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,


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!


Tackling Tiny Annoyances at Home

I finally broke down a few days ago and ordered a bunch of small items off of Amazon that have been lingering in the “Saved for Later” section of my cart for months. Everything I ordered came in today, and I wish I did this earlier. The following small issues were fixed:

  • My desktop PC is finally back to 100%. I finally replaced the mechanical keyboard I spilled bore cleaner onto months ago. I also got some new PC speakers.
  • I got a network switch to overcome some annoying issues I’ve been having with our wireless router (and they’ve only been affecting me). It also fixes a shitty bootstrapped solution I was using to connect my Philips HUE hub to the network (via a wireless network extender that was also unreliable due to the aforementioned WiFi issues).
  • New adjustable levers for my motorcycle (to replace the ugly stock ones).
  • 2 extra USB C cables for charging my S8+ (prior to this, the only one I had was the one that came with the phone).
  • 2 aftermarket batteries for my DSLR, so I can go out on longer photo excursions and not worry about dead batteries.
  • A new guitar tuner (so I can play my new acoustic guitar in-tune).

That’s basically it. And even though basically everything on that list was non-essential, it feels good to have finally taken care of those tiny problems. It’s a small semblance of progress in the midst of this period of dreadful stasis.

I’m going for a hike tomorrow, and I’ll be taking my camera out with me to take some pics while I’m outside. Look for some awesome photos tomorrow.


The Sound of a Broken Record

This blog’s purpose is to record the events of my life during the Summer. Everyday, I struggle to find something new to write about. My days during the work week are essentially identical, with almost nothing changing between them. I wake up late. I go to work. I come home from work. I stay up late and update the blog. I go to bed. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The cycle never changes, folks. That’s the problem. I know this. You know this. But it’s like a Chinese finger trap that I’ve walked into, and I can’t seem to find a way out. It’s driving me insane.

I’ve been working on my resume, and I’ve thoroughly scoured the job classifieds on Craigslist. There are other opportunities (to absolutely nobody’s chagrin). I will fill out the applications, and I will fill out some more, and I will not stop until I have escaped.

In the meantime, while I’m still stuck with the evening shift, I need to do something with the earlier part of the day that is available to me. I’m thinking about going for hikes in the morning. Physical exercise, getting out of the house, maybe taking a few photos… sounds like a decent plan to me.

I just need to break the habit of sleeping in until noon.

Brighter days ahead, folks. Keep the faith and stay tuned.


The Summer Man

One of my favorite episodes of Mad Men is “The Summer Man” (Season 4, Ep. 8). Don is keeping a journal of the events going on in his life, and he’s trying to regain control over his emotions, his drinking, and, generally speaking, his life. He makes a very poignant observation midway through the episode: “People tell you who they are, but we ignore it because we want them to be who we want them to be.” Too often we choose to minimize the imperfections of others, rather than accepting them for who they truly are.

I think the episode strikes a chord with me because of how it humanizes Don. The show rarely gives us access to his inner monologue. Superficially, Don appears to be a man in his prime; the reality of his failed marriage, frayed relationship with his children, his alcoholism, and his complicated identity issues show a man who is barely keeping it together. Seeing Don take positive steps after so many mistakes makes it difficult to not root for him; I want to see Don be better. Anyone who’s seen the show knows that he could be great– he just needs to maintain self-control.

I suppose the same could be said for most people, though. We’re often the root of our own demise.

Time to get back to working on my resume and sending out job apps. See you tomorrow.


Another Day, Another Dollar

Another week of work begins, exactly the same as the last. Mindless repetition of the same task over and over and over again. I’m on autopilot.

Outside of work, I really didn’t do much. I went grocery shopping after midnight– something I haven’t done in awhile. I forgot how many interesting characters shop at that hour. Walmart is a weird place at 12:30 AM.

I have to get out of this cycle.

“In a sense, neuroscience has offered up a prediction here, one that games obligingly confirm. If you create a system where rewards are both clearly defined and achieved by exploring an environment, you’ll find human brains drawn to those systems, even if they’re made up of virtual characters and simulated sidewalks.” – Steven Johnson, Everything Bad is Good For You (Pg. 38)

I need to clearly define my goals…

Until tomorrow,


Lessons From Last Night: The Two-Days Later Edition

(Author’s Note: This post was added to the blog two-days after June 24th, 2017. All events discussed in this post, however, occurred that evening. You’ll likely understand why this post was late after reading it.)

  • The Taproom is a fantastic place, and the rooftop patio is even better. Nothing beats drinking craft beer on a sunny day.
  • Alex did not know that the obviously Irish bar, 317, was Irish. Remember to harass him about this forever.
  • Pendleton & Coke is the best whisky/cola combination at the bars for under $10
  • Gin & Tonics are still not good (especially when you’re drinking “well” gin)
  • Playing pool at R Bar is a less than ideal experience (too many drunk people, not enough space)
  • Vaping CBD oil is legal, apparently. It also does not get you high. (We live in interesting times…)
  • Getting home before 2 AM is always a good idea
  • Forgetting to drink lots of water & take out your contacts at the end of the night is not a good idea
  • If you want to go on a motorcycle ride early the next morning, don’t stay out late drinking (duh)
  • Late nights downtown really aren’t worth it
  • Downtown is not the right place to meet new people
  • Bozeman is getting old, and so am I…

Time Flies When You’re Boring

I’m always surprised at how quickly the week flies by when I realize that it’s Friday. When you’re working at a job with heavy repetition, there’s no differentiation between days. I tend to fall into certain routines outside of my working hours (like most people), so the days kind of bleed together into one chunk of the week that zips by quickly. The weekends come fast, but I always have an acute awareness that the time that’s going by quickly is essentially wasted.

If you’re not doing anything worthwhile, time doesn’t really matter.

I have developed a plan to get out of this rut. Step one is straightforward: get a day job. I could hypothetically switch to the day shift at my current job, but I think a fresh start somewhere new would be better. Staying at a place where there is very little room for growth would be antithetical to my longing for self-improvement. I’ll spend part of the weekend doing the usual job-hunting stuff, and then begin working on the next step: rebuilding my social life.

As I mentioned in the last post, I’ve become isolated over time as old friends moved away. I never really developed great social skills during high school or college; I was lucky and somehow befriended extroverts who introduced me to other people. As an introvert who grew up in a semi-isolated environment (I attended a K-8 school when I was younger, and there were roughly 200 kids in the entire school. I went to school with mostly the same people for seven years. How do you develop the skills to meet new friends when nobody around you is a stranger?!?), I have a bit of a learning curve to deal with when it comes to developing a new circle of friends. That makes me anxious, and my mind races whenever I’m out at the bars or in any other crowded environment. But I’m excited to learn, and I just need to get out of the house and actually try to meet new people! Getting out and socializing (as oddly clinical and generally “not cool” as that sounds) is my other goal for the weekend.

Outside of those two goals, I want to enjoy the beautiful Summer weather and take some pictures to share with you on the blog. What are your plans for the weekend? Leave a comment below, and feel free to add any other comments or feedback you may have as well.

See you tomorrow!


Day 3 of 94

I was thinking about the blog today, and I realized that I hadn’t quite clearly defined exactly what I’m doing here. Yesterday’s post was kind of phoned-in, and I don’t want this blog to turn into a random assortment of posts that I half-assed over the Summer. Sure, there might be a few golden nuggets in the pile of crap, but that’s not the point of this exercise.

Back in 2010, this blog’s purpose was to record how I spent my last summer as a high school student (hence the blog’s title– it was my “final summer” before graduation). It served to mark the beginning of the end of a significant chapter in my life. My desire to catalog what I viewed as a pivotal point in my life was so strong that it bled into another blog, the twentyeleven project, that was built to “capture the senior year experience.” The mix of emotions surrounding that moment in time was so strong that the only way I really processed it was through writing.

I feel as if I’m currently entering a similar period in my life now. I’ve been in Bozeman for almost six-years now, and I’m beginning to run out of reasons to stay here. I love so many things about Bozeman, but I feel like I’m no longer growing here. Additionally, I’ve become increasingly isolated as my friends leave Bozeman to start new lives in other towns after graduating from college. Bozeman itself isn’t the reason why I’ve stagnated, but there are more opportunities for growth elsewhere. Plus, I don’t want to live in the same place forever; I’ve already spent considerably more time here than I expected to when I originally moved.

I have returned to this blog to record this moment– one that will hopefully be a period of progression.

I hope that you will enjoy reading this blog over the coming months, and I invite you to comment with any suggestions or feedback you may have in the comment section below.

Thanks for reading The Final Summer.

– Will

Fighting Boredom in a Mundane Environment

(or How to Survive at a Lame Ass Job)

My current job is highly repetitive. I work in a factory doing production work, which is a nice way of saying that I do the same kinds of tasks over and over again for eight-hours a day.

Obviously, it’s not exciting work. It’s very easy to go on “autopilot”, and time will either drag slowly or fly by depending on your approach. If you’re in a similar environment, and you’re allowed to listen to whatever you want while you work, this post is for you. (It’s also a useful post if you have some other boring shit that you need to get done, but you want your mind to be focused on something less brain murdering.)

I’ve found that podcasts and other spoken media (like audio books) are the best choice to distract your mind from whatever mundane work you’re doing. Music is OK, but you’ll grow tired of playlists quickly if you’re listening to them repeatedly (much like whatever task you’re doing, repetition of anything becomes irritating over time). Podcasts have fresh content posted on a regular basis, and there are thousands of podcasts available. Here’s a list of some that I listen to at work:

  • Tech News Today (TNT) This is a podcast that features the technology news of the day every weekday. Each episode runs about 40 minutes, and new podcasts are posted every evening (typically by 9:30 PM MDT). The hosts can be a little cheesy sometimes, but the show regularly features interesting interviews with tech reporters from other outlets (like CNET, Engadget, TechCrunch, etc.). If you’re interested in technology and want to stay up-to-date on what’s new in the industry, this show is a fantastic choice. (This show is also part of a network of technology podcasts called TWiT [aka “This Week in Tech”]. I also listen to these other shows on their network: All About Android, This Week in Computer Hardware, Triangulation, and This Week in Law.)
  • Self Made Man This is primarily a podcast for male entrepreneurs, but the content is often useful for everyone. It’s a motivational podcast that features interviews with entrepreneurs in a wide variety of industries, often focusing on the skills, routines and habits, and discipline that led to their successes. Listening to inspirational content while you’re in a mundane environment is very refreshing. (You can also think of business ideas that could help you escape from the shackles of boredom.) New episodes are posted every Wednesday, and every episode ends with a banger EDM track (I have no idea why this is a thing, but I like it).
  • The Art of Charm If you’re interested in improving your social skills, this is the podcast for you. The show features content designed to help you interact with other people, by improving your body language, non-verbal communication, vocal tonality, and a myriad of other social nuances that you may struggle with. There are at least four episodes released weekly: Mondays feature short episodes with quick tips to start off the week, Tuesdays & Thursdays are longer-format interview episodes with guests from a variety of different fields, and Fridays are Q&A based episodes where listeners ask for advice with their difficult social situations. It might seem like a weird show to listen to, but the advice is solid and the interviews are interesting (previous guests on the show include Tony Hawk, Shaq, Larry King, and other notable individuals). This podcast has also been running for over a decade, so there are literally hundreds of episodes in their back catalog, which gives you plenty of old (but still useful, relevant, and interesting) shows to check out when you’re out of other stuff to listen to.

Hopefully these podcasts seem interesting to you, but if they don’t, there are literally thousands of other shows for you to explore. I listen to podcasts through the Spotify app on my phone, but there are dozens of other (much better) options for podcast listening, including Pocket Casts, Stitcher, 60db, and TuneIn.

Good luck podcast hunting, and may your hours of boring labor fly by with relative ease.