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New Year's Thoughts!

I have never been a big fan of New Years' celebrations. Generally, I have too many negative memories and associations with New Year's Eve, and I'm not going to pretend I ever really stick to resolutions.

THAT BEING SAID... I got top surgery on December 30th, 2021- which MEANS that New Year's Eve (mostly New Year's Eve Eve) is my top surgery anniversary! Which certainly makes the whole time a lot better. Top surgery was one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I was downright elated to be spending my New Year in bed, sore and naueseous. Genuinely! Probably the best New Year's Eve I can remember!

And now there's this codejam so I have something positive to focus on this time of year! So, it's time to reflect; How was my 2023?


I started the year off switching majors. For a while, I figured I'd do something in computers for my career; After a few months of electronics classes, I realized that was not a good idea. I didn't care about the material, I wasn't excited to learn more, and I didn't like my teachers.

I didn't want to leave college, but my options were a bit limited. I looked down the list of offered majors, and went to meet with a professor of one that looked interesting- Plastic and Polymer Engineering. He sold me! 100% post-graduation placement rate, salaries starting at 65k, a range of potential niches, small class sizes? Sure, why not! I started in January 2023.

Something about Plastics just grabs me. Plastic is in pretty much everything, for better or worse, so I've been able to learn all about how things are produced. I've been able to use so many different machines! I don't like all of my classes 100%, but I'm interested in enough that I have motivation to keep going, and to keep trying. It feels like I have an actual path forward because I'm understanding material and networking with people in the field.

My first batch of polymer classes were all with one professor. I really hope they're not reading this, because it's pretty sappy, but they changed my life.

They casually refer to being autistic. When I asked them how my classmates would react if I corrected them on my pronouns, they confided that they are also nonbinary (They/She). She didn't come out publically for another few months, but I cannot stress enough the impact that having an "actual" adult telling me she's just like me has had. I've been out since I was 16. I have been constantly told that it is likely a phase, that I'm being ridiculous or "too much", that nobody over the age of 20 is like this. But there's my professor- a highly respected, successful, wildly smart adult who is just starting their transition.

I spent a very good portion of my year with this professor; in class, during office hours, talking about life and video games and being trans and neurodivergent. They're somebody I don't want to disappoint. Having somebody who "gets it" in my corner has also made a lot of the less savory parts of going to a trade school a lot more bearable, and a lot less lonely.


I switched jobs a lot this year, too. When I switched majors, I lost my job at the school IT desk, because it's only open to computer-related students. In February, I got a job at a local grocery chain. I continued that until the summer, when I moved back home, and struggled to find temporary employment in my hometown. Towards the end of the summer, I got a job babysitting for two hours a day, which wasn't bad at all but wasn't a whole lot of pay.

When I got back to college, I immediately started looking for a new job. The grocery job was fine, but pay was shit (only $10/hr) and it was becoming more strict and had unorganized management. I was hired on the spot at the local Rite-Aid, which had slightly better pay ($11.50/hr) and had much more understanding management, friendlier coworkers, and more opportunity for growth.

And now, due to the horrors of capitalism, I am losing that job right as I'm on the cusp of a promotion. 2024 seems as if it will also start with job hunting.

As far as long-term career stuff goes, however, I did really well this year! I worked my ass off at career fairs; I collected business cards, followed up with every person I talked to (that wasn't a defense contractor), gave out my own business cards, got professional resume help, etc. And it paid off!

Even though it is not yet time for a summer internship, I already have one laid out. A company contacted me immediately after a career fair to set up an interview. Three Zoom interviews later and they sent me a contract- I got the job! A paid internship for the summer, in my field, where they'll move me to Chicago!

I'm going to be working on an extrusion blow molding line making big plastic barrels while also shadowing an engineer to learn more about that job. It's an incredible opportunity, and I'm so lucky to have gotten it.

This is easily the best case scenario, and I am super excited. I'm waiting to hear back on the specifics of when I'll get the money for housing, as I'd like to secure that ASAP- but that can wait until 2024. :)


In April of 2023, after months of constant appointments, testing, and fighting with insurance, I was diagnosed with Amplified Musculoskeletal Pain Syndrome and Fibromyalgia.

These diagnoses are the sort you get when nothing else makes sense. Despite being tired all the time, constantly sore, and getting worse with more exercise and movement, all my labs came back normal. The specialists kept telling me I should be happy that my labs are normal. Nobody wants nerve damage, after all. But every 'passed' test just felt like a waste of money, a slap in the face, and my body's way of telling me I'm being dramatic.

There is no cure for AMPS or Fibro. I was prescribed physical therapy, 2-3x a week, for a few months minimum. Then we'd see what happens. The main goal was to make it so I'm not out of breath and on the verge of tears after walking for 30 minutes.

Physical therapy ended up being too expensive and I was struggling to get appointments that worked with my schedule. I did DDR for a while to stay active, but my college town has no arcades. I've been managing okay, though. My job at Rite-Aid allows me to sit down when I'm not busy, and using a cane means walking isn't quite as tiring. Still tired all the time. I hope to be able to go to physical therapy in 2024, but I'm not holding my breath.

Being a trans person who had to go through pretty much every department in the local hospital system means I got misgendered a lot. I hit my breaking point after being constantly deadnamed at the neurologist's office- I had my name legally changed in 2022.

I filed a formal complaint and discussed all the ways the hospital system is hostile to trans people. To my surprise, the higher ups appreciated it; I was given a spot on the new patient and family advisory council, which they began after hearing my complaints, and helped develop ways to improve the experience for trans people overall. So there is a silver lining to all the horrors! I get to actually help improve things for people like me!


I've put a lot of effort into finding places I feel like I belong this year- Really trying to put myself out there, you know? I think overall it's paid off, probably? It's hard to tell, in the short-term.

Over summer break, when I went to play DDR, I met a girl who lives in the apartment above the arcade. Going there so often also means the employees recognize me, too! That means whenever I go to the arcade I see people I know and who know me, which is really cool!

I've also been making an effort to try and talk to more people I see frequently at school and work. Obviously I talk to my professor and roommates a lot, but I've been attempting to join in on classmate discussions too. That one's a lot harder for me. I did get invited to a study session during finals season, though, which is a huge win!! Some customers at my workplace have also pointed me out as somebody they love to talk to, which is such a nice feeling.

God, and then there's online community. This summer I was very, very lucky, and got to meet up with some longtime friends in Florida. Probably one of the best weeks of my life. These are friends I've had since middle school, and we met over Discord, and we finally got to hang out, go to arcades and spend time together. It was a dream come true and I miss them dearly every day, even though we still talk a lot.

Then there's the 32bit.cafe, which is the reason I'm making this page at all. My therapist agrees- helping out in this community has been great for me! It's really rewarding to see an actual mark left by me somewhere, like with my web safety article or the contributions I've made to the discuss page. It's incredibly gratifying. I've met so many amazing people from places I knew nothing about, had eye-opening discussions and have really improved my website in a tangible way.

This year I really felt like I was a part of things, online and offline. I couldn't be more grateful. One of the most important things to keeping my depression at bay is feeling like I have an impact on people, on the world; and, in my own small little ways, I definitely feel like I have.


I feel like maybe my life is finally starting to look up a little bit.

I'm scared as hell, but that's okay. Everyone is, I think. But lately I've been making myself do things even when I'm scared. And it's not always great, but at least I'm doing things.

I'm really grateful to everyone's support and love this year. This website is my pride and joy and it has been so healing to work on it. For once in my life, I'm doing more than dreading what the future holds. I've really been able to grow and mature, I'm proud of the person I'm becoming. That's a really incredible feeling that I never really thought I'd get the opportunity to experience.

So, thank you. I love you. I hope 2024 treats us well, and if it doesn't I hope we have the strength to force it to.