May. 12th, 2005

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So I'm finishing up my third week back at work after three months of unemployment, and I feel like crap. That's OK, I knew that it was going to be a rough transition and I already feel myself starting to level off. I still have the general feeling that I'm about to pull a George Jetson on the treadmill of modern life, but I can't really pinpoint anything specific, so I'll just chalk it up to angst.

Somewhere between all the heavy lifting during the office move and the ergonomic challenges of new office furniture, I managed to pinch my right-hand ulnar nerve where it exits the neck, resulting in lots of numbness and tingling in my ring/pinky fingers along with neck/shoulder stiffness.

It is much better than a week ago, but it hasn't been helping my already fractured sleeping habits. I've never been good at sticking to a schedule, so when I felt myself slipping I instinctively (and foolishly) turned to caffeine and sugar. It helped in the short term but of course caused a rebound effect that left me pretty wiped. Now I'm back to my standard two cups of tea of day and feeling relatively normal.

Unemployment was bliss, my only real concern a relative lack of funds. Each day consisted of sleeping late, having a leisurely breakfast, and then working on whatever personal goals suited my whim du jour. Largely these consisted of exercise, music, organization and cleaning, and hot baths.

One of my largest undertakings was to completely do a software revamp of my aging computer. I'll spare the gore, but it roughly consisted of backing up, reformatting, reinstalling the OS, reinstalling and configuring all my applications, going through every single backed up file and deciding what to restore and how to organize it, then doing a full backup of the fresh system. I did this first to the WinXP side (which was starting to show clear signs of Microsoft rot), then to the Linux side (which was too ancient to be useful as a toy). I also took the time to reorganize my online life: updating accounts, deleting unused accounts, changing email addresses, and implementing a new password scheme. This took a lot of time and effort, and it amuses me to think that all I really did was twiddle a bunch of bits.

Sadly, I didn't play my banjo nearly as much as I had hoped during my unemployment, but I did get in a lot of singing practice. I've been taking singing lessons since last July and it has been quite a learning experience. While I've always been involved in music, I really didn't sing much past the age of six, when I realized people were listening.

I have two goals in taking singing lessons. The first is to become a better singer, that is, to learn to play the instrument that is myself. This has been very interesting for a visual learner like me because the vocal apparatus is internal and largely hidden from sight, in contrast to most other instruments where you can at least see some of what you are doing. My other goal is to become a better musician by honing my internalizations of musical concepts through exercising them in a new medium. I feel these are both coming along nicely.

The last two months have been particularly fruitful, as I've been working on my first song in Italian, a piece from Giulio Caccini's Le nuove musiche (1601). Singing in a language you don't know allows you to focus on the sound and not get caught up in the words so much, though I have read both literal and figurative translations of the song. Italian is a great language for singing, in part due to its legato and vowel-centric nature, and singing it has made me a better singer. Plus learning how to pronounce Italian could come in handy in restaurants!

One of the things on my list that I clearly did not accomplish during my unemployment was to write here. In particular, I wanted to write about the trip that [livejournal.com profile] elsparquito and I took to New Orleans during Mardi Gras while it was still mint-julepy fresh in my mind, but my slack got the best of me. I do still intend to write it, and I'm hoping that Sparky's digital photo archive of the trip will help me restore the necessary mental vividness.

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smead

December 2007

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