Senior Dance Recital

August 19th, 2013

Last week, as I listened to a new rdio station while programming at work, a song came on that sent me back 10 years, the Forest Gump Suite. I held a senior recital at the end of high school, which mostly included pieces from various dances I had performed in high school, some choreographed by me and some not. I had initially hoped to choreograph several new pieces and perform them with my friends, but I just didn’t have the time (I still have the scribblings of my good intentions). But I completed one original piece, asked my dad to perform with me, and together we…well we sort of brought the house down.

I knew it was a powerful concept I had selected, but I didn’t really process that much. I focused on the technical work and all the other busy things going on in my life (AP tests, graduation, spring dance performance with the company, selling and repairing Macs at the local Mac shop, preparing for college, healing the torn ligament in my foot, etc). When I watch the video, I get caught up in the detail of my skill all over. I am very aware that I was imperfect as a dancer. I see all the things I could have done better. Why didn’t I push my jumps higher? Why did I have that move there? Why this? Why that?

It is when I just listen to the music that I get caught up in the emotion. I’m not distracted by my short comings. I can feel the choreography in my muscles and know what concept I had in mind. That at one point in my life my dad was ever present, helping me through life and then slowly I went off on my own. You see Dad and I dance together and you see me do similar actions off on my own. You see me doing different actions all together as I dance on my own longer. I find it very meaningful that there was a lack of curtains on the stage for this piece. The audience could see him always watching over me from the sidelines, willing me to do the right thing. As a fierce teenager about to embark on independent living, I saw how exciting it was to go off on my own. Now, as an adult and as a parent, I see so much more. And when I just listen to the music, I too have tears in my eyes.

That’s why I enjoy choreography. I take something and make it so meaningful that I remind you of some important emotion your life, whether it be an important relationship, a special moment, or something else altogether. I have no idea how it will impact you individually. I just hope that it will come together some how. And that my dance, no matter how imperfect it is technically, will touch someone somewhere.

Our Beach House

June 7th, 2013

Every once in a while, we have a weekend and I tell Mark that I feel like we went to our beach house. Usually this weekend is warm and sunny, full of backyard time, leisurely gardening, playing in the boys’ pool, and not many chores inside the house. It is the type of weekend that fulfills me more than anything else. We are just relaxing, no schedule, no task lists. Just being. Yes, at our normal house.

Mark just returned home from Ghana and I have struggled over the last few days to figure out what I need to get back to an ok state after all that stress (we were just fine, but it is exhausting no doubt). We are also struggling to reconcile the perspective Mark has gained with the culture that we live in now.

The culture we’re in right now tells us to be on the go nonstop. Work more, earn more money, buy more. Mark and I don’t really buy into that though. We work hard at our jobs, but then we come home and the real payoff is not the money. Its those weekends that we can afford the time to not worry about anything at all. We just relax as a family. In Ghana, you can be half a day late and still be on time. And if it rains, well, they won’t start until the rain ends so you might as well relax and enjoy the rain. Dinner can be made by simply climbing a coconut tree, knocking a few coconuts out and cutting them open. Right there on the beach.

I need a weekend at our beach house. The weather this weekend might not be exactly what I had in mind, but that just means we need a new way to enjoy our time at our beach house. We might play out in the yard. We might drive down to the fossil gorge and let Will wander on the rocks until he is ready to go home. We might get ice cream at our new within-walking-distance yogurt shop. We might sit in the living room, watching a thunderstorm. We will have some minimal chores to get done (grocery shopping for one). And that grocery list will probably have more ‘fresh’ fruit on it than before the Ghana trip. We will just enjoy our time together this weekend, at our beach house – and I won’t even have to pack!

Just “One of the Guys”

March 25th, 2013

If you are unfamiliar with the events at PyCon there are many articles to read (How “dongle” jokes got two people fired).  There are “just the facts” articles (somewhere), lots of opinions, and many more tertiary reactions to the situation.  Mine is the last.  I wasn’t there, I won’t pass judgement.  This is my, not so eloquent, reaction to what I have read.

Let me say up front that I have had plenty of moments working in the tech field that make me want to tell a guy to grow up. I’ve also had plenty of times where the guys were all drooling over me awkwardly (and other girls were pretty upset with me for being a tech geek). I play video games (not much lately because I have to prioritize). I even played Halo for a bit. I nearly punched a guy because he killed my character once actually. The four guys I was playing with also had some girls that were not pleased that I was ruining their fun by destroying their unspoken rule that girls don’t play video games. I’ve had a boyfriend’s mom yell at him for letting me do technical work with him during a vacation (not my mother in-law). Coworkers asked me repeatedly when I was going to get a tatoo on my ass (literally). There are a lot of instances where I’ve been “one of the guys” with less than favorable results. Like my dad pointed out, I learned at an early point in my career to be resilient to all the crap.

Another good example that seems very relevant to this incident is when a fellow programmer said something incredibly inappropriate to me. I could have lashed out at him and publicly shamed him right off the bat. Instead I direct messaged him and called him on it. He said it was an accident (as I had expected given the circumstances) and he apologized. I’ve told the story a couple times since, but always in the context that it was an accident (and in a confidential setting). He still makes “that’s what she said” jokes to this day, but usually at times that make no sense at all. Really, it was an accident that his TWSS joke actually fit for once and made light of me in a sexual manner. It was just a horrible coincidence. Could it be better? Sure, but it could be a lot worse too. This same guy took me to the ER one day when I needed someone to help me and his wife is a great friend of mine too. I never felt inconsequential because we had the conversation about what his intention was when he said it.

I really can’t complain too much. For as many examples of being treated poorly, I can share examples of being treated exemplary. Being “one of the guys” means they have your back no matter what happens.

I really appreciate all the articles popping up last week supporting women in IT in general. Many men are really shining through this event. Yet, I want to add one piece to the conversation that I haven’t read anywhere so far. According to reports, the woman was upset because the dongle jokes were somehow the problem preventing young girls from entering a science field. I actually disagree with this. Sure, the stereotype doesn’t help. Sure, feeling like the odd person out doesn’t help. And sure, I’ve shared plenty of examples of reasons some would consider to stay away from tech. All of those require you to have thought of wanting to be in a science field in the first place though and I don’t think many females are getting that far even. The problem goes far beyond developer culture into the homes of every household in America (perhaps beyond). It’s the princess society problem where we continually teach young girls that they need to dream of being a princess some day. Providing them with no role models in science/tech fields. Boys, in addition to all the violent super hero obsessions, are encouraged to be astronauts, doctors, building engineers, and any number of other STEM careers. Girls are encouraged to model Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, and Ariel. They flock to it and how are we to deny them this? I don’t have girls, so I can’t say exactly how I would do things differently as a parent of young girls, but I know we collectively have to do better.
I have to do better for my boys too. Some parents still tell their boys, “you’re not going to let a girl be braver than you, are you?” Don’t get me started. This is just unacceptable.

Dongle jokes and all the other locker room humor, as another article so aptly named it, are what cause some of the sparse women to leave the developer environment. But it is not the root problem of a lack of women in IT.

Hobbit: An Unexpected Review

December 29th, 2012

I need to take a very nerdy moment to share my thoughts on the first Hobbit movie.  I don’t think this really has any spoilers, but if you don’t want any spoilers at all, then you probably should wait to read it.

I felt the movie was long and a touch overwhelming because it shared a wealth of detail.  In some ways this detail is a good thing.  We certainly criticized Jackson for not putting enough detail into LotR, so I can understand the swing toward all this detail. At the same time, there was other detail missing for me.  In particular, I really love the description in the beginning of the book of the hood of each dwarf as they come to Bilbo’s home. In the movie, I don’t know that they even had cloaks.  Meanwhile, sources I’ve read say he embellished on some of the details (Radagast’s character nuances for instance).  These embellishments were necessary to include the character, but that just makes me ponder why he included the character anyways.  Radagast is not in the Hobbit.
The movie doesn’t close well.  You can feel the difference.  Where LotR was actually three separate books to turn into movies, the Hobbit is one book.  Jackson has broken it up and added from other books in order to make three movies.  This leaves the ending of the first movie feeling a touch forced.
I think my main problem though, is that The Hobbit was actually written to be read as a stand alone book.  LotR to follow later, and actually, Tolkien wanted that to be one book too. (Don’t quote me on any of this, I am not a Tolkien scholar.)  If you read The Hobbit first, as I did 15 years ago, then Gollum has this tiny bit part that seems very unimportant.  If you read LotR first, you obviously understand he is very important.  The Hobbit movies are to watch after LotR. It is written far more as LotR the prequel than just The Hobbit, the story of a journey and a dragon (ooop, was that a spoiler?)  It’s not that all of this story is not cool.  It’s just that it is a different story than is included in The Hobbit.
I enjoyed watching the movie overall, but it just doesn’t match my imagination of The Hobbit because I read it first, long before any Jackson films were being released and years before I knew anything about Frodo.
And I’m going to be furious if he cuts Beorn like he cut Tom Bombadil!!

Fall Rhythm

November 12th, 2012
We finally cleaned out the garden.  It’s not that we were being lazy.  Far from it.  We actually had produce growing still!  We pulled our tomato plants early this year as they weren’t very good.  We continue to enjoy fantastic green peppers (frozen) and onions.  Our green onions were tasty and our lettuce was a great fall treat.  We had an amazing crop of carrots in July.  So we tried some fall carrots, which we finally finished off this weekend.
This weekend had the rhythm of preparation and stillness.  Which is pretty amazing with the young kids around!  We took advantage of warm weather Saturday to clean up the yard, till the garden, and hang some Christmas lights (that won’t be turned on until after Thanksgiving).  Last night we tossed together an amazing fall meal with barley soup, made with onions and fresh carrots from our garden, and homemade bread.  As we sat down together with cool rain falling, I felt wonderful and happy with little ability to explain why.  We were all just relaxed enjoying a moment together, the soundtrack from Lincoln rising and falling in the background.