Another year of “a heck of a lot” happened, although blessedly a bit smaller in quantity, but large in significance.
- My father was diagnosed with dementia
- Did an anti-winter trip to Argentina
- Competed in dance with my students
- Sprained my toe and re-evaluated my life
- Stopped working at the dance studio (my first time being fired!)
- Working a full-time engineering gig again
This is a complicated one and will remain so. My dad was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia, a flavor of dementia that’s not Alzheimer’s but will be something to consider for the rest of my dad’s life. I’m prioritizing visiting my family (and having a lifestyle where I could pick up and go if I need to), spending quality time with them, while of course calling them regularly.
In 2022 I decided that no matter what, I’d do an anti-winter trip again. Even if I didn’t have a job to workcation with, I would go to Argentina so I could work on my tango and visit my friend there. In 2022 I thought I’d have a job to work on, but instead I found myself taking job interviews in Argentina.
While I was in Argentina, my phone was stolen out of my hand on a bus on the way back from taking possibly the worst interview I’d ever had. Was this the kind of thing that is obvious in retrospect (don’t have your phone out)? Absolutely. However, I saw lots of other people using their phones on the bus, so I thought it must be okay after I avoided it the first few times … that was wrong, and after I dealt with the theft, people told me phone snatching happened all the time. I was so blessed to have a local friend to lean on in the whole mess but still had some unpleasant anxiety attacks.
Aside from the bad part! I did tango a lot, and met various interesting people long the way: the owner of a tango studio in Charlotte who used to live in Philadelphia and trained with my Alexander Technique teacher! And an Austrian pharmacist who wrote a book about milongueros. Me and my friend Bení and his friends rented a house in Tigre for a weekend and I loved looking at the stars on that side of the world.
I haven’t planned anti-winter 2024, and might not do one. I’m heading to New Orleans for a couple of days, and I have some cold weather trips planned (local and international!). I figure if I really need to see the warmer sun, I can buzz off to Miami for a couple of days.
The dance studio chapter ends
When I started a full-time job in 2022 and was seeing what would happen if I tried to have a day job and a night job, I could see that it wouldn’t be sustainable. But when I didn’t have a day job at the end of the year it renewed my fervor for trying to carry on with the dance studio, which made the chapter last a little longer.
And in some respects, it looked like it was going great! I went to competition with my students (wow!) and what a fun and weird thing to do. Then I was practicing one day, and sprained my toe, which led to a big “wtf am I doing” moment … directly leading to some changes that led me to get fired at the studio.
I’ve always had this paranoia about being fired (supposedly common among millennials I hear?) and so I experimented with just … not quitting. I started a substack in the fall to experiment with having another location to write outside of this blog and wrote about the dance studio firing there.
What now with dance?
I do still love dance and movement, just as I did before I impulsively applied for a job teaching ballroom dance. It’s taken some exploring, but I’ve adopted the blues/jazz dance scene as one I’ll frequent as a hobby. I’m putting down tango for a bit/not working on it to have more focus.
One thing about ballroom I’ll miss is that getting to work on so many dances at the same time is really fun! But outside of ballroom, being involved in multiple ‘scenes’ is pretty difficult (but I do think it makes you a better dancer in a particular style to immerse in a particular scene).
And teaching? I’d love to keep teaching and have the ability and interest in continuing to do it on the side. I made a little webpage for it, even. I even sometimes ponder if I might want to open a blues/swing dance studio 🤔 I think running a studio versus working for a studio would be a very different experience. But I file this under my general “maybe I should open a business of some kind??” dreaming.
I started working in my current role part-time in the spring, transitioning to full-time in the summer. Very conveniently, I was offered full-time right after the dance studio chapter ended. It’s been alright and fit well with what I was seeking at the time, but I’m continuing to ponder what’s right for me.
What is a career, anyway?
The last few years that included hitting a physical burnout wall (read all about it! I’m still re-telling myself this story in new ways) really made me confront my workaholism and think about my relationship to work. What is “work” and what does it mean to choose to work a particular job, or create your own?
I’m exploring and digging into my intersection of skills, interests, where they can be of use, and seeing what I find intriguing.
While capitalism is a bear to consider, having something that drives what you get up to do every day … turns out I might be on board with this idea. I don’t like how a “career” has been purposed with all the meaning, but the inverse doesn’t quite work for me either. I guess you could say I care too much 🙃
And when people say “job, whatever! focus on life outside of work” … most of a full-time worker’s time is spent at work compared to anything other than sleep. So … nah. I’d like work to hold up a bit more on its end of the deal.
I used to say “You don’t have to do anything, but you have to do something.” Every individual thing has the option to simply nope out of it. Humans need something to do and for the very privileged (gestures to self), the problems I’m left with are largely existential.
Writing this out, 2023 had much less of a white-knuckle feeling compared to 2022, but involved some very heavy emotional lifting. Family, career, various social structure changes … some big stuff. My mental health wasn’t so hot at this end of 2023, and when I reflect and list out all the things going on, it helps me be easier on myself. Like, yeah, this is some big ole stuff.
Other good things this year that didn’t have a heading: The garden crew I volunteer with. I started playing saxophone more seriously and started a (very very chill) band with some friends. Camping! A couple weddings. Went to NYC Pride. Went to Palm Springs again. Generally adjusting to and preferring having-a-day-job-life schedule past the actual job-part (I can do things other than work in the evenings!).
For 2024 I have a few intentions for socializing, adventuring, and pondering WTF this career thing. TBD!