tomfromhr.com a blog on tech, politics, life and zombies

30Aug/140

The New Normal

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?

19Mar/142

A Late Winter Update

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?

6Mar/142

Brunch is Happiness

Later on, I would think I'd never really had brunch before. Not like this. 

I had been worried about being over-dressed, but the family in shorts and t-shirts assuages the worry regarding my jeans a polo. They lead us to a booth at the back, away from the crowds, though the place is quiet. A waiter in a tuxedo greets us. We smile at him. She orders a cocktail. I differ from the usual and order something different. I regret it later, and order what she had initially as a second round. I'm not driving today.

The brunch menu is sparse, but the steak and eggs needs my attention. I was initially disappointed at the lack of bacon, but that will fade. She orders something with seafood in it that sounded almost good enough for my attention, but not quite. I order a filet mignon and eggs, feeling odd combining the two. 

"I've never actually had steak and eggs before," I mention to her. She's surprised. My hand slips into hers across the table, somewhat awkwardly due to the angle, but necessarily. There are limits to how awkward I can be around her. 

We eat the bread, each piece slightly different. Not enough to fill us, and when our meals come out I am ravenous. The steak fills my nostrils. The hash browns draw my eyes. The Bernaise sauce confuses me. I slice up the steak and dip it into the egg yolks, unsure if I am being uncouth. She reassures me she has no idea, and doesn't care regardless. The lack of waiters rushing to me and slapping my hand reassures me further.

Everything melts in my mouth, in a way that tells me I've never used the phrase properly before. The saltiness of the hash browns offsets the soft, warm, savour of the steak and eggs. I eat every single bite. She steals a piece of crisp toast and dips it into Bernaise sauce. Again, no one comes and slaps her hand, so I think we're in the clean, couthiness-wise.

The waiter takes the empty plates away. My heart and mouth cry out for more, my stomach cries no more. My hand slips into hers again as I sit back. The waiter remarks on how I've never been to this place before, and hands me a plate of key-lime pie, insisting I try it. My stomach reassures me it has room for this. My mouth takes in the pie and I run out of words. I sit there making noises that make her laugh. We order another piece to go. One of us pays, I don't remember who. It doesn't matter. The meal would be worth it at ten times the price.

I sit back quietly as we begin to pack up. I have no words left. My hand slips into hers as we step away from the booth, I feel her ring finger and think to myself there's an emptiness there I absolutely need to fill. If only for introducing me to good, fancy brunch. 

6Aug/131

Choosing Your Narrative

Lately I've felt like the Universe is shoving me towards some things. Like it's gotten tired of subtle hints and is now slapping me across the face with a trout to get me to listen and go the way I am meant to go. To go the way I want to go, really. None of what it seems to be pushing me towards are things I don't want, just things I hadn't really pursued that vehemently, because life was comfortable and not terrible.

Which, you know, NOT GREAT.

And lately there have been a few instances where things fall so perfectly into place when I've made a decision, or when I've said to myself "maybe I should do this," that it makes me wonder about some sort of providence. Heretic, agnostic me wondering about that. Go figure?

Now the realist in me says that these things are chance. They are just random little things that come up, and that I choose to see them the way I want. And this may be true. But honestly? So what?

Sometimes I think it's good to realize that you can choose the narrative of your life. It's an internal thing. It changes nobody but you, and as long as your narrative isn't, like, that you must never shower or must murder all gingers, who the fuck cares? If something like this helps you make a decision, or feel good about a decision you've made, fuck it. Enjoy it. Grasp it. Run with it. Share it with those you want to, keep it from those you don't. 

But never for a second think there's anything wrong with choosing the narrative of your life. Because in the end it can shape you. If your narrative, your story as Nicole would call it, isn't something positive, is poisonous or negative, that hurts you. That holds you back, I think. Make it positive, even if your life is full of BS. This is hard, and I'm not saying one must be positive all the time. Sometimes life sucks.

But at my core, I think I'm going towards good things. That I have good things ahead of me. I have to. Cause if I don't believe it, who else will?

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18Jul/131

Being Off Balance and the Solution to All Things

It's funny sometimes when I look at my life right now compared to a few months ago.

A few months ago I'd have told you a relationship was what was missing from my life. That otherwise I had everything figured out; good job, house, making ends meet, good friends, body was…well, on its way.

In the last two months I've spent a solid chunk of money. I've gained weight. And things at the job are fine, but stressful, and I've made a few mistakes lately. These things are all, in some ways, interconnected. The job stress means I stress eat. Part of stress eating is often take-out and other expensive foods. And I've never been the kind of person who finds exercising relaxing (maybe we can change that story, but I haven't yet). 

But wait, Tom. Finding the right girl was supposed to solve all these problems! I was supposed to be super confident! My life would be in perfect balance! 

...

WHAT DO YOU MEAN BEING IN A RELATIONSHIP ISN'T THE SOLUTION TO ALL THINGS

 

I mean, I knew all this, really. I didn't really expect it to solve everything. But I expected a relationship to just slot nicely into my life. I expected ease. Now, mind you, I didn't plan on a long distance relationship. I didn't plan on flying as much as I am. 

And let's be clear. Overall, my mean happiness has improved drastically. There's a bounce in my step that hasn't been there in years. I'm traveling more, seeing people more often, and in general I think this will end up being one of the best summers of my life. (Unless you think we can top it next summer, Klutzy).

But I've noticed my waist line expanding. Things are tighter. I've managed to reign in work a bit but it's still busy as Hell, and I know soon I need to get my search for a new opportunity in gear, or see about expanding my role in the current one. I haven't been writing as much, I haven't been reading as much. I've thrown a lot of my spare time into my relationship. And, also to be clear, I wouldn't change one bit of that. It's helped us grow as a couple, and it's been incredibly fun.

In the future though, I need to start finding those balance, and that means working with Klutzy. Figuring out a time to go to yoga or the gym. Working together to motivate each other. Finding the right time to read and write (which maybe is different than when it used to be). And for once I feel comfortable saying, occasionally, that I can't hang out on a given night cause I need to do X or Y. Previously in relationships I felt so insecure I needed to throw EVERYTHING into it cause obviously otherwise she wouldn't be with me.

I need to keep up with therapy, as I know I still have a ways to go in that confidence.

It's different now though, cause I have a partner to support me. We talk about finding a yoga class together (or, rather, one that occurs at roughly the same time in Chicago and Toronto). About waking each other up for morning runs. About finding ways to eat healthy, together. I know that I could sit with her, on video chat, reading. I know what times work best for reading (on the train). 

So, in brief, relationships don't solve all the problems. In actuality it's a little like picking up a second job. A job that, you know, you love, that pays you back in incalculable ways, and where your boss tends to be pretty hot. And, if you play your cards right and find the right boss, it's a job for life.

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21Jun/130

Bowties and the Embrace of Self

Ever since BiSC I've felt a little freer in many ways. I've felt more confident in myself, and more ready to embrace the things I'm interested in. This was a trend before BiSC, but BiSC kind of kicked it into overdrive. I've felt less worried about negative comments, about anyone finding fault with my actions or interests, and just diving into them.

Today, for example, I went and bought a bow tie and a pocket square. Why? I had some time, and I've been embracing the prep a bit. I like dressing up a little fancy, I like that kind of culture. The idea that you dress up for the airport. That you wear a blazer even when you don't have to, just cause. 

And what's more, it seems that people tend to respond to the real me. I got encouragement from Klutzy and tons of positive comments on my idea to dress a little outlandishly. And, to be frank, I feel good. A little out there, but, like…I am a little out there. I'm a little weird, a little crazy, a little frantic when you get me going. 

So, time to embrace that, I'd say. 

And for the record? I bought two bow ties, not just one. And I love it.

17Jun/130

Topics of Conversation

I was talking recently with Klutzy about meeting her parents. For me usually this is not a scary topic. I usually let them do most of the talking them awkwardly wander off.

Though to be fair, most of my relationships have happened when I was in more of a school setting. Now, not so much.

So when Klutzy told me I'd be meeting her parents on July 6th for dinner I was nervous. 

What the fuck am I supposed to talk about? What DO I talk about with non-nerdy, non-blogging people?! Real life, bona fide ADULTS?!

The exclamation points are necessary there.

For my parents and I the topics are usually current events and politics. I know I can't bring this up as her parents and I don't share similar views, and I'd rather not alienate them right off the bat. So I had one of those little moments where I went "God, what am I doing with my life?"

I realized shortly afterwards, though, I was doing much the same sort of stuff that Klutzy was doing. I can talk about my adventures in cooking, with the grill and other things. I can talk about the process of buying a house of working for both a large and small law firm. Of trying to find the right weight loss technique. Of adopting cats. Of international travel. Of learning about whiskey and wine. Of reading and writing. 

I can talk about the adventures I've planned with their daughter. I can talk about the things I want to show her, how much joy she's brought into my life. 

I can talk about BiSC, about the wonderful people there who have inspired me. 

I actually have a lot to talk about outside of politics and current events. Sometimes, I have to remember that.

7Jun/131

Notes from an Airport

Since BiSC I find myself suddenly having a great deal of travel plans. I'll be either on a plane or entertaining a visitor roughly every two weeks for most of the summer. I'll be seeing airports a lot.

Today was one of the first times I went to an airport and found myself not too happy. Most of this is my own fault. I brought a carry-on I have to actually carry as opposed to one with wheels (correcting that for next time). I got here insanely early, which in ways I'm glad for, but it also means I've had more than a few hours to kill. I'm nervous, too. Excited in that wonderful way that almost crosses the emotional border into scared. 

But I find myself kind of hating this airport. As much as I'm excited, I'm excited for the end of this journey, to be in Chicago, for Klutzy.

I'm trying to quietly recapture the wonder and excitement I felt the last time I was in an airport. The feeling of hope, of newness. Of possibility. Because really that's what an airport is about. In an airport you're often going on an adventure, or coming home from one. Both events are a little sad, and a lot happy. 

A lot of things have gone wrong today. Things are insanely busy and stressful at work. 

But there is no place I'd rather be right now. Yes, if I could leave straight for Chicago from my house, that would be lovely, but being here means I get to go to Chicago. I get to see Klutzy. And that will make everything okay, for a little while.

At the end of this, in far too short a time, I'll be in this airport again. And in two weeks it'll be a different one, and I'll see more people I love.

In the next few months I'll spend more time in airports than I have in my 28 years previous combined. And I know that I must, must maintain my love of them. I must see the benefits, the unique experience, the potential of them. Yes, there will be stomach aches, things to carry, little things going wrong, and rushing, rushing, rushing. 

But at the end there will be Klutzy. There will be other friends. There will be adventures to have, new experiences, new wonders to share. My credit card hates me right now, but I'll recover. And there is not a doubt in my mind that this is worth it. 

I am so fucking excited for my life right now. As crazy as it may be, for the first time in my life, I'm comfortable being uncomfortable. And that'd be worth it at 10x the price.

Plus, you know, Klutzy.