new year new me??


in 2024 maybe i will mood ring from my phone only. no more earnestness from my other fingers, only thoughts transmitted via the brain -> thumb neural pathway. i arrived at our hotel in northern nicaragua somewhere after midnight, and when sitting down for breakfast the next morning at the communal dining table i realized i'd never done anything like what i was currently experiencing. i'd never been on a beach vacation before, much less at a surf and yoga-oriented "resort." resort connotes big beachfront hotels, people sunbathing under umbrellas you have to pay for while vendors hawk beverages from their coolers, but this was more like staying at the estate of a rich friend of a friend - the sprawling grounds, the free-roaming pets (4 dogs + 3 cats) that had been collectively adopted by the manager, gerritt, and the others (mostly europeans) who worked there in exchange for food and board, the daily schedule of activities and shared meals, and the plant life running wild all contributed to a sense of perpetually hanging out. i took three surfing lessons and caught the bug!!! i paddleboarded for the second time ever, at sunset with adam's friend jessie, and swam almost everyday in the pacific, steeling myself to confront my fear of large waves and dive into the choppy surf of the boom. it felt so good to wake up every morning tan and sore, to begin the work day with a cold shower after spending some time in the water and feel the salty residue in my hair. i ripped through books from the comfort of a shaded hammock overlooking the ocean. i felt a deep sense of well being and notably zero urge to return to new york, free from the usual pull that sets in after a week of traveling. the other guests were mostly people in their 30s, young families or friends traveling together. hanging out with them and cosplaying as someone of indeterminate age (although one woman, a journalist and mother to the cutest 3 year old ever, gave me a look once that implied she was on to me) made me feel young and insecure and filled me with longing for a more interesting life. maybe everything sounds more interesting when you're older and didn't spend those extra years just climbing the corporate ladder, but listening to how people had worked various interesting short-term jobs that brought them to random parts of the world made me realize, that could be me. before i'd decided to commit even harder to software engineering last summer, i'd had a fantasy of working at a natural wine bar. mostly this was to meet hot people and to feel fun and hot, but now that i'm on the other side of the job switch i feel surer of my desire to quit, at least for several months, after i've put in my time and learned to be a real engineer here. like xander's dream of owning a farm, the urge to work on an oyster farm has never been stronger. most of the books i read in nicaragua were nicht so gut - here's looking at you, the vegetarian - but i loved temporary by hilary leichter. i guess it has some of that "frenzied/satirical millennial female narrator voice" that lauren oyler and patricia lockwood employ in their respective Famous Books on Contemporary Life, but this book is way better. the premise is an alternate reality where people perpetually temp/fill in for others' jobs to a comical extent (i.e. being hired by the wildlife preservation iniative to fill in as a barnacle because barnacles are going extinct), and the narrator is one such person, who does so with the hopes of achieving "steadiness," the magical feeling of having found the perfect job, the one you will stay at forever. she has a gazillion boyfriends, each of which has an ordained specialty ("my culinary boyfriend," "my mall rat boyfriend"), and as she recounts her various positions she finds bursts of meaning and growing pains amidst the roles in which she's supposed to entirely be another person ("i'm filling in for darla" becomes an exercise in What Would Darla Do), meanwhile she gets older and uglier and becomes more disillusioned with the idea of finding a place and people with whom she will belong. i feel like i'm coming at this from the opposite side: i've found my long-term professional/financial occupation, but i feel like the solution to my chronic insecurity and wistfulness is to indulge in the right short-term employments that will help me understand what constitutes my steadiness. even if the book is pointing out the myth that the right job will lead you to happiness, work structures/gives you a mode of being in the world that is helpful for exploring new things. i want to get better at surfing and be near the ocean and interact with the soil/plants/nature and become more laidback and less insecure; i really believe that (maybe) these are the things that will deeply and meaningfully make me feel good. this year i'm loosely resolving to abstain from my usual monthly or seasonal bucket lists, maybe because i have a slightly better understanding of how i want to live, and that feeling is inside me.