The Arena

It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.Teddy Roosevelt

I have always been a big believer in the idea that creative inspiration does not flow in a continuous pattern. I feel that there are periods of time when my brain is itching to churn out new ideas and thoughts. It honestly has not been that way for the past couple months, mainly because my brain has been full of concepts and thoughts for school work. I find that when I’m stressed I often hit a creative brick wall. I am sorry for my lack of posts, but I truly do not want to waste anyone’s time writing things I don’t believe in. However, this morning, my brain said we need to write this out, and that’s where today’s post starts.

I have finally had a moment to begin climbing the great wall of Writer’s Block, as I am now in my last month of Graduate school. It’s hard to believe that almost 2 years ago, I made the decision to go back to school for my Master’s, knowing that I would be doing so while working full time. I was not even prepared for how difficult working full time and going to school would be, and I can say that I’ve gained a new sense of respect for working parents who go back to school. We have a dog, and at times it has felt overwhelming to me.

Since my brain has now had some time to take a breath, it’s been doing some thinking. The reason I referenced the Teddy Roosevelt quote is because my Dad always used to say this quote to me when I was in high school. He’d usually reference this right after an upsetting volleyball game, or band competition. While he wouldn’t quote the entire thing, he’d always say, “The credit belongs to the man in the arena”. I always thought this was a sports reference, in that the arena referenced a court or field. Now, as I’ve grown older, I’ve begun realizing: what if the arena doesn’t reference a specific area? What if life is the arena?

I think what Roosevelt (and my Dad) were getting at it here is that whether we know it, we’re always in the arena. Every night that I’ve stayed up late submitting homework, or chose to stay in to complete a project, I have fought within the arena. I’ve fought the pre conception that I wasn’t driven enough to complete an online based program. I think that ultimately I was fighting myself on this. As I’ve discovered, these programs and degrees aren’t to make employers or professors believe in you; they’re to make you believe in yourself.

When I cross the stage next month in my funny looking cap and gown, I’ll essentially leave the arena I’ve been fighting in for two years. But I’ve also realized is that anytime we leave one arena, we walk into another one. After leaving the Graduate School arena, I’ll enter another one with even more unknown than the previous. But as Roosevelt points out, “The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena” meaning that the real champions of these arenas are those who never stop fighting, and accept the fact that they will face disappointments and losses along the way.

My hope for myself and anyone who is fighting in an arena of their own is that we use the arena to propel our desires instead of inhibit them. I hope that we can all realize that the arena isn’t there to stop us, it’s to determine who will fight hard enough to climb out. And when we climb out, we’ll climb into a new arena, but we’ll take with us the knowledge we previously gained. So the arenas will get tougher, but so will we. My advice is to be the man (or woman) in the arena, and never stop fighting, and let us never be among those who never entered the arena at all.

The Ins and Outs of Coming Out

I know I said I was going to write, and then I didn’t. Well surprise, surprise! I am sorry for that, transitioning to a new job really threw off my writing schedule. It’s hard to write a really inspiring post (jokes) when you work all day, and then come home tired. Doesn’t really help the bit of writer’s block I have been going through.

I did think this was an important topic to write on, and that is what made me decide to put my digital pen to paper and get going today. Coming out is something I feel like I talk about frequently, and I figured maybe writing some of those things out might help others struggling to do so!

A couple things before I jump on my soapbox here. First, I am not licensed to give advice in any way. I am not a therapist, nor any kind of counselor. I am simply someone who came out, and learned a ton in the process. Take this advice as you like, and as always I’ll try and keep it semi humorous!

Another point is that this is not my coming out story; it’s more about some things I have learned in the process. If I get a lot of feedback to post my personal story I will, but it’s definitely something personal that I don’t want to just put out there.

I think the most important thing I learned when I came out was that I felt this pressure to come out to everyone. It was kind of like once I had come out in my own head, there was this sense of obligation. Over the years, I have realized this was definitely something in my own head. You are not obligated in any way to come out to anyone that you don’t want to. I think many people feel like they’re required to do this mass coming out, and you’re not! The way I think about it is that a straight person wouldn’t introduce themselves and say “Hi, I’m so and so, and I’m straight”. That’s pretty dumb right? I agree. Coming out is an extremely personal decision and you should never feel pressured to tell anyone you’re not comfortable telling!

Another thing that I’ve always been told is that coming out means sitting down with someone and nervously telling them you’re gay. This is another huge misconception in my book! Honestly, I don’t really “come” out to people. but when they ask who I’m dating will simply tell them my girlfriend’s (wait, now fiance? more to come on that) name. Coming out to anyone can be as big or as small as you’d like it to be. I consider my sexuality to be really a small part of me, so I don’t feel the need to have to formally come out. After all, I’m a Libra, I’m short, I have green eyes, I love wine, and I’m gay. It’s just not that big of a deal to me.

When I first came out, I remember people asking so many questions, and I remembered feeling really put off by this. It took a while, but I realized that they were only asking these questions because they wanted to understand better. Often, it really can feel like you’re being attacked, but I think that ultimately those asking the questions simply want to understand. The people that are there to support you will have questions. I think this was my biggest misconception with coming out, that I would just come out and everyone would just shrug it off like it’s nothing. And for some people this may be the case. But it wasn’t for me, and I have answered a ton of questions since my own coming out.

It’s also completely okay to not know the answers to these questions. My mother asked me when I came out who walked down the aisle at a lesbian wedding….honestly, I still don’t know the answer to that one. It’s okay to say “I don’t know!”. In the end, it’s entirely up to you as to what you’re comfortable and uncomfortable talking about.

Well, that’s all I have for now, but I’m sure I will always have more thoughts on this topic. I’d love to know what your experiences with coming out have been! As always feel free to drop a line so that I don’t feel like I’m completely talking to myself here in Internet land 🙂

I probably am.

Coming up:

Big news aka I’m engaged! All the details to come campers!

The Bitch That is Writer’s Block

This post is about the current clog that seems to be overcoming my brain. I’m not sure if its due to stress at work, or just the holidays in general, but lately I’ve felt like I can’t write a good post. I call this bitch, The Writer’s Block.

The Writer’s Block is the little devil that sits on my shoulder. It leers at me when I stare at my screen:

“ooooohhhhh, don’t have anything to write about? Better keep your day job”

This is the point when i usually flick the writer’s block off my shoulder, which only garners strange looks when people realize that I am indeed flicking and swearing at something that’s not there. I’m a little weird. Anyways, back to the story:

The writer’s block seems to appear when I feel run down. Because of  on going issues at work, it’s felt like lately I’ve become a zombie. I get up, go to work, come home, go to sleep. Rinse and repeat! I then plop myself down at my computer and tell myself- I am going to write something epic!

Then i usually search cats on youtube, and well you probably know how that goes.

I don’t think it works like that though, at least not for me. If it works for anyone else, then consider yourself lucky. People say that you’re supposed to write everyday, but some days there’s just nothing there. I write when I have something to say, and some days there’s just nothing. But when I write, I’m usually writing  because there’s something I need to work through in my brain. Basically, my mind is full of wine, cats, and worries about being an adult, so there’s a lot weird stuff in there. Sometimes, writing is the only way I can say what I really need to say. Sometimes it’s epic, and sometimes it’s shit. I don’t think creativity is just a switch that can be turned on and off. I think it’s something that you come to on your own schedule.

My point about writing and the ugly writer’s block devil is that the fat little bastard wants you to fail. He wants you to not write, and be miserable about it. Sometimes I have to think of my brain as a giant drain. When I get run down and tired and cranky (or i run out of wine) the drain gets clogged. I think this weekend I’ll be spending some time relaxing and trying to Drano my brain.

The online comic, The Oatmeal has a great piece about writing and creativity. My favorite quote from this is:

“Art is not born in a vacuum”

Our minds just aren’t conveyor belts that can continually crank out awesome content. Sometimes you get clogged up (take that as you will). Either way, tell the writer’s block devil to fuck off, and get yourself a glass of wine.

Unless you’re underage- get a glass of soda (your day will come, you poor souls)

-C

Paint Expectations (like Great Expectations…get it?)

This is a story about deciding what you want, and getting it.

Just kidding, this is a story about getting piss ass drunk, getting a wild idea, following through, and having a great outcome.

I know kids, it’s the feel good story of 20 friggin’ 14!

Most people associate “wild” ideas with getting tattoos, or getting married, or getting a car. What was my wild idea?

Re-painting the cabinets! I know, I hope you were all sitting down when you read that. It all started one Friday night, when the lady and I had a main entree of wine and a side of actual food, and of course were watching HGTV.

“You know what?!” I stuttered, reaching for the now sippy cup my wine was in (I had previously lost my privileges for drinking wine out of glass objects). I couldn’t tell if the lady couldn’t stop staring at my red stained teeth, or was just waiting for the synapses in my brain to piece together my next sentence.

“We should re- do the cabinets!” I declared ….and cue gesturing grandly, knocking over everything on the coffee table. I also lost the right to drink on the couch that night.

It wasn’t a horrible idea, in fact it was something I had always meant to do, but in the war of renovation, you have to pick your battles.

Previously, the cabinets were standard white, and stained with cooking disasters from the previous residents. I’ll put that hot mess here:

IMG_2978

 

IMG_2977

IMG_2979

Here are my steps for successfully re-painting your cabinets:

1. Decide what color you actually want to paint them. I suggest doing this sober, as our drunken color ideas were probably not too solid. In the end, we decided to do an off white on the top, and a gray on bottom. I know, crazy right?

2. Go to Lowes, and try to resist the urge to not gauge your eyes out with a paint stirrer when you see that there are indeed one MILLION shades of white, and two BILLION shades of gray. Insert Fifty Shades of Gray joke here. Actually, more like Fifty Shades of WHAT THE FRIGGITY FRACK IS THE DIFFERENCE?!

3. After successfully leaving your eyeballs in tact, laugh at all the ridiculous names of the paint samples. Seriously, the white we chose was called Quail Egg.

I know, just let that sink in. I would love to know what poor Lowes Employee had to crawl their ass up a tree to see what color a Quail Egg is?!

4. Sit for a week pondering about how in the actual hell you are going to paint the entire kitchen. Doubt yourself. Doubt your existence.

5. Finally, come to your senses and wait till your one day Father-in-Law visits, and just so happens to be a cabinet maker. Make sad eyes. Conveniently have to go to work so that girlfriend and father can bond, and paint cabinets.

6. Come home and obsess over beautiful cabinets.

I know, I know, I totally opted out of that one. But would they really have been that beautiful if I had helped? Probably not. The reason this has taken so long to post (other than the fact I’ve been too busy drooling over cabinets) is that we also go a kitchen full of brand new appliances!! And a big reveal wouldn’t be the same without them. So here it is!!

 

My two favorite things: coffee and non leaking fridges.

My two favorite things: coffee and non leaking fridges.

IMG_2974

 

IMG_2976

After having to listen to a dishwasher that sounds like cannon fire every time it runs, this is a dream come true. If anyone needs me, I’ll be drinking wine and staring at the kitchen.

I’m still drinking it out of a sippy cup.

-C

If anyone is interested in learning more about kitchen painting, drinking a ton of wine, or both, please feel free to comment!

We are the people our parents warned us about.

We are the people our parents warned us about. – Jimmy Buffett 

Have you ever had a week that made you question every choice you’ve ever made? It has been one hell of a week here, and I think i may be on the verge of going nuts. This is the kind of stuff they don’t prepare you for in college. Sure, I had to take Religion 300, but not introduction to changing your air filter?? I’ve spent the week listening to my sister complain about finals, and watching numerous posts about finals week.

I never thought I’d say this, but I’d do anything to go back to that! I know it’s crazy, but no one tells you just how hard a 9-5 really will be after college. You don’t get to nap between classes anymore, or just skip because you don’t feel like going. The real world doesn’t work that way, and …

Oh my God. I just quoted my Dad. Without even realizing it.

The truth is that growing up is tough stuff. Being an adult is even tougher. I know I’m probably supposed to have a gem of wisdom about this, but I really don’t today. I apologize if this isn’t the most uplifting post, but I try to keep it real.

Some days are just shitty. Some weeks are just shitty.

It’s been one of those weeks. So just know that if you’re in the same boat I am today, I’ll be raising my bottle (i mean glass) of wine to you.

Cheers to Adulthood!

-C

Learning to be Lost; Learning to be Okay with It.

For you to understand the my complex about growing up and turning out alright, you have to understand where I came from.

I grew up with two doctors for parents. My childhood was a mixture of on call schedules, looking at x-rays at the dinner table, and learning every medical term known to man. To put this in a clear perspective, my “birds and the bees” talk was comprised of a powerpoint, complete with diagrams and quiz after. I lived with two incredibly brilliant people, and I realized this from an early age. I listened to their stories of struggling to pay for medical school, of working three jobs, and of joining the Navy. Even at a young age, I understood that sacrifice was a necessary part of fulfilling your dreams. For some kids, two doctors as parents would have pretty much sealed the deal for a third MD in the house. But not me. If anything, it made me go the other way. I had no clue what I wanted to be, but I sure knew it wasn’t being a Doctor.

In a way, I think they were even prouder of me for that. But of course, this begged the question:

What am I going to be?

To be quite honest, I still don’t know. I’m 24.

To be fair, I grew up with two people who knew they would be doctors from age 12. I know, freaks. Meanwhile, I can barely pick something to watch on Netflix. I grew up with this idea that one day, you’d wake up, and you’d just know.

Well, I didn’t. And that scared me. A lot.

I went to college, and tried to major in International Business. I still count on my toes, so trying to tackle economics was not really my chosen path. But I realized that I loved the foreign language aspect of the major, especially Spanish. The fact that the human brain is intelligent to learn and understand another language is still incredible to me. So I majored in Spanish, and had absolutely no clue what I was going to do with it. But I learned how to speak Spanish, and I traveled through Europe.I never realized this, but my parents never did that. I realized that I was headed down a path very different from my parents, and this scared the hell out of me.

I graduated college, and babysat for a summer while figuring out what the hell I was supposed to do. And then, I applied for a random job in technical support that got me an interview and later a job offer. All the time I kept thinking, “Is this what I’m supposed to be doing?”

A year later, I’m still at said job and now pursuing a Masters in Information Technology. Coming from someone who could barely use Facebook, I would say I have come a long way since college. But I still get scared, in fcat I get scared all the time. I still wonder if I’m on the right path, and if what I’m doing is worthwhile. The voices in my head often remind that at this point my parents were doctors.

Well I’ve got news for you, neuroses, and anyone reading this.

You are not your parents.

You are you. A gloriously arranged compilation of cells, skin and organs. Your thoughts and feelings are yours alone.

You are dramatic, and brave, and scared all at the same time.

The only path that is right for you is the one you decide to take.

You just have to learn to put one foot in front of the other.

It’s incredible that as children we are taught to walk one step at a time, and we apply this mantra as we grow older. Our steps may be bigger, and longer and farther, but they are still steps.

It’s okay to not know if you’re going down the right path, but it’s not okay to stop walking.

-C

Happiness, and Weird Ways of Finding It

I think happiness is a tricky emotion, and I have struggled with it for a long time. The holidays always are a time for me to review the year and everything that has happened. It also serves as an emotional checkpoint for me. I think this checkpoint for me is the most important to date because I finally feel comfortable with myself, and most importantly, happy!

I think happiness is something that evolves as we  evolve. I think that the things that made me happy years ago don’t really do so now. I can remember when getting good grades made me happy (those were the days!) and now, getting a paycheck makes me very happy. But most importantly, I feel comfortable with who I am, and that makes me happiest of all.

For a long time, I struggled with what it meant to be happy. I struggled with being a person that made others happy, but not myself. False

Me, hugging Dennis the Dog. Because why not? Also, Dennis was not having it.

Me, hugging Dennis the Dog. Because why not? Also, Dennis was not having it.

happiness is a very real thing, but unfortunately its results just aren’t that satisfying. For a long time, I thought that maybe I just wasn’t meant to be happy. I struggled with coming out and depression, and in my mind, I thought that happiness was just something other people found. It took a lot of bumps in the road for me to realize, that ultimately, I was my own road bump. I used my identity and my depression as crutches to avoid trying to  be happy. I think I was scared of being happy, and to this day I really don’t understand why. But I took the first step and I reached out, and asked for help. I began to doing research, and finding out gay role models and following their stories. YouTube was a huge outlet for me, and I still follow many LGBT accounts like Kaelyn and Lucy and What Wegan Did Next. I’ve never met these people but they showed me that it’s possible to be yourself and be happy. I’ve linked their YouTube pages here as well, so if you’re interested I highly recommend their videos! I’ve often toyed with the idea of one day starting my own YouTube channel, so i’d certainly be interested if anyone has any thoughts on that.

Wow, I just completely strayed from the point I was trying to make. Back to Business!

I think that for me, I had to be brave to be happy. I had to have a lot of uncomfortable talks, lose some friends, and eventually gain a lot more. I had to learn to be proud of who I am, and my mother has always said that once you’ve gotten yourself together, the right person will come a long. And she did! If you had told me that 5 years ago, I would’ve said HELL NAH! If you told me I would be writing about this five years ago, I would’ve said HELL NAH! But I did, and I think if it’s something you’re struggling with, you can too. Sometimes, you have to bet on yourself, and take a risk.

As always, I appreciate the feedback and everyone who visits the blog! Thank you!

And also,  HAPPY FRIDAY!

-C