This is a love letter.
Ada Lovelace Day is about sharing stories of women — whether engineers, scientists, technologists or mathematicians — who have inspired you to become who you are today. The aim is to create new role models for girls and women in these male-dominated fields by raising the profile of other women in STEM. —Finding Ada
This is a love letter to a woman I met almost exactly a year ago today. This is a love letter to a woman who has taught me, learned from me, laughed at and with me, told me stories, emailed me pictures of kittens on days when I desperately needed them, lent me books, poured me cocktails at three in the afternoon, dozed off on my shoulder, coded with me, argued with me, told me when I was wrong, listened to me when I told her she was wrong. This is a love letter to Betsy Haibel.
Betsy and I have known each other casually for a while — we were both involved with the Organization for Transformative Works a few years ago, and when I moved to DC last year, I think I was talking to her on Twitter about neighborhoods and getting coffee together and lord only knows — when I went over to her apartment, a few weeks after I moved, I was honestly expecting nothing more than a slice of pumpkin-yogurt cake and a few hours of chatting about Doctor Who and Slings and Arrows and how criminal it is that we live in a world without dragons. I ended up with a feminist open-source code collective, an addiction to Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan series, at least one novel, and someone without whom I don’t know how I would have coped with the past year of my life.
Betsy is a backend coder — she mostly works in Rails — and she has never, ever, not once, rolled her eyes at me for asking questions about backend *~magic~*. She has walked me through code in coffeeshops, suggested solutions to my git problems (death to merge conflicts, death death death), thanked me for correcting her prejudices about grid systems, asked me about z-index bugs, and clapped her hands excitedly when I figured out the weird “can’t-be-a-clearfix-bug”. She reminds me of the best parts of my job, of my industry, and reassures me that the bad parts can get better, can be survived and overcome.
I am grateful to have Betsy in my life; I am grateful she is my friend; I am grateful to work with her; I am grateful to learn from her, and this is why I am writing her a love letter for Ada Lovelace Day.