1

A quick pre-Chicago Marathon training update

Since it’s sort of the last minute here and I’m planning to go to bed in an hour, I’m going to keep this short…at least for my standards. But I did want to throw up a quick little pre-race post regarding training.

Going into my third Chicago Marathon and twelfth marathon total tomorrow, I can’t remember the last time I felt this out of running shape. It’s hard to describe, but I just feel slow and untrained. However, the thing is, I’m not. I might not be in PR shape, but I’m actually in decent shape. I did the miles in training, more consistently than I’ve done for a marathon in at least two and a half years. I didn’t do any speedwork, but I did the miles. Six or seven weeks ago, I ran the Reykjavik Half Marathon—after two weeks of being on my feet for 15-25 miles every day traveling—just 20 seconds slower than my PR. And my last two miles were in the 6:50s, which is 5k pace for me. A few weeks later, I PRed a 5k after an 18-mile training run. And then just three weeks ago, I finished out the Newport Half Marathon with a 6:55 mile. So, I’ve clearly got a lot in my legs.

The lack of speedwork was mostly just due to having run Grandma’s Marathon exactly 16 weeks ago and me having planned to keep the miles easier effort for the first half of training.

Unfortunately, a big confidence problem for me right now is my right quad, IT band, hip, and adductor. Just that whole damn thing. The hip and adductor pain that started all the way back in March still isn’t 100%. I thought it had gotten there after my Europe trip, but it started coming back just a little. I’d say it’s like 95%. On the outside of my leg, down the length of my IT band, from hip to knee, has been bothering me for the last month or so. This is something I’ve been dealing with for years. It’s just a problem spot for me. I know how to prevent and rehab it, but I got busy for a few weeks and neglected it. It’s not a serious thing, but it is enough right now that I can’t completely ignore it.

Anyway, what it comes down to is that I’m really not sure what I’m capable of for tomorrow…which is the same position I found myself in last year. What I do have going for me, though, is a lack of pressure. I BQed here last year and will be running Boston in April. I no longer have a BQ hanging over my head. And I realized this wouldn’t work out to be a good goal race anymore weeks ago when my heart just wasn’t in the training.

So…I’m not gunning for a PR tomorrow. And that’s okay. I do want to score a BQ, though, just in so I have it in my pocket in case I want to run 2019 too. Still, it’s not a weight on my shoulders and I do think I should be able to run a 3:35 or better.

We’ll see how it goes! The weather is going to be a bit warm tomorrow so that could also be a factor.

5

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!

4

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.

IMG_2924

Oh god my handwriting! This is me writing neatly!

5

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.

Connecticut.

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.

Oof.

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

22

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?

Tumblr!

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!

Tumblr

Tumblr

2

My life is totally not what I expected it to be and I’m really happy about that

The color version of this photo is literally my favorite photo of me *ever*

The color version of this photo is literally my favorite photo of me *ever*

I’ve been thinking a lot recently about how we change and grow. Sometimes, our lives turn out so far from where we thought they would, it’s hard to believe we’re physically the same person we used to be—well, okay, I’m not quite even physically the same person anymore, but you know what I mean. I don’t think this is a bad thing at all, in fact, I think it’s good.

When I graduated high school, I had planned to go to college as pre-med. Instead, I graduated with degrees in Sociology and Psychology with plans for grad school and to eventually teach at a college level. Instead, I became a software engineer after having taught myself programming as a hobby. Oddly, from childhood up until about midway through senior year of high school, being a software developer was pretty much without question what I wanted to do with my life, but a computer programming class in 12th grade turned me off to it entirely. Still, here I am now being a developer.

I spent a large portion of my life as a complete music snob. My life revolved about the punk and indie underground music scene. I was either constantly going to shows, running a venue myself, doing a college radio show, being Head Music Director of my college radio station, talking about music, or simply just judging everyone I met primarily on their music tastes. My friends and social life revolved around the music scene.

Today, I could barely give a fuck about the music scene and keeping up with new music. I still have the bands I love and I do still like hearing new stuff, but I only bother with music I really love anymore and there are only a handful of bands I still go see when they’re on tour. Past Amelia would be horrified at my utter apathy regarding music, but the music scene wasn’t giving me what I needed and I burned myself out trying. I never really felt like an active part of it, even though I was. Not having any musical talent or being able to play anything myself (believe me, I tried) left me feeling as though I was simply on the sidelines, despite all the other things I did. The punk and indie music scene also talks big game when it comes to community, but the reality is that it’s mostly all talk. I wanted somewhere that made me feel like I belonged, but I got nothing but alienation from the indie underground music scene. I always thought I’d “listen to good music forever” and it would always be a huge part of my life, but all of this contributed to a withering away of my emotional connection with music.

In a surprising turn of events, I found what I was looking for in the running community. I used to hate running. Having to run the mile in gym class growing up was one of the worst things I could be asked to do. Now, I run 26.2 miles at a time for fun. It’s hard not to turn this into another post gushing over my love of running, but running not only provided me with a new love of being alone with myself and my thoughts, but it introduced me to the most supportive and amazing community I’ve ever been a part of (the trans community not excluded), not to mention the fact that it helped me be healthier and gave me something I enjoyed pushing myself in.

Past Amelia wasn’t very into sports and thought running simply for the sake of running was pretty ridiculous. She heavily looked down upon athletes as somehow being lesser people, so to be someone who now calls herself an athlete is a bold about-face.

Then, of course, there’s transitioning. While I was always extremely aware that my gender was “a thing,” I never thought I’d actually go through with transitioning. I had all kinds of reasons and excuses for not doing it. Even at 28, I never expected I’d actually be living as a woman now. And even over the last two years, my thoughts, attitudes, and understanding of being transgender have evolved a lot. I used to think genital reconstruction surgery and striving to “pass” were immutable parts of transition. These were just the things you did. Now, I don’t really even care much about either. I was always worried about what people would think of me, but it turns out I just don’t care.

Even my marriage would be shocking to Past Amelia. If I had met my wife while I was in college, or even shortly after, I likely would have hated her. I certainly wouldn’t have wanted to be in a relationship with her. When we started dating, she checked more boxes on my deal breaker list than she did on the list of what I looked for in a partner, but we had an amazing connection. It didn’t take long before those “deal breakers” stopped mattering; some of them even turned into positives. Over time, these silly mental lists completely went out the window and my idea of “perfect partner” shifted radically towards her.

Moving beyond the more tangible things and how different my daily life is from what I expected it to be, I’m just a very different person. I used to be an arrogant bitch who regularly upset people without even realizing it. Sure, there’s always that “young and dumb” stuff and being your typical college-aged kid, but this went well beyond that. I was disgustingly egotistical and judging of others. I thought I cared for others and had empathy, but the truth is I was deluding myself. I’ve written about this specific thing a couple times now so I won’t go too much deeper into it, but I’m such a different person in this regard now that I think it goes well beyond simply growing up and maturing. I was forced to deal with things I thought I could avoid dealing forever and they changed me.

The thing is, though, this is all good. Really, really good. While we can never know how all the what ifs in our lives would have panned out, I’m really happy with how things did go and where I am. I can say with a fair amount of certainty that, if I could travel back in time and meet her, Past Amelia would straight up hate who I am and what my life is now, but that’s okay. My life is uniformly different than I expected it to be even just when I was in my mid-twenties, but it’s different in so many better ways. I grew as a person and improved myself. I replaced things I thought should make me happy with things that actually do make me happy.

6

First snowboarding of the 2014 season

Snowboarding at Mountain Creek 2014
View from the intersection of Silver Fox and Fox Tail

View from the intersection of Silver Fox and Fox Tail

I took up snowboarding five years ago, around the same time I started to get serious about running. It was a few months before my wife and I started dating and I was willing to try just about anything as I searched for happiness within myself. Unfortunately, I was still rather far from finding the happiness I was looking for, but snowboarding was a nice distraction from the self-hate.

Snowboarding at Mountain Creek 2014

Ready to head out the door! I actually look rather cute!

Unlike running, snowboarding isn’t a year-round activity, the season is only a few months long so I generally do my best to make the most of it. Unfortunately, between warmer weather and a busy schedule, the last two seasons were a bit of a wash, I only went once each. However, I’m resolved to make up for it this season. I’ve got a triple play for Mountain Creek and three free lift tickets to any area mountain of my choosing so, at minimum, I need to go six times. Thanks to training for a spring marathon for the first time ever, it’s going to be really tough to fit it in, but the weather seems like it’s going to be great so I’ll find a way.

Anyway, I made my first trip to the mountain–Mountain Creek in NJ was the mountain of choosing for this trip–of the season yesterday with a few coworkers. We got a bit of a later start than I would have preferred, but part of that was due to my attempting (and failing) to run a 10 miler in -2° F on snow-covered roads at 5am.

Snowboarding at Mountain Creek 2014

Me and my new board! If you look really closely at the top of the photo, that guy in the red way back there is my first-timer coworker who got stuck there for about ten minutes trying to get his skis back on after a rough fall.

Perhaps most excitingly, this was my first trip snowboarding presenting as a woman. To help make sure I actually looked something like a woman, I recently replaced all my snowboarding stuff with women’s gear. New snowboard, bindings, goggles, gloves, jacket, pants, hat, and even socks. The only thing I kept were my boots which looked gender-neutral enough to keep…which is good because had pretty much already spent three times as much money as I could afford to have spent. As far as I could tell, no one thought much of me, which is good because I just wanted to have a fun day snowboarding without any worry of being misgendered or stared at by some snot-nosed kid.

Snowboarding at Mountain Creek 2014

Chilling on the lift

Of course, yesterday wasn’t the coldest day of the past few, but it was still pretty chilly out! My car didn’t want to start in the morning and when I pushed the clutch in it was really slow to come back up. Luckily, my new jacket and gloves are very warm so it wasn’t too bad out there. Though, we stopped at a ski shop near the mountain so my friend could rent skis (it was his first time) and I decided to throw on another layer while standing in the parking lot. It was a base layer so I had to strip down to just my sports bra for a moment in the middle of the parking lot (I was standing outside the car since I was putting my boots on while waiting for my friend). Those few moments were absolutely freezing!

Even though the mountain was crowded thanks to a hefty snowfall the day before, the lift lines weren’t actually too bad. We spent much more of the day waiting for our first-timer coworker. At the end of the day, I think we got in seven or so runs, but it was lots of fun and I was pretty tired by the end anyway. We did half the runs at the terrain park, but I only did a couple smaller jumps. With marathon training starting tomorrow, I didn’t want to risk hurting myself in any way.

Snowboarding at Mountain Creek 2014

This photo makes the lift lines look way worse than they actually were.

The new board turned out to be pretty awesome. I was a little worried I’d have trouble controlling it because it’s a rocker style board instead of a traditional camber, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. The board was much faster than my old one and more stable, forgiving, and easier to control at higher speeds. My only real issue was on some of the icier parts of the trails (New Jersey mountains, amirite?!), it was harder to get the board to carve in and grip the ground enough to control it. Still, it was much more enjoyable to ride than my old one! Plus, it’s pretty cute!

Sunset at Mountain Creek 2014

View of the sunset on my second to last run from Charlie’s Run.

Hopefully, this will be the first of many trips this season! If anyone lives in the New Jersey or Eastern PA area and wants to hang out on the mountain, let me know!

3

Looking forward to 2014

Well, 2014 is just about here and I guess that means it’s time to put together a list of goals for the upcoming year. I’m not particularly into the idea of resolutions per se, but I like having things to work toward and a direction for my life. It helps to add some meaning to each day and motivate me to spend less time with my ass on the couch.

In no particular order, here are my goals for 2014:

  • Be a more reciprocating friend: Obviously, I’ve had a lot going on over the last year and a half, but lately I’ve been feeling as though many of my friendships have become very one sided with me on the receiving end much more than the giving end. I want to be a better friend to those who have been there for me when I needed it.
  • Qualify for the Boston Marathon: This isn’t the first time qualifying for Boston has been on my list of goals for the year and it will be here every year until I finally do it. Looking at a calendar for 2014, it looks like I’ll get one shot at it in 2014, but I’m hopeful that with proper training, this will be the year!
  • Run three marathons: I’m planning one in the spring and two in the fall. I think I can do this! We’ll see.
  • Keep up with strength and flexibility exercises and avoid injury: I’m terrible at keeping up with this stuff. I swear up and down every time that it’s going to be different, but it never is and I always end up with some sort of running-related injury. 2014 is the year this stops. I’m not going to be lazy about this anymore, I’ve learned my lesson.
  • Spend some serious time with my camera: After a photo365 project in 2012, 2013 was an almost complete wash for photography. I spent hardly any time with my camera and when I did take photos I let them pile up unprocessed on my computer. I’m debating doing another photo365 project to get me motivated, but I haven’t made a final decision yet. I had a love/hate relationship with the project in 2012. I took a lot of awesome photos I wouldn’t have otherwise taken, but it was also stressful and time consuming. We’ll see, but I need to decide soon!
  • Spend less time on Twitter: Twitter is, by far, my favorite part of the internet. It’s been an incredible tool for connecting with other transgender people, as well as other runners. It’s also just fun. Unfortunately, I’ve increasingly let Twitter take over my life and get in the way of doing other things. I don’t want to cut Twitter out entirely, but I want to figure out how to keep up with everything I care about without blowing hours of each day trying to keep up.
  • Become a more active trans activist: I want to do more for my community. I want to write more and I want to be active offline, as well.
  • Travel outside North America: In 2012, my wife and I took an awesome trip to Berlin, Copenhagen, and, Stockholm. It was incredibly tiring, but absolutely amazing. We’ll be starting off 2014 with a week in Brussels, but half the trip will be dedicated to work so I’m not counting this trip towards my goal for 2014. I have two trips in mind for 2014, but we’ll see where we end up actually going.
  • Finally stop dragging my feet and either buy a house in New Jersey or decide to get the heck out of this state: I love New Jersey, I really do, but I feel like I need a change. It may be time to get out of here and try somewhere new for a while. However, that change may not necessarily be leaving this state, but instead just settling down to owning our own home, a place we can really make our own. This is still a decision we need to make.
  • Put the hell project I’ve been dealing on at work behind me: If I let myself actually get started explaining just how bad this project has been, by the time I’m done, I’d have to scrap this post and start working on one for 2015. Let’s just say it started in May of 2013 and we’re currently back to zero (for the third time). I’m over this project and I need to get it done and put it behind me. Mentally and emotionally, I need to be done with this.

Okay, I think that’s enough to work on for one year, right?

What are you goals, or resolutions if that’s your thing, for 2014?

0

Hello world!

I guess it’s finally time to launch this thing! It’s still a bit of a work in progress, but I think there’s enough here to start. I have a few more posts from my old blog I want to copy over here, but they’ll make it over soon. I’m promising myself that I’ll blog at least twice a week, but I don’t have a good track record with blogs so let’s all just keep our fingers crossed!