Saturday June 6th

A New Adventure and Research Week 4

I am in a new city!

  • It’s been amazing since I’ve been here; I move out again and into my official summer living quarters tomorrow, which should be interesting!
  • So far, I’ve been in this swanky modular space, which I found out is a Dutch chain, but with units assembled in Poland. It’s funny that given any choice, I picked a European hotel and one that one that is only ten minutes’ walk from my actual living quarters. I did not plan any of that; I only realized that afterwards. I’m a big fan of minimalism in general and great wifi, and the place had both and was “artsy” / had character. It reminded me of years ago when we went to San Francisco for the first time, stayed in the Tenderloin on a mattress, and walked around the city drawing on sketchpads. We learned so much and had so much fun and I feel grateful for the opportunity to explore this summer, too! The last time I was here for a summer was more than a decade ago! It has changed SO much back then. I giggled remembering how back then, the train I was on, the only one I knew to take back to my friend’s house, where I was staying, suddenly turned into a totally different express train. I had gotten very specific directions by writing on a piece of paper and only had a Sprint flip-phone back then (and there was definitely no wifi in the Subway back then!). I burst into tears in the middle of the subway station, as I was by myself, as we (the passengers) all shuffled over to try to figure out where we had to go, and a gentleman looked at me and said “excuse me, miss. Why are you crying?” (he looked annoyed at my open display of weakness in the city lol, but I realized that he was really sympathetic) and I told him I was lost and he helped me figure out where I had to go. I grew SO much that summer, conquered my fear of navigating the city, and I expect to do the same again this summer, too. That summer, I moved to 6 different locations in three months; I lived in the Bronx, the Upper East Side, The Hamptons, Queens, and two places in Brooklyn, dragging two suitcases along the whole way, and at one point travelling for two hours each way via bus and train to work. Some of those people worked at Radio City Music Hall and on Broadway back then. I saw my first Broadway stage walking on Broadway (we were replacing fixtures at the Lyceum), and worked with people who were working in Hollywood on shows being shot in studios and being flown across the country for the role. I remember being exhausted and seeing, on tv, while eating dinner, the very actress we were working with in our play, on a Coca-Cola ad; it was a surreal experience. Seeing paparazzi swarm a famous couple for the first time. I asked “what just happened” and the person I was travelling with said “honey, he’s a celebrity”. I’ve never seen those things in my home country. One day after much hard work, our mentor said he would treat us to a frap at Starbucks. Everyone seemed excited but I had NO idea what they were talking about. Everyone gasped, realizing I had never had Startbucks lol. Standing so close to a Robert Capa print (that I had only ever seen online) that I could see the grain; the beauty and perfection of the print took my breath away. Seeing the sun rise on a beach in Southampton with my feet on the sand, holding my shoes in one hand in the early morning. Seeing a very young, famous actor attend our show with his wife, so happy together, and years later hearing he passed away via overdosing. Leaving work early in the morning and seeing famous musicians now heading into the studio. I haven’t kept in touch with everyone, really, because of how many times I’ve moved since then. But sometimes a friend of a friend of a friend tells them about me “she’s doing great”. I’m excited for this new adventure. I was a LOT more “fresh off the boat” back then. Many immigrants have these kinds of stories. Struggling. Starting over. Surviving. Thriving. It’s wonderful to be in a city of immigrants again, too. Hearing about how they are so inspired by the city, the possibilities to achieve your dreams no matter how big; they have so much love for this place.
  • Interestingly, just like most of the places I have lived, this is in sort of the “Arts district”, in what used to be a centre of vaudeville. I’ve been having a lot of fun and if I could, I feel like I could jump out of my skin with excitement! I feel like I could burst.
  • I caught up with a long-time friend today, and we had exceptional tea and thai curry, and he is just one of the persons who knows me on a deep level, that it was just wonderful and refreshing. I feel so grateful. It’s funny how we always pass each other from city to city, sometimes with serendipity ending up in the same one. Years ago, we were literally on opposite coasts, but would spend hours chatting on the phone, which made me grateful that I kept my East Coast number :). I have quite a few friends like that; they move around, disappear, and re-appear and it’s like we never missed a beat. They’re out in the world doing their thing, and sometimes I even stumble across an article or hear about some big person doing some big thing and I realize “oh, look, it’s X person! I didn’t know they were in Y place now! Good for them!” I have so many friends all over the world, with such different lives. It makes me so grateful for this whole journey I took so many years ago to “study abroad”. Who could have known when I left my country of birth for college with so much uncertainty, for the first time, that my life would be like this so many years later? It feels so surreal.

This week

  • My mentor had exciting news! He presented some of our work to the main group at an event in the Bay area this past week and they are quite excited about our work! So that’s so awesome!!!!
  • The two of us who are working with our mentor are also going to write a blog post, or rather, a series of blog posts as well about it!
  • Both an article about a publication we wrote and a podcast I was in came out this week, too!
  • And throughout it, I spent my time this week on long days of working, plugging away, pushing up code as I could, and cleaning my apartment.
  • I went to a cool talk on cryptocurrency and ransomware by K. Nershi and one half of the Diffie-Hellman showed up to our meeting, which was kind of a trip! I also went to a cryptography talk and attended a zero-knowledge book-club where the author went through the GKR protocol some more and then I also attended a talk on Physics-aware Neural Networks, where the speaker P. McMahon, spoke about using a circuit with say, a transistor, and using it to classify a digit with 87% accuracy. They also spoke about physical systems that have memory, which was super interesting! He started out talking about wind tunnels vs simulations, so the difference between how those physical systems do the job vs software systems, which was awesome because the hardware company I worked in for many years had a lot of hardware that we would have to do gravity G-tests on, do wind-tests and crash-testing on. And I ended up working for another company that makes software for a lot of that kind of simulation work, too, which was a dream of mine!
  • Oh, and for my weekly seminar, I met a really cool bunch of people and some of us are going to study together on some of the topics. This week, we covered SegWit, which is a very involved topic, so there was a lot of discussion and subtleties that persons wanted to talk about.
  • I also made a bunch of new friends, and some of us already are planning to meet up for coffee or tea! It’s so easy to meet so many people here! I laughed so much this week, and it’s been so great.

Okay, here are some photos of my space in the meantime!

  • That square is a fridge!

  • The view of the outside world!

  • The lights (even the colour; I stayed with the default hot pink lol), temperature and even blinds are all controlled by iPad. What’s cool is that for check-in, they literally generate the card, and it takes less than 3 minutes to check-in. It’s super cool! The bathroom is awesome and the shower is just the right temperature.

  • They have a large television that welcomes you with your first name!

What can I say?

  • I’m having a really great time during my summer, and I’m working hard and playing hard.
  • I am moving in with some stability tomorrow, so since that’s the space I’ll be for most of the summer (except for one week, when I am at the Roots of Unity workshop and the AWM Research Symposium), I plan on getting some work done and chatting with my parents, and gaining a bit of stability from walking around like a nomad around the city lol (although given my history with this place this is what I know).

And that’s it

Written on June 4, 2022