What a Wild Week

I couldn’t sleep Wednesday night because I was panicking over my debt and lack of income; I felt like I needed to find a job immediately or the world would end. So instead of sleeping I looked at all the local jobs online; aside from 1 or 2, most of the ones I’m remotely qualified for were unappealing. Still anxious but exhausted, I managed to fall asleep in the wee hours of Thursday morning.

On Thursday I dragged myself to a LGBTQ Safe Space training. I thought it would help me feel more comfortable joining that community and possibly help me get a job I was interested in. I really wish I hadn’t pressured myself to make a good first impression on top of attending the training, because of course it was emotionally intense. I was very anxious just to be there, and just when I was starting to feel safe and accepted by the group we did an activity that ended up being a huge emotional trigger for me. I couldn’t maintain my mask of “sanity” anymore and came out as depressed in front of a potential employer. It was devastating.

But at least I learned about some of the resources that are available to me.

Friday night was game night. The group we were with were mostly older men (age 50+); I was the second-youngest person there and the only biologically-female individual. We played the Game of Thrones board game; I played as Stark trying to defend my snow-covered lands and conquer the lands to the south. Except that I allowed my “ally” next door to talk me out of claiming the nearby territories I needed to have any hope of expansion, and a foe invaded my waters, threatening my homestead! I had to divert resources to defending my lands against possible attack and attempting to reclaim what had once been mine.

But, I found a way to sneak undetected past my “ally’s” lands and waters, to attack a castle that had been claimed by a foolish unsuspecting south-lander! Mwahahaha!!! I took him totally by surprise and won our skirmish quite easily. Shortly afterward, my “ally” finally claimed the castle I’d put off taking as part of our “agreement” and won the game, thus ending it. About time, too – it was after midnight.

As we were packing up the game, the foe whose castle I’d successfully stormed said my move was “sneaky and conniving¬† – typical of a woman!” I think some flames escaped my nose. (I doubt he would have said my move was typical of anything if he’d perceived me as male.)

“You did NOT just say that!” I replied, my body stiffening in anticipation of a fight.

I could tell everyone was watching us both closely, waiting to see what happened. I had a feeling that anything that did happen would end up being a spectacle for their amusement, possibly to joke about later. I needed to choose my words and actions very carefully.

“I’m going to give you a chance to take that back,” I said.

“It was a very clever move,” he replied, “Well played.”

“Thank you,” I smiled.

The show was over.

Mom and I had intended to leave at 10 am Saturday morning, but were on the road closer to 11:30. She drove through some really nasty weather so we could visit with family members who live about a 4-hour drive away. We got to spend a very pleasant evening with my aunt, uncle, and cousins.

Back to the hotel room late, and I still needed to apply for that job. My inner pessimist – or perhaps it’s a realist – kept saying I wasn’t going to get the job anyway, but I stubbornly ignored it. If I listen to it I’ll never apply for any job. The hours ticked by as I struggled to edit my resume on a tablet; oh, how I missed having a keyboard and mouse! It was so frustrating. But I got it done, and even managed to get a meager amount of sleep.

Up at 9 for free-from-the-hotel breakfast. Time to work on my cover letter (instead of swimming). First of all, I’m not entirely sure what’s supposed to go into a cover letter. Second of all, I was too tired to think, never mind to write a formal letter advertising myself. I got about 2 sentences written. Wasted time fussing over it that I could have spent playing with my cousin’s baby. Yuck. If I could re-live this past weekend, I would decide not to apply for the job, take care of my body, and fully enjoy every moment with my family. (Especially the baby; by the time I see him again he’ll be walking and talking.)

My aunt and uncle have all sorts of crazy health issues and she thinks his purpose for living is to take care of her with no regard for his own needs. I think my aunt feels very threatened by my uncle’s plans to receive double knee replacement surgery because she won’t be able to rely on him as much as she’s used to. (No one’s asking her to help him, just to be less demanding of him.) Mom spent an inordinate amount of time lecturing them both on what he’ll need and what he can realistically expect during recovery. (She didn’t mean to lecture, but that’s how it came across. She’s very concerned about her brother, and so am I.) By the time we left Sunday evening, the “conversation” had degraded into a shouting match and I had a splitting headache.

In the car, Mom couldn’t let it go. She kept repeating the same stuff they’d already been talking about to me. I calmly explained that I was very tired and needed to stop talking about their issues and even got to express some of my own feelings on the matter, and then we dropped it. I spent a good deal of the ride asleep, which was a double-edged sword. On the one hand it was kind of nice to get to rest, but on the other I feel guilty about leaving Mom to drive alone.

Home. Finished the cover letter with a lot of support from Fox. Sent cover letter and resume as PDFs at 1 am.

I basically spent all day Monday sleeping and making not-so-wise food choices. Mom called and said she had been vomiting.

On Tuesday I woke up at 8:30 am feeling queasy and needing to go to the bathroom. About a minute later I was very grateful that I’d run to the bathroom and thought to bring a garbage bag with me. I was also regretting several of my food choices from the day before.

The rest of the day was a lot of sleeping, running to the bathroom, regretting the one time I didn’t run to the bathroom, and being grateful to Fox for buying me some Gatorade. That stuff is amazing.

Yesterday I had a fever, but I was able to eat adult-sized portions of plain pasta without ill effect. I spent a lot of time sleeping and reading. At some point I woke up after a long nap to find my fever had broken. Fox and I were even able to cuddle for a while and watch Voyager. I ended the day by continuing to play a video game I hadn’t touched since early November.

Today I dragged myself out of bed and freshened up a bit in preparation for a Skype session with Wakana that never happened. She returned my call, saying she had overslept and asking if we could reschedule for this evening. I agreed, but I’m disappointed and a little hurt. There’s been a lot of stuff going on that I need to process and this time of year tends to be difficult for me. I need her support, and I need it to be reliable.

Taking the First Steps

Fox and I have started taking a course about developing Android apps on Coursera. We started accessing the Week 1 materials yesterday, watching videos and downloading the software development tools we’ll need to participate in the course, and beyond! It felt really good to be focused on learning, get new software, and start playing around with what I’d just learned. I’m very glad I have a structured course in which to learn how to use the software development tools, so I can take advantage of all their features should I choose to use them to develop new apps.

I’m also eagerly waiting for my new tablet, which runs Android, to arrive on my doorstep. It will be the first time I’m able to fully and freely access “smartphone” technology, including all the apps that already exist. Even if I never develop new software of my own (or decide tablets and smartphones aren’t the right platform for it), I’m hoping that I can use my new tablet to help improve my own mental health (and not as yet another time-wasting device!).

As awesome as it felt to DO SOMETHING toward a goal I feel passionate about, I do foresee some areas of frustration and obstacles I’ll need to overcome:

1) Software development seems to require a different way of thinking from what I’m used to; none of the material covered in the videos we’ve watched so far seemed intuitive to me. I felt like some of it might’ve gone over my head. I’m not really used to that – if anything, I’m used to material being easy for me to understand.

But, I was able to learn algebra by copying everything the teacher put on the board until I started seeing the patterns in it. I decided to major in music because I was similarly challenged by the first semester of music theory, so I wanted to take the second semester. I can face this challenge! I just need to be aware of it and willing to accept some frustration while I navigate it.

2) I’m very codependent with Fox. He’s been very supportive of me since I first came up with the idea to develop software that might help me overcome some of the difficulties I’ve been facing. He suggested Android apps and offered to take the Coursera course with me.

But I don’t know how interested he really is in learning this stuff for himself, and that could make this process difficult. He seemed annoyed with the course creators for requiring students to interact on the forum, frustrated because if his laptop is able to run the required emulators at all they will be painfully slow, and less enthusiastic about the learning process than me. I don’t want him to feel like he has to do something he’s not really interested in or doesn’t find satisfying.

I was hoping that he would help me stick with the course and complete it – if nothing else so I could recall that experience when faced with uncertainty, instead of perpetuating this image I have of myself as someone who never completes anything. But now I foresee being faced with the difficult dilemma of wanting to watch the next video lecture, but also feeling like I should wait for him because we’re “taking the course together.” I need to stay firm and focused on what will be best for me – what I can do to learn and keep up with the course, whether we’re watching videos together or not. If he decides it’s not for him, I need to be able and willing to fly solo.

As much as I wish I could let go and trust him to take care of me, the truth of the matter is this: it will only lead to resentment when my needs aren’t met. We both need to figure out how to take care of ourselves, and each other. It’s not easy.

3) I’ve gotten some encouraging responses from people I’ve told about my idea, but for the most part I’m frustrated by lack of response. I’m especially frustrated by lack of comments on this blog.

I know I need to take at least some responsibility: I’ve been intentionally vague about the software I want to develop, how I want to develop it, and what I want it to do. I’m not sure how much is safe to disclose online; I don’t want someone to steal my idea (especially not some big wealthy company that will use it to make money and prevent others from making free or inexpensive versions, or worse use it for even more invasive advertising). But if I’m going to get feedback I need to give people something to respond to, something they can understand and connect with and want to respond to. How do I protect my idea AND get the feedback I need to create a program that others might also find useful? Well, I’m also taking a course about entrepreneurship on Coursera, maybe it will give me some ideas.