Sanity is a Finite Resource

Sanity is a finite resource, and this weekend my tank hit empty. I’m talking about light-flashing, engine-choking, pull-over-on-the-side-of-a-six-lane-freeway empty.

We’re in week 10 of coding bootcamp, and somebody decided it would be a great idea to schedule a semi-mandatory internal Hackathon over the weekend.

A Hackathon, for those of you who have not experienced one, is an all-weekend event where coders get together in small groups, choose or get assigned a massive coding project, and attempt to tackle it in a single weekend by forgoing all sleep. Clearly a concept designed by someone who does not have children.

The timing was incredible–my class (Ruby on Rails) and the iOS class are at the beginning of a sprint to complete a final project in time for demo day. The third class (Front End) is only 2 weeks into their course, which presents an entirely different set of issues.

I had also volunteered to help out with a Rails Girls workshop the following weekend, giving me one less weekend to work on my final project. I had really, really been counting on this weekend. Unfortunately, I’m not good at knowing when to cry “Uncle”.

Which brings me to the “bat-shit-crazy” part…

….. Let’s just say I broke down in tears, and walked out a few hours before presentation time….

Yeah, that pretty much sums up the important points.

The long version of the story is that things started out pretty well. I got assigned a project I really liked: creating a “Panic Button” app that notifies family members of an emergency with a click of a single button. I also got an incredible team, packed with extra features like–gasp!—real, live social skills!!

I became leader-by-default, and we were able to agree on a beautiful, simple design. My teammates were even wise enough to understand that having the web app match the mobile app was more important than indulging their individual design preferences. The iOS app was especially impressive, with a simple interface and appealing colors. Things were looking up.

And then day 2 came.

Day 2 was when I realized that by some form of black magic, we had to link the web app with the iOS app–no super glue allowed. Neither of us had any clue what our side of that equation was supposed to look like, and half-way through a stressful, sleep-deprived weekend, in front of some theoretically potential employers, with the guidance of some programmers who did not know our particular technologies but knew enough about programming-in-general to make us feel like Special Edward, was not a comforting place to learn.

I went into complete brain-paralysis.

My teacher tried to help, but I kept thinking, “Your lips are moving, but no sound is coming out!”

By the morning of day 3, it was pretty clear this ship was sinking, and my teammates were smart enough to pull together a Power Point presentation showing what our app was supposed to look like (given 2 more weeks and / or a greater reserve of sanity).

I, on the other hand, was sitting on the sidelines thinking, “There is no freakin’ way I’m presenting a Power Point when other people have working apps to show.”

And that’s when I broke down and said, “I’m sorry, but I just can’t do this. I’m going home.”

Sanity is a finite resource, and you can only run on fumes for so long.

I went home and decided I would not even think about coding for the rest of the day. What I really wanted to do was tell my school, “You can shove my final project up a deep, dark hole. I’ll do it in my own time, and find my own job.”

There were just enough fumes-of-sanity to keep me from doing that…at least temporarily.

Since the start of this course, I have pretty much devoted every second of my time to learning to code, sitting in class and/or traffic, and trying to be a mother to my 2 children. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I haven’t so much as watched a 30-minute TV show (unless you count having cartoons on in the background.)

It was funny to see what happened when I gave myself permission to not code for one entire day.

For starters, my children, who — every five minutes — ping the Mommy Server with, “Can you pay attention to me now?” were shocked to get back a “Yes”.

They both spent the entire day in my lap, and my son told me about 100 times, “Mommy, I luh yoo”.

I enjoyed it so much that I decided to take Monday off too. I woke up at 8:30 a.m. (can’t believe I slept in so late!) and then went back to sleep at 9:30 a.m. and slept for another 3 hours. We then went out to eat with my brother, and on the 30-minute drive home, I fell asleep in the back seat like an old person / young child / motion-sick-Golden-Retriever.

Tomorrow I suppose I’ll drag myself back to school, even though that seems like an incredibly unproductive way to spend my time. I’d get a hell of a lot more actual coding done in my dark, cold, quiet basement, but I suppose I need to prove (or fake) that my sanity is still intact.

On a side note, we won the contest. Believe it or not, we took first place.

On another side note, WTF?

If all they wanted was a Power Point presentation, I could have knocked that out in an hour.

I’m beginning to think this is all a big government-funded social experiment to test the limits of human sanity. Oh sorry…that’s just the empty tank speaking, (psst…this place is bugged.)


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