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 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 around 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 callousing 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 in 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.

 

Nebraska

31 August 2017

I was moving cross-country again. This time from San Ramon, California to Greenville, South Carolina. With any long trip, I sought to bag a few highpoints along the way. After selling and donating the majority of my possessions, I loaded the truck for its final journey in my possession. Struggling to run, yet alone haul stuff, the truck wasn’t in a place to go too far from the beaten path. Ergo, I saved the Utah and Wyoming summits for another day. Nebraska, though, was right along the way.

 

Buried in the rolling hills near the Colorado-Nebraska-Wyoming border, Panorama Peak made for a tranquil visit. Big blue skies and fields for as far as the eye could see. A buffalo herd grazed in the distance. A weathered jackrabbit wandered along the dirt road. Other than a refreshing breeze, the highpoint was quiet. I felt at peace there, surveying the open space. It got me thinking. I had an odd connection to this region of the country. The night prior to arriving, I slept at the same Wyoming rest area I had visited with my dad years ago. Driving, I passed the same Colorado wind-turbines I had climbed for work two years prior. Now I was standing at the top of Nebraska, adding an experience to the last member of the tristate area. It’s an interesting coincidence. I have no familial ties to the region, nor does the region hold any major destinations–natural nor manmade. It was never a destination, in and of itself. Yet, I always enjoyed my visits. CO-NE-WY. For me, Conewy is a special place.

 

Panorama Point. 5429 ft / 1655 m. 24 July 2017.

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July 2017

29 August 2017

July was a big month. It began with a summit of Nevada’s highest point and ended with the purchase of a Wrangler. In retrospect, the order of those activities would be better in reverse.

 

After the adventure in Nevada, I began the arduous task of selling the bulk of my possessions. The rusty old Chevy was blowing fuses left and right and would go for nothing but scrap in California due to smog regulations. Old Faithful was nothing but, so I owed her a return to the elephant graveyard in Michigan. My role on the rotational program was coming to a close, and the logistics of my next role were still in flux. Rather than depend on a third party, I went for a self-move. Not wishing to burden the truck, I sold every large item on Craigslist–even my trashcan (a really nice model by simplehuman that I would later purchase for my new home). I sold my sofa. I sold my dresser. I sold my table, chairs, vacuum, and bike. My homemade desk, my homemade chest, my unicycles. Even my beloved elephant foot palm–a lovely plant I had fostered for five years and carried with me across the country. I dumped the excess Ugly Sapling books at a used bookstore in Dublin (which caused a regional spike in website visits, according to Google Analytics). Anything that didn’t come with me–outdoor gear, clothes, and personal items–I brought to various Goodwills and Salvation Army’s. It was surprisingly difficult to donate quality items, I discovered, in such an affluent region of great excess. But where there’s a will…

 

With my possessions unpossessed and job responsibilities transferred, I began the cross-country trek. Through the crowds of California to the deserts of Nevada, the salt-flats of Utah to the hills of Wyoming, the fields of Kansas to the forests of Missouri…it was long. The truck didn’t have air-conditioning. I had plenty of time to think for those five days. En route, I stayed at a few Motel 6’s to escape the heat and shower. They were a good price and advertised the four things I wanted: a bed, a pool, Wi-Fi, and air-conditioning. The air-conditioning was more of a fan to cycle the warm air. The Wi-Fi didn’t work. The pools were either closed or drained. The bed…well…let’s just say I’ve seen cleaner sheets and believe bugs belong in gardens. My learning: Add 2 and you’ll be alright. Super 8’s were heaven in comparison.

 

One night, I was fortunate enough to find my favorite rest area. The same one I had stayed at with my dad in the same truck over decade ago. It was a scenic spot in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. I made a nest in the bed and slept under the stars. It was my best rest area experience to date. I also managed to bag a few more highpoints–Nebraska, Kansas, and Missouri. All drive-ups, but well-spaced milestones to keep me sane. Twenty-eight down.

 

To the end the month, I returned to Michigan. I saw my family and readjusted to Eastern Time. I sold the truck and bought a jeep.

 

One ring ends and the next begins.