I never intended for it to happen, but it did. This has become yet another blog that has been neglected for far too long and now it is time for the clichéd "sorry for the lack of updates!" post.
Well, that's the sort of post I initially set out to write. As I organized my thoughts, I realized that the core of this topic is quite a bit deeper.
Let's start with the mundane. Almost exactly a year ago, I got fed up with Tumblr's excessive downtime and moved this blog to Posterous. Instantly, I felt like I was on an island. Tumblr has a great community and, if you're careful with who you choose to follow, the social interaction is actually pretty great. I "met" a lot of new people and got involved in a few projects because of these relationships. On Posterous, there's a slightly less Internet-meme feel, but the social elements are almost nonexistent and it feels like a very lonely place (especially when you're starting from scratch).
Not too long after moving to Posterous, I also started to get frustrated with the their platform and the limited customization I could do to my site. I found a great micro-blogging engine called toto. I began migrating my old posts over to toto, but never began using it full-time because I was thinking through how (and if) I wanted to integrate my blog into my professional site. I put blogging on the back burner.
Before I knew it, it was autumn, I still hadn't updated my blog, and I'd been to busy to think about restructuring my site and/or blog. I was also falling into a rut. I've always been fortunate to work with great people, but I was starting to feel less interested in the projects I was involved in. Like everyone else, I have my ups and downs, but this time I just couldn't get back up.
After I ran a half marathon in October, I began having pain in my right knee. Knee pain and running often go hand in hand, but easing up on the running usually improves things. Not this time. I completely stopped running and the pain continued to get worse. Long story short: MRI revealed that I have an arthritic defect (not running-related) on the backside of my patella (big chunk of cartilage missing) and the best (but not guaranteed) way to fix it is with microfracture surgery (40 min. procedure, followed by 6-8 months of physical therapy.
While deciding if and when to do this, I was dealing with two other persistent issues: 1) a chronic cough and 2) chronic back pain. Every single time I get a common cold, I end up with post-nasal drip that keep my coughing for months. I've also had back pain that varies between tolerable and excruciating. Both of these have been issues for over 10 years. The cough remains unsolved by my doctor and I'm scheduled to see a back specialist this month.
Last week, I went for a physical (first time since 9th grade) and found out I have a hernia and need to get an opinion from a surgeon (to see when, not if, to have surgery). I didn't even know what a hernia was, but when I looked it up I found that they can be caused by persistent coughing. Bingo.
Needless to say, these health problems have compounded my funk and I've somewhat withdrawn from a social life (in the online and physical sense).
I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but it does feel like a new beginning and I get to decide how all of this affects me. Getting my body repaired is my top priority, but I also need to rethink my career goals. My professional (though not professional-sounding) goal has always been to simply "make cool shit". Sometimes I truly get excited about a client project, but more and more I'm feeling a need to zero in on a project that is mine (or partially mine) that I'm so excited about that I loose sleep. I've had these moments, but they are too few and far between. This is what people mean when they say "if you love what you do, you'll never work a day in your life". If I had a New Year's resolution, this would be it: to not "work" many days this year.
I'm sure this all sounds like I'm feeling sorry for myself and I probably am to some degree. But don't think for a moment that I don't know how lucky I am. I have an amazing wife and two beautiful kids. Unlike a lot of people, my wife and I have jobs and we can pay the mortgage. I have some health problems, but I know damn well that a lot of people are much worse off than I am. I didn't fear for my life waiting for a bone marrow donor like Amit Gupta did. My 8 year old daughter doesn't have leukemia like her classmate does. These sorts of things put a "funk" into perspective.
We all have ups and downs. I've been in a gentle decent for a while, but it's time to start climbing again. I may be hobbling on one leg, holding my back, nursing my hernia stitches, and coughing the whole way, but I've always enjoyed a good challenge. Bring it on!