It’s been about a year since my last message. My self-hosted emails were not always getting to people’s inboxes, and the machine was receiving tons of spam from around the world.
Running that machine did teach me a lot about how email works.
Email is designed to be really easy to send. Too easy. “One line of code” easy. It’s a hacker’s tool. Why would anyone else want to use it?
Now that professional people™ depend on email, several fraud detection networks scan each email message before delivering them to the recipients. DIY email servers like mine are unusual and often get flagged (the little guys don’t have much of a shot!) I’ve moved my email list to a third party, Buttondown, which I’m liking so far.
Last year was a hard year for me. I fell headfirst into and then painfully out of love. I grappled with my first long-term injury (knee; 8 months). I had a falling out with a roommate and moved across town. I was depressed: frustrated, ruminating, and in pain. Looking for a reprieve, I turned inwards: absentmindedly buying self-help books; numbing myself with work and weed; and going to therapy (on the phone).
Eventually, this helped; probably, the therapy helped.
My therapist references a lot of popular media to make his points. After I read or listen, I end up with new language to reframe my cluttered thoughts. (And shared language with my therapist.) I especially enjoyed the clear, simple message of The Four Agreements.
I am on the upswing. If I don’t want to explain, I talk about 2020 as a year of growth. And life has been far from joyless:
Baylor told me about the “clouded future” that life in a pandemic brings. It’s so hard to imagine a time beyond this lonely lull, and the before-memories are hazy. Unless you’re in healthcare or education (thank you), life is pretty slow going. It’s a good time for indoor hobbies. (By the way, check out Baylor’s neat new album.)
My county has started to re-open. 30% of Berkeley’s adult residents have received their first shot. In Temescal last Friday, restaurants were packed with string-lit outdoor tables and live musicians. It was overwhelming. I am cautiously excited for a full return to normal.
It feels like spring in other ways. The days are getting warmer, and Berkeley’s residential neighborhoods are full of flowers. Some of my walks have been stunning. There are very chatty birds and an owl living in the trees next to my apartment. I’m quite grateful for the life I live.
I will start my Ph.D at UChicago this fall. I’ve been studying these strange new machines called “quantum computers”. Think of them like the universe’s original calculators. Most of my work is in theory— although these new computers are powerful, we don’t exactly know what we can and can’t do with them. I’m looking forward to my next adventure.
Until then, I’ll be researching, reflecting, and taking care of myself. (The most important question is how can I be both happy and in graduate school?) Berkeley has become my adopted hometown: a place of endless learning and natural beauty, a liberal’s paradise-in-progress. I fit in here, as much as I’d fit in anywhere.
What’s on your mind?
Some things I’ve liked recently:
* ravel in the ocean * isaiah rashad * jumping into puddles * a story in classical music * longwave (from andy) * raw honey (also from andy) * these instruments are so cool! * not a daddy (Baylor’s music)
Some of my stuff