31 December 2016

End of Year Reflections 2016

When I wrote a similar post last year, I said I'd check back in to see where things were; here we are on December 31st, and I don't want to make a liar of myself.

Unlike the past several years, I had plenty of work to occupy me this year. My day job demanded my full focus and attention for pretty much every minute of every workday, a marked departure from most of my prior work. I find the work quite stressful, and initially I considered not committing to the assignment, but a combination of inertia and guilt kept me in place. I made a verbal commitment to remain in the position through the end of June, and since nothing better had presented itself by that point, I kept going. By the end of July, the volume of work had increased to the point that I started working overtime hours, and regularly logged an average of 45 hours per week for the rest of the year.

I also took on additional part-time work for one of my former bosses. Initially that involved migrating several years of content from one platform to another, somewhat rote but not entirely uninteresting. I finished that project near the end of July, and within a few weeks I was being asked to copy-edit and proofread material, a task I find much more engaging. For most of the year I put in five of six hours a week on these projects, which was good for my bank balance and my resume.

Elsewhere, we said goodbye to our dog in early February, and got another dog near the end of June. I quickly fell back into the routine of walks and feedings, all of which is much easier with a younger, healthy dog. This dog's personality and quirks are still revealing themselves to us, which is a big part of the appeal of having a dog.

Otherwise, things around here were pretty normal. Like a lot of people, we are kind of ready to be done with 2016, though along with that goes apprehension about what's to come. At the same time, we are grateful that this year has brought some measure of stability back to our lives. The other day I had the thought that 2016 should be sent off by symbolically burning something, perhaps the calendar that hangs on the inside of our back door, but as renters we don't quite feel comfortable lighting something on fire, even outdoors.

So tonight we'll sit down with friends for a home-cooked dinner, and toast to our collective good fortune. Here's hoping that everyone has a fun and safe night and weekend, and that 2017 brings good things to all of us.

30 December 2016

Overheard: Global Perspective Edition

Friday afternoon, December 30th, Newbury Street: "You don't have to be European to be boring."

18 December 2016

Dark Days

Hello out there. I know it's been a while since I've surfaced. Things have been pretty busy around here, leaving me almost no time for thinking, let alone blogging. Between my two jobs, I am regularly working more than 50 hours a week, which includes some late-evening and weekend hours. Sure, it's nice to have a steady income, but it's also stressful.

It's almost Christmas, but to be honest I'd kind of barely noticed. Of course I am in the process of getting gifts for my family, but that happens largely from the chair right here in front of my computer screen, so I have not been out in stores all that much. I used to be more enthusiastic about holiday shopping when I was younger, but age does change us, whether we want to admit it or not.

We're in the midst of the shortest days of the year, when it's dark by around 4:30. This confuses the dog, who thinks that the darkness means it's time for her evening meal. She has a bed in the room where I work, so she comes in from the other room and parks herself there, keeping an eye on me to make sure I don't forget about feeding her.

We go for a walk after she's had her dinner, and I do enjoy seeing the houses in our neighborhood lit up for the holiday season. It takes some of the edge off the early sunsets, and cheers me up a bit. If I remember correctly, by the end of January the sunset happens around 5, so it won't be long before the days start getting longer again.

Anyway, there are more important things to be concerned about. Our country is about to be plunged into an experience the likes of which we have never seen. I suppose the most optimistic way to view the incoming administration is as a gigantic four-year (minimum) experiment in which all 325 million of us (or whatever the US population is these days) are the mice that are being experimented on.

The Mrs. and I have plenty of reason to be apprehensive about what's going to happen in 2017 and beyond. All of us do, whether or not we realize it. To be honest, I am somewhat less worried about what the government might do than I am about the kind of behavior that some Americans think it's okay to exhibit, as though the change in leadership has given them some sort of permission to bring to the surface their worst impulses toward their fellow citizens. This is a far bigger threat to our country's future than whoever happens to be occupying the White House, or any other elected office, or even the seats on the Supreme Court.

But we also have other things on our minds. We have to keep doing our thing, and I think it's crucial to try to maintain some sense of optimism in the face of the ignorance and blatant bigotry that's out there. I made some charitable contributions this month, simply because solicitations arrived in the mail from organizations deserving of support. We are at a point where we can think about planning a real vacation, something we have not been able to do in several years.

I hope all of you have a holiday season filled with friends, family, and happiness. And if I can close with a bit of advice for the coming year: look inward, look outward, pay attention.