Highs and Lows for June 2020

And so we end six months of Covid-19 and the global pandemic. June really was a split month, as it started with optimism that things were improving enough to really open things back up, and ended in worse shape than back in April.

Highs of June 2020

      First true date day since the pandemic began. One Friday in the beginning of the month, we both had hair cut appointments, then went out to a yummy lunch at Wine Bar George and did some shopping around Disney Springs.
      Paid off West Elm furniture. Thanks to a three-paycheck month, I was able to pay off our West Elm card that we use to buy furniture for the house. Felt good!
      Better kept to our budget. Sure, we still went over, but we were much closer to where we should be vs. where we had been. Every little bit helps.

Lows of June 2020

      Soaring case counts. This was a huge downer. Our case counts at the beginning of the month were in the low hundreds, and our county was usually in the teens to around 30. Now, we’re usually over five thousand and our county is in the mid-hundreds. It’s led to bars being closed again, and a feeling that we squandered our chances to nip this thing in the bud.
      Still over budget. While we did better, we still went over in our main categories. And in some ancillary categories as well (hello, $380 in house stuff!). No bueno.
      No progress on Spanish. No excuses, just lazy. I live with a Spanish speaker. My in-laws all speak Spanish. I should have plenty of resources and motivation, yet I struggle. This needs to improve.

What were your June highs and lows?

A Stroll Down Memory Lane

This blog is a bit over six years old. I started it in February of 2014, and I can’t even remember why. I actually had to go back and look up what my first post was: My first post was about signing up for a sprint triathlon, something I had always wanted to do. I didn’t post again until June, where I managed five posts about a random assortment of topics: me finishing the triathlon, getting in via the lottery to the NYC Marathon, a post about recovering from training runs, and a post about corporate America and why it can suck.

To date, that post about corporate reviews is my most viewed post ever, with a whopping 279 views.

Over the years, things have ebbed and flowed. 2014 was definitely my most productive year of blogging (productive meaning volume of posts). I was pretty consistent in providing updates about my training for the NYC Marathon, and I even grabbed some consistent followers who would provide interactions in the comments. I haven’t received a comment since 2017. Before that: 2015. I don’t blame them. I became very inconsistent on providing any sort of content to anyone. In 2014 I made 55 posts. In 2015, it was 31. 2016: One. One single post (about financial goals I most certainly did not accomplish) in January, and then not another until January 2017 (a year I managed a minor resurgence, pushing out 21 posts).

Needless to say, consistency has not been my strongest characteristic with this thing.

I’ve covered a lot of topics. The majority of the content has been around running: my training journals, random topics, race recaps, etc. Next up is probably personal finance and business/corporate stuff. The rest is a mixture of posts about how long it’s been since I’ve written a post, my goals for the year, or other random thoughts – politics, COVID-19, etc. There’s not really a focus area you could point out, other than maybe running. It’s all just whatever I was thinking about whenever I managed to write something down.

Why am I talking about this stuff? Am I shutting down the blog? Absolutely not. I got a renewal notice on my domain name and realized I had had it for a long time, and so I was curious. I knew I went long periods without posting anything, but some of the gaps were truly mind opening. It’s hard to have a blog if you don’t, you know, blog. What’s funny is that even when I wasn’t writing, people still found the content. My two most productive years, 2014 and 2015, saw 973 and 1,034 views, respectively. Obviously small potatoes compared to other blogs, but still. In 2016, I wrote one post, and I still have close to 500 visitors. Even with very little new content, people would still (somehow) find my blog. That’s fascinating to me.

I know people start blogs for a variety of reasons. Some to document a topic of interest to them. Others to document their day-to-day lives. Some even have a plan to monetize it right away. Me, I just wanted to talk about my different journeys, from running marathons to paying off debt, with some random observations in the middle.

That’s still the plan moving forward. I’ve got some ideas on other stuff I can write about to keep me engaged (and by extension, you). I like having this space to communicate into the void and I don’t intend to stop.

Restless Energy in the Time of COVID-19

Most mornings, I get up, shower, eat breakfast, and head upstairs to my office. From 9AM to around 4:30PM, that’s where I sit, other than trips downstairs for water and lunch. It can be a bit lonely, communicating only via Slack or Google Hangouts. I mean, I’m incredibly thankful that my wife is here and I can always talk to her, but you get my point.

Running and going for walks is truly a godsend. 3-4 mornings a week, I go for a run before starting the rest of my day. Most days, after we eat lunch, we go for a short walk around the neighborhood. That time outside really helps keep me level, and prevents me from going crazy. And based on the amount of people we see out, lots of others have the same idea.

Is it the safest thing to do right now? Probably not. While the CDC and others say going outside is fine, provided you maintain social distancing guidelines and wear a mask, that doesn’t work out as well for running. We do a good job when walking to maintain a lot of distance between us and others (including sometimes crossing the street just to avoid others). When running, I try and keep away from others as well, but it’s a bit harder. And no one is sure if the six foot rule is as applicable when moving. And running in a mask? No thanks.

Without running, I’d be going crazy. Even with it, I find I have energy that is just sitting there. I feel like I should be doing something, I just don’t know what. I’ve seen the meme talking about learning a new skill, a new language, something like that. I’m sure my wife would LOVE it if I learned some Spanish, so that’s an option. I’d love to start a business, though I struggle for ideas on what that business would be. I’m more of a COO than a CEO, which makes getting started tough.

But I’ll keep thinking of it. I thought about setting a rule where I have to come up with X number of ideas in a week, then spend some time evaluating them. That seems like a good start. If nothing else, it puts some of my energy into searching for problems and possible solutions, which is a key skill for entrepreneurship. A start is a start, no?

For now, it’s running and working and trying to keep sane in this strange time.

What World Is This?

Well, well, well. My how things have changed.

Normally, when I start a post like that, it’s because I haven’t written anything in awhile. Like in 2016. Or 2017. Or 2019. Or this past February. This time, the things that have changed, are everything.

My wife and I have been social distancing since 3/11. Neither of us are sick, or were sick, or if we were, we were asymptomatic. Who knows. Can’t get tested so you’re just left to wonder.

Everything has changed. The simplest things we used to do are now either impossible, or dangerous. Theme parks are closed. I’m now full-time working from home. Going to the grocery store can be scary, not knowing if the person searching for bread next to you is an asymptomatic carrier.

It can be boring. Whereas we used to go out and do stuff on the weekends, we now stay in. Sure, we go for runs and walks, and sit outside on the porch or lanai, but it’s not the same. We can’t go the parks or Disney Springs to ride an attraction or grab something to eat and drink. We can’t hang out at the bar and have silly conversations. No sushi date nights. No breweries. No shopping.

It can be stressful. We didn’t panic-buy a bunch of stuff as the world started closing. We had some food, I bought a bit more, no big deal. I chuffed when reading about people buying toilet paper and cleaning supplies, wondering why they didn’t already have them. As time went on, I started thinking ‘wait a minute…<i>should</i> I have been buying that stuff? By then, it was nearly too late. Shelter-in-place orders, curfews, limited hours and supplies. It took two weeks to find toilet paper. We were down to our last few rolls, and the tone of our pooping conversations got more and more serious.

It can be terrifying. I used to love going to the grocery store, wandering up and down aisles as I thought about dinner plans and meals I wanted to cook. Now, you only go in emergencies. You try to stay six feet away from everyone, which is nearly impossible in a cramped bread section. You Purell your hands before and after touching anything. You wipe down the boxes and bags with disinfecting wipes when you get home. Then disinfect the counter. Then the door handles. Then yourself. And all the while, wondering if you’ve done enough. The consequences could be nothing. Or death.

We’re trying to maintain as best we can. We still go for our runs like we’re training for races that were long ago cancelled. We try and eat our usual meals. Thankfully she’s been full-time WFH for a few years now, and has a well-put-together office. I work out of a spare bedroom which I just happened to turn into an office a few months ago for those random work-from-home days. We still do date nights; we even got dressed up this past Saturday. Anything to keep things normal.

We use a lot more video chats than we used to. Once reserved for only the most serious of times, now we do weekly meet-ups via FaceTime and Zoom, just to get some more social interaction. Humans are social creations, and it’s ironic that the thing we need to do to survive, is the one thing that humans most crave. Being around others. Togetherness. It’s how we’ve come out of every previous crisis we’ve faced, and now we can’t. It’s rough.

Who knows when this will end. Our state-wide stay-at-home order technically expires around 5/3, but that’s a dream. June? July? August? No one can be sure, everything is a guess at this point. You want it to be soon, but not too soon, to avoid a second wave of outbreak. Maybe that’s unavoidable. Again, who knows.

A Lot Has Changed…

Indeed, it certainly has. Officially, it’s been nearly four months since I last posted. Back then, I was training for a marathon I would not ultimately run, in a state I would not live in for much longer, working at a job I would no longer work at. Let’s back up, shall we?

In July, I started interviewing for a new job. It wasn’t that we were unhappy in Memphis, but we wanted to see what other opportunities were out there. I felt a bit stagnant at my company, and my role was about to become nearly 50% travel, something I did not want. I also had always wanted to work for a tech company. Not necessarily a start-up, as I’m too risk-averse for that, but still a small, internet-based company. The place I was interviewing fit that to a T. I did my in-person interview on July 16th. I found out I got the job on August 25th, and after a bit of negotiating, signed the offer that day. We would soon to be moving to….

Orlando, Florida! That’s right, we were packing up and heading further soon – kind of the opposite direction I ever thought I’d go (as my family is mostly in Ohio). But we couldn’t pass it up: Disney right there, beaches on both coasts, Miami a short road trip, a larger and more international airport, a MUCH larger Latin community that would make my wife much happier as well. Lots of reasons, so we were comfortable. We started planning for the move right away and getting things ready, as I started work in less than a month.

I put in my notice at work, transitioned my duties to others, packed up the house, fixed it up, hired a painter to repaint the exterior, and got with our realtor to get it ready to sell. It was on the market and we were headed for a 12 hour drive to Orlando!

We’ve been here a bit over a month so far. It was definitely a trying move – we didn’t know for sure if we had an apartment until two days before we left Memphis, and the movers “left behind” half of our stuff. Like, half of a bed, the coffee maker (but brought the coffee pot). That stuff was put on another truck a few days later….which then promptly broke down somewhere between Memphis and Orlando. All told, it took three weeks for our stuff to make that 12 hour drive.

So, you might be asking, how’s the running going? Yeah, with all of the stuff that needed to happen in a short amount of time, running definitely got the short end of our attention and energy. I ran 49 miles in August. I ran 32 in September. Not good. And of course, the Marine Corps Marathon was October 22nd. Naturally, we didn’t run it. We had deferred a few weeks prior, knowing we would not be in a position to run. Instead, we decided to focus as much as we could on Dopey.

We’ve been training in earnest for the past three weeks. We are starting late, for sure, but trying to just keep plugging away. At this point, we can’t catch up to where we should be according to our original plan; that would be unsafe and likely result in an injury or burnout. My goal is to put us in a position where we can get to a decent distance in the marathon – say, 15-17 miles – and just use grit and determination to finish. A lot will be determined by our mini-Dopeys coming up in a few weeks. The final one is supposed to be 2.5-5-10-20 miles, but ours will be closer to 2.5-5-10-15 or so.

Overall, things are good, though still hectic. Our house hasn’t officially sold yet. We had an offer, it fell through because the buyer slacked off on getting financing. We put it back on the market and got an offer right away; we also have a back-up offer in our pocket should this one fall through. We will be much less stressed once that’s taken care of, and we can start paying off the move.

More to come!