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Shutdown Sequence

Not-quite-four years ago, I launched The Trephine, my fourth blog, with a now-deleted post reviewing a lot of painful backstory that connected old readers to my new life as a divorcee. The experience that followed has been incredibly rewarding. Some of the emails I’ve received as a result of this blog, in which strangers poured out their hearts to me, will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I’m proud of the stories I’ve been able to tell here, because they are true and because I earned them. I got rid of all my stuff and fit my entire life into my car. I helped start a roller-derby league in my hometown that is still there today, and my last event with them raised almost thirty thousand dollars for cancer research. I took a huge leap of faith (and of geography) for love after knowing Andy for a very short time. With his support, I became a software engineer using nothing more than a couple hundred dollars’ worth of materials, and in two weeks I am marrying him.

These years have certainly been interesting, and I wouldn’t trade them for anything.

During this era of my life, the “rolling memoir” format has served me well, but at this point, I’m not sure what I could really do to top myself. Frankly, it’s not particularly healthy for me to be epic all the time. Many of my accomplishments throughout these healing years were fueled by fears and anxieties that had to go somewhere. They were tough, joyful, stressful, and sometimes even euphoric experiences, but they could not have happened without that tinge of desperation that bloomed in my chest the moment my marriage ended and I had to start actively figuring out how the hell my life was supposed to proceed. I see people who can’t stop, the famous if not legendary ones who must do amazing things until the day they die, and I both envy and pity them, because their lives are both wonderful and fraught in a way that I have personally found to be rather tiring.

There is such a thing as ordinary happiness, and if you find it, you may be better off than your own heroes.

(But if you must do epic things first, if your ego drives you compulsively onward, that’s not such a terrible way to go about things either. Maybe you find ordinary happiness by becoming extraordinary, and enjoying it, but also realizing that it won’t fix everything, that you still have to wake up the next morning and find some other way to get by and feel okay about it.)

The other problem here, aside from the impending boringness (which I not only sense in my life, but welcome with open arms) is that I’m becoming more technical. I don’t really want to talk about feelings that much anymore. I want to talk about APIs and AngularJS and a lot of other stuff that very few people reading here are going to care about, because programming has made my brain so happy and I’m so excited about everything I still don’t know.

It’s funny, how guilty I feel about that, how I wince a little when my tweets get too technical. It can be hard to feel okay with change in yourself. Big changes in you are always going to disappoint someone. Happiness is often boring under the very best circumstances, and I think we can all agree that “she’s happy because she now studies a ton of crap I do not care about, and when she talks about it she sounds as if she is speaking in tongues” is not ideal for most.

That said, I am ready to accept my fate. I am not ready to stop writing, Internet. But I am ready to start disappointing you in the name of finding the ones who can’t wait to hear what I have to say. I’m sorry if it isn’t you.

I’m not sure when my Trephine posts will go offline, but I’m fairly certain that most of them will. If there’s something I’ve written that you want to keep, you may want to copy it into a Google doc or otherwise hang onto it. People sometimes email me to ask about a post they remember but can’t look up, and I try to find it and send it if I can. If you have your heart set on a post and you can’t track it down, let me know.

If you use a feed reader, you’ll stay posted on whatever I’m doing until you choose not to — I’ll attach this feed to whatever new (boring, decidedly less literary) blog I wind up with, which will probably take me many months to get together among other priorities. I’m also yapping about liberal politics and my cats on Facebook more than my relatives would probably like me to be. I’m also on Twitter.

But: no pressure to stick with me at all, in any form. Even if you don’t, it has been an honor to have your trust. It has been an honor to share my life with you.


  1. Janeen wrote:

    It’s been great reading you over the years. Thank you!

    Thursday, July 25, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Permalink
  2. Jim wrote:

    Be well, and enjoy this new ordinary happiness.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 3:57 am | Permalink
  3. Lisa wrote:

    I wish I had the words to properly thank you for letting us in and for sharing everything that you have. Your words helped me find light and feel less alone during my darkest times; they made me laugh and feel hope and joy for you and myself; they helped get me out of my own head and reminded me to look up and appreciate the magic and wonder and humanity right in front of me. Your words inspired me. They made me want to be more.

    I am so thrilled at the ordinary, extraordinary happiness you’ve found, both personally and professionally, and I wish you more of the same in the future! Thank you.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 4:03 am | Permalink
  4. Bethany wrote:

    Thank you for sharing your life with us all these years. Your words helped keep me going through some of my own toughest times over the past few years. Here’s to ordinary happiness!

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 4:50 am | Permalink
  5. Theresa wrote:

    You may be losing one community here on this site, but you’ve gained a whole new one of programmers! I hope you at least archive your recent articles about your career change & learning to program. I think they’re extremely valuable to women in programming, especially young women who may be intimidated by programming as a career. I’m glad you’ll be sticking around on Twitter so I can continue to stalk you (in a not creepy way, of course). I’m looking forward to the technical tweets! As one of the rare women in programming, it sometimes feels like finding a unicorn when you find other women who share the same interest :)

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 5:49 am | Permalink
  6. Diary of Why wrote:

    This is so timely. Just yesterday I directed a newly single girlfriend who’s contemplating online dating to your series of posts from your cinematic year. Then I re-read through them myself, since I’ve been on an epic dating hiatus, a lot of it out of exhaustion from the same things you mention in your posts. If I were to give it another shot, I’m considering an Operation Trapdoor Spider of my own. :) Glad to have been able to re-read that before it’s too late!

    I’ve enjoyed reading your essays over the years, and I get needing to move on. (I have a farewell blog post saved in my drafts folder that I haven’t gotten the courage up to pull the trigger on yet, but soon.) So glad for the way things are going for you. I’m not sure if I will follow you over to the tech blog, but you never know. Wishing you all the best!

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 7:23 am | Permalink
  7. beck wrote:

    Well, darn. Best wishes to you.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 7:42 am | Permalink
  8. Windy wrote:

    I have deeply appreciated your writing, no matter whether the topic was divorce or roller derby. You’re an excellent writer, and I’m sure I’ll suck it up and read about programming if you choose to write about it.

    Thank you for your candor.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:27 am | Permalink
  9. Angela wrote:

    Best wishes to you on Everything. You’ve rewired and inspired many, and I’m positive you’ll continue to do so!

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 8:29 am | Permalink
  10. Becky wrote:

    Damn it. I wish you didn’t have to go and delete, but I get the moving on part. You are one smart lady and an incredible writer and you’ve taught me a lot and made me think. I’ll miss this place.

    Friday, July 26, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Permalink
  11. :-(
    Glad I have you in feedly, then. And that we’re FaceBook friends! I hope all goes well with the nerdy coding and the husband-to-be!

    Monday, July 29, 2013 at 8:41 am | Permalink
  12. Tracy Bryant wrote:

    Well, shucks, I came a bit late to the party here, and now you’re vanishing! I have loved how you can put words so well to things that are hard to articulate, and with wit and wisdom. I can’t quite imagine you writing anything boring. Best of luck to you in your marriage and new endeavors.

    Monday, July 29, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  13. Suebob wrote:

    This makes me irrationally angry. You’re one of my favorite writers and your posts feed me, so I feel like one of my most-frequented restaurants is closing. I know that there is no obligation to feed me, but damned it, your quinoa casserole of writing was SO PERFECT. I know I make no sense. But I hope you have a long happy life doing whatever it is you programmer people do, and with Andy, and with whatever pursuits you engage in. I admire you and your fearless approach to personal growth and excavation. Hug.

    Sunday, August 4, 2013 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  14. Sir wrote:

    Well, poop. Pardon the harsh language, but there just aren’t enough of your writerly ilk (ability; wordsmithery; ninja-like dexterity with punctuation) on the interwebs anymore. So, your leaving warrants the use of words like ‘poop’.

    I wish you nothing but happiness and errorless compilations. Thanks for all the words.

    Tuesday, August 6, 2013 at 2:29 pm | Permalink
  15. Shannon wrote:

    I am sad as well. :( Your blog was one of the last that I was always really excited to see a new post from. I understand that life will slow down for you, but that’s rather what I liked about your writing. Not that the situations or things you did were epic, but the humanity and normalcy you brought to it all. I think you could make paint drying sound interesting, so if you have a new blog about programming, I’ll be there to read it! I’ll really, really miss The Trephine though, and the deleting that will come with it. I often direct people to your blog because of how you can perfectly articulate something that I want them to understand. It will be sadly missed. I’m happy to have friended you on Facebook though, I think it’s amazing how you share your life with people the way that you do. You are brave and I feel that your writing and influence make us all a a little braver too.

    Monday, August 19, 2013 at 9:28 am | Permalink
  16. Oh no!! Is there no way we can convince you to leave your posts up? Why delete? I’m not sure I understand the need for that, but of course it is because selfishly I want to be able to come back and read your fantastic writing whenever I want. Opening up a Word document I’ve saved on my computer somehow wouldn’t be the same.

    Pretty please?

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 1:57 am | Permalink
  17. jessica wrote:

    I’m late to the party (ongoing problem) but wanted to throw some confetti in your direction for your already-over wedding, and to commiserate (I dream in code every night), and to wish you lots of happiness & love, and thank you for leaving a thread so we can follow you to your next online reincarnation, and finally to apologize for this incredibly long run-on sentence. xo

    Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 11:27 pm | Permalink
  18. Jen wrote:

    Sorry, Penelope — I know there’s no logical explanation for my tendency to take blogs down when I’m finished with them. All I can say is that when I’m finished with an era of my life, I’m really unwilling to be defined by it. Taking the posts down has always been one of the satisfying parts of putting things behind me, like taking down all of your posters right before you move out of your college dorm. :)

    I delete for professional reasons as well. Knowing that just about anything I put online will eventually be taken down also just helps me to be more honest. I stand by what I write, and I just about always hand over copy when people request it via email unless it’s REALLY old and REALLY personal, but there’s a difference between providing it on request and having it just floating out there for anyone to find whenever they want.

    Lastly, these aren’t just my stories at all, though I do my best to maintain that illusion out of respect for other people’s privacy. I find it more considerate of those behind the scenes to let these events fade into history eventually. Just as one example, my ex-husband has a right to move on from being the guy I’m divorced from, which is why a ton of posts containing pictures of him have disappeared over the years. Most instances of this phenomenon are milder than that example, of course, but you’d be surprised at how tangled things can get in that arena!

    Sunday, September 1, 2013 at 4:11 am | Permalink