In the beginning I was a writer. Starting from maybe 5 years old I'd staple some folded up printed paper and write and draw on each page tales of snowmen who couldn't melt or pigs named Juneau who lived in Alaska. I then graduated to writing on a laptop books too embarrassing to describe here, even winning (meaning, writing at least 50K words of a novel) National Novel Writing Month for maybe 4 years. I'd post my writing on InkPop, submit my novels to Amazon's Breakthrough Novel Award competition, and even tried to query literary agents myself. Well I'm a writer but still not a published author haha.

And of course throughout it all I loved books. Being an only child with overprotective parents and no cable TV or high speed internet, books were really my main form of entertainment. I remember the exciting car rides to the South Natomas Sacramento Public Library every weekend, dropping off a stack of 5 or 6 books and picking up 5 or 6 more. Browsing the rows and rows of books, so many worlds and possiblities in one room.

At first I thought I'd want to be a literary agent. I guess since book publishing wasn't working out for me at the age of 16. I'd even answer Yahoo! Answers (what a throwback) questions about writing and book publishing, even consolidating all my answers in a blog. I'd also offer free book cover designing services I'd create using free but limited online image editing programs.

And then circa 2011 finally I had a platform start to gain some traction. A Sea of Quotes, a Tumblr blog which has over 300,000 followers (including some published authors!) in which I would very selectively post thoughtful and meaningful quotes from literature every day for about 5 to 6 years. A Sea of Quotes is the biggest showcase for my love of the written word and the support and messages from its followers who felt understood and less lonely from it is one of the highlights of my life. I even set up a SpreadShirt store to sell A Sea of Quotes T-shirts which people actually did buy.

But one of the biggest gifts from A Sea of Quotes was that it led me to software engineering. It was my first forray into HTML and CSS so I could customize ASQ to how I wanted it to look and navigate and learnt how to stick a Google Analytics script into the HTML head. I also wanted an ASQ mobile app but at the time I didn't know how and the free iOS app generators were as bad as you can imagine. But I knew I could learn how to make my own.

I started university in 2013 at UC Berkeley to begin my Computer Science degree which marked the beginning of a decade long hiatus of leisure writing and reading. Berkeley kicked my ass and I spent most of my time studying and studying and even more studying. But much to my delight I found software engineering to be very similar to writing. In both once you learn the language, the syntax, the structure, the symbolisms and abstractions, once you have defined a problem and its solution, you can create something novel and maybe useful. By the end of university I also made my own ASQ iOS App born from the final project of an iOS class. Even though I never released this on the Apple store because it was not polished and I didn't want to pay the Apple developers fee, it was still empowering to know that I was now capable of it.

In summer 2017 I moved to NYC and began working at Braze, formerly Appboy at the time I joined. Why Braze? Is something I got asked while interviewing candidates a lot. To be honest, I'd say, I just wanted to move out of the Bay Area and NYC was my first choice and Braze was the first company that gave me an offer. But that led to the best first job out of college one could ever ask for. I was among incredibly smart and kind people who taught and supported me without ever judging and as an early to mid 20s in NYC we would hang out after work hours at happy hours and kickball matches and brunches. The work I was doing was important and valued. I had code in prod starting from the first week. And given the complex nature of the Braze product I was learning a ton all across the stack.

This real software engineering experience gave me the tools to build my own stateful and dynamic web app, Critique Connect, a website for writers and beta readers to easily find each other. At its peak Critique Connect had over 200 users. Again I had married my three loves of writing, reading, and software engineering.

In the last half of my tenure at Braze the world changed, disrupting old routines into new ones. Braze was now 7 times larger than it was when I started and most people worked remotely. The calm and barren NYC of pandemic times turned into a frenzy as people made up for lost time. And right when I thought about getting back into creative writing, I got a cat named Blue, the first pet I ever owned and it was a time consuming learning curve.

After 6 years of Braze and NYC I got that itch again that says it's time for something new. As of writing this, I'm now in my "funemployment" in Leeds, England with my partner and cat. I spend my days at Waterstones equipped with the disposable income to buy my own books to build my own library, taking my time to read the titles in all the shelves, buying books before I've finished the ones I already have. I've started writing again. And I've been studying for the AWS Solutions Architect cert. But I do more than just write, read, and code! I've also explored other hobbies deeper like video editing, yoga, learning Hindi (just completed Hindi Level 1 at Imperial College London!), learning how to cook Mexican food, and cross stitching. Right now I'm thriving, drinking pints of beer midday at Belgrave Music Hall while reading, but I know again I'll get that itch for something new and in the story of my life I can't wait to turn the page to find out.