December 2017

4 January 2018

December ended quick. It began with a wedding in Syracuse, NY and ended at a New Year’s Eve party in Charlotte, NC.

 

Between these events was an unnecessary frisking at a small, slow airport. Considering they detected metal near my crotch when I had empty pockets, no belt, nor surgery; I can only assume I was probed by aliens the night before or TSA needed to meet a quota. Regardless, I said no to the dusty frisker’s request to touch me in a private room. That activity–for the sake of efficiency and comfort–was best left public.

 

Back in Greenville, many seasonal events ensued. Holiday celebrations for the sensitive and Christmas parties for the bold. Can’t say I’m an especially festive person, but it was a nice smattering of activity. There was even snow and an ample amount of cold to top it off. For the first time, I completed all of my Christmas shopping online. I doubt I’ll ever gift shop at a brick & mortar store again.

 

Driving back to Michigan, I encountered more snow in Ohio and single digit temperature in Grand Rapids–on either side of zero–for the majority of the trip. Bundled in the proper gear, the cold was more bearable than the 30-40 degree weather down south. Some cross-country skiing and hot tub dips might’ve helped.

 

Before heading home, I finally sucked up the exorbitant exchange rates and dipped into cryptocurrency. Liquidating my Robinhood fund gave me some cash for financial experiments. We’ll see where it goes. I believe in the concept of digital money and support the direction of the currencies I bought. It’s an interesting investment, albeit I’m still deciding whether to consider crypto a currency or commodity. Between this and the other emerging technologies in flight–quantum, AI, VR, etc.–it’s a fun time to be alive. Time sinks galore.

 

En route to Greenville, I snagged a friend from the Cincinnati, OH airport (located, oddly, in northern Kentucky). A pyro, he insisted we purchase fireworks in Tennessee and light them on old logging roads in South Carolina. It made me realize that there’s little to no public space available for pyrotechnics. Makes me wonder if fireworks are primarily sold in states whose citizens own acreage.

 

At a final hoorah with some friends in Charlotte, 2017 ceased to exist.

 

November 2017

8 December 2017

Naked trees. Dark evenings. Dead turkeys.

 

It was a hollow November for me, as I did not participate in NaNoWriMo. I’ve started too many writing projects and need to finish my current novel before embarking on something else. Perhaps NaNoWriMo has fulfilled its purpose for me? Generating words and sticking to a schedule is no longer a problem. Refinement is the challenge. Taking a fine-toothed comb to existing work, making it good and sensible. To improve in 2018.

 

This month, I went mountain biking more. It’s fun because I have no goals attached to it. I ride and don’t overthink it. It calms my monkey mind and makes me focus. And that’s all the thought I’ll give it.

 

For Thanksgiving, I drove 12 hours to Michigan and 12 hours back to South Carolina. My thought was to avoid airline expenses. After the Jeep’s gas guzzling and the time and sanity spent on the drive, the cost was little different. As much as I like driving and podcasts, 24 hours of it in a few days time is silly when it’s not my profession. I’ll do it again for Christmas, as I need a sleigh for the gifts I’ll bring. And that’ll be the end of it.

 

December is here. It’s busy. It’s fun. And I’ve decided to jump the gun on my resolutions. To make habits stick, I’m applying the principle of the “baker’s dozen.” Giving myself this early, extra month gets me prepared and disciplined. When the new year begins, I’ll have the credibility to match my newfound motivation and won’t dwindle come February. That’s my hypothesis.

 

October 2017

1 November 2017

The proof arrived. It wasn’t perfect, but that’s the point. It proved a better version could exist.

 

With that being done and a flashback to the Latin ablative, I set out to make October a month of hardening. Previous months were dedicated to transitioning, experimenting, and expanding. The result was a variety of accomplishments and new activities, but with a great deal of disorganization and compromise in the wake. So I devoted myself to going back and doing the non-urgent but important things–cooking healthier meals, buying socks without holes, etc. I sure know how to live. So much so I flew back to Ann Arbor to stand in the pouring rain for hours watching my alma mater lose a football game.

 

The visit was good, sans the primary purpose. Saw some friends that I hadn’t seen in a couple years. Spent time with my sister and cousins. Experienced mild nostalgia walking around town. It was a good weekend for a few reasons: seeing the folks listed, learning that I don’t like the feeling of nostalgia, and realizing I no longer own anything affiliated with my school. Rectified the latter with a new sweatshirt. I don’t think I’ll return for some time though. The travel and tickets were pricey and I didn’t derive enough enjoyment to justify the means. Walking through the woods is more exciting and significantly cheaper. And moving forward leaves me more fulfilled. I digress.

 

I took out the mountain bike to Gateway Park in Traveler’s Rest. Lots of red dirt and a fun skills track–bridges, ramps, winding trails. After a couple laps through the course, my confidence got the best of me and I went over the handlebars. That’ll be the last time I forget my gloves. On the bright side, my hand’s now calloused in a new place. Crashing feels good.

 

In the spirit of hardening, I made the decision to go quality in more things. For years, I took the cheap route with almost everything–travel, food, clothes, etc. I’ve come to realize that the reduced up-front cost comes with additional expenses for maintenance, hassle, and a lessened experience. Casting aside the guilt of spending more money, I invested in Mack Weldon apparel. The quality of underwear has significantly enhanced my daily life. It’s stupid, but the smallness of this has spurred me toward a paradigm shift: Good over cheap and fast. I’m approaching work and personal goals in the same manner. Quality over speed. Quality over cost. I’m not in a rush and I don’t have time to be cheap. With a lot of projects in flight, it’s time to focus and get out of start mode.

 

I ended the month with a weekend trip to Pawley’s Island for a writing conference. It wasn’t what I expected, but I think the experience will pay off. At least more than a football game.

 

Missouri

18 October 2017

As much as I loved the West, I enjoyed the vegetation of the East. The low elevation, available water, and humidity felt familiar. Although rarely welcomed, it was truly a warm return. Trees were blinders along the road, making you feel less lonely and exposed. Their leafy arms reaching out, waving in the breeze. Windows down, you hear insects. You feel surrounded by life. After a solo trip, the landscape was a welcome change. I felt like I had landed back home–deciduous forests in summertime. The delirium of the drive, in recollection, confuses this point of view, but you know what I mean.

 

It was only my second time in Missouri–the first being a nightly drive-through with my dad . It was good to see the state during the day. The rolling hills and Mississippi. The friendly people without noticeable drawls. It was like the Midwest married the South. And my old truck chugged through it all the same. At this point, the mysterious loose wire had blown about a dozen fuses en route. But she wasn’t giving up. She took me all the way to highpoint, buried in a pleasant state park south of St. Louis.

 

I snapped a picture at the peak, a short walk from the parking lot, and stretched my legs. Dusk was falling, and I had about one day of driving before reaching South Carolina. My apartment wouldn’t be ready for another week, and I’d have to fly up to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding soon. So I decided to head north. The heat and humidity didn’t lend itself for a night in the truck, and after days without air-conditioning, I wimped out and got a hotel. But in the late morning, I crossed the border and proved the cranky California mechanics wrong: Old Faithful made it home. They said she wouldn’t make it across town. A box of fuses and weeks later, the truck returned to the elephant graveyard. A job well done.

 

Taum Sauk Mountain. 1772 ft / 540 m. 25 July 2017.

missouri

Kansas

17 October 2017

Todo, I don’t think we’re in Oz anymore.

 

After leaving Conewy (that wonderful intersection of Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming), I continued down dirt roads and through small towns along the Colorado border. Riding the edge of Mountain Time, I headed to the top of Kansas. Mount Sunflower was the state highpoint and wouldn’t surprise me if it were the country’s middle point. Like Nebraska’s peak, Mount Sunflower was situated amongst rolling fields. Geographically, it wasn’t incredibly interesting. The strong winds didn’t make it too peaceful either. But the kitschy decorations and aesthetic made it memorable. The managers of the highpoint did a wonderful job of maintaining the place–lots of rusty decor, signs, a library box, and even an actual sunflower surrounded the peak. To note, the landscape behind me is Colorado. It’s mildly interesting that the background of Kansas’s peak is another state.

 

Feeling accomplished at getting my second highpoint for the day, I left Mount Sunflower to continue across Kansas. No twisters sent me to Munchkin Town, so I got to enjoy the entirety of the state, from west to east. It was okay.

 

Mount Sunflower. 4039 ft / 1231 m. 24 July 2017.

September 2017

16 October 2017

September started off with a global morning. A call with Switzerland to discuss their data storage strategy. A call with New York to better engage Turkey with design education. A Swedish furniture delivery by two Hispanic gentleman. A call with a Texan about backup issues. And a winding line in the South Carolina DMV to become a resident. Despite the two hours of waiting, the DMV experience was positive: congenial workers and a shockingly efficient process. In one visit, I printed a new driver’s license, filed paperwork, snagged a fresh license plate, and paid fees–all in one pop. I may have low expectations, but I was impressed. While it was weird to hand over my Michigan ID, it was nice to finally have a state ID that matched my residence.

 

Following last month’s eclipse, another oddity crept through town: the Reedy River turned neon green. It looked like antifreeze. Authorities claimed that a special dye, normally used to detect sewer leaks, was placed in the river. To my knowledge, the who and why still remain a mystery. Police are quiet on the topic, leaving my imagination to run wild.

 

On the topic of green things, I joined the tennis league at work. I’ve experienced mediocre success in hitting the little green balls where I desire., but it’s been fun to get back into the swing of sports. I hadn’t played tennis in 8 years, which was an eerie realization in and of itself. Friends also pulled me back into running and rock climbing, the former begrudgingly and latter with great enthusiasm. With this sudden rise of activity, I also went white-water rafting on the Nantahala River in North Carolina. It was a good primer to the sport–no need for brain buckets, but enough rapids to have fun.

 

Most importantly, I finished my novel on the 27th. It was the date I had promised myself 100 days ago. Despite all the job changing and relocating, it felt good to stick with my timeline. The draft is rough, but it’s complete, cover-to-cover. I look forward to rewriting and revising in the coming months.

 

August 2017

15 October 2017

I like transitory periods–the bittersweet end of one chapter and hopeful excitement as the next begins. This was August in a nutshell.

 

It started by spending time with family and friends I’ve known so long they’re basically family. Although restless to begin the next chapter, I took some rest and enjoyed Michigan’s typical summer offerings–canoes, Coast Guard Festival, hiking, and the like. After attending my cousin’s wedding in Traverse City, I loaded my stuff into my two-door Wrangler and headed south. It had been just long of a year since I had lived in South Carolina. For the first time in six years and seven addresses, this move didn’t have an end date. It was a weird feeling moving somewhere “permanently”…a mix between refreshing and confusing. After the twelve-hour drive, I found a boxed mattress at the doorstep of my new apartment–an old brick house on Toy Street. The address may or may not have been the deciding factor.

 

Throughout the month, I got accustomed to the new job and refurnished my home with Ikea–ripe for a Tyler Durden explosion. Adding to the aesthetic, my new office is fits the bill–gray cubes, stained carpets, a gym with all-purpose soap and single temperature showers. The utilitarianism of the environment gets me off. It provides a sense of peace and quiet and enables me to do the one thing that’s been ruled out of the modern workplace: focus. Perhaps I’m a ludite, but I like drabness.

 

Almost as much as I enjoy urban legends. In the Carolinas, the “Lizardman” is a Bigfoot-equivalent that’s said to appear during natural anomalies. So I happened to make my move at the right time. Greenville was situated in the path of totality for the solar eclipse, and the Lizardman was expected to make an experience. Like most cryptids, it eluded me. But seeing complete darkness in the early afternoon on an otherwise bright and sunny day was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Crickets sounded. Street-lamps activated. The sun looked like something out of a space opera. Five stars, nature. Five stars.

 

In other news, I explored some more waterfalls, rekindling my fondness of the area, and found a strange fruit on sidewalk. It looked like an alien brain. A friend identified it as an osage orange. It repelled spiders. If only it worked for my cockroach roommates…

 

Home sweet home, Greenville, SC.