Last week at Olin was a good experience I want to write deliberately about -- sometime, but not now. I am in New York now; I got lost in metro construction last night but finally made it to Katrina's living room (the first time we've seen each other in a decade -- ah, old friends!)
At the moment, I am sitting in a corner of Hacker School sipping water from my CamelBak and uploading tonight's talk slides. They're v.1.1 of the 2013 PyCon Santa Clara talk -- in other words, minor changes only. I'll be a featured speaker at PyCon Toronto this August, so the deck will (hopefully) get a more thorough revision before then -- Hacker Schoolers, feedback please!
A snapshot of the room: there's a fishbowl-style meeting room in the center with windows as walls, tables and graphs and sketches drawn across them in red and black whiteboard marker. Surrounding the fishbowl are clusters of tables marked by handwritten signs bearing the names of famous programmers: Steele, Russell, Djikstra. Hacker Schoolers sit and work on their laptops; a few sport headphones or earbuds, some talk quietly across the table, and a couple have books they're working through open in their lap. There is a background buzz of indistinguishable chatter, like a coffeeshop; it lets you know the room is alive.
I'm off to a slow rolling start, talking with students individually. The chatroom has a thread about running out of tea. I pull my Genmai Cha canister out of my bag and sketch instructions on how to use my little Bodum press, and then reply:
Mel Chua: I just put some genmai cha and a french press atop the microwave with usage instructions. go for it :)
Mel Chua: (I brought more tea to share, but it's mango iced tea that needs a larger pot for brewing, so if someone brings a big jug or kettle or something tomorrow, and there's some way to get ice, and there is sugar, we can do iced tea time)
Some folks ask for help with a network collision detection algorithm in the Lovelace room; I jog over and poke at requirements, edge cases, and tradeoffs, join Tom dodging traffic through the hot streets to a cramped place that sells Indian wraps recommended by Sonali. We talk curriculum and Python language design, slapping sticky notes on the whiteboard, spicy lamb oil dripping through my fingers. I meet Lindsey in the chatroom and we commiserate about grad school and I now know someone else in Indiana to hang out with next year, and my talk slides are uploaded, and I'm sitting in the corner writing breathlessly into this blog post about oh oh oh so much is going on!
And then I catch myself speeding in text, and think: perhaps I ought to make a cup of tea, and sip it slowly, and breathe myself back into the physical world and use my energy to be here, in the conversations floating through sound waves instead of wifi. So I'm back... and I'm back. I've not found the balance between being here and being here yet, but I'm getting there.
Someday, I'll be a part of things and write them clearly. Someday, I will be able to be in the world and bring the world into my words. Someday, I'll be a writer and a human being at the same time. Might as well start now.