Sheep’s Bladders and Earthquakes

Yesterday ended with me kicking some coder ass, and I felt like I earned some tape on my glasses as a badge of pride and honor. With my office quiet, I focused intently on what I wanted to say, and wrote out the logic to it. Then, I wrote the code to match my logic, which for once, was right. 😛

I’m at home for a little longer, and then I have to head out to my psych meds appointment. I’m not out of anything, so I can go straight to work afterward, and I’m looking forward to it. I hope there are more coding assignments, because now that I’ve done one, I can’t wait for the next. It’s kind of like binging Netflix. I’m not satisfied with one piece of code- I have to hit play on the next one…. which is apt, because in my coding environment, “execute” IS a play button.

This new learning is exciting, because it gets into a part of my brain I’ve never used before. I’m not a math person, and coding isn’t math, exactly, but it’s not the touchyfeelycreative stuff I generally go for. Even computer support is more creative than coding, because in interfacing with users, it takes creative analogies to get non-technical people to understand what’s going on. I think it’s a good balance, coding and writing, because I am lost in a different part of my brain at different times every day.

I’m trying to prove Aaron wrong, who told me I could either be a good coder or a good writer, but I couldn’t be both. And if there is anything that gets me motivated, it’s trying to prove someone wrong (apologies to those who won’t immediately see that I am joking). So far, so good AARON! 😛 Of course, it would be just like me to debug one piece of code and decide that I’ve got this thing wired. So maybe I’ll hang on until I get a little deeper into coding before I definitively say whether he was right or not. But at the same time, I had success yesterday. REAL success, the kind where I self-fived.

The thing I want to work hard on is something that Chason taught me, which is that code should always be efficient. He was the first one to teach me about separating content from code with web sites, and that no web site should take more than five seconds to load, because people will click away from it if it takes any longer than that. With SQL, that means making database searches where they can pull up exactly what you need quickly so that searches don’t take all day to run. With our databases, we are talking millions and millions of rows, so the more efficient, the better.

I actually love coding my own web sites, but I made the executive decision to go with so that I was never distracted by code- it would all be about writing, all the time. I do not regret that decision, and it makes me happy that I am using a product made by a student from High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, just like me. In fact, he was also in the jazz band, just not at the same time I was. Beat that with a stick. For those who were in Jazz at the time, his name is Matt Mullenweg. Any stories you have about him should be sent to me immediately. 😛

Although just to keep my skills sharp, sometimes I’ll write in Notepad++ and do my own tags and copy things over. It makes me feel smart, anyway. Whether or not I actually am is debatable at times. WordPress makes it where you can flip between WYSIWYG and HTML quickly, but it doesn’t color code to separate tags from content, which is why I tend to use an outside editor. However, I have to look at the code before I publish in WordPress, anyway, because if I don’t, it will often include non-breaking spaces in weird places and leave them out in others. That’s why on some of my entries, paragraph spacing is weird. I don’t tend to go back over my entries and fix mistakes, which is probably a bad thing, but I want everything about this web site to feel stream-of-consciousness, and to me, going back to fix things is antithetical to it. I try to get everything right the first time, because typos drive me ntus [sic].

I’m getting excited about seeing Leighton at 9:30, and it’s only 7:55. It’s been a month, and I have so much to tell him. The last time I saw him, I wasn’t eating or sleeping well, and I was jobless and depressed about it. Now I feel like I’m on top of the world, but not in a manic way. Just in that way that all people deserve to be happy. I am still in the honeymoon period of my job where nothing is ever wrong, and I intend to keep it that way. There has been no one that hasn’t been kind and patient as they’ve explained things, especially when I don’t get it the first time. I really love my company and all they’re willing to invest in me. Speaking of which, we need an IT guy. If you’re local, send me a resume and I’ll pass it on. Or, if you’re willing to just pack up the car so you can be local, even better. I miss my friends from both Portland and Houston. Having you around would be great. I don’t know how much it pays, but I was able to negotiate my own salary, so perhaps it is dependent upon experience, as well. Being an IT guy at my company is not about working with customers, though. Just keeping the network running. We’re a Microsoft shop, and I think most of the servers are 2003. Just a heads up. I’d offer to move in that direction myself, but I just don’t want to. I am learning that it is reason enough.

One exciting thing coming up is that on the 14th, we’re testing our inclement weather contingency plan, so I will be able to remote in from home. That means no commute, and an extra hour and a half added to my day in both directions. We have all the tools we need- VPN, Skype for Business, etc. so that we could actually have face to face meetings from wherever we are. That being said, my own desk in my own room is where I want to be, because I need absolute quiet.

It is in the quiet where my brain thrives, because I cannot think and do anything else simultaneously. Sometimes I listen to music, but most of the time, if I really need to concentrate, I will just use my headphones to block out what’s going on around me- nothing is actually coming through them. Although when I get to my office, most days I turn on one or two of my favorite songs and jam out to get my energy up. She’s So Mean by Matchbox Twenty is my favorite, followed closely by Praying for Daylight by Rascal Flatts and Gin and Juice by Snoop Dogg… mostly because it’s one of the few raps where I know all the words thanks to Twisted Whistle. Dana, Shaun, Dan, and I made it our personal mission to be the loudest mofos on the floor during “my mind on my money and my money on my mind” when they brought the house down at Biddy McGraw’s. God, what I wouldn’t give to have that time in my life back for one day. My perfect day would be working brunch with Dana and Drew, dancing our asses off to Aqua, then having a shift drink and listening to Twisted Whistle and playing darts. In my perfect fantasy, I win.

But one day is all I want, because I believe that overall, everything worked out the way it was supposed to go, except for the fact that I lost my best friend in the process. It fucks me up. Seriously. In no way did I expect grief to hit me this hard all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. What makes things better is that I am now damn near straight edge. The last time I had a beer was a Snakebite at an Irish pub when my dad came to visit, and even though weed is legal in DC, I don’t partake. The closest I get to it is smelling it in the Metro station, and even that makes me a little nauseous. It’s weird when I’m just talking on the phone and I have a coughing fit because I’ve just walked through a cloud of smoke.

Being straight edge makes my actual medications work so much better, and because I feel better, I don’t want to go backward. I don’t want to do anything to derail progress, and my favorite, whiskey, will do it to me if I let it. And I’m not talking about being drunk. One shot and I’m good. I’m such a lightweight that I have no tolerance anymore, and I’d like to keep it that way.

Plus, I’m older now. Any drink I have and the effects are multiplied exponentially, because my acid reflux is through the roof. I even avoid pizza because of it, except on Friday nights. It makes me feel closer to Dana, Aaron, and Argo even when they’re not physically present. I go to a place where you can order a small and a drink for ten bucks, or to a place where they still sell by the slice, because my refrigerator space is not big enough to hold the box if I get extra. Plus, the more I eat of it, the more it is akin to drinking- tomatoes and/or tomato sauce rip up my esophagus in equal measure to alcohol.

Again, all of this new learning. It’s been great getting to know myself, even though 2015 was a new low in learning how much my mental state affects me when my medication isn’t right and I’m not eating well. I need to put myself on a special diet, once I figure out what that might be. There are tons of web sites on controlling hosts of mental issues through diet, and even though I will never be in a space to go off meds, anything I can do to supplement them is good in my book.

There is a lot of trauma in my past, both starting as a teenager and continuing to pick out those relationships as an adult. Those things can be talked away. A chemical imbalance cannot. No amount of therapy is going to create the right levels of neurotransmitters. As my freshman psych professor, Victoria Schultz-Swahr, taught me, medication and therapy are inextricably interrelated. One goes hand-in-hand with the other in terms of true mental illness… not the “I’m having temporary problems” kind, but the kind where there are chemicals missing from your brain.

I continue to feel wrecked that Dana and Argo and my parents went through the brunt of all of it, because I know I caused problems for them that went beyond what any human being should have to tolerate…. particularly Argo, because there was a lot of misdirected anger that never should have been put on her plate to begin with. I am forgiven, but I am not over it… and in some sense, I never will be. Those memories will always be “grievous unto me,” so I have to find a way to move past them without forgetting where I’ve come from. I don’t want to run away from my problems, just find a way to move on so that those memories are on the back burner instead of the front.

For instance, getting lost in work and having no social life outside of it keeps me focused on what I need to do to get myself truly established in a place of joy and gratitude. Learning new things is helping me put one foot in front of the other, not to hide from the skeletons in my closet, but to work through them.

It is a lesson in self-soothing, and I’m getting good at it. External validation is not a need anymore, because I know within myself that I am perfect in all of my flaws and failures, just like everyone else.



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