Silicon Valley First Impressions

Traffic, the radio, the climate, the Kool-Aid – where to start.

Well, here’s something weird: I’ve been hearing a lot of radio commercials that have started dropping off the “m” in am and pm. For example, the Disneyland Resort commercials keep advertising special deals and events, available at “8a, 10a, 2p and 4p.” It’s weird, right?!?! Every time I hear it I keep thinking, is this going to catch on and become a new norm?

Then there’s traffic. A lot of Tesla’s, a lot of Mercedes, a lot of BMW’s. And to my great surprise, traffic is fast and smart. Drivers skillfully weave between cars, going 140+kms/hr, and no one bats an eye. It’s taken me a week to get used to it. My conclusion so far is that there are a lot of smart people here. People who can accurately gauge speed and distance, as well as human error and blind spots (everyone shoulder checks). I mean really – I saw an average of one accident per day in Surrey, BC, back when I was driving to university. Why? Bad drivers and a lack of shoulder checking. And here? Minimal accidents and good drivers. It’s pretty cool.

The climate is also pretty great. Every day has sunshine. Even if the morning starts off cloudy, the clouds burn off around lunchtime and the sun is ready and waiting. There’s also a really nice breeze that distracts from the heat. A breeze that cools the entire bay at the end of the day. A breeze that carries the warm scent of eucalyptus trees and comfort. I like it here.

Oh, and the Kool-Aid. Right. Well, there are a huge number of Tech companies here, each with their own Kool-Aid. Google, for instance, has it’s own Google branded bicycles. Yep. Blue seat, yellow handle bars, green tires, red frame. There are no labels or words on the bicycles, just the colours from the google logo. And I say bicycles because I saw 7 people on bicycles, biking through the Google area – where every corner for a couple of miles has a building that says Google on the sign. Building after building after building. All Google. And as I’m driving through all I can think is, do you get a bicycle on your first day of work? Does someone come up to you and say, “Hello there, welcome to your first day at Google. Would you like a parking space or a bicycle?”

All that to say, I’m surrounded by smart driven people, and it’s awesome. I just really hope that the whole “10p” time reference doesn’t catch on. I’m not a fan.

1960’s Glasses and Dreamy Work Guy

Glancing towards the noise of the door closing, I saw him again. There was something about the way that he shuffled his feet, how he made sure not to stare, and how he smiled confidently as he walked past me.

I hadn’t even considered what I would say if he spoke to me.

It happened all at once.
And I was a complete simpleton.

“You’re wearing glasses,” he said.

“Yes.”

“You weren’t wearing them yesterday.” His face was inches from mine. Realizing that he had noticed me yesterday, I continued to respond with one word answers.

“No.”

“Are they real?”

“Yes.”

Whatever happened next was a blur. In answering yes about the glasses being real, I realized I had lied. Well, I had and I hadn’t lied.

The glasses were real frames from the 1960’s, and after purchasing them at a vintage store, I had clear glass put in them at an optical shop. So the glasses themselves were real, but that wasn’t what he meant. He had been asking if the glasses were real, as in, did they help me see.

I went to my parents house for dinner later that night and proceeded to re-tell the ridiculousness that had been my interaction with the “dreamy guy at work.” My family laughed at the mess I had made, throwing out suggestions about how I should pretend to fumble on the floor for a lost contact lens. Or start to continuously rub my eyes, complaining about the air conditioning making my contacts dry.

As amusing as their feedback was, I had essentially given up any hope that Mr. Dreamy Work Guy would still find me interesting.

Turns out, he did like me.

And now, two years later, we get to laugh together about my “real” glasses.

Beep beep bop

At times, I feel a bit like a newly programmed hard drive. It takes me a few seconds to compute new information.

Men, for example.

Men used to be a bit of an anomaly to me. Well, who am I kidding? They still are.

I’ve learned a lot though. And been fortunate enough to know some wonderful men. I’ve learned that humans are programmable. Re-programmable even. And that the paths that we write for ourselves are our own.

Recently, I’ve found contentment in letting go. In re-programming myself. In allowing the landscape around me to just be. 

I’ve found relief in letting go. And found happiness in such relief. 

The best secret of all, is that I’m beginning to like change.

 

Finding Rest

For years I’ve gotten to know myself as the leather belt that holds together the belt loops of other people’s emotions.

I carry bandaids with me.
A sewing kit.
Deodorant.
Floss.

It seems that in years past, I’ve found my identity in helping others. In being there for them. In having something to give them.

I’ve gotten up early and stood with people on days that scared them, watching for the tell-tale signs in their faces that I was needed – insecurity, doubt, panic. I momentarily carried situations, minimized details, and laughed to ease tension.

I got good at it, and pretty soon it became unconscious. Perhaps it was always unconscious.

One day I grew tired of the song and dance that I’d happily signed up for. It wasn’t such a happy thing for me anymore. I found that I had little identity outside of helping others, and didn’t feel valuable otherwise.

Time has passed, and I’ve been able to ruminate on my needs and desires. I’ve discovered that giving of yourself is a great thing, so long as you have enough to give.

There’s so much more to who I am than what I can give to people.

And it’s okay for me to be a bit selfish from time to time. It’s really the only way that I find rest.