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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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01 January 2019

2019

I have to admit, the nineteen is throwing me off a bit.

Even though, at work, we've been in the 2019 Fiscal Year for six months already, that largely exists in one partition of my life.  There's something a bit different about everyone else using it all of a sudden.

It wasn't helped, of course, by the branding of Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve '19.  Because even though it's been nearly two decades since the last time those two digits appeared together in the year, there are still enough personal milestones, relevant family dates, and the like in my memory that my natural reaction to "nineteen" in such a context is to wonder — "nineteen-what?"

I suppose one could answer "nineteen-wonderful", if one is a fan of Rudolph's Shiny New Year.  Interestingly, though the family has more-or-less settled into a holiday routine in terms of our television consumption, we somehow missed that particular special this year.

Nevertheless, alas, the concept of dealing with "what-nineteen" instead is messing with me, numerically, a bit more than other years have.  And it means that 2020, which has often been a nebulous, intangible, futuristic year, is just around the corner.  Politicians are already throwing their hats into the ring for the next cycle.

I'm back in Pittsburgh now and, while working on my annual doodle, I've been assessing how I'm going to tackle the first few days of the year.  The advantage of the short work week ahead, especially having followed the long holiday, is that I basically have my priorities there pretty well planned out already — with room, of course, for adjustments as necessary.  But, with an unreliable phone battery, having left the bag containing one (or both!) of its wall chargers at my parents' house — thank goodness for power bricks! — and arriving to a bit of mildew on the sheets in my darkened bedroom, the domestic chores are also going to be pretty high on the list.

Here's hoping I find the return to work energizing enough that I can start chipping away at it with aplomb, leaving just enough time to celebrate my birthday on Friday.  "Get through the week" isn't the most exciting resolution, I suppose, but it'll do for now.

Random tangent: I think the "9" kinda looks like it's smiling, don't you?  It's half the reason I left it the way I did.

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31 December 2018

Ending a Tiring Year

It's New Year's Eve and I'm feeling awfully tired.

I'm pretty sure most of that is related to a mild sugar crash from all the food I ate at my grandparents' house while the family was over there to watch Pitt play in the Sun Bowl and have dinner.  (Though the game was more enjoyable than last time in 2008, it was still a 14–13 loss.)  But since this is an annual time of reflection, I suppose it rings somewhat true to how the whole year has gone, too.

My great-grandmother fell ill in late January, resulting in a quick up-and-back trip back home to see her one last time before she ultimately passed away on 1 February at the age of 103.  Then, just as I was getting through the busy season of Carnegie Mellon's Spring Carnival in mid-April, while dealing with a nasty ear blockage (thankfully easy enough to resolve), I got word that my paternal grandmother had been taken to a hospital in Pittsburgh.

So the next couple weeks were filled with visits until she was transferred closer to her home, leaving me just enough time to deal with the end-of-year craziness at work, and to run my first primary election as a Judge of Elections on 15 May.  While we knew her time was ultimately short, there were moments when it looked as though she might live a while longer.  And so, just as we entered a period where we were breathing a bit easier, and I'd set aside some time to help overcome executive dysfunction and tackle some of those self-improvements from last year, on 15 June, she passed away peacefully in her sleep.  I was asked to play some of my music at the funeral which was held five days later — and thank goodness I didn't drive back home in the torrential rains that hit Pittsburgh that evening.  Before I knew it, it was Independence Day, and then it was off to Music Camp, and right into the preparatory run-up to fall semester.

I took a little time off, though, in September to recharge a bit by spending a weekend in Maryland with my friend Will from undergrad.  This, of course, ended with my return Greyhound bus running nearly four hours late and getting into town around 03:30.

Then, I was busy as usual in the fall running Alumni Band Day for PBAC in October and Demosplash in November, followed by a running much busier general election on 6 November and a whirlwind lead-up to the holidays, including having to suddenly overcome the aforementioned executive dysfunction in early December to get a bit of cleaning done ahead of a visit from the landlord.

But in the wake of that busyness, I think I set myself up for some successes ahead  And thankfully, the holiday season has been pretty restful.  And while I've never been one for resolutions, I actually think I've ended up in a pretty good place, and am ready to build further on it.  We'll see what that means a year from now.

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27 November 2018

L’eep !

« L’eep ! » Encore, c’est le vingt-sept novembre.

Plus ça change, plus c’est pareil : Depuis presque cinq ans, j’ai été en deuil. Tu me manques tellement. Et bien que souvent caché, je suis à jamais affligé. Mais pourtant le monde continue, quoique pas tout à fait comme c’était.

Je suis reconnaissant de ta présence dans ma vie, à la fois au passé et au présent. De temps en temps, je me souviens à ton esprit et moral, et alors que je ne sache pas toujours comment m’y porte, je m’y tienne chèrement néanmoins.

Tant s’est passé, et même si je suis toujours la personne que tu as connu, je suis également changé pour le mieux ; évidemment, bien que tu ne l’aies peut-être pas su, tu as vraiment contribué à ce que cela se produise.

Et donc, je te souhaite une trentième heureuse ! Bon anniversaire, mon ami.

* * *

“L’eep!” Once again, it’s 27 November.

The more things change, the more they stay the same: For almost five years, I’ve been mourning. I miss you so much. And while it’s often hidden, I am forever grieving. Yet the world goes on, though not quite as it was.

I am grateful for your presence in my life, both in the past and in the present. Every now and then, I remember your spirit and optimism, and while I don’t always know how to carry them with me, I hold them dearly nevertheless.

So much has happened, and even though I’m still the person you knew, I’m also changed for the better; of course, though you may not have known it, you truly helped to make it happen.

And so I wish you a happy thirtieth! Happy birthday, my friend.

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