Monthly Archives: April 2010

Happy Friday #8: Glimmer of a new future?

(on Fridays around these parts, I take a little time to make sure that all the happy things happening in my life get a shout out)

My weekend escape to the Smoky Mountains was in response to feeling not quite satisfied with my life.  A lingering sense of discontent made me run to a place where I knew I’d find some peace and quiet and things that I love.

And that’s exactly the peace and sense of self that I found for the weekend.

But just for the weekend.

I came back with the beginnings of a call to action:  taking some scary steps to make my life what I want it to be instead of what it currently is.

See, the thing is that I don’t hate my job.  I’m pretty competent at it, make a nice salary and get some sort of satisfaction in that.  And I work with some pretty awesome people.  In my little corner of the company (where I’ve been now for just about 15 years), there are few politics and a truly positive and encouraging environment.  A place where my boss will routinely not only praise me for a job well done, but make sure that the owner of the company (it’s a small, private company) knows that we’re doing a great job as well.  In corporate America, it doesn’t get better than this.

But – while I don’t dread going to work, I know that this isn’t my calling.  It never has been.  The job is challenging from time to time, but often I feel like I’m doing more personal work (hmmm… does writing this post count as “personal work”?) than what they pay me to do.  Almost like I’m sabotaging myself, daring my boss to realize that I’m not all that productive and fire my ass out of here.

And so I’ve started thinking about quitting.  Or maybe broaching the idea of a 3-month sabbatical (something absolutely unheard of here).  Just some time off.  I’ve been so practical all my life that I’ve got enough money saved up to last me a few years, even, if I’m careful.  And the thought of not working? Makes me smile.

And shouldn’t life make you smile?

So, the good thing this week?  The glimmer of hope that the courage I would need to remove the golden handcuffs that my job represents is within me. That I’d be able to make this bold, risky move not knowing what the future holds, but only knowing that I think it’s a path I might want to pursue.

Why not the whole enchilada?

While I was driving in this morning, listening to NPR on the radio (yes, I’m a big ol’ dork/nerd/whatever), I heard a story that talked about Washington’s “Anything But Marriage” law that was being contested.  The anti-gay coalition was trying to get it off the books, and the voting public resoundingly dismissed the anti-gay push to remove our rights.

At first, I felt a surge of “well, FINALLY – a state that has a majority of people that aren’t complete idiots” and was happy about the rights that gays and lesbians had been granted.

And then… I started thinking (probably not the best idea, pre-6am).  Why not marriage, too?  I mean, yes – don’t get me wrong – I understand the step forward that ABM represents – but why are we excluded from marriage?  Why should marriage not be a right afforded us?

I don’t get the argument that same-sex marriage threatens the institution of marriage.  If that’s the case, then divorce among heterosexuals shouldn’t be allowed.  Doesn’t divorce threaten the institution of marriage more?

Of course, I live in a state where it’s Nothing Including Marriage.  I suppose I should be so lucky to be able to complain about ABM in my state.

But still, can I like the fact that we’re seeing progress towards equality but still unhappy with the compromises that we still have to make?

________________________________________

After a quick internet search, this article says what I’m clumsily trying to articulate much more clearly…

Own path

Life is like a hiking trip you go on by yourself.

Or, maybe it’s just *my* life that’s like that.

The trip to and from?  It would be nice to have company, but once you figure out how to entertain yourself, the time passes quickly enough.

And once you’re there, you can sink into your surroundings.  Feel yourself fitting in, wondering what it would be like to be here all the time.

The hikes themselves?  You can go at your own pace.  Study the things you find interesting, speed past the stuff that doesn’t catch your eye.  Left or right? Easy or hard?  Your decision.  No one to blame or congratulate, depending on the outcome.

And while you’re on the path, you get yourself some trail buddies.  People to talk with, and pass the time.  You joke and make small talk.  Exchange information — where are you from? what do you do? how long are you here? — and otherwise define yourself however you’d like to.  You learn about their likes and dislikes, what they think is worth seeing and what you should pass up.  And from the little you know about them, you evaluate this information and maybe come away just a little richer than you were before.

But these aren’t people you depend on.  Sure, you can ask for small favors, but they’re not there to solve your problems.  That’s still entirely up to you.  You use them as checkpoints, knowing that there’s now someone out here on these lonely paths that knows your plans, but you don’t count on them to save you if you run into trouble.

And you continue on, forging ahead.  Trying to appreciate the journey, yet looking forward to the destination.  Hoping for blue skies and sunshine, but knowing that you’ll get rained on from time to time.  With any luck, you avoid the thunder and lightning and stay out of harm’s way.  Or perhaps you make your stand and rage against the storm, even knowing it won’t do any good. And even if it doesn’t, you learn a little more about what you’re made of and how facing the tough stuff makes your stronger.

And you do this all the while knowing that it’s all you, babe.  And for right now that’s okay. In fact, more than just okay.

Because someday there will be that someone that’ll be worth compromising plans for, but until then, you depend on yourself and choose your own adventures.  No compromising, only doing things your way.

And you’ll enjoy every minute of it.

Happy Friday #7: Smoky Mountains

(on Fridays around these parts, I take a little time to make sure that all the happy things happening in my life get a shout out)

Vacation!

Time for an escape!

I’ve decided that a little trip away from the day-to-day drudgery was much-needed and so — a little impulsively, I might add — got a couple days of vacation and am headed down to the only mountains within driving distance — Smoky Mountain National Park.

While I’ve driven through the area, I’ve never actually been to the park, so I’m looking forward to this little adventure.  What I’m NOT looking forward to is the hours of driving I’ll have to do to get there.  Yes, yes… much easier to put a driving trip into action than having to figure out flights.  Especially if I want to be able to afford food and lodging at the other end of it.  But still.  Lots of hours.

But – my Zune is packed with tunes (and a few books to listen to!), the snacks have been purchased and I’m anxious to hit the road and get the party started! The only downside?  It’s a party of one.

The fact of life is that while my friends are my top priority — I’m the go-to-gal when it comes to… well… anything they might need — I’m practically not even in their list of priorities, much less the top priority.  I spent 20 years with my head up my ass, frantically trying to pull off the straight life thing, and what it’s resulted in is a bunch of great friends who have husbands and kids and schedules and commitments to everything other than me.

Which sucks sometimes.  And it doesn’t usually bother me, but it’s hitting me kind of hard right now, for reasons unknown.  One of these days I want to have someone where I’m the one they think of first.  Yes – I want to be someone’s priority.  Too much to ask?

In the meantime, I’m going to try my darnedest to not let the fact that my friends lack the flexibility to be spontaneous with me and just go out and conquer the world on my own.  There’s satisfaction in doing it that way, albeit tinged with a bit of loneliness at the edges.  And if I keep myself open to possibilities, who knows what just might happen!  After all, you never know who you might meet at the hotel lodge bar over drinks….

Missed it

Today, I missed out on an opportunity.

For those keeping score in the Who Has Laura Come Out To game, my parents know and my sister knows.  Leaving one more immediate family member to be let in on the not-so-secret secret — my brother.

Now, in some ways it’s sweet justice that he’s the last to know.  After all, growing up he always got to do everything first, being the oldest.  And you can bet your booty that he never passed up a chance to let me and my sister know that, either.

Of course, now that we’re all older and more mature (well, older at least), we all get along pretty well.  Not too much terrorizing going on, which is much appreciated by both me and my sister.  And when there is terrorizing going on, at least I’m now better equipped to handle it (my sister hasn’t quite learned this fine art yet).

So, today I got roped into helping my brother move what turned out to be very heavy furniture.  His wife’s three — count ’em THREE — brothers couldn’t find the time, so I was next in line, you know, because I was strong.  For a girl, that is (no, a girl can’t just be “strong” … it needs the “for a girl” qualifier… don’t get me started…).  Anyway.

This created kind of a rare situation – hours of alone-time with my brother. Something I’ve been kind of waiting on so I could talk to him, since usually when I see him we’re surrounded by gobs of other people.

And frankly, I”m not a bit concerned about how he’s going to take it.  I’m pretty sure he won’t think it’s a big deal — if he’s even surprised by the news — but even if he had some objection, I’d be able to live with it.  I love my brother and can’t lie that his disapproval wouldn’t hurt, but honestly?  I don’t see or talk to him enough for this to be an impact on my day-to-day life.

Today was the perfect opportunity.  Plenty of alone time.  Even a couple moments of silence to fill (though not many – he’s the Chatty Cathy type). But did I bring it up?  Nope.  Stayed quiet.  Mute.  And so this is still hanging over me and it didn’t need to be.

I’m not sure what happened.  Why did I chicken out?  It’s funny — of all my immediate family members, he’s the one that’s figured out how to communicate the best.  Out of a family of passive-aggressive, never talking about how we feel folks, you can count on him to bring stuff up.  Perhaps I was afraid because I knew that unlike my parents and sister, that there would be actual questions and conversation about it?

I still don’t know.  All I know is that I now still have to tell him so that I can really be out.  Perhaps the next time he asks me to help him move heavy stuff.  And then maybe I can move some of my own heavy stuff.

Happy Friday #6: Carly

(on Fridays around these parts, I take a little time to make sure that all the happy things happening in my life get a shout out)

It’s been a sad week in these parts – my sister’s dog Carly went from perfectly healthy to having to be put down in about the span of a week.  She had gotten old and a little less springy in recent years, but she was always the hyper pup that she started out as.  But over the past week, she stopped eating and wanting to go outside and playing — all the things that normally make her happy.  They did some exploratory surgery and found massive tumors on her liver and spleen.  Poor girl.

It’s the circle of life, though, and I’ll take joy in the long, fun life she lived.  The dogs in our lives become such a part of the family, and it’s hard to let them go, but good to have the wisdom to know when it’s their time.  And Carly will live long in our memories.

On a totally separate note, I’ve got to give huge props to Mother Nature – we’ve been having some spectacular Spring weather around here… probably the best that I remember in a long time.  Warmer than it’s supposed to be, and everything is starting to explode in color.  I love this time of year.

Seriously?

The other night, I was doing my usual Sunday night bowling thing, and because I was nursing a bad burn on my finger, decided that a frosty glass of beer would be medicinal:  not only could I cool my finger, but the alcohol coursing through my system would make the pain less excruciating.  A win-win!

That one glass of beer turned into 2 pitchers of beer shared between just two of us.  Now, I’m not a drinker these days.  Versions of my younger self were from time to time, but even then, it’s just not something I was ever big into. And now that even just one drink messes with my sleep patterns and makes the next day not-so-fun?  Yea, I hardly ever indulge.  So – I’m not sure what happened, but the beer was cold and good, went down easy and it ended up with one of those perfect buzzes.

You know – one of those buzzes where you’re in that warm, fuzzy place of happy but not yet passed out.  And I was the life of the party!  Story after story, joke after joke after smart ass comment.  I kept everyone entertained.  And my friends agreed:  they much preferred me drunk to sober.  That on my own, I was a little uptight and type A, but that with a few drinks in me?  Put a lampshade on me and call me crazy!

When I thought about it later, it was a little disheartening.  I mean, who wants to walk through life happy on alcohol just to be more appealing to people?  And it was in this frame of mind that I was telling another friend — my trainer — about it.  She laughed a little, and told me that she always thought me to be “serious”.  Really?  “Serious”?  Seriously?

I would never have chosen that word to describe me.  Shy – maybe.  Quiet?  In some circumstances.  But serious?

She amended herself quickly:  “but you’re fun, too!”  as if that dichotomy exists in real life.  Kind of like a politician promising you everything you ever wanted AND was being truthful, all at the same time.  Not gonna happen.

And so I spent the rest of the day thinking on this.  And don’t think the irony was lost on me:  really, only serious people would spend so much time contemplating the fact that someone called them serious.  Right?

I can see what everyone is saying about me, even though I hate to admit it. And I don’t think I’ve always been like this, either.  In the past year and half(ish), since coming out, I’ve been struggling with trying to kind of nail down my new identity and that’s made me introspective.  Apparently I’ve been too busy having conversations with the voices in my head to remember to be fun on the outside where other people can see it.

So perhaps this is the kick in the pants that I need.  I’ll be less serious! Starting… NOW!  Um, uh, wait… er, maybe after work.  Or this weekend, definitely.

No – seriously! (heh)  I can do this.  I know that while it might be difficult for some to imagine, I have been fun in the past (without the help of alcohol or drugs!) and can be again.  I’ll try forging ahead with this whole gay thing, perhaps.  Maybe hit up online dating again.  Or go to some bars (whoops… that would mean alcohol would be involved…).  Or SOMETHING.  A change of attitude.  More lightness.  More jokes.  Less analyzing and contemplating. Fewer conversations with imaginary people.

Sounds like fun, right?

Still here

Despite missing my Happy Friday post last week, I’m still here.  Struggling a little, but here.

I stared at the blank page that was to become the Friday post, trying to figure out exactly what to say.  And was having a tough time keeping the bitterness and resentment out of my voice, and opted to just keep quiet.  Like my Mom always said, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.

So – a tumultuous week last week.  Many reasons, though the main one was coming out to my sister, never even imagining that it wouldn’t be easy.

She was accepting; I was counting on that.  What I hadn’t anticipated was the fact that her husband was not so accepting, and there’s now an issue as to whether or not to tell my nephew (who’s 9, by the way).  As it stands, there’s no need to for them to immediately sit down and have a heart-to-heart with him, explaining my lifestyle, since I’m not dating anyone.  But – I would hope that sometime in the future I’ll be bringing a date to family functions.  And their current stance on it is that they don’t want their son exposed to it.

Huh?

So, I’m not exactly sure where that leaves us.  I had a long talk with my sister and another one this past Friday, and we are currently at odds.  I think my nephew should be told.  He’s old enough to understand and I think it would be good for him to know this about me.  I’m not ashamed of it and the rest of my family shouldn’t be either.

It’s just who I am.  Whether I like it or not (and at times like this, I don’t like it very much), I’m gay.  And they need to understand that no matter how hard they try, my sister and brother-in-law can’t keep my nephew sheltered forever.  If it’s not me, then it’ll be someone else.

I know this is just a mish-mash of thoughts rather than a coherent post, but that’s the way my brain’s working right now.  I flip between keeping so busy that I don’t have to think about it at all and obsessing about every detail of the conversations I’d had.  I realize that I don’t need resolution right at this moment and that by giving this some time, there might not even be a fight to fight at some later date. I guess I mostly don’t like the fact that I’ve got very little control over this since they’re his parents and I’ll respect their decision as long as I can without compromising my relationships.

It comes with instructions?

In this enlightening post, Havi Brooks out at The Fluent Self talks about creating a Book of You.  Everything about you put into a book of some sort that’s like a big ol’ instruction manual to how you work.  Or how you think you work.  Or things you’re testing out about how you work.

Mine includes things like…

  • I hate having to make a schedule to get things done, but I feel oh-so-much better and am SO much more productive when I’ve got that — at least — in my head, if not written down.  And I like nothing better than a feeling of accomplishment. But I forget this ALL THE TIME.  How is that possible?
  • Training (usually running or biking) is something I’m often feeling too tired to do.  But if I actually make my lazy ass get off the couch?  I almost always feel better for it.
  • A bowl of rich, creamy, thick Chobani vanilla greek yogurt soothes me like no other food does.  I think it might even be better than chocolate because despite feeling decadent, it’s a pretty healthy choice.

But you can also include theories you have of yourself.  Some things I’m testing…

  • I know that I need more sleep.  Always. But I have a difficult time getting to bed by 8pm, which is what I’d need to do to get 8 hours a night.  So, I’m playing with going upstairs at 7pm.  Doing the thing that experts say not to do:  watch TV, work on my computer, read … do things other than sleep in my bed.  So far, I’m finding that when I start getting drowsy, it’s easier to quit what I’m doing than when I’m still dressed and in my family room.
  • Allowing myself to eat if I’m actually hungry, regardless of how many calories I’ve already taken in for the day.  But – I have to wait it out, really decide that I’m hungry and not bored or upset.  So far this has meant that I’ve been over-shooting my calorie intake – we’ll see how it affects the month-end weigh-in/measurements.

I also have a page of things that I want to accomplish; call it my bucket list.  I want to live an out and proud gay life.  Retire early.  Travel the world. All sorts of fun things.

I’ve also started recording the compliments that people pass on to me.  I used to have such a hard time accepting a compliment — arguing with the person as if they didn’t know what they were talking about — but wisdom (age?) has taught me that you take everything you can get.  And then, in my case, I record it forever and ever in my Book of Me.  Sounds silly, but it helps to read that other people think you’re a worthwhile human being when you think you might be a level or two below that.

I figure if I ever get done, I can hand this little document out to all potential friends.  Like, you know, a resume, complete with accomplishments, instructions and references.  Would save a lot of time, no?