JTK says - A journey to the center of JTKs brain
Personal stuff: Luck and past lives
Occasionally a moment will crop up where I mention some random factoid about myself and whoever I'm talking to is like "???"
I forget sometimes how odd it is to have lived what feels like several different people's lifetimes in 32 years of being alive. But I guess it is fair to say I have. The record-setting Fixed Indexed Annuity sales rep in Maryland. The nanny to a FEMA head honcho in Northern Virginia. The janitor. The kid who was picked for everything, from being slimed in Nickolodeon studios to being pulled onstage to meet Obama to being in the Wall Street Journal over an off-the-cuff tweet.
If you didn't know me and know that I have not much of any tendency to exaggerate some of this might sound made up, but I have pictures and, yeah. Not prone to sensationalizing. Enough weird things happen to me that it wouldn't be needed.
I often feel like the people around me, as much as I love them, don't well understand me. And I guess for someone who seems to live as a lone wolf, irreverent wanderer, why would most people understand?
Something I don't know that I've talked about before is that I have a tendency to mildly dissociate. It is not scary, but it is uncomfortable because I have awareness that I am not fully feeling what I should be feeling. It is often stress-induced but does nothing to counteract the sense of being a perpetual outsider.
I feel something similar when I am in groups, particularly in group activities that seem to represent meaning for most other people. Weddings are a classic one. I sit through them and just feel a sense of mild wrongness for the correct reward centers of my brain not lighting up, feeling completely nonplussed. Group events like graduations, baby showers, and beach trips, are among others.
It is sometimes uncomfortable to hold the awareness that the things I'm supposed to feel aren't felt. It sometimes feels like I am a relief of a human psyche, a pattern created by shining a light through the nooks and crannies of the values, beliefs, and desires that make up a normal person until all the negative space shines, an illuminated inverse. A remixed, refracted Rorschach blot of the default configuration of a human person's emotional landscape.
It is hard to reconcile whatever x-factor makes me get picked for unlikely experiences against the fact that my distance from others makes me feel like a perpetual disconnected observer, a ghost.
When I was younger, my generic nothing looks meant I was a chameleon. Constantly being told I look exactly like so-and-so, with it being a drastically different-looking person each time. Tanned, with dark curls, I'd appear Mediterranean. Blonde with blue eyes, I'd look like the WASPey girl next door you'd hire to babysit your kids in the suburbs. I didn't have a clique. I was a cheerleader, a lower-tier miscreant and troublemaker, a class clown often humored by teachers, the artsy nerd, the cheerful punk-lite. No one and anyone, infinite and infinitesimal. When I travel, I feel as if I can make myself invisible. It seems like I don't draw notice, out of place as I may be.
If I believed in, literally anything, I might wonder at it. The veil between me and the rest of the world. The voracious, yawning expanse devoid of intimacy or commonality. If I were inclined to believe, maybe I'd say I'm one of those old tales where trickster beings replace a human child with a lookalike fey. How else is it someone who can be invisible is always being plucked from the ether for improbable experiences? Maybe it's an ADHD thing. The excess of energy sometimes makes it feel as if there is a light I can dim or shine underneath my skin fueled by the power of my hunger for whatever momentary thing has captured my reward-seeking brain.
At 32, I suspect this never will change, and I'm maybe at peace with it. I may not understand people in the world around me but I derive my meaning from the pilgrimage of endless reinventions I seem to find myself on, nonetheless.
Want to share a meal I get surprising mileage out of it considering it is partly made by shitty box mix stuffing. BUUUUT, riffing heavily on the NYT smothered chicken recipe with lightly doctored box stuffing really hits the spot. I make the stuffing not as directed, using broth instead of water and adding sage sausage crumbles and granny smith apples. I make the gravy with an obscene amount of wine and shallots and herbs. The end result is quite enjoyable.
I've taken on a project I'm actually really excited about, which started off as me sticking notes into Notion for my mentees and has coalesced into something bigger. I realized by writing things down the message is reproducible and not subject to my poor memory to be conveyed in 1:1 meetings with the devs I coach.
I started to want to combine the multiple areas of guidance into a comprehensive junior dev handbook, everything from developing your personal site, prepping for interviews, resume, first few months on the job, you name it.
I'll have more coming out soon, I'm currently working on a write-up about surviving data modelling questions for newbies, but at the moment have at least completed the following few threads towards this larger goal. If you get a minute, check them out!
I was finally, finally able to go to Nashville and take my IELTS exam so that I could fill out my express entry profile for Canada. Apparently I'm a dumbass because even native speakers typically only get a 6-8 out of 9 and it is still recommended that you study. WELP! I didn't. I am very relieved to have gotten a 9 anyway.
Unfortunately, my prospects are still shaky. Odd things marked me down, such as not having a spouse. Not speaking French, I of course understand. But frustratingly, I seem to fall into some kind of gray area as a remote worker who has a secure job on moving. The job even is at a company with a Canadian entity who is happy to transfer me to it once I have any kind of legal status.
Because of the precariousness of the situation and the endless barrage of dire US political news (national abortion ban, how am I not surprised), I am saving up right now to get a lawyer and see what can be done.
To bystanders eyeing my attempts and thinking of doing similar, all I can say is that despite many Canadians I know saying "Oh my gosh you'll get in SO EASY we really need tech people" immigration in practice is not so simple. (Guess that should not have surprised me).
Although my time in Nashville was minimal, still got to see some pretty sights.
I'm not someone who regularly reads any certain book genre other than "fiction", but I can normally appreciate well done fantasy, or sci-fi, or <whatever>. YA books aren't part of the regular rotation though other than some childhood favorites like The Golden Compass series.
I have to make a caveat on that for Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse series. Over the last two weeks of PTO I had a wild hair to re-read them even though I'd only done so for the first time last year, after seeing the Netflix series. I think I appreciated them even more the second time around. It takes a lot of skill to lightly tread against familiar elements of both fantasy and YA fiction while creating something so original that doesn't feel at all derivative. I've recommended Leigh Bardugo before but yeah, well worth doing again.
I also finally watched Everything, Everywhere All At Once. My only regret for that film is that I didn't go in totally blind, I managed to accidentally catch the synopsis while buying it on Prime. I wish I could have gone in with even less knowledge of what to expect, even though the film was shocking and delightfully original throughout, even knowing the premise.
I recently finally got myself a travel rewards credit card, which seems ridiculously overdue considering how much I like to travel. I'm even one of those insufferable nerds who tracks all the card benefits and gets every last bit of value out of the points, promotions, blahblahblah. As part of this new card I got some ridiculous amount of points for booking a vacation within 90 days of opening it, so I'm off to a lakehouse in October, and will be in Peru and Costa Rica for Christmas and New Years.
Splitting off from family around the holidays originally started when my sister had these insufferable inlaws that began to be at every holiday event Thanksgiving onwards. I grumpily thought to myself, "I'm not married, how the fuck do I have annoying in-laws!?" and started to go to the movies on Thanksgiving, then sweep back by at night for the food. Sometimes I'm brilliant, I know.
This evolved into a series of inverted traditions of solo exploration that I've really come to love. One of my favorite memories of New Years (a holiday where I traditionally struggle with the disconnected feelings I mentioned earlier) was climbing down to stick my bare feet in the cold Reykjavik harbor while fireworks went off overhead, and Chinese tourists snickered at my antics.
Bonus heyJTK household content
I have nothing else interesting to say, but if you have made it this far enjoy my cute pets!