The beauty of life is the journey, not the destination.

Here I share the trials and tribulations of my becoming a software engineer, coding tips and tricks, and my adventures on the rocks.

President’s Day Ponderings: The Power of Pings


This morning, I was having a self-reflective moment, typing up some thoughts on my laptop, when my cellphone obnoxiously interjected its chipper PING into my reverie. I usually keep my phone on silent during the week, to keep it from distracting me at work, so when it’s on during the weekend that’s when I’m being social and interacting with friends. It’s logical that the sound normally triggers a brief pulse of excitement. I glance at my phone.

6:38 am. Charlotte Rousse. Last call! ALL DRESSES & SHOES $20 OR LESS! Ends tonight!

Ugh, I never shop here anymore. I tossed the Pixel back under my pillow. 5 minutes later:

6:44 am. MileagePlus Partner. Take home 1,500 miles when you dine out Who cares??

But this time, before thrusting my phone aside, I realized how I do this exact same routine with so many things in my life. Something or someone does something that bothers me a little bit, but my reaction is so minor and passes so quickly that I never bother addressing it. I don’t think it’s a terrible habit, and is something I think I’ve actually deliberately developed over time to have a more ‘chill’ persona that balances out my incredibly Type A personality, but what it means now is that I end up tolerating a lot of bullshit.

Let’s be clear. I am not a pushover by any means. If you wrong me or do something blatantly inappropriate or offensive, I’m not afraid to call you out on it. My mom jokes that I get my short temper and bluntness from my father, and the little kindness I have from her. Over time, I think I’ve grown more into my mother. Patient, forgiving, compassionate, and thoughtful–all traits I value and try to foster both in myself and other people. But, just in the last couple hours, my phone has pinged 12 times. Useless emails I never open and only irritate me. Facebook reminders that it’s people’s birthdays, which I’m sure are helpful for some but for a person like me who actively remembers her friends birthdays…. pretty useless. Instagram telling me someone posted a story for the first time in a long time.

So, why don’t I unsubscribe from these emails? Why don’t I turn off these notifications as soon as I get them? Why do I let certain people say or do things that very clearly bother me, but I just brush them off and wait for the annoyance to pass? The answer is probably both a flaw and a great skill– it’s the ability to compartmentalize and take these feelings and put them into a box and in the end I forget about it and it doesn’t really matter. Because honestly it doesn’t. People don’t usually mean to hurt me; these useless pings don’t actually hurt me; I like not dwelling on things and just moving on.

But I’m starting to realize putting things into a box requires energy, and I’ve developed a bad habit of putting everything that doesn’t need to be addressed, into a box. Work issues–yes I’ll deal with that. Fought with my best friend– of course I will deal with that too. But a white lie from a friend that I learn of from social media, or a reminder of a past encounter that I want to wipe from my memory forever, or knowing what my ex is doing… these are all things I could probably save a lot of my energy on. Because even though I put things in a box and forget them, I still have to deal with that brief moment of sadness. And why not get back those moments that could be moments of happiness instead?

Right before I wrote this post, I went in and unsubscribed from every single useless email sender. There were at least 15 on the list. And my phone has been wonderfully silent. I know I could go into my social media account settings and just disable notifications, but I’m curious to try a new exercise and just completely turn them all off. And for the week, just focus on living life in the present. I wonder how many moments of happiness I’ll get back.

Will report back.

Your Only Five Friends in the World

If you were only allowed to have five friends in the world, who would be your five?

The number 3 person on my list asked me this question the other day. And in turn I asked it to a few other people. You’d think it’d be awkward to ask this to someone who is definitely not in your top 5 or vice versa, but I think it’s a mark of a sincere friendship if you can feel comfortable enough with someone to understand and not be insecure about that. Anyway, it’s an interesting thought exercise. A nice caveat is that these are 5 friends excluding your future spouse/life partner, and your family. So no, you don’t have to worry about fulfilling your sexual needs and figuring out who to spend time with on the holidays.

My first three names came quite easily.

Number 1: My best friend. I’ve known her 8 years. We know the best and worst parts of each other, and we accept each other for everything that we are. We support and encourage each other in both personal and career growth. And when I make mistakes and want to crawl into a hole and never come back out, she doesn’t pull me out, she’ll crawl right in there with me. If I told her I murdered someone, she would respond: “I bet they deserved it.”

Number 2: My best friend at work. We have the same work ethic and drive, but also the same thirst for life / fun / adventure. The kind of person where we’ll kill ourselves to get s*** done but at the end of the day hide out in a conference room drinking mimosas to unwind.

Number 3: The person who asked me this question. I can talk to him about almost anything. And we enjoy doing anything together. And if I asked him to fly with me to Greece next month, he would probably do it. I need that kind of person in my life. The kind that is always willing to go on adventures with me. Because yolo.

At this point, I stopped being so sure. These would be my only friends for the rest of my life. The last two people would need to be able to fill whatever needs or gaps the first three couldn’t. Plus I have so many wonderful friends my life, and the idea of having to exclude them felt really awful. But that isn’t a reality I have to ever actually deal with it, so treating this like the thought exercise it is, I tried to consider what exactly it is I value in a long term friendship. And what qualities, to me, makes a person irreplaceable. It was surprisingly not a very long list, but friends are all about quality, not quantity, right?:

1. They love me for, not despite, my flaws. (And vice versa). #1 and #3 especially never make me feel bad about my flaws. They accept them and know I’m constantly working to make myself better. It’s incredibly difficult to find people who can’t help but judge you and hold your flaws against you. Even harder to find people who accept your flaws. And the hardest thing to find is not someone who blindly loves you, but rather someone who knows your faults yet appreciates that those faults are part of what makes you, you.

2. We think similarly. Not in that my friends always agree with me, or even that we have the same philosophy or attitude towards life. I don’t know how else to describe it other than that we can describe our thought process towards something to each other, and the other person would just get it. Perspective empathy, if I had to coin a phrase. I guess this sometimes results in having similar mindsets towards work, having fun, friendship, and life in general. Which is also nice ;) But not necessary.

3. Mutual respect. It’s amazing how important respect is. Respect is what drives you to answer that text and not forget to answer someone, no matter how busy you are. Respect nurtures consideration and thoughtfulness towards another person. Respect means not doing hurtful things like dating your ex-boyfriend or lying to you or talking about you behind your back. Respect means being willing to tell you like it is, because they want the best for you. Respect means trust. Because would you ever respect a person you couldn’t really trust?

4. Supportive. Sounds obvious, but I’m the kind of person who doesn’t really like to show any weakness. I don’t like needing anyone. So if I feel comfortable enough to share my woes and weaknesses with a friend such that I require their support, well… they’ve crossed a bridge that many people haven’t. And I will have crossed their bridges too.

5. Makes me feel alive. Yep. The first four seem cookie cutter; this one less so. Make me feel alive. I could say: “Challenge me and push me outside my comfort zone” — but the reason I want to be challenged and pushed is because it makes me feel alive. I’m not an adrenaline junkie, but I enjoy the thrills and highs life can provide. I’m often content to sit in my own bubble of stability, so I need a friend whose energy I can build off of (and vice versa) to create the kind of memories and excitement that you remember years later with a huge grin on your face. That quick rush of crazy should I really be doing this and your friend answers why the hell not?

Quality 5 is how I filled the last two spots. Number 4 is an old friend who I didn’t initially include because we don’t think similarly and her approach towards life is one I don’t really understand, but I think that’s how she makes me feel alive. She will do things for the sake of doing them and enjoys them in the moment, and doesn’t get caught up in the end (means vs end) the way I might. To feel alive, you have to live in the moment, and this is something spending the last 5 years with her has taught me well. And she has also been with me in some of the darkest moments of my life. That girl has seen me cry. Supportive AF.

My number 5 was almost my last ex-boyfriend, because even now, he still fulfills 1-4. But I get enough of 1-4 from the others, so my number 5 is someone I dated last year. Not really him, exactly, but everything that he is. Events and circumstance make it hard to actually be good friends, but while he somewhat fulfills #2 and #4, he fulfills #5 very well. But that in of itself isn’t why I value him. He makes me feel alive while at the same time is an interesting combination of the first four people on my list. A great combination of the qualities I admire and the flaws I embrace.

I guess my number 5 is a cop-out, since it isn’t a real person but the idea of. I think I’ll leave that spot open for someone to fill one day.

Try this thought exercise. You might be surprised at how difficult it is. And how difficult picking that last person is. (And if you really feel bad for excluding some of your friends, you can do what I did and tell yourself they’d fit perfectly into your top 10 ;))

Testing the Stingray Widget

Black Orpheus – Part 1/? Or Just In Progress.

Every single tap on the keyboard stings.

I do not consider myself a true alpinist. Thus, in between the crushing hug of 4am freezing temps and the very real possibility of sliding off a cliff whilst attempting to traverse frictionless wet slab descents in the dark, I found myself browbeaten into submission by a seemingly harmless Red Rocks climb, Black Orpheus. It was my first ever long multi-pitch route and perhaps (*cough*definitely) the wrong choice for someone who had never done either multi-pitch or trad before, but I believe my partner secretly craved the seductive beckon of the bivvy cave. This thirst for adventure is one I recognize in many of my fellow climbers, but that day as I recall a desperate rappel in the dark and terrifying wet slabs, we got much more than a healthy quenching.

2017-01-15 05.21.34(On the approach)

We went MLK weekend. Our day began at 3:45AM. Clothes, drive, harnesses, gear, and we were off.
For an hour we hiked easily towards Oak Creek Canyon, and we arrived at the mouth with an hour before the sun rose. After passing Solar Slab Gully, the trail merged into the wash where we had to scramble up large boulders. The further we went into the wash, the more difficult the scramble. I imagine the approach (and the descent) would have been much easier if it hadn’t just rained the day before.
Our early start in darkness may have caused us to miss the white boulder signaling the cairned approach, so after half an hour of failing to find a reasonable way up, we bushwhacked our way to the slabs. At this point, the entire face of Black Orpheus was blanketed in a beautiful red-orange glow.
2017-01-15 06.56.07
Halfway up, I tripped over a rock right into the side of a cactus. Luckily, I only grazed it, and we stopped for a few minutes so I could remove my pants and extract the spines. Oh those goddamn cacti. I was traumatized for the rest of that climb and paranoid that every step I took would land me knee deep in pins and needles.
When we finally reached the start of the climb, 3 hours later, it was 7:30am. We were already behind schedule. We took a quick bathroom break, pulled out the rope, and started getting ready. Andy was on the wall shortly after 8am. The first pitch was a 5.8 corner with relatively sparse gear in the first 50 feet. He reached the anchors quickly, and I followed. At this point, I was grateful for our ‘practice’ trad multipitch the previous day, when I got to first experience removing trad gear and learn the process for following.
Part 2 to come :)
Credit where credit is due. Based off climbing notes by my partner Andy Cao.