Let’s call it a new year

This weekend, my wife and I ripped apart the whole apartment. We’re redecorating, but we’re doing so much more than that. We are re-focusing and putting a new order in place. When we’re done, everything will have a place and we’ll have a lot less clutter to clean up (read: hide) when someone comes to visit. 

And I’m doing the same thing to my mind. 

I am ripping out and reordering everything from job expectations to the apps on my phone screen. Because I’ve been on the edge of discontent for too long and it’s time for a change. Everything has been fine, but I’m going to make it awesome. 

This is going to be my biggest year yet. 

Not necessarily 2015, but by this time next year.  I’m putting my energy into what matters most to me, and trying to let go of everything else. I’ve finally learned that I can’t be good at everything, and I’ve decided not to let that bother me anymore. 

I guess that’s my resolution. 

Staying Up Late

There’s something familiar about leaving the house at 10:30 p.m., walking away from my front door instead of heading toward it, already regretting tomorrow’s alarm clock.

Flashing back to the time I spent as a production journalist, trying to fit in with the anarchist poets in Gainesville, 10:30 feels early. 

I’m on the train now, riding into O’Hare to pick up my brother’s girlfriend from her semester studying in Fiji. Her phone is still deactivated from being out of the country, so I’ll have to find her the old fashioned way — showing up to baggage claim. My phone’s only got 19% battery life, so it’s probably better this way.

Alone in the L car, I can almost imagine the posts surrounding the airport fence holding the traffic lights I used to watch direct empty roads out my apartment window while I stayed up writing. The same lights I used to imagine Against Me! sang about.

It’s gotten hot in the city, even this late. There’s another song I know about that, but I think they were talking about something besides the weather. Aren’t we all.

It’s hot in the apartment since I don’t like to run the window units all day. Three isn’t quite enough for 1,200 feet anyway, so we rely on the fans except for when we sleep. Then we only need one.

The window units remind me of my second apartment in Gainesville. I moved into a smaller, cheaper apartment to save up for an engagement ring. I never turned that window unit off, and that apartment never got cold. Probably because I lived in a swamp. I’d wake up sweating when my alarm went off at 11 a.m., but I got the ring.

My alarm for tomorrow is already set for 5:30 a.m. When I get home, I’ll set a second on my phone as a backup. Even with the late night, I can’t miss an early morning in the office.

But on a night like this, I miss that life. I miss the poets. I miss those nights. I even miss the swamp.

Hiking in the melting snow

Last Sunday, I decided to go for a hike. It was the third or fourth warm day that week, topping out around 40, so I ventured into the forest preserve near my home. I didn’t have a planned route or an objective in mind, I just wanted to get outside and walk.

 

For years, as a member of the Boy Scouts, I considered hiking to be my least favorite outdoor activity. I always said I’d rather canoe or build camp structures or complete compass work, but I didn’t want to go for a plain old hike. In my early teen years, I always wanted to be achieving a goal or serving a purpose, and whenever a “hike for hike’s sake” came along, I decided that it wasn’t nearly as enjoyable.

Looking back now, and even as an older Scout, I know that many of my favorite memories come from plain old hikes. Since you weren’t rushing to do anything else, that’s where you could stop for whatever you found on the trail that interested you, or how you found the best places to stare off the top of a cliff into the Mississippi valley. And when hiking alone, or at least in silence, it’s the best time to think.

And that’s what I did last Sunday, traversing the still half snow covered trails in Busse Woods, I had a thinking hike. I was able to clear my head and make plans for the next days, weeks, and months. I let my mind wander into the minutiae of nothing in particular in a way that I can’t, or at least won’t, during a weekday or another time when I’m trying to get things done.

After hiking for about an hour, head clearer than it’s been in weeks, I was glad I took the time. And the funny thing is, I feel like I really accomplished something.