It's been a while. If I ignore the short stub of the update on the interview from January of 2013, it's been almost 2 and a half years since I posted anything. If there's anything I've learned over the years, it's that I need emotional outlets. This blog has served as that outlet during various periods throughout my life, often times during great loneliness and difficult struggles. Over the past few years, my life has been full and I've had a partner to be my emotional outlet. So I didn't post here, because I felt like this blog wasn't necessary for me anymore. As it happens, I just entered another of those difficult times that brings me back to needing the emotional outlet again. I've been with a beautiful, wonderful, and amazing person for 3 and a half years, and that relationship came to a very abrupt end this past weekend.

I'm devastated. I'm destroyed. I can barely function. I've never felt so much pain in my life. All my friends have been telling me how I'm the strongest person they know, but I don't feel that way at all. I'm struggling, and I have no idea how to move forward with my life. I feel so very alone and isolated now. I plan to take time each day, as I grieve and heal from this massive hole in my very being right now, to write my experiences and thoughts down.

Before I move forward though, I should move backwards. There's a lot that hasn't been shared about the past few years of my life, and it helps to bring you up to speed. Jess and I had a wonderful relationship. We met back in March of 2010. We moved in together back in 2011 when she got a job in Menomonie, Wisconsin at the University of Wisconsin - Stout. We've lived together ever since. After that first year, change was in the air for Jess' job. She is an academic, and academics go where the jobs are. I'm a software and web developer. My skills are more flexible. I got a piece of advice years ago from my good friend Audrey Fessler. She told me that if the situation arose in which the person I love and I could potentially have to live apart from each other, we should take every opportunity to avoid that. I took that advice to heart and I followed Jess wherever she went. That road took us from Eau Claire, Wisconsin to El Paso, Texas.

We bought a house there together. Jess' job wasn't going to be permanent, but it would be for at least 3 years. We figured in that time, we could improve the house and sell it by the time we left the area. That plan fell by the wayside when we found out that one of her colleague's was accepting a position at Iowa State University. He asked her if she wanted to come with and continue doing research together. We thought about it for a good long while, but eventually we decided that it was a good idea. You see, She had proposed to me back in 2011. We could finally get married.

We tried to sell our house, which didn't go that well since we hadn't built up much of any equity yet. It was very stressful. In the end, we ended up going with a property management service to get the place rented. It took several months to find a tenant, but eventually we got there. So, one year after we moved to El Paso, we headed for Des Moines. With the move, I ended up switching jobs. I had been working from home while we were in El Paso, and while that sounds awesome, it was lonely. Eventually we started settling in to our new life here in Iowa.

That's a very brief description of the last few years of my life. I can very easily say they were the best times of my life. This Saturday at 1:00 saw the end of that. I had just gotten off the phone with my folks. That's when Jess told me we needed to have an awkward conversation, and that's never a great thing to hear. As the conversation began, it was becoming more clear that it was my worst fear coming to life. It was the talk...the breakup talk. At first, I thought maybe she just wanted to get something off her chest. I was completely blindsided when she said that she wanted to move on. It felt like someone knocked the wind out of me. I never saw anything like this coming. No signs had been given that anything was wrong. She never said anything. It was very...very hard to hear.

After the talk, I understandably got emotional. When it got to be too much, I had to leave. I got in my car and drove off and started bawling in the car. I found myself just yelling in emotional pain, screaming "NO NO NO NO THIS ISN'T REAL!!" and trying to see as tears streamed down my face.  I don't think I was in control of what I was even saying. The emotions were that strong. After I drove for a while, I tweeted that my world had ended, and several folks were reaching out to me to support me. I didn't have any destination in mind. I was just driving. I eventually stopped in a parking lot and cried. After a while, I calmed down a bit. She and I eventually started texting, and I decided to come back home so we could talk a bit more. Once I got home, I asked a lot of questions, and there were more tears from the both of us. Eventually it got to be about 7:00 and I decided to go to bed early in the hopes that I could sleep the nightmare away. That didn't work well at all. Jess slept on the couch. I should add, I didn't eat anything after breakfast on Saturday. I just couldn't.

The truth is that she still loves me, but her attraction to me has apparently faded in the past several months. And while attractions and interest in intimacy are cyclical in a relationship, for her, it seems more than that. She thinks of me as her best friend. She says I'm wonderful and an amazing person. However, now she thinks of me more like a sister...which is something you never want to hear in a relationship. My feelings for her had only grown stronger recently, which makes the pain of heartbreak even more difficult.

Over the course of the weekend, I felt as if I was in the movie "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" where memories were starting to vanish, only it wasn't memories, it was my future. All the plans starting to fade away and leave emptiness in their wake. We had so many exciting plans that we had discussed, like going to San Diego Comic Con together, Disneyworld, GDC, making video games together, settling down somewhere, eventually building a house and enjoying our lives. All of that vanished leaving me wondering where to go and what to do with my life now.

Sunday was rough. In the morning, I came downstairs and had coffee with her, but it was through tears. We talked a little, but there was a lot of staring into nothing and silence. We were both pretty numb. I eventually decided to leave and try to distract myself. That lasted for a few hours before I ran out of ideas and came home again. At this point, I was drained and numb. Jess and I chatted more and we both went in and out of emotional states. In the end, I decided that I was going to treat the night as my last night with her. We had dinner and had a drink together. It was the fleeting calm in the storm...a mirage of happiness before the end. This morning, as I left for work, I said goodbye knowing that she would be gone by the time I came home.

Today she left. As much as the emotional part of would love for her to stay here in the same place, the rational part of me knows that's not a good idea. We had discussed that one of us would have to find a place.  So, with that, she's staying at the house of one of her colleague's while she finds a place to live. This is my first night in this place alone. It doesn't feel like she's really gone. It feels like she left for the week to visit her family or went to a conference. I imagine as the days pass, that feeling will fade. While I was at work today, I had many pangs. Little thoughts kept popping up, like "Christmas is just around the corner" only to a moment later remember that I would be alone this holiday season. I would remember that I'd likely never see her family again. I won't get to watch movies with her anymore or play video games alongside her anymore. Just little things that would pop up and sting. Thankfully my work kept me distracted and numb throughout the day.

Now I'm sitting in this empty house, just me and the kitties. It's very quiet, and it feels very lonely and depressing. I used to tell Jess that when we were at stores walking around, and she wandered off, I'd sometimes, just for fun, toy with the idea that she was actually not real and that I had somehow made her up entirely. In that land of make believe, everyone was just all elaborately playing along with my delusion. Of course, she'd come back around the corner and all would be right with the world. Now, I will probably toy with that idea again, only this time, the delusion will be that she is still in my life. I find it weird that a small part of irrational me is like "Maybe it's all just a practical joke gone too far," but when I think through the reality of that, I know it would be completely preposterous.

I know I'm going through denial right now. There's a part of my brain trying to protect me that has me convinced this is temporary, and that she'll be back soon. The rational part is telling me that's not true. I still hold out hope that she'll change her mind. Even though she's hurt me, I'd still welcome her back with no hesitation. I just wonder if time apart will see another change of heart. In the meantime, I'm just trying to make it through each hour. I don't remember how to live alone anymore. That'll take some adjusting.

To add insult to injury, I know absolutely no one in Iowa other than my coworkers. I have a huge support group in other parts of the country. It only adds to the feeling of isolation. To all that have offered support and kind words to me via the interwebs, thank you. You really have helped me feel loved.

I will end my thoughts here for now. More to come in the next days. If you're read this far, thanks for sticking through.

Hey everyone,  Long time, no see! I just wanted to share that I was recently interviewed as a Transgender Icon for Monika Kowalska's blog.  You can find the interview here.

Thanks, Monika!

I recorded some video today of my kitties after I bought a compressed ball of catnip for them.

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It's been an interesting time since I've written anything of consequence in my blog. It sure seems like life keeps throwing things at me, and I have to either catch or dodge them without getting smacked in the face. I've been doing a little of the catching and a little dodging. But let me tell you...whomever is throwing these things has really good aim, because they keep smacking me in the face.

Here's a quick update of what's been going on with me over the past year. I obviously met Jessica, the most wonderful person in my life. When she's with me, everything is right with the world. I feel whole. When she's away, which is most of the time, it's very difficult. I had the pleasure of spending a month last summer with her, a few days in the fall, Thanksgiving, and from Christmas all the way through almost the end of January. Unfortunately, I won't really get to see her much until summer.

Right now she has a visiting professor position at St. Lawrence University, which is located in far upstate New York. It's not an easy place to get to, and from where I live, it's about 23 hours of driving. Even flying isn't so convenient because of where the airports are. So that's why we don't see each other often. Her position there ends at the end of this Spring semester. After that, she'll be moving. We have no idea where she'll be next. Our only hope is that she'll be closer.

I got to meet her family over Christmas, and they're all wonderful. I spent a week in Arkansas where I felt like I was a little kid again. Her family treated me to a Christmas like I haven't seen in probably 10 years. I got more gifts from them than I was ready for. I'm sure it's the first visit of many to come. I couldn't help but think of Jessica's sister, Jodi and her family when the Superbowl was going on. Strangely...they're big Packers fans. It was like a little piece of home while I was down there.

The trip down there was a lot of fun, but it wasn't without its stresses. Right before heading down to visit, my kitty, Meat, had an emergency. He had a urinary blockage that ended up requiring an extended stay at the vet. He went in two days before my flight left and had to stay until after I was in Arkansas. I had to arrange for a person to pick him up and to look after him. My friend, Allison, was so wonderful. I still need to do something for her since she helped me out so much. Unfortunately, while he was recovering at home, it appeared he was blocked again. I ended up having to call and arrange for another emergency vet visit. Can you believe my landlord came and took him to the vet? She's such a nice lady! Anyway, the good news is that he wasn't blocked...just using the litter a lot more. It was not an easy...or cheap...experience for all parties involved.

Prior to that vet visit, Meat had other problems. Right after I moved (I'll get to that), Meat got an eye infection. I got that treated. Then he got a bladder infection. Got that treated too. While he was in the vet, he caught an upper respiratory infection. So he was in bad shape. Since September, Meat has cost me about $600 in trips to the vet. It really blew my budget, but he's doing fine now. He's been on his special diet for almost two full months now, and no problems at all. I think he'll finally be ok.

Speaking of blowing budgets...I had quite the situation with my flight to Arkansas. A few weeks prior to my flight, I had asked Chris if he would drive me to the airport on the day my flight left. He happily agreed. We had talked about my flight a week prior and a couple of days prior as well. When the Thursday before Christmas arrived, I was ready to go. I called Chris periodically throughout the morning and was confused why his phone went straight to voicemail. It came to about noon, and I started to panic. I needed to leave by 1:00 to get to the airport on time. I decided to drive out to Chris' place to find him. When I got there, his house was dark. By this time I was hyperventilating and freaking out. I decided to call his parents to see if they knew where he was. They live in Sheboygan, WI, which is on the opposite side of the state from me. When I called, Chris answered the phone. I lost it, screamed at him and hung up.

I will admit that this wasn't one of my best moments. I have never in my life been that mad at someone. I was so emotional, I wasn't really thinking rational. If I had, I would have realized all the options I had before me. Some really great friends live two doors down from Chris. They would have hopped in the car right then to help me get to the airport. I also have an uncle that works for the airlines in Minneapolis that would have had options too. Instead, I thought to myself that if I didn't leave right then, I wouldn't make it. So I drove myself the hour and a half to the Minneapolis Airport. MSP has no long term parking. It's 18 dollars a day to park if you use your credit card, and about twice that if you don't. I had no choice. I got there on time and I made my flight. Unfortunately, I had no room in my budget for $126 dollars in parking. I ended up getting hit with overdraft fees that pushed the final tally into the $200 plus range. It was not good.

I eventually forgave Chris. We're on speaking terms again, but it took me over a month before I was able to really talk to him. He never offered to pay my parking fees. He hasn't even apologized without making excuses. I don't really care anymore though. As much as I would appreciate the apology, I know he feels bad about what happens. We all make mistakes. I certainly have made my share.

Earlier I mentioned that I moved. I did that in September. A lot of things happened that lead up to that decision. I think the biggest one was what happened with Josh. For the sake of Josh's privacy, I'll just say that what happened involved the police. After that incident, things really changed in the house. It was uncomfortable, and it was by no means as much fun as it once was. My friendship with Chris was on the rocks a bit as well. Something had changed within me.

I was on this self improvement kick for a while. Think it was a great thing for me to acknowledge my faults. I know that I'm not perfect, and I'll never be. When it comes to my relationship with Chris, I always told myself that any issue that came up was my fault. I accepted the blame willingly because I truly thought it was my fault. I felt that since I was trying to improve myself, I needed to accept that maybe I was just not being patient enough or that I was just being too picky. Things changed when my girlfriend was visiting for a number of weeks. She said to me that while I told her I was overly critical of others, she had never seen me be that way. She had seen nothing more than patience, and added that I really put up with a lot. I was a little taken aback. So I talked to a few others about it and they agreed with my girlfriend. I really couldn't believe it.

It was as if my eyes were reopened. I suddenly realized what I had been doing, and that's when I knew I was going to have to get my own place. From that day forward, I found my patience waning, and it got harder to be at the house. Once I found an affordable place, I packed up and now I'm living in a comfortable two bedroom duplex. Aside from the pain of the electric bill (electric baseboard heat), I really like it here. One of the really nice benefits, until recently, was that I'm significantly closer to work. My commute is under ten minutes now. I like it.

Speaking of work, things have changed there. Namely, I got promoted. My former boss moved on to a new job. I interviewed and got the lead developer position. I now am responsible for the development team and a number of other things. It's a lot more than I expected it to be. I really enjoy the challenge, but it takes a lot out of me when it comes to energy after work. Sometimes I end up having to stay late to keep up.

Because of that, I haven't been going to fencing as much. Fencing is still a lot of fun, but that's changed as well too. There are some people that go to fencing that make me rather uncomfortable. There's a growing contingent of people that are really "Christian". I put them in quotes because they don't embody Christ in any way. They look at me with judgemental eyes, they don't really talk to me, and they over all just make fencing kind of a drag. One of the people has a bit of an ego problem too. Not to mention...he scares me. He seems so reserved, but then on the fencing field, he can be so overly aggressive that it's not safe. I've seen him tackle people, hit people with his hilt, and literally throw himself at them. Not to mention, he doesn't call his shots, which is really dishonorable. A lot of people don't like fighting him because of it. He's painted his mask with a cross on it. It makes him look like some sort of templar knight in the crusades. I want to tell him that the crusades were nothing to be proud of and that the Knights Templar weren't good role models, but I doubt he'd listen or want to hear it. Anyway, I'm not sure how much I'll be going to fencing because of it. I may have my own sub group of people that meet to fence instead. I'd rather learn with a group of people that make it fun and keep it safe. Otherwise, why go?

The other outside of work thing that has truly suffered is the community center. I haven't been able to do much of anything for the center since November. I just don't have the energy. Not to mention the center has never really been a positive stressor for me. I put a lot of my energy into the center last spring, summer, and fall. Unfortunately, I feel like nothing came out of all that energy in the end. I would love it if the Chippewa Valley had an active and vibrant community center, but I can't give it to them anymore. I'm spent.

Due to all that energy being gone, I haven't really been able to do much of anything when it comes to personal projects. For a time, I felt like when I was home from work, I needed to work hard at relaxing because if I didn't relax well enough, I'd get burnt out faster. That attitude just added more stress. Eventually I just succumbed to escapism. I've watched a lot of TV and played a lot of video games just to not have to worry about everything else.

It seemed like every month was something new. Something happened that ended up costing me a couple hundred dollars or more. That forced me to not be able to save anything and had me freaking out about making it to the end of the month in the black. Let me tell you, I've gotten very frugal in the past year because of that. I'm finally in a spot where I have some money left over. Right now I'm in a place where I feel relaxed about money. While I know it's only sure is a nice breath of fresh air.

One thing I didn't mention...last fall my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. The good news is that they found it very early. She was able to just get a lumpectomy, which was successful. The treatment and recovery was rather short. She's fine, all healed, and back to normal. I'm amazed at how smoothly things went after she was diagnosed. It just goes to show the benefits of regular mammograms.

Well, that's quite the catch up. There were a few other things that happened last year. I saw the Blue Angels and took some cool photos, took my girlfriend to Six Flags, broke a tooth, got new glasses...I could keep going, but I think I'll save those for another time. Hopefully now that I've caught up, you'll see me post more.

Until then...happy weekend!

Last year's resolutions were as follows:

  1. Blog more than twice a month on my personal blog.  My posts have gotten way too long and I need to break them up.
  2. Save more.  I don’t put much money into savings, and when I do, I need to make sure I don’t touch it.  That is a big goal for this year
  3. Pay off all non-federal and non-debt consolidation debt.  That includes furniture and my non-government loan.  Less monthly bills = a happy Jess
  4. Take a vacation somewhere that’s not a staycation.  I haven’t gone anywhere on a trip for years.  I need to get away.
  5. Get into better shape.  I sit all day at work and sit when I get home.  I need to take up a sport or something that’ll get me into shape regularly.
  6. Go on more dates – let’s face it…I’m not very active in the love arena.  I never have been.  It’s time I do something about that.
  7. Dedicate time weekly to doing research / writing for I want to give back to my community more.  I’ve been lazy, and it’s time I get back to the real reason I’m on this planet.
  8. Learn how to do something with my hair. I suck at doing hair.  I can dry my  hair, brush it, put it up, and that’s it.  I want to learn more than that.
  9. Continue working on  my faults. I know this one isn’t exactly measurable, but it’s definitely a good thing for me.  I’ve come a long way in the last year, and I want to continue with that personal growth.
  10. Explore my own spirituality. I haven’t touched my spiritual side in a long time.  I feel a longing to be connected again, and I really should spend time with it.  This is another not as measurable one, but I think it’s also an important one.

Just like last year, let's go through them one by one and see how we did.

Number 1 was a total failure.  I wrote a grand total of 7 posts last year.  Not incredibly impressive, huh?  I managed to get more busy than your mom in an ugly sweater store this past year.  My personal and professional life really took over, and my free time was absorbed with sleep, food, and the occasional TV show.  Hopefully this year will be less stressful.

Number 2 was another fail.  I literally ended the year with a negative balance and no savings account.  On the plus side, I have gotten incredibly frugal and really don't spend money on things unless I absolutely have to.  Things just keep coming up and soaking up all my extra money.

With number 3, I can report some success.  My furniture is completely paid off and was back towards the beginning of last year.  The non-federal debt will probably be a while, but it's not a huge amount.  So, it's not as much of a stressor.

Finally, a success! In fact number 4 just happened.  I took a vacation over Christmas and traveled down to Arkansas to spend it with my girlfriend and her family.  It was a wonderful time (aside from driving to the airport).

Number 5 is a success.  I started regularly going to fencing again.  In fact, fencing got so popular that it moved to twice a week.  So for 2 to 3 hours, twice a week, I got a full body workout.  I really enjoyed it and hope to continue.

I have easily made number 6 a success too.  In fact, my lovely girlfriend is sitting next to me on the couch as a write this.  Not only have I gone on more dates this year, but I've gone on quite long dates.  My first date with Jess was over a week long.  Right now, we're on a 4 week long date.  I hope they get to the point of being so long that the date just never ends. (Jess justs read that and said "Awwwwwwww").  We're so cute that people are overwhelmed and feel like they might vomit from the cuteness.  "NO!!! It's too much cute!!! Hghgmghghg!!"

I think we can easily say number 7 was a huge fail. I'll just leave it at that.

Number 8 wasn't much of a success.  I am just too lazy. I'd like to do more with my hair, but why don't I focus on the talents I already avoiding blogging.

Now we come to one that's interesting.  I've come a long way with working on my faults.  In fact, I actually came to realize this year that I've been pretty hard on myself.  After talking with some close friends and family, I got a bit of perspective that made me feel a lot better about who I am.  I can easily say I'm more aware of who I am and how I act around others.  I know that I will treat people with respect.  I'm not as critical of others as I may have thought I was.  So I guess I can call number 9 a success.

Lastly, number 10 was not really something I put a lot of time into.  I don't think it matters to me all that much anymore.  I'm ok with that.  I think if I feel the need for a more spiritual side in the future, I will follow that push then.  For right now, I'll go with the flow.

2011 New Years Resolutions

This year I think I'll aim for measurable and reachable goals.

  1. Write more than 7 blog posts. Since I managed a whole 7 last year, I should be able to at least hit 8 this year.
  2. Spend more time on personal projects. I've been interested in everything from new web projects to metal working.  I haven't spent a lick of time on any of it.  Time to stop talking and start doing.
  3. Reduce my stress level.  I take on too much.  I need to learn to say no to things.  I need to cut back on stuff that I volunteer to do and enjoy my personal time more.  Right now I'm so stressed that I am starting to stress that I don't relax well enough.  That's bad.
  4. Create a viable secondary income. I'm a talented girl.  I have a ton of ideas, and one of them should at least be able to make me some money on the side.  Time to make it happen.
  5. Open and have some money in a savings account by year end. I don't care if it's 5 dollars, I want money in a savings account.
  6. Buy some new clothes. I know I just wrote about saving money, but I could really use a wardrobe refresh.
  7. Have less unexpected and expensive emergencies. I know this is out of my control, but I truly hope that there are no more urinary obstructions with my cat, glasses breaking unexpectedly, and so on.
  8. Do something with my photography. I take a lot of photos and they go nowhere.  I have a spacious Picasa account, and its time I use it.
  9. Create a short film. I've been meaning to do some creative video work for a long time, and it's high time I actually follow through.
  10. Be Happy. I am happy now.  So, this one should be easy.  I just think it's important to stay happy.

We'll see how things go this year!  Stay tuned in about 8 posts for the follow up. ;)

Happy 2011 everyone!