Aug 23 2019

Emotional scars

Category: English posts,Miscellaneous,PersonalIuliana @ 12:02

I know the title seems like this article is going to be one of those annoying medium entries, but it’s not. I promise you, it is not.

I have this way of viewing the world: I don’t think any of us is perfectly sane. I think we are all mad or broken to some degree. We do not live in a perfect world, and since we make up this world, neither are we. I’ve said this before to some people and they took it personally and felt offended. How can I assume they are broke? How do I dare to make them doubt their sanity? I think the worst thing you can do to yourself is to view yourself as being good, normal or whatever positive thing makes you feel good about yourself. Because when you see yourself in this over-positive light you might stop working on yourself and you might become an overly righteous prick. Maybe. I’m not saying it will happen to you. But during my lifetime I’ve met some people that felt entitled to tell me how I’m being wrong, what I’m doing wrong, what is wrong with me and how should I change to be right.

I am not secretive when it comes to my childhood. My parents were not the worst parents, but they were not the best either. My relationship with them was toxic, there was some emotional and physical abuse here and there, and when given the chance at eighteen to leave them behind and going to study in a different town, I never looked back.

The love of my life died when I was eighteen. He was probably the only one even remotely sane person in my life for six years, he always had something good and encouraging to say and he never made me feel like there was something wrong with me.  Him dying was probably one of the worst things that happened to me. One more emotional scar in my collection.

Because of the toxic upbringing and the hole in my heart, I wasn’t able to make the best choices in relationships either. My last relationship, the way I remember it, seems to have been toxic and seasoned with some emotional abuse. It might not sound that bad, but considering that my psyche was not in such good shape when it all started, you can imagine it was not a joy ride.

It took me a long time to understand and accept everything that happened to me. And I realized the consequences all those events had on me.  There are things about me that I will never be able to fix. But despite all that I am a functioning adult. I can hold down a job and I managed somehow to have a lot of friends that are way more sane than I am. I am aware of some things in my character that might be detrimental to others and I keep them under control and warn them beforehand, so they are aware of them and decide if they want to take a chance of being close to me or not.

That is why I am not keeping my struggles secret. I do not want to give anybody the illusion that I am normal(whatever that means). I want people to know I’ve been dealt a really shitty hand, but despite all that I am where I am. If I could hold down a job, train other people to do it, inspire them and make people happy here and there, whatever kind of broken I am, it might be a good thing after all.

Sure, I will never stop working on myself, I will never stop monitoring myself and drag myself to a psychologist if I think I need it. Because I refuse to let my past define me, I refuse to let all this emotional baggage drag me down. I bloomed as a person, despite all that. Sure, I wish sometimes things would have been different, but the past cannot be changed, and I refuse to be bitter because of it.

My parents will never say I’m sorry for being a shitty parent! because in their mind the person I am today is proof that they did a good job. So I accepted the fact that I shouldn’t be expecting that kind of closure.

The only thing I can do is keep blooming. Yes, I have some emotional scars. But honestly, with all that happened to me, it is ridiculous to expect anything else. Even rocks get scratched and chipped. I am sure everybody else has their own scars as well. And because I have mine, I know how to relate to people better. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours, right?

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 22 2019

Let them know

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:44

In 2014 Steve Anglin contacted me to write a book for Apress I thought it was a hoax. Something similar to those Nigerian princes that just need a little bit of your money for some paperwork so they can move their wealth outside their politically problematic region and then share it with you. Honestly, I’ve kept the emails going and only after 6 months, I finally submitted a proposed summary and finally accepted a contract. It was just too unbelievable that something like this would happen to me, a nobody from Romania, working in outsource, not the top of my class, not really expecting to be working in this domain for five years while at the university.

But it did happen to me, and it happened because I had this blog, where I just put a banner letting the world know I am a certified Spring developer. Yes, that’s how Steve found me, he found my blog, out of all things. He did not find me on Xing or LinkedIn, he found my blog, a personal blog, not even a technical blog. So, even if sometimes I write useless things, that nobody will ever read, I will continue producing content just to trick the Google search engine into thinking I am worth its attention. And so far it seems to be working.

My first book was pretty lame, it was about writing Spring Web applications. Or maybe the book was not lame, but I was clearly a nobody, in the technical authoring world, and I was a grain of sand in the IT world. And no matter how much investment Apress did in promoting the book, it did not sell well.  Also, the fact that you could find it in PDF format on most torrenting sites in the first week it was released did not help much.  Anyway, this post is not about selling books, it is about writing them and knowing they are valuable.

When I started doing this I had no idea how good I’d be at it. Even now while I’m finishing my 5th, I still do not know if I’m doing it right(imposter syndrome right here). Sure, books started selling better after my name got linked to Pro Spring 5, but I do doubt myself, because well… I’m no Josh Long, nor Trisha Gee, that’s sure. I do have my strong points, but being good in the spotlight is not one of them. :P

The only way I’ve received some confirmation that I’m doing this right is the fact that Apress still wants me to write for them(doh!) and the emails I sometimes receive from people reading my books. Also, LinkedIn is a good medium where people reading my books can reach me and send messages and I do receive a few of them there too. The first email I ever received was about my first book, apparently, until my book, nobody knew how to configure Spring WebFlow using only Java Configurations and annotations. It felt so good, knowing that in this ever-growing and complex ecosystem that is Spring, I managed to build something in a way nobody thought it could be built.

Sometimes I receive questions about things in the books that are not clear, and I answer them because if somebody was unable to grasp how something in the books works, that is on me. I fucked up.

But most emails and messages are from people thankful that I wrote those books and provided functional code that helped them move forward in their career or helped them understand the fundamentals of the software they are working with.

There was one person, that even after reading my book and working through the exercises, failed the certification exam. And it broke my heart to read that message, especially since I really couldn’t do anything to help. I felt like I failed him somehow, that my book could have been better. It took a while to realize that even if one of the books is designed to help you prepare for the certification exam, in the end, if you pass or not, depends on a lot of other factors. In my life, I’ve failed exams too, and I had a lot of resources to prepare from, just like everybody else that took that exam. So, yeah, these things happen, but a single moment does not define a person and is not relevant to their talent, determination or career.

Today, I received another message on LinkedIn from a young student in Macedonia.

It melts my heart! See, I’ve been a student in Romania, in 2001 when good resources were so hard to find. And I am just so happy that my book might help him jump-start his career. So thank you, David, for letting me know I’m doing this right. Thank you for buying my book! I might doubt myself the next time my build fails or I have writer’s block, but for the next few days, I’ll be able to write with confidence because of your message.

I wanted to give this up after my first book did not sell. I felt like Apress made a very bad investment taking me on. And that first email convinced me that maybe I can do this. And when Apress gave the opportunity of writing Pivotal Certified Professional Spring Developer Exam I took it. I tried a second time. What was the worst that could happen, right?  And here I am, taking a break from writing its second edition to say a big thank you to all of you that reached out and let me know that my books are a valuable resource to you.

Thank you all for reaching out! I’m not making that much money out of the books, I just write them because it allows me to experiment with technologies in a way a rigid working environment does not really allow it. And I  do it because I enjoy writing. I know that I’m not a native English speaker and sometimes the way I express myself is not clear enough and I’m sorry for that. But I enjoy writing, I enjoy sharing my understanding of things with others and it just feels good being useful overall. These books are my legacy, I have not that much to leave behind after I’m gone, and it’s very rewarding knowing they are appreciated.

So yeah, if you appreciate something, let the creator know how thankful you are. You have no idea how as little as a few words means to them. You might the light that brightens their day.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 18 2019

Happy birthday to me

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 10:15

This is it, the big 36, I’m now officially on my way to the 40s and I can’t wait for that to happen. Apparently, when you are 40 you are really out of fucks to give. Because lately, I have discovered I have a few left and I’m very good at making my life complicated because of them.

This is the second birthday after the John Mayer birthday. Yup that birthday is still number one. It’s not even that hard to win the competition honestly. Before that birthday I can’t remember one when I was even remotely happy. And after it, well… last year I spent it with my childhood friend and it was nice. You know what wasn’t so nice? Getting a fine because I overstayed my parking, and that happened because I did not read the instructions on the parking machine right. So yeah,  being 30 GBP poorer on my birthday, that doesn’t make it a good birthday in my book.

This year, well… I am here, in my favourite bakery, having a coffee with scrambled eggs on bacon and toast, while gazing over the Forth Bridge. It is not a sunny day, it is one of those typical Scottish days that cannot seem to be able to make up its mind and decide if it will be sunny or rainy, so it is a combination of both. I just got myself a ticket to a cruise to an island I’ve only seen from afar until now and I am waiting for the boat to come.

I tried last night to explain to somebody why I am so fascinated by this bridge. The oversimplification of the whole discussion is that this bridge seems like it has been over-designed and overthought. Its design is more complex than it should be for its purpose but sure as hell looks majestic.

One of my biggest character drawbacks is that I cannot stop overthinking stuff that happens in my life. I go over them over and over and based on multiple points of view I try to anticipate future events. Most times I am spot on(no, I cannot guess you the lottery numbers yet) which makes me a pain in the ass for people. I am also a pain in the ass for me because it is annoying to know the outcome of something I am involved in because it just … takes out the excitement and the surprise out of it. And when the outcome is painful, is even worse, because most times, the events are already set and no matter what I do I cannot stop it. But sometimes there are aberrations and when that happens I need some time to adjust.

That is why I like that bridge – because it’s like a metaphor for … well, me. All in all it was a good day with a very nice surprise at the end.

And since I’ve mentioned the beautiful island I spent my birthday exploring, here’s some pictures. Enjoy!

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 17 2019

Blast from the past(part 11)

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:29

2016 is one of the years that I archived the pictures for and a lot of them got lost. But I am happy that the set of pictures I took while first visiting Scotland were not lost.

How did I end up going to Scotland for vacation? Well, I have these two friends and they proposed a trip to Irland and Scotland because there was a cheap direct flight from Cluj to Dublin. And yeah, UK is pretty expensive so, it would have bean cheaper ion three. I was out of ideas for my vacation anyway and I was keen to come back to Dublin. So there we went. And we are still talking about that vacation as the best we ever had.

When we were walking on the streets of Edinburgh I told them I can see myself living here. And well, we all know where I live now. :D Continue reading “Blast from the past(part 11)”

Aug 14 2019

Blast from the past(part 10)

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:51

Here we are, it is the year 2015. This is the year when I decided I no longer liked having long hair. And I cut it short, really short. I also came back to my natural colour which is a very dark brown.

The archive for this year got messed up too. So, unfortunately, all the pictures in this post are from November and December. Which is really, really sad. Because 2015 was a great year. This is the year when I went to Frankfurt in August and heard the Script sing live for the first time in my life. I’ve been a fan of this band since 2008 since they first emerged as a Dublin phenomenon.
This was their first released song and I still love it because it has such an air of hopeful sadness to it.

I still like them although their latest album is too commercial for my taste. Still bought it from iTunes and supported them because I trust them to do better next time.

Then in November, I’ve been to Vienna for the first time in my life. I know, Vienna is very close to Romania, how come it took me so long? Well, you need a certain type of friends to enjoy a city like that. Also, you need some special type of friends to enjoy a Marily Manson concert. Because that was the primary purpose of the trip. Sad fact: the concert ended abruptly because 13 November 2015 is the date of the Paris terror attacks that left 129 people dead, so the Viennese security started fearing for the safety of such a big crowd and decided to stop the concert. And we were there, with shitty internet and thinking Marily Manson was having a drug-induced temper tantrum. Because we only found out what happened a little bit later.

Vienna is impressive is a cultural city and unless you really like castles and baroque-inspired buildings, it won’t do it for you. I love Vienna, I even considered taking a job there. I even met someone that I could have fallen in love with there. Yes Dominik, I am talking about you. ;) So yeah, Vienna will always be dear to me.

That year I’ve participated to one of the best company winter parties ever. Uff, I really miss my co-workers from Sibiu, and the ones from Germany too. But oh well, it is what it is.

That year after the company party, a small weekend to Geneva turned to a beautiful few days to Annecy, France when the girl reserving the accomodations, managed to book an appartment next to the train station in Annecy, instead of Geneva. And it was a perfect mistake and I still lover her for it. I’ve had the greatest time and I will always remember the fondue I’ve shared with her. We haven’t seen each other for a long time, she has her own life and I have mine, but I do miss her sometimes. I’ve returned to Annecy last year, I was there alone, with a sprained knee and a cane. Obviously, it was not the same.

I closed the year with a hike to the Canaia cabin, from the Cindrel mountains. My first witer climb with two of my best friends. We started climbing on a Friday evening and dark caught up with us and the fog made everything so gloomy. But it was beautiful and mesmerizing.

Not sure what else to say about 2015. I think this was the year I finally broke down and took myself to a psychologist. I’ve been battling depression and suicidal thoughts for years, I was looking at myself in the mirror realizing that I am in a better situation than I ever dreamed I would be and still felt useless and still thought the world would be better without me. And it hit me, I was the last person on the world that anybody would expect to feel this way. Why was I feeling this way? I obviously had no answer for this, so I just decided to go and ask a professional. And this is how I met the woman that helped me become the ray of sunshine I am today.

So if you are struggling with your own mind, be brave, tell somebody, do not keep it in an let it poison you. We are all broken one way or another, and we need to support each other. Talk to a friend, go to a psychologist, do whatever you need to to get better. Because you can get better.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 11 2019

On being a slave

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 1:49

In 2001 Britney Spears released a song called I’m a slave for you and aside from the eroticism of the song the clear message is that love transforms us into slaves.

Tonight somebody called me a slave of reputation because apparently I’m on social media way too much and I just wanted to give him a snarky remark, but all that came out of my brains was: Sweetie I haven’t been a slave of anything but love since I left my parents’ house. And that ship has probably sailed and is far, far away by now.

The reply just popped out so easily out of my brains I’m still baffled. And I wrote it with a smile, but eventually did not send it. Because this answer is more for me than for him.

Indeed since I’ve left my parents’ house to go to the university, at eighteen years old, I’ve never been in the position of making such a compromise that I felt like a slave. Except for that particular situation. As somebody without an example of how a normal relationship looks like, I thought love just happened and I had no choice in the matter. I honestly thought that love was the wind that pushed my sails without me having any control.

Good thing that I grew up. Looking at my younger me I pity her and admire her at the same time. Her suffering brought me here, to the point where I accept that love is not what I thought it to be and that kind of love is no longer in the cards for me. Which is obviously not a bad thing.

I was talking with a friend of mine a few days ago and told her if there’s something I love about adulthood is the ability to accept things we cannot change. Attraction, for example. When I was young when I liked somebody my head was spinning and if they did not feel the same I felt either compelled to pursue them and try to seduce them, or to kill the feelings with alcohol.

Now when start linking somebody I still get the same symptoms, my heart is racing, I struggle to find the words and if they are in the same car with me I turn into a shit driver. But that doesn’t last much anymore. I no longer try to show them I am interested, I’m just being plain, old and sarcastic me. If they dig it, fine, if not… well, friends are always better.

I guess I’m reflecting again on my romantic past because of my 6th birthday since I’ve officially become single is getting close. And I just feel the need to pat myself on the back for being wiser than the previous year.

Stay safe, stay happy!

Aug 09 2019

Blast from the past(part 9)

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 22:56

The year 2014 did not seem to be a good year for me.  I am not sure if the lack of pictures from that year is linked to the incident I had while moving pictures from one HDD to another, but this is the smallest directory I have. This is the year when I made one of the biggest change in my life. I moved from Iasi to Sibiu, I moved from the city where I lived for 13 years, where all my friends were. I left that city heartbroken expecting nothing good. Boy … a big surprise was waiting for me.

I don’t have many pictures of me from that year. So yeah, if anybody that reads me happens to have some pictures with me from 2014 please share them.

I don’t remember the first four months of the year. I remember a few days in May though. I remember when I told my then-boyfriend that there are about five things that I am in that relationship for and that it is enough for me if he has nothing else to give and he pretended to feel guilty that he cannot make me happy and dumped me. I remember crying a lot, I remember wishing I wouldn’t feel that broken. I felt guilty thinking that my depression destroyed that relationship, that I am toxic and I destroy everything I touch.  And about three years later I found out his new conquest actually gave him an ultimatum. :)) And that for half of our relationship he had a side girl.  No wonder I was miserable because when things are wrong you can just feel it.

I remember the week when all his things disappeared and I remember when I started giving interviews to move away from Romania. Funny enough, a very interesting offer came from a company in Sibiu and I ended up accepting it. So I stayed in Romania and moved close to the city where I’ve lived the 12 happiest years of my life(Rm-Valcea is one hour drive away). In the next picture, you can see the living room where boxes were starting to appear as I was preparing to take off.

Continue reading “Blast from the past(part 9)”