I’m in Austin this week, in town for a team gathering for work. The docs team where I work is distributed fairly broadly, so we try to meet up occasionally in person, though the past few years we’ve been unable to due to the pandemic (our last in-person gathering was January 2020, right before covid started messing with things). One of the fun things about being distributed is that there’s plenty of excuse to host the meetup in different areas – last time was Grenoble, France, this time it’s Austin, Texas. Next one, maybe we’ll do San Francisco, or pop out to Bristol – who knows?
I’ve had a pretty decent writing streak this month on here, so I’m going to try and continue that while I’m in Austin, but we’ll see. I will say, one bummer of this trip was looking out the window on the flight out and seeing the forest fires hitting just north of Portland:
My thoughts are definitely with the folks caught in the crosshairs of that fire. There’ve been strong winds in the Portland area the past few days, and I can only imagine that’s been wreaking havoc on controlling the fire. Fingers crossed they actually get some rain soon.
I often wish people a happy Canadian Thanksgiving (which is today!), which prompts a fair number of responses of “Oh, are you Canadian?” And then puzzled looks when I say that no, I’m not. SO, here’s a brief explanation:
My family has a summer house on the lake in New England (I’ve mentioned it frequently on here, so this should surprise no one). That house is not winterized, so while it’d be great to host American Thanksgiving there, that’s too late in the year, far too cold out, and the house needs to be closed up and the water turned off well before then. Canadian Thanksgiving, however, is in early-mid October, which is a lovely time to be at the lake, and a reasonable time to have one last shindig before shutting down for the winter. That’s basically why my family started celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving (we also do the American one, because why not have two turkey days). When I moved to the west coast, however, I couldn’t afford to fly back for the big family gathering. So we started hosting our own, inviting friends and cooking up some tasty food.
I may not be Canadian, but I do have friends and family who are, so why not celebrate with them?
There is the added benefit of doing a little harvest-festival gathering, too, instead of Columbus Day (because seriously, fuck that guy). It’s a nice well-wishing event, and much more neighborly. (There’s also Indigenous People’s Day today, which is also a worthwhile replacement.)
So, yeah. I highly encourage others to also get in on the action — any excuse to get people together to break bread and be sociable is a good one in my book.
The usual apologies for not posting more frequently – it was certainly something I thought about, but just wasn’t in the mental headspace to do it. Some days the fields are a harvest, and some days they’re fallow. Both are important, though I feel better when it’s the former.
It’s already the new year in some parts of the world, and will be here, soon. So let me just say! Happy New Year! I hope 2022 is filled with delight. Not just in big moments that punctuate periods of our lives, but in the little crevices and cracks that make up our daily lives. I hope you find the time to savor your friendships, to find that transcendent cup of coffee, to notice (and appreciate!) that moment in the afternoon when the clouds part and the world is lit up with that peculiar, golden, magic light.
I hope you find, and keep, and cultivate love, in whatever shape that takes. I hope you find joy in your journey, that you remember that the journey, not the destination, is the point. I hope that at least once this year, you find something that reminds you of a happy memory from your childhood. I hope that you make many more happy memories.
I hope that 2022 proves to be sublime, in all the best senses of the word.
Here we are, in the last half of December. The past year (and really, two years) has been a weird mishmash of hurrying up and waiting, with days and weeks sort of blurring into each other. If I didn’t keep a work journal, I doubt I’d be able to tell you what I did last week, let alone a few months ago, and that doesn’t really help with the non-work parts of my life. I doubt I’m alone on this blurring – the pandemic dulls the punctuation of life, barring the occasional exclamation when something finally happens.
But I am very poorly today & very stupid & I hate everybody & everything.
Not feeling it today. I’ve felt distracted and irritable most of the day, and at odds with time.
I’ve long maintained that I write here at my whim, and not as a brand or for an audience, but I’d be a liar if I said I wasn’t tickled when I see an uptick in readers, get responses or likes, or any other sort of feedback that makes it feel less lonely and like shouting into the void. Then, there’s the personal desire to show some consistency and that I can be reliable, and the feelings of guilt if I don’t maintain that self-imposed schedule.
But sometimes your brain is just sour, and your time is scattered, and your focus is lost in the fog.
As I mentioned in an earlier post (and you might have surmised by the flurry of posts), I’m on my annual sojourn to Squam. It’s a time to see family, decompress, swim, and take stock of things. I look forward to it every year, and always make time for it, even if it means not doing as much other travel as I’d like. I like to sit on the porch and look out at the lake, and listen to gentle waves against the shore and the wind in the trees. It’s nice to catch up with people, too – I may not always be as directly participatory, but my ears are open and it’s nice to pick up what others are doing. It’s a particular feeling that brings some level of contentment and unencumbered activity.
The blog has been lying fallow for a while. It’s getting to be time to till the fields and resume a regular practice. Sorry for the radio silence! I know how lonely the isles of blogging can be. I hope to resume a more regular practice soon, but not quite yet. Bear with me while I get my shit together. In the meantime, what’s happening?
This week in Portland, there is finally a cold snap and some snow, and related posts about snowpocalypse. However, I’m not there. I’m in Hawaii, on the island of Maui, listening to the sounds of the waves crashing on the shore. I’m okay with this.
How, why, what? Well, the short version is that my brother’s girlfriend ended up getting hooked up with a week in Maui, and the place was big enough that they decided to invite me along. So it’s me, my brother, his girlfriend, and her kids.
While I recognize that it’s, y’know, during a pandemic, and I do feel a bit guilty about being “part of the problem” (so to speak), we’ve been doing our due diligence. Hawaii requires negative COVID tests, documented and certified by trusted testing partners, in order to not be quarantined and checking in daily for 10 days, which we did. One of us is even vaccinated (both doses). And at a certain point of stress and depression (and frankly the pure temptation of free lodging in Hawaii), you decide to take the calculated risk and do the damn thing.
The water has been warm, and ranging between 70 and 80 each day, with a nice ocean breeze. We’ve already seen whales breaching and playing, hung out on the beach, and just generally taken things easy. We have a list of things we want to do while here, but none should be particularly stressful. I was a little nervous about going (because pandemic, and related guilt about traveling during one), but being here has really driven home how much I needed this. I’m not actually unwound yet, but it’s kind of like when some background noise you’ve been trying to tune out finally stops — it’s only when you’re removed from the stress that you realize how much you’ve been storing in your body. I’ll get there (knock wood).
It’s been 18 years since I was last in Hawaii (last time was January, 2003). The last time I was here, I was 21 and engaged. It feels like a lifetime ago. I’m a different person now, for better or worse; it’s interesting how, while my experience is different, the place itself doesn’t feel that different to me. The timelessness of paradise, I suppose.
Something that has struck me (maybe because I’ve been thinking about such things lately) is how many people here are effectively acting like expats despite Hawaii being part of the same country — here as digital nomads, working remotely and riding out the pandemic. Between the cost of everything being notably different than the mainland, and the place really sort of having its own culture (both literally, as in the native Hawaiians, and more figuratively), it’s sort of the “lite” version of living in a different country. That’s just my outsider’s take, though — maybe the people actually living it would feel differently.