Cross-posted: Dipping Toes, Diving In.

*Cross-posted from HNPolymath, where I will be focusing primarily on my professional life goals and adventures.  I’ll be keeping the mushy stuff here, don’t worry*

I’m an archivist, at heart.

I keep email threads, text messages.  I take a lot of screen shots.  I like being able to look back (and forward, then back again, then forward) to track where I once was, where I thought I’d be, where I finally ended up, and how I got there.  I make a lot of parenthetical statements, and one of my favorite things about reading someone else’s code is often what they have to say between the lines — the part of the code that doesn’t run is as interesting for me as the part that does.

Some of this is because I’m just a process sort of girl.  I like looking at someone’s work, whether it is art, food, a blog, tweets, a kickstarter, some code, or basically anything else, and figuring out how it developed and blossomed out of this human person’s brain.  It’s fascinating.

That said, I’m on the cusp of undertaking a journey my own self.  Archivist that I am, I want to document how it goes.  Here’s what’s going on:

I currently work in legal.  I’ve been here for nearly four years, and entered the field upon getting my shiny masters degree in philosophy.  I have begun to bump up against ceilings.  Ceilings irk me.  To progress in my current state, I would need to go to law school.  The termination of that project would be practicing the law as an attorney.  To be succinct: Don’t Wanna.  More accurately: practicing the law as an attorney is not worth the costs of that journey, given that the end result is not something I want for myself.

Being an archivist has made me an excellent paralegal.  Here’s the thing: I’m also a polymath.  I have a lot of widely applicable, flexible, highly transferable talents and skills.  Legal Lyfe will never bring me satisfaction because I’m too omnivorous a problem-solver.  I like steep learning curves.  I’d rather collaborate than argue.  I prefer cooperation to conflict.  I crave new domain experience.  I want to learn languages (Ruby!  German!  CSS!  Dutch!) and tackle novel problems with glorious, meaty data and delicious trial-and-error. I want to make things.  I also want to break things and find new ways to fix them.  I want to collaborate with other people who like breaking and making things.  I want the people I work closely with to be team members, not opponents.

To that end, I hope to be making a well-considered transition out of legal lyfe and into the tech sector within the next six months.  It will be gradual.  A part-time database administration job, perhaps.  And then another.  Then full-time. By this time next year, I hope to be working a full week, remotely, from our new home in Philadelphia.  I think I have the ability and connections to make that dream a concrete opportunity.  It’s a little surreal. It’s a little exciting.  It’s documentation-worthy.  I don’t know, some women have MomBlogs?  This is my story.

Here are some objectives:

  • Network.  Fill in the gaps of database building and administration.  Clean off the rust and add some polish. Acquire requisite bits and bobs.
  • Acquire.  Self Determine.  Timeline depending, gradually acquire a collection of DBA gigs.  Build toward a 40-55 hour workweek.  Transition fully out of current employment at the 40+ hour mark.  Purchase health insurance independently.  Stop driving to work.  Start walking to coffee shops with a laptop.  Make your own hours.  Start work at 6 AM.  Build and maintain a work space that makes you happy.
  • Learn.  Pick up Ruby/Groovy, with an eye on Rails/Grails.  Facilitate and host a Rails Girls Workshop by June 2015.
  • Join.  Find Local meetups for women in technology and development.  There are awesome people out in the world, and they have good ideas.  Find them.  Learn what they know.
  • Build.  Hack that sous vide machine.  Make some furniture.  Take good pictures, write good instructions.  Program the iPhone application you’ve been half-joking about for 2+ years.  Do an excellent job, and be proud of it.
  • Go to the Hacktory, regularly.  Makers are everywhere, and they have meetings.  Sometimes, they might need snacks.  Trade them snacks for skills, time, and tutelage.
  • Write.  Find the time.  Make the time.  It can be code, a blog, a journal, or work on an adventure path for your tabletop players.  Do not let a day go by without writing something that was born in your brain.
  • Read.  I mean, okay.  No one could stop you if they tried.  Still.  Don’t give it up.  Not for anything.
  • Climb.  Acquire skills.  Conquer domains.  Complete projects.  Track progress.  Make better spreadsheets.  Move up, move on.  This is where you are at your finest, and you know it.  Master a thing and find ways to make it work for you.
  • Collaborate.   Share.  You’ve been dreaming of running an informal supper club cooperative for years.  Make it a reality.  Sundays are for food, family, and friendship.  Stock that chest freezer.  Start trading the things you’re great at for things at which you would like to be great.  Examine the community you build.  How do you serve it?  How can it serve you?
  • Listen.  Always, and in all things.  Also, Ask.  Asking is important.
  • Pursue.  Make the time to learn the things you want to learn.  You will find a way to make them work for you.  German, WordPress, circuitry… embrace your omnivorous nature.  You’re going to be tired.  Go be tired and interesting.
  • Celebrate.  You’re going to be acting on your own design, on a timeline set by you, directed by your own self.  That is huge and it is worthy.  Keep a bottle of champagne chilled in the fridge at all times.  You’re going to need it.

The present feels a lot like transitioning from the hot sand of the sun-baked beach to the receding tidal line.  Man, that water looks cold.  It looks a little choppy.  But it’s a beautiful day for a swim.  There’s a little trepidation, sure.  But I’ve swum in colder waters, I’ll bet you.  In just a short while, I’ll be up to my neck shrieking with delight.  I was born for this.

Cross-posted: Dipping Toes, Diving In.

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