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

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

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…

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 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

Work, Work, Camping, Work

In the ten-days that have passed since my last post, I have been very busy.

I’ve been working more at my hardware-store job, and I just started working at my new merchandising job this week. Last weekend, I went on a backpacking/camping trip to Mystic lake with Elijah, Katherine (Elijah’s girlfriend), and Sara. And in between all of that, I’ve been either sleeping, watching episodes of Adventure Time or Regular Show, or calling people about the apartment I’m planning to move-in to in August.

Arguably, there was probably fifteen-minutes or so in the midst of all that stuff that I probably could have used to update this blog, but alas, I did not.

Anyway, I’ll dive into some more specific details about the stuff I mentioned earlier now:

  • Backpacking to Mystic Lake was a really fun and awesome experience. It was my first backpacking trip, and it was my first time camping in a couple of years. I definitely appreciate how difficult it is to chop wood with a semi-dull hatchet (and basically zero prior firewood chopping experience)– it was definitely more difficult than I anticipated. Despite my laughable attempts at gathering firewood, we still managed to have a decent campfire, and we had a fun time in the great outdoors. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to go backpacking again soon.
  • My new merchandising job has been really awesome so far. While the online computer training is about as exciting as any other online computer training I’ve done for every other retail job I’ve had (translation: it was incredibly boring), the other aspects of the job have been great. This job has a lot of perks and privileges that I’ve never had with any of my past jobs, and a lot more personal responsibility, but I like it so far. I went on my first “real” day of work today (nobody else was there to supervise me or guide me), and it went well. The work is pretty easy, and somewhat mundane, but it’s fast-paced enough to keep me from getting too bored. It sounds like I’m going to be doing some traveling for this job as well, which I’m kind of looking forward to, and also dreading at the same time. I love the idea of being paid to drive places; I hate the idea of how much of my free-time that might consume.
  • The home-improvement store job has been giving me more hours lately, which is great because I need the money so that I can move into my apartment (in addition to various other expenses– like rent for my current apartment). However, it also puts more pressure on me to develop some sort of a time management system, because my free time outside of work is being compressed between both jobs. I might buy a planner of some sort after I get my paycheck next week… that would definitely help.

That’s basically all that’s been going on since my last post. I’ll try to post another update soon (maybe with some pictures from the backpacking trip?)– but no promises!

Until next time,

– Will

Post #100:

Before I dive into another “exciting” post about what’s happening in my life, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the very minute accomplishment of reaching 100-posts on this blog. It’s taken a few years to reach, but I’ve finally hit 100-posts on here. (Wow. That is a lot of time wasted WELL SPENT.) Thank you for reading this blog, and I hope you stick around for (hopefully!) the next 100 posts.

I’m beginning to fall back into the cycle of sleeping until the afternoon, wasting time until I have to go to work, working for a number of hours, and going to bed late.

It is an incredibly boring cycle to be in, folks. (I miss my friends; they gave me the motivation to get up and actually DO something.)

Fortunately, the day was not a total waste. I contacted the recruiter for the new job I’ll be starting next week, and I scheduled my pre-employment drug screening for tomorrow. (There’s nothing quite as fun as peeing in a cup at a clinic, guys.) I also got all of my tax-stuff for my job filled out, and I’m basically all set to start my new job. I just need to pick up a new pair of khakis and some dress shoes, and then I’ll be good to go.

I’m very excited to start this job simply because it will be something new and different. While I appreciate my other job (I’ll call it “Job #1” from now on, and I’ll refer to the new job as “Job #2” to prevent confusion), it is incredibly boring and somewhat frustrating. I’m hoping that this new job will bring an end to this boring cycle that I’ve been stuck in, and hopefully spark some motivation to do new things (like read, work out, and write regularly).

I’m also hoping that it will encourage me to begin organizing my life, and schedule everything out. One of the biggest difficulties I faced in school this year was a lack of organization, which caused me to start on assignments late, study for tests and quizzes at the last minute, and even miss a few online assignments. Juggling two jobs will require me to maintain some sort of organizational skills– I’m just hoping that they crossover to my academic life.

Anyway, I should probably be heading to bed (it is 4:30 in the morning; I should have been in bed hours ago). Stay tuned for another post in the near future!

– Will

P.S. By “near future” I mean sometime later this week. I’m trying to keep my writing goals modest as I come back to writing on this blog regularly, so I don’t want to make any promises about writing a post tomorrow. So while that does mean that a post could be on here tomorrow, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there will be a post here tomorrow. I will definitely have at least ONE new post on here by Friday though, so tune in sometime between now and then if you want to stay current with the blog. Alternatively, you can subscribe/follow this blog (to subscribe to this blog, scroll to the bottom of the page and enter your e-mail address in the form underneath the box that says “Subscribe”) to stay updated on when new posts are posted onto this blog. (I really hope this didn’t confuse you, but if it did, please let me know in the comments section below, and I will answer any questions you have. Thanks!)

The Writer Returns…

I’ve been away from this blog for nearly three-weeks. It would be pretty dumb to simply state that things have happened while I was away, so I’m going to avoid doing that.

Before I dive into a summary of what’s happened while I was absent, I would like to take a moment to discuss the blog’s format. At the beginning of this summer, I wanted to return to the original spirit of this blog by writing at least one post everyday for the entire summer. And while that was a great idea at the start, its become quite apparent that I will not be able to keep up with that goal. Life is too busy, stressful, and boring at the moment to maintain that format. Despite giving up on that goal, I would like to begin updating this blog regularly again. I plan to post on this blog at least two-times per week; this will keep new content coming in, and it’s a reasonable workload to maintain. Hopefully I’ll keep up my part of the bargain by remembering to post on here.

Now that I’ve gotten the boring format stuff out of the way, let’s dive into what happened while I was away…

Since my last post, I’ve gotten another job, took a week off from work to spend time with some close friends, and I ran over a cone with a truck at a job interview. In other words, I’ve been busy.

I recently was hired for a merchandising job at a large retail merchandising company. This position pays more than my current job, but I won’t be getting as many hours. With that being said, I do not plan to quit my current job; I plan to work at both jobs. I don’t start working at this job for another week, but I’m extremely excited to start. I’m excited to start earning more money, and I’m looking forward to the new experience that will come with this job.

Despite picking up a second job, my parents continue to harass me about getting a different job that will pay more money in some sort of seasonal field, like forest-firefighting. What my mother fails to recognize is that many of these high-paying seasonal jobs require previous experience in that field, and/or a trade-based skill that requires years of experience or some sort of vocational schooling.

My attempts to explain the difficulties involved with obtaining one of these jobs to my mother is a waste of time, and it only leads to arguments and nasty comments. I honestly wish there was a simple way to explain to my mom that quitting two jobs that will provide me steady, livable, year-round income in favor of a seasonal job (that may or may not be high-paying) simply does not make sense. If you want to keep a fire burning over a long period of time, you don’t just buy a gallon of gasoline and some lighter fluid and hope for the best; following the same logic, I’m not going to throw away two jobs with steady income in favor of one temporary, high-paying job. It just doesn’t make sense.

In addition to disappointing my parents by not picking up some high-paying job out of thin air, I took a week off from work to spend time with a few friends. Kelci took a week off to visit Ryan and me in Bozeman, and Sara also came up for the week. It was nice to spend time with them, and we had a really awesome week. I’ll definitely feel the pinch on my next paycheck,  but I don’t care; spending time with my closest friends is worth a little starvation (haha).

Oh, and I had an interview for a shitty satellite company job last week. It was a trainwreck. I had trouble finding the place and ended up being nearly ten-minutes late. The guy who interviewed me was a complete asshole, and he had the most horrendous unibrow I’ve ever seen. The interview started with a confined-spaces driving test, and involved driving a pickup truck in an S-formation around some cones. You had to drive forward through the S-curve without backing up, and then drive in reverse through the S-curve without driving forward. Simple, right?

I got through the forward-driving part of the test just fine; I totally nailed a cone on the driving in a reverse portion of the test because I swung too wide on the second turn.

Yes, I freely admit that I fucked up that test. However, I think it’s stupid that you aren’t allowed to drive forward to adjust your position, as this is a constraint that doesn’t apply in the real-world.

Also, I need to get more experience backing up a pickup truck, because I’m too used to driving my nimble compact-car.

That’s all I’ve got. I’ll write another post soon (hopefully!). Later.

– Will

I’ve been away from the blog for a few days– yes, I know that’s not how this is supposed to be going, but life is weird. Anyway, I’m going to post a proper update on stuff that happened while I was away later; right now, I need to vent about boring and frustrating work stuff.

I work at a large retail store in the freight department, and recently we’ve been receiving more product than usual due to a seasonal increase in customers.

While the amount of work has increased, the amount of working hours available for my department have not– in fact, my hours have been lower than usual.

So, instead giving the already trained and seasoned associates who have open availability more hours, they’ve decided to hire two new part time associates.

Yes, they would rather spend more money to train new people than reward their loyal, hardworking associates with more hours.

I could understand if we were all full-time, and more hours would mean that we would be getting overtime, but that is not the case– everyone is part-time. Why not bump us up to full-time for the season?

Because logic does not apply here, apparently.

Time to get a new job.

Later.
– Will