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14 May 2020

The Calm Between

Words fail.  But we try anyway.

By this point, it's cliché and a bit trite to say that we're in unprecedented times, in the midst of an ever-changing situation, living through history… but it's absolutely true.  There were certainly jokes early on, when we were comparatively uninformed, but no one really expected at the start of the year that we'd be in the midst of a global pandemic a few short months later.

Locally, we've come a long way. In just a few minutes, the "Stay at Home" order for Pittsburgh and many surrounding areas, which has been in place since the evening of 23 March, will officially be lifted.  Fifty-two days and four hours in total, just shy of one-seventh of the entire year.  A lot has happened since then, and a lot hasn't.  Events postponed or cancelled.  Plans scuppered, classes virtualized, and goals deferred.  But there's also a long way to go: more testing and tracing is needed.  There will be future flare-ups in our epidemics and, inevitably, more resultant deaths.  May we have the collective and individual strength to face that challenge and keep it manageable.  For now, I'm trying to savor the occasional liminal moment of calm in between all the uncertainty, doubt, fear, and anxiety.

In work and in life, it's been easier than ever to lose sight of my direct impacts.  New patterns continue to emerge, and on average, I know I'm doing okay and contributing positively.  But on any given day, the reality is that everything is, at best, just a little harder.  And the thing about everything being harder is that every thing is harder.  And those things add up.

So it was with great relief that I found another piece of purportedly-free clipart without too much trouble so I could bake another bloggy cake for a special birthday blog.  With 2020 so far being a year replete with almost every cancellation imaginable, it's important to try to keep the easy streaks alive.  It's already digital; no further social distancing is required.  ;)

Random tangent: If this blog were to be anthropomorphized even further and ascribed a female gender, I suppose you could say it's celebrating a quarantinceañera.  That is a portmanteau that exists now.

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01 January 2020

2020

Twenty-twenty.  A new decade.  Yes, even in a technical sense.  No, I don't remember having this same argument ten years ago.  I'm not sure why it's even a matter of debate.

Just like last night, I'm really not sure what to write here today.  I'd love to mark the occasion somehow, but for a number of reasons — not least of which is some work deadlines I have to resume tending to in a few hours — I have not felt up to the task.

One thing I do know is that I'm left with a similar sense of je ne sais quoi right now as I had when I embarked on the last decade.  (Although looking back, I guess it was nine years ago that I wrote that.  Bah.  The convergence of math and culture are hard.)  In the latter half of the decade now past, I embarked upon my career, so inevitably questions now arise such as "What more am I going to do with it?"  And since I'm about to reach a power-of-two birthday, I'm also thinking a lot about life more broadly.

Not that I'm itching to change all that much.  Not right now, and not all at once, certainly.  After all, just like I wrote then, today is little more than the day after last.  But years and decades are long spans of time, and I certainly don't want to stagnate.  (Looking far back, I'm reassured that I didn't actually stagnate as much in as many aspects of my life these past 9 or 10 years as the day-to-day myopic view has often convinced me.)

In any case, 2020 certainly feels more momentous than 2010 (or even 2011) did.  Maybe that's just because it's been talked about for literal years, much like 2016, since basically the day after the last US presidential election.

Or perhaps, as you may have guessed from my doodle, it just has that Barbara Walters ring to it:


Whatever the case may be, I know there's a lot to come in this year and this decade.  Here's hoping it's mostly for good and growth.

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31 December 2019

Another Decade Done

Another year through… but this time, I don't feel as though I have much to say.

In some regards, it's just that I'm not particularly feeling reflective tonight.  A mid-week Christmas contributed to a whirlwind holiday season for the family, and so it feels as though I've really only just finally managed to slow down a bit.  In other regards, it may just be that at this point in my life, no news is good news.  Or at least, not bad.  The usual, anyway.  Meh.

Not that nothing happened, of course.  My mother visited me in Pittsburgh for two long weekends this year, in both March and September, to help me get out of some ruts and catch up on some ever-needed cleaning.  And I visited, as usual, in May, July, and around the holidays. 

In January, I finally found a local dentist, and even though they're a little far away, they're great.  I served on a jury for a three-day trial in February, and I moved my office at work in July on the very day I returned to work from Music Camp.  Elections were relatively uneventful this year, and all of the normal fall events were successes.

But zooming out to the whole decade, it's really interesting to see how far I've come.  It's amazing how much is hidden at that level: I was still in college ten years ago.  Now I'm several years into a career.  Careful (and even not so careful) readings of past year-end recaps would show you that it hasn't actually been that effortless.  It still isn't.

But, really, tonight, I'm just feeling thankful most of all.  Wrong holiday, but eh.  Those are my feelings.

Happy New Year, all!

Random tangent: Fox's New Year's Eve with Steve Harvey was excited about breaking the world record tonight for most people performing YMCA.  A record which was last set by me and (apparently) 40,147 other people in El Paso at the 2008 Sun Bowl, 11 years ago today.  I still participated from home while I watched.

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14 May 2019

Tumult

Last weekend, I visited home as I tend to do this time of year, and my mother gave me a crossword puzzle which contained the clue "Teen turmoil", five letters.  After conferring with the crossing clues and determining that the answer was, indeed, "ANGST", I reflected a bit on where I am in life right now.

Much like my teenaged years which launched this blog, it's recently been a tumultuous time.  Of course, it's different — it always is.  A lot of big projects and initiatives at work are just kinda… up in the air.  This is normally the time of year we'd be figuring out answers and solidly charting a course to get through as much of the list as possible through the upcoming summer months.  This year, though, there happen to be a lot of externalities, and so many details remain largely out of our hands, at least for now.  Which certainly brings up some anxious feelings, but also, at the same time, maybe is a good thing?  It's important to focus one's efforts on what can be controlled, after all.  But it is an adjustment, and one that's still in flux at least for a while yet, so that all has left me a bit unsettled.

Meanwhile, my personal life just seems kinda disorganized.  My mother came down to my place 22–25 March for a long weekend to help me start the process of reorganizing the physical manifestation thereof (read: cleaning my apartment).  The intent was that that could have been a launching point of sorts, the catalyst required to overcome inertia, but alas, life has had other plans.  It seems many of my usual amusements just feel like they're adding to the mental to-do list rather than creating calm.  And I don't feel like I have the time I need to step back and assess why.

Ironically, earlier tonight, I actually only got halfway through a podcast episode about millennial burnout before I found my attention turning to "more pressing" matters.  And that's exactly the kind of "mental load" framework it was discussing.  I'm hoping there are some coping strategies in the second half, because I need them.  And perhaps a little more separation from the busy-ness of the school year might help, too.

In the midst of it all, I am at least trying to take time to enjoy myself, but it's getting tough to balance.  It's unclear to me how much of that is the uncertainty and how much is just executive dysfunction rearing its ugly head, but I'm definitely in a weird funk these past few weeks.  For now.  This, too, shall pass.

But at least I can cross one thing off the to-do list: Bloggy cake number fourteen!  Digitally baked and served!

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