Drone

From my private notes penned about a month ago.

it’s a dull ache
pacified upon entering

a deep breath that’s held for many hours
a sleepy lull

passion muffled
fucks not given

closest to an office drone I’ll be

Authenticity

Last night I read Winnie’s blog, fragmented thoughts. 
The stories she wrote resonated.

For other reasons, I looked for my old notes.
For this reason, I saw this one old note of mine.

These were written as story points in an autobiographical infoviz project I luckily never did.

I copy and pasted some snippets here. And I just deleted them.

If you’re a friend, you can ask me for them. It’s not pretty, but it was me. And I want to figure out how to best communicate about these issues to you, you, and you.

Today is my last day

I’ll remember heading to a meeting and seeing someone I’ve never met before using this Paper Marker drawing as their desktop wallpaper. She distinctly said, I always wondered if I’d get to meet you.

You’ll see this post is all about people, which when we say the most clichéd “My favorite part of the job is the people,” it’s very true.

There are two great designers who influenced the way I do design today - Sean & Sha. They fundamentally changed the way I approach creative problems, taught me the value of knowing the medium, inspired me to keep looking outwards, and gave me what is now my stance on what I believe in today. The two of them always do amazing things out of work too which makes me aspire for great things out of work as well.

I had opportunity to learn how to charm. We built a mini MHCI alum circle with Sunny and Drew. Then there’s also this unity — Sunny and I had with Donna which confused some with our like-desks. I know they will continue to do great things with the Trulia product. I also want to thank David and Lee who despite my minimal fulltime experience back in June 2012, treated me as a full fledged search designer when I first started.

It’s here where I gained a deep appreciation for the people who build. The OOCSS project in conjunction with Search is where my minimal level CSS evolved into working knowledge of complex styling systems. I had the fortune of working with Nicole and Fiona, incredible front-end developers in the industry. Then there was August who kindly spent at least a week’s worth of time setting up my dev environment and explaining everything to me. At the height of it all — I was empowered with enough knowledge to hold the attention of a crowd for 20 whole minutes on the topic.

Through the time we all worked together, I realized it wasn’t about the pictures, but the people you worked together with to bring it beyond pictures. I just kept getting more excited about the things we could build.

A list of everyone I got to work with just continues.

For my first major project, Suggestions, I will remember getting to work with Skulski and Matt. And all the strawberry wafers I tried to give them in exchange for buttons.

It was with Brandon we learned a lot of hard lessons about complicated product and the village it takes to get it together. What patience it took sometimes.

I found myself in mobile and polished Android with Alice. I was humbled by the thought in the platform and the team who cared so much for it.

In rentals, we moved quick. I’m thankful to have spent time with Sol and Susan. And also, Vaughn, Puru, and Shane (plus August) who all were awesome and didn’t need much guidance from me to get the UX.

There were so many lulz and GIFs in unofficial. Thanks for a good time Evan, PJ, Grace, Skulski, VLam, frambot.

The first holiday season, I even made felt grumpy cats. A boston terrier. (I’m bummed I just started really working with Louis, but I’ll remember his strong vote of confidence of how I could work with the whole stack had I really desired.)

It was a crazy place where the relationships transcended the job.

I’ll remember my first day and the kindness Azi extended. He showed unprejudiced pride in his work even so it was just his first day. it’s people like him who make your day.

Board games night is where I met Rishi and Chris, the one responsible for me having a giant box of Dominion. Ivan put together an epic Mario Kart night and DS brigade. I’m still planning to invite myself to both of these.

I also had the fortune of meeting and socializing with great people by virtue of the ones I did work with. Specifically, I’m incredibly lucky to later meet Derek, Glen, and Damiano, even so we’ve technically not worked together, I feel like we have.

Of course, I can’t finish this post without mentioning JD. (Sorry I left you out earlier, because three mentions would be too much!) He worked with me on the Search / OOCSS projects and we crossed paths during board game nights. There are so many reasons I’m thankful that I had this job, but of course, I’m totally biased when I say he’s at the top of those reasons.

Corollary. My favorite thing about Sha is he would always lift up friends. And that’s what I hope to do too. I hope we’ll still be friends and that goodbye isn’t actually goodbye. That we’ll always find a reason to lift each other up, centralized or distributed. That we read posts like this and not feel sad, but happy because everything was so beautiful the way it happened.

Man, this piece ended up really sobering. At the end of it all, what I meant to say is that I’ll miss you guys!

Small Habits

This year I’m going small. Instead of a new lofty grand mission, I’m continuing the streak of doing things that scare me and adding small habits.

How

I’m keeping track of four selected top small habits of the moment to work on via Lift. They are currently –

  • Waking up by 9am (yeah, laugh, I know)
  • Yoga (min once a week)
  • Seeing a friend (making an effort to keep in touch more than I ever have)
  • Working on a side project (this pertains to actually keeping track of sessions where I work on them, ‘cause I sure don’t have a problem biting off more than I can chew)

The decision of four is both arbitrary and intentional. I wanted a finite number and four happened to be the number which fits on the screen of the app without scrolling.

Priority

While habits like reading or writing more are always in the back of my mind, I’m giving myself clarity in how I use my time by focusing on the four listed.

Flexibility

That being said, one thing I’m anticipating is that some habits will be more regular throughout the year. Soon, I won’t need the app to be the main motivator anymore. I hope I’ll be able to retire habits and bump up more small habits to facilitate.

Why

While I’ve figured how to throw myself at accomplishing the big things, I haven’t done so at the expense of my health or my social life at times. I think of this similarly to bad user experience by the hand of 1,000 paper cuts. The analogy meaning, without taking care of the small things, the big accomplishments won’t be as awesome as they could be. Thus, this year’s emphasis is taking care of myself beyond career and taking care of my friends.

A New Year

Every year I’ve felt like I haven’t really lived life until each past year. This year is no exception. It feels like after much guidance, lack of knowledge, catching up, and sometimes serenity disguised as misfortune, I have a little bit more idea of what I’m doing with myself here.

January

February

  • Started the Snake year, my zodiac sign.

March

April

May

June

July

August

  • Gave my first public talk, Speaking the Code.
  • I mean, holy shit! Talked in front of people!

September

October

November

  • Visited South America! Santiago, Lima, Cartagena, y Bogotá. All for the first time.

December

fin

During the beginning of the year, I challenged myself to do more things which scared me. Between all of these moments, I met new friends and reconnected with old ones, some life changing ones from both buckets.

The highlights definitely include — Shipping a major project. Doing a bunch of side art and design. Traveling out of the country on three occasions. Moving to the city. Giving a public talk! Starting to see someone new.

Maybe I’ll have to consider this a success. 
And I do have ideas of how top 2013, but it warrants a post of its own.

See you in 2014!

Strange Confessions

Sometimes, even now, I find myself lingering in the toilet longer than I should. And rarely to fix up my hair.

In my childhood house, the toilets were the only rooms that locked from the inside and not out.

I remember getting chastised for something, something I don’t think I deserved to be—usually something a child wouldn’t need to worry about just yet. They say knowledge is power, and when I discovered the other kids at school were allowed to play so much, so freely, be themselves, I tried my hand in controlling my own fate.

It didn’t go so well.

I ended up on the toilet.

And in the toilet I stayed, sometimes for hours, wondering, dreaming if it ever gets better.

Happiness is the destiny you need to make for yourself

The beginning of Fall is my true New Year. It’s around this time I’ve reflected on my career, finished degrees, and asked the hard questions.

This time, I tell you my Personal Vision 2014 and Beyond. Just kidding, these are simply things I’ve figured out for myself.

Be honest with yourself

When explaining what I do for a living, I kept following up with this corollary—One day, I’m going to retire and become an artist.

This was always the ten year plan, a far cry in the distant future, so shining.

I asked myself, have you looked at your own work? It’s heavily sketch, heavily art, my best design pieces were always the artiest ones. You don’t need to use a watercolor pencil for your wireframes people. In fact, that’s totally absurd.

People, first and foremost, think of me as a great sketcher, not a great designer.

Granted, I think I’m all right at design. Though, I think it’s the same as how Lady Gaga had a fantastically trained voice pre-Lady Gaga. That didn’t get her very far.

That’s how I feel about my designs these days. I’m not sure if I can get that far. I’m not sure if I want to get that far.

It’s a balancing act

Throughout this entire self reflection process, a smart fellow reminded me that identity is a constant struggle—No one figures it out all at once. There’s always some amount of back and forth.

Maybe this time next year, I’ll look back at this post and think “Boy, what kind of funk was I in?”

To declare what I aim to do today does not define what I’m bound to do for the rest of my life or even the year after.

I realized life itself is iteration, really.
It’s very okay to be in this state. This state of not liking what I used to like doing as much.

The impossible is totally possible

Previously, I’ve said all it took was an email. I’m going to say it once more—Having a hand in putting design event together is and was, in fact, a bunch of emails!

On the same note, when the possibility of putting together a friends-centric gallery showcase, that possibility lit up something in my conscience. It is possible.

I thought, maybe it’s not a world where all it takes is emails. Instead, it may be phone calls or charming some friends-of-friends.

When the dots connected, the idea of a gallery showcase was the turning point. Suddenly, what I thought would be ten years later could be ten weeks from now.

Suddenly, I felt empowered.

Happiness is a destiny you make for yourself

Everything may change, but you remain constant in your world. It’s really up to you to define your requirements of a happy existence. And then figure out how to make it a reality. 

No one else is going to be waiting to do this for you.

 

~

This post is inspired by brilliant blog posts written by my friends. Writing isn’t my core competency, but damn, it’s like they say:
Just do it.

Here’s to the 4th year in a row writing a post like this.

The Veritable Time Machine
Us humans are weird machinesMachines of what ifs
We dream of alternative universes
If only I were more courageousIf only you noticed me insteadIf only he pushed me awayIf only she slapped some sense then
We want nothing more but to regain lost opportunitiesThus, we toy with the idea of time machine
A magical thing that reverses momentsSomehow tears go away with what if
Though struggles overcame would be trivialIf it could be reversed with time machine
But there is a time machine you are always inIt simply travels one second per second, forward
Life is the veritable time machineDon’t waste your one time use

The Veritable Time Machine

Us humans are weird machines
Machines of what ifs

We dream of alternative universes

If only I were more courageous
If only you noticed me instead
If only he pushed me away
If only she slapped some sense then

We want nothing more but to regain lost opportunities
Thus, we toy with the idea of time machine

A magical thing that reverses moments
Somehow tears go away with what if

Though struggles overcame would be trivial
If it could be reversed with time machine

But there is a time machine you are always in
It simply travels one second per second, forward

Life is the veritable time machine
Don’t waste your one time use

today would have been twoa nice tidy number
alas, life is never that neateven the choice of official date was a strange one
while most moments of that weekend was amazing, surreal, flutteringthe few moments of tension signified things to come
my lack of energymy dependencyhis draining energyhis yearning for freedom
like few significant dates, I’ve embedded it in the most literal way possibleby forcing myself to pen it over and overit becomes a constant momenta testament to growth
but most of allit embodies somethingthe beautiful memories to never forget
thank you for dancing with this flame

today would have been two
a nice tidy number

alas, life is never that neat
even the choice of official date was a strange one

while most moments of that weekend was amazing, surreal, fluttering
the few moments of tension signified things to come

my lack of energy
my dependency
his draining energy
his yearning for freedom

like few significant dates, I’ve embedded it in the most literal way possible
by forcing myself to pen it over and over
it becomes a constant moment
a testament to growth

but most of all
it embodies something
the beautiful memories to never forget

thank you for dancing with this flame

Between the hype & the truth

We have a flat hierarchy

True flat hierarchies do not exist. Think about your small group of close friends, don’t nights hanging out go smoother when there’s a leader? Someone who breaks the ice, who nudges the group.

In the more serious case of work, there always has to be someone responsible, someone making trade-offs, someone at the helm. Things fall apart when everyone or no one is responsible. Also, the same person doesn’t have to be the leader over and over again. 

Structure isn’t a bad thing just know flat doesn’t actually mean flat. Flat ideally means fair, flat ideally ends up being a very well executed democratic system. Discern for mutual respect from strong leadership.

Open seating makes a maker more productive

In short, no, no it doesn’t always. What about constant interruption via extreme accessibility makes things more productive?

Most spaces have embraced open seating, so look for a place that has carved out ample areas for those times you need to do heads down work, including flexible work from home arrangements.

That being said, open seating is phenonmenal for making communication more productive. Discern for a balance of the two.

"We are a start-up"

Most, if not all, organization are using start-up as a buzzword to try to attract you. There is nothing wrong with medium-sized or large-sized organizations. There is a bowl of porridge right for everyone, but for some reason, the valley currently believes otherwise. Know that when you are told with a straight-face that the 1,000 person company is a “start-up,” it’s likely a means to win the favours of your heart.

When another popular term gets coined, let’s say ‘beehives,’ both the 100 person and 1,000 person company will tell you they have a ‘beehive environment.’ You’d know it! Discern for buzzwords and do the due diligence of evaluating numbers.

For the record

I don’t forsake any of these things. I’m spelling out dreamlike expectations which my past self found to differ vastly from the reality.

Switch out of your first job sooner. You are not an impostor.

The 6th was my anniversary for moving up to the great Silicon Valley. The 28th will be my anniversary of one full year of fulltime employment. These are thoughts about the last year.

  • It’s about 1 year since I started working fulltime at a job. Insert feelings of excitement, mixed with the reality of naiveté. I had no idea what I was doing. I fell for the fraternal start-up trap of a dream. Free lunch, pay for the phone bill, have an iPad too, oh, and travel all the time. I, embarrassingly, thought these were the things which mattered.

  • It’s about ½ a year since I was laid off from my first fulltime job. It was a tough time, but not in the practical sense. There was enough money and generous feel-good support, but I didn’t know what to do myself. The sensation was very similar to a first romance break-up. Everyone tells you to acquire the prize you oh-so-desperately believe you deserved. No one tells you how to get over it when it departs.

  • It’s about ¼ a year since I started my second fulltime job.

    Some days I still really feel ill about myself.

    Do I really deserve my current role? Designing not one, but several new products, cornerstone to the company’s future success?
    And, on that note, how the hell did I even manage to get two degrees? Not just that, but get them in 4 years and a summer.
    Wait, this whole getting into one of the most amazing schools for tech thing, That must have been a lucky accident.

    I’ve always struggled to believe in my own competence. In jest, my LinkedIn summary does say “My aim is to be useful,” implying I’m not as useful as I could be today. But my goal really is to be useful. This goal never ends. When the industry moves forward, one needs to move forward with it. At least, that’s what the culmination of all of my one year experience points to.

    Yes, I could blame the first 18 years of my life for Impostor Syndrome. Everyday, I was told I was a worthless sack of shit, because my grades would never get me anywhere in life. I could also blame this extroverted oriented society too. Embarrassingly, once again, I actually wholeheartedly believed this.

    Now I know, I need to be able to tell myself, when no one else is there to keep telling me, I am competent. And for the first time in my life, I’m spending my time doing what I’d like and being valued for it. Sometimes I catch myself thinking it’s still unbelievable.

    Needless to say, I really like my current job, after hour routine, friends, peers, aspirations, trajectory, and occasional spurts of extroversion despite having to pay for my own lunch. It wouldn’t have been possible without that first break-up.

    So, two takeaways from this past year:
  1. Switch out of your first job sooner. You never know what’s good for you until you experience more.
  2. You are not an impostor. You deserve what you have. And, hey, even if it were a grand fluke, you should live up to it and make the most out of it.

An update on 2012

2012 is about simplifying. Going to be assuming you’ve seen my 2012 resolutions.

Wins.

  • I don’t read Hacker News anymore. I don’t miss it.
  • I’m rarely on Reddit now. With the occasional exception of r/aww, because AWW.
  • This wasn’t on the list, but I also removed the Sparrow and Adium icons from my menu. I am so. much. saner. without the notifications in my face at all times.
  • Likewise, I don’t use push notifications (or have disabled badging, depending on the app) for things like iPhone email or Facebook or social medias for that matter. Also much, much saner.
  • Have been rather prolific about thinking, crafting, executing other things now. I’d like to speed this up, but it’s an improvement!

Working on it.

  • Still a prolific tweeter. I need to make a point to simplify my following list and not worry about offending someone over it. Consuming it isn’t a terrible thing since I’ve went through a serious round of axing already. There’s much less in the feed at all times.
  • Pinterest usage hasn’t been hampering me too much actually. It maybe even helps in the big picture. Curating pretty clothes, shoes, and bags has rendered me less willing to spend via choice paralysis. It’s weird, I know. But it’s still less and not ‘at all.’
  • Facebook, ah, so the problem is I feed it with Instagram and Paper all the time, so it’s hard not to go bask in likes. I really should stop this one perhaps after overcoming an unexpected thing. Need votes of confidence right now.
  • Total fail on the unplugging thing. It hasn’t happened nor has a session been planned. Also filed for after unexpected thing.

Additions.

  • Learning is constant, so I discovered more things which should be on this list, such as…
  • Stop drinking so much koolaid. Don’t take to heart everything you read.
  • Stay neutral. It’s easy to get fired up, but you should investigate things as candidly as possible before casting judgement. Everyone does everything for a reason, even if the reason is silly.
  • "Remember your roots." No matter where you end up, don’t forget the people and principles which were there all along.
     

/end, rambly rambles. thanks for listening to me think outloud.

“"Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." —Eleanor Roosevelt”

Gossip and news about events or ideas sensationalized is the equivalent of gossip. These discussions, though sometimes pleasurable, are meaningless.

This is why I rather spend the large chunk of weekend at home working on ideas instead of out talking about.. nothing.

Also nice to have the occasional reminder that reading any of those viral articles rarely brings any insight. When you’re entrenched in this stuff, the best thing is to put more hours into your craft and improve, not pretend you’re improving by rereading what you already know. No need to validate, have you the confidence that you’re doing it right?