2020 continues to suck.

Before I get into why 2020 is still the worst year ever, I want to say that I am actually fine. I would say that instead of being stuck in a pit of sadness, I am just in disbelief at how an already terrible year just defies all odds and continues to get worse and worse.

In my previous post, I mentioned my concern about a friend of mine who is an alcoholic. I also said that I hoped he would successfully detox at home and not repeat what happened in February of this year (a seizure).

Well, he had another seizure. He was taken to the hospital on Sunday and he is now (Tuesday) back at home continuing to self-detox. He isn’t out of the woods yet and there is still a chance that he will admit himself to a facility; however, I really don’t think he will. He is one of the most stubborn people I know. Anyway, that is one sucky thing.

The second sucky thing is that my fiancé’s grandmother just died. The grandmother lives in the Philippines, so she can’t be there for the funeral. This is the second family member she has lost this year. I lost a family member and a good friend this year as well, so this has been a record year.

One piece of good news is that my fiancé and I have decided that instead of renting and apartment next time we move, we will be renting a house. It’s a decision that is keeping me planning and excited, so I always think of that.

I think this is also a good time to mention that when I started to talk about “the woman I was seeing” back in August of last year, I named her Chelsea on this blog to protect her identity in case things didn’t work out; however, as you all know, we are now engaged and I think it is okay to tell you all her real name: Charlene. My fiancé’s name is Charlene. I had no idea that when I swiped right, I was swiping right on my future wife, but I’m so incredibly glad I did. I am also glad that she swiped back, haha. I look forward to documenting more of our adventures.

Surprise!

So, my girlfriend and I have been secretly engaged for over 6 months now. Surprise! For those of you who have read this blog from the beginning (about 1 year), you guys know how head over heels I was for her from the get-go. Well, that still hasn’t changed and after many many talks about us, our feelings, and our life together, we decided we might as well make it super official.

If you are anything like me, then your thoughts might look like this right now:

  • You are moving too fast.
  • Do you even know each other?
  • Don’t you think you should date a few years before committing to that?

Allow me to ease your minds a little. Again, if you have been reading this blog from the beginning, you would know that we moved in together after only knowing each other for about 3 months. Well, it is 1 year later and we are still quite content with each other and don’t plan on changing the living arrangement we have.

I can only speak for myself, but I will tell you what my lady has told me: She has been on dates before, yes, but they never progressed to anything. I am her first and her last relationship- by her own choice. She says that she never encouraged other people because they were not to her standard and she didn’t want to invest herself into something that didn’t feel totally right. Makes sense, in my opinion.

In the beginning I felt a bit of pressure because I wanted her first relationship to be AWESOME! I did not want to set a negative scene for her in regards to relationships in that case that we might not work out. I wanted to make sure that I always created a safe, open, and fun space to explore each other- emotionally and physically. Mostly, though, I just felt honored to be the person to see all of her reactions to these new experiences; I also felt incredibly special that she chose me to trust with her heart.

Now, on to me: I’ve dated 5 people before my fiance, and, clearly, all of those relationships failed. I can also pinpoint exactly what I didn’t like in each of them- the relationship itself or the person.

  • unresolved/untreated mental health issues
  • abusive family members –>abuse leaked into our relationship
  • poor finances
  • no goals/motivation in life
  • no desire to educate themselves about current events/important topics
  • my family and friends disliked some of them for various reasons
  • major political differences

Fast forward to now: With my fiance, there isn’t one thing that I would deem as reason enough to be dissatisfied in this relationship. Long story short: she’s got her shit together. We are both super organized people, we are open about our financials, and we communicate about everything- even if it is not a fun topic. It’s just not worth “sweeping under the rug” and “dealing with it later” because that’s how you build resentment.

I will write a separate post detailing my family and friends’ reactions; spoiler: they were not surprised.

I am super pumped to start this new chapter of engagement and even though it doesn’t really feel any different, every day is a great day when I’m with her, so here’s to many more of those!

This year has sucked a lot.

I want to begin by saying that 2020 hasn’t been ALL bad, but damn, it’s been rough.

I got a call yesterday that a good friend of mine died on July 31st. She was 78 years old and she died after what seemed like a successful surgery. Her husband, also a good friend to me, called me right before my girlfriend and I were going for a walk.

I’m okay, but it’s just sad. It’s one more shitty thing to add to this year.

Also, last weekend was a packed weekend for me and my lady. On Saturday we had plans to visit my grandmother and walk her very energetic dog for her. On Sunday, my mom, my sister, my stepdad, and my best friend were going to come over to grill out with us.

So, once we arrived at my grandma’s house on Saturday, I ran inside to pick up the dog. On my way out, she asked me if I would be able to stay and help her out with a few things. I said that I was sorry, but I [for once in my life] had to clean the house and start meal-prepping for Sunday. I usually say yes to my grandma because I normally have nothing going on. She was obviously not pleased with my answer, but didn’t say anything in that moment.

About an hour later, when we got back to her house, I ran inside again to drop off the dog and say good-bye. I found her putting chemicals into her pool and I told her about Cleo’s (the dog) behavior at the dog park. While I was talking, my grandma wasn’t really looking at me and when she did respond, she was very short with me.

She started making little jabs about how no one ever has time for her and that none of my family ever helps her out, etc. She also told me that I am free to go to now since I clearly have better things to do.

Disclaimer: this behavior is very normal for my grandma. She is super emotional, super sensitive, and has no problem making people feel sorry for things they didn’t even do. This day was just a shock to me because out of everyone in the family, I have been there for her the most, even spending a week at a time with her and helping her with outdoor and indoor work.

Anyway, I told her that I did not appreciate being guilt-tripped and that I help her out every time she asks, but I just couldn’t do that today. She pouted and told me to go then, go do the other things I had to do.

I walked out and I was definitely upset because, like I said, I have helped my grandmother out more than anyone. I also never ask for anything, unlike other family members. It was just really hurtful that she would talk to me like that.

Additionally, I will admit that it is very difficult to want to help out this grandmother anyway because she is the most vocal about her belief that my being gay is simply a phase and also that she prays for me and my sin daily. She has spoken to her church about me and outed me to them without my knowing. She referred to me to her friend as “the granddaughter that thinks she’s gay”. During Christmas two years ago, she met my girlfriend at the time and told me that she was lovely, but that she still prayed for me.

It’s an ongoing battle with this grandmother, and she’s always been quirky, but lately it’s just gotten more and more exhausting being around her.

COVID-19, BLM, Working From Home and Virtual Learning

Much has happened since early May- the last time I wrote a post. I will bullet point some events below and expand on them further down.

  • My bosses moved back to France and I will probably be working from home through early 2021.
  • My university has announced a “blended learning” plan for the upcoming Fall semester. Some people will have mostly online classes, but I wasn’t as lucky. It is possible for things to change, but for the time being, I will be on campus as per usual. Woohoo.
  • Georgia is now #8 in the United States for highest COVID-19 cases and I live in the 2nd highest county AND I go to school in the highest county.
  • I am at my heaviest weight and none of my jeans fit. I mostly wear rompers because they are easy, loose-fitting, and breezy in this summer heat.
  • My partner and I participated in a protest in Atlanta in June for BLM. We went with some other friends and it was a really nice experience. So many people were there (all wearing masks!) with their animals and kids and homemade signs- it was truly a wonderful sight.
  • My sister has temporarily moved back to GA from FL (just in time, am I right??), but she will be returning in August.
  • I have finished the PS4 game Horizon Zero Dawn and I recommend it to everyone.
  • I got into a tussle on Facebook with my aunt. I am not one to engage with people on FB, but she commented on one of my posts and I replied.
  • I am set to graduate college next year (FINALLY!!!) and I am researching companies I want to apply at. I am also researching how much money people in HR normally make because I wouldn’t even know if I am being undercut.
  • I bought a new laptop (crying face) for $840 because my old one kept shutting down on me and I can’t have that happen during an exam or during something work-related.
  • I made the BEST strawberry cake last week and I am making it again in cupcake form tonight.

So, to expand on a few things:

In case there was ever any doubt about where I stand: Black lives matter. Black trans lives matter. Black lives matter. If you don’t understand those sentences, please see the image below:

Why you should stop saying “all lives matter,” explained in 9 ...
Kris Straub/Chainsawsuit

If you still don’t understand, I literally cannot and will not spend any more energy explaining this.

Moving on.

Overall, I don’t care about my weight until I hit the point where my pants no longer fit, and, well, we’ve hit that point. I don’t really know what my plan is next month; I’m thinking it will involve lots of leggings, sweatpants, and dresses. The wintertime concerns me because I need to dress a little more warmly and most of my comfy clothes are rather thin. I have a friend who was going to get married in September, but I think it’s being pushed back. I started trying to lose weight about one month ago, but I’ve seen minimal change. The wedding gave me a nice deadline and motivation, but I fear that that has now left. We’ll see what happens.

The Facebook Tussle: The post in question was a screenshot of a tweet that the GA governor sent out requesting for everyone to please wear masks. Above this screenshot I wrote something about how it was the dumbest thing I had seen all day because just hours before I had seen that Governor Kemp was suing Atlanta Mayor Keisha Bottoms for issuing a mask mandate. My aunt got upset because she felt like the mandate was taking her rights away and also cloth masks apparently may be more harmful than helpful, so people shouldn’t be forced to wear them. I laughed when I read “rights being taken away” and “rights slowly being stripped away” because from an LGBTQ person’s perspective, I know much more about not having rights than she does. That was just a small portion of the thread of conversation, though. As mentioned above, she went on to say that cloth masks might not be as protective as we think. This prompted me to DM her for the sources that claim this. She sent me an email chain from a woman I assume to be part of her homeschooling group; this woman put together a very extensive document full of links to various articles and studies (some are pro-mask and most are anti-mask, or at least questioning-mask). I was intrigued and I started reading. I got through the first 6. I didn’t just read the summary and quotes that were pulled by the lady, I clicked on the actual links and read the entire article/study. And I found some issues. I didn’t relay any of my findings to my aunt because I didn’t want to argue about it any more and I’m not interested in trying to change someone’s mind who doesn’t want their mind to be changed. Anyway, there were a multitude of flaws in those first 5 articles ranging from the actual authors redacting what they had written to data being used from 1920 to describe the current situation in California. There was also a study that revealed the most promising results of the anti-mask argument, but then I saw it was only relevant to healthcare workers in Vietnam AND they did not monitor hand hygiene AND all data was self-reported- lots of space for human error. I then just stopped reading. Personally, I believe that a cloth mask does not directly prevent COVID-19; however, I do believe that a properly washed and a properly worn cloth mask will greatly reduce the chance of transmission. Ultimately, it is up to the wearer to regularly clean both the mask and their hands.

So, I was planning on staying with the company I currently work for for at least another 2-4 years; however, I am not making the amount of money I want to be making. If I left this company, I would be leaving a lot behind: flexibility, autonomy, fantastic bosses and coworkers- the culture is really amazing. The problem is that I am getting older and eventually (soonish) I want to rent/buy a house with my partner. I want to adopt dogs. I want to have reliable health insurance. I want more job security. Unless my company steps in up in the next 12 months, I am heavily considering going elsewhere. Of course, it could take me a while to get a job- I have friends who graduated two years ago who are still applying day after day after day and it is so discouraging. I hope I have better luck.

I think that is all the expanding I wish to do tonight. I hope everyone has been doing alright and while things are quick scary in the US right now, I feel that a great majority has come together more than ever before to not just take action, but also to listen and to understand people who they were previously indifferent towards. Support Black businesses, recycle your plastics, and don’t be an asshole.

4.21.2020

As many of you have heard, I’m sure, Georgia governor Kemp has decided to begin reopening businesses starting this Friday. Such businesses include gyms, nail salons, and hairdressers/barber shops. He also said that social distancing still applies. Now, tell me, how the fuck do you implement social distancing at the nail salon??

I will be staying at home for at least another 4 weeks. I will not be a part of the 2nd wave of cases. No, thank you.

Anyway, I’m approaching finals in school. I have 2 tests this week, 2 quizzes, 2 homework assignments, and 1 final team project with a bunch of guys who haven’t even touched it. Next week begin the exams. Woohoo.

Tonight I will be making a lemon poppyseed cake and I am so excited to eat it.

Old Navy is currently (4/21/2020) having a sale that includes $12 dresses and rompers/jumpsuits, so check that out if you have a moment.

Lunette Menstrual Cups are also buy one get one starting tomorrow (4/22/2020). Just use the code CUPTOGETHER and one cup will be free.

I get these emails, so I’m just sharing them with you.

If ya’ll haven’t watched the Netflix show Sense8, you are missing out, my friends. I am hard to convince to watch a new show and I’m super picky about the genre and acting, but my girlfriend came through with this recommendation. Give it a whirl.

That’s all I’ve got for you today. I’ve been procrastinating an essay all day, so I’m going to jump on that.

Please stay home, ya’ll. Don’t put yourselves or others at unnecessary risk.

A COVID-19 Update

Atlanta, GA is in the middle of 14-day lockdown and my girlfriend and I are both working from home since a few weeks ago. My university has also moved to teach 100% online for the remainder of the semester. I’m not sure how the upcoming summer semester will go, but I’ve registered for a Corporate Finance class that I know will be a bitch. I’m due to register for fall classes in the next few days as well. Woohoo.

My girlfriend has exposed me to a variety of mobile games (Mario Cart and Words with Friends) and enlightened me to the fact that you can play Sims through your television and now we’re 2 minutes away from calling GameStop to see if they have any pre-owned PS4s.

The songs I am playing on repeat are Demi Lovato’s new song I Love Me and Ava Max’s Kings & Queens.

I have baked cookies cinnamon rolls and more cookies as well as quiche, pizza, and too-much-ginger-broccoli stir fry.

Lastly, my cohabitant and I were engaged in a 3 day monopoly game. I think I’m done with monopoly.

Honestly, I don’t go out much anyway, so this lockdown’s not that different from how I live my normal life; however, I did just recently discover the Atlanta Beltline and it is killing me not to drive there because the weather has been AMAZING (aside from the pollen that is suffocating my partner).

I need to complete my Marketing homework and maybe attempt baking a loaf of bread. I am also going to pick up my sewing hobby again and try creating a kaftan dress from a bedsheet. Pictures to come if it’s not a complete fail.

Sharing My Story

My therapist recently contacted me to ask me if I would participate in an interview about my experience in therapy. He would then want to use bits of that interview in a promotional video for his practice. I said sure. That interview was last Friday at 11 am. I wore jeans, converse, and my Ellen sweater that says “kindness” on it.

When I arrived at the little studio on the westside of Atlanta, my therapist was just finishing up a photo shoot with the two other therapists he works with.

Once they were done, the helpers moved the furniture and replaced the couch with a glass table with a chair on either side that were facing each other. I was also given a microphone to clip on my sweater and on the back of my pants.

Now, days before the interview . my therapist sent me an email with a list of possible questions. I, of course, typed out answers to all of them just in case I got tongue tied during the actual interview.

Here are those questions:

Thoughts leading up to therapy. 

“Man, I hope this works.”

Why did you choose therapy? 

I was unable to “deal with it” alone anymore and I wanted another opinion. It had also been 10 years without significant progress, so I figured therapy wouldn’t make it any worse.

What were you looking for?

Initially, a cure; however, I recognized that that was unrealistic and unlikely, so I adapted it to “new ways to get through anxiety without making me stop living my life.”

What did you think about the phrase “all of you is welcome”?

It gave my “undesirable” parts an invitation to participate and be heard. I never invited them.

Do you remember me saying let’s “unbraid your narrative” or paying close attention to how the “researcher” was managing anxiety? —what changed (realization that I was capable in chaos)

I heard, “start from the beginning”. The realization that I excelled in chaotic parts of my life was validation that I could get through anything and that I would continue to get through anything.

How did kindness help/facilitate this process?

The act of being kind to myself opened many emotional doors. It made me feel more vulnerable and exposed because I think I knew exactly what parts I had been suppressing and invalidating; I didn’t want those parts to make all the parts I was so proud of look bad.

Where you afraid to talk about the parts of you? Did you think this would mean you were crazy?

I don’t think I was afraid per se, but I did have to make a conscious decision to share very personal accounts and thoughts about my life and myself with a complete stranger. I was hoping that I would be pushed to think about things differently than I had been. In the end, I think the reason therapy worked so well with Jon is because we are fundamentally very different personalities; I can’t say that I would’ve been as successful as someone who was as logical as I was. Jon challenged me to welcome and embrace the “softer” sides of myself and this was very helpful in the healing process.

There was never any concern about me being “crazy”.

What did you think about the 3 steps: Tell the Truth, Set Intention, Tell a Different Story?

I am honestly drawing a complete blank.

Being kind to self? Was that something new for you? 

Are you still using kindness today? 

Being kind to myself in the way Jon wanted me to be kind to myself was new, yes. I thought that I was kind, but I quickly discovered that the standards I held myself to were significantly higher than what I held other people to. I was also more forgiving of other people’s emotions; for my own emotions, I limited myself to an allotted slot of time for me to be sad, cry, and wallow in grief or whatever other emotion/feeling I deemed to be negative [for me].

Today, I am kind to myself. I don’t really have to think about it anymore, my body and mind now know that they are free to feel whatever they want without punishment.

Thoughts leading up to therapy. 

Man, I hope this works.

Why did you choose therapy? 

I was unable to “deal with it” alone anymore and I wanted another opinion. It had also been 10 years without significant progress, so I figured therapy wouldn’t make it any worse.

What were you looking for?

Initially, a cure; however, I recognized that that was unrealistic and unlikely, so I adapted it to “new ways to get through anxiety without making me stop living my life.”

What did you think about the phrase “all of you is welcome”?

It gave my “undesirable” parts an invitation to participate and be heard. I never invited them.

Do you remember me saying let’s “unbraid your narrative” or paying close attention to how the “researcher” was managing anxiety? —what changed (realization that I was capable in chaos)

I heard, “start from the beginning”. The realization that I excelled in chaotic parts of my life was validation that I could get through anything and that I would continue to get through anything.

How did kindness help/facilitate this process?

The act of being kind to myself opened many emotional doors. It made me feel more vulnerable and exposed because I think I knew exactly what parts I had been suppressing and invalidating; I didn’t want those parts to make all the parts I was so proud of look bad.

Where you afraid to talk about the parts of you? Did you think this would mean you were crazy?

I don’t think I was afraid per se, but I did have to make a conscious decision to share very personal accounts and thoughts about my life and myself with a complete stranger. I was hoping that I would be pushed to think about things differently than I had been. In the end, I think the reason therapy worked so well with Jon is because we are fundamentally very different personalities; I can’t say that I would’ve been as successful as someone who was as logical as I was. Jon challenged me to welcome and embrace the “softer” sides of myself and this was very helpful in the healing process.

There was never any concern about me being “crazy”.

What did you think about the 3 steps: Tell the Truth, Set Intention, Tell a Different Story?

I am honestly drawing a complete blank.

Being kind to self? Was that something new for you? Are you still using kindness today? 

Being kind to myself in the way Jon wanted me to be kind to myself was new, yes. I thought that I was kind, but I quickly discovered that the standards I held myself to were significantly higher than what I held other people to. I was also more forgiving of other people’s emotions; for my own emotions, I limited myself to an allotted slot of time for me to be sad, cry, and wallow in grief or whatever other emotion/feeling I deemed to be negative [for me].

Today, I am kind to myself. I don’t really have to think about it anymore, my body and mind now know that they are free to feel whatever they want without punishment.

What would you say to someone who is thinking about going therapy but is unsure?

It never hurts to get a second opinion. Maybe this isn’t as good as it gets- go find out. Except for the co-pay, you’ve got nothing to lose.

So, the actual interview went well; it was a lot shorter than I thought it would be. I don’t know when the final version will be completed, but I was told I’d be sent an email.

They gave me flowers, a candle, and a bottle of red wine for my time. There was also a thoughtful card from my therapist.

I guess I feel fine about the interview. I was nervous about too much personal information being released, but it was actually very surface level. Whenever it is released, I’ll put it on here or at least share my thoughts on it.

Date Night: The Science Museum

My girlfriend and I are going to the local science museum for a 21+ experience involving volcanos, so I am thoroughly pumped. I’m told there will be alcohol, music, movies, and “adult” experiments. I really don’t know what to expect.

I shaved my legs and armpit for the first time since October 2019 and I think I might have clogged the drain a little.

My mouth (FINALLY!!!) does not hurt anymore. I was taking 800 mg of ibuprofen every day for the past week as well as rubbing clove oil on my gums every morning and night. I didn’t attend classes on Monday and Tuesday and was unpleasantly surprised with a test when I returned to campus on Wednesday.

Today is Valentine’s Day, yes, but it is also my coworker’s birthday, so a few of us brought baked goods. I made vanilla macarons and vanilla cupcakes. My coworkers brought a chocolate cake with coconut frosting and raspberries on top. It was delish.

I had a meeting with my advisor and I will officially be graduation in May 2021. My body is ready. I will also be starting full-time at my current job this summer, so that will be nice to have a little more income.

For those of you in school and for those of you that haven’t done your taxes: make sure you or your parents claim the American Opportunity tax credit if you’re in your first 4 years of college. It could get you $1,000 and I know ya’ll need it.

I am currently baking sugar cookie bars. I’ve attempted to dual color the icing, so we’ll see if it turns out as I hope it will.

Welcome to the New Year!

I must begin my first post of 2020 by saying that I was unfortunate enough to end my holidays with some not so great news: my German grandfather is in a coma with meningitis, pneumonia, and sepsis. He’s in his mid 80s, so it doesn’t look great. My mother flew home on December 24th and she’s coming back tomorrow. He hasn’t woken up yet, but she has to return to work.

I spent the last week of December dog sitting and taking care of my sick girlfriend; fast forward a few days and it was her taking care of a sick me.

A fever, a cough, some vomiting, a visit to urgent care, and an ear infection later, I am on day 4 of antibiotics and day 2 of being back at work. I am still coughing up a storm, but overall I feel much better.

Our Christmas tree is still up, our apartment looks a fright, and I haven’t baked in what feels like months! I also made an extensive physical and mental list of things I want in 2020 for myself and for my relationship with Chelsea (spoiler: it involves lots of travel!), but I haven’t had a chance to start on any of it on account of my getting sick.

I was supposed to have 4 teeth removed yesterday, but I had to reschedule that, so that’s happening next Friday. Woohoo. Braces are still on for January 30th.

School begins next Monday. I am taking 4 classes. 3 of them are HR classes and 1 of them is a marketing class. I am excited, but I am nervous because 2 of my classes are evening classes; I go to school in downtown Atlanta and I park in a parking garage that is known for armed robberies and assaults. With the days becoming dark very early, I’ll have to watch my back walking to and from my car and class.

I shall now bake brownies!

My Holiday Thus Far

The Holiday Season began, for me, the moment October kissed us goodbye. My girlfriend and I were given a 3 foot Christmas Tree by my grandparents and we set that sucker up immediately. That same day, my Meemaw also invited Chelsea to Thanksgiving. I’ve never had a partner at Thanksgiving, so this was an exciting first.

So, Thanksgiving comes around. My entire immediate family was actually not in town. My mother and stepdad were in Florida. My dad and stepmom were hosting their own Thanksgiving elsewhere (we did end up visiting them later). My sister was also in Florida and got to spend some time with mom.

Ever since my therapist told me to go into the holiday season with a more open mind, I wasn’t as nervous as I might have been otherwise about introducing my girlfriend to the family. This half of my family is quite conservative and religious; however, we actually had a wonderful time. The only person who I felt gave us a little bit of a hard time was my aunt, but I don’t think it was meant maliciously.

As Thanksgiving came to an end and the Christmas music crept through our radios, I started baking and planning and, as of yesterday, making eggnog. In fact, I’ve decided to conduct an experiment and make many types of eggnog in order to find the one that reigns over them all. There will be a few non-alcoholic versions due to the fact that my girlfriend doesn’t like to consume what she thinks tastes like medicine. I mean, she’s not wrong- many medicines contain alcohol.

Anyway, Chelsea leaves for California next week and I will begin dog-sitting, spending time with mom, and then dog-sitting some more. My work has demanded that no one work the week of Christmas, so I had to come up with another form of income. School has also come to an end and I am actually really looking forward to next semester even though this one just about killed me. I have one final exam tomorrow (on a Saturday!!??) at 4:15pm. I’m not thrilled about it, but I’m sure it’ll be fine.

Happy holidays, everyone!