Squam, 2021

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.

Squam Lake looking across the lake towards East and West Rattlesnake mountains.
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Not Dead, for the 40th Time

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?

Rambling Continues

Maui

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.

Beach in Maui

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.

2021 and Counting

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.

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Squam 2020

Squam Lake, 2020

This year, man. It’s a mess. The world’s on fire, figuratively and literally. I’m not going to iterate through all of the things that are seriously fucked up right now – I don’t think it would help, and frankly you probably are already aware. On a macro level, it feels like we’re teetering on a knife’s edge in so many different spheres, whether it’s political, economic, social, environmental, or other areas. Depending on your point of view, in some spaces, it even feels like the edge has already slipped. On a personal level, though, I’ve been relatively lucky. It’s 2020 and I’m at Squam, so let’s take stock.

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Well, Then.

When I last wrote (back in February 😅), who’d have thought we’d be on the precipice of a global pandemic? Obviously, my rambling about upcoming travel is now irrelevant (work summit til maybe this Fall? Or later? And the wedding until next spring). The rest of the post still holds pretty true, though.

Everything happening right now is a lot for a lot of people, and that’s pretty understandable. There’s the pandemic itself, of course, where even if you’re not too worried about yourself, you’re probably still worried about friends or family who are at a higher risk. And then the knock-on effects this has on society as a whole – millions unemployed, unexpected and ill-prepared-for financial challenges, impacts on infrastructure, and so on – is a whole source of stress on its own.

For me, it’s not been too terrible. As I’ve noted before, I’m on anti-depressants, which also reduce anxiety, and that certainly helps. Also, my day-to-day isn’t all that different from before. I’m a bit of a recluse and an introvert by nature, so while it would certainly be nice to see my friends, it doesn’t weigh on me as much as I know it does for others. I still go walk Cecil, so I still get at least an at-a-distance view of the world, and I have roommates, so I even still see some people face to face. I still have my job, working from home. I’m still worried about friends and family who are or may be impacted by all this, obviously, but the ones I’ve checked in with are taking reasonable precautions, which means there’s not much that extra fretting will do.

There’s definitely some generalized anxiety and stress that exists in the background, but for me, more than anything it just feels surreal. It’s like the photo of a man mowing his lawn while a tornado is in the background – you know there’s total pandemonium nearby, but your own life still marches on: bills have to be paid, work has to be done, lawns have to be mowed. It’s a ridiculously privileged position to have, but there it is.

It’s the topic of the moment, on everyone’s mind, seeping into every conversation, but I’m going to try and not dwell on it much past this post. That said, I’d love to hear from you (by whatever method you see fit). Are you doing okay?

I’d Rather Be Hibernating

I dropped off the face of the earth for a bit, there. Trust me, it’s me, not you. I was already distracted last summer and fall, and then for the winter I just straight up went dark. But it’s nearly spring, it’s 2020, the trees are budding and the early flowers are blooming, and it’s time to wake up and shake the dust off. So grab a hot chocolate, find a cozy sunbeam to curl up into, and let’s catch up.

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Time Flies

It looks like I managed to completely miss February on here. The best laid plans, eh? Well, I’m still alive, for what it’s worth. Life has been low-key stressing me out for the past month+, but should be getting back to some semblance of normalcy soon. (The 30 second version: at the start of the month, we discovered a slow leak in the kitchen plumbing, which had started to warp the flooring. Various mitigation measures were brought in — drying mats and industrial dehumidifiers and the like — but ultimately they ended up needing to pull up the flooring. And the counters. Neither of which they could match, so now they’re replacing the entire floor downstairs and getting new counters. Hurrah for home insurance!)

Not much else to report. I’ll be sure to get back to posting random links and writing the occasional screed soon. Thanks for sticking around.

End of the Year

It’s New Year’s Eve, 2018. In another 8 hours, it’ll officially be 2019, the last year of the twenty-teens. Time flies.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want 2019 to look like. 2018 wasn’t a terrible year for me — I went to Japan, worked in a job I don’t hate where people seemed to appreciate what I do, spent time with friends. I posted more on here than I had in a long time (albeit mostly link sharing and light commentary…. and I sort of fell off the posting wagon this fall/winter).

That said, it also felt like a year of coasting. It didn’t feel particularly productive towards my longer term goals, nor did I feel much sense of fulfillment or contentment (barring a few things). That’s something I’d like to change, and that informs a lot of my goals for the year, boiling down to: I’d like to find a routine that feels good, and leaves me feeling productive and fulfilled creatively, socially, emotionally, and physically. The details of getting there are still feeling pretty amorphous, but that feels like a good broad goal to work towards.

Happy 2019, everyone. I hope it’s filled with laughter and kindness.