Today is July 19, which makes it eery that so much of my post from June 1 is still relevant, or even unchanged, since then. Since there’s no copyright issue in reproducing my own work, here is that entire post, for convenience’s sake. Skim or skip if you remember it.
I haven’t written for several weeks because life has been busy, and heavy, recently. I’m probably going to piss some of you off by keeping the rest of this update pretty cryptic, but it’s important to me that I share here at least semi-regularly, that I’m as honest and open as I can be, even if that means pointing out some holes in my own narrative.
What I will share is that I’ve been dealing with legal/practical headaches surrounding my visa; some interpersonal challenges with people very important to me; and generalized frustration, stress, and overthinking. The frustration/stress/etc. is, of course, both caused by the other issues and a cause itself of some them. On top of all that, with a similarly unclear cause-effect relationship to the rest, I’ve been sick on and off with a few different symptoms.
I wrote that last paragraph now, and not a week or two ago, because I’m largely out of the main storms—or so I think. The issues that I mentioned are largely unresolved. But despite what the above may suggest, I actually feel really good now. Hence the post.
Anyway, this is my way of saying, “Hey, what’s up, world?” after not doing so for longer than I would have liked. Yes, things have been hard recently, but they’re also still generally very good, and getting better. May was my fullest month of work so far, and the most lucrative of my life to date. While that was great, the upcoming change will also be good: A number of classes have coincidentally ended or gone on hiatus at the same time, so I’m looking to June to be a month of catching up, figuring out, getting through, buckling down, coming together, moving on, and hopefully occasionally kicking back (though not yet sleeping in). It would be very bad if things boil over. I pray no fireworks go off. Phrasal verb dictionary FTW.
Let me run through what has changed, and what has not changed, since then:
- I finally, last week, got a visa to let me stay in Colombia. Days before my tourist visa would have expired (on Saturday), I was finally allowed to enroll in a Spanish class at Colombia’s Universidad Nacional, and then get a student visa for the course. Enrolling in the course was a hassle that involved six weeks of waiting, two visits to the university, several phone calls, and a last-minute scare that I wouldn’t be able to enroll at all before my visa expired, which would have forced me out of the country only days later (since I had counted on this plan to work out and had not stored any other last-minute options up my sleeve). Instead, luckily, as they said they would, they opened enrollment early for me and, certificate of enrollment in hand, I went to the government to ask for my student visa. While the Colombian bureaucracy is as bad as most countries’ bureaucracies, I had the ultimate success story in getting my visa. From the time I showed up at the Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores to the time I walked out with my visa was 100 minutes flat. Not two-to-three days, as I had expecting under the good scenario, and not weeks, as I had feared under the bad scenario. I had to wait about an hour after arriving to show all my papers, and just over half an hour later I got my passport back, with a visa in it. A bureaucratic miracle, for which I’m very grateful. Now I have several more months of legal status in Colombia, during which time I need to figure out how I can stay past October. The challenge is just to get me through the end of the year, since I can get another tourist visa next year, but I’ll need to get a job or take another course. At least I have a little time to figure that out.
- June did not calm down work-wise; it was as busy as, or busier than, May. Though three of my classes all ended or went on break at the same time around the end of May, I had one slow week before a whole lot more work fell in my lap. The first and biggest job came from a friend and former editing client of mine, who referred me to his university, so I could edit a large report their industrial engineering department was sending as part of an international accreditation application. My friend gave me a heads-up that he had referred me, but he didn’t warn me about how big the project was. Not until I showed up to help the folks at the department did they tell me that I was in for something bigger than a several-hour job: The report was 180 pages and that they needed it done ASAP. Now, they hadn’t prepared the whole thing, so I wasn’t the only one who had to work hard and fast. Instead, I ended up spending a full week in a conference room with five or six people from the department, as we turned ourselves into a human production line. One or two people wrote, one or two translated, and I edited. We somehow pulled the whole report together that week—or almost, since we also worked through a chunk of the weekend. (And the members of the department, who, unlike me, will be affected by the outcome of this application, worked even harder than I did, spending up to 15 or 16 hours a day at the university for much of that week.) I kept track of my hours and ended up billing them for 32, which, spread over six days and fit in around several hours of class each day, meant that I was back in finals mode that week, working every hour I could, and sleeping fewer hours than I should. But it was awesome, mostly because, in many ways, I was back in college. I was working far harder than I had at any point in the year since I graduated; I was back editing, doing what I had spent so many hours during college doing; I was working on a team, much as I had at the YDN or the Globalist when an issue needed to be wrapped up; and I was surrounded by the academic environment, able to take advantage of the physical space and all the resources a university has. The very nice additional touch while I was working was that each day those of us there were given delicious three-course lunches from the university’s restaurant. And the icing on the cake is that, when I thought the project was done, they asked me to revise the whole document again, without time pressure, to make it perfect—and they offered to pay me nearly three times what I had requested for the work I had done. All around, despite the lost sleep, a great experience—like college was.
- I was right on June 1 when I guessed I was “largely out of the storms” of May. The issues that made that month so hard mostly resolved themselves, at least for now, and much of the last month and a half have been much happier. I also haven’t been sick.
- But life is just permanently complicated now. I deserve no sympathy; once more, my life is far more happy, exciting, and everything I want it to be than I have a right to have it. But if I previously had any idea that I could return to childhood, or even hold on to pieces of that time, after I moved far away, started working, and started a serious relationship, I was dreaming. I’m saying nothing unique about myself here, just that I’m an adult now: I need to plan ahead, live with decisions I make, think about other people, and manage a lot of things I never had to manage as recently as a year ago. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to do all that. But wishing the unpleasant parts away doesn’t get me anywhere, and I know it. Plus, life without the unpleasant parts would be unreal, just too good. I spent most of my childhood looking forward to being older. Now I’m there. I don’t still wish I were older than I am; living this age is good. But sometimes it’s just a lot, you know? I know you know.
So here it is, mid-July, and I’ve completely lost track of the seasons in the part of the world where there are seasons. It’s been six months since I experienced a change of temperature, and it’ll be another six months until I experience another change. I’ll be back in the U.S. from August 25 to September 3 to attend my cousin’s wedding in Pittsburgh and then to spend six days at home in New York. That’ll be wonderful. It’ll be early fall, perfect for a couple long walks, runs, and/or bike rides through the city, and great times catching up with friends I really miss. Then, God and visa willing, I’ll be in Colombia until December, when Isa and I will go to Argentina. Last week we booked tickets to Buenos Aires, taking advantage of cheap options on New Year’s Eve to grab a flight that gets into Buenos Aires at 5 p.m. on the 31st—enough time, if there aren’t serious delays, to get our bags, leave the airport, get to a hostel, grab some food, and then head out to enjoy New Year’s Eve however they do in Argentina. We return to Bogotá on January 8, so with our seven days down south (where it will be a beautiful 75-80 degrees in January), in addition to exploring Buenos Aires, I hope to take the ferry to visit Montevideo and to explore Argentina a little bit outside the capital. I’ve talked with a couple friends about adding on another part to my vacation, a hiking and camping trip in Patagonia before or after that, if they’ll join me.
But here’s my public invitation: If you’ll be in New York between August 29 and September 3, or want to be in Argentina at the end of December or beginning of January, let me know. As wonderful as the things that fill my days are, I miss many people, those of you reading this. My old, childhood life is slipping away, as it must, but the people who filled that life better stick with me through this new one. I know I’m struggling to keep in touch these days, busy as I am, but I will always make an effort. And even when I can’t be in full contact, I won’t disappear. Say hi whenever you want. I’ll really appreciate that, and you’ll hear back from me.
You’ll also, hopefully, hear more from me in this space soon. If I can get around to it, I have a lot of things, small and large, that I’d like to share. I’m falling more and more behind on everything I want to do, but I suppose that’s life. It used to be that I had vacations every few months from my main job, allowing me to catch up. Out of school, no more. Nonetheless, of course, a lot happens, always. And I keep telling myself I’ll write about more of it. Until then…