Writing this post in between bouts of filling in project pages for the Allegheny Activism teams who are helping with Fedora Marketing and Design for the remainder of the F13 release - I'm doing this so that I can later write up the "how to scaffold student teams" post for Planet Fedora later so that more other people can do this once I'm done. Firehose mode, go! And in order to keep momentum between minisprints (maybe 5-15 minutes on each team's page, but the average time is closer to the former) I'm writing up my weekend here as I go.
I'll start where I left off last time - when Saturday night rolled into Sunday morning. I did go dancing, and afterwards I went driving in the warm night with the windows down to get a breeze through to dry out the sweat in my shirt and my hair. It felt good. Eventually I hit the Strip District, pulled on a sweater, and snagged a sandwich at Primanti's - not the largest sandwich I've ever eaten, but certainly filling, and quite good. Then I continued to drive through the city - back roads, side roads, in between buildings - because there's really nothing like a city at night. And when you drive up a hill and look out over whatever of the rest of Pittsburgh you can see from there (it's big!) the whole dang thing is just filled with lights pouring down into the valleys and the river basins, all yellow with flashes of neon here and there.
Finally I pulled over and decided to figure out where I was so I could get back to Meadville for a jug of chocolate milk the next morning. Learned that Konqueror + my mobile broadband + Google Maps didn't combine nicely; in the process of waiting (repeatedly) for that single map page to load, I wrote a couple emails. Finally gave up on Konqueror and loaded the map in Epiphany instead; that worked. I hit the road again. Did I mention that in addition to cities at night, I love long highway drives in the middle of the night? I love the night; I've always felt like I owned that time. Everyone else is sleeping, and I get to do stuff. Mm.
Made it halfway to Meadville - it was about 4am - when I realized I was a little sleepy. Not dangerous-sleepy - nowhere close - but tired enough to feel tired, and sane enough to heed it. I probably could have made it all the way with no trouble, but I prefer being on the road fully alert, so I pulled into the nearest little town, tucked my car off on the side somewhere, and pulled a quick snooze. Refreshed, I hit the road again, and had the pleasure of winding past the farms of northern Pennsylvania as the sun was coming up; the fog gathers in the fields and sort of wisps and swirls up as the sunrise hits it. This is particularly surreal and gorgeous when accompanied by slow blues music - which in fact was the CD I had in the car at the time. Road was empty, so I stopped and took a picture at one point. It doesn't do the fog justice at all, but you can see it filling up the fields there in the back, where the ground is sunken lower.
Made it into Meadville's market house only to find that it was closed for Easter. Oh well. No chocolate milk. I'd half-expected that. So I strolled along the fence festooned with sculptures made from traffic signs, shooting with my (nearly-broken cheap old pocket) camera along the way, snagging little moments of the lazy morning.
Hit the highway again and went to Erie, just to see what it was like. Found out that it was pretty boring. Went back south and saw some signs for Conneaut Lake. There's a little lakeside park with a half-burnt-down building and some abandoned amusement park rides, and a power outlet by the dock - so I plugged my laptop in there to recharge the utterly depleted battery and sprawled on the loveseat swing nearby and kicked off my shoes and socks and read. When I was bored with that, I walked barefoot down across the little docks they had sticking out across the water, and sat on the edge of that and dangled my legs off the end of the pier and watched the geese take off. And when I was bored with that, I went back to the swing. And so my laptop battery recharged, and I got to do a lot of thinking. Sometimes the thinking is important, too. Helps you Do More Stuff later on.
Back to Pittsburgh - checked out one of the hotel locations for POSSE CMU, though that wasn't the reason I went back down. I walked the city this time, stashing the car behind a CMU building and going up and down Forbes on foot. Stopped by an Indian grocery and got a can of coconut juice (which really didn't need the added sugar - coconut is clear and sweet all by itself; the can was okay, but you can't really beat an actual coconut hacked open at a roadside stall, where you can scrape the flesh out after you drink the juice) and a bottle of mango lassi, which I slowly drained as I walked down the street.
When it got dark, I ran uphill to the top of the U. Pitt medical center campus where I stopped to let my heart catch up with itself. My cardiovascular fitness sucks right now; I really need to take better care of myself, and I'm trying - but running multiple blocks up a steep hill when you're completely out of shape is only a great idea if you want to lean against a fence gasping and trying to will your pulse to slow down for a minute or two afterwards.
I'm trying to learn to be gentler about things; you can't reboot a person, and I've got to find a way not to wear myself completely out before I'm 30. I was a workaholic allnighter-pulling 11-year-old, and at some point the constant pushing starts to show. I'm a lot better at relaxing than I used to be, and I have a little bit of time to relax now. And I just... keep finding that I don't quite know how to use it. Sometimes I slip into these beautiful periods of being able to hang loose, and I have genuinely relaxed, but I can't do that consistently yet, and sometimes I think I do it too much. Balance: I don't have it yet.
I'm still learning how to have a life, and still learning how to have a life with other people in it, and still find myself standing up from the chair I've been working in and going oh I haven't eaten for nearly 40 hours and perhaps that's why I'm a bit lightheaded and yes I'm going to sleep now thank you very much. I don't do that nearly as often as I used to - I used to literally live that way all the time when I was a teenager and away from home for school - and being around other people (at hackathons and such) really helps recalibrate me into something closer to normalcy... though when you think hacker behavior at a sprint is "normalcy," that may be a sign of how far out on the zomg you don't know how to do anything but work spectrum you are. Or used to be.
But I am getting better!
So I climbed up the medical center campus and sat and scribbled in my notebook and got a bunch of things out of my brain. Walked down the hill. Eventually got back into the car, still thinking. Eventually drove back to Meadville. Made it in around 2am on Monday morning. Hadn't actually slept - or at least in anything resembling a bed or for any length of time greater than 2.5 hours - since Friday night, so I went down hard for 7 hours and sprang up and got my laptop and went to work. (No alarm. I just... 7 hours was all I needed. I couldn't sleep longer.)
And that was my Easter, more or less. At some point along the drive (by Mt. Washington, actually) I stopped and walked into the church nearby; the actual church was closed, but I knelt and prayed in the lobby, and it was the first time in a long time I'd actually deliberately done that - prayed in a church, I mean. I usually talk to God when I'm walking, and it's the quiet moments like when I'm lying in a swing by the docks that I'm able to listen. It's difficult for me to sit in a chair in a building and think straight on command; it feels much more natural when I'm moving. Or when I was a kid, I'd climb the trees out by our church, and feel a lot better out there than I did inside.
Still a relatively relaxed day today. I took a chunk of breaktime at lunch to go return the car, and another chunk this afternoon, and now another chunk to finish writing this. (Although once I post this I ought to finish prepping for class, then do a student team evaluation, then draft a letter, then take a round through POSSE, then tell my team about the stuff I did today, and then I'll call it a day workwise.)
I feel like I'm starting to settle into a new sort of steady state. It's not a bad one. Actually, it's a very nice one - it needs a lot of tweaking (I am not satisfied with my productivity yet), but it's a pattern that I quite enjoy, and one I can - sort of - keep up while still doing my crazy on-the-road thing. Perhaps an unstable equilibrium is the best I can hope for in terms of ever "settling down." Dunno. Will keep on seeing what it is I learn.
Back to work.