Sunday, July 13, 2014

West Coast Best Coast, East Coast Beast Coast [Picture Post]

The last few weeks have seen me staying away from home for the longest period of time since I studied abroad in Denmark. Being in training in the San Francisco Bay area has definitely been an experience. Meeting people from across the US and seeing just how different people are has been thrilling, hilarious, and at times uncomfortable. While long days of sessions, role plays, and readings take their toll and drain you by the time they all end, I managed to find time to still enjoy what the city has to offer.

It had been many years since the last time I had been in San Francisco. I don't recall much in all honesty. I remember driving down Lombard Street with my dad, exploring Chinatown, and being tired constantly from the endless long hills. If I'm going to be in this area for as long as I am, I decided I would do everything right this time.

Here are a few of the things I've been up to the last few weeks:


I met up withMs. X's boyfriend and he was genrous enough to take me around San Francisco and show me some of the beautiful neighborhoods in the city. While the hills are a pain to climb, they defnitely lend themselves to some amazing skylines. 


San Francisco Pride was somewhat of a letdown. I attended DC's pride with my boyfriend and a few other people and that was a blast. Beads and giveaways were being thrown everywhere, people were cheering and excited, and it was a great 4 hours. San Francisco's was also fun, but at 5.5 hours, it defintely felt like it dragged on. Also, I got ZERO beads or cool giveaways. Madness!


Over July 4th Weekend, my boyfriend came to visit. As he had never even stepped foot outside of an airport in California before, I tried to plan everything possible into the time he was here. That meant crash course San Francisco and lots of walking. One thing we did? A ferry cruise around the bay, under the Golden Gate, and around Alcatraz. Tickets onto the island were sold out so I tried to get the next best thing.



If you're going to sail under the bridge, you better believe you're also going to walk on it. We walked/hiked the Presidio area of San Francisco and then walked out onto the bridge. It was a beautiful view, even with the light fog.


A few weeks ago, they closed off Lombard Street to all non-resident traffic. Now it's a pedestrian attraction. Getting up there is a workout for your quads and glutes, but it was worth going up and down the famous winding road. Dodging photo bombing other tourists' pictures was less fun. Many selfies were taken.


Of course you have to go to Fisherman's Wharf if you plan on visiting the city. I took him to a nice steakhouse instead of getting dungeness crab though. I don't think he minded. 



After the BF left, I went to a SF Giants game against the Oakland Athletics with some of my coworkers. We (SF Giants) handily won. It was my first major league baseball game and it was well worth it. I don't know if I will go to another game on my own accord anytime soon, but I can at least sorta see the appeal now.

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San Francisco is a beautiful city with lots to offer. I've taken it its wonder, it's food, it's people, and it's culture. That all being said, I'm ready to start going back home. I have less than one week before I fly back east to Virginia and start working. While the constantly sunny days, mild temperatures, and low humidity have their appeal, I miss the bustle. I miss my dog. I miss my friends. I miss driving. I miss my boyfriend. All of this and many more. I've loved my time here, don't get me wrong, but I don't think I could ever call the West Coast my home. People may say the West Coast is the best coast, but we all the it's all East Coast, Beast Coast.

All the best,

JP

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Adult Life Part 1: Pre and Post Grad Life, Coming Out, and Training

People don't tell you just how quickly the last month of your college experience moves. Since my last post, I've attended Senior Ball, graduated, came out to my mom's side of the family, and started my first (real) job.

Senior Ball: I knew that if I ever wanted to relive a prom night like experience again in my life, this would likely be one of the last chanced I would have to do so. Naturally, I asked out two people to Senior ball - my boyfriend and my mom. Senior ball isn't a true "prom" but more of a last hurrah with friends, family, tuxedos, ball gowns, and over a dozen open bars. The venue was massive, the variety of music impressive, and meeting everyone's parents was a surreal and fun experience. In a cheesy move, I got boutonnieres for my boyfriend and I to wear. That more than cemented the "Jeez, this is prom" idea for him but we got complimented on them the entire night so point for me.

Graduation: The day after senior ball was graduation. It was a truly beautiful yet bittersweet feeling. The playing of pomp and circumstance, standing in long rows in our black gowns, the flash of hundreds of cameras as we walked to the front of the crowd to our seats and then across the stage to meet the school President and receive symbolic "diploma" (plot twist - it's just paper with a ribbon. Your real diploma is too fancy to roll up like that.). There was a keynote speaker who was decent but didn't say anything out of the ordinary but no hat throwing or beach balls being volleyed around like my last HS graduation. In reality, it was a much more somber and reserved experience. That being said, the fact that I was done with my college career didn't hit me until I received that large diploma in my hand. It was in a large white envelope, unwieldy, and was made with some of the thickest grade paper I've ever held. I'm sure I will have a nice frame for it one day. Until then, it shall remain safe and sound in 

Coming Out: So I didn't personally come out to my mom's side of the family. In reality, one of my cousins did the grunt work for me by telling my aunt and explained to her that I was the same person as I ever was and that I did nothing wrong. My boyfriend was by my side the entire post-graduation reception and none of my family members knew then who he was (I think they thought he was just a friend). Since then though, my entire family on my mom's side has since been told that I was dating a guy and I'm happy to report that nothing has changed. Everyone seems to like the BF and this past summer, he's come over to my house for dinner at least twice a week.

See that? I have one now. (Ewww....adulthood)

Work: Much like how graduation snuck up on me, so did work. I began with a week of training at my office and I am currently in training on the West coast for about a month. The process has taken some time to adjust to but I think I have finally gotten more accustomed to it. Training is every day like a normal work day. We're learning about the company, what we will be doing, the industry we're in, etc. People from offices across the US and from a number of prestigious schools have all come to train together and it's been interesting to see the different personality types each group has developed. Since I began work, I have become very tight with the people from my office. I still have many more weeks to go but so far I've enjoyed my time here.

Before I flew west, I did spend one more weekend with the BF up with his family in New York. It was his niece's 2nd birthday and one of his cousin's graduation party. It was nice being able to meet his family mostly because they're a very diverse bunch with some memorable personalities (in a good way). 

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So I guess things are starting to become even more real now. I have a salary, I have benefits, I'll have my own workspace, I have many new suits now. I'm still unsure about how I feel about it. I don't know just how real I want things to be quite yet. 

I hope things are going well in your neck of the woods.

All the best,

JP

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Two Weeks Until a New Chapter: Graduation and The Future

If you were to tell me that I would one day be less than two weeks from graduating from college I would have laughed in your face. Well, that day has arrived. In less than two weeks, I will be walking across that stage. In less than two weeks I will be going to my final senior formal. In less than two weeks, I will be saying my goodbyes to some of the people who have shaped me in my most malleable of times - when I first entered the collegiate world.

The only things that stand between me and that day is when I will no longer be an undergrad are a three page group write up and two cases, that, and time.

It terrifies me to think that I four years ago, I was going through a similar period of nervous energy and anxiety when I knew my high school graduation was similarly around the corner. Like it was four years ago, graduation will serve as the page turn that opens to a new chapter in my life. Instead of entering my potentially final years of schooling, I will be entering the workforce. Instead of saying goodbye to friends who I knew almost exclusively within the concrete wall confines of my high school or the shell of a boat, I will be saying goodbye to people who I have lived with...

people I have seen every day for years

people I took my shot of alcohol with

people who have seen me at my very highs

people who I have seen in the lowest of lows

people who I have gotten lost in foreign countries with

people who have made me more mature

and people who have made me embrace the times to let loose.

But beyond just saying goodbye, I will still be able to stay close with many people who I'm proud to call now some of my best friends.

The job I was able to get will keep me in the DC area. Many of my closest friends, people I have known since the first day I moved in to my freshman dorm, are also going to be working in the DC area at least for a few years. If there is one lesson that graduating from high school taught me, it's that to keep your most trusted friends close to you. I made many friends in HS, but I equally lost contact with nearly as many people once we went to our ways for college. I know that many relationships I have today will also likely end in the same way. It's the unavoidable consequence of meeting countless people but eventually crafting a close group of those who you really trust. My close circle today is smaller than it was in high school, which I think is for the better. We've experienced more together and have bonded at a level which I think is deeper than my relationships were in the past.

I will also not have to say goodbye to my boyfriend in the same way I expected I would have to. He too will be interning in the DC area this summer. While I don't want to sound selfish, I can't say that I was not a little excited when I found out he will be here. While we both will be working, I hope to still spend time together over the next few months and once he returns for his final year at school as well.

I'm scared. I'm excited. I still don't know what I'm really doing with my life.

I guess I will just have to take things one step at a time.

-JP

Monday, March 24, 2014

Jealousy/Awe

Sometimes I'm jealous of everything he does. His passion and love for everything he is involved in makes me feel inadequate...

...but that just drives me to push myself harder, to pursue what makes me happy and make myself the best I can be at that craft. It feels odd at times to realize that I say that I desire someone that does things and has passions that differ from mine, yet once I'm with someone who has those qualities, I'm stuck with a feeling that can only be described as the on the border of jealousy and awe. But I guess I just need to work on realizing that I shouldn't be jealous about something just because he can do it while I can't. Sure, I wish I could dance better, lift more, or have the joie de vivre he can display in a heartbeat, but I'm also not going to be someone I'm not.

In some ways, though, I'm still the cooking loving, car crazed, pseudo French speaking, hopeless romantic that I was when I first started this blog now nearly five years ago. It was that dorky and semi awkward wannabe bro he was attracted to when he met me, and he is the sexy, brilliant, and caring stud I fell for. We share enough interests to make things between us real and have enough differences to prove our relationship is not just fleeting. 

He's.....special.

-JP

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Into The Woods

I recently went on a retreat  that was organized by the LGBT center here on campus in the mountains of Northwestern Virginia. I initially was hesitant to go; retreats never felt like something I would be interested in. Since my freshman year, they always felt to me like they were only done for those take unusual pleasure in extended self introspection and storytelling, things I never were truly interested in. I also didn't intend to go on this trip because my boyfriend was hesitant to push me, a senior, go, because it was targeted more towards lower years. In the end, however, I decided to apply and give it a shot.

We left on a cold, rainy morning and arrived at the retreat headquarters a little over an hour later. I knew there would be a busy and well followed schedule on this retreat and this turned out to be true. We had a quick lunch and and soon the icebreakers and discussions began. I thought I would hate or at least dislike having to look at myself in such a deep way. I have never been one who enjoys facing my inner demons or even my inner strengths. It makes me uncomfortable. That said, however, I came to enjoy hearing the stories, the talks, the bonding with my fellow LGBT peers. It grew slowly but surely, and the next thing I knew I was starting to tell my story, my experiences, and my fears. That initial peeking over the fence soon led to me climbing over entirely and diving head first into the retreat.

The day which started so early in the morning flew by quicker than I ever imagined. Soon the sun set and the lights were turned down low. As students, alumni, and faculty read their reflections, I felt tears start to well up on multiple occasions. Tears of joy, tears of sympathy, tears of fear. As we broke off again and again into our small group reflections and meetings, I found myself talking more openly than I had in what felt like years. It was moving. It was liberating. It was terrifying.

That first night, after all planned activities had come to an end, I wandered off on my own into the dark. I stood in the middle of the road and breathed in the cold, mountain wind. I listened to the silence, punctuated by the occasional sound of wind whistling through the branches of the bare trees. I stood in the pale glow of moonlight and stood in wonder of the stars above. I felt small.

The next morning the talks continued. The theme of the day was to look towards the future. Where did I wan to go? What do I want to do to better myself? I heard the stories of an Alumni and the director of the center. An individual who I had known and met back during the very first week of my freshman year. She had helped see me though my time of fear and hardship when I didn't know what I wanted to do. She had continued to help me all those years since and today, I finally got to show her my appreciation. I hugged her harder than anyone else I knew on that retreat.

Her story, the stories of my peers, and my experience over those past 24 hours left me confused, anxious, but also reflective. In my last post, I talked about how I felt regret, sadness, and even jealousy over just how little I feel like I had done over the past four years. What if I had done more? What if I took that extra step? What if I just had the courage to take charge and not hold back? These talks, however, helped me realize one thing. While I may have only less than one semester left at my school, I should not waste time looking at what I hadn't done with my time at college, but I should work to embrace and take advantage of what time I have left instead.

A weak man spends his whole life wondering about the past and regretting his missed opportunities, but a brave man takes those regrets and turns them into action moving forward. I want to be a brave man. My time at my school as a student may be limited, but the opportunities to make those most of my time are almost endless. If I can make even the tiniest positive change on campus, the LGBT community, and the lives of those I have touched, I will be satisfied.

JP