One to Remember

I don’t really have a lot to say tonight because it’s already almost nine pm here and it’s close to my bed time. But it was a good day today. I’ve been working on getting Chrome 21 out the door for quite a few weeks now and today we finally pushed it. I don’t talk about work here but in the last few weeks I’ve seen once again what amazing people I work with and what a wonderful and inspiring company I work at. I think it’s easy to lose sight of these things in the hustle and bustle of everyday.

My kids were wonderful and played quietly so I could do what I needed to do to prepare everything. So I promised them that if they are patient, I will get them a nice surprise. I had to go to work this afternoon for a meeting and to thank some of the team members who’ve been working late nights and early mornings to get everything ready. After I came home, we all went out and each boy got to have a new lego set.

Bad days are easy to remember. Good days fade out of memory. So I wanted to note this wonderful day. A day when things came together. Tomorrow will bring its challenges. It might be better. It might be much worse.

But, for now, I just want to pause and acknowledge this good day.

Google Quick Search Box

A project I’ve been working on at work finally launched today. Check out the Google Quick Search Box. Trust me when I tell you that this product rocks. Some of the best people I know have been working on it and it’s truly awesome.

Productivity and the Importance of a Routine

A few weeks ago my good friend Jess came over for a playdate between her son and David. While the two played, we chatted. At some point, Jess said “you get so much done!” and I told her how there’s a long list of things I don’t do (like cooking) so I have more time. She insisted that even so I was more productive than the usual person.

I am not sure if that’s true but it is something I’ve heard before so it got me thinking. And I think I’ve realized the two important factors to what helps me get things done.

The first one is commitment. Or maybe more like a neurosis. When I decide to do something, I feel an inexplicable sense of responsibility. I don’t like to leave things unfinished. I’d rather never start than leave unfinished. It doesn’t matter if it’s for work or for my personal todo list. Once I decided to do it, I will do it. So this commitment part is the first crucial element since without thinking it’s important, it’s relatively hard to choose to get something done instead of relaxing.

The second has to do more with timing. If the task can be finished in a day, I will finish it. I’d rather lose sleep than leave it unfinished. Not only will I never do it but it drives me completely insane when others do it. That’s why I was up late last night moving karenika to its new domain. I couldn’t bear the idea of this task dragging over days.

But there are many tasks that cannot be finished in a single day. Like the 365 photos or weekly tags or scrapbooking or writing a book for example. For those, I use another trick: routine. As much as possible, I try to establish a routine so that it’s a recurring event on my schedule. I take my daily photos every morning unless I know we have an upcoming event later in the day (like the doctor’s appointment we had earlier this week.) I do my tags each weekend (sometimes sooner if I have an inspiring idea). I do my AMM kit the first weekend after I receive it. I just sit and do it. I don’t give myself the option of postponing.

I know that there are a lot of other tricks to productivity (like “Eat the frog” which is doing the thing you’re least looking forward to, first) but it turns out, for me, what matters most for long term productivity (especially for non-work related things that don’t really have to be done) is the commitment and setting up a routine.

What You’re Good At vs What you Like to Do

Jake and I were talking about work the other day. I kept wondering,
what’s more important: to work with something you’re good at or to do
work that you like to do?

I think some of this point is a bit moot. Generally, if you’re really
good at something, you must enjoy it at least a little bit or you
wouldn’t have been able to become that good at it. And if you truly love
doing something, you’ll eventually get good at it. Or, at least, better
than mediocre.

However, there are real case examples where I might be really good at
something but it’s not my passion. And I could be really passionate
about something that I am just not that great at. Even if I am above
mediocre. Is that good enough? Will I constantly struggle and always get
frustrated? Should I just stick to what I know best for my job and make
the other my “hobby”?

I honestly don’t know the answer to this one.


One of the biggest challenges of work in general is balancing the work,
the deadlines, and the politics. One of the main reasons I quit Wall
Street was the fact that I wanted to spend my time doing something
worthwhile. Until last year, I could easily say that my changes were
such. I did Teach For America and regardless of how it turned out, it
was definitely a worthwhile way to spend my life. After TFA, I worked
for home and did something small and not too relevant but I was still
supporting two worthwhile causes: my husband’s business and growing our
family by one magical person.

Then, last year, I changed course and went back to work. Full time.
Albeit, it wasn’t Wall Street but still, I often wonder if I am still
pursuing the original goal of living a more purposeful life. What I
realized today was that if I put aside politics and the need to move
ahead or be recognized, I can easily make my life purposeful and
regularly try to do the right thing. Which will in return make my life
more purposeful and make me feel more proud of myself.

Politics, to me, is the worst side of any company, even for a nonprofit.
Good people, doing the right thing, should be rewarded. Period. If this
were consistently the case, the only goal people had would be to do the
right thing. However, often times, it’s much more about who you are, who
you know, etc. And I have so little interest in being part of that game.

I don’t know what that means for my future in the corporate world, but I
know that now that I’ve found a way to make my life purposeful again, no
one is taking it away from me.

Get excited!

Really Good Day

Today was a really good day. Really good.

It reminded me why I am here to begin with and what I was thinking when
I decided to leave my little boy and go back to work full-time.
Sometimes it’s good to remember these things and remember why you did
what you did and keep a record of them. So when the days are like
yesterday, I can come back and read this post and feel good. And
remember that there were days like this one.

I can feel the beginning of something big here. And I hope, hope, hope
that I am not wrong.

Doing the Right Thing

Some days things just magically fall into place. On other days, doing
the right thing is a major struggle. Constant uphill battle.

Today was one of those days. In the grand scheme of things, I suppose it
doesn’t have to matter but it’s so frustrating that it taints the rest
of your day or your overall outlook on things.

That’s when you know it’s a good time to go to sleep and start over
tomorrow. Sorry for the short entry but I think I need a good dose of
sleep to feel full again.


I didn’t write much last week mostly because I’d been working longer and more hectic days than usual. I started at my current job mid-September. I took the job because it would allow me to learn a few new programming languages (or scripting languages as I like to call them) and give me experience in an area I hadn’t previously explored. Well, I also took it because it would pay our rent, but that’s another matter altogether. The guy who hired me promised to teach me all he knew. A little over two months after he hired me, he quit the firm. Leaving me, my position, and my project in a quandary.

I ended up taking on the project on my own and finishing the design work. I made some changes to our plans and decided to tackle a small portion of the new system first as a test to see if the overall strategy was going to work and to find out any unknown problems with our approach. I spent the last six weeks, cleaning data, writing over 50 scripts and testing like crazy. I thought and rethought our original ideas and cut out all the whistles and bells from the new system, at least for the first rollout. I tried to remember the wise lessons taught in the Mythical Man Month which I hadn’t read since Sophomore Year, college. I had full control over the system and I knew that meant I was also the sole person responsible of its potential downfall.

Well, after much hard work, I rolled out the new system last weekend and six of the eight people in the office are using it. (The other two are part of the second phase of the rollout, a much bigger and more involved section which I will start working on this week.) I haven’t rolled out a professional system completely on my own ever before. At school, I had classmates in my group, on Wall Street, I was either a member of or managing a team anywhere from three to 20 people. I’ve coded for myself, for Jake and his family or friends before, but I’ve never designed, coded, tested and rolled out a full system completely on my own before. And I was expecting glitches. Major glitches. I spent several sleepless nights worrying that once I rolled this system out, it would burn and crash causing the rest of my project to get cancelled and me to get fired.

Well, Monday came and went. A tiny glitch in one of the sections that’s used only by one user appeared. The other five asked for enhancements not originally planned. (Some were extremely easy and thus coded, others are on my list for after the phase-two rollout.) Tuesday passed. So did Wednesday and Thursday. I went back to working out of my house (I’d decided to work in the office for the first three days just in case disaster struck or the users were confused about how to use the system). As of now, an entire week has passed with all of the users on my system. We haven’t had any glitches besides the one on Monday. The users have been quiet. In the world of software development, quiet users mean happy users. If they are calling you, it is always to complain. I even received some compliments. “It looks so beautiful.” “I can work much faster now” “That’s so awesome.” Magic to my ears.

Even if my users don’t, I know that the new system could use a lot more work. I can give you a long list of its flaws. Nonetheless, my users are happy. I had no glitches. I didn’t have to uninstall it. I didn’t bring down any servers. They didn’t lose any clients because of me. It all seems too good to be true.

It appears, much to my dismay, that I am a better programmer than I was a teacher.

A Job

So I got a part-time job today. The one main requirement for it being that I read Turkish fluently. On the way to the interview, I turned to Jake and said, “If I don’t get this job, I can’t get any job. I was practically born into this job’s requirements.” He told me not to stress and that one never knows. Well at least I did get the job. It appears I can read Turkish afterall. My elementary school teacher would be proud.

The Dream

“I wasn’t feigning confidence; I really was confident. I was sure that my plan would work and that it would work exactly in this way. Looking back, it seems somewhat astounding that anyone would take me seriously. But at the time I didn’t see any reason for these funders to doubt me.” – Wendy Kopp from one day, all children…

I was thinking more about why the article I mentioned yesterday moved me as much as it did. Besides the rush of reading about someone who just learned all he could about every aspect of a business he was interested in starting, I found another characteristic that I decided is a common aspect among some successful people.

So you want to start your own company? You want to write the Great American Novel? You want to win the Nobel Prize? You want to. You really want to. You can feel it. You can taste it. But you’re also worried. Is it going to work? What if it doesn’t work? What if it’s all just a pipe dream? What if you’re giving up the comfort of daily life and delving into uncharted territory just to find yourself miserable, lonely, and penniless in a few years?

You get scared. You want some sort of guarantee. You want someone to tell you whether your sacrifice will be worthwhile. Is it going to work or is it just a pipedream? You’re willing to shake up the status quo but only if the hard work promises to eventually pay off.

Here’s the answer to whether your idea will work: it will, if you think it will.

Sounds trite?

Well, it appears the common trend amongst people, who’ve succeeded when others hadn’t expected them to, is that they didn’t know their goal was unreachable. The guy who started his hedge fund at 18 didn’t realize it was a big deal. He wanted to make money. He found a way and it made a lot of sense. Whoever said that it was hard to start a hedge fund and nearly impossible to sustain success for many years, had obviously not mentioned all this difficulty to this boy.

Same goes for above-quoted Wendy Kopp, who started Teach For America. She said the only reason it succeeded was because she didn’t know it was impossible. She believed in it wholeheartedly. It made perfect sense to her. Why wouldn’t it succeed? She was too naive.

That’s what’s missing in most of us: childlike naivete. We are too practical. We have a long list of reasons why we can’t quit our stable job. Why we can’t pursue a dream. It’s not real after all; it’s just a dream. We toy with the idea of chasing after it each time we drink a lot or have an exceptionally bad day at work. But no more than that. Each year, it becomes even harder to imagine going for it. We’re grown ups now; there’s no room for daydreaming in the real world. We bury the dream and push it lower with every passing year.

I don’t want to speak on behalf of you; I can only speak for myself. Maybe you do chase after your dreams. Maybe you have no dreams. Maybe you’re already living your dream. All I know is that it’s been too long since I’ve even heard that little voice inside of me, let alone considered listening to it. I buried mine so deep that I’m not even sure it’s around anymore.

Maybe it’s time to start drinking.

What’s Next?

Today’s the two-week mark since I’ve quit.

With the exception of really good friends and my husband, who know better, people have been asking me what I plan to do next. Are you going back to computers? Wall Street? Are you really planning to move? Where? Once we open the topic, questions don’t end.

Of all the things I got back in my life in the last two weeks, two matter the most: time with people I love and time to read. I’ve spent several multi-hour conversations with friends in other cities and have had the privilege of spending face-to-face time with friends whom I hadn’t seen since last May. I’ve also been reading incessantly. I read four books since I’ve quit and am in the process of reading three more. Last week, I devoured {the} Hours in a day and remembered why I need reading in my life.

Something I didn’t foresee was how quickly the days would pass even when I don’t have a job to swallow three quarters of my day. It seems I have something to do every single day. Not only that but I keep an overgrowing list of things to-do that I add to more often than I erase from. At this rate, I may not be free until the end of the summer.

My email account, even though I spent several hours cleaning it last week, still has 55 unanswered emails. My computer is full of pictures I have been meaning to post. Book excerpts I mean to write. Phone calls I mean to make.

An novel idea I’ve had for three years has come back to haunt me. I promised a friend that I’d help code his site. I want to learn Python. I’m thinking of installing Linux on my laptop so I can play with it. I want to take more pictures, especially of New York, which I plan to leave real soon. I want to visit all the City’s museums; especially its quirky ones. I want to go to the opera, to see plays. I want to go to see the movies that only New York’s theaters show.

Maybe I’m filling up my time because I don’t know the answer to “What’s Next?” or maybe I’m not ready to think about it because I have so many other things I want to do. I don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg.

I do know that the question is at the back of my mind. I do know that I don’t want to settle. I know that I was passionate about the cause of TFA, regardless of how it all turned out. I know that I want to feel that passion for the next move I make. That I want to live my life passionately. That I want the kind of job I’d be proud and thrilled to have. I know that it may not be possible. But maybe it is. I’m certainly going to try.

I also know that I’m not ready to answer the question just yet.


I’ve been meaning to write for quite some time.

Putting it off is so much easier than doing it. Partly because putting it off means I don’t have to start taking responsibility for my life, the one I will be creating from scratch, just yet. Partly because I’m still enjoying the honeymoon period. Partly because I’m scared to face the guilt that I’m sure will come but has refused to appear so far. Partly because I’m still getting used to feeling this way and I am worried it might not last if I start talking about it. Partly because I’ve decided to live my life again.

The fact is, I enjoy my site. I’ve always enjoyed writing here and having a place where I can publicly dump my thoughts. I know that writing things here puts them in the world forever and, as opposed to old diaries, I won’t necessarily be able to tear these pages.

But I like the truth in that. I like that I can’t go back and act like something never happened. I like that I can’t deny I felt a certain way at a certain time. That something wasn’t a choice when it was.

I don’t believe in regret. Never have. I’ve only had one event in my life that I consistently regretted for fifteen years and I just let go of it a week ago. (It felt so good!) This is not to say that I haven’t been sad or frustrated by the choices I made. It’s just that I always thought about my choices at length and never made them haphazardly. Thus, I was always secure in the knowledge that my steps were the best ones to take for my state of mind at that time. Regretting something after the fact is useless especially since there’s almost no way to change it. Having these pages stored in a digital format where anyone can dig them up at anytime forces me to call myself on my tendencies to slip into the world of denial. It stops me from saying “Oh, I never wanted to do that any way.” It gives others the proof to say, “Bullshit.”

I quit my job. Exactly a week ago.

I quit the job that I believed in with all my heart. The job I didn’t want to admit hating. The job that wasn’t right for me from the very beginning. The job that I wasn’t really even trying to do well. I still believe in the message. I am still amazed by the people who do it every day, despite its difficulties. I respect their choices and their ability.

Most amazingly, I didn’t quit it for something better. I didn’t quit it for more money. I didn’t quit it for more flexible time. I didn’t quit it because it was boring. I didn’t quit it because I plan to get pregnant.

I simply quit for me.