Just Shelley

The Nightmare

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I had this nightmare. In it, I was back in Boston working at again. I can see myself, sleeping in the bed in the expensive loft apartment the company sub-leased for me that was right across the alley from the offices. It’s 4:30 in the morning and the alarm has gone off as I get up to prepare to go to work.

I make my way through the dark and damp Boston streets in the neighborhood formerly known as the Leather District, but now the habitat of the rich and the digital. Up the stairs I go to be the first to enter the office: a big, empty room with wooden floors and brick walls; with desks lined up in rows, like trained horses waiting their riders.

I turn on the lights and make the coffee–first of many pots to be made before the Starbucks opens. I then log into my machine and hope that it’s running, because I don’t want to have to call the SysAdmin and get him out of bed if something has gone wrong.

It is now 5:30. In a couple of hours, it’s light outside. My closest friend shows up with the light–she was always the second to arrive, and we’d have a small chat before both getting into work. We share the only office the place has: a former glassed in bedroom in this former clothing warehouse. We have the office because I’m lead architect. No, we have the office because I don’t work well with distraction and I have to pull a rabbit out of a hat to keep this company alive. We have to deliver four major applications and the basic infrastructure of an entire plane parts and supply and auction site before November or risk loosing out on the next round of funding.

Funding is big in our office. We talk funding more than code, or design, or even the weather. It hangs over us and slips between us like a fog on a winter London night.

About mid-morning, most of the other folks have arrived: men and women both, primarily young. In my dream they are all young and wordly and beautiful. I know for a fact they weren’t all beautiful, but this is a dream. The CTO, who I report to, hasn’t arrived; he’s gone most of the time. I didn’t notice it then; I remember it now.

Anyway, my friend and I take our morning break to walk to Starbucks, to treat ourselves to a sweet and a coffee. Then back to work–working through lunch, though afternoon, usually into the evening.

I would sometimes go out to dinner with the CTO and one or the other of the folks. They were all younger, and very sophisticated. I remember a lot of black clothing and brushed aluminum, and a feeling of being very hip, very with it. We’d visit some of the very chi-chi places to eat and I felt I had bought into this new age of the Internet. And buy into it I did, indeed, as I worked 15, sometimes 20 hour days, with little or no time off. Hey, this wasn’t a job: it was an adventure. And oh, my, didn’t my long hours eventually turn me into the wicked witch of the east–no ruby slippers, though. Black and brushed aluminum, white brick, and pale oak.

I remember this from my sleep. I remember walking into the echoing, empty warehouse/loft with its white painted brick walls and darkened windows, after too little sleep the night before. I remember thinking that I was a part of something, an important part of something. This is the dream part, you see. The good moment before the bad. This is the part where in the movie, the monster jumps out at you from the darkened room and eats your head. In my dream, though, no monster ate my head. I just woke up, and therein lies the nightmare.

I don’t know why I had this dream this week. Oh, yes, maybe I do.


SxSW Panel

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

I’m participating in a panel titled, Women and Visibility: Whose Butts Should We be Kicking? at SxSW with Dori Smith, Kathy Sierra, and Virginia DeBolt.

I’m looking forward to SxSW, and I’ll have more on the event later. In the meantime, should be a most interesting panel.


A Shoulder to Steady On

I decided to visit a park in Illinois yesterday and walk the trails while my roommate rode a bike path that connected with the park. The weather was perfect: cool but sunny, and the trees just starting to turn. Most of the road to the park was by the Mississippi and it looked beautiful and blue rather than dangerous and dark.

The park had many miles of trails, most ‘moderately difficult’. I was loaded down with camera equipment, but felt I wouldn’t have a problem with ‘moderately difficult’.

The trail started up sharply, and then just continued. Up and up. It was difficult footing, though I’ve had worse. But I, soft and overweight from a summer made up of hot, sedentary days, began to have troubles. I would pass folks on the way and chat with each of them, holding on to their presence. At one lookout point, I talked with a younger couple, taking their photo for them; admiring their GPS device. I, who normally eschew humanity during my hikes, felt the need for contact.

I have no sense; I continued. I was passed by a couple and their two kids. The man gave me a friendly pat on the arm as he passed, as if to assure me that I will not die. As they made their way, I noticed that they would stop along the way so that I was always just a bit behind them. Eventually, at one point where the way was sharply steep, he had stopped to wait for me to give me a hand. I’ve not yet met a trail that was so much for me that I needed help, but I did yesterday. I was grateful for his help; I was grateful for the fact that they slowed their steps because of concern for me.

At the top, where the trails divided, we talked. Their names were Jan and Les and they had just moved from Florida to Missouri. I told them of many of the places to hike and walk; they told me how life was like in Florida. I told them I was going to continue with the trail marked ‘easy’, to the road for a safe trip down. They continued on the ‘moderately difficult’.

But I am stubborn. To go the easy route would take me over two miles out of my way, and I wanted to finish the walk. Half way, it connected with a quicker route down that was labeled ‘moderately difficult’. It was only 1/4 mile and I felt I could handle it.

It was a nightmare. There was no path, it had been eroded by water and was steep and uneven and difficult footing. For most of it, I walked sideways, leaning heavily on my walking stick.

I met another family on the way; again a mother, father, and two kids though these children were much younger. They seemed strained, so I knew I wasn’t the only one having problems. Oddly enough, there was a very sharp step down where I met them (most likely why they had stopped). This time, I asked for help–just a shoulder to steady on, as I made the step. I then continued down, as they continued up. Eventually the trail gave way to road and road to car and little has felt so good than the seat of that car.

Note to self: easy trails for the next two months. I can’t always depend on a handy shoulder being nearby.

I don’t really have many pictures from the trip. On the way, there was a cave system that we stopped at, and was able to get one photo I liked.