Picture of Me as a child and mom, sepia tone

Origin Story

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Every hero has an origin story.  A beginning of sorts.  Something to tell the masses so that they can get comfortable with the fact that you’re a regular human being with even more insecurities than they have.  Mine started out innocent enough.  I mean, God, look at that picture!  Those cheeks! Anyway, here we go:

I grew up in East St. Louis.  That’s been well-established.  Poor? Check. Demeaned/bullied? Check.  Pushed around and not fitting in? Check and check. Exposed to radioactive poisoning and growing fur, teeth, and an unknown superpower that isn’t released until after the start of puberty? Maybe… I think I’m still going through it.  When does it end? 40? Then I still have one more year.

I was a smart kid.  I advanced some grades… well a little, if you count skipping preschool and going straight to kindergarten.  Anyway, I was ahead of my class, smarter than most, quicker to get things and concepts, yada yada yada.  What I really loved was spaceships and space, in general.  So, imagine my sadness when most of my “science” lessons consisted of “science exists, it’s real, here it is, okay now on to social studies”.  Damn it!  Can’t we just ruminate on the moon landings for a bit? And how awesome it is that the computing power of my little desk calculator got us there?!  No? We need to talk about how people like and don’t like people because of the made-up societal structures that they live in.  Oh, okay… I can see how that’s going to forward humanity as a whole when we’ve got awesome freaking spaceships that I could be in.  Yeah. REEEALLL important.

Needless to say, I was a bit bored in class.  And by a bit, I mean I tried not to fall asleep until something exciting was mentioned.  It wasn’t the teacher’s fault, just that schools were arranged to teach you to be a factory worker, not an independent thinker.  So, you can imagine how hard it was for me to stay awake for that kind of mess.

Fast-forward 30 years later.  Nothing has changed.  I still want to learn about spaceships and people still think that their small-minded worldness is WAY more important than the future and science.  I understand being locked in to a mentality that you just can’t get away from.  I have depression, I know that feeling all too well.  But I can’t get why people are jumping in the way and stopping people like me from going forward and bringing a better world to us all.  What is it about doom and gloom that makes people want to steal someone else’s thunder and joy?

I would think that the best way to get someone to ever think about the future is to immerse them in it.  Let them feel all the woes of losing, and the cheers of winning.  Let them experience how it feels to walk through the dark of frustration and the light of awareness.  For without those things, you never learn to learn anything.  People don’t know how to learn, and science teaches you how to do that, everyday.  There’s nothing I hate more than keeping a person from learning, and then hindering their growth, and following that by asking them why they haven’t done anything with their life.

In my origin story, I’m learning the character-building techniques to make me a superhero.  I’m still in the middle of mine.  I don’t know when or where or how I will reveal my powers, I don’t know what time they will appear, but I’m here, waiting… for the perfect moment to arrive.

#SuperHeroInTraining

#HappyBirthdaySallyRide

Giving Up on Being Perfect and other nonsense ramblings.

Quote from Anna Quindlen posted on wall.

Courtesy of LoveWarriorCommunity.com

Not too long ago, I wrote a long Facebook post on how I gave up on perfection and gained all these wonderful experiences.  It started with my trip to San Fran and ended with a miracle trip to DC to see the president.  I could not have asked for a more magical moment.

But then, I returned back to civilization, to the fairy-tale of the Cinderella worker who once was and wanted to be at the ball again.  I enjoyed the limelight for what it was: the glamour, the fantasticalness. But then, I wanted it to all calm down again.  I wanted to be a normal… a nobody.

I thought that I could slip back into irrelevance if I kept quiet and my nose to the grind.  I wanted to prove to my coworkers that I was no mere flash-in-the-pan success story that interned their way into a major corporation… that I really did, and am, a good worker, fast learner, and a true techie at heart.

But reading people has been difficult.  I see the faces, I hear the stories, but I search for deeper inside and I see nothing there.  Not that they’re empty, but that they have no more stories or passions to share.  Maybe it’s the dreams that were missing, never there, or died off.  Maybe it’s the settlement that I’m not familiar with in my own life as I reach for “too much”.  I admit that I’m a seeker.  I haven’t been satisfied with the complacency of just having a job, I want a career and a life goal – something to make me want to wake up in the morning and help people do what I did.

Overall, I’ve heard people say that I would make the perfect [insert here non-technical role].  Yes, as a woman, a person of color, and a leader, I have the audacity to lead a group through the bowels of hell, but that doesn’t mean I want to be a full-time paper-pusher-cum-manager. I only want to push people through glory to see their own dream fulfilled.  I don’t understand those that don’t want to.  Maybe they have given up.

I decided to give up, too.  I gave up on being perfect.  I would plan something to do, only to stop short because I wasn’t in the right condition or frame of mind to do so.  Come to think about it, that is what depression is in and of itself.  It’s when you plan something to do, and you want to, but you have this yearning to not do it because something awful can happen to throw your whole life off.

I decided to go to Six Flags merely days after bowling in a volunteer organization effort.  Now, normally I would have said “No.”  I wasn’t in the right space.  But I just thought, “Maybe, just maybe, I could just do it and see what happens.  No expectations.  If I get tired, I get tired.  And I’ll be sad, but at least I did try and if my body gives out, so be it.”  I ended up being alright.  Not fantastic, but not awful either. Livable.

I wonder if this is the same tenacity that drove the astronauts forward to the moon, or who made the racer take the last lap, or propels a starving man across the desert to see his children again.  The hope that maybe, one day, you will make it and live to tell the story.  And that if you don’t, then so be it.  At least, you tried.

I see the same thing with my future.  I see that someone wants to slow me down, say “woahhhh”, and tell me that they’ve been there and that I need to take my time.  Nothing infuriates me more than a person holding me back because they think I can’t handle it.  But maybe they can’t.  Maybe they won’t excel because they are convinced there is a timed pace that is supposed to outline their lives.

I keep pushing forward, taking breaks to rest my tired soul, and then I keep pushing forward.  I’m not perfect, but I won’t get anywhere if I don’t try. What am I waiting for?

Speaking to the Past: What it’s like to face something from a power position.

So, for anyone keeping track of my life, this happened:

And yes, I was sitting in the audience.  And he was pointing at me.  And I did get nervous.

And he is a pretty cool guy.  Kind of like a dad.  You can definitely tell that he has daughters and is active and instrumental in his kids’ life.  All that for what would have amounted to about less than 5 minutes of conversation time, I could tell.

So.

Back to reality?  I mean, this was a part of my reality, but what happen post?

I’ve been told to capture the moment, so I did: in the form of speaking engagements.

I don’t consider myself the greatest speaker.  I get nervous, lose train of thought, and maybe go off on a tangent and forget where the hell I was, but I do definitely see myself being understood in the eyes of the audience.  Maybe because I see inside of them.  Seanna says I’m really good at that.

I got the opportunity to speak at an old facility that I used to work at.  The guest list was unknown to me, but I figured if it was in the IT world, it was more than worth the time I could take to drag along a buddy to speak to the disparities of minorities in the IT field and whatnot.

I got to the location without a problem.  I had worked there, so I knew all the good places to park, especially if I had to sign in (I didn’t want to walk clear across the lots to do so).  I showed up early enough to make an entrance, but late enough to see that most of the people had already gathered there.

At around 5 til, I saw him: my old boss.  I told myself that I knew he was coming simply because I could see so on my LinkedIn profile.  It was amazing.  I didn’t know exactly what to expect, so I acted casual like I always do in scenarios where I have to interact with people that I hadn’t seen in a long time and I’m not even quite sure if they know who I am (as a person).

I sat down and concentrated on my partner.  We hadn’t seen each other all day and it was the first time that we had to get a gathering of where our day was.  We chatted and the show started.  I knew what to expect from the PowerPoint slide presentation, so I was just waiting my turn.

I got up, he was in my eye shot.  I spoke about the tragedies of being in the information technology field, being a woman, being black, and being gay (although I didn’t touch on the latter directly because it was surely implied).  I caught a glance of his eyes and he turned away.  I don’t know if I had said anything offensive, as the nodding heads did not reflect so, but I was quite sure that I was definitely not who he thought I was.

I talked about my skills, how I had been underrepresented in both my resume and my title along with my job duties.  How I helped out mine and other departments by breaching the “silo gap” that so often plagues the IT world.  And how I did get to finally meet the CTO of the US (who is awesome, btw).  Female nerds FTW!

As I got down from the stage, feeling my heart race after having a debate on “what I should do with my life” with a CTO (did I mention this audience was full of St. Louis’ CIOs and CTOs? Yeah.), I decided to sit and carefully listen to my colleague speak about the ins and outs of the program that so graciously found me and placed me and said how underemployed I was, various times.  He did a great job.  I think he really hit home, which is all we wanted for the program to do to people “out there” who would seek diverse people from diverse backgrounds.

The point of all this is to display that regardless of the fame (perceived), grace (also perceived), and dignity that I portray, I still get nervous, question myself, and question whether I understand others, clearly.  I want all of the world to see me as I truly am: someone who cares, cares deeply, and wants nothing but the best for everyone involved by choosing the lesser of two evils, at times.

The speaking engagement was a success.  It opened people’s eyes, and that’s all I wanted to do.  Inevitably, I feel like it opened more than that.

The Last Straw (or how this relationship will probably be my last).

This week, I took a long tour of the US.  I drove to visit a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, traversed the mountains of the Colorado Rockies, and seen about three baseball stadiums in my travels.  I expected to land in San Francisco for a few days, to only turn around and trek back through the southern states on my way back to the Midwest drudgery.

I noticed something along the way: I was no longer in a relationship.  I was there with my fiance, but for the life of me, I was no longer emotionally aware that we were a couple.  I know we were a couple of people together, but as an emotional entity, I just wasn’t there.

This disturbed me.  I had planned to take this trip only to see and discover the hidden gems that this land had for me.  I didn’t think this would involve my own well-being and relationship status, but it did.

I have an insecure partner.  She is readily insecure about anything and everything that makes her feel bad.  And if there is nothing to make her feel bad, she will make me feel bad.

I know this is part and partial to the fact that we BOTH have mental problems (illnesses/issues).  She must always have someone in her life that she feels resents her existence.  I must always feel like no one wants me alive.

Between the two of us, we argue constantly.  Most arguments are positioned on feelings.  We are completely out of touch: she sees me as too sensitive, whereas I view her and many others as being too harsh and blunt/straightforward.

I took this trip to rejuvenate myself, I thought.  The trip was supposed to give me the sort of mental relief that I needed away from the drama of everyday life.  Not only was this brought on this trip, but it also accompanied me with the responsibility of my pet, along with creating plans for another human being on and during her birthday weekend.

Not to mention the family pressure: my nephew’s birthday was soon to follow and even though I spent a full 3 days on the road, covered in pimples, dirt, and exhaustion, my family expected me to speed on through and divert myself to the annals of the lone star state.

Top that with my fiance’s mother consistently checking on our route, a placement agency asking me to do a favor at last minute, and my workmates sending out emails about something related to what I do there.  I relented to the fact that I wasn’t going to have a vacation.  I’d just be working, just in another location.

After all this time, effort, and money spent, I began to realize that the people around me just didn’t give a shit about my feelings.  I know that sounds plain and simple to some, but I’m just not now realizing how much they’re going to say, “When you said this, it hurt *my* feelings.”

This saying has rung true for the full breadth of the 28 years since I’ve known what a relationship is and why it existed.

The truth is also this: People care even more about how people make them feel than making people feel a certain way.

I’ve learned, now, that it doesn’t matter how much my feelings were hurt by someone.  They will take advantage of every turn to make me feel like they don’t belong in the place that you put them.  And they’ll fight you, all the way.

Sociopathy and how “Gone Girl” uncovered the most hidden secret of our lifetimes.

Gone Girl bathroom hammer scene gif

Gone Girl scene, courtesy of Buzzfeed.

There’s a reason why this film was made in the Midwest.  Not just because the book had it take place there, but because these type of things happen here.  Living here most of my life, I’ve seen various grades of this behavior.  And although subtle, it can tear a person in two.

When I had first heard of Gone Girl, I saw it on the bookshelf at a local store.  I pondered about its title, thinking that this might be the simpleton book that places the story and primary blame on its main male character.  And then I learned of how much buzz it was getting, and that it was being made into a movie.  At that point, I decided to explore more.

I knew instantly who the sociopath was when I learned what the main plot of the film was supposed to be.  I knew because I’ve been involved with women like that.  They’re often pretty, beautiful to the general public, charming, suspiciously accepting, and always, always wanting to be your friend RIGHT AWAY.

They’re often at a disadvantage of some sort, and they portray everyone else in their life as the enemy or villain in their simple story.  People eat it up, just as the officers and public seemed to do in the movie.  They could, in all essence, get away with a heinous crime, and make everyone believe that they are nothing but the innocent victim.

This is a type of social engineering that I learned about, recently: looking the part.  People get up, get dressed, check their face and clothes in the mirror, and they go about their day.  The only thing not making them into this sociopath is their intentions and what they plan to get away with… and also a healthy moral obligation to society, as a whole.

The sociopath manipulates people, just as the main character did.  She carefully, thoughtfully manipulated people BOTH in the moment AND pre-planned.  The only difference that I noticed is that she was so good at improvising that she needed to do nothing more than think her way through the situation as it occurred: something I’m rarely able to do in all circumstances.

People may wonder about Nick’s character.  Does he also qualify?  No, not quite.  He did it to get to a safe point, but he didn’t do it to implicate or make other people suffer.  I’ll refer to another genre, TV, with the ever popular “How to Get Away with Murder”.  The show’s protagonist isn’t a murderer or a sociopath, but a person caught up in a very dangerous situation in which he needs to get release and relief in order to survive in the society he lives in.  He has no ill will towards anyone, but he is often caught in a blaze of conundrums in every episode with consistent steps towards freedom and trying to protect loved ones and the populous, in general.

There’s a difference in what you’re doing something for, and when you’re doing it for your own entertainment.  Some people like to see others burn.  They want nothing to do with the wholesome goodness of humanity because they don’t believe in it anymore.

I feel like, without the people in my life, I could have easily made the mistake to live with one.  They often open their homes and hearts to you, with the prospects of relief from your life and everlasting shelter.  But the truth is clear: they use their doe eyes and sense of wonder against you.  If you want to evade it, you have to see past their lies.  Take a moment to look deeply into someone’s soul… and if your gut tells you there’s something wrong, listen.  It has saved me many times.

Screenshot of Mensa Test Results

Dreaming of greatness and things.

Courtesy of dreamlab7.com

There are many things that I dream about when I go out into the world: being an astronaut, conquering some great threat, or being just an overall good person.  But what about those dreams seem unreachable?  Why do we sit around and wonder if they will ever come true if they seem to be within our grasp?

I took an introspective look at myself recently and discovered that I could totally control my behavior.  But what kept me from doing it before now?  I knew that it “could” be done, but I had never “done” it… until now.

I think we look at ourselves and say what we think is a logical container on which we can eschew our emotions.  We tell ourselves “One day, when we’re [strong/courageous/powerful/awestruck] enough, we’ll do that thing we’ve always wanted to do.”  Why do we delay it, though?  What makes us think that we aren’t strong enough to handle it right now – right while we’re thinking about it?

My first inclination is that there is not nearly enough confidence in the world.  We’re taught that we’re nothing without numbers.  For instance, on a whim, I decided to take my Mensa practice test.  It was only a dollar, and I’ve spent far more money on far worse things.  Since it was a sale, I figured it was a sign.  I’ve always wanted to take it, and I had no good excuse not to buy a testing key.

When I took the test tonight, I got this result:

Screenshot of Mensa Test Results

My Mensa Test Results (LML).

So, I began researching, trying to find out exactly what all of this meant.  I’ll spare you the extra screencap and just say that it puts me in the 86th percentile, which means that I’m smarter(?) than 86% of the people who took this test… or are out there, in general… at least, in America… the USA, that is.

Mensa membership is often reserved for those in the 98th percentile.  Which means I’d have to score on the official test at least better than an additional 12% of the population.  Which means, I’ve got to have better cognitive thinking that millions of people.  Millions.  Over 700 million, if everyone on this earth took the test.  That’s close to 1 billion people.  I feel like it’s an incredibly high standard.  It’d still be about 600 million even if we just counted the adults over 25.

Why does this number, though, frighten me?  I think it’s from my youth: I always felt like being poor meant being dumber than the rest of the world.  My worth was determined and measured, constantly, by my wealth (or lack thereof).  I write about it a lot because that’s all I know.  Consistently, I think about how to be smarter, faster, more agile, and more fluidly flexible than the next guy.

Which comes to the fact that I’m up writing at 5am (central time).  It’s because I’m thinking so hard on solving some problem that I can’t even stop long enough to go to sleep.  It’s not a worry so much as a brain teaser.  It’s about traveling, and the best route, and the best method, and the best blah-blah-blah.  I normally don’t travel because I get so stressed out trying to plan for as many instances as possible (i.e. if something goes wrong, then I feel like it’s my fault for being too slow/unthinking/unprepared/what-have-you).

But those guilt feelings, those angering thoughts, and those pitiful glares that I give to myself do nothing more than motivate me to find a better, faster, more efficient way to do things.  Doing something is all I know how to do.  Being lazy, lackadaisical, and static often result in me trying to do even more to think of how I can do something.

One day, I’ll solve some big puzzle, or find out that space really isn’t all that daunting and make it easily doable, or discover a new something-or-another.  One day, all this overthinking and non-stop thinking will pay off.  Until then, I’ll keep dreaming of the day when I uncover something wonderful.

5 Things To Do When You’re Bored

So, you have nothing to do.

There are no pressing deadlines.  Everyone is out of the office.  You’re just sitting down in your pajamas or work clothes of your choice just waiting for the bell to ring so you can jet out and leave wherever you are to do something else.

In a word, you’re bored.

Here are 5 things I do to keep me (and maybe you) busy, and keep the old noggin pumping with exciting thoughts and things and whatnot:

  1. Make up a story

    Many people get caught up on the idea that a story has to be well thought out and takes years to master.  The reality is that most stories are things we just think up out of sheer boredom.  Our minds have nothing better to do than put nonsensical things together, anyway.  Why not write it down and make a million dollars off of it?

  2. Watch a different show/movie that’s not your normal genre

    Everyone has those go-to movies.  For me, it’s psychological sci-fi thrillers (thanks, Blockbuster, for putting a name to my musings!).  Every now and then, I’ll do a love story or something cheeky or even a horror flick.  But what I don’t go to, like the occasional cowboy movie, I seek out when I’m bored.  I’ve lost nothing and I get to expand my mind (and even relate to someone who views these as their fave, as well).

  3. Go to that place you said you’d go to when you had time, and have no expectations

    You know that time you said “Oh, I didn’t know that was there.  I’ll have to check it out.”  Well, now’s the time to do that.  Especially if it’s summer and you’re just walking/driving around, anyway.  For winter, I have some spots that I’ve always wanted to go to: like a mall in a corridor that I’ve never visited, or an indoor farmer’s market on the other side of town, or even a museum that’s tiny that relies heavily on contributions and foot traffic to keep its earnings (and has a crazy/interesting little niche).  Especially, if these places are free for you to go to (like a new park that opened or plaza that you noticed that one time you were driving down that road and saw the whole place has been gentrified). This is good for when you have no expectations whatsoever on anything anyway, you get to enjoy what I call a “pure experience of being”.

  4. Start a new project

    Think of something, anything, that you said you wanted to do “one day” and just start on it KNOWING that you won’t be able to finish it and being okay with it (*whew, takes breath*).  Seriously, everyone has that little spark of an idea that they haven’t fully fleshed out.  Then they say, “Oh, when I have more time to think about it, I’ll start it.” And then, they never had more time to think about it. And never start it.  So, just start it.  Know that you won’t be done.  Know that also you’ll discover some things in the middle that you hadn’t thought of in the beginning because you hadn’t gotten into doing it yet and didn’t know that you’d run into something that you needed.  It’s like discovering gravity or something.  Bad pun, but you know what I mean.

  5. Take a nap

    I was a little hesitant about writing this one, but I thought, “Surely these people know to do this at the right moment… like not in the theatre, or during a play, or in the middle of driving.”  But for those that don’t, please heed warning that you should only do this if you are in a place that is both safe and reasonable to do so (like at home, at a trusted friend’s house, or in a fairly safe tropical region with a reasonable amount of sunscreen on).  I’m sure there’s some studies that will tell you that a person who sleeps is more creative or some such thing, but in essence, you just feel better after a quick nap (I’ve heard to go no longer than 20 – 30 minutes, but to each their own).  I tend to think better after a nap, and maybe find some other things to do now that I’ve got the extra energy to do so!

So, that’s my food for thought or whatnot.  Do something different to expand your mind, your way of life, and your thinking.  The worst thing that can happen is that you’ll learn something new.