferences must talk about what we can do to keep ourselves safe. No one fucking talks about this. Everyone wants to yell at men and tell them that everything they do could possibly be considered assault instead of talking to women about how to create our own safety net.

I want to see conversations where women exchange phone numbers to keep one another safe. I want to see women making their own network of people where you can all look out for one another. Girls do this in college when they go out, why aren’t we talking about doing this as adults?

The reason is that members of our community think we shouldn’t have to. They are not concerned about keeping women safe, they’re concerned with controlling the conversation and having this as a weapon to wield against anyone who isn’t completely on board with their cause.

Which brings my last point.

Shuts Down Open Communication

I recently read an article that says that boys going to college don’t know what rape is. I can believe this.

It is very difficult to give black and white, clear definitions about what assault looks like. I have tried to by explaining things from my own perspective and to give men an idea what to look out for. The fact that we aren’t having open conversations about this shit is one reason that it keeps happening.

Most men that I know are good guys who want to do the right thing. They don’t know how to do that. They are basically being told that everything they do could be seen as assault, so don’t do anything.

This leads to an environment where genuine predators can get sympathy for being rapists because everyone is secretly terrified that they will be falsely accused of rape.

There are very clear things people can do to make sure they are not assaulting someone. It’s not romantic, but ask if you can someone. If you’re a guy that I like and you ask if it’s okay to touch me, I will respect you for it. Quit following the “ask forgiveness rather than seek permission” shit. Also, if you are married and you’re trying to have an affair with me, I am judging you.

Alternatives to Code of Conduct

I was asked by Gem Barrett yesterday what I would suggest as an alternative to Code of Conduct. At that point I really didn’t know how to answer. I don’t think we should offload the responsibility of keeping ourselves safe to another person. I do not think there is much a conference organizer can do in the middle of the night if one of their attendees is being a dick. I can guarantee you that no conference organizer wants an assault to happen at their conference.

This is what I am going to do.

At every conference I go to, I am going to find all the women and any men that I trust and I will give them my number. I want to organize a support structure for the women attending the conference where they have at least one person they can reach out to if they don’t feel safe. If you go out, go with a buddy. Stick to your buddy. Both of you leave or neither of you leave. Call someone to make sure they got back to their room okay.

If you’re at a conference and you find someone who doesn’t have a support structure yet, be their friend. Introduce them to other people. Look out for them. I have yet to attend any conference where there was not at least one other woman. Stick together. Support one another. This should not be the responsibility of the conference organizer. It’s our skin in the game. We have the most to lose. It’s our responsibility to make sure that we are safe.

I am also saying on here that I will answer any questions that anyone might have about anything I have written here. I think people are too afraid to get information that they need and I would rather be asked than have someone live in perpetual fear that everything they are doing is wrong.

I love this community. One reason I joined this community was because people were tolerant of beginners. If I didn’t understand something, I could ask without anyone making me feel bad for not knowing something. This has been a friendly, supportive community and I want to see it continue to be so.

I am fucking sick and tired of seeing people argue about semantics on a form rather than having meaningful discussions about keeping our community safe for everyone. If this is going to devolve into a community where everyone is afraid of voicing their own opinion if it doesn’t correlate to whatever the loudest person in the room is, then I don’t want to be a member of this community anymore.

Thank you.

NSScotland Absence

Hi. I announced a year ago that I was going to be speaking at NSScotland. I had been invited to speak while I was still a student, but I was broke and couldn’t afford to go. I was incredibly sad about it and was really looking forward to going this year.

I have written on here about how I went through a divorce this year. I lost all the equity in my house and lost any savings I thought I had. I basically started out from zero this year. Honestly, it was terrifying. I have never paid my own bills or done a budget before. Having no buffer and not being certain that I would live within my means terrified the crap out of me. When we filed for divorce, we were $30,000 in debt. I was going to have less than half the money available to me to pay more expenses and I was honestly terrified.

I gave up a few trips this year to give myself some breathing room. I was told by a lot of people to go to Alt Conf when I didn’t get a ticket to WWDC, but I really couldn’t justify taking my buffer and spending it on that trip. I also couldn’t justify spending the money on Scotland, so I tearfully had to tell Alan that I couldn’t make it this year. He was very understanding.

I have been very troubled over many of the things I have heard about NSScotland over the last few months. I was at a conference where a friend of mine told me that Alan had gotten into a huge fight with Cate Huston over her attending NSScotland and had behaved rather badly.

This took me by surprise. I have not met Alan in person, but I have known him for two years and have not seen him behave this way. This friend of mine is very involved in the feminist tech community, which I am not, so I wasn’t certain what was going on. I didn’t defend Alan at that point because I felt it was necessary to hear all the sides of a story before I pass judgement.

I met Cate Huston at 360iDev. We spoke briefly. She mentioned not going to a conference because of a Code of Conduct issue. Having spoken to both Alan a friend of mine, I asked if she was speaking about NSScotland.

She became very hostile towards me and snarled at me, “How do you know about that?! I only told three people about that and one of them certainly wasn’t you!” I panicked a little and mentioned my friend who talked to me about it a few months earlier. She again snarled at me that she didn’t know this person. I was honestly a little frightened. This was, at this point, common knowledge among people in the iOS community and having someone act like I had hacked their email or read their diary was a little unsettling.

I thought all of this would die down, but it hasn’t. So I am going to defend Alan.

Running a Conference

Running a conference is a pain in the ass. People do not make money off of conferences. Conferences are a service that people do in order for our community to be an awesome place to be.

I have met a lot of amazing people at conferences and been able to maintain relationships that I otherwise would not because I get to see people a few times a year at a common gathering place.

I have become friends with people who run conferences and their selflessness always astonishes me. These are wonderful people who deserve to be treated with respect who are working to make the community a better place.

I really try to give the organizers the benefit of the doubt because of the work they do and the impact it has had on me personally.

I honestly do not give a shit about Codes of Conduct.

I attended one conference with a Code of Conduct where one of the keynote speakers made sexist remarks and insulted everyone in the audience. I live-tweeted what was going on and rather than taking my concerns seriously, the organizer pressured me into removing them rather than listening to the fact that he had hired someone to come and insult the people at his conference. I will never go to this conference again. I understand that he was under a lot of pressure, but the way he behaved was atrocious.

I know that Alan sometimes makes comments that could be considered inappropriate. I know that he knows that. We speak a lot and he is always worried about offending me. I am an adult and if he says something that crosses a line, I tell him. I have an inappropriate sense of humor and I don’t want people walking on eggshells around me worrying about offending me. If something offends me, I will tell you. If you don’t do it again, we’re good.

I only have problems when someone tries to exert control over me to manipulate me into doing something I don’t want to do. That is what happened and the previously mentioned conference, which is why I will never go back there.

I tried to get Alan to come on my podcast, but he won’t speak publicly about what happened. If Alan was a woman, this would elicit outrage and whoever was causing the issue would have a hoard of people spamming their Twitter feed yelling at them. I don’t think it’s okay for this to happen to Alan because he is a man. Bullying is bullying and it makes me angry that a member of our community doesn’t feel comfortable talking about what is happening with them.

I want people to lay off of Alan. He has been nothing but supportive of me since before I was anyone. He sent me a copy of “Smalltalk Design Patterns” by Kent Beck when I said I wanted to be a better programmer. He was very disappointed that more women couldn’t speak at his conference. I think he’s trying to make the community better for women and I am deeply disappointed that this is happening to him. He’s one of the good guys. I support him. I hope that this blows over and that his reputation isn’t irreparably damaged by this, but I don’t hold out hope on that front. I am saddened that this is happening in a community that I love and I hope that it can be cleared up and resolved without anyone being the bad guy.

I do not want to make this sound like a hit piece on Cate. I do not know her well and I do not want this to come off as me attacking her. I know that she has gone through things I have not. I can see a scenario where the two of them misunderstood one another and things escalated in a way neither of them would like. I am not saying that either of them are wrong, I simply think this is a situation that has grown out of control because no one has been willing to say anything about it.

I know this will probably earn me some angry responses, but I don’t give a shit. I will speak my mind. I am sorry if my opinion is different than yours, but it is my right to say what I think. I have become somewhat prominent in the community recently and I feel I have a responsibility to use that visibility to make this a better community for everyone. Making Alan’s life miserable doesn’t make things better for women.