I have pretty much been an open book regarding usage of drugs and alcohol, even since my high school days. My parents never pressured me directly or inquired as to my usage of either of the substances, despite being exposed to them before graduating high school. My exposure to marijuana was extremely limited; only in my later years did I realize what some of those people had been smoking. However, at more than a few parties, a friend or two of mine would frequently have access to/would be drinking beer. This was not an unusual phenomenon, but despite being offered, I never felt an urge to have any.

Reaching my undergraduate years, upon some inquiry into my state of alcohol consumption, I was encouraged to ‘get drunk’ one night with some friends at the fraternity they were pledging to. This was the first time I finally decided I was going to go forward with the endeavor to consume some alcohol. I consumed a liter’s worth of Mothers’ Peppermint Schnapps before I got a buzz; my friend was a bit shocked by this endeavor, and felt the urge to continue the imbibing until he was sufficiently satisfied with my degree of drunkenness. What soon followed was my first (and worst) foray into the realm of beer: ‘The Beast’.


I had had some noxious beverages in my youth…V8 happened to be the worst thing in my recorded history of beverages in my mouth. This ‘beer’ now took the cake. I was ruined on beer for years! For the next three years until I came of legal drinking age, I stuck to solely mixed hard alcohol drinks.

After turning 21, my friend Anneli helped me back into the realm of beers with some resistance on my own behalf. Thankfully, she shared a similar taste for some of the darker beers I now have come to greatly appreciate. After many a night of Long Island iced teas, I finally came around and tried some Amberbock. It was much more palatable than ‘The Beast’ had been, and so I began warming back up to beer again.

Shortly thereafter came Killian’s, followed by Leinenkugel’s even heavier beers, and an ever expanding array. Coming to Buffalo, a coworker exposed me to the bliss that is Spaten, and shortly thereafter to the realization that eisbocks existed and were equally delicious! After discovering much of the local brewing scene in combination with other regional breweries to the Northeast (especially those producing Belgian-style beers), I have essentially been in a beer heaven of sorts ever since!

The only other drug outside of alcohol that I’ve even experimented with was marijuana. It took me until I was nearly 30 to do so. My present roommate smokes it on a semi-regular basis, and left a standing offer of joining her any time I wished. One dejected and stressful afternoon, I was royally pissed and cranky with life, so I said fuck it, let’s see what this is all about! Fifteen minutes of attempts to smoke some cheap weed later, I really wasn’t that far off from where I started. This killed any and all notion that smoking it was beneficial in any sense of the word. That happened roughly a year ago; I have had no urge to try it again since.

My drinking habits varied throughout life since the college years. College was primarily social drinking; my sources were connected to the social circles at first, and once I was of age, I drank infrequently on my own at home.

After getting married, the beer consumption dropped off significantly. Holly didn’t drink beer, and I didn’t have a regular group of people that I could go out and drink with; it was an infrequent event saved for the just as infrequent social parties.

When the separation came around, I didn’t think I would change much in my drinking habits. Boy, was I wrong. Rob encouraged a regular, weekly meeting for beers and dinner, and on more than one occasion we’d turn a regular night out into a near binge-drinking night. I started having a couple beers with dinner once or twice a week. Every now and then I’d imbibe into drunkenness on the stressful, depressing days. I wallowed a little bit, and alcohol sometimes eased the pain. Often, it did not. I never got to what I thought was an alcoholic stage, but I had glancing worries that I was using alcohol as a crutch to escape the pain and rejection I was subjecting myself to during that first year of separation.

Fast-forward a year later to having a roommate. I figured I’d have to control my drinking more then. I really didn’t; I still had my depressed episodes, and indulged far more than I should have. I learned quickly (and repeatedly, ugh) that I can’t handle two 750-mL bottles of wine on an empty stomach. Another eight months of finally ripping myself out of that depression into something more like a normal life, the ‘depressed nights’ of drinking were now gone.

Since righting myself back upright, the beer still comes out occasionally on non-social affair nights, but usually they’re ‘shitty day in the lab’ types of nights, or celebratory in nature. I don’t keep beer as frequently stocked in the fridge (partly because my roommate has an unnatural ability to consume random tasties in there), but I’ll keep some around when I get the hankering for a delicious beer or two.

Wine? I love the stuff…but if I don’t consume it within a week, my roommate’s into it. Must. Hide. The tasties!

I can’t believe I was asking this question 10 years ago while I was still in school, and here I am 10 years later, still in school. It’s interesting how life sends you curveballs that can utterly change the track of life in varying degrees.

I’m going to be 40 in ten years. I never thought I’d be plotting where my life would be at that point. I always assumed I’d have everything settled out and into a rhythm by my 30s. At this point, by 35 or so. I really have to wonder if my life will ever settle down into some sense of normalcy.

Would it be too much to ask that I finally have a career in life? A solid job that I can appreciate and be appreciated for. No longer living in rental housing, or have finally established some semi-permanent sort of residence if it is still a rental. I’m so tired of the moving bit. I love the change of scenery, but I’m ready to retire the dynamism of varying jobs and varying domiciles to enjoy things that I need some permanence for.

I would like to have a partner to share my life with. I’m not heart-set on needing one, but I would hope a decade from now that I’ve finally sorted that mess out. I’ve been through a few epic failures in my life of relationships, and a few misguided choices in love. I’m ready to just get back to some awesome, and keep the awesome with for a long time. Is that you?

I don’t need a house, but it would help. I like to make stuff; my father helped to rub that off on me. To do some of the cool projects I have in mind, I’d need to procure a small workshop, practically. Building tables, entertainment centers, bed frames, shelving, etc. Nerding out some metalworking for case mods, decorations, DNA-lit Christmas tree…all kinds of bizarre ideas! I also have thoughts of the kitchen of my dreams; I’d like to get close to it some day, for as often as I love to cook!

Really, what I want most is my time. The time that I’ve invested so much of to get my life to where I want it, I’m ready to recoup it. I want that time to make these projects. I want that time to pour into a loved one. I want that time to go see the places I’ve always wanted to see. I want that time for my weekends in the woods to escape the day to day grind.

Maybe it’s all a pipe dream, but it’s where I hope to be in 10 years. Finally getting the returns on the 30 years that I’ve invested in my life so far…

It would appear I need a kickstart in my blogging nature again. Since November is National Novel Writing Month, I’m taking the shortcut blogging evolution that has develop since. I’ve got a list of prompts to help take me through the days that I’m too busy to come up with novel blog material (read: over the next week), but I will be trying to put in original material when and where I can.

So here goes with Day 1!

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Dear lord, I keep trying to sneak in here to blog away, and something is always sneaking up to keep me occupied.

Camping was amazing up in Wellesley Island State Park. I stopped in Rochester to pick up Cori, and grab some lunch with Greg and Kelly at The Distillery. After some delicious eats, we were off to northern New York state!

It may not suffice as a legit vacation1, but a 3-4 day weekend kicking back with an awesome young lady is a very good substitute. We setup camp Friday afternoon and just took it easy for the rest of the day. Once I figured out how to put the tent back up again, that is. It’s been a few years!

Cori rocked it on the food front. I had brought bacon, eggs, pork chops, chicken breasts (to marinate with sesame & ginger dressing), and some sausages and a couple chicken burgers of varying styles (cheddar/broccoli/bacon, polish, feta/spinach, respectively). I had asked Cori to take charge of bringing some marinated veggie concoctions, and boy did she. Gallon bags of eggplant and onion, mushrooms and peppers, green and yellow sliced squashes, and balsamic-marinated portabellas. And that wasn’t including snacks! Dear lord…apples, peanut butter and caramel dip for said apples, gallon bag of mixed berries (*drool*), ingredients for caprese (*drooling even worse*), and I’m sure I’m missing something else there. Regardless, I was thoroughly shocked at the additional smorgasbord that was coming along.

Saturday, we checked out the Autumn Festival that goes on in the park every fall apparently. It isn’t anywhere near the size of the Ellicottville Fall Festival that I’ve already been to, but it was a quaint little festival nonetheless. Not much to see (besides some alpacas and calves), but the $5 boat tour of the nearby islands was worth the fare!

Sunday ended up as a ~5-mile hike in the park and an afternoon trip for delicious alma mater foodies from Cori’s college years. And some lawn chairs. The wooden bench was wearing at our asses in the evening. Anyhoo, late lunch/early dinner ended up being at The Bagelry, which is essentially as the name implies: a bagel deli of sorts. Delicious, open-faced bagel sandwiches at an expectable price range. We dined on those while enjoying the riverfront nearby, followed by a short tour around the hotspots of her college years in the area. Half-dozing, we got back to the campsite well after sunset.

Monday we spent gobbling up the rest of the eggs, berries, and another helping of our daily bacon before closing camp. We hit up Alexandria Bay to take a boat shuttle out to Boldt Castle, in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. Wandering around for a few hours on a self-guided tour of the castle undergoing restoration was pretty amazing. Still awesome to see what kind of structures have been and are still being built in the last century!

Heading back out, we splurged on a lunch with apples & Nutella (not sure how Cori missed me mentioning that the first afternoon), caprese, and some salad with the leftover marinated chicken. We ate like royalty that weekend, I swear! And to top it all off, her parents’ invited me to stay over for dinner upon returning to Rochester: chicken parmigiana with homemade sauce, homemade spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, and baked marinated squash (that we didn’t even touch all weekend). Omilord was I spoiled! After trying to relax and digest all that food, it was indeed difficult to muster the willpower and energy to drive all the way back to Buffalo after that weekend.

I didn’t even stay in Buffalo that long. Cori procured us tickets to go see Andrew Bird over at Harro East in Rochester, so off I went immediately after work on Wednesday for that show! Following up a modestly long performance by Dosh and Bird, some food was necessary. An unexpected drop in at Jay’s Diner hit the spot! Some awesome clam chowder2 set the meal off right. I can’t even remember what else I got; the chowder was the best part!

A necessary crash at the Bed & Breakfast was necessary before hitting the road and driving right back to Buffalo. So much back and forth in just a week! Thankfully, it’s only an hour drive; anything over two hours would quickly become a bit miserable to deal with, uffda.

So here I am, finally trying to finish out this week. I’ve got a Chinese dinner night in planned for Friday3, followed by documentation of Rachel’s lopping off of her hair for Roswell Park on Saturday morning, some linguine alla carbonara with fixings for dinner, and then off to the Buffalo Philharmonic to see the ‘Dead Russians concert’, as Cori likes to describe it. Sunday is supposed to involve a trip out to the Great Pumpkin Farm’s Fall Festival over in Clarence with Nicole, Kate, and likely some other social media-ites, before finally sending Cori back off to Rochester. It’ll be a modestly busy but enjoyable weekend!

I’m not even going to bother with dumping my photos to my blog from the camping excursion. I’m still trying to play catchup with the pictures I took from Nicole’s birthday wine tour as well, so just go check my flickr stream if you really want to see what turned out.

In the interim, I think it’s very much time for some sleep…the clock just passed midnight…

1I still haven’t taken my two weeks off this year yet. It’s starting to wear on me…uffda.
2Not just a modest cup of it either, a whole bowl was necessary after the deluge we ran through after the concert!
3Presuming that it doesn’t get sidetracked or derailed by anything else immediately upon arrival…*raises a brow*

As of Wednesday night last week, I really had no plans going on for the weekend. I was going to use it to get caught up on random stuff, and possibly take a day trip out to Rochester to visit people. A brief Facebook message from Nicole inviting me to her 30th birthday party out on Lake Cayuga for the weekend changed those plans in a hurry. Being (significant) plan-devoid for the weekend, I was more than available to go as long as I shifted my workload around.

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Thank goodness I finally went in for some drugs last week. I was starting to keep things under control by mid-week, but it took a turn for the worse Wednesday evening. Going into late evening, I had an obvious blob of gunk in the corner of my eye before going to bed. Almost a guaranteed indicator of conjunctivitis, which was even more likely to have been due to an accidental cross-contamination between nose and eyes1. Waking up Thursday morning, my right eye was definitely sealed reasonably shut, and my left had substantial amounts of dried goop. That was the straw that broke the camel’s back; I set myself up an appointment with the clinic in the prospect of getting some drugs.

I don’t like going to see a doctor more than I have to. I’m already aware of the concern with over- (or unnecessarily) medicating with antibiotics, so I already limit my attempts to solicit for antibiotics to a minimum2. However, it seems that every time I go in there, they give me a lecturing on how they would rather not give out antibiotics, that it takes a few days to determine if it’s bacterial or viral, etc. Admittedly, it would help if I would just establish myself a primary care physician (instead of using the student clinic on campus), but it’s this exact mentality that got me situated in my first sinus infection in the first place3. I’m not trying to play off as smarter (or better informed) than the doctor, but damnit, I’m working with you guys! Up until that first sinus infection, I think the last time I got prescription drugs/antibiotics was sometime in high school. I know there are others out there that look to (and do) abuse antibiotics, but I’m not one of them!

Regardless of the speech, this doctor was compliant and gave me antibiotics for both the eyes (polymyxin) and respiratory tract (amoxicillin), and I’ve been cleaning up nicely since then in combination with my normal regimen of pseudoephedrine and dextromethorphan. The last of my coughing fits4 was probably Friday, and the cough has been well under control since. A little more pseudoephedrine until I’m sure my sinuses are clean and extra nightly rest, and I should be ready to start running again late this coming week!

Tangentially, I discovered that the white hairs in my head grow faster than the rest of my hair that does have pigment. For as short as I keep my hair, this becomes shockingly obvious if I let my hair get a little too long before the next cut. Also, the growth of the white patches is making them more obvious. Discovering this while I post-processed pictures from camping weekend was a bit of a kicker. I suppose it’s only a matter of time; even my beard is going white bit by bit. I’m not that disturbed by it, thankfully; the fact that my hair is going white instead of grey feeds my elitist ego a little bit!

1Or the rare chance it could have migrated up my tear ducts. I don’t think that’s possible, but I am extremely fastidious about not cross-contaminating between nose and eye. I’ve seen that go wrong with far too many another person.
2I really would rather not get antibiotics unless whatever infection I have is debilitating in some sense, be it mental faculties, physical capabilities, or ability to sleep. I have to be pretty fucking miserable to give up and go get antibiotics.
3The first doctor essentially blew me off and told me to take cold meds (which I had been), despite it being worse than any cold I had had before. I went in again two weeks later and the nurse practitioner took one gander at my nose and said I needed to get on antibiotics ASAP. Ever since then, I constantly have to fight repeat bouts of it…really…thanks guys…
4I swear I have some variation of asthma once I’ve coughed too much; I develop an uncontrollable itch/spasm in my lungs and can cough until I puke, it gets so bad!

December 24 – Everything’s OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

I think it really hit me that things were going to be okay when I finally found a new apartment to live in over the summer. I had a ridiculous amount of anxiety over that. It doesn’t help that it seems to be really hard to hunt for apartments more than 2 months in advance, and you have to give your notice anywhere from 30-60 days in advance…so you basically have to commit yourself to moving out, and then hope you can find a place by the time you do have to move out!

I hate the transitioning state. I want nothing more than to sink into a place, get entrenched, and make it my own. Being that I’m still working out that transitory stage of my career, it’s killing me a little on the inside. That, and I’m just getting tired of the chronic moving anyways. I can not wait until I finally find that stable industry or faculty position at a university, so I know I can finally find a nice lil’ house, and as much as I hate to say it, “nest.”

I don’t mean nesting so much in the sense that I need to provide a home for a family. I just need to provide a home for me. Or one more, if I’m so lucky in the near future, but mostly me. Everyone has their cozy lil’ environment that they can retire do when they’re done for the day, or need an escape from the world. Or real space to setup their hobbies, or projects, or whatever!

Incorporation of that over the following year will be tough; it’s not exactly something I can plan on just yet. I guess I just have the two options at the moment. Firstly, hope I don’t have to find a new place again come summer if I haven’t finished my degree yet. Secondly, as an alternative, I may luck out, finish early1, and then finally get on with my life to the next stage and be one step away from finally being able to settle into some permanence.

1I’d really rather not. I am not too keen on finishing with only one publication under my belt for my PhD career. I’d like to stick around for at least two or three publications, as long as I can keep that within a year’s time of the first one.

December 22 – Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

Travel really wasn’t terribly exciting over the past year. A few drives down to Maryland and back, a roadtrip to Toronto for a pre-season Bills game, a roadtrip to see the Bills playing in Cincinnati, and a flight back to North Dakota to take a mini-vacation to see family and friends. I had considered a drive back to be with the family for Christmas, but I was kind of driven out by that point (and I’m really not a huge fan of flying back into Minot, to be honest).

My itinerary for 2011 is basically where I didn’t get to this year, time and funds permitting. I still would like to take a train ride up over and up to Montreal before I leave western NY. There is supposed to be a lot of lovely scenery going up the Adirondacks, along the Hudson Valley. And along that route, I wouldn’t mind stopping over to see Rob and his wife on the other side of Lake Champlain, in Burlington, VT.

I wouldn’t mind taking a road trip to Chicago and actually seeing the city for a change, instead of always trying to race through it as quickly as possible when returning to North Dakota or Minnesota. I hear there’s a lot to do downtown near the lakeshore, and I’d like to check that out at some point. It’s also a relatively cheap hop if I would rather fly, however, I’m not the most keen on being left without a vehicle until I find some other adequate means of getting around.

In line with the cheap hops, I need to take a trip back to Minneapolis to visit some of my friends I didn’t get to drop in on during my last excursion to the Midwest. Hopefully I’ll be able to pull that off within the next couple months, while there is still some winter there to enjoy!

The long-shot trip I’d like to take is flying out to Seattle. I have some relatives that live out there, and I’m dying to see the city after being in Vancouver during the summer of 2009. I’m not sure if I can afford that trip, but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out on ticket prices if it becomes feasible at all.