A reminder from the past.

Of all the things I should be writing right now, this blog entry is pretty far down on the list in terms of importance, so I’ll keep it short and simple.

I was re-reading some of my old blog entries circa 2007 – 2008 (ages 18 – 19) a little while ago and they made me some very odd combination of nostalgic for who I used to be and grateful for who I am today. Strolling backwards through my life also made me astutely aware of the fact that future doesn’t always bring improvement in life; moving forward in time isn’t guaranteed to wash away the things one doesn’t like about him or herself. In fact, certain aspects of who and what we are can denigrate if we aren’t constantly putting effort in maintaining and then exceeding our level in any number of areas.

There’s a lot more I could say about this topic, but I have homework calling my name.

The middle place between light and nowhere.

It stormed for almost three hours here today and I don’t think it’s even really over yet. Consequentially, the light flowing in from the east is this strong but silent beacon, cutting through the heavy gray clouds and making my messy apartment look like a depressing, yet somehow hopeful old photograph or a faded memory. It’s a gentle reminder that the clock is ticking and my time here, both in Pittsburgh and it this particular space in time and my development as a human being, is continually inching closer and closer to its end. The fact that I know that clouds will roll either in or out and take this usurping beam of light with them forces me to accept the same about everything else in my life. The bad times aren’t here to stay and neither are the good, so perhaps I should enjoy them both for what they bring to my life and the challenges they pose to me as a person instead of loathing them for forcing me to exceed my self-perceived limits instead of settling into whatever comfortable life I think I “should” have made for myself by now.

In this blog, it is the small, seemingly-inconsequential things like this that I want to chronicle, want to remember, so that when I’m forty and looking back on these years, I don’t have to wade through pages upon pages of what did I or didn’t do to find moments like these in which I felt something. Or perhaps moments like these in which I, found something. This unexpected gift of nature helped me rediscover the beauty that is that particular brand of sadness which only seems to be manufactured during moments of fleeting beauty, that queer lump in one’s throat that’s only ever accompanied by a smile. I don’t know if I’ve come across fewer and fewer of these moments as I’ve grown older because fewer and fewer of them exist or because I have poured all my mental resources into ironing out flaws in my facade of adulthood and less into enjoying my the moments of my awkward everyday life and subsequently put less effort into recognizing something beautiful when I see it, but I sincerely hope that it’s latter; if there are more of these little reminders to hang on this life and actually live it out there, then I must harder to find them. Moments like this are those in which I feel the most vulnerable and human and by extension, the most alive.

As someone who constantly struggles to be “fill-in-the-blank enough” to be proud of myself and as someone who struggles to find the strength to stand back up on shaking legs and and try again when the odds are stacked against me, there is an immeasurable comfort in sitting here, staring out my window, and realizing that no matter how hard the rain falls, no matter how thick the clouds are, the sun will always find its way back into my life — all I have to do is look for it.

I want to take another turn, I want to taste a little sweetness in life.

I am so out of practice with writing blog entries that aren’t squirreled away in some private account on some semi-obscure journaling site that I actually find it really difficult to write here again now that I’m trying to get back into blogging in a public-facing context. I really enjoy being able to look back on old entries and my public entries always seem to be more accessible, so I’d like to put some actual effort into documenting exactly what’s been going on with me as of late, but I really just can’t seem to find my voice, so I have a feeling that the next few entries are going to be pretty awkward. You have been warned.

You would think that the fact that I haven’t updated very much over the past few months would be indicative of my actually doing things and being hyper-productive, but that’s been far from the case. I spent most of the spring doing nothing beyond reading and working through a lot of books I had just never gotten around to reading, but had been meaning to for quite awhile. The end of March and beginning of April was a pretty rough period of time for me; I was struggling to internalize the concept that who I am as a person is something that only I get to define, regardless of other people and their projected discomfort with themselves or their misconstrual of any number of facets of my existence. I went through a lot of growing pains in the (still ongoing) process of strengthening my sense of self as part of that process, so losing myself within the pages of  Crime and Punishment, Dealers of Lightning, and Flatland, among others, was a very welcome respite from all of the events that transpired during that particular timeframe. I also spent a lot of time running in March and April, too. I got 3/4ths of the through Couch to 5k before I got bored and stopped, for whatever reason; I really did enjoy being so active, but I do remember not being pleased with constant shin splints and foot cramps. In retrospect, I should have just bought better shoes.

As April progressed and faded into May, I settled into a routine of laziness as the warmer weather shifted my thoughts from the internal to the external. The beginning of summer semester inched ever the more nearer, bringing with it the first “official” step of my pending career change: the start of my first college-level Computer Science course. Always one to get ahead of myself, I spent a lot of time in the weeks preceding the start of class sitting in my cubicle at work looking at syllabuses from previous semesters’ offerings of the course to get a sneak peek of what we’d be learning; I also spent a lot of time during that period trying to figure out what the next year or two my life would look like from a professional and academic standpoint. (I did say I’m one to get ahead of myself, after all.) Summer semester started in mid-May and I have really, really been enjoying delving into Java. It has been really surreal to see exactly how much my skills and comprehension have increased in two short months. Honestly, this topic could become an entry in and of itself, so I’ll just say that I think I am making the right choice by moving into CS, even if it means a few years of decreased income while I pursue more education to facilitate the transition. Oh, I developed a really fun, superficial crush on a guy I refer to as “Sexy Nicolas Cage” somewhere in here, too.

About two weeks into the semester, I flew down to Maryland for Memorial Day and to see the house I lived in for the last ten years of my youth one last time before my family moved into a new place. I expected to be more torn up about it, but I guess the fact that I’ve moved three times on my own since 2008 sort of negated the emotional impact of seeing everything in boxes. Coupled with the fact that I rather enjoy the fresh start associated with moving, I think I was more happy than anything else. After returning to Pittsburgh, I decided that I needed to curtail the weight gain that had started creeping up on me in April when I stopped running without adjusting my eating habits so I started keeping a food log again. I think I’ve just come to accept that unless I’m being incredibly active, I can’t be trusted to eat without accountability; thankfully, it doesn’t take much effort to plug my meals into MyFitnessPal and weigh myself everyday, though.

Not too long after I settled into my new routine of balancing work and school, my usual summer depression decided to show its trollish face. For whatever reason, summer has always been really bad for my mental health and this year was no exception. It hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the word, but I’ve done my best to ignore it and keep moving forward. I feel like the clouds might be lifting a little at this point, but it really is too soon to say, one way or the other. Regardless, it’s nothing I haven’t been though before, so I will certainly pull through this time, too. Once I’m completely out of this little dark patch, I’m sure I’ll look back on it with a smirk and view it as a testament to my strength, but as of right now, I’m just plodding through and keeping my eye on the goal. I’ve been pouring a lot of energy into trying to strike a balance between enjoying the present, coming to terms with the past, and planning for the future. It’s a process that’s definitely not easy for me given my tendency toward escapism in the form of daydreams, but I’m trying and making progress with it, so that’s good enough for me right now.

You know what’s also good enough for me right now? This entry.

Oh sheesh y’all, t’was a…blog post!?

This is my third time starting to write this entry.

It has been such a long time since I wrote public blog that I find myself tripping over my words in an awkward dance on the line between formality and personal expression. Clearly I should not have belabored updating UM for so long, but what’s done is done, I suppose. Actually, I would likely have gone another five months without an update had I not stumbled across the blog of Jake Hurwitz, a comedian who is also a surprisingly talented writer. In fact, talented to the extent that reading his (sadly rarely updated tumblr) tonight made me feel a lot less alone than I have in a long, long time. In one of his blog posts he sort of casually touches on the fact that he failed out of one college and dropped out of another and then sort of leads into his life having sort of come full circle; the fact that he could do so with such humility and without any smack of self deprecation made a really big impact on me and drove home the point that I’m not the only imperfect person in the world and, perhaps more importantly, made me realize that just because my past doesn’t look the way I’d like it to doesn’t mean my future is entirely bleak.

I realize that it sounds pretty fucking stupid to be 23-years-old and not realize that no one is perfect and that the fact that my life hasn’t gone completely to plan doesn’t mean it may as well be over, so elaboration and clarification are in order here. In high school and early college, I was close friends with some pretty amazing people and, as the young and stupid so often do, I constantly compared myself to them and, in my own eyes, always fell short. Even though I now realize that it is far from logical to use other people as a ruler with which to measure one’s own success, I haven’t been able to completely shake the mindset that I have to keep up with my peer group or risk being left behind to be swallowed up by a sea of misery. Given that a lot of things in my life haven’t followed my meticulously-calculated plans (I feel like no one plans on a boredom-induced career change in their early 20s, honestly), I have been a lot less gentle with myself than I should be, especially this past year. I’m so eager to catch up to where I feel as though I’m expected to be in life that I haven’t taken the time to stop, breathe, enjoy where I am right now, and congratulate myself on how far I’ve come since I graduated from high school six years ago, detours, setbacks, mistakes, and all.

Given all of this, seeing someone who I perceive as being successful and sort of the pinnacle of “going after what you want and making it work for you” be able to mention what could only be called failures in his past and not tear himself up over it, made me realize that I’m not a lost cause and I really owe to myself to stop acting like I am. There’s no reason for me to keep putting off things that I know will make me happier right now until I’ve “accomplished enough to deserve them” and there’s no reason for me to ever feel like I won’t ever find my little niche in this life, because fuck it, I will make my niche if I have to.

For brevity’s sake (as if it’s not too late for that, ha!), I will end this post here, but, in the next few days, I will follow this entry up with one about the what the hell I’ve spent the past five months doing. But for now, I am going to clean off my desk, and then play with Java or Rails for awhile. Writing publicly was good to me tonight. I missed this.