Archive for September, 2009

SummeRelationshiParTwo

OK, so now I think it’s time to explain what happened around mid-September. Shayla and I had just celebrated our six month anniversary when I came to Colorado for a business trip. At that point, we had been in a long distance relationship status for two months. This was two months out of a two year commitment. We had been chatting online pretty regularly, and I would text her when I was out on the many business trips that I was going on. Everything seemed to be going well. When I came out to Colorado, Shayla was at a convention that was near the airport, so after I greeted my parents who were coming back from their trip to Hawaii, I headed over to the convention to surprise Shayla with a visit. I suppose this was the first indication.

I guess I had something different in mind when I finally met her. I mean, after all, we hadn’t seen each other in two months, and the last few weeks we didn’t really get a chance to chat online either. I would have expected her to be a little more exited to see me after so long apart. Still, it was nice to get to see her again before I headed up to Fort Collins for the night. When I came back down to Colorado Springs the next day I had a very stressful situation occur right before I went to bed, which led to some angry sleep . . . if you can even call it sleep. I suppose my mind knew what I did not, because three whole days before we ended our relationship, I had a dream where Shayla broke up with me.

When she came down on Tuesday to have dinner with me, she was a little more excited, but still not as much as I would have hoped. At this point, she was coming down with something, most likely caught from the convention she was just at  so I guess she just didn’t want to infect me. However, something happened between Tuesday and Thursday. I’m not sure exactly what it was, and I’m not going to speculate, but when I came up to Golden on Thursday to spend some time with her, she told me that she thought we should both be single for a while. This hit me really hard. My legs felt rubbery, my chest was tight, my throat was tight, my face was hot. I think it was at this point that the blinders were removed from my eyes, and I realized that it would be better that we went our separate ways.

This was somewhat of a mutual decision. She suggested it, and I agreed. Still, I can’t just turn off a switch and no longer have feelings for someone. When I drove up to Fort Collins to spend time with my family, that was the most difficult drive I have ever taken. I tried to bite my lower lip to keep the sobs from coming. I tried to keep from crying, because I needed to see the road. When I got back to my parents’ house, I needed a hug. At that point, I wept. I wept and I sobbed. I was so very glad that I had my mother there to cry on her shoulder. I don’t know how I would ever have coped if the break-up happened any other way or in any other place. The next couple of days were definitely difficult, and I have cried more than I ever have for anything else in recent memory.

Part of the problem I am running into now is that this relationship was somewhat based on music, and our mutual interest in it. As a result, there are many songs that I just can’t listen to any more. Someday I may be able to listen to my music again, but for right now it’s difficult. It has also been difficult to remain positive in this time. Over the last few months, I felt like my girlfriend and my family were the only people who really cared about me, who were interested in me and interested in what I had to offer and what I had to say. Luckily, after something as painful as this break-up, I am glad to know that I have people near me in Huntsville and all over the country who feel for me and in whom I can receive comfort.

It is easy for me to try and focus this pain into anger against someone, and in such a situation, there are only two avenues. However, I can’t be angry towards Shayla. She let me go because she said that I deserved better. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is to let someone go, but if you truly love them, then it has to happen. That is truly the mark of someone who has a good head on their shoulders. I’m just glad that she was adult enough to see this relationship for what it was. In that aspect, I am thankful for getting to know someone as special as her. If there’s anything that I learned about her in the six months I was with her, it’s that she’s too hard on herself, that she’s her own worst critic. She has so much talent and smarts and beauty that I hope God will give her the confidence she needs to utilize those talents He has placed in her.

Once again, I find myself at a point where most everyone I know is married. Apparently when I was getting straight B’s in school, everyone else was juggling school and relationships and they all got married right out of college. With so few options out there now, it’s difficult to see who God wants for me. Still, it’s encouraging that I have people with whom I can talk. Talking about it is the only way that I’ve been able to cope. Quite frankly, all the advice I’ve been given I already arrived at those conclusions by myself, so what I really need right now is a listening ear and an occasional shoulder to cry on.

It hurts right now, and I’m numb on the inside, and the spark in my eyes is gone for the time being, but I know that I’ll come out of it eventually. Right now I just need to grieve. Who knows, maybe in ten years Shayla and I might give it another try, but for right now we need our time apart to figure out our lives. I started this two-post story with a quote by Lord Tennyson. Having been single for many years and having just had a taste of what love has to offer, I’m not sure that I agree with him. Knowing what I could have and do not have at this moment hurts me sometimes, and I’m not sure that it’s any better.

In conclusion, I do not regret any time that I spent with Shayla over the last six months. Neither do I hold any animosity towards her. I sincerely believe that I have learned a lot from this first relationship and that in God I will find my comfort in the aftermath. I wish Shayla well and that she too can find happiness in someone once again, just like I hope that I can once again find happiness in someone new. I hope that we can still keep in touch and be friends and I hope that someday I can hear her side of the story, because this whole incident has left my mind in a whirl. I hope that God will bless both of us in our lives and I hope that you, my reader will keep both of us in your prayers.

SummeRelationship

“’Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.” – Lord Alfred Tennyson

Let’s be honest here. I never thought that I would be writing this post. Of course, they do say that love is blind, and all it takes is a jarring event to finally take off the blinders. But I’m jumping ahead of myself here. Let’s go back to March. For those who have been reading along, you already know my feelings on March. It’s when I interviewed for my current job, and it’s also when I decided to start my first romantic relationship. I felt like God was lining up my life to be something great. I had hoped that the first girlfriend would also be the last girlfriend, as I’m sure many people do. However, it seems to not have turned out quite like I had planned. God had put this woman in my life as a lesson, and it’s painful enough to accept this fact.

It was a whirlwind six months to where I am today. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed every moment that we spent together; but let’s put this how it really was: it was a summer love. It moved far too fast and didn’t have as much substance as anything long term really should have. For this I do not blame her, but I blame myself. I have met many women and would consider them my friends, but I never really thought to pursue anything deeper with them. That was until I met Shayla. She was a friend of a friend of mine, so since we would both hang out with that mutual acquaintance, we inevitably came in contact with each other. She was interested in some of the same things that I was. Music and Anime are what brought us together, but even within those broad genres we had very little in common.

It was probably around January of this year that we really caught each other’s interest. I suppose that’s what made me decide to pursue a relationship with her. She was the first girl who essentially came right out and said that she wanted to have a relationship with me. Up to that point, I had toyed with the idea of a more serious relationship with many women, all of whom really had no interest in me. So you can imagine my surprise when I met someone who actually did have some interest. I’m sure that there were probably women who were interested in me, but I’m a rather dense person when it comes to these kinds of things, so since they were not direct, I may have missed many opportunities. However, this was one opportunity that I was not going to miss.

We hung out occasionally with our conflicting schedules providing very little time together, until around mid-March when we decided to make our relationship official. Again, since this was my first relationship, there were so many things that I had planned. After 23 years of being single, I could finally have someone that I could use all the romantic little gestures that I had thought up over the years. Unfortunately, since we did have drastically different schedules, I was rarely around to see any reactions to my gestures to know of what kind of effect they had on her. Still, I felt on top of the world and my mind started going overtime with all sorts of fantasies of things that I truly wanted to happen.

Having waited so very long to start my first relationship, I felt left out and left behind. Most everyone I knew at this point had already had a first relationship. Maybe even more. Maybe they were even married. I think my body was telling me to push things faster than they needed to go, just to catch up to everyone else. This was probably one aspect of the failure that was to come. I definitely pushed the physical side of the relationship, and looking back on it, I should have controlled myself. I ended up having my first kiss only one week into the official relationship. Again, I just wanted to feel close to someone and to have someone close to me. Someone that I could hug and kiss and have by my side as life continued on.

I’d have to go back through my journal entries to pinpoint right where it started happening. At one point I started having a nagging feeling in the back of my mind. It was a feeling that I’d experienced far too often, and it was unfortunate because in different circumstances I enjoyed this feeling. It was the feeling of acting. For so long I had seen the role of the “boyfriend” and I always thought to myself that I could do better. I had seen women who were with men who just didn’t appreciate them, who treated them not how women should be treated. I always thought that I could do better. At some point I switched on to my acting mode, and that is another reason why this hurts so much. Shayla was attracted to me for my honesty and my integrity, and I feel like I betrayed her and myself by putting on the mask of the boyfriend. I was lying to myself and therefore indirectly lying to her. I would tell myself that everything was all right. That I didn’t mind. That it was OK. In reality, it wasn’t.

There were definitely some aspects of the relationship that I was compromising on. I think that I wanted it to work so badly that I told myself that it would all work out, that it really didn’t matter. Looking back, it definitely felt like I was carrying the relationship. I was always instigating. I was always suggesting events to go to, places to see, things to do. It felt like I was dragging her along for my ride, and she just grinned and bore it. Sometimes it even felt kind of like My Fair Lady. I don’t like saying that, because it can be construed as hurtful, but I guess I just wanted to bring her up to my level. Once again, I think that since she worked nights and I had more of a daytime schedule that I felt kind of bad hanging out with her during the day. I had a job that was a graveyard shift once, and I know that I really needed the daytime to catch up on my sleep, so I felt like I was robbing her of something that I felt was necessary when we would hang out.

It’s sad to see a relationship like this end, especially since most relationships are like investments. We put so much time and money and effort into these investments and hope that there would be a certain amount of return out of them. Perhaps that’s why I was hesitant to start a serious relationship until I found someone who was interested in me. I just didn’t want to put all my time and effort into something that wouldn’t go anywhere; it would feel wasted. That’s the point I’m at right now. Heck, I even have presents and other things that I wanted to give her, but now I’m kind of stuck with them. I just hope that with time we can reconcile our relationship as a friendship, just so that the investment wouldn’t feel wasted.

This post is running a little long, so I’ll leave the final analysis to the next one . . .

BusinesStalemate

Part of the frustration that came with canceling my flights to and from Boston before I left for that trip was that I also had to reschedule my travel to Colorado Springs. Originally, the plan was to do a week in Boston, then have a week in Huntsville followed by a week in Colorado Springs. However, some scheduling changes pushed the Colorado Springs trip smack up against the Boston trip. If I have learned anything from these two weeks of business travel, it’s that my equipment isn’t quite ready for such a long absence from the office (because it’s missing some key elements) and that finding someone and shaking them until your problem gets solved is a much easier method than e-mails or phone calls.

Anyways, on to my recollection of my Colorado trip. As I had been away from Colorado for two months at this point, I felt like I should take the advantages of business travel to expand out into some personal time. Since the plan was to travel out on Sunday, travel back on Saturday, I decided to push either side of those travel days by one day to get some time with my family. So, as it was, I spent the night in Huntsville after getting back from Boston and the next morning I departed for Colorado. Once at the airport, I waited around for a little while and greeted my parents, who had just came back from their trip to Hawaii. I then drove down to surprise my girlfriend with a visit, since she was at a convention that was nearby. After which, I drove up to Fort Collins to spend some time with my family. All in all, it was a good day, despite the checked bag fee and realizing that I was wearing my shorts that had a huge hole in them.

Sunday was a nice day to sleep in, considering how cloudy it was and how tired all of us were. I finally got my Master’s degree back to Fort Collins to get it framed in the same way that my Bachelor’s was. I was also able to get some of the items that I had forgotten in Colorado from my move to Alabama. Along with a “birthday” dinner, it was a good day . . . until I got to the hotel in Colorado Springs. At this point, I figured that I would see what the plan for Monday was, since I knew that the air force base that we would be going to was essentially out in the middle of nowhere. As it turns out, I became very frustrated with a particular individual, because it was looking like I would have to be his chauffeur for the week, and he was across town. Needless to say, I didn’t get much sleep that night due to going to sleep frustrated. This can lead to some interesting and possibly revealing dreams, but I’m going to leave that explanation to another post.

When I woke up early in the morning (so early that my hotel hadn’t even started serving its free breakfast), I learned that I would not have to drive this individual around. I was relieved, but the damage done to my sleep was already done. The activities on base were pretty interesting, especially considering all of the security that we had to go through in order to just watch a simulation. Heck, even to get to the building that we needed to be at, we had to go through a “portal” which was essentially a line of phone-booth type enclosures that would have a randomized number pad that you’d put in a secret PIN on and it would let you out the other side. Unfortunately, as we would all soon learn, Monday would be the only day that had anything going on.

Due to some circumstances, the rest of our week was canceled, which left all of us in Colorado Springs twiddling our thumbs until Thursday, when we were to go and visit Cheyenne Mountain. In order to prevent us from all going mad with boredom, we worked on some online training courses and radar materials to pass some of the time. We also took some trips to the surroundings to get out and enjoy Colorado. Garden of the Gods was definitely in order, since it is a Colorado Springs attraction (that you don’t have to pay for, mind you). Another trip we took was to Cripple Creek. Now that was a drive. Not only did we get to experience Colorado weather in the form of about 3 inches of hail, but we got to see some fantastic vistas and some aspen trees changing color for the fall. Since gambling is the only thing to do in Cripple Creek, I had decided to use my pocket change to hit the penny slots. Since I was about 4 cents short, one of my coworkers loaned me the change I needed to get a dollar from the cashier and start playing. Apparently casinos don’t actually use coins any more. It’s less exciting, that’s for sure. At any rate, I hit the slots and kept winning a few nickels and quarters occasionally. I made a vow to myself that I would stop playing the machine once I made more money than I put into it. It was at this point that I realized that I could stop the spinning at any time that I wanted. It was also at this time that I won 50 cents. With my 33% return on my dollar, I went back to the cashier and cashed out. I returned the 4 cents (with the 33% return) to my coworker in the form of a nickel. The best part about my winnings was that I was then able to walk down the street and buy the postcard for this trip without using any of my own money.

Finally, Thursday had arrived and it was time to visit Cheyenne Mountain. This experience was probably one of the more impressive ones that I’ve had. Partly due to the fact that you have to know someone to even get in to Cheyenne Mountain. At any rate, it was a very impressive facility with a lot of cool equipment and engineering that went into making it quite the stronghold. Now that the Cheyenne Mountain visit was out of the way, we had nothing else to d. Having changed our flights to earlier times (with varying degrees of frustration), we all came back to Huntsville.

In the end, the trip wasn’t a complete waste, but it sure was close. I got to see some interesting things as well as catch up with my family and my girlfriend. Although, by Thursday night, I was glad that I was still in Colorado, just for the simple fact that I had a shoulder to cry on.

PS – Here are my thoughts on flying at night: Where as during the day, the ground is all bland and it’s hard to distinguish cities, at night the cities are all lit up like galaxies with organized constellations spreading throughout them. It’s rather beautiful: like watching the night sky on the ground.

MassachusettSeconds

Always a good decision

Always a good decision

Once again, my job required me to travel to the Boston / Woburn area. However, before I get to that, I need to explain some of the troubles of this trip. First of all, I recently received my government travel charge card, which is what I need to make reimbursements an easier process. When I booked my trip to Boston, I didn’t have my card, but before I went, I did. This required me to go back into the travel system and change some things. One of the things I wanted to change was to get rid of the rental car that I had reserved. There was no point that all of us should drive a car while in town. Secondly, I wanted to change my departure time for coming back to Huntsville. As it stood, I was going to leave Boston late in the day and get back to Huntsville later. This is where my problems started. The time was around 1pm on the Friday before my trip was supposed to start.

Beautiful night for a game

Beautiful night for a game

I easily canceled the rental car and proceeded on to the return flight. It was easy enough to change to an earlier flight, but something strange had happened in the process: my flight to Boston had disappeared. “OK,” I thought, “I’ll just go and re-book that flight.” This was easier thought than done. Before I knew it, I was frantically trying to get any flights to or from Boston. I had inadvertently canceled both of my flights for the trip to Boston. Panicked, I headed over to the cubicle of the administrative assistant that helped us with our travel. There were a few of my coworkers hanging around her cubicle trying to get some reimbursements for the California trip. When I walked up, she was on the phone and looked up and said, “Yeah, he’s right here,” at which point she asked, “Did you just cancel both your flights?” To which I replied, “Accidentally.” Fortunately, through her help and patience, I got my flights re-booked and was ready to go to Boston. I even managed to get the earlier flight I wanted, so in the end it all worked out to my advantage.

Yeah, we were -that- close

Yeah, we were -that- close

Another early morning got me out to Boston, where my group of co-workers and my mentor did a lot of walking around Boston to see the sights. I took in another Red Sox game while I was there. $10 less for the ticket this time, and it was a much better spot. Last time I was there, I was in one of the original seats of Fenway, and was behind a pole that blocked my view of second base. This time I was a mere 3 rows from the field, which is the closest I’ve ever sat to the field at a professional baseball game, in a much newer, plastic seat. Quite the exciting game this time, but apparently if you’re as bad as the Orioles, then it’s bound to happen. I saw four home runs over the Green Monster, which brings my total up to six. There were a few more home runs during the game, one of which came somewhat close to where we were sitting. So yeah, some good times. I guess I should watch more Red Sox games, as every time I do, they seem to win (even so far back as the 2007 World Series, even though I was rooting for the Rockies at the time).

Oldest in the country! And boy does it show.

Oldest in the country! And boy does it show.

The main reason that we were all in the Boston area this time was for a radar course from MIT’s Lincoln Laboratories. Overall, it was an average course, which had a lot of information we had all already heard, but it also had some really interesting components to it. One of the aspects of the course that I enjoyed was the field trip to the Haystack Observatory. While we were there, we got to see one enormous radar dish that was soon to be upgraded to a much more accurate. That was definitely an impressive dish to see. Another aspect of the course that I’m sure we all enjoyed was the War Game. Our group split into two teams and we got the opportunity to look at simulated radar data to take out a threat launched against the United States. My team happened to win, which was neat (and we each got trophies), although both teams did well. So, with the inclusion of some of the technical data that we learned, the course definitely had its moments.

Best way to use a hotel sink

Best way to use a hotel sink

Spent some more time in Boston on another evening, where I got to try a cannoli from Modern Pastry, so as to compare it to the cannoli that I had from Mike’s during the previous trip. I have to say that Mike’s is better. I had tried to set up a meeting with one of my friends who happens to be up in the Boston area (a different friend from the couple that I met last time I was there), but it just didn’t work out this time. I guess I don’t want everyone to think that I really do know everyone everywhere I go, but it’s nice to try. We all finished off the evening by drinking some Samuel Adams in one of the hotel rooms. All I can say about that event was that necessity is the mother of invention.

Flying back to Huntsville on September 11th was kind of interesting, because security didn’t really seem that much different from the last time I was in Boston. In fact, I didn’t realize that it was actually September 11th until we got to the airport and there was a security checkpoint on the road. At any rate, the week started out with my first Labor Day off in about five years’ time and ended with an evening back in Huntsville preparing for the next trip that was to come.

It was easier to just paint it on the ground

It was easier to just paint it on the ground