New Normal

I’m sure all of you have been hearing the same thing: “We have to get used to a new normal.” I myself have been hearing this a lot lately as well. Whether it’s a global pandemic, social injustices, the attacks on media or science, or changes in our weather due to climate change, there’s a lot of “new” out there to get used to.

I’ve thought about this a lot as I’m getting older: norms change all the time. Our “new normal” – current crises aside – is much different than our parents grew up with. Much different than I grew up with. In the last 20 years, there’s been a rapid change in our daily lives for what we consider normal.

Twenty years ago, I was in college. That’s back in the days of AOL and dial-up.1 Communication was starting to really take off as “instant”, with instant messaging and cell phones. It was just at the precipice of it, and back then it was exciting to go through. Now, most of those same services we started with are gone and have been replaced by new things. And those new things are now old and established institutions within our social lives.

Think of where we are today: we have instant access to everything. We are a society that wants everything right now. We always want the new stuff. We want change immediately. We want justice immediately. And we are at quite a crossroads. The people who are making decisions – right, wrong, or indifferent – are by and large from a generation who didn’t grow up with instant. They have been adapting to a new normal for a long time, yet still want to hold on to the older ideals they grew up with. I’m sure that you and I will be doing the same as we get older.

We as individuals can adapt to a new normal at our own pace. Society not so much. Society involves more people and moves slowly, which is not the world we as individuals expect to live in today. As we are all striving to return to what “normal” looks like, we need to realize that things are changing rapidly and that a normal or a new normal might not even be what we expect. I guess for now we move forward as the pandemic rages, and wait patiently for what life will be like on the other side.

Maybe take a break from things online. Take some time to figure out connecting to others in the safest way possible. Reflect on what we are all going through.2 Do your part to help others through this, whether it be checking in on people or doing the simplest thing that anyone could: wear a damn mask.

  1. I simultaneously both miss and loathe that startup sound. 
  2. And realize that you might be in a position of privilege and life might be easy for you right now, where others are struggling. 

Keeping the Lion Away

I’m going to be blunt: I’m not even sure why I’m sitting down to write this. I don’t know where this post is even going, and if I’m honest with myself, I’m a little scared by where it might go or what I might say.1 But I think I just need to get these thoughts out of my head and out into the ether.

The last few months, in the midst of the pandemic, have been mostly ok for me and my family. I’m privileged as hell: I have a job where I can work at home, care for my kids and my partner, and we’re all doing well health wise. I’ve even gone out to a few places, albeit limited, and it’s been OK.

There’s this looming feeling over everything though: we’re in a pandemic. I’m not sure we as a society really grasp what this means. There’s so much information – and misinformation – out there, and not everything is known or explained well. People are taking ridiculous stances on their feelings when we should be focused on science and reason. I’ve said it on more than one occasion that if we can’t pull this together, we have failed as a species and deserve every bit of what we get. And to be clear: you should wear a mask and wash your hands. Please don’t bother to convince me otherwise. Go ahead and lose my number if you feel differently.

In the past few weeks, I’ve been agonizing over the decision for sending my child back to face-to-face learning. I’ve communicated with our district superintendent for the first time2 and voiced my concerns with the plans laid out before the parents. I’ve lost so much sleep over this I don’t really even want to think about it. It’s constantly weighed on my mind, and I feel physically tired from it.

In speaking with my best friend today, we lamented how our discussions keep devolving into discussion of the current pandemic, how others are handling it, and how we are handling it. How we feel like bad parents and crazy people for continuing courses of action for months on end. My fight-or-flight response has been in almost constant engagement since this all went down. And I feel exhausted. But what the hell else are we going to discuss? Apps? Technology? More unimportant shit? Of course not. Because we have a fucking lion in the form of a pandemic chasing us.

I’ve been wanting to be creative for a while. I really admire the people who can be creative in this time. I had some push at the start of this, put out a few posts, and then… nothing. I hit a wall. I had been thinking of various posts over the past few months, but thought to myself none of this shit is important. And then I find myself doing other things. It should be no surprise that the single most traveled place in the past few months has been to the hardware store, masked and gloved, to get things to improve the house. I’ve learned some new things on how to hang a door properly, and how big a pain in the ass it can be. I’m working with my girlfriend to understand what we want to do the house how we want to make it our place. I’ve created an office space, and I’m starting on a new, more permanent one.

So when I think about it, I’m being creative, but in a more practical sense. I’m getting my house in order – my literal house – for the first time in a long time. I’ve made list upon list of what I want to do, and sadly, how much it’s going to cost me over time. But I know that in a few short years, I might be in a great spot with a house I’m finally proud of after 10 years of ownership.

I am, however, stifled when it comes to writing. My brain feels like it hurts when I sit down to type things out. My journaling has been hit or miss in the past few weeks, as has my general health routine. I’m feeling burned out. I’m feeling like I need a break. And so, I think I’ll continue to take one. This isn’t to say that I don’t have thoughts and ideas: I’ve created several mind maps to help me organize what I want to write about in the future, and ideas that I feel are worth sharing. But right now, given the current climate, I just can’t bring myself to sit down and really focus on them when so much else out there is important.

There’s a level of guilt that I feel when it comes to this. There are times where I think “I owe it to people to write and put things out there”. But I keep coming back to the fact that it doesn’t put food on the table. That it isn’t my day job and takes away from time with my family or my home. Maybe if there was incentive on my end to write, I’d do it more often and carve out the time. But until I focus on how to incentivize all this, I’m going to continue to write at my pace and figure out how to make it all happen.

I’ll get back to doing it eventually. And I’m hopeful that some of the ideas that I have in my mind are actually decent enough to share. Of course, I’ll be writing about things coming for the fall; maybe saving some of my creative energy for that is the best course for me. We’re all navigating this global pandemic differently. We’re all trying to do what we need to keep sane and healthy. And for me, that takes the shape of protecting my family and house by working and providing leadership, all to keep the lion away. The writing will have to wait for now. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to get a bunch more work done around the house. Enough procrastination. Time to do the work.

  1. I’m just going to write until I feel like I’m done, do some light editing, and then hit publish. You get what you get, people. 
  2. This was actually a very pleasant experience, and I feel heard. I have a direct line of communication and they are actively seeking counsel from others outside of the district leadership on how to handle everything. It’s a course of action I plan on continuing for my son, my family, and my community. 

Return to Form

I’m not ashamed to admit that there are many times that I doubt myself. I suppose that’s the nature of a parent. Or maybe I’m getting older and these are things that happen. Or maybe it’s a global pandemic and a global call to end systemic racism. Maybe it’s all of these things, and probably a whole lot more. But I find that in these times, I often end up finding my way.
More “Return to Form”

Letting Go

As I'm writing this, I'm taking a much-needed 3 days of "staycation". I've often loathed this word, but as things have become more and more busy for me at work along with everything that I've endured with my personal life, I need it now more than ever.

I have a ton of things to catch up on while I'm off: some appointments, my house, hopefully a movie, and some much needed writing time as well. But this also means doing something that I'm learning to live with: letting go. I'm in a weird space with work: I'm acting like a boss, but I'm not quite official in the title.1 It's a trial run. And for the most part, I feel like I've been doing a great job in handling it. When it comes to taking some time for me and letting that stuff be handled by others, I've noticed that it's difficult for me.

I haven't officially managed others before, but I'm getting the opportunity to manage my peers and others through my role. It's been a unique experience to visibly see the transition from someone who 'does' to someone who 'manages'. And being honest: that transition is much harder than I thought it would be. It's a learning curve of ones self to let it go and get done, instead of doing.

Over the years, I've set some lofty goals and personal standards for myself. These aren't always shared in the same way by the people I work with. There are some ways I conduct myself that others might not.2 And it's hard to sometimes rely on others to complete assignments to your own personal standards. Hopefully I've laid out expectations and imparted what little wisdom I can to empower my supporting team to get everything completed while I'm away.

But there are times that you still have to be a 'doer'. You do have to let go, and trust that it's going to get done. The work will still be there when I get back. The building will still be around. The job will still need to be done. But I'm hoping that I can entrust some of my work to others and have them pick up the torch while I'm taking some time for me. I'm hopeful that come Monday, I'll be able to realize that this is ok and that I don't have as much to worry about as I think I do.

  1. I really do hope that a promotion is coming. Not counting on it, but it would be a nice cherry on the top of all this stress. 
  2. Yes, of course. There are people who are better than me. Not saying I'm the best, far from it. Not the point here.