October 19, 2014

The Story of How We Meet

"So how did you and David meet?"

I have been asked this question hundreds of times (or that's what it feels like).  I realize it's a common ice breaker but I feel like I get it even more than usual.  And I understand- I'm from a small town in Montana, David's from a large city in Belgium- it seems logical to wonder how our paths could have possibly crossed.  Plus, at first glance, we have approximately zero shared interests- the plot thickens!  But instead of relishing the interest in a bit of our relationship trivia, I dread this question.  When I feel it coming, I cringe and get awkward and try to steer the conversation any other direction.  Also, I lie.  "Oh... you know... mutual friends" I say while trying to make myself disappear.

I have my reasons- I don't want to appear rash or irresponsible (there is a child involved, after all) or sometimes I think it sounds un-romantic.  Also on my insecure days, I imagine it's just a polite way for someone to ask "How did a huge dork like yourself end up with someone so charming and handsome?" 

But enough time has passed and I've decided it's time to come clean.  So here you go- the story of how we met:

Craigslist.  Casual encounters.  No just kidding :)  Well, kidding about the second part, the first part is true.

I had just left my first job out of college in NYC (no regrets!) and was looking for My Place.  As amazing as the quality of life in the Rockies is, that wasn't it and as phenomenal of a city as NYC is, that certainly wasn't it either.  So I packed my dog in my truck and drove as far west as I could go.  My plan was to drive up the coast, see things for myself (San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Vancouver) then pick somewhere.

Spoiler alert: I never made it past the Bay Area.  It was so amazing, it just f-ing knocked my socks off.  I'd never seen anywhere like it; the city is just out of this world and it's surrounded by some of the most gorgeous beaches and mountains and vinyards.  I was hopelessly in love.  So I informed my friend/host in Oakland that I'd be overstaying my welcome (thanks Toby!) and began apartment hunting.

It was pretty bleak.  If you know anything about SF, it's probably that the housing situation is rough.  But I was obsessed with the city and also pretty tired of couch surfing and living out of my truck so I persevered.  After weeks of discouraging leads, a stumbled across a few great ones in one day.  One was central but tiny, one had several roommates, but the last one had great photos- it seemed almost too good to be true.  And they guy who answered the phone had the sexiest French accent.

Enter David.

A tall, dark, and handsome guy to match the accent answered the door.  He had his neighbor friends over to help him vet potential candidates (love you Jon and Marianne!) and after a few minutes of friendly banter and taking in the chic apartment, I was swooning.  Immediately after leaving, I called my friend told her the good news (she could have her couch back), but that there was a problem- I didn't know if I should take the perfect apartment because I had a crush on the housemate!  I would find out later that he was having the same conversation on the other end :)

In the end, I moved in and we started dating the next day.  The rest is, as they say, history.

October 15, 2014

Grace Hopper Conference

Last week, my manager (also a mom) and I went to a computing conference with our two young children.  Now... how cool is that?!?!  It's called the Grace Hopper Conference, named after one of the first ever programers and the person that coined the term "bug."  It is aimed at women in technical roles and they have conference-provided day care. :D

I don't talk about my job on this blog really ever and I don't anticipate changing that but I've been thinking a lot about why.  Sure there's the difficulty of dealing with big scary NDA's and PR offices.  But it's also (mostly?) because I really enjoy having a totally separate outlet.  As much as I love my job, it feels so refreshing and energizing to do something else for a while- to take a break and do a completely unrelated thing where I have 100% executive and creative control.

Perhaps you are saying to yourself "Sure, of course, doesn't everyone?"  And I would say, from the worlds I'm surrounded with, a resounding "No."  Everywhere I look there are programmers who go home from work and program for fun in their spare time to fulltime moms who are with their kids 24/7- everyone is specializing.

(Edit:  This interview of Mindy Kaling could not have been more timely for me: "constant requests for comments on your otherness can distract you from the hard work of doing your job")

One reason I don't talk about it is because I don't want to be isolating, unrelatable.  I guess it's my ubiquitous problem of not feeling like I fit in either side of the fence so I try to straddle the fence then just end up doing a mediocre job at many things.  Maybe it's helpful to not keep my worlds quite so segmented.  Some of the overarching themes for the conference, for example, were de-stigmatizing tech and recognizing that there are tons of women interested or already in the field.

I usually feel very hesitant about female focused events in my field but I made an exception for the Grace Hopper Conference because of it's stellar reputation.  Of course there was lots talk about surviving/thriving male dominated fields as well as some on motherhood and "having it all".  Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (right before his epic gaffe) said something perfect that I also find extremely awkward (even though probably fewer people are asking me for advice...)
"One is always being asked to pass judgement or give advice with imperfect information.... and it must be perceived as great decision"
And then fortuitously:
"Women have a lower tolerance for bullshit. "
Poor guy.

Throughout many of the less technical and more social/policy focused talks, I kept thinking "Sure... but does this apply to ME?"  It's logical- I'm just a worker bee, I'm already in tech and have no real decision making power.  But I've decided that's the wrong way of thinking about it- it's the the same as reading the news and being an informed citizen.  Probably no monumental public policy decisions well be left up to me but I can at least try to be one drop in the right direction.  And maybe that's enough.

And for my part, I can tell you that, if you're interested, tech is a fascinating field where you're surrounded by little (and big) logic puzzles.  There are so many things to improve and so many unknown avenues to explore.  (Like, for example, the Amazon fulfillment centers pictured below, which is now open to public tours and I managed to see).

Photo credit
There are so many opportunities to have an impact, and yes, even change the world.  Of course there's the added benefit of the market being flooded with great jobs in the field, too.  So if you're interested, here are some great (free) resources to get started:

October 12, 2014

Lost in translation

So, where was I?  That's right: conversing with a toddler and a (very proficient) none-native english speaker can occasionally be one giant game of telephone.   It makes me giggle all the time (either that or tear my hair out in frustration) but differences can be hard to pinpoint and remember, let alone explain.  I often wonder if they are you had to be there situations, when I try to relay them.  Hopefully not because I have another collection of them!  Here goes:

- The other day, we spend a whole car ride discussing the intonation of the word "booger".  I had to explain it wasn't like the hamburger "burger" but you also didn't draw out out "o" (booooooogger) and that there is also the slang bugger which it not right either.... by the end, I wasn't sure how to pronounce it myself.

- Aiden counts in mixed up franglish-gibberish: Six, nine, deux, ex, four, five, un

- The place you leave a car, David refers to as "a parking" not "parking" or "a parking spot".  Kind of minor but definitely piques your ear.  I hear it so much, I have to make a real effort not to say it myself.

- Animals make different sounds in Europe.  We found this out during our many, many renditions of Old McDonald that we sing on road trips.  Pigs say snort instead of oink and birds say chip instead of tweet.  Also (judging by his shocked laughter at me) horses definitely do NOT say nay nor frogs say ribbit although he's yet to come up with something more accurate.

- One weekend I was showing David a picture of Aiden from earlier:
David: "When was that picture?  While I was in the douche?" 
(douche being the French word for shower)
Me: "Yeah, you were being a douche."

- While discussing something at a marina:
Friend: "It's over by the funjet"
(type of boat, sounds like slang also meaning a bundle of sticks)
David: "By the what?!?!"

- David and I have a friendly competition regarding who is the best translator of baby-speak.  While it's pretty neck-and-neck, we are both leagues above our bachelor friend who was visiting last week.  He is not well versed in baby, and needed translation for most things Aiden said and was in disbelief that most of the gibberish turned out to be intelligible.

- One of my favorite was a while ago, soon after we meet, when David asked me to explain how you would use the phrase "... and whatnot."  (Try to explain- it's hard!)  He wanted to know because phrases like that were cool- the mark of a fluent English speaker.

So that's pretty much our life; franglish and gibberish and whatnot.