New Journey: Data Science

Career transition? Bored? Need a challenge? All of those I answer YES to. I am coming out of the end of a quarter life crisis and feeling like an almost brand new woman. From a serious bout of inner turmoil arose the need for change. I had a revelation, of which I will share later, that totally changed my outlook on life.

Here I am headed into a new phase of my life just as my roaring 20s are ending: DATA SCIENCE. I want to be a Data Scientist. Why? And what exactly is a data scientist?

WHy? — I was trying so very hard to write a book that I got so head in I forgot to look up. I was forcing myself to view myself as a writer just because the cool blogger kids were doing it. Sure I loved to write and yes, I believe I am quite skilled at it but forcing something that doesnt fit or trying to force something before its time does no good to anyone. I am learning to take several chill pills instead. Wrought from my fanciful, dreamy writer life, I was snapped back into reality with the hard press need for money to keep my household afloat. Once again, like a college adviser, I was sitting down evaluating my talents, skills, passion and abilities again, typing up yet another resume when it dawned on me. I pigeonholed myself into this admin/clerical and writer/editor role. No one else did that but me It would then be completely up to me to change this. It would be completely up to me to change the course and direction of my life.

Hanging up my turtle neck and setting down my wire-rimmed writer’s glasses, I rediscovered my absolute love of math when I was bored in the midst of a writing session and decided that I wanted to have some fun by looking up complex calculus problems to solve. I found that I had a penchant for doing that these days. I do it at the grocery store, I like to calculate the mark up or the rate of change. Sometimes, I secretly plotted derivative graphs with the tiles on the ceiling. I would make up graphs in my head. Blah blah blah.

So where exactly did DATA SCIENTIST come up? While reading “The Power of Habit” by Charles DuHigg, I noticed that I really, really, really liked that book and it was because of the skillful use of data and research. I mean the stories were also rather cute but it was the compelling use of data that interested me. My wheels began to turn. The contents of the book had an even sharper effect on me which I think was due to the amount of data and statistics presented. I was hooked and only wondered how many more messages I could drive home by way of data, statistics and research. Thus, I chanced upon Data Science which is the retrieval, research, study, and analysis of data and statistics. And if you know anything about this 2017 world of ours, its that data is God.

This week, I have become fascinated with a Coursera course offered by Duke University on Data Science. I am revisiting my old friends calculus and statistics. I am rather excited and look forward to where this road may lead me.

 

 

Retiring the Internet: How I Plan to Swerve my Internet Addiction

Yep, I said it. And I mean it, somehow.

I am giving up my dependency on the internet. Maybe not permanently but def temporarily for right now.

Life feels too swirly as of late. Life in the fast lane is already fast enough without the addiction of the internet. Which is clearly just a rabbit hole waiting to suck our attention and deplete us of energy. I am convinced. Basically because I hate being too dependent on anything. Too much of anything is a bad thing, not to mention what happens when we abuse it.

I abuse technology, the main target being the internet. I just hop on it whenever I please, for however long I like, doing God knows whatever it is that I happen to like at the time. And oh boy, there are so many dungeons and dark holes to fall into on the internet. I was living in a new, big, beautiful city but was not exploring any of it because I would never leave the comfort of my laptop screen. Busying myself with the claim that I was looking up places to meet people or trying to find ways to connect with people, I rarely ventured outside. Thirst trap if there ever was one.

My Master Plan:

  1. Destroy the mf’n wifi. You read that right. I plan to disable it when I am not using it. If it weren’t for marriage, it would be in the right bottom kitchen drawer collecting dust. But I can’t torture the man like that.
  2. Plan my internet use. Do I have an absolute, definite purpose for using the internet today? No. Good, no need to log on. Yes, I do need to use the web today? For what? I plan to write down my needs for internet the night before logging on the next day. No plan, no internet. (Planning to look at cat memes or ratchet youtube videos is allowed, just not too much.)
  3. Use the Internet outside the home. For some reason, devouring countless hours of internet use at home is much easier to do in lieu of going to the library and having whatshisface from the bus stop stare at you over his computer monitor. Nothing like a nice noisy mouth breather to hurry your work along 🙂 To that end, I will be forced to make monthly trips to the place I call my second home…the library.

 

Welp, here’s to the swerving. Hope you will continue to read my journey.

 

Breaking Up with Self-Hate

I loathe. I hate. I despise. I regret. I resent…..Myself.

I used to think that hating myself was what kept me humble but the more I live, the more I realize how muddy this water has become. I’ve managed to poison myself from the inside out, letting hate fester.

Self-hate feels like the blackest cloud or the darkest storm. Just like some storms, I enjoy the sound of the pounding rain. Sometimes I relish the steady stream of fresh tears that drip from my chin. Sometimes I enjoy this deep pit of despair I am in. It has become home for me. A place of familiarity that I can always return to.

The downside is that the more I come home and the longer I stay, the harder it gets for me to leave. Like an addiction, I feel myself craving it. I begin creating situations unconsciously that bring me back to it, swearing that I would never come back again. Yet I find myself here over and over again. Self-hate has become my friend.

Today I want to break up with my friend. I never want to see home again. Because this home is no longer my home. This place does not hold my heart. And that friend is really a foe bringing nothing but ill and woe. Today I break up with the past, with old habits and familiar routine. Today was the last time I ever go home again.

 

College — Lies They Told Me

I fear you may think I am a pompous dickehead for saying this but it must be said. Allow me to preface this by saying that I am in no way saying that college is bad. Not at all but that it fails to answer the promise that it calls for. I can show you better than I can tell you though. In America where I grew up, North Carolina to be specific, I was told, like many high school students that college was the way to go after high school. If you don’t go to college, you run the risk of being a failure, a loser, and poor. What I really think about college now — a pack of lies.

I think that colleges and most public schools are an employee factory. Let’s see how many people we can churn out that are docile, specialized, debt laden individuals who will basically do anything to make that expensive piece of paper worth something besides the cost of pride.

These were just my opinions. I used to feel bad about them, degrading myself to the status of hater. But was I truly a hater or a smart observer? What made me really quit school? Did I quit because it was hard or over my head? No. I quit because it was not worth my time and the more I think about it, it may not be worth yours.

Life is funny in a very peculiar way. The best, guaranteed way to get the most out of life is to live it with hindsight vision. Impossible to do.

You get the picture, right? Well I sure got it. The message was posted everywhere. When in middle or high school you are asked why you have to know a certain subject you are quickly told that it may be on the SAT or you need it to get into college. Commercials sold the idea of college like hot cakes.

But what are they actually selling? Debt and hope. Expensive debt and expensive hope. As a poor young black girl, I fell for the trap. I didn’t really know what I even wanted to go to college for but teachers were quick to remind me to stay on track that with my grades, my extracurricular activities, and the color of my skin, I was sure to get into a really good college. I was absofuckingely pumped. College. At home, I received less pressure for college. My mom didn’t graduate college. She graduated high school and took a semester of community college right after high school before dropping out to start a family. My mom was also now convinced that her dropping out of college was the life changer for her. To that end, she made sure to steer us as close as we could to college, by first pushing my dad to do. With a much higher resolve and with the support of my mom, my dad graduated at the top of his class from a small private college in Wilson, nc with a degree in mathematics. You go, Dad!

I was sure to follow. Or was I?

Still fainting almost at the sight of my own blood, I set my heart on the only thing I thought college was for, to make the big fucking bucks. Why else would I sacrifice so much money and time? And what else did I know about college besides thats where doctors and lawyers went to collect them dollar signs? Heart set on the cheddar and having a prized MD behind my name, I easily signed promissory note after promissory note for student loans that would eventually top $54,000 by the end of my 10 year journey.

I wish I could now pause the story or steer the plot down some twisted road that leads back to a rainbow with a pot of gold and a silver trimmed plaque with my degree on it. If I told you that, I would be lying. What happened to the girl with so much promise and hope?

She ended up dropping out of college after attempting 3 years at the university, barely sliding by. After a 10 year span of attempting a mix of everything from community college to online classes, I finally gave up. Why did I try so long so hard? External pressure from family and friends to “just finish” as my mom always put it. Just finish what? Was my retort. This constant battering caused a major rift between mother and I. I was resentful of her pushing me to commit to something that she obviously couldn’t commit to and also her refusal to listen to me about my college issues.

Why Drop out?
I will be honest and say that although I was a good high school student according to my grades, I made a terrible college student. I found it hard to pay attention in class when all I longed to do was experiment and see for myself if I could do the things that I read about in books. I think working ruined me as a college student also. I began working at an alumni call center during the second semester of my freshman year. I needed money. After working, I began volunteering at the hospital, taking my own advice, to see if this med school thing was really for me. Secretly, I was trying to get over my fear of blood. But when I wandered onto the labor and delivery floor and was accidentally mistaken for a nurse passing out at the sight of a slimy baby entering the world, I knew my soon-to-be career in medicine was over. So much for the big bucks.

I continued my love of reading, writing, and solving math problems for fun. Classes became less and less important to me. The idea of graduating still seemed fanciful. Saying fuck matriculation and boring stiff ass classes presented to me as part of a curriculum, I began taking classes simply for the fact that they interested me. Most of them were women studies, sociology, and philosophy classes. In these classes, I did well (at least when I made an actual attempt to turn in the work.) I managed to barely get by with passing grades in the other required classes. Most of my time was spent wandering around being curious. I like to linger around professors and chat with them about their life after class. Most professors seemed to have an underlying disdain for their profession that couldn’t really be explained if I tried to probe further. Most seemed to soften when I confessed that my father was a math and science teacher back home. They relaxed a bit, relaying that the educator profession was sorely understated and highly underpaid. Talks of budget cuts ensued, causing my mind to drift.
I passed many afternoons volunteering for all kinds of projects. Living in a college town, the opportunities were plentiful for doing random weird shit.

Guinea pig
In several occasions, my bread and butter came from being a medical guinea pig. Despite now having completely changed career tracks, I still maintained my pre-med contacts and network. I was often told about research projects that were underway that needed participants. These participants would be compensated for their time. With my usual curiouity, I signed up for as many as was possibly allowed.

Final straw:
The pressure to complete my undergraduate degree became so intense that it caused me to lose several friends. I doubted myself as a person. Self hate had set in. I became depressed and dispppinted in myself. Finally realizing that the burden of college was getting too heavy for me to bare, I made a decision in my heart and mind. At the age of 28, no one is forcing me to do anything. I have to take responsibility for my life and where I am. I chose to let the idea of a college degree go. But before completely letting it go, I had to come to terms with it myself. Why was I holding on so hard to this idea of college that it had left such a profound mark on my mental sanity? Why was it such a sore spot of conversation for me?

I soon realized that the real problem was with me and my internalization of my college dilemma. Although by words I had dismissed college, inside, I had no really let go of that old childhood lie that without a degree, I would be uneducated, poor, and stupid. To get over this hurdle in my life, I knew I had to reconcile my decision to drop out of college and be okay with it and be confident enough to stand behind it.

Coming to this decision and final a conclusion was not easy. But I had to start somewhere.

What did college represent to me, really?

Wss this true? Of course not. Why? Because I was not currently poor and I was far from stupid.

What is my attachment to college?

[PRIDE]

What value had college given me?

[Networking connections, overpriced friends, and BINGE DRINKING]

Could I also find this value other ways?

[YES of course]

But what about learning? Oh, all of those classes I hated taking, what about those? I decided to try to experiment and see if I could get through life without knowing [some weird fact about 15th century Roman art]. Was I worried that a potential employer would quiz me on the birth date of [insert fact about a random famous art painter]. I realized that although I had stopped going to college, learning had never ceased for me. I didn’t give myself credit for the things I had learned outside the auditorium.

For instance I learned:
How taxes really work, who pays them, and who doesn’t;
The way the banking system is set up and what it means to have fiat currency;
Africa is wayyyy bigger than what I initially thought
The Advertising industry was going to ruin us all
how to make to make $20 stretch 20 different ways
how to make a computer game from scratch. (see what I did there;-)

That which cannot be taught be must be lived, experimented. I had completely overlooked the amount of education I had racked up aside from a college classroom. Now that I understood that I wasn’t stupid, it was time to reconcile my pride. At the height of my college career, social media was ablaze. And for college students in the U.S., social media was first our domain. After the short reign of myspace fizzled out, King Facebook took over. And Facebook, as some you may remember was intentionally and initially designed for college students. It was our way of letting each other know where we shall gather for the next binge drinking session because that’s what college is truly for: Affluent binge drinkers to do what they do best.

Social media became my worst enemy after college. During college it stroked my ego and kept my sights on the major party scene that college really turned out to be. I don’t think anyone anywhere will ever party harder than college students. Dead ass serious.

After college however, social media showed me once again what a loser I was as my friends and ex binge drinking compadres graduated and went on to grad school or traveled abroad. Their lives looked so perfect and glamourous. They had done it right. It highlighted for me everything I had done wrong in life. I was a failure. College looked so simple and easy yet why was I not interested? Why could I not finish? I soon made the smartest decision I had made up until that point in my life. I disabled all of my social media accounts.

In doing this, I was able to really complete an honest introspection of my life without the bias influence of social media. I realized that by doing so, I could really think though the college thing. I also talked more to my friends besides just liking pictures and statutes. I found out that most of my friends were just as miserable as I was, if not more. They had struggled to graduate college only to graduate with a mountain of debt, no job experience, and thus no real job prospects. Many of them seemed frustrated by it all. College the experience was great but the overall concept was very shitty they seemed to say without saying it. Many of them went on to grad school in hopes that getting a higher degree would bring them the big bucks that college had promised them. Many still were disappointed.

It became a usual lament amongst college grads that those who never went to college were in a better situation than they were. Many of my college graduate friends worked in fields that had nothing even remotely to do with their degrees whilst Sallie Mae hit them over the head every freak month. They worked sometimes two jobs or jobs they hated just to pay off student loans. Many couldn’t even afford to buy a home because students loans put a major hold on their debt to income ratio. They were, for all intents and purposes, fucked.

So Icy

So Icy…
So Icy….

What Gucci Mane said.

I get icy sometimes. Less summer time twerkfest more cyanide in the chardonnay kind of icy.
And yes, I know that life is full of highs and lows, ebs and flows. This I certainly know.

Let’s talk about today, shall we?
Can we converse?

In my typical sense, I was behaving like a pretentious spoiled nascent brat.
“Whaaa whaaaa….” Just like a crybaby.
….Is what me wants to say. No compassion while I “ripped myself a new one” as they say.

ode to what joy?
misery and damnation?
lies and betrayals
……ah, we meet again…..pride and humility. Best frandzzzzz of
love and hate.

Never Washing My Face Again — NOPE

Why Did I Chose to Experiment with Facial Products?

Cause I had mad pimples and like many of you, I started googling and self researching remedies for irritated skin and pimples. Of course I came across the usual advice: Use newer, more expensive must-have facial cleanser, astringent, toner, and creams. My mom even convinced me to visit a doctor who prescribed a topical cream to be applied twice daily.

Issues with the Solutions Presented:

(1) I was budget sensitive

(2) I hated the idea of adding more product to my already long and time consuming daily regime

(3) a;sldfjasdlkfjsdlfkdfljk —Frustration because NOTHING seem to be working and I was spending mad money, yo!

What Did I Decide to Do?

I decided that I would take matters into my own hands, quite literally. I handmade my own solutions (cause Clinique is too fancy and shawty got bills to pay). I started by combining honey and sugar as a rub and used lemon juice with it twice a week. I also decided that for a while, I would simply do nothing to my skin but let it breathe. Thinking of my skin as an organ, I figured that it had been pretty overworked as of late trying to adjust to the different products I had been using.

Results?

ARGGHHHH— PIMPLE OUTBREAK HYSTERIA!

Here is where I do not lie to you as readers. Some may refer to my “do-nothing” method as the “caveman” regime. No water, no soap, no handmade solution, no nothing to your skin. I tried this for a week and my skin rebelled. Breakouts happened all over the place. I had pimples the size of walnuts in places that one cannot dare hide (i.e, dead between my eyes. I mean, come on, people have no choice but to look at this point)

Sticking with it

Despite the crazy rebellious backlash, I held my ground, refusing to put anything on my face. About 3 weeks, in I noticed something short of a miracle — my skin cleared up. My mom noticed it before I did. Not only did my pimples disappear but my skin was much softer and appeared to be glowing. Thank Mary and Joseph! YES!

Caveat

Even though I refused to put anything on my face for a week and a half, the remaining 3 weeks I resorted to simply splashing water on my face every morning, lightly massaging the skin, and rubbing it with my fingers. Once a week I would add my homemade product of 1 parts honey, 1/2 part brown sugar, to my regime using it as a facial scrub. After scrubbing and massaging lightly with the honey sugar rub, I would lightly pat my face with lemon juice, let it dry, and then wash it off with water. THIS. WORKED. WONDERS.

* I hereby swear by it*

Ditching all of my previous facial cleaners and creams, I felt like singing the old negro spiritual, “Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”

BUT…..WAIT. We got too excited…..

The issue with makeup. This topic here is enough for a separate blog post in itself but I will say here that I was able to go without using skin care products to clean my skin because I was already in the habit of not using enhancing products on my face like makeup. I believe that if you put products like makeup on your face, it is most natural that you would have to put more products on your face to get it off. That’s just the nature of the game. And if you’re one of those conspiracy theory types, totally unlike myself, you would then be lead to believe that the beauty industry is intrinsically designed this way. Beauty product makers and skin care product advocates influence each other and help keep each other afloat.

Overall Takeaywas

*I am happy to have been brave enough to experiment.

*Shout outs to my husband who is secure in himself enough to not be repulsed by a wife who’s face resembles a nestle Crunch bar.

*And kudos to myself for sticking with this. I got a much needed confident boost after not dying with embarrassment or being overly self-aware of my facial maladies.

*Self-realization came about—  knowing that I am the only person in this world who can make me feel ugly.

The Essence Within

Closing my eyes, I am wrapped in velvet darkness that caresses me. The darkness transforms into the light of peace, calming the storms of my mind. Racing questions, instantaneous thoughts, self deprecating feelings all wash away here in this space. Like my secret retreat. Silent tears sleigh down the hill of my cheeks as I relish in this peace and calm, closing the doors of senses, letting the world fall away. I am grateful for this space. I sit asking the Infinite for strength to continue in my mortal form with its finite intelligence. I ask him to let the peace of this place remain with me when my eyes open. I dread opening my eyes and rising from my meditation pillow before realizing that this feeling in itself is a form of Maya. So I sit a bit longer, praying fervently for me to believe in true stillness and peace of mind. I pray for greater faith in the unseen— Peace. For me, I know not of peace. Not of what it looks like, what it feels like, or how it sounds. It takes much faith for me to believe that sitting here is okay, that this moment is supposed to be okay. That each moment is perfect and peaceful as it is.
No matter how difficult it is at times, I find comfort in meditating. My most favorite places to meditate are in the shower or in the woods while it is raining — because no one can distinguish the rain from the tears falling from my face. I cry often. Gut wrenching sobs that cripple my back forcing me to my knees. I have always cried when I pray, even from a young child. I cry out of sincerity. Out of sheer will for a greater, deeper faith for that which I am praying.
Most of my mediations, I am asking for strength and fortitude to continue with life. Pleading with God to arm with me his blessings of peace and fortitude for nothing else in this world is worth having. I beg Him to equip me with whatever it is that I need to complete this mission called life. I remind Him that I am suffering in this human form and need his help. Stretching my hands to the sky on my knees with tears streaming down my cheeks, I remind God how hard the suffering is. I bare my flesh to him, exposing deep ebony skin. I cry to him, saying “Master, Infinite Creator, please remember me. Remember that I am in this black girl form. This black skin is drenched in suffering, in past pains, past hurts. Though I know I have a mission here on earth in this body to complete, please be with me. The cross of this black skin is heavy. walk with it I must. Times come when I want nothing more than to meditate on you and practice your teachings when this brown skin fails to believe. This brown skin and the pulsing blood in my veins carry with it the sorrows of a thousand slaves. This brown skin knows little of peace and trust. Lord, you know I have the faith to believe in you even though I lack the faith to believe in myself. Lord, God, please give me the love of all loves — the love of myself. For if I am able to love myself, I am able to express that love to others, as it is your will Lord.”
I pray this prayer and have been praying this prayer for as long as I can remember. Not exactly in those words. I find it difficult to meditate deeply or to enjoy life as fully as I can because my mind always seems to get the better of me. Growing up Black, I was always told, “You have to work ten times as hard as everyone else just to get half of what they get”. This philosophy became the backdrop for my life, filling it with fear and anxiety. I overworked myself to the point of exhaustion and then would get depressed when I physically couldn’t go on because to me, if I was not working like a slave, I was worthless. At work I would arrive early and leave late, working overtime even when I wasn’t paid for it. I didn’t mention any of the injustices that happened to me because I was taught that suffering injustices is the norm for my life as a black girl and that to speak up for myself would attract attention, and attention was bad because I should just feel grateful they even allowed me to be there in the first place. I was inadvertently taught to expect and accept a life as a second class citizen both in this country and in my thinking. Was I groomed and primed to hate myself?
I continued through life always trying to prove myself and denying the luxury of knowing peace. I got to a place in life where I questioned the point of any of it. I asked God why did he make me? I felt ugly, worn, and insane. I wanted to know why God was so unmerciful to people with dark skin. We were brought out of slavery only to have physical chains be replaced with mental ones. In my thinking, I was sure that physical chains could not hold a match to mental chains, for who has the key to free a man in mental chains? Oh, how I felt conned again. I felt once more like a loser as if the pains of suffering would go on forever.
After a very dark episode of depression that landed me into a mental hospital for a week and after quitting my job, I began to get heavily involved in meditation. It was through this meditation that my pain and suffering made sense. I learned about reincarnations and the purpose of this physical body. I began to believe that I was not my body nor my mind but I was an essence that was temporarily residing in the current earthly form. It gives me solace for when times are hard. For those times that the color of my skin causes me to doubt and hate myself, I remember that I am not this black skin, I am the essence within. And if God selected this particular earthly form of black skin with all of its pains and suffering for me to reside in during my mission on earth, He must have also known that my essence is already well equipped.