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The essay that landed me a spot in Google FUSE 2010, earning me a $5,000 scholarship

Tell us about an experience that inspired your interest in the computer science field, or a specific aspect of it. Any inspiration is fair game!

I spent the first 17 years of my life avoiding computer science. But a friend inspired my interest in it anyway. He is now avoiding me.

To be sure, I’ve always thought computers and programming languages were cool. I may not have known much, but what I saw seemed like magic, as lines of a mysterious foreign language transformed into something greater. But my older sister studied CS, and this was a big enough minus that I didn’t seriously consider the subject until the summer before college, when my friend, the guitarist, taught me Java.

It began with my plans to brush up on my questionable knowledge of programming. The guitarist immediately took up the task of teaching me the basics, in his way: “Say you had the class Person.java. A subclass for Person for example would be a Warrior Princess. A Warrior Princess is a Person with a name and an age, but she also has a special attack, armor, and other things a normal Person doesn’t have. Ya know?”

And thus began my intro to computer science. Full of irreverent jokes and perhaps not yet “real” CS, my informal summer lessons sparked my interest enough that I took two CS courses the following fall. We even almost got to the real computer science. “I want to teach you about pointers,” the guitarist said once. “If you can understand pointers, then you can major in computer science.” The guitarist is fond of oversimplification and underestimates many challenges.

Challenges like the combination of distance, hesitation, doubt, and chance that tore us apart enough that the last thing I’ve heard from him is, “Anyways, please don’t try to contact me anymore. We’ve had our run together and it’s run its course. You have another running buddy now and I need to go find mine. Sorry. See ya.” The guitarist loves weird metaphors and turns of speech.

And I have found other people, other ideas to inspire me to run further, indeed to run head first into the world he introduced me to. The guitarist left my life, but I still remember my non-traditional intro to CS. And maybe someday, even if it takes the 17 years I took to find CS, he will remember me again. For now though, I’m just working on becoming a Warrior Princess of computing. After all, I’ve already passed the big test. I understand pointers.

In other words, everything is wrong. Also, the east coast sucks. D:

He had to cancel his trip to see me. I should have known. Whenever Andrew comes the weather is perfect. The sun shines and the sky is clear, just like my heart. But the forecast for this weekend is severe weather - heavy snow and wind. I was prepared for his flight being cancelled. But I should’ve admitted that the worsening weather forecasts meant that that fate had other plans for our weekend in any case. I was on a cloud getting ready to see him again, but I forgot what those clouds mean. That sun, hugs, happiness, kisses, the ability to poke him, and the feeling that all is right with the world, if only for just that moment - will have to wait for another day. In the meantime, I pulled the extra mattress back up the stairs by myself, and stuffed it away along with my hopes.

Assigning blame for liking each other, from across the country, 3 months ago

Andrew:
I thought I was excused. Or did I just get in trouble again?

Me:
You are not off the hook Mister Poon. This is clearly your fault! Guys like you aren't actually supposed to talk to me. You're supposed to be like one of those guys I think of when I tell my girl-friends, "Oh yeah the guys at PG [Planet Granite] look reallyy good. They're like proof that Asian guys can be buff too o_O"

Andrew:
"He must be eating that P90X." Girls like you aren't supposed to talk to me!

Me:
T_T What do you mean girls like me?

Andrew:
Ugrads aren't supposed to talk to people who graduated already. They're like, weird w/ their degrees or whatever.

Me:
Hey, shouldn't the other way around be true too then? Hey, WHO talked to WHOM first eh?

Andrew:
I talk to anybody, ok? Cuz I'm open and friendly.

Me:
Really, well, so am I.

Andrew:
Yep, that's why this is your fault.

Ich:
What?? I mean, am I supposed to ignore you when you talk to me then :P

Andrew:
You're supposed to either be chatting w/ your sorority sister. Or listening to iPod and ignoring everyone.

Ich:
This may be slightly my fault, but it's much more your fault.


And now we are sad and far apart and have no one to make out on couches with.


Are you happy now.


Is this what you wanted.

Andrew:
No. I blame you. Fix my problems.