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Monday, 6 July 2020

2020: Catching up on the Longest Year

"Forgive me, readers, but I have been absent." - Every blogger, inevitably.

Today, a quick post about what I've been up to, where I've been, and how things are going.

So, the last time we met was just over a year ago. My partner and I had visited Indiana, met Lil Bub, and were attending the Satellite 2019 conference for my work.

And, well, it's safe to say that a lot can change in a year, especially if that year is 2020.

For me, the biggest piece of news is that I got engaged! I proposed after returning from the US, and we couldn't be happier! For those seeking a little more details, we had been dating for 5 years, almost 2 of which were spent separated by an ocean as I was looking for work and unable to support living in France. The last three years, we have lived together in Strasbourg, France, making up for lost time. 

The proposal itself was simple, but very personal. We went for what is a normal Sunday walk for us, except this one was the day before our 5th anniversary. We went through the Parc l'Orangerie, which is a beautiful part of town. We took a lot of pictures, and I thought about proposing in so many places. That lovely bridge, that fountain, under that tree. I had a specific place in mind, but the day, and her company, were so beautiful that I was excited at every turn.

Finally, walking along the canal, reenacting our first date, where she, the ever-wearing of black clothes, metal head who told me she loved trees, where I fell in love with her but didn't realize it, was where I asked her to marry me.

She said yes, in case you're wondering.

I wasn't scared. We love each other. We decided long ago that we were going to make this work, and I had no doubt as to her answer. I wanted it to be right, though, beautiful and perfect as she is, so that was adding extra adrenaline to my day.

The second big piece of news is that we got a cat! Also just over a year ago, we adopted little Lazarus, seen here! My fiancée keeps a lovely account, and it is really nice to see a record of his cuteness.

My fiancée is fairly allergic, so we looked and looked for as hypo-allergetic option, as we could. Hairless sphynx cats were the answer, and we met a great breeder. We had to drive over 2 hours on one of the hottest days of the year with a car that thinks air conditioning is a light breeze, but we got him, and brought him home.

Since then, he has been adapting very well. I call him the dog of cats, because he doesn't have the typical cat aloofness; instead, he loves cuddling, and our attention, and he'll even play fetch! We also toilet-trained him! He will do his business, scratch the lid, we'll flush, and give him a treat. No litter, it's amazing!

This is our first pet, not just together, but our first outside of our families' homes, and it has been a real joy to have him at our side every day.

What else? Well, work is going well. I've been promoted to Senior Analyst, but I think I spoke of that before. I'm growing comfortable and confident in my role, better understanding the business, and finding new ways to learn and express my voice. The space industry is a very active place, and I relish the challenge of better understanding and forecasting the opportunity!

Next, I had surgery. In December 2019, I started a long round toward having straight teeth. See, I've had teeth issues my whole life, but fixing it would be a long and expensive affair. I am finally in a place, both literally and figuratively, where I can afford to take this trip, this journey, so I've started.

The first step, was pretty brutal, though. My upper jaw was not the beautiful semi-circle shape it needed to be for my teeth's optimal alignment. No, it was a little compressed, like a lazy letter A. Normally, when you're young, you can wear an appliance and slowly expand things to their proper place, but that was not an option for my 33-year old self. 

So, I had to have surgery. I shaved my beard, :( , went under the knife, twice. Apologies for these seriously, be warned...

They cut into my upper palate 3 times, left, right, and centre, in order to allow a brace to push the sections out to where they needed to be. After a long morning, the doctor realized that one of the sections was looser than she liked, so I had to go under again so they could pin it in place.

Except, they didn't tell Juliette. Despite me telling them multiple times to call her, they didn't, so what should have been a scary morning, was a terrifying day, with me finally arriving in the evening.

The recovery was also tough. No solid food, nothing hot or even warm, I lived on yogurt and pain. Ice packs on my face all day long to keep the swelling down, barely able to talk or move. Blood coming out of my nose randomly.

It was fun. But, Juliette took exceptional care of me, and things have been much better ever since! The palate has healed, in the proper place, which resulted in my upper teeth spreading apart, and the braces I've been wearing for months have begun putting things back together. I have recently learned that I will need surgery, again, when the upper teeth are properly in place, to fix the vertical alignment of my teeth, but we know what to expect now. It will be a long journey, but I'm working toward that Aladdin smile of perfect teeth.

I also have glasses now! Yep, might as well put all the cards on the table. I need glasses to determine detail at medium/long distance. It's fine. Doesn't affect my ego too much, I'd rather see than not. Plus, Clark Kent wears glasses, and given my love of the character, I guess I've been preparing for this my whole life.

I guess I can't go too far without talking about the elephant in the room, COVID-19. I am happy to say that it has personally not affected me too much. Working from home, I did not feel the same pressures of lockdown, neither on my job or my routine. It was a tough time, of course, but necessary, and Juliette did a fantastic job of keeping everything organized.

I am also happy to say that my family and friends also seem to be doing well enough. I am very glad for this, especially since there is almost nothing I could have done to help.

Currently, regarding COVID, I am bothered by the people who don't wear masks. It is not only a preventative measure, it is an act of kindness and civility, and so many seem incapable of it. We are not out of this yet, and I will continue to take precautions, to help as best as I can.

Aside from that, I have been creating content over on Twitch and YouTube. I have been really enjoying streaming, connecting with people, and building a positive community, and YouTube has allowed me to slowly improve my video editing skills.

With me living in France, and the challenges of timezones, it has been tough to stay connected with my friends back home. I have different priorities than many of the people I've met here in France, so Twitch has been a good way to stay social.

More than that, I have been able to carve out a safe place online. I feel like I have much less experience in online gaming than most people my age, and most people who are younger, but I have had too many negative experiences. Toxicity, ignorance, just the worst kind of behaviour.

So, with my Twitch and YouTube, I am able to set standards, and see them through. I can act as a role model, and connect with other decent gamers, and remind people that there is some good in this world (Mr. Frodo, sorry, had to complete the quote).

It hasn't always been easy. Anonymity plus the generally immature audience who plays games means that I've had my fair share of toxicity. The challenge, for me, though, isn't the really negative people, it's the ones in the middle. Those with different experiences, who act just outside of what I would call acceptable. Keeping an open mind, being clear with how I wish to interact with people, and finding the ability to put my foot down, these are all skills I have developed, and will continue to develop, as my community grows. 

Some personal successes there, and I look forward to using them to inspire me to do more. It has been really nice to see people who may otherwise have had a bad time, find people to hang out with and share stories with in my community.

Anyway, this has been a long, rambling post. I do apologize for it being a long time, I just haven't felt as inspired to keep this place updated. Maybe not the fairest for you, but has been what I needed. I hope this post, while lacking in pictures, will help bring you up to speed and remind you that I'm still here, and let you know that I, and my friends and family, am/are doing fine.

Thank you all very much, as always, be safe, be kind, and I'll see you all next time!

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