Oct 15 2019

The expat syndrome

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 3:20

I’ve been going through a little bit of a phase lately and a colleague that likes to fix things thought that I might suffer from culture shock. As some of you know I’ve moved to Scotland on the 30th of May 2018. Until that time even if I’ve travelled the world because of work or on vacation, I have been a resident of Romania.

I was shy of 35 years old when I decided to move. Looking back, I try to identify the reasons why I did it, but I’ve noticed that every time somebody asks me why I left, I struggle to choose a single reason. While reading this article I tried to answer this question again. The article is named “The 4 stages of culture shock” and after reading that article I’ve realized that I haven’t gone through any of those phases. Does that make me weird?

I do not know why I left, honestly. A lot of my decisions are based on how I feel, and whatever I felt when I made the decision, or what I was going through when I actually put things in motion, I don’t really remember it now. I remember a moment when I was sitting at my desk in Sibiu and asked myself: “What are you still doing here? There’s nothing for you here, there never was. Do you really want to stay here? Because if you get to 40, you might never leave.” So I guess I did it because I was scared of missing the opportunity to do it.

Continue reading “The expat syndrome”

Oct 13 2019

Fresh start

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 21:57

The best part in having your own space where to post your thoughts is that you can just erase everything one day and start over.

Of course I did not erase everything, I just made most entries written until today private. Why? Because I needed a fresh start.

I have found myself with some free time and decided to change this blog. I’ve decided to put away the personal stuff for now. There is no reason for the whole internet to see the crazy ideas my brains comes up with. I am an adult, I have a job, and you never know what might be used against me.

Do not get me wrong, nothing happened at the job that caused this. Something personal happened that made me decide to have a little more control over the information I let out there. Because just because something is true and makes sense to you, it doesn’t mean people would perceive it as you want it to.

Also, I’ve met somebody who declared himself a master of control. He brags about having his mind and actions always under control. So I decided to give it a try. And since this blog was an actual proof of how out of control my mind actually is sometimes, I decided to start fresh.

Not sure what is going to happen. Maybe this blog will end up being a curated version of the previous 13 years, maybe I will fall back in my old ways. Or maybe I will give it up altogether. You’ll just have to wait and see. Some as me.

Welcome to my brave new blog!

Sep 22 2019

Waiting is wasting time

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 0:30

Most of my life I’ve been waiting.

Waiting for an answer to letters I’ve sent to my friend when my parents decided to move across the country.

Waiting to go to university to get out of my parents’ house.

Waiting for somebody to come and fix my broken heart.

Waiting for the perfect job.

Waiting for him to notice me.

Waiting for my boyfriend to agree to go with me to concerts or to visit countries I wanted to visit.

Waiting for somebody to appear that would be interested to do the same things at the same time I did.

Until one day, I said fuck this life is too short for waiting! I’ve always been de-synchronized with people. Always meeting them at the wrong moment. I’ve rarely had friends that have the same hobbies or passions or dreams. And in my idiocy, I kept waiting for somebody to do things with. Somebody to share my enthusiasm with. Because I believe sharing your enchantment with somebody duplicates it. And since most times I seem not to be in sync with anybody in my little universe, I’ve decided to do things alone.

Since 2014, most of my vacations have been spent alone. This blog contains quite a few entries about them. I’ve been to concerts in Europe and in the US, and I’ve been randomly choosing Scotland villages and islands to visit during weekends. Here and there I’ve been able to have some companions, but those instances are rare. Sure, travelling alone and being a woman, makes things quite expensive. But it is bloody worth it.

This entry is not about waiting, it’s obvious I’m long over doing that as well.  This entry is about another thing I’ve done alone today: I’ve hiked the Beinn a’ Ghlò. I have a mountaineer friend that goes to the mountains alone, she’s been doing that for years and she is still doing it after getting married, because her free time and her husband’s free time are not in sync either. I’ve always envied her, because while I was in Romania, I did not have the balls to do it alone. I mean The Carpathians are quite big and easy to get lost into with their multiple unmarked pathways and their dark forests. But Scotland is different, because Scotland mountains are bold. As in, they don’t have any trees, and because of that they are very easy to navigate. And the pathways are quite well maintained too.

Short story first: I kinda loathe the way Scotland has named its mountains. What is wrong with the terms mountains and peaks? Why it has to be beinn and munros? I try to have conversations with people and they try to recommend me where to go and I don’t understand a thing. It’s painful and it is frustrating. I understand they want to keep some remnants from the original Scottish language, but I’ve learned English in school, not Scottish unfortunately. Also, aside from those two Scottish terms they also have Scottish names, like the previously mentioned Beinn a’ Ghlò, which I still do not know how to pronounce by the way. To me, conversations about mountains in Scotland sound like gibberish and I really, really hope that will change some day.

The best site I’ve found for getting information about Scottish mountains is walkhighlands.co.uk and this is where I got my information about Beinn a’ Ghlò. I read about it two days before and decided that if on Saturday the weather looks nice, I will do it. Because you never waste a sunny day in the UK. Beinn a’ Ghlò has three Munro summits giving a strenuous day, which means there is a mountain with three peaks. And these are: Càrn Liath (Grey Cairn) at 976 metres, Bràigh Coire Chruinn-bhalgain (“Brae/Brow of the Corrie of Round Blisters”, “blisters” referring to rock formations) at 1,070 metres and and Càrn nan Gabhar (“Hill/cairn of the Goats”) at 1,121.9 metres.

On walkhighlands.co.uk I’ve found quite a lot of entries from people doing this walk and they said it takes between 6 and 9 hours. I took me 6, and that is because I actually came back on a different road than the recommended one, actually there was no road, I just slid down the mountain in the direction I thought the parking lot was. And it was… after about 1 hour of sliding and 2 hours of walking. I’m saying sliding because after the lovely rocky formations ended, there were some gravel sections and some muddy sections. Yes, you read that right: muddy. My assumption: when snow melts and ends up creating streams down the mountains, if the mountains are rocky, they just dig their path through stone and they are pretty visible and contained. But because Beinn a’ Ghlò is full of vegetation, the water makes its way through it, splits in multiple little streams and carries all the dead vegetation with it. So you end up with a paradoxical mountain that is both rocky and muddy.

Anyway, it was a beautiful, exhausting day. I’ve been running up and down those peaks, jumping from stone to stone like a gazelle feeling at least ten years younger. Driving back I felt so tired, I just wanted to take a bath and go to sleep. But here I am bragging about it and giving you some eye candy. Meaning, pictures with Scottish mountains, of course.

My walk fits this pic quite well I think.

And the eye candy. Enjoy!

Stay safe, stay happy!

Sep 17 2019

1984 = 2019

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:14

I told you that I’ve read 1984 a while ago. I am still a little bit annoyed with the world that the book depicts. What I did not mention was that before that I went through Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451 and  Animal Farm.

And I ended up to a conclusion: these books can be put in a sequence. Imagine this: a world like the one depicted in Animal Farm leads to a world like the one depicted in Fahrenheit 451, that in turn leads to a world like the one described in 1984 and then finally to a world like the one in Brave New World.

I had planned to write a longer article than this about these books and how they seem to connect to one another, but something happened tonight that pissed me off, because I think we are closer to the world in 1984 than we thought. My only consolation is that Brave New World is close and if I survive until then they will pomp me up with Soma big time to keep me docile. :D

Few of you know that this blog until about three years ago was hosted on http://rpx.kicks-ass.net. Even fewer than you know that I used to write also on http://seaqxx.kicks-ass.net. And that is because my then boyfriend owned the kicks-ass.net domain.

Tonight I was having a private conversation with a friend, and Facebook decided to stop me from sending a message with the URL of my old blog because …

So yeap. They are not even hiding the fact that they are reading your private messages anymore. But then again, as long as your messages are stored in their databases, they are not really private, are they?

Take it as you want it, but the next person that tells me that what politicians and corporations do doesn’t really affect me, gets a kick in the teeth.

Anyway, as you can imagine now, me and my friend are having a very dirty conversation to check how restrictive the bot is. Because… engineers.

Stay safe, stay happy and keep your stuff private. If you can.

Sep 06 2019

The problems with self love

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 2:11

I’ve mentioned here my low self-esteem, but I must confess I’m a hypocrite. I’ve had low self-esteem in the past, really low. And yes I used it as a fuel to push myself forward personally and professionally. I am at a certain moment in my life when I cannot see myself anymore as a mediocre programmer, because I have four technical books published, and soon there will be five of them. I’ve changed about seven jobs, kept increasing my salary, diversifying my experience and trained quite a lot of people. I’m obviously not mediocre, and probably I’ve never been.

From a personal point of view, I have overcome a toxic upbringing and a toxic relationship, I have won a long battle with depression and suicidal thoughts and I’m dealing with ADHD without medication. I might not be completely sane, but I am more sane and socially functional than most people are. So I can’t really say about myself anymore that I am “broken, misfit, anxious, etc”.

I’ve been alone for quite a long time, and all my life I wanted to meet somebody that is understanding, supportive, funny and gentle. That I can share a beer with, that I can share a steak with, that I can share a walk in silence, or an extra-long hike and a good cry here and there. Somebody that would listen to me and fight me when I’m being an asshole without threatening to leave me and without allowing my bad moment of assholery define me until the end of times in their eyes. Somebody with an open heart and an open mind, somebody who would drill me until I explained myself properly and not draw the worst conclusions. Well, the problem is, people like that are hard to find. So I worked on becoming that person myself. And I think I’m quite there. I worked on becoming that person myself because I needed somebody like that in my life. And what I cannot find, I create. Simple enough, right?

And I am at that stage in my life where I truly appreciate and love myself. I’m so content with the person I’ve turned myself into I could just live for the rest of my life by myself. But do you know what the bloody problem is? I could, but I do not want to.

And since I do not want to, here’s the second problem: I like/love/appreciate myself which is good, it’s the right attitude, but how the hell am I supposed to find a totally different person that feels the same way about me? Because if you think there is another person that sees you and understands you the same way you do, you are very very much mistaken. Because you see things about yourself and know things about yourself, that you might never be able to convey to another. And they cannot enter your mind to truly see you and understand you. Let’s make a short conclusion here: sure, you consider yourself great, but do they?

And hence, the third problem: will I be able to feel about his person, exactly what they want me to feel about them? (And for an overthinker like me that is the biggest fear: not of not being loved, but not being able to make the person I love feel loved; or heaven forbid, even hurting them.)

All those articles telling you that you should work on yourself, learn to love yourself, be a little selfish, put yourself first never warn you of the most terrifying consequence: loneliness. When you love yourself the way you want to be loved, you are content, you are in a good place. And the loneliness is most times bearable. And the person to chase away your loneliness should add up to that good place, to make it great, right? Do you have any idea how special that person must be? And how many special persons are in this world really?

Take a look at this quote:

You’re not going to encounter any other relationship in your life that will be as raw, as open and as beautiful as the one you’re going to have with yourself. It’s a relationship that you first must build before you’re able to build with another person.

Problem is, a good relationship with yourself is like having plugged a hole in your bike’s wheel. The hole is already plugged. No air is coming out anymore. The bike is functional. If somebody else comes and offers to plug the hole, well… plug what?

My mom said once to me that we all need to feel loved and we are willing to go through an eternity of hell for just a single moment of it. So, if you love yourself, that need is satisfied. There is no more reason to risk that eternity of hell.

Or maybe it’s just me. Maybe I’m just that content with my life with myself, that I am so terrified to risk it that I am willing to suffer through my pangs of loneliness. But yeah, you go ahead and learn to love yourself. You have no guarantee that you will not end up just like me. Good luck!

Stay safe, stay happy!

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!