I’m sure there’s a number of you who felt I dropped off the face of the earth. And in some ways, yes I have.
I began a “test disappearance” from Facebook in late August 2018. Like many others out there, I felt like Social Media was too in control of my life; that I was only living for what I could post to it. I don’t have an apt enough vocabulary to describe how liberating it felt to not feel obligated to Facebook, and soon that spread to my Instagram account. I had already made a disappearance from Twitter – the majority of what I used to Tweet was automated and not 100% genuine.
Where has all this lead to? I definitely don’t feel addicted to social media. I don’t seek out the validation that comes with likes, comments, and re-tweets. But, I also feel like I’ve lost my connections with too great of a number of people. And for that, I’m sorry. My friends have always been the light in my life that kept me going and that has not changed. Interesting how “full circle” this moment is compared to 10-11 years ago when I wanted to be the King of Social Media in my circle.
So….a lot has happened since 2018. I made some small attempts to try and make life updates here but that didn’t work out consistently. I’ve changed jobs a couple times – the good thing is that I’ve gone a step up the ladder. But working in hotels also means that my schedule is at odds with so many other people’s schedules. I came to Houston to discover the spot in the hotel industry that I’m meant to be a part of, and I think I’ve made good progress at finding it. I love the idea of being a quality auditor, albeit it’s a stretch for me to actually be hired as one. The pandemic was very hard on the industry and so many people have been laid off. Again, I’m one of the very lucky ones to now be working at a hotel that’s not struggling to get people in the door. I still feel behind financially, and I desperately want to finish school so I can settle into “career mode” and start actually planning for the future. Right now I’m spinning my wheels into mud and sinking slowly.
Working in Houston has been a vastly different experience than working in Vermont. Day-to-day I’m not having as much fun as I did back in Vermont, but that makes the end goal that much more important. (There was a point where I went back to the chain restaurant I have worked for multiple times because my income dropped so much after moving here.) It’s also putting more pressure on school, since I’m using that as my primary discover/explore tool right now. Thankfully, school has been the bright spot in my life.
While Fall 2019 was challenging (I had to do general education courses to boost my GPA enough to qualify for entrance into Hilton College), Spring 2020 (finally in the Hilton College major program) was the most at-home I’ve felt inside a particular college since my time as a Stage Management Major in my first semester at UW-Parkside in 2006. The Hilton College truly does feel like it was where I was meant to go all along, I just “took the long way round.” Spring 2020 was the second highest GPA I’ve ever accomplished in my life and I’m aiming to make this fall my highest ever GPA. It was the most amazing feeling to start making connections in my spring classes before we were all swept online. I wish more than anything that I had more time face-to-face with the people I met, but these are the cards life has dealt.
This fall I’m in a Revenue Management course and it really looks like a viable career path. While not 100% confirmed yet, it looks more and more like I will finally get my bachelor’s degree in May of 2022. There’s a handful of other career interests that I’ll be exploring over the next year and a half as well, such as hotel development. Online courses were a major factor in my failing out of UW-Parkside back in 2010/2011, and going online only for the bulk of 2020 has been a massive personal challenge. It’s taken a bit of my pride for my school away from me, since it now feels like I could be a student at any college, and not one that means something special to me.
I don’t much care for living in Houston, but I knew coming down here that I wasn’t going to enjoy it. Compared to my first 30 years of life, it’s a never ending summer here. There’s a lot of people who prefer that life, but Fall and Winter are my two favorite seasons and neither one are truly here. So until I finish school and get out of Texas, there’s perpetually a piece of life that’s missing from my world. I am definitely not meant to live in the southern United States for too long. For those who get depressed during the long winter months – that same feeling is what the weather in Texas is doing to me. I do little things to trick my brain into the fall/winter mode – scented candles, scented dish soaps, a healthy subscription to Monin Syrups for flavored coffees, using electronic device wallpapers, but in the end there’s nothing that can replace the feeling of a brisk walk outside during these months like I used to do. (Nor is there a replacement for the exercise that I used to get doing that – my physical fitness has definitely suffered while living in Texas!) I live in an area that’s not exactly great/safe for the walks I used to take, so I’ve had to forego them for the time being. I could drive out to places where I could go walking, but part of what appealed to me about it was seeing the changing trees and that doesn’t happen here. Plus, the point was to be able to walk without having to drive anywhere. There’s no art to the scenery of Houston compared to Wisconsin and Vermont.
I have no dating life to speak of at this point. I’ve been single for 7 years as of this past April, and it’s very unlikely that that’s going to change before I finish school. Marriage and family have never felt farther away from me, but I continue to hold out hope that there’s a later chapter of my life that involves both. I’ve done a lot of evolution on my life outlook, so it’s probably for the best that I’ve walked this path alone for so long. Right now it’s hard to picture myself dating anyways, considering my schedule and current financial situation.
It amuses me that the isolation that came with the pandemic actually didn’t change much in my life emotionally or mentally. Everyone who knows me knows that I’m fairly introverted and isolation tends to recharge me, not drain me. That being said, it was during the last few months that I realized how much I’ve lost contact with most people I know. I’ve been thinking about writing this sort of update for some time now. At my current job I’ve also been having to rotate doing overnight shifts with day shifts during the week, so my sleep schedule has also been badly out of whack.
Drag Race and Doctor Who continue to be my entertainment sources of choice. I still see Drag Race as a metaphor for my own life of working my way through school to get my degree and go out into the world. I was thrilled to see Ms. Jaida Essence Hall win season 12 this year; so proud to finally have a Wisconsin queen in the winner’s circle. The more I see Jodie portray the 13th Doctor, the more I continue to find myself relating to the Doctor. (Half my GIF library is all of Jodie’s Doctor & her best quotes.) I see myself trying out new shows and entertainment once I’m done with school and can focus on amping up my personal time more.
For my Wisconsin friends, I still come back every Christmas, but the past few years I’ve been really getting to know my “new” family on my step dad’s side and spending time with them. My step dad and I have also been coming up with increasingly creative birthday surprises for my mom; we took her to central Wisconsin for a special dinner (of Sand Dabs at the only restaurant in the state that seems to serve them), which mom hasn’t been able to enjoy/experience since I was a toddler. Last Christmas we took her to Chicago for dinner and a show. Both of these were amazing trips, but also used a lot of the time that I was actually in Wisconsin.
I’ve also reconnected with one of my half brothers from my biological dad’s first marriage and that has also meant the world to me. I was afraid for over a decade that I’d never hear from either of my half brothers again in my life and now I’ve been given the gift of time with at least one of them. I don’t have the vocabulary to express how interesting it is to have a blood brother who I can relate to when I haven’t been able to have that for nearly 30 years. (He was already an adult as I was growing up and at a different stage in his life, now we can talk about nearly anything and relate/connect with each other.)
If we haven’t talked in a while, I’m sorry. My intention was never to abandon the people I care for. I just wanted a more genuine connection with the people in my life, but by tying to break my social media use I also lost that as an outlet for connection. I don’t plan on re-igniting my social media use anytime soon, so the best way to reach me is by texting me. I want to get better about keeping up with the people I’m connected with, but I also need to improve at not feeling overwhelmed at trying to keep up. I’ve always been horrible at spontaneous contact with people and have never developed the skill to jut reach out and connect with people. Here’s a meme that also sums this up: