Running for the train

I decided to drive to the train station rather than bike today. I like my daily 20 minutes of cardio, but I was running a bit late. My phone said it would take 10 minutes. I had 20.

I drove, letting one pop song play before the station started listing ways women could fight off rapists with their shoes. The announcer started off making fun of women for wearing high heels, like it was a moral fault to like pretty things or women who decided what “professional” means. 13 minutes in–I got a little lost–and I get to the parking lot, turning past dozens of empty spots. I’m within sight of Diridon station’s red brick facade. A man in an orange safety vest walks up, tells me he can’t sell anymore spots because he has to save them for a corporate event. He takes my $5. I hope he isn’t an entrepreneur who’s realized commuters with 7 minutes until the last Baby Bullet to San Francisco will give any orange vest $5. He tells me to drive a quarter mile away, park behind the Shark Tank. He gives me a yellow ticket on thick card stock.

Two lefts and a right he tells me. I thank him. I make my first left out of the driveway–another commuter nearly t-bones me, rushing to park for her train. I get a green. I make my second left. Working my way into the right-ish-bike-ish lane, I make it to the Shark Tank lot. I show my ticket to the young woman at the gate. She accepts it and does not tell me I was hoodwinked by a man with an orange vest and a Kinkos card. I park. 5 minutes.

I can no longer see the red brick of the station. I start sprinting as soon as I close my car door. My keys fly out of my bag, in front of another car rolling into the parking lot. I fly after them, scooping them up and shoving them deep in my bag as I gallop down the stairs. I get my Clipper card in my hand by touch as I make the turn onto the sidewalk. It’s thicker than my ID, without the bumps of my debit card.

My bag swings in front of my body and I hit a red light, a long one with no crosswalk. I watch a man with shoulder-length dreads make eye contact with the 6 lanes of stopped traffic and sprint across. I do the same, bag gripped to my chest. I can see the red brick station. There’s no clocks to tell me how much of my 5 minutes I have left.

I run, over the bus-pedestrian no-woman’s land of the ground transit hub. My legs are slowing down; I’m not sure if I am breathing. I focus on slapping my feet on the ground as it turns from asphalt to concrete to tile. I look up; I’m inside the station.

I see my train through the wavering windowpanes of the station. I have my Clipper Card in my hand. I shove it at the blue watch post–not accepted. I shove it again, glancing at my train. I taste pennies. The watch post tweets at me to tell me it’s taken my tender.

I run down the long slope under the tracks; a woman starts to run with me, high heels clattering on the sliding tile floor. A man in sneakers jogs beside me. People start to run with us. We’re in a pack, galloping along the flat before the that low slope back up to the daylight and the waiting train. Above our heads we hear the jingle-jangle of horns for a train departing–or arriving. Same sound.

We pick up speed, cornering together. I can’t hear our train over my heart’s blood. I see our train. Not moving. Doors open. Waiting.

We split; I commit to the nearest door. Others leap for those farther down, more likely to have open seats. I spent my luck for today and jump the steps to get inside. No seats on the bottom level. Doesn’t matter. I can stand. My phone says it’s one minute to departure. I climb the train’s internal steps on aching shaking legs to find an empty row at the very top. I sling my bag over my shoulder to sit. My chest is heaving and my pulse is in my instep, my ankles, my temples and my throat. The doors jingle-jangle and close. I breathe.

Inspirational Quote:

“Writing is the only thing that when I do it, I don’t feel I should be doing something else.” – Gloria Steinem

Evidence using Creative Commons for our cards was the perfect choice

This is a cross-post from the Notable Women in Computing Kickstarter because I am so excited about this.

I was looking through the Twitter results for Notable Women in Computing project and found this tweet:

Look closely–it’s a modded version of the deck. So cool! I checked my inbox and Rachel Cheng of CppCon emailed me to let me know they had 700 attendees who got a deck each in their swag bags. One of the attendees asked for the files so he can distribute them in schools. My heart overfills with happiness to see these incredible women gaining the credit they deserve in the world.

This is exactly why we used Creative Commons for this project and made all of the source files for our work free. Alone, we’re 3 women with other jobs and work to do. (Did I mention this summer I started working as a scheduler for California Attorney General Kamala Harris? I did. She’s great.)

We’re all busy. But as members of the community of technical women, we are a multiplying force. We can take the history and future of women in computing further and farther together than any of us could alone. I am so grateful to be a part of this project.

Inspirational Quote:

“Have you ever experienced a moment, knowing full well that words cannot do it justice?” – Richard Sirken

On Batholiths and Long-Distance Relationships

As my train wavered up the Peninsula to my temp-apartment in San Francisco, I was thinking about batholiths. I was thinking about Matthew, who is 809 miles away in Seattle: 13 hours and 4 minutes driving, 2 hours and 17 minutes by plane. This distance is in the middle range for us–we’ve been as far away as continents and as Olympia to Seattle in the times we’ve been apart.

But this time is tougher than usual, because it will be the last time we have to be so far away from each other. We are a month from him joining me here in the Bay Area, and it made me think about what is hard about long distance and the more unexpected hardness about getting used to being in the same place. One of the reasons I love geology is it gives me big, satisfying metaphors for these kinds of feelings. Thinking about that distance and time made me think about very old, very large rocks called batholiths; Half-Dome is an example.

Batholiths start out as magma pushing up from the great stream of molten rock running under the surface of our world. That is like choosing to step out of the flow of humanity and into a committed relationship.

They push out and up and then solidify, getting their shape from what they are made of and what is around them. That’s learning to be a couple.

Then they sit there, under incredible pressure. Tons and tons of rock, mountains and oceans and comets and earthquakes, they sit under a layer of rock existing under that pressure.
That’s being in a long distance relationship. Cohesive rock stays the same shape; like Matthew and I have stayed the same shape in the 10 years we have known each other, much of which we’ve lived apart either because we were in high school, college, or first jobs far away.

After all that time, batholiths blossom to the surface. They see the sun for the first time, get rain on their faces, all the dirt that was keeping them under pressure swept away by the fast forces of earthquakes or the steady pressure of time’s weathering. That’s seeing each other again and moving back in.

This is where the unexpected stuff happens. A surfaced batholith begins to react to that lack of pressure. It pushes upward and makes a huge dome. Even though it knew its shape under the pressure of the ground, even though it kept that shape for so long, that wasn’t its only shape. It had potential energy to be so much bigger; and once it is out from under the pressure of the surrounding ground, it gets to.

Its surface pieces often crack, splinter, flake as it rises up. But it keeps growing upwards and upwards, turning into a great arc pointing at the sky. Because relationships under pressure are incredibly strong, but they store energy. They’re meant for sharing energy. That energy is going to do amazing things once we’re not in the pressure of being apart.

Inspirational Quote:

“In the unlikely story that is America, there has never been anything false about hope.” ― Barack Obama