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It's New Years Day. I spent New Years Eve, and today home alone. I figure this is the best time to talk about change. If my new years resolution was to avoid major cliches, I'd have already broken a resolution. I certainly hope that 2014 will be better than 2013 ended up.

New Years / New Life Resolutions

I have a long history of talking about resolutions on this blog. In this case, it's not just for the new year, but it's really for the restart of my life. So, let's begin there.

1. Be feeling more emotionally healthy in six months

I didn't expect to be in this emotional state when this year ended. In fact, I thought it unlikely I would ever feel this kind of pain, depression, and turmoil again in my life.  Right now, almost every morning I wake up wishing I hadn't. I go through my days feeling like I'm just existing and really don't have anything to live for. I know that with time, things will get better. I'll be happy again at some point. I'll be calling a counselor before week's end. I have a nice list of people that will help me continue down the right path.

2. Replace my car

My car is a 2000 Ford Focus putting it now at 14 years old. It's gotten me through a lot, but it's time for a change. This year I will replace it. No excuses.

3. Take a trip or three

Since I got out of college, I've never been able to take a real vacation. Any time off has been a staycation. I want to go somewhere that I've never been and do something exciting. I've already made a pact with a long time friend that we'll meet up this year. I think it's long overdue that I go somewhere just for the fun of it.

4. Get out of my comfort zone

For the past few years, it's been pretty routine. I come home from work. Have dinner, and sit on the couch. Weekends consist of shopping, playing video games, and watching TV. It's time to mix it up. I'm going to try to find new groups, do new things, and find stuff that I wouldn't normally do. I think it'll be really good for me.

5. Be more physically active

Another cliche. As mentioned in resolution #4, I'm a lazy ass. I need to be more active. I'm not going to get a gym membership unless I know I'll use it. Instead I'm going to figure out what works for me. I've wanted to replace my bike for a while. Maybe that's the route I'll go. Maybe I'll find a friend to go biking with and ride the trails.

6. Save, Save Save

For the first time in my life, I'm out of the majority of my debt and don't have that many expenses. It's time to save what I can so I'm not as concerned about my financial future. Time to be an adult.

7. Take on new challenges and hobbies

Again...as mentioned in resolution #4, my list of hobbies has grown thin over the years. I would like to learn some new things and do something other than be a potato at home. Maybe it'll be becoming a maker. Maybe it'll be learning to weld. Maybe it'll be hang gliding. I don't know, but I want to do some new things.

8. Continue to write regularly

I would never have called myself a writer before, but I'm finding that it's probably the most fulfilling hobby I have. It helps me grow as a person, and I really enjoy it. I want to make it a habit to write daily in some way. Maybe I'll branch out and try writing styles other than expository, which is my strong suit.

9. Do something creative

I used to be a very creative person back in college. I've been rather boring lately, and I think as one of the challenges I take up as part of resolution #7, I should do something creative. Maybe it'll be a video project or a gaming project. Maybe it'll be photographic. I don't know. I just want to stretch that part of me and have fun.

10. Change my routine wardrobe

My wardrobe is boring and unchanging. I need to spice it up and try some new styles. I think it'd be good for my self confidence and self image. Now I just need someone to shop with. Any volunteers?

More Furniture Shopping

I needed to pass some time on Saturday because of the ex coming over to get some of her stuff (more on that later). So I headed to the furniture store again and spent a bunch of time walking around. I decided to add to my furniture collection by getting the chair and ottoman that match my couch. I have the room for it, and why not? I'm thinking about getting a matching wooden tray to use on the ottoman as a coffee table-like thing. Right now I'm using a cedar chest that's really a bit too high to be a coffee table. The ottoman would be much better. Plus, it has storage for blankets and stuff. The unfortunate thing is that they won't have all the pieces in until February. So I'll have to wait a few weeks for delivery. Oh well.

Movies Alone

After the furniture store, I didn't really know what else to do. I needed to pass a bit more time. So, I headed in the direction of the mall. On my way, I decided that seeing a movie would pass the time quickly. Unfortunately Thor 2 is out of the theaters now. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was the only movie starting exactly at the time that I got there. Normally I'm not much of a Ben Stiller fan. I don't really enjoy embarrassment humor, which is his typical fare. I feel the embarrassment of the character instead of laughing at their misfortune. It's just uncomfortable. Thankfully this movie was not at all his typical fare.

The story was a personal growth tale about a guy with a rather uninteresting life. He daydreams a lot, and that's something I can relate to. My life is very uninteresting, and I find myself lost in elaborate daydreams many times throughout the day. The film made me think about that a lot and question what I do with my free time. I really enjoyed the film, and I was very surprised by that. In some ways, I'd even say it was inspiring. Hopefully I'll take that to heart and use that inspiration with my resolution goals.

Cars

After the movie, I wasn't ready to go home yet. I had a lot of feels I was experiencing, and I decided to continue doing stuff. While I had been home visiting my folks, I was checking out cars online, and I got contacted by a guy from the Ford dealership in town. We talked on the phone about how I wanted an Escape, and they invited me to come test drive vehicles. I decided to go do that. It was 2:00 on a Saturday. Why not, right? I've been looking into the Escape for a while. So the first thing we did was drive one.

I wasn't surprised that I liked it. It drives really nice, has a lot more room than my two door Focus, and has way more features than my car ever did. My only criticism is that it's not quite as roomy as I was hoping. The Escape is built on the Focus platform, which gives it a slightly smaller frame than, say, the Edge, which is what I drove next. I was sold on the Escape until I drove the Edge. It has everything the Escape had, except it's just a bit bigger. I had expected it to drive like a boat, but it really doesn't. I found myself loving every minute of driving it. I think I know what I'm going to get. The only thing I don't like about it is the price. Either way, it's still a few months off.

It was a lot of fun though. I really liked the salesman. This dealership wasn't pushy at all. They were all very personable and fun to chat with. I stayed and had conversation with the guy for a bit longer than I needed to. I'm actually looking forward to when I get to go back and drive them again right before I buy. It was definitely not the experience I was expecting.

Video Games

The Steam Machine has been fun. I recently started playing a game called Beatbuddy: Tale of the Guardians. It was a game given to me by Valve as part of the beta test. I can see why. It's a great game for home theaters. It's a bit like a platformer, but not quite, and it's rhythm based. There's a lot of really cool music playing that you contribute too as you play the game. I found that the music alone had me wanting to continue playing. It's fun to jam out to as you play.

Otherwise, I've been on my windows machine playing Saints Row IV. It's not the most intelligent game, but it's what I need right now: Wanton Destruction. I definitely haven't been in a mood to want to play something really emotionally involved. I've been just wanting to play something that involves mass destruction and open world. Saints Row is over the top and ridiculous. It's fitting the bill quite nicely.

Education

I'm seriously considering taking a course as DMACC just down the road. Specifically, I'm thinking about taking a brush up math course. It's been 12 years or so since my last time in a Math class...maybe longer. I never made it through college calculus, and I feel like I should really go back and get through it. Web development doesn't require that much math, but the way user interface work is going, we're going to be into 3D land very soon. That requires stronger math skills, and I'd like to be on top of my game there.

I'm not sure which class is appropriate. I may have to go in and talk to someone about where I was and how I'm feeling right now about my skills. I used to be very good at math back in the day, but like any skill, if you don't use it, you lose it. I feel like if I brush up, I could tackle Calculus head on and make it through with no problems. I think it'd be good for me, my work, and help provide me with a good, positive focus. On top of that, it'll get me out of the house and meeting new folks.

Relationship crap

I'm thinking this is likely the last time I'll write this much about my feelings about my former relationship. I've reached a point where I think there will be less on my mind going forward. First and foremost, she misspoke when she told me that she was moving in to her new place January 27th. She meant December 27th. So, last week Friday, she came and took the majority of her stuff out. She had to come back twice on Saturday to get the last three items, which is why I was out and about trying to pass time. I have to say, it's what I wanted, but it's really bittersweet. It means she's really gone, and the nail is in the coffin. While I know I had accepted that a few weeks ago, it's a weird feeling once that reminder is gone. My garage is now empty.

I really worked hard to pack up her stuff. She'll never find someone as nice and accommodating as I was. Here's a look at how much I did for her:

Packed up the ex's stuffPacked up the ex's stuffPacked up the ex's stuff

 

You can click on any one of these images to see the full size images in the Google+ gallery.

I'm now to the point that I'm cutting contact completely. The only reason I now have to contact her involves taxes and anything involving the house. Otherwise, she's out of my life. Once the house is gone, I'm done with her completely. October can't come fast enough. All that said, it's still very hard for me. I fluctuate throughout the day on how emotionally ok I am. Some mornings, I'm feeling great, but the evening is a little rough. Other times it's the other way around. More of the normal me is coming out, but slowly. I also find myself trying not to talk about it, even though I know I feel myself wanting to. I think that's a good sign. I don't want to annoy those around me with constant whininess about my breakup. Instead, I write about it so friends can come and read my whininess here. :)

I decided to officially go through and unfriend her and those that were really her friends and family. Despite the fact that I care about a lot of them, I think it's for the best to unfriend and move on. So, I went through Google+, Twitter, and Facebook, and did the unfriending deed. Strangely, I got to her, and she had already unfriended me. I found that to be very interesting considering she said she thought of me as her best friend / sister. She said she still wanted me in her life. If that's truly the case, why would she unfriend me? Whatever. What's done is done.

One thing that may be surprising, when I saw her for the dinner that didn't happen, she actually requested that her name be removed from any of my blog posts. I had to redact her name from a post years ago because of that. She said she didn't want it on there for job application purposes. I was actually dumbfounded when she asked me to do that. It felt a bit like a final slap in the face. To me, it was like "Yeah, I want no record that I was ever with you." Every time I think through this whole thing, I really just shocks me at how cold and brutal she was with this. I feel this way even stronger especially after speaking with some mutual friends. They informed me that they would be uncomfortable in her future encounters with my ex because "what she did to me was really a dick move". It really was. It just goes to show, never trust someone who identifies more strongly with the Sith than the Jedi. All of her lightsabers were red...no joke.

Side note: "I still want you in my life", "It's not you, it's me", and "Let's just be friends" are the biggest bunch of bullshit lies ever conceived by humans.  She didn't use this exact language, but said similar things. The biggest problem with these phrases is that they're either not genuine, or they don't take into account the reality of the situation. By that I mean the fact that one person just ripped the heart out of the other person. In my case, I'm not sure I would even want to consider friendship in the future. Do I want to remain friends with someone that has the capacity to be so cold, cowardly, and heartless? At this point, I think the answer may be no. I can admit that right now my perceptions are very colored. We'll see how that feeling changes in six months

Before I unfriended her sister and her mother, I sent them both a final farewell email and thank you. Her sister was always wonderful to me. I really loved hanging out with her and her family when I got to visit. I didn't get to see them enough. She sent me a very nice message back, as did Jess' mom. They were very sweet people, and it sounds like both of them really cared about me. Thanks guys, if you're reading this. I'll miss you.

Jessica's Dating Rules as of 2014

The last thing I'll talk about is something that's been creeping into my mind as I heal, and that's my approach to dating going forward. There are things I want and things I don't want. I also want to think about setting guidelines for myself to prevent myself from falling into foolish behaviors of the past. Here goes:

1. No more long distance relationships. Period.

I have a lengthy history of long distance relationships. Jess started as a long distance relationship. My relationship prior was semi-long distance as she had moved to Chicago while I lived in Milwaukee. I've done the internet relationship many times in my early 20s, and that never worked. So, this is me shutting the book on that. If I date someone, they have to live within a 30 mile-ish radius of where I live.

2. No more relocating to be with someone unless I'm married.

I followed the advice of a friend that suggested not to live apart from the one you love. I think this is great advice if you're already married and have been committed to each other for a long time. However, if you're not in that situation, just don't do it. If it doesn't work out, you end up in a place that's not your home and without a support group. The only way I'm going to relocate now is if it's for me.

3. No more dating academics.

No offense intended to academics here. I know a lot of them, and they're all very nice people. However, right now, I want someone who lives the same schedule I do, and has the same professional world as I do. I don't want to deal with time being measured in semesters and academic years. I also don't want someone who takes their work home with them like academics tend to do. Plus, I think it's the memory of Jess that hurts too much. I want something different now.

4. Improve listening skills

This is perhaps me being harsh on myself, but I've had issues in my last two relationships with being unaware that there were any issues with the relationship. Perhaps I was complacent, and yes, if my girlfriends don't communicate anything to me about their issues, I won't know. Still, if I pay better attention and listen better, perhaps I can be aware of any issues that come up before they are a bigger problem.

5. Don't get complacent

I think I took my ex for granted. I don't know that I showed her how much I loved her as often as I should have. This is something I don't want to happen again. I want my partner in the future to know that I truly care for them all the time. I don't want to get caught in the idea that they will always just be there. Being loved is a wonderful thing and shouldn't be taken for granted.

6. Must be able to communicate well

Gee, I wonder why I'd put this here? I don't want to be caught up in another situation where there are problems that go unspoken about for periods like a year or more. Communication is key in relationships, and without it, there's pain. So, I want my next partner to be good at it.

7. Person must love who they are and have great self confidence

My ex frequently seemed to have self image issues, body image issues, and confidence issues. We all go through these things, but it seemed a constant thing for her. I'm not sure why, but I can't help but wonder if this played into her breaking up with me. Either way, I want someone who is happy with who they are and what they look like.

8. Must not identify with the Sith / villains

Yeah, that's right. I don't want a Sith. In every video game, film, and story, I identify with the heroes. I always have. My ex didn't. Like I said earlier, every lightsaber she owned was red. I want someone who is like me in their compassion and desire to help others. Yes, I understand how ridiculous this is.

9. No slobs

I'm not a clean freak. I'm not OCD about things being picked up and put away either. However, if I'm tripping over seven pairs of shoes that were left out in the living room, that's too much. I want someone that appreciates counter space being visible, and isn't going to let things just pile up like crazy.

10. Must be a nerd

This goes without saying, but I said it anyway. Nerds are awesome, and I don't think I could be with someone that didn't like the nerdy things I like. I want to share those things with my partner.

So that's it. Let me know your thoughts and feels in the comments below or on the various social media platforms. Happy New Year to all of you, and thanks for reading.

I'm going to try something new with this post. I'm going to put any non-relationship stuff at the top and all the relationship recovery stuff at the bottom. Everything will be clearly labeled with headings. So if you want to skip a section, feel free. This is likely going to be fairly long with sections some may be interested in, and others not. As a TL;DR warning, this is probably the longest post I've ever written at just shy of 4000 words.

Holidays

It's the holidays. I'm off and at home with my family. It's been good so far, but I've had a lot of time to think. That's both good and bad. I'll get to that later. We've been making cookies again. It's been fun and a good distraction. My sister, mother, and I have made spritz again, more cutouts, and gingerbread. We didn't make a 700 to 800 piece gingerbread Optimus Prime, but we still had fun. I brought down all my nice baking sugars for decorating, and we made some great looking stuff. I posted the photos here if you want to see them. On top of cookies, we went to see two movies: the Hunger Games: Catching Fire and 47 Ronin. Both were great. Otherwise, it's been a lot of family time and a lot of snow.

Travel Adventure

I headed out on Friday evening on the long, 5.5 hour drive to visit my family. It had been freezing rain the night before. So I had hoped that by the evening it would be fine. For the most part, it was. The drive, itself, is quite dull. From the Des Moines area all the way to Dubuque, it's very flat farmland with nothing of interest. Dubuque is where things change. That's about where the driftless area (the only place where no glaciation occurred during the ice age) starts. At that point, there's some really beautiful bluffs and hills.

About 13 miles in to Wisconsin, things changed. I hit black ice. My car decided that it wanted to go sight seeing. It started fishtailing around, and I ended up butt first in a ditch. When I came to a stop, I noticed the engine had stopped. So I tried to start the engine again, and it thankfully started right up. My tires were spinning though. I got a little traction here and there, but nothing solid. I ended up calling 911 to let them know I was stuck, but that I was fine. They were going to send someone out to find me if I needed it. So I spent some time trying to get out of the ditch. I didn't expect anything, but surprisingly, after some rocking back and forth, I ended up getting enough momentum to get out. It was exciting and scary all at once. I called 911 again to let them know I was fine and that they didn't need to send anyone. The roads had refrozen, and were not very safe. I was watching other vehicles spin out. I decided to slowly make my way to the next exit and spent the night in Platteville, WI. I think it was a smart move.

My car is 14 years old and has almost 170,000 miles on it. It's been very good to me over the years, but it's small and is starting to cost me more money than it's worth to keep up with the repairs. I've wanted to replace it for a long time, but I just haven't been in a financial situation that's made that possible. I want something a little bigger, like a crossover size. Unfortunately, those are some of the most expensive vehicles out there right now. I think I'll be stuck with high car payments no matter what. Still, I think it's probably time. Sometime in the next year I'll be replacing it. I know what car I'll end up with: the Ford Escape. I really like the car and the technology that comes with it. Once all my current debts are paid off, I'll make the leap. One of these days, my current vehicle is going to die, and I want to make sure I have the replacement before then. Here's hoping that little Focus makes it.

Anxiety and Weight Loss

I was surprised at how well I responded to the spin out. I wasn't cursing or angry. It was really just "Well....that happened." I wonder if it's because of the medication I'm on. About two months ago, before the breakup, I spoke with my doc about anxiety. Anxiety is an issue in my family. My mom has high levels of it, as do my siblings. It's affected me too, and as I get older, it seems like it gets worse. I've been kept awake at night by my own worries. I worry about things that are outside of my control. I have had minor panic attacks with things here and there. I felt like it was starting to negatively impact my life. So I chose to go on an anxiety medication to help me control it. It's not a very heavy drug. I don't feel like I'm not myself. I feel like I don't worry about things as much anymore, which is exactly what I wanted. I think my stress level isn't as high because of it, and that's good. The drug is also an anti-depressant, and I'd say it's a very good thing that I chose to be on this drug before any changes occurred in my life. I'm thankful for it.

My weight holding steady at 158.5 lbs, though had one day at 157. I think being at home is helping because I'm eating more. Bigger breakfast and bigger dinner. My appetite for sweets is returning. That's good. I think another thing that's contributing to my weight loss is the huge decrease in intake in soda. I used to drink Cherry Pepsi all the time. Back in El Paso, I was a little shocked by how much I actually drank. I cut back, but was still drinking a little bit here and there. A month or two before the breakup, I got hit with some serious acid reflux. It was so bad that I woke up with a nasty taste in my mouth that lingered all day. I was dealing with weeks of pretty severe reflux. I'd never experienced this before, and it had me very concerned. I went to the doctor for it, and got treated, but ultimately I ended up cold turkey cutting soda from my diet for a good month and a half. All I drank was water. As much as the heartburn experience sucked, I came out of it finally kicking my soda addiction. I no longer crave it, which is fantastic. I drink water more than anything else now, and I'm really happy about that. I can't help but wonder if that's contributing to this weight loss.

Steam

The Steam Machine is fun so far. The actual machine itself is nothing more than a custom gaming pc running a variant of linux. To me, there's nothing special about it other than it's a very dense, unique case that's fun to have. The controller is what everyone is interested in, and it's different than I expected. It takes some adjusting to. I'm surprised by the fact that video games don't consider it a controller. They actually map it to keyboard and mouse. The left touch pad is mapped to the WSAD keys for movement, and the right pad is the mouse pointer. It changes things because you can use it like a controller or like a touch screen. It has acceleration like a touchpad if you swipe it. There's force feedback that feels a bit like a mouse wheel. It clicks as you move around to give you a sense of movement. It also has two buttons on the palm that add to the controller experience. It's very intuitive, and the more I use it, the more I like it. For anyone that's interested, I shot an unboxing video with my phone. You can see that here. There are also a few photos I took of the devices here.

It so happens that right now the Winter Steam Sale is going on, and for any gamer out there, that means a drain on the wallet. Thankfully there aren't that many games I really want. So I don't think I'll spend as much this time. Still, it's always fun to check on the sales as they change throughout the day. I know some people aren't that interested in the trading cards. I didn't think I would be, but I have gotten into them a little. Maybe it's the collector in me. If you're interested in friending me on Steam, my steam id is janiukjf.

One thing that I find interesting, ever since the breakup, video games have been totally uninteresting to me. I'll play a little bit here and there to test out the machine and report any bugs I encounter, but nothing seems to interest me. I'll look through the games and end up with a "meh" feeling, and I'll turn it off. It's kind of surprising to me because I'd figure I'd want to escape into something, but I guess that's not the case. I'm sure my desire to play will come back at some point, but for now, it's not there.

Website and Internets

One thing that has been on my mind lately is this very website. I haven't touched the code or the layout for years. It's starting to show. There are some issues with the style sheets on some of the pages. I've just been neglecting it. I've thought many times through the years that I want to build something from scratch, and I think now is the time. Why not, right?

Warning! Coding nerd talk ahead! I've been uncertain about what language I want to use to build it. I've wanted to spend some time with Ruby over the years, and I've never actually done it. I might do that. I could also use Golang, which I spent a lot of time with in the recent past. It's a functional language, which is different than what I work with every day, and also seems like a direction the field is headed due to the multithreading capabilities. Still, it'd be fun to do something new. Maybe I'll try Scala. I do know for sure that I'm going to TDD the crap out of it, that it's going to be responsive design, that I'm going to build it around something like Angular.js, and that it's going to be open source. If you're a web dev reading this, I'd love your input on languages and why.

Another thing that I've grown tired of is the focus of my site. For a long time I thought maybe one day I could make a career out of professional speaking on gender issues, but I've really started to grow tired of it. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy it when I do get to speak, but that part of my life is in the past now. Unless some things change, and I get reinvigorated, I'm starting to feel like it's time to pass the torch to the younger, more interested folks. I definitely still care about my community and want to see people get more educated on gender and the transgender community. However, I think there are others out there that do this better than I ever could. I'm still going to mentor those that come to me with questions and what not, but that's gotten less and less over the years due to my lack of visibility for a while. I'd like to turn this site into a more personal site about the rest of my life and my interests: Gaming, Coding, Photography, etc. I'll still leave everything that's currently present on the site there for the most part, but it might be refactored somehow. I'm curious on people's thoughts on this. What do you think?

I've also been giving thought to either podcasting or vlogging. Vlogging would get me back into video work, which is something I used to do for fun, but it's also a lot of work. Podcasting would be fun, but podcasts are way more interesting with more than one person and a topic to focus on. In fact, the topic would be something I'd have to consider. I write about everything I'm feeling or thinking. I don't think that'd work so much for either a podcast or a vlog. What do you think? Would either of these be interesting? What should I talk about?

Living Situation

Living alone is starting to feel a little more ok. I'm remembering a bit more of what I used to do before my relationship. It was a lot of Netflix and a lot of internet time. I don't know that I want to fall into that trap again. I'm really enjoying going out to these meetups. It's really helped me feel social and gets me out of my comfort zone. I'm thinking of adding to that. Maybe I'll get back in to fencing again. I haven't fenced in a good 3 years, and I'm sure there's an SCA group in Des Moines that would take me. I've also been thinking a lot about heading to Area 515, which is a makerspace group. They have a biweekly arduino group, which is something I've wanted to learn more about for a long time. Arduinos are small, inexpensive, open source, programmable logic boards that can be used to make all sorts of things. I have one, and I've played with it a little, but nothing major. So it would be fun. I have yet to meet up with a photography group, which would be fun too. Hopefully I can find one before it gets warm out.

I haven't decided on a roommate yet. I'm torn between having someone in the house that provides company and helps me save a bit of money on rent, and giving up a little bit of my privacy, peace and quiet, and personal space. I have time to decide as the ex won't even pick up her stuff until the end of January. So, until then, I've got some things to think about.

Breakup Stuff

OK, here's the part where I talk about my former relationship. Let's start by saying I'd really like to scale back how much I talk about this. It's been over 5 and a half weeks now, and I really want to be moving on. I can't guarantee anything, because I guess I write about what I need to write about. But I can try, I guess.

I can tell I'm depressed. Sleep comes later than it used to, and I'm very tired in the morning when I get up. I would rather be asleep than awake. My dreams tend to be better than dealing with being alone, though less so recently. I've had several dreams with her in them this week. One involved me begging her not to leave me, and the other I'm having trouble remembering me. In both cases, I couldn't see her face, which is weird. My appetite is getting better, but it's still low. I'm kind of ho hum all the time. I rarely get high moments. I feel like I am wearing a mask now. It sucks.

The holidays don't help. During the regular work week, I can focus on my job. That gets me through the week just fine. I enjoy it, and I feel like it's fun. When I'm at home, I have a little time to myself, but not so much that I feel terrible. The holidays have had me around family, which has helped. This time, though, I'm feeling more of the loneliness than last time. I've had a lot more time to myself than when I was here a month ago. I'm thankful I'm surrounded by family though. I've just had a lot of time to think. I've been thinking in particular about the past three Christmases in which I spent it with her. I've also found myself thinking of her family. During the Steelers vs Packers football game, I couldn't help but remember that her dad roots for the Steelers and the Saints. Her sister's family roots for the Packers. Almost every time I visited, there was football on. I miss them. Her family is really nice. I hope they're having a good holiday.

So yeah, the holidays are sad without someone close to celebrate them with. A friend of mine is going through a divorce, and we've been chatting a bit about how crappy we feel. Both of us shared the same sentiment about just wanting the holidays to be over. They are wonderful if you have people you love to spend them with. I have my family, but it's not the same as having someone. I miss the joy of years past. Now I just get the constant stream of memories of the last several years and of how happy I was. It's such a stark contract to how I feel now that it takes a bit of the fun out of it. Of course...there's a February holiday coming up that I'm really not looking forward to either, but we'll take things as they come, I guess.

One of the things that kind of regressed my progress this weekend was Facebook. Yeah...did that stupid thing again and checked out her Facebook profile. She looks good. I really wish that temptation wasn't there. The problem is that I have mutual friends with her, and her family had friended me too. So, even when I don't see a post by her, I may see posts by others that include interactions with her. So I took steps to protect myself. I didn't unfriend them (despite seriously considering it), but I did unfollow them. That means I won't see any of their posts in my feed. I also created a no-chat list so that they wouldn't show up in my chat. Jess has two twitter accounts, and I went so far as to completely unfollow her there. No more reminders. Fewer temptations. I think it's a smart move and will help me a lot.

I've dealt with some extreme jealousy lately. Jess and I had a mutual friend. She recently came out to Jess, and it's drawn them closer. I feel like this young lady has essentially supplanted me as Jess' best friend. I sometimes wonder if there's something else going on there too. When Jess broke up with me, she said she never even looked at anyone else, and that it was only recently that she felt herself attracted to others. One can't help but wonder, but it's really none of my business. Either way, I find myself very jealous of her. I want Jess to be happy, but it stings to know you've been mostly replaced. This has been the focus of my negative feelings lately. Needless to say, this person is also on the unfollowed and no-chat list.

Another one of my friends posted on my Facebook wall a picture that states "Subconsciously it takes at least 6 - 8 months for the brain to process complete forgiveness for someone who hurt you emotionally." I'd like to know the source and the facts behind this quotation, but it wouldn't surprise me if this is true. All this anger and sadness inside will go away eventually. How long will it take me? That says at least 6 - 8 months. So it could be longer. At that point, will she even be around Iowa anymore? Will there even be potential for friendship? I don't know, but I do know that right now, I don't think of her as a friend. I think of her as a pleasantly painful memory. I think of her as a bit of a betrayer as well. She is like the searing pain right after a burn. I just hope I can heal and move on sooner rather than later.

I'm a cat person, and my sister has a dog. I spent some time over at her house, and her dog was always happy. I found myself thinking "I could get a dog..." a few times. My dad was quick to point out that I just want to fill the void that's left behind, and he's absolutely right. I probably won't get a dog, but if I did, I'd probably go with a Welch Corgi. They're small, which is good for me, and they're very smart. I'm definitely not making that decision quickly though. I'm hoping that with time, I'll find something better to fill that void than a dog. If I did follow through on the corgi, though, I'd have to name it Ein. After Cowboy Bebop, I'm sure there are so many corgis out there with that name.

Dating has never been easy for me. I've always been incredibly shy. Rarely have I been able to say anything to those that I'm really attracted to. Exceptions seem to be online, which is probably why I met my last two girlfriends via dating sites. I'm really not looking forward to having to re-enter the dating world. I really suck at it. I have very little confidence, and essentially feel like I have nothing to offer. I blame my lack of confidence on grade school. I was bullied a lot, called names, beat up here and there, and told I was a loser. After years of that, I eventually believed it, myself. In fact, during my freshman year of college, my friend, Seth, sat me down and told me that women looked at me because I was attractive, not because I was a freak. It opened my eyes at the time, but I can't say that it really changed that feeling. I have continued to harbor that feeling my whole life both consciously and subconsciously. It saps my confidence, self image, and self worth. Any time I've ever made a mistake in my life, I've attributed it to my being less than. I think it holds me back from true success. I don't believe in myself like I probably should. I don't believe I will ever be as good as my peers at what I do for a career. Unfortunately no amount of people telling me otherwise will ever make me believe any differently either. It is ingrained in me at this point. I fail at a lot of things in life, but this is my single greatest failing.

I know there is something I truly desire, and that is what I thought I had. I thought I had a close, deep, lasting bond of love. I thought I had started my own family. I was, and still am, ready to start a family. I thought I had someone in my life that loved me as much as I loved her. We used to play the "I love you more" game, and let me tell you, it truly sucks knowing you won that game. What I find myself wondering, though, is was I more interested in having love than who I loved? Is it possible that I was less attracted to her physically too and it was only a matter of time until it was over? Was she right? These are questions I probably won't ever have answers to. Although, it's quite possible I may be asking myself these questions to reduce my own cognitive dissonance about everything in the first place.

All I know is that I don't feel emotionally well. I'm depressed, sad, hurt, lonely, and I'm sick of it. I just don't want to feel this way anymore.

For once I have stuff to talk about that's not my former relationship. I also have pictures!! Oooooo! Pictures!!! Yeah...so if you can't tell already, I'm in a better mood that's a bit more me. No, I'm not drunk. I've just had some things happen this week that really helped me move forward.

I'll start with the exciting news. For those that aren't gamers, there's a company called Valve that makes video games. They're responsible for games like Portal, Half Life, and Left 4 Dead. They're also behind the biggest gaming platform for PCs. It's called Steam. Through Steam, there's a store to buy games, a community, and a social network of sorts. It's a very successful platform and is very well known in the video game world. Valve has built a new operating system for gaming called SteamOS as well has hardware that's in the beta stage called Steam Machines. A few months ago they opened up applications to be a part of the hardware beta program. Only 300 people would get to participate. 400,000 people applied. I'm lucky enough to be one of the 300 people to get to participate.

When I got the email, I was ecstatic. I never get things like this happening to me. In a couple of days, my Steam Machine arrives, and I'll be playing with it quite a bit. I plan to do unboxing videos and review videos. I'm really looking forward to it. It'll be a welcome distraction. I said to some people that getting to be a part of this is my consolation prize for my fiancee leaving me. Hey, it's something, right? I really got my spirits lifted when I received notice, and it was a much needed lift.

Other fun news is that my new furniture was delivered on Saturday morning. I now have my own couch and kitchen table. I'm really happy with them so far, and I got a great deal on both of them. The couch is a bonded leather couch. So it's durable enough to hold up to the kitties, but it's easier to clean than microfiber. My table is counter height and is a butterfly style. So, I'll have more room for things if I need it. The shelving under the table will likely come in handy. Here's what they look like:

New Couch

New Kitchen Table

Table Shelving

So that's exciting. Aside from that, I did some stupid things this week too. Namely, my ex contacted me saying she was going to come and pick up her two gaming consoles later in the week. I suggested that we get dinner together if she's coming out. That was a dumb idea. I knew it when I asked. I felt this pull in which I was simultaneously aware how bad this idea was while also really just needing to see her. We decided on Friday, and I was getting nervous as the day approached.

When Friday came, and she came by, the moment I saw her, I felt myself get very emotional. I had all her stuff prepared and ready to go. So she was able to just grab it and put it in her car. I told her I also needed her to help me move her couch, as my couch was getting delivered the next morning. She agreed, and we took care of it. All during this, I was having trouble even looking at her. It was very difficult for me. We decided on a place to go, and we took separate cars. While we were driving there, I was fighting to hold my composure.

We got to the restaurant, parked, and started heading to the door. As we got half way there, I realized I wasn't going to be able to make it through dinner. I said it was a bad idea, and she said that it ok. She said we could do this when I'm ready. We headed back to our vehicles, and I started talking. I told her that while I'd really like to be friends with her, it may never happen. I also asked her for more answers because while I sort of get why she broke up with me, I really didn't understand it. I got that answer, and it really disappointed me.

It's mostly revolving around sex. She said there were other factors too, but sex was the big one. She thinks we never really clicked in bed, and that she feels like she was forcing her enjoyment of it for a long time. She doesn't feel like she has enjoyed it as much as she really feels she should have.

Before I continue, I was to say that this disappoints me so much because I thought what we had was a lot deeper than sex. It seems very superficial to me. While sex is certainly an important part of a romantic relationship, it's certainly not the defining thing that makes a relationship go. I'm not suggesting her feelings and her decision were wrong or right. I'm just saying it disappoints me. I thought we had a strong foundation and a lot more in our relationship.

Anyway...to continue, I asked her how long she had these feelings. She answered that they started before we moved to El Paso. That puts things back about a year and a half. I said to her that she should have brought it up to me then. She said it was a difficult thing to talk about. I responded with the question that blindsiding your partner 3 and a half years in that you want to breakup is a better option? I was upset.

A YEAR AND A HALF!! I'm sorry, but this makes me very angry. I'm not mad because she felt this way. She feels how she feels. I'm mad because she never once discussed this issue with me. It makes me feel like for the last year and a half, I've been living a lie. She wasn't completely honest with me, and for some reason, she felt that she couldn't be. She was afraid to discuss it. She kept these feelings inside for so long that they became a festering wound that rotted away the rest of her feelings for me. Being in a healthy relationship requires communication, and difficult topics absolutely need to be discussed. Yes, it's not easy, but this is something we could have fixed a year and a half ago. And if we weren't able to fix it, at least we would have tried...together. I thought she was mature enough to be able to handle the difficult stuff, but I guess not. I'm left feeling like maybe she wasn't the person I thought she was.

I got a few things of my chest. I told her that I felt cheated out of being able to fight for the relationship. I told her I just wanted my life back. Lastly though, I told her I wanted her to get her shit out of my house. She seemed slightly hurt and offended by my request. She informed me that she doesn't get to move in to her new place until January 27th. I offered to pay for a storage unit if need be, but she was more concerned about how she's having a friend visit from El Paso this week, and what not. Plus, she's heading to visit her family for the holidays on Wednesday. I insisted, and she said she'd come over and pack it. I told her even if she just gets it out of the place and into the garage, that's fine.

To be honest, I'm a little dumbfounded at her response. It's been a month, and her stuff is still in my place. Everyone I've talked to about this has been shocked it's not out of the house yet. People have told me that I should just throw her stuff out into the front yard. I'm not interested in being a storage facility for her things for two months. And yet...I backed down. That's right, I decided to be too nice, as usual. I realized that I could probably get it all packed up and in the garage this weekend. I even spent money on materials...something like 50 bucks for bubble wrap, boxes, dividers, and paper. I'm way too accommodating.

So I spent my weekend doing that...packing up my ex girlfriend's things, of which she has a lot. As of right now, 95% of her stuff is out of the house. The only things that remain are a few small kitchen items, her dresser, her TV, her computer case, and a few Nerf guns. I also have to go through the Christmas storage tubs because our stuff is co-mingled there. I need to sort through it. Oh, and I have to sort through the tools to figure out which stuff is mine and which is hers. Either way, it's mostly done and out of my hair. No longer am I looking at her stuff all the time.

After all of this, maybe the idea of dinner wasn't such a bad one. It ended up being exactly what I needed. I have a bit of closure now. I also have been able to move past the constant state of sadness and on to legitimate anger. That's progress. Anger is good. Anger is what I need right now. All that said, I still cried Friday night. This time though, it was sadness mixed with relief. I finally had the truth, and while disappointing, at least I can look forward now. I'm not constantly wondering why.

Two more things, and then I'll move on. After what happened, I don't blame myself so much anymore. I do believe it takes two to tango, and that I will always share some responsibility for this happening. However, now I accept that this was mostly her. There was very little I could do without her opening up to me about her feelings. And secondly, I no longer am thinking of Jess as part of my self concept. She is separate from me now, and that's good for my healing process. I'm still not thrilled to be single, but I know it won't be forever. I will find someone new that will be better for me than Jess. I'll find that happiness again. I'm obviously not ready yet to start looking, but I will be, in time.

I went to the meetup again today, and the friends I made last week were there again. We chatted some more and exchanged phone numbers. It sounds like it's the start of a great friendship. I'm really looking forward to getting to know them better. So thats fun and exciting! I probably won't see them for a few weeks because of the holidays, but that's cool. I'll be busy with family and my steam machine.

I also may have a roommate. I haven't decided if I want a roommate or not, but the friend I hung out with last Thursday might be a really great fit. We discussed it tonight, and she's amenable to it. It would benefit both of us, and it sounds promising. Nothing's decided yet, but it could be really great. So I'm thinking about it.

The only other thing going on is something that has me a little concerned. I do mean little...not a lot concerned. I'm losing weight. While normally that would be a good thing, I'm pretty thin to begin with. I'm 5'11" and right before the breakup and before my bout with heartburn, I weighed in at 170 lbs. In a little over a month, I've lost over 10 pounds. It seems like it's not stopping. I weighed in this morning at 158.5. I've not been that light since high school. My appetite since the breakup has been significantly reduced. I used to be a junk food junkie and a cookie monster. I haven't been interested in either for a long time now. That's good, but I'm also not eating as much as I used to. So, I'll have to keep an eye on it.

So, what do you think? Am I making progress? Am I too accommodating? I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments below. Thanks!

Three weeks have passed. It feels like an eternity. This weekend was the first full weekend I spent by myself in the house. It was hard, but I made it through without crying. Though I guess I can't say that yet being that there's still a few hours left. Still, I guess that's progress. I can't help but sigh a lot lately though. I sigh long, deep sighs, and sometimes afterwards I drop a quiet f-bomb. It's just how I feel. I can't help it.

I spent much of the time this weekend moving boxes, packing stuff, and rearranging. It wasn't easy. Sometimes you stumble across something that brings back a vivid memory. So it's easy to say there's been a lot of thinking going on. I wouldn't say I've enjoyed packing things up, but in some ways I guess it's been therapeutic. The house does feel more like mine now. Not quite completely, but it'll get there. There's still more to do.

One thing that I have noticed that has surprised me: wow, she has a lot of stuff! I didn't realize how much of what was here was hers. It's a good 2/3rds of what's here, at least. Once all of this stuff is out of my place, I'll have more room than I'll know what to do with. The closets are quickly emptying, as is the storage area in my garage. With all the moving, I guess I've kept my stuff fairly pared down. Whenever I leave this place, I'll have a much easier time of relocating.

The hardest part is when our stuff is intermixed. It means I have to open and go through all the stuff in a given box. That's probably the most emotional for me. I can easily grab a box of her stuff and move it, but when I have to go through all of it, it's like acknowledging reality. I've been avoiding it, honestly. I tend to set those boxes aside to be addressed at a later time. I figure I may be a bit stronger and able to handle it in a week. Right now, not as much.

On Friday, I decided to head to the furniture store. I found a couple of really good deals and will have a new couch and table delivered in a week. At that point, the downstairs should be almost all my things. There's only one item of furniture remaining after that: her dresser. All of her clothes are still in it. For some reason, I feel like packing up her clothing is a strange invasion of her privacy despite having put her clothing away after laundry countless times. I guess it's different now. I may just leave it all there and have her take care of it when she actually moves it all out. Her dresser is way too heavy for me to move by myself anyway. Plus, I know it's important to her. I'll let her take care of it.

I rent a two bedroom, two and a half bath condo. When we moved here, the plan was to have the extra bedroom be a video game room. I had built a gaming pc earlier in the year, and she was in the process of doing the same. The plan was to eventually have both of our gaming setups in the room so we could game together. She hadn't finished her machine by the time of the breakup. So, my computer was the only one in there. Now that everything has gone to crap, I've decided to move things around. The loft area that is in between the bedrooms is the perfect size for my desk. So I spent a bunch of time moving the desk between Saturday and Sunday. It's too big to fit through the door. So, I had to disassemble parts of it and reassemble it again in the loft. It was a big mess, but it's done now and looks really nice. Plus, it's warmer in the loft and has more light. I think it's a better fit.

It's occurred to me that now that the extra room will be empty, I could possibly take on a roommate. Each bedroom has a full bath attached. So that makes things easy. No worries about how to deal with shower times and privacy. I'd just have to find a new place to put the cat boxes, which isn't a big deal. Having a roommate might be a good thing. I'd feel less alone. It'd be nice to have someone to chat with...though that's in a good roommate situation. There's also the downsides. I don't want to have to deal with dirty dishes, messy people, and annoyances. It would help me save a bit of money though. Otherwise, I can find a bed and make it a real guest room. It would be nice to be able to offer hospitality to those that come to visit. Something to think about.

I'm happy to report that I'm getting out of the house here and there. Today I went to a meetup in West Des Moines. I met a bunch of new people, and will very likely go back. It was a bit scary getting there due to the weather. We had a bunch of snow come through, and the roads were icy. There were some nasty accidents that had happened, and there was one point that I had trouble stopping due to the ice. I probably shouldn't have gone out, but I made it to and from in one piece. It was fun. I enjoyed being around people instead of being holed up at home. I also have three things this week on my social calendar. I'll be heading out to have drinks with a few new friends on several nights as well as a party next weekend. That means fewer days alone, which is good.

It's still a struggle for me though, the day to day. I think about her almost all the time. I still get very sad throughout the day. The extremes aren't as bad as they were, but it's still hard. I still have moments when I realize that I won't experience x or y again. I think back on how we met, and how well we fit together. We really were two peas in a pod. It'll be very hard to find someone as amazing as she was.

One of my old friends was chatting with me this weekend, and I mentioned how I've never felt so alone. She asked me "Why do you feel you need someone?" and I realized her perspective was of someone that hasn't ever been in a long term relationship. Prior to my relationship with Jess, being alone was different. I felt alone, but not like I do now. Having someone in my life that I had such a close bond with; a person that I didn't think of as a separate person from me... It's a feeling like none other. I never used to understand why some of my friends would leave a long relationship and immediately jump into another. Now I get it. It's that feeling of emptiness that follows. I never would have understood anyone if they tried to describe this to me before Jess. Now I long for that void to be filled again. I know it'll happen, eventually...when I'm ready.

I truly look forward to the day that she isn't the only thing I write about and think about. Until then, I miss her. I miss her so much.

"Why am I the one always packing up my stuff?" - Fun.

I've decided that it's time to start taking this place I reside in for myself. My ex's new place doesn't open up until January 1st. So in the meantime, all of her things are still here in my place. This poses a bit of a problem because it's all a fresh reminder of everything. So, I've started to de-ex my house. I have plenty of room in the garage now that there's only one car parked there. So I've started stacking anything that isn't affected by colder temperatures out there. I figure then I only have to see all of it when I enter or leave the garage. It won't be so bad. I've also started moving around some things so it doesn't quite resemble the same configuration as it did when she was here.

It's a good, but difficult thing to do. As I move her stuff around or pack it into a box, I think about all the memories we shared with those items. Tonight I've taken a break from it, but last night I felt that familiar tug of heartache the entire time I was moving stuff around. I can't say that I'm enjoying it. It's funny though. When she and I first moved in together, I was worried about not having enough space and losing that time alone that I was all too familiar and comfortable with. Now I'm afraid of the empty space in the house and all the time alone.

"How can you just walk away from me, when all I can do is watch you leave, Cos we've shared the laughter and the pain and even shared the tears. You're the only one who really knew me at all." - Phil Collins

Recently, Jess and I had started watching the YouTube show SourceFed. I've tried to watch it since the breakup, but I can't enjoy it like I used to. There's a feel that I get when I watch it, and it takes away from my ability to enjoy it. Same goes for TableTop, Destructoid, Rev3Games, and just about anything else we watched or did together. I caught myself saying "Bitches" the other day, which is a phrase I picked up for her to be used in place of "Dammit". That also gave me a weird feel. Three years ago, I shared my first ever drink of alcohol with her, and I'll probably think of her every time I have a drink because of that. I wonder if I'll ever be able to enjoy those things again in the same way.

She emailed me earlier this week, and it was very friendly. She shared a bit about her new place and whatnot. I was happy to hear from her, but at the same time, I'm caught. I have this feeling of still wanting her in my life mixed with a "she can't have it both ways" mindset. That part of me that's angry and hurt is fighting with the part that's still clinging on to the idea of her and I being together. I'm doing my best to just be cordial and ignore both of those pulls. I'm just not sure how to reconcile how I feel yet.

"But if my silence made you leave, then that would be my worst mistake. So I will share this room with you, and you can have this heart to break." - Billy Joel

What I can say is that the false hope has faded. I know she's not coming back. Well, let me rephrase that. If she did come back, it would be a huge surprise. I don't expect it nor do I think it's realistic to even wish for it. If there was any doubt in her mind about us, she wouldn't have broken up with me. It sucks, but that's the reality. There's no sense in my trying to convince myself otherwise, nor is it healthy.

I'm finding myself with questions though. In particular, I know that relationships and decisions don't happen in a vacuum. When a relationship like this ends, it's not just one person's fault. Both are responsible in some way. Her feelings changed, but that doesn't just happen. So, I'm left wondering what did I do, consciously or not, that caused her to be less attracted to me? I'd like to know, if even just for closure and personal growth. It hurts knowing that I very likely did something somehow to affect her feelings though.

"So come and get me, Let me get in that sinking feeling that says my heart is on an all time low. So don't expect me to behave perfectly and wear that sunny smile. My guess is I'm in for a cloudy and overcast"  - Freddie Mercury

Depression can be addictive. I've dealt with it many times throughout my life. I'm very familiar with the feeling and know that in some ways it can be comforting. It's like a warm, sad blanket that wraps around your body. It's easy to get stuck in it. I'm hoping that doesn't happen this time. It's probably a good sign that I'm sick of crying, but that doesn't stop it from happening. I cried after moving some of her stuff around yesterday. I cried in front of my doctor today. I cried listening to music at work. It sneaks up on me now. I'm doing fine, and then bam...tears. Plus, I feel like a jerk by leaning on some friends so much. I'm thankful they're there, but I don't want to burden them with my emotional crap either.

I've definitely noticed that time moves much slower now than it did. Time flies when you're having fun, and I'm definitely not having fun right now. I'm also a lot quieter. I've noticed that I keep to myself more. I'm guessing that's natural given what I'm feeling, but I'm pretty sure my new teammates think I'm a bit boring and antisocial. I'm not intending to be that way, but I can't help it right now.

As per usual, thanks to all my friends for reading this, for chatting with me, and for being there for me through this time. It really does help. I feel less alone when you guys comment, message, call, or what have you.  It means a lot that you would take time out of your lives to do so.  I am eternally grateful.

"When somebody loved me, everything was beautiful. Every hour we spent together lives within my heart. When she loved me." - Sarah McLachlan (song by Randy Newman)