My daughter after getting out of the sliding board at the park. She looks like one of those little static electricity balls, no?
“You can take the girl out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the girl.”
I cannot count how many times I have heard this phrase used in reference to me and the way that I am. I’m a country girl. I always have been and I always will be. Some people might look down on this, saying that I’m a little backwards or set in ways that were popular back in the 1800’s but I’m quite proud of where I come from and the lifestyle I choose to lead.
In my jewelry box drawer, buried under a stack of small pictures, is a cigarette lighter with a cowboy boot and the word “Country” etched into the leather-like exterior. It was given to me while I was in college by one of my best friends who told me that as soon as he saw it on the counter at the convenience store he had to buy it for me. You see, he used to call me “Country” because he always said that I seemed so out of place with all of the city kids that came to the school seeking higher education. He would call me simple and naive yet strange because, like him, I was a Computer Science major. In his mind, the quaint life associated with living in the country and technology blended together as well as oil and water. I just didn’t fit the mold of your typical geek.
Truth be told, I love the conveniences of modern life. The loss of power to my home due to wind storms as a result of Ike last week was terrible. I didn’t know what to do with myself having no electricity, running water, and God forbid, no internet. Although I enjoy all of those things, I still appreciate the the serenity and simplicity living in the country provides.
Growing up, I always believed that I would move away from this tiny spot on the map, and I managed to do so for a while. I went to college but somehow found my way back. I never thought I would take after my parents, who have an affinity for all things hick like none I have ever known. It is because of them I’ve embraced gardening and a little bit of farming, the idea of putting up food by way of canning for the winter, and being able to walk out my door into the beauty of the state game lands that border my property.
So go ahead. Take me out of the country. I’ll probably embarrass you with my weird, backwoods accent and my inability to handle myself in a large city but know I’ll be true to myself. I’m a high-tech sort of redneck, a strange breed who, if you take the chance to get to know, will talk about everything from Ruby to raising chickens and why I love my Mac to why I love my Ball Blue Book of Preservation. Be a good friend and I might even knit you a pair of socks. Just don’t try to change my ways. One thing I will never do is look down on someone for their “city ways,” as my dad would put it, and in return I ask that people not try to strip the country out of me.
People who know me today may find it hard to believe that I used to detest carrying a purse. Me, the woman whose dream it is to own just one Coach bag and carries a satchel filled to the brim with everything from Splenda to staples. Yes, me, the self-proclaimed ‘pack-rat’ who would rather carry everything with me so I am ready for whatever comes at me during the day than leave something behind and be without.
I don’t know if I hated it because when I was in college it was something that students didn’t do or if carrying one just made for something extra to haul around and potentially get lost or stolen if I were going out to a club for the evening. Everywhere I went I made sure to bring everything I needed but also made sure everything I was carrying would fit into my back pocket. I can even remember one of my boyfriends in college constantly nagging me about how many items I would empty out of my pockets when I came over to visit.
No matter what I was carrying – Keys, money, identification, the rent check, or the cat, all that would fit went into my back right pocket. Ok. I was just kidding about the cat, but for a reason, unknown to me even now, I would fill that pocket with everything that I possibly could. Any pair of jeans that I wore during my college years showed white stretch marks of wear, even after only a few weeks after purchase.
When I left college and took my first job, I soon realized that I was not able to wear jeans every day to work and having no other place to deposit my belongings, I purchased the first purse of my adult life. It was a simple, inexpensive black carry-all. Although I felt awkward at first, hating the feeling of the bag hanging off of my shoulder and tugging on my fingers as I carried it, I eventually grew accustomed to carrying around this “necessary” piece of luggage. When I would wear jeans, however, I would still catch myself slipping things into that all too comfortable back pocket – usually receipts from stores and paper money I would get as change, only to be surprised with these gifts on laundry day when they had already been long forgotten.
I realize today that even though I carry a purse (and even enjoy it), I always catch myself trying to fill my back right pocket with items out of habit, usually my iPhone, money or receipts. I also have discovered that as I get older I tend to keep many things in virtual pockets – old, worn, comfortable places in my brain that the same things keep ending up in. These ideas, dreams, hopes, and fears have worn some areas of my pocket thin over time, yet I keep taking them out and shoving them back in, over and over. Some items are just too personal to be carrying around in something detached from my body.
No matter where I’m at, I always have my pockets with me, or at least the ones in my mind. The most important things I think about are always right there. They can’t get lost or stolen and are ready at a moment’s notice; I just pull them out when I need them. Occasionally an idea or thought will slip out of the pocket and fill my mind, overtaking everything else, almost beyond my control. I guess I am one of those people whose thoughts race through their heads, often colliding and intermingling, but always being filed away for later.
Unlike that real back pocket in my jeans, limited by the constraints of the stiff denim fabric, the pockets in my head seem expand to hold an almost infinite amount of information, much of which others would consider useless. Comforting things – like the lyrics to my favorite songs, pictures of places I’ve been, the sound of my daughter’s laughter, and the recipe for the pancakes my grandmother used to make on Sunday afternoons after church – are some of what’s in there. Scary things reside there too, like worries for my daughter’s future, the fear I used to feel when the Wicked Witch of the West came on the television during The Wizard of Oz, and what would happen to my family and home should an emergency take place.
Sure, like that old ex-boyfriend, there are people who may complain about the quantity of things I empty out of my brain pockets. This, however, does not bother me. Sometimes it’s just not comfortable to sit on things.
Through the years I have come to realize that the life of a programmer is far from a glamourous one. Even though I am thoroughly excited about my chosen profession and can blab for hours to family and friends about how much I really do love Rails or exactly what it is that I do for a living, they kind of nod and smile and just don’t get it. At a wedding a few years ago, an old friend asked me what I did for work. When I told her that I was a programmer I was greeted with a blank stare. I went a little further: “I’m a computer programmer. I write software for a healthcare company.” Her reply? ”I’m sorry.” I’m sorry? Sorry for what exactly? That I’m doing what I want to do and am excited about a career that I love? I remember walking away thinking that my life as a programmer is nothing to be sorry about but not saying anything to that effect.
Recently, I went to dinner with a group of friends, many who I have not seen in 10+ years. Of the five others I met with three are or were educators, one is a telemarketer, and the other a production assistant for film and television. As the teachers talked to each other about the trials and responsibilities of feeding the minds of today’s children and the production assistant spoke of her escapades with the stars, I sat there listening to their stories. At first I thought “Wow. Those teaching really seem to make a difference and [my production assistant friend] sees all of these stars and works on movies. My job is so boring compared to theirs.” But do you know what? I heard the sounds of their voices as they talked. They lacked passion, desire, and excitement. To them, what they do is a job. Something they wake up, do for a few hours and try to forget about when they go home.
I’m not saying there are not times when I wish I were not a programmer or times I don’t hate my job. Everyone has their days. I’m just saying that it’s very difficult to be bored in a field where everything is constantly changing and there is so much to learn. It’s hard to not love the design and code you’ve put your all into and it’s impossible not to be passionate about a product that you have created or helped create from scratch using your own brain.
I’ve been fortunate to work for some very well-respected companies and on a few intense and challenging products. My colleagues have proven to be exceptional, knowledgeable, diverse, interesting and fun to work with and I can truly say that I enjoy going in to work every morning. I look forward to what challenges await me during the day. So please, don’t feel sorry for me. Although the outside world might think programming is dry and boring I think exactly the opposite. I can’t see myself doing anything else right now because I love what I do.
One does not have to search very hard on the web to find articles that speak of reasons not to use or why people have given up on Twitter. I’ve read arguments that Twitter, and its contributors, are boring, heard complaints of too much noise and griping about its unreliability. Even in my office groans pour out of the cubes when the Fail Whale rears its head.
I, however, could care less about all of these downfalls. Twitter is a free service. If you don’t want to use it and think that it’s doing you a disservice then by all means do not use it! If you can look past the negatives, you may discover a tool useful for networking, friendship, and entertainment.
Twitter, when it comes down to it, is pretty entertaining
My Twitter following breakdown goes something like this:
- News/media outlets
- Internet/media celebrities
- People I do not know personally but find worthwhile to follow
I follow news and media outlets such as Fox News, CNN, Fark, and various gossip sites because I find it convenient for news to come to me rather than the other way around. I have Twitter set up on my mac to use Growl, so any time a tweet comes through, I see a visual notification. Sometimes this creates a lot of noise, but I never miss a headline.
I’ve always been the type that loves celebrity gossip. Maybe it’s that voyeuristic look into a life that I know I’ll never have, but there is something about celebrities that fascinate me. Following them, even minor internet celebrities, on twitter gives me a little more of a personal peek inside their heads. It’s surprising sometimes what is revealed.
Following family and friends is a given. I love to see what everyone is up to on a day-to-day basis. Yes, my friends are boring in the whole scheme of things, but it is important to me to know how they are doing and feel a connection with those I cannot physically see or talk to daily.
I’m fortunate to work with people who are funny, talented, laid-back, and intelligent and I follow them because of these reasons. On Twitter, there is always a running inside joke going on between us and it’s fun to take stabs at each other knowing the rest of the group will read it and get a kick out of it. It’s also nice to see what project people are currently working on or what they feel like having for lunch. Yes, we all sit next to each other in cubes. It’s difficult to explain.
People who I don’t know very well provide a wealth of entertainment. I tend to follow people who are interesting or funny. Some tweets from “Twitter friends” keep me hanging on, waiting for more and others make me laugh out loud.
Twitter friendships are worthwhile
I love my Twitter friends – the people who I have met and know from Twitter alone. They are people who I have never seen face-to-face but feel a connection with through the tweets that they post and my interaction with them.
I’ve sought advice from and given advice to these friends, have laughed with them at the silly things that happen around them, sympathized with them through their trials and have viewed their posted blogs, Facebook pages and photos to get to know them more. When I view my received tweets, I am delighted to be greeted with posts from these once strangers, now friends.
Twitter is by far the best networking tool I have used
I am usually a shy person. In order to go up and talk to someone I do not know and attempt to carry on a conversation, I have to mentally prepare myself well in advance. This does not always work out in social situations.
A couple of weeks ago I attended erubycon. It is a conference that is presented and attended by many influential people in the Ruby community. Before the conference, I started following erubycon on Twitter and shortly after the organizer, Joe, started following me and I followed him in return.
Through Twitter I was able to learn what Joe was doing to organize the conference, discovered his love for fine scotch, and realize how passionate he is about what he does. It is so interesting getting to know someone this way.
When I arrived at the conference, I was excited to meet him because of all I had read about him. Had our Twitter relationship not been established prior to the conference, I doubt that I would have talked to him at all, which would have been terrible! I probably would have never attended the after-conference get-together, at which I was able to get a lot of face time with some truly exceptional people in the Ruby community. It was, without a doubt, one of the most positive experiences of my professional career.
Keep on keepin’ on
Say what you want about Twitter. Complain when you see the “Whale of Fail” and gripe about it’s unreliability. I will continue to use the service to keep me informed, make me laugh, meet new friends, and establish contacts.
Oh look, I haven’t tweeted in a few hours. Time to take care of that…
Some personal things I still have yet to do:
Short term (1-3 months)
- Knit the partner to the sock I finished in August – I’ve started it, I just need to devote some time to it.
- Finish my iPhone app and get it released – Still have a way to go on this one.
- Run my first 5K – Was almost up to running a 5K about a year ago. There is a 5K run/walk at the Zoo this October and I would like to participate.
- Learn to spin wool into yarn – There is just something about being able to produce what you use, in this case yarn. Plus it gives me a reason to purchase a couple of alpaca.
- Have a garage built on my property – I need a garage. I hate having to clean my car off in the winter and I need storage space.
- Have another child – Aidyn keeps asking for a brother or a sister; I am not quite up to that yet.
- Visit Wales – I would love to see where my grandfather grew up.
- Open a yarn shop – My dream is to own a nice casual shop where sitting around knitting and chatting is encouraged and welcomed.
- Learn to play the guitar – I’ve always wanted to learn to do this and I even have a guitar. I just need to take lessons!
Pronunciation: \ˈgran-dē-ˌōs, ˌgran-dē-ˈ\
Etymology: French, from Italian grandioso, from grande great, from Latin grandis
1 : characterized by affectation of grandeur or splendor or by absurd exaggeration
2 : impressive because of uncommon largeness, scope, effect, or grandeur
grandiose. (2008). In Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved August 22, 2008, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grandiose
I have been told many times in my life that I have “grand” or “grandiose” ideas. A lot of who I am is inherited from my dad, the king of grand ideas, who has accomplished and failed at more things than I could ever dream of doing. Over the course of his life he held down a full-time job at the local cement plant while running four different businesses. Serving our country in Vietnam he traveled the world, flew planes, and escaped death. His workshop was filled with tools that he created, and the works turned out of that garage shop were well-designed and beautiful. He is an entrepreneur, an inventor, a teacher, and a hero. Some of the same sprit lives inside of me.
When I was eight, I wanted to be an astronaut. At 12 it was a professional basketball player. High school got me thinking that I wanted to be a psychologist. All grand ideas, but none ever transpired. I taught myself to knit, graduated college with a Computer Science degree, and gave birth to a 10+ pound child naturally. Again, all grand ideas, but this time each were realized. I tend to start projects I will never finish and I always bite off more than I can chew. I am constantly thinking, inventing things in my head and and trying to solve problems. More grand ideas.
Although every post I write will not be the most impressive or thoughtful post in a world of blogs, I need a creative outlet for my thoughts. Blogging has interested me for some time and I admire those who are able to express themselves daily in written word. I hope to join them by sharing the ideas in my head, some grandiose, some not, from time to time.