Training recap 8/25-9/14

Whew! It’s been a busy last three weeks! My days have been really long with the new job. I head out the door at 8am and don’t see my house again until about 12 hours later. By the time I get home, I’m completely worn out and beat, but I’ve somehow been managing to squeeze some nighttime runs in. I’ve been running 4-5 days a week still which I’m pretty impressed about considering my schedule.

With the weather cooling down a little, my pace is starting to get a little faster again, but my milage still hasn’t been all that high. Last week, I hit 26 miles, but my longest run was still only eight miles. I need to start working on that like yesterday. I’d like my long runs to be 15-16 miles before the Disney Wine & Dine half marathon in November so I’m in good shape to continue on with training and be ready for Goofy in January.

I’ve been getting to get pretty bummed out about not running a fall marathon. The season is starting to ramp up and everyone has their races coming up. Even though I know killing all marathon plans for this season was the right move, it still wasn’t an easy decision and I’m still not happy about it. I have Goofy in January, but I don’t really see that as a race, just something fun to do. I’m not making any hard plans for the spring yet, but I’m hoping to do a late March, early April race. I know I swore I’d never race a spring marathon again, but I’m kind of dying here. I don’t think I could wait all the way until next fall to race another 26.2

Anyway, besides work, we’ve been trying to pack as much as possible and get ready for our move in two weeks. We’ve also been unfortunately dealing with a flea infestation. We have no idea where they came from. Our cats are 100% indoor so we know they didn’t bring them in. I’ve got a couple theories, but we’ll never know. All I know is this fucking sucks. If you’ve had fleas in your house before, you know how skeevy you feel all the time about it. Even when I’m not home, I’m constantly paranoid they’re crawling all over me. We treated the cats last week so now they’re at least walking flea death machines. We’ve also been vacuuming at least once a day and spraying flea stuff as much as we can without poisoning our cats…and ourselves. The good news is that we’ve at least regained control of the house, but this feels like it’s still far from over. I’m just hoping we can keep from bringing any with us to our new place. I have this fear that we’ll start opening boxes to find they were infested and then we’re back at square one.

Alright, off to work!


Hattie didn't like me leaving her.

Hattie didn’t like me leaving her.


First day

It seems like it’s been ages since I accepted my job offer, but today is finally my first day!

I’m super nervous about it, but that’s kind of normal for me. I already forget my lunch in the refrigerator at home and I hate the way I look today. So I’m off to a great start so far.

Anyway, going to keep this one short! Have a good week everyone!


Hair. Cut.

I’ve been growing my hair out for around two years now. My hair grows kind of slow, I guess, but I was starting with about a finger’s width of hair. While I’ve been really excited to see my hair actually getting longer and pass my shoulders, it finally reached a point where it needed its first real cut. Because my hair is super curly and frizzy and an all-around mess, I also had been meaning to get a keratin treatment as well. I flat iron it every day and that’s definitely taken it’s toll on my hair. It feels dry and it breaks a lot. It also doesn’t help that my hair is two different lengths; the top is shorter than the bottom. Mostly, I just wear it in a ponytail with some long bangs that sweep partially across my forehead.

It was time to do something about this so when I saw a Living Social deal for keratin at a place reasonably close, I snatched it up (not that these don’t pop up all the time). With my new job starting on Tuesday and being off this week, I was hopeful I could get an appointment right away and was lucky enough to get one for today (I called Tuesday).

I walked in without much of an idea of what the treatment was like or how I wanted my hair cut. I knew I wanted at least a couple inches off, but I still need it long enough to put in a ponytail.

Since I haven’t been to this salon before and didn’t have a recommendation, I didn’t know who to ask for so I just made the appointment with whoever was available. I was surprised when it turned out that my appointment was with a man. I wasn’t really sure if I was comfortable with having a man doing my hair, but I didn’t seem to have much of a choice if I wasn’t prepared to just walk out, never to return again.

When I told him what I was thinking about how I wanted my hair cut, he kept pointing his finger to a shorter length than I was trying to show him. I got a little worried, I really didn’t want too much taken off. When he started cutting, I sort of immediately freaked out in my head, “OMG! HE’S CUTTING ALL MY HAIR OFF!!!!!!!” But as he made his way around more and I could see more of it, I started to like it. He didn’t cut it all right away, instead, he said he was going to leave the top until after everything else was done and my hair was dry. When we walked over to the area where the keratin dryer was, I was able to get a good look at the length and kind of fell in love with it.

Not quite done yet

Not quite done yet

After everything was done and he finished up drying and cutting my hair, I put my glasses back on and spent a minute checking it out in the mirror. Definitely loving it!

In the car immediately after walking out

In the car immediately after walking out

I don’t know how easily it’ll all go up into a ponytail, I may need to go back to using six or seven bobby pins to get it all to stay, but I can deal with that. Because of the keratin, I won’t be able to wash it, get it wet, use any product, put it in a ponytail, or use any hair ties or hair clips for three days. So I won’t get to really find out until Sunday. And, unfortunately, I won’t be able to run until then which really sucks for my mileage this week. Like, really sucks, since I’ve only run six miles so far.

I also had to cancel my plans to go river tubing with some friends on Saturday as well. I had to send an email with one of the most stereotypically girly excuses ever. “I’m sorry, I can’t get my hair wet. I have to bail.” As I was typing it, I was just thinking to myself “I can’t believe I’m actually typing this, there’s no way I’m getting away with this!” And I didn’t. I totally got called out for it!

Anyway, this was my first real doing anything with my hair as a woman experience and I’m excited that it wasn’t a complete disaster! And, as far as I could tell, the stylist didn’t seem to pick up on me being trans at all. I mean, he might have, but he didn’t say anything to lead me to believe he did.

Yeah, I'm really liking how I look here

Yeah, I’m really liking how I look here, though I wish I could put some hairspray in to get those shorter hairs up top under control!


Training recap: 8/18-8/24

I actually feel like I had a decent week of running last week. I knocked out 24 miles which is the most I’ve done since the first half of July, but the most important thing is how I’m feeling. Each of my runs felt great and I’ve felt strong.

Thursday’s five-miler turned into a 10k because I just didn’t want to stop. I was feeling amazing! And Sunday’s “long” run of eight miles felt unexpectedly awesome. Sadly, it’s the longest I’ve run in over a month, but I don’t think I would have had much trouble going another mile or two.

I don’t know if I’d say I’ve fallen back in love with running just yet, but things are starting to feel good and like they could be more on track.

In non-running, I had my last day of work on Friday and a bunch of us went out afterwards to celebrate. It ended up going all night until…honestly, have no idea how late we were up. Thanks to that, I spent all of Saturday hungover on the couch and missed my run.

For some reason, EVERYONE wanted to pick me up. I kind of wanted to not be picked up, but I lost that fight. Notice my manager's hand on my boob? WTF?

For some reason, EVERYONE wanted to pick me up. I kind of wanted to not be picked up, but I lost that fight. Notice my manager’s hand on my boob? WTF?


On my last day at work

After six and a half years, it’s hard to believe it’s coming to an end, but today is my last day with my company. I was the sixteenth employee and, as the fourth employee (first person the three founders hired) called me, one of the originals. This place has been a big part of my life for a long time and I’m really sad to leave, but I know it’s time and this is the right move for me to make.

When I was interviewing with my company, I actually hadn’t planned on accepting the offer, if one was made. It was a career direction I wanted to take, but I had zero confidence in myself at the time to actually be able to not make a fool of myself. But when the offer did come, I couldn’t refuse it. Just like I know the decision I’m making now is the right one, I knew this was the right one then. I very nervously accepted and prepared myself for what was likely to be a huge failure.

A couple weeks later, I stepped foot into our old office, which shared a parking lot with a Wegmans, for the first time. I was incredibly nervous and, because it was a friend who had taken the risk of making sure I at least got an interview (he did not participate any further in the hiring process), I didn’t want to let anyone down.

The office was small and I was given the last window seat available, which was weird because the two owners who were also engineers didn’t have window seats or offices. I hated it that first day. I felt so out of place, like a fraud. I hadn’t gone to school for this and I had only taught myself how to program a couple years prior. I didn’t know the first thing about object-oriented programming. I really didn’t know much at all, to be honest. This was a feeling that wouldn’t go away for a year.

I wanted to quit almost every day, but I stuck it out. Not only did I end up finding my place here, but I became a valuable member of our engineering team and helped build are payroll product from very early on.

I wanted to share my favorite memories, but I’ve drafted about six different versions of this post and couldn’t get it right so I think I’m just going to do this in list form rather than as actual paragraphs.

I’ll remember…

  • …the Friday during my first summer when there were only three of us in the office thanks to everyone else having summer hours and we decided to have a dance party with a few beers in the storage room.
  • …the countless times I was screamed at and made to feel like a complete idiot by the one of the owners who was an extremely no bullshit Russian developer. He was the kind of person who would frequently tell you you’re an idiot right to your face. I received his wrath more than my fair share, but it helped me become a better developer. I learned to really dig deep into things and do my due diligence. I learned a lot from him.
  • …my first summer outing with the company. We went to a bar at the Jersey Shore and I got a bit too drunk thanks to our CEO at the time handing out drinks like the world was ending. Our Marketing Director was even more drunk than I was and ended up getting us both kicked out of the bar (I still maintain my innocence in this). A half hour later, I lost my shoes in the ocean.
  • …repeatedly walking by my wife’s cube in our old building, many months before we started dating, and cutting the corner a little too close resulting in me hip checking her desk.
  • …the rather ridiculous amounts of alcohol we used to consume in our old building.
  • …the chili from the cafe downstairs that is leaps and bounds above anything else she makes.
  • …the AMAZING support I got when I came out as transgender. Seriously, I can’t even begin to describe how easy it was to come out here. Everyone continued to treat me the same as they had before and had no problems switching to calling me Amelia and using female pronouns. Even when slipping up, people would quickly correct themselves. On my first day in the office as Amelia, this is what I walked into the women’s room to see:1393602_10103176546661909_1395919335_n
  • …playing ping pong almost daily. A group of us in engineering have a standing doubles game every day. For a while, it was actually scheduled in our calendars so no one else could book us for meetings or use the lounge during this time. When I set up the “meeting” and invited everyone, I named it “team building” so it looked legit. It was never questioned.
  • …having to come out as trans to three different HR people because they kept leaving the company during my transition.
  • …the trip to Brussels they sent my wife on that I was able to tag along for.
  • …SaaS-pocalypse (the name is derived from our company name). On a random late January day, the owners of our company decided that, for some reason, things needed to be shaken up so they fired almost 20% of the company in one day. It was actually really scary and, to this day, none of us really know the full story, but it definitely had nothing at all to do with money. People were called into the conference room one-by-one to meet with their manager and our Operations Director and told that they were being let go. In the middle of these meetings, I was asked to come into the conference room. I couldn’t believe it, I was going to be one of the people being fired? It actually turned out that they wanted to tell me I was doing a really great job and were giving me more money. I never could feel good about this raise though. I wanted to give it back in exchange for everyone else’s jobs being saved.
  • …crushing on my wife. She started a few months after me and I thought she was pretty cute from day one, but we’re both a bit awkward and were dating other people at the time. I used to try to make conversation with her, but it wouldn’t go anywhere. Eventually, we were both single and she Skyped me one day to tell me she had a dream about me (!). We got to talking about cupcakes and then went on our first date two days later–neither of us were actually sure if it was a date until afterwards.
  • …the time a very vague company-wide email was sent out telling everyone to go into the lounge in a half hour and I joked “hah, they probably sold the company or something” and turned out to be right on.
  • ..the random collection of money that started in the kitchen. No one knows where it came from, but two dollars were left on one of the tables in the kitchen for a few days. No one knew what it was for or who it belonged to, but eventually everyone started throwing money on the pile and a collection started for no reason. I think we hit somewhere around $120 before someone decided to take the money and order pizza for the office. Kronos-001-2
  • …the time I drank too much at our first partner workshop. The entire company was invited to go down to Atlantic City for a party during the workshop and I had more than a few too many drinks. I ended up kissing one of our partners while we were walking over to the after-party. Our CEO told me I should probably leave and, a few days later, I had a meeting with him and one of the other owners where I got a serious lecture and a written warning.
  • …The Bear. For a brief period of time right after our company was acquired by a much larger one, we had an awful manager for engineering. This guy was just the worst. He told me it was mandatory for me to say “good morning” and “good evening” every day when I walked in and out and sat down one of our team leads for an hour while he broke down why he thinks he’s an awful person. The disdain for him was so universal that our entire department banned together to get rid of him. We won. I never take joy in someone losing their job (or really anything bad happening to anyone), but this guy was just the worst. The anniversary of his firing has been since observed as Bear Freedom Day.
  • …the Pop Tart tower. One of our engineers used to eat Pop Tarts every day and saved each and every box so he could build a tower that reached to the ceiling. Then he built a second one.IMG_2927
  • …the time we didn’t get paid because the person who did our payroll went on vacation and forgot to submit it.
  • …the time I didn’t get a paycheck after we were acquired and no one could ever explain why.
  • …the time my manager didn’t have a timecard in the system (even though we’re salary, you still need one for the system to create a paycheck) and his manager told him “we’ll get you next time.”
  • …joking “well, it’s not like we’re a payroll company or anything” after the above three things happened.
  • …the Seat of Death. No one who sat in the cube next to me survived more than a year with the company so we nicknamed it the Seat of Death.
  • …the excellent view from my corner cube with windows on two sides. One side faced some nice trees and the other faced the field  behind the building. (The below photo sphere will not work and will just show a map if you don’t have plugins enabled.) 
    (Notice where I wrote “balls” on the dry erase board visible just over the left wall of my cube.)Kronos-004
  • …Bagel Fridays.
  • …Waffle Wednesdays. Kronos-005
  • …all the cooking/baking contests that my wife won. Every once in a while, we’d have office cooking contests. My wife almost always won. In fact, one time, she entered two dishes and won first and second place.
  • …The General. We had a developer we nicknamed The General. He wasn’t very good, but he left quite a legacy for sleeping while at work, staring creepily at you as you walked by his desk, and losing ping pong games on bad serves on game point.
  • …all the birds I could always watch outside my window. (These were all taken while sitting at my desk)Kronos-001
  • Kronos-002Kronos-003 Kronos-006…the day I decide I wanted a second monitor so I just took one that was sitting on an empty desk and hooked it up and sort of ticked everyone else off. Then the day I decided I wanted a third and took another unused monitor.
  • …conversations with my product manager about heading to Arizona with flamethrowers to take out the people at a third party vendor we rely on for a tax calculation API.
  • …catching my coworker staring awkwardly at me yesterday and asking him “uh…what’s up? Why are you staring at me?” and having him respond with “I’m just going miss you, that’s all.”
  • …the never ending supply of “that’s what she said” jokes at all times.
  • …the delicate balance of everyone trying to heat up their lunch without running too many appliances at once and blowing the circuit breaker.
  • …Evil Landlord, our sitcom idea based around one of our engineers renting out his basement apartment to another one of our coworkers.
  • …the convoluted and overly abstracted code base filled with some of the most amazing typos you’ve ever seen.
  • …leaving comments in the code like “WTF is even going on here?” and “this should never happen.”
  • …lunchtime arguments over such topics as “is peach really a color?”
  • …Color Blindness Awareness Day and French Awareness Day.
  • …having lunch on the back patio every nice day of the year.
  • …Fancy Paul and the guys from the company across the hall. I wish I could even describe Fancy Paul to someone who didn’t experience him, but boy was he fancy!
  • …the friends I’ve made and all the times we’ve shared together.

So many memories of this place. It really was like a family in a lot of ways. Sure, the job had more than its fair share of things I hated and drove me nuts, but I’m really only going to remember all the good stuff. This was a big part of my life and I’m really sad to see it go.

Thank you to everyone who made it amazing. I will truly miss it.


Oh god my handwriting! This is me writing neatly!


Running recap: 8/11-8/17

Some oysters from dinner on Wednesday. They were very yummy!

Some oysters from dinner on Wednesday. They were very yummy!

I only knocked out 19 miles last week, but considering I was traveling for work in the middle of it, I don’t think that’s too bad. My whole schedule ended up being thrown off. I planned to run Monday and Wednesday, but instead ran Tuesday and Thursday. Monday’s run got pushed to Tuesday thanks to my entire department (well, those of us who were actually in the office) deciding to get up at 4pm to just leave and go to the Mexican place down the street for tequila shots and a happy hour that lasted until almost 9pm for me and way, way later for the rest of them. Wednesday’s run got moved thanks to some dinner with my coworkers from corporate HQ. Luckily, I got home early on Thursday and was able to make it up.

Yesterday, I wanted to shoot for eight miles, but I wasn’t quite feeling it. I know the score right now with my running, but it’s still a little hard not being able to go a measly eight miles. Still, I know things are slowly starting to turn around and I’ll be back to real mileage soon. Not like I have a choice anyway, with Goofy coming up in January. I gotta get my butt in gear!


Let me tell you about my night last night

Last week, my manager asked me if I’d be willing to take a trip up to the main corporate office this week to provide some knowledge transfer to our engineer up there before I leave the company. I agreed because I knew it’d be a big help to them and, up until very recently, I was the only person in the company who worked on my area of our product. I’m still the only person who knows about 75% of it. I also thought it’d be nice to say goodbye to the people up here before I left too.

I decided to drive up last night rather than this morning, as it’s usually a little easier this way. The drive is about 275 miles each way from Central Jersey to the office in Massachusetts and my car is a bit overdue for an oil change and needs new brake pads and tires so I opted to rent a car rather than drive my own like I’ve done for the other trips I’ve taken up here. This is where all the fun started.

When I reserved the car, I selected 6pm as my pickup time. I figured I’d pick it up right after work, go home, feed the cats, grab my shit, and go. My day ended up a bit differently than planned thanks to a last minute decision to work from home instead of going into the office (this, itself, is a whole other story). At this time, this really simplified my day. I left the house at 5:40 and drove over to the car rental place. I got there at 6:08 to find all the lights off and the place locked up. Turns out, they close at 6. So there I was, unable to actually rent the car to drive up in. Mind you, their site gave me no issue with reserving the pickup for 6pm or even any time later and didn’t not indicate or warn me that they close at 6. Their hours were only shown when I actually went to their site specifically looking for them.

With the choice of changing everything up and waiting until the morning to head up or just dring my car, I decided to go with the latter. I wasn’t exactly thrilled about this, but I just wanted to get on with things.

From here, I headed over to Chipotle to grab a quick meal before actually leaving. Being a Tuesday night, I figured I could be in and out pretty quickly. WRONG. The damn line was out the door. I was there forever and got a half hour later start than planned.

At this point, I was already not exactly in the best of moods, but, if this was all there was, I’d have gotten over it before even crossing into New York.

Once I hit the road, I was making some pretty damn good time and had apparently timed things just right to have missed all the traffic. I was starting to feel pretty good about this, but I needed to make a gas stop rather early (again, wasn’t prepared for taking my car) and knew my tires could use a little air. I pulled into a rest stop after a while and filled up. Then, I moved my car over towards where the air was, only to find a gigantic RV blocking it and the driver nowhere to be found. To make matters worse, the only way I could even leave the rest stop at this point was to drive the wrong way through the gas area to get around the RV. Once I got around, I backed up to the air from the other side. Unfortunately, things still didn’t pan out for me the way I had hoped. The air machine was broken.

With a full tank of gas, but under inflated tires, I was off again.

But of course, since none of that is really noteworthy, you know there’s more to this story.


Somehow, Connecticut always fucks me on my drive up/down from Massachusetts. There is this one highway I take that’s only two lanes in each direction, rather narrow, and without a shoulder in a lot of places. As I’m driving along, all of a sudden, I hear this weird scraping noise coming from under my car. For a second, I thought one of my tires had gone, but I’m rather familiar with that sound so I knew it wasn’t that. I assumed I ran over something and it got caught underneath the car. I took the very next exit with the intention of stopping to check it out. Now, of course, there were no gas stations, or anything at all, so I figured I’d pull off onto a side street. I pull down the first street and about 30ft down the road is a weird, creepy van with all the lights off and the door slightly open. I couldn’t tell if there was actually someone in there or not, but I freaked and hightailed it out of there. I wasn’t exactly in the middle of anywhere and these kinds of situations scare the hell out of me now.

I drove back down the highway to the next rest stop with the scraping sound coming and going. When I finally got to the rest stop and could look under the car, I saw the plastic splashguard cover thing (apparently, these things don’t have a consistent name) was hanging off. At this point, I’m like “great, I’m more than a hundred miles from home and about the same to where I’m going. Fuck.” I tried yanking it off, but it wouldn’t budge. I tried kicking it off, but that did nothing either. Finally, I tried to just stick it back up there as best I could.

I started driving again and immediately, the scraping started again and was even worse than before. And, of course, as I mentioned, there’s no shoulder in a lot of places so I had to drive for about a mile with the horrible scraping before I could even pull over onto the grass. So now, I’m there laying on the ground in front of my car in the dark on the side of the road trying to figure out what to do with this damn thing. I still couldn’t get it off and I knew laying down in front of my car to deal with it was anything but safe. Even though I was on the grass, if someone had somehow ended up hitting my car, I was dead.

And let’s also throw in the fact that I was wearing the only pair of pants I brought with me (I’m only here until tomorrow so I packed very light).

I couldn’t get the thing off no matter what I did so I started trying to come up with ideas to prop it up. Eventually, I went into my bag and grabbed my 6ft Lightning cable for my iPhone. These things aren’t cheap, but Hattie has chewed the shit out of this thing already and I had a spare cable on me anyway. I was able to use the cable to tie the plastic dealy back up so it wouldn’t constantly scrape and I could continue my drive.

After that, I was finally able to continue on in an uneventful fashion. Though, I still have to drive home with this damn thing.


Do you travel for business at all? What’s your worse business trip story?


Running recap: 8/4-8/10

She gets herself into the worst jams

She gets herself into the worst jams

Last week was a bit sparse on the running, unfortunately. Most of my week was spent driving back and forth to Jersey City to look at apartments. I just couldn’t squeeze running in as much as I would have liked.

I ended up with just three runs for 14.5 miles total. The eight-miler I wanted to do over the weekend got cut early because of time and just being exhausted from constantly running around. Oh well. Things needed to get done so I guess that’s what happens.

Right now, I’m pretty glad I don’t have the pressure of a looming marathon on me. The complete hecticness of the last few weeks would have been too much to deal with if I was also trying to run 50-60 miles. Or even 40 miles. That said, I do need to start bringing my mileage back up and thinking about Goofy in January.

This week is going to be another tough one. I agreed to take one last trip up to the mothership before I leave my current job. Our main office is in Chelmsford, MA which takes a bit over four hours of driving each way and I’ll be there for a couple days. I’m hoping to get 4-5 runs in this week still, but I’m going to have to play a lot of it by ear and see what happens.

Anyway, one of the highlights of my weekend was getting to play with this guy here. I don’t get to see him too often anymore, but when I do we make up for lost time!


Random apartment hunting thoughts

For the last week, since accepting my new job offer and deciding to move to Jersey City, my wife and I have been on a serious apartment hunt. We are leaving no stone unturned! We don’t have to find a place before I start and since our lease at our current place technically expired in October 2013 (I’m fairly certain our landlord thinks we re-signed for two years like the original lease, but it was just a one year renewal and there is no aut0-renew clause). On one hand, I can commute from where we live now so we can take our time to find the right place for us and not just immediately jump on something for the sake of making sure we have a place. On the other hand, my commute from here will be around 80 minutes and not at all pleasant. It’s doable, but it’s not going to be fun. Ideally, I’d like to have a place by September 1st and October 1st at the latest.

We’ve been all over Trulia, Zillow, PadMapper, Hotpads, Craigslist, and a few other sites as well. It’s pretty much consumed us all week. We’re not above refreshing these sites every 15 minutes and setting up email alerts on all of them. I think what we’re looking for between our must-haves, dealbreakers, and this-is-really-important-but-if-it’s-the-only-thing-missing-we-can-live-with-its, I think we’re reasonable for our budget. Picky as hell, but realistic.

Here are some of my random thoughts about the hunt so far:

  • This apartment hunt is very different from the others I’ve done. It’s the first time I’m looking for a place that’s not super close to where we are now. We’re close enough to be able to actually look at places and not have to blindly choose a place, but it’s about a 45-60 minute drive every time we want to look at an apartment. There’s also a broker fee that’s fairly standard in Jersey City and many urban environments. I’ve never had to deal with this before, but it’s typically a month’s rent that amounts to little more than a finder’s fee for the realtor. I’m trying my best not to think about this because it seems completely insane to me, but only a handful of places don’t have the fee so there doesn’t seem to be much we can do about it.
  • Looking for an apartment when you’re transgender is really limiting. We basically have Trulia’s crime map of Jersey City open at all times and check everything against that. If it’s not distinctly in a green area, it’s a no-go. If I wasn’t trans, a place that’s borderline could be more of a possibility, but that’s not the case. This removes about a third of the part of Jersey City we’re looking at from our search. Of course, rent is a little cheaper in those areas and some of them are even closer to the PATH stop I need to take. And I also need to be careful about the areas I’d be walking through to get to the PATH every day, they need to be green too.
  • The location we really want is basically the second most desirable neighborhood in Jersey City, at least from what I can tell. It’s the best location for us in terms of my commute and the things we want to do. Location is important and we have the privilege of being able to afford the location we want. Though, that location will likely mean other sacrifices to stay in the affordability range.
  • If you’re a realtor, be responsive via all of the communication methods you list. Don’t take a full day to get back to me. Don’t not call me back. If you list a mobile phone number or I put your number into my iPhone and it turns blue, respond to texts. A lot of the time, a quick text is easier than a phone call for just asking questions. Plus, it saves me the agony of working up the nerve to make a phone call…which can be enough to cause me a panic attack.
  • Sometimes, just a little extra money makes a huge difference and opens up a lot of new possibilities. You don’t want to spend too much of your income on rent, but if you can sit down and figure out a real budget, that could help free up money you didn’t realize you were wasting somewhere else.
  • If a place says pets are okay, double and triple check that. Make sure that your kind of pet and the number you have is okay. There may be a larger deposit necessary or a fee. Be aware of this. We were told one place allowed pets and confirmed that we had cats. Then, after filling out a rental application, were told they weren’t allowed. Our cats are devils, but they are non-negotiable members of our family. They go where we go. No exceptions.
  • Speaking of cats, if you’re a cat owner you already know this, but if they’re happy, you’re happy. If you have multiple cats and the layout of your apartment doesn’t allow them each the space they need and allow easy exits when a scuffle happens, you could have a problem. When we walk through apartments, I make sure to look at it from the eyes of our three cats. I look for things that they will each like and things that could be a problem. For us, I know a narrow doorway that splits the overall space into two smaller areas could be a problem. Both Fry and Leela frequently guard doorways from each other. Are there nice big windows for them to sit in? Places for them to climb? When guests come over, is there a place for Leela to hide? Pets shouldn’t entirely rule your life, but the reality is if a new apartment doesn’t work for them, it can make life hell.
  • Before we look in person, I examine the photos as closely as possible. I build mental floor plans of every place and will use even the tiniest clue to figure out how the photos go together. If there is a tiny piece of a table or chair that’s in a corner of one photo, I’ll look for it in another photo to build out that room in my head. I also know the photography tricks to make rooms look bigger or nicer. I look at furniture (if it’s there) and use that for scale while also compensating for distortion if it looks like they used a wide-angle lens. If the place is empty, I’ll use windows, doors, light switches and outlets, ceiling fans, and basically anything else I can to figure out how big a space really is. I look in the windows to see if there are window A/C units (I’ll use Google Maps street view to look from the outside too) and look on the walls and floors for the heating/cooling–baseboard and radiator heating means no central air, but vents are a good sign. I look at where the light is coming from and how much there is. I look at the counters and the cabinets. Is there enough counter and cabinet space? I look at sink and shower fixtures. I look closely at the appliances and how old they look. Are the stove and over gas or electric? Where do you come in and go out of the apartment? What room is the bathroom off of? What kind of view is there from the windows? What kind of floors are there? How many closets are there? I also take everything in the description and compare it to what I see to make sure it all adds up.
  • When we look at a place in person, I’m just as thorough. I open every closet to see how big it really is. I’ll pop my head in utility closets to see if everything looks normal and if there could be extra storage in there. I open fridges and ovens to make sure they’re clean. I open some of the cabinets and drawers to make sure they’re solid. I’ll even open the breaker box and I’m not above checking the water pressure in the shower. I look out all the windows to see what the view is and see how someone else might be able to look in. I pay attention to the floors to see if there are spots that are warped/unlevel or creak or give slightly underfoot. I look at what kind of thermostat is there–is it programmable? If the tenants are there, I’ll ask them what their utility bills usually cost and what the parking is like in the area. I’ll also ask why they’re moving. And in addition to walking through the place like our cats would, I also walk through as if I lived there. When I walk in the door, would there be a place to leave my coat and shoes? Is the bathroom off of the bedroom, meaning guests would have to walk through our bedroom to use it? If one of us is in the kitchen and the other is plopped on the couch, could we still keep a conversation without yelling? Are there plenty of outlets? Are the light switches in convenient places–I once lived in a place where the kitchen light switch was behind the refrigerator. Where does the cable come in from?
  • The building we live in has to have laundry and it being in the apartment itself is a huge plus. It’s a dealbreaker if it doesn’t. With us both being runners, we just generate too much laundry to have to be lugging it all around.
  • Most apartments are listed in many different places and with multiple realtors. I’ve even found some that are listed on one site with a broker’s fee and on another site stating there’s no fee.
  • If you’re looking in an area where apartments go really quickly and the listing or realtor is trying extra hard to sell you on a place, beware. In a location like Jersey City, the best places are often snatched up in a matter of days. Realtors know this so they know they don’t need to sell you on a good apartment. It’ll sell itself. If they are selling hard, that likely means there’s likely a reason for it.
  • On the same note, places that have been available for more than a few weeks scare me. Why as it not been rented already?
  • Don’t get your hopes hopes up before seeing a place. Most places have listings that make them sound amazing, but are no where near as amazing in person.
  • Shop around, but if you find some you really like, jump on it.
  • An extra set of eyes can be really helpful and provide a perspective you haven’t thought of. Our friend Dori lives in Jersey City and  looked at one place with us. It was nice to have her perspective. Another friend came with me the other night when my wife wasn’t able to come. He recently moved to Jersey City so he just went through the process and was able to compare to the places he looked at.

What do you look for in an apartment? When was the last time you searched? How many places did you look at?


Huge news!

FYI, there’s a tl;dr at the bottom, but that’s so much less fun than reading the following 2,000 words!

Finally, I can openly talk about this!

After six and a half years at my current job, the time to move on has come. My job has been great in so many ways, but I think we’ve stopped being the right fit for each other. I’ve done some awesome work in my time here and working here has profoundly changed my life in some really amazing ways. For the sake of not blasting out 3,000 words in this post, I’m planning a separate post to reflect on all of that.

Unfortunately, as I mentioned, I think our fit for each other has started to diminish. I haven’t been as happy there recently as I once was. I’m not going to trash the company or anyone here because I don’t think that would be fair, nor do I even feel it would be accurate. I think it’s a great place to work with some really awesome people. What it ended up coming down to was I no longer felt inspired or motivated. I also was struggling to find the new challenges and opportunities to expand my skill set I was looking for at this point in my career. I felt very in my comfort zone. That’s not somewhere I want to be. I don’t think I can do my best work when I’m feeling comfortable and unchallenged. I don’t think it’s fair to myself to stay somewhere that doesn’t push me and inspire my best work and I don’t think it’s fair to my company either.

As soon as I knew it was time to move, I updated my resume and started the search! To be perfectly honest, I had never really hunted for a job before. My current job sort of just happened. Another community member of my old college radio station used to work here and, after using the software I created for the station, pushed me to give him my resume. I had no academic background for software development and my only experience was teaching myself and building the application for the radio station. I also wasn’t actively looking since I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. Well, I sort of knew, but I didn’t know how to make it happen. I didn’t expect it to go anywhere and I also hadn’t planned on accepting and offer, but here I am six and a half years later! My job before that, which was my first “real” job out of college, came from simply throwing my resume up on Monster and having a recruiter find me. It was your typical entry-level sales support position that companies just snatch up recent college grads for.

With no real experience in job hunting and little interview experience, I expected things to take a while and go slowly. I also knew that without the academic background and only having professional experience at one company, the technical portions of interviews would be very difficult for me. I never doubted my intelligence or ability to learn new things extremely quickly, but being able to show that to an interviewer when they ask you a bunch of technical questions that you have no idea how to answer can be a little tough.

Plus, being transgender complicates things a bit as well. While New Jersey offers protection against discrimination based on gender identity, most states do not. Even still, it’s easy for someone to come up with any other reason why I’m not a right fit if they don’t want to hire a trans person.

After interviewing with a few companies pretty quickly in my search, I actually gained a bit of confidence. Turned out I picked up quite a lot over the last six and half years. I found I was able to hold my own much better than I expected and, at the very least, not come off as entirely incompetent. Though, there was one exception to this that came from an interview with a rather large company everyone’s heard of that I sort of bombed (I didn’t think that job would be the right fit anyway, so I wasn’t too broken up about it).

Because leaving a job you’ve been at for a long time and could easily feel “safe” at for many more years to come can be a little scary, I wanted to make sure I didn’t just jump at anything. I wanted to find something that was relatively stable that I could stay at for some time. I had no interest in leaving my job for something that would likely lead to me bouncing around for a bit.

After a couple months of searching, I hadn’t quite found that right fit. And then, one night while at a local show in Asbury Park, I met a friend of a friend. She came up to say hi to my friend who politely introduced us. I mostly stood there silently while they talked about her newish job and all the cool stuff about it. Then my friend walked away for a few minutes leaving her and I standing there with the decision of saying “nice to meet you” and walking away or awkwardly continuing to converse as strangers. We chose the latter (which was totally not awkward at all, actually) and the conversation mostly stayed on career/job type stuff. After her asking what I do and me telling her I’m a software engineer, she asked if I was looking for a new job. I, obviously, said I was. She gave me her email address and told me to take a look at the jobs page at her company and send my resume over.

I had a really great call with their HR person who contacted me a few days later and was feeling pretty good about things. I had even already gotten the whole transgender thing out there since I was able to mention it in a way that was relevant to our conversation. She wasn’t fazed at all. She told me there were a number of positions that my experience would be good for and she’d talk to the hiring managers to see who would be interested in me.

I should mention that this is a company you’re aware of. In fact, I’m a user of their product and a number of you likely are as well. It was one of those things that just seemed like “yeah, this is way too cool to actually work out.” I didn’t get my hopes up much. And after I ended up not hearing back from the person I spoke to for a week, I accepted nothing was happening. I was disappointed, but I had expected this.

Six weeks had gone by and I was interviewing at another company that I was feeling very confident about when the HR person sent me an email asking if I was still looking. Within a few days, I had a phone interview with one of their leads. The call was almost entirely technical and I was asked to do a coding exercise while showing my screen. This is rather standard when interviewing for a development position. This is always where I’m most nervous (as I mentioned above), but I was feeling rather confident with how things went. I was able to answer his questions and show a coding solution that worked. I was also able to talk through everything and explain my thinking, which is often the most important part.

Two days later, I received another email saying they wanted to move ahead with an in-person interview. I was pretty excited about this, but even more nervous because this was my first in-person interview since I started looking. All of the other positions I had been interviewing for were on the West Coast, so they were done via video chat. This was the first company I had even really submitted a resume to that was somewhat local.

A few days later, I took the afternoon off work and hopped on a train into NYC for the interview. I got in early to make sure I had plenty of time, just in case the trains were running late or anything, and chilled in a nearby park for a little bit before heading over. I was a little earlier than I planned to be when I finally went up to their office, but they sat me down on a couch and I tried to just relax and take in the vibe of the place. The office looked great and reminded me of a few companies whose offices I’ve been in that made me think “yeah, I’d like to work here!”

Hanging out in the park trying to calm my nerves before my in-person interview.

Hanging out in the park trying to calm my nerves before my in-person interview.

I knew ahead of time it would be a three hour interview with four different sessions, but I wasn’t sure what exactly expect beyond that. Each session was with two people and three of the four were technical. Surprisingly, the three hours really flew by and I walked out feeling really good. It was one of those things where even if I wasn’t offered the job, I knew it was a solid confidence boost to go through an interview process like that and feel like I did well. I was able to come up with some good solutions and answers to coding exercises and questions and presented myself like an engineer who belonged there. After walking out of there, I really felt great and all the depression I’d been dealing with recently just seemed to disappear.

The next morning, I sent a quick thank you off and heard back quickly that they’d have a decision for me soon. Late the next morning, I received an email asking if I had time for a call to discuss the next steps. I didn’t know what exactly to expect, but I knew it wasn’t going to bad! We scheduled some time that afternoon and I excused myself for a few minutes from my work to go sit outside on our patio at work where I normally take personal calls (weather permitting, of course). I nervously answered her call and immediately felt her excitement on the other end. They made an offer! She went through what the offer was and the benefits and perks they provide while I was thinking “whoa, this is the right one.”

I accepted the offer the next day (this past Friday) and just felt all-around awesome. I’m really excited for this! My wife and I spent pretty much the whole weekend celebrating with dinners and drinks and talking about all the changes to come.

So what company is it?


Yes, starting on the 2nd, I will be working at Tumblr!

Celebrating with some beers and dinner.

Celebrating with some beers and dinner.

Since the office is located in New York City, there’s also a second bit of news here. We’re moving to Jersey City!! The commute from our home in Central Jersey would take me about 80 minutes each way and there’s just no way I’m doing that! Plus, part of what we were looking for was to move out of New Jersey. We wanted to really change our lives and live somewhere different. Tumblr was actually the only company on the East Coast I applied to. All of the others were on the West Coast.

While Jersey City doesn’t exactly check the “leave NJ” box, I think this will work out really well for us. We’ll practically be in NYC, just short PATH train ride away. This will give us a total lifestyle change! Plus, we’ll be able to get most of what we were looking for from leaving without actually having to leave my beloved New Jersey and we’ll still be able to see our friends and family easily.

I’m seriously so excited for this! And also super nervous! Changing jobs always comes with some risk, you never know how it will work out, but I think this is the right decision on a million different levels. This will really be what I need and what I’ve been wanting. I also think both a new job and a new city will complete the “fresh start” thing after transitioning last year.

tl;dr: I accepted an offer at Tumblr in NYC and am moving to Jersey City!