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,

-Will

Recovery & Reflection

The hangover after Saturday night’s shenanigans wasn’t nearly as brutal as it could have been. A better strategy of eating and staying hydrated would have probably prevented it entirely, but I suppose that’s something to remember for later. (Though, realistically, avoiding that kind of evening entirely would be much better.)

The worst part about any hangover, in my opinion, is the mental fog/haze. Thoughts don’t feel clear. Cognition is muddled. Everything is a struggle. Hydration, Ibuprofen, greasy food, and a little caffeine helps a lot, but the only true remedy is time. I spent most of the day napping and lazing around the house, feeling shitty about missing the early morning ride I wanted to go on with my local motorcycle group. Wasting a perfectly good Summer day is the kind of thing that can really eat away at you if you let it.

Fortunately, I don’t waste many days like this, and I don’t plan to do it again anytime soon. I think my friends and I were trying to chase the same kind of evening we had a few weekends ago after a wedding, but the vibe just wasn’t the same. Without that kind of significant celebration, it’s just another hollow evening downtown.

This weekend wasn’t entirely wasted, though. I cleaned up my room, worked on my resume, and scoured the job classifieds. If I can avoid the kind of setbacks that happened on Saturday, I should make real progress soon.

I apologize for the late posts! I know that a daily blog is supposed to have new posts daily. I see this weekend as a one-time setback on what will otherwise be a hopefully productive & engaging summer of writing.

See you tomorrow,

-Will

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!

-Will

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.

-Will

Revival

…and just like that, the long dead blog I forgot about for the past three-years came back to life.

Welcome back to The Final Summer: a seasonal daily blog where I write about the events of the day, my interests and aspirations, and a myriad of other things (including original writing pieces and photography). This blog has over 100 posts from previous active years (the blog was primarily active during 2010; the most recent post before this one was written in 2014), which should give you a decent sampling of what this year’s run will look like. I plan on being markedly more consistent this year than my last few attempts.

Now that the introduction is out of the way, let’s dive into a brief recap & today’s post:

SINCE THE LAST POST….

  • I quit my job at the hardware store last summer. I now work at a guitar factory. Today was actually my one-year anniversary there. I have mixed feelings about my “new” job, but it’s better than my old one (I never got a free guitar from my old job).
  • I bought a motorcycle early last year. The picture you see in the header is one that I took whilst on a group ride with some friends. Owning and riding a motorcycle on the street has been an extremely rewarding experience so far. It’s an experience that requires your mind to be completely focused on the present. The result is complete liberation of the conscience– a kind of temporary bliss that you never want to give up. I racked up around 5000 miles on the bike last year alone, and I hope to ride more than that this year.
  • I’m still living in Bozeman. I’m still single. I’m still OK with all that (though I hope to move somewhere else by next year– more on this later).

As I mentioned above, today marked my one year anniversary at the guitar factory. Working at this job has been an interesting experience (and an incredibly mundane, brain-atrophying one as well). I get to work on guitars that cost thousands of dollars, and are considered by some to be the best in the world. I enjoyed wood shop class in high school, so getting to work in a similar environment is kind of neat (though not something I would have ever expected to do back then). While the job is incredibly repetitive, I have the freedom to listen to whatever music, podcasts, and/or audio-books that I want to while I’m working (which does help to counteract the mind-numbing labor).

I feel that working there is holding me back, though. I currently work an evening shift during the weekdays, and this prevents me from meeting new people, as most folks work during the day. The work itself also isn’t very personally satisfying, and I often wish that I was working somewhere that took advantage of my talents. All that being said, I am still thankful to simply have a job, and I don’t think that I’m above working there (or whatever other conceited notion my previous comments may have implied). There is a certain satisfaction that comes with doing an honest day’s work, and I often feel like I’ve worked my ass off at the end of the day. My hands take the brunt of the abuse, and I can feel the carpal tunnel setting in at the end of each shift.

As a writer, this is particularly concerning (for obvious reasons).

It also makes it difficult to play guitar (ironic, eh?).

Outside of work, I haven’t done much today. This job is also the perfect crutch for my night owl tendencies– another reason to get a day job. It’ll take a few days to get back into the groove of blogging, and I promise that future posts will be more interesting than this one.

See you tomorrow,

-Will

[no title needed]

It’s been eight-days since my last post. Things have happened since then– here’s the recap:

  • Last week was fairly uneventful. I went to work, came home, watched a lot of Netflix, then did it all over again.
  • Friday night, I went over to a friend’s house. We had a few beers and spent the evening talking about life’s frustrations. I haven’t stayed up all night talking in a very long time.
  • My Memorial Day weekend was spent with my family in Butte. It was nice to hang out with my grandparents, aunts, and my parents for a bit. There’s definitely a generational gap (and I was the only one under 40-years-old in the group), but we had a good time.

I’m still looking for more out of my life. The routine is getting boring; I crave excitement. I’ll be on vacation next week, and I’m hoping some time away from work will be refreshing.

Until then,

– Will

The Lonely Club’s Day Off

Today was a waste.

I watched a ton of ’80s movies for the first time (The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and St. Elmo’s Fire). None of them were particularly great, but they also weren’t terrible. I was expecting more from these movies. Cult classics usually have more to offer (see Fight ClubKill Bill, and/or Office Space and you’ll understand what I mean by “more to offer”). These movies have scenes and characters that are iconic in pop culture, but the storylines themselves aren’t particularly special. Perhaps the evolution of storytelling over the past few decades has raised the bar for exceptional movies, and these classics can’t really compete, or maybe I’m just no longer in the target demo.

If I watched these movies while I was in high school, I probably would have loved them. The exaggerated drama and emotion, the commentary on the social castes in the high school environment, and the dumb acts of rebellion would have been right up my alley (it’s the only logical explanation for why I loved the US/MTV version of Skins so much). Sex, smoking, drinking, and other “adult” activities that are generally forbidden fruits for teens are alluring when you’re in high school. When you’re finally old enough to do these things legally, the novelty is lost.

Suddenly, smoking cigars in the parking lot isn’t cool anymore.

St. Elmo’s Fire did capture the experience of the gradual decline of friendships after graduation quite well. Time, distance, work, and growing up throw a wedge between friends. It’s sad, and it sucks, but it’s a part of life. It doesn’t get easier though.

As an inhabitant of a recently deserted apartment, I’ve been feeling pretty lonely. Stories about people drifting apart aren’t making me feel better, oddly enough.

It’s 1:35 AM. I should get to bed.

– Will

Stasis

Wake up. Eat breakfast. Watch House. Eat lunch. Go to work. Come home. Eat dinner. Watch House. Go to bed. Do it again the next day, and the next, and the next….

It feels like my life is stuck on repeat. Living alone in a town where most of your friends are either busy or living somewhere else sucks.

I have no idea how to get out of this rut. I don’t know how to meet new people. I’m stuck. I’m alone. I’m bored.

I tried to mix things up today. Despite a late start, I went up to Hyalite for a photo shoot. It started raining halfway up to the lake. One I arrived at the lake, I discovered that it was still frozen, and most of the surrounding area was still covered in snow. Disheartened, I drove back down to town, bought a couple of things at the store, and then went back home to watch movies on Netflix.

I need a change.

– Will