Friday, July 29, 2016

The End is Near

One month since you heard from me last.

Time seems slip away so quickly, doesn't it?

Already, I'm almost done with school. Only one week left. Our group project, our final project, is done. Mostly. There are still some tweaks and last minute adjustments we can work on during next week, when we aren't too busy doing whatever it is we do in the final week.

There will be job prepping, interview prepping and other things. There will be a "Meet & Hire" lunch next Thursday where people representing companies looking for web developers will come and meet us. Some of us might get hired.

This makes me nervous, but not for the reasons you may be thinking. Technically, I already have a job lined up, which is fortunate, because our financial situation can accurately be compared to those bits in cartoons when a character opens their wallet and a small, sad moth flies out. Or is it a fly?

I was fortunate enough to be chosen from my class to be a mentor for the next class, beginning shortly after mine ends. I'm excited to help give back, to help others, and be a slightly larger part of DevMountain. Part of the decision process was 'job readiness' or 'hireability' (I'm not sure if that's an actual word, but it's fun to say). I was one of three people chosen, out of several from my class, which has served as a bit of confidence boost.

So, no. It isn't the will I/won't I get a job from the meet and hire, but simple fact that there will be people. Lots of people. Looking and me, amongst others, and judging. Scrutinizing our work. It's silly, I know, but I don't feel like my personal project is quite portfolio ready and I'm not sure how much time I'll have between now and then to make it so.

Also, people. Lots of them. Did I mention that? People don't necessarily make me nervous, but talking to them does. And that is what will be expected.

I'm awful when it comes to talking to people. Truly, I am. It is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, one of the things I am worst at. My small talk is stunted and awkward. It's also quite murderous, as it kills almost every potential conversation it peeks its head into. My wife tells me I just need to do it more often. She's probably right. She often is.

But, then there's the fact that I'm just shy anyways and that being not shy is very difficult. Beyond that, I'm also a little anti-social to begin with and a complete introvert. All of which pretty much means the same thing. For me, and those like me, it means I have limitations. There is a threshold to how much interaction I can handle. I feel like most days that threshold is relatively small and that by the time the work/school day is over. I'm done.

Most days, that's okay. I can go home and be with my wife and my kids and recharge and feel better and be ready to do it all again. Sometimes I even need reprieve from them. Times when I simply need to be alone, just me and my thoughts and nothing else. I think everyone must feel this way on occasion, but for me (and those like me) it happens more frequently. Please don't take offense. We emerge eventually, refreshed and ready to begin to process over again.

Recently, I've had more time to myself. The last several months have been spent at school and very little time at home and even when I am home, I'm working. I set a small part of each Saturday, and Sunday in it's entirety, aside for my family. Only them. That time is coming to end. I will be home more often now and have more time on my hands for family and other projects.

(This is the part where I unashamedly plug myself as a developer)

If you or someone you know are looking into setting up a website, I would be thrilled to freelance for you. Reach out to me if you're interested and want more details.

So that's about it. The last month. Finishing school, which ends next week, an upcoming job as a mentor for the upcoming class, and freelancing on the side.

(Also, working on moving this blog over to my own website, which will be much prettier.)

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

DevMountain (What I've Been Up To)

(I wrote this last week, but then busy and forgot about it. It never got posted. Well, until now, obviously, or you wouldn't be reading it. So here it is, slightly out of date as I am halfway through my first week back.)

A quick update on things and life.

It's been seven weeks now since I started going back to school, but not your typical school. It isn't a college or university, and it isn't quite a trade school, but it's similar. It's a bootcamp for coding, more specifically for web development and it earns the name of bootcamp. They say each day is equivalent to about a week in a more traditional school. I believe them.

Each day of the first six weeks has been spent learning new programming languages, libraries and frameworks in the morning with a hands on mini project with the instructor to try and help drill home what we're learning. Then after lunch we're on our own for the daily project with focus on what we were learning earlier that morning. The day starts at nine and ends at five. Monday through Friday for six weeks it's been this way. In the hours that are not technically school hours, there's more studying and practicing and working through problems and assessments. And if you ever reach a point where you feel there isn't anything else to do, it turns out, there is.

I spent most of those six weeks away from my family; working, learning and studying. I have so far reserved the weekends for them, though in the coming weeks, from my understanding I may need to work Saturdays as well (I decided at the beginning to keep Sunday's for my family).

This last week was our interim week. A break week. I'd planned on splitting my time between studying some new coding languages and spending time with my family. As it turns out, something funny happens in the early morning hours. My bed comes alive and the sheets knock me unconscious again. As a result, I spent my waking hours with my family. (I felt too guilty to spend much time away from them working, when I spent my working time sleeping).

Monday will mark my return to school and a new routine, spending most of my day programming. I'm sorry to be away from family again, but it's only another six weeks and then the course done and, hopefully, I'll be employed, making more money than I was when I worked for discover.

My experience so far at DevMountain has been fantastic, I've learned an incredible amount in a short amount of time and I'm looking forward to the rest of the course. For anyone interested in learning web development, whether for a career change (like me) or may because you're curious or just want to further you're learning. Or if you've already decided computer science is your thing and don't want to spend four years doing it. DevMountain is an excellent place to learn and develop new skills quickly.

Click here to learn more about them.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Some Melancholy and Some Hope

"I'm a writer,"

That's what I say to myself, in my mind. Where no one else can hear. Where no one can dispute, or argue or point out flaws in that simple statement. No one, but myself.

"I'm a writer," I say.

And then a voice, from the back, hidden in the shadows of cracks and crevices. Somewhere deep. It isn't a loud voice, but soft and, sometimes, though perhaps I imagine it, sorrowful.

"You aren't" it says.

The words sting, but I've heard them before, have in fact, had this conversation countless times and each time it's the same.

"Of course I am," the response is immediate and a bit defensive.

But the voice is unyielding. It knows.

"You aren't,"

My response is much the same, an echo of the first.

But the voice cannot be swayed. It comes from the deep places, the places of truth. And so the words strike true, and they hurt. The voice knows this and so, it is gentle.

"But you don't write,"

There isn't much to say back to that. I respond anyway.

"I do..." it's a weak response and as it is, it may even be a lie. I accompany it with a weaker follow up to push it into truth, if only just, "it's just been awhile,"

And even though the voice is just a voice I feel it, can almost see it, shaking it's head. It cannot be fooled, but the conversation ends. Sometimes it may go on longer, just a bit; other times it's shorter, but it's always the same, more or less. Sooner or later, the voice quiets. 

But it does not believe me, and so I do not believe myself, not deep down in those places of truth. The places we keep hidden. Outside, however, I tell myself I do believe and sometimes, I almost convince myself. Sometimes I can almost forget, but stories are always churning in my mind and where there are stories there is writing and with writing, my insecurities.

And so I tell myself, "I'm a writer,"

It starts again. 

It's an almost daily thought process, a micro conversation with myself. But lately I've grown tired, my arguments less defensive and more hollow. I've been thinking about what the voice has said, it's words and their truths. They hurt to think about, but uncomfortable truths always do. A new conversation arose today, similar, but so very different.

"I'm not a writer, am I?" the words hurt to have even thought, as if, by thinking them I was losing something precious, and in a way, I was.

"No, you aren't," the voice was almost like a gentle and comforting hand on my shoulder.

"I want to be," I felt like a child, small and helpless, surrounded by my broken dreams.

"I know," it said, the way someone would say I'm sorry.

It hurts, but life goes on. 

"I'm not a writer," I say, tasting the words and their truthfulness.

Truth always wins out in the end. And so the voice, from way in the back, down in the deep places where we hide truths we don't want to acknowledge, has nothing to say. No lie or fabrication to correct or contradict.

"I'm not a writer," I repeat, shaking my own head this time, filled with sorrow and acceptance.

And then, to my surprise, the voice.

"No, but you could be,"

- - -

I haven't written in a long time, but I think about writing often, daily even. Not just stories, but these blogs as well. I like to write and if you were to ask me why I don't I honestly wouldn't be able to give a good answer.

This was a silly story, perhaps, but a hard one to write, and yet at the same time I almost wrote it accidentally. It's fiction, but it's also not. The words still sting, but there is hope.

A writer?

I want to be. It's been a dream for such a long time, it feels as if it's become a part of who I am. 

Whether or not I'm writer is ultimately a choice. I want to be a writer, but to be a writer I have to write. I've said it before, to myself, my wife, even here on the blog. And so my dream requires action. I must do in order to make my dream something more substantial.

I stumbled on this quote tonight, and it struck me.

Ralph Waldo Emmerson said, "As long as a man stands in his own way, everything seems to be in his way."

There's the answer. The reason I haven't been writing. I think I know now. I've been in my way. It's come in the form of a lot of excuses and at it's root, it's been caused by fear. I'm coming to realize that I have a lot more fears than I ever knew, but that's good, because now, I can face them.

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” - Walt Disney

I don't know what the future holds, but I do have hope and I'm trying to have courage.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Marriage Advice?


The other night my wife and I were eating out with family and friends. We sat at a table with her younger brother and his fiancé. I had gotten up to grab something and when I got back to the table I found my wife talking about marriage advice and she asked if I had any for the soon to be newly weds. My response to this question is almost always the same and has a tendency to be given by a lot of other people as well, right along with "Don't go to bed mad." My answer was 'communication' and that was it.

The two nodded and agreed, my brother in law made a small noise that was both acknowledging and dismissive. It was something they'd heard before, several times I'm sure, but I hope it's also something that they've taken to heart. It's something I've been thinking about since.  

It's hard to really understand what 'communication' means until you're truly married and living with one another. I know the two of them have a better understanding than most, both of them having served missions for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, during which time (a year and half for women and two years for men) you are constantly accompanied by another individual, your companion. You do not choose your companion, sometimes the two of you hit it off and become fast friends, other times you learn to love one another and become friends, sometimes you just tolerate one another and other times it's incredibly difficult not to hate your companion. On the mission you learn many things, communication is a big one. When you are constantly paired together and always at each other's side, except perhaps for the bathroom (and sometimes even then) you quickly learn to live together, whether you love each other or hate each other. You learn to communicate and as you do you begin to understand the other person.  

My brother in law and (soon to be) sister in law have both been through this and I know for certain that they have learned a thing or two about communicating. But the mission is not marriage, and the companions you learn and teach alongside are temporary. On the mission, whether you like the person or not, your time together will come to an end. Getting married however, is for keeps. That's the whole idea, it isn't a temporary thing. Nobody goes into marriage expecting to get divorced later on. Does it happen? Yes, somewhat frequently in our society. Divorce is becoming more and more a normal part of the world. Why? People don't communicate anymore. It isn't the only reason divorce happens, but it's a big one. I know, I've been there.  

My ex-wife and I started out as pretty good friends, we got along really well and for the most part still do. Thankfully, we've had a very civil experience so far and I'm really happy about that for Bootstrap's sake. My marriage didn't have the communication it needed, it wasn't the only reason we eventually divorced, but it was, as I've stated, a big one and the lack of it only served to exponentially increase and multiply other issues.  Like Simon & Garfunkel so wisely stated, "Silence like a cancer grows," I can't begin to express the truth behind that sentence in a relationship like marriage. I've seen silence grow like a cancer. It grows quickly, invasive, it infests everything and then makes it all fester.    

So do I have any marriage advice? Yes, communicate. Talk to each other. Trust one another. You're getting married, or got married, for a reason. Because you love each other, because you wanted to spend the rest of forever together. Don't forget that. Don't let your pride, or fear of what your spouse might think, get in the way of having open and honest conversations with one another. You love each other and will continue to love each other and as you talk and communicate and share your fears and dreams and build one another up and work together to get through the hard times you'll grow together. Your love will grow in leaps and bounds. If something bothers you, if you're hurt or concerned or have something on your mind, bring it up and talk about it. Don't keep things bottled up, especially the fears and frustrations. Listen and talk about what can be done and then do it. I've seen what comes of silence in a relationship, I've lived it. I watched as my first wife and I drifted apart and became strangers. Remember when I said we started as good friends? That's what silence, or a lack of communication, does; it makes strangers of the people closest to you.  

Communicating isn't always easy, sometimes it can be, but sometimes it will feel like the hardest thing you've done. It will lighten your burdens though, ease the fears and frustrations and prevent and solve problems or issues that have or could have arisen.  

Some other bits of advice, forgive and ask forgiveness. Even if you don't feel you were in the wrong (even if you know you were right) set aside your pride and apologize. That may sound strange, but I guarantee amazing things will come of this. Sometimes someone just needs to take the first step and everything else will follow.  

My last piece of advice to anyone getting married, or newly wed, is to love. That might sound stupid, but it's true. It's too easy to get caught up in life, days can go by without ever uttering the word. Don't let that happen. Love always and forever.  Don't take that love for granted, if your spouse already knows you love them, tell them again anyway. Say it out loud, show it and live it every day, in everything you do.  

I'm incredibly lucky and blessed to be where I am now, married to my best and oldest friend. I'm even more lucky that she shares the understanding of how important communication is to our lives and our happiness. I look forward to the many years I get to share with her and the many opportunities that we'll be able to take advantage of to speak and communicate with one another and the growth that will bring to us both.  

Communicate. Forgive. Love.  

I'm sure there are many other valuable pieces of advice you can find, some of it may conflict with other pieces. That's because everyone is different and everyone learns to live in different ways, but I think those three things are a pretty big, broad and general. There are as many ways to do these things as there are people. You'll learn your own way, as an individual and as a couple and together you'll improve them as you grow.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

New Years (A short post)

It's a new year and with it comes new beginnings.

I've been giving a lot of thought to goals and resolutions for the coming year and reflecting on those from years now past, both the ones I've actually finished and ones I haven't and the reasons why. I think part of my problem is that my goals are often too big, too vague or I have too many. I think it's actually a fairly common thing people do and why resolutions for the new year aren't often taken seriously.

I've talked about this topic a few times over the years on my blog, so I'll be short and I won't make you any promises. Not yet. I will, however, make one for myself and that's to continue mulling over who I am and who I want to be and the differences between the two. As well as a similar question concerning my family; what I want for us and what is necessary and what is best. That's something my wife and I have discussed several times and I imagine we will continue to discuss it over the coming year and coming years.

I feel I've been very contemplative over the last few weeks, thinking about what matters and what doesn't. Some of those things are easier to recognize than others and some of them are harder, murkier. As this new year begins I hope to make better sense of myself, my hopes and my dreams. 

I hope you do as well. I hope we'll all recognize the things that matter most, the things that give us joy, true joy, so that we'll smile wider, laugh louder and hope harder. And I hope in this new year that we'll all spend more time around the people we care for and who care for us in return.

Let's stop the hate, let go of the grudges, think before we speak and forgive even those we feel we shouldn't. There's too much negativity in the world and life is too short to be spent on such trivialities. 

I wish you all a happy New Years.

Let's make the best of it.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Babies and Toddlers and Family

Babies are hard.

They're adorably tiny little helpless humans which are sometimes covered in hair and sometimes not. In our case there's hair, a lot of it. It's that newborn hair that feels as soft as some animal's fur and which won't last long, much to Mushu's relief I imagine since it covers his ears, shoulders and forehead. It's cute now but, it probably wouldn't be years from now.

With this newest addition to the family comes the reminder that there's very little babies can do for themselves. It sounds stupidly obvious and it is, but you don't really realize how much work it is until you have to do it. Even when you've had one kid already you tend to forget things. You may remember many things, sure, but you forget things, too. Namely how hard things can be, especially when you've had no sleep and you can't get the kid to stop screaming or fussing.

Ours is quite fussy at night and this is why I'm awake and writing right now. At least, that's part it. I took him from my wife so she can sleep at least a little before he wakes up hungry again. He nodded off after I walked around with him for a few minutes so I made my way to Bootstrap's bedroom where the rocking recliner has made it's home. It seems Mushu needs to be moved in order to sleep, or at least it seems to help, which was true for Bootstrap also when he was smaller (it was he who dubbed his little brother Mushu, much to his mother's chagrin) I remember I spent near every night with him next to me and I would rock him every few minutes until he fell back to sleep. I'm sure some nights it only felt that way, I'm also sure some nights were exactly that. So it was until he learned to sleep in his crib. I'll be happy once Mushu hits that point as well, even if my wife is the one who ends up awake all night with him. Actually scratch that, especially since my wife is the one who stays up all night with him. I love my wife, I want her well slept and well rested because that's what she wants (and she's nicer that way. *wink**wink*)

I am both impressed and surprised that Mushu actually fell asleep and seems to be staying that way. Also grateful. I told my wife I wasn't tired because I drank caffeine awhile ago but that's both truth and lie. I am tired, but I won't fall asleep. I'm a bit sensitive to caffeine, especially if I don't drink it often and I can proudly say I don't. But that doesn't mean I'm not tired. I'm happy to be helping though, I know my wife is exhausted and she deserves sleep. Babies are hard.

She'll roll her eyes when she reads this because in all honesty she does all the heavy lifting (figuratively speaking of course, she had a c-section and isn't allowed to lift heavy things) she's a super woman, no doubt about it (all moms are) and I'm very proud of her. It's blatantly obvious that little Mushu loves and adores her and her feelings are mutual. I love them both. And our little Bootstrap, too. He's struggling a little, but loves his little brother very much. He has such a big heart for such a little guy and he's so independent, at times frustratingly so, toddlers are hard, too. There's rarely a day that goes by though when he does not impress me, teach me, show me new wonders or remind me of wonders long forgotten. To see the world through his eyes is magic. I'm excited to see it through Mushu's.

I'm excited for the adventures the two of them will have and the friendship they'll share. I know they won't always act like friends and there will be fights and moments they hate each other, but they'll always be brothers. Bootstrap loves Mushu and Mushu loves Bootstrap. He can't say so, not yet, but he lights up and smiles when I talk to him about his big brother (it could, I'll admit, just be gas, but I doubt it.)

I'm so grateful for them both, and for my wife as well, they remind me there's still beauty in the world. Still magic. Still love. And right now those kind of reminders are the best of all.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Lazy Sundays are the Best Sundays (and a Cute Kitten)

TRUTH - too bad I suck at naps

It's been a few weeks since I last blogged. I think it's safe to say no one is surprised.

I have, however, been writing. At least over this last week. I've had an idea knocking around my head for awhile now and I'm finally beginning to see what the overall arch will be, it's quite a bit different from the initial idea and I imagine it will only continue to change and grow as I continue to write it.

I've set a goal for myself for a certain word count each day and have yet to actually reach it. Right now it's more a goal I'm working towards than one I expect to meet each day. I used to be able to belt out a nice word count each day within about a two hour period. I'm not even close to reaching that again, but I know I'll get there so long as I keep writing. I'm just out of practice.

It's a bit of a lazy Sunday today, which is more than perfectly acceptable for me. Most Sundays we're out visiting family, which I enjoy and love doing, but it's always nice to have a day to relax and do nothing with my wife and son (one of them is watching Tinkerbell while the other naps, I'll let you decide who's doing what), especially when it happens to be the only day off during the weekend.

I'll write more later. There are other things I've been thinking about and would like to put into word, but not in this post, and not today (probably). I just wanted to get a post out since it's been such a long time.

For now I'm off to cook breakfast burritos for dinner and possibly enjoy a movie with the family after that.

More later.

PS - Here's a cute kitten, napping, because the internet and why not.