Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Brace yourselves...

It was bound to happen, really. Shockingly, it took yet another twist and turn to make me think about revisiting my short (I mean, 7 entries is definitely "short") blog. And yes, I'll admit, listening to Alexa recently wonder about taking to the web to dump the contents of her head got me wondering if it were time for me to do the same again.

But not tonight. I've just returned from a wonderful trip to MontrĂ©al and tomorrow's double dose of real life (Crossfit AND back in the office) is going to be tough enough on 5.5 hours of sleep. 

Soon, though.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The More Things Change...

...the more they stay the same? Really? Who says that, anyway? Probably only people that are thinking about change, at a specific moment in time, like I have been lately. My one year anniversary in Chicago quietly came and went this weekend, and I got to enjoy a few hours of drinks and conversation with a small group of friends. A surprisingly small group, actually - that is, 5 people at its most crowded, though we were at Sidetrack on Halloween even so there were actually a half million people there. But they weren't there for me, per se.

One short year ago, I had just driven a U-haul from Columbus and moved into my new Chicago apartment. That night, the man that I had been in love with for longer than I wanted to admit, told me that he was in love with me, too. Maybe I wasn't old enough to fully appreciate it when Tom said it so many years ago, and Todd before him, or maybe I just hadn't felt like this before; either way, this was earth-shattering, mind-boggling, heart-aching, euphoria-inducing love and I was in it all the way. How lucky for me! I had just made the biggest decision of my life, I had just chosen to expose myself to the biggest pain we foolish humans can easily avoid, and I had a Starbucks less than 2 blocks away. My big city life was off to a great start. If I knew then what I know now, would I have let year-ago-EJR experience that earth-shattering, mind-boggling, heart-aching, euphoria-inducing love? Absofuckinglutely.

For too many of my short 29 years, I have been afraid to leap - and I've blamed everything I could, including myself, which is probably both appropriate and unfair, depending on the epoch and the situations. I went for a very long time denying myself love, or the opportunity for it, because I was career-focused, school-focused, or any-other-measurable-thing-focused. That life was so tidy, wasn't it? And yet, all those things seemed like silly musings of a dizzy gay boy when I finally felt that feeling that was being in love. I realize of course, that there's a midpoint somewhere, that there is value in declaring and accepting the the things that one accomplishes. And there is also value in denying some of those feelings for a while, because we can't just love everything all the time - how else will you know when you are no longer in love?

I guess I would find that out sooner than later, and not at a time or place of my choosing. But you know what? The experience that I had with accepting my prior accomplishments became quite useful, as I was able to start making measurable successes in my work life, in my friendships, new, old, and rediscovered, and even in how that lost love was handled. I can confidently add "Survived True Heartbreak" to my list of achievements, and I don't even have to deny the feelings associate with that! Is this growth? Is this the sunsetting of my 20s and the dawning of my 30s? I hope so.

So here I am, 366 days later. I am succeeding at work, and who knows where my profession will take me. I've made decisions lately that are helping me continue to figure out this simply complex life I am living, and they are paying off. Everything from the weekend job in an industry I can get lost in and have fun, to removing myself from Facebook, just for a while, to see what I think of me (and not just what 10 likes and 8 comments from people I haven't spoken to since the deactivation think of me). It has been eye-opening, maddening, and calming at the same time to realize that we are placing too much worth, our own and that we have for others, on a convoluted series of 1s and 0s residing on a server somewhere in Menlo Park, CA. I don't deny that I will be back on The Facebook, but I am enjoying this time solidifying some of my relationships "offline," and I don't just mean friends. This EJR I am getting to know isn't such a bad guy - and frankly, that's kind of a relief.

What's next, then? The movie "Meet Joe Black" has often been credited with my ridiculous obsession with love, and finding it and analyzing it and all that dizzy gay-boy crap. Has that changed? Surprisingly, no. Bill Parrish continues to inspire me. I realize that I continue to change and grow and learn and run to and fro on the sliding scale that travels between my brain and my heart. My friends continue to be my life, and my family, too, and my successes and failures (perceived or real) continue to drive me along that scale. I felt it once, for a short while, and Bill promises me that I will feel it again in this scene
"Love is passion, obsession, someone you can't live without. I say, fall head over heels. Find someone you can love like crazy who will love you the same way back. How do you find him? Well, you forget your head and you listen to your heart... Cause the truth is, there's no sense living your life without this. To make the journey and not fall deeply in love, well, you haven't lived a life at all. But you have to try, cause if you haven't tried, you haven't lived."

And so, I will continue to try, because I have lived. I will stay open, because who knows, lightning could strike. Until then? I have that apartment near Starbucks, I have that network of people that force me to push myself ever forward (1s and 0s not withstanding), I have that big city life, and most importantly, I have that sliding scale between brain and heart - something that I'm starting to realize has never been completely right, but also, interestingly enough has never been completely wrong.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Prelude to a First Time

So, after being gone for 13+ months, I suddenly decide that my head is too full to contain the intense amounts of crazy normally stored within its confines. This should come as no surprise to most of the people around me. I haven't quite been the usual "me" lately, and there are probably a million reasons for that; just as probable: I have no reason at all not to be the usual "me," and I need to relax.

It's probably somewhere in between.

I think I will be using this forum again not only because it allows me to share with complete strangers, but also people that matter to me in varying degrees of importance. Not only that, but also because there's nothing like reading this nonsense a week, a month, or as I just did, a year or more later. Making myself cry out loud, laugh out loud, and then cry again, while enjoying a pint of Ben & Jerry's, is a successful blogging experience if you ask me. Which thankfully, no one did, but I answered the call anyway.

I moved to Chicago 10 months and one week ago today. Amazing to me is how in such a short time I have experienced so many "first times." And I know you're wondering: yes, as I write this, I am listening to the Offer Nissim feat. Maya song by the same name. So many first times, that my first official post back will be about the most important few... From the first time I walked to my neighborhood Starbucks, the first time I started a new job and I didn't know someone, to the first time I celebrated Thanksgiving with a boyfriend's family, the first time a man told me he was in love with me (and the first time he told me he wasn't anymore), the first time I realized "I live here now," and the first time I figured out that life really is grand.

So many firsts have happened, that as I sit down to write about them, I can't help but wonder what seconds and thirds are out there. And better yet, the many firsts still to come.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Double Rainbow... WHAT does it meaaaaan?

Recently, I was very lucky to have been shown one of the funniest clips in the world thanks to Brandon: The Double Rainbow. Sure, the guy in the video is probably some long-haired, un-shaved, crazy-pants hippy, but his absolute and complete joy is palpable. I'm trying to think of a moment where I have experienced joy like his, and there are several. Performing in a drum corps show for the very last time, at DCI Finals with the Cavaliers in 2003 is definitely up there; so is the memory of the look on my mom's face when I finally graduated from college.

But I remember I was laughing too, and I got to thinking about how cynical I have gotten, and not in the usually funny way that I think about myself.

What exactly is so wrong about being so completely delighted with something that even when presented with it in your face you are in total disbelief? Have we become so used to accepting mediocrity, delivering toward the lowest denominator, and almost hitting the bullseye that when we witness something that makes us happy, we have no choice but to downplay its importance? Late last year I shared with myself, and the 2 or 3 people that read this blog, a dream that I would work toward making true this year: moving to NYC. Through no fault of anyone, and through no lack of drive or ambition, that will not be happening. Not yet, anyway. The comical part was that my methodical planning would be the downfall of that plan, because it was not very flexible, especially when the first notice of student loans coming out of deferment came in the mail...

In the last few months, I've taken some time to think about my future, and have taken some steps toward the big changes that I was planning for NYC. I also came to the shocking realization that I am getting tired, and rather quickly, of "The Struggle." I spent most of last year working during the day at the firm, on the weekends at the bar, and a few nights a week going to school. This year, I have replaced school with getting more investment licenses. And no, I am not trying to elicit a tearful reaction for poor Jon out of anyone. I have traveled, lifted, laughed, and enjoyed life to my heart's content. And I am also not saying that I am done struggling in life, done working hard, done cutting throats and taking names to do what I want and get what I think I need (or Steve Jobs tells me I need).

What I am done with is thinking that at almost 30 years old, I can continue living the way I live: barely sleeping, working impossibly long hours, and causing myself more harm than good, and all for... what? I have some dwindling savings that are becoming useful as I make arrangements to leave Columbus (that plan is still on track), which is great. And I honestly think, and maybe I am wrong but I refuse to find out, that moving to New York with $1000 and a dream would have been a huge mistake, merely deepening "The Struggle." Working at a firm, and bar tending, and selling plasma would all have been great to get my life started in the big city, but let's face it: I have a mortgage, for goodness sake! I want to make some smart decisions with regard to my future, and I can still work toward accomplishing the goals I set for myself, especially the move to a bigger city.

And yes, I've met someone, and yes, he's fantastic... and yes, he lives in Chicago. But c'mon. Anyone who's watched Sex and the City season six knows that when you move to Paris with your famous-artist boyfriend, you should do it for yourself, because if you do it for any other reason, you'll end up missing your French book party. My connections to Chicago run pretty deep, and it is a world-class city that I love, and it is a place that I can further my career and my self, while staying comfortably close (and far) from my life here in Columbus. It may even, eventually, take me all the way to New York someday... but for now, I really believe that Chicago is the place I can make a big change, without having to hustle and struggle... not all the time, anyway.

I could take a walk down Lakeshore for absolutely no reason or watch the sun go down from the Hancock. Get drunk with friends at Sidetrack belting show tunes on the weekend, and work toward making my career take off and move my self forward. I'll finally take a picture in front of the bean, or maybe, if I'm lucky: find another double rainbow of my own.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Piano Man, Deconstructed.

It's an amazing thing to really dig in to the lyrics of a song and figure out what it means to you. Now mind you, I have a habit of reading too much into movies and television and music - I still believe that someday I will fall in love with a handsome American man after failing at life and love and finding myself, impossibly, with my pregnant lesbian friend, in Tuscany. I also believe that I will meet Mr. Big, and choose him time and again, over Aiden Shaw, even though the audience will never understand why. Perhaps I'll even have my own original screenplay of a life, full of delicate and turbulent twists and turns and ups and downs, but I will probably be too full of pop culture and opinion to realize it, and credit it to the story behind The Notebook or something. I turned off the TV, and most of the lights in my house, and listened for a song to write about. And with my thoughts I present to you, Piano Man, deconstructed.

"Son, can you play me a memory? I'm not really sure how it goes. But it's sad and it's sweet, and I knew it complete, when I wore a younger man's clothes."

Because sometimes all we need is a memory, to help remind us where we are and how far we've come. Or, cruelly, how far we have yet to go. I am teased, often, by some of my friends for remembering things too much. Becky's original anniversary with Forrest is still my PIN for some things. Kyle and I met on a Friday and went shopping for fashion denim at Cricket West, at the now defunct City Center Mall. I have all these amazing memories from good and bad times, and can't help but wonder what's going to happen to them when I get older. I'm only 28 and have had such a full life - save for the thing that eludes me more than anything - and I am nervous that I won't be able to remember it all. Will a song remind me of someone or something? The way that when Mazzy Star's Fade Into You shuffles into my life every few months and makes me think of my only meaningful relationship, and how great it was, despite how awful it was, and I forgive everything for exactly 4 minutes and 56 seconds, before thinking I should delete the damn song. But nah... it's sad and it's sweet, and I know it complete. And when I wear those older man's clothes, I want to make sure that I remember what all those feelings felt like... and hope that there are better ones to replace them with.

"He's quick with a joke, or to light up your smoke, but there's someplace that he'd rather be."

Sure, I'll say it. I can be pretty funny. I'm a downright hoot sometimes! And I would certainly rather the people around me at any given moment are smiling, preferably because of something I said or did. But sometimes, I wonder how much of it is Jonrios being Jonrios, and how much of it is trying too hard. Let me explain. Life is good, don't get me wrong, but a few months ago I wrote about lofty dreams and hopes and goals and concrete jungles where there's nothing I can't do, right? These days, as the cold realities of where I am in my career, my savings, my relationships, and my responsibilities, I can't help but think I will not get to live my dream. At least not when I want it, which is yesterday.

The education that was so important for me to attain had a hefty price tag, and the fun that I felt I couldn't possibly miss out on while I was getting all learned had a hefty one, too. And now, those private student loans are due, and the dream gets harder and harder to see, to even remember, as I work at the thankless job and the job that I'm thankful for, and hardly have time to sleep... you have to sleep to dream, right? I'm a happy person, but it's hard these days. So many great things are happening around me, and so many of my friends and family are enjoying great things. Everyone but, it seems, for me. So I'll keep on keepin' on, but the savings plan is on life support, and it's getting harder and harder to hold on to that smile, and the joke... and sadly, finding comfort more and more, in a smoke at the end of the day, alone.

"Yes they're sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it's better than drinking alone."

Speaking of being alone, why is this so hard lately? I have been independent for a long time - hell I've basically been "on my own" since the fall of 2000, right Mom? Oh wait, there were three roommates in 2000 and 2001. And then I had the bounciest roommate Aaron, from 2001 to 2003. Oh and then there was Miss Virginia West and her colorful cast of vagabonds until the winter of 2004 - when I finally moved into my own place by myself... and had a boyfriend that spent many nights with me. We moved together in 2005 (for 3 months) and I finished the year in my own place... for a few months, until Joey moved in at First Avenue. And with me at the Hilliard Con-partment in 2007. Followed by Derek in 2008. Fuck, you guys, come to think of it, this is the longest I have lived alone and, it's surprisingly lonely. The few months before this, here and there, when I would live alone, I lived within close proximity to the places where everyone knows my name, and the loneliness would never set in. It has, and it sucks.

I was talking to Steven the other day, and more recently Alexa, and figured out why I get sadder and sadder each week. Monday through Friday I work, come home to lift, Facebook, and sleep. Sometimes on the weekends I work, and if I don't work I usually stay home (saving up for that $2500 monthly rent and all). I live for my Sunday Bear Brunch, because it's the only time we are just... being. They all have each other during the week, and I could venture out but my work schedule doesn't allow for it. I live for my Bear Brunches because without them, I would spend all my free time home, alone, in my head... it's scary sometimes in there. I find myself wondering things about myself and others that I don't like.

I have 950 friends according to Facebook, and sometimes I feel utterly alone. How is that possible? And this isn't a cry for help, or invitation to visit me for game night, rather it is a physical expression, into words but physical nonetheless, identifying what I believe to be the cause of my moods lately. Maybe, putting my finger on it, will allow me to learn about it, grow into, and eventually, out of it? I hope so.

"Cause he knows that it's me, they've been coming to see, to forget about life for awhile."

And yet I know I am not forgotten. I received a message from a co-worker who has seen my career through all of its twists and turns the last 5 years, about a position she thought I might like. The description of it paints a position beyond my experience or skill, though so has almost every job I've had since I started in banking. She forwarded my resume and the hiring manager, knowing who he wants and what I have to offer, still wants to meet with me. This is the kind of position I would make a career in - a life-changing opportunity, though it would leave me in Columbus for awhile. Can I forget about dreams, to live life? Can I advance myself in an organization that, through different names, has made me into the professional I am? Wouldn't I be an idiot not to go for it, here, and see what can happen? I don't know...

Billy sings about memories and feelings and loneliness and happiness and dreams. I'm listening, Piano Man, and I'm ready to make those leaps of faith, whether they be here... or in Chicago, where a family as amazing as the one I have in Columbus, and as "real" as my flesh and blood... or, as Alicia Keys would sing, in the streets that will make me feel brand new, in New York. I just need the opportunity, because I am not going to give up. I am not going to let up.

But I need help with the forgetting about life part, because tired as I am, the dreaming? It doesn't

Thanks Billy.

Monday, January 18, 2010

A Single Man

I just finished watching A Single Man with Alexa, and I can't help but think about how a story set a few decades ago can still be so relevant and important today. But I'm not here to talk about the social ramifications of gay marriage and the ideals we as gay men try to subscribe to because they are "normal" to a world that does not see us as "normal." No, I'm here to talk about myself, which frankly, is what I do best.

I want to begin this post by making sure that anyone reading it understands that this is not a plea for compliments or for friends to tell me to "hang in there" and that "once you stop looking, that's when you'll find him," because that's the last thing in the world that I want to hear. Thanks in advance. You see the thing is, I can't really put my finger on why exactly it is that I am single. And have been, with very little in the way of opportunity, for over four years. And sure, I've had a couple of false starts along the way, and I admit that maybe once or twice I chose not to pursue someone that may have worked out, but four years is a long time dammit! So what is wrong with me?

I used to be pretty busy: working full time at a bank was a 6-day a week job, and bar-tending on the weekends on top of that. Oh and then there was school, which also took a lot of time. These are things that I did to better myself, mentally and financially, and I acquired a lot of the things that I wanted, save for that one thing that eludes me... a freakin' date on a Friday night. I put work and school above a lot of things, and I even think that those choices were part of the reason my first and only major relationship ended the way that it did. But at the end of the day, these were good decisions, right? I have succeeded in the banking world, attained a college degree, and managed to do it without sacrificing too much of my "life". So a successful career and an education can't be the relationship-killer that they seemingly are, so maybe there is something else.

Circuit parties. That has to be it! I go to 2 - 4 circuit parties a year, with friends from all over the country. I have met people from 10 countries, and experienced music the way it should be: on a dance floor with 10,000 sweaty guys having a great time. Surely there's no way anyone that goes to these sinful events can have a relationship, or expect one to come of them. The only problem with this thought is that I go to these parties with, mostly, couples! Some of them are the happiest couples I know - I won't bore you with their names, but they know who they are. These are relationships that I hope to someday be able to model my own after. Loving relationships, comfortable with each other, respectful, fun, focused on success, friendship, enjoying themselves and everything they do. Fun though it is for me to go, frankly, I wonder where I'm going wrong here. Where is my handsome, tall, white, muscley professional that wants to go dance and be silly on a cruise boat with 3,500 new friends? I'm not asking for the world here - just a companion. And maybe, for once, I don't want it to be someone ELSE'S companion (if ya know what I mean).

My friends are very important - maybe to a fault. Recently I experienced the loss of a great friend, because he chose to focus on a relationship. I have never, and could never, make that decision. My friends are my everything, and I cannot imagine trying to put the pressure of everything that these people give me on the back of one man. It wouldn't be fair to him. Cause frankly, I'm sure some would agree, I'm a bit of a handful. Without the Five Easy Friendships (Becky, Todd, Aaron, Mikey, Alexa), I wouldn't be able to recognize myself in the mirror when I think I start to lose myself, and without the other major friendships in my life, I wouldn't even know if I was lost. I've seen so many times when the decision has to be made, "bros" or"hos"... and I feel that the right decision depends on what's most important to the man making it. I feel that throughout my relationship, I was able to adequately balance my relationship time and my friend time... and none of my friends can say that I chose my man over them. Hopefully he would agree that I never chose them over him, either. Can it work though? Can I find someone that can put up with me, be all mine, but that can handle my wanting to go to a movie with Kyle and not with him? More so, I wonder if I can I handle it if HE wants to go to a bar without me?

"Love is a many splendored thing love, lifts us up where we belong - all you need is love" sings Christian to Satine in Moulin Rouge. I wonder sometimes. If I am good at my job, am loved by family and friends around the world, if I'm healthy, relatively happy more often than not, and am able to dream and make those dreams into reality, why do I even need a man? Do I need love and with it, the heartbreak that comes when that love isn't there anymore. I remember when I realized, really realized, that my relationship was over how incredible the pain in my chest was. It was unreal - I told Jon Amico, "It really hurts in my heart, like my actual heart is breaking." I meant it too, so why think about wanting to go through it all over again? There are so many times I think I am so lucky I don't have a boyfriend - like when one wants to go home from a party and the other doesn't, or when I meet a handsome stranger on the street and get all the fun feelings of what might be, or right now when I am going to go to Chipotle for the 3rd time in 7 days and I don't have to answer to ANYONE. I am impatient, stubborn, and I get bored easily, I think. I look around too much when I talk to someone, and I don't really like PDA. There are times that I think I'm Samantha, but deep down I know I am just Miranda: stubborn, sarcastic, smart and friend-focused... and looking for one person to love.

Maybe in the new year, with so many changes coming, and with so many looming decisions to be made, I can take a look at some of these qualities and make myself either 1) a happy single man or 2) a man that can be someone else's one person to love. Either way this state of grey blah-ness can't continue for much longer, for I fear, as the ridiculous Carrie Bradshaw once thought, that I am becoming cynical about this love stuff. And the last thing I want to be is bitter.

Well, more bitter.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

2010: A Fresh Start and the Beginning of the End

I made the decision last year that this year I will be leaving my home of Columbus, Ohio. Ask anyone, especially Kyle Kline, that I have made this decision every year for approximately 7 or 8 of the last 9 years I have lived here. The reason was always wrong, and the timing was never right, but I have done everything that I set out to do when I moved here in 2000: I graduated college, I marched in a world class color guard, I made amazing friends, began a career, bought a home, and so far, 3 cars. The American Dream, eh? The place was always supposed to be Chicago, and hell, I'm there every chance I get, and I have an amazing family in Mikey, Brandon and Jeff, Nathan, even Zach and Kyle from my Cavaliers days... but something tells me that it should remain the place that I love to visit, just for a little while longer.

So, what can possibly be better than Chicago as a new place to call home, when you're me and looking for something bigger and better? LA and NYC, of course. I am not an LA boy - no matter that I would have good friends in Tony and Bryan for sure, and nearby old friends like Tyler and Fernando. No, I hear the call of the big city, and with it all the crazy things that I have to plan on to get there. I've told a few of you, not that I need any encouragement, but this last trip I took was an incredible eye-opener. Aside from the great time with great friends like Aaron and Tom, new friends like Chris and Lee and AJ and Corey and Adam, my favorite part of the trip was the 30 blocks I walked alone with my earbuds in on a Sunday evening. Sure it was a holiday weekend and sure, it's New York so there's going to be so many thousands of people everywhere - but damn, it was exhilarating, powerful, and a great reminder of the work I have to do to get to where I want to go.

My 10 year anniversary of being an Ohioan will be in September, and if all goes according to plan (which so rarely happens in my life) I will be sending everyone a "change of address" text with a New York City joke of some sort. I feel like I should be more sad to leave, but I think the reason I am not is because of the incredible network of friendships that I have built while I have been based in Columbus. Most incredible of all being that so few of those major friendships are in Columbus at all: Dallas holds Robby, Jeff, Hugh, Kellen, and Justin Carrier - who came into my life purely because he thought I was cute and is a touchstone of my existence. Don and Eric and Judi B and Tracy who I have traveled with following music, laughs, and will continue to do so, even if I won't be taking Southwest with them. I have made friends, true friends, all over the country and through different channels and can't wait to see what the future, 2010 and beyond holds for us.

One thing I know, is that this will be my last year in Columbus, Ohio. I'll miss the bar, which has been so central to my life here. I'll miss my friends, and I'll miss my jobs, which, though mostly through my own talent and drive, I have been fortunate to get through connections, friends, associates, and even the occasional drag queen. I hope that in the city of 8 million people I find an Alexa, who shares my brain and makes every day at my job more bearable, or less awful, and I hope I find someone who recognizes that I am the most hard-working person they will ever hire, as I have been so fortunate to find here. I'll miss knowing everyone, and I'll miss being known. I will also cherish having some anonymity and will thoroughly appreciate the difficulties I will endure in creating a family like I have made for myself here. Steven, Josh... irreplaceable. The thing is, that I know all of you know, that it's time for me to go - there isn't anything else I want here in Columbus, except the one thing that continues to elude me, so I may as well go looking for all those OTHER things all over again, while experiencing the center of the universe. There's a New York Magazine-style approval matrix in here somewhere, right Ryan?

Over the next few months, as I work my ass off to make this new dream come true, I want to do a little bit of writing and make sure that I don't forget anything - things are going to be so different after I leave, I know there's going to be a million things that I will want to remember and hold on to from here. I want to make sure that I am not leaving behind a life, rather taking that life with me toward my new one - with new hopes and dreams and adventures.

And that you'll be there with me.