May is a truly miserable time of year to visit Costa Rica, so my recent trip wasn’t exactly a barrel of laughs. But one of the biggest things I kept thinking about while wandering around San Jose was that in America we have ceded so much of public life to the auto industry. All of the US prioritizes the needs and storage of individually owned cars above all other methods of getting around, and that’s simply not true other places. There are entire pedestrian-only avenues in San Jose filled with street vendors and people just walking in the middle of everything without fear. The only place in the US you see that kind of thing is literally in amusement parks. It makes me wonder what we could be capable of if we invested in public infrastructure and de-incentivized individual car ownership. I say this as someone who owns a car and loves it. But it’s possible that I just love it because owning a car makes the experience of living here materially better in ways that aren’t true in other parts of the world.
One of the best books I read last year was Tess of the Road by Rachel Hartman. It’s a kind of meandering fantasy story about a girl who is rejected by her family and so she walks through the country. It’s episodic and understated, and a year later it still takes my breath away sometimes when I think about it. I’m quietly heartbroken that it didn’t win the Nebula’s Andre Norton award for YA SF/F.
Tess is given more room to be flawed and interesting and angry and complicated than I feel like many protagonists in young adult literature are. She’s given room to breathe and evolve as she walks the road and accrues new experiences. I think I actually cried a couple times near the end of this book.
One of the best things about this book is that the people in the world around Tess feel as real and fleshed out as she is. Character driven fantasy can sometimes fall into the trap of evolving the main character in a navel-gazey way that flattens the people around that main character. But there is a real sense that the world around Tess would move without her, and that people have their own complicated interests and motivations that are not just there to benefit the protagonist.
Tess of the Road is technically a sequel to the Seraphina Duology also by Rachel Hartman, but it’s not necessary to read that before jumping in here. Seraphina is on my list, but I still haven’t gotten around to it. Rachel Hartman is also working on a sequel called Tess of the Sea. I’m excited for when it comes out, but also a little puzzled as to where it could go. This snapshot of Tess’s emotional journey feels so complete.
I certainly plan on rereading Tess of the Road before the sequel comes out, and maybe a couple more times before that. This book is meditative and heartfelt; I could not recommend it more.
I was on eight flights last week. That is too many flights. I hope to never do that again. I slept most of yesterday, but I feel like I still need one more day to just collapse and do nothing while my cat licks my face and I halfheartedly slap him away.
since my last post i spent a week in cleveland for a conference, i ended my previous job, i started a new job, and now i’m in costa rica for things relating to the new job. a couple people in my life are super jealous i’m in costa rica, but they clearly don’t realize that i’m just staying in an office, and being in an office in san jose is not substantially different than being in an office in chicago. i’m not complaining. i’m just too busy to function, and it’s all fine. can’t wait to get back home on sunday and hang out with my cats. i miss my cats. no more traveling for a while.
Not long after I posted my last post, my boss suddenly had a bevy of harried questions for me, not all of which made complete sense. She scheduled two meetings in which I showed her and other employees (some of whom were perfectly capable, others not so much) how to run a simple script. Anyone at even the lowest pay grade in the room should have been able to figure out how to run it without a handheld tutorial, but, you know, here we are.
These meetings also included me bringing up some very serious concerns I’ve had for a while. My boss snapped at me, “Why didn’t you ever bring this up?”
The great thing about quitting is I can retort with things like, “I have, repeatedly, and at length,” and when she asks, “Why haven’t you documented this anywhere?” I can cut her off and say “Didn’t you read the agenda I sent out prior to this meeting with documentation I’ve been working on? It’s point #3.” And what’s she going to do, fire me for snark?
Anyway, after this I get to go on a road trip. I only have to come back in next Friday for some cursory stuff and an exit interview. Things are not in a great state, but they’re certainly no worse than I inherited them, and that’s at least something.
So long suckers.
Not technically my last day on the job. I’ll be available for questions and calls as necessary while I’m at PyCon, but this is functionally my last day. I’ve been trying for nearly a week now to shore things up and to get people to ask me questions as they have them. I’ve been almost entirely left to my own devices, with any updates or concerns I have falling on deaf ears.
I can’t believe my boss insisted I wasn’t giving her enough time with the notice I gave her. She didn’t even use the time she had.
I’m not going to miss these people at all.