Craftier Than I Realized

I was looking back and some old posts earlier this morning, and came across one talking about the iPhone or some such.

There was a specific line (and corresponding photo) that I included which amused me more than it should have. At the time, I don’t know if I found it all that funny, but now… I really did lol.

What did I say that was so hillarious?

You can tell a lot about a time period by whether you have a cat that’s willing to loiter around artillery.

Tell me that’s not comedy gold.

Ok fine, it’s not.

Whatever.

I don’t need your opinion anyway.

I can write good.

Ish.

The moral of this lame story is this: when you don’t specifically try to be entertaining… that’s when you’re entertaining.


My Year in Review

What better time to take a look back at what’s happened the last year than with a glass of scotch on Christmas night? All the festivities are over and tomorrow the lights come down to be stored away until next year.

I haven’t written anything substantial in quite a long time. My last journalistic blog post was longer ago than I’m willing to admit and my last post of any kind of substance was in July. I’m not sure lists count for much in the substance category, either.

I wish there was a good reason for it. I could run off a few excuses, but in reality I don’t have much that’s both good and not something I could have worked around.

With my scotch, I sit. When I blogged daily, I killed it. I’m pretty sure I used it as an outlet and a sweet mental release. I don’t really know what I mean by that or where I’m going with that. I tried keeping the train running on schedule when I moved to California, but that wasn’t a huge success.

Let’s give this a try: looking back on all that’s happened over the last calendar year, in hopes of finding solace in all I’ve seen, done, felt, and fought through. Those are some pretty choice words I just used… it’s almost like some stuff actually happened. Stuff… worth writing about.

San Francisco, California

California

Plot twist: I don’t live there, anymore. I’m back in my native Washington and while it feels great to be home, it’s bittersweet on several counts. I left Washington to start a new chapter of my life with someone I felt was special. Washington was my home state and I had a lot of years and memories already in place… 25 3/4 years worth, to be exact. It’s never too late to create new memories somewhere else so I welcomed the change with open arms.

I became attached to the state, even though a lot of its quirks could be seen by many as being subpar or less than ideal. Though I made friends–and some of the coolest people I’ve ever met–I’d say the majority of the folks I encountered were not that great. My experiences and measurements are highly annecdotal so please don’t quote me on that. There’s a good handful of people I know that have lived in California much longer than I and enjoy it way more. I suppose the crowd you hang out with has a lot of influence on those experiences.

I will never get over how expensive California is for what you receive. I think most people call that the value. In this case, it’s almost exclusively perceived value, but value nonetheless. Rent was high, traffic was bad, and at least where I was, there was no character.

Out of those three things, though, only the latter didn’t bother me, that much. See, I grew up in the suburbs. I’m used to less-than-large brush strokes of character in a city. I called the East Bay and Silicon Valley my homes for 6 months and a year, respectively. In that 18 months, I feel I formed a good enough opinion about California, and here it is.

Everyone in The Bay Area is looking for something, trying to get somewhere, or accomplish some goal. It’s a miniature Los Angeles, in that regard. Everyone that I encountered that grew up there landed somewhere on the bitter scale between hateful rage and moderately displeased. California changed and what they knew was essentially pulled out from under them by tech.

Tech companies were holding the area together by the time I got there. If just a handful of these big names went up in smoke one day, the market would come crashing down around every single individual that lived there. So many folks moved to the area for those companies, and their livelihoods would be demolished. Chances are, this would be but temporary as another tech company would move in to take its place, but on a larger scale, I think this area could only survive substituions like that for a little while.

Silicon Valley was and is the only place I’ve found one million dollar townhomes running for 6-7x what they cost to build. The market is inflated only because people know there’s someone out there that’ll pay that much… because they have to. It’s a vicious cycle that was created by greedy people looking to capitalize on recent establishements in the area… capitalism is great, isn’t it?

These artifical increases spread to apartments and even those who already owned their houses. These valuations were raising property taxes… as if California needed more money (spoiler alert: it always does… California and money managment are the classic oil and water illustration).

Of everything I saw and experienced while in California, artificially high cost of living was really the only thing that bothered me. I would have stayed past the event I’m about to describe next, had it not been for the fact that I didn’t feel I was getting a good value for what I recieved.

Wedding Couple

Marriage is Forever… Until it Isn’t.

I pondered whether I wanted to include this in my year in review because going through something like divorce is a highly personal topic and one I haven’t shared with many folks. It’s definitely something I never thought I’d experience. If me from this time last year or hell, me from this time, 2014 knew I would move to California married and move back divorced, I never would have believed it.

This is a highly complex topic, one that I could spend an entire series of posts on–or even a book–and just scratch the surface. I’m not sure if I’ll ever do the latter but at least sitting down and talking about my experiences in detail I’m sure would benefit at least one other man out there. Losing your partner with a stroke of the pen is painful, numbing, overwhelming, depressing, angering, and hysteria-inducing experience. Now try experiencing all those feelings and emotions at once. I did. And that’s why I want to talk to the world about it.

I read a couple books, and they helped, but they helped with a different thing–why I was in that situation, not how to get out of it. I’d argue one book technically fell into the get-out-of category, but for my scenario, it didn’t really apply. A lot of great ideas came out of those books, though, and when that time comes, I’ll be sure to bring them up.

The one huge takeaway I have, above all else, is that the saying time heals all wounds is shit. Time doesn’t do anything but amplify what’s already taking place as it ticks by on the clock. What time does is take what you’re doing right now, what you’re doing next week, and what you’re doing six months later and making those actions, feelings, thoughts, and words and makes them bigger, more powerful, and longer lasting.

If you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, just yet, let me spell it out for you in plain english: give yourself time to grieve, be sad, and experience all those feelings and emotions I mentioned earlier. Once that’s up, get off your ass and start walking foward, again. The only way you’re going to be able to have time on your side is if you’re doing something about your situation.

I could sit here for hours and talk about everything that I felt, said, did, and didn’t do, and I will, but now isn’t the time. We have other things to review.

Whatever You’re Happiest Doing is What you Will Do the Best

It’s an odd sentence and I’m sure some will disagree with me, but I stand by it. Yes, you could show me a hundred examples of people who are absolutely incredible at their jobs but are miserable. If I took that person and made them happy, say with my magic wand, and all of a sudden now they’re that much better at what they were already amazing at, what would you say?

Imagine that person is you, now. What are you doing with your life? Do you enjoy it? When you get up in the morning and think about starting this thing that you do every day, do negative thoughts start entering your mind? Do you start feeling dreadful, bummed out, sad, and don’t really look forward to doing it?

Ten bucks says that if you liked what you did, you’d 1) do it better and 2) do it more effeciently. Not just on a time scale of doing more things in less time with the same quality. Not even that, at all. The scale I’m looking at is the one which reflects your mental state. I have no science to back this up, but I’d bet a task you dislike takes more mental energy. Now compound several tasks you dislike and turn it into a job that you dislike. See where I’m going with this?

You might be able to leave work at work, home at home, but if you don’t like home or work, it’ll bleed over into the other, for sure. I know. I speak from experience.

With everything happening with the divorce, it took a toll on my performance. I was doing a pretty dang good job, but something started feeling a bit off on both my side (internally) and on the other side (externally, observed by others). In my job prior, it had an even larger effect because not only was I not a fan of my job, but there was a lot in limbo and in a chaotic state at home.

Let’s not get too sidetracked, though. Before all the personal chaos occured, I made the realization that I just described and it opened my eyes very quickly to what I wanted to do with my life. I suppose I could do the same thing forever, and be alright with it, but I’d never be all that happy with it. I think it’s worth saying I’m not talking about happiness at work but rather happiness with where I’m at in my career.

Like seeing your child smile for the first time makes you happy, doing what you love should make you happy, too. Yes, there will be times when it sucks, but you’ll still be happy you did it, or were there to experience it. The happiness will never be taken away.

Drawing to a Close

As the year wraps up, just five-ish days left, I think about everything I’ve been through, experienced, done, said, slept on, cried over, threw, threw out, threw up, laughed at, and drank to that I can say, without a shadow of a doubt, that I wouldn’t trade these experiences, memories, and new sets of knowledge for anything.

Sure, getting to this point was incredibly painful, caused a lot of sleepless nights, caused a lot of wasted money and time, but I had a lot of great experiences as well. Like I said earlier, I made a lot of great friends, people I look forward to seeing, again, when I’m in the area (just to visit, California isn’t on my list of places to live, any time soon).

I’d never give any of that up. Doing so would essentially rob me of the man I’ve now become and the man I will continue to evolve into with these peices of life as fuel.

This year was a crazy one but it’s one I won’t forget any time soon. I look forward to sharing it all with you in 2017. If what I have to say helps even just a single person in the slightest bit, I know I’ve done my job in telling my stories to the world…

And that is what I hope will motivate me in the days, weeks, and months to come as I rejuvinate this blog.

For those who have followed me in various forms over the years (I started this blog at the end of 2014… holy cow!), thank you. For those new to the party, welcome. We’ll have a great time together, I can feel it.


Have you Ever Seen a Post So Beautiful?

I’ve been having a hard time with inspiration, lately. I even moved back to WordPress to hopefully make the writing process as painless for myself as possible. It’s taken a lot of time and effort to figure out what it is about now compared to last year that’s made it so hard to want to write on a regular basis.

I switched back to WordPress because although I had several complaints, Jekyll just wasn’t something that would scale. When I think of my blog, I think of a place I can drop in some prose and publish. A static site generator isn’t really going to give me a sense of completeness that I would need.

I could publish link posts every day, but I don’t have the traffic to warrant that being even worth the time. It would be better if I added up a few different links and reflected on them at the end of the week.

There are things I want to write about, but the motivation really isn’t there. I know at the core it’s all about “just doing it,” but I had a hard time pushing myself in the majority of 2015.

Remembering what the start of 2015 was like, I was firing things off left and right, really kicking ass, and I was enjoying it. I even remember the post I did about someone wearing Ugg boots to an interview. That was today, one year ago. I also had a morning routine. Perhaps that’s the key, right there. I knew I had to leave for work early, and I knew the best time to sit and write was in the morning, so I sat down before the rooster woke and wrote. It was amazing what I could get done in 30-45 minutes.

In 2015 I wrote about 90,000 words, give or take. I’d like to see myself add another 100,000 this year. Based on some iPhone calculator math, if I started tomorrow, that’s a mere 279 words per day. I’ve already crossed that line in this post.

In theory this should be easy. One post per day, 279 words or more. Hell, let’s make it an even 300. That’ll bring me into the 107K range, a great buffer. But let’s say I only manage five posts per week. There are about 50 whole weeks left in the year, so that’s 2000 words per week. Divide that by five posts per week and we’re at 400 words. Also something I could do, as this whole post only took me ten minutes, so far.

I don’t have a doubt in my mind that I have the mental capacity to write 400 words a day. My day job involves providing top-notch customer support and I probably cover five times that in our ticketing system.

The tools I use shouldn’t be a problem. I purchased a new system a few months ago and it’s been the best investment I’ve made in the computer department since my last Mac in 2011. Last I heard from its current owner, the system is running perfectly fine 4.5 years later.

So let’s think some more about this. What was my routine really? I woke up between 3:30 and 4:00 AM, Monday-Friday. I was out of the bathroom by 4:30 and had coffee in my hand at around 4:40. Between 4:45 and 5:15 I was at my desk, typing away, working on various thoughts that I would then publish to my blog. There was one day I think I hit six posts. They weren’t very long, individually, but six different topics crossed my mind in that half hour period.

By 5:30 I was out the door. Most people I talked to told me that getting up that early was insane. A lot of them didn’t realize that although I didn’t have to be at work until 7:00 AM, I was catching the bus at 5:45 AM. I didn’t have much choice in that matter. Any later and I would miss the 7:00 AM mark.

It’s not like now where the time I have to be at work isn’t really set in stone and if needed I can start my day at home…

Hang on. I think that’s it. Because I don’t have a strict schedule at work, I haven’t been able to find the reasoning and support behind the idea of having a strict morning routine at home. Most weekday mornings, I’m up between 6:30 and 7:30 and checking emails, getting an idea of what the day will hold, and don’t show up at the office until 8:30 or 9:00. Since I can be all flim-flam on when I start—a.k.a. get into the office—I don’t get up at the same time every day. Some days I work from home, too, which also makes things crazy.

Speaking of working from home, I don’t think I would have this problem if I did all in-office or all at-home. If I worked from home every day, I’d have to create a new routine, almost like a ritual, because where I work during the day should be exclusively for work, and nothing else.

Does this mean I should get another computer? Dear God, I hope not. My credit card can’t take another hit like that.

I mean sitting at my desk during the day. If I’m sitting at that desk between whatever hours I work, I should be working. If I don’t want to work, I need to get up from that desk. If I still want to sit on my computer, I need to unplug it and take it with me.

It’s either that or I find a coworking space, which could set me back as much as $500 a month. Ouch. I’d get more benefit out of renting a larger apartment with more square footage.

So now that I’ve figured out what my problem is and the root cause, how can I fix it? Well, I guess a good start would be setting a time in the morning to wake and forcing myself to get my ass out of bed at that time, no matter how much I’d rather sleep. I honestly haven’t had my alarm go off in weeks, and I’ve been waking at about the same time, every day, so I can tell right away that this will be a bit of a jarring experience.

As I write this, I opened my phone and set my FitBit to buzz at 6:00 AM. Let’s see how this goes, first. If my FitBit can’t get me up (or I’m so far in dreamland that I don’t realize what that far-off buzzing means), I’ll re-set my actual iPhone alarm clock.

I also need to tell myself that I will be in “work mode” (at the office or at my desk working) by 8:00 AM. I have a 25 minute commute by car so that gives me a good hour between 6:30 and 7:30 AM to make coffee (or pour cold brew) and do what I do best.

Being able to put words on paper has never been a problem for me. When I started writing this, though, I didn’t expect it would get this far. I really just meant to sit down and reflect for a minute, kind of hash out the problem in real time as I type. I had no actual plan, or anything.

Sometimes that’s what makes some of what I write so good (in my opinion). I once sat at my desk and wrote for 30 minute straight and came up with some pretty interesting things.

At this point I’m wondering if I’ll remember all the places where I wanted to place links to other stuff. I’ll have to go through this post again. I just realized the app I’m using allows me to place hyperlinks in the text, WYSIWYG style (Microsoft Word-style, for the non-technical folk reading this).

With links out of the way, I got to thinking. Looking at all these posts I wrote in 2015 (257 to be exact), I should really be proud of myself. At the beginning of the year, I didn’t think I’d make it this far. I put down a lot of thoughts and pondered a lot of things. I tagged a lot of things. One of the best books I ever read was mentioned in at least eleven posts. I did a 10-day blog challenge. I reflected on what it was like living in California after just a few days. As of this writing, I’m still here. I also covered the moving process, too. Spoiler: it sucked.

I think that’s about all I have. It felt really good to get all this out there. I have some topics for tomorrow and provided my plan works, I’ll have some new posts, too! My Reading List in Safari always has links pertaining to things on my mind.

Right now, though, the only thing on my mind is shutting down for the night.

Tomorrow is a new day.

Just like 2015, I (hopefully) restarted blogging on January 6th. It’s been exactly one year and we’re doing it all over again. 100,000 words. 300-400 words per day. Five to seven posts per week. One (sort of) new routine. A killer 2016. Nice rhyme.


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