Being 31

Basement, Blog, Home / Friday, November 22nd, 2019

It’s been a while, and that has been by design. Being 30, for me, was about getting stuff done and seeing where that could take me. Being 31 was about focusing on all the things I needed to do to feel whole.

Worn out from a self imposed year of blogging, I started my 31st year downright exhausted. I was doing things so I had something to write about, determined to make the life of a 30-year-old in Wisconsin something interesting. And it was interesting, to me, but the larger world didn’t care and nor should they. I spent the final weeks of 2018 struggling to keep the blogging going and making it through the stress that creeps up with the holidays.


Like last year, I put a lot of focus on improving the house. My blog posts left off mid-drywalling the basement but that isn’t where the basement is today.

Ellie still is working on her certificate to change her career trajectory which means I had a lot of free time to fill while she does homework. I funneled that time into finally finishing the basement as we’ve been talking about for over a year. The drywall was mudded and sanded. Electrical was finished. Walls and ceilings were painted. Then we paused work on the main room and the small room. We decided to get the bathroom up to speed so I tore down a shower and sink and toilet, built some walls, adjusted the plumbing, put up more drywall to mud and sand and paint. Then we jumped back to the flooring in the main and small room. And then the flooring in the bathroom. That was followed by some new doors and the baseboard moulding in all three rooms before we came back to install the new vanity, sink, and toilet.

Basement flooring in progress


All that work on the basement left little time for other projects. The lawn went unmowed more than I would have liked and the garden was left to its own devices. However, the neglect of the garden still produced the most produce I’d ever harvested from the garden, so I’m not upset.


The year of work started out chaotic and carried itself through to today. Given that I work for a company that provides services to the state government, the fact that we had a new Governor sworn in after the last election kept me on my toes. The new administration had a hundred things they needed done, and we wanted to be the ones to do it for them. My job quickly went from enjoyable enough and paying the bills to exciting with the possibility of seeing and meeting very important people.

One early on, I met the Lt. Governor. More recently I was in a meeting and the Governor himself walked by!

Stella at the office, drinking her coffee

One of the reasons I like my job so much is because I had never before had a boss that would fight for me and would explain things to me so I had the full background going into projects. That changed, in July, when she let me know she would be leaving our company for another position across town. With her resignation, she also recommended me as her successor which was quickly approved by her, now my, boss.

I always thought getting promoted would mean something else than it now does. I knew there would be more money and more responsibility but for some reason I never accounted for how much more work would be involved. I now dread the thought of being considered for another promotion in the future. If the workload keeps increasing with the promotion, the next one will likely break some part of me.

Granted, when I was promoted I took on new responsibilities while retaining my old ones as well. As a result, it’s been a heck of a second half of the year. Some days I like and some days I don’t.


Being 31 was less about friends than I hoped it would be. I did get to see and visit some friends, but all the other things going on kept me busier than I would have liked to be. Maybe in this coming year I’ll get things sorted out and get to spend more time with friends.

Danny and Rose in Boston


We also managed to travel a lot more than we ever have in the course of a year.

In March, Ellie and I flew to Boston to visit a Peace Corps friend and her husband. We learned the luxury of flying out of Madison’s airport which is a ten-minute drive from our house and a five-minute wait at TSA on a bad day. It was great to see Rose and Bob and they were the best of tour guides. Ellie finally got to go candle pin bowling too! And I learned that I never, ever want to drive in Boston again.

Then in April, I flew to Kansas City for a work trip. I went to our corporate office for a training for a few days. It was the first time I’ve ever been flown somewhere for work and it was about what I expected. I was a bit lost, though I still had a good enough time.

In June, Ellie and I flew to Colorado to visit her sister and my college roommate (who are married and it was at their wedding that Ellie and I met). They did a great job introducing us to all the things Colorado has to offer. I fell in love with the mountains. They were grander than I expected, more imposing and I think I left a part of me in them.

On top of the world Estes Park Colorado

I loved traversing the mountains so much so that I decided to go back again in September for some more mountain hiking. This time, it was just me and my college roommate hiking so we could cover some more ground and given the time of year, have some more peace on the trails. We submitted two mountains and did a twelve mile hike to two mountain lakes. That trip satisfied my mountain hiking desire for some time to come.


Through all of this, I’ve had the world’s best wife by my side and the world’s best pooch by my knee. While 31 wasn’t completely the year I imagined it would be, I don’t know it if would have been good at all without either of them.

In this coming year, I want to write more. Not like I did last year, that was too much. I want just want to find time to put more of my thoughts out there.

I want to travel more. Ellie and I have plans to see some more places next year (three trips by my last count). Wherever possible, I hope those trips can include seeing friends and family as well.

And as a 32-year-old, I want to continue to feel as young as I am at heart. I don’t want this aging body to bring me down and I don’t want society telling me who I’m supposed to be. I’m going to make my own rules. That means working only as much as I need to. Enjoying my home with all those I choose to have in my life. Come along for the year?

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