The older I get the more I seem to fall back on simple truths. The kinds of truths that we choose to believe and hold close. And for me one of the most important is this: be a lover, not a hater. In fact, let those damn haters hate.

It’s lovey dovey Valentine’s Day, and the world–especially the internet–is showering us (itself?) with a hearty salt and pepper mix of affection and cynicism. The lovers gushing, the cynics growling. Me? I’ve got a hot date with an ice rink tonight, so you won’t catch me doing much of either. While at this time last year I was getting smashed on Leviathan with my then girlfriend, the lack of either this year has not dampened my spirits in the slightest. In fact, I may have actually been asked out once or twice this week and politely ignored or misinterpreted such invitations. There hasn’t been anyone on the radar lately who has caught my attention. Well, not who’s single anyway.

But enough of that.

I’m pumped for tonight. This winter my love affair has definitely been with winter sports. I’m playing in a full ice broomball league this year, and the competition level is higher by a manifold set of notches. You might not think there’d be much difference between half ice and full ice, but it almost feels like a different game. Like the difference between put put and real golf. It’s a long, fast horizontal game. Lots of sprinting. A lot more contact. And real, actual strategy.

Fear not, I’m accustomed to dating the cold ones.

The first couple games I wasn’t sure what to make of the competitiveness. At first of course I liked it. No dumbed down casual league rules. Folks on the ice are actually trying to pass and make real plays. But as we lost two games, the flip side quickly began to show. My teammates freaking out over missed plays, goals, and losses. A mad, wide-eyed, “C’mon guys! We gotta get back in this!” I play sports in my free time to have fun first and win second, so we seem to have different ways of looking at it.

But I think they’re starting to get through to me. In a good way. And fuckin A good, this is what I wanted. All week, I’ve been obsessing over my Thursday night game. Thinking about how much sleep I get. How many minutes of practice I can sneak in before the game. What my sticking is going to be like. Hell, even what I’m going to eat today so that I don’t cramp up. I want that win.

The drive feels good. Something that I’ve been missing lately for sure. Feels like once I got my promotion last year, I settled in and started to get comfortable. Once I get comfortable, I get lazy. This seems to be a theme for me. But self improvement is also a theme, and I’ve got a very determined opinion about which of these I want to win out.

So let’s see a win tonight in broomball. And if not a win, then at least some good aggressive play and perhaps even a goal.

I was going to write about skiing here, but perhaps I’ll save that for another post. Here’s a picture from Seven Springs, where I just went this weekend with a bunch of folks. Loads of fun, and I’m definitely getting better. Can’t wait to hit the slopes again this week.

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Right, so it’s a new year already.  Been meaning to make a new years/last year summary kind of post but haven’t quite gotten to it, and honestly wasn’t entirely sure what all I had to say.

Last year was definitely a year with its ups and downs, but all in all, I really managed to right things and pull onto an even keel, which is what I wanted.  It was on the whole a successful year.  I’ve always been a bit vague on here about the past two years, but suffice to say I dealt with a little more than a normal share of hardships and it was tough getting through some of that.  These past six months were about putting the last of that behind me.  And much of that meant just working my ass off, which I did, even if it meant not being around a lot.

So that’s the thing I’m looking forward to the most in the coming year: being around. Focusing on what I want to do as opposed to what I need to do. Life is good, and I’ve worked hard to enjoy it.  It really does change things, if subtly, when you know that.  When you’ve worked through that.

So, I’m not much of a resolution maker but here are a few things that I’m looking forward to in the coming months.  Perhaps I will bother myself to journal about them on this modest little page that I pay a tidy little annual sum to reserve.

1) Vacations

So far I’ve got a ski trip planned and a tentative Vegas trip, but it’s time to plan some more. Currently I lack a default travel partner, but whatever. I worked my ass off last year and took like two trips. This year there needs to be more, even if they’re just here in the U.S.

2) Dating

Yeah… I don’t really have anything to say about the break up I went through last year… and I don’t have much to say about the dating I’ve done since then.  The only woman I dated last year who I actually really liked ended up–in the end–making fun of me on her blog and basically calling me a homo. Because I like flowers. I don’t know if that’s a remark on my taste in women or a remark on the emasculating power of flowers, but I sure hope it’s not the former. And anyway, as a good friend of mine put it to me lately: “…well, we’ve got you as a +1 for the wedding.”  So I need to get on that.  I hate dating, I really do, but there’s no reason for me to be hanging back and getting made fun of for my homophilic love of flora in the meantime.

3) French and Motorcycles

I’ve been meaning to learn some French and learn to ride a motorcycle for a little bit now.  I could see me skipping out on the motor biking, but getting more and more into cooking has really made me want to learn some basic French.  I mean, just to pronounce and spell things.  I don’t expect to be great at French anytime soon, but I’d like to at least sound like a competent chef.  It seems that if you want to get serious about cooking, there’s just no side-stepping a little bit of French culture.

Which sounds fine to me. How about some French classes and then maybe a trip or two to Quebec? These are worthy and easily attainable goals.

I guess I’ll park it there and leave it at that. Three goals sounds good, and things all around are good. Also things are tired. It’s late, and I’ve a busy day tomorrow providing for my technicians.

Au revoir for now!

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I see the appeal of it. It’s neat, it’s concise, it’s convenient. It’ll track everything for you, all but eliminating gift duplication. And it lets your guests know not only what you want, but what you really need. It’s wedding season right now, and of course I am talking about wedding registries.

I’ve had the pleasure of perusing a few of them lately, and I’m trying to figure out what to make of them. You see, for me this is all relatively new. Very few of my friends got married young, so now that most of my folks are hitting their late twenties and early thirties, the wedding bells are a ring ring ringing. And I am a shop shop shopping.

Part of me doesn’t like this. I guess I should throw that right out there. I propose that there is something at least partially effed about registries, and I suppose that explains my need to explore the thought.

Let’s look at one wedding: one of my best friends’ little sisters. I just purchased for the lucky young couple a voluminous footed bowl. Now, if I could entreat you just for a moment not to snicker at the name of the voluminous footed bowl, I will assure you that it is a very fine piece of glassware. It’s a table bowl. The type of fine crystalline object that ensconces a bunch of apples (as pictured) or whatever other decorative bric-a-brac one drums up, and while displaying such decorative objects, indeed in doing so, ties the entire room together. It is an ornamental center piece, ready to anchor many a room for many a years to come.

But what does it mean? What the hell does it say about my relationship to this young couple—what personally—that I just bought them a fucking bowl for a gift? I don’t know, and that’s what I’m struggling with. I guess I want every wedding gift to be intensely personal. I mean, I at least had the class to get the couple an ornamental, elegant centerpiece instead of, say, towels. Or forks. Or an over the sink colander.

With the other wedding I just shopped for, I did at least a little bit better. I went BBQ themed, getting them some grilling items and a cookbook. The registry site even allowed me to gift wrap them neatly in one box. I’ve toasted with this couple many times, especially the bride who I’ve known for some time, over many burgers, beers, and such. But does the BBQ gift set belie a closer connection between myself and the couple… or did they just have a more eclectic registry?

With the last wedding I went to, I actually went out on a limb. Unsure at the time if I was being appropriate or being foolish. I went half on the registry, half off. Of course this was a gift for a friend who I know a lot better and have some history with. And the off the registry gift was a risk too—it was a board game. What kind of schmuck brings a board game to a Tupperware party? The couple can neither sleep on it, cook with it, nor use it as a chip n dip. But this is a couple who likes games, and besides games aren’t cheap anymore. Good ones run $50 – $100. And besides besides, they liked it.

I’ve got my sister’s wedding coming up, and that’s the one that’s really driving me nuts. It’s my little sister.  I want to get them something special, and I sure as hell don’t want to get it off the registry. I mean, is the registry only for more distant friends and family in the first place? Is that the point that I’m missing? Maybe.

But I’m working on this one. Something special for my little sister and the luckiest guy in the world. I need a home run on this one. Nothing short will do.

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Here she is. My little joy Juno.

I’m actually still working on the name. Everyone things that she’s named after the movie. Read your damn classics, people. That’s all I have to say.

But she’s what I’m focused on right now.  The little bundle of joy I have waiting for me at home.  She is adorable and playful and cuddly and all of the things that a kitten is supposed to be.  And she’s the only positive thing I have to focus on at the moment.

My grandfather passed away this week.  I’ve searched for some profound words to say about it, but all I’ve got is a messy ball of feelings.  His health had been in decline, so the family was prepared for this… as relative a term as that is.  One is never truly prepared.

But there is something profound about the expiration of a generation.  I never met my other grandfather, actually, he passed away before I was born.  And both of my grandmother’s passed on a little while ago too.  I was too young then to realize what I was really losing… I guess that’s the way things go for many of us.  And now that’s it.  My parents are the last generation.  And after that it will be mine. We march, rank and file, a step closer to the end.

My grandfather was a quiet man who kept to himself. I sometimes wonder if anyone ever really knew him.  I’m glad at least I got to visit with him one last time while he was still lucid. And I don’t have any profound words to offer about his life either. He fought in the war. He was a company man, a family man. He loved his football. About as American as they come. I suppose in looking for something profound to say, I’m digging for some deeper way of expressing that I’m simply going to miss him.

The week has generally sucked in other, less dramatic ways as well…. I started to write about that here, but you know what, skip it.

It’s strange. I haven’t told any of my coworkers yet about my grandfather. I mean, I’m genuinely depressed about it… I wonder if it shows. I’m in a training session all week and even though I’m not running it, it would still behoove me to be energetic and social. But it just feels like me and them right now after this loss. There are only two men left in my family. It feels pretty lonely.

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I’m sitting at an airport gate, having arrived early for my flight for once, and killing some time.

This is the first time I’ve traveled alone in a little while, and it’s a bittersweet mix. Exciting because I’m getting back in to being single again, and yeah it does feel pretty good to be a bachelor on the go. But I do so miss having a traveling partner. I hadn’t even done a *that* much traveling in my last relationship, but we did get around to a few places. NOLA and that bed and breakfast ski weekend stand out as highlights. And we had been in the process of planning more when the relationship split. Such is life, I guess.

And that’s been a weird hold up for me in dating. I spent the better part of my 20s learning things the hard way, and I’m just now in the phase where things are good and I’m ready to travel. And, man, am I! I’m a homeowner now, so I have to be careful with money, but still, traveling is the thing at the top of the list. I want to get out there. See the world. Hell, just see more of the US. And I’m gonna do it.

But it can be a little weird when you’re on a date with some uber ivy league girl and she’s been to a dozen countries already. Cause she could be out on a date with some other guy, who’s been to just as many countries. And such is dating. I guess the dates where you’re feeling weighed and measured aren’t the good dates, and honestly they don’t phase me that much these days.

But it’ll be nice to find the girl who’s going through the same steps as me. Maybe I should stick to dating the liberal arts majors, for whom entering the workforce was a less than glorious experience and who had to survive on their wits for a bit before they started to find success? There’s folks like that out there, right?

Anyway, guess it’s food for thought.

For now I board a plane to San Diego to enjoy a couple of days at the beach with friends. It’ll be sweet. And then after that… on to the next adventure.

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Tomorrow I will be leaving my home state for a brief sojourn on the west coast, and I couldn’t be happier.  With everything going on, I’ve needed a vacation.  I will be dipping my toes in the Pacific, along a beach that looks just like this one:  

Jogging along the surf in the morning is one of my favorite things to do, and for the next several days that’s just what I’ll do.  My friends I’m staying with live south of the city, and in past visits I would jog every morning down to the estuary that is the last piece of American thing along that coast before the hill slopes upward and Tijuana springs from it–crammed up against the fence and spilling down the hill into the sea.

It’s intensely calm standing on the boarder like that, another world just beyond your reach.  Everything is behind you in a moment like that–your home, your people, your life, your past–it is all quite literally behind you, and for a moment one can forget everything and simply behold another world.

And I’ll need some peace of mind like that after these past few weeks.  I seriously am having a hard time getting my head around the good, good things and the bad, bad things that have happened.

The long term relationship I was in ended, rather suddenly, when my ex decided she was moving to another country.  And of course, only then did I realize how I felt about her, and as much as I tried to figure it out and express it, there was nothing to be had in the break-up for me but heartbreak.  It sucked.  But life moves on…

I got promoted at work.  Again, finally, only this time the pay grade is permanent.  And there’s more buzz on that note that I don’t want to get into yet, but I’m optimistic.  I’m in a leadership position now, finally officially, and I love it.  My work is challenging, and my days go by quickly.  Perhaps I have more thoughts on this that I should sort out… especially since the road to this promotion was not, for me, a straight one.  I endured some ups and downs, and I really think they made me, frankly, more of a man.  I do not feel young anymore, and I do not approach my problems like a young man.  Which is interesting, because I still look like a young man.  I really want to shave this beard off, but people give you shit when they think you’re a twenty-something know it all.

There are family issues going on as well, and they are not good.  I’m not sure if I’m even ready to type about that here….

Life at home couldn’t be better… when my power’s on at least.  The storms knocked out power for the better part of a week, and we had to toss out all our food.  But things with my roommates right now are great.  In fact I was crashing at my roommate’s girlfriend’s house while the power was out.  It’s good to have good people in your life.

So there’s a lot for me to compress and file away while I’m relaxing and jogging and swimming at the beach the next few days.  It’ll be nice.

Oh and speaking of compressing things…. I’ll be compressing a few of these bad boys.  Burgers at Hodad’s!  Can’t wait!

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So it’s a little interesting, I guess, being thrust back out into the dating pool unexpectedly.  I’ve definitely taken my time with things.  Hell, I was full on heartbreak boy there for a month or two.  But life goes on, and so do I…

I guess coming back around to dating right now, I can see sort of clearly why so many ladies date up in age:  those young guys just don’t have it together.  And when I say that, I’m definitely thinking of the younger version of myself.  Always oscillating between extremes, an emotional pinball, and so obsessed with defining life and discerning ultimate self identity.  I don’t miss those parts of being young, and I don’t miss how they messed up my dating life at the time.  I revisit some of the relationships in my mind sometimes, and man I just want to smack myself and shout “relax!”  But such is life.  (I have always been determined to learn things the hard way.)

Perhaps being a thirty-something (especially one who’s mistaken for a twenty-something) with some confidence and calm is a bit of an asset when it comes to dating.  I’m exploring that, and so far I like it.  It’s just funny I guess because when I was younger I would really obsess over age differences and age related things, and I’m finding that these days I’m just not worried about it.

I think the thing that experience has taught me the most when it comes to dating these days is simply not to overthink things.  Dating makes us so stupid.  Otherwise amazingly intelligent people are rendered complete fools when it comes to opening ourselves up to others.  The tendency to define who we should be dating, what we want from relationships, what kind of relationship we ultimately know we need to be in… There’s plenty there to obsess over, and it’s easy to overdo.

The other thing I’ve come to see so clearly about dating is the importance of first impressions.  And I don’t mean that in the sense that one should treat it as an imperative and obsess over one’s appearance so as to guarantee perfect first impressions always.  In fact, I think that quite impossible.

But no, I’m talking about just that moment: the first moment.  I read Malcolm Gladwell’s Blink a few years back, and he talked about our subconscious minds and how quickly and efficiently our subconscious minds analyze and make determinations.  In that first moment, so much information is exchanged, so much learned, right then, right there.  It’s profound when you stop and think about it. We meet, and we immediately know so much.

And it can be amazing. Have you ever had that moment?  You meet someone, and just click, snap, something just happens.  It doesn’t have to feel like magic, but somehow you just like someone right off the bat.  In fact, a number of my friends are in the process of getting married these days, and a lot of their first dates are described like that (followed, generally, but some form of all night conversation).

I’ve definitely had that moment.  Though definitely not on the dates I went on this week.  Very fine, attractive young ladies, and what academic pedigrees! (I guess I was running a theme this week)  But there were no sparks to be had, alas.  Oh well.

Maybe next week there will be some bang, pow moments… or maybe not.  In either case, I won’t be overthinking it.  Enjoy your days and toast your dates, that’s all that really matters.

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Don’t date coworkers. I’ve actually learned this lesson already, but somewhere along the line maybe I forgot it. I dunno. That was a long time ago, and I was a different person back then. 

But if you do ever date a coworker, prepare for this: the awkwardness. The word has started to get around about our breakup, and I’m constantly having to re-explain it. We work in a big office, and a lot of people know us. And hell, we simply dated for awhile. People thought of us as a couple.

Along with the awkwardness comes a unique, almost Sisyphean, sort of torture: reliving the details every damn time. For me, this has been going on for a month. That’s about how long ago she first told me that she’s leaving the United States to go live indefinitely in Spain. She didn’t ask me to come with her, and she express interest in anything long distance. Besides, I know her. I know that this is to be the start of a brand new chapter for her. There is no part written in it for me.

None of which I took well. Especially when we went back and forth several times and she said that she was reconsidering. She didn’t. She’s in Spain right now, actually, laying down the groundwork for living and working arrangements. And it was strange that I had to do it–because it was very clear to me that I was the one being rejected–but it fell to me to break it off.

And now everyone at work is getting word, and now they’re asking, offering condolences, etc.

I’ve made it through the five stages, but it seems to me that they keep coming in pairs. Denial + Bargaining. Depression + Acceptance. Anger + Acceptance. Bargaining + Acceptance. Depression + Depression. Each a unique burst of emotional flavor crystals that makes me hate life in a new way. I’m hanging in there, though.

Anyway, I haven’t decided if I really want to write about it much here, but I felt like getting some of my thoughts down. This page gets stalked regularly by one of her crazy, creepy exes, and, at some point, also I’m sure her. So there’s no point in getting into it too much.

I’ve been pretty weak about being social lately. You could say that I got sucked into that relationship black hole that seems to swallow people in twos… but I think it was something a little more than that. The outpouring of support from friends as I went through the breakup was an important reminder to me, though: don’t get so holed up.

I’m working on it.

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Here are some current things…

Current Obsession:  This song, by Burial.

Current Thing I’m Most Lazy About:  Cheese.

I subscribed to this magazine not long ago called Culture: the word on cheese.  I have two subscriptions to two magazines in the whole world, one of them a regular dude sort of magazine, and the other a magazine about cheese (I keep putting off subscriptions to a few music magazines).  And anyway, what I wanted to do was start maybe something like a food diary and make cheese something of a true hobby, but I haven’t really gotten around to it.  I do love cheese more than most things in life, but truth is I just haven’t had time to cook much this summer.  And that means little time to visit my local cheese monger.  This is another thing I must rectify.

Current Most Excited About: New Orleans.

The girlfriend and I have been anticipating a New Orleans trip in a few months, probably just after the holidays.  She’s never been.  I’ve only been once, but I can’t wait to introduce her to it.  Just thinking about it… there truly just is something about that city.  I think she’s gonna fall in love with it as quickly as I did.

Current Whatev’s: Gears 3.

I had been jumping up and down anticipating Gears of War three for not only months, but years now.  And then it came, and then I finished the campaign with a friend just last night, and…. man I’m kinda over it.  I think I must feel the same way about Gears that some folks feel about Halo these days.  I never got tired of Halo, but by the time this last Gears rolled around I had simply had my fill.  The campaign is on rails… which at first felt so innovative.  The game played like a cinematic theme park ride.  But now it just feels overly scripted to me.  The characters were always pretty thin to begin with, and seriously, it was three games of fighting the same damn monsters again and again.  (And having said all that, it really truly amazes me that I never tired of Halo).

Current Obsession Bordering on Religious Fervor: George R.R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series.

I never thought I’d get roped into these, but after seeing the HBO serious I just had to have more.  There are only two salient facts when it comes to George R.R. Martin:  1) his fantasy epic is pure, unfiltered nerd crack; 2) George R.R. Martin is a motherfucker.  This man giveth with one page, and he taketh away with another.  I almost screamed, tore at my clothes, and then ran into the streets like a lunatic when I read “the red wedding” chapters.  That son of a bitch author is just downright cruel sometimes.  But oh how I can’t quit him, how I can’t….

Current Project: a Deadmau5 head.

I’ve dithered like crazy wondering do I call it a Deadmau5 mask, helmet, what?  I dunno.  A Deadmau5 head thing.  The girlfriend and I had the dubious task of choosing between The Black Keys and Deadmau5 at Virgin Freefest.  I love The Black Keys to death (as does she–it’s her fricking ringtone), but we were both so glad we opted with the Canadian mouse man DJ.  His stage was this gigantic all LED installation that just blew everyone away.  One of the things that was so cool about the show was how many folks turned up with their own Deadmau5 heads on.  I knew right then and there what I wanted to do for Halloween.

As of now though…. I haven’t lifted a finger.  I’m giving myself about a 50/50 chance of following through on this one.  A lot of folks have posted their how-to’s online, so there are plenty of guides.  But some of them get a little pricey ($200? shit!)… and plus I just had this clear idea of how I wanted to do it.  No idea if I actually can though.  I guess we’ll see.  I promise to post pics.

Current Bummer: Missing out on Wild Flag/Eleanor Friedberger tickets in DC.

Sad face. 🙁

Current Best Decision Lately: Getting rid of cable.

This was a group decision, actually, by me and the roommates, but so glad we did it.  I had gotten into such a routine.  And understandably so, I mean, those shows on HBO and Showtime are so fucking good these days, not to mention all the other channels with their own pet shows.  But our bill went up to around $180, and we were like just fuck it.  Basic cable isn’t worth it, IMO, and the roommates were happy to cut down a monthly expense.

I haven’t missed it, I’m so happy to say.  Been catching a few things on Netflix, but for the most part just changed up some of the routine.  God my ass off the couch.  I’m sure I’ll have it again someday, but I hope that day is a ways off.

Current Thing I Should Be Doing instead of Writing This: Going to bed.

Good night!

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I’m kinda sitting here at my desk clicking through stuff on the net and realized what a break I’ve taken here.  I’m skimming over some of these posts here, and I guess I can see why.  Last year was a real bummer, and there was actually some shitty stuff going on earlier this year that I don’t think I wrote too much about.  Family tragedies, the house becoming a money pit, some serious bullshit at work… yeah.

But lately actually I haven’t posted because I’ve just been really busy.  Good busy.  Things are good right now.  Maybe I should work on rectifying this….

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