I last posted back in June to do a mid-year review and to post about my new hobby (playing drums). I kind of skimmed over anything that wasn’t really relevant to my new drum obsession so I’d thought I’d remedy that by going month by month here and telling you about what happened. I was suffering an extreme level of fatigue up until October that made it had to do anything after work.
In January I was very proud of my weight loss and took some comparison photos. I looked and felt good. That month, I set goals to book and take my Red Hat Certified System Administrator exam and to start a drawing course. Well, I started a drawing course - I found recordings of Dynamic Sketching and started that but kind of stalled when it came to drawing textures as it’s a thing that requires a lot of focus that I was really struggling with at the time.
I booked and sat my RHCSA exam towards the end of January and passed. I made a few dumb mistakes in my exam that cost me points but I still managed to get a passing mark. I’ve since been using those skills pretty consistently in my day job, so it was very much worth doing.
This was the month that I picked up the drums and began attending group classes. As I mentioned in the mid-year review, I’d started from absolute zero so walking into a class was nerve wracking and I struggled a lot in the first term in particular. I reached my lowest weight again this month just in time for my sister’s wedding where I wore a dress that now fit much better than when I bought it. We had a pretty good holiday, staying in hotels with beach views in Wollongong and Terrigal. We got an AirBnB near the wedding venue though and man, they got expensive… I had a $250 voucher and was still out of pocket a few hundred.
I had a minor car accident in February, caused in part by the fatigue issues I was suffering. It was my first at-fault accident and I rolled into the guy in front causing a small amount of damage to both our cars. Insurance got involved and eventually my car got fixed and I assume so did his, thankfully my no-claim bonus is unaffected so hoping it won’t cause my insurance to get more expensive next year.
I also had a COVID scare where my RAT came out positive (as I was testing every day for work) but a second test and a PCR were negative, so I think I’d contaminated the swab somehow. As of today, I have once again managed to avoid contracting COVID for the third year in a row.
The first two weeks of March, I was in a kind of holding pattern because of my deviated septum surgery on the 16th. This went really well and I’m now able to breathe well through my nose which has improved my life in many ways.
There was a Drawabox promptathon that I participated in, probably pushing myself way too far in the early days of healing from my surgery but other than that, I spent 3 weeks pretty much living on the couch while I recovered and that handily took me to April.
Not a lot happened in April. I got custom moulded earplugs made for me for my drumming and found out why I’ve never been able to make store-bought IEMs fit in my ears. Stupid tiny ear canals.
Besides the cybersecurity course mentioned in the mid-year review, not a lot happened in May either.
I interviewed for an internal position at work that I ultimately did not get. I bought a bunch of new clothes and spent way too much money under the guise of needing nice clothes to interview in but I’m glad to have some nice things to wear that are flattering to my body even though I’ve put weight back on.
I refurbished my drum kit, removing all the ugly snakeskin wrap (see pic on half-yearly). We discovered that one of my floor toms was actually unfinished underneath so we ended up painting it with Plastidip and refurbishing the rusted screws and bolts and things. Full album with pics here. It was a fun weekend project and it’s all good things to learn about taking care of my instruments.
I had a few weeks away from drum classes this month between classes and I made grand plans to practice… that didn’t really eventuate, which is par for the course for me.
I finished a portrait painting I’d started a couple of months earlier, finished lots of jigsaw puzzles, and I got my car detailed because I needed to get the ceramic coating redone after my accident. I also had my first ever pedicure with paraffin wax treatment, this was really nice and I got a lot of benefit out of it because the skin on my feet had gotten very dry.
This is also the month I started with my new gym classes, which I’ve continued with on a roughly weekly basis ever since. It definitely got quite hard to keep up with them though when fatigue would hit hard after each session.
At the start of August, I had a sleep study done to see if the potential cause of my fatigue might be sleep apnea. I had to wait 3 weeks to get a follow up appointment with my results where they told me I had extremely mild hypopneas almost exclusively during REM sleep but my O2 stats weren’t dropping enough for it to be a real concern. The doctor suggested I try CPAP to see if it’ll help and I spent a month trialling it only for it to make my sleep worse (because I couldn’t sleep with it) and giving me a lot of anxiety around the machine.
I decided to preorder and buy the new iPhone 14 Pro in September. I’d been running out of space on my phone and wanted some better quality recordings of my drum practice because I started storing them on YouTube. It’s been a really nice phone to own so far though those cameras sticking out give me anxiety.
We also bought a lawnmower because we’d been paying people to mow the lawns since we moved to Canberra. With all the rain, it’s possible the lawnmower and line trimmer have already paid for themselves since it felt like I was out there every second day with it for a while there.
I got to help a friend do demolition on his brother-in-law’s house. This was a lot of fun, swinging a sledgehammer and pulling walls down, even if I gave myself several cuts.
We went to Melbourne at the start of the month as I’d gotten tickets to PAX and we’d booked a stay at the Crown hotel right next to the exhibition centre. We took two days to drive down and bought a new throne for my drumkit on the way (which was very exciting and teasing me from the boot of my car the whole time). We had a good break in Melbourne, eating and drinking coffee, and in my case, doing 15,000+ steps a day. I was grateful for the spa in the hotel because the warm water was heavenly on my sore muscles after a long day on my feet.
I finished a painting for my friend’s birthday (in November) towards the end of the month, putting it into a frame. My car’s blindspot monitoring died this month so I got the pleasure of taking it to the dealership for the second time this year. I had more blood tests for my fatigue after the doctor ruled it was very unlikely to be sleep apnea and after trialling (and failing at) CPAP.
After getting those blood test results, I was prescribed Metformin despite not having any issues with my sugar levels. Bizarrely enough though, my fatigue disappeared almost overnight and has continued to stay away since. So I guess it was something to do with how my body was using sugar, after all.
Not a lot interesting happened this month. I went to a hillclimb event to spectate, I drew a few vegetables, I attended drum lessons. I was happy to finally have an answer for my fatigue and I started going back to the gym more regularly as I’d dropped off to once every two weeks.
Got a haircut at the start of the month and went much shorter than I usully would. I’ve got mixed feelings on it and I’d probably never go that short again unless I was going for a side shave or something specific. We had my work Christmas party near the start of the month too and Jen came along. It was hosted at a waterpark and there were lots of amazing options food. I tried a waterslide for the first time but I really did not enjoy it as it almost felt like I was drowning by the end.
I had my end of year drum concert with my class - I played Yellow by Coldplay and Seven Nation Army by The White Stripes. It was extremely difficult and anxiety-inducing to be up on the stage. I almost think I would’ve done Yellow better had I been alone up there. A couple of friends came to spectate but unfortunately because I got pulled up early, they only caught the end of my second song.
I’ve been trying to increase the amount I’ve been drawing this month and I feel like I improved quite a bit this year despite only drawing 40% of days versus the 91% I did last year. Probably because I’ve put more time and patience into each one.
Now that I’ve talked about and remembered what I did (heavily taken from my daily journal entries), I should probably take some time to reflect on how I felt about it and what I actually achieved…
Thinking back on the entire year is weird. It both went by super quick and also dragged on. Getting my Red Hat certification in January feels like so long ago now and a lot of time this year really passed by in a tired/fatigued fog. I had repeated blood tests over the year and the doctor just could not find a reason for me to be that tired… it was getting to the point where they were considering the possibility that it was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, for which there is no cure, only treatment in the form of slowing down. I’m very glad that it didn’t turn out to be that because I’m not ready to slow down.
Whilst weight loss has been my goal for the past 2 years and I gained 10kg this year, I also built a lot of strength by going to the gym regularly. I can now comfortably farmers carry 50kg, do deep squats with 12.5kg, lift 38kg above my head, and so on. I honestly believe part of my weight gain is muscle, which is not a bad situation to be in. In the new year, I definitely want to keep pushing on with building muscle and losing weight.
My drumming started off as a fun thing to do and it’s still a pretty unserious hobby. I enjoy it but I don’t think I’ll ever be good at it because I don’t currently have the drive to practice it “properly”. That said, in the new year I am going to start taking one-on-one classes rather than group classes to see if that helps me as I often felt left behind in the classes. Drumming for me is one of those steady improvement things - there’s plenty of songs I’d love to play but I’ve got other things to improve before I can really make the best.
Oh, I almost forgot, I switched which hand I use to play drums sometime after my half-yearly review. I went from playing crossed right-handed to open left-handed. It helped a few things with my coordination almost immediately but the longer I play open, the more little quirks I find in my coordination. I’ve got a certain level of cross dominance going on where certain beats are easier to play left- or right-handed. It’s certainly interesting.
In terms of my art and drawing this year, I had good intentions with picking up Dynamic Sketching early in the year and trying to find more direction in my art once again (I might come back to it, we’ll see) but ultimately I think what yielded the most improvement for me this year was to spend more time on my drawings. Stopping, looking, correcting. It’s only what people have been telling me for years but learning drumming from absolute beginner level gave me the patience to actually follow through on it.
Time to set some 2023 goals!
- Lose weight, build muscle. I don’t have a number in mind, though it would be neat to see the balance tip on my scales from 50/50 fat/muscle to more muscle.
- Do my best with drumming and learn some new songs. Push out of my comfort zone and learn those 16th notes.
- Finish my Cisco DevNet certification. I would really like to get into DevOps eventually, so maybe the next thing to try after this would be some Docker.
- I don’t really have any drawing goals - I chase things as I see them and feel like it.
That’s enough for now, I think. Happy New Year. :)