"Doug, it's been almost a year since you've posted. What's the deal? What. Is. Up?"
"What? A year you say? It can't have been that long, can it? Well, I'll be damned. It *has* been a year. I guess that's a good thing, right? I mean, if something terrible had come down the pipe in cancer-land, I would have posted about it. So, no news is good news?"
"Wait, are you saying you're posting now because you've had a *recurrence*?!?! You OK?"
"No. No recurrence. I'm doing fine. I've just been .... "
... off living life, such as it is.
I came back to post, not because of a recurrence or any health-related issues, but in anticipation of a leave from work coming up in September. I'm really looking forward to the time off, if only to free up some brain cycles to think about big picture stuff. You know, the usual things -- where I've been, where I am, where I want to be heading. Questions that have been looming a little larger of late as I just had a birthday that pushes me out of mid-40s into the late-40s, with 50 staring me in the face.
But those are topics for my trip.
So, it's been a year-ish since my last post. A year is a lot of time, and a lot can happen in a lot of time, but I can boil it down to three things -- travel, work and surgery.
Yeah, surgery. Not cancer surgery, but surgery because I had cancer surgery in 2010. I was all gung-ho with the lifting stuff that I really, really didn't want to miss any time in the gym. I definitely had the lifting blinders on. Well, after a fourth blockage requiring hospitalization early this year, and a near-miss on a fifth, I finally had enough and scheduled the damn surgery to remove the abdominal scar tissue that's been causing the blockages. I had planned on doing a physique show in January, but my heart really wasn't in it, and after a work trip to Ireland (where there was no way I wasn't going to enjoy drinking good food and Guinness) I gave up on the idea of doing a show this year, so the stars aligned to finally take of this.
Quite frankly, work had gotten a little insane too with how hard I was working and how much I was stressing, and the prospect of spending two weeks away from work to recover from surgery was pretty damn attractive. So, got it done. Surgery was cake -- was back home within 48 hours -- and in two weeks time, I was ready to get back at it.
And, it's been five months with no blockages, knock on wood. Getting this surgery was something that needed to be done before I could get do some adventure travel again. Speaking of which.
I've travelled quite a bit the past 12 months. Last fall, after I finished the Colondar bios (they turned out well. I was happy with them, and my charges seemed happy too. Well, at least they said they were), I addressed some pent up traveling urges and did a mini-tour in the fall to see a bunch of friends and family -- Seattle, Los Angeles, Austin, Phoenix, Denver and Wisconsin. Even got to Boston for the first time. Was there for a few weeks and got to drive around Vermont and New Hampshire to see the leaves change. Missed "peak color" by just a bit, but still, just beautiful.
And, this year, I got my international travel game on a bit. Travelled to Ireland for work (there's some amazing chefs in Dublin) in January, another work trip to China for two weeks in June, and I recently got back from a personal trip to Europe earlier this month (quick tour Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Dublin and Brussels).
Canal houses in Amsterdam
The Storehouse in Dublin
So that's been fun.
But all of the traveling has been super easy. Even China. It's 2016, and traveling to Shanghai and Beijing isn't an exotic as it probably was 30, 20 or even 10 years ago. Even from a stoma standpoint, things were a piece of cake. I stayed in nice, modern hotels with bathrooms that are Western as they are in my home in Portland, and there once I got there, I had no concerns about catching a bug through irrigation as the water was just fine.
Not that I'm jonesing for "non-easy" travel. With me being eligible for a four-week sabbatical at work this fall, I've been giving a lot of thought on where to go. Give me a week or two off, and I'm usually scheming up some adventure, but with 6-7 weeks off (4 weeks sabbatical plus 2-3 weeks of vacation), I was thinking big. 6-7 weeks is a helluva lot of time off, and what far-flung trip I was going take on my sabbatical changed from week to week, depending on when you talked to me. One week it was a tour of SE Asia, the next it was touring more of Europe, and ask me again and I'd be thinking about Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.
But after getting back from Europe and China, my appetite for long haul trips was limited and I didn't want to fund a second big international trip in the same year. So, I'm going to stay in my back yard and check out a few of the amazing natural wonders we have here in the Western U.S. and Canada. I'm going to load up the 4Runner and heading to Bellingham, WA, take the Alaska marine ferry to Skagway, take the Alaska-Canada highway to Banff & Jasper. Then Glacier and the Grand Tetons. Then Zion. Then the Grand Canyon. Drive the car to Vegas, take a flight to the homeland (Wisconsin), to visit friends and family for a week and a half, then fly back to Vegas and drive back to Portland, making to sure take the most remote highways that I can. I'm doing a lot of driving, and I want to make good time between destination, but the road is as much a part of this trip as the national parks. I want to put the emphasis on "good" rather than "time" when making "good time".
And then, after 45+ days on the road, it will be back to ...
Work has been tough lately. Since about last November, I've been busting my ass, with hours approaching those I was working in private practice. Which means my unhappiness has been approaching that of when I was in private practice. I've been struggling to stay on top of things and I do not see things changing anytime soon. Right now, my job is simply a six day / week job. I get paid well for what I do, but I'd gladly trade a good chunk of my salary for less work. Life's short and tomorrow is promised to no-one, so with the heavy work load and me just turning 47, I'll be taking a long, hard look at whether staying in my current position is what I want to do. In fact, as I look back on my entire professional legal career, the jobs have been so more demanding than what I was doing previously in engineering. Maybe, in the end, law just isn't a match for me. I'm good at it, but I think my success is primarily me putting the time into doing my job that I think it needs in order to do the job right.
Anyways, these will be some of things I think about while I'm on road. Maybe I come back fully charged and work is all good and I hunker down for the long haul with my employer. Or, maybe I came back knowing that I am through with my job and start charting my exit route.
We shall see.