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2013

Well it's been awhile since I've posted about anything here, but this year was more relevant than most. So:

2013 review


I finally, finally, moved out from Columbia to Baltimore. I was paying almost $1500 a month for a 1-bedroom and driving 45+ minutes each way to work in traffic. It was beyond ridiculous and was a big negative factor in my life. My friend Loki had moved out from his apartment and spent a month living in my living room, and while I missed my privacy I enjoyed the company. We decided to get a 2-bedroom in Pigtown, which is a sketchy neighborhood but it's a 15 minute walk to U Maryland everyday, which is good exercise and it means I only use my car on the weekends. I save about 90-120 minutes of driving everyday, and all the gas and wear on my car, along with my sanity. It's such a throwback having a roommate (I haven't had one since I lived in Northgates of LSU in like.. 1999) but I pay less than half the rent and now just half the utilities, so I'm really saving something in the neighborhood of $1000 a month, which I'm trying to use to pay down bills/debts. And it's forcing me to have a slightly more engaging social life. It's one of the smartest things I've done in years.

Right as I was transitioning to the new apartment I had a job thing happen, which I can't discuss in detail and have been very reluctant to mention to anyone at all, but was a big deal. There is an ongoing investigation of our lab stemming from anonymous allegations, without us being told exactly what they re looking for. Much of our data is seized and unavailable to us, which greatly impacted my work this year. Technically the investigation is still going on without any resolution, 6 months in, and my colleague and I (the two senior people in the lab) are still worried about job security, since we've been there for more than 6 years. I'm up for a promotion next year (possibly, at least) but we're still considering moving on in case something bad happens for the lab. Really I should've moved on years ago to a better-paying job but the recession and frankly laziness has kept me too complacent. I'm making it a priority next year to find a better situation if possible. Much of the negativity in my life right now comes from my job, which is ridiculous considering my training, but until I either leave for a better job or get promoted to a less time- and money-restrictive deal. Hah.

I lost some weight. Not that much, about 25-30 pounds; but it dropped me down sizes on clothes, so I spent several hundreds of dollars replacing my clothes. But that bother is kinda mollified since I was already needing (quite a lot) to upgrade my wardrobe a bit anyway. I was still stuck in dorkmode, old fashion, chub fashion, lazy planning. Too postdoc, not enough junior faculty. I'm a work in progress but I do look better in newer, more stylish, and trimmer clothes (who doesn't?)

I quit smoking in March. Again; I've done it half a dozen times since I started smoking in middle school, but I'd been off the wagon for a couple years or more when I quit this last time. I was only smoking a couple cigarettes a day when I stopped, but it was a crutch and therefore needed to go. My sinuses are less congested but I don't have any more endurance than I used to. I feel certain now that I have at least moderate emphysema from all those marlboros and that can never go away. If I live past 60 I'll be on oxygen and there's nothing that I can do about it; but that doesn't mean I don't feel better about myself for quitting again.

Both the weight loss and quitting stemmed from a bad (really bad) depression I was under in the early part of this year. I was down in it for months, withdrawn and shut down, but unlike most of my previous bouts of it, this time I used the feelings of self-doubt, worthlessness, self-pity, shame, and guilt to push me to deny (punish) myself the things I really relied on most. Really, self-improvement is as much about denying yourself the bad things you *do* enjoy as it is forcing yourself to do better things that you *should* enjoy.

I had managed to force myself to go back to the gym during that time, but a few months into doing that habitually, I wrecked my knees up a bit and had to wear braces for awhile, which made the whole thing too difficult to continue. I'm back to snuff but I haven't gotten back into that habit yet. I guess that's for next year. I did start wearing a FitBit, which is a digital pedometer that calculates calories burned, and used with apps that track calories eaten, and used that to keep a deficit. Intricately tracking calories in led me to eat better to game the system and wearing the pedometer led me to find ways to increase my step count. I was one of the ways I kept my mind occupied during my depression and I know from experience that then is when I need distraction most.

I went to one convention this year, MFF. I had a really good time, better than I was expecting to have. I've been trying to save money but I let myself enjoy one vacation and I don't regret it. Met a number of people and had a nice time fursuiting. I should really try to get away more often, and not only for conventions. I can almost remember when I had a bunch of hobbies besides the fandom and did things and events around them, many times on my own. I haven't been diving in years, skiing in years, skydiving or hunting in decades.. I've barely taken a *photograph* this year. I'm resourceful enough to do these things; I need to pretend that I'm still independent enough to do them.

My sister is pregnant, and should be due around next May. I'm glad she's going to have a kid, since it'll let my family have another child to discuss and fawn over, and I'm sure not going to be having any. I hope that everything works out with that, and I'm sure it'll be a big topic when I fly home for Xmas next week. In fact I had a 2 friends have a baby this year, and 2 other friends separately announce their pregnancies as well. All my friends are having kids now, which is always strange for people my age ostensibly but in actuality I don't feel that weird about. They're all straight and it's sometimes I forget that this is what's expected (or at least, not unexpected) for them to do at this point in their lives, if not sooner. We're in our mid-thirties now and that's later than most of our parents were when we were born. It's a further distance put between me and them, but to be fair I hardly see them anymore so it's just academic.

Anyway: good year, better than most recently; hopefully it's a foundation for a better baseline.