Tradition!

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A couple days back, I woke up with the sudden and complete conviction that I must make a baby blanket right now.

My good friend K is pregnant; I’m going to be an aunt! I’ve never been a woman with that certain “I must be a mother,” feeling, but dammit I know I’m supposed to be an aunt. Aunt-ing matters to me.

And what do you do, traditionally, when there’s a baby coming to someone close to you? You make a blanket for the baby, that’s what you do. So.

The yarn store was closed.

It was, however, open late on Tuesdays, and last night I stopped by. The store owner showed me which yarns were machine washable, and where I could find a pattern. A dozen or so cheerful-seeming people, mostly but not entirely women, of varying ages, were hanging out at a big table, chatting and working on projects; one of them helped me pick colors. I bought yarn and a hook (I crochet; I don’t love knitting). The pattern is a wavy sort of stripe.

I’m making a baby blanket. I’m aiming to get it done by the time I next see K, a little over a week from now, on the other side of the continent.

This afternoon

This afternoon I spoke on a panel about Diversity and Inclusion in Tech*.

The whole panel and discussion were well received. The audience was engaged. The other panelists were awesome, and I’m grateful to have met them and hopeful/optimistic that we’ll keep in touch.

After the panel, maybe a dozen people came up to me and said how much it meant to them, and that they’d found what I said helpful or inspirational or encouraging. They didn’t just stop by briefly, either. They showed up wholeheartedly. They told me in detail what aspects stood out and why. They had questions and ideas. They wanted to talk.

It was awesome.

Living in the Bay Area, working at Google, in many ways surrounded by so many
debates and discussions and brainstorming sessions and informal venting sessions and just in general so much, I think I sometimes forget how much it can mean to someone just starting out, or someone trying to find a new path, just to hear someone else say, ‘This is what it’s been like for me; here’s what I’ve been thinking about this whole thing. And yes, I too think this is important.’ I sometimes forget that while anyone’s own experience may be old news to them, it may not be to someone else. My own story, old news to me, may offer new ideas to someone else.

To someone else, it may be inspiration.

I’m grateful to have had the chance to speak in this way to this audience. I’m humbled by how much what I said seemed to resonate.

Before the session, I wrote notes on what I wanted to say. During the session itself, I didn’t follow my notes precisely; the discussion flowed as it flowed. But. I was glad I’d prepared. I’d prepared enough that I’d also wondered vaguely if I might write up my notes afterwards, and post them here or somewhere. I’d wondered too if my various ideas about writing more essays about work might be a good idea, or if there are already so many voices out there that it would be a waste of time, if there would be no audience.

Based on today, I’m thinking maybe I do have something to say, and maybe there is an audience interested in hearing it.

So.

It was a wonderful panel and I’m so glad I did it.

I’m going to do at least that much.

*Columbia University, reunion weekend 2019.

Things that are working

Late last week, someone asked me how I was doing. My usual answer to this is, “Good!” because it’s polite, and usually I’d rather talk about something else – but this time, the person who asked is someone I know well, who I have some shared history with, and I answered more honestly:

“I’m actually successfully coping and I’m really damn proud of that.”

There are, of course, plenty of people in the world dealing with tougher stuff than I am. I am not hungry. I am not under physical threat. I am healthy. I am not scared about money.

But. People I care about are going through really tough things. I am busy, legitimately & ridiculously busy, not in an “oh gosh I’m just so busy!” way but no, actually really busy in an “I spend over half an hour each day just getting my schedule to make some sense and not have overlapping things that simply do not work” kind of way. I am in a job that I think I love, but which still feels new, and I feel like I have a lot to learn. I’m facing various kinds of career pressure, some self-imposed, some not. I’m thinking a lot about what I want my life to look like. And I’m about to hit the one-year mark on the Horrible House Remodel, after 3+ prior years of half-remodeling & some moving chaos before that, all of which means I haven’t lived somewhere calm in over five years.

And on the other hand, I am coping. I am going to the gym. I am gardening. I am reading. I am seeing friends. I am seeing family. I am occasionally writing. I am not completely dropping the ball at work, and every so often I come up with a useful insight or approach that I’m proud of. My team is doing well, and I’m getting positive feedback on them from people they in turn work with.

So I’m busy, and not everything is good, but I’m coping, and I am pretty damn proud of that.

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