Changing Patterns

“You look at where you’re going and where you are and it never makes sense, but then you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” 
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

I saw more ups and downs in 2017 than I have in any other year of my adult life. There are so many moments I enjoyed, however short lived they were. But the moments that shaped me this year are ones that, upon reflection, are littered with mistakes and loss.

The result? I lost my way professionally, romantically, and personally.

I used to have drive and ambition. I used to have something prove. I don’t know how or why I lost all of that; I fell into a lull and became content with what my life became. I didn’t try to grow and push myself. I just kept on making the same mistakes that made me feel that way to begin with. As Mr. Pirsig says in the quote above, “you look back at where you’ve been and a pattern seems to emerge.” For me, those patterns were self-destructive.

Next year, I just want to be different. I want to leave the things behind the best I can and create new experiences that help get me moving forward again, help me grow, and help me learn to love myself again.

For my own benefit, I want to list my goals for 2018:

  • Focus: You blindly skated through 2017, which led to many of the mistakes you made. Take a second and create set small goals for yourself to accomplish for that day, week, or month. Make sure you’re doing this at both of your jobs, too. There’s an opportunity at your fingertips that can help you the rest of your life. Take. Advantage. You. Idiot.
  • Reflect: Every so often, check yourself. What have you done lately? How have you improved? What do you need to be better at? Who do you need to call?
  • Create: You keep saying you’ll play drums again, but have shrugged off requests to do so. When you’re ready, go play, even if it’s not as serious as your last go with a band. You also keep thinking about a camera. Fucking buy one.
  • See*: Go places. Do things. Take that camera you bought and see something new. Make sure you don’t live through a lens, though. Experience shit. Also, take Olive on cool hikes and day trips. Let her see the world.
  • Love: First, take care of yourself. That means eat well, exercise regularly, and read. You have a whole bookshelf of books you’ve yet to touch. Stop watching so much TV and read. Second, stay in contact with people. You’ve always been bad at this, it’s time to change that – not very hard to send a text or make a phone call. Third, while you shouldn’t be afraid of opening up to people, make sure you’re giving your energy to people who deserve it. Be a little more selective with who you surround yourself with and what you tell them. But, when you do choose, make sure you give them your attention.
  • Save: Even though you want to see and do things, make sure you stick to your budget. Save some dough so you can make the best of those experiences.

*See/do as many of these places as possible in 2018

  • Vancouver
  • Erie Canal Bike Trip
  • Hockey Hall of Fame – Toronto
  • Adirondacks
  • Vermont
  • Southern Tier Brewery
  • Colorado (Denver?)
  • Snowboard

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I have this pair of jeans I recently patched up that I’ve had for a long time. It’s not that I couldn’t go out and get a new pair, but old stuff has a story.  This pair of Levi’s has been with (on?) me through a lot, including an up and down 2017.

It was a year of fun and firsts as well as trials and tribulations. A year of moving forward and remembering there’s still a lot I need to change about myself. I spent a lot of time reflecting after big moments and hard times, of which there were many. I tried my best to be present when I recognized there was something to remember.  Despite that frame of mind, sometimes I wasn’t present enough to realize I needed to slow down and not let my emotions get the best of me, an unfortunate occurrence in my life.

If I have one goal in 2018, it’s to do more than patch up the holes in my life. I want to spend time to fix things in all aspects of my life. I recognize this will take time, and I don’t have any illusions that I will sit down on Christmas Eve next year and just be a better person. There are mistakes I know I can’t un-do and apologies I can’t give. But, what I can do is start to forgive myself and be self-aware enough not to continue to make the same mistakes.

Maybe, in these faded, patched up Levi’s, I can grow into a better version of me.

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Letting Go For Good

I’ll preface this post with where I work because I think it will put all of this in perspective. I work at a museum, and though I don’t work with objects every day, I feel that’s important to mention.

With that, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that I keep things around a little longer than I should; not everything, mostly photos, cards, and other little things. Every once in a while when I’m looking for some document or file, I sit and look through the cards from family members over the years, browse photos, and just be plain old nostalgic about stuff. Nine times out of ten this is a harmless activity and even leads to me throwing some things away that I felt the need to keep for one reason or another who knows how long ago. That other time, though, is rough.

Today, I started thinking about my ex, which I’ve been doing more lately for some reason. I think it’s because we haven’t talked in exactly a year. When she moved out, I did my best to change our apartment around to make it my own, throw some stuff out I didn’t want, and try to rebuild. But, there were some things – cards, photos, yada yada – that I wasn’t ready to let go. I took them all and put them into this kitchen cabinet I never use. Every so often, I’d remember they were there and I’d read through them, get sad,  shake my head, and put them back.

This time was different.

I sent my good friend a text and asked him, “what the hell am I supposed to do with these things? Is it bad that I still have them?” He responded with this,

“She doesn’t miss them and they’re not serving you any good purpose.”

That hit hard, but it was what I needed to hear.

There were all sorts of cards from big moments in my life, all from my early 20s. Our 7th-month-aversary, when I moved in with her after undergrad, when I got my first job, my 25th birthday, every Valentines Day – it was all there. As a historian and museum employee, I felt these were important milestones in my life that I wanted to remember. Another person’s perspective on critical moments as I was growing into the piece of shit man I am today. I’m not even sure she knew I kept them and how important they were to me. (Spoiler alert – that was the problem.)

So, as part of my aforementioned routine of looking through old stuff and being nostalgic, I started a pile of things I was going to throw away. When I was done, I went to that cabinet in the kitchen and threw them on the pile, then put it all in the garbage.

If I’m being honest, it hurts. I read through them one last time, so all those words are fresh in my head, even the ones from years ago. It hurts because I’m the one who made her leave. It hurts because I know she has those feelings for someone else. The only saving grace here is that there’s someone else who feels that way about her and probably does a better job than I did at letting her know.

There’s a song by Seahaven (video below), that puts my feelings together pretty perfectly,

“I don’t even want you back.
No, I would never want to risk something like that.
‘Cause I lost faith in myself,
when I turned away from the one
with the longest stretch of embracing arms to hold, to hold me.”

This past year was tough. I went through another tough “break up” getting let go from my band and work continues to be a drain on me mentally and emotionally. I’ve been trying to make some changes happen lately, and it’s felt good. I keep thinking about what else I can do to feel better. This was definitely one of those things, though I think it may take a while for me to feel the benefits.

Here’s to healing, one way or another.

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When I think about my life, I consider myself really lucky. I’ve worked hard to get to where I am, but there have been a lot of people that helped me to pave this path I’m on. There have also been a number of serendipitous moments that I could have never planned even if I tried, be it in my professional or personal life. But, right now, really for the first time, I have a huge regret that I have no idea how I’m going to put behind me.

Five years ago, a girl walked into my life and changed it forever. I remember our first kiss, our first “date” (Tim Hortons), and a million other little moments while I was falling in love with her. It was unplanned and, for a while, a secret we kept from a lot of people due to the circumstances that I won’t go into here. There was something about her I was enamored by.

We had a lot of hiccups along the way (mostly initiated by me), but I always thought she was it, I had found the one. I didn’t want to rush it, though – there are a lot of young people who get married quickly and split up just as fast and I was afraid of that. Despite the problems, they always seemed to work itself out even though I know I didn’t make all of the changes I needed to show her I was serious about us, eventually leading to us splitting up.

Before we split, last summer right after one of my good friends from college announced he was getting married, him and I spoke for the first time in quite a while. I told him I was happy for the two of them and had a feeling I’d see something about them soon. I followed that up with “Made me think about (ex-gf’s name here) and I. You just knew knew huh?”

He didn’t respond.

The day of the wedding, we went down in the early afternoon and it turned out we got there way early. It was pretty warm, and for some reason (as I usually am), I was a grouch about it (I’m working on it). She got pretty upset and, if I had to pick a moment when our relationship started to end, it was that. Instead of playing along and enjoying the day, I was a jerk. We had a good time at the wedding, but I know this was on her mind the whole rest of the day and for days after.

Around the same time, I was really starting to think I was going to propose. I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do, when, and where. I was going to ask her dad and everything. The thing is, I felt that way a few times over the course of our relationship and, now thinking back and knowing that I really did want to spent my life with her, I truly regret not marrying her. When I asked my friend if he just knew, I guess I was looking to validate how I felt at the time from someone I was close with. He was the first close friend of mine to get married and I was nervous about the prospect of proposing, so when he didn’t answer I just didn’t do anything.

I miss her a lot lately, but I’m glad she found someone and now lives in a place I wish I never tore her away from. I have a lot of regrets from our relationship, but what hurts the most is, I know they all could have been avoided.

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Sometimes, Nostalgia Stings

I don’t often plug my phone into my computer, but if I’m sitting at my desktop and don’t have a wall charger I plug it in. And every time I do this, I wind up scrolling through years of photos I’ve uploaded. I used to be happy looking through them, thinking about when I took them and what I was doing at that point in my life. Now, I look back and realize I messed up a lot. I completely lost someone who was my only ally. She went through hell for me every second we were together. I thought I was ok; lately I’ve been feeling, well, not good, but not terrible either, which I’m looking at as an improvement. Looking through these photos just reminded me of what I lost and how incredible she was. Everyone keeps telling me another one will come along, but I’m not so sure she’ll love me the same. I really screwed that up. I just hope I find someone who loves me half as much as she did.

In the end, I guess we were broken. Something wasn’t right; we weren’t very happy most of the time and I’m not entirely sure what would have set the ship right. Either way, I really, really hope she’s happy now. We haven’t talked in who knows how long, but I hope that since she’s packed up and started her own life that it’s exactly what she needed. She’s strong, stronger than I think she even realizes, so I probably shouldn’t worry. Which is funny, because I think that’s the way she always thought of me – strong. In reality, though, I’m a mush and I’ve been having a terrible time keeping it together.

One step at a time, I guess.

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

I’ve written about what I’m thankful for in another post, albeit it was three years ago, but my feelings haven’t shifted much despite some major changes in my life since then.

Cue cliche line about the past year: 2016 has been a year of ups and downs. From starting out with a new band, to my pup Olive getting into an accident, to getting a promotion, and, most recently, ending a long term relationship, I’ve had to deal with quite a bit. But as I sit here this morning in an air of melancholy, I’m trying to remember what I wrote in a tiny bedroom in Oswego exactly three years ago and ground myself. I know, on the eve of my 26th birthday despite what I’ve been going through, I still have it pretty good.

This year, I’m thankful for..

Friends old and new: From band members and my Odd Fellow brothers, to those who have stuck by me over the years, if I haven’t said it, thank you. Especially as of late, you’ve helped me keep it all together.

Olive: This furry little pain in my butt has retaught me what it means to unconditionally love something. She’s taught me patience, has helped distract me when I need to clear my head, and has truly been my best friend. With the messiness surrounding my past relationship, I’m not sure what our future is together. For now, though, I will make sure to cherish every moment I get with her.

Opportunity: 1) Finding a band is hard, fitting into that band is even harder. I tried for along time to find a band that cared enough about music and was motivated to create consistently and constantly grow. With Trench, I’ve found that. 2) Jobs aren’t always easy to come by and, especially at small nonprofits and museums, the opportunities to move up are often hard to come by. I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to do that this year, which has been all sorts of frustrating, invigorating. fun, and scary. At the end of the day, I know it’ll help me in the long-term, though at this point I’m not totally sure what the ends are. 3) Love comes and goes, until it doesn’t. Right now, it’s fading and one day it’ll be gone. But I’m thankful that there will (hopefully) be opportunities for me to meet and connect with new people. It’s an opportunity for growth, to push the limits I (subconsciously) put on myself in past relationships, and to learn to open up my heart a little more.

The little things: Like I mentioned three years ago, I’m thankful for my apartment, being able to put the heat on, having some cool clothes (though some may argue otherwise), good food, and at the very least half a brain.

I turn 26 tomorrow, so perhaps it’s fitting that I’m reflecting on the past year and attempting to position myself to keep moving in the right direction. And even if it doesn’t, even if there are more downs than ups in 2016 and beyond, I know that there will still be things I’m thankful for.


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Rebuilding, Part II

After my high school girl friend and I broke up, I made a conscious decision to make sure I found out who I was before jumping into another relationship. From 2009 to 2011, I bounced around Oswego for school, Long Island, New York City, Italy, and Brooklyn. I did a lot on my own, a lot of soul searching. I broke myself all the way down. I remember riding my bike over the Manhattan bridge in 2010 heading to Brooklyn. I felt numb. Sometimes I would stop halfway and just look out into the City wondering what was next, wondering how I would get through this (lack of) feeling. I had a rough time working at the bike shop, where I spent most of my time. The guys were hard on me, and while I appreciate it now, it made it really hard to go in every day. Luckily, that summer, I went to visit some family and take some classes in Italy, which helped to take my mind off of what I was feeling, at least most of the time. I remember listening to Polar Bear Club’s Convinced I’m Wrong about 500 times while standing on the balcony of my room in Altomonte.

I didn’t know what to feel at that point. I was lost. When I got back to Oswego after five weeks out of the country, I began to build myself up little by little. A few new roommates helped me get involved on campus, which led to me beginning to coach hockey at SUNY Oswego. Later that school year, my college band started. I hadn’t played in a band since high school and I missed creating things (which I’m not very good at, but that’s not the point). One of my bandmates, Ian, is still one of my best friends. Anyway, that year really got the ball rolling for me becoming who I am today. I started to get my confidence back. The summer of 2011 presented me with a unique opportunity managing the bike shop I worked at the last two years, though I wish it was under better circumstances. Regardless, I worked my ass off, about 90 hours a week, and just socked away the money. It was a hard life, but as the summer went on, I built up a little confidence, met a lot of cool people, and by the time I got back to school that fall I was a different person. I had a different outlook on my life, I knew what I wanted or, better yet, what I was ready for, and took things slow.

By the end of 2011, I met one of the most important people in my life. A few months later, we started dating and I finally felt whole. I wasn’t the greatest person to her over the next five years, and we went through some rough times, by and large because of me. I took her for granted and never gave her the attention she needed. She was always there for me, through all of my bullshit, my activities, graduate school – everything. Eventually, it took a toll on our relationship (no surprise there) and it led to us breaking up recently.

I don’t know if we’ll ever get back together, but either way, I hope she finds a way to be happy. As for me, I guess I’ve been down this road before. We’ll see what happens.


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