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First Time Going Through Coding Interviews?

This post draws on my personal experiences and challenges over the past term at school, which I entered with hardly any knowledge of DSA (data structures and algorithms) and problem-solving strategies. As a self-taught programmer, I was a lot more familiar and comfortable with general programming, such as object-oriented programming, than with the problem-solving skills required in DSA questions.
This post reflects my journey throughout the term and the resources I turned to in order to quickly improve for my coding interview.
Here're some common questions and answers
What's the interview process like at a tech company?
Good question. It's actually pretty different from most other companies.

(What It's Like To Interview For A Coding Job

First time interviewing for a tech job? Not sure what to expect? This article is for you.

Here are the usual steps:

  1. First, you’ll do a non-technical phone screen.
  2. Then, you’ll do one or a few technical phone interviews.
  3. Finally, the last step is an onsite interview.
Some companies also throw in a take-home code test—sometimes before the technical phone interviews, sometimes after.
Let’s walk through each of these steps.

The non-technical phone screen

This first step is a quick call with a recruiter—usually just 10–20 minutes. It's very casual.
Don’t expect technical questions. The recruiter probably won’t be a programmer.
The main goal is to gather info about your job search. Stuff like:

  1. Your timeline. Do you need to sign an offer in the next week? Or are you trying to start your new job in three months?
  2. What’s most important to you in your next job. Great team? Flexible hours? Interesting technical challenges? Room to grow into a more senior role?
  3. What stuff you’re most interested in working on. Front end? Back end? Machine learning?
Be honest about all this stuff—that’ll make it easier for the recruiter to get you what you want.
One exception to that rule: If the recruiter asks you about your salary expectations on this call, best not to answer. Just say you’d rather talk about compensation after figuring out if you and the company are a good fit. This’ll put you in a better negotiating position later on.

The technical phone interview(s)

The next step is usually one or more hour-long technical phone interviews.
Your interviewer will call you on the phone or tell you to join them on Skype or Google Hangouts. Make sure you can take the interview in a quiet place with a great internet connection. Consider grabbing a set of headphones with a good microphone or a bluetooth earpiece. Always test your hardware beforehand!
The interviewer will want to watch you code in real time. Usually that means using a web-based code editor like Coderpad or collabedit. Run some practice problems in these tools ahead of time, to get used to them. Some companies will just ask you to share your screen through Google Hangouts or Skype.
Turn off notifications on your computer before you get started—especially if you’re sharing your screen!
Technical phone interviews usually have three parts:

  1. Beginning chitchat (5–10 minutes)
  2. Technical challenges (30–50 minutes)
  3. Your turn to ask questions (5–10 minutes)
The beginning chitchat is half just to help your relax, and half actually part of the interview. The interviewer might ask some open-ended questions like:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Tell me about something you’ve built that you’re particularly proud of.
  3. I see this project listed on your resume—tell me more about that.
You should be able to talk at length about the major projects listed on your resume. What went well? What didn’t? How would you do things differently now?
Then come the technical challenges—the real meet of the interview. You’ll spend most of the interview on this. You might get one long question, or several shorter ones.
What kind of questions can you expect? It depends.
Startups tend to ask questions aimed towards building or debugging code. (“Write a function that takes two rectangles and figures out if they overlap.”). They’ll care more about progress than perfection.
Larger companies will want to test your general know-how of data structures and algorithms (“Write a function that checks if a binary tree is ‘balanced’ in O(n)O(n) ↴ time.”). They’ll care more about how you solve and optimize a problem.
With these types of questions, the most important thing is to be communicating with your interviewer throughout. You'll want to "think out loud" as you work through the problem. For more info, check out our more detailed step-by-step tips for coding interviews.
If the role requires specific languages or frameworks, some companies will ask trivia-like questions (“In Python, what’s the ‘global interpreter lock’?”).
After the technical questions, your interviewer will open the floor for you to ask them questions. Take some time before the interview to comb through the company’s website. Think of a few specific questions about the company or the role. This can really make you stand out.
When you’re done, they should give you a timeframe on when you’ll hear about next steps. If all went well, you’ll either get asked to do another phone interview, or you’ll be invited to their offices for an onsite.

The onsite interview

An onsite interview happens in person, at the company’s office. If you’re not local, it’s common for companies to pay for a flight and hotel room for you.
The onsite usually consists of 2–6 individual, one-on-one technical interviews (usually in a small conference room). Each interview will be about an hour and have the same basic form as a phone screen—technical questions, bookended by some chitchat at the beginning and a chance for you to ask questions at the end.
The major difference between onsite technical interviews and phone interviews though: you’ll be coding on a whiteboard.
This is awkward at first. No autocomplete, no debugging tools, no delete button…ugh. The good news is, after some practice you get used to it. Before your onsite, practice writing code on a whiteboard (in a pinch, a pencil and paper are fine). Some tips:

  1. Start in the top-most left corner of the whiteboard. This gives you the most room. You’ll need more space than you think.
  2. Leave a blank line between each line as you write your code. Makes it much easier to add things in later.
  3. Take an extra second to decide on your variable names. Don’t rush this part. It might seem like a waste of time, but using more descriptive variable names ultimately saves you time because it makes you less likely to get confused as you write the rest of your code.
If a technical phone interview is a sprint, an onsite is a marathon. The day can get really long. Best to keep it open—don’t make other plans for the afternoon or evening.
When things go well, you’ wrap-up by chatting with the CEO or some other director. This is half an interview, half the company trying to impress you. They may invite you to get drinks with the team after hours.
All told, a long day of onsite interviews could look something like this:

If they let you go after just a couple interviews, it’s usually a sign that they’re going to pass on you. That’s okay—it happens!
There are are a lot of easy things you can do the day before and morning of your interview to put yourself in the best possible mindset. Check out our piece on what to do in the 24 hours before your onsite coding interview.

The take-home code test

Code tests aren’t ubiquitous, but they seem to be gaining in popularity. They’re far more common at startups, or places where your ability to deliver right away is more important than your ability to grow.
You’ll receive a description of an app or service, a rough time constraint for writing your code, and a deadline for when to turn it in. The deadline is usually negotiable.
Here's an example problem:
Write a basic “To-Do” app. Unit test the core functionality. As a bonus, add a “reminders” feature. Try to spend no more than 8 hours on it, and send in what you have by Friday with a small write-up.
Take a crack at the “bonus” features if they include any. At the very least, write up how you would implement it.
If they’re hiring for people with knowledge of a particular framework, they might tell you what tech to use. Otherwise, it’ll be up to you. Use what you’re most comfortable with. You want this code to show you at your best.
Some places will offer to pay you for your time. It's rare, but some places will even invite you to work with them in their office for a few days, as a "trial.")
Do I need to know this "big O" stuff?
Big O notation is the language we use for talking about the efficiency of data structures and algorithms.
Will it come up in your interviews? Well, it depends. There are different types of interviews.
There’s the classic algorithmic coding interview, sometimes called the “Google-style whiteboard interview.” It’s focused on data structures and algorithms (queues and stacks, binary search, etc).
That’s what our full course prepares you for. It's how the big players interview. Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Oracle, LinkedIn, etc.
For startups and smaller shops, it’s a mixed bag. Most will ask at least a few algorithmic questions. But they might also include some role-specific stuff, like Java questions or SQL questions for a backend web engineer. They’ll be especially interested in your ability to ship code without much direction. You might end up doing a code test or pair-programming exercise instead of a whiteboarding session.
To make sure you study for the right stuff, you should ask your recruiter what to expect. Send an email with a question like, “Is this interview going to cover data structures and algorithms? Or will it be more focused around coding in X language.” They’ll be happy to tell you.
If you've never learned about data structures and algorithms, or you're feeling a little rusty, check out our Intuitive Guide to Data Structures and Algorithms.
Which programming language should I use?
Companies usually let you choose, in which case you should use your most comfortable language. If you know a bunch of languages, prefer one that lets you express more with fewer characters and fewer lines of code, like Python or Ruby. It keeps your whiteboard cleaner.
Try to stick with the same language for the whole interview, but sometimes you might want to switch languages for a question. E.g., processing a file line by line will be far easier in Python than in C++.
Sometimes, though, your interviewer will do this thing where they have a pet question that’s, for example, C-specific. If you list C on your resume, they’ll ask it.
So keep that in mind! If you’re not confident with a language, make that clear on your resume. Put your less-strong languages under a header like ‘Working Knowledge.’
What should I wear?
A good rule of thumb is to dress a tiny step above what people normally wear to the office. For most west coast tech companies, the standard digs are just jeans and a t-shirt. Ask your recruiter what the office is like if you’re worried about being too casual.
Should I send a thank-you note?
Thank-you notes are nice, but they aren’t really expected. Be casual if you send one. No need for a hand-calligraphed note on fancy stationery. Opt for a short email to your recruiter or the hiring manager. Thank them for helping you through the process, and ask them to relay your thanks to your interviewers.
1) Coding Interview Tips
How to get better at technical interviews without practicing
Chitchat like a pro.
Before diving into code, most interviewers like to chitchat about your background. They're looking for:

You should have at least one:

Nerd out about stuff. Show you're proud of what you've done, you're amped about what they're doing, and you have opinions about languages and workflows.
Communicate.
Once you get into the coding questions, communication is key. A candidate who needed some help along the way but communicated clearly can be even better than a candidate who breezed through the question.
Understand what kind of problem it is. There are two types of problems:

  1. Coding. The interviewer wants to see you write clean, efficient code for a problem.
  2. Chitchat. The interviewer just wants you to talk about something. These questions are often either (1) high-level system design ("How would you build a Twitter clone?") or (2) trivia ("What is hoisting in Javascript?"). Sometimes the trivia is a lead-in for a "real" question e.g., "How quickly can we sort a list of integers? Good, now suppose instead of integers we had . . ."
If you start writing code and the interviewer just wanted a quick chitchat answer before moving on to the "real" question, they'll get frustrated. Just ask, "Should we write code for this?"
Make it feel like you're on a team. The interviewer wants to know what it feels like to work through a problem with you, so make the interview feel collaborative. Use "we" instead of "I," as in, "If we did a breadth-first search we'd get an answer in O(n)O(n) time." If you get to choose between coding on paper and coding on a whiteboard, always choose the whiteboard. That way you'll be situated next to the interviewer, facing the problem (rather than across from her at a table).
Think out loud. Seriously. Say, "Let's try doing it this way—not sure yet if it'll work." If you're stuck, just say what you're thinking. Say what might work. Say what you thought could work and why it doesn't work. This also goes for trivial chitchat questions. When asked to explain Javascript closures, "It's something to do with scope and putting stuff in a function" will probably get you 90% credit.
Say you don't know. If you're touching on a fact (e.g., language-specific trivia, a hairy bit of runtime analysis), don't try to appear to know something you don't. Instead, say "I'm not sure, but I'd guess $thing, because...". The because can involve ruling out other options by showing they have nonsensical implications, or pulling examples from other languages or other problems.
Slow the eff down. Don't confidently blurt out an answer right away. If it's right you'll still have to explain it, and if it's wrong you'll seem reckless. You don't win anything for speed and you're more likely to annoy your interviewer by cutting her off or appearing to jump to conclusions.
Get unstuck.
Sometimes you'll get stuck. Relax. It doesn't mean you've failed. Keep in mind that the interviewer usually cares more about your ability to cleverly poke the problem from a few different angles than your ability to stumble into the correct answer. When hope seems lost, keep poking.
Draw pictures. Don't waste time trying to think in your head—think on the board. Draw a couple different test inputs. Draw how you would get the desired output by hand. Then think about translating your approach into code.
Solve a simpler version of the problem. Not sure how to find the 4th largest item in the set? Think about how to find the 1st largest item and see if you can adapt that approach.
Write a naive, inefficient solution and optimize it later. Use brute force. Do whatever it takes to get some kind of answer.
Think out loud more. Say what you know. Say what you thought might work and why it won't work. You might realize it actually does work, or a modified version does. Or you might get a hint.
Wait for a hint. Don't stare at your interviewer expectantly, but do take a brief second to "think"—your interviewer might have already decided to give you a hint and is just waiting to avoid interrupting.
Think about the bounds on space and runtime. If you're not sure if you can optimize your solution, think about it out loud. For example:

Get your thoughts down.
It's easy to trip over yourself. Focus on getting your thoughts down first and worry about the details at the end.
Call a helper function and keep moving. If you can't immediately think of how to implement some part of your algorithm, big or small, just skip over it. Write a call to a reasonably-named helper function, say "this will do X" and keep going. If the helper function is trivial, you might even get away with never implementing it.
Don't worry about syntax. Just breeze through it. Revert to English if you have to. Just say you'll get back to it.
Leave yourself plenty of room. You may need to add code or notes in between lines later. Start at the top of the board and leave a blank line between each line.
Save off-by-one checking for the end. Don't worry about whether your for loop should have "<<" or "<=<=." Write a checkmark to remind yourself to check it at the end. Just get the general algorithm down.
Use descriptive variable names. This will take time, but it will prevent you from losing track of what your code is doing. Use names_to_phone_numbers instead of nums. Imply the type in the name. Functions returning booleans should start with "is_*". Vars that hold a list should end with "s." Choose standards that make sense to you and stick with them.
Clean up when you're done.
Walk through your solution by hand, out loud, with an example input. Actually write down what values the variables hold as the program is running—you don't win any brownie points for doing it in your head. This'll help you find bugs and clear up confusion your interviewer might have about what you're doing.
Look for off-by-one errors. Should your for loop use a "<=<=" instead of a "<<"?
Test edge cases. These might include empty sets, single-item sets, or negative numbers. Bonus: mention unit tests!
Don't be boring. Some interviewers won't care about these cleanup steps. If you're unsure, say something like, "Then I'd usually check the code against some edge cases—should we do that next?"
Practice.
In the end, there's no substitute for running practice questions.
Actually write code with pen and paper. Be honest with yourself. It'll probably feel awkward at first. Good. You want to get over that awkwardness now so you're not fumbling when it's time for the real interview.

2) Tricks For Getting Unstuck During a Coding Interview
Getting stuck during a coding interview is rough.
If you weren’t in an interview, you might take a break or ask Google for help. But the clock is ticking, and you don’t have Google.
You just have an empty whiteboard, a smelly marker, and an interviewer who’s looking at you expectantly. And all you can think about is how stuck you are.
You need a lifeline for these moments—like a little box that says “In Case of Emergency, Break Glass.”
Inside that glass box? A list of tricks for getting unstuck. Here’s that list of tricks.
When you’re stuck on getting started
1) Write a sample input on the whiteboard and turn it into the correct output "by hand." Notice the process you use. Look for patterns, and think about how to implement your process in code.
Trying to reverse a string? Write “hello” on the board. Reverse it “by hand”—draw arrows from each character’s current position to its desired position.
Notice the pattern: it looks like we’re swapping pairs of characters, starting from the outside and moving in. Now we’re halfway to an algorithm.
2) Solve a simpler version of the problem. Remove or simplify one of the requirements of the problem. Once you have a solution, see if you can adapt that approach for the original question.
Trying to find the k-largest element in a set? Walk through finding the largest element, then the second largest, then the third largest. Generalizing from there to find the k-largest isn’t so bad.
3) Start with an inefficient solution. Even if it feels stupidly inefficient, it’s often helpful to start with something that’ll return the right answer. From there, you just have to optimize your solution. Explain to your interviewer that this is only your first idea, and that you suspect there are faster solutions.
Suppose you were given two lists of sorted numbers and asked to find the median of both lists combined. It’s messy, but you could simply:

  1. Concatenate the arrays together into a new array.
  2. Sort the new array.
  3. Return the value at the middle index.
Notice that you could’ve also arrived at this algorithm by using trick (2): Solve a simpler version of the problem. “How would I find the median of one sorted list of numbers? Just grab the item at the middle index. Now, can I adapt that approach for getting the median of two sorted lists?”
When you’re stuck on finding optimizations
1) Look for repeat work. If your current solution goes through the same data multiple times, you’re doing unnecessary repeat work. See if you can save time by looking through the data just once.
Say that inside one of your loops, there’s a brute-force operation to find an element in an array. You’re repeatedly looking through items that you don’t have to. Instead, you could convert the array to a lookup table to dramatically improve your runtime.
2) Look for hints in the specifics of the problem. Is the input array sorted? Is the binary tree balanced? Details like this can carry huge hints about the solution. If it didn’t matter, your interviewer wouldn’t have brought it up. It’s a strong sign that the best solution to the problem exploits it.
Suppose you’re asked to find the first occurrence of a number in a sorted array. The fact that the array is sorted is a strong hint—take advantage of that fact by using a binary search.

Sometimes interviewers leave the question deliberately vague because they want you to ask questions to unearth these important tidbits of context. So ask some questions at the beginning of the problem.
3) Throw some data structures at the problem. Can you save time by using the fast lookups of a hash table? Can you express the relationships between data points as a graph? Look at the requirements of the problem and ask yourself if there’s a data structure that has those properties.
4) Establish bounds on space and runtime. Think out loud about the parameters of the problem. Try to get a sense for how fast your algorithm could possibly be:

When All Else Fails
1) Make it clear where you are. State what you know, what you’re trying to do, and highlight the gap between the two. The clearer you are in expressing exactly where you’re stuck, the easier it is for your interviewer to help you.
2) Pay attention to your interviewer. If she asks a question about something you just said, there’s probably a hint buried in there. Don’t worry about losing your train of thought—drop what you’re doing and dig into her question.
Relax. You’re supposed to get stuck.
Interviewers choose hard problems on purpose. They want to see how you poke at a problem you don’t immediately know how to solve.
Seriously. If you don’t get stuck and just breeze through the problem, your interviewer’s evaluation might just say “Didn’t get a good read on candidate’s problem-solving process—maybe she’d already seen this interview question before?”
On the other hand, if you do get stuck, use one of these tricks to get unstuck, and communicate clearly with your interviewer throughout...that’s how you get an evaluation like, “Great problem-solving skills. Hire.”

3) Fixing Impostor Syndrome in Coding Interviews
“It's a fluke that I got this job interview...”
“I studied for weeks, but I’m still not prepared...”
“I’m not actually good at this. They’re going to see right through me...”
If any of these thoughts resonate with you, you're not alone. They are so common they have a name: impostor syndrome.
It’s that feeling like you’re on the verge of being exposed for what you really are—an impostor. A fraud.
Impostor syndrome is like kryptonite to coding interviews. It makes you give up and go silent.
You might stop asking clarifying questions because you’re afraid they’ll sound too basic. Or you might neglect to think out loud at the whiteboard, fearing you’ll say something wrong and sound incompetent.
You know you should speak up, but the fear of looking like an impostor makes that really, really hard.
Here’s the good news: you’re not an impostor. You just feel like an impostor because of some common cognitive biases about learning and knowledge.
Once you understand these cognitive biases—where they come from and how they work—you can slowly fix them. You can quiet your worries about being an impostor and keep those negative thoughts from affecting your interviews.

Everything you could know

Here’s how impostor syndrome works.
Software engineering is a massive field. There’s a huge universe of things you could know. Huge.
In comparison to the vast world of things you could know, the stuff you actually know is just a tiny sliver:
That’s the first problem. It feels like you don’t really know that much, because you only know a tiny sliver of all the stuff there is to know.

The expanding universe

It gets worse: counterintuitively, as you learn more, your sliver of knowledge feels like it's shrinking.
That's because you brush up against more and more things you don’t know yet. Whole disciplines like machine learning, theory of computation, and embedded systems. Things you can't just pick up in an afternoon. Heavy bodies of knowledge that take months to understand.
So the universe of things you could know seems to keep expanding faster and faster—much faster than your tiny sliver of knowledge is growing. It feels like you'll never be able to keep up.

What everyone else knows

Here's another common cognitive bias: we assume that because something is easy for us, it must be easy for everyone else. So when we look at our own skills, we assume they're not unique. But when we look at other people's skills, we notice the skills they have that we don't have.
The result? We think everyone’s knowledge is a superset of our own:
This makes us feel like everyone else is ahead of us. Like we're always a step behind.
But the truth is more like this:
There's a whole area of stuff you know that neither Aysha nor Bruno knows. An area you're probably blind to, because you're so focused on the stuff you don't know.

We’ve all had flashes of realizing this. For me, it was seeing the back end code wizard on my team—the one that always made me feel like an impostor—spend an hour trying to center an image on a webpage.

It's a problem of focus

Focusing on what you don't know causes you to underestimate what you do know. And that's what causes impostor syndrome.
By looking at the vast (and expanding) universe of things you could know, you feel like you hardly know anything.
And by looking at what Aysha and Bruno know that you don't know, you feel like you're a step behind.
And interviews make you really focus on what you don't know. You focus on what could go wrong. The knowledge gaps your interviewers might find. The questions you might not know how to answer.
But remember:
Just because Aysha and Bruno know some things you don't know, doesn't mean you don't also know things Aysha and Bruno don't know.
And more importantly, everyone's body of knowledge is just a teeny-tiny sliver of everything they could learn. We all have gaps in our knowledge. We all have interview questions we won't be able to answer.
You're not a step behind. You just have a lot of stuff you don't know yet. Just like everyone else.

4) The 24 Hours Before Your Interview

Feeling anxious? That’s normal. Your body is telling you you’re about to do something that matters.

The twenty-four hours before your onsite are about finding ways to maximize your performance. Ideally, you wanna be having one of those days, where elegant code flows effortlessly from your fingertips, and bugs dare not speak your name for fear you'll squash them.
You need to get your mind and body in The Zone™ before you interview, and we've got some simple suggestions to help.
5) Why You're Hitting Dead Ends In Whiteboard Interviews

The coding interview is like a maze

Listening vs. holding your train of thought

Finally! After a while of shooting in the dark and frantically fiddling with sample inputs on the whiteboard, you've came up with an algorithm for solving the coding question your interviewer gave you.
Whew. Such a relief to have a clear path forward. To not be flailing anymore.
Now you're cruising, getting ready to code up your solution.
When suddenly, your interviewer throws you a curve ball.
"What if we thought of the problem this way?"
You feel a tension we've all felt during the coding interview:
"Try to listen to what they're saying...but don't lose your train of thought...ugh, I can't do both!"
This is a make-or-break moment in the coding interview. And so many people get it wrong.
Most candidates end up only half understanding what their interviewer is saying. Because they're only half listening. Because they're desperately clinging to their train of thought.
And it's easy to see why. For many of us, completely losing track of what we're doing is one of our biggest coding interview fears. So we devote half of our mental energy to clinging to our train of thought.
To understand why that's so wrong, we need to understand the difference between what we see during the coding interview and what our interviewer sees.

The programming interview maze

Working on a coding interview question is like walking through a giant maze.
You don't know anything about the shape of the maze until you start wandering around it. You might know vaguely where the solution is, but you don't know how to get there.
As you wander through the maze, you might find a promising path (an approach, a way to break down the problem). You might follow that path for a bit.
Suddenly, your interviewer suggests a different path:
But from what you can see so far of the maze, your approach has already gotten you halfway there! Losing your place on your current path would mean a huge step backwards. Or so it seems.
That's why people hold onto their train of thought instead of listening to their interviewer. Because from what they can see, it looks like they're getting somewhere!
But here's the thing: your interviewer knows the whole maze. They've asked this question 100 times.

I'm not exaggerating: if you interview candidates for a year, you can easily end up asking the same question over 100 times.
So if your interviewer is suggesting a certain path, you can bet it leads to an answer.
And your seemingly great path? There's probably a dead end just ahead that you haven't seen yet:
Or it could just be a much longer route to a solution than you think it is. That actually happens pretty often—there's an answer there, but it's more complicated than you think.

Hitting a dead end is okay. Failing to listen is not.

Your interviewer probably won't fault you for going down the wrong path at first. They've seen really smart engineers do the same thing. They understand it's because you only have a partial view of the maze.
They might have let you go down the wrong path for a bit to see if you could keep your thinking organized without help. But now they want to rush you through the part where you discover the dead end and double back. Not because they don't believe you can manage it yourself. But because they want to make sure you have enough time to finish the question.
But here's something they will fault you for: failing to listen to them. Nobody wants to work with an engineer who doesn't listen.
So when you find yourself in that crucial coding interview moment, when you're torn between holding your train of thought and considering the idea your interviewer is suggesting...remember this:
Listening to your interviewer is the most important thing.
Take what they're saying and run with it. Think of the next steps that follow from what they're saying.
Even if it means completely leaving behind the path you were on. Trust the route your interviewer is pointing you down.
Because they can see the whole maze.
6) How To Get The Most Out Of Your Coding Interview Practice Sessions
When you start practicing for coding interviews, there’s a lot to cover. You’ll naturally wanna brush up on technical questions. But how you practice those questions will make a big difference in how well you’re prepared.
Here’re a few tips to make sure you get the most out of your practice sessions.
Track your weak spots
One of the hardest parts of practicing is knowing what to practice. Tracking what you struggle with helps answer that question.
So grab a fresh notebook. After each question, look back and ask yourself, “What did I get wrong about this problem at first?” Take the time to write down one or two things you got stuck on, and what helped you figure them out. Compare these notes to our tips for getting unstuck.
After each full practice session, read through your entire running list. Read it at the beginning of each practice session too. This’ll add a nice layer of rigor to your practice, so you’re really internalizing the lessons you’re learning.
Use an actual whiteboard
Coding on a whiteboard is awkward at first. You have to write out every single character, and you can’t easily insert or delete blocks of code.
Use your practice sessions to iron out that awkwardness. Run a few problems on a piece of paper or, if you can, a real whiteboard. A few helpful tips for handwriting code:

Set a timer
Get a feel for the time pressure of an actual interview. You should be able to finish a problem in 30–45 minutes, including debugging your code at the end.
If you’re just starting out and the timer adds too much stress, put this technique on the shelf. Add it in later as you start to get more comfortable with solving problems.
Think out loud
Like writing code on a whiteboard, this is an acquired skill. It feels awkward at first. But your interviewer will expect you to think out loud during the interview, so you gotta power through that awkwardness.
A good trick to get used to talking out loud: Grab a buddy. Another engineer would be great, but you can also do this with a non-technical friend.
Have your buddy sit in while you talk through a problem. Better yet—try loading up one of our questions on an iPad and giving that to your buddy to use as a script!
Set aside a specific time of day to practice.
Give yourself an hour each day to practice. Commit to practicing around the same time, like after you eat dinner. This helps you form a stickier habit of practicing.
Prefer small, daily doses of practice to doing big cram sessions every once in a while. Distributing your practice sessions helps you learn more with less time and effort in the long run.
part -2 will be upcoming in another post !
submitted by Cyberrockz to u/Cyberrockz [link] [comments]

Summary of Tau-Chain Monthly Video Update - August 2020

Transcript of the Tau-Chain & Agoras Monthly Video Update – August 2020
Karim:
Major event of this past month: Release of the Whitepaper. Encourages everyone to read the Whitepaper because it’s going to guide our development efforts for the foreseeable future. Development is proceeding well on two major fronts: 1. Agoras Live website: Features are being added to it, only two major features are missing 2. TML: We identified ten major tasks to be completed before the next release. Three of them are optimization features which are very important for the speed and performance features of TML. In terms of time requirements, we feel very good to stay on schedule for the end of this year. We also are bringing in two extra resources to help us get there as soon as possible.
Umar:
Been working on changes in the string relation, especially moving from binary string representation to unistring. The idea is that now rather than having two arguments in the term, you would have a single argument for the string. Thus, the hierarchy changes from two to one and that has an effect on speed and on the storage. So the first few numbers that we calculated showed that we are around 10% faster than with the binary string. There are some other changes that need to be made with regards to the string which he is working on.
Tomas:
Had to revise how we encode characters in order to be compatible with the internet. It also was the last missing piece in order to compute persistence. The reason is that the stored data has to be portable and if TML needs characters and strings internally in the same encoding as it stores its own data, we can map strings directly into files and gain lots of speed with it. The code is now pushed in the repository and can be tested. He’s also working on a TML tutorial and likely before next update, there should be something available online.
Kilian:
Transcribed past month’s video update. You can find it on Reddit. Also, he has done more outreach towards potential partner universities and research groups and this month the response rate was better than earlier, most likely because of the whitepaper release. Positive replies include: University of Mannheim, Trier (Computational Linguistics & Digital Humanities), research group AI KR from within the W3C (https://www.w3.org/community/aik) articulated strong interest in getting a discussion going, particularly because they had some misconceptions about blockchain. They would like to have a Q&A session with a couple of their group members but first it’s important for us to have them read the whitepaper to get a basic understanding and then be able to ask respective questions. Other interested parties include the Computational Linguistics research group of the University of Groningen, Netherlands and also the Center for Language Technology of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. We also got connected to the Chalmers University of Technology, Sweden. Also has done some press outreach in combination with the whitepaper, trying to get respective media outlets to cover our project, but so far hasn’t gotten feedback back. Been discussing the social media strategy with Ohad and Fola, trying to be more active on our channels and have a weekly posting schedule on Twitter including non-technical and technical contests that engage with all parts of our community. Furthermore, has opened up a discussion on Discord (https://discord.gg/qZtJs78) in the “Tau-Discussion” channel around the topics that Ohad mentioned he would first like to see discussed on Tau (see https://youtu.be/O4SFxq_3ask?t=2225):
  1. Definitions of what good and bad means and what better and worse means.
  2. The governance model over Tau.
  3. The specification of Tau itself and how to make it grow and evolve even more to suit wider audiences. The whole point of Tau is people collaborating in order to define Tau itself and to improve it over time, so it will improve up to infinity. This is the main thing, especially initially, that the Tau developers (or rather users) advance the platform more and more.
If you are interested in participating in the discussion, join our Discord (https://discord.gg/qZtJs78) and post your thoughts – we’d appreciate it! Also has finished designing the bounty claiming process, so people that worked on a bounty now can claim their reward by filling out the bounty claiming form (https://forms.gle/HvksdaavuJbu4PCV8). Been also working on revamping the original post in the Bitcointalk-Thread. It contains a lot of broken links and generally is outdated, so he’s using the whitepaper to give it a complete overhaul. With the whitepaper release, the community also got a lot more active which was great to see and thus, he dedicated more time towards supporting the community.
Mo’az:
Finished multiple milestones with regards to the Agoras Live website: 1. Question part where people post their requests and knowledge providers can help them with missing knowledge. 2. Have been through multiple iterations of how to approach the services in the website. How the service seeker can discover new people through the website. 3. Connected the limited, static categories on the website to add more diversity to it. By adding tags, it will be easier for service seekers to find what they are looking for. 4. Onboarding: Been working on adding an onboarding step for the user, so the user chooses categories of his interest and as a result, he will find the homepage to be more personalized towards him and his interests. 5. New section to the user profile added: The service that the knowledge provider can provide. Can be added as tags or free text. 6. Search: Can filter via free text and filter by country, language, etc. 7. Been working on how to display the knowledge providers on the platform.
Andrei:
Improved look of the Agoras Live front page: Looks more clean. Finetuned search options. Redesigned the header. It now has notification icons. If you query a knowledge provider for an appointment, he will receive a notification about the new appointment to be approved or rejected. You can also add a user to your favorites. Front page now randomly displays users. Also implemented email templates, e.g. a thank you email upon registration or an appointment reminder. What is left to do is the session list and then the basic engine will be ready. Also needs to implement the “questions” section.
Juan:
Has switched towards development of TML related features. Been working mainly on the first order logic support. Has integrated the formula parser with the TML core functionality. With this being connected, we added to TML quantified Boolean function solving capability in the same way as we get the first order logic support. It’s worth mentioning that this feature is being supported by means of the main optimized BDD primitives that we already have in the TML engine. Looking forward to make this scalable in terms of formula sizes. It’s a matter of refining the Boolean solution and doing proper tests to show this milestone to the community in a proper way.
Fola:
Have been discussing the feasibility of a token swap towards ERC20 from the Omni token with exchanges and internally with the team. Also has been discussing the social media strategy with Kilian. As we update with the new visual identity and the branding, it’s a good time to boost our social media channels and look ready for the next iteration of our look and feel. Continuing on the aspects of our visual identity and design, he’s been talking to quite a number of large agencies who have been involved in some of the larger projects in the software space. One being Phantom (https://phantom.land) who designed the DeepMind website (https://deepmind.com), the other one being Outcast (https://theoutcastagency.com) who have been working with Intel and SalesForce. We aren’t sure yet with which company we go but it’s been good to get insight into how they work and which steps they’d take into getting our project out to the wider audience. That whole process has been a lot of research into what kind of agencies we’d want to get involved with. Also, with the release of the whitepaper being such a big milestone in the history of the company, he’s been doing a lot of reading of that paper. We’re also looking to get more manpower involved with the TML website. Also going to hire a frontend developer for the website and the backend will be done according to Ohad’s requirements. Also, as a response of the community’s feedback towards the Omni deck not being user friendly, he did some outreach to the Omni team and introduced them to a partner exchange for Agoras Live. They have an “exchange-in-a-box” service which may help Omni to have a much more usable interface for the Omni Dex, so hopefully they will be working together to improve the usability of the Omni Dex.
Ohad:
Finished writing the community draft of the whitepaper. The final version will contain changes according to the community’s feedback and more elaboration on more topics that weren’t inserted in the current paper, including logics for law and about the full process of Tau. And, as usual, he’s been doing more research of second order logic, specifically, Boolean options and also analyzing the situation where the formulas in conjunctive normal form trying to extract some information from such a cnf. Also, what Juan mentioned about first order logic: People who are already familiar with TML will see that now with this change, the easiness of using TML got much more advanced. In first order formulas, expressing yourself has become much easier than before.
Q&A:
Q: What is the difference between Horn Second Order Logic and Krom Second Order Logic?
A: Horn and Krom are special cases of cnf (conjunctive normal form). Conjunctive normal form means the formula has the form of n conjunction between clauses. This clause and this clause while each clause is a disjunction of atoms: It’s this or this or this or that. And now any formula can be written in conjunctive form. Any formula can be brought to this form. Krom is the case where each clause contains exactly two atoms and Horn is the case where at most one atom in every clause is positive – thre rest are negated, that’s the definition.
Q: Now that the whitepaper has been released, how do you think it will affect the work of the developers?
A: We see the whitepaper as being a roadmap of development for us, so it will essentially be the vision that we are working to implement. Of course, we have to turn it into much more specific tasks, but as you saw from the detailed progress from last month, that’s exactly what we do.
Q: When can we expect the new website?
A: We’ve just updated the website with the whitepaper and the new website should be launching after we get the branding done. There’s a lot of work to be done and a lot of considerations taking place. We have to get the graphics ready and the front end done. The branding is the most important step we have to get done and once that is complete, we will launch the new website.
Q: What needs to be resolved next before we get onto a solid US exchange?
A: With the whitepaper released, that’s probably been the biggest hurdle we had to get over. At this point, we still have to confirm some elements of the plan with the US regulators and we do need to have some sort of product available. Be that the TML release or Agoras Live, there needs to be something out for people to use. So, in conjunction with the whitepaper and approval from the US regulators, we need to have a product available to get onto US exchanges.
Q: Does the team still need to get bigger to reach cruising speed, if so, how much by and in which areas?
A: Of course, any development team would like to have as many resources as possible but working with the resources we that have right now, we are making significant progress towards the two development goals that we have, both the Agoras Live website and the TML engine. But we are bringing in at least two more resources in the near future but there’s no lack of work to be done and also there’s no lack of progress.
Q: Will Prof. Carmi continue to work in the team and if so, in what capacity?
A: Sure, Prof. Carmi will continue coordinating with us. Right now, he’s working on the mathematics of certain features in the derivatives market that Agoras is planned to have, and also ongoing research in relevant logic.
Q: Will you translate the whitepaper into other languages?
A: Yes, we expect translations of the whitepaper to occur. The most important languages that comprise our community, e.g. Chinese. What languages exactly, we cannot tell right now, but mainly the most prominent languages that comprise our community.
Q: Is the roadmap on the website still correct and, when will we move to the next step?
A: We will be revamping the website soon including the roadmap that will be a summary of what’s been published in the whitepaper but the old version of the roadmap on the website is no longer up-to-date.
Q: What are the requirements for Agoras to have its own chain?
A: If the question means why Agoras doesn’t have its own chain right now, well there is no special reason. We need to reach there and we will reach there.
Q: When Agoras switches to its own chain, will you need to create a new payments system from scratch?
A: No, we won’t have to. We will have to integrate with the new payment channel but that’s something we are planning to do anyway. We will be integrating with several exchanges and several payment channels so it won’t be a huge task. Most of the heavy lifting is in the wallet and key management which will be done on the client side but we’re already planning on having more than one payment gateway anyway so having one more is no problem.
Q: When can we see Tau work with a real practical example?
A: For examples of applications of TML, we are currently working on a TML tutorial and a set of demos. Two of our developers are currently working on it and it’s going to be a big part of our next release.
Q: How can we make speaking in formal languages easier, with an example?
A: Coming up with a usable and convenient formal language is a big task which maybe it’s even safe to say no one achieved up until today. But we solve this problem indirectly yet completely by not coming up with any language but letting languages to be created and evolve over time through the internet of languages. We don’t have any solution of how to make formal languages very easy for everyone. It will be a collaborative effort over Tau together to reach there over time. You can see in the whitepaper in the section 4.2 about “The Critical Mass and the Tau Chain Reaction”.
Q: What are the biggest limitations of Tau and, are they solvable?
A: TML cannot do everything that requires more than polynomial space to be done and there are infinitely many things like this. For example, you can look up x time or x space complete problems. We would want to say elementary but there is no elementary complete problem but there are complete problems in each of the levels of elementary. All those, TML cannot do because this is above polynomial space. Another drawback of TML which comes from the usage of BDDs is arithmetic. In particular, multiplication. Multiplication is highly inefficient in TML because of the nature of BDDs and of course BDDs bring so many more good things that even this drawback of slow multiplication is small compared to all the possibilities that this gives us. Another limitation, which we will emphasize in the next version of the whitepaper, is the satisfiability problem. The satisfiability problem of a formula without a model to ask whether a model exists – not a model checking like right now but to ask whether a model exists – this is undecidable already on very restricted classes as follows from Trakhtenbrot’s theory. So in particular, the containment problem, the scalability problem, the validity problem, they all are undecidable in TML as is and for them to be decidable, we need to restrict even more the expressive power and look at narrower fragments of the language. But again, this will be more emphasized in the next version of the whitepaper.
Q: It looks years for projects such as Maidsafe to build something mediocre, why should Agoras be able to do similar or better in less time?
A: Early on in the life of the Tau project, we’ve identified the computational resources marketplace as one of the possible applications of Tau, so it is very much on our roadmap. However, as you mentioned, there are some other projects, e.g. Filecoin, which is specifically focusing on the problem of storage. So even though it’s on our roadmap, we’re not there yet but we are watching closely what our competitors in this field are doing. While they haven’t yet delivered on their promise of an open and distributed storage network, we feel that at some point we will have more value to bring to the project. So distributed storage is on our roadmap but it’s not a priority for us right now but eventually we’ll get there.
Q: What are the requirements in scalability, e.g. permanent storage etc.?
A: We haven’t answered that question yet.
Q: Will Tau be able to run on a mobile phone?
A: Definitely, Yes. We’re planning on being available on all computational platforms, be it a server, laptop, phone or an iPad type of device.
Q: Given a vast trove of knowledge, how can Tau determine relevance? Can it also build defenses against spam attacks and garbage data?
A: Tau doesn’t offer any predetermined solution to this. It is basically all up to the user. The user will have to define what’s criminal and what’s not. Of course, most users will not bother with defining this but they will be able to automatically agree to people who already defined it and by that import their definitions. So bottom line: It’s really up to the users.
Q: What are your top priorities for the next three months?
A: Our goal for this year (2020) is to release a first version of Agoras Live and of TML.
Q: Ohad mentioned the following at the start of the year: Time for us to work on Agoras. We need to create the Agoras team and commence work. We made a major improvement in one of Agoras’ aspects in the form of theatrical breakthrough but we’re not ready yet to share the details publicly. Is there any further news or progress with the development of Agoras?
A: If the question is whether there has been more progress in the development of Agoras, specifically with regards to new discoveries for the derivatives market, then the answer is of course yes. Professor Carmi is now working on those inventions related to the derivatives market. We still keep them secret and of course, with Agoras Live, knowledge sharing for money is coming.
submitted by m4nki to tauchain [link] [comments]

I work for Styx Taxis, I drive souls to the afterlife...I just picked up a familiar face.

Do something for me, will ya? I want you to think back to when you were a kid, think back to those innocent days when the world was your oyster and you could be anything you wanted. Tell me what was that anything? What was your dream job as a child? Most people will say a football player, an actor, a world-famous musician, maybe even an astronaut. Well, not me. I wanted to be a cab driver. I was obsessed with being a taxi driver, I had toy taxis and a taxi costume including a cabbie hat, I even had a bed that was shaped like a taxi instead of a racecar! I drove my parents crazy with my obsession but I was a kid from Brooklyn growing up in the big city surrounded by yellow cabs, I’m not sure why I loved them so much but ever since my Pops brought my brother Vince and me in a cab to a Net’s game when we were younger I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
“Taxies are disgusting, Freddie why the hell do you like them? They smell like liquor and look like Grandma’s wrinkly butt” Vince would say to me, he had a way with words but whatever way that was it wasn’t the right one. Nobody could understand my love of taxis but that was okay they didn’t need to, I loved the thought of driving through the city and meeting new people every single day, sure many taxis were filthy but mine wouldn’t be...or so I thought when I was 8. Vince, however, had much more ambitious goals.
“Me? I’m going to play for the Jets. I’ll be the best Tight End the NFL will ever see”
Vince was pretty great at football, he even went on to play some college ball but he always reached for the stars with his dreams and that could make failure hurt so much more. I was more realistic in my goals from a young age, I couldn’t kick snow off a rope and I could barely throw a ball from one side of the road to the other, being a taxi driver was a dream but unlike most of all of your dreams when you were all kids, mine was doable.
I received my yellow cab certification when I turned 21 making me a lot younger than my co-workers who were usually in their 40s. I worked for over 8 years as a taxi driver and I never once regretted it bar two robberies at gunpoint and a handful of casually racist remarks from tourists or some freshmen on Wall Street who wanted to know if they can say the n-word since their friend in college said he was cool with it. Eventually, though my time as a cab driver came to end...well my driving of the living came to an end anyway. Now I drive souls to the afterlife for the Styx Taxis cab company. Every day I bring multiple souls to the Great Divide where judgement is made against them to decide if they go to Paradise or Damnation. I hear many stories on the clock, people begging to be given another chance or sobbing for forgiveness but I’m just the driver, the car makes the judgement and the car is never wrong.
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My day starts like anybody else’s, my alarm goes off at around 6.30 am, I shower, brush my teeth, get my clothes on - usually a pair of black skinny jeans, a loose tee, some Air Force Ones and my Grampa’s brown suede jacket he gave to me in his will - and I will usually grab something to eat from a drive-thru Starbucks once I’m out on the road. My alarm didn’t go off today but thankfully my body jolted me awake before 7, this meant no breakfast and I was behind on at least one passenger though on a good day I could get through three before 8.30, this would hurt my place on the standings but if I worked effectively I could make up the lost points.
My first passenger was a Charles Monroe, a 45-year-old stockbroker who died from a coke overdose after partying too much during a promotion party. At least he was a Jets fan. It took me around fifteen minutes to reach him, he was sitting on a bench in his clothes from the night before, if the coke didn’t kill him that hangover would have. I pulled up and the backdoor opened for him. The crossing over process had begun.
“Charles Monroe?” I asked knowing damn well I had the right guy.
“Yeah...who’s asking. What the hell is going on, why am I stuck here?” he replied while slurring some words.
“You’re dead buddy, bit too fond of the charlie there...Charlie. I’m here to pick you up and bring you to your eternal resting place. Get in” I said. The emotions of people when they are told they have died can range from anger to sadness to in some cases jubilation though that is usually due to a sense of smugness that they were right about an afterlife existing.
“Fuck off” he shouted at me while spitting at my car, his dirty grey phlegm landing on my passenger side window cleaning some dust off of it, it was safe to say Charlie’s fell into the former category, he was pretty angry.
“I’m not fucking dead, I’m fucking invincible”
You often got these types of people, usually rich white guys. They genuinely buy the bullshit they were sold about dying peacefully in their bed surrounded by loved ones even though they knew full well that no one loved them.
“Nah bro, you are absolutely dead, here look I’ll show you.” As I replied I began to pull some pictures up on my iPad and cast them to the screen attached to my passenger side mirror, as I scrolled through the array of pictures the reality of the situation began to dawn on Mr.Monroe.
“See there’s you face down in a pool of your own vomit, there’s you being zipped up in a bodybag, there is your mother Margaret identifying your body at the morgue...ignore that last picture that’s my Greyhound ‘Rufus’ not sure how that got in there”
The tough bravado wasted away as Charles fell to the floor and burst into tears, he continued to do that for another few minutes - taking more time off my schedule - before I decided it was time to get a move on.
“Look, dude, I know this is a shock for you and all but there is no changing it. It’s science, what's dead is dead. Your energy is being used for something else now so hop in and we will bring you to wherever you are meant to spend eternity. Paradise or Damnation.”
He lifted his head to look me in the eyes, his tears caused his deep blue eyes to shine immensely bright in the blistering sunlight. He wiped his tears from his face and took four deep breaths to compose himself.
“I’m not going with you, not a chance. I will fight this, I have gotten out of worse situations” he said, his air of invincibility only momentarily shattered.
“I can promise you that you haven’t. You better come with me because the second that door shuts it’s over you don’t get second chances.” I responded mostly hoping for him to get in so I could add some points to my tally but also because I knew the punishment of disobedience.
“LISTEN BUDDY CLEAN YOUR FUCKING EARS OUT, I’M NOT GOING. END OF STORY,” he screamed back at me.
“Close your damn door, see if I care” were the famous last words of the jackass.
“Okay, suit yourself” I replied while exhaling loudly, I pressed the large red x button beside the radio and the door slammed shut, once that happened his fate was sealed a lightning bolt shot down from the sky and he slowly dissipated right in front of my eyes, he screamed and begged for help and even tried to bargain with me to get the door open but the door can’t open once it has been closed. There are no second chances.
Charles Monroe paid the price of disobedience, his soul was zapped and sent to NULL, a plane of existence outside of all other realms, NULL is an empty grey room with no directions. No up, down, left or right. To meet another soul in NULL is about as unlikely as anything, odds don’t go that high. This is where Mr.Monroe would spend the rest of his eternal life. NULL was quite literally a fate worse than hell.
They say all things are binary, they are either a 0 or a 1. They are or they aren’t.
NULL was -1.
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That little escapade took even more precious time away from me, when a new passenger request popped up on my screen I accepted in an instant and sped to the pickup point. My second passenger of the day was a Ms.Melina Cortez, a 28-year-old mother of one who had died in a drink-driving incident, the child’s father was not involved if you wanted some good news. When I arrived Melina was sitting on a bench, her knees pointing in and her arms wrapped tightly around herself, she looked scared but also like she knew what had happened to her.
“Hey there, Melina. How are you doing? I’m Freddie, I'm your driver today, I’ll be bringing you to the afterlife” I calmly said to her as the backside door opened once more. She did not respond to me, no questions about who I was or what was happening. Nothing, she just stood up with her head down and took her seat in the back of my cab. I decided to take my foot slightly off the pedal for a few moments to slow our trip and allow her time to cope but she wouldn’t have much, she would need to speak or the judgement would be made for her. After five minutes of cruising, I broke the silence.
“You know I’ve driven some celebs, I’m legally not allowed say who but fun fact those people who post memes about them all in Paradise are going to be sorely disappointed when they die”
She lifted her head and smirked, the best I could ask for given the situation and I had an opening so I continued on.
“Listen, Melina, I know it is tough for you but you need to tell your story, your life, your successes and your failures and any transgressions you may have cause it’s your best chance of getting into Paradise”
“I know it’s tough but you have t-” “I’m not getting into Paradise,” she said matter of factly cutting me off in the process.
“I’ve done horrible things, any God with even a little sense of respect would know not to let me in”
“What have you done, Melina?” I asked bewildered by the emotionless tone in her statements.
“Oh you know, you got your little screen there with my name on it. I can see it from back here. Just look through my file.” she said while placing her head onto the window and staring out into the abyss.
“Actually I don’t know. This file is filled with the bare minimum I need to convince someone I’m not some fraudster. It has your name, the names of family and loved ones, how you died, some miscellaneous pictures and a list of hobbies, sometimes I don’t get anything bar a location. I know how you died but I know little of the circumstances bar the fact it was a drink-driving accident with one car involved so I would guess you were driving, that is bad Melina but no one else was hurt, I’ve seen people survive Damnation for doing a lot worse.” I responded to her factually, another rule of the job. I couldn’t lie to the passengers.
“I wasn’t even drunk” she responded before a whistle went off, this whistle was the car notifying me and our passenger that they were telling a lie. The whistle was a sort of smug ‘hih hoo’ sound similar to a phone notification, the smugness of the sound often got under the skin of passengers causing them to blurt out truths or half-truths.
“The car says you are lying, Melina. This car has been imbued with the power of an Old One it can tell what is true and what is false.” I ensured her, hoping it would stop any further lying but knowing from past experiences it would not.
“Okay, I had a bottle of wine but I’ve driven drunk before it wasn’t the drink that caused the crash. It was the percs...and my rage. I just couldn’t think straight then I saw the tree and knew what had to be done” she replied, this time to no whistle. She killed herself, why?
“I’m sure the cops have already rang the bastard and told him about everything that happened, my only regret is not getting to see his face when they tell him. The son of a bitch”
“Who are you talking about, Melina? What did you do?” I responded
“Jorge, my boyfriend, Marlon’s father. That son of a bitch, he caused it all, when he eventually eats lead from one of those girls’ fathers he for sure as hell won’t be going to Paradise, no need to even question him” she responded.
“What did you do to Jorge, Melina? Is he hurt, did you hurt him?” I replied, each response from the woman further bewildering me.
“Oh he’s hurting that’s for sure,” she responded before bursting into tears.
“The bastard was fucking underage girls!”
“I found texts and pictures, oh God so many sick fucking pictures, the stuff he would say to these...these kids, these 14 and 15-year-old girls it would make you sick, they did make me sick. I was sent into a haze, I didn’t know how to react so I just drank and drank glasses of white wine, washing down the percocets with it.” she had stopped crying and was now on her knees leaning forward and pushing her face and hands up on the partition window separating us.
“I knew what I had to do, I had to protect myself but most of all I had to protect my son, I couldn’t let that fucking pervert go anywhere near him ever again so I did what needed doing”
I had now taken my eyes off the road and turned to look Melina in the eye, her crazed stare transfixed on me, my heart was in my throat as I struggled to ask her the question I felt I already had the answer to.
“What needed doing, Melina?”
She smiled at me with a wide grin from ear to ear, her blue lips stuck together not allowing her teeth to bare themselves to me.
“I took a pillow to my son in his sleep. It didn’t take long and he didn’t fight, he knew deep down that this was for his own good.”
I gripped the steering wheel tightly in both hands attempting to hide my anger, signs of emotion behind the wheel of a Styx Cab could see me terminated. I waited for the whistle of the car, I prayed the whistle would come...but it didn’t. I didn’t respond, I couldn’t respond, I needed to relax before I could, her next statement didn’t help.
“I protected my son as any mother would”, this time the whistle did sound, a statement too late sadly.
“The car disagrees and so do I. You killed your son, you murdered him in his sleep then you drove your car into a tree to save yourself the jail time. You could have turned Jorge in but you didn’t” I responded to her, the words barely dragging themselves out of my mouth through gritted teeth.
“Turn him in? You must be joking, he’d get 12 years at best. He’s a 30-year-old man he’d be back on the streets in his early 40s, plenty of time to get back to his sick work...plenty of time to abuse my beautiful boy” she responded, the words she spoke had such conviction, she truly believed she was right no matter what me, the car or anyone else said.
“So you murdered your son to protect him from abuse? That makes no sense” I replied my foot pressing down on the gas pedal at full force.
“I saved him,” she replied instantaneously before the car let out another loud whistle.
“I wouldn’t expect you or this piece of junk to understand that”
That was the last we spoke before reaching the gates of the Great Divide, I tipped my hat to Reginald the Gatekeeper and he lifted the barrier to let me through. We drove towards the fork in the road, two large stone doors blocking both paths, the doors had large runic patterns chiselled into them, they both looped and swirled around the stone faces, one pattern gold the other onyx. The door flung open on the car and Melina stepped out, we did not exchange goodbyes. As she walked to the doors the golden runes lit up and the door slowly opened, a warm beam of orange light beamed out from the road and she stepped into it, the door flung shut and her fate was sealed.
She was sent to Damnation.
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The rest of my day was mostly uneventful, many old people going up or down, mostly down. I did have one interesting passenger named Laney Richards, she had caused her brother to fall from a tree at a young age confining him to a wheelchair for life, she had also gotten involved in the wrong crowd as a teenager and done some pretty minor shit like vandalism and breaking and entering. She bawled her eyes out when we arrived at the doors fully sure her fate was Damnation, them tears stopped unnaturally fast once I took a detour left through the Mariana Forest and out the other side to the tram to Nocturland, a type of purgatory where people can work to gain entry to Paradise. She had made some mistakes but she had mostly learned from them and her brother’s accident was exactly that, an accident. I’m not a betting man but I would be positive she would end up in Paradise sooner rather than later.
After a hard day's work, I drove to a McDonald’s to pick up a quick bite to eat and then drove to The Depot so I could clock in my points for the day and update my table standing, I also needed to pick up my paycheck. Once everything was sorted I threw my bag into my locker and grabbed my hat I had left there yesterday, I went to head back out to the car and finish for the day, however, the manager of The Depot, Mr.Anyew stopped me on the way out.
“Freddie, just the man I was looking for. We got another lost soul that needs transporting and I know you were complaining about missing out on some points the past while so I thought I’d give it to you especially since it’s on your way...of course, I can just give it to Grigor he’s in the rec room at the moment.”
Mentioning Grigor was a low blow, we were both at the top of the rankings and Mr.Anyew knew I wouldn’t say no if Grigor was the second option.
“Nah, it’s okay I can do it boss” I responded before putting my hat on and turning to leave. “Great, I just sent the details to your vehicle, enjoy!” I heard the large Eygptian bellow towards me as I walked out the front door.
I got to my car and checked the iPad for the details, only a location and a cause of death was given, this was pretty uncommon but it had happened a few times before, sometimes details got lost in the mix but thankfully you only needed a location, so I set off towards the pickup point to collect Mr Died From Gunshot Wounds.
The best thing about working for Styx was also the worst, you really never know who you might have to pick up on any given day, they could be interesting or horrible. They could truly be anyone, it is a real double-edged sword and when I arrived at the pickup point I was cut by the sword.
“Vince?”
submitted by midniteauth0r to nosleep [link] [comments]

Looking for porter to help me carry my emotional baggage. (Part r4r, part lonely heart, part life story).

Prologue: Hello reddit! I’ve got issues.
I have never done this before, nor do I have any idea what might come of it, but I can tell you that this is probably just as much (if not moreso) an introspective essay as it will be lonely heart ad. I’m somewhat at the point in my life where I need to scream out into the void, and I hope that my honesty will net me just enough cosmic karma to get me out of this hole which I’ve been so unceremoniously dumped into. So, strap in; you're in for some u/rubyoobieoobie length shit.
I’ll leave you with a TLDR for now (because I’m not so callous as to make you scroll to the bottom for it): I have been to 49 states, flew to France for a date, solved a decade-old problem in microbial biochemistry and astrobiology, and am the dictator of my own country. I also have insurmountable trauma from my past (and only) relationship, but I still have deluded myself into thinking there is a hope, a person, a way in which I might someday move on and be happy again.
For those who want to know now, I am a 24-year-old non-binary, assigned-male-at-birth individual in search of someone whom has the patience necessary to deal with the above. Also, potential trigger warning for sexual trauma in Chapter 2.
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Chapter 1: Who I currently am.
I’m quite an abnormal fellow. Growing up as the autistic homeschooler of some shut-ins will do that to you, but there was always something about me that was especially aberrant. Skipping rapidly over two decades, a few highlights include attending an Online High School run by an Ivy-League university, becoming a high-school dropout, then starting college at 14 and graduating at 19. However, all magic requires a tradeoff, so I report not having a friend until I was 15 and not having more than two simultaneously until literally 2018. In many ways, I almost wish I hadn’t been homeschooled and was held back academically. I’m certain that, were my upbringing different, I would have been a nerd or geek. I could have learned to play D&D or magic the gathering, I could have liked Naruto, I could have become a gamer or learned to code. I am by no means cool or normal, but I have always lacked any sort of peers or social niche. I do not like sports, but, with equal fervor, I do not like fantasy novels. Both cause a lack of associations. I’m not necessarily lonely for friends – I do have them, and quite a blissful plenty, now – but this does show that, for reasons mostly beyond my control, I have always been somewhat of a loner.
My life, as it currently is, started when I fled a certain situation (pin in that). I moved from the west coast to New York City for a biotech job at a coveted research institution in 2017. I was so overwhelmingly hopeful because, in addition to fleeing trauma and making a good career move, I was moving out from my parents and ready to start my life anew in what had been billed to me for years as Millennial heaven. Brooklyn! Williamsburg! Dumbo! Midtown! Astoria! Tribeca! New York City had been built up in my mind as the place to make it as a young, urban-minded professional. Now, I must make a disclaimer: I was not a country boy heading into this. To that point, I had lived in 8 different cities in 4 different states, most of them major places, so I was quite familiar with how cities should be like. Apparently, New York, however, is not.
I hated that place. Trash, everywhere. Stations, crumbling. Inexcusable income disparity, half-assed parks, wretchedroads, and absolutely no scenic beauty whatsoever. I devised a 45-minute lecture on why The City (as it’s called) sucked so much. Suffice it to say that Chicago is the clearly superior American megacity, followed by Toronto, Denver, Seattle, and Austin. My whole life, growing up on the west coast (where cities ascribed to the novel idea of attempting to benefittheir citizens), I had heard of people who claimed that “all governments are bad, bureaucratic, and inefficient.” I had always dismissed them as crackpot old kooks, but, having experienced New York City for what it was, I all of a sudden can understand how someone who had lived their whole life in such places could come to think that way.
But the thing that made it most unlivable were the people. Especially at my job, but also pretty much throughout the whole region (Providence to Wilmington, in my estimation), the people were overly obsessed with “social coding”. Though an irritatingly imprecise phenomenon for me to describe, it is basically that people have a much more stringent set of acceptable social norms and shun you more harshly for being individualistic. The west coast is significantly better at encouraging you to “let your freak flag fly” (otherwise known as being genuine and honest with yourself).
But the situation was significantly worse for me, specifically. You see, for lack of a better term, I am a psychopath. I don’t mean it in a negative context, per se, and, while I do quite frequently play the role of a narcissist for sake of metahumor, I don’t actually mean people ill will, nor do I callously disregard the well-being of others. It’s just that, due to the quirk of my aberrant neurochemistry and antisocial upbringing, I have always been generally inept at empathy. I am very social, outgoing, kind-hearted, and incredibly humorous – don’t get me wrong – but I can just as much be oblivious to social cues or the tacit desires of others. This peculiar mix leads my personality to be best described as the bastard child of a foursome between Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, Psych’s Shawn Spencer, Scrubs’ JD, and Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon. I truly mean well and am pure of heart; to that end, I’ve spent much of my life acquiring coping mechanisms to be a better, kinder, more sympathetic person and friend. But, for one reason or another, I was ill-equipped to deal with that most fetid breed person known to man: the “Lawn Guylander”.
This all culminated in a moment of crisis, but which I have come to look back on as the “Poughkeepsie Epiphany” (because, ever so creatively, I was driving thence at the time I had it): for almost a year, I had been putting an exorbitant amount of effort into playing the part of this overly social person, but was failing catastrophically. No matter how hard I tried, I could not meet people or make friends, much less find a partner. My coworkers loathed me, but in a way which they all looked down on me as if I was a defective human whom they didn’t care to humor one bit (one of the most vindicating moments was when a postdoc joined the lab from San Diego and he was similarly abhorred at the social climate). One day, I had a realization that there wasn’t a single person in the world who knew when I woke up, nor a single person that would care if I didn’t. That was a painful day. So, my Poughkeepsie Epiphany was that I could continue struggling to play the social game and end up cripplingly lonely, or I could be exactly as lonely as I would be otherwise, but be genuine to myself – no matter how anomalous that might be – and actually be happy with who I was for so doing.
This is when I started to become crazy, and quite proudly so. If there was an idea that was absurd in scope but was a completionist goal, I did it. I started road-tripping with an epic fervor (I knocked off 8 remaining states from my list, mostly New England, to get me to 49 [pin in that]). Road-tripping and adventuring is now a major aspect of my personality, and I have since accrued over 11,000 saved places on google maps (my poor, poor phone starts to melt whenever I open the app for navigation). Over the remaining months I had in New York, I rode every line of the New York City Subway end to end. I taught myself military time, metric, the NATO phonetic alphabet, and the nations of the world. Whenever I would go to bars, instead of socializing ineptly, I would open my backpack and yank out a massive tome such as (initially) a book on the AOL-Time Warner Merger (“something which one cannot read whilst sober”) or (later) Penn State, an Illustrated History (did you know we had a branch campus in China?). Sometimes, people would look over at me as the shockwave caused by the massive thwack of the volume hitting the bartop rolled by, and I would proudly adopt the facial expression of “Yes, I am that weird, and I don’t give a damn.” To be sure, I was still cripplingly lonely, but I was, for the first time in my life, happy.
I also began devising an escape plan. I decided to rapidly accelerate my life plans and apply for graduate school years ahead of what I had intended. Come January, I got interviews at three Ivys: Penn State, Duke, and Columbia. It was no contest. Duke sux balz and felt like an incompetent department living in the shadow of their medical center while also having the misplaced haughtiness to think they deserved equal recognition (also, I didn’t want to go to a place where the yearly tuition was more money than I had ever earned in my entire life to that point). Unlike Duke, Columbia actually had some quality research going on, but there was only one professor I was interested in and the department felt like it was out more for its own reputation than to actually support its graduate students. Penn State, however, stole my heart. Though painfully rural, the town felt like a very tiny big city. The university was friendly and earnest, the students were fun-loving but not reckless, and it’s one of only two universities in the country to offer a Dual-Title Ph.D. in [Home Field] and Astrobiology, a subject which I had always been enthralled by. As a concrete comparison, Columbia had just acquired three Cryo-Electron microscopes and was showing them off to us, but they were shared with thirteen other research institutions in the New York Metropolitan Area. Penn State, on the other hand, had one Krios, all to itself, which had been installed four years earlier. I have since confirmed that Penn State clearly puts its money where its mouth was and does its damnedest to support its scientists in producing world-class research.
So, slightly over a year after moving to New York, I was ready to start my life over again – but, this time, I had the mindset to do it correctly. At risk of turning this too much into an autobiography, I’ll cut short the narrative. In the two years since the Poughkeepsie Epiphany, though, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Partly out of my passion for storytelling and humor, and partly as a way to stake out my own identity in this world, I’ve latched on to certain oddball stories that most exemplify this newfound sense of self which I’ve acquired. Since they are a significant part of my personality and do an excellent job of portraying my uniquely blusterous metahumor, I'll share a few of the most notable:
  1. I’ve been to 49 states:
When people ask where I grew up, I respond that I’ve lived in 10 different cities in six different states, and have been to 49 (some people also ask if my father was in the military [no], or, once, witness protection [I am not at liberty to disclose whether this is true]). The one remaining state is Oklahoma. I am really debating just buying plane tickets to Oklahoma City for a weekend just so that I can say I’ve been to all 50. To justify my trip, I could go on a tour of why white people are so horrible by visiting the Oklahoma Museum of the Native American, the Oklahoma Museum of the African American, and the Oklahoma Museum of the Gay Cowboy (all of which, to my knowledge, are real places). Woohoo! A trifecta of oppression! However, if I were to actually visit Oklahoma and do this, I would then lose this marvelous and witty conversation topic about which last state I have yet to visit and what I would do while there, so it’s a serious cost-benefit analysis that I must weigh.
  1. I am the Dictator of my own country:
This is probably much less interesting than you’d think. There’s a rather... unique hobby out there of people who (for the most part) tongue-in-cheekily secede from their parent countries to form ultra-small monarchies or banana republics. In my case, I thought that the most reasonable and considered response to the Trump Presidency was to give up on the entire country and secede to form my own. I’m going to build a wall and make America pay for it! This is also actually more legitimate than you’d think, too, as I was invited to and attended the United Micronations, the second-largest meeting of nations in the world (the “largest” organization is in New York, I think. I really don’t pay too much attention to it). As a result, I ended up forming a federation, making several alliances, and maintain regular contact with several other micronationalists. On the domestic front, I made both my roommates sign a 37-page, 42-clause, 17k-word Cohabitation Agreement (á la Sheldon), which, among other things, has reservations for Spots, a flag, a legal system, time travel, and gives me power of attorney over them (you’d be surprised; they both signed it voluntarily, without complaint, and after having read it in its entirety). One might add that they do not pay rent; I levy taxes. Finally, I attempted an infiltration of the local Civil War Reenactors (they have a cannon!) to help me in my ongoing war against the local recycling agency for gross ineptitude, but, for some incomprehensible reason, a bunch of old, white, rurally-inclined men didn't take so kindly to my opinions on conservatism and modern politics. I am convinced that this is merely a marketing issue, and we are workshopping new slogans for our planned invasion of the adjacent curb and sidewalk.
  1. I flew to France for a date:
The story I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for. I met an undergraduate here and went on two dates with her, but then she did a semester abroad in France. It was going somewhat well; we were texting every day, and this was the first meaningful person I had actually gone on a date with since... things (pin in that). I quickly ran the numbers, looked at my schedule, and then came up with a hair-brained scheme. You see, I grew up in Florida, so a significant part of my childhood was consumed by theme parks. Sparring you a lot of details, two of the parks (Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios) originally opened under the auspices of special-features theme parks, a de-immersive experience where they show you how the movies are made. In the past decade, however, both parks have been moving towards more immersive experiences, where the only common factor among the attractions is that they are all based on intellectual properties that just happened to be movie franchises. This started to feel like a real loss when I learned that the Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action at Disney were being bulldozed for sake of Star Wars: Galaxy’s edge, the former of which was a very important ride to my childhood, and the latter of which was something that I always wanted to see. Lo and behold, a little research revealed that both of these attractions were intact at Disney Studios in Paris. So, a date in the South of France, personally-important theme park attractions in the north, TGV connecting them, and, oh, yeah, duh, it’s Paris, that’s justification in itself.
I planned it out meticulously. For the week leading up to the trip, I would get up, go to work, and go to bed an hour earlier every day (the trip was only going to be three days, so any jet-lag-induced napping would have had an alarmingly high opportunity cost). Then, on the day of the flight, I woke up just before midnight, had breakfast at a favorite bar at closing time, went in to work, and left for JFK by noon. Ten hours of globe-trotting later, I arrived on the Mediterranean coast and proceeded to mispronounce everything.
The date in France was supposed to be our third. What traditionally happens on the third date? Now, let it be known that I would NEVER be the type of person to demand sexuality from anyone, but, you do have to admit, flying 20% of the circumference of a planet is a pretty grand gesture, is it not? I mean, you can’t get a much grander gesture before you literally run out of planet. So, for this third date to take place and for me to not get laid is pretty empirical proof that I am quite irrevocably unfuckable. My next plan is to start looking for dates in Bangladesh (or Oklahoma), because that’s as close as you can get to antipodal (a perfect 50% of the planet's circumference) as you can get from here. Oh, and those two attractions at Disney Studios, not kidding, they were closed ahead of schedule a week before I arrived. Now, I’m not asking for pity at all; don’t get me wrong, I had a blast! It’s Paris, godsdamnit! But I prefer to view this trip in the narrower, funnier, yet sadder context of the two busts above because it helps me to better come to terms with the parts of myself I dislike. As I often say: “I could either laugh or cry at myself. I’d rather one than the other.”
  1. I returned from France with a Motorcycle:
Although France girl never worked out (I don’t think I made a fool of myself or anything, but, remember, I am legitimately inept at this), the trip to France did have a lasting impact on my life in another way. I am an avid bicyclist for a variety of reasons: staying active, helping the environment, and it’s flying like superman at ground level when [safely!] dodging in and out of undergrads. Now, while strolling down the lonely streets of a certain city in the South of France, I encountered one particular bicycle rack with about 25% regular bicycles, about 25% electric bicycles, about 25% mopeds and scooters, and 25% fully-blown motorcycles, all chained up side by side. Having a doctor as a parent, I spent my entire life thinking of motorcycles as hooligan deathtraps, but, here, I was seeing them for the first time in the context of something I had already made an important part of my life.
Upon returning home (by the way, you already know my disdain for New York Shitty [sic] and Wrong Island [sic], so imagine the gutwrenching heartbreak of arriving there after just having spent a weekend in Paris[!]), I arrived at the parking lot, looked at my car, and counted room for four extra people that I didn’t need (because I had no friends). Thus, in my feverish road-tripping, I was hauling around an unnecessary 1.96 tons of extra material – with a dreadful gas mileage to boot! – killing the planet as a result. The next few days were spent obsessively investigating this newfound world which I had heretofore disregarded. Ever since being gifted my car and spittaking at its gas mileage, I always wanted another, more environmentally-conscious vehicle. However, living in the so-called Pennsyltucky, electric vehicle charging stations are fairly sparse in their deployment. Also, I didn’t want to buy a true replacement vehicle, as I am too poor. I was more targeting a hyper-environmentally-conscious vehicle which I could use for my luxury adventures, and then still have the old, reliable gas-guzzler for when I needed to haul around a couch or power through to Virginia. Motorcycles, as I found, have an average of 56mpg, 2.5 times better than my car.
But, now, I was starting to find my way into the culture of motorcycles, something which, on the whole, I find myself violently at odds with. As the joke I tell goes, most motorcycles aren’t actually built for long-distance exploring, like what I already did in my car. Most of them are dirt bikes, with basically bench seats, or sport bikes, which require you to hunch over and lean your stomach on the gas tank. Not very comfortable for long treks. There are only two types of bikes made with comfort in mind: the sport-tourer, which I ended up getting, and the cruiser, which is made entirely out of chrome, handle-bar mustaches, and racism (or homophobia, depending on my audience). Needless to say, I prefer the former.
For those interested, I ended up with the Yamaha Tracer GT. In addition to (proudly!) having only one piece of chrome (the downward-facing exhaust) and being sexy and futuristic as all futhermuck, it is functional, having two panniers (saddle-bags), each capable of holding four half-gallons of Berkey Creamery ice cream (ask me how I know). Skipping over many of the specifics of how I chose this particular model regarding my choice of motorcycle, a big figure in motorcycle news opened his review of the Tracer with “It’s not often I ride a motorcycle and walk away with existential questions for the readers.” For those who have been following along, this quote is the exact thing that I latch on to as part of my newfound identity as a blissful lunatic.
  1. The Semester of Hell and solving a decade-old issue in microbial physiology:
So, come the end of my first year as a graduate student, I started to look towards my second fall semester. The only thing I had to do was my qualifying exam, the really big, month-long exam that determines whether or not you can stay in graduate school. But that was only during November, so, overall, it was going to be an empty semester. Then I learned that a big-name professor in microbiology was retiring, and the last time he was going to teach would be that fall. So, I signed up for his course. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester. Then I learned of a prestigious grant that I could apply for, so I decided to take a grant-writing course. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester. Then I got an email from the department, saying that they needed more TAs for Freshman Biology lab. I had to TA as a requirement of my program, so I might as well get it out of the way now. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester. Then, in July and August, I made an incredible discovery that solved a problem in microbial physiology that had been around since 2009 (pin in that). I spoke with my PI, and he said we could power through and probably get a paper out in under a year. I told him I wanted to do that. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester.
Well, as you can now see, it wasn’t a very empty semester, was it now? To great surprise, I survived, but not unscathed. On average, I worked 60-70 hours a week, though some of it was partially my own doing (for example, my term paper for the bacterial physiology course had seventy citations, even though it was only required to have ten). One “highlight” was TAing. Apparently, my students thought my quiz was so hard that they called the university police on me (I’m not exaggerating; we had to pursue academic integrity violations. It was a debacle). I joked that, with each subsequent class period, I became more and more sympathetic to the antagonists of teen dystopian novels; maybe it is time to build a floating elitist city in the sky and leave the rest of the planet to shit, after all?
Now, I’m certain that many of you are curious as to the contents of my discovery. I can’t exactly speak freely, as the manuscript is in review, but, even if I could, it would be waaaaay too complex and jargony to be comprehensible to the lay public (and this is already going on long enough). Suffice it to be the simple version: A particular class of protein had been known in microbes for a very long time and is involved in pretty much everything, from simple feeding to complex infections. In certain bacteria, this category of protein is modified in a certain way, and people always thought (for over 40 years) that this modification was a transport signal. However, a decade ago, a research groups, perplexingly, discovered these modified proteins in a bacterium that didn’t have th modification-making enzyme. This left two major questions: if not for transport, what was this modification for; and, what is the enzyme that makes the modification in all the other bacteria? I solved the latter question by spending four months looking through the entire genome of the original bacterium and finally finding the modification-making protein, and I’ve spent ever since trying to characterize it. The paper should be published sometime within a month or three (the current coronapocalypse is a boon for manuscript-preparation). Additionally, the previous graduate student in the lab to me made an interesting discovery regarding the genetics of the modification-making enzyme, and my next paper will expand on their work to determine the actual function of this modification. These proteins and their modifications are important because (on the applied side) they belong to major pathogens and could be a target for treating infections and (on the basic side) we have indications that they are part of a planetary-wide stress put on bacteria during evolution (hence, my astrobiological machinations).
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Chapter 2: Where I came from.
Now we have to get into how I got to this point. Suffice it to say that I have a lot of sexual trauma. In 2014, when I was still an undergrad, I met whom I called then my soulmate. They were beautiful, fun, perky, and adventurous. They were my first relationship and we took each other’s virginity in a tent after a romantic picnic. But, sadly, less than a year in, things started to go off the rails. I came out as polyamorous. The way I have best found to describe it is when you ask a parent which their favorite child is. All parents worth their salt will say “I love each of my children in their own, unique way.” Such is the same with me. At the time, I had feelings for some of my other friends; but! mind you! they were in no way enough to ever consider ever leaving my soulmate. It was simply such that I had my one, my true, my only, but I didn’t want that to have to mean I tell all other people in my life “Bah! You mean nothing to me because of the ambiguity of my relationship status at the time you met me.” I also had quite a complex from growing up so antisocially and isolated. This was a time in my life when things started to look up. Pieces were finally starting to fall into place, I had some friends and acquaintances, and people actually cared for me. It was thusly then that I realized I was polyamorous, but in mostly a loving way, not necessarily as a swinger or horndog. So, I came out.
In any other situation in the world, this might have not been as catastrophic. However, there were certain things about my soulmate which I knew not at the time that caused not just my relationship, not just my life, but my reality to crumble. You see, they grew up in an incredibly abusive situation, and the only way they knew how to act was to throw away every part of themselves for the people whom they loved. Whelp, that meant “forcing” themselves to be polyamorous for me. They devised a ridiculous plan where they would go out and sleep with lots of people to become okay with the idea of nonmonogamy. Needless to say, this was a batshit crazy idea, but they didn’t tell me their true feelings of how traumatizing this would be for them, and I decided to trust them that this is what they knew would be best for them and that it would all work out in the end. What can I say? What is love if not supporting your partner? I honestly thought it could be okay.
However, as you might guess, it was not. The main issue came from all their mental instability that they had hidden from me for so long. They became quite dissociative and hid it all from me. As such, they tried to compartmentalize their sexual exploration away from our relationship, making me less involved. In short, I was supposed to be their monogamous “safe space” while they did all this terrible shit to themselves. Understandably, this backfired. Rather than it being a collaborative, supportive, gentle, loving exploration, it became dishonest, filled with deceit. They lied to me about doing things with people and about not doing things with people. They made up stories of fuckbuddies and hid some of the real people they were fucking. All the while, I was starting to lose my grip on reality, because, here they were, getting to do all the things I had always wanted, practically rubbing it all in my face, while barring me from having any part of it for myself. It was tortuous. Highlights include them fucking my brother for four uninterrupted hours, and kicking me out of my bed and bedroom to fuck a nine-inch cock while I made them breakfast, then not allowing me to enter until they had finished.
When I learned that they hid that they were flunking all their classes in college, I snapped, and nothing was ever the same again. That’s not how you treat your soulmate. It was supposed to be us against the world, but they weren’t acting like we were a team. In retrospect, I was heartbroken for well more than half of the time we were a couple. The entire last year we were together, I was depressed beyond description. I would come home from work and I would have so little energy that my personality would just melt away. I was devoid of existence. I would sit on a couch, and stare away at nothingness for hours on end. To my credit, my ex would cover me in a blanket, put dinner on my lap, set the iPad in front of me, and put on an anime. I know they truly loved me because they did this for over six months, without complaining.
However, I was simply too broken. Things reached one fever pitch after another. I could always tell that something was wrong, that, as hard as I tried, I was never actually getting through to the person inside. It all felt so superficial. I always knew they were hiding things (not just sexual stuff, but, more simply, their own wants and desires, their simple, everyday preferences). They were there, but not present. So, faced with a soulmate who wasn’t sharing their soul, trauma most insurmountable, and no other options, I did the only thing I could: I accepted a job across the country in New York and fled the width of a continent.
However, as you already know, things didn’t get better. I couldn’t get a date for the life of me; I was – and am – too oddball. That I’ve had only one relationship and that it imploded quite catastrophically does not predispose me to self-worth or experience with dating. I am very intellectual, but a dullard at socialization. Hell, I never even learned how to make out. To boot, I have all this trauma which will take years to move on from. Last christmas, my now ex reached out to me, and we talked pretty much every day for four months. Since I left, they managed to somehow actually succeed in making themselves polyamorous, whereupon they proceeded to date and fuck my now (former) best friend, then leave them to date and move in with their boss from work, whom is over a decade older than them. They were in this relationship for over two and a half years, and we’ve been apart for three. Talking to them again has been rather tortuous, as I’ve been treated to such lovely details about their sex life while being, once again, excluded from it most royally. So… yeah… that’s been fun. And people wonder why I have such a boatload of trauma. After misery peaking once again, I realized that we had come to an impasse: I cannot move forward from the past without them, and they don’t want me back until I’ve moved forward from the past. Such is where things were last left, and I have no indication that they will ever change meaningfully from this.
Now, I want to make clear that I am not at all looking for any sort of statements regarding how I should forget about them and move on. There is so much more nuance than what I can describe here, and I’m not completely without blame either. Although I do not think I fucked up anywhere near as apocalyptically, I did hurt them, too. Nor do I necessarily hate them, either. Though what they did was incredibly, world-endingly hurtful and stupid, it was not done with malice. Time has only made me more sympathetic to their situation, and, thus, their actions. In short, their parent was incredibly abusive, and they also were terrified of losing me, so they were drunk on fear and thought that they needed to act in major ways to keep me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think that what they did then and have done since has ruined my life, but I understand why things happened the way they did and I don’t love them any less. I mean, I did say they were my soulmate, didn’t I? That has to count for something, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, I wish so badly that I hated them for all they did. That would make it so much easier to move on. I still identify as polyamorous, so this has the unpleasant side-effect of freezing my emotional development on the matter in place. In my case, I could be happily married for a decade and still be nowhere nearer to being able to move on from this ex, so it’s not like having any new sexual or romantic conquests will actually help me to move on from them. And, before you suggest, I already have a therapist, and she’s very nice.
So, since I’ve just spent ten pages telling you about three years of failed efforts to move on, comments or messages saying “move on, dude” will not be looked upon kindly.
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Chapter 3: Where I want to go.
So, as you can now see, I am the literal incarnation of damaged goods. I still really don’t know where I am going to post this, but my story is complicated enough that one part is inseparable from the other. If I’m posting this on a subreddit for sexual searches, you’ll need to know why a simple hookup is not on the table at all; conversely, if I’m posting this to a subreddit in search of romantic partners, you’ll need to know about my dreadful sexual brokenness and resulting insecurities up front. Either way, I’ve now managed to waste the time of two groups instead of one; how overachieving of me!
At this juncture of my life, I’ve somewhat come to terms with the fact I won’t ever be getting the tools I need to move on from my ex (something for which I them somewhat resent). However, if it wasn’t made abundantly clear heretofore, the acquisition of another compatriot is the taddest bit flummoxing for me. In short-form, swiping-based dating app formats, it is far too easy to disregard my numerous quirks as simply that, not scars from a lengthy, complicated, demoralizing battle against a society which I am physiologically incapable of understanding. Oh, and the global coronapocalypsemageddonocaust has slightly impacted my ability to partake in social events wherewithin people might be met.
In truth, I am not necessarily the sexiest person in world. I’m a tad bit overweight, but I both wear it well (being absurdly tall helps) and am actively trying to change it (I’ve taken up running [surprisingly enjoyable!] and have lost ~10kg). I definitely don’t think I have an ugly face or anything. But I don’t think that’s actually my problem. In the event that it hasn’t been blindingly obvious up to this point, I am not your average cookie. In stark brief, I attended the Stanford (yes, that one) Online High School, dropped out, started college at 14, graduate at 19 with honors, and am now a Graduate Fellow (one step above student) at an Ivy-League university (expanded definition, fight me). As such, the way in which I go through my life is fairly cerebral. To those whom understand not my eccentricities or the subjects of which I speak, I am perceived as talking down to others. However, it is simply the way in which I approach the world, and I am wholly oblivious in the moment of how I could be perceived as such.
So it is thusly that I here myself find, holding on to the dreadfully unrealistic hope that being honest with the world about myself will earn me the possibility to find another soulmate, but one not programmed to shred what little sanity I have left. Here goes hope:
Regarding my location, if you hadn’t figured out, I live in central Pennsyltucky – 9 miles from the geographic centerpoint of the state, in fact. However, as I tell prospective students, while Penn State is in the middle of nowhere, it is half-way to everywhere! That, combined with my adventurous proclivities, opens up (literal!) horizons, dramatically. I can easily make it in a day trip to anywhere within Pennsylvania (though I love Pittsburgh!) or anywhere in the Megalopolis between Trenton and DC. At a slight stretch, I can also reach NYC, Upstate, Ohio, or, maybe, West Virginia. I am definitely open to meeting people from outside my immediate drive-shed – especially since pretty much all dates in the COVID-19 era start with Zoom, anyway – however, since I’ve been to so many places, front-of-the-line priority will be given to those from places I desire to explore more, including (in order of decreasing preference): Colorado, Northern California, Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, and Vermont. If things develop, I both have the means and inclination to successfully conduct an LDR until I finish graduate school in 3-4 years.
Regarding the type of partner, while I am genuinely pansexual, I seem to be mostly romantically attracted with feminine-presenting people. Though, were I to have my druthers, I’d prefer you to be busty, at least moderately height-weight-proportional, and similarly tall, I affirmatively believe that it’s more how you use what you have than what you actually have, so I will always choose the average slut over the prudish bombshell. Other than that, I remain open minded to people of pretty much all walks of life.
Speaking of, for reasons that I hope are quite evident, I am a taaaaaaaaaaaad delicate in my sexuality. I used to be slightly dominant, but am definitely not anymore. I am almost in the realm of gentlefemdom. Please do be understanding that it’ll take some time (and, most likely, lots and lots of crying. I just want you to be sexually open yet patient enough that I could slowly grow back into my sexuality. Actually, that’s part of what I’m most hopeful for in a new partner. It would be really nice to have someone that is strong in their sexuality, and acts very openly with it, but is patient and loyal enough to not make me worried or scared. Someone who would, say, impulsively strip for a hike or skinny-dip, but wouldn’t pressure me to do the same if I wasn’t in the right headspace to do so.
Romantically, well, that’s a more complicated issue. I still identify as polyamorous, and I wouldn’t expect total devotion from my partner, but this is assuredly a difficult area. I think I would be benefitted by a period (likely 6-12 months) by monogamy, just so that I can recover enough to a functional level, then we can slowly and safely open up the relationship (with group stuff happening well before metamours).
Just please be careful with my heart. It’s already taken so much of a beating, and I don’t know how much more it can handle.
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Epilogue:
So, yeah, I guess that’s me. If you’ve made it this far, I at least thank you for doing so. I’ve been emotionally isolated for so long that it’s nice to just be acknowledged by other people. I know the likelihood of anything meaningful coming from this is quite, quite low, but this is part of me trying to move forward from the people that hurt me so cripplingly. I definitely come with some baggage, but I hope I’ve shown you who I am and that I at least have the potential to be good again.
I shall leave you with my dating profile. Hopefully this will show you the sonderous story that goes into only but a few words: “I find humor in everything and live for adventures. Highly sarcastic, hot-sauce-addicted, somewhat queer molecular and astrobiologist. Pro: I’m genuine. Con: -ly crazy. Looking for a porter to help me carry my emotional baggage.”
submitted by AstroG4 to Pennsylvaniar4r [link] [comments]

Looking for porter to help me carry my emotional baggage. (Part r4r, part lonely heart, part life story).

Prologue: Hello reddit! I’ve got issues.
I have never done this before, nor do I have any idea what might come of it, but I can tell you that this is probably just as much (if not moreso) an introspective essay as it will be lonely heart ad. I’m somewhat at the point in my life where I need to scream out into the void, and I hope that my honesty will net me just enough cosmic karma to get me out of this hole which I’ve been so unceremoniously dumped into. So, strap in; you're in for some u/rubyoobieoobie length shit.
I’ll leave you with a TLDR for now (because I’m not so callous as to make you scroll to the bottom for it): I have been to 49 states, flew to France for a date, solved a decade-old problem in microbial biochemistry and astrobiology, and am the dictator of my own country. I also have insurmountable trauma from my past (and only) relationship, but I still have deluded myself into thinking there is a hope, a person, a way in which I might someday move on and be happy again.
For those who want to know now, I am a 24-year-old non-binary, assigned-male-at-birth individual in search of someone whom has the patience necessary to deal with the above. Also, potential trigger warning for sexual trauma in Chapter 2.
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Chapter 1: Who I currently am.
I’m quite an abnormal fellow. Growing up as the autistic homeschooler of some shut-ins will do that to you, but there was always something about me that was especially aberrant. Skipping rapidly over two decades, a few highlights include attending an Online High School run by an Ivy-League university, becoming a high-school dropout, then starting college at 14 and graduating at 19. However, all magic requires a tradeoff, so I report not having a friend until I was 15 and not having more than two simultaneously until literally 2018. In many ways, I almost wish I hadn’t been homeschooled and was held back academically. I’m certain that, were my upbringing different, I would have been a nerd or geek. I could have learned to play D&D or magic the gathering, I could have liked Naruto, I could have become a gamer or learned to code. I am by no means cool or normal, but I have always lacked any sort of peers or social niche. I do not like sports, but, with equal fervor, I do not like fantasy novels. Both cause a lack of associations. I’m not necessarily lonely for friends – I do have them, and quite a blissful plenty, now – but this does show that, for reasons mostly beyond my control, I have always been somewhat of a loner.
My life, as it currently is, started when I fled a certain situation (pin in that). I moved from the west coast to New York City for a biotech job at a coveted research institution in 2017. I was so overwhelmingly hopeful because, in addition to fleeing trauma and making a good career move, I was moving out from my parents and ready to start my life anew in what had been billed to me for years as Millennial heaven. Brooklyn! Williamsburg! Dumbo! Midtown! Astoria! Tribeca! New York City had been built up in my mind as the place to make it as a young, urban-minded professional. Now, I must make a disclaimer: I was not a country boy heading into this. To that point, I had lived in 8 different cities in 4 different states, most of them major places, so I was quite familiar with how cities should be like. Apparently, New York, however, is not.
I hated that place. Trash, everywhere. Stations, crumbling. Inexcusable income disparity, half-assed parks, wretchedroads, and absolutely no scenic beauty whatsoever. I devised a 45-minute lecture on why The City (as it’s called) sucked so much. Suffice it to say that Chicago is the clearly superior American megacity, followed by Toronto, Denver, Seattle, and Austin. My whole life, growing up on the west coast (where cities ascribed to the novel idea of attempting to benefittheir citizens), I had heard of people who claimed that “all governments are bad, bureaucratic, and inefficient.” I had always dismissed them as crackpot old kooks, but, having experienced New York City for what it was, I all of a sudden can understand how someone who had lived their whole life in such places could come to think that way.
But the thing that made it most unlivable were the people. Especially at my job, but also pretty much throughout the whole region (Providence to Wilmington, in my estimation), the people were overly obsessed with “social coding”. Though an irritatingly imprecise phenomenon for me to describe, it is basically that people have a much more stringent set of acceptable social norms and shun you more harshly for being individualistic. The west coast is significantly better at encouraging you to “let your freak flag fly” (otherwise known as being genuine and honest with yourself).
But the situation was significantly worse for me, specifically. You see, for lack of a better term, I am a psychopath. I don’t mean it in a negative context, per se, and, while I do quite frequently play the role of a narcissist for sake of metahumor, I don’t actually mean people ill will, nor do I callously disregard the well-being of others. It’s just that, due to the quirk of my aberrant neurochemistry and antisocial upbringing, I have always been generally inept at empathy. I am very social, outgoing, kind-hearted, and incredibly humorous – don’t get me wrong – but I can just as much be oblivious to social cues or the tacit desires of others. This peculiar mix leads my personality to be best described as the bastard child of a foursome between Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka, Psych’s Shawn Spencer, Scrubs’ JD, and Big Bang Theory’s Sheldon. I truly mean well and am pure of heart; to that end, I’ve spent much of my life acquiring coping mechanisms to be a better, kinder, more sympathetic person and friend. But, for one reason or another, I was ill-equipped to deal with that most fetid breed person known to man: the “Lawn Guylander”.
This all culminated in a moment of crisis, but which I have come to look back on as the “Poughkeepsie Epiphany” (because, ever so creatively, I was driving thence at the time I had it): for almost a year, I had been putting an exorbitant amount of effort into playing the part of this overly social person, but was failing catastrophically. No matter how hard I tried, I could not meet people or make friends, much less find a partner. My coworkers loathed me, but in a way which they all looked down on me as if I was a defective human whom they didn’t care to humor one bit (one of the most vindicating moments was when a postdoc joined the lab from San Diego and he was similarly abhorred at the social climate). One day, I had a realization that there wasn’t a single person in the world who knew when I woke up, nor a single person that would care if I didn’t. That was a painful day. So, my Poughkeepsie Epiphany was that I could continue struggling to play the social game and end up cripplingly lonely, or I could be exactly as lonely as I would be otherwise, but be genuine to myself – no matter how anomalous that might be – and actually be happy with who I was for so doing.
This is when I started to become crazy, and quite proudly so. If there was an idea that was absurd in scope but was a completionist goal, I did it. I started road-tripping with an epic fervor (I knocked off 8 remaining states from my list, mostly New England, to get me to 49 [pin in that]). Road-tripping and adventuring is now a major aspect of my personality, and I have since accrued over 11,000 saved places on google maps (my poor, poor phone starts to melt whenever I open the app for navigation). Over the remaining months I had in New York, I rode every line of the New York City Subway end to end. I taught myself military time, metric, the NATO phonetic alphabet, and the nations of the world. Whenever I would go to bars, instead of socializing ineptly, I would open my backpack and yank out a massive tome such as (initially) a book on the AOL-Time Warner Merger (“something which one cannot read whilst sober”) or (later) Penn State, an Illustrated History (did you know we had a branch campus in China?). Sometimes, people would look over at me as the shockwave caused by the massive thwack of the volume hitting the bartop rolled by, and I would proudly adopt the facial expression of “Yes, I am that weird, and I don’t give a damn.” To be sure, I was still cripplingly lonely, but I was, for the first time in my life, happy.
I also began devising an escape plan. I decided to rapidly accelerate my life plans and apply for graduate school years ahead of what I had intended. Come January, I got interviews at three Ivys: Penn State, Duke, and Columbia. It was no contest. Duke sux balz and felt like an incompetent department living in the shadow of their medical center while also having the misplaced haughtiness to think they deserved equal recognition (also, I didn’t want to go to a place where the yearly tuition was more money than I had ever earned in my entire life to that point). Unlike Duke, Columbia actually had some quality research going on, but there was only one professor I was interested in and the department felt like it was out more for its own reputation than to actually support its graduate students. Penn State, however, stole my heart. Though painfully rural, the town felt like a very tiny big city. The university was friendly and earnest, the students were fun-loving but not reckless, and it’s one of only two universities in the country to offer a Dual-Title Ph.D. in [Home Field] and Astrobiology, a subject which I had always been enthralled by. As a concrete comparison, Columbia had just acquired three Cryo-Electron microscopes and was showing them off to us, but they were shared with thirteen other research institutions in the New York Metropolitan Area. Penn State, on the other hand, had one Krios, all to itself, which had been installed four years earlier. I have since confirmed that Penn State clearly puts its money where its mouth was and does its damnedest to support its scientists in producing world-class research.
So, slightly over a year after moving to New York, I was ready to start my life over again – but, this time, I had the mindset to do it correctly. At risk of turning this too much into an autobiography, I’ll cut short the narrative. In the two years since the Poughkeepsie Epiphany, though, I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon. Partly out of my passion for storytelling and humor, and partly as a way to stake out my own identity in this world, I’ve latched on to certain oddball stories that most exemplify this newfound sense of self which I’ve acquired. Since they are a significant part of my personality and do an excellent job of portraying my uniquely blusterous metahumor, I'll share a few of the most notable:
  1. I’ve been to 49 states:
When people ask where I grew up, I respond that I’ve lived in 10 different cities in six different states, and have been to 49 (some people also ask if my father was in the military [no], or, once, witness protection [I am not at liberty to disclose whether this is true]). The one remaining state is Oklahoma. I am really debating just buying plane tickets to Oklahoma City for a weekend just so that I can say I’ve been to all 50. To justify my trip, I could go on a tour of why white people are so horrible by visiting the Oklahoma Museum of the Native American, the Oklahoma Museum of the African American, and the Oklahoma Museum of the Gay Cowboy (all of which, to my knowledge, are real places). Woohoo! A trifecta of oppression! However, if I were to actually visit Oklahoma and do this, I would then lose this marvelous and witty conversation topic about which last state I have yet to visit and what I would do while there, so it’s a serious cost-benefit analysis that I must weigh.
  1. I am the Dictator of my own country:
This is probably much less interesting than you’d think. There’s a rather... unique hobby out there of people who (for the most part) tongue-in-cheekily secede from their parent countries to form ultra-small monarchies or banana republics. In my case, I thought that the most reasonable and considered response to the Trump Presidency was to give up on the entire country and secede to form my own. I’m going to build a wall and make America pay for it! This is also actually more legitimate than you’d think, too, as I was invited to and attended the United Micronations, the second-largest meeting of nations in the world (the “largest” organization is in New York, I think. I really don’t pay too much attention to it). As a result, I ended up forming a federation, making several alliances, and maintain regular contact with several other micronationalists. On the domestic front, I made both my roommates sign a 37-page, 42-clause, 17k-word Cohabitation Agreement (á la Sheldon), which, among other things, has reservations for Spots, a flag, a legal system, time travel, and gives me power of attorney over them (you’d be surprised; they both signed it voluntarily, without complaint, and after having read it in its entirety). One might add that they do not pay rent; I levy taxes. Finally, I attempted an infiltration of the local Civil War Reenactors (they have a cannon!) to help me in my ongoing war against the local recycling agency for gross ineptitude, but, for some incomprehensible reason, a bunch of old, white, rurally-inclined men didn't take so kindly to my opinions on conservatism and modern politics. I am convinced that this is merely a marketing issue, and we are workshopping new slogans for our planned invasion of the adjacent curb and sidewalk.
  1. I flew to France for a date:
The story I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for. I met an undergraduate here and went on two dates with her, but then she did a semester abroad in France. It was going somewhat well; we were texting every day, and this was the first meaningful person I had actually gone on a date with since... things (pin in that). I quickly ran the numbers, looked at my schedule, and then came up with a hair-brained scheme. You see, I grew up in Florida, so a significant part of my childhood was consumed by theme parks. Sparring you a lot of details, two of the parks (Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Universal Studios) originally opened under the auspices of special-features theme parks, a de-immersive experience where they show you how the movies are made. In the past decade, however, both parks have been moving towards more immersive experiences, where the only common factor among the attractions is that they are all based on intellectual properties that just happened to be movie franchises. This started to feel like a real loss when I learned that the Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action at Disney were being bulldozed for sake of Star Wars: Galaxy’s edge, the former of which was a very important ride to my childhood, and the latter of which was something that I always wanted to see. Lo and behold, a little research revealed that both of these attractions were intact at Disney Studios in Paris. So, a date in the South of France, personally-important theme park attractions in the north, TGV connecting them, and, oh, yeah, duh, it’s Paris, that’s justification in itself.
I planned it out meticulously. For the week leading up to the trip, I would get up, go to work, and go to bed an hour earlier every day (the trip was only going to be three days, so any jet-lag-induced napping would have had an alarmingly high opportunity cost). Then, on the day of the flight, I woke up just before midnight, had breakfast at a favorite bar at closing time, went in to work, and left for JFK by noon. Ten hours of globe-trotting later, I arrived on the Mediterranean coast and proceeded to mispronounce everything.
The date in France was supposed to be our third. What traditionally happens on the third date? Now, let it be known that I would NEVER be the type of person to demand sexuality from anyone, but, you do have to admit, flying 20% of the circumference of a planet is a pretty grand gesture, is it not? I mean, you can’t get a much grander gesture before you literally run out of planet. So, for this third date to take place and for me to not get laid is pretty empirical proof that I am quite irrevocably unfuckable. My next plan is to start looking for dates in Bangladesh (or Oklahoma), because that’s as close as you can get to antipodal (a perfect 50% of the planet's circumference) as you can get from here. Oh, and those two attractions at Disney Studios, not kidding, they were closed ahead of schedule a week before I arrived. Now, I’m not asking for pity at all; don’t get me wrong, I had a blast! It’s Paris, godsdamnit! But I prefer to view this trip in the narrower, funnier, yet sadder context of the two busts above because it helps me to better come to terms with the parts of myself I dislike. As I often say: “I could either laugh or cry at myself. I’d rather one than the other.”
  1. I returned from France with a Motorcycle:
Although France girl never worked out (I don’t think I made a fool of myself or anything, but, remember, I am legitimately inept at this), the trip to France did have a lasting impact on my life in another way. I am an avid bicyclist for a variety of reasons: staying active, helping the environment, and it’s flying like superman at ground level when [safely!] dodging in and out of undergrads. Now, while strolling down the lonely streets of a certain city in the South of France, I encountered one particular bicycle rack with about 25% regular bicycles, about 25% electric bicycles, about 25% mopeds and scooters, and 25% fully-blown motorcycles, all chained up side by side. Having a doctor as a parent, I spent my entire life thinking of motorcycles as hooligan deathtraps, but, here, I was seeing them for the first time in the context of something I had already made an important part of my life.
Upon returning home (by the way, you already know my disdain for New York Shitty [sic] and Wrong Island [sic], so imagine the gutwrenching heartbreak of arriving there after just having spent a weekend in Paris[!]), I arrived at the parking lot, looked at my car, and counted room for four extra people that I didn’t need (because I had no friends). Thus, in my feverish road-tripping, I was hauling around an unnecessary 1.96 tons of extra material – with a dreadful gas mileage to boot! – killing the planet as a result. The next few days were spent obsessively investigating this newfound world which I had heretofore disregarded. Ever since being gifted my car and spittaking at its gas mileage, I always wanted another, more environmentally-conscious vehicle. However, living in the so-called Pennsyltucky, electric vehicle charging stations are fairly sparse in their deployment. Also, I didn’t want to buy a true replacement vehicle, as I am too poor. I was more targeting a hyper-environmentally-conscious vehicle which I could use for my luxury adventures, and then still have the old, reliable gas-guzzler for when I needed to haul around a couch or power through to Virginia. Motorcycles, as I found, have an average of 56mpg, 2.5 times better than my car.
But, now, I was starting to find my way into the culture of motorcycles, something which, on the whole, I find myself violently at odds with. As the joke I tell goes, most motorcycles aren’t actually built for long-distance exploring, like what I already did in my car. Most of them are dirt bikes, with basically bench seats, or sport bikes, which require you to hunch over and lean your stomach on the gas tank. Not very comfortable for long treks. There are only two types of bikes made with comfort in mind: the sport-tourer, which I ended up getting, and the cruiser, which is made entirely out of chrome, handle-bar mustaches, and racism (or homophobia, depending on my audience). Needless to say, I prefer the former.
For those interested, I ended up with the Yamaha Tracer GT. In addition to (proudly!) having only one piece of chrome (the downward-facing exhaust) and being sexy and futuristic as all futhermuck, it is functional, having two panniers (saddle-bags), each capable of holding four half-gallons of Berkey Creamery ice cream (ask me how I know). Skipping over many of the specifics of how I chose this particular model regarding my choice of motorcycle, a big figure in motorcycle news opened his review of the Tracer with “It’s not often I ride a motorcycle and walk away with existential questions for the readers.” For those who have been following along, this quote is the exact thing that I latch on to as part of my newfound identity as a blissful lunatic.
  1. The Semester of Hell and solving a decade-old issue in microbial physiology:
So, come the end of my first year as a graduate student, I started to look towards my second fall semester. The only thing I had to do was my qualifying exam, the really big, month-long exam that determines whether or not you can stay in graduate school. But that was only during November, so, overall, it was going to be an empty semester. Then I learned that a big-name professor in microbiology was retiring, and the last time he was going to teach would be that fall. So, I signed up for his course. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester. Then I learned of a prestigious grant that I could apply for, so I decided to take a grant-writing course. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester. Then I got an email from the department, saying that they needed more TAs for Freshman Biology lab. I had to TA as a requirement of my program, so I might as well get it out of the way now. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester. Then, in July and August, I made an incredible discovery that solved a problem in microbial physiology that had been around since 2009 (pin in that). I spoke with my PI, and he said we could power through and probably get a paper out in under a year. I told him I wanted to do that. After all, it was supposed to be an empty semester.
Well, as you can now see, it wasn’t a very empty semester, was it now? To great surprise, I survived, but not unscathed. On average, I worked 60-70 hours a week, though some of it was partially my own doing (for example, my term paper for the bacterial physiology course had seventy citations, even though it was only required to have ten). One “highlight” was TAing. Apparently, my students thought my quiz was so hard that they called the university police on me (I’m not exaggerating; we had to pursue academic integrity violations. It was a debacle). I joked that, with each subsequent class period, I became more and more sympathetic to the antagonists of teen dystopian novels; maybe it is time to build a floating elitist city in the sky and leave the rest of the planet to shit, after all?
Now, I’m certain that many of you are curious as to the contents of my discovery. I can’t exactly speak freely, as the manuscript is in review, but, even if I could, it would be waaaaay too complex and jargony to be comprehensible to the lay public (and this is already going on long enough). Suffice it to be the simple version: A particular class of protein had been known in microbes for a very long time and is involved in pretty much everything, from simple feeding to complex infections. In certain bacteria, this category of protein is modified in a certain way, and people always thought (for over 40 years) that this modification was a transport signal. However, a decade ago, a research groups, perplexingly, discovered these modified proteins in a bacterium that didn’t have th modification-making enzyme. This left two major questions: if not for transport, what was this modification for; and, what is the enzyme that makes the modification in all the other bacteria? I solved the latter question by spending four months looking through the entire genome of the original bacterium and finally finding the modification-making protein, and I’ve spent ever since trying to characterize it. The paper should be published sometime within a month or three (the current coronapocalypse is a boon for manuscript-preparation). Additionally, the previous graduate student in the lab to me made an interesting discovery regarding the genetics of the modification-making enzyme, and my next paper will expand on their work to determine the actual function of this modification. These proteins and their modifications are important because (on the applied side) they belong to major pathogens and could be a target for treating infections and (on the basic side) we have indications that they are part of a planetary-wide stress put on bacteria during evolution (hence, my astrobiological machinations).
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Chapter 2: Where I came from.
Now we have to get into how I got to this point. Suffice it to say that I have a lot of sexual trauma. In 2014, when I was still an undergrad, I met whom I called then my soulmate. They were beautiful, fun, perky, and adventurous. They were my first relationship and we took each other’s virginity in a tent after a romantic picnic. But, sadly, less than a year in, things started to go off the rails. I came out as polyamorous. The way I have best found to describe it is when you ask a parent which their favorite child is. All parents worth their salt will say “I love each of my children in their own, unique way.” Such is the same with me. At the time, I had feelings for some of my other friends; but! mind you! they were in no way enough to ever consider ever leaving my soulmate. It was simply such that I had my one, my true, my only, but I didn’t want that to have to mean I tell all other people in my life “Bah! You mean nothing to me because of the ambiguity of my relationship status at the time you met me.” I also had quite a complex from growing up so antisocially and isolated. This was a time in my life when things started to look up. Pieces were finally starting to fall into place, I had some friends and acquaintances, and people actually cared for me. It was thusly then that I realized I was polyamorous, but in mostly a loving way, not necessarily as a swinger or horndog. So, I came out.
In any other situation in the world, this might have not been as catastrophic. However, there were certain things about my soulmate which I knew not at the time that caused not just my relationship, not just my life, but my reality to crumble. You see, they grew up in an incredibly abusive situation, and the only way they knew how to act was to throw away every part of themselves for the people whom they loved. Whelp, that meant “forcing” themselves to be polyamorous for me. They devised a ridiculous plan where they would go out and sleep with lots of people to become okay with the idea of nonmonogamy. Needless to say, this was a batshit crazy idea, but they didn’t tell me their true feelings of how traumatizing this would be for them, and I decided to trust them that this is what they knew would be best for them and that it would all work out in the end. What can I say? What is love if not supporting your partner? I honestly thought it could be okay.
However, as you might guess, it was not. The main issue came from all their mental instability that they had hidden from me for so long. They became quite dissociative and hid it all from me. As such, they tried to compartmentalize their sexual exploration away from our relationship, making me less involved. In short, I was supposed to be their monogamous “safe space” while they did all this terrible shit to themselves. Understandably, this backfired. Rather than it being a collaborative, supportive, gentle, loving exploration, it became dishonest, filled with deceit. They lied to me about doing things with people and about not doing things with people. They made up stories of fuckbuddies and hid some of the real people they were fucking. All the while, I was starting to lose my grip on reality, because, here they were, getting to do all the things I had always wanted, practically rubbing it all in my face, while barring me from having any part of it for myself. It was tortuous. Highlights include them fucking my brother for four uninterrupted hours, and kicking me out of my bed and bedroom to fuck a nine-inch cock while I made them breakfast, then not allowing me to enter until they had finished.
When I learned that they hid that they were flunking all their classes in college, I snapped, and nothing was ever the same again. That’s not how you treat your soulmate. It was supposed to be us against the world, but they weren’t acting like we were a team. In retrospect, I was heartbroken for well more than half of the time we were a couple. The entire last year we were together, I was depressed beyond description. I would come home from work and I would have so little energy that my personality would just melt away. I was devoid of existence. I would sit on a couch, and stare away at nothingness for hours on end. To my credit, my ex would cover me in a blanket, put dinner on my lap, set the iPad in front of me, and put on an anime. I know they truly loved me because they did this for over six months, without complaining.
However, I was simply too broken. Things reached one fever pitch after another. I could always tell that something was wrong, that, as hard as I tried, I was never actually getting through to the person inside. It all felt so superficial. I always knew they were hiding things (not just sexual stuff, but, more simply, their own wants and desires, their simple, everyday preferences). They were there, but not present. So, faced with a soulmate who wasn’t sharing their soul, trauma most insurmountable, and no other options, I did the only thing I could: I accepted a job across the country in New York and fled the width of a continent.
However, as you already know, things didn’t get better. I couldn’t get a date for the life of me; I was – and am – too oddball. That I’ve had only one relationship and that it imploded quite catastrophically does not predispose me to self-worth or experience with dating. I am very intellectual, but a dullard at socialization. Hell, I never even learned how to make out. To boot, I have all this trauma which will take years to move on from. Last christmas, my now ex reached out to me, and we talked pretty much every day for four months. Since I left, they managed to somehow actually succeed in making themselves polyamorous, whereupon they proceeded to date and fuck my now (former) best friend, then leave them to date and move in with their boss from work, whom is over a decade older than them. They were in this relationship for over two and a half years, and we’ve been apart for three. Talking to them again has been rather tortuous, as I’ve been treated to such lovely details about their sex life while being, once again, excluded from it most royally. So… yeah… that’s been fun. And people wonder why I have such a boatload of trauma. After misery peaking once again, I realized that we had come to an impasse: I cannot move forward from the past without them, and they don’t want me back until I’ve moved forward from the past. Such is where things were last left, and I have no indication that they will ever change meaningfully from this.
Now, I want to make clear that I am not at all looking for any sort of statements regarding how I should forget about them and move on. There is so much more nuance than what I can describe here, and I’m not completely without blame either. Although I do not think I fucked up anywhere near as apocalyptically, I did hurt them, too. Nor do I necessarily hate them, either. Though what they did was incredibly, world-endingly hurtful and stupid, it was not done with malice. Time has only made me more sympathetic to their situation, and, thus, their actions. In short, their parent was incredibly abusive, and they also were terrified of losing me, so they were drunk on fear and thought that they needed to act in major ways to keep me. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely think that what they did then and have done since has ruined my life, but I understand why things happened the way they did and I don’t love them any less. I mean, I did say they were my soulmate, didn’t I? That has to count for something, doesn’t it? Seriously, though, I wish so badly that I hated them for all they did. That would make it so much easier to move on. I still identify as polyamorous, so this has the unpleasant side-effect of freezing my emotional development on the matter in place. In my case, I could be happily married for a decade and still be nowhere nearer to being able to move on from this ex, so it’s not like having any new sexual or romantic conquests will actually help me to move on from them. And, before you suggest, I already have a therapist, and she’s very nice.
So, since I’ve just spent ten pages telling you about three years of failed efforts to move on, comments or messages saying “move on, dude” will not be looked upon kindly.
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Chapter 3: Where I want to go.
So, as you can now see, I am the literal incarnation of damaged goods. I still really don’t know where I am going to post this, but my story is complicated enough that one part is inseparable from the other. If I’m posting this on a subreddit for sexual searches, you’ll need to know why a simple hookup is not on the table at all; conversely, if I’m posting this to a subreddit in search of romantic partners, you’ll need to know about my dreadful sexual brokenness and resulting insecurities up front. Either way, I’ve now managed to waste the time of two groups instead of one; how overachieving of me!
At this juncture of my life, I’ve somewhat come to terms with the fact I won’t ever be getting the tools I need to move on from my ex (something for which I them somewhat resent). However, if it wasn’t made abundantly clear heretofore, the acquisition of another compatriot is the taddest bit flummoxing for me. In short-form, swiping-based dating app formats, it is far too easy to disregard my numerous quirks as simply that, not scars from a lengthy, complicated, demoralizing battle against a society which I am physiologically incapable of understanding. Oh, and the global coronapocalypsemageddonocaust has slightly impacted my ability to partake in social events wherewithin people might be met.
In truth, I am not necessarily the sexiest person in world. I’m a tad bit overweight, but I both wear it well (being absurdly tall helps) and am actively trying to change it (I’ve taken up running [surprisingly enjoyable!] and have lost ~10kg). I definitely don’t think I have an ugly face or anything. But I don’t think that’s actually my problem. In the event that it hasn’t been blindingly obvious up to this point, I am not your average cookie. In stark brief, I attended the Stanford (yes, that one) Online High School, dropped out, started college at 14, graduate at 19 with honors, and am now a Graduate Fellow (one step above student) at an Ivy-League university (expanded definition, fight me). As such, the way in which I go through my life is fairly cerebral. To those whom understand not my eccentricities or the subjects of which I speak, I am perceived as talking down to others. However, it is simply the way in which I approach the world, and I am wholly oblivious in the moment of how I could be perceived as such.
So it is thusly that I here myself find, holding on to the dreadfully unrealistic hope that being honest with the world about myself will earn me the possibility to find another soulmate, but one not programmed to shred what little sanity I have left. Here goes hope:
Regarding my location, if you hadn’t figured out, I live in central Pennsyltucky – 9 miles from the geographic centerpoint of the state, in fact. However, as I tell prospective students, while Penn State is in the middle of nowhere, it is half-way to everywhere! That, combined with my adventurous proclivities, opens up (literal!) horizons, dramatically. I can easily make it in a day trip to anywhere within Pennsylvania (though I love Pittsburgh!) or anywhere in the Megalopolis between Trenton and DC. At a slight stretch, I can also reach NYC, Upstate, Ohio, or, maybe, West Virginia. I am definitely open to meeting people from outside my immediate drive-shed – especially since pretty much all dates in the COVID-19 era start with Zoom, anyway – however, since I’ve been to so many places, front-of-the-line priority will be given to those from places I desire to explore more, including (in order of decreasing preference): Colorado, Northern California, Minnesota, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, and Vermont. If things develop, I both have the means and inclination to successfully conduct an LDR until I finish graduate school in 3-4 years.
Regarding the type of partner, while I am genuinely pansexual, I seem to be mostly romantically attracted with feminine-presenting people. Though, were I to have my druthers, I’d prefer you to be busty, at least moderately height-weight-proportional, and similarly tall, I affirmatively believe that it’s more how you use what you have than what you actually have, so I will always choose the average slut over the prudish bombshell. Other than that, I remain open minded to people of pretty much all walks of life.
Speaking of, for reasons that I hope are quite evident, I am a taaaaaaaaaaaad delicate in my sexuality. I used to be slightly dominant, but am definitely not anymore. I am almost in the realm of gentlefemdom. Please do be understanding that it’ll take some time (and, most likely, lots and lots of crying. I just want you to be sexually open yet patient enough that I could slowly grow back into my sexuality. Actually, that’s part of what I’m most hopeful for in a new partner. It would be really nice to have someone that is strong in their sexuality, and acts very openly with it, but is patient and loyal enough to not make me worried or scared. Someone who would, say, impulsively strip for a hike or skinny-dip, but wouldn’t pressure me to do the same if I wasn’t in the right headspace to do so.
Romantically, well, that’s a more complicated issue. I still identify as polyamorous, and I wouldn’t expect total devotion from my partner, but this is assuredly a difficult area. I think I would be benefitted by a period (likely 6-12 months) by monogamy, just so that I can recover enough to a functional level, then we can slowly and safely open up the relationship (with group stuff happening well before metamours).
Just please be careful with my heart. It’s already taken so much of a beating, and I don’t know how much more it can handle.
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Epilogue:
So, yeah, I guess that’s me. If you’ve made it this far, I at least thank you for doing so. I’ve been emotionally isolated for so long that it’s nice to just be acknowledged by other people. I know the likelihood of anything meaningful coming from this is quite, quite low, but this is part of me trying to move forward from the people that hurt me so cripplingly. I definitely come with some baggage, but I hope I’ve shown you who I am and that I at least have the potential to be good again.
I shall leave you with my dating profile. Hopefully this will show you the sonderous story that goes into only but a few words: “I find humor in everything and live for adventures. Highly sarcastic, hot-sauce-addicted, somewhat queer molecular and astrobiologist. Pro: I’m genuine. Con: -ly crazy. Looking for a porter to help me carry my emotional baggage.”
submitted by AstroG4 to lifeinapost [link] [comments]

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