What I Learned: August 19, 2016

It’s been awhile. What up, fools?

  • I’ve seen so many movies! I went to see Pete’s Dragon last weekend. It was good and made me sad thinking about losing my dog one day. [Side note: Bryce Dallas Howard got some hips somewhere along the way! Mmm girl!] Disney’s always good for those teary eyes. The week before was Suicide Squad which was… okay? Marvel sets their characters up better, which means you naturally care about them more. Get it together, DC! The Secret Life of Pets was the week before that. I wasn’t in love with it but it was a cute animated movie. Not sure what’s up on deck this weekend… Sausage Party? War Dogs?
  • Since the last entry, I saw Mariana’s Trench in Raleigh and had such an amazing time! It may be the best show I’ve seen from them. And I left with a guitar pick from the bassist! Then last week, I saw Motion City Soundtrack play their last show in Charlotte. The set list was borderline perfect. I got to give my second ticket to a new friend-of-a-friend who really wanted to go. Then I proceeded to spend entirely too much money on a tour shirt and this city-specific tour poster that will absolutely be framed and hanging in my new house.2016 MCS Poster
  • Speaking of the new house… I wrapped up my Design Center appointment. Almost entirely solo too [I’m claiming credit for everything but the kitchen countertop], so I’m pretty excited about that. My house is now officially has colors. And floors. And counters. And everything else all picked out! I’m just waiting on permits to go through and then construction can start. I didn’t get my blue house that I wanted (a neighbor snagged that color before I had a chance) but I get to go with grey instead. I’m excited about my color scheme. The lady helping me described the design as a “soft” guy house that doesn’t scream bachelor.
    Design Center Outside     Design Center Inside
  • I’ve been thinking about growing my hair back out. Only getting it regularly cut and maintained this time instead of just letting it run wild for a couple of months. I’ve also been thinking hard about a tattoo. Ever since last year, I’ve been kicking around an idea to incorporate and mash up my home state with the Clemson tiger paw. But after seeing Marianas Trench lead man Josh Ramsay’s new ink last week, I’m really liking the idea of getting something Harper related.

    B,b,b,Bennie and the jetsssssss

    A photo posted by josh ramsay (@joshramsayofficial) on

    Not necessarily in the same spot… But I like the outline idea. We’ll see. I feel like I need to drastically change something and that would fit the bill.

  • So… I’m seeing a therapist. I’ve had an initial phone call to feel out my level of comfortability several weeks ago. I had my first appointment last week to get to know one another. And I had my second appointment this past week where things got a little real. A couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have considered going to one, much less telling the world about it online. But there are things I need help… professional help… to try to improve. And if I’m being completely honest, it’s terrifying. I’m letting a complete stranger into the very inner circle of who I am as a person. That goes against every instinct I have. And because of it, I’m mentally drained after every session so far. I come home and have no energy or motivation to do much of anything. But you know what?

    It’s working.

    She was surprised I led with describing myself as an introvert because she said it didn’t appear as though I had any problem talking to her. She’s been impressed with how introspective I am and how much I know about myself, my flaws, and my areas I want to improve. She’s excited with how hard I push and challenge myself for personal growth. And in the first two sessions, she’s got me pegged and has given me homework I’m dreading and excited for at the same time. It’s hard. And exhausting. But I’m so glad I’m doing it. Because it’s going to make me a better person. Which is why I’m not nearly as scared to casually discuss my mental health and well being anymore. Up next on the list? Verbalizing my feelings…

Anything in store for your weekend? I’ve got Volunteer Orientation with the animal shelter to hop back into that. It’s one of the few weekends of calm before the storm that is college football gets geared back up. Can’t wait!

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What I Learned: July 22

  • So… this happened todayVoter Registration
    Lately, I’ve been incredibly disenfranchised with the political landscape in our country. I refuse to believe that the two best candidates for the most powerful job in the United States are a liar and a lunatic. Yet, somehow, here we are, stuck voting for Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in 2016. For me, voting has always been a way to voice your opinion. But lately that doesn’t feel like it’s enough. So I’ve officially denounced my membership to the Republican party (in the state of North Carolina’s eyes anyways). Get your act together,
  • Speaking of… Paul Ryan, current US Speaker of the House, lost all of my confidence this week.

    “When you advance to a national championship, don’t you root for a Longhorn if you’re an Aggie? Start thinking that way.”

    First, you’re trying to use a (bad) college football analogy to get me to vote for Donald Trump just because he’s running for the party I normally back? Second, you’re out of your damn mind if you think I’d EVER root for South Carolina if they made the national championship game. This election sucks. Just like the University of South Carolina.

  • I saw Ghostbusters last weekend. It wasn’t great but I’m not sure it was the pile of trash the Internet is making it out to be either. It was entertaining enough to be a summer comedy. Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy have always been pretty “eh” to me. But I loved Kate McKinnon. Homegirl’s hilarious. If you don’t go into it expecting it to be the 1984 movie, you should be good to go.
  • I need to work on my confidence, in relation to external factors. I’ve always been sure of myself and my abilities. If there was a test in school or a project at work I needed to tackle, I’m your guy. I’ll outwork everyone else and put in an effort that’s better than most will give. But lately, I’ve been struggling. I like work but I’m having a hard time finding a group of people to really relate to. And I’m not confident in my ability to strike up conversation and make friends. I like the idea of building a house but I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around the decisions (counters, carpet, etc) I have to make in the next week. And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how unsure I am about my recent breakup. But I need to do better. For my own mental health.
  • I saw Marianas Trench in Asheville Wednesday night! I saw them twice in January in Charleston and Charlotte and typed up a hefty little piece on the shows. The show was a little short (less than 90 minutes), so that was disappointing. And I was under the impression that Wildfire and Dearly Departed were going to be played and neither were, so that was even more disappointing. But I got to spend an evening in the mountains, at a new venue, in a cool city, seeing my favorite band. And I’ll never complain about that. Marianas Trench Asheville 2016

How’s the weekend looking for you? I’m heading to Raleigh tonight to see Marianas Trench again (#groupie) and going to Clemson on Saturday to meet my brother and the nephews for an annual photo shoot in Tiger Town. So I’ll be putting some miles on the truck in the Carolinas.

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What I Learned: July 15, 2016

  • Nintendo is releasing the NES Classic Edition this November with 30 games for $60. I’m making this the first bullet point, so if you only stick around for one, you don’t miss the coolest piece of news this year. It’s a baby Nintendo. With 30 AMAZING games. For $60. I’m buying this on day one. I may buy this for my brother on day one. And my nephews. And you. Because that’s how damn cool this thing is. NES Classic
  • I’ve finally gotten around to reading the Harry Potter books. I think I was outside the typical age range when they were first released, so I missed the initial phenomenon. But they’re quick, entertaining reads so far. I powered through the first one in 10 days, the second in 11, and the third in 10. The fourth’s a tad longer, so it may take me a few more days but I’m through 230 pages in 4 days so far. I even stopped along the way earlier this week to rent the first movie. It seems a little dated and I enjoyed the book much more than the movie… but I’ll give them all an honest shot. It’s hard to argue against the books being modern classics at this point, so give them a read if you’re still in the dark.
  • I hit Sesquicentennial State Park last Saturday. It’s my 5th state park this year, so I’m making a bit of progress. I needed to get out of the house, so Harper and I scooted down to Columbia to make a day hike out of it. Unfortunately, Columbia in the summer is hotter than hell itself, so we weren’t able to really explore. We did a two mile loop around their pond/lake and even that was probably too far and hot for Harper. It’d be nice to re-explore when it’s a bit cooler outside.
  • I went to see The Shallows last Friday night. Given that there aren’t hardly any actors in it (I’d argue that a seagull is the second or third most prominent character in the movie), it was a pretty decent “go zone out at the movies” flick. It doesn’t hurt that it’s 90 minutes of Blake Lively in a skin tight bikini and wet suit either. But there were some gorgeous surfing and ocean shots in the movie too. Reminded me so much of Hawaii.
  • I re-applied to volunteer at the CMPD Animal Care and Control shelter this week. It’s nice to work a job that doesn’t kill off any desire to do much outside of work again. But it’ll be nice to interact with and walk dogs again too. It’s a good way to get them out of their kennels and get both of us some exercise on the weekends. Another perk of the new job is they give us eight hours of paid volunteer time. So I will be taking advantage of that, for sure.

This week was a roller coaster, so I’m a little glad to finally see the weekend. Tonight will probably hold another movie in store. I’m thinking Ghostbusters, maybe? If it’s not too crowded. If that’s a wash, I may settle for The Secret Life of Pets. Or Central Intelligence if I get really desperate.

Hope your weekend’s great!

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What I Learned: July 8, 2016

  • I wrapping up the third week of my new job! I got a big boy job working in downtown Charlotte for Ally Bank. It’s a little overwhelming right now because it’s been a long time since I’ve been the new kid on the block, learning the day-to-day ropes. But so far, everything else has been an incredible step up. The hours are better. The stress level is better. The benefits are better. The pay is better. I miss the people in the old gig but hopefully we’ll keep in touch.
  • The last What I Learned entry boasted of a girl. That I like. A lot. Unfortunately, it all came to a crashing halt this week. It sucks. Bad. Because I’m still crazy about her. And I’m hurt. And lost. And completely vulnerable. Which I hate. Yesterday was miserable. Now, I’m just second guessing… and triple guessing… and quadruple guessing what I should be doing. Do I keep trying? Do I go cold turkey and give up? Do I give it some space and reach out in a week or two? I don’t know much except I know that this feeling is excruciating.
  • Not completely unrelated to the last bullet point, I’ve been having serious thoughts about looking into counseling or a therapist in the area. The only problem is that I’m absolutely clueless on where to begin. I’m a bit across the board as to what I think I’m looking for… personal growth? reflection on my past relationships? communication goals? life coaching? And from there, how do you find a “good” one to go to? It doesn’t help that I just started a new job, so my insurance isn’t exactly squared away yet either. I’m just not sure how this works, so if you have experience, advice would be much appreciated.
  • Again… not completely unrelated to the last two bullet points… I’ve been reading through The 5 Love Languages for Singles by Gary Chapman during my lunch break. I’m pretty certain that my love language is Quality Time. But I speak well to others in Gifts and Acts of Service. Which leaves me lacking in Physical Touch and downright abysmal in Words of Affirmation. I’ll let you connect the dots. I just wish change came easier to me.
  • On a semi-unrelated note, I’m now in the market for extra-curricular activities to keep me moving in the right directions. I’m seriously considering getting back into volunteering at the animal shelter. I love dogs and ideally, the extra walking should help shed the pounds I’m needing to shake for my New Years Resolution. Or maybe spend a couple of weekends with Habitat for Humanity. I’m already in their system from volunteering with work. I’m also kicking around the idea of joining up an intramural/rec league of some kind. First options would be softball or flag football.  All new things I’ve never done before, so that leaves me a little lost and leery.

Hope your week has been better than mine. I’m looking forward to the weekend.

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2nd Quarter Report – 2016

I haven’t typed up a blog post in the entire quarter? Good thing that’s not a resolution this year. Let’s see how things are looking so far…

  • 12 Books:
    • 2Q projection – 6
    • 2Q actual – 5
    • Did a little catching up this quarter! I finished Edisto Jinx, my mom’s second book in her Edisto Island series in May. Then finished the first (Sorcerer’s Stone) and second (Chamber of Secrets) Harry Potter books within two weeks of each other in June. And I’m about 60 pages from the end of the third (Prisoner of Azkaban) book now, so I almost got on track. I’ve got plenty to read going forward. There are the last four Potter books, The Girl On The Train, two Stephen King books, my mom’s next book (Echoes of Edisto), and The Five Love Languages for Singles (yeah.. yeah…) that I want to try and make it through before the year’s end.
  • 12,000 Dollars:
    • 2Q projection – $6,000
    • 2Q actual – $7,622.37
    • When I calculated how much I had saved so far this year, my numbers only came up as $3,622.37. It made no sense that I had only saved $1,000 in a quarter. Then it dawned on me that… oh yeah… I bought a freakin’ house! Or signed a contract to build and buy one, rather. So that was $4,000 that’s now invested into a pile of dirt instead of collecting interest in a savings account. And there will be more spent once I start picking out counters, cabinets, floors, etc. But yup, I’m ahead of schedule on this one. My Freakin House
  • 12 Parks:
    • 2Q projection – 6
    • 2Q actual – 4
    • Still slipping a bit behind on this one. I hit two more parks this quarter: Lake Greenwood and Musgrove Mill in June. Neither was overly exciting. But it was good to get out into the woods with Harper for some exercise. I’m heading to Columbia this weekend, so maybe I can sneak in a park or two over the long, holiday weekend.
  • 12,000 Push-ups/Sit-ups:
    • 2Q projection – 6,000
    • 2Q actual – 809
    • Whoa. Crash and burn on this one. Somewhere in the beginning of the quarter, I just…. quit. I made it to at least comfortably doing 20 in a row. But now I’m back at square one and struggling all over again. I’ve tried doubling up during the day to try and catch up but only doing 10-15 at a time is making this tough. Gotta get back on that horse!
  • 12 Football Games:
    • 2Q projection – 6
    • 2Q actual – 0
    • Still not football season, still no football games. Although I did make the trip to Clemson for the spring game with a girl and the family. Nothing real exciting to report. But we did learn that my oldest nephew definitely does not care for the noise or the “big TV”. You’ve got a couple of years to get that fixed, kid!
  • 12,000 Gamerscore:
    • 2Q projection – 6,000
    • 2Q actual – 4,810
    • I’m behind but in a better spot than I thought I’d be. I did pick up a couple of Destiny achievements I had missed over the year. I’ve been playing through TellTale’s The Walking Dead series with a girl to pick up some more. And I’ve cruised through some on Defense Grid 2 to just kill some time. Inside just came out Wednesday, so I want to pick that one up. Then there’s plenty to play in the fall: Destiny’s new expansion, the BioShock Collection, Gears of War 4, South Park, and Watch Dogs 2. I may have to work a little harder here but I think I’m still within striking distance on this one.
  • 12 Pounds:
    • 2Q projection – -6.0
    • 2Q actual – +1.0
    • Still pointed in the wrong direction but I’ve lost a good bit of weight since the 1st quarter. I’m up 1 pound on the year but down 6 pounds since the last weigh-in. I’m not sure I’ll hit 12 pounds on the year but I’m at least heading in the right direction now.

Not too bad for the quarter. I surpassed my money goal. I’m close to catching up on books. My weight and gamerscore goals are looking much better than last quarter. I’ve got some work to do on my parks and push ups/sit ups goal though, so I’ll see if I can’t focus a little more on that these next three months.

How are your resolutions treating you?

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1st Quarter Report – 2016

It’s funny how resolutions work. Last year, I struggled to get to four concerts by December. This year, I’ve seen Marianas Trench twice, Jon Pardi, and Carly Rae Jepsen in the first three months, with Kacey Musgraves and possibly Chris Stapleton in the next quarter. My 2015 trip goal was front loaded with Hawaii and St. Augustine in April but all of my trips are stacking up in the fourth quarter this time around.

So how are the goals looking up ’til now?

  • 12 Books:
    • 1Q projection – 3
    • 1Q actual – 2
    • What would a reading goal of mine be without starting the year behind? I finished up Halo: Contact Harvest by Joseph Staten in January. It was okay. Definitely not the best of the Halo books bunch. Then I wrapped up Wild by Cheryl Strayed halfway through March. I loved this book because I can relate to her pushing her own boundaries and the inevitable return to the “real world” she struggled with. I started Edisto Jinx by C Hope Clark (my momma!) late in the month but I haven’t made much headway yet.
  • 12,000 Dollars:
    • 1Q projection – $3,000
    • 1Q actual – $2,644.85
    • The first quarter is always the worst, money-wise. I have my IPTAY donation due. It’s my second year buying season football tickets. This year, I managed to snag a girlfriend around February. Going forward though, my annual increase at work goes into effect. And hopefully the big purchases die down a bit. I should be able to catch up by the second quarter or third at the latest.
  • 12 Parks:
    • 1Q projection – 3
    • 1Q actual – 2
    • Not terribly behind. Yet. My fourth quarter is always shot on the weekends with football, so I’ve got some work to do. In February, I took a mental health day to go play in the woods and hit up Little Pee Dee State Park and Woods Bay State Park with Harper. There was a 1.3 mile trail at Little Pee Dee and a 0.9 mile loop at Woods Bay, so nothing too strenuous. The Bridge Run is this weekend, so I’m going to try and visit Givhans Ferry while I’m down there. And I always have Sesquicentennial in Columbia as a backup. Maybe some camping trips in my future?
  • 12,000 Push-ups/Sit-ups:
    • 1Q projection – 3,000
    • 1Q actual – 686
    • This was always going to be a back-heavy goal. The idea was to start the first week of the year with 1 push-up and 1 sit-up a day, every day. But I thought that was starting a little light. I’m finishing up this week with 19 a day, so I should be almost at 750 by the end of the weekend. Just FYI – crunches are infinitely harder to do than push-ups once the numbers get a little higher.
  • 12 Football Games:
    • 1Q projection – 3
    • 1Q actual – 0
    • No football season means no football games. I am planning a trip with the girl and the brother’s family for the Spring Game in Clemson a week from now. But I’m not cutting corners and counting that one. The big boy games start in September with Auburn, so look for this one to be dormant for another quarter and some change.
  • 12,000 Gamerscore:
    • 1Q projection – 3,000
    • 1Q actual – 1,715
    • I’m a bit conflicted on this one. I probably would have been close to hitting my goal on this one. But in January, I picked up a PS4 to play Call of Duty and The Division with a group of guys (and girl) from work. PlayStation uses trophies, not achievements and gamerscore. So my 1,715 score only covers my Xbox One progress. I have 715 points from Rise of the Tomb Raider and just 100%’d Life is Strange earlier this week to get the 1,000 points there. There’s still a few achievements within reach on Destiny. I’m playing through Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment now. I’m debating on whether to pick up Quantum Break. I’ve got a standing offer to co-op Borderlands. Just have to carve out the time!
  • 12 Pounds:
    • 1Q projection – -3.0
    • 1Q actual – +7.0
    • Ha. Going the wrong direction in a fierce way. So much for this goal. #Fat

Nothing too bad but nothing too great either. I’m behind on all of my goals but that was to be expected on some (football games, push-ups, sit-ups) and I’m not far behind on most of the others (money, gamerscore, books, and parks). The only one that really caught me off guard was the weight goal. But that’s why I keep track each quarter: find out what’s working and correct what isn’t.

So how was the start to your year?

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What I Learned: March 11, 2016

  • There’s a girl. That I like. A lot. Unfortunately, she has no nickname yet.
  • I’ve already been to as many concerts in a month and a half in 2016 as I went to in all of 2015. My last entry walked through my two Marianas Trench shows I went to in January. I got a last minute invite to the Jon Pardi and Brothers Osborne show on January 29th at the Fillmore for a little country in my life. Then on February 13th, I took in Carly Rae Jepsen’s stop at the Fillmore. The CRJ date wound up being a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I was expecting a room full of underage, teenage girls. Instead, it was a a crowd full of girl groups and gay guys. Fabulous, ecstatic gay guys. On April 16th, I get to see Kacey Musgraves at Amos’ Southend for another round of country. It’s been a good year for live music!
  • Tom Clancy’s The Division came out this past Tuesday. It’s an open-world, always connected shooter RPG. Very similar to Destiny, only in the real world (New York City) and third-person instead of first-person. Which is trouble, seeing as how I’ve put close to 800 hours into Destiny in a little more than a year and a half. The only con is that I’m playing it on PS4 to join up with a crew from work. I’d much rather be on my Xbox. But we’ll see if I wind up wasting away as much time on a second game. It’s been really good so far!
  • The Republican Party sucks. To be honest, I’m far too conservative to ever truly consider the Democratic Party as a viable option. Would I vote that way? Sure. But I couldn’t see myself permanently switching camps. But I’m almost at that point with the Republicans too. I refuse to vote for Bernie Sanders (the government is already too bloated, so no thanks to taking more of my money), Hillary Clinton (how the email server situation isn’t a bigger deal is mind-blowing), or Donald Trump (No. Just no). I’m almost at that point with Cruz too. So 2016 may wind up being the year I learn how to write in a candidate. Where’s a socially moderate, fiscally conservative party when you need one?
  • I need to work on scheduling a vacation somewhere. This time last year, I was beginning my Hawaii plan. The only thing on the docket so far is my annual trip to Charleston for the Bridge Run in April, maybe a Saturday in Clemson for the Spring Game the following weekend, and my fall football trips – most notably Boston in early October. I have money in the bank and 128 hours worth of PTO. Where should I go?

It’s been awhile! How have you guys been? Hope you enjoy the weather and your weekend, even if it is an hour shorter!

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