Chapter 35 of Life

Time for a general life update: my last was back in June, when I moved back to Portland. Not a ton has changed since then, which is its own sort of update, but for those who are curious, read on.

Portland

I moved back to Portland, Oregon back in the beginning of June, under the ostensible auspices of spending the summer studying and working on personal projects, with a goal of having the start of something by the end of the summer. Another goal was to try and get my head back into a good, productive headspace.

It has not been a productive summer. I’ve been trying to work through my recent relapse with depression (not entirely effectively, but at least I’ve had the time to attend to it), and simply haven’t managed to get my shit together enough on any of my projects to make much progress.

I’m trying not to kick myself too much about it: part of the idea behind the summer was to take it easy and figure some shit out, so spending time wandering around and doing what I feel like I need to do is still pretty much in the wheelhouse of what was intended. Still, I feel like I should have made better use of my time — I’m not made of money, so spending savings now to do nothing feels like squandering opportunities to do other things with that savings.

Squam and New England

I spent nearly two weeks in early August back in New England (a week at Squam for a family reunion, the remainder in my hometown at my parents’ house). It was good to see folks (also what the heck, how did my cousins’ kids grow that much?!?), and it felt really good to be swimming every day.

My time back east is usually when I end up making a new theme for the blog, and writing this sort of “State of the Nabil” blog post catching everyone up on what’s new and happening with me. Part of this is just useful timing, but I suspect there’s more to it: more of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is met, giving me more space for doing creative/productive things. I definitely felt the impetus/urge to make more while I was out, though a combination of depression and choosing to spend time with people limited how much I actually got done. (Hence why this post is two weeks later!)

Facebook and I are taking a “break”

I haven’t deleted or deactivated my account, and I still have Messenger installed on my phone if people want to ping, but I’ve increasingly felt dissatisfied and frustrated with Facebook, and opening it more out of habit/social obligation than any desire to see what’s there. It was frankly doing more harm than good. So… yeah, Facebook vacation for me. I thought about making it a total social media break, but I don’t feel as in a rut about Twitter (and expect it to be kinda useful for XOXO in a few weeks).

To borrow a line from Ze Frank: “Let me not hit up my Facebook like it’s a crack pipe, KEEP THE BROWSER CLOSED.” I’m not entirely relying on self-discipline: I installed a plugin that blocks the site during the day, and limits me to 30 minutes in the evenings. If I absent-mindedly/automatically start going to Facebook, it redirects me to my blog.

That Depression Post

Spending more time on my blog has been already kind of useful: I finally decided to write down and publish a post explaining depression and how it manifests for me. This was a little nervous-making, if I’m honest. I’m generally pretty up front about a) the fact that I’ve been dealing with depression for a good chunk of my life b) life stuff in general. But this was a bit more specific than I usually get into, and in a very public space — any potential employer or date or similar could read it (for employment, it’s illegal to discriminate because of mental health, but that presumes they’d disclose it as the cause for rejection instead of just a generic “culture fit” issue).

It was worth it, though. As much as there’s that back-of-the-head anxiety, it was also cathartic to actually write it down and share it. It’s also quite possibly the most popular post I’ve written to date, and several people have reached out privately to comment that they really appreciated it.

XOXO!

I mentioned XOXO briefly further up: I’ll be attending this year! Just the festival portion, but it sounds like they’ve definitely expanded the offerings for festival goers this year. I’ve been hanging out on the XOXO Slack channel for the past month or so, and it’s been really great to connect with others in that fashion — I’ve even met up with a few around town! It reminds me of the sort of old-school internet communities I was involved with back in the 90s and early 2000s (I’ve commented elsewhere before that Slack is a bit like IRC 2.0: more non-tech friendly, persistence/scrollback, some other nice touches, but still feels like IRC all the way down to /commands.

I’m looking forward to XOXO for a variety of reasons, but a big one is the hope to connect with other like-minded people, creative peers and mentors, and to find a community that I can feel like I belong in. It’s easy to subscribe to the idea of the “lone creator” off in a cabin writing or painting or whatnot — and part of that is definitely true, at some point you need to go off by yourself and actually MAKE something. But it’s only part of the creative’s story: you create more when you’re feeding off of other creative work, you refine your craft more when you share with others for critique and commentary. There’s so much reason having a community of fellow creators is invaluable, and it’s something I really crave right now.

So, that’s where things are at right now: the summer was a bit of a wash, I need to figure out the fall, but at least I’ve done a few things, and have some things to look forward to.


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