A Coming Light

The long, dark days of winter are slowly giving way to a brighter, more tangible time of year. It’s light until almost 530 now and my room begins to brighten around 645. I’m excited for the coming light.

I’m currently sitting here in bed, just finished drinking some coffee, reading Steinbeck, and watching it snow. I went out yesterday for a two hour walk in the warm, spring-like air. What a difference a day makes. We have at least four inches of new snow on the ground, with another three to come. I don’t ever grow tired of the snow, but I do like December snow the most I think.

This post is just a quick update on the progress of my resolutions. I got back in the gym four times this week. Ouch! I forgot what being really sore feels like. I really got after it after almost a month off. None of my old injuries hurt, so the time off did the trick I suppose. I also did personal best on weights all week, which was such a welcome and unexpected accomplishment. I guess rest is critical after all.

My walk yesterday was meant as a way to jump-start my birding adventures for the year. I initially set out to find the Eastern Screech Owl that has been reported at Spring Canyon Park and quickly found it. But I turned a 30 minute trip into a 2 hour trip. I scoured the area for birds, but also for simple experiences in nature. I searched nearly every conifer (>100) in the park for other wintering owls, but no luck. I came across a large flock of over-wintering(?) Red-Winged Blackbirds. I was a bit surprised to see them here this time of year and was even more surprised to hear the males singing. Another sure sign of increasing daylight.

While on my walk I decided that I am committing myself to a Colorado big year, but with a twist. I will do it by bike. I will only count species that I see/hear while I travel to and from sites by bike. This will certainly limit my opportunities, but I’m pretty excited about it. Why? First, my truck is getting up there in mileage (+245,000) and it doesn’t do well at all in the winter. Second, I’m a conservationist. Something seems wrong with travelling the state at 14 mpg just to see birds. Last, exercise and sounds. By travelling on bike, I’ll get in even better shape, which will help my fitness goals for the year. Also, I’ll hear and see more via the quiet solitude of bike travel as advocated in ‘Listening to a Continent Sing’ by Don Kroodsma.

As far as adding 100 new life birds for the year, well that took a big hit this week. I decided against travel to Trinidad in March. I need a new vehicle (see above paragraph) and I am hoping I can eek out the money with savings from cancelling the Trinidad trip, not taking a big summer vacation, and selling my truck. We’ll see. Let’s hope my other finances hold as well. It’s funny, I haven’t even parted with her yet and I already miss her.

I also gave up online dating this week. Apps are deleted. It’s time to forget how to swipe and remember how to converse. I’m not going to lie, I’m still not overly thrilled about dating, but there is something to this that feels filled with potential. I don’t care how mainstream online dating has become, it still seems like a cop-out in some ways. It’s a way to not have to deal with rejection face-to-face. I kind of look forward to embracing those moments as a way to prepare for and learn how to respond to rejection in other areas of life, such as my professional endeavors.

Speaking of professional endeavors, I got to work on ‘Science in 60’ this week. I have a good portion of a script written for the first episode. I need to work on the refinement of the messaging, language, and audio mixing potential, so I am still a ways off from releasing the first episode. But there is some momentum building, which is something I long for.

I miss the feeling of pure, uninterrupted, almost machine-like discipline. The last time I had such focus in my life was during the fall of 2014 when I was training for my half marathon. I’m not sure I’ve ever been as focused, except maybe with the exception of the last 60 days of my dissertation work. My hope is that these podcasts get me started back down a road into a similar mindset. My fitness goals should piggy back and get me the rest of the way there. I can’t help but think that reading Steinbeck’s journals from when he wrote ‘Grapes of Wrath’ is further motivating me, and that’s ok. I like the human connection he and I could share.

As a way to jump-start this discipline, I started meal planning last week. I am cooking all of my weekly meals on Sunday, so that I can devote more of my time during the week towards my personal goals. I think it was a success this first week. I purchased some meal planning Tupperware to help with this process and they just arrived yesterday. I’m actually about to head upstairs to start prepping my meals for the next week (very excited!) before heading out to play some pool with friends. Conversing, not swiping.

Looking for that laser sharp focus.

Currently listening to ‘Oh Wonder’. Can’t get enough of this duo.

 

 

New Year’s Resolutions Part 2

Well here we are, the second year of Gaviaimmersion, which means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions part II! I’m a little late posting these, but I’ve been so busy with holiday and work travel. However, I’ve had these goals in mind for a few weeks and I think they are totally achievable this year. Without further ado, here they are:

  1. The fitness trifecta!

First, increase my weight to more than 200lbs. I’ve flirted with it for some time, but I’ve fluctuated from 185-195 for the last year. It’s time to cross that barrier in a healthy way that will let me age gracefully. Ideally I’d like to settle in around 215-220lbs.

Second, run a sub 5 minute mile again. I nearly did it in 2014 with a time around 5:10-5:15, but because of a stress fracture in my shin I wasn’t able to quite complete it. I ran a 4:50 mile in high school and to date I view this as my peak physical/athletic accomplishment. Surely I can do better at 34/35.

Third, increase my vertical jump by 4″. I’m at 24″ right now, which is up from 22″ from earlier last year. I can dunk a basketball, but I really want to throw down like I’ve always wanted to. Get ready to be posterized!

    2. The birding trifecta!

First, get 5 new life birds in the United States. Rosy Finches and Sage Grouse have teased me long enough! Prairie chickens, I’m looking right at you! Don’t think I’ve forgotten about you Whooping Crane!

Second, see 200 species of birds in Colorado. I thought I would attempt a Colorado big year this year, but I just have too many other things I want to do with my time. So instead, I’ll just try to increase my birding activity by maintaining a list and seeing where it takes me. I would like to limit my efforts to Larimer County or maybe only species seen by bike travel, but we shall see.

Third, add 100 life birds overall. A trip to Trinidad in March should take care of this!

   3. Give up online dating.

I’m over it. It’s pretty much the worst thing ever. And the worst thing of all, I think people justify it as a means for their busy lives, when in actuality it’s likely a justification for not having the courage to face rejection. It’s time to get over that and do this the old fashioned way.

    4. Learn two songs on the guitar and banjo apiece.

I failed at this one last year, so let’s give it a shot again. I’d really like to learn my scales, but that’s a bit intimidating. Maybe I’ll try that one while I learn the songs. This again is the resolution most likely to fail, but I can feel a little momentum, so there’s always hope!

     5. Create two meaningful writing projects.

This is the next step to taking my writing seriously again. Last year creating this blog was an attempt to jump start my writing productivity. Now that I feel better about writing in general and my confidence has increased, it’s time to turn my attention towards writing that is more meaningful towards my career.

I have ideas for two audio podcasts that should propel me into a more formal writing mode. I need to sit down with a good bottle of scotch (thanks Emily!) and flesh out the details.

One of the ideas is to capture the power of sound as a memory tool. The idea is that sound and smell are the strongest eliciters of memory, even moreso than vision. And since I’m particularly interested in sound, I want to create a podcast that deals with people’s memories that are tied to specific sounds.

The second idea is a podcast called Science in 60. I am less sure about the direction I want to take this one, but I do know that I want to create a digestible weekly pill of a meaningful discovery in science. Most importantly, I want it to include messaging that is influential and memorable so that easily discussed talking points can spread to water coolers across the country (a. do water coolers still exist in offices? b. Mom, do you have one because that’s probably the furthest these efforts reach).

I’ll keep you all updated on the progress of these projects!

So there they are, Resolutions 2018. Time to get started!

Let’s Recap 2017

So here we are. One year after I started this thing. The end of 2017. And what a year 2017 was. By most accounts, a pretty dismal year in many ways. I think most of us can agree with that sentiment.

First, #45. What a shitty human being who has totally lived up to the billing. Hanging over our heads like the clouds of winter hang over Michigan, seemingly forever. Him and his merry band of asshats each and every week made some egregiously ignorant attempt to rewind time 60 years. And of course, the majority of us received this behavior appropriately, like a complete and utter punch to the balls or ovaries, whichever you prefer. And just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, it did, seemingly every week. Dragging the hope and pride of a country down the drain. So there’s that.

Personally, I had a rough year as well. I lost two grandparents. To say that I’m going to miss them dearly is an epic understatement. I had a period of work turmoil at the end of summer that had me seriously questioning how much longer I would be able to continue before I needed to start looking for my next stop. This has long since been resolved and I’m back on track, but what remains is the fact that I’m still so easily shaken by feelings of abandonment, both personally and professionally. Clearly something to be addressed. I had two other events happen, one of which still is ongoing, both of which I don’t really want to talk about and I’m not sure I ever will. Both drained me emotionally and have caused me to reevaluate who I am. And finally, my dating life, outside of a somewhat promising three months, didn’t improve all that much, and has in many ways has caused me to stop trying. I’m told that’s a good thing though. Who knows. Bleck.

But the main point of this post is to revisit the resolutions I made during my initial post back on January 1. This was supposed to be a year of change that would jump start the next x number of years of my life. Did I succeed? I don’t know. What would that jump start even look like if I had succeeded?

But I suppose this doesn’t need to be so deep and meaningful. So let’s just take a look at the resolutions and see how well I did. Successes are highlighted in green and failures in red. Without further ado…

  1. To read more.
    • Read less non-fiction and dive into some fiction. Create a more imaginative me. A different way of looking at the world and interacting with new people. Also, read more news. Start the day by reading at least two news articles. Any articles. Just read them.

I managed to read five non-fiction books and four fiction. For my fiction fix, I stuck with Steinbeck all year and finished ‘To a God Unknown’, ‘Of Mice and Men’, and ‘Cannery Row’. I also read ‘Travels with Charley’, which isn’t fiction per se, but whatever let’s toss it in the Steinbeck fiction pile anyway. Hurray, fiction!

I plan on continuing with Steinbeck this year, before switching over to someone a little less daunting like possibly Suess to really help up my reading numbers.

  1. To learn more about the world.
    • Follow one world news item for the entire year. Immerse myself in it. Know the characters and plot lines inside and out. Even learn about the people covering this news item.

I read a lot of news! What did I read? Of course it was the shit show that is #45. I started the year thinking I would follow the story surrounding the attempt construct the world’s most pointless and racist wall. Turns out I turned my attention towards something with more of a Kremlin flare.

The story is riveting and it’s just getting started! Is it too much to say that I hope to ring in the new year with video of either Don Jr. or Jared in cuffs, while the orange one showers us with a barage of #fakenews tweets that hang like celebratory confetti in the air?

  1. To write more.
    • I am scared of writing. Now that that is out there, get over it. Don’t let the scars of graduate school ruin my personal and professional growth. Start a blog. A blog about something, about nothing. Just write.

I can’t say I’ve really written more outside of this blog, nor am I sure if my writing style has improved. I do feel more at ease with putting thought to paper, which was the initial goal. Now I feel my next step is to add a more professionally focused flare to my writing and do something more meaningful. I have a few ideas floating around. Stay tuned!

  1. To become an anti-contrarian on two topics.
    • For two things, get over your contrarian ways. Brunch, coffee, popular media, 14ers, Colorado, etc… But don’t just attempt them. Embrace them. Let them become a thing in my life. It’s time to embrace the world that other people experience and not just the once I create for myself. It’s ok to let other people introduce me to the joy in their lives.

Coffee. Boom! Game of Thrones. Boom! Brunch. Don’t get me started.

  1. To reacquaint myself with the guitar.
    • Learn three songs. Really learn them. Impress people with how well you can play them. It’s ok if it takes time. It’s ok if you’re afraid to become intimate with the guitar again. Remember, you left it, it didn’t leave you. You know how, just pick it up and start again.

Not a total loss. I traded in my mandolin for a banjo and learned how to play that somewhat well. I did learn one song on the guitar this year as well. However, I don’t feel like these are in the spirit of what I was trying to accomplish, so we’re going to call this one a failure.

  1. To volunteer.
    • Give your time to two volunteer opportunities. Really invest in them. It’s not enough to just be there. Much like a relationship, you get in what you get out. Maybe I should figure out what I want to get out of them first. Once I figure it out, give back.

Nope, it never happened, so just an outright failure on this one. Anyone want to join forces in 2018?!

  1. To record more.
    • Create one natural or non-natural recording per month for the year. Don’t cop out either. Create something great. You love to listen to the world. Others necessarily don’t. Let them hear what you hear. Convince them to listen. Become great at what you do. Learn to be a kickass audio recordist.

Ok, so the goal was to create a new, awesome recording every month. That didn’t happen. However, I produced my best recordings yet this year. I am beyond proud of the progress I’ve made as a recordist and an audio editor. I also created a new web page to highlight my work in the national parks. If you haven’t checked it out yet, HERE is your chance!

I have a years worth of recording to carry out in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks in 2018, as well as a continuation of my work in Rocky Mountain National Park, and trips to Trinidad and western Colorado coming up. 2018 is shaping up to be another great recording year!

  1. To be a more honest me.
    • Be you when you date. Let them see you earlier. Don’t do what is expected. Do you. It’ll get you closer to what you’re looking for faster. How to do that? Not sure explicitly, but implicitly, you know exactly what this means. It’s time to take this search seriously.

In some ways a failure, in some ways a success. I gave a relationship a real shot this summer and at one point thought it might turn into something long term, but it just wasn’t right and I knew that deep down inside. I thought this was progress for myself. Trusting myself to seriously evaluate a romantic relationship. I could have been more honest and open about it all along, which is something I’m actively working on and getting a lot better at since then.

I was close to getting into another relationship that looked so promising, but that quickly fizzled and was a shockingly crushing blow. It sucks to be so close and so far at the same time. Since then I’ve continued to be completely open and honest in an attempt to find what I truly want in life. I’ve never felt so vulnerable, so I guess that’s good. Here’s to hoping things turn out how well in 2018.

 

So there it is. A recap of my first real attempt at resolutions. Maybe this blog was annoying to a lot of you and you just want to smack me in the face and say “get it together dude”. Maybe some of you enjoyed my folly. Possibly a few of you found value in my thoughts and it inspired you to do something similar in your own life. Either way, I enjoyed this adventure quite a bit.

So much so that I’m bringing it back in 2018! Complete with brand new resolutions, updates on new professional endeavors, more honest accounts of general happenings in my life à la Chelsea Handler, and hopefully a more positive spin than 2017 had to offer.

See you next year!

Out of the Shadows

If all holds true and it looks like it’s going to, Alabama just elected their first democratic senator in 25 years. What?!

Make no bones about it, this win was a must have for democrats. However, more importantly, this was a win for hope, reason, and decency. If an accused sexual predator, who was wholeheartedly backed by another accused sexual predator, had won this election, I’m not sure how the country would have reacted and recovered to that gut shot. But that shadow was not cast tonight.

Tonight, democratic values can breathe easy. Tonight, the bruises obtained from the 2016 election are slightly less prominent. Tonight, and maybe most importantly, victims of sexual abuse specific to this election, but also from across the state of Alabama, as well as the entire country, can hold their heads a little higher and hopefully come a little closer to healing. Tonight, Alabama sent a strong message to sexual abuse victims. Alabama is behind you.

Finally, let’s not forget the message that was sent to the White House. An administration that has condoned dispicable speech and acts received a strong message tonight. The voice of hatred and oppression will not last. It is a blip on the radar that will be drowned out by the voices of hope, love, and acceptance.

This is what can happen when all of us join forces and show up to make a difference together. 2018 will be the response to 2017.

Saturday night

Wow. What a night. What started with so much promise and excitement, came screeching to a whiplashing, breath-stealing halt in just over three seconds.

I started seeing this woman two weeks ago and we had two really fun and promising dates. Our communication was spot on. The conversation flowed so easily and readily. We talked about fun future date plans. We talked about serious and exciting future life plans. She wanted to move back East like me and was already growing tired of the Colorado lifestyle, much like myself. We were snarky and cynical about the same things, wading in deep into serious local and world issues. Serious turned on a dime and we were giving each other shit about something ridiculous we learned about the other, which only drove the attraction. All of this to say, we hit it off quickly and hard.

Then, on our third date, while talking about something totally innocuous, I asked her if she was looking to get married in the nearish future and she said yes. A second of hope dangled so freely in the air, ready to be seized upon, only to be snatched away two seconds later, with the admission that she didn’t think she wanted kids. Fuck.

We both knew immediately what just happened. There was nothing that could be done to undo it. Her words hung like a cloud in the tavern. Neither of us knew what to say. Both saddened in a very real way, which was equally alarming. She slipped off to the bathroom, later admitting to crying just a little. I sat there dumbfounded, numbed way more by the last minute than either of my drinks. This is not how Saturday night was supposed to go.

We decided there was no need to continue the rest of the night. On the car ride back to her place, we tried to bargain away the last thirty minutes, unsure whether either of us could meet the other’s needs. That car ride was such a visceral and unpleasant experience, and was unlike anything I’d really felt. Thanks for the experience I guess…

We pulled up to her house and I started to walk her to her door, when we both decided to at least test the real chemistry for the first time, just to see. Such a bad idea. It was beyond fabulous. We stood there locked together for a minute, savoring what was sure to be our first and only romantic moment. At the end of it, I whispered ‘goodnight’, only to followed by a more serious ‘goodbye’ that rung so true.

Such a dramatic entry for such a seemingly small encounter. But sometimes you have a gut feeling about these things and this was one of them. We’ll both be fine, but right now I don’t care about that. I just want our Saturday night back. I want to continue to plan a camping trip. I want to think about where to move back East. I want a second, third, fourth kiss and beyond.

Dating sucks.

If it’s me reading the signs.

Geez, where to begin?

I had a pretty odd date experience the other night. We had been talking for about two weeks. We seemed to have a lot in common and our texting conversations were pretty easy going, so we were both excited to finally meet in person. Our initial plans changed at the last minute due to somewhat unforseen circumstances with a ceremony in Old Town and a billion people cramping our style. Our alternate plans were ok, but nothing special. And to be honest, I was already a bit bummed our original plans fell through.

Our conversation never really got to the point of easy and kind of felt like a struggle at times. I’m not sure if she was shy/nervous or if I was giving off a weird vibe, but nothing really clicked. The night honestly had a constant feel of a ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ episode where you’re just slightly uncomfortable at all times, but not to the point of bailing.

Anyways, after dinner and a drink, we walked back to my truck and I asked if I could drop her off at her house and she politely declined and said she was fine biking home, in the cold… Well, to me, that’s a pretty clear coup de grace on the night, so we hugged and parted ways. No big deal. Until I got home and she texted that she was confused by my body language and couldn’t gauge my interest and said she wished I would have kissed her goodnight. What?!

giphy

Someone please explain this one to me. I’m waving the white flag because I honestly have no clue what I’m doing anymore when it comes to dating. Sometimes I pick up good vibes that apparently aren’t there and other times I feel like things are d.o.a when that’s not the case at all. All I know, it’s pretty dejecting, and really, more importantly, confusing. This shouldn’t be this difficult.

This is partly why I haven’t dated at all in the last couple of months. I’m tired of the negative feelings I get from dating and honestly, I don’t think I align very well with the people of Colorado and their lifestyle. I sometimes wonder if it would be this difficult in other parts of the country or if geography has nothing to do with it and it’s really just an indictment on my generation, or even worse, me.

Anyways, just thought I’d give you the other side of social media. We all complain that social media is a filter for only what’s good in someone’s life. Here’s the other side. This is the struggle that few put on display, in all it’s glory. Stay tuned for the next episode of ‘Jacob Has No Clue How to Date’.

Fallen Leaves

When I was younger I sat beneath a tree
With my head against the trunk I looked up and saw a world of color
Some colors so common as to almost drown out the others
But some, hidden gems as they were, briefly revealed themselves in the crisp, dawn breeze
But which was my favorite?
I scanned the canopy, top to bottom, left to right
And quickly locked my gaze onto a favorite, hanging on a low branch near my head
Golden from petiole to tip, not a single sign of decay
The perfect fall leaf!
Its perfection danced in the wind until it broke loose and drifted to the ground
Saddened, but not deterred I quickly found its replacement
Just a little higher up, reflecting the late morning sun
It’s bright orange blade with just a touch of decay, brought a different kind of joy
This one held on for a touch longer before floating to the ground next to the other
As my shadow grew small, the day’s warmth stirred up a steady gust
One by one the remaining leaves began to tumble past my head
Only then did I notice their beauty, each in its own unique way
Ways that only a few hours earlier cast my eye away
In a rush, I scoured the tree for one with a stronger grip
But they continued to fall, landing next to their counterparts
As the crows came to roost over a distant hill and the wind grew still, so did I
I stood examining bare branches that were once so burdened with color mere hours earlier
And I turned towards home when the day’s last breath moved over the tree
An unexpected movement at the top of the tree caught my eye and caused me to pause
Two leaves waved violently until one broke free from its perch, leaving alone the other
Glowing red in the fading evening light, it held my gaze towards the tree
Seen only for a second as the sun rose, now it stood alone at the crest as night fell
The last leaf of fall