Thursday, January 29, 2009

Disloyal experimentation

Normally I'm a Caffeine Free Diet Coke sort of guy.  I live by it.  But over the past few weeks, I've been mixing it up a lot.  In addition to the Caffeine Free Diet Coke, I've been having Diet Mug Root Beer, Diet Sprite, and Diet Mountain Dew.  All of those drinks taste sort-of-tolerable, which is about the best I can hope for from something that has zero calories.  So far, I definitely like the change.  Miniscule variety is the spice of life.

I can't really say for sure why.  Maybe I have just become bored with Diet Coke.  But, I think that it's more related to the fact that in the past I added variety with a couple non-diet soft drinks each week, but now that I haven't had non-diet pop in more than four months, I need to get that variety from somewhere else.

The Crypt of Mail Forgotten

I was sad when I realized a couple days ago that I still had not received the plush companion cube that I ordered as a Christmas present for myself last month.  I contacted Valve, who said that it was already delivered on the 22nd, and gave me the tracking number to confirm this.  I looked all over my house, as sometimes packages are delivered to the back door (giggity) that I never check, but it was nowhere to be found.  Then I called the post office today, and they found it there in the Crypt of Mail Forgotten.  I asked the woman if I could have it delivered tomorrow, and she responded with "oh... okay... we could do that" in a puzzled and slightly annoyed voice, as if I had asked her to put on a feather boa and dance on a table or something.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Parking tip # 2441

If your truck is long enough that it blocks about 2/3 of the lane next to it, it probably does not qualify as a compact car.

Monday, January 26, 2009

When I have my gun

The dream from last night was very short.  I was walking back to my car, which was parked in an unusual area for some reason or another.  My mom had called me on my phone, so we were talking.  The call ended a few moments before I got into the car.  As I sat down, I noticed that there were deep scratches all around the passenger door handle. Someone had caused a lot of damage to the door, and I tried to remember when that might have happened. As I turned forward and got ready to start the car, I noticed that words had been carved into my window:
I HAVE MY DAD
WHEN I HAVE MY GUN
WE'LL ALL DIE IN IT
Then, carved into the dash below:
DIE IN A FIRE
And then I woke up, a bit startled.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Scary moments in PC gaming

There have been two moments that I can remember where I was actually scared enough by a game to actually yelp out loud.  I'm sure there have been more, but these two I remember very well.

The most recent one was in Doom 3, which was a pretty scary game overall.  There's one part where you're wandering around this abandoned moon base where almost every single human has been killed and you hear a woman scream out for help.  "Help me!  Someone, please!  My baby!  My baby needs help!  Someone please help me!"  You can hear it coming from a long, curving hallway.  Naturally, I went to investigate.  As I went further and further down the hallway, I could hear her continuing to sob and her baby wailing.  At the end of the hallway was a final turn, leading to a locked door.  As soon as I could see the locked door, the lights shut off.  I switched to my flashlight, and then heard a whisper behind me, "over here!"  When I spun around, I saw in my dim flashlight not a woman and her baby, but a demon clawing frantically at my face.  I screamed a little.  Doom 3 had plenty of startling moments, but that's the one I always remember.

That's the story I usually tell when asked about my favorite scary moment in gaming.  But there's a second moment, and oddly enough, it's from the original Command and Conquer.  The Brotherhood of Nod (the bad guy terrorist faction) has a base defense structure called the Obelisk of Light, a curved, towering black spire.  I pretty much always play the good guys first in a game, and as I was scouting around and discovered a Nod base for the first time, I heard this low high voltage buzzing noise.  A few seconds later, my speakers emitted a loud ray-gun noise as a bright red laser beam fired from the obelisk, destroying my scout vehicle in a single shot.  The terror I felt at that moment from those fifty pixels and that low-fi sound effect was the most scared I had ever been of a game until Doom 3.

A Rush of Blood to the Head

The short version:
Coldplay—A Rush of Blood to the Head: 6/10
Elsiane—Hybrid: 5/10
Jimmy Eat World—Bleed American: 6/10
Dido—Safe Trip Home: 5/10

I decided that it was high time that I listen to some Coldplay, especially since I picked all of their albums up new for about five bucks each. I started with A Rush of Blood to the Head. I guess my reaction is just "meh." Most everything on the album is pretty forgettable, I'm not really attached to the lead singer's voice, and it's just not a very interesting disc. It's just really average overall, especially after having heard so many rock albums recently that were much better. The best track is definitely the one Coldplay song I could already recognize (though I didn't know who sang it), Clocks. After that, Politik is good and Daylight is decent. But it just didn't grab me. Were it not for having bought all three albums at once, I probably would have stopped after the first one.

One of my favorite artists Delerium toured in Seattle a while back, but I couldn't get anyone who wanted to go with me, so I didn't. But I did decide to check out the two artists who toured with them, Morgan Page and Elsiane. Out of the two, I like Elsiane's album Hybrid a bit less. It's pretty average too, even though it's unusual. The woman has an utterly bizarre voice (à la Björk, I suppose) that I don't really want to listen to for the entire duration of a CD. It's the synth strings and airy female vocals sort of music that I normally like, but this one just doesn't do it for me. Paranoia, Morphing, and Hybrid are probably the best three tracks on the disc.

I really love The Middle and Get It Faster by Jimmy Eat World, so I finally got around to picking up the rerelease of their most popular album Bleed American. It's decent, but it's a little more emopunky than my usual musical tastes, I guess, and beyond my favorite few, it's upbeat yet not very exciting. I also like the title track, and the bonus disc contains a cover of Prodigy's Firestarter in an entirely different style that I love. Given how much I like my favorites from here it was still a worthwhile purchase, but I didn't find too much else on the album worth remembering.

Rounding out my disappointing batch of CDs is Dido's latest, Safe Trip Home. Her music was already pretty light in instrumentation for the most part, but this album's even lighter, and it's just too folksy and plain for me. I rather liked her previous two CDs, but this one's just boring. It's also fairly unusual in that the first single on the disc, Don't Believe in Love, isn't even in my top three: Never Want to Say It's Love, Grafton Street, and Us 2 Little Gods, which are perhaps the least "light" tracks here. I can't give a sweeping disrecommendation for the album since I'm sure some of her fans enjoy the very light style, but I don't recommend it, either.

So, not a great month for new music. But, I'm excited! I've got E.S. Posthumus's long-overdue second album on the way, along with the sophomore effort of The Bird and the Bee, featuring the moderately infectious single My Love (free MP3 download courtesy Spin.com). I also just received a signed copy of Kelli Ali's (original lead singer of Sneaker Pimps) latest, and I've got more Coldplay and other stuff in the queue as well.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Time bargain

One thing I find myself doing pretty frequently is trying to make a decision between two options that forces me to put a happiness value on my time. While making lunch today I noticed a good example of this.

I have a George Foreman grill. It's pretty convenient, and I like the way that it prepares meat. The downside is that the cleanup is fairly annoying; you have to scrape the drippings off of the grill, which tends to send little flakes flying, which then need to be wiped off the counter. But, I found that if you clean it immediately after you take the food off, when the grill is still very hot, it's much easier (and of course more dangerous). There are no flakes of dried residue, and after the initial scrape the thing mostly just wipes clean. I'd say that cleaning it right after use cuts the cleaning time in half or better. I haven't burned myself yet (or really even come close), and I don't really know what the chances are.

The main downside to cleaning it early besides the risk of injury is that my food is cooling while I'm cleaning the grill. So, the satisfaction I receive from eating the meal I just prepared is reduced. My goal is to maximize my happiness. So, my two options are as follows:

Clean the grill immediately. If I do this, I save time, so I have a couple extra minutes to do something I'd rather do, such as play a game. The potential happiness I can get in that time is certainly greater than the potential happiness of eating a slightly warmer meal.

Clean the grill afterward. If I choose this option, I don't have a risk of burning myself, which increases my average happiness somewhat. I also get to eat a slightly warmer meal, but this is not as much happiness as I would get from a couple extra minutes of gaming or browsing the web, especially now that I'm eating healthy and therefore meals are even less exciting than they were before.

I decided that my best option is to clean the grill immediately. I find myself making these sorts of decisions pretty frequently now. It's not something I spent a lot of time on; I just make a snap decision in my head, and sometimes my current mood will produce a different outcome (today I cleaned the grill afterward). I generally try to weigh my options before I make decisions, even inconsequential ones, but it's more recently (the past few years) that I've really begun to factor in the value of my time.

Driving 80 minutes through traffic to see my ex was, though extremely obnoxious, still a good time bargain. I still don't see all of the time and energy spent on losing weight and getting healthy as a particularly great time bargain, but I decided (and posted) months ago that I was going to ignore my feelings on that and do it anyway, and see where it got me. Spending ten minutes blogging about time bargains is, perhaps, a wash. :)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Business as usual

Well, if you were curious (summary: rumored layoffs no longer rumor), my job remains intact and I don't expect that to change.  I do have great sympathy for those people who were affected, especially the ones who I know personally.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mistakes

[Yeah, so, this is a long post.  I think it's my last big one about my breakup.]

As I've said several times before, I don't blame myself or anyone for the breakup.  It's just the way it worked out, sadly.  But I've been thinking a lot recently, going over events, and for the last few days I've felt that I'm as "over it" and "moved on" as I'm going to get for quite some time.  My thoughts have solidified quite a bit, and I'm ready to think about other things for a while.  What I've identified is that while I don't feel like I did something wrong per se, I still made mistakes.  It was my first and only attempt at love; it seems expected that I'd screw something up, right?  So what can I learn from this experience?

One error I made was to mistake a love of cuddling for genuine affection.  Not having prior experiences to go on, I misunderstood this love of being together with another person for, well, love.  I know very well that different people attach different levels of significance to any particular act.  Things that we did are things that I would never imagine doing with someone I didn't feel extremely close to.  I'm not a very touchy-feely guy, and in general, I would not be okay with someone lying across my lap unless I had real feelings for them.  But that's me.  That's not a universal rule of human interaction, that's just how I feel.  Since I tend to uncommonly have physical contact with others, when I choose to do it, I expect it to be significant.  There are a couple friends of mine who hug me fairly frequently, and more often than not it catches me off-guard, and I don't expect it.  It feels a little weird, and when I don't hug back (or don't hug back well) it makes me seem cold.

On our second date, Jason and I went to see a movie, and at one point he rested his head on my shoulder, and at the risk of sounding mushy, that was one of the most emotionally significant brief moments of my life.  In that moment I felt a connection that I had never felt before, and it felt right and wonderful and perfect.  For a person who never touches people and never cuddles, it was moving.  But for a person who isn't so damned standoffish, it could have been something much more commonplace and uninteresting, and that's the distinction I failed to realize.

I'm awkward in unfamiliar social situations as it is, and this all was something entirely new to me.  Fairly often Jason and I were just winging it, not really sure how to proceed with things, but not really caring either.  It was pretty fun, actually.  Without much prior knowledge we were, after all, sort of defining how relationships functioned all on our own.  I think that in general, I tend to read and observe people well, but sometimes I lack the social context and experience to fully understand my fellow humans.  I think that I attributed too many things to this awkwardness and inexperience, though.  We spent incalculable time silent in each other's arms.  When I'd say things like "you're really important to me," the response was sometimes more silence.  I'd pick up on this immediately, and in a more common situation I might have realized something was wrong, but in these times I must have simply dismissed it all as an extension of that awkwardness.

This didn't just happen when cuddling either, but also on a grander scale.  I noticed the change in our interactions right around the time that Jason decided that we should break up.  The affectionate sayings were gone.  Lengthy goodbyes including instant-message hugs and kisses to the classic tune of "no, you hang up first" were replaced with a simple and terse "good night."  I noticed that all immediately too.  And then I ignored it.  I chalked it up to a little loneliness and a drop in the excitement of life when you're home with family for the holidays.  I had deluded myself once again.  (But then again, if I'd have correctly interpreted what was going on—or, hell, even asked—would the end have been any less painful?)

I didn't make it easy for him to crystallize his feelings either, and realize that I wasn't the right guy for him.  I am willing to admit publicly that I'm a great person overall, and my generosity and showers of affection must have made it challenging for him to understand that he didn't feel the same way about me.  Perhaps I smothered him to the point that some of what he saw was my feelings, not his own.

At one point I got a Facebook status update on the home page proclaiming that "Jason is extremely happy and lucky."  (I know because it made me so happy that I saved a screenshot so I could remember it.)  But there is, after all, a difference between simply being thrilled to have a great friend or a great boyfriend, and actually falling in love with someone.  What exactly love is is something that I've thought about for many, many years now, and I'm not sure I'm much closer to figuring things out.  I know what it's like to have a close friend, and I know what it's like to have a sexual attraction, but I struggle with defining what precisely love might be beyond some combination of those two things with a little magic dust sprinkled on top.

I had so many clues that I felt more strongly than he did, but I ignored them.  I noticed the twist early in the relationship where I went from wondering if he was too clingy for me to realizing that I was the more attached one.  I never brought up the topic in conversation—I expressed my feelings but didn't really listen.  Allowing a breakdown in communication about something so crucial and dear to occur was my greatest mistake.

I made several mistakes.  But in the end, I don't think that they contributed to the end of the relationship.  I think that the consequence was simply a more painful breakup.  I didn't see it coming despite the warning signs that I had chosen to ignore, and perhaps I even drew things out.

No, what scares me is that there's this perhaps-tiny possibility that we are right for each other, and if circumstances would have been different, we may have worked out.  I mean, we were both exhausted pretty often, me from work and working out and him from work and fraternity and school, and those things made it difficult to find enough time together.  If we'd lived five minutes away from each other instead of eighty in rush traffic, how would our feelings for each other have been different?  Or what if we were each other's second or third boyfriends instead of the first... would that experience and reduction in awkwardness have led to a deeper relationship?  In searching for a partner we have only finite time, and that means that we'll never know anyone completely.  That thought terrifies me just a little bit—admitting that it is at least possible that a person could meet their perfect soulmate, but at the wrong time in their life, and they could fail to form a connection.  I'm not saying that's the case with Jason and me, and that would be unbelievably presumptious from the person who was dumped, but breaking up has made me at least think of it.  Jason (like all of my friends) knows a version of me, not me.  Some of what goes into that version of me is under my control, and some is random, or circumstance, or fate.  And that version of me is what they have to base all judgments and decisions on.

If back when this started I knew all that I knew now, would I still go through it, knowing it would probably end up the same way?  (And would it end up the same way?  If circumstances were better, and we had each been able to paint slightly different pictures of ourselves, would we have worked out?)  Yeah, I think I would go start it all over again, even knowing the likely pain that was sure to follow.  The joy and friendship that I've gotten from Jason over the past few months outweighs the incredible pain.  But if I knew it was inevitably not going to work out, would I just be deluding myself?

I said that I don't feel like I necessarily made mistakes that damaged our relationship, rather that it just turned out the way it was going to turn out.  The mistakes merely contributed to my pain in the end, and there is comfort in that.  But on the other hand, it doesn't sit well with me that I know I'm very likely to make many of these same mistakes again.

Shogun executioner

Tonight I finished Red Alert 3.  I gotta say, it's a lot of fun, and pretty much exactly what I want in a real-time strategy game.  First of all, it doesn't take itself seriously at all, which I love: attack bears being shot out of cannons, Russians going back in time to assassinate Einstein, floating Japanese schoolgirls with terrifying psychic powers, David Hasselhoff as vice president of the United States, and the Shogun Executioner, a massive triplet of robots joined at the hip wielding massive lightning swords.  The single-player campaign is a lot of fun, with fairly balanced difficulty and a wide variety of different types of missions.  Unlike what seems like the majority of RTSes, it's easy to tell at a glance what any unit is and what it's for—this is a huge one for me.  I'm always annoyed when I play a strategy game and everything looks so much alike that I can't tell what things are half the time.  Red Alert 3 also doesn't rely on too much unit micromanagement, which I find very pleasing.  And most notably, all three campaigns are designed to be played by two people, either you and a friend over the internet, or you and a computer-controlled co-commander that acts autonomously but can be ordered around as necessary.  That system actually works surprisingly well in practice, though I haven't actually played with another person.

Anyway, I recommend it if you're into the whole RTS thing.  It's gorgeous, silly, amusing from start to finish, and has heart that you just don't find in a lot of games.  I'm rarely this gleeful when playing a game.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Curiosity frostbit the cat

My frozen groceries from Amazon Fresh come packed in a plastic and foam cooler.  On the lid is a sticker with a picture of a seal and a dire warning saying that I must never under any circumstances touch the dry ice packet on the bottom of the case or I may suffer frostbite or severe burns.
And oh man do I want to touch it.  Just for a second.  I want to touch it so badly just to see how quickly it damages me.  I have to resist this urge every time I order groceries.

Postmortem and answers

Jason and I had a lengthy chat tonight... a postmortem of sorts. I wanted to ask all of the questions that I would have asked a week ago when we broke up were I not so paralyzed, and the questions that have come up while I've been mulling things over in my head all this time. But something unexpected happened: I became happy. I thought that the conversation would make me sad, but something I had to do—instead, I became the happiest I've been since we split. I realized that I couldn't have asked for a nicer ex. I even knew it all already in my heart and even my blog posts, but here it was, apparent proof in an AOL Instant Messenger window that even though the romantic interest I had hoped for wasn't there, he cared about me until the very end.

I don't particularly want to share the private details of our conversation, but suffice it to say that even as I feel so unloved I now feel loved, and even as I feel so heartbroken I feel close again. Our friendship has survived the worst, most painful week; why would it fail now? I am optimistic. I feel that an hour ago I progressed into a third stage of coping—from utter devastation, to reflective depression, to a curious mix of joy and hope—and still more depression.

Since this weekend I've been assembling notes on a "final" post about my breakup, and the questions and worries it left me with. But now, I wonder how many of those questions are still unanswered, and how many of those worries will still bother me. How much of that post will be deleted as not-applicable before it's finished? Perhaps we'll see this weekend.


Relevant in title if not necessarily in content: Barenaked Ladies—One Week

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Whiteboard typography

My handwriting is noticeably better at the top of a whiteboard compared to the bottom of the same whiteboard using the same pen.  This is because at typical positionings, I can only comfortably write on the top third or so of a whiteboard due to my height.  I imagine that short people have the opposite problem—their handwriting is worst at the top of the board and most readable at the bottom.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

teh lolz

I realized just now that I see "teh" much more often as a way of mocking people who misspell "the" than an actual typo of the word "the."

Monday, January 12, 2009

Steamy sex dream

Last night I dreamed that the first aid cabinets at work contained protein shake mix packets.  That was the entire dream.  The dream started with me standing in front of the first aid kit, I opened it, and saw protein shake packets inside.  Then it ended.  Like all of my dreams, this was in fact not a steamy sex dream, but rather quite G-rated.

Perhaps it was trying to tell me something: I forgot to take a protein shake mix packet with me to the gym today.

Obnoxious pun of the day

If you and some friends are driving to work and there's an accident in the freeway tunnel that makes you half an hour late, and you're angry all day, have you developed carpool tunnel syndrome?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Better

I've been feeling a lot better today.  I'd even be willing to say that the worst is probably over—I've moved from an emotional apocalypse to simply depressed.  I imagine this state will last quite some time, but I seem to be a functional human being again, which is a nice change.  I'd still certainly say that I feel pretty awful, but I'm in a wildly different place than I was just three days ago.

I've been rather snippy recently, which is unfortunate.  I've also noticed that I'm driving a bit more aggressively—perhaps from "drives like a grandma" to "drives like a middle-aged aunt."  Both of those things should pass.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Hairstylist wisdom

Today when I got my hair cut, the grey-haired stylist asked me what my plans for the day were, and I told her that I just finished my workout, and then after the haircut I was going to a birthday party.  She asked how long it would last, and I told her that like any party, if there were a lot of people I liked, I'd stay a long time, and if there were a lot of people I didn't like, I'd probably go home soon.  She said that's not how it works.  There are no people you don't like at parties, only people you aren't drinking enough to like yet.


[To avoid offending those whose parties I have attended and will attend in the future, my decision matrix is a little more complicated than that.]

Friday, January 9, 2009

Where no marketing has gone before

[Okay, so here's a post that's not so depressing.]

I've seen this ad on Facebook a few times for a laptop.  (Of course, now that I want to find it, I can't.)  The ad is saying that if I buy their fabulous Intel laptop, I'll get early access to various bits of behind-the-scenes Star Trek movie content.

Whoop...
dee...
doo.

Who thought that would sell a laptop?  "Oh, I was going to get the new MacBook, but then I saw that this laptop came with behind-the-scenes Star Trek movie content, and I was all like, 'holy crap! I gotta get me some of that.'"  What I fear is that that might sell a laptop to someone.  The ad might actually pay for itself.  I hope it doesn't.  For a while (maybe still), Dell was selling hugely-overpriced World of Warcraft-decorated laptops that came with a key to get you into the beta, and a coupon to get a custom figurine made of one of your characters.  That's at least something.  But who would base their decision on what computer to buy on a few links to pre-release cast interviews (or whatever)?  I think those people scare me.

This sort of promotion certainly isn't unique.  Some movies and games and CDs come in a special edition that is the same as the regular one but comes with a DVD of extra behind-the-scenes stuff, for extra money.  The difference is that you specifically choose the special edition over the regular edition, since movies are a lot less interchangeable than laptops, and generally it's only like ten dollars more.  That's a couple orders of magnitude away from the price of a laptop.

Thanks

Thanks for the various kind words, Facebook wall posts, IMs, and the like over the past couple days. I'm still an absolute, terrible mess, to answer the question I've been asked so many times, but the sentiments are appreciated.

Yesterday and today I've actually been a little physically ill. It's not a localized thing, but an overall feeling of malaise that covers my whole body. I've been cold. (Admittedly, this has happened occasionally ever since I started losing weight.) I've even been letting out these unintentional little half-groans, half-sighs from time to time. (The tiniest of apologies if I'm not as interesting or fun to be around for a while.) Of course, it's possible that I have just picked up a cold or something, but it seems rather coincidental.

I've lost three reasonably close family members, but emotionally, this is the worst I've ever felt. I don't blame anyone, though—not me, not him. This is just the way it is. That's not very comforting, but I never thought of myself as someone who needed too much comforting, just time. I don't even know if I hope to be over it soon. I hope to be over it in the right length of time. What still terrifies me most is a fear of drifting apart even further—somehow failing in the transition from boyfriend to friend.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Professional advice

I'm seeing a therapist.  It wasn't my idea; it's a requirement of the weight management program I'm on.  My latest appointment was aptly scheduled—this morning, and if ever I needed therapy, now's the time.  I don't really know that I feel any better after the visit, or if I'm going to take any of the advice, but I do at least enjoy talking to her, and I thought it might be interesting to share what she said.

She's glad that I'm writing about what happened in my life.  She seemed a little surprised that I made my feelings so public, but said that it was a good idea to at least write them down.  That's part of why I'm posting this.

She said that I should not dwell on the breakup.  It may not be a good thing to pretend that it's not affecting me, but it's not a good idea to think about it all the time either.  I must not mope around or stay depressed.  That's not really me, so I think I'll be okay there.  I have developed a remarkable ability to quickly restore lost moods.  Her advice was to date a lot of people in a short period of time, and soon—get some practice, build confidence, and give the guys a chance to prove themselves, and toss them if they don't.  This doesn't seem terribly likely to me.  Meeting people new even in a non-dating sense is very exhausting to me, and I think I would become a broken shell of a man if I tried to do it frequently.

She asked me what I would look for in a future boyfriend.  I told her that while I thought it honestly sounded lame and clingy, I would look for someone very similar to my new ex.  I was the one who was dumped, and that hasn't changed the kinds of qualities I'm looking for.  In fact, this is honestly just an extended version of something I've been going through my whole life: finding someone and then being just a little bit destroyed when it becomes clear that they don't like me in the same way.  (Usually it just turns out that me being a guy is the deal-breaker.)  It just took far, far longer this time, and got more emotionally complicated.  So, what I'm looking for is basically a boyfriend just like the last one, hoping for a stronger connection next time.

She asked if my newfound confidence would make dating easier for me in the future.  I asked her what new confidence she swears she sees in me—I'm vulnerable and everything but confident right now.  I answered that I honestly feared that it might make future dating even more difficult for me, rather than easier.  Despite how it ended up, I still feel like I lucked out.  I found someone so very close to my ideals on my first honest attempt at dating.  My standards are extremely high now.  She assured me that that was a fantastic thing, and in theory I suppose it is, but I fear that I may reject people who don't deserve it because of that.  I think that starting with high (and frankly picky) standards is why it took me so long to find boyfriend number one in the first place.  But a lot of it, too, was shyness and perhaps a little laziness in not searching people out, waiting for them to present themselves to me.

(On a tangent, this whole experience has affected me in one fairly profound way: before it, as I've posted many times before, I was quite certain that I could be happy living alone forever, and I don't think that was at all incorrect at the time.  But, I'm beginning to think that it may no longer be true.  I may have ruined that for myself in the same way that you can't go back and play Diablo after you've played Diablo II.  Diablo was great and you were very pleased when you were playing it, but after you've played Diablo II you don't want Diablo anymore.  You just can't go back, and you want more.  I don't know.  Ask me in a month.  Hmm, a month from now will be Valentine's Day.  Maybe two months.)

We didn't have a lot of time due to starting about forty minutes late, but before I left, she asked me if I loved him.  I talked about that already in my last post, but the short version is that I said that I don't know because I don't know what that means.  Just yesterday at lunch I was remarking how I don't understand how we managed to form terms like "heartburn" and "migraine," because I couldn't see how people managed to describe those feelings in a way that made people think, "oh yeah, I've felt exactly what you describe too."  I don't have the context and experience to know if I've ever had heartburn or a migraine.  And I don't know if I've been in love.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Ninety-four days

I debated most of the drive home whether or not I should make this post.  I wondered whether it would even be appropriate, or if I could handle it, or if it's something I should have waited to post, but in the end I decided that capturing my feelings right this moment would be a valuable thing to do.  I could write it all down in a secret Word document to file away forever, but that's why I have this blog in the first place.  So, I'm posting it.  A little under two hours ago, my first boyfriend and I broke up.  We were a couple for ninety-four days.

Nobody did anything wrong, nobody was unfaithful, and nobody was angry at the end.  All in all, a pretty unremarkable breakup, only interesting because I was half of the couple.  He realized a few weeks ago that his feelings for me were of friendship, not of romantic love.  Being a caring guy, he waited until after Christmas to devastate me, for which I am appreciative.  I haven't even broken down crying yet.  I felt like it was possible a couple minutes after he gave the news to me, but it didn't happen then, and it hasn't happened yet.  It may happen still.  I considered not making this post because I thought it might force me to.

What I can't force is love, and because of that I didn't protest.  On one hand I didn't want to seem ungrateful for all the time we spent together, but on the other, I am respectful enough to acknowledge that if he went through the pain of telling me this and letting me down gently, he must be pretty sure of it.

I myself realized a few weeks ago that I really don't know what love is.  It was a first relationship for both of us, and I became to wonder just how much of what I thought were genuine love and affection was in fact excitement at the very new phenomenon of having a warm body held against mine, and lips pressed to mine.  A few weeks ago, our interactions began to change.  Obnoxiously cutesy emotes conveyed through instant messages were replaced with "good night."  Due to final exams and the holidays it was becoming impossible for us to find any time to be together, and I wasn't sure if the decrease in affection I'd been noticing was fallout of that or something far worse than the effects of extended absence.  Clues were there.  That's when I realized that we rarely had any particularly deep conversations—after all, those take time, and we didn't seem to ever have enough of it—but if I was to know for sure whether I was falling in love or making out with a friend, we would need to have them.  I was going to propose tonight that we force ourselves to have more meaningful talks from time to time.  But, he had already figured things out.

That's actually the only thing that bothers me about being on this end of the breakup—it's not necessarily true that if he sees us as only friends, that I see us the same way.  I wasn't sure yet how I felt.  I felt like I was beginning to fall in love, but I was far from sure.  Maybe someday I'll have enough context and experience to really know how I felt here, if I can remember.  I hope to not forget.

I knew that our chances were slim, but they were chances well worth taking.  Whose first relationship actually lasts, after all?  I had hoped, but the pessimist in me constantly reminded me how unlikely it was.  We had a few things going against us.  They certainly didn't help our relationship—whether or not they hurt it is a topic one could debate.  The biggest, though, was the age difference: I'm seven years older.  On one end of those seven years is a man who works full-time, lives on the east side of the bridge, and occasionally thinks he has everything figured out.  On the other is a college student who lives on the west side of the bridge, an hour and a half away in peak traffic.  Even though the scheduling difficulties that come from that may not necessarily have hurt our relationship directly, it certainly made things more challenging.

But even if I didn't learn anything from all this, which would be an unlikely shame, there's no way that all this could be a negative experience.  Versus a few months ago I've gained a great friend, learned more about how to be a boyfriend, and in all lame-greeting-card-slogan honesty, experienced feelings I never really knew about.  Hopefully this will all help me out if I ever meet the guy I'm to spend the rest of my life with, if he exists.  I'm crushed now, but that will pass. I'm a better person.

I was about to jokingly say that "of course, I could have been a better person with a boyfriend," but that's not correct.  It's not like I had two options and I picked one.  This is just the way it worked out, and there's no blame to be assigned.  (To quote Morpheus from the Matrix series, "What happened, happened, and couldn't have happened any other way.")  Yes, I might cry at some point.  Yes, I'm sure I'll be sad and down for what will seem like far, far too long.  That seems to be the way it works.  But I'm not sorry.  Travis is perpetually joyful, and there were more than enough happy memories, along with a friendship that can hopefully survive a breakup.  I do wish him the best, and I want him to be happy, and I'm proud of myself for there being nothing sarcastic or passive-aggressive or dishonest in that.

Finally, I'm overweight

Finally, I'm overweight!  I have recently gotten my weight down to the point where the BMI scale puts me at merely "overweight" and not "obese."

It's likely I'd never hit what the BMI scale would consider a normal weight, as it's not terribly accurate for people my height.  If the more-accurate measurements and calculations from my body composition lab tests are to be believed, I don't have that much fat to lose.  Close, but not quite.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Chocolate

A couple months ago I won a box of 101 different varieties of imported European chocolates from a charity auction.  Despite the fairly ironic acquisition given my current focus on healthy living and weight loss, it was one of the more interesting things I've ever "bought."  Opening this box for the first time was a sight to behold of joy and wonder—I've never seen so much potential deliciousness in such a tiny space.  I sort of have a thing for packaging, and almost every item in the box was packaged beautifully and enticingly.

It actually worked out pretty well, diet-wise.  I had no intention on eating 101 bars and boxes of chocolate myself, so I planned to give much of it away to friends, coworkers, neighbors, and family at Christmas.  Most of the different varieties in the box I've gotten an opportunity to taste, which has frankly been a pretty exciting experience.  The box had everything from plain chocolates to hollow chocolates filled with creme or liquor, to chocolates flavored with fruits or spices or even curry powder, to chocolates made with ground vanilla beans or coffee beans or chili peppers or any nut you can think of, to bars of marzipan (ugh), white chocolate, and a couple yogurt-based confections that didn't really include any chocolate at all.  Not all of it was delicious—the old maid of the box was the Hachez-brand cherry tomato and salt dark chocolate.  A couple people have tolerated it, but most have found it absolutely revolting.  It was one of the first opened, and I still have some left.  There was one bar of 99% cocoa super-ultra-dark chocolate, which tastes like plastic at first, until it melts, at which point it tastes like cigarette butts.  But, I'd say that at least three quarters of the stuff I've tried has been at least pretty good, and it all tastes so different from the sort of chocolate and candy that you find in the US.  Most of this was from Germany, but there were entries from Switzerland, Belgium, France, Africa, and a few other places too.  It was actually kind of exciting having all of the packaging being in German—not being quite sure what to expect when any given bar was opened was part of the fun.

Probably about a quarter of the chocolates in the box were absolutely amazing, to the point where I'd consider finding a way to get more of them in the US to have and share again (and in some cases I didn't really want to share after I found out what they tasted like).  Overwhelmingly, the best ones were from Lindt and Ritter Sport, so if you ever find yourself in Germany, and you like chocolate, I'd strongly recommend keeping an eye out for those brands.  (Ritter Sport's website lists many US grocers that supposedly carry their products, and you can buy some of the Lindt chocolates online directly, though shipping is exorbitant.)

Monday, January 5, 2009

Humming

I think that the weirdest thing that I find myself humming on a fairly regular basis is the theme song to Diagnosis: Murder.  I'm not sure I like what it says about me that I find myself humming the theme music to Diablo II pretty frequently, but I find that less weird.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

It comes to an end

All good things must come to an end, and this vacation has been a good thing.  I'm pretty sad to go back to work; I've greatly enjoyed my time off, as I knew I would.  Unlike my usual one-week vacations, this time off has actually been pretty relaxing, ultrastress day of cancelled travel notwithstanding.  I've still got three weeks of vacation time left that rolled over from last year, thanks to me rarely taking any time off, but this is when I said my vacation would end, so I need to get back to work once more.  There is much for me to do—Office is going to need to ship a beta out to you guys at some point, after all.  (No, I am not telling you when.  Not even if you ask nicely.)

This vacation succeeded more than others in part due to the length, and in part due to me not being too ambitious.  I didn't set out to complete big projects or even get a lot done around the house.  I certainly got a lot of errands and trip preparation things done the first week, and that week wasn't very interesting.  But the next couple of weeks were pretty open, and it was liberating to not have to schedule everything or be productive or do anything, really.  I had actually planned to do more during my vacation, but I skipped out on many of those tasks.  I just wanted to spend time playing games (World of Warcraft, Red Alert 3, board games), and I accomplished that.  I spent more time playing WoW than I really expected to, but WoW is a game that rewards taking advantage of opportunities, and with a lot of my in-game friends also around more than usual, there were a lot of opportunities to take advantage of.  Once I get back into my normal schedule, and I can't do those sorts of WoW things as easily, I can focus on those other games that I really want to play.

But anyway, I'm feeling really good.  My stress level is very noticeably lower, and though it's going to jump up over the next couple of days, I am certainly relaxed.  Traveling to places is not my idea of a relaxing vacation—a potentially interesting one, sure, but not particularly relaxing—and that's what I really needed this time.  Maybe next vacation I'll go somewhere.  I'll be taking a couple weeks off in June-July to go back to Nebraska anyway.  There is still much of Washington that I need to explore, let alone the rest of the country and world.