Level With Me

Maybe it’s because I had a long day, but I’m not in the most positive of spirits. I get in these ruts where everything seems to stack and stack and stack up to catastrophic heights, all while floating through the day as if all is well. The stacks never fall.

Deep down I need a change. I know a large part of that is professionally speaking. I don’t like that work energy is so easily brought home. I care too much (most of the time) to fully disengage my brain from the 8am-8pm coverage windows I have to monitor.

I get this from my mother – I am most certain of this fact. We are doers, you see. Helping anyone who needs it and bending over backwards if need be. But what happens when we need a break? Does anyone notice? The answer to that question seems to be a blatant “no” at the moment.

My kitchen confronts me daily with dishes I’ve left undone from the previous night; sometimes two nights. Nothing major but enough to make my skin crawl with annoyance.

I love my dog, but there are times I wish I wasn’t so hands-on with him. He’s my shadow and comes to me for everything – even if S is doing absolutely nothing. It can be overwhelming at times. Just call me super mom.

I was taking my sister and nephew home tonight when I had a concealed panic attack behind the wheel. Driving is something I absolutely hate and I’m not really sure why. I’d just missed our exit and I was surrounded by assholes and semi-trucks.

I don’t think she noticed but I immediately went into a breathing exercise for relaxation and mindfulness. To distract myself, I had to focus on my breathing and veer away from questions about her day. We could catch up later. My only focus was getting the two of them home safely so I could scream in my car and turn the music WAY up.

I feel as though being nice is turning me into an asshole. Does that make sense? I reach a point of “no more” in multiple areas of my life and a shift happens almost too easily for me… and not for the better. I suppose my team could use a more strict environment, but I don’t have go full vicious on anyone.

(This is the part where I read you the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.)

I got home safe after battling the bright lights and over-sized trucks of the interstate. I could finally sit down, vent and release the weight of the day, and make sure my attitude wasn’t crashing into anyone’s world but mine.

Cleaning always helps me chill the fuck out. S has a holiday party tomorrow – spouses aren’t invited – so that’ll be a good chance to reel in my crazy. I also have a feeling that tomorrow’s morning workout will be a great one…

I’m going to sleep now. Goodnight, everyone.

Reflect, Recharge, Repeat.

Work is just something we all have to do, and we’ve stopped fighting that fact. No one has to settle by any means, but it doesn’t have to feel like a death sentence. I’ve realized this recently whilst dealing with a mess of a scheduling issues and curveballs at the 9-to-5.

Before last week, I would come home in a drained state of mind. No activity sounded interesting and my drive to work on side projects suffered. S has always been better at managing this kind of energy. I’m so used to being upbeat that when any hint of darkness presents itself, it flourishes in no time at all. 

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I’ve been letting work consume my spirit. Good days fly by and the bad ones linger; why is that? Because in my mind there is always another version of the way a scenario could have played out. At the end of the day, if some customer is pissed or you aren’t seeing eye to eye with the boss, don’t bring that home. Who wants that under their roof? Keep the clouds outside.

I’ve been really into the following quote from RuPaul lately:

“Don’t take life too seriously and have fun. Don’t waste your time on things that your ego will try and convince you are important.”

Over the past handful of weeks I’ve dug deep into myself to work through this uncertainty. Uncertainty about whether to stay or go. Uncertainty about the person I’m morphing into in this role. Uncertainty about if I can do this and chase my dreams. Queen Uncertainty seemed to be stirring the pot and mixing a fierce trouble stew.

 

You’ve all heard me go on about work life and balancing life outside of the office. It’s taken some time – even after those previous posts – and self-reflection to really get to the bottom of that. When I come home now, I’m only focused on the positive. My focus and energy after 4:30 PM go toward my goals that need a little more nurturing, S, and our pup.

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It’s been nice not worrying about mediocre days at the office or dwelling on nonsense that I can’t truly impact in the moment. I’m in control and in the end, I know what’s next for me and that’s exciting. Banking this focus and energy has provided me the ability to laugh at a not-so-stellar day at work or elsewhere. Did I mention S thinks my moods at home have improved greatly? (laughs out loud)

So, everyone, “don’t waste your time on things that your ego will try and convince you are important.” Because wasted energy is wasted life. I know I do a great job at work, so I’m not going to sweat the little things. Passion haunts anything I’m a part of, including work, but I finally see how I need to manage that moving forward. This was a long one! Thanks for reading.

J.

The Balancing Act

We’ve been living in a constant state of battle with our personal lives and work lives. There seems to be somewhat of a balance, but maybe I’m saying “somewhat of a balance” because we just get it done. Whatever the task – be it at work or home – we just get it done. Looking back at 2016 so far, I’ve learned that accomplishments don’t necessarily represent balance.

 

I will be turning thirty years old this November. Most of us by now have learned that life generally has its own path laid out, regardless of what plans we’ve made. We’re at the age now where many of our friends have children or are currently expecting their first bundles of joy. Sure, S and I have talked about having children – how many, names, what kind of parents we think we’d be… all of it. We truly appreciate everyone’s excitement at the prospect of S and I becoming dads, but that will not be happening for a long while (lol).

 

First of all, I’m married to a CPA. Do you really think we’re making any major moves before making sure our pennies are in order? We own our loft condo in Indianapolis and plan on upgrading the hell out of it before having a home built; hopefully in Bloomington. We were forced to upgrade the majority of the whole downstairs last fall when we discovered an internal leak. THAT was not fun, but we survived. Kids will be lovely down the road, but for now we’re good with our one-year-old pup, Reynold.

 

Both of our careers are at explosive levels right now. By explosive, I mean we’re both making major moves and are both being looked at for possible manager roles at our respective workplaces. We were both just promoted a handful of months ago, so work for both of us has been a whirlwind of sorts. “New levels, new devils.” I heard that bit of wisdom on a podcast I listen to called The Friend Zone. It’s so true. With any type of growth comes new challenges, especially in the work world. S has been going through this all while working on his Masters of Accounting degree. Thankfully, he’s just started his last couple courses and will be done in December. He pretty much went full-time school and full-time work this summer so he could finish early. What a beast, that hussssband of mine.

 

Success at work, with a heavy dash of continued education, has lead to a serious lack of us time and time spent on our personal projects. I laid out a plan to write more regularly months ago and develop the blog more, and it’s been a struggle to get any of that work done. I try to write for the blog and for my book whenever I can, but most days we’re too tired to do anything but Netflix and chill with the dog. We know that in order to be happy we have to keep things like a personal projects on track to have some fun. We both actually don’t mind our jobs so much, but we’re fighting for a balance – that happy medium of success in all areas of life, all while managing to relax on regular basis and do what we want. We’ll get there one day, but for now, we realize we are entering the next phase of our professional lives and that there is still a light at the end of our tunnel.

 

You can only plan so much in life and that’s a fact we both know to be true. Security isn’t so much a worry as it is a responsibility. If we’re going to do most of what we want, and in a timely manner, financial responsibility is a major key. Before we bring children – and my future French bulldog – into the picture, we’d like to have accomplished some personal goals; maybe travel the world a couple times. I’ve said a number of times now “this is the year I figure out how to work for myself.” Keeping this blog, pitching to local publications, and working on a book is all part of that plan. S has his own plans and doesn’t plan on letting those slip away by any means.

 

There’s so much we’d like to accomplish and in realistic time. Balance is a requirement if we’re going to maintain our sanity while growing into a couple power queens and planning for a fun, full life. We love the one-step-at-a-time approach. Right now our jobs are the main focus, only until things calm down. Once S is done with his studies, he’ll be able to re-center his zen and work a little less. Without losing site of our hopes and wishes, we’ll figure out the balance and continue to move forward. One day at a time.

 

Oh? The kids question? Before we’re 40. There ya go 😉

Lost Then Found

At my crossroads I was able to find a glimpse of hope. A shining lit path that called me forward into the unknown. The majority of my confidence was tucked away, safely in my back pocket, as I greeted uncertainty at the start of my freshly selected pathway. All things professional were out of my hands when I returned to the eye of the storm that was my current position in corporate hell. No matter what I did or how well I performed, I’d still have to deal with a hurricane of a supervisor before any progress was made. I’d resolved to keep doing my best and simply exist in my role; not making any waves unless I absolutely felt I needed to abandon my silent protest.

Patience rewarded me with news that the hurricane was leaving. I didn’t believe it to be true until I saw his two weeks notice email to the entire team in my email inbox. Sweet Jimi Hendrix. Was this really happening? I’m an extremely impatient person, so I was both shocked and happy I was able to survive this dark period. It was only less than a year ago that I sat in an office and was told I wasn’t selected for the role because he – the hurricane – was already in the department. I’d witness over the next nine or so months that they saw the error of their ways when it came to that decision. This moment was mine. And if it wasn’t mine for any reason? Then there’d be no reason for me to stay.
My reign as supervisor is only a couple weeks young, and things are better than ever. It’s amazing what a little personnel change and restoration of positive energy can accomplish. I remember standing at the center of my crossroads and reaching into my back pocket. The little bit of patience and confidence I had stored away was now in the palm of my hand. North, South, East, and West. It was a compass. The needle was spun feverishly as I awaited its decision. The only directions I recognized at the time were fear, frustration, uncertainty, and exhaustion. It wasn’t until I dropped the compass – expelling any acceptance of giving up from my inner most thoughts – that I noticed the well lit path in front of me. I’m ever thankful for the storm that was this past year in corporate life. I was tested, stretched thin, and reminded of the fight that rests inside of me. I’m moving onward, upward, and damn it feels good.

C r o s s r o a d s

The interstate was dark, empty, and had thrown me into deep state of reflection.  I watched the road as every marking flickered in and out of sight around the car, and wondered where I was going. It was just around 4:30am, and I’d just dropped off mom and sis at the airport for their flight back to Alaska.  Sadness resonated as the realization of their pending departure grew brighter in my mind.  I was grateful for their presence over the past eight days. Life had been testing me, as of late, and I needed reinforcements.   

I’ve been at a crossroads with my current professional situation. While I was on vacation, I found myself answering a small beacon of hope. This hope presented itself in the form of an interview. An interview in my dream position, a publicist, back in Bloomington. 

Over the past few months, I’ve been struggling with a decision regarding whether I would stay or leave my current position.  “If something is wrong, do your best to fix it” is a mantra I’ve kept at all of my places of employment. It’d been months of me stepping outside of myself, looking for some way to better my current situation, and found myself still wanting more – More from my employer and more from myself.

Everything about interviewing for the publicist position in Bloomington was great. Everything was flowing perfectly up until the end. The ending of that new possibility was purely unexpected. I sent in my resume and cover letter feeling extremely confident that I would get the job. It was with a very heavy heart, that I had to decide to not continue in the hiring process. It just didn’t feel right in the end. Not forever, just, not for now. 

So where was I going (besides back to our slightly-deflated air mattress)? The galaxylike view through my windshield continued to flash before me as I cruised down my lonely runway. Not getting that job was a possibility. So, now what? What are you going to do to make your current situation work? I allowed myself to feel a bit at ease, as I scrolled through the things I did have going for myself in Indianapolis. This doesn’t have to continue to be this bad. This can only be what I make it.

G r i n d r

Grindr has been something that’s been off my phone for at least three years now. A few weeks back, I decided to put it back on my phone, just to take an innocent peek at what was going on these days on the app. Remember: Communication is key. “I feel like we’re comfortable enough in our relationship and marriage that we can both put Grindr back on our phones.” I’d been thinking about putting the app back on my phone, out of pure boredom, to browse on breaks at work, or just to peer into the scandalous lives of Indy’s thirstiest queens, hungry bears, and the romantic hopefuls who still try to meet honest guys on these hookup apps. Bringing up any and all feelings as they come up has always been a strong suit of mine in relationships, and this was no different. S agreed with my thought, and so here I am.

Back when S and I were only months into our relationship, I’d freak out, and act extremely possessive if I saw the app’s reflection in his glasses. Typical Scorpio behavior – acting absolutely insane, insecure, and powerless at the thought that I may’ve not been the center of his attention at that point. Flash forward to today, where I’m off and on the app a few times a week, pushing Gays in the Life, and striking up conversation with a handful of decent human beings. I have no judgement against people on apps like these. I once was a regular user, and had my share of fun via Grindr’s services, but that time is done. When did I begin to see Grindr as a marketing tool? Oh, how my times have changed. After mentioning I’m married, the follow up inquiries usually consist of the other user wanting to meet the both S and I  – keep in mind my profile picture is just me, and my name on the app is the blog title – or they’ll want to see pictures. “We respectfully decline, but you can read more about our adventures at Gaysinthelife.wordpress.com” is my standard response.
S and I openly talk about the attractiveness of other guys in each other’s presence. It’s not this taboo topic, or fuel for the fire, when we’re both watching a show and one of us says “he’s hot.” We have fun teasing each other in these situations, and enjoy being in a relaxed and mature relationship. “Of course you would think he’s hot…” is a regular, and shared, response when one of us comments on some eye candy.  There’s never a malicious or suspicious tone. We’ve learned each other, and we have fun with that fact. S and I are both regular listeners of Dan Savage’s weekly podcast, Savage Lovecast, and realize that at the end of the day, it’s about that works for us in our situation. I’ve made a couple online friends via Grindr, and make it a point not to frequent the app. My profile says everything it needs to, and one of these days, we’ll actually make it out to a bar or event to grow our gay-friend bubble.  

We’re More Than Friends from School. We’re Married.

The four of us sat in a group at the front of the funeral hall. It was visitation for my husband’s late grandmother, Mae, who’d passed peacefully at her nursing home a few days earlier. The mood was somber, tense, and was haunted by all the happy memories Grandma Mae had left behind. I’d only met her a couple of times, but those moments were enough. “…and this is my husband, Jamal.” There was a power in that introduction, and because of it, I’ll never forget those first few minutes of meeting Grandma Mae. My husband and I had been together almost four years, and I’d never heard anyone from his side of the family refer to me as “husband.”

Time and small talk took a moment, as my husband’s mother and father approached.  “Come meet the kids! You remember David, and his wife Alice…” His mother continued with a smile. “…and our youngest, Stanley, and his friend from school, Jamal.” I smiled, gave a polite nod to the cheerful strangers, and felt phantom burning around my wedding band. I’d come to expect this introduction in any situation that involved meeting friends of my parent-in-laws. In the past I’d let it slide – chalking it up to their old school ways, and not really knowing how to introduce their son’s husband to familiar faces – but this time, the word “friend” really got me thinking.


I wondered why being referred to as “friend” was bothering me now. To villainize my in-laws is not my intention. The number of favors and help they’ve provided my husband and I, is beyond anything I could ever imagine for us in any time of need. Was I being introduced this way as some subtle form of protection? Is the term “husband” one that is uncomfortable for them in uncharted social territory? I still don’t have the answer to those questions, and they’ve haunted my curiosity ever since.

That Thing You Do…

Looking into warm, honey-toasted eyes, I witness an endless scrolling of scenes from our relationship in movie montage form. I’m not sure if he notices when I drift away in my thoughts; stealing every little moment he presents at any given moment. I devour each morsel with subtle excitement. If only he could see himself, and enjoy his “isms” with me. “What?” He’s caught me looking and privately chuckling.   “Oh, nothing…” I skip past the television, doing my best not to interrupt his round of whatever he’s playing on the Xbox One. If it’s not one thing, it’s the other. He always finds a way to catch my attention, and keeps me on my toes; even when he is unaware or doesn’t mean to do so. It’s the rage he conjures when a video game isn’t going his way. It’s the look on his face when he’s paying attention to every word coming out of my mouth. It’s his curiosity when he asks me if the outfit he put together looks good, and if the shoes he selected will match. I’m often reminded of, or discover, the ingredients that make up S. Like a good gumbo, these ingredients may change or vary, and like a good gumbo, the recipe only gets better and better as the time passes.

Poker Face: A Mini Monologue

I miss being just far enough away from my team to embrace any zen moment that presented itself. You see, when I moved departments, I was sitting away from the nucleus of my team. When you’re a team lead, staying in the know is important, but sitting away from the chaos (that is the majority of team) is relaxing when you deal with customers the majority of your day. When I was tucked away in a far corner – away from constant interruption of whatever media I may’ve been consuming at the time – I was able to interact at my leisure. It’s been about two weeks since the move to my new cubicle, and I wonder what kind of facial expressions I’ve unconsciously delivered to those who around me. I’m a nice guy, but do you have to hang over my cube wall to talk to me? Do you really need to be sharing that NSFW story at audible and very clear levels, mister supervisor? I put on a cheery face, listen, and interact, but I’m sure I’ve thrown some shade with my tone or lack of responses. I don’t care, though. Some days you just don’t want to be bothered.

Progress Report 2

The stall is broken! After sticking to the same workout routine for a smidgen over a year, my body needed a reset of sorts. Here’s the update:

Data collection #2, September 26, 2015:

Weight – 237.9

Body fat – 27.5%

BMI – 32.3

Data collection #3, November 18, 2015:

Weight – 232.4

Body fat – 27.1%

BMI – 31.4

What did I do differently? I started focusing more on lifting heavier weights, and cut out dairy. I’m about 97% dairy-free, and I say this because, if I want dairy… I’m gonna eat, or drink, it. I do miss my heavy cream and cinnamon coffee, but not having it isn’t a huge downer because I prefer my coffee strong, and black… (enter joke and laughter here).

Take us going to the Mexican restaurant for dinner a couple weeks ago for example. The salad I ordered did not list cheese as a topping. Adding extra guac and removing the sour cream, I was a little peeved when the salad arrived and there was cheese! Some sprinkled cheese on top of my salad isn’t the end of the world, so I went on and inhaled the dish anyway. I’m a regular “remove the cheese, please!” person now.

I’ve switched up my weightlifting routine by doing strong lifts. Three times a week, for thirty minutes or more, I do 5×5 – five sets of five reps – weightlifting workouts. I squat, bench press, barbell row, and deadlift as much weight as I can in a safe manner. I hit the gym alone, so I don’t want to push it so far that I need a spotter. Every week I add five pounds to the previous week’s weight. I’ve been doing yoga more frequently as well. I went to my first hot yoga class over the weekend. Not only did I survive and hit all the poses, I had a BLAST. I won’t get too much into that, though, because I’m going to write a separate post on that experience.

Thanks for checking in! And I’ll talk to you all soon 🙂