Damn, if some days I don’t feel like I’m still three years old—and of all days, today, the day I turn thirty.
Everyone always asks what you are going to do for your birthday—especially when it is a big one. Honestly, I’ve been so tired lately, I didn’t want to do anything at all. Last week, during a meeting, my dear editor and friend suggested that I take a pregnancy test and a nap.
The advice was positive but the results were not.
There are things I expected to have by now, and I think a baby is one of them. Not that that means I am ready. Most of the time I feel like a child myself.
So I woke up this morning and talked to my family, and to the friends who know I messed up my real birthday—and have kept forgetting to correct it—on facebook. I thought about going out and buying some youthful make-up for the new purplish color under my eyes, but decided against it. Instead I carried my coffee cup to my office and sat down at my desk. I would celebrate my birthday by just enjoying a regular day of my real life.
One of the things I wanted to do today was to write to you all, here on the blog. So I went into wordpress and began pressing around. I’ve been feeling a little smug lately because I used to struggle so much when I tried to do anything but type on the computer. I’d sit down and then click around and get totally lost, exhaust all my curse words and then nearly black out with rage. Everything computer just made me feel embarrassed, and old. In college I’d talked about taking computer science. I really should have but I was scared. My boyfriend at the time warned me against it. He said he thought it would be too hard. I don’t know what’s worse: that that I believed him, or that he said it.
So I updated my blog page—which is hardly computer science, I know, because Zilla is a computer scientist– and then went over to check my email. My friend Alice—also a computer scientist– had sent a link to code.org. I followed it. It’s all about the importance of teaching coding and computer science in schools and how useful it was in all careers and walks of life. And I thought: ah ha! That’s what I will do to celebrate being thirty. I will get over this hump. I will finally learn to code! Nothing fancy, just the basics. Then at least when (if?) I do get pregnant I won’t have to face a fetus with more computer literacy than I!
Well, I went back to my website with a new confidence and then totally, completely, mucked it up. I was going to map one domain to the other and then add a site redirect. I thought I had done everything right, but apparently not. When I was done, I couldn’t even access my site at all. I could not figure out what I messed up. I clicked the same buttons three hundred times. Then I clicked them again. And then one or two or three hundred more times.
This was not how I planned to spend my birthday. I tried to breathe. I then wrote urgent supplications for help to wordpress. Then I picked up my phone and then put it down–determined not to call Zilla. I allowed myself two minutes to jump up and down and then curse and then sit on the floor and cry. Really cry. My little dog Zoe was so distressed she pulled one of my files out of the file cabinet and brought it to me to try and help. I took a deep breath, put the file in the file cabinet and checked my email. And there it was: The yearly two word birthday note from the boyfriend who said I probably shouldn’t try to code.
It is possible he didn’t even say that—that it’s just my fears I’m remembering. It was a long time ago. He was and still is a pretty good guy. But gosh, sometimes you just have to let the past go. Years pass, and things change, and we end up with an idea of ourselves that’s way out of date.
I typed in my domain name hoping for some cyper-magic. No: my blog was lost and everything was still all messed up. So I decided to do something else for a while. I went back to code.org and followed the links for learners. I did the first exercise: using code to draw a rectangle, a circle, a square. I did it—just like I used to with crayons.
Update: I fixed my webpage after all. Though then I sent that funky blank post–sorry. For obvious reasons this post is appearing a few days after my birthday. AND: This morning I watched the first lecture of Intro to Computer Science which is free and available to all on MIT’s Open courseware. I kinda got it. Plus, I liked the advice the professor gave to the class:“…do not feel inadequate when you are simply inexperienced.”