Sunday, January 21, 2018

That Summer Night Drive

There are some songs which are so closely tied to specific memories that I can instantly re-live that moment if it comes on. Some are happy, some are sad, but they are all transport me to some key event in my life. Driving earlier tonight, a song came on the radio that I had not heard in years and I had one of these moments.

A little background - my parents lived separately basically my entire life. On the weekends we would stay at my dad's house in Maryland while during the week, I stayed with my mom and grandparents in Virginia. So whenever we left my dad's house on Sunday evenings back to Virginia, it was always when Delilah was on the local soft rock station and we would listen to her program during this ride home. This being the late Nineties, there were many songs which I'm sure were played and I have since long forgotten, but there are two which for whatever reason have linked themselves to this Sunday night drive. The first is Seal's "Kiss from a Rose."

As I was driving home earlier tonight, Kiss From a Rose came on the radio and instantly I was transported back to when I was 8, sitting in the back seat of my mom's burgundy Corolla coming home from my dad's house.  I can see the violet skies transitioning to dark blue as the sun sets behind us. Tall trees surround us with branches hanging over the winding two lane road while peeks of light from the houses tucked away behind the brush glimmered like earthbound stars to my 8 year old eyes. There is the gentle hum of the car's engine revving higher and lower we rolled up and down hills. I can even feel the cool air conditioning on my skin, soothing compared to the humid summer air outside. I'm sitting in the back seat watching the world pass as the song played from the speakers.

This drive itself is not something especially unique. I've probably ridden the route thousands of times since I was a baby, but it is such a significant part of my childhood because of how regular it was. Nearly every weekend until I got my own license, this was the routine. So when Kiss From a Rose song came on during my drive home tonight and I had a flashback to my childhood self, it was honestly a little unsettling but not in an uncomfortable way. It was familiar and warm.

When I got home, I instantly played the other song that I associate with this exact same moment of my early childhood. That song is "I Love You Always Forever" by Donna Lewis. This song was one of my favorites growing up. In fact, my mom would remind me in my teenage years that when I was little, I would always sing along to the song knowing every word like the back of my hand. Even today I remember the lyrics despite not being able to tell you who the singer was until I just looked it up for this post. Like Kiss From a Rose, this song takes me back to the same summer night drive. For whatever reason, both of these songs became linked to this period of my life.

I'm sure you probably have songs which take you back to some key memories and parts of your life much like these two songs do for me. Go listen to them. Hopefully they will bring back some happy memories like these two did for me.

All the best,


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Coming Back Home

I don't remember the last time I came home and spent a full weekend with just my mom and myself. The chance doesn't come up often; with my roommate and boyfriend both wanting to do things, usually I stick around my apartment and be social as most mid 20-somethings do. This past weekend however, my roommate was out of town with his girlfriend and my boyfriend was back home in New York with his family. So, I decided to say fuck it, I'm going home. My real home.

Going back to my childhood house is a different experience now compared to even it was during college. Going home felt like a chore to me for a long time. I was too busy having fun with friends, drinking out in the city, or just enjoying something new than to be bothered with trekking back into the familiar and boring suburbs. This time it was different. This time I cleared my schedule and just enjoyed being in the company of family, familiar surroundings, and not having to worry about "what's next?" or "What do you want to do tonight?"

Work the past few weeks has been killing me. I had 10+ hour days most of this last week and the same the week before. Every weekend has been so busy entertaining people in town or throwing parties for friends that I haven't been able to just relax, read, or even sleep soundly. Coming home was my escape, and for the first time in weeks, I actually feel relaxed. I woke up Saturday and made coffee and watched the news. I helped my mom on her Costco run. We cleaned together and enjoyed dinner and catching up. This afternoon I went to my favorite cafe and just read a book for over an hour. It was so nice I felt like I was committing a sin. This whole weekend reminded me of how things used to be, before I had to balance work, maintaining a relationship, and a social life that requires constant travel to and from the city. 

It may sound like I'm long for the past, and to an extent, that is true. I think everyone to some extent wishes they could reclaim a time when adult responsibility and earning a paycheck didn't dictate many of your actions. That being said, this weekend made me remember that I always will have somewhere I can turn and escape if I ever need to. I will never be turned down or away from coming back and just spending some time with my family. Heck, I'm sure my mom would love for me to spend even more weekends with her. This weekend also reminds me it's not just okay to get away, but also something that I should do rather than feel awkward about doing. 

I'm writing this post on the same couch and probably the same spot when I first conceived of this blog over 8 years ago. This morning I woke up in the same bed, in the same room, which bears the same decorations just as I left it when I went to college almost 7 years ago now. It's unnerving to think how much I and the world has changed these past years, yet so comforting that some things will remain so steady.

All the best,


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Goodbye Old Friend

I lost one of my best friends this weekend. He and I knew each other for nearly 13 years. He saw me through some of the happiest and tragic moments in my life. His name was Max and he was my dog.

We adopted Max when he was 3 years old from a local shelter here in the DC area. His previous owner had to move and could not bring him so we was put up for adoption. At that time, I had been wanting to get a dog for months. My parents and I had visited multiple shelters, saw many dogs, but had not adopted one yet. I still remember seeing him for the first time. He was in his own run and followed me wherever I was in front of his space. He had an adorable split face - half brown, half white with some light brown and black spots on his hind legs and a black tip on the white side of his face. A man who I assumed worked at the kennel said "He's a bad dog" for reasons unknown but at the point, I know which dog I wanted to give a forever home. We ended up taking Max home the next day, and for the record, that man was wrong.

A funny story was that the moment we got Max home, he bolted out of the car and immediately started running away. I think he thought it was a game, or maybe it was a test to see if we truly were ready to take him into our family. We chased him around the neighborhood for 15 minutes until a man in a truck distracted him long enough for us to catch him. A great start to out relationship, eh?

Over the following years, Max became a part of my family. He was the only dog in the entire family and everyone came to love Max and Max came to love everyone else.

 Max became my best friend from the moment we brought him home. He was mischievous, clever, and had an energy in him that stuck around well until his late adulthood. He always found a way to sneak food off a table, jump on to his favorite perch on the couch, or run upstairs and hide under beds. He knew he wasn't supposed to, but he never turned down a challenge. His energy also translated to his love of games. He was always down for fetch, tug-o-war, or his favorite - playing with his basketball. He would run around pushing it with his body and flip it around on the lawn, staining himself bright green in the process. His energy seemed limitless at times.

He saw me through countless key moment in my life. He was there always willing to listen to me talk when I was too afraid to tell something even to my closest friends. He looked at me with the cute brown eyes and never judged me over the silliest or serious of topics. He was there to help see me through when I came out, 3 graduations, meeting my first boyfriend, and the passings of some of my closest family members. Whenever I needed someone to talk things through with, he was ready to listen to my worries, my excitement, and my stories.

Max lived a good life and saw more of the world than many people do. He traveled all around the DC area and to Florida where he ran around on the beaches and plodded through the Atlantic surf. He went to lakes and parks and loved meeting other dogs wherever we went. He always loved car rides and would perch himself on the center arm rest so he could look out the windshield.

As he got older, he naturally slowed down. His brown spots on his hind legs faded away as he started to go white and he was more and more content with napping in the warm sunlight and cuddling on the couch than the constant running of his more youthful days, but he was still the same loving him. We would chat and he would listen as attentively as always. His brown eyes would always watch whatever I'd do with the clarity and sparkle present since the first day we brought him home. Eventually he went deaf and over time, his voracious appetite also started to decline. Dementia also started creeping in around the time he hit his mid-teens. Things progressed as he approached 16 and his health was declining quicker and quicker. He soon couldn't comfortably walk and he started having stomach issues and sensitivity.

After a series of events and incidents, my mom and I had a talk about Max's future. Max was part of our family and his happiness and comfort was our #1 concern. We knew he wasn't comfortable and he longer loved the things he loved his entire life. It was one of the hardest decisions I had ever had to make and I cried longer and harder than I had for years prior. I was going to be saying goodbye to my best friend and I didn't want to do that. We had to do what was best for him, even if that meant putting us through pain. Max was put to sleep yesterday, Saturday a little before 3pm.

I'm going to miss you, Max. I love you and I hope you're in a better place where you can play, eat, and have the time of your life forever. You're a good boy.


Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Climbing Up Into Clouds of Uncertainty

I remember all too clearly when I started my first job right out of college just over 2 years ago today. I was nervous, jittery, working late nights, and all just so I could get ahead and make a good name of myself. I also remember that a few months later, I was dreading everything. I even dedicated an entire post to this period in my life. I felt lost, confused, and was trying to find a way out by any means possible short of getting fired. I hated my job, I felt unfulfilled, and honestly, I missed being at school.

If you told me from a year and a half ago that I would still be at the same company, my from back them would have laughed and probably even felt a little disappointed in myself. "Why didn't you leave? Could you not find another job?" past me would have said. And that may have been the case. A little over a year ago today, I was interviewing with a few places, trying to find a way out. Nothing ultimately panned out.

Fast forward to today. I stuck it out at my job, entered a rotational program with a marketing/strategy type group last fall at the same company, and this past June, I changed jobs again and got promoted from the rotational program. 

So, uhhh.....I'm a manager now. Surprise?

So I don't manage people, well, not directly at least. I tell people in other departments what they need to do and I hold their managers and directors accountable. It's a strange place to be. I'm 23 close to 24, and I have an office, a manager title, and a strong, but not spectacular salary. I work on an equal level with people who manage teams and have years on years of experience over me. I'm invited to executive round tables, have to speak with directors as if they were my peers, and am held to a standard and have responsibilities that I feel are above my experience level.

I feel like a child dressed up in dad's suit and trying to fit in at the adult table the first year I'm allowed to sit there on Thanksgiving. I feel like I'm playing a game or performing in some kind of act, and eventually the illusion will break and people will stop respecting what I tell them. Yes, it's a professional office and people take their jobs seriously enough to not mock me or talk down to me, yet still, it still feels wrong that me, a guy who graduated two years ago and is less than a handful of years past the legal drinking age, has the job I do.

I'm feeling a lot of the same emotions I felt when I hit bottom after I started working right out of school. Maybe it's just the same emotions that come with starting any new job. I'm working late nights again. I constantly worrying that I've done something wrong despite the generally glowing reviews I have heard so far. I'm also caught in the cycle of feeling that despite my best efforts, at the end of the day, people see what I do as mediocre or simply disappointing. Without going too in depth, the nature of my job and team is not a glamorous one. Reps that get the end products of what my team puts out generally don't care much for it or don't think of it much, managers who have to manage those reps see me mostly as a source of extra work and stress, and the directors and VPs see my team as useless, slow moving oafs who are out of touch from what the reps actually need and provide little of value. As someone who thrives on feedback, I think you can see why I may be so anxious all the time and struggle with relaxing and unwinding at the end of the day. I won't say I'm at nearly a low spot as I was a year and a half ago, but the deja vu is real.

If you've made it this far, I wanted to apologize for the constant "I feel/I'm feeling" repetitiveness you have read so far. With any major change that has occurred in my life, there is one thing that I've come to notice about myself and that is that my emotions tend to ramp up before eventually settling back down. So you are seeing me cope right now. I'm trying to find a way to reconcile a few pieces and sides of me.

1. Me, the 23 Year old who is trying to play adult and become comfortable working with others much older and experienced than myself and seeing them as peers

2. Me, the young professional who knows he can do the job and do it well. I know I will always put in my best and triple check all details of what do to put out a quality product.


3. Me, the person who needs to realize that at the end of the day, I need to take care of myself and realize the world does not revolve around work or pleasing others. 

Where will I end up ultimately in the long term? I don't know. I did just start a new job. My new director saw something in me to request a promotion for me and have me join her team. That being said, I don't know if this is the job that I want to stick with as a career. My coworkers are great people and I do interesting and challenging work. But again, like when I started my first job, that sense of fulfillment is missing. The day I can wake up and be excited to go to work and truly love what I'm doing is when I will stop exploring my career options. That's why even now, I am still searching for jobs.

Who knows, maybe that sense of fulfillment will slowly build the longer I stay in this job. If hindsight has taught me anything, the longer you stick it out, the easier things become.

Wish me luck.

All the Best,


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Successful Night

It's been a while since I've seen my friend Maria smile and truly glow with life. After we both graduated high school and then undergrad, I've always hoped I would see her with that spark in her eye again. A spark that says "fuck yeah this is what I'm capable of." It has been a long time since I've seen that smile. School, friend, and boy drama always seemed to drag her down. But tonight was different. I got to see a fire and spark in her again for the first time in what seemed like forever.

Tonight was one of those rare nights where Maria, myself, and Christine were all in town, and tonight, we had a fourth joining us for dinner. Maria, for the first time, had a true boyfriend that made her giddy and truly enthused with the world. Let's call this new man Jack. Maria and Jack met through Tinder and had chatted for months while she was still at law school half way across the country. Jack was in DC, hundreds of miles away. Their romance grew over time, first texting, then nightly face-timing, and now that Maria is back in the DC area for the summer, actually hanging in person. If Tinder needed an example couple for their marketing materials, I think they may have found a prime example. But I digress.

The reason I was so excited for dinner tonight was a simple one. Tonight would be the first time I would meet Jack in person. This meant a lot for me because:

1. Maria has always told me that if I didn't like a potential suitor, she couldn't continue the relationship. Big pressure on him and me to have that male-bond "click"

2. I wanted to size this guy up since I have high standards and expectations for Maria (I'm protective, what can I say?)

3. She's been hyping him up for months so I kinda need to meet this dude in person, y'know?

So the four of us met for sushi in DC and immediately hit it off. He's a pretty soft spoken guy but good looking and charming. He rolled with the punches and the jabs Christine and I made and even made  few jokes back himself. He had a deep voice and muscular arms and protector vibe to him that made me comfortable that Maria would be safe.

We were really starting to get comfortable when I got a call from the BF. Except, it wasn't the BF on the other end of the line. It was one of his coworkers.

He had gone out on a day trip earlier that day with some of his coworkers and was sick. A combination of too much drink and sea-sickness got the better of him (they were out on a boat). His coworker was worried for him and wanted to make sure he made it back safe and that he wasn't alone. Getting that call ended up being the end of the long await night for me. I had gotten through maybe a third of my drink when I got the call and my food wasn't even close to arriving. I asked my waitress to have my food packed to-go, said my hurried good-byes, and I Ubered back to my apartment to await him and his ride.

Was it upsetting that everything came to an abrupt end? Yeah. I had been looking forward to meeting Maria's new boyfriend all week, and after the last few weeks of hell that work has been, I was excited to unwind with some old friends. But that said, even for the short time I was able to see Maria, Christine, and Jack, I could see in Maria's eyes that she had truly found someone that made her happy. That brightness was back, the smiles were genuine, and the laughs at Jack's bad jokes could not be faked. Thankfully my BF is ok as well. He's embarrassed, upset, and will probably have the hangover from hell in the morning, but he too is safe and curled up in my bed. So with the twists, turns, and unexpected bumps, one good thing did some out of tonight, and that is being able to know that my best friend is finally, truly, happy. That made tonight a successful night.

All the best,