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A New Routine (January 2018)

01 Feb 2018 . category: life

Today looks like any other day from the past few weeks: grey clouds blanket the treetops, and the Seattle rain makes no sound yet I can see the drops bouncing off the table outside. But today is different. Today is February. The first month of the year has come and gone. It’s time for a check-up.

I started a new job in January: I’m now working as a math (and sometimes science) teacher at a tutoring center in Redmond. It is good to have work again, and having a schedule that holds me accountable means I generally use my remaining time a bit more productively than I did previously. (I miss you, twitch chat friends!) Of course, having a job isn’t the only thing in life - I set out some goals in my year-in-review post:

  1. More writing and reflecting: I’ve taken weekly time to jot down notes, but I’m not doing this well enough that it is bringing change. Writing regularly does feels good, so I’m excited to continue improving here.
  2. Say yes to more / get out more: Based on the above, it’s not surprising that I have no meaningful change to report here. Time to focus on this more.
  3. Look a bit more towards the long term: Taking a job means this is both going well (yay positive cash flow!), and that I really need to be careful to continue working at it or I’ll end up in the same place I was when I quit my previous job without a plan.


To all my teachers and mentors from pre-school through college and beyond, and to all who teach and work with children now: Thank you. Education is so important, and at least here in the US we generally don’t give teachers the support, recognition, or credit they deserve. I’ve always believed this, but it’s so much more real after spending some time on the other side of the desk these past few weeks. My typical tutoring schedule is Monday through Friday evenings, and I generally work with high school students. Last week my Friday shift got cancelled (end of finals week) and I filled in for a Saturday shift at another location. New location, new students, and - surprise to me - nearly all elementary school kids. It was such a different challenge, and honestly one that I wasn’t prepared for. I’ll need to come up with some ideas for next time I take that shift. That experience is also where this tweet came from, though I shouldn’t have needed to be prompted. After three weeks on the job I’m pretty comfortable with the 3:1 teaching ratio and the record-keeping, and I even feel like I’ve built a relationship with a few of my students. That said, there’s still a lot for me to learn and improve. Without a doubt, this job is a challenge. I’m not totally sold on it being interesting or exciting work, but spending my time on something that is challenging and rewarding is miles ahead of how I felt prior to leaving my previous job, so I’m taking that as a win.


Today, February 1st, is my internet birthday. It’s the date I use for my birthday on websites that don’t need to know my real birthday, which is most. It’s also not all that far off from my real birthday, and I’ve been thinking that I’d like to actually celebrate this year. The past few years, I’ve generally just sheepishly eaten the giant cookie my mom has sent (Thanks mom!) over the course of a few days and subsequently felt bad that I didn’t share it with more people (and avoid a minor stomach ache). This seems like as good an excuse as any to make some demonstrable progress on goal #2: get out more. Maybe I’ll find a spot for dinner and drinks with a few friends. My birthday only happens once a year - might as well make something good out of it.


One other side effect of getting back into “employed” status is that I ride my bike at least five days a week now. (My bicycle is my commuter vehicle, rain or shine.) Getting to work is about four miles each way, nearly entirely flat, half on paved trails, and the rest on roads with bike lanes. This is a very comfortable commute, although the reactions from my co-workers would make you think otherwise. More people should bike. Anyways, riding home at night is especially refreshing, and brings me back to when I would occasionally set out from Olin on weeknight rides through the Boston suburbs. Bicycling on dark and quiet suburban streets is so relaxing - the whirr of my chain is a comforting undertone to the calm of the night, only broken by passing cars few and far between. It’s a perfect way to wind down after a stressful shift, and getting my legs moving is pretty important after sitting for six hours straight.

It’s still raining. It’s still cold and windy. But the earth is orbiting the sun at 30km/s, so there must be something new to appreciate in the world around you all the time. It might take some work, but you can find it. Good luck out there, friends.


Eric Jones builds software that helps people. If he's not at a keyborad, he's probably running through the woods with a map and compass or carrying groceries home on his bicycle.