Boston at night

As another year closes and a new one begins, it's time yet again to reflect on how things went with last year's goals. I had so much going on and would have loved to write about thos experiences. Alas, I actually got so busy that I ran out of lifeforce energy to do so. 2018 was a hell of a year with a lot that happened in so many different ways from social goals to career growth. So let's just jump right in!

Last Year's Goals

1. End the Great Hermitage of 2017 - Critical Success

In 2017, I felt like I did very little. I had a lot of weekends where I had nothing to do and just played video games the whole time. By the end of 2018, I found free weekends hard to come by and very little gaming happening. I'm now to the point where I'm having to plan things months out because my weekends are so full. I got invovled in a number of professional communities including running a meetup organization, myself. This is a wonderful thing, but at the same time, now I feel the opposite stress. My time is so stretched that I am starting to feel like its getting out of my control. I need to start paring back instead. So, yes...resounding success. My social life is more vibrant than I think it ever has been, now.

2. Build some things, dammit! - Fail

I had a lot of good intentions here, but very little got done, and a lot of it is related to how full my social and professional schedule has become. What I did end up doing is a little bit of work on R2's dome. Other than that, nothing else was built or made. I have a few theories as to why this happened, but I'll get to that a bit later in the post.

3. Reprioritize Financial Goals - Critical Success

Of the list of five financial things I wanted to get done in 2018, I accomplished all of them. I've reallocated my savings amounts. I've been spending money on my wardrobe all year, and my options are looking so much better. I spent some money picking up R2's dome. I bought some rugs and some frames for my apartment, and finally, I just opted to do laser on my legs. It was less expensive than I thoiught. So I pretty much crushed it. 

4. Replace my wardrobe - Critical Success

As I mentioned in the previous goal, I've been regularly spending money on clothing, while eliminating my old clothes out of my wardrobe. I now have way more options and look way cuter throughout the year than I used to. I'm very pleased with this and there will be more on this topic later.

5. Make my apartment feel like a home - Success

I didn't fully crush this because there's still more to be done, but I've made a lot of progress. The main things I've done are buy some rugs for a few rooms. I also hung up some of the artwork I had throughout the house and picked up some more frames to hang other stuff up. I still have some bare walls and need to buy some curtains, but it feels much more homey in my place.

6. Keep off the weight - Critical Success

So last year I lost 10 pounds. My goal was to keep that weight off. Not only did I keep that weight off, but I lost an additional 10 pounds. So I blew through what I thought was my goal and set new ones. I now am the lightest I've been since high school, which is crazy. I'm extremely happy with my body right now, and that's wonderful.

7. Learn how to do hair stuff - Critical Fail

I genuinely did nothing on this goal this year. There's not much more to say about it. Fail.

8. Learn three.js - Critical Fail

Samesies with the last goal. I spent no time on this at all.

9. Swording - Success

I left last year wondering if I was even interested in continuing with HEMA and swords in general, and as I wrap up 2018, I have re-joined the fray. I've been slowly working on the Amazon group that I've been interested in starting, and during that time, I discovered a class called "Give a Girl a Sword" put on by the Boston Armizare. I decided to check it out and ended up just joining the club. I've been training a few times now, and this group really seems to fit my needs as a student much better. I'm really enjoying swinging a sword again, and I have a few deep bruises to show for it. I've already started investing in gear again, and hopefully the new stuff I bought will keep those bruises less intense. The Amazon group will still happen, but I also now have this as well. So I'm more involved in HEMA than ever.

10. Dating / Finding Love - Success

This was a rough one. It started strong. I spent the first several months of 2018 going on more first dates than I have in my entire life leading up to that point combined. I met a lot of women and almost gave up a few times. I had several women that I put entirely too much emotional energy into that didn't deserve that energy. I was led on for longer periods of time and ended up getting hurt a couple of times. I took a break for a few months and rejoined the dating fray in the last quarter of the year. Finally in the last week, I met someone that's pretty amazing, and we've spent a lot of time together in that week. Way to end the year with a bang! 

Final Verdict on 2018 Goals

Holy crap! I only had 3 fails this past year! And I had 4 critical successes! That's amazing! This is easily the best year I've ever had in tracking my annual goals. I never expected that. I mean, I know that people were impressed with me jumping into the dating apps and social goals right away at the beginning of 2018, but I didn't think it would end up like this. It'll be hard to compete with the resounding success of 2018 in the coming year, but I'll do my best.

2019 Goals

1. Stop using YouTube as much

I have been a bit annoyed that project ideas haven't moved forward as much as I'd like. I've taken some time to assess why that might be, and I'm pretty sure two things come to the forefront: Social Media and YouTube. I'm specifically calling out YouTube as the focus of this goal because I know my habits of late. I come home from work or get up on a weekend day and plop down on the couch. My first go to is YouTube and then I end up watching hours of short video content. While some of it is fantastic and educational, it's time I could be spending doing really anything else. Yes, everyone needs time to relax and vegitate, but I do it a bit too much, in my opinion. I'm going to cut back my usage to only three days a week.

2. Gain Flexibility

This is something I've thought about for months leading up to this post, but I've never been flexible enough to touch my toes. It's been since grade school that I've been able to sit cross-legged comfortably. I really want to change that. I want to be able to meditate with my legs crossed without pain. I want to get my knees down to the floor in that position. I want to be able to easily touch my toes and hopefully get to flat hands on the floor. And with all of that hopefully comes less risk of injury while fencing. 

3. No-Hands Cartwheel

This one is a bit on the weird side, but now that I'm back into fencing and am looking to start my own group, I want to learn some tumbling techniques that just look damn cool. I might be able to use them in cosplay situations or maybe even in my fencing classes. Who knows! Either way, I want to give it a go. I enjoyed gymnastics in my grade school years, and I think I could do light versions of it now, too.

4. Amazons

I mentioned this group a few times already, but I've actually put work into this over the last year. I started putting together foundational documents for the group. I created a Facebook group to gauge interest with a small group of friends. I even ran a few test classes to see how they would go. I learned that I'm a decent teacher and that there is a lof of interest out there. I know this could be amazing, and in 2019, it will become a real thing.

5. R2 Dome

R2-D2 has been my very slow moving project, and while I made some progress in 2018, it's moving far slower than I'd like. So, this year I will get the dome fully operational. I want all the hinges working, the dome polished, te holoprojectors in, and the logic boards / electronics in place. I think it's very possible. I just need to prioritize it.

6. Balance my life committments

Over the course of the last year, my life got progressively more busy and full. Now it's so full that I need to start thinking about slowing it down a bit. So my goal is to take stock and make sure I'm not stressed and anxious about all of this. I'm not quite sure how I'll measure success, but hopefully it involves saying no a few times to things.

7. Less stuff and things & More Experiences

I took a long, hard look at the last year, and I realized I spent a bunch of money on things. These weren't necessarily things I needed to have. They gave me brief bursts of dopamine filled with "Well that was fun" instead of something more lasting. So this year is intended to cut back on the physical stuff and increase the experiences. I want to have memories that will last a lifetime in 2019.

8. Carry Over: Make My Apartment Feel like a Home - Curtains and more...

The irony of just finishing up talking about how I need to have more experiences and then talking about how I need to spend more on stuff for my apartment. I do though. My house, while it feels better than it did, still needs some attention. I'm going to get curtains for all the windows, get a few more pieces of art to put on the walls, and replace some dead furniture that either broke this past year or is just old enough to need to be replaced entirely.

9. Carry Over: Replace My Wardrobe - Continuing Mission

I've largely been very happy with my wardrobe replacement over the past year, but it needs to continue. I've mostly tossed out my old shoes leaving me with very little to wear with cute dresses and whatnot. I need to replace those. I want to continue to find stuff that just makes me feel good about myself. I need jewelry to wear with all of my outfits. I need shorts, since I haven't had those for about a decade. None of this has to be expensive stuff, but I feel like it'll have to be an ongoing process.

10. Love Myself / Body Positivity

Lastly, and most importantly, I'm very hard on myself. In fact, I can and often am downright mean to myself. This has to change. I tear myself down emotionally, call myself names, and convince myself of all sorts of things that aren't true. I have body image issues that I have been slowly working through. All of this is a lot, and it will probably take longer than one year. Better to start now than to wait. In 2019, I will learn to love myself.

Closing Thoughts

2018 was a whirlwind. I made it through to the other side better than I started. Here's hoping there's some momentum there and that 2019 will see even more successes. You, internet friend that's reading this blog post instead of doing something productive, help me stay accountable. You're a wonderful friend for doing so. Thanks for sticking with me, and here's to a wonderful new year!

I do a lot of thinking.

Yeah, I know...profound. Seriously though. Since I go through depressive periods, I find myself thinking about what I'll leave behind a lot. It's a very morbid thought, but I guess now that I've hit about mid life, I can't help but think that way. I see the wrinkles in my face more. I think about how much longer I have with my parents. I wonder how long it'll be before I get cancer. I find myself wondering if this is normal for someone who is my age or if it's just me. Is it because I'm still single at 37? Does my loneliness naturally lead to these kinds of thoughts? These are things I think about.

My grandfather died of cancer many years before I was born. I think about what that must have been like. My grandmother was single for the rest of her life. I understand that kind of loneliness, and it's not fun. I'm sorry she had to experience that. My mother had breast cancer. I have polycystic kidneys, which means I am more susceptible to brain aneurisms. I'm on artificial hormones, which increases my cancer risk and my risk of stroke. These are things I think about.

I also think about a movie I saw back in 2013 called the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It doesn't have a high tomato meter rating but audiences liked it. I think about it because it's very similar to my experience in a lot of ways. Walter zones out a lot and imagines fantastical scenes happening where he is far more interesting and heroic than his normal, every day life. He has a dating profile that he has trouble filling out because he believes he hasn't done anything of note or gone anywhere interesting. Then he just lets go and lets the adventure take over. I relate to Walter. While many people look at my life and think I'm very interesting and have a lot going on, I certainly don't feel that way. I have a very vivid imagination that puts me in all sorts of fantastical places. My adventure doesn't seem to have happened yet though. These are things I think about.

I watch a lot of science content, and I was interested to learn about Stephen Hawking's last publication in which he tries to limit the multiverse theory with a framework that would make the concept testable. I imagine that an infinite multiverse yields infinite combinations. These infinite combinations means there are infinite mes out there with infinite variability. This means there's a version of me that's a bio female from birth. There's a version of me that's a bio male that's not trans. There's a trans version of me that's straight, a version that's bi, a version that's pan, poly, and everything in between. There's a version of me that somehow stopped aging at 25 and never dies. There's a version of me just like that, but was born in the 1600s and has lived 418 years already. There's a version of me where I'm a sentient tree. No, not like Groot or an ent of some kind. Just a regular old tree somewhere that can think about stuff.

There's a version of me where I have super powers, and no one else ever does in that universe. There's a version of me where I'm an optimist. There's a version of me where I've never experienced anxiety or depression before. There's a version of me where I've been abducted by aliens and live the rest of my life in space. There's a version of me that died in a nuclear holocaust. A version of me followed my musical dreams, but failed and ended up homeless. Another version of me did the same, but became a superstar. Another version of me is so depressed that drugs are her only escape. Another is an alcoholic. Another embraced religion instead of rejecting it, like I did. Another that embraced it to the point of fanatacism. I'm particularly fond of the version of me that discovers how to make the exotic matter needed to power the Alcubierre warp drive and the other version of me that followed my original dreams of being an aeronautical engineer that becomes an astronaut. Or the one that didn't let fear control her and took the offer she had to get a career started as an editor in Hollywood.

And of course...there's the version of me that's doing the exact same thing I am right now... Thinking the same thoughts and feeling the same feelings. If the multiverse is truly infinite, that means there are infinite copies of me doing this exact thing right now. These are things I think about.

What I notice is that I rarely think about the version of me that's married, the version of me that's always happy, or the version of me that's really self confident. I don't think about the version of me that's not lonely or depressed. I don't think about the version of me that's insecure in relationships. I don't think about the version of me that everyone else very likely sees in this reality's version of me: the person they all seem to like.

These are things I should think about.

I've had a lot of thoughts and feelings swimming around in my head for the last five months, and it's about time I've written them down. This post is a bit random. There's a few different unrelated sections just to get some thoughts out that have been rattling around for a while. Some of it is more recent and emotional (see the last two sections), and some of it has been more an ongoing thought process (first and second section). Feel free to read some or all or none. If you're reading none, I expect you to explain how you know I wrote this sentence. HA! Got you! Anyway, here it is.

Thoughts on Living in Boston

It's been just over two years since I moved to Boston. I have now lived here for 2/3rds of the time that I lived in Iowa, which is hard to believe. The time has passed so quickly. Now when I look back, it seems like Iowa was such a short period of time in my life, and yet is so filled with wonderful people and experiences.

Boston has taken longer for me to feel like I live here. There are still times I walk around and think about how I ended up here and how roundabout it was. It took me longer to make friends here than it did in Iowa. I would also say that the friends I had in Iowa were closer friends than any of the ones I have here in Boston save one or two, though I think as time passes, that will change here too. It's inevitable, really. Time has a way of doing that. I still miss the crap out of all my friends that I haven't seen in ages. Side note to said friends: come visit me. I have an extra room with a futon and comfy memory foam thingy. It'll be fun.

The East Coast is different than the midwest in a lot of ways. My ex fiancee had lived in upstate New York for a year, and she had told me about how people's attitudes were here. She didn't like it. At first, I'd say I felt the same way. Now I'm more used to it. People are more direct here. They don't hide behind the niceties of the midwest. I've realized that people in the midwest are just as rude, they're just not rude to your face. They talk behind your back, and to be honest, I think if someone's going to be rude or have an opinion, I'd rather them tell it to my face than behind my back. I can appreciate that honesty.

There's one thing I definitely hate, and that's the driving. Seriously, I'd prefer Chicago driving to Boston driving. "Massholes" is right, and wow, are people animated. The sheer amount of effort people put in to their road rage here... it's astonishing. I would also say it's a bit dangerous. I really worry about the consequences of getting that angry about something silly like getting cut off or whatever. I think I get it though. It's constant microaggressions on the road which eventually just builds up on a person over the years. Eventually people are just so fed up that they turn into the thing they hate on the road.

Another astonishing thing here is the cost of living and especially comparing that to the quality of what you get for that money. We're going through a heat wave right now with highs in the mid 90s. Central air is something seen as a luxury here because it supposedly never gets that hot in the summer. That's not been the case at all since I've lived here. It's been really hot every summer. I had to buy two window air conditioners when I moved into the place I'm living in now. The real estate here is expensive as fuck. And it's shit. The houses are old. The interiors are not maintained well. The electrical is from the 1950s. There are no garages. There's no place to go with the snow in the winter. Owning is becoming almost impossible as the prices are just outrageous. Rent is absurd. I pay almost twice what I paid in Iowa. There I had a 3 bedroom, 2 bath house with a full unfinished basement, a yard, and a two car detached garage. Here, I have a 2 bedroom, 1 bath upper of a duplex with a single parking spot, no real yard, no central air, and doors missing from closets. I miss midwest real estate so much.

One of the things I've really started to enjoy about being here is the proximity to everything. New York City is only 3 hours away. I've been there 3 times already this year. That's more than I ever thought I'd ever be in New York City. When I go now, I no longer feel like I'm just a tourist. I go for very specific purposes, and I'm familiar enough with the areas I'm going that I don't get that lost, though admittedly there's a lot I haven't seen.

I also enjoy the fact that Boston is a major city and stuff happens here. There's everything from big rock concerts, comedians, magicians, political rallies, protests, sports games, conventions, and all sorts of national monuments and history. There's always something to do, and that's pretty cool. It reminds me of Milwaukee, except bigger and better. And yet, Boston itself is not that big physically. It's kind of cool int that way, and I like it.

So yeah, those are my thoughts on Boston so far. It's been a good experience. I have no idea how long I'll be here. Maybe it'll only be a few more years, and maybe I'll put down roots. I really don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead. So we'll see.

Life Lessons I've learned

This has been a theme that's been in my head for a while that I'd like to iterate on over time. I've learned a lot of lessons over the years, and I figure it's worth sharing. Some are extremely relevant and prescient. Others...less so.

  1. Running from your problems is impossible. Those problems are in you, and they will follow you. Rather than run from them, it's probably better to just face them directly and either live with them or do something to address them. Neither of those options are fun, but they are better options than trying to run from yourself.
  2. Trust your instincts. They're almost always right.
  3. Don't listen to your anxiety. It's almost always wrong and will definitely always ruin your day.
  4. Know the difference between your anxiety and your instincts for obvious, aforementioned reasons.
  5. Making friends is the best thing you can do in life, because you'll never truly be alone, no matter how lonely you feel. Cheesy sentiment, but it's proven to be true for me. Whenever I get down and reach out, all my friends that really are my true friends reach back. I am so thankful you all are in my life.
  6. Dating is harder than any other thing you'll do in life. No, seriously. Given what I know, there's no one that enjoys the dating experience. If anyone ever tells you they like it, they're lying to you.
  7. You are likely your own worst enemy. You hold yourself back. No one else will ever care enough to be in your way more than you will.
  8. A whiney cat will never stop whining. Seriously holy crap... Do they never get tired of it?
  9. Never let your day be ruined by someone saying something stupid on social media. It is not worth the energy or effort. You don't get that time back. The argument won't be won. It's not worth it. Just don't.
  10. As an addendum to that, if there are people in your life, IRL or digital, that only bring negativity, drama, or unhappiness to your life, eliminate them from your life. Block them. They are not worth your time. Life is short and there's no reason to waste it on people like that. I have not regretted cutting those people out of my life.

Independence Day

I don't usually write in this blog unless it's a new year or I'm feeling down, and as much as I'd like to say that this time is different, it's not. I got broken up with yesterday. It's hard to even call it that, because the relationship was never defined in any official way in the first place, but it still feels that way. We dated for two and a half months and went on quite a few dates in that time. For me it felt significant and it feels pretty painful right now on the other side of it.

I gotta sucks being shy. It sucks more being shy and dating a shy person. Communication is hard enough, and it's even harder when we're afraid to talk about important stuff. That ends up with us going two months before really discussing what we want in the relationship only to find out that I'm looking for a long term partner, and she was not. In fact, I believe the phrase she used was "I'm not even sure I'm capable" of a long term relationship. She was more interested in open, polyamorous relationships. And that suuuuuucks because we really liked each other. She told me that she considered me her ideal partner, and that blew my mind. I have had two relationships now where partners have said similar things, and that...I'd love it if that particular idea sank in my think skull because I need some positivity in my self image.

To be very clear to anyone that's reading, I'm not poly. I'm very much monogamous. In fact I think given my family history, we're all pretty well hard wired to be so. My past experience has taught me that I'm not really capable of diving my romantic feelings and attention. What happens when two appear in my life, as has happened a few times, is that one takes over and the other fades to nothing. I seem to be very devoted to whomever I'm with. I admire my poly friends for being capable of such things. I know some of them manage very complicated calendars for their dating life and various lovers, and that's super anxiety inducing for me. I'm happy it works for them.

Back to the more prescient matter at hand, there is a recurring theme in my love life, and it really needs to stop because it keeps reinforcing a particular insecurity I have. I keep getting dumped with little to no warning ahead of time. This time, we had a date on Monday that was just really nice. We had sushi and then saw a movie together. There was cuddles, hand holding, and kisses. We walked in the park afterwards. She said that she just really likes spending time with me. Towards the end of the evening, we realized there was only a few minutes before the last train. So she had to go, and we texted later feeling bummed that it felt a bit cut short. Still, we had plans to spend the 4th together since we both had all day.

So on Wednesday, we chatted a bit in the morning and then I asked what she wanted to do, and she said that she actually didn't want to hang out. I was caught off guard, and asked if she wasn't feeling up to it or something. She said she wasn't. I got that sinking, knowing feeling. I asked if everything was ok knowing full well what was about to happen. I even said to myself out loud "Girl, just do it and get it over with"... and I was right. Her reason: we want different things. She's right. We do, and because of that, we're not a good fit. The writing was on the wall from the moment we opened up to each other about wants and needs. So it ended up being the day we both became free of each other and independent again... get it...Independence Day? Sorry, am I drawing too much attention to the title? Probably? Yes? Alright then.

In all honesty though, I was frustrated. It was a one sided relationship in a lot of ways. When we were together, it was great. We had a really good time. I felt like I was the only one driving the relationship though. I was asking her out and setting up all the dates. Outside of those dates and a few times in the middle when I feel like she was more engaged and invested, I was the only one prompting conversation. At first it was fine, but over time it got more frustrating. She cancelled dates on me at least 4 times during that period. She had good reasons, but it was still a bummer each time.

Honestly after a while, I felt like if I didn't text her, she would never have texted me. She always texted me back when I did message her, but it really felt like unless it was prompted, she didn't really need me to be there. It was really easy to feel insecure, and there were several times I seriously just thought we were done because of lack of communication. I mourned this relationship twice before this week. And then after all that, I'd hear from her, and things were right as rain again. I even chastised myself during that time for letting my own self esteem and worth be tied to my feelings for a woman.

It bothers me that over two and a half months, she never once asked me out. I tried on numerous occassions to get her to meet friends, and that never happened. She had two dogs that I never got to meet, because she never invited me over. Her housemates were asking when they'd get to meet her boo, which was her pet name for me, and they never did...because she never invited me over. I give a person my everything, and it sucks when it's not returned. I wasn't getting what I needed to feel secure in the relationship. That could have been worked through though. I just didn't bring it up because I was afraid of scaring her off.

All that said, I still really liked her. She was fun to be around and just overall a really incredible person with a background that was entirely unique and interesting. She captivated me, and I'm sad that it had to end. So now I mourne this relationship a third and final time. I will move on. I'm going to try again. I'm not quite ready to right away, but I will in a bit. I'm really not looking forward to the first date slog again, but hopefully this time I'll find my lady that makes my heart flutter.

In the meantime...why does sighing feel so satisfying when you're depressed? Why does your heart literally ache when you are sad? Why do romantic feelings have to equate to addiction meaning the end to a relationship is withdrawal symptoms? These are questions I have thought a lot in the last 36 hours.


I'm going to talk about these because they're pretty deep seated and I struggle a lot in romantic situations because of them. There are some here that I've discussed in prior blog posts, but only in passing. Not as direct acknowledgement. So here goes.

  1. I do not feel like I'll ever be good enough for my partner. I can hear you all right now. "Jess, you're beautiful, smart, caring, compassionate, intelligent, and funny. You have a great career. You have all these unique hobbies. Why would you feel like you'll never be enough?!!" Simple...because I have never been enough.
  2. I feel like I'm boring. I know...I know...I just listed all those things in the previous one, right? Well, behind all those fancy robots and photographs, I'm a couch potato that's not motivated to work on projects I've thought about for years. I sit and watch YouTube videos on my work nights. I'm boring as fuck. Why would someone be interested in that?
  3. "Yeah, she's pretty cool, but she's trans." Fuck people who say this and think this. It's also a very real thing that I've had to deal with. Obviously I don't want to date those people, but you can't tell who those people are until after you've met them and they've rejected you because of your trans-ness. Rejection like that hurts, and the more it happens, the more I just feel like I'm not worthy of being loved. I consciously know this is not the case, but feels are feels.
  4. I constantly worry they'll lose interest and then worry that I'm going to over communicate to compensate. Seriously. I'm like a self-fulfilling prophecy. Instead of losing interest, they're just annoyed. I try very hard not to do this, but when your date isn't communicating with you, it's easy to fail.
  5. I assume they're just going to leave me in the end with little warning, possibly for someone better. Given my experience, hopefully you can understand why I would have this particular insecurity.
  6. Thanks to manipulators, I have a hard time trusting. It's difficult for me to believe someone at face value. I have to work at it.

I'm sure there's more, but this is what came to mind for me right now. I'm sure you have lots to say about this. So feel free to share your thoughts on Facebook.

Concluding thoughts

Geez, I don't know. The first two sections were pretty good. These last two emotional boulders...fuck. Yeah...that's all I got. I look forward to hearing what you have to say. Thanks for reading and for joining me in my emotional slog of a week.

It's been a while since a real blog post. So sit down and hold on to your hats, because there's some things swimming around in my head that need to be put down in words.


It's been close to a year and a half since my last girlfriend and I broke up. For those of you that aren't friends with me on social media, I dated someone for a couple of months right after moving to Boston. It was a fast and bright burning relationship with a lady that I really liked. Her name was Dani, and I still think about her. It ended when I realized, thanks to good friends, that she was manipulating me. It wasn't maliciously intended, from what I could see. I think it was mostly her self consciousness and immaturity that caused her to do it, but it wasn't ok. So I ended it, but left it open to friends. We continued to hang out, and slowly things were returning to where we were before I broke it off. I realized that I was letting her back in and allowing her to manipulate me again. So I officially cut ties and walked away. It sucked for both of us, but it was what needed to happen.

There are things that relationship taught me. The first thing is that I wanted to be in a relationship again. I enjoyed having someone that I could be close to again. I had missed that more than I realized. The second thing was that I knew what I wanted in that relationship. Much like Dani, I needed someone that I was attracted to on a lot of levels. I also needed that person to be mature enough to be in a relationship... to know who they were and what they wanted. Dani was 25, and while there are many 25 year olds that are mature and what not, she wasn't quite there. Lastly, I truly needed someone I could trust. Given what I've been through, that's hard for me now.

I gave it a few months, after that relationship, since it was such an intense time. I needed to adjust to the city and settle in to the new job. Then I threw myself on OkCupid and started meeting people. I went on a few dates here and there, and nothing really landed. I finally met a lady that I seemed to get along with a lot, and we had fun. We went on a series of dates, but there was a problem. I wasn't feeling anything at all. Nothing. So I was honest with her and told her I wasn't feeling anything. I felt bad, because she really liked me.

I thought to myself...maybe it was just her? Maybe there was something I was subconsciously not interested in or something? So I tried again. I met another lady. We went out on a few dates. Same thing...had fun, enjoyed her company... but again, I felt nothing at all. I was honest with her too and at this point I knew it was me that was the problem. So I deleted my dating profile and decided to just not date.

The thing that was bothering me though... Almost all my dates and girlfriends since my former long term relationship ended have had my heart feeling very overprotective. It switches into self preservation mode at the first sign of any issues and while that's great for me to stay emotionally safe, it essentially destroys any relationship I'm in. Was this basically how things were going to be going forward? Sure seemed that way.

Enter about a year later...essentially the end of December / early January of this year, and I had been feeling pretty lonely. As I inch closer to middle age (yes I realize that's technically a ways off yet), I realize that I'm not getting any younger. Dating will only get harder as more lines show up on my forehead and what not. There's really no time like the present, and no one's going to just fall into my lap. So I made a goal of re-entering the dating scene, and I've done that. I no longer like dating apps, but it seems like how it's done these days. So I put myself up on Her, the dating app for women seeking women, and it's certainly been interesting. I've gone on about 2.5 first dates a week for the last three weeks. It's cool that I'm getting a decent amount of positive attention on the app, but it's overwhelming and exhausting. I've dialed back my usage of the app overall to slow things down.

Self Perception

So, all of that leads up to the topic at hand. It appears that the rest of the world sees me differently than I see myself. While this is probably true for everyone, it seems the difference for me is pretty drastic to the point that I wonder if I have some sort of body dysmorphia going on.

I've never really thought of myself as attractive. In college, prior to transition, one of my best friends at the time sat me down and told me that women weren't looking at me because I was an ugly, weird, freakish person. They were looking at me because I was attractive. I had been picked on so much growing up for being a nerd and what not that I had always assumed that was the case. Hell, even all the TV shows and movies said that nerds were ugly and unattractive. No one liked nerds. This was my worldview. I just assumed that's how I was perceived. Looking back, there were a number of women that were probably really in to me, but I literally couldn't see it because I had this view of myself.

Hearing my friend tell me this was surprising and eye opening, but you don't change your view of yourself with one friend overnight. I don't think it ever really sank in, and honestly, I still didn't really have any confidence. I've always been shy and quiet when it comes to dating and what not. So nothing really changed.

Then the fire nation attacked...

Actually no. I left college for a year to deal with depression related to gender identity, came out as trans, and started transition a year or so later. Society largely treats us trans folk as if we're unnattractive, unwanted, and freakish. So I just settled back in to my prior mindset. I had a hard time dating in college and afterwards. So that self image basically was well reinforced during that time. 

So enter the present day dating situation and I've heard the following statements. Also, for clarity here, I'm not bragging here. Stick with me:

"You were the most beautiful woman in the room, and I just can't get over it."

"I'd wager most eyes in the room are on you. You command attention."

At a queer ladies event: "...I noticed you holding court (it may not have felt like it, but that's what it looked like)"

"I'm going to kick myself in the ass if I don't talk to this woman."

"She's stunning!" - multiple people

"By all conventional standards, you're a knockout."

I literally don't know what to do with these statements. My jaw drops and I am seriously like "No... that can't be right" because to me it's not. There are rare times I see myself in the mirror and think I look reasonably attractive. Most times, I see a tall, gangly, kinda ugly person that likes to wear makeup. When people say compliments like this, it's so disparate from what I see myself as that I honestly have no idea what to say in response. People are like "Accept the compliment and say thank you", but to me it's literally like someone saying that the sky is red and I should just accept that. So I am typically dismissive of these compliments as according to my self image, they couldn't possibly be true. Though I also realize this is rude. So I've attempted to start saying thank you regardless.

So this brings me to my original thought of body dysmorphia. I've heard these compliments enough now that logically I have worked out that they couldn't all just be people being nice / taking pity on me. There has to be something to them, and therefore the issue has to be me... yet again. So I must be seeing a distorted image of myself when I look in the mirror, and it must be my lifelong conditioning that I'm unnattractive that's ingrained in me. I have brought this up with my therapist, and we're working on it. I think it's going to take a while though.

I think there's also a concern that I have related to accepting this "I'm apparently attractive" thing: ego. If you read far enough back in to my blog, you'll get to a point about 10 years ago when one of my ex's rightfully dumped me and cited my ego at the time. She was right, but my ego was never about my looks. It was related to my collegiate experience and so many people telling me that I was important and doing such amazing and important work. It really fluffed up my opinion of my importance, which led to my asshole nature then. I do not want to get any sort of inflated ego about myself ever again. So if I accept that I'm attractive in any way, how do I integrate that in a healthy way? I've also brought this up to my therapist. She's less concerned about it than I am citing, ironically, my own experience and concern as a reason it wouldn't be an issue. I'll probably always be concerned about that. I never want to be that person again.

Trans Wall

So back to the dating thing. It's never been easy for me. I'm happy that I'm getting a lot of positive attention. However, despite it being two thousand and fucking eighteen, there is still a ton of intolerance around being transgender. It's a damned wall in the way most of the time, and it suuuuuucks.

The Her dating app is very inclusive with identities and what not. I can put trans female as my gender identity if I so choose. However, I don't out of principle. Why? Because trans women are women and it shouldn't fucking matter. Side note, sorry about the language, but a good f bomb really drives that point home, you know? So, does matter to some people. In a lot of cases it's a total deal breaker. Fuck them, but it's true.

So, there are two schools of thought. 1. Don't put trans on your profile out of principle. Meet more people. Get rejected more often because of the label. But potentially meet some people who would never have considered dating trans and now will because they've met you first before judging you for a label. OR 2. Put trans on your profile and let those bigotted women self filter themselves out. Anyone who responds should be ok with dating a trans woman.

I've always gone with 1 because I've lived in places where the dating pool is just super small and let's face it...the midwest is a bit more narrow minded. So I chose to meet more people because I feared that no one would show interest at all if I said I was trans on my profile. Now that I live on a coast, I've been seriously considering switching to 2 because there's a lot more people open and accepting of trans women here. However it still makes me angry because I'm a woman and as I mentioned shouldn't. fucking. matter.

Case in point: over the last week, I had a lovely Irish woman start chatting with me on the app. We hit it off, and we eventually started texting. I hadn't come out to her yet as trans, and I didn't know when that would occur as it hadn't really come up organically. She did some sleuthing and found my facebook profile. One of her next messages to me was "Is there something weird or strange about yourself that you need to tell me?" Seriously. She thinks it's weird or strange that I'm trans. I said " mean like, I'm building a robot? That's pretty strange, right?" because fuck her. When she finally asked me straight away if I was trans, I was like "Oh! Well yeah. But that's not weird or strange." Needless to say I stopped talking to her. My point here is that this is still how some people react to being trans, and it's not ok.

I was having conversation with another trans lady recently, and we both noticed that there seems to be an age gap in trans acceptance. People in their 30s right now are much less tolerant than people who are younger than 30. My ex girlfriend, for example, thought it was amazing and awesome that I'm trans. The younger people seem to celebrate trans identities. That certainly gives me hope for the future trans folks, and it also makes me a bit jealous for those who are that age. It's also why I've considered dating younger, even though there are challenges, as mentioned earlier, associated with that.

It's just so frustrating that even if and when I finally accept any sort of physical view of myself that includes me being attractive, the fact that I'm trans will always be a wall I have to scale to meet people. I could be as beautiful as Helen of Troy, and I'd be rejected because I'm trans. Sorry for dwelling on this, it just makes me so angry.


So one other thing I've noticed: a lot of the women I've met through this app are what some of my friends call "normies". By that, they mean they are not interested in much of the eccentric things we are all interested in. I'm a giant nerd. I love video games, sci fi, technology, nerd culture, cosplay, HEMA and sword play, etc. I'm not just interested in wine, bars, and going to the beach. It's weird because I feel like I have to explain myself on dates. " see Star Trek is cool because it's an allegory on society...and spaceships are cool."

I think, despite the fact that I have lots of lady friends that are interested in these same things, I feel like in a dating situation, so many women are not interested in these things that I have to defend my femininity somehow. That liking video games is somehow inherently masculine, and that it reinforces the trans identity somehow. I'm also using somehow a lot in this paragraph...       somehow.

I hate this as well. There's nothing wrong with being interested in any of the things I'm interested in while also being a woman. So why am I constantly feeling like I have to defend these interests?

Closing Thoughts

All of this makes me seem like I'm not enjoying dating and am just really angry. That's not true. I'm having fun. I'm getting out and meeting people. I'm feeling like my life is full and vibrant right now, and that's fantastic. Hell, I didn't even write about how I went to New York City this weekend and hung out with a bunch of my best gay lady friends in the lesbian bars there. It was awesome, and I had a ton of fun. It had been delayed a week due to weather. Originally it was supposed to be birthday fun in NYC. Ultimately it still was.

Seriously...sometimes I look around at my life and how I've gotten here. I live in Boston. I take trips to New York City. I work for a kick ass tech start up. I love my job. I get to go to events at big companies like Google and feel all cool. I have friends all over the world. I think about all this and I feel humbled and amazed. I never expected any of this. I think to myself "Wow! This is my life now." I'm thankful for what I have and for all of you. I have said it on Facebook, but it's worth saying here too. Thank you, all of you, for being my friends. I really do love all of you.


At Year's End

It's that time again, folks! 2018 is here and wow, did it arrive super fast! As per usual, I didn't blog much. I thought about it a lot though! If only I had a thoughts to blog post brain extension to solve this problem... OH WAIT! I do! (looks at hands) I guess I'm just lazy then. Anyway, you know how this works. Let's look at last year's goals and see how we did, then make some new goals.

Last Year's Goals

1. Learn at least 3 new programming languages Fail

After I switched jobs, I actually had very little need for this. Anything that I would have learned wouldn't have been used, and thus quickly forgotten. I still think there's value in it, but it just became a low priority. So while I failed at this, I'm not broken up about it.

2. Learn at least 3 front end frameworks I don't already know - Success

I didn't learn 3. Technically one of the frameworks I learned I started learning in November of 2016, but I don't think I felt really comfortable with it until well into 2017. So I'm counting it. I also didn't learn the frameworks I listed, but I still learned 3. So I win.

3. Follow through on at least 2 personal coding projects not including this website - Fail

My personal priorities changed after the first few months of the year. I continued working on this site into April, and then I took a break because it was soaking up all my freetime. It wasn't a bad thing, but I wanted to do other stuff. I think once I headed out to Google I/O and switched jobs, the year got away from me. I spent time planning out finding a new place to live, finding another vehicle, planning a trip / surgery in South Korea, and suddenly it was December. Oh yeah, and once the Nintendo Switch arrived...all freetime was gone.

4. Get out of my house / comfort zone more - Huge Fail

This is an ongoing problem for me that really needs to change. Spoiler Alert! This will be a goal again this year, only with a measurable part. One could say "Jess, you flew all the way to Seoul! Does that not count?" and the answer is...I guess? I don't think of it that way. I don't play video games on weeknights. And I've been playing a number of huge, open world games that take forever. This is what took up my weekends this year, which means I've not been going out and doing shit. This is a problem. I love these games, but I need to get out more.

5. Don't settle anymore - Mixed

I'm no longer settling in a lot of ways. I went out on dates this year, and despite there being a lot of interest from the other parties, I was feeling emotionless and empty inside. So I ended it rather than continue on. That's good in a number of ways. I also made some really solid choices on what I want in a job / employer that has been super awesome for me. So you might be like "Isn't that a success then? Why is this labeled as mixed?". You're right, it probably should be, but it's also mixed because I don't think I'm satisfied with how dating and my love life has gone since making this goal. Is that because I'm not settling? Debatable...probably not. OK FINE! This goal is a Success.

6. Stop thinking and start acting / doing - Fail

As per usual for me, I still am thinking and not doing. There were a few times I didn't let this happen this year, namely with getting a gym membership and going (at least for a while). This is continually a problem though. The only major goal I set and accomplished is building a VR gaming machine. Much like the social goal, I need to make this more measurable.

7. Get my retirement plan in order - Giant Fail

Much like the opening statement of last year's definition of this goal, I've been actively avoiding this. I do eventually need to address it though. I need to get my priorities in order for it.

8. Learn to not hate cardio - Impossible

So... I tried. I gave it my best effort. I learned that I can do cardio, but I will never stop hating it. What I can say is that I like what cardio does for me, and I like how my body feels after working out, in general. I plan to return to the gym after the new year's rush ends. So like...February. Cardio will be a part of that. I'm not going to enjoy doing it though.

9. Make use of my passport - Success

I went to South Korea! Passport used! *success music plays*

10. Visit friends as often as possible - Mixed

My goal was 4, but I didn't get to that number. I visited friends in San Francisco. I visited friends in New York. I also visited Family, which only half counts because that's always planned. I didn't travel more than that because time got away from me, and stuff (Zelda, moving, Korea) got in the way. I've already got plans to visit 3 different friend locales in 2018. So I'm sure this will get better.

Final Verdict on 2017 Goals

3 successes, 1 Mixed, 5 Fails, and 1 deemed impossible. It seems 3 successes is my standard now as it's happened for several years in a row. Consistency is not improvement though. I can do better. Overall though, what a whirlwind of a 2017. I never would have expected I'd fly to the other side of the world to get surgery this year. The unexpected is exciting, and I want to keep that up. Onward to 2018!


2018 Goals

I did categories last year. It really ended up only being two categories. So we're not doing that this year. I might have some goals that have logical grouping, and if I do, I'll put them next to each other. Otherwise, I'm rather looking forward to 2018. I think it's going to be a great year.

Alright, let's do this! Leeeeeeeerooooooooooooooy Jeeeeeeeeeeeenkiiiiiiiiiiiiiiins!!!!!!

1. End the great hermitage of 2017

Yes, this is my "Be more social and get out more" goal. It's number 1 because I think it's the biggest thing that really needs to change going into the new year. I love my me time, and like any introvert, I love cancelled plans. I need a balance though. I always feel great after going and being social. So my goal for this year is to do one social thing a week. It can be arranging plans to hang out with a friend, going to a meetup, a facebook event, or a party. It just can't be professional related or going to the gym. Those don't count. Valid excuses include being sick, injured, weather issues, or extenuating circumstances. I also give myself 3 passes that I can use up at any time. Stupid introvert brain...

2. Build some things, dammit!

This is my "turn thoughts into reality" goal from last year. This year it'll be measurable. I have a number of things I want to see happen. So we're doing a sub-list.

  1. Make every other Sunday "Project Sunday" where I dedicate time to build / make something.
  2. Make or finish 4 costumes
  3. Build out more website features to this site, namely the commenting system, pagination, and blog navigation
  4. Pull R2-D2 out of hiatus and add more stuff to him (dome for sure, legs are a bonus)
  5. I need sword mounting / storage gear that displays well in my apartment. This is something I could definitely build myself.

3. Reprioritize financial goals

2017 was expensive. Moving cost me a lot due to using a rental agent, hiring movers and having to do first and last month rent. The Korea trip was as expensive as you'd think. I hadn't expected to spend so much this year. So, I have plans to shift my goals to other things. Here's another sub list.

  1. Allocate more funds to savings
  2. Spend more on clothing (more on this later)
  3. Put some funds towards R2
  4. Put funds towards my apartment (more on this later)
  5. Save for laser hair removal on my legs

4. Replace my wardrobe

Since moving to Boston, I've gone shopping only a handful of times, and I've not enjoyed much of any of it. I think a lot of it has to do with the styles that are in right now. I'm really not a fan of the 80's resurgence, as no one could ever say the 80s were good fashion wise. I've also been so darn lazy with my wardrobe choices most of the year too, which has annoyed me. I've done the "software engineer uniform" for a large part of the year, aka t-shirt, jeans, and a hoodie. Don't get me wrong, it's comfortable, but it's literally the least I can do. I know from the past that when I put effort into my clothes and stuff, I feel really good about myself. So, I'm going to make an effort to do that this year with my clothing choices. I especially want more dresses in my life, as I wear them rarely right now. Part of that is laziness with leg shaving, which is why my prior financial goal bullet point of funds for laser on my legs is there. I have long legs and dark hair. I'd wear dresses more if it wasn't annoying to shave them.

5. Make my apartment feel like a home

I moved in August, and I'm still using a folding table instead of an actual table for my dining room / eating space. My guest room is a mess. I've got one or two things on the walls, and I have no curtains hanging, despite curtain rods being present. Obviously given the Korea trip and the aforementioned cost of moving, home goods have not been at the top of my list, but I want to get to a place where I feel less embarassed having people over. I need furniture, rugs, curtains, a table, a better desk, and wall decorations. By January 1, 2019, I want to have a place that feels much more cozy.

6. Keep off the weight

I didn't mention this earlier, but I lost over 10 pounds this year. I saw a photo of myself at Google I/O in May, and all I could see was my belly. I was really self conscious for quite a while after that. I'm sure no one else ever noticed it, but it's all I could see. I have an ideal healthy weight that I hit right after getting back from Korea, and I felt really great about it. Part of it had to do with working out, eating better, and then having surgery, which made me not want to eat for a bit. I've since gained a few pounds back, but not a lot. I'd like to keep myself hovering around that goal weight. I like how I feel about myself when I'm there.

7. Learn how to do hair stuff

I made a goal in years past to learn how to do eye makeup better, and that went exceptionally well. I get compliments on my makeup frequently now, which is awesome. Plus it's super fun, and I enjoy it. It's contributed to an addiction to Urban Decay makeup and a need for more makeup storage though. So there are downsides. Ha! Anyway, I've never been confident doing anything with my hair other than blowdrying it and what not. I absolutely love the loose curl look, and I have everything I need to do it. I just need to try it and get comfortable with it. I want to change things up and try all sorts of things. YouTube should help me here, but I think the biggest concern for me is melting my hair or burning my hands. So wish me luck!

8. Learn three.js

Here's my one specific coding goal. Three.js is a library that allows full 3D animation on the web using canvas. I love doing animation on the web, and I've wanted to learn 3D for so long. I think this would be a great entrance into that realm, and it has both personal and professional benefits. So this is a solid one for me to take on this year.

9. Swording

My relationship with HMA, sword training, etc, has been a rough one this year. I left my sword club towards the end of last year partly because of injury and the other part because I just wasn't feeling it. I wasn't having fun, and I asked myself if I'm not having fun, why am I doing something? So I stopped. I've been thinking a lot about my history with sword training, what I love about it, and what I don't. I've realized that I really don't enjoy classroom environments for it. I like to learn and get better, but I don't learn well with physical activity in a classroom / drill environment. I need a balance of classroom and sparring to really enjoy it. I realized that I missed the approach my past groups had, which happened to be reenactment groups. While I don't care much for taking on the historical personas and what not, I love the training and camaraderie of those groups. The swordsmanship and techniques there may not be HMA quality, but who cares? The HMA community also seems to focus entirely too much on tournaments and competition, which really doesn't interest me. So I'm trying to figure out what I want to do in relation to this. I've considered spending more time with the Viking Irish, and I'm also strongly considering starting my own group of Amazon fighting women. I just need to work out the logistics. Regardless of all of this, I want to get back into swords in a way that feels healthy for me. If it's not swords, than maybe it's a local parkour club or something. That'd be cool too.

10. Dating / Finding love

As I mentioned earlier in the 2017 assessment of my "Don't settle" goal, I wasn't feeling dating much this year. My heart wasn't in it. I've been thinking a lot about my feelings and why it hasn't been there. I know I'm so overprotective of my heart being broken now that it's kept me from opening up. I'm hoping to change that. My mother told me a story over the holidays about my grandmother and her history with love. I never met my grandfather. He died from cancer years before I was even a thought. I realized I never saw my grandmother with anyone new. I asked my mom, and she told me that my grandmother did attempt dating. She met a man who ended up lying to her face and cheating on her. After that happened, she never dated again. She spent 30 years of her life alone, largely as a hermit. I never knew this, and it really made me think about how similar our situations are / were. I don't want that to be my story, too. So my dating hiatus ends with 2017.

Closing thoughts

Given how 2017 when, I think the theme of 2018 is "Expect the Unexpected". It was an interesting year, and I expect 2018 to be even more so. Let's plan on seeing each other this year, you...friend that's reading this, and let's make it a fun time! See you soon!