Saturday, December 18, 2010

Reach out and touch somebody's hand

I have been having this overwhelming urge to spend more time on my human to human connections. It started with an associate at work, whom I just knew I needed to say something positive to and the gifts of verbal gratitude have just been coming ever since. Not all the time of course but I am making an effort to listen and then speak something positive to one person each day. You would be surprised how people react when you give them a genuine compliment. I am not talking about "I like your hair" or "those shoes are cool" but when you look at someone and say thank you for being a good listener, you made my day or something like that people actually get a bewildered look on their face. It's a really great exercise in connection and paying it forward.

So like I said I have been trying this lately and am making it into a mental game kind of. I feel like people have started listening to me and then paying it forward, but today I had totally forgotten about my game and checked my facebook to find not one but two notes from acquaintances from my past who saw the blog and sent me individual gifts of gratitude. It was so beautiful to be on the other side of my game and also reminded me to keep it up. Thanks to those two pals for your notes today, you reminded me of all the kind, wonderful people in my life.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Am I ready?

Last night while we were closing down my store, one of the associates looked at me and randomly said "do you want kids because I have been watching you over the last two weeks and can't help but notice that you would make an excellent parent." My eyes immediately watered up and I knew I couldn't divulge too much to an employee but I just kind of mumbled something like, "well I am actually going to have a baby in April or May." She looked at me, a but confused, but then immediately switched her glance to excitement and patted me on the back and said "congratulations, that is one lucky baby."

It's odd when you have moments like that and realize that God puts people in your life when you least expect it. For just a few seconds it was just Nina and I, not having to say much else, but knowing that at that moment in time we went to another place and had one of those ah-ha connections.

Her comments also reaffirmed some self doubt that I have had over the last three months and especially month since I got to Chicago. There is a very good chance that I might have to solo parent, at least for awhile, and while the thought of raising a child on my own is frightening, it also is my duty to Harper. When Nina said those kind words, I thought if a perfect stranger can see that in me while I am at my worse mentally and physically than maybe I will do alright here in the parenting department.

When my ex and I decided to start trying for a baby it was comments like Nina's from dozens of people that made her want to start trying. She told me once that people would tell her all the time, even after meeting me once, that they think my purpose in this Earth was to become a parent. I laughed when she told me this. It's usually the guy searching for the girl who would make an excellent mother, but apparently (once again) I have to be the untraditional one! I can't be pigeon holed!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Back to life, Back to reality

I just finished a book that I have been reading for my first three weeks in Chicago, titled Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen.  Everyone in the gang had already read it and recommended it.  From day one, I was hooked, trying to sneak in a few last pages or paragraphs before the train arrived every day at work.  The book is full of gritty details of the life of circus workers during the 1920s and 1930s.  Today I got into the final chapters and it really heats up at the end. I had to stay up and finish it and now it's nearly 3 am! My Carey is on her way to work as we speak! Reading a book again reminded me of how fun it is to actually read and hold the physical thing in your hands.  It also made me sad that my children won't ever probably even use a paper book.  It's like how we look at records or ATracks, that's how they will look at old books.  Explaining to them what a bookshelf was used for in the "olden days" is also kind of sad.  

For the first three weeks in this apartment, we didn't have Internet (that all changed this morning) and I had somehow forgotten about all of those television shows I was obsessed with when I came here too.  Of course, I still have to catch up with Amazing Race, but I wasn't upset about missing an episode or two. I also checked email via my brand new IPhone, so I wasn't going without Internet, but for awhile, albeit brief, I felt a little bit more connected to people and less to the world wide web, television, and this alternative reality that we have all been entangled in.  It felt good, and while I am excited to have it back, I hope to hold on to some parts of that feeling that I've had over the last three weeks. 

My emotions come in waves, and I mention the book and reading because I think what was happening in this book really affected my emotional well being.  If I ended the book at a sad part, I would find myself a little down in the dumps. If I bookmarked the page at a really exciting part, I would find myself all spunky and hyper-like.  It's funny how a fictional story can bring about emotion in someone.  It also inspired me to write.  I know I have a story inside waiting to get out.  I am still on the fence about this whole blogging thing, but I think it's a good start.  It will force me, even if just for awhile, to actually sit down and conjugate thoughts into a clear pattern.

I've always said I wanted to write a memoir, as I feel like crazy/wild/unpredicatable things are always happening to me, and just when I think I've reached the crescendo and know where the story will go, another loophole comes and knocks me flat on my ass.  Sometimes I want to just scream, "OK God, I get it.  I am not in control." But at the same time, at other times I think, "why me?"  Why do I have to be the one to lose their Dad, have a sister with cancer, and a failed marriage all before my thirtieth birthday?!?  I just hope God is trying to get all of the bad things out of the way up front so I can really enjoy and relax in my 30s and beyond and enjoy them without a smack in the face every couple of years.  I almost fear reading email updates from friends and family, or even going on facebook because it seems like when it rains it pours, but I think it's all about perspective too, and I hope that if I ever do get the chance to jot down all of those words into a physical memoir, and get to hold it in my hands and give it out to all of those I love (and don't love), that the underlying message does shine through.  Look at the brightside.  Follow the yellow brick road.  And all the jazz...

Monday, December 6, 2010


Why do Monday's have the connotation that they do?  I feel bad for Monday's because everyone is so hard on them.  Yes, I get it, we have to go back to work or school, but it's also another day that you didn't have yesterday.

I am still trying to get used to this schedule, I don't know if you actually ever GET USED it, but the long days are even longer during this time.  You would think people would be nicer because of the holidays, but they are actually more rude than ever. 

I was talking with my friends about the term "excuse me" and how it comes off so rudely sometimes.  I told them that I have always used, "pardon me" to get through a crowd or interfere with someone/something and it has served me well.  It's very, very difficult to say pardon me and it being taken as rude.  Try it, if you don't believe me.  Look in the mirror and try to say pardon me with an attitude.  If you can do it, I would be very impressed.

OK, more later.  Back to work...on this cold Monday!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Remembering Daddy

For the past few weeks I've been thinking a lot about my Dad and about him an extra lot today. Some weird data that has crossed my mind is that my Dad has officially been dead for more than half my life. He also became my Dad at 27 and I will become one at that same age.

I would love to say I think of him every single day like I used to but I don't. There is still rarely a week that goes by where I don't have some kind of memory/flashback that reminds me of him.

I would also love to write about what a remarkable person he was, but these days I am starting to feel resentment about that trait that somehow got passed onto me. I've heard from so many people how he could steal the room over with wit and charm and how I remind so many people of him in that regard (and most everyother regard too) but as I get older I realize how the ability to have everyone be in love with you gets annoying and overwhelming at times. I used to never understand how he got so depressed and ended up taking his own life, and I still can't comprehend doing something so selfish, but in my own despair I am also starting to feel empathy for him as well.

Today I walked into a candy store where they had hundreds of bins where you pay the pound for the candy. I actually passed it and then took a few steps backward and felt so compelled to go in. As soon as I did I started remembering a similar store that Dad took us into where he told us "get whatever you want" and meant it! He loved spoiling us and I probably got 3 pounds of candy myself!

I feel bad for the people who love me so much, because as I go through hell and battle my own bout of depression I can hear in their voices that not only do they not have anything to say to comfort me but they need that old me back so desperately because they are used to relying on me as the upper in any given situation. It's as if when I, the AJ, can't get it together than something is wrong in the world. It makes it difficult because on one hand I'm being told to keep moving forward into a new chapter but at the same time I have to still play the lead character in the chapter too...but I digress.

The reason I bring up Dad is because I wonder what he would say to me in this situation. I know a few things for sure, but if I could sit across the table with him over a Bacardi drink what we would he advise? I like to close my eyes sometimes and just force myself to remember his voice, laugh, and him overall but I cant put words (or advice) into his mouth. I am so thankful for the men who've stepped up in my life - my Uncle Mark, Uncle Bill, Doug - and many others but sometimes a boy needs his Dad and it's something I never had the chance to have for these big milestones. I know for my sisters they have both battled with these same thoughts, especially as they have become mothers, and Crystal with her cancer and when they shared it with me I never really got it until now. I think all three of us are sad at his choice to miss out on all of this, but I also know that when I get sad or depressed I just have to picture all of the good things that have happened since 1997 and that makes getting out of bed each day a little easier. Dad if you can hear me now, I love and miss you and I wish you would have thought more about leaving us and this world because even though there's been a bunch of garbage there has been so much good too! Until then I just smile quickly to myself when I think about Crystal talking you into becoming a vegan, or Katie teaching you to text and all of the lingo. You missed out and we all could have used you. You were worth so much more than a signer on our birth certificates or child support checks. You were our Dad, my Dad.

From then to now

I've thought about writing a blog for awhile now but usually get excited about something for a short time an then kind of fall off the wagon. Truth be told there have been so many changes in my life in the past few months and I don't have the energy to communicate with everyone individually so I figured this would be a good outlet for me to share what's happening in my world and also a place for me to share my thoughts and feelings with the world. I hope that through this blog someone out there is helped or comforted in their own lifes struggles through realization that you are not alone.

Most of you reading this already know me, at some stage of my life and many places I've lived we connected in some way. Whether that was in Las Vegas, Tennessee, St. Louis, Chicago, Thailand, Kansas City, San Jose, Sacramento or my extended homes in Florida or Michigan I have been blessed to meet and connect with you on some emotional level.

So first to clear the air and answer some of those questions you have all been texting and asking me about. Yes, I am back on Chicago! Yes, I am going through a very painful divorce. Yes, she is pregnant and YES I think that Baby Harper is mine. I intend not only to never use the Internet to bash my ex-wife or the mother of my child but what I will say is that this decision was made for me and I meant every vow I said. As I've learned through life that sometimes life goes another direction and as Bonnie Rate sings "I can't make you love me if you don't."

That all being out there, for me starts over. I've lived my life in chapters and this is just a new one for me. I chose Chicago for many many reasons, namely Carey my best friend of thirteen years and the entire network of friends that I have here. I know from the outside my network has always seemed large, I've met very few people that I wouldn't call friends, but the relationship I have with Stephen, Nick, Ryan, and Carey are those friendships where you wouldn't hesitate to step in front of a train for any of them withno question. They are my soul mates and have helped me pull myself up by my boot straps and get back to walkin the tightrope of life.

Also my number one favorite all-time company that I ever worked for is here. While I made a vow to retire from retail earlier this year, Urban outfitters always will hold that place in my heart and they have been so gracious and welcoming me right back into to the family!

So there you have it, my first blog post. I hope to use this blog to navigate the waters of life and share it with you my readers. Please feel free to email and let me know what you would like to read about.