“What the actual fuck? What would make a person do this? It’s like you have a dream about the washer overflowing and you shuffle in here and turn the water off in the middle of the night!”

I am standing in our upstairs laundry room, glaring at the red and blue shut-off valves, which are pressed stubbornly to the left. The washing machine is whirring – I commanded it to start after all – but I am thwarted but the inexplicable lack of H20.

I rage at my husband for far too long, a trail of curse words that would have made my mother blush.  But he’s not here. He’s at work, 40 miles away, stuffed into a slightly wrinkled, button-down shirt, enduring the ramblings of ridiculously well-paid private attorneys for the direct benefit of Sam and me.

Now I’m the one who’s blushing.

I have a problem.

I first noticed the problem about two weeks ago. I’d taken five days off – from coding, from writing, everything. I was decompressing from too many years of constant pressure to deliver work. But the pressure was building again. I had a website I needed to code.

I sat down at my desk and got my papers organized. I opened Dreamweaver and Photoshop. I started slicing the design. And I realized I was furious.

Yes, the design was going to be annoying to code. Yes, the entire project was rather irritating. But the problem wasn’t the project. It was me. I had become someone (or something) else – a hunched-over, frothing, angry creature ready to lash out at anyone or anything that stood between me and finishing this god damn stupid website. Why the fuck am I even doing this shit?

Up until that point, I thought I was just bored with coding. But, as I sat there clutching my mouse, I realized that the work had changed me, and not for the better.

I retreated to the kitchen and tried to calm myself with some sunshine and herbal tea. I didn’t like the person I had become when I sat at that desk. I didn’t like how it felt to be her. And frankly, I was surprised that anyone else had been willing to put up with her either. How many years had I been living as Mr. Hyde?

I found Dave outside. He was digging a hole for the first new plant of the season. “Honey,” I said, “I just realized that coding makes me really angry. I don’t like myself when I do it.”

Dave smiled up at me, dirt smeared across one cheek. “Dolly, I’ve been telling you that for years. The first time I ever saw you build a website you were yelling at it. You’ve never liked it.”

Well, shit.

Is this going to work?

Yesterday was also a coding day, and when I found myself in the laundry room, yelling at my husband in absentia, I wondered for the first time if my grand plan is going to work.

Am I going to be able to keep coding, even on a very part time basis? Will this angry pattern ultimately subside?

The truth is, I only feel the anger because, most days, I feel something else – the joy of finally living the life I’ve been waiting for. I write. I read. I share work with smart people. I get better.

And that’s really something.


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