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

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

The Last Gasp of Summer

Today is the first day of September. Most Americans think of Labor Day as the last day of Summer, but the season doesn’t officially end until September 22nd (the Fall Equinox). In prior years, I stopped posting to this blog when school began, but I’m not in school this semester. So, in 2017, TFS will settle back into hiatus on the 22nd.

I haven’t posted on this blog nearly as often as I had hoped to at the start. This Summer has been a wild mix of lethargy and excitement; the weekdays filled with the same monotonous work, and the weekends jam-packed with new adventures. The whiplash between drudgery and delight made it difficult to write on here regularly. I lacked the energy and enthusiasm to put words down during the week, and most weekends were too busy for me to find time to write.

To make up for what I see as a bit of a failure to post on here regularly (like I had originally planned), I’m planning to post daily until the 22nd. Some changes at work have made the next three-weeks somewhat less dreadful, and I have an extra full-day off during the week now. I’m considering making a video for every day as well, but for now I’ll just promise a new written post daily.


Since my last post, Kelci and I hiked the Alaska Basin Trail in Wyoming to see the 2017 eclipse. My friend, Zach, told me about a group that was going up to the Basin to watch the eclipse and invited us to tag along. We were within the band of totality, which allowed us to see the full eclipse. Seeing the sun disappear, and watching the sunlight gradually fade was incredible. It was as if someone had pushed a dimmer switch on the daylight in the middle of the day. Seeing the full eclipse was also an awesome experience. Pictures of an eclipse really don’t capture the experience of actually being there. The Basin itself had an otherworldly feel to it; we camped on a rocky plateau that was sprinkled sparsely with odd looking trees.

 

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It was a really cool experience, and aside from the five-mile line of traffic we were stuck in for nearly two hours (!), it couldn’t have been better. We were well prepared for the trip, and I can’t wait to go backpacking again.

It’s only 9:35 A.M., but I’m going to get started on this first day off of my four-day weekend (!!!). Until 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

The Lonely, Bored, and Restless Summer

Today was an especially depressing day.

I awoke late in the day, due in part to an evening spent drinking rum and playing video games (it was Thirsty Thursday, after all). After realizing that I woke up late, my motivation to do anything fun, or creative, or exciting quickly waned, and I lost my drive to go out and do just about anything. I probably wouldn’t have even left the apartment today if my hunger didn’t stir me to pick up some fast food for dinner.

Yes, I do realize that is kind of pathetic. All I can say is that I’m in a bit of a rut.

Being in Bozeman when school is not in session is a different experience. Some things are good: the weather is amazing, the trees are finally looking alive again, and I can work as much as I want without worrying about falling behind in school. Other things, however, are quite bad: Hyalite is closed until next week, most of the people my age went home for the summer, and I don’t have a lot of friends staying in Bozeman for the summer.

Also, I have a fairly large amount of free time (which is nice), but I don’t have much motivation to do anything fun with it (which is not nice).

There are plenty of things that I know I could be doing with this time; I know I could be reading a few books that I’ve been meaning to devour, for instance. I could also be writing more, or at least coming up with some ideas for an extended piece of writing (ex. a novella, or a full-fledged novel). I could be working out. I could be going out for photo shoots.

I know that I could be doing all of those things– I just don’t feel like it.

I don’t know why that I feel this way, either. It’s like some sort of weird funk has descended upon my usually happy and upbeat personality, and I don’t know how to get away from it. I can still force myself to do the things I enjoy, but it definitely feels forced, and I don’t enjoy those activities as much as I used to.

I was hoping that being away from school, and out in the sunshine would help me to break through this, but it doesn’t seem to be helping much.

On the bright side, there’s plenty of summer left to get out of this weird funk. Hopefully, I’ll be over it soon.

Until next time,

– Will