Aug 23 2019

Emotional scars

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 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 broken? 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. I am very vulnerable, but I am also very strong. 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, by wind or water. 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 05 2019

With Psihoza on vacation

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 13:12

This weekend I was away from home in a quick short trip to some Scotland lochs: Loch Tay and Loch Long. I basically did a circle drive with the following itinerary: Edinburgh -> Kenmore -> Arrochar -> Glasgow -> Edinburgh. Why this itinerary? I had a dear friend visiting and I really wanted to get her out of Edinburgh, because right now it is festival time si the city is swamped with people. I just chose the two locations: Kenmore and Arrochar because they were in the Loch Lomond & the Trossachs National Park, they were close enough to drive, leaving us some time to just hike or walk around. And they were near lakes which helped with the view.

When booking the hotels my friend noticed the hotels were pet-friendly and she suggested we should get the cat too and that’s exactly what we did.

Continue reading “With Psihoza on vacation”


Aug 02 2019

Are you where you wanted to be?

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 12:01

This question is a refrain that from time to time I sing to myself in my head using Darren Hayes’ voice. Because this is a Darren Hayes song. I heard it first in 2001 when starting university. I found it on a shady Mule server and recognized his voice and could not understand at the time how this song was never famous. But if you listen to it, you’ll understand. Nowadays nobody wants to listen to songs that make them think, that make them reflect.

So, here I am in 2019, closer to my thirty-six birthday and I am asking myself yet again the same question. What prompted this? Recently I’ve been around somebody who seems enchanted by the glamorous life as a developer at titan companies as Google, Amazon, Facebook, and others. Although I’ve had many chances of entering a recruitment process with any of them I’ve always changed my mind in favor of smaller companies, where there is more technical freedom and it is easier to shine. Maybe it’s my low confidence in my abilities, maybe it is just my necessity to be important and I won’t be important as a cog in the big machine that is one of those companies. Plus, with the current evolution of these companies and the data gathering and manipulation they are doing for increasing their profits, for me, it’s already a question of ethics. Because I cannot be a part of this with a clean conscience.

And then there is a question of validation. What will validate me in my own eyes? Will it be enough if I work at one of these companies? Will I finally be proud of myself and my achievements? And what will that do to me as a person? Because the driving force behind all my achievements so far has been this feeling of inadequacy; of never being enough. This has been the fuel that has kept me running so long.  Once this is gone, what will happen to me, who will I be then? Will I be a better person than I am now?

No, I know for sure that I won’t. Because my validation was never external. The feeling of satisfaction about myself is not fuelled by the money that I make, or the fancy company names on my CV. My validation comes from the number of lives that I’ve touched and changed in a good way. It’s not about the things, it’s all about the people.

And it is all about the freedom to spend my time as I see fit, with who I see fit.

Am I where I wanted to be? Not sure, but I’m on my way there for sure.

Stay safe, stay happy!


Jul 16 2019

Some people are an acquired taste

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 17:49

For a long time people in my life have told me that I’m inadequate or unsuitable for certain things. When I was a child I was too extreme, I was rebellious and fearless and although this made my childhood amazing, it also made it dangerous. I was challenging myself and others around me, sometimes with tragic results. I insisted to go to school when I had the mumps to present an important paper and managed to give it to my desk-mate. I was venturing outside the neighborhood to unknown areas, sometimes taking the group with me and returning late at home, when all the parents would be already crazy with worry. No wonder my parents used to beat the shit out of me and threatened me with grounding me for weeks inside my room. Nothing worked though and in retrospect it was a little bit their fault.

Every summer, they used to ship me and my sister to the country side to my grandma. She used to ask us to help her work the garden sometimes, but otherwise she would chase us away from home so we won’t annoy her. So I’ve had a wild childhood. I used to wonder on those hills next to her house, the forests after them and every neighbour garden that used to have one or more trees that produced some kind of fruit that was edible. We would build castles out of mud and play in the near-by river which became dangerous after a heavy rain.

And when I hit 14, all of a sudden I was asked to behave like a well educated girl. Which meant not talking without being asked, not to laugh to loudly, not to do anything that might endanger my face, or leave scars and above all be gentle. Not to spill stuff on my clothes, etc … whatever passes as girlish and delicate. Kinda late to ask somebody to behave this way after you’ve allowed them to be wild for a long while.

So there I was, puberty hit and I had no idea how to behave. Well, as an adolescent you don’t know much of everything really, and all the pressure on how I should be and I wasn’t was getting me depressed. Anyway, puberty has long passed and gone, but I’ve found myself as an adult … unfit again. I was a girl in a faculty for boys. Then I was a woman working in a male dominated field. Still misfit, still wrong somehow.

Maybe it’s not the domain, maybe I just don’t fit well with other people. I try, but then I miserably fail and retreat and become a recluse. The reason I say I am an introvert is because I have so many thoughts in my head that never get to leave it and I fight to keep them in because if I let them out they will be misinterpreted and people would get hurt. And we live in a very sensitive brave new world where people get offended easily. So yeah, I’m an introvert by choice and my extrovert bursts caused by having a good day here and there, or just getting passionate with a cause or a person, are just that. Short bursts of joy and of friendliness, that I pay for with feeling tired and inadequate for days, because my interactions, ultimately feel awkward and unwelcome. And that is because obviously, practice makes perfect and I am always out of practice.

Nothing I ever do is ever good enough for some people, and the way I am seems to make people uncomfortable most times. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I should change. But then again, I had suicidal thoughts most of my life because I tried to fit labels other people put on me. I tried to meet somebody else’s expectations for so long and nearly drove me to mess up my life.

I’m not perfect and I’m not anybody’s dream girl. I’m an acquired taste, I am liquorice. There are not many people that like liquorice and that is ok.

Stay safe, stay happy!


May 20 2019

And now they are five

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 20:32

Every year, on this date I post some cheesy entry about lost love and unfairness of the whole process or some empowering post about life after love. This year, I won’t. Because this year I’m watching the last episode of Game of Thrones. :D

Stay safe, stay happy and if you are unhappy how Game of Thrones ended, you are a superficial person that hasn’t watched the series properly and probably you haven’t read the books either, you ignorant cunt!