10 Years Later

It’s hard to believe that this blog is over ten years old. Back in 2010, I started this blog with the assumption that it would only be active for that Summer. It was supposed to capture the experiences and emotions of my last Summer break as a high school student. I recognized back then that I was about to enter a new phase in life, and I wanted to record what that felt like. Since then, I’ve been drawn back to this blog almost every Summer.

I’m not sure why I keep coming back here. Perhaps it’s because this is the largest collected body of writing I’ve ever produced (that’s visible to the public, anyway). I think part of the reason why I come back to this blog is a desire to recapture the excitement of that first year. I made a commitment to post here every day, and I stuck to it (for the most part). It was entirely self-motivated, with no reward other than the personal satisfaction of completing a writing project that I chose.

Reflecting back on the last decade of my life, things have gone far differently than I expected they would. At the beginning of the Summer of 2010, I had planned to go to the University of Montana to study Journalism. I went on a road trip with my Dad later that Summer. During the trip, we stopped in Missoula, and checked out the town and college campus a bit. Over the course of the trip, my Dad encouraged me to consider a different career path. Journalism is not the most lucrative career path, after all. I took his advice to heart, and decided that I would study Biochemistry at Montana State. This was the first in a series of college major changes I would make over the next few years (switching from Biochem to English Education, then back to Biochem, then back to English).

College itself was a far different experience than I anticipated. I wrote about this a few years ago, but didn’t go into depth about why college failed to live up to my expectations. Looking back, I think I made a lot of assumptions about how things would fall into place once I got to college. I would finally be a motivated student once I had full control over my studies. I would finally have an interesting and exciting life once I lived on my own. I would finally escape from Billings. Life would just be better once I got to college.

Fast forward to today: I dropped out of MSU at the end of 2016, after a few failed attempts to go to school full-time while working full-time.

Not completing my bachelor’s degree feels like a personal failure. It’s something I still want to achieve (if for nothing else than a generational goal; nobody in my immediate family currently has a bachelor’s degree). Despite not achieving that goal, I’ve managed to get several great jobs, and I’ve explored many different career paths. I’ve made peace with the fact that we all experience life in different ways. I did not earn a degree at the traditional stage in life that most of my peers did; that does not mean that earning a degree later has less value (or is less of an achievement).

I am still living in Bozeman. I have lived in Bozeman full-time since the Fall of 2012. I love this town. There are so many beautiful places to explore within a short distance. Bozeman has grown considerably since I first moved here; it seems like a new business is popping up every week. I have enjoyed my time here, but I do not consider it to be my Ithaca. I want to explore new places. It was never my goal to live here forever (or even this long). I worry that the longer I continue to stay here, the harder it will be to leave.

Kelci and I are still together (we are coming up on our three-year anniversary next month). We both work together, and we’ve been working from home since mid-March. It’s been great to spend every day with my best friend. I feel blessed to be with someone so kind, funny, and beautiful. She makes my life so much better, in every sense of the word. I am so lucky to have a partner like her as we go through this insane journey of life. I can’t think of anyone else I would rather have by my side.

As for work, I am currently working in IT. I started this job last November, and it has been the best job I have ever had. The company I work for has been incredibly cooperative and understanding throughout the Covid-19 situation. My colleagues are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met. I’ve never experienced this level of career growth in such a short period of time at any other job. I feel like I’ve finally found my niche.

The last decade has gone differently than I expected, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. This is my path, for better or worse.

Let’s see how this Summer goes. Until next time,
-Will

It’s a rainy Easter Sunday. The apartment is quiet. I’m typing out this post in the kitchen, listening to a “lo-fi” Spotify playlist. The calm beats mesh well with this morning’s lazy pace. There is no rush to do anything right now.

My last post was a rushed update. I never wrote a concluding post about last Summer. I typed out multiple drafts, but never finished any of them. Time passed, and the moment to write a proper ending felt like it had passed too. It’s now the end of April 2019, and another Summer is on the horizon.

I think last Summer highlighted a lot of my strengths and weaknesses. I am able to find new opportunities quickly (as long as I keep an open mind). I am stubborn. I can be very impatient. I often start new ventures with lots of enthusiasm and effort, but get quickly demoralized whenever I don’t see results in a short period of time. I need to take better care of myself.

Despite all of the change that happened last Summer, I feel like I didn’t make a lot of progress on my goals. I think I had too many goals. I never set up proper markers to measure progress. It’s hard to feel any sense of progress if you don’t know where you’re at.

So, for this upcoming Summer, I plan to keep my goals simple (yet specific). Here’s my list (so far):

  • Ride 5000+ miles on the R3 (over the entire Summer/riding season)
    • Put new fairings on the R3
  • Run a mile in under five-minutes
  • Run five-miles daily (rest day on Sunday)
  • Earn at least one CompTIA certification
    • (Stretch goal: earn three certs)
  • Develop coding portfolio (on GitHub, personal website, etc.)
    • *At least three finished projects (by end of September)
  • Develop a weekly meal plan (in advance of the week ahead)
  • Go on four backpacking trips
    • Go on a backpacking trip in Glacier National Park
  • Read daily
    • Finish one book every 7-14 days
  • Attend Big Sky Developer Conference

There’s a lot of different things on there, and I’ll likely change this list as the Summer progresses, but I think it’s good to start with a broad list of ideas. I can always adjust this as time goes on.

As for this blog, my goal is to post an update at least once a week (every Sunday around 11 AM).

I’m excited for the Summer ahead, and I can’t wait to bring you along for the journey. I’ll post more updates before Summer “officially” begins in June.

Until next time,

-Will

Change: The Only Constant

Fall is on the horizon. I felt her cool breath twice this week. It was a reminder that the time left to enjoy the warm weather is rapidly dwindling.

Many things have changed since my last post. I got a new job. This will be the third job I’ve had this year. Fortunately, each job change has been by choice and not by force; I’ve sought and found better opportunities. I’m finally moving back into a leadership role. I’ll be working more reasonable hours, with a shorter commute. The salary increase is also nice.

I visited Billings for the first time in a few months last weekend. It was strange. The way I remember Billings and the way that it is now are not the same; old fields are now highly developed neighborhoods and strip malls. I feel like a visitor when I go there now. So much in my life has changed that my old hometown doesn’t feel like home anymore. I guess that shouldn’t be a surprise, though– this month marks seven years since I moved away.

Realizing that I’ve been in Bozeman for almost a decade is bittersweet; this is one of the most beautiful places to live in Montana (and America), but I never envisioned living here for longer than four or five years. In the past few years, there have been many moments where I’ve felt eager to leave this place (these feelings usually crop up during the winter months). As friends have moved away, I’ve felt increasingly isolated. I worry that continuing to stay in the same place is postponing my development and growth as a person. I want to explore. I want to see new things, meet new people, and discover new places.

As for my summer goals, here’s a brief update:

  • I hit a minor slump in my coding goals, but I’m getting back on track again. There is a local FreeCodeCamp group that meets at the local library every other Thursday, and I’m planning to attend the next meeting.
  • I finished reading a book last week: Nomadland by Jessica Bruder. It’s a nonfiction account of how some people who lost their homes after the 2008 recession found freedom from their economic woes through life on the road. Ditching their housing costs by buying RVs, vans, or cars to live in, these people find a way to stay afloat. Most of the individuals profiled in the book are middle-aged/retirement-aged, and it’s sad to see how they’ve been forced into this nomadic life by bad fortune (and/or bad planning). It’s a very hopeful and depressing book. I highly recommend it (especially if you’re curious what life on the road would be like). I’m currently reading 12 Rules for Life by Dr. Jordan Peterson; I’ll write about my thoughts on that book in my next post.
  • I haven’t been to the gym or gone outside much since my last post. A number of nearby wildfires started in the past few weeks, and the air quality has been fairly poor lately. This doesn’t excuse my lack of gym visits; my new work schedule should make it easier to hit the gym in the morning again. I look forward to picking up my old workout routine next week.

August 20th would have been Jon’s 26th birthday. It’s been five-and-a-half years since he passed. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. In this period of rapid change, I wish he was still here to talk to about all that’s happened. His death was a reminder that nothing in life is guaranteed, and that our time left on Earth isn’t known. It’s a lesson I still need to be reminded of regularly.

I miss you, Jon. Happy birthday.

-Will

The Best Laid Plans…

August has arrived. Summer is rapidly approaching its end. Lately, it seems that weeks are passing by in a blur. I can’t remember another period in my life where time has felt so fleeting.

As you might have noticed, I haven’t updated the blog in awhile. The Thursday after my last post (July 26th), I went to the walk-in clinic to get a persistent (and particularly nasty) cough checked out. I was diagnosed with pneumonia, and sent away with some antibiotics and codeine. I feel a lot better now, but I still have occasional coughing spells. It will likely take a few more weeks before I feel normal again.

That weekend (July 27th-28th), Kelci and I drove up to Rudyard, MT, for her grandmother’s funeral. Rudyard is a very small town on the Hi-Line, about 20 miles south of the US-Canada Border. We spent Friday night driving there, then stayed in Rudyard for most of the day on Saturday (the day of the funeral). We drove back Saturday evening, and spent Sunday resting from the eventful weekend.

Work has finally started to calm down a little and the pace of our labor is now bordering on reasonable. We’re still working 45-hour weeks, but the atmosphere within the shop isn’t nearly as frantic. There’s still plenty of work to do, but it doesn’t feel nearly as harried as it had been in the weeks prior. I’m grateful for the money that comes with working overtime, but I miss waking up later than 4:30 AM. (Gibson was not a great place to work, but I could sleep until noon if I wanted– for better or worse.)

This weekend was the first one in awhile where our days weren’t entirely consumed with familial obligations. Freedom has never tasted so sweet. We spent yesterday catching up on some errands, and then had an amazing dinner downtown at Bisl. Today’s been a mostly lazy Sunday, but I’ve been working on my FreeCodeCamp Responsive Web Design Certification. I completed three SoloLearn courses on HTML, CSS, and JavaScript earlier this week. (SoloLearn has an Android app that allows you to work on the courses from your phone. I was able to work on the courses during my breaks at work and finish the remaining parts later in the evening.) I feel like I’m making some progress toward my goal to learn some coding skills this Summer.

Kickball ended last week, so I’ll have to plan some hikes in order to keep up my goal of spending some time outside each week. I still need to get back to the gym, but I think this recent bout of pneumonia gives me a reasonable excuse for not going the last few weeks. Some progress is better than none though, so I’ll keep trudging forward.

I’ll write here again by Wednesday evening (8/8).

-Will

Shooting a Moving Target

So, it’s been a month. Wow. Life moves fast. I’m going to skip the usual routine of excuses and promises; I’ve tortured you with that nonsense too many times to count.


There are only two-months left until Summer ends. 62-days to be exact. I haven’t been as successful as I would have hoped to be with my goals thus far, but there’s still plenty of time to get most of them done. Reviewing my original list of goals to complete over the Summer, I realized that my goal to complete three coding certifications from FreeCodeCamp wasn’t very realistic. Each certification takes roughly 300 hours to complete; each certification would take seven and a half weeks to complete if I studied for 40 hours each week. With a full-time job, there just isn’t enough time left in the Summer to complete that goal. Instead, I’m going to focus on completing one of the certifications (Responsive Web Design).

A brief progress report on my other goals:

  • Reestablish my daily routine. Wake up at the same time (even on weekends), work out everyday, read, study, and go to sleep on a consistent schedule. I haven’t made great progress on this goal. I wake up consistently at 4:30 AM during the weekdays, but I never wake up that early on the weekends. I haven’t been to the gym since April 23rd (yikes). I’ve been reading and studying more often recently, but not nearly as often or for as long as I would like. I tend to go to bed around the same time during the weekdays, but weekends are a crapshoot. I need to focus on setting smaller goals for each week, so that I can actually see some progress taking place.
  • Get outside more often (hiking, backpacking, etc.), at least once a week. While I haven’t gone hiking or backpacking this Summer, I have been outside at least once a week. I joined an adult recreational kickball league, and we play games once a week. It’s fun to get outside, run a little, and hang out with some new people. I still want to go hiking at least once a week, and I definitely want to go backpacking before the Summer ends.
  • Post on this blog on a regular and consistent basis (at least twice a week). Obviously I’ve failed here. I haven’t made this blog a priority, and it’s shown. I’m working on it. I will write another post on here by Wednesday night (7/25).

Kelci and I have been dating for one-year as of today. It’s weird to think that much time has passed– it hasn’t felt that long at all. This past year has been wonderful, and things have been even better now that we’re in the same town. I’m so blessed to be with someone that I connect with on every level. I love her so much, and I can’t wait for what the next year brings.

I hope your Summer is going well too, dear reader. I’ll see you again soon.

-Will

Intention|Notion

My experience as an adult has taught me that nothing meaningful is accomplished without dedication. Ideas, thoughts, and vague notions of what could be have little value. True progress requires deliberate action and resolve.

I started this year on a productive track. I starting going to the gym daily during Lent, and kept going for two-months straight. I got a new job with a better schedule. I started writing on this blog again. Then, I fell off track.

In the midst of multiple transitions, I lost my base. I’m coming back to it though, and this blog is part of that.

My goals for this Summer are simple:

  1. Reestablish my daily routine. Wake up at the same time (even on weekends), work out everyday, read, study, and go to sleep on a consistent schedule.
  2. Get outside more often (hiking, backpacking, etc.), at least once a week.
  3. Post on this blog on a regular and consistent basis (at least twice a week).
  4. Complete three or more coding certifications from FreeCodeCamp.org (by Sept. 22nd)

I plan to add additional goals later, but I believe the above list is a good start.

What are your goals for this Summer? Let me know in the comments below.

Happy first day of Summer!

-Will

Adapting to Change

Since my post on the 9th, I’ve started working at a new job with an entirely different work schedule. The transition from working evenings (for over five consecutive years) to mornings has gone mostly well. I’ve adapted to the drastically different sleep schedule better than I expected. I enjoy leaving work in the early afternoon (as opposed to later in the evening). The freedom to do something on a Friday night is almost overwhelming. I haven’t had the option to do much of anything during the weeknights for years.

I’m still adapting to fitting things beyond the basics into my schedule. I’m slowly figuring out the ideal time to hit the gym, eat dinner, read, study, etc. Updating this blog regularly was something that I struggled with before this shift in schedule– so it’s not much of a surprise that I failed to write a new post last Monday.

That’s not really a good excuse. I know. I’m working on it.

The change in jobs has been an interesting experience. It’s a fairly small operation– less than 20 people work in the entire building. Everyone who works there is very friendly. There’s a lot of sunlight in my workspace (which is a welcome change after working in the dark minimum-security prison that is Gibson Acoustic). I started there in the midst of a transition; we’ll be moving to a different building in a few weeks. The logistics of moving seems to have placed my training toward the bottom of the list of priorities there (which is understandable– moving an entire shop over to a new location is not an easy process). I’m still learning something, obviously, but I don’t feel like my days are directed in any particular way. I’m asked to help out with some basic tasks on an ad hoc basis, then left on my own to figure out what I should be doing next. My frustration is primarily rooted in not knowing the workflow of my job. The order of operations has never been explained to me, which seems like a misstep in the training process. I would greatly appreciate more direction. I’m not sure I’ll get that direction until after the move though.

Aside from wanting more direction, the job has been a vast improvement over Gibson. I’m glad I made the move. Now, I just need to get the rest of my life back on track (ex. going to the gym on a regular schedule again).

The weather is finally starting to be warm again. Summer is nearly here.

Look for another post here by Friday evening. Until then,

-Will

Eight Years of TFS

Today marks the eight year anniversary of the creation of this blog. The idea back then was simple: I wanted to capture the last summer of my life as a high school student. I daily blogged consistently for the bulk of that Summer. While every post from that year isn’t a gem, the record it provides allows me to go back and relive some of the memories and experiences from that liminal portion of my life.

I’ve attempted many times to revive this blog over the years, with mixed success (“mixed success” might be a bit generous; there’s a long history of failed starts, as an anonymous commenter noted earlier this week). Despite the failed attempts to consistently blog daily over the years, those posts still provide a patchwork quilt of what was going on in my life at the time. The woes of working boring jobs during the Summer, the never fading desire to go on a long roadtrip, and the internal need to always be writing more– these are just some of the things captured over the years of patchy posting.

There are a lot of meta posts on this blog. It can get a bit annoying. I get it. The point of this post is to encourage you to create a record of your own life, no matter what form it might take. The value of being able to look back with the aid of a written record (other pieces of media, like photos or videos, are great too) is invaluable. Other people might not get why you’re doing this– that’s okay. They’re not the audience. It’s something you’re creating for yourself (and the other folks who “get it”).

Thanks for spending eight years (or any other length of time) with me. I’ll see you again soon.

-Will

P.S. I forgot to post last Monday because I started a new job. I have a draft saved, and will likely be posting that in the next few days.

Epilogue & Prelude

I never properly ended the blog at the end of last Summer. In some ways, the lack of an ending is a proper reflection of how committed I was to the blog. I wanted to revive this blog’s initial concept by posting daily for the entire season; I scrapped those plans within a few weeks. While my original intentions behind the blog’s revival were good, I never had the proper motivation in my mind to maintain the sustained effort needed to write on here regularly.

In other words, I never had a clear purpose for posting on here last year.

Summer 2017 was a season spent mostly in the moment. Few things were planned in advance. It was a season of floating along with the current rather than paddling toward a specific destination. The romantic notion of floating along with life’s ebbs and flows is only realized through rose-colored lenses; the human spirit does not thrive without aims. We have been genetically programmed through evolution to be constantly seeking something “better” (whatever that might be depends on the individual, of course). This deep-seated mentality clashes with the pseudo-zen contentment of drifting through life.

I think the experience of life as an early twentysomething is generally spent without solid anchors. Commitment to anything is seen as self-restriction and an assault on one’s freedom of choice. The fear of missing some unknown opportunity or experience, ironically, often keeps one from experiencing things. With time and maturity, the clarity that comes with solid goals and commitments seems less like an anchor to drudgery and more like a pathway to a brighter future. The freedom in the initial choice to commit to something (and the later option to choose again, should that first choice not work out) is what the immature don’t recognize– it seems like a surrender rather than a willing engagement. The reality of the situation only becomes clear from another angle. This truth applies to most things in life: perspective is everything.

2018, unlike 2017, is a year I plan to utilize more consciously. Drifting along is no longer acceptable. I am reclaiming my agency (which was always there anyway), and I am making choices in advance. I am the master of my destiny.

With that, I plan to revive this blog properly. I haven’t decided the format for this coming Summer’s revival (will I post daily, weekly, Monday-Wednesday-Friday, etc.). The purpose, however, is clear: to capture a season of my life in detail. I hope you will join me when this blog restarts (again) officially on June 21st, 2018. (There will be some additional posts on here before then; I will gradually ramp up to posting more frequently as we get closer to Summer.)

I’ll see you again next Monday. Have a great week.

-Will

24

I turned 24 exactly one-month ago.

Acknowledging that I’m 24 feels weird. When I was younger, 24 felt a lot older. It felt more “adult.”

I’m approaching the peak of the hill that is my twenties. In 11 months, I’ll be 25. Then, I’ll be five-years away from being 30.

Thirty-years old. Fuck.

The idea of being 30 seems so foreign right now. And then, the progression of age that follows shortly thereafter (turning 40, 50, 60, etc.).

There is certainly a lot of life to live between now and then, but it feels closer than it used to be. That’s just how time works.

I’m six-years younger than my Dad was when I was born. I’m rapidly approaching the age he was when my sister was born. The concept of parenthood at this point in my life still seems like a foreign experience.

There’s only one thing that hasn’t changed as the years roll on:

Life is weird.

-Will

P.S. A proper epilogue to this blog for the year will be coming soon. Apologies for leaving you all hanging in the past month. Stay tuned!