#436: The Empty Room, Part 3

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Even looking back at this blog makes me nostalgic. I mention her everywhere. It’s impossible not to know who I’m talking about, or what this is about, if you have read this blog before. I used to think that love was impervious, invincible, that we were destined to be together. That there was nothing that could divide us or stand between what we had. I felt like our life was perfect, and that we had everything good going for us, but I guess that was wrong. I feel so cynical now, like I need to just give up on ever being that lucky again. I got so lucky with her. I feel like I didn’t deserve her or her kindness.

What’s going to happen to this blog? Where will things go from here?

I considered stopping this entirely, just giving up and saying that this was enough. That #436 is the last one, and from here on out I’m just reverting this blog back to a sporadic place for my various attempts at poetry and creative writing. I’ve thought about that a lot, and I guess I’m still considering it. So many of these blog entries are just memories of a forgotten time. I know I have to keep my head up, and I know I need to make an effort to make new memories with the things we used to do together, but this blog feels tainted, corrupted in a way. Like my attempts at making this work without her will always feel half-hearted at best.

Was this all just an accident that lasted too long? Was this all just a mistake? Do I really deserve this? I mean, I know I do, and I know it’s my fault, and I know I did wrong even though she won’t agree to that.

#435: The Empty Room, Part 2

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It feels like I hit a big reset button on things, like I went back in time to an era I felt was so far away by this point, like I had graduated from it. I felt mature enough to live on my own, capable enough to do this all by myself. But I guess I depended on her too much. I feel terrible about it, after all, because I know in retrospect that it’s true, that I made the mistake of putting my trust too strongly into something that could break so easily.

I feel somewhat betrayed, like we had agreed to this after all months and months before. To bring up money as something that divided us, to have that as a factor, it broke my heart. I know that my decision to leave my Milford job had a ripple effect on the rest of our lives, and I know it divided us in ways I wish it didn’t, but I never expected it would lead to this. If only I had stayed there, maybe we’d still be together. Maybe this wouldn’t fall on my shoulders as heavily. Maybe that’s how it would be, and maybe it wouldn’t be like this. I wonder if it would’ve been worth it just to stick it out, I wonder if I made the right choice at all; even after she encouraged me to do what’s right for myself, it feels now like I didn’t make the right choice for us. I wish I chose us over myself, and I wish I didn’t feel so selfish about it in response. I keep thinking whether things would’ve ended up differently.

Watch the shadows cross the floor, we don’t live here any more.

I dread going back to that empty room. I dread every second of physical memory.

#401: The Dog

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Angus is such an important part of my life. I realized that recently when I went to the visit the apartment on Monday, after taking the day off of work to pick up some more of my things and some clothes for the week. I realized how much this dumb dog means to me, and how much I love him in spite of the fact that he causes us terror and unrest from time to time. He’s a spectacular boy, and I missed seeing his face around the apartment. I was worried I would never be able to see him again, or that things wouldn’t work out for us. I’m glad that that’s not the case, because I almost mourned the loss of that connection the most. You should never separate someone from their most beloved pet.

When it comes time, I plan on giving Angus a big hug. I don’t want to ever leave him again. He means too much to me.

Having a dog means being able to appreciate the little things. It means sticking up for the little man, no matter what, even when he’s a big butt and makes your life difficult from time to time. It means coming home to take him out in the afternoon even when you don’t need to, just because you’re worried about him and want to make sure he gets to pee when he needs to. You know his habits, you’re aware of how he acts when he’s alone for too long, and you want to make sure he’s alright. Angus is a special dog, and I don’t know what life would be like without him around. When he jumped up on me on Monday, I felt a special connection, I felt like I was about to be missing something.

#338: The Crossword

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Back in the day, when Alex and I first started dating, one of our best routines was hanging out on a Wednesday night and completing the Hamden newspaper’s weekly crossword puzzle together. I remember buying her a book of crossword puzzles back then, probably for a special occasion as one of our series of gifts, and we still have that book and plan on using it again tonight, hopefully. Being in touch with our former selves is a good way of rekindling past memories, and it brings character and nostalgia to our lives. I strongly support doing as many joint activities like that as you can with your partner as a way of building your relationship and making sure it has special attachments to certain things. Our mug collection, for example, has a lot attached to it and each individual mug could be its own blog post on this. Maybe one day I’ll do something like that… As a way of preserving their origins before we inevitably forget them.

Regardless, completing crosswords is romantic to us. I know that sounds super nerdy, and it is, but it’s the kind of activity we can do together that keeps our attention and uses our brains. It’s perfect for the two of us, and it allows us to collaborate and cooperate on an end goal: that is, completing the objective that is the crossword puzzle in front of us. Some puzzles are notoriously difficult and come down to the wire, where we end up having to look up a clue because we simply wouldn’t be able to figure it out with all the available hints and letters. In those moments, we don’t feel too much shame in completing the puzzle; it’s a matter of our knowledge being limited for the time being. That’s all.

#333: The Listener

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Here’s a picture of dog ears, because this post is going to be about the act of listening to other people with purpose.

Listening is an underrated, undervalued action. Listening proves that you’re paying attention, it proves that you care and are attentive to other people’s worries and concerns. Listening is underrated because people too often speak without thinking first, without taking into account what the other person is feeling. They speak and speak and nothing really makes sense because they’re not following the conversation intently or actually caring about the other person.

I learned to listen more than speak recently, thanks to a conversation I had with my girlfriend, and I feel incredibly grateful for that lesson. It’s not the same just talking over someone else and being condescending and rude about it; you have to actually demonstrate that you’re paying attention before the other person can engage in the conversation with you.

As an introvert, I sometimes listen too much without taking the turn to speak. I have the problem on both ends of the spectrum: talking too much and listening too much. Being capable of both ends does allow for me to see things from both sides. I get to realize what it’s like to be the recipient of them all. Being introverted means having limits to your talkativeness, depending on who you’re around or speaking with.

Being a listener is underrated, yes, but not every one is one. We’ve established that much already. How can we change that so that more people are willing to listen rather than speak? First of all, it involves emulating that practice in all things we do, even in small conversations between partners. It involves working tirelessly from top to bottom, making sure people are more patient and understanding with each other.

#327: The Kudos

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On Pocket Camp, a game I haven’t touched in awhile for whatever reason, I used to get kudos from people who visited my campsite and enjoyed my creations. Kudos was their way of expressing appreciation. Then again, there were also other ways of receiving kudos: sometimes Nintendo would host events where you’re asked to give kudos a certain amount of times to people on your friends list, so lots of people spam kudos and don’t really care what happens with it. They just do it to unlock the next set of rewards on their list of quests. I do it too when it’s available, just because I’d rather not sit down and waste my time.

Kudos is also an option on Archie of Our Own, an independently-run, non-profit organization that provides fans with an easy way to upload their stories on the internet. It’s a wonderful place full of people who have tons of great stories to share, and I love being able to share and give kudos to other people. Kudos is how you are validated on that site, and kudos is what allows you to see how many people liked what you wrote. It’s the currency of happiness on that website. Sometimes, when I feel especially down, I remember that people actually enjoyed some things that I wrote recently and are into them enough that they are willing to leave kudos for me. The fact that they’ve even read my work in the first place gives me joy, and I don’t know what to do with that feeling. It makes me happy to know that others appreciated what I did. Appreciation doesn’t come easily, but when working in a fandom, kudos and appreciation aren’t as scarce as they might appear to be. There are many options for giving and receiving love.

#318: The Sausage, Part 3

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I also realized recently that I haven’t written about Ango much on this blog since my last post, which was over a couple weeks ago. Since then, it’s been mostly video games and work and things like that, without much of a focus on what’s really important: the dogs and other pets in our lives.

We took Ango to the vet a few times recently, once to get him checked up and the other time so that he could get tested for heartworm again. He’s still showing light signs of heartworm in him, but that could just be from the test, and it likely is because he’s not showing any of the symptoms of having heartworm. He’s not lethargic or anything like that, not even close. This dog is a bundle of wild energy whenever anyone starts moving around.

For example, yesterday morning I woke up and walked out of the bedroom to find Ango panting at me from the couch. It had no discernible purpose to it, just that he felt like panting and needed to get something out of his system. He’s so funny and lovable that it’s impossible to stay angry at him for long, especially because he doesn’t hold grudges. He’s just a dog, after all, and he wants love more than anything else.

Being a dog owner has been a wonderful privilege and experience, though a bit on the expensive side, while we talk about going to the vet. The good thing is that we shouldn’t have to take him back in awhile; he’s good to go and doesn’t need anything else for at least a few months, I think. I always feel a bit worried before we go to the vet because of that. Who knows what they’ll say about him this time? Hopefully just good things.

#287: The Next Birthday

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Happy birthday, Alex! This is my message to you in celebration of you reaching the wonderful age of 25. You are officially a quarter of a century old, which means you are halfway to 50. Remember what it was like when you were born? Well imagine all that but again. That’s what it’ll be like to reach 50. There are so many wonderful years ahead of you, and I’m so lucky to be able to spend them with you. I hope you continue to have fantastic birthdays from here on out, and I will make sure to give you as many presents as are necessary in order to fulfill my side of the deal.

Even though you are a dingus from time to time, and sometimes lurch into dimbus territory when you feel so inclined, you are the smartest, most capable person I know, and I would trust no one else with so much of my life. There’s a reason I believe in you so whole-heartedly when you call about police reports, car maintenance, dentist appointments, and more. It’s because you’re not just my partner in crime, you’re my amazing professional and personal support system, and I wouldn’t be where I am today without you. That’s for a fact.

Now, this also happens to be the day that I go back to work, which is a bit of a bummer. It kind of puts a damper on the excitement going into this day, but on a positive note, at least it’s the weekend officially. I’ll be back to cherishing the weekends with you fairly soon, and I look forward to waking up and driving you to the train station whenever the next time arises.

Thank you for being a marvelous person both inside and out, and thank you for being so consistently patient and nice through hard times and simple times.

#241: The Second Sleep

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I get up in the morning when Alex works 10-6, so that I can drive her to the train station on time. It’s a lot easier than having her walk the whole way there, and plus I get to see her rather than not. It’s a positive no matter how you look at it. This tradition began around February or March, give or take, after I started my new job but before I realized it was convenient for me to drive her, too. Now that it’s summer vacation, I have no excuse not to drive her, and I agree. It just works out well, as a way to get me up earlier without inducing too much grogginess. Nothing wrong with waking up at 8am, right? Right?

I still get some anxiety driving, especially after the most recent incident, but it’s worth it so I can drive her to her destination on time. I sometimes miss these days, especially when Alex returns to working 9-5 or 8-4 instead. Those shifts are much too early for me to drive her, so I sleep instead.

But when I get home from driving Alex, I sometimes go back to sleep. It’s my second sleep, you could say. I like waking up early, but sometimes it’s necessary to go back to bed after having a long, long evening playing video games on the couch. Being a teacher during summer vacation means that, after all. There’s nothing better than the feeling of going to bed a second time, waking up a second time, and feeling totally, completely refreshed all over again. Who doesn’t want that?

My second sleeps are reserved for the days when Alex works 10-6, but I revel in them. It’s another great bonus of her working those days, and even though it might seem the same as just sleeping the extra hours, it’s not.

#231: The Real Draft

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No, not using playing cards this time. Still playing Magic: the Gathering, just like normal. Playing Magic is a blast, but being able to draft in person is completely different from drafting elsewhere. It’s like night and day; on the one hand, drafting online is fast, easy, and you can pick up and stop whenever you want, but on the other hand, drafting in person allows you to counter each other’s strategies in a way that’s not possible online, while drafting against computers. There’s competition in drafting against each other, and although I don’t exactly have a set plan in drafting to make matters easy, I love being able to think through my picks in that way. Plus, you never know what cards people are going to play against you when you finally get to play against them. You might have a vague idea, but there’s no way to completely predict a person’s deck, given the randomness and complexity of drafting a limited set with 254 possible cards inside. It makes drafting so much more of a mental exercise.

Earlier today, while talking about something completely different, I referred to Magic: the Gathering as “mental exercise” to Alex (as a way to persuade her to let us play magic before going to the gym, which she wasn’t a fan of, unfortunately). I definitely think it’s like that; apparently, it’s one of the most complicated games ever created, and I can understand why. The sheer number of cards and mechanics and keywords and interlocking plays is maddening and frankly impossible to keep track of entirely. You have to memorize so much in order to truly call yourself a master of magic, or a judge, in other people’s cases. Being a judge would be an interesting job for someone to have, as a volunteer exercise of course.