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Now to build on the successes of the past year…

January 3, 2018, 9:37 PM

A new year always brings a lot of feelings.  It’s a time to reflect on the past year, and a time to look ahead to the year ahead.  Reflecting back on 2017, I’d say that I had an outstanding year, and laid the groundwork for a strong future.  After all, at the beginning of 2017, I was still relatively new at the whole train operations thing, and lived by myself in an apartment with a hostile relationship with the property management.  Now, I’m more experienced with my work and more comfortable with all of the ins and outs of my job, and I’m also a homeowner with a roommate.  I made my first mortgage payment at the end of December.  Things suddenly became very real when I wrote that check.

Now, in 2018, I want to build on my successes from the past year and reach even greater heights.  After all, in 2017, I got the house.  Now, I want to make it my home, and not someone else’s idea of a home with my furniture sitting in it.  That means getting rid of that chandelier in Elyse’s room, painting a few rooms, and getting my wallhangings up.  I’m excited to design the new decor, because I have so many blank canvases upon which to expend some pent-up creative energies.  My parents are delighted about this as well, because I’d been fantasizing out loud about redecorating their house for a few years in order to expend those creative energies that I couldn’t do with the apartment, but they were a bit cool to the idea.  Now I have my own place to paint and decorate as I wish.  The previous owner of my house decorated the place fairly minimalistically, using pale colors on walls and few wallhangings and furnishings, such as in the living room:

My living room during the showing

My living room during the showing

What is now Elyse’s room was designed fairly well by the previous owner, with muted colors throughout.  Take a look:

What is now Elyse's room, during the showing

In other words, the chandelier, for which Elyse and I have both expressed our dislike, worked with the old decor.  However, without the matching furniture and wallhangings, it looks out of place, plus the trim color doesn’t match the rest of the house.  My coworkers have suggested that I paint the chandelier black, but I think I can do better selling it and replacing it with a much smaller fixture.

I have yet to design my interiors (there are still things that need to be unpacked, and that should take precedence), but that’s all something to consider when I start designing.  I’m planning to put more hardware on the living room walls than the previous owner did, and then Elyse’s room is getting a new light fixture and new paint.  What all of that will look like is still up in the air.  It took me seven years to finally get around to decorating the apartment.  On that timeframe now, it would mean that I would live around plain walls until I’m 43.  I will decorate well before that, but what it will look like is still to be determined.

I also like the way that my career is moving as we enter 2018.  I worked overtime on New Year’s Eve, and that was enjoyable enough, getting a few hours’ worth of extra money for playing with trains, and helping keep people who have no business driving after a night of revelry off of the roads.  So I got the new year off to a good start there.  I also get the feeling that some of my colleagues view me as something of a rising star, because I get a lot of suggestions that I try various higher positions.  My usual response is, “In time.”  It’s not no, just not now.  I have fun in my work, and I want to continue onward and upward, but I also feel that it’s important to pace myself.  I have an entire career ahead of me, during which time I want to move all around and “do everything”, but I fear that if I move too quickly, I’ll experience burnout and be unhappy.  Therefore, I am fully willing to take it slowly.

Compare this to when I worked at Walmart, when my coworkers questioned why I even worked there at all.  Admittedly, I was overqualified for Walmart, but at the same time, fresh out of college, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and Walmart made a little (very little) money while I figured it out.  Then at Food & Water Watch, I don’t really recall much discussion about career progression.  You were basically there until you found your next job.  There was no advancement there.  You were what they hired you as, and that was all you ever would be with them.  Food & Water Watch and New Year’s Eve come together in 2013.  I remember watching the ball drop to ring in 2013 at my parents’ house that year, and I just couldn’t dismiss a nagging thought that 2013 would probably be my last there.  Turned out that I was right, but this was before things really went sour there.  Leaving turned out to be a good thing in the end.  It also dovetailed nicely with something else that happened around the same time: my leaving Wikipedia for good.  I was so done with Wikipedia that it wasn’t even funny.  That was an extremely toxic environment, where I received abuse from far too many people for ridiculous reasons, and I wasn’t getting paid for that.  When you’re volunteering and getting mistreated on a routine basis, the hell with it, as far as I’m concerned.  All in all, 2012-2013 ended up being a purge of a lot of negativity in my life, although it’s not what I consciously set out to do.  But if it tells you anything, I was happier unemployed than I was working at Food & Water Watch, even though unemployment, and living off of savings, was a stressful situation in its own right.

In any case, I’m glad that my career is on the up-and-up, and I look forward to further milestones in the new year.

Meanwhile, I also want to put a renewed focus on this site in 2018.  Simply put, the website needs some more love.  The move to Montgomery Village caused a backlog in my photo work, and that’s understandable.  I’m also planning a photo set about house hunting, moving, and getting settled, which is why there haven’t been many posts about the house – because I’ve been sitting on it with the intent of doing a bigger treatment of the whole process.  Also look for a “postmortem” of sorts about my old apartment after the security deposit comes back.  I’m also planning on doing a compilation photo set for 2017 in Life and Times, since there’s a lot of stuff that I didn’t get a chance to discuss on the fly throughout the year.  I’m also planning to turn a lot of my photos from October in Ocean City into a Photography set.

Additionally, the site’s design is now around five years old, and probably needs a refresh.  I want a responsive design for my next major site iteration, but I have no idea how to do it.  So I have my work cut out for me there, as I want the site to look awesome no matter the screen size, and not like this:

So much wasted/unused space, though I admit that this is much wider than your typical monitor.
So much wasted/unused space, though I admit that this is much wider than your typical monitor.

I also have no idea what I want the next design of the site to look like yet, so there’s that to consider as well.

Then I also have the Today’s Special project, i.e. “Project TXL”, which is very much a work in progress.  I’m working through the series in order, and I’ve completed through “Building“.  That means that out of 121 episodes, I’m about a quarter of the way there.  Studying the show so deeply has given me a new appreciation for the development of the series.  In other words, it’s been a lot of fun.

So all in all, I am positioned for success in the new year, and I’m probably in a better position at the start of 2018 than I’ve been in a long time (or ever).  I’m excited to see what happens over the next year, and am hopeful for continued success.