It’s been a few months since I wrote, and honestly, I’m not even sure where to start. The tail end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 have been an interesting time on so many levels. It’s been stressful and disheartening for many, for a variety of reasons that probably don’t need delving into (the election and resulting shenanigans, for instance). Just for my own sanity, though, time for a check-in.
Falling into Depression
As you could probably tell from my last post, I was already feeling pretty stressed and depressed in September, when we were getting back from Squam and going directly into another season of wildfires. The quarantine was definitely getting to me (and still is, if I’m being honest). These feelings didn’t really let up, and if anything got worse in the stress leading up to the election. It wasn’t really a conscious thing, and I didn’t feel the sort of relief many others reported feeling once the election was over (call it jadedness, but I don’t have many great hopes of the new administration actually improving things for everyday people much – any relief I feel is just that we’ll hopefully get back to our usual levels of bullshit and not keep marching lockstep into active authoritarianism).
This has been affecting my general productivity, both in life and at work. When I get depressed and stressed, I sleep a lot. When my vitamin D is low, I sleep a lot. Turns out, I was depressed, stressed, and my vitamin D was low! Imagine that. My manager and coworkers have been incredibly understanding about the situation and me being a little… distracted, but I still feel bad about it, and it’s only recently that I feel like I’ve started to get back on track.
Also this fall, my laptop took a bit of a puppy-related tumble (I don’t blame him, it’s just unfortunate), which resulted in a cracked screen. I took it to a repair shop, and they quoted me a price higher than the current value of the computer, so now my laptop is acting as a desktop, hooked up to some external monitors, keyboard, and trackpad. This is less than ideal – I spend enough of my time at a desk when working or playing games (my gaming pc is a desktop), and I really miss being able to compute from bed.
When the new iPad Air came out, I opted to upgrade my older iPad Pro to it, which is what I’m writing on now. I don’t regret the purchase, per se, but even with the fancy keyboard and pencil, it’s not really a laptop replacement. Great for light use, email and web and media and the like, but there are a number of things I do with a computer that I find myself missing (development tools, for instance, and random open source or independent apps/projects).
When the new M1 ARM Macs got announced, I got really tempted to pick up a machine to help fill that gap, but I have (thus far) resisted the temptation, and continue to hold out until the Apple Silicon 16” MacBook Pro comes out (current rumors suggest Q3, which is farther out than I’d like, but whatever). It’s definitely some “whining on the yacht” to complain that my fancy tablet isn’t a fancy computer instead, when I can technically still use my computer as well. Just, y’know, at a desk.
Living, What is It
Something I’ve been wrestling with for a while is where and how I want to live. Do I want to stay in Portland? I don’t know. If not Portland, then where? It’s a series of tradeoffs – in Portland, I have much of the climate I like, I have an existing social network (even if I’m kind of garbage at keeping up with various friends, they’re at least here). BUT, the window where I can afford a property in the area is rapidly closing (and the window for the sort of property I want I suspect has already closed). Also, the dating scene here is famously bad (so many flakes, and people who don’t know what they want, and people who are just shopping around and not interested in a relationship), and while that is (hopefully) a temporary problem, it is still a problem (in that I’d like to find an actual partner sometime before I’m dead). Also, the sort of small-big town, people-doing-their-thing vibe that attracted me to the city doesn’t really seem to be as present anymore, supplanted by more NIMBYism and the sort of aloof detachment that felt so isolating when I lived in Seattle.
I don’t really have an answer yet, but I’m thinking about it a lot. It’d be nice to buy a house and put down roots, but I’m not sure where those roots should be, what would “nourish my tree”, so to speak. I’ve thought about finding a smaller town (whether in the PNW or elsewhere), where things might still be affordable but still have some core amenities (good internet, nice variety of restaurants, art, et cetera). I’ve always really liked the Olympic Peninsula, somewhere up in the Port Townsend or Port Angeles area, though that is also starting to get pricy. Or maybe a town not too far from Portland.
I’ve also thought about just getting the hell out of the country, and taking a stab at living somewhere else entirely. I’ve thought a lot about Canada, and even began the application process, though I’m currently stymied by needing to take an English fluency test where the soonest I could do it is either months away (or on the other side of the country, during a pandemic). The sense of urgency to GTFO isn’t as strong now that the election is over, but to be frank, I was considering it even before then (don’t forget, I was looking at grad schools in Canada back in 2016). It’s still an idea I’m tossing around in my mind (and it won’t hurt to continue that application process I started, I’d only be out the cost of the fluency test until I actually submit for processing). I’d really like to visit and spend time in some of these countries and locations first, to see if it’d actually be a good fit before I commit to something as significant as an international move.
A lot of the relocation noodling is operating under the assumption that I’d be able to keep my current job. We were pretty remote-friendly even prior to the pandemic, and already have employees in a lot of the countries I’d be considering, so this isn’t an unreasonable assumption. It would probably be best if I was still in the same time zone as my team, but considering how little I’m a morning person compared to others, if I was an hour or three ahead, it would probably work out alright.
Some things to think about, anyway. I’m quite sure I’m neglecting to mention some things that I’d do well to note, but I think I’ve rambled enough for now. I hope to get back into a writing routine again soon, but I’m not going to make any promises for a consistent schedule quite yet. I hope everyone reading this has managed to stay relatively safe and sane over the past few months, and that we can get past this (hopefully) last stretch of the pandemic together.