Wednesday, November 14, 2012

I'm back, thanks to....


That's right, I started taking an anti-depressant.  I took a break from cutting myself and writing in a sad handwritten book, called my journal, to be proactive about being happy.  This isn't my first roller coaster when it comes to consuming happy pills, but it has been a while.  A few years ago I decided that I'd curve my depression by running and eating healthily, and while I do agree with those tactics to combat my darkness, I needed a little boost.  It has been about a week and things seem to be looking up. 

Just yesterday I got told I looked like Ryan Gosling by the Chilli's hostess.  You may be thinking "Well Garrett, that is a wonderful compliment."  It is a great compliment, but I thought she was talking about Jon Gosling.  You know, from Jon & Kate Plus 8?  The thing is, I smiled and thanked her for her observation. I very quickly accepted my resemblance to the strange looking puffy man, while not thinking of ways to off myself; I considered it a victory.  It wasn't until I got into my vehicle that I realized who she was actually referring to. Winning.

I was later knocked back down to Jon Gosling range when a random woman in the courthouse wouldn't stop giving me dirty glances.  After a snippy verbal exchange I concluded that she was jealous of my looks.  Sometimes it's hard to be so good looking.  Imagine being good looking and funny. It's almost a handicap for normal human interactions; that's why I'm so weird.  Okay, Okay.  Obviously the Zoloft is doing its job.  It will eventually work so well that I will be a nice constant shade of grey.  One could only be so lucky.

I do think I'm attractive in a "good thing your skinny & somewhat funny" kind of way.  I would say I'm of "normal" attractiveness, which I get from my father.  To me, no offense dad, I always just thought of my dad as normal looking.  But apparently there are some old women out there that wouldn't mind climbing him like a tree, sorry mom.  So, thanks for the genetics, dad.  Since we are on the topic to genetics, I also got my depression, or "chemical imbalance" from my dad.  So, yeah, thanks for that too.  I'd also like to make a random note regarding moisturizing.  To the 3 people that read this blog, if any of you are male, hear this: moisturize your face and behind your ears.  Nothing creeps me out more than looking at a middle-aged man, with a middle-aged face, rock massive wrinkles behind their ears.  It takes maybe two more seconds to cover that area with lotion.  When you're in your forties getting your first divorce and having to compete with other middle-aged men, if you listen to this simple advice you will likely lay the chick first.  Trust me, even a really fucked up one with daddy issues.  Wrinkles are gross.  Avoid them at all costs.  

As witnessed above Zoloft does weird things to me, but hey, at least I'm not tightening that noose.  I actually may be able to write in my blog instead of my journal now.  Honestly, journals freak me out.  I'm constantly reminding myself who the audience is.  It's me, by the way.  I'm the audience.  But I can't help but envision my nephew's great-granddaughter coming across her long lost gay relative and publishing a depressing novel based on my journals.  I want her to get a good idea of what my struggles are like.  So, in the event of my untimely death please don't think I lived a super, super, tortured life.  It's theatrics for the very distant future when I become infamous in death.  That's merely all I'm striving for, infamy in death.


Sunday, July 15, 2012


Hello everyone!! I will no longer be posting on this site.  Please follow me at:

Thanks for your continued support!


Favorite childhood father memory.

As a young child,  as early as 7 years old, I yearned for my childhood to portray the quintessential stereotype of a 1950's style household:  My father being my family's sole source of income, home cooked meals, fresh baked cookies, throwing the football in plaid shirts, and church every Sunday.  Although, my life was unequivocally opposed to this idea, I continued to cling tightly, believing that if it were representative of  this fantasy, my problems would be solved.  But alas, this fantasy was just that, a fantasy. 

At that age, most of my problems were self-induced.  (Actually, most of my problems are still, currently, self-induced, but I'll disregard my current parallels at the moment.)  I worried about silly things, such as, fretting about my next hair cut appointment, worrying if I'll pass my next spelling test,  or stressing if my younger brother's birthday is next in line.  All those problems, with the exception of cutting my hair, I view as fairly typical behavior.  No child wants their siblings to get gifts, and a lot of people are horrible spellers.  However, what I worried about the most was money. 

For no accurate reason I was petrified that my family would become "poor", and I'm using the definition of "poor" very loosely.  I was an observant child, so this is where it probably stemmed from.  When my parents would argue, which I believed to be a healthy (normal) amount, I would close myself in my room and listen to every word.  Even to this day, I physically hurt when I hear my parents disagreeing.  After, personally, experiencing divorce, I don't think I would have made it out alive if my parents decided to separate.  I'm too emotional.  Like every other couple in this world, their arguments typically started with financial issues.  But again, the word "poor" is the inappropriate usage of what we experienced.  We experienced a nice case of: your family of five, needs to cook at home,more, instead of dining out.  A lot of people fall into this category. 

Here I go again explaining too much of my childhood before I get to the original point of my post: my favorite "dad time".  Don't blame me.  When one addresses their childhood, it's like biting into an apple.  After the first bite, you have to continue at a rapid pace, before it gets stale.  At least that's how it is for me.  I want you to know the way I was, which directly created the experiences that were most influential for me. 

Apples aside, I was a worrisome, quite and creative kid, with a very active imagination.  I wanted to throw footballs and grow up in a 1950's household.  Instead, I was dyslexic, overweight and painfully shy.  I did, however, settle for religiously watching I love Lucy, to fed my 50's additionsI don't remember throwing the football with my dad.  Actually, I don't have a lot of memories with my father.  I knew he loved me very much, but I always felt an unspoken disconnect.  I did spend a lot of time deer hunting with him, which I tried to enjoy, but it always felt foreign to me. Fixing and building things didn't come naturally to me, which is basically the definition of my father.  However, to my two brothers, it did.  I was an outsider, at least in my own mind.

One thing that did set me apart, was this wonderful little condition called epilepsy.  I couldn't feel envious that my brothers could seize better than I could, although I'm sure they tried, so I considered it an overall win.  With said epilepsy, I was required to get blood drawn every month or so, which required me to wake up before school and go to local hospital.  I remember getting enthralled with excitement at the opportunity to have alone time with my father, even if it meant getting poked with a needle.  The largest perk was our outing after we left the hospital: McDonald's.  Did I mention I was husky? I was.  But it wasn't about the breakfast meal I would devour, it was about my father.  I don't remember talking much, but I remember feeling so connected with him.  I didn't feel like I had to be more masculine or good at hunting, I was just myself.  One hundred percent, me. 

Reflecting back over my childhood, I can list countless accounts of how great my father was, and continues to be.  But my absolute favorite memories are when we sat in McDonald's.  Me, a chubby adolescent, with a band-aid holding a cotton ball over my recent puncture wound, and my strong, silent father, probably wearing black jeans and cowboy boots, which he just recently exchanged for a pair of slacks and dress shoes.  

As mentioned, I could write novels on his unnoticed, heroic, acts, but that is the one that I love most. 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

For Starters... Why I want to write.

Writing, for me, is like running a half-marathon - which I've completed two of them.  Quite frankly, they suck.  I train for months, with the ever so precious reward of "getting to" run 13.1 miles.  But here's the weird thing: I live for them.

My mother always advised me to "find something I love to do, and learn how to make a living out of it."  As a child, I never fully absorbed the great wisdom that she relentlessly bestowed upon my brothers and I, but now I do.  Now, I wish I would have gotten my head out of my ass, or more accurately, hers, and listened.  But things are funny that way, sometimes you have to spend time in the dark before you can emerge in the sunlight.  If I wasn't timid and shy as a child, then I probably wouldn't have been drawn to writing in the first place.  I knew I had plenty of stories to tell, I just didn't know how to express them.  And that right there audience is the precise reason I want to write: to tell my story, and possibly fictional ones, but to being with, mine.

I'm not narcissistic enough to believe that my life is more interesting or "readable", than any other person taking up oxygen.  But I am narcissistic enough to think that people could learn something from what I've experienced.  Isn't that what life's about: teaching others?  After all, Flannery O'Connor said, "that anyone who survived childhood has enough material to write for the rest of his or her life." If, by any way possible, I am able to bestow positivity by showcasing the fucked up series of events, that I call life, I am going to. Plain and simple. 

So, from absorbing my mother's wisdom, to hopefully, pure determination, I plan on freaking writing. Like a half-marathon, I will put in tons of work, and hopefully all the pain will be worth it... What's the worst thing that could happen?  I learn about myself better... That bet is a favorable one...

Friday, July 13, 2012

bird by bird.

I want to be a writer, plain and simple. So, what's holding me back, you say?  Myself.  If anyone reading this has any daunting tasks that they have been perpetually procrastinating, start writing a book-- I swear you will complete those pesky little chores.

The first, notable, time I recognized my "hesitation" towards the writing process was in 2010.  Yes, I've known I wanted to write years prior to that, however, it wasn't until 2010 that I realized I could.  The first obstacle: the perfect writing desk.  Admittedly, I'm quite picky when it comes to furniture I surround myself with; the pieces have to speak to me, have a feeling.  Shocking, the social worker in training, makes everything about feelings.  I even associate letters with feelings.  I always  confuse the words "sweet" and "sweat", because the double "ee", to me, indicates a salty feeling.  So naturally, I believe the word "sweet" and "sweat" should reverse in meaning.  Get my point, I'm fucking difficult.  So purchasing the desk was the death of me.

When I finally purchased the perfect desk, I wanted the perfect location.  This wasn't too difficult, and not very time consuming.  Next, was the art to inspire me.  This took months.  I finally got to the point that I turned on sad music, as I often do when I paint, got drunk and created the perfect canvas.  Done.  Finally, I needed to sit down and WRITE.  There was only one problem: EVERYTHING.  Any and all distractions got to me.  I worked out more.  I cooked more.  I went to the dentist more.  How frustrating this life was.

You may be pondering that it is currently 2012 and I am discussing irritations from over 2 years ago, why?  Well, the answer is also simple: I've still been procrastinating.  Sure, I've had my bouts of inspiration and productivity, but overall, I've neglected that part of myself.  This is my final straw.  One of my good friends once told me that the great thing about myself is that when I say I'm going to do something I always follow through.  It was a wonderful compliment, but I believe he is full of shit.  Yes, I do always get what I want, because I work at it until I obtain it.  But I mainly feel like one lazy bastard.  Maybe everyone feels this way, I don't know?  What I do know, is that I'm tired of it.

I have ideas, hell I even have an outline for a book, but I'm only a whopping 20 pages in.  What defeat... Or is it?  One of my closest friends recently listened to my frustrations and aspirations, and magically produced this wonderful gem: Bird by bird, by Anne Lamott.  To say I'm in love is an understatement.  Her encouraging, yet realist, writing style is as comforting and freshly clean sheets.  Today.  THIS VERY DAY, I will start churning out material every day.  Things I've learned so far:

1) Write every day.
2) "Good writing is about telling the truth." - Anne Lamott.  And, boy, do I have a lot of truths to express.
3) This is something I've already known, but chapter one quickly reenforced it for me: I write because I want to, and I think I'm good at it.  Actually, those thoughts are the same as the poet John Asbery and Flannery O'connor, respectively.  My work may not be well written, at times, but they are my stories.  I think everyone has a story to tell, I just hope I will find the focus to get mine on paper. 
4) Finally, and most important: see rule number 1.

If you are bored with this progression, then I would suggest not continue to follow me.  If things go right, which I hope they do, I will be posting god-awful stories, with topics ranging from my childhood to my favorite Real Housewife.  Be warned. 

Oh, I almost forgot: bird by bird.  Anne Lamott describes how, once upon a time, her father, also an author, advised her younger brother to tackle a book report on birds... Bird by bird... So, I guess my future endeavors will be one bird, then the next.  Bluejay's have always been my favorite.. Guess that's what I'll start with, the bluejay. 


Friday, June 8, 2012

Where the f**k have I been?!

Okay, I'll be the first to admit I have been a bit lazy when it come to nurturing my sweet, little, relationship with my blog.  Tisk, Tisk.  But, I'm back... Hopefully for good.

Before I divulge my plans for the summer, let's go back a few months.

1) Finished my 2nd semester of graduate school with a 4.0.  Yay.
2) Went to the beach with my family, and Opie of course.  He didn't get to enjoy the beach that much, but he will be back.  OH, HE WILL BE BACK.

3) Ian graduated with his masters in public health.  First of all, I'm so proud of him.  Honestly, I never thought I'd be able to cry at a graduation ceremony; I stand corrected.  He is what inspires me to work harder.  Secondly, I'm not going to any more graduations unless I think I may cry at them.  Basically, I've reached my peak when it comes to getting emotional at graduations, so if your not that important, I'll just send a check in the mail.  Graduations are long and I have prostate issues.  Done.

4) I went to Providence, RI, Maratha's Vineyard and Newport, MA.  What a wonderful trip!  This was my first time to the East coast and I loved it!  I was also able to knock some items off my bucket list: explore two new cities each year, and visit a lighthouse! 

NOW that you see what I've been doing, HERE'S what I plan on doing: 

For starters, this summer is rapidly escaping me.  Why is it that the hard times of the year creep by like I'm slowly pulling off a band-aid, but the fun times are as hasty as a summer's breeze.  Wow, that was cheesy.  Digression aside, I need to get started on maximizing my opportunities this summer.  Which means only one thing: I need to make a list.

1. Reconnect with my friends.  I'll say it, I've been shitty.  I've been selfish.  I've been lazy.  It started with my busy semester, then perpetuated by my inability to just 'snap-out' of it.  Typically, after a semester, my energy level is low, so I recharge myself with a trip.  Okay, great, I did that and... nothing.  Now, I just don't care to make any effort, which is perplexing because my friends me the WORLD to me.  So, I'm sorry and I'll try harder. 

2. Start writing.  Seriously, stop making fucking excuses and write.  Write, write, WRITE.

3.  Workout.  I'm close to my goal of having a six-pack.  I want it.  I'm glad I didn't peak in high school.. Suck it, bitches.

4. Volunteer.  I recently decided that I may want to get a gerontology certificate while obtaining my MSW.  Thanks to a school friend, I made a contact with someone in a nursing home and I'll be doing some volunteer work with her this summer.

5.  Continue learning Spanish.

6.  Road trip with bad bartender (AKA, Lauren).

7.  Go to Austin, TX, to visit Vanessa.

8.  Take care of all the tiny, disorganized, parts of my life.

9.  Spend as much time with my boyfriend.

10.  Read my list everyday.

Off to get started!

Garrett Paul

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Knowledge is power

If you had to pick one aspect of your life that has taken precedence over the past 5 years, what would it be?

This is the thought that has been plaguing me lately.  I decided it would be best if I could pin it down to one word: Knowledge. 

What exactly is knowledge, anyway?  To me, it has been the last 5 years and my future.  It is a living, breathing, word.  It is what inspires me. 

Here is what I've learned from knowledge:

Knowledge can be learned through experience.

Of course knowledge is learned through experience. Duh.  But, I find it very important to recognize lessons that I've learned, no matter how ridiculous or obvious they may seem.  Yes, knowledge is taught, but an experience has to be learned; it wouldn't be an experience if it wasn't.  I've recognized that I learn best through experience. 

Even though it is important for me to learn through experience, it is equally important for me to prepare myself with "taught knowledge".  "Taught knowledge" is what allows me to exercise my "experienced knowledge" and strive for fulfillment. 

Knowledge does not constitute wisdom.

Some of the brightest people I know are, gently spoken, not very wise. Personally, I consider myself to be wise, however I don't believe wisdom is fully learned, as knowledge often is.  I do believe that one must inherently posses certain qualities that enable one to access their wisdom, such as empathy, patience, and the ability to forecast thoughts, among other things. However, I further believe that those "certain" qualities that allow one to be wise can be learned, through knowledge.  I suppose, much like most things in life, one must have the desire to seek wisdom and strive for constant achievement.  Overall, I don't think wisdom is fully obtained; I think it is a state of constant reflection and mistakes, which is why I consider myself to be wise. 

Knowledge does not save you... all the time.

I was telling my boyfriend the other day that I make a lot of mistakes, but I rarely make the same one twice.  Eventually, I'm bound to go through all of them, right???  Regardless, knowledge allows me to recognize the incongruities within myself, but doesn't protect me from initially making mistakes.  I'm okay with that balance, as long as I can continue to recognize my faults, which is why knowledge is so important to me. 

Knowledge is something I constantly seek.  It allows me to heal from the past while seeking a brighter future.  Knowledge is the key component of my life continuum.  What is the key to yours?

Garrett Paul

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Clergy Corner: Call It What It Is...Suicide

I know I haven't posted in a while (damn grad school!), but here is an article I came across in class.  Interesting viewpoint from a Catholic priest!

Clergy Corner: Call It What It Is...Suicide

P_feature_rubeyBy Father Charles Rubey
Because a person completes suicide is no reason to think less of that person or to conclude that there must be something wrong with a family who loses a loved one to suicide. I am of the opinion that survivors should speak very candidly about the death of a loved one. There should not be any hiding the fact of the cause of death. Call it what it is--a suicide. If people think less of the person, that is their problem. Certainly, survivors want to protect their dearly departed loved ones and that loved one's good name. I understand that fact very clearly. But I also have strong feelings about educating society about the issues surrounding mental illness and suicide. The longer people have these misconceptions about suicide and mental illness, the longer all of us struggle trying to get out a clear message about issues surrounding mental illness and the toll that such illness can take on those who suffer such pain.
People in general can say that someone who died from cancer really wanted to live but the cancer got the best of them. They can erroneously say that someone who completes suicide wanted to die. Nothing could be further from the truth. People who complete suicide want to live as much as anyone else, but living becomes too painful. They do not want to die; they just can't bear to live in the incredible pain that their illness is causing them. It is very important for people to hear that message to clear up one misconception surrounding suicide. People can think that suicide is a copout on life, but nothing is further from the truth. People who complete suicide are not copping out on life. They can't bear the pain anymore. They have reached the end of their tolerance. They have fought long enough and hard enough and the time has come for them to end the pain.
There is nothing shameful about someone who completes suicide. They have fought a valiant battle, and they have lost to their illness. There is no need to be embarrassed that a loved one died from suicide. This loved one is deserving of every accolade that is reserved for people who die from other causes. Survivors often wish that their loved one had died from some other form of death. I have often asked survivors why they had this wish, and they respond that it is much easier to explain a death from cancer or a car accident, but when it comes to suicide, it is a little more difficult. The reason that it is difficult is that suicide is a different type of death. It results from an illness, and that illness is mental illness.
As with any other part of the grieving journey, it takes time and practice to develop a comfort level with dispelling some of the myths and erroneous ideas that the public has surrounding suicide and mental illness. There will be some discomfort in the beginning, but as the survivor shares information about the death of a loved one, it becomes a little easier each time. At the beginning, it is very painful because it is always painful to acknowledge the death of a loved one from suicide. There is a very therapeutic result from telling your story over and over again. As survivors tell their stories, two things happen. They develop a comfort level about how their loved one died, and their loved one becomes a part of the life of the survivor. They continue to live as their story is told and retold.
Father Charles Rubey is the founder of Loving Outreach to Survivors of Suicide of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Chicago. His words were originally published in the Obelisk Newsletter in September of 2009.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Break the Chain

"You can look at your past, recognize the noise and how it is holding you back, and choose to go a different way. But you can't live your life looking in the rearview mirror to see who you are. Look yourself straight in the eye. That's the real you. You get to decided what comes next. Stop getting in your own way, and stop telling yourself you can't. Because you can." - Bethenny Frankel

Childhood noise:
1) Being Gay
As early as I can remember, I recall thinking: I'm going to hell because I'm gay. What horrible thoughts for a child to have; to be in constant fear of eternal damnation. Now this thought wasn't imposed on me by any particular person, just religion in general. Even though my childhood religion (southern Baptist) may seem adverse, I'm very thankful for it. I loved going to church with my family and having something to believe in. It wasn't until I left my wife, approximately 4 years ago, that I decided I'd probably come out of the closet. That is when I decided that any 4 year old should not fret about heaven or hell. I determined that it was okay that I worried about homosexuality as a child, but will no longer let the thoughts control me. I am who I am. I literally was born this way. I released this childhood noise.

2) Being Epileptic
This was sort of beyond my control, but looking back over my childhood, caused me a lot of anxiety. I remember never being able to sleep, and now I can recognize that it was because I was scared to. I always had my seizures while sleeping and as a result my mind wouldn't let me go to sleep. It sounds silly, but sleep is one of the most important things you achieve, for a healthy life style, ESPECIALLY as a child. Although, I was scared of sleeping and hated spending time in the hospital (which i did), I got some great memories from being epileptic. I remember my mom always bringing me chocolate milk before bedtime, and letting me watch I Love Lucy, until my eyes couldn't stay open. I also remember my dad always taking me to McDonald's after I'd get blood work done. Those are some of the best memories I have with my parents, and as Bethenny says, "Take the good and leave the bad." That is what I'll choose to take, the memories.

3) Being Dyslexic
This is something I still, technically, struggle with, but I've definitely overcome it. I remember feeling so different and slow as a child. Honestly, I felt stupid almost everyday. I had no self confidence due to dyslexia and had no idea how to get it. I didn't read my first book until after I graduated with my undergraduate degree. How ridiculous is that?! I remember telling my dear friend, Erin, about 2 years ago, "that if you read more, the better your reading comprehension gets." That may have been something everyone else learned in the 5th grade, but I guess I'm a late bloomer. Oh well, being dyslexic has made me a harder worker and I'm proud of that. It is possibly one of the main reasons I'm so driven now? I choose to take the skills I learned because I had to study harder, and leave the feeling of being stupid.

I feel confident that I've overcome most of my childhood noise. It has made me a better and more productive person. What is some of your childhood noise and how are you coping with it?


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2 weeks in France

Here is a rough draft of the beginning of my journals from France... Don't judge too harshly, but feed back is encouraged! Oh and feel free to share to others!

My decision to go see Cyril was rash and not well thought out. I tend to make irrational ‘love life’ choices, so this seemed to be fitting. I remember calling my mom and dropping the news by saying, “Mom, I going to France to visit a friend I met a few years ago, I know this is unordinary and you will have a lot of questions, but relax I’m not meeting a random.” At this point in my life, my parents harvested a lot of worry for me, basically, they couldn’t ‘check me off’ their internal list, which compares me to my two brothers, who are both in committed relationships with good support systems. I had my dog, which I was perfectly happy with, but regardless of my contentment to my four-legged friend, it wasn’t a family system fitting for my parent’s comfort level, so naturally, they were worried I was going to France. It didn’t matter; I was going regardless of what my parents’ thought.

The day I booked I my ticket was one of the most exciting days of my life, only surpassed by the day I got accepted into graduate school, or maybe the day my divorce was final. Those two are tied for first place.

Even though I was ecstatic, I couldn’t tell anyone and by anyone I mean Facebook. So badly, I wanted to advertise my future journeys for my entire world to see and be jealous of, but I had to keep this information within my inner-circle of friends and family, for two reason: 1) I was still living with my ex-boyfriend and wanted to spare him any additional pain, as I’m the one who broke it off with him, and 2) I believed if I said it out loud, it wouldn’t come true. I guess I’m superstitious that way, but I wanted all things to be in my favor, even the universe. Okay, there is a secret third reason I didn’t want to say anything. My break-up with my ex-boyfriend, and current roommate, was getting messy. He intentionally violated our only rule, which was not to bring anyone over to the house, so I wanted to make sure I had some spare ammunition in case we started firing at each other. This news, will certainly, make some holes.

All drama aside, at this point in life, so much was changing: I was, just recently, openly gay, about to start graduate school and reuniting with old friends, none of which I thought I would ever do. The night before I booked my ticket, I looked in my bathroom mirror and said, “When life gives you second chances, I have to take them”. At that very moment, I started thinking over the last four months, and without knowing it, I had been unconsciously accepting my second chances. Several months prior, I reconnected with an astringed friend, Beau. I guess I could count getting a second chance at being single; I jumped at that opportunity, so going to France didn’t have to be a big ordeal, did it? While still staring in the mirror, I allowed myself a few moments of excitement, and then plotted my story, which wasn’t a stretch because it was the truth, kind of.

I told everyone we met in a coffee shop, and then I raved about his confidence when approaching me, and my eagerness that was masked with wariness. Supposedly, we exchanged email address and not phone numbers, which secured my apprehension to this strange man. The reality was we only exchanged emails because of how we actually met, craigslist. For some reason, although I fully appreciate craigslist (all murderous and perversion aside), craigslist comes with a nasty fist full of stereotypes and mistrust, mainly because there is interaction with complete strangers, which typically makes the general population uneasy. I fully support the use of extreme caution, but I thought Cyril was different, so we met in person. This happened years ago, and we’ve kept in touch since.

Needless to say, my parents bought the story. They had several questions, and even more worries, but I was good manipulating conversations, so it was easy for me to appease their apprehension. With parents and friends marked off my list of people to tell, I was ready to travel to France! I was ready to rekindle a relationship with Cyril. I was ready for a life chance, which I felt so lucky to have. Now, I just had to wait four months.

I said, “Self, I have to wait?” Myself was very reassuring by saying, “Yes, just wait and get excited.” Okay then.

I told my friend, Vanessa, “I’ve never been to Europe. How did this happen? This was a bucket list item, but I never thought I’d be spending my 26th birthday (December 9th) in France!”

From the day I booked my ticket in mid-August, my entire body surged with pure joy and curiosity, which I had to quickly suppress. I was a small business owner, which comes with many perks, but many downfalls. Like, not having an IT team to call upon when I’m having computer issues, which is very often. In addition to my business, I was a graduate student, which consisted of reading, classes, studying, weekly breakdown, then repeat. Along with school and work, I had a pesky ex-boyfriend, current roommate, to constantly deal with. Frankly, I had a lot to deal with before I left for France. Maybe it was a good thing I had four months to get myself together? Either way, I worked until the very last minute.

After I finished my last exam I had 24 hours to wash clothes, deliver my dog to my brother’s house, pack, say my goodbyes, and then write my goodbye letter.

When I leave for vacations I always realize how morbid I am. I’m always convinced it will be my last time seeing my friends and family and without my loved ones admitting it, they are also morbid by their actions. For instance my parents were making such a big deal about my departure. The day I left, my dad took off work to surprise me for lunch, with my mom. On one hand, I was excited to have such a loving father that would go out of his way to show me affection, yet on the other hand I thought it was ridiculous. I was only going for 15 days, which I didn’t consider to be a long length of time. Apparently, to my parents that was a different story. We ate at a local southern-style restaurant that my parents frequented. In fact, they attended this eatery so often that it wasn’t uncommon for the chef to send free appetizers, or for them to order something that wasn’t on the menu. To say they were regulars, is an understatement. They had assigned seats; most of the time across the room from someone they’ve known for over 40 years.

As we entered the restaurant I knew I had to leave my embarrassment at the door because my cool, hip, parents were about to turn into boastful, obnoxious, parents that yell at track meets and fight at PTA meetings. As soon as the waitress came to take our drink order, which happen to be an old family friend and wife of the head chef, it started.

My mom said, “Lisa, did you know Garrett is leaving for France in a few hours?” How in the hell would Lisa know that? In fact, why would Lisa even care?

Lisa responded, “I had no clue, can I get your drink order?” Lisa’s friendly, waitress, smile went from normal… to well, normal. She didn’t care, but did that stop my parents from trying to get a reaction? Nope.

The next victim was a contractor that often worked for my dad. My dad said, “Mike, you remember Garrett? He is leaving for France today and he is the first one of us to go to Europe.” To my surprise, Mike seemed very interested, even though he wasn’t very knowledgeable about regions as big as France. Normally, I would insert a smart-asstic (my mom definition for being a smartass and sarcastic) joke, but I appreciated his enthusiasm, after all, I was secretly proud to be the first member of the family to go to Europe. There were a few other incidences that occurred with more waitresses and random customers, but I didn’t care. I was fairly comfortable with being embarrassed by my mother. I will never be able to forget how she used to yell my name in every dressing room; demanding for me to show her the clothes I’ve tried on. I would back into the far corner thinking that she would give up and leave me alone. It never happened, she only got louder and one time, started knocking on different stalls. Even, at the grown up age of 25, she still did this. So, lunch with my parents was a success. Even if they were sending me to my death, at least I would have felt their love one last time.

I arrived at the airport an hour and a half early, which was completely unnecessary. I typically adore the Baton Rouge airport because I think it’s one of the cities best-kept secrets. About fifteen years prior, the Baton Rouge airport was outdated and had very expensive fares. Today, it is newly renovated and has comparable fares to other large airports, such as the New Orleans International. However, unlike New Orleans International, it is rarely crowed and is very easy to navigate through. Another positive for me was that I’ve never had a delayed flight leaving Baton Rouge, until now.

At this point in my life, I wasn’t a stranger to the airport. Since I was in 9th grade I loved traveling and took every opportunity I was given. However, even with my years of experience, I wasn’t seasoned in international traveling so my ability to schedule a reasonable layover was weak at best. Also, I was naive to the fact that flights weren’t just constantly cycling back. I had this idealization that if I missed one flight, or it was delayed, I would be inconvenienced then take the next one. Simple. So, for my flight to France, I scheduled a 40-minute layover in Houston, never once thinking that it was a negative thing.

After I made it through Baton Rouge’s efficient security I grabbed a seat at my gate. I was one hour early. I waited patiently, while reading, and before I knew it, it was time for us to board, yet no one was moving. I thought, “well that’s weird, how come everyone is staying seated?” Then I noticed that our plane wasn’t at the terminal. Great, no plane means no boarding and no boarding means late for Texas. “Okay, I’ll be fine no worries”, I told myself. Everyone was being very clam; maybe the airport changed our gate? So I go stand in line. This, typically, goes against everything I stand for, because I hate “those” people who get easily agitated and make a spectacle of themselves by loudly asking something along the lines of: “why didn’t they make an announcement? WHAT IS GOING ON?” But today, I was one of them. In fact, I was the loudest one of them all. It reminded me of a time when I was 6 years old. My grandmother took my cousins, around similar ages, and me to a local party/pizza joint to enjoy the afternoon; but we ran into some difficulties. Apparently, someone rented out the entire building for their child’s birthday party. I can still envision my grandmother banging on the locked doors, demanding to speak to a manager. By the end of her conversation, my two cousins and I were bumping elbows with the fellow partygoers. My family created a nickname for my grandmother’s pushy demeanor: “Geraldine-gene” --- Her name being, “Geraldine” (Jerry for short) and the term “gene”, for obvious reasons. That day at the airport, my Geraldine-gene was prevalent.

The line was long and as I got closer to the information counter, I noticed the employees were placing passengers on other flights, because ours was delayed. Occasionally an employee would yell, “If your connection leaves at 4:00pm, please be seated you will make your flight.” Slowly people in the line began to shout out random times to avoid having to wait. After a few random shouts, a customer service employee announced that if your connection leaves anytime before 3:00pm, please stay in line. Perfect. My connection was at 2:45.

Once it’s my turn at the counter, which consisted of one male and one female representative, I politely gave the female representative my boarding pass. She then looked at me and said, “You aint gona make that flight.” At this point, I have never dealt with missing a flight, but I figured I would be a few hours late to Texas, and take the next flight to Paris. Everything always works out; I was disgustingly positive about the entire situation. However, after a few moments of silence passed, I asked the representative what’s going on. She responded, “Well, I’m looking for another flight”. My face was smiling, but my mind was cussing her out. One of my biggest pet peeves is when customer service representatives are rude to customers. I believe being accommodating and friendly is a prerequisite for this position, but apparently I’m mistaken. She then looks at me and says, “Nope.” I think, “What does that even mean?” She didn’t say, “I’m sorry sir, there are no connecting flights”, or “You will be slightly delayed and I’m sincerely sorry for your inconvenience”. She simply said, “Nope.” I had it, so I responded, with a big smile on my face, “That doesn’t make any sense, and please do a better job of communicating”. Granted, I would probably respond the way she did if I had a customer like myself, but fuck, she was, what I thought, the only thing standing between me and France and I was willing to take any causalities as long as I got to my destination. She then responded with, “Nope, you can try again tomorrow.”

I stood there, flabbergasted, blankly staring into her eyes. Somehow, I managed to choke out, “I don’t come to airports to try again later, I come to leave”. Well, that statement got the attention of the male representative. I’m not sure if he was trying to calm an irritated customer, assist his employee or if he thought his “maleness” would somehow diffuse the situation, either way he inserted himself. After a very quick review of “all” my options, he said, ”You can take the original flight, but you won’t make it.” I begrudgingly responded, “I’m feeling lucky”. He said, “You won’t make it”. I slowly looked at him with the biggest fake smile I could produce and said, “Thank you for all of your assistance today.” I got my boarding pass from the female representative and reclaimed my seat by the gate, thinking, “don’t mess with a gay man trying to get to Paris, it will not be pretty”. Then for the remainder of my wait, I pondered if the Geraldine-gene was a gay gene, and what my grandmother’s” inner-gay name” would be. I eventually settled on Frank, the short Latino, with a big attitude, who wears half shirts and too much cologne.

It was not to my surprise that I was the very last seat on the small jet to Texas. Which meant I would be the last to exit and the one with the shortest layover. Great.

Thankfully, my flight attendant wasn’t aware of my discourse with the representatives, so I was moved to a seat in the seventh row and, upon landing in Texas, she urged the passengers to allow passengers with a short layover to exit first. This of course, did not happen. The moment the seatbelt signal was release and we were free to roam about the cabin, everyone shot up. At this point, I had 7 minutes to make my flight to Paris, if I didn’t make it; I’d have to wait until the same time, the next day. Good thing Geraldine (AKA me) had just finished a half-marathon a few weeks before, because I had some running to do.

It didn’t matter if you were young, old or handicapped, you were most likely being pushed out of my way. The entire time I was racing through the airport, I couldn’t help but imagine the scene in “Home Alone”, when the entire family is franticly running in the airport. I was Catherine O’hara’s character, Kate McCallister, and my invisible family consisted of my hopes and dreams, the idea of France and the smartass customer service representative back in Baton Rouge.

I impatiently shoved people out the way when I tried to view the information prompter to see if my gate information was the same, but it didn’t matter. The screen was too confusing and I am too dyslexic for all those numbers and departing cities. I just said, “fuck it”, and kept running. I figured since I’ve been this risky, thus far, I will just chance it. I was constantly checking my phone to see the time and with one minute until departure, I took off in a full forced sprint. Since September 11, 2009, I’ve heard you’re not supposed to run in airports, but again, who cares?

In my last stretch of a hallway before the gate, I seriously began to rethink my wardrobe choice. I thought I would have a celebrity moment when I got off the plane in Paris, with my new sexy “man bag” my mother had gotten for my birthday, and cute hipster clothes, consisting of skinny jeans and a v-neck long sleeved tee. Well, in order to pull off such a spunky outfit, I needed layers, which wasn’t very suitable for running for 7 minutes straight. So by the time I came barreling around the corner to see if my flight has departed, I was drenched in sweat and breathing heavily.

The interesting thing about international flights is that once you enter into that area of the airport, it’s like you’re already in that particular country, more specifically a weird assortment of several different countries, including a weird hybrid American mix. Well, this weird American hybrid was rude and frantically attempting to board the aircraft, only to be violently rebutted. Immediately, I thought, “Damn, I missed it”. Then I realized that my flight hasn’t left yet. “I made it, I freaking made it”, I thought. It took me 7 minutes to maneuver myself through crowds and transit systems to make it to my gate, and it took me 0.7 seconds to become cocky. I wished so badly that I could call the airline representatives in Baton Rouge and tell them to “suck it.”

Thirty minutes later, as I was settling into my seat, as small-framed, French woman came bouncing towards me, “Bonjour”.

Sexy at 90: physical health

Ian always says he wants to be sexy at 90, and quite frankly, I think it's an amazing idea.

A few months ago a old man came up to me at the gym and started talking. I personally believe that anytime an older person wants to talk to you, listen. It is our responsibility as younger people to give them that respect. Turns out this war veteran was 94 and just found out that he was cancer free for 10 years! According to him, this is how he did it:

1) Working out
2) Volunteering

Sexy at 90 will consist of different tips that can help you live a very fulfilled life; hopefully, all the way to 90!

Tip #1: If you can't taste it, don't waste it!

If its ordering a sandwich for lunch or preparing your dinner, try and think about what ingredients that are high in calories that you can live without. For example, if you have a sandwich for lunch, try and make it without the cheese. That can save you about 100 calories, or more, depending on the type of sandwich!

If the taste doesn't define the meal, and you can't taste it, DON'T waste it (the calories)!

Sexy at 90, here I come!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Austin, Texas!

What did I do last weekend: WENT TO AUSTIN TO VISIT VANESSA!!! As always, she filled my love bucket to the rim and left me thirsty for more. This was a much needed weekend getaway. The weeks prior were just daunting, as if I was in a constant fist fight with the fog. So, on Friday morning Ian and I made the trip to the land of stars and cowboy hats.

This trip was an important step in Ian and I's relationship because it determined if we traveled well together, and if you know me at all, I LOVE traveling. Well folks, it was a huge success; not that I doubted it in the least. Which leads me to my next point: Ian. If you don't feel like reading about a gushy love story, now's the time to close the page.

Dare I say, "I'm in love"? To be completely honest, I think it's happening. With Ian, I feel like I threw myself off a mile-high bridge with no bungee cord to yank me back. I've landed on a cloud-like substance of happiness, where I'm just floating from corner to corner with no cares or doubts. I'm filled with inspiration and joy. I know this feeling of love for two reasons: 1) I want to be the best version of myself. I'm even considering the thought of getting Ph.D (after my masters of course). I want work harder in every aspect of my life and my goals are being reaffirmed, daily. 2) I want to do everything possible to make Ian's life as happy as it can be. Simple.

So while my passions are reinstated so is my desire to serve another human being. That's a hard balance to achieve, and I feel like it's happening to me.

Going to Austin only cemented my thoughts above... And I got Vanessa's stamp of approval... Actually, I was told that she is going to fight me for him.. Sorry Ness, I'd hate to have to mail you Anthrax, but I will do what is necessary.

Below are some pics from our time in Austin... I love that city!!! Each day is a blessing, live big, I know I am.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Bethenny Knows Best

So, I hope this post doesn't come off too negative, but according to Bethenny, it doesn't matter as that's not what the "place of yes" is about!

To be honest, I haven't finished this book because I started reading it yesterday, and after only a few chapters, I'm into it. Bethenny described a few terms that made me realize that I totally relate to her and have some of the same struggles. To begin with, she describes a certain term of "noise", which is the clutter that is controlling our mind which enables us to clearly hear our "voice".

Wow, I've never thought of it that way, but it completely makes sense. Bethenny then explains that a person can have "noise" in any aspect of their life: relationship noise, friendship noise, professional noise, eating noise, and so on. Again, wow. To me, I've been aware of this for many years, but it felt good reading it and putting a name to all of my feelings.

So, where is all of my noise currently located? I would have to say relationship & professional noise, which are some of the most important areas to feel secure in, and I bet most people can relate to that area.

I think it says something that I decided to start reading A Place of Yes, on a Sunday afternoon while my boyfriend was napping right next to me. I'm stressed... Owning my own business is hard... Not because my job is hard, but because it is internally stressful. I don't have any support system or a team to rely on for help.. It's just me, and if you know me, I always put too much pressure on myself. So when I should be relaxing, I'm stressed and I don't allow myself to enjoy things... So I started reading because it made me feel like I was accomplishing something.

In regards to my relationship noise, this is no surprise to me. Not too long ago I told someone that I must have done some amazing things in my previous lives, because I currently have such a blessed life; except for one thing: I must have been a fucking cheater, because I have such a tortured relationship life. Okay, Okay. I know that not all my love relationships were horrible and I always learn a valuable lesson, but I am tortured when it comes to being intimate with people, even if it's self induced. BUT the good news about this information, is that I've already started to hear my voice!!! Without even reading Bethenny's book, I've been living by her advice. For instance, in efforts to clear my relationship noise, I got off Facebook.. This allowed me to not be so insecure or jealous by other people's actions.. I also began to date more, which allowed me to be exposed to new and exciting experiences, with taught me a lot about myself... BUT the most important thing that I did was recognize that I had a problem, and it wasn't anyone's but MINE. So many times people (myself included) try and start a relationship with someone with the notion that the other person will "fix" them. Let me tell you, it doesn't work. The only person who is responsible for dealing with insecurities or jealousy issues, is YOU! Of course you need a supportive partner, but not THE support. Trust me, I know from experience... A lot of experience.

I know I still have a lot of noise in my life, but I have found a small part of my voice. If you are struggling finding your voice, trust me, it's worth all the pain to discover it. It takes a lot of work and great amounts of humility, but once you achieve it then the rewards are worth it.

Where does your noise come from and what are you going to do to get rid of it?

Thanks Betenny!