Today was a bit of a tough travel day. Normally I love travel and airports. Any excuse to visit them, to see people arriving from various places in the world, families reuniting, etc. It warms my heart. Today was tough though.
I was up late packing (entirely my own fault) and we had an early flight, which means our alarm was set for 4:45. I managed to misset it, but I woke up anyway, because nerves. Made it to the airport in good time, but feeling terrible. Something about waking up early always messes with my body, not just from a fatigue but from a stomach sort of thing. I spent most of the walk through security and customs just hating myself. You actually clear US customs in Toronto, as they have a post there. It’s weird.
My body ached, I was lugging luggage (ha) and a little warm because I decided to dress to impress rather than dress for comfort. I love the idea of being the guy traveling in a blazer with a pocket square but to be honest I kinda wished I’d worn sweats by the time we got through security.
Everything took much longer than I expected, which meant I barely had time to scarf down a terrible breakfast (seriously, YYZ, be better) before we had to board for our flight like half an hour early (cause apparently no one else can follow Porter’s example and board like 10 minutes before).
BUT I did see Patton Oswalt there, famous comedian and actor. Saw him in security and later he was eating breakfast at the same shitty place we did. I didn’t say anything or really acknowledge him other than to quietly nudge Klutzy and then explain who he was and why it was a big deal.
I do wonder if I’m falling out of love with travel a bit. I used to love airplanes and flying for the novelty, but I worry a bit that eventually I’m going to admit it’s unpleasant and uncomfortable.
But, then I look out my window to the right and see a brand new city, state and time zone I’ve never been in, and think okay, it’s still pretty fucking cool.
Plus I mean I saw Patton Oswalt.
Now I have to stop writing because we’re in the emergency exit row and my tray table doesn’t really come all the way over and I’m leaning slightly forward to type this and ow.
I never played competitive sports when I was a kid. Not really. I did some track and cross country and a bit of soccer when I was really young, but I never felt like I even had a shot of winning those. Never did team sports or anything really. Always hated them. But I've started to wonder if I missed out on something there.
So I'm a big fan of the game Hearthstone, by Blizzard. For those who may not be familiar, it's a card game much like Magic the Gathering, involving playing minions and spells to deplete the opponents health or kill his minions. Whoever gets the other player to zero health first wins. It's a fun game with lots of strategy and pretty animations, and Klutzy and I are both big fans of it.
But I do have trouble with it sometimes. Because, to be frank, I'm not that good. I mean I'm better than a lot of folks, sure, but I lose far more than I'd like. And that gets to me a bit. After 2 or 3 losses in a row I start to get angry at myself. Never really at them, always at myself. I curse myself out. I remember the guy on the Hearthstone subreddit who said I sucked when I posted about some difficulties I was having. I think of all the people who say they have no problem getting higher in the ladder system than I do. Who say the deck I'm playing is great and they're winning all the time with it.
It's funny because it hits me most when I'm doing something that matters, where the loss has a consequence. Hearthstone has a ranked system where for each win you go up a rank, for each loss you go down a rank. Each rank has a few stars or levels in it. So as I right this I'm at Rank 16 with 2 stars. The number of stars required to advance changes from level to level. Your rank is cut in half at the end of every month, and you get some rewards based on the highest rank you achieved that month (regardless of if you dropped back a few ranks).
So playing ranked is stressful, but rewarding to me. I had set a goal for myself of rank 16 this month and when I got there I'm almost scared to play again. Even though I now am guaranteed the rewards for rank 16, it would still feel bad for me to drop to 17.
It's funny to contrast my reactions to Klutzy's. I often avoid ranked, playing unranked modes (which don't offer the same rewards) to unwind. She plays ranked most of the time, since in ranked you tend to be better matched with an opponent (as the matching algorithm takes into account both your ranks, whereas in unranked mode it's more random). And really why not? You might as well play it and have a chance at gaining a rank and therefore more rewards at the end of the season. And for her the losses aren't particularly punishing. She shrugs them off as bad luck, bad card draw, a better player, or what have you.
I'm not good at that same shrug off. I can do it once or twice but then I start to get angry. I start to wonder what's wrong with me, why I can't make this great deck work. And I extrapolate it. My failure in Hearthstone means clearly I'm not intelligent. This is why I didn't get into grad school, why I've had trouble finding a new job, also why I'm overweight (somehow). It all ties together, and the guy on the other end is sitting there, of course, savouring his victory and laughing at my idiocy.
I've wondered if this difficulty has something to do with a lack of team sports in my youth. If I never learned to lose well. I've started to remind myself that, going into ranked, no matter what, is good for me. A loss teaches me how to lose. A win is, well, a win. But it's definitely been tough. But it's growth, and that's a good thing. It's funny, the avenues we can find for growth, if we look for them.
Scattered around this vacation house (which we will soon be leaving, sadly) are things about being inspired. It’s part of the name of the company we booked through, you see, so it’s everywhere (even in the WiFi password). But it’s made me think about how vacations can be inspiring. I always find I write more around vacation time. My drafts folder is filled with stuff from around BiSC and traveling. Something about getting away from my usual life seems to inspire me a bit, in more than a few ways.
And I think that’s good. Obviously. But I think you can pull different things from different places. This place has instilled in me a few things that I hope I can carry with me. It would be all too easy to just go back and slip into the usual routines. There’s a reason for that. Ruts are well-defined and comfortable. And I don’t have any dramatic changes in mind, to be clear. My New Year’s Resolutions are really more goals, and most of them aren’t SMART, in that they’re not whatever the fuck that acronym stands for (I know the M is measurable, the A is achievable, the T is time-sensitive, but I can’t remember the rest. Bad HR guy. Bad!). But I don’t think they always need to be. One of them, for example, was to be a better husband. I don’t think I’m a bad one now (nor would my wife call me one) but I will always, always strive to be better, because she deserves nothing less than every measure of my striving.
But I started writing this, sitting here on the porch, when it’s probably a little too cold to do so (but I’m doing it anyway cause it’s DEFINITELY too cold to do so at home now) because I wanted to think about what I wanted to carry with me from this place.
Activity. The notion that one should go out and do things. I’m not saying there won’t be WoW-filled weekends with the TV in the background and the cats cuddling up with us. But I’d like to find ways to get some more activity into my life. I do really want to find time to get better at golf come the warmer weather. There’s such a fun culture around it. Reading about golf reminds me of how I felt when I first started getting in to WoW, that I was on the cusp of this huge subculture of people who shared this hobby, that there was just so much to explore. Golf can take you to beautiful places, give you chances to bond with friends and family, and get you out and being more active. I’m not saying I’m going back to Boot Camp (that was fun, but not sustainable, I don’t think, for me) but I’m saying I’d like to go back to the gym and spend some time on the treadmill. I’d like to try and take the dog for longer walks on the weekends. I’d like to get back to yoga. I think trying to commit to any one activity hasn’t worked for me, but maybe I can look at doing something on a regular basis. That’s what I’ve seen here, people going and running around and doing things. And as much as it may go against my urge when resting (which is to just sleep and rest the day away), I think it would be good for me.
Kindness. It’s a cliche that the South is polite, and I’m sure part of what we’ve seen here has been simple resort politeness, but everyone here has been so incredibly nice. People say hello as you walk by and wish you Happy Holidays and whatnot. People are warm, and happy, and I’d like to try and carry some of that into my daily life. It’s too easy to just slide into grumpiness in my day to day life. I know there are times where I’m short with people because I didn’t sleep well, or I’m stressed about something, or something. I’m not saying I’m going to be perfect. But I’d like to try and carry some of that Southern hospitality into my life.
Achievement. I’m not totally sure how to put this into words, as it’s a kind of nebulous notion I get from folks here, but it’s the idea of striving for better. Of working hard and playing hard. Of not being afraid to take a work call while on vacation, because it’s important and because one or two won’t break everything. It’s the idea of working a bit over vacation, because you take pride in your work and your work is important, regardless if you’re the President or a salesman. I think it’s also about taking pride in yourself, about dressing up nicely, about taking pride and care in your appearance, because you deserve that. Not because you should, not because you must, but because you choose to. I’m not saying be a workaholic wearing a suit all the time, but there’s a care you can take that won’t destroy your personal life and won’t break your bank.
So that’s what I’m carrying with me as I leave Georgia. Now, I must go get ready to leave, sadly. I will absolutely miss it. I’m not sure I’ll ever be back here, but damn am I glad I got the chance to come here.
I’m writing this from the porch of a house on Sea Island, in Georgia (the US state, not the country). There’s beer beside me, my wife is napping a couple rooms over, and my in-laws are out of the house. I keep wanting to write. I find vacations always make me want to write, when I’m relaxed, taken away from my daily concerns, and have the time to really get into my own head. Anyone who knows me (or takes a look at this blog) can tell you I have introspection down to a science (if not a fetish) but vacation seems to allow me to order things better. To get a handle on them.
And this has been a lovely one so far. Everyone here, both my in-laws and the folks working the resort, have been incredibly welcoming and understanding, from the guy who helped me learn to shoot a rifle to the guy who lifted me off a horse when I found myself paralyzed getting off it. I don’t know if I’ll ever come back here after this (everything here is quite expensive, though you distinctly get what you pay for) but it’s been a wonderful experience so far.
Being here has challenged me a bit, however. I’m surrounded by people who, by most definitions, are more successful than I am. Now realistically my overall life success rate has gone up in the last few years. I’ve married the love of my life. I’ve bought a house I love. I have cats and a dog now. I have my health, and have even lost a bit of weight in the last few months (which I will likely gain back in this next week or so). In terms of successes, I’ve been knocking them off pretty well.
But I still sit here and feel jealous of people who have more. Who can afford to come here regularly, to spend weekends golfing at fabulous resorts. Who can buy their wives horseback riding lessons. I know I’m young still, and I have hopes that that success will come. One of my big debates is if it can come without losing all my free time, without sacrificing my marriage on the altar of the almighty dollar. The narrative we’ve been taught is that all great success comes with exceedingly hard, brutal, back-breaking, relationship-crushing hard work. I’m hoping, as with most things in my life, I can chart a middle path.
Part of the problem is that that “success” is elusive. Is it a matter of staying late at my job every day and working weekends (considering my current employer doesn’t have any promotion to offer me)? Is it spending all my free time sending out resumes and going to networking events? Is it going back to school, improving my education? Or is it a matter of blind luck and some combination of the above? My suspicion, again, is that the middle path is the best one for me (hence why I just cleared my work inbox while on vacation).
There’s a deeper issue here for me, though, which this vacation time has allowed me to uncover a bit. It’s the same reason I shy away from any political debates with my conservative in-laws, and why I hesitate to dive into any conversation. And it’s what makes me compare other lives to mine and feel lesser. It’s my continuing, and deep lack of self confidence.
I shy away from political debates because my self-confidence tells me my beliefs may not be right, because I think them, and what do I know? I don’t read the newspaper or books on economics enough. I don’t follow the news religiously, and I’m not rich or successful and clearly my thoughts would be different if they weren’t coloured by jealousy. It’s weirdly connected to the jealousy, I find. I get angry that I don’t feel good enough. I get angry that I don’t have all the answers, at myself for not being prepared for every debate.
I’m losing the thread a bit here, but the point is that addressing that self-confidence likely needs to be a priority going forward. I can’t afford therapy, I don’t think, but perhaps I can work on it using the tools I was given by my last therapist, which amounts to better self-talk, to shutting down that voice that tells me I look fat, that I should know better, that my beliefs are not correct/worthwhile because I think them and they’re not backed up by 20 years of experience in the private sector. The lack of self-confidence leaves me vulnerable, and I think doesn’t do me service.
In another blog, I think, I will go over how I plan to tackle that self-confidence. It might be a bit weird or unorthodox, but hopefully it might be helpful to someone. I mean, if there’s anyone else out there reading this who might have self-confidence issues occasionally.
I’m sure that’s not many of us, right?
I'm gonna start out by saying that if you've never gotten the kind of gadget lust that leads someone to upgrade to the latest and greatest every year, this post may not be for you. Please go ahead and read! But it may not make much sense.
Put simply, I've lost my gadget lust. Not entirely mind you. I watched the presentation today eagerly. I'm planning and hoping to get an iPhone Plus when my contract comes due in October, though I may have to wait a bit. And if someone handed my an Apple Watch I'd be over the moon.
But you know what? I've had the same iPhone for 3 years now, a 4S. Some folks who knew me a while back are shocked at that fact. I used to upgrade all the time. Usually by lining up on launch day. I had a ton of fun doing that. But now the gadget lust has kind of passed me by a bit. Oh, I won't pretend I didn't want a 5 or 5S when they came out. That I didn't try to justify needing a new one before the wedding because mine wouldn't last a day on battery alone. And sure, I picked up a new iPad Air to replace an iPad mini and now want the mini again (always want the one I don't have, you see). But even now I don't feel a great need to upgrade my phone. Sure, mine is older now, barely lasts a battery, and some apps crash it regularly (I'm looking at you, Instagram). But it works. I can charge it at work and carry a charging brick for when I'm out and about.
It's weird though, feeling that lust be gone. I watched the Watch presentation feeling like I was outside looking in. Sure, it looked cool. I'd use it and it'd be fun. It might even make me work out more. And when I have some disposable income and decide I need a new watch, I'll probably get one. But not right away. I won't be lining up or going into debt or anything for it.
The funny thing is, though, I don't begrudge those who do, who lust after these things, who replace them yearly. I really don't. I get it, and I still get a little huffy when someone makes fun of those folks. It's their thing. It's their fandom. Let them have it. It was mine once too, but no longer, really. I'm not sure when it changed. Maybe when I bought the house, or at least when it became this realistic idea in my head. But somewhere it kind of passed me by.
That said, I still have every intention of getting a new iPhone Plus when funds allow. And if I happen to win the lottery or get a higher paying new job soon, you bet your ass I'm buying an Apple Watch (and one for Anna too). And I'll still be thrilled as Hell when I open the new phone, and I'll still marvel at it for a year or so.
Until they release the new one, anyway.
A couple months ago I got a notification of a new WordPress comment. It was Rachel, saying in all caps that she expected another update soon. This isn't the wedding blog post, though. That's a larger thing that I'm still processing and savouring. I know I need to write it down, because I want to look back at it in a couple dozen years and smile.
No, this is a smaller, simpler post, as I sit here. My wife is beside me, and we're watching a live gymnastics competition in a stadium in Mississauga. Nothing about that sentence would make much sense to me of five years ago. It would all seem weird and kind of impossible, most especially the being married part. I think some part of me never expected to find the right person, find the person who could love me. And yet like most things in life, it was a single moment for me that crystallized that, not only was that not so impossible, that wonderful woman was right in front of me.
But it's been funny, adapting to this new normal of being married. Of coming home to someone, of having someone else to share the load. I am so grateful for her, but most especially for what she brings out in me. Anna's brought a whole new world to my life, filled with sports, golf, new foods, wine, cheese, Disney and puppies. She's brought me a new sense of adventure I didn't know I was missing, and a new dedication to myself. Suddenly I'm more worried about my health, because, well, it would kinda suck for her if I keeled over.
I find I believe in myself more, too. I'm learning to trust myself more, and in some ways, that's almost harder than loving myself. But they're connected, and I'd say I'm making progress on both sides (though trust is a bit more quantifiable from day to day, I'd say).
It's a new normal, absolutely, and there are adjustments, as with any big change. But I'm so grateful for it, for her, and I wouldn't trade it for anything. Who knew I could enjoy being at a women's gymnastics event on a long weekend?
It’s been a crazy 2014 so far for me. Good crazy, but crazy.
It’s mostly been difficult, really. Work has been stressful. I’ve been doing a lot of traveling, without really realizing what that does to a person. I still get fascinated by planes, and I still have a bit of a love of airports. But I think the travel does take its toll. My Mom flew with me last weekend to Chicago and she said at the end “I don’t know how you do this!”. It was a bit of a reminder that, as much as it may not feel like much sometimes, it can be tiring. Getting in late. Rushing around at airports. Sitting in less than comfortable plane seats.
Worth it, though, to see Klutzy. Absolutely worth it, and I’d do it every weekend if I could. But I will be glad in May when it’s over.
Work has been stressful, and I feel like we’re over a bit of a hump, but I worry that may be a false sense of security. A lot of it has been fine-tuning my own work habits, but I feel like I’ve done well at that, like I have a good handle on things. It’s been very educational and a good experience overall, but I know I am ready for the next opportunity. It’s just finding the right one. A recruiter I spoke to recently described the job market like this: Previously, employers would also for a squirrel. The end candidate might be a purple squirrel. Now, they’re asking for a purple squirrel and getting a purple squirrel with polkadots (in this analogy, flashy and garish is better). Basically, it’s a tough market out there, and you really have to find the opportunity where you are the purple squirrel with polkadots. So I’m keeping my eyes open.
A lot of it comes down to willpower for me on job searching. I never want to. I get home and the last thing I want to do is pore over my resume and cover letter. Course, when I do it, it’s not that bad, but it feels like it will be THE WORST THING EVER OMG TOM. I get home and I want to do nothing more than cuddle my cats, relax, game, and sleep.
However, I’m excited about the next few weeks. Klutzy’s parents are visiting, which means the house has to be perfect (or as close as I can make it) which means a lot of work. Lots of little things really. Move some things around. Unpack other things. Assemble some things. But in the end it means the house will be a lot more put together. I love the touches she’s brought to it, really making it ours, not just mine. And this is a good motivator and, in the end, like most things, this won’t be as bad as my brain makes it out to be.
Plus, it’s my house, so you know I’m going to have Netflix and/or some fun music going throughout.
The wedding is coming together nicely. We’ve already had a few RSVPs and I’m crazy excited for it. We’ve got so many great people coming (not everyone I’d like, of course, cause that would be a fuckton of people) but a lot, which is great. We did the tasting this weekend and picked out some great food. I’m working on my speech and have been sending Klutzy first dance song suggestions pretty well constantly. It changes from day to day. We don’t really have a song that’s “ours” so we’ll have to figure it out.
Honeymoon at DisneyWorld has also been booked. I’m regularly getting all caps gchats from Klutzy about some new thing she’s discovered, a new place she’s reserved, or what have you. We’re there for a week, staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge, overlooking the Savannah. Well, the fake Savannah, but still!
I’m a little worried about the let down after the wedding. As much as we’ll be finally together and having fun, the time after any big event like this is always a little sad. But then we work on building our life together here, and, as much as I try to be realistic, I can’t imagine that being exciting and awesome. Challenging, yes, but still.
Well, that’s me, for the most part. What’ve you been up to?