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It's been about a month, time to check in.

Not a pro, but not quite an amateur either.


So.
Season 8 of Game of Thrones was utter crap.
I move in July and have to start apartment hunting.
Oh, and I'm totally a software developer now.


I've officially been on the job for about 3 weeks now. Overall, I'm happy with my new career, and it feels like the work I do is needed and respected by the people I work with. I feel like I have plenty of people willing to mentor me as well. On top of it all, I have an official salary renegotiation planned for the end of my 90 day trial period, in August.


This new apartment is really crucial to how successful I will be in the next year at paying down my major debts and getting my credit back on track. I don't want to spend the next decade of my life making tiny payments that don't amount to anything, so instead I'll be paying things off in big chunks, and there is a lot to pay off. I owe money on a computer, our furniture, the ring, my student loans, the car, and Amy has some medical debt thats getting to a scary place. If we lived perfectly frugally, we could pay it all down in a couple of years, which is a really good feeling, but it takes good execution too. Discipline, gumption, chutzpah, moxy, and a certain je ne sais quoi. All that jazz.


It feels good to succeed, and it feels even better to do so after consistently failing for so long.


The previous entry was posted by a Fucking Moron

It has to get worse before it gets better


I cant help but look over the bitch-fest I shat out in my last post and wonder how I could have taken so much for granted. That article was posted on March 6th, and on March 15th I was let go from Proper Media. It was probably the first time I have ever been so understanding of a company parting ways with me, owing mostly to the fact that I wouldn't be replaced, but still - losing a meal ticket is nothing to take lightly.


My negative feelings were compounded by the fact that I thought that I was up for a promotion/transfer into a development position there. Going from that level of hope and optimism to unemployment in a matter of minutes isn't so much an emotional rollercoaster as an emotional elevator. The heart just drops.


But this story has a happy ending. As of April 15th, I have been offered a Junior Developer position at another company, and I couldn't be more excited. In the following paragraphs I will detail my experience and try to relate it to how you too can turn lemons into lemonade


Step 1: Code like it's your job. No, really.


Being unemployed puts most people in most career paths on their hind ends. Sure you might be hitting the job listings every day, but after a while you run out of things to do. This is the opposite of what a software developer should be doing. The Monday after I was laid off, I got up at 6:00, made a big pot of coffee, and sat down in front of my computer. I practiced coding for 10 hours solid, until Amy got home. The next day, I did it again. And again, and again, until I treated it like my own little office cubicle. When I needed a break, I sent out resumes or re-watched old tutorials, but I always treated practicing code like my new job, and it has paid off in spades. Now, I have a structure for how I learn new subjects, how I work on my projects. It naturally keeps me sharp for what comes next...


Step 2: Get their attention.


If you're in my situation and your resume doesn't already include previous development experience, the biggest thing I was ignoring was actually getting noticed. I wrote and rewrote my resume, I had papered multiple cities job boards with it, I applied anywhere that looked like I had a snowball's chance in hell of getting even a personalized rejection email. I had done this for the better part of a year, and gotten nowhere. The big thing that made a difference this time was getting the attention of someone with decision making power. Maybe for you it will be a hiring manager or a technical recruiter, but for me it was the CEO. Now, to be fair, I was invited by the job posting to shoot them a message. "Are you unqualified on paper but still think you can rock this job? Send us a message" read the bottom of the job posting, and my shot paid off. I messaged the CEO on Linkedin, mentioned the job listing, and made him a bet. I bet him that if he agreed to have an interview with me, I would learn the Laravel web framework in 48 hours and present on it, having never touched it before. His response was awesome:


"I fucking love this"


I was blown away. All of a sudden, the head honcho of a multi-million dollar operation was shooting the breeze with me. He sent over a coding challenge, I managed to not mangle it too badly, and we scheduled an interview. My experience was most likely atypical but the general advice I can give here is not to just blindly send out your resume, especially if you're a newbie. At minimum, write a cover letter, but if you can connect more personally with a decision maker, absolutely do it. Take a recruiter out for lunch on the pretense of "learning more about the position", send the higher ups thoughtful messages. Do whatever you can to get noticed.


Step 3: Don't fuck it up when it was going so well.


This is where I find myself now, a few days past being offered and accepting my new position, and my habits haven't changed. I get up every day at 6:00, make a pot of coffee, and study for 10 hours. I'm now sharpening everything I will need for this new spot and with any luck I might actually be good at it. One thing is for sure though, I am never taking anything so great for granted again.



New Developments

When your teeth betray you, learn a new language


WHEW.

It has been a rough couple months. I'm glad to be standing here on the other side of it, but let me give a short rundown of how awful things have been.

  1. Found out I will lose all my tax return to garnishment, because of my defaulted loans.
  2. Got a $700 bill from the dentist AFTER my insurance pays the maximum for the year.
  3. Got a $3000 bill from Amy's dentist AFTER insurance for HER terrible teeth.
  4. Amy's dentist, against her wishes, opened a line of credit that curiously is valued almost exactly the same as the bill they gave her...
  5. Atlas, my SUV, is having trouble with his starter.
  6. Oh, and my best friend's father passed away.


In situations like these, it can be tempting to focus on the negative and wallow in self pity. Its 2019. Nobody got time for that shit.
So, here's a similar list of all the good that has happened since I last posted.

  1. Put a down payment on a ring (don't tell Amy)
  2. Went to the peak of Mount Laguna for some incredible views and SNOW IN CALIFORNIA!
  3. Learned PHP, and refreshed and expanded my JavaScript and JQuery
  4. Asked my boss for a shot at coding for a living, and I've got an interview coming up!


What's important to remember here is that life is always going to be a mixed bag. You'll almost never have a straight up run of good luck, but you can choose to focus on one or focus on the other, and that outlook will characterize your life. Despite the actual events being about half bad half good, your outlook will color your memories and feelings about these moments. This is why being aware of non-neurotypical responses in the brain is so important, you can tell when depression is making you focus on the bad and being aware of it makes it marginally easier to counteract through sheer force of will.

I don't know what the next few days will bring, the pressure is killing me, but I know that I will see Sean, I'll be there for him after his dad's passing, and I will continue to follow my dreams and achieve my goals. Can't ask for more.



New Year, New Plan

Using everything available to get where I want to go


Happy New Year! As is tradition, most people will be making resolutions for the new year, and I am no exception. Unlike most people, I have a day by day plan for how I will be achieving my goals.

My Goals for this year:


  1. Increase Deadlift from 395 lbs to 500 lbs
  2. Decrease weight from 225 lbs to 190 lbs or less.
  3. Decrease body fat from ~25% to ~15% or less.
  4. Learn PHP.
  5. Refresh JavaScript
  6. Learn Python
  7. Learn Ruby and Rails
  8. Get a job as a Developer (Hopefully at Proper Media)


The thing about resolutions is usually that people don't set realistic goals, and dont have a realistic plan to achieve them. Looking over the above list, you can see that my fitness goals all have measurable metrics, concrete indicators of success and failure. The following goals do not. In order to achieve them, I needed structure. I mapped out the next 6 months on a spreadsheet, placing 5 workouts and 3 study sessions per week. As long as I stay on pace, I should have worked through all the material available to me from Treehouse in the subjects of PHP, JS, Python and Ruby. Literally every single lesson they have. And I don't mean to imply that that would give me mastery of the material, just that I at least would have a beginners understanding of the material, which hopefully should be enough to land me a job.


I've also scheduled two dates to have the "Job Transition" conversation with my superiors, one in March and one in June. I like this company very much, and if possible would like to continue to work for them in a developer role, but if that isn't possible I cant let comfort stand in the way of progress. It's 2019 and we are impeaching facists, protecting trans kids, and achieving our goals

Let's get it.


Seeking Happiness

What is your "why"?


While I work, I tend to listen to podcasts. I’ve always found the human voice very comforting and much less distracting than music. Maybe that makes me wierd? I dont know. I usually listen to Knowledge fight, a podcast about how incredibly stupid Alex Jones and his cadre of con men are on a daily basis, but recently I have run out of new episodes and have expanded my scope of listening. I came across the Getting Around To It podcast on lybsyn, and I fired up an episode where the hosts discuss Napoleon Dynamite with a guest who had just seen it for the first time.


I won’t give you a play by play of the entire podcast, you should go listen to it yourself, but there was one point that stuck out to me. In the movie, Uncle Rico is played as a former jock desperately trying to rediscover high school, which is contrasted heavily by Napoleon’s abysmal high school experience happening right before our eyes. The hosts surmised that this was intentional, not to say that everyone has a good or bad experience in high school, but to say that romanticizing the past can lead to an underwhelming future. At this point, I took a little assessment of my own past, and came to a realization... I have never been happy.


Don’t misunderstand, I have had moments of happiness. I do things that make me happy for a while, but I have never been happy with everything in my life. In middle school I was placed forward into high school math and subsequently bullied so heavily that my parents had me switch schools a few years later. The new school didn’t fix much, as I was now an outsider to friend cliques that had been a decade in the making. I moved on to college and struggled to make friends there as well. Marching in the band made me happy, but it came with forced associations with individuals who took delight in the psychological torture of hazing, or worse. My studies suffered and I dropped out, now living at home feeling like a failure as all my peers went on to bigger and better things with their lives [not all of them actually did, but it was how my depression phrased it to me]. Few years of drinking myself stupid between awful bouts of sobriety as a sales drone later, and I met Amy.


Amy makes me happy. Spending time with her, talking to her, listening to her, making her laugh, all of it makes me happy. I couldn’t ask for a better partner, and for a few years, that was enough. But after moving to a couple new cities that I swore would make me happier, and a couple new jobs that I swore would be better, they weren’t. And I wasn’t. I started to think I would never be happy, that maybe nobody anywhere was happy.


I suspect I am building this job search up the same way in my mind, that once I get into programming and software development I will finally be happy, and it likely isn’t true. Which begs the question, will I ever be happy at all? Will getting married do it? Buying a house? Getting a dog? A new computer? A ferrari? Having a kid or 12?


What the fuck do I do?


Musings on the job search

My desert island full of code


For the past 9 months I have been on a journey through learning to code on zero dollars. For reasons I won’t get into here, going back to school or a coding bootcamp is entirely out of my reach. Ive been confined to using the free and low cost resources available on the internet and sheer force of will to make my career change, and I’m quite frustrated. It’s starting to feel like I’m stuck on a desert island with strange tides that return all my messages in bottles to me, unseen by the world I wish to (re)join. The entire situation feels designed to benefit people with advantages over me. Who the hell can afford $18k (plus living expenses, because you cant work) for a three month coding bootcamp? Daddy’s money can.

But whining about it wont get me anywhere.


Heres the current version of the plan.


  1. Get my Java skills certified by Oracle. $250
  2. Learn Spring framework
  3. Learn MySQL/Hibernate
  4. Rebuild this website with these technologies
  5. Build another site, possibly a forum or wiki
  6. Deep dive into Android
  7. Build simple mobile game
  8. ?????
  9. Get Hired for a million bazillion dollars a year (PROFIT)

Doing all this while maintaining a relationship, working in sales, paying bills, exercising, staving off depression... It gets hard. Really hard. And all the while in the back of my brain there is a ticking clock that keeps tapping me on the shoulder and saying "hey fuckface, don’t forget youre almost fuckin thirty. Nobody is going to hire you when there are fresh CS majors coming out of college. Quit now. Fucking do it you god damn shit."


My current job is located less than 100 yards from the water in San Diego. I can sit here, right now and watch guys my age while away a tuesday afternoon surfing, jogging the boardwalk, generally doing not much at all. I can’t get the thought out of my head that they know something I don’t. The rent here is insanely high, usually around 2 grand for a studio. HOW can they possibly afford to spend even a couple of hours fucking around in the waves? It’s beyond me. My life is stress, wall to wall. I need a raise and a break.

Fuck it, I’m done.
--Erik


First Post!

Sub heading for the first post


Nothing here yet. Just a framework for future musings.


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