2017: A Year in Review

*starts writing*

*spills coffee all over laptop, pjs and comforter*


*interrupts new year ~*~inspiration~*~ to try and fix my now acting up trackpad*

(I don’t know what voodoo magic turning off my computer and letting it stand upside down did, but my trackpad now seems to be in the clear. phew.)

OK–let’s try that again.

eh ehm.

WELL, here we are! The year two-thousand and eighteen. Despite how tired or overdone or cliché it might be to write a post reflecting on one’s previous year, I find so much value in taking a step back to see how much has changed in just 365 days. I don’t necessarily set “resolutions” each year, but I do try and delineate some goals and intentions for the upcoming months. Since I write them down, it makes for a pretty easy road to reflection–so, why not?

According to last year’s post, it appears that this year we almost identically repeated the same activities that we partook in last year. Whereas last year we watched Interstellar in our jammies, this year it was the Lady Gaga Netflix documentary. Last year we went for the cheapo-deapo $3 Martinelli’s, and this year we “splurged” for an $8 bottle of crappy fake champagne. (Movin’ on up!). Both movies ended approximately 7-10min before midnight, during which we rushed to prepare out bottles of respective, celebratory juice, popped it open at the turn of the new year, and gave each other our little kisses. Both times, I was sick, lol.

It’s curious how I wrote down that 2017 was going to be the year of the dog. Here we are, one year later, cuter, bigger house, and still nowhere near that dog. We’ve definitely made some steps forward in that direction, but as the laws of physics would dictate, we have also taken an equal amount of steps backwards.

Which brings us to last year’s resolutions. Though it took me until literally the final 2 weeks of the year, I finally set up some investments and big people 401Ks. Check. I did indeed pay off my car (which, holy crap, seems like so long ago). I did not, however, pursue my dream of becoming the next great American baker. I ended up relinquishing that hobby for something arguably more worth my time–namely, I moved closer to my “Take 2 full CS/programming courses” goal. In fact, I one-upped myself a bit, and became a full-on programmer, lol.

And, I ended the year with a title bump (no longer Junior over here!). Altogether, not too shabby.

And, then, there were those changes that I never remotely planned or intended on:

For starters, I randomly decided to chop my long hair off. And then I went one step further and decided to blondify myself. I fell in love with the idea of blogging full time, and pretended that I was going to be a successful fashion blogger for a hot second. By giving myself the power and the space to actually try it out (however short-lived), I also allowed myself to realize that it was not for me. (And then quickly became cynical about the overly saturated fashion blogger community but that’s another story, lol). All in all, I’m pretty relieved with that outcome.

We made some meaningful strides in our relationship, and faced some very scary realities about our communication (or, lack thereof) when it came to deep sources of conflict. We finally began talking about our relationship in a mature, albeit painful manner. I hope we continue on that honest and productive path this year. We leveled up our living situation, and now have an adorable little bungalow to ourselves (sidenote: cannot wait to make use of our deck this summer). I made some new friends, and saw some of them leave to bigger pastures. I went to Canada for the first time, made some much needed trips to visit friends, hosted a number of visitors, took a treat yo-self, lone staycation to Seattle, decided I could never ever never settle in Portland because sun-worshipper, and quickly developed amnesia once the summertime weather arrived. Most importantly, I grappled with a whole mess of insecurities about diving into computer science, and pursued it path despite the dozens of questions and demons I felt telling me to run in the opposite direction.

And, now, for the coming year. To be frank, I haven’t given much thought about what I want out of 2018. A better political climate, for one thing, but on a more personal level, it’s a bit hazy this year. Though I feel as if programming is one step closer to what I might want to work in for the rest of my life, I still feel like it falls short of what excites me. If I’m being honest, what I mostly feel this year is eager to get out of the country, and to be traveling once again.

Either way, I suppose I’ll jot some intentions down, for the sake of 2019 Raquel. For 2018, in no particular order, I would like to:

  • Finish CS50 (lol);
  • Continue to take more online classes, programming or otherwise;
  • Take the next step within my company from Data Engineer to Junior Software Engineer;
  • Spend more time out of my house: I tend to be quite the cloistered homebody, but we live in such an easy, walkable, and convenient neighborhood, and I would like to take advantage of it. (Plus, something tells me my time in Portland may be cut short sooner than I think, so I’d like to have truly experienced my dear Portland in its entirety). I would like to spend more time getting lost in places around me, rekindling that curiosity that once pervaded my psyche as a naive and eager 23-year old;
  • More specifically, more free time studying and writing (and reading) in coffee shops;
  • Spend less time on the gram and more time reading actual books;
  • Begin to talk concretely about marriage (yikes);
  • Begin planning travel to some of my bucket list countries. Also, define bucket list countries, lol;

I guess that’s all for this year. Here’s to 2018!


Day 143: Baby’s first bring down Production

Welp…It had to happen sooner or later. Last night, a code “improvement” I wrote for one of our rails dashboards broke everything and brought down production on our data stuff….cool cool cool.

As I channel my inner Homer Simpson and try to battle of the SHAME I feel, I’m simultaneously taking a deep breath and a step back, telling myself that I’m just a beginner, and that this comes with the territory, and taking this as a moment to learn about rails queries and how not to write them. It’ll be fine it’ll be fine you will learn from this

Also, a moment of gratitude for my amazing manager who pinged me to calm my anxieties and reassure me that it’s completely ok because at this point after working together for 2 years she knows me so well and knows that I am feeling hella guilty about it, lol.

At least I tried my best. 😅

East Facing Windows

Ahhh–the sounds of a sunny, winter, pre-9AM weekend morning.

I’m not sure why for the life of me I woke up at 8AM on this, a Saturday morning. As I reached out and clumsily felt for my phone to check the time, my eyes barely open and my head bursting from caffeine withdrawal, I quickly, yet begrudgingly accepted that the only remedy was to drag myself out of bed, coat myself in multi-layers of whatever was quickest within reach, and battle the cold and my headache until I reached the coffee shop.

Immediately after closing the door behind me, I took in the smells of my surroundings, and marveled at how quiet it was. Given that we live in front of a school, the area at this time is usually inundated with children screaming bloody murder . (Seriously. They scream as if someone is in grave, life-threatening danger. All the time. All of them. Why is this a thing??). So this stillness, and this solitude, was definitely a treat.

Somehow, it’s sunny again today. For a second, I think back to previous Decembers, where literally every day was met with rain. And, I mean, quite literally, every day. This year, we’ve had two weeks of consistent, golden sunshine. And just when that fleeting December gift should end, so shall I go with it, following it all the way to Florida.

But, I digress.

I begin walking, further marveling in the stillness, knowing that barely any have awoken. I come to the point where I should go left, and instead, I choose to go right. I begin wandering in no particular direction, noticing how suddenly the trees have become so barren, and how different it makes the surrounding houses look. I feel grateful for this cloudless cold, a climate that tends to be one of my favorites, despite being a Florida gal. I begin to feel thankful for the gloves I am wearing, that I bought at the Oregon coast the previous year, together with a special friend who came to visit me. I am thankful for the beanie that warms my ears–a beanie that was gifted to me by my manager, mostly as a thoughtful gesture for her cold-intolerant managee, whose office heater has been broken for a month, but not without a hint of humor. I am in awe of my crappy, worn down, shapeless and fading navy-green winter jacket–a jacket I acquired on sale four years ago (good Lord) in Washington D.C., when lil ol’ exclusively-Marshalls-and-Ross me had first experienced the painfully trendy Urban Outfitters across the street from work. Somehow, this schlump-y jacket that I was about to get rid of last winter, has managed to be the warmest coat I own. I guess you’ll live to see another season, old friend.

Fast forward one hour later: my cappuccino is finished, my headache departed, and my layers of clothing exchanged for layers of blankets. The curtains are open, and the sun is poking through. I am thankful for this East-facing window in our North-facing home, and dream of a day when I will have the patience to wait for a south-facing one.


It’s sunny today…again??

When the weather is good in Portland…hot damn, it’s good.

Today, I’m thankful for a job that doesn’t hunt me down if I come in at 10AM, if I decide to spend a little morning work time in my own home on a beautiful day like this. I’m thankful that it’s Thursday, and the damn end of this week. I’m thankful for DAY AFTER DAY OF SUNSHINE IN PORTLAND, a anomalous gift this time of year.

Happy almost Friday!


I mean…just look at this!

December Evening Bliss

I skipped yoga today. I know I should’ve gone. I know I should’ve shunned the manipulative, glutinous jackass inside my head who convinced me to stay home and vegetate under my fuzzy green blanket. I know I should’ve ignored that same jerk who assured me, “Go ahead. Get the entree covered in a literal butter sauce. It’ll be delicious. And you’re going to yoga, anyway.” And once it was at the table, and even though I was satiated, there (s)he went again: “You’re not finished yet, are you? Come on. There’s such little chicken left. There’s no harm in eating the rest of it. Just eat the whole thing. Think of how delicious all that butter is….”

Here I am, five hours later, feeling the wrath of my (delicious) Indian food lunch. I’m still full.

So, then, I skipped yoga.

And, yet, maybe the latent consequences of feeling fluffy and lethargic at this moment really aren’t so bad. After leaving work early for the day, I find myself sitting in my quiet, dimly lit apartment, the hum of the refrigerator the only detectable sound, the glisten of my gentle Christmas tree the only illumination. I can smell its faint, ever-so-slight Christmas pine mix with the remains of this morning’s coffee aroma. The cushions of my couch uphold my poorly postured back, the knittings of my blanket envelop my feet in a powerful, warm sheath. I know this moment will end soon, once bae opens up that door, and I can’t help but feel grateful for this moment’s ephemeral destiny.

Just a little moment of December evening bliss.



Photo by Osman Rana on Unsplash

Day One-thirty-something: Learn something new every day

It’s day one-thirty-something of my “365 days of coding”, and I have not actively been checking in with my own progress. In October we began looking for a new place, quickly found one, moved, then I took a trip to Miami, and all of a sudden it was Thanksgiving and the beginning of the chaotic (but oh so lovely) holidays.

That, and I was stuck on the final problem of my week 4 CS50 problem set and I COULD NOT FOR THE LIFE OF ME DEBUG WHY IT WAS NOT WORKING so I definitely absolutely 100% avoided it for 2 months.

That’s not to say that I haven’t been coding for the past two months. See, that’s the great thing about a job–even when you feel completely unmotivated and uninspired to push yourself in any which way, you literally have to keep on keepin on, because it is your literal job to do so 40 hours a week. So, that’s good!

Here’s a quick summary of some of my tiny wins since my last check in:

I have built waaaaay more tooling dashboards for my team, so working in Rails really doesn’t seem as daunting anymore. Now, the things I get stuck on are not as ugh-I-should-really-know-this, and the things I learn seem to be much more nuanced. That is to say, rather than feeling like I’m tackling a whole new paradigm, I find myself comfortable within one framework, and working my way into its weeds. I’ve also learned a bit about web scraping with the Nokogiri library, and have familiarized myself with testing data in our local environments, and really learning how to utilize our classes and their defined methods. Not bad for three months’ time!

My manager has also paved the way for myself and my teammates to become bona fide software engineers during our time at this company. So that’s whatever not a big deal except for that it’s a huge deal.

Lastly, last week, I finally decided to face my CS50 enemy–the JPEGs that I could not for the life of me seem to recover. And then, within two hours, I did it!!! So now I am officially halfway through the total number of problem sets (excluding the final project), and feel re-motivated to finish up the second half of the course this year. Then I’ll have actually taken a full-ass Computer science course!

I know they say that sometimes in programming, it’s better to just take a break and come back to a problem later, rather than spinning your wheels. Hopefully, next time, “later” isn’t “in two months.” Lol.

An Unsolicited Opinion on the Social Medias of Today (lol)

So much for my 365 days of coding.

I was scrolling through my 365 days of coding posts, and couldn’t help but think–well, another project started, another project that I lost interest in, and another project that I left unfinished. They say that creatives frequently struggle to finish their artistic undertakings…so, does this technically make me a ~*~creative~*~?

Recently, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed and oversaturated by all of the blogs and vlogs and insta-logs galore, which has led me to take on a fairly negative attitude about posting my own words. Why does everyone have to have something to say? Why is every Fulano or Mengana racing to put frequently posted and quick-to-engage “content” out there? It’s become such a rat race, and frankly rather dull. Every insta-story I view is nothing I haven’t seen before. What I once glorified as a meaningful way of connecting with others world-wide has started to feel like a look-what-I-did-this-weekend pissing contest, now that it’s lost its novelty.

I feel nostalgic for the nascent social media world of yester-year. I miss the era of personal blogs with less frequent but more substantive posts, devoid of sponsors but full of rawness and internal reflection. I recently rediscovered my Tumblr, and felt simultaneously revitalized and a little saddened. Saddened, because my dashboard wasn’t as unending as it once was. Revitalized, because I immediately jumped back to Raquel of five years ago–bright-eyed and naive, confused and curious about all things adulthood, scrolling through an infinite dashboard of latte-art pictures, posts of anonymous, well-dressed ladies, and images encapsulating infinite silence vis-a-vis intentionally faded and blue-tinted winter landscapes. There was something so comforting about the anonymity of the people I was seeing in those images. I did not know anything about their life stories–I did not know that they posed like this for a living. I did not know that they spent their life jet-setting and promoting products in paid partnerships. They were not accompanied by pushy listicle headlines, urging me to buy the 15 must-have items for fall. They weren’t making me feel insufficient, because my life did not mirror theirs, one for one. They were mainly a means to an imaginary world of pretty pictures–an aesthetic fantasy world, if you will, where I could roam off to when I was feeling particularly pensive, and was seeking to romanticize what my eventual future might look like. Now that we’ve put a name and an actual life to these images, it feels like a competition for who has the most enviable ~*~lifestyle~*~, and here’s X, Y, and Z pictures to prove it.

So I haven’t wanted to contribute to it. And as a consumer (bc that’s what we are these days), I know there’s a simple solution. (Am I saying goodbye to the insta? Maybe I’ll try it).

LOL. This post was meant to serve as an update on my coding progress, and has morphed into a diatribe of sorts on our social media landscape and on my #firstworldproblem.


(*photo taken from Tumblr)

Post-Thanksgiving Thanks

I’ve never really been much of a Thanksgiving person. I’m not the biggest fan of Thanksgiving turkey, and don’t quite understand the bragging rights that come from stuffing yourself into oblivion in one evening from this particular repertoire of food (although I am rather familiar with the slippery slope that leads there). But, this year, I am finding myself deeply embracing the spirit of gratitude that comes with this holiday.

Traditionally, Thanksgivings at my home were stereotypical, awkward family gatherings, where all the older relatives that we saw all of the time anyway showed up to our home to be fed and served wine. In more recent years, not having lived in Miami for a while, my Thanksgivings have tended more towards the Friendsgiving traditions, which are, of course, always a good time. This year, though, my parents and sister were able to come out to mine and my brother’s side of the country, and we were able to spend several days together in sunny Los Angeles. Given that I’m usually taking red-eyes with a guaranteed layover to see them, it’s a rare treat for me to take a nonstop flight that’s less than 3 hours to achieve this same family time.

Perhaps it was the result of three days of continuous sunshine, (a rarity in this already-dragging-even-though-it’s-only-November rainy Portland season), but I couldn’t help but feel so eternally grateful for so many things during this trip. So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, here is a slew of things I am so so grateful for.

Firstly, I am thankful that my parents and sister were able to make the trek out here to see us. My family has never really had an excess of money, especially these days, while my dad finishes his Ph.D. The fact that they could make it out here cross country for just a few days makes their visit particularly special.

I’m thankful that my sister, who was at the lowest point in her life at this time last year, has managed to turn her life around in such a short amount of time. She is now employed and has a positive outlook on life that I never thought would be possible for her. And I’m so thankful that I don’t have to worry as much about her, and that she and I can finally communicate like normal sisters.

I’m thankful that this particular family trip seemed to bring my SO and my siblings closer together, and that boyfriend was able to really come out of his shell this time.

I’m thankful that we were able to do LA without being horribly ill. Last year, boyfriend and I spent our Christmas down there with my brother and sister-in-law, and three quarters of the trip consisted of lying down with what felt like the bubonic plague. I am so grateful that we were actually able to engage in fun activities rather than staying in bed with the flu.

I’m thankful to get along with my family the way that we do. We definitely tease each other a bit too much, and there were undoubtedly some (err–many) moments of regularly scheduled family drama this trip. But, all in all, I love the dynamics of our family, and I love that getting to see them is a treat, rather than a drag.

I’m thankful for what must be the most hilarious and down to earth sister-in-law that a girl could’ve asked for. My brother seriously picked a gem, and if I didn’t already know her, I would want to be bffs with her.

I’m thankful for the privilege of being able to select the life that we want, in the city we want to live in. Both boyfriend and I work in the tech industry, which opens up a lot of doors, and allows us some truly wonderful flexibility. While we were in LA, soaking up the sunshine and marveling in the city’s liveliness, we couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy at the vivacity that Portland is unable to provide us with this time of year. And, still, we both couldn’t relinquish our love for this city, and for the quality of life it affords us. I couldn’t help but feel #blessed that when it comes to deciding where we want to live, and where we’d want to spend the rest of our lives, that we’d be choosing between awesome and amazing; between rainy but with seasons and gorgeous falls and fifteen minute commutes to work and grocery stores walking distance away, chock-full of local and delicious food choices, and sunny but driving everywhere but also remember how sunny and great the weather is all year and how much stuff there is going on? What a privilege it is to have the luxury of choosing which beautiful city we want to live in.

I’m thankful for the SO that I still gaze adoringly at every day. I hate getting mushy and parading my couple-status on here for the sake of any readers among my like, 2 followers that might be single, but I can’t help but mention how thankful I am for the relationship that has blossomed into true companionship, full of love and respect and genuinely still liking each other, even after almost four years of being together. And how no matter what we do together, I know I will have a good time as long as we’re spending time together.

I’m thankful for the time that I do get to spend socially with friends and family. As a severe introvert (lol), I tend to prefer time alone to being around others. This summer, I became especially ungrateful and angsty at all the activities, trips, and social gatherings I had booked for myself, wanting desperately to spend more time alone. Now, at the cusp of losing two of my friends (and virtually half of my local friend group) to other, more exciting cities, I realize how much I took that social time for granted. Thus, today, in light of the heavy but much-needed fam time, I feel grateful that I am able to see those loved ones that are not in my city semi-regularly, and that I have the means to buy flight after flight without breaking the bank. I am even more thankful for the friends that will remain here into next year, and am grateful that though few, that I do still have people that I can spend time with partaking in boozy brunches and basic bitch holiday activities like the rest of the world. And, I am hopeful that there will be more friends to be made in the future, and am thankful for them in advance.

I’m thankful for inspiration and self (re)-discovery. (OK, this is maybe getting a little too long and extra now, lol). But, in all seriousness ,the more into my adult life I dive into, the more I feel like I’ve been losing my brightness and spark. Having spent two years at one company, it’s been hard to muster up the excitement I once had for it. Knowing that I won’t be leaving that company any time soon makes for a bit of a complacent me. But I have to keep in mind that the skills I am developing will hopefully open a lot of doors in my future, and could very well allow me to be more choosy with my next career step. And, that, in itself, is a very exciting idea. Still, I feel like every once in a while, I come across a blog or a youtube channel that reignites my spirits and my former bright-eyed self, and I am thankful for those moments. I am thankful for Italian movies that reignite former passions of mine, and I am thankful for those (now, few and far between) bouts of inspiration where I feel like I can write again, and like I have something of value to put out there.

Lastly, I am thankful that I cut our trip short one day, and for the option of flying home on Saturday night and not making it back at an obscenely late hour, so that we could have a full day off of doing absolutely nothing. I’m thankful, yes, even for this damned rain, because it makes me feel completely guiltless about still being in bed and not having brushed my teeth at 1:18 PM on a Sunday. I’m thankful for the internet, and for all of these habits that I seem to be rediscovering about myself, now that the summer madness has quieted down and I have more time alone on my hands: I’m thankful for my cafetera that I recently “rediscovered” and began using regularly again; for my silly Tumblr, and for those people that still post the same kinds of content that made me so pensive and wide-eyed 6 and 7 years ago.

All in all, I am thankful for feeling so grateful.

Day 51: Two steps forward, one step back

This one’s gonna be short, because if I spend more than five minutes on it, I’ll lose the momentum to do what I’m writing that I’m going to do.

That is, to chug along on the EdX, CS50 train.

Active Record’s got my brain bruised and battered after being confused for hours each day, five days a week (OK, fine, it’s probably less than that, but this bitch is tired lol). Needless to say, it’s been difficult to muster up post-workday, evening motivation and expose myself to more confusion.

I started CS50x many moons ago, got through week 0 (of course 0, because #programming, and of course I could barely get through the not-even-a-real-week, because #raquel), and left it to rot with the other self-paced programming courses I have so heartlessly shunned in neglect.

I picked it back up a few weeks ago, and was making continuous and consistent progress…for that week. And then I got to the first problem set and got sleepy and never opened up edx.org again.

Tonight, I’m trying again. Despite all the information about C and C syntax and compiling that has long set on its journey to shit-raquel-forgot, I’m going to try to continue to make progress. I WILL learn the basics of Computer Science, even if it takes me 6 months to complete an 11 week course!

Crap. I hope it doesn’t take that long. lol..

An Ode to Portland

(written a few days ago)

As with every one of my trips, though I was eager and aching to get out of town, I’m just as eager to get back in.

It always feels so good to be back. I made great time on the drive down today–less than 3 hours! Dare I say…was it two and a half, even?

I’m happy to report that this trip was exactly what I was looking for– a proper mix of relaxation, laziness, and activity and exploration. To be honest, I was underwhelmed with how much exploring I got done, given the amount of walking that I did (lol). I guess that’s Seattle for ya.

I had always always always romanticized the idea of living in big-city Seattle, surrounded every which way with water and grandiose views. This time around, though, I un-sexier realities of living big city life started to stand out to me, and it made me appreciate Portland’s sleepiness so much.

Portland, with your 10 min drive-time commutes (within the city…if you’re coming from the burbs, that’s another story). Your 25mph speed limits. Your bikes lanes and sassy pedestrians who cross the road where there isn’t a crosswalk. Portland, with your $6 burritos and your $8 Thai food cart dish that, yes, does come with rice. Portland–it is good to be back.