Category Archives: Advice Column

Change in Location

There have been few opportunities where I can change my life for the better.  One was going to DC, then having some amazing people who were great and supportive of my life and my career.  Another was meeting Ray.  I know I talk about Ray a lot but she’s pretty freaking special to me.

Then, just when life feels like it is going to break you, the Universe (or whatever external divinity you believe in) reminds you that good (and even great) things are out there.  You just have to be brave enough to take them.

Currently, I’m typing this on my laptop at a table 3,000 miles from home.  I’m still coming down off the high of even being given this opportunity.  I thought it wasn’t real up until I got told there was an action in the system for it.  Still didn’t believe it was real as I was driving out this way.  It probably won’t hit me that this is really happening to me until I get to work tomorrow and get settled.

Every missed opportunity from before…  I want to say has led to this moment.  It hasn’t though.  I screwed up on an interview years ago for almost the exact position in a different location.  Then there was Portland.  I had my hopes up and everything, only to have it land in my face 24 hours later with two words:  Not selected.  I kicked myself a lot for those, but I wouldn’t change the way all that happened.

Life is good and things are awesome.  And someone was willing to take the chance on me to allow me to the chance to work in the field.

All because I put my name in the hat to do something different.

Listening to:  Down with the Sickness by Disturbd

Reading:  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling and Lirael by Garth Nix (Tim Curry is an awesome narrator!)

Quote of the Day:  “The most important thing is this: to be able at any moment – to sacrifice what you are, for what you will become!” ― Eric Thomas


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Filed under Advice Column, Bucket List, Vacations/Travel


Tomorrow is my paperwork based one year anniversary at my job, even though I actually started two weeks later.  I’m not sure why I’m mentioning this other than I wonder sometimes what would have happened if I had stayed in my other position.

I had to ask Ray for a topic this morning because I couldn’t think of anything to write about.  I was going to write about setting goals but that didn’t flow as well as her topic is.  Her question was, “What have you gained and lost by taking chances?”

Gained?  A lot.  Lost?  Maybe some of my sanity.

My chances or risks have been pretty successful for the most part.  The last few months have been rough, with both of us questioning things, but for the most part, things have been good.  The biggest chance I took:  Coming to D.C. for Job Corps.

You never really think about one decision changing the course of your life.  I’ve screwed up a lot in the last 12 ½ years, but that one decision rolled in with a whole lot of others.  Taking the train home, starting a conversation with someone who is still in my life, people who have come and gone, all of that leading to one major chance that further changed my life:  Meeting Ray.

I’ve said this before, but it bears a lot of repeating.  Writing about the people you love is easy, even if it gets a little bit tedious to others.

I hadn’t wanted to go to that party, and I was pretty pushy.  She didn’t want to have much to do with me, and after looking at old pictures, I wouldn’t have wanted to have much to do with me either.  But we took a chance, and we’re still taking chances on each other.  There are days I wonder how I got so lucky.  I love that woman like there is no tomorrow.

And there are days I wonder if we made the right choice, if I’m missing out of something by being with her and settling down.  I get that from my dad, the not-quite-settling-down part of him that made him never stay long in one place.  I’m like my dad in some ways, but the choices I’ve made make us different people.  My dad wasn’t ever really afraid to take chances on his dreams, even if the family unit suffered.

My dream might be easier without people there; I’d love to travel more.  I’d love to do the European Tour as a solo traveler, just once.  But there is one thing that I noticed during Orlando, walking towards Ray with food in one hand after making her walk through Epcot.  Traveling the world may be more expensive with two people, but the experiences that those people share are priceless.  You never know how priceless without taking a chance on a future with that person.

Had I not taken that one chance, I wouldn’t have everything that I have in my life today.  Life may suck somedays, but the only wish I have was that I would have met her sooner and saved both of us some heartache and life lessons.

Listening to:  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Reading:  They Both Die in the End by Adam Silvera and Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

Quote of the Day:  “When written in Chinese, the word ‘crisis’ is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.” ― John F. Kennedy

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Serious Conversation

I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of weight loss surgery on the 12th.  I’ll do a blog post about the stats with that on the 11th.

Today’s post is about a side effect, or a cause, or a redirection maybe, of addiction.  It’s about alcohol.

Last night, I got slurred stupid off of two cups of wine.  I’m not going to lie—they were not small cups either.  The apples didn’t help much, except as maybe a food source.  I don’t have an excuse or a reason for drinking last night other than it felt good and I wanted it.

Before surgery, I might have gone through a six pack of beer in a few days.  It tasted good and I enjoyed the relaxed feeling that came from it and stayed with me.  I wasn’t chasing demons or anything like that, not like what I was doing when I was in my earlier 20’s.  There were days I still wanted to get smashed to the point of being sick, but that wasn’t for any of the reasons that I’ve heard people say before.  I also wasn’t one who thought drinking before noon was cool, although I spent much of my 23rd and 24th years of life showing up for work hungover.  Fun, right?  Not really, but it happened.  Moving on.

After surgery…  I’m not even sure where to start.  One drink can either hit you like a ton of bricks within minutes or several hours later, but you feel it in different way than before.

Food and eating it can be an addiction.  Please don’t tell me it can’t be; a recovering foodie here, so I know.  It’s one of the few used substances that is completely accessible in so many different forms and companies make billions of dollars to create food that makes us want to eat it—constantly.  All because without food, we don’t survive very long.

For me, food was a comfort.  I didn’t know how to work through feelings growing up.  I didn’t care a lot of the times, and we moved around so much as kids that keeping friends wasn’t the easiest thing to do.  Every year, new school, new people to meet, etc., until 6th grade, and then I was the weird kid.  Not really going to get into that too much; I’ll save that for therapy.  But, hey, excuses right?

I’ve always been fat and have always turned to not-so-great food choices.  When I left home a month before my 18th birthday, I started drinking.  It didn’t replace food, but it become something that went with food and made me feel good.  Sometimes, it was the only thing that helped me get from day to day, just numb enough that I could over look problems but not so numb I couldn’t function.

After surgery, I took a shot for New Year’s Eve.  I was fine.  I made it most of the way through January without drinking; had a sip at dinner and almost didn’t eat anything because I was full.  Tiny stomach equals not much room for things.  Went another month and some change and had a beer with a friend.  Started drinking beers once every few weeks and gradually increased the intake, until Thanksgiving this past week, with a beer before noon and then three glasses of wine in about three hours.  I was floating and happy and I was pushing my limits.  I’d been pushing my limits all year long actually.

Why so much (Because…reasons)?

Didn’t I eat (Yes, and Ray had to take my plate from me because I’m used to eating a lot at Thanksgiving; some habits never stop being habits)?

Am I depressed (With work, yes; life in general, no.  I just completed a first draft of my next book; who would be upset with that)?

Demons finally catching up to me (Maybe)?

News flash:  Alcohol, like food, is addictive.  When you have surgery, what they tell you is that you should avoid alcohol, at least for the first year.  Well, there’s a good reason for that:  You just had surgery to help curb one addiction, they didn’t want you needing to cope with another!

It’s damn hard getting past one addiction when all I really want right now is to take a bite out of a Red Robin cheeseburger without being full off that one bite, or to have a slice of cheesecake without getting the sugar shakes and needing to fall asleep as soon as possible because my body can’t deal with the sugar content.  That last happened with a slice of apple pie last week; wasn’t expecting it, but boy was I happy I was at home.

This surgery thing is not easy, and there are plenty of ways to still screw up.  But I wouldn’t make a different decision because losing what I have has let me do so much more with my life and with my wife.

So, I just admitted I have a problem.  Now what?

Listening to:  My writing mix

Reading:  Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs and Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Quote of the Day:  Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” ― Henry Ward Beecher 

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Just because you can…

…Doesn’t mean you should.

I’ve referring to borrowing books, not something tragic, like opening my mouth to someone who doesn’t need to know what’s really going on and just dropping all my emotional baggage onto them.

No, I’m talking about borrowing audiobooks and books fitting the reader’s state of mind.

A couple weeks ago, I borrowed Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert from Overdrive.  I put it on my TBR and everything, hoping to get to it.  I haven’t.  In 11 days, I haven’t picked it and up and now that I can, I don’t want to.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, same thing.  I also have a few physical books that I want to read but I’m just not in the mood to read them.

Eat Pray Love I have read a few times over the years.  I’m not in a truly dark place in my life now, but I think I want to make notes in my copy of the book so I’m holding off on that one until next year.  The Girl on the Train may also wait, since I own a copy of that book too.

Physical book wise, last night, I had a book picked out and was going to start it after reading a few graphic novels.  Something happened between me reading them and the other book.  When I went to go pick it up, I couldn’t crack the cover, metaphorically speaking.  I just wasn’t interested in it at that point.

I wanted dark.  I didn’t want light and fluffy.  I wanted dark reading.  I had quite a few books that fit that bill.  Thankfully, the one I picked up, I haven’t really wanted to put down but had to so I could get work done.

Whether my book choices are trying to help me gear up for the last quarter of my NaNoWriMo novel or not, I’m starting to be very particular about the books I start and those I don’t.

All books are meant to be read from a place of love because all books carry something for the reader.  The string of Meh books I’ve had lately, I’ve come to understand I don’t have to finish the books I don’t connect with because there are books, like You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day or History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, that deserve more of my attention.  I took things from those books (go get it because you’ve got this!  And being said after someone dies is okay; the destructive behavior afterwards, no so much) where the Meh books just sort of where a “What not to write” warning.

Longer post than I meant it to be, but I have to do this with real life, too.  Being stuck where I am not happy isn’t good for me or those around me.  Writing for NaNoWriMo helped me pull out some tools and I’m ready to get back on the saddle and finish other books outside of just the book this month, starting with Shadow.

Happy Friday folks.

Listening to:  Little Ones by Highly Suspect.  It’s not been on repeat all day today so that’s a plus.

Reading:  The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  Holy *&^%.  I’m not far into it, but it makes me want to grab a warm beverage and a blanket and curl up somewhere so I can just devour the rest of it.

Quote of the Day:  “Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghost of yesterday. Holding a grudge & harboring anger/resentment is poison to the soul. Get even with people… but not those who have hurt us, forget them, instead get even with those who have helped us.” ― Steve Maraboli

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Keep Going!

I was thinking about how I’m doing my NaNoWriMo novel—how I’m keeping myself motivated, how I’m working through all my word sprints, and how I will actually finish this novel this time.  Also, how I’m liking it so far too.

My novel is a bit history, but a lot more romance and what coming to America could mean for dreamers.  I’m writing it without much research except what I can pull from random breaks in the word sprints.  The main characters are people that I like and the ones who are side characters are just as interesting as the main characters.  Are they interesting enough to make it beyond 50,000 words?  Well, considering it’s day 11 and I’m am at 18,334 words so far, yeah, I gotta say they are.

A mantra I have to keep telling myself is that what I’m doing is just a first draft.  This is just the first go around with this story.  This is just the first time I’m meeting these characters and they will evolve throughout the story, and more throughout the editing process.

The problem I have always had is that I am a perfectionist.  Everything has to be perfect the first time, every time.  That’s not a good way to live life.

So, what I’m attempting with this year’s novel is to just make good art.  Not great art, not this time and not yet, but so simply just make something good that can become great.  Because being great takes practice and even the greatest writers start their books with a first draft before their story is ready for their readers.

Happy Friday!

Listening to:  Little Ones by Highly Suspect on repeat

Reading:  History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera and Forever by Maggie Steifvater

Quote of the Day:  “I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman, Commencement Speech 2012

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Managing Expectations

I had a few things happen to me personally over the weekend.  They weren’t bad things just annoyances that are still hitting me today.  When I came in this morning for work, I was talking to a friend about them, and about something else too.  I forget the exact words, but we ended up talking about managing expectations.

See, I have expectations for things in my life.  When things don’t meet those expectations, I get upset.  Normal human reaction, especially for someone with control issues.  Here’s how all this came up though.

My expectations for this weekend:

  • Make between $300 and $500 this weekend ridesharing.
  • Finish at least one book that I was reading/listening too.
  • Walk seven/eight miles.
  • Pick up the remaining things needed for vacation.
  • Post two videos: One wrap-up video and one book tag video

One… One thing out of those actually happened.  The others were partly done or not done at all.

My expectations for life:  That people are open enough that my lifestyle shouldn’t bother them.

I’m gay.  I get that there are people out there that don’t like gay people, aren’t okay with, etc.  I hadn’t really met any of those people.  I’ve met people that don’t agree with my choice to not have children (at one point I did, but now I have three.  I’m good.).  I’ve met people who make comments about my day job and how I couldn’t make it in the private sector.  I’ve met people who wouldn’t even say “Hi” to me because of my size.  I’ve met people that I didn’t feel comfortable telling I was gay to while they are stuck in a car with me.  So my expectation I guess had become that more people than not are okay with my lifestyle.

Yeah, no.

I was talking about my son going to Marines this past week to a couple from NC.  When I got asked if I was a nervous wreck, I said, “No, but his mom is.”  *Confused looks*  “But you said ‘your son?’” “Yes, my wife has three boys, so that makes them mine too.”  *Subject change*

Needless to say it was awkward after that confession.  I did it to myself by being proud of my relationship and our son.  I stopped talking so much after that trip and just drove.

I’m waiting to hear back from my application for Amazon Flex so I can give up rideshare driving.  Between that instance and people abusing the system (UberPool and Lyft line are for two people per trip.  Please stop trying to get away with 3 or more people.  Please order the right vehicle for your party, too.  OMG, the horror stories people…horror stories–See this upcoming Wednesday’s post).  I liked the money but I’m over the people.

Sigh.  Come on Sunday!

Listening to:  Human by Raggin Bone Man

Reading:  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Quote of the Day:  “There’s a certain grace in accepting what your life is and embracing all the good things that have been – but there’s still an expectation of good things to come. Not necessarily what you expected.” ― Emmylou Harris

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Filed under Advice Column, Driving

Socialism and Nationalism

Over the weekend, there was a riot/protest in Charlottesville between white nationalists/supremacists and everyone else.  The BBC News article can be found here.  The rally was around “Unite the Right,” extremely right-wing thinkers who believe the ways of the past without the ethical standings America stands for today and a smaller government.  Welcome to the New American Era.

Last summer, I took a history class that talked about how WWI started by exploring Europe’s bloodiest history.  I really wish some people would pick up a book, even if it’s just George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.  Book is really brutal in how it nationalism and war in Spain is very different from the front lines and the town in which Orwell returns to.  I’m mentioning this class and this book because WWI and WWII were fought over nationalism.  Sound familiar?

Look up “American Nationalism.”  New York Magazine did an article about three different kinds of American Nationalism.  Disengaged people, the smallest group of those interviewed, where those who “professed particularly low levels of pride in state institutions, and because they appeared to refrain from wholesale engagement with a national identity.”  Restrictive Nationalists “expressed only moderate levels of national pride but defined being ‘truly American’ in particularly exclusionary ways.”  Ardent Nationalists are the traditional flag-wavers in almost any crowd, people who view “Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and naturalized citizens as something less than ‘truly American.’”.  Creedal Nationalists believed in a “form of national self-understanding associated with a set of liberal principles—universalism, democracy, and the rule of law—sometimes referred to as the American creed.”

Where do you think the money lies in this?  The group where companies exist, where many Wall St. and Forbes Top 100 list people exists:  Capitalism.  Socialism with a major twist, where money walks and major players with bank rolls talk.

Still think I’m joking or off my rocker?  I helped on a paper that researched how marketers play mind games with the companies’ or politician’s audiences to help “raise awareness” or “hook” a new customer.  It was very interesting to see how emotions, clothing color, and portrayals actually got played on.  The next time you look at a commercial that you relate with, ask yourself why you feel you relate to it.  Why did the company do this or show that statistic in the commercial?  Am I relating because I feel a connection to the person speaking?

We live in an information age, yet we are increasing standing on one side of the fence or the other.  We are adamant about saying, “Do the research” while not doing the research ourselves.  We judge based off of our emotions and our experiences, which is normal.  But what’s not normal, or shouldn’t be normal, is the way we treat our fellow human beings.

Want more information?  Check out Crash Course’s Sociology playlist.  They’re YouTube videos that talk about sociology, conflict theory, and give real world examples in their videos.

With that said, hope you enjoyed your Monday folks.


Listening to:  “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Reading:  “The Diviners” by Libba Bray and “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Quote of the Day:  “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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