Sunday, November 3, 2013

Celebrating in Google Calendar

I use my Google Calendar religiously. I only became more meticulous about documenting every deadline, event, and appointment after I got a smartphone, when my calendar was always at my fingertips. I take pride in being able to spout off birthdays of friends, television series season premier dates, and future dinners with old roommates.

Along with my methodical insertion of dates into my digital day planner, I have also always been highly conscious of deleting past events. I don't want the clutter of dated entries in past days, weeks, and months. I don't want to see the textual litter across an otherwise immaculate landscape of white squares comprising my coming month.

About two weeks ago I realized I don't want to forget anything. I want to remember every coffee date and every Halloween party and every movie night. I want to remember every random drive downtown trying to find a place to grab dinner and every sojourn into Provo. Maybe one day it will become a necessity to wipe out all of these past reminders, but for now, they're each a celebration.

Yukon, ho, to the future of my Google Calendar.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

India Indians

I feel like this is an odd thing to blog about, particularly after such a long absence from this site, but you know . . . the heart blog what the heart blogs.

I'd like to relate this odd part of my job that brings me inexplicable joy. Every week, our software updates. Developers used to write just a handful of what we call release notes about these updates, and clients and employees were mad they weren't getting more information before things in the software would change. So I was assigned to get the developers to write more release notes, and to shift the paradigm internally that the release notes do not always stink.

To accomplish this, I bribe everyone. I bribe the developers every week with a $10 gift card to whoever writes the "best" release notes (a subjective designation, to be sure, decided entirely by me. No complaints yet but I'm sure they'll come . . .).  And, I bribe every other employee in the company with a fun-sized Snickers.

It didn't start that way. My original idea was to hide a little easter egg somewhere in the email (these easter eggs would take the form of a line of text, hidden amongst all the developer-written release notes, that people would only see if they were earnestly reading the release notes then stumbled across a phrase, movie quote, song lyric, something, that wasn't a release note). Then, people would come to my desk, tell me the easter egg and a release note that stood out to them (cool new feature, useful new update, etc.) and I would give them this piece of candy.

And I get it, you know? We're all adults, this all has a general haze of condescension that I really didn't intend but when you offer employees a fun-sized carrot . . . not everyone will be thrilled. I didn't expect everyone in the company to come running for candy.

Having said that, the response has been pretty positive. The unexpected part was the other offices in the company (Provo, Dallas, India) got fairly upset they weren't included. To get a fun-size candy bar. . . . Yes. You read that correctly. All the same, I was glad they wanted to participate and I recruited some candy-disher-outers in the other offices to be proxy for me.

I love getting emails from salespeople we have on the road, in their own regions. I love getting emails from people down the hall from me, not interested in candy and too lazy to come talk to me, but still wanting to participate. I love the boisterous messages from employees in Dallas. But by far, the absolute best part of all of this, has been responses from employees in India.

First of all, they have the most employees in their offices, so they send the most emails. I think if I were to do a ratio of responses to employees though, I would also find that they have more people per capita responding than anywhere else. People drinkin' my Kool-Aid will always warm my heart.

Then there's the fact that most people around the Utah offices have seen me or have sent me other emails about documentation at some point. Our offices in India only employ developers and QA specialists. I have no contact with anyone in India because they're really not looking for client-facing documentation. And yet their emails are always so nice! As if we're friends already. And naturally I respond in the same way because I wish we were friends already.

And finally, I love the language barrier. I'm sorry, but I really do. Last week the easter egg was the button combination you have to push on a controller (or arcade cabinet) to throw the special move in the video game, Super Street Fighter, called the Hadouken. Down, down-forward, forward, punch. One developer in India sent me an explanation about how one of the software updates tied in with Japanese culture and how that was the easter egg. Obviously I've done a terrible job of explaining the game, but it was also rad to get this random, close reading analysis of a release note of all things.

The past two weeks I've just happened to be working late on Thursday evenings. I start to see email responses from India pour in, due to the time difference, and gleefully respond to every single one, along with telling my candy proxy every name so they are "approved" to get whatever sweet treat is being provided over there. Tonight, I brought home my work laptop to do more work but ended up shelving it and watching YouTube from my bed, along with chatting a friend and catching up on Tumblr.

I forgot that I kept open my work email though and slowly I started seeing the first of the India email responses land in my inbox. At first I thought maybe I would quickly sign out and wait for tomorrow to deal with them all, but then someone started chatting me from India, about the game and the candy and the release notes. With a sigh and a smile, I began writing down how many people had emailed, forwarding their names on, and responding to their emails. For "working" on a Thursday night, it sure was a blast, for just a few seconds per email, to connect with the other side of the world, to create new relationships, to feel like we have some kind of report even though we'll probably never ever meet.

This really has no point. This was also probably one of the more boring posts I've ever written. I just love emailing my friends in India. I used to have no desire to travel there, but if maybe I got to travel their for work, it would be more appealing . . .

Sunday, May 5, 2013

2 hours late

I'm worried these posts are becoming hackneyed, or too dramatic, but I just have this thing about making sure people know how much I love them. I'm not too bad at saying these things to someone's face, but the catch is that it usually makes me cry which is the bane of my existence, so instead it's just better for everyone if I write it out, you know?

Once Sara told me that she felt good about herself when people who are more introverted spend time with her, because she felt like they were choosing her specifically, when usually they don't choose anyone. I kind of laughed and nodded, because I knew if I told her the truth I'd probably tear up. The secret is that it's quite the opposite. Sara is one of the friendliest, nicest people I have ever met in my entire life. I don't know if I've ever met such a condensed ball of joy and energy in my previous 24 years. I was talking tonight with a friend about how everyone knows and loves and wants to be friends with Sara. And despite all of these demands on her time and these other very nice people in her life, she'll call me and we'll hang out sometimes. It is an incredible privilege to know and be friends with Sara.

And after that, I've hit kind of a writer's block. There are dozens of wonderful things about Sara, but miraculously I have brought them to her attention without crying. She is the greatest example to me of living life to the fullest, no matter what anyone says. She has made me a better person by her example of caring and gumption. Her many, many talents inspire me to develop my own. And she puts people at such an ease, I've been able to tell her these things without weeping at the thought of how much I have loved her in my life. Now that is a skill.

I want to write more. I want to write pages about Sara, but I can't. Because I am an introvert, I find that my deepest connections with people I love are usually less articulate than I'd like them to be. And unfortunately for you, that makes really horrendous reading material, because I end up saying things like "We just have this connection you know?" and no one likes reading garbage like that. So in the same vein of cliche, I will say that there are people in your life that move you to be better, without being down on yourself, and who understand your faults without lording over you with their strengths, and who put you perfectly at ease with yourself, and the world, and Sara is one of those people. Congratulations, to everyone who has had the pleasure of meeting her. We're a lucky bunch.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Everyone, go get your hair cut.

I started this blog post in about five different ways, and through typing all of those out, the real organization or maybe even purpose for this blog surfaced.

A few weeks ago I got a magical haircut. Most of you have probably seen the picture on Facebook, but I chopped off at least ten inches of my hair and got an epically wonderful pixie cut. I've never felt better about anything in my life, and that is not even hyperbole. The response from 100% of the people in my life was sadness-crushingly positive. It makes me regret the 24 years I lived without this haircut. Here was my true response to getting this haircut, "My face space looks so good the rest of me should look this good."

For what seemed like no reason at all, I finally started the hundred pushup challenge (after seven weeks of the program, you should be able to do one hundred consecutive pushups). I've wanted to do it for years, and just never did. I just ended week 3 (after a week delay during Crohn's exhaustion), and I can now do many more pushups than I could when I started. Gonna start week 4 tomorrow.

I recently, finally, listened to Tig Notaro's "Live" album. She is a stand-up comedian who was diagnosed with cancer, almost died from an intestinal parasite, was dumped by a significant other, and lost her mother to a freak accident, all within the space of four months. And out of these tragedies, she wrote a brilliant set that was released for sale, unedited. She talks about the grand equation, tragedy + time = comedy, and it made me think a lot about Crohn's. For the first time since being diagnosed, and the first time in my life really, I'm thinking about what I'm eating. I'm thinking about my body and my health.

The disease has progressed to the point where I have to, or else my quality of life will be diminished. And through this forced facing of it, it's become even less of a big deal in my life, in some ways. In other ways, it's become a mammoth, staring me down every day, but in some ways, it's just this thing that I tell people about now. Yeah, I am going to skip that event because I have to go to the bathroom a lot. Yeah, I am going to pass on dinner because I know that I won't be able to eat anything at that restaurant. Things that still bother me to talk about: my unbelievably crazy hemorrhoids, but that's probably another blog post.

Tig's set wasn't perfect, it was just raw. It was so raw, and funny, and touching, and original. At one point she apologizes to the audience and asks if they want to hear some stupid, funny jokes and a guy in the crowd yells out, "NO!" She probes him for more information and all he can respond with is "You're f***ing amazing!" The audience dissolves into cheers and applause. The moment chokes me up. Crohn's will never be cancer, and I thank god for that, but I've always wanted to go into comedy, and here's some fodder for a set, I've finally realized. It's not about poop jokes, although those are great, it's about the experience.

That's tangential, I guess, to what I'm talking about. I just want to shout out to Tig Notaro. Anyway, I'm also moving to Salt Lake City. That was probably less a link in this chain of haircut magic, and more just a fortuitous alignment of ending contracts and an open first floor of a house near Liberty Park. But it's emboldening all the same. It fits into the chain.

I've written about change before, and I hope I never stop writing about it. It's so important. It's my favorite variable in life. One thing in my life changed, and it cost me $50, and it's lead to the newest new side of a leaf I maybe have ever turned over in my life. This is coming off as really dramatic. I don't mean it to be, I just want to impress on every reader the joy of the uncertain.

Not to beat the dead horse, but to close this out I'm going to jump back to the whole breaking-up-with-my-fiance thing. For 23 years of my life, my #1 greatest fear was living alone for the rest of my life. And I tried so hard to be okay with it, and to work on myself so that I wouldn't be so dependent on someone else for happiness. And I met amazing people who had lived solo their whole lives, who inspired me for a few days or maybe a week that if I were really to live alone the rest of my life, it would be a great opportunity. Invariably, that inspiration would wane, and the dark shadow of being alone would cast itself over my life.

I don't know when that fear left me officially (probably sometime in early March), but the other day I was practicing answering talk show questions (my favorite pastime, because I'm pretty sure I'm supposed/going to be famous), and I thought "What is my greatest fear?" For the first time, digging deep into my brain, I really couldn't think of anything. That lead me to realize that my mind didn't jump to "being alone" which floored me. Which defaults my greatest fear back to snakes. *shudder*

I think I scared myself so bad, I kind of woke up. Quarter-life crisis. I was so motivated by a fear, I almost married someone. I almost resigned the both of us to a really, really hard and sad life because I was so scared. Soapbox time:

Go get your haircut. Go wake up. Change yourself so fundamentally that you can live your life how you've always wanted to - freely. It's not easy. It sounds flippant to say "go get a haircut" because this was a long time in the works, to be sure. Maybe I have all the people who told me to never get a pixie cut to thank for this, to make the change so poignant at this moment. And maybe I have my ex-fiance to thank for all this, in which case, the price for this revelation was paid in part by another person who was hurt very deeply and that, despite the joy of what I've found, makes my heart ache. The best I can do is go forward and be happy and do great things, even if micro in scale to the rest of the universe, to make sure the payment was worth it.

I just want us all to be ourselves, because then everyone is at their happiest, you know? Let's do that.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A very short, non-fiction story from my life

I tell stories and then people say, "you should write that down!" and I never do. No one ever said that to me about the following story, but I want to remember it.

I was dating a guy and as we walked out of church, my bishop said, "Take care of her" to which this guy winked and said something to the effect of, "Oh I definitely will." I was annoyed because I was pretty sure my bishop didn't even know my last name, let alone know anything about my ability to take care of myself (not to mention the guy's ability to take care of himself).

I was dating a guy and after a double date with my brother and his wife, my brother said, "Well I'd tell you to take care of her, but I know she can take care of herself." I was so pleased I almost wanted to cry.

This story has very little point. Except to say that I can take care of myself. I've needed lots of help in the past, and I'm positive I'll need help in the future, but I can do it. No one has questioned that lately, and it's been pleasant. I just thought of this story today and how much I love my brother in it.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Press release

It's amazing the amount of "things" you accumulate in relationships. I'll be specific in this post, because this is in fact my blog. It's amazing what I've had to clean up for the very short time that I dated my former fiance. Our first date was November 30th. He visited my family in Washington with me on December 21st. On January 11th I scheduled our temple sealing. I told him that we shouldn't get married March 7th.

In those short months, on Facebook alone, I changed a relationship status, and profile picture, shared a ring finger-specific picture, took a handful of date night photos, added one of his friends, many of his family, and exchanged comments with my friends about the engagement. Then there's Google. I created a shared Google calendar for us, put big upcoming events (engagement photos, the actual day, bridal showers, the Seattle open house) as well as old ones (day he proposed, first date) on my personal calendar, in addition to his family birthdays and at least one vacation we were planning on taking, created Google Tasks related to the wedding, and I made a whole new email address for what was going to be my new name. Related to the wedding itself, I booked a photographer, rented a wedding dress, picked a cake, paid for half of a ring, asked my friends for addresses so others could send out bridal shower invitations, registered at two places, and added a countdown widget to my phone. I took my Wii and all my games and peripherals to his house.

So here I am, in the peaceful aftermath, slowly cleaning up. Emails to the photographer and the cake decorator. Emails to friends and family letting them know. I'll call the temple and the dress rental shop this afternoon. I deleted the widget and rearranged my home screen. I deleted the calendar, the events, and the reoccurring events that I won't be around to see or share. I completed the "Find an engagement photo outfit" task in my Gmail because I don't need to anymore. I scrubbed my Facebook; it looks as though we never met. And now I'm drafting this press release.

This post has taken a long time to write, and my mind has wandered, but I'll try to return to my original premise. I didn't take many pictures, we didn't exchange cutesy Facebook posts, and we didn't share anything (except for the Wii). We had been dating for only a few months and still, all of these little bits of digital data have collected and need to be cleared away.

That might be a good debate - which is harder (emotionally, physically) to get rid of. Looking at my clean bill of electronic health, I feel cleansed. It was an easy process to sit down and complete. It took some digging to make sure I had covered all of my bases, but now, I feel refreshed. On the other hand, all of my Wii stuff is still sitting in the backseat of my car, because the physical act of multiple trips carrying back to my apartment last night seemed too daunting. Texts and emails of condolences have been trickling in. I still need to cancel the wedding registries. I'm getting the photography deposit back in full, which is a pleasant surprise I just got in my inbox. This is how the day has progressed.

I love that this blog is still here. I love that my purpose and direction for it was so correct when I started it. All of life is a sorting out phase. I just sorted another piece. I learned even more about myself and about humanity. I feel sadness about the relationships that I've lost but not about the life I've lived, or the life I'm going to live.

Long live adventure and sorting and love and celebration and sorrow and catharsis and everything in between. Yukon, ho.

Monday, September 17, 2012

She throws a mean dance party

Ghost town! I've been writing most of my thoughts for, so if you can stand to read about video games and like my writing, check out my project over there.

This however, has nothing to do with video games, but I really wanted to say it. For a few years, a few years ago, I didn't have many friends. Needless to say, I was pretty depressed. I don't place blame with anyone but myself; I should've reached out and made friends, but I had forgotten how because of my comfort bubble that lasted for three years. Slowly, and one person at a time, I've been working my way out of it. I don't know if you're ever fully recovered, or if you're just in remission, but I feel good about my social life now, and have for awhile, really. But one person in particular that really helped me turn the corner was Marci, who I got to video chat with tonight (she's teaching high school in Hawaii now, how awesome is that?), who reminded me how good it feels to be around close friends.

Marci has one of the most appreciative laughs I've ever heard in my life. Being the attention hog that I am, I do just about anything I can to make Marci laugh. Thankfully, the first time we met (a GNO through work, because in BYU tech support, there was only five of us) I said enough humorous things to make Marci want to become friends with me. And to her credit, she didn't really put up with my anti-social-ness. I hemmed and hawed about invitations to parties and functions with her boisterous friends and she always called me out on it and I usually felt shamed enough (in a good way. If you've been there, you understand what I'm saying) to come and have a good time all the while. And when you're default is to shrink into a shell, those people who care enough about you to call you out on your bullcrap become invaluable.

At the same time, Marci is really understanding. I had retreated so far into my shell that I had forgotten how to come out of it at all, how to be vulnerable with anyone. I'm still working on that, but she helps. You think you're analytical and intelligent enough to figure everything out on your own, but when you have a caring and patient friend who is willing listen to your ramblings and also prompt you to think about things in a new way, that really puts what you're thinking about in perspective.

I'd be very surprised if there was anyone who knew Marci who didn't instantly trust her. She's loyal and loving and kind enough to reaffirm your positive qualities when you need to hear a good word or two. She's certainly a people person and anywhere we went while we pal'd around Provo livened up a little bit when she got there.

I'd been feeling pretty good today, and Marci was kind enough to fit me into her high rolling life in Hawaii to chat via webcam for a little bit tonight. So it surprised me when after the chat, I felt really good. I tried to think back, of anything that was particularly bad about my day but it was all fairly standard. The difference was just that Marci makes you feel better, even when you weren't feeling down. Marci makes you feel good about yourself, even when you were already feeling pretty okay. Part of that is her laugh, part of that is her own awesome sense of humor which makes me bust a gut every time we talk or chat online, but I think most of it is just because she's such a good person; it's impossible not to feel better around her. Nobody is always happy, and nobody is perfect, but she is always a great friend.

And really, one of her best gifts to me is giving me a reason to save up and visit Hawaii.