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22 June 2016

Space in use. GTFO.

A milestone of sorts today: finally had a software dev team meeting, and finally got to show off the project I've been working on for months. It's in the hands of the other developers on my team to try out, to form opinions on, to try to break, and possibly to complain about. After the other developers look at it and play with it, we'll expand the number of users until everyone here can use it. This is a really good thing-- I have a lot of hours invested in this project, and I'm happy that it's going to see at least a sliver of the light of day.

I've also learned a lot from working on this beast. I've had to actually use a fair number of the things I learned in computer science classes, which is both fun and gratifying. It's certainly all right to know stuff, but it's a lot more fun to know stuff and be able to build things with what you know. It matter that yes, I have this disability and it sucks, but I can still build something complicated.

I'm halfway dangerous with PHP now. This won't mean much to you if you're not a programmer, and even if you are you might cringe at hearing "PHP". I'm not going to start a discussion on the merits of PHP vs anything else-- but I will say that it's a programming language that runs a lot of stuff, and I learned it on my own. I had to use not only the background I have from computer science and math classes, but also all of the things I've learned in therapy and on my own about getting past PTSD. I have a disability but I still learned a new language and built something useful with it.

Presenting my work was fun. Introvert that I am, I actually don't mind speaking in front of people if it's about something that I'm passionate about, and software that I've written is certainly included in that category.

The meeting itself wasn't so much-- for whatever reason, we were not in a conference room. Instead we were arranged in a circle on the floor of the (open) office, and during the meeting several people walked through the middle of the circle (and of me trying to present).

As broken and messed up as my childhood was, I was taught about being polite. I'm also a veteran, so protocol matters. In my world, you don't just walk through what is obviously a meeting of people who are on the clock and working especially when you can go around. So I said something along the lines of "hey, we're in a meeting here, and you're interrupting" after which I was shushed and told not to worry about it.

WTF. I've been working on this for months, I've had to fight through getting ADA accommodations, and now it's perfectly fine for people to have zero respect while I'm presenting it to my team?

Monotone therapist voice: breathe in and hold for 10 seconds, breathe out and hold for 10 seconds. Breathe in...


The first trigger is that someone I don't know, and who shouldn't be anywhere near my space in the first place, is in my space. Second is that they've now interrupted what I was thinking about, because my brain has to decide if they're a threat and decide on a response. Third, and perhaps most important of all, is that I was shushed.

For a very long time, I put up with a lot of shit from other people. It's a way to cope with abuse, and to cope with the chaos that PTSD can be; if you're quiet, and if you don't make a fuss, people will leave you alone and you'll be safe. The problem is that people don't leave you alone, and it becomes a self reinforcing cycle of always being quiet and letting others do what they want to you. Standing up for yourself can bring a lot of unwanted attention.

Today, if you walk through a meeting where I'm presenting without so much as a word of apology, I'm going to tell you you're being fucking rude. Even if you do mumble "I'm sorry" or "excuse me" it's not enough-- in fact it's worse, because you're acknowledging that you are a) a douchebag and b) you know it and keep on being one anyway.

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I've spent the past few early mornings not sleeping-- things like sleep are out of whack lately-- so I've been watching TV, specifically watching season one of Mr. Robot. I don't own a TV, and even when I did I didn't watch that much, but a TV show about a hacker with social anxiety and depression? I'm there. I download episodes to my tablet on campus where the net is fast, fittingly enough, and then watch at home. I am of course something of a purist, both in how hacking is portrayed on TV and in movies and in how mental illness is portrayed. TV and movies tend to magnify things about both hackers and mental illness and put far more quirks in each character than actually appear in nature.

I don't aspire to be Elliot or Darlene or Mr. Robot, but I do know them-- I know people like them, people that have some of the same skills and quirks. I see parts of myself in these characters-- definitely not the parts about overthrowing capitalism, but certainly the view of the world that comes from knowing quite well how a good portion of it works. Where you see a thermostat on a wall, I see a computer connected to a network. I see sensors and data and networks and machines. I see the internet, but I also see much more than just that. It is a very unique (and at times unsettling) view.

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It's easy to be triggered at work lately. This is in part because of the environment-- there's a lot of noise anyway, and people don't seem to care in the least about reducing it, making it a bad place to have PTSD. I'm not happy where I am-- it's not a place where people consider my skills and my effort to be all that important. It's true that I'm getting paid for the code I write and for the troubleshooting and quality assurance that I do, but I sit in front of my laptop for hours at a time coding because this is what I do. It's what I'm good at and I'm trying to get better at it. It means something (actually it means everything) to me.

Money is a requirement because I have to pay rent to have a place to live that's not the street and because I want to be able to live without worrying about if I'm going to have food for supper. It's good to be rewarded every two weeks on payday for the work that I do, but it's equally important to me that someone respect the work that I do. As a software developer-- as a hacker-- I'm not getting much respect when my employer tries to fight me on ADA accommodations, or when I'm presenting my work and people think it's okay to walk through when I'm speaking like nothing important is happening.

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