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In Conclusion:

Hello. It's me, Riley! Sometimes I stick to a strict daily blogging schedule. Sometimes I disappear for a year. Happy New Year.

This time last year, I was stressing out over the software engineering coding bootcamp I was working through. It was a big, desperate swing at solving my financial insecurity anxieties once and for all. The plan was: graduate bootcamp, get a well-paying entry level job flexible enough for me to afford the time to escape every Summer to my second home, a place I haven't been in 15 years.

Big surprise: It didn't work as I'd hoped.

I foolishly jumped into tech thinking I'd take to it better than I did. I'm proud of my accomplishments (I did work very hard, I did code some stuff I did connect well with people, I did graduate) but I also tried entering the field at the exact moment every tech company started slashing jobs and going on hiring freezes. The headlines were in the papers on my first day of school.

Meanwhile, everybody caught on pretty quickly how poorly the school was being run. It felt like a hotel hallway-length rug being constantly pulled out from under us. My proudest accomplishment at bootcamp was speaking to each individual student in my cohort about our complaints, synthesizing them all into a petition, submitting a signed copy, and having our demands met almost immediately. I had never done anything like that before.

But big picture: school felt like a mistake. I never went to college. This is the first time I've been buried underneath big, fat loan debt. I'm depleting my savings to pay it off. I'm going to figure something out before I'm flat broke, but I don't know what that will be yet.

The mass-application process has been dehumanizing. I have some friends in tech helping me stay on target, but it's a very gross process. Applying for jobs that already have 200+ submissions within an hour of the listing going up. Using ChatGPT to write cover letters that nobody will read. I have a certificate for work I hate, in the hopes of working for people for whom I have zero respect. Nice.

There is a happy ending, and a hopeful new beginning. Although I'm in a much worse financial situation than I've ever been, I gave myself permission to get back to where I wanted in the first place.

My second home is a circus performing arts summer camp in Northern California. It's owned and maintained by my extended family that happens to be a hippy commune known for their clownish political activism and music festivals. This is where I broke out of my creative/social shell as a teenager. That stage changed my life. If you've been aware of my stuff for long enough, you may understand the gravity of this real statement: both Robot Riley and Vacation Jason were invented there.

Hi. Do you know this about me? It took years to admit to myself that all I've really wanted is to return to this place. Then came the years of longing without having a plan. Well, I just got back from Camp. It was better than I could have dreamed. I had so much time to ponder and plan how I'd really love to best soak in the experience. I really did a good job with my time. I'll probably end up sharing a lot from there as I process it.

Anyway. Hello. This is Riley, doing what I can to return to the version of myself that I love, respect and believe in. I'm on a foolish clown path. I'd like to do my best to carry the Camp version of myself back into the rest of my life. I feel such potential when I think about never feeling envious towards people and situations I don't actually want for myself anyway. I'll probably need some reminders quite frequently as the environment can deeply influence my state. We shall see.

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