My high school intern brought in what turned out to be a majorly contagious cold. Note to self: be more assertive about kicking out sick people at work who don't need to be there. I fell ill on Friday and I have not been able to shake the symptoms all weekend. Unfortunately, I had to miss the Grand Avenue bar crawl that was planned for Friday. On top of that, I missed the camping trip to Point Reyes that my friends planned a few months ago. On Sunday, I skipped a baby shower that I was invited to a week ago. All was not lost, as I managed to get some movies, some brunch, and some mini adventures in with Dave. We watched an old school Kung Fu movie called "Come Drink with Me" on Saturday and then a 1980s Japanese sci-fi anime called "Harmagedon" on Sunday. In an effort to get out of the house, we also walked through the Mountain View cemetery after discovering that the gates were actually located all the way down Piedmont Ave. We ended up overstaying our welcome by at least an hour and a half according to some annoyed security guards mostly because the cemetery is an expansive and fascinating place to visit. I am still sick and hoping that this sniffling and congested feeling does not continue much longer, but I guess a little downtime has to happen sometime.
I am not sleeping.
I don't want to go to work tomorrow. Talking to people about my job makes me feel even more annoyed about my job.
I am tired of looking for pockets of money under couch cushions. I should be glad we exist, but I am starting to look at our existence as some horrible joke.
I need to find some way out, but getting laid off might be a sweet kind of release?
I am experiencing restlessness at my job. I really dislike my apartment. I can't imagine staying in Los Gatos for the rest of my life.
I don't know what the alternative is. If there was a psychologist with a pen and paper sitting in front of me, they would probably tell me to be content with my situation. However, all I want to do is to go back to graduate school and try again. And yet I don't because I am already very behind on retirement moneys and I don't know if I should even be in chemistry anymore.
I have been watching tons of Breaking Bad. I can't believe I put it off for so long. I am hooked. I sympathize with Walter White's need to be number one in something. R&D sometimes makes you feel like you would be better off as a meth lord.
Today I read about a multi-million dollar acquisition in East Palo Alto. The last time this happened in East Palo Alto, the company purchased my building and began to make up for the lack of rent increases over 20 years of residence for many of the tenants. When they raised the rent, the tenants were forced to move, but then the company went bust in 2008 when the real estate market decided that it had other plans. The rents stayed the same because the people had already moved on.
I was in the market for a different place at the time. I had the intention of finding a roommate, but I was rejected by several people that I interviewed with from Craigslist. I was working for a start-up and things were starting to look bleak for venture capital funding. They were scrutinizing companies, and it led to some layoffs in cleantech. I did end up finding roommates in a house for $600. It worked out well until the landlady decided she did not want to fix the electrical situation in the house.
I keep thinking that the valley is going to experience another bust like in 2008. I do not work for any unicorns. My start-up is mostly independent of the success of the tech industry, unless you count data centers, which consume a surprising amount of energy (from fossil fuels) to run. Our CEO is talking to all the investors that are not in Venture Capital, and they are pretty strict with their demands. The political situation is volatile, but members of both parties are realizing that we need to do something about the carbon positive future. I am hoping for change. I am also hoping for a raise but I should be wary of layoffs. I was hoping for a new apartment, but I do have the best one bedroom deal in town, so I am not going to complain.
Before I take 2016 by the reins, I should write out all of the accomplishments that I made this year, even though I did not make a list of goals.
1. Ran two marathons. My goal was to finish the LA marathon and to maybe get under 2 hours on a half-marathon (did not do that). I ended up signing up for Chicago's lottery and making the cut, so I decided to run that marathon too. My conclusion is that I like certain aspects of running marathons, but I hate the training. My goal races next year will be a little different, since I want to get into trail racing and running more trails. I also feel like Go Far Run group has been very instrumental in making me more committed to my running.
2. Camped a whole lot more. 2015 was definitely the year I opted for the campground rather than the hotel room. Camping is not only cheaper, but camping under the night sky affords you some of the best views of the Milky Way. I visited three major national parks in the US (Joshua Tree, Lassen, Inyo Forest) and I climbed to the top of the largest peak in the contiguous United States: Mt. Whitney. I also backpacked on the Ohlone Trail, which has been a half-hour drive from me all of this time. New Zealand was incredible, and I managed to do so many things while I was there that I can't even complain about not making it to the south tip of the Island. Camping there was in many ways better than the US.
3. Lived alone. 2015 signaled the start of my lease. My apartment is expensive, it is in a boring neighborhood, and it picks up outside noise pretty easily, but it is mine and mine alone.
4. Left the country. I went to visit New Zealand. I stayed with Brady in Wellington and then I toured the South Island and much of the North Island alone. Traveling alone had some scary moments, but I felt safe most of the time. The worst part was catching a ridiculous sea sickness on the ferry across the Cook Strait. Luckily, I did that in a place where no one will remember me.
5. Held on to my job. 2015 has been financially tough for my company and for worker morale. In 2016, I will be looking for (and may have already found) a new job, but my company has not fired me. Even if I do not switch jobs next year, I am still in an okay place with my employer and I will make the best of my situation.
6. Saved! 20% of my post-tax income. That is still not enough to buy a house, but my aggressive squirreling is paying off. I am now a member of freecycle and buy nothing groups in my community. Both have been a huge help in reducing the amount of stuff I have as well as introducing me to new things.
This brings me to some 2016 goals.
1.Get my financial house in order.
4.Find a new job.
5.More Camping and Road Trips
Also, on the agenda for next year, I will be visiting Portland and Atlanta.
Last week, I had a weird job revelation when I expressed the desire to become sustainability director at a huge company (i.e. Google) to my coworker. Immediately after saying that, I started looking at MBA programs, but the time and money commitment does not seem necessary based on my experience. After doing some research and having some conversations with some people, I decided I don't need an MBA program but I should look into MOOCs with specific goals in mind as well as maybe writing a statement of intention that I can insert into my cover letter. I should also start applying sooner rather than later.
My job will still be around, maybe months, maybe longer. I don't plan to quit, but the reality of needing a new job soon makes me a little tense and a little excited.
I have been absent from this apartment for three weekends in a row so it was good to have a low key but social weekend. I did some much needed catching up with the important people and important places in my life.
One of my goals this year involved climbing Mount Whitney. At 14,505 ft, it is the tallest peak in the lower 48 states. I recruited a group of friends who I regularly backpack with and we set out to get a permit. The permit process had its complications because I did not win the lottery, but I was able to secure a good spot on the day I wanted when the permits opened up in early May. I chose September 18th as a starting date because I knew from previous experience that September weather is less stormy. Incidentally, there was a storm the week before our trip that dropped a bit of rain and snow on the trail, but the day we set out there were no clouds, no major signs of smoke, and very little wind. Basically, the only obstacle keeping us from ascending was ourselves, and maybe the terrible stigma of having to carry your own poop. The trail is frequented by several hikers during the year, so a wag bag (potty in a bag) is an absolute necessity for leaving no trace. The first day/night we drove seven hours to Lone Pine, California via the Tioga Pass. We ate dinner, downed beers, and headed over to the campsite at Whitney Portal where we began our hiking the following day.
A year after starting my not so new job, my life had reached some kind of stability at least personally and financially. Unfortunately, that did not last too long, as the various lines that supported my job began to snap and now the company that I work for is on shaky ground, meaning they might not be around next year. Because things seem bleak at my job, I have made it a goal to find a new job by December. And by job, I mean something that will boost my career and not just an emergency exit. If that job is further north, I will also consider different housing options. I think I can attain these goals if the economy doesn't go into a weird place. With my rent being too damn high, it would be hard to quit my job right now and do nothing, although I am feeling burned out by the situation.
I am climbing Mount Whitney in a few days. I have wanted to do this since I made it up Half Dome in 2007.
The past couple weekends I backpacked in the Ohlone Wilderness (an area of vast open space between Fremont and Livermore) and I flew down to LA for the Jewish New Year. After this trip to Whitney it will be nice to stick around here for a while. I have had too many weekends where I am not at home. Then in the second week October, I am off to Chicago to run the marathon.
A friend of mine passed away.
He died of a heart attack. I found out when I added his ex-girlfriend and good friend Shannon on my Facebook. She contacted me on the day he died for an entirely unrelated reason, but we did not find out about the death until Thursday.
Will was the nicest person. When I moved to Palo Alto, he made a point of contacting me and telling me that he thought I was a good person. This was critical in making me feel like I did not completely mess up everything after a particularly bad breakup.
When he broke up with Shannon, I felt partially at fault because I was the person she relayed her feelings of frustration to. Will did not try to make me feel terrible. He understood.
I lost contact with Will because he moved away from Palo Alto, but it was never intentional. I had actually hoped to add him on Facebook and send him a nice note. Sadly, the moment I clicked on his profile was also the moment I found out that he passed away.
Wednesday night: Started to feel unwell. Symptoms were exhaustion, loss of appetite, and 100.4 fever.
Thursday Morning: Kept passing out at work. Left around 1:00 pm to sleep. Ate half of a pho for dinner.
Friday: Managed to feel a little better so I braved a day at work, but then came home and decided to eat pancakes and pass out.
The weekend: Mostly sick and in bed with brief moments of feeling able bodied, kind of like a bad illusion. Made some weird judgments at my co-workers pool party, like swimming in a body temperature pool and drinking a margarita. Payed for that on Sunday with return of a fever and a lump of phlegm and swelling that is so expertly hidden in the back of my throat that it would take a team of explorers to pull out.
The rest of next week: Probably going to work, trying not to pass out, sitting at my desk--at least this is what I have learned about the progression of said illness. I am hoping that by tomorrow the amount of garlic and ginger that I swallowed provides me with an awesome miracle cure.
Netflix queue: Shrinking and growing at the same time as I figure out how not to move around.
In short, I hope to avoid whatever happened this year by getting my flu shot, but something tells me that this is not the flu..unless it is the slow flu.