(Side note: I started a draft of this note on Christmas morning. Since that time, 4 more celebrities and musicians have passed away: Rickie Harris (comedian – best known for “Everybody Hates Chris” and for his skits on Snoop Dogg’s CDs), George Michael (musician), and now on Tuesday, Carrie Fisher (actress/author) and Richard Adams (author).
2016 was a rough year for a lot of people. The U.S. Presidential Race was perhaps the nastiest, mean-spirited political race in decades. Social media allowed people to express their opinions on the election- some more idiotic/bigoted than others – to anyone with an internet connection. In my home town, the homicide rate hit an all-time high… and is still climbing. We (Louisville) also lost our icon, Muhammad Ali, although it united the city in a way that I hadn’t seen before. There’s a social media joke going around that many people are feeling more and more by the day:
On the personal front, 2016 has not been the dumpster fire for me that it’s shaped out to be for others. 2016 had some pretty great moments and some not-great moments; it was a very exhausting, but good, year:
- January saw the expected seasonal slow down at Kinetic but the start up of my last semester at Jefferson Community and Technical College (JCTC). I spent New Year’s morning’s drop-of-the-ball at home. That part SUCKED. Not much else of note happened that month: worked very occasionally at Kinetic and temporarily at JCTC Bookstore, took 12 hours of online classes at JCTC, and the weekly foray to Team Trivia, Game Night, and the occasional trip to watch WWE Raw.
- Kinetic’s slow-down continued into February (and most of the following 5 months), while the seasonal bookstore job ended (I didn’t go back for the Fall ’16 or Spring ’17 Rushes). I started looking hardcore into internships, co-ops, and full time jobs in CIT, Programming, and Computer Technology.
- March brought a needed Spring Break, although I spent most of it working whatever hours I could get at Kinetic. My grades were pretty good, going into break. At the end of the month, one of 2016’s highlights took place: I was one of 42 students to win the “African American Student of Excellence Award” for the entire JCTC Downtown campus system (6 campuses, over 1,200 eligible students). I was very honored to win that award!
- April was frustrating. I attended the Awards Night for the AAS Award in March, as well as an overall G.P.A. Award. Heading towards the end of the month and Finals, I was hovering on the border of a 4.00; two classes were on the A-B line. However, the lack of work hours has started causing some significant problems (loss of phone, near-loss of internet (kind of important for online classes), struggles with bus fare, etc…). On the health front, the long walks were going well: energy was high, I was losing a pound or 2 a week, and I got to see some parts of my neighborhood that I normally wouldn’t see.
- The beginning of May saw the highlight of 2016, possibly of 2015, and the highlight of the total school career (as of today): I finally earned an Associates Degree With High Distinction in Computer Information Technology! If only the work hours and the job search could have come close to the Graduation highlight…..
- June was a lot of not-working, a lot of timed walking (and setting personal bests), a lot of not-being-interviewed, and, unfortunately, the beginnings of a lot of foot pain and foot issues. On the good side: I did get to hang out with my best friend for the first time in 2 years, got to go back to the Dayton Air Show, and got some decent reading and game-playing going.
- The patience with the job and job search just about broke in July. I did have a fun 4th of July and birthday celebration. I got accepted into, and enrolled at, Western Kentucky University, once again taking online classes. Another of the highlights of 2016 for me was organizing a fundraiser for a good friend. I was trying to raise money for her, after she found out that she had ovarian cancer. While I wish I could have raised more, I think what we raised helped with her expenses a little bit.
- August saw the biggest change of 2016, leading to another highlight: I was hired on as a Traffic Operations Center Operator 1 at TRIMARC, an interstate-monitoring division of Northrop Grumman. The monetary boost alone turned around the issues of the first half of the year. The job is also pretty interesting. I’m still not exactly set on working 3rd shift on weekends there, then working weekday 1st shifts at more-hours-now Kinetic.
- September through November were almost completely work, school work, studying, and (some) sleep. I started finally having some money left over after utilities were paid (phone, internet, water, split light/gas, monthly bus pass, and groceries), which hadn’t happened in a long time. My 20 year High School reunion was AWESOME! The big issue of that period was the deteriorating right foot (see older posts from November and December).
- December brought about the end to a tough, but overall good, semester. I really wish I had gotten out of the house to do fun stuff more often, in hindsight – hopefully, that changes over Winter Break. Speaking of break, I haven’t had much of a chance to enjoy Winter Break yet, due to a big increase in work responsibilities at TRIMARC, but I still have 4 weeks to remedy this. Christmas afternoon was a good time with the family, but I had to work 16 hours before I could meet them.
This was one of the first times that I didn’t/couldn’t go to a New Year’s Eve party, the Thunder Over Louisville fireworks, a “Southern Gentlemen’s Party” that a couple of friends host annually, Halloween horror-movie-watching/party (which still bugs me), OR a Christmas/Festivus party. It isn’t a life-altering thing to miss them but it did virtually kill what social life I have.
Resolutions, ‘wish list’, plans…. however you label it, these are some the things I would like to accomplish in 2017, from new goals to improving old marks from this year. This list is subject to change – I still have a few days to add to this list. 😉
- Get An Apartment. I put this on the 2016 list basically under the premise of “it couldn’t hurt”. I now make enough between both jobs that I can comfortably, and seriously, restart the apartment search. April 1st is an early date that I want to find an apartment by, but this date may change; I still have to buy text books for the semester, plus other expenses (including new glasses).
- a. Start My Online Portfolio and b. Create Content for the Portfolio. I never realize just how important having a portfolio in the computer and tech fields was until this past semester. It also greatly explains some of the struggles with finding an internship or co-op. So, I will work on some sample web pages and some sample programming code (both could include projects from school) and hopefully have a basic portfolio going by the summer.
Speaking of co-ops:
- Find an Internship, Co-Op, and/or a Full-Time Job in Computer-related Fields by July 1st. I really want to get my foot in the door of one of my study areas. A full time, week day job would be the ideal situation.
- Earn a 3.50+ GPA for the Spring Semester. I have been at or above a 3.00 since returning to college in 2014, and I hope to continue that trend, starting in January. The first step for this goal is to get my books before classes start. In 2 classes last semester, this didn’t happen until Weeks 5 and 8(?); it won’t happen that late this time, hopefully.
- Get the Right Foot Back Under Control. There are 4 separate injuries and conditions that have plagued me for too long, all of which flared up a few weeks ago. I now have a very good ankle/plantar brace that I wear most of the time, a Budin Toe Splint for the Plantar Plate tear, and just came off of a Prednisone prescription (which, combined with a Cortisone shot in the heel, helped a lot). I plan on taking a few days off from my weekday next week, which will keep me off of my feet for a good chunk of time. Let’s see if there is significant , long-term improvement in the next few weeks.
- Keep the Upward Momentum with Money Going. Like I mentioned above, things turned around when I got hired on at TRIMARC and Kinetic started getting work in. I plan on re-opening my savings account soon and depositing a big chunk of my Kinetic checks in there. As long as I have 2 jobs, the savings account will continue to fill up with money for emergency bills and costs, possible apartment money, and 2 long-overdue bills.
- Take Time For Myself; Treat Myself. If there is any resolution or goal where I have to “put my money where my mouth is”, it is this one. I don’t need to feel obligated to go here or do this, work on this off-day or skip that event, unless I give my word otherwise. I also should treat myself to something – a day out and about town, a day of just reading and gaming, a trip to the movies, etc. – on occasion.
- Get Back Down to 230 lbs. by Spring Break; Get Down To 215 lbs. by the End of the Year. I am somewhere between 235 and 240 pounds. What I currently lose in walking and jogging time will be made up by increased diet focus and getting better sleep.
Here’s to a successful 2017 and a better 2017 for all!