It’s a sad memory in retrospect, but I really thought I had it all together once. I thought I had life made, and it felt glorious.

In the rare event you didn’t know, I used to be married. I’ll spare the details on why it didn’t work; it is present in mostly large pieces in my blog if you really need to go look it up. Anyhoo, I really thought I had it all back when I got married. Let me recap things for you:

  • I graduated college, double majoring in chemistry and microbiology (both subjects I love)
  • I was working a delightful job that I never expected to get, learning about the fascinating field of material science at a very respectable pay fresh out of an undergraduate degree
  • I had been accepted to graduate school programs both domestic and abroad, and had settled on moving to the eastern coast to pursue a Ph.D. in Buffalo, NY
  • I spent a week in Germany and was dying to go back
  • Holly was back from a year abroad in Germany, and I couldn’t wait to get started with my life again in her in it

I really thought I had it all together. Even though the wedding was tiny (just a ceremony in a courtroom and a small reception in the park), it felt surreal; it was too good to be true.

I don’t mean to sound snyde, but it was to a small extent. I just learned the hard way that I followed some emotions blindly farther than I should have. It was an amazing relationship, just not one that constituted a marriage. But that build-up to that day was remarkable. I felt like I was on top of the world, and ready to steer it wherever I felt like.

I have fallen far from that pinnacle. Graduate school has taken longer than I would have ever expected. The marriage went onto rocks and has since dissolved. I’m amidst financial woe as long as I continue through graduate school, subjected to an adequate but far from my previously very comfortable ‘real job’ wages.

I missed something when I was last atop that pinnacle, however. Being back down in the valley, I never saw the other peaks that I have to climb. Satisfaction is arbitrary in each situation. I’m on my way up another peak. I don’t know if it’ll be the ‘most satisfied,’ because it’s hard to gauge just how high each one is on your own. But I think I’ve got a long way to go up yet…*smirk*

I laugh a little when people ask what Zodiac sun sign I was born into. I read up on what constitutes a Piscean individual years ago, and even to this day, I feel I embody many of the more characteristic traits of the fishies.

Pisces signs are often described as non-judgmental and very receptive towards others. Under rare exceptions, this usually describes me to a T. It’s hard for me to not be willing to consider someone’s situation or issues without hard evidence against such a stance. I’ll do my best to understand where someone is coming from on an issue, and use that to make any rational decisions on an issue. I used to spend hours helping friends sound out their woes and problems during my college years, helping them realize what was their best course of action (and not someone else’s).

With that in tow, it is also described that us fish are born with an altruistic streak. For a long time, I really tried to entertain this streak. In the years of living on my own, blooming and burning in relationships, and watching friendships reinforce or deconstruct themselves, the altruism has been tamed down a little. I still firmly believe that a strong sense of altruism is what’s missing from the world today, and it irks me to no end that it’s so devoid from our culture on many levels. My altruism even puts many a person off at first. When I first moved in with Emily, she was having issues with her brakes and so I offered to take a look at them and even replace them if she would just pay for the parts. After inspection of her brakes, it was blatantly apparent they needed replacing, and so I told her what she needed and offered to do the repairs at first. She replied with a thanks, no, I’ll take it to the shop, until her coworkers told her she was being crazy. She accepted my offer, and so I got the brake (and even a caliper after the fact) replaced on her minivan over the 4th of July weekend, just two weeks after I had moved in with her. Even recently, I’ve offered to at least two others that I’d replace their brakes for them if they just purchase the parts. If I can readily (and within reason) do something for someone to help them out, I will.

A pair of less noted but equally characteristic traits tend to be the capability to get lost in their of idealized fantasies, and a nigh subconscious striving for knowledge. It’s not hard for me to daydream and get lost in my own mini-fantasies on life. I can idealize for hours and days on just what I want in life, and it’s not hard to get completely lost in it, and even in some cases retreat into it. The world is a painful place often, and where better to deal with it than in your own self-realized pipe dream that you can hide within? However, the chronic search for knowledge helps keep me integrated in life. Look at my current professional status: I’m a graduate student doing scientific research, trying to understand how initiation of DNA replication transitions to elongation of DNA polymerization, and what other crucial process(es) tie into that. I’ve disassembled many an electronic tool in order to (a) figure out how it works, and (b) attempt to repair said electronic tool. I spent four years learning chemistry to understand how chemical reactions work. I spend hours talking to people, trying to understand their point of view, just to learn how people tick. My mind thirsts for an insatiable amount of understanding.

So, with the strengths of Pisces, I’m subjected to the weaknesses very similarly. As a fish, getting lost in my own fantasies is a viable retreat from the cruelness of the world. Any attempts to re-enter reality can be just depressing as the event sending one into the fantasy, leaving one often left to instead wander in their own fantasy instead of remembering to come back down to reality and enjoy the situational blisses there. Because of the very receptive and non-judgmental nature, it’s not uncommon to commonly be a reliable confidant to many people. However, as I’ve learned in the past, it’s easy to get burned in situations like that, and can leave one very distrusting of others. I come off as relatively trusting to many people, but I have a deep-seated worry about deliberate or even unintentional two-facedness. I see coincidence as too coincidental. If someone loves things as much as myself, an alarm starts ringing in my head; I can’t believe that anyone could be that aligned with me. It can be debilitating at times; it has destabilized a relationship or two in the past.

But, Piscean or not, I have to revel in the strengths, and fight to control those weaknesses. Understand that the strengths are partly reasons for the weaknesses, but that when wielded properly just make me that much better. I may be an aloof, overly sensitive creature with a thirst for knowledge and making the world a better place…but as long as I know how to guard that and not let it ruin me, then I fully intend to let loose what I can of it on the world and add an extra little glimmer to my not-so-myopic sphere in the world.

Depression is not something I readily chose to (a) believe that I had, or (b) was willing to admit I had. I still don’t know for sure to this day if I ever had clinical depression, but there are some times I really felt like I could have been borderline there, despite what I thought.

Of those times I thought I might have been close to depression? Definitely not during my college years. I think I was just whiney, sad, ill-motivated, and severely lacking in self-confidence. But that aside, I tormented myself for being unable to actually garner the attention of women. Sure, I could be the good friend, but I seemed to lack any capability to rope anyone in for anything beyond that. And my sappy-assed self got dejected and depressed over it. But really, that only sets the background stage for the environment my mood was brewing in, not in what really caused much of anything.

Driving back to college one weekend after a visit home to see the parents, I felt an overwhelming sadness hit me. It was disturbing; I was driving on the highway, nearly an hour from either major city on my route, and I just couldn’t stop crying. I felt worthless for some reason. Alone. Like no one gave a shit about me, despite having just spent an entire weekend home with my parents, wherein my mother feels the need to call me weekly if she hasn’t heard from me.

I wondered how it would end if I drove myself off the highway into the deep drainage ditch on the side of the highway.

I wondered how long it would take anyone to come and find me. Cell phones weren’t overly abundant in that day in North Dakota yet.

I wondered who would have given a shit.

I wondered how far back in the newspaper the freak news story would end up: ‘College student returning to school dies in accident on US-81.’

I couldn’t stop the flood of emotions for something like fifteen or twenty minutes. I didn’t care if anyone saw me like that on the highway. I just kept trying to get my shit back together, and start thinking normally again. I really worried that something in me might have irreversibly snapped, and I was forever broken.

Slowly, the tears ended. The anxiety within dissipated. I came back to some semblance of reality, despite the ache of my eyes and the burning in my face. I still can’t explain what happened that afternoon, but it was a minor reality check for the rest of my sorry outlook on the rest of my ’emotional strife’ I thought I had. Whatever I was going through, I did not want to re-trigger whatever the hell happened while I was on the highway.

And it never did. I never had that same outburst to such a depressing degree. I’ve had fits of crying where I thought I was broken, used, utterly scarred and forever marked for life, but I never thought about what would happen if I ended my life again. I try to chalk it up to being a situational response to an overwhelming depressive state, but I still don’t know.

Throughout the rest of college, I remembered exactly what mile marker that fit happened at. I even avoided that route to/from home because I was spooked by that spot on the highway; jinxed or some such, one might say. Years later, I could not even tell you where that happened. It’s just a freak emotional response that will remain forever buried as a ‘this one time…’ story.

So to set the stage, I should probably state that I was raised Roman Catholic at my maternal grandmother’s behest, and so my mother obliged. I was never personally interested in the catechism classes in my younger years. When I got to high school, the grades were grouped together into a sort of ‘youth group’ wherein there was a lesser focus on the religion itself and a greater focus on the principles it is intended to impart. Still, I never had much of a taste for the religion myself, although I did appreciate the moral messages that both the pastor and catechism director helped to convey.

In the years after graduating high school and following my confirmation into Catholicism, I came to learn that I had a pretty liberal upbringing (and view) within the church. I met many a friend in college that were very staunch believers in the principles and stories provided in the Bible, but my doubt of theology on a greater scale had long since been implanted in my psyche. These are the years I birthed and refined my Devil’s advocate attitude to discussions; I learned to do my best to understand the other point contrary to my own, and in doing so, tried to educated the other discusser(s) on the contrary to their own points. I never tried to provoke those who were unwilling to accept evidence contrary to their own beliefs, I only wanted them to see it from a standpoint other than their own. I was insistent on understanding how people came to see religion the way they did, and use that to help reanalyze my lackluster approach.

Over the past few years, I’ve come to a (tentative) resolution on my thoughts towards religion in general. I’ve adopted the moniker of being an ‘atheist,’ but I really more closely align with an ‘ignostic’ on principle.

ignostic – a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God —Taken from Apple’s Dictionary application, referencing the New Oxford American Dictionary

This pretty adeptly describes my stance on religion: I really don’t believe that any of us, no matter how divined we may think we are, have any clue what exactly entitles any sort of a god-like entity. Sure, everyone postulates what ‘God’ is really capable of doing, but it’s all speculation based off of stories.

I’m not unwilling to believe in a god, but I frankly feel that if they are anything like religions or mythology build them up to be, then Joe Shmoe on the street is really going to be incapable of understanding what they truly are at a fundamental level. Much like multi-dimensional physics, it is broaching territory we are completely unfamiliar with.

I’m not unwilling to believe in the supernatural either. I have had a couple incidents that have scared some sense1 into me, so as much of a critic as I was before, I’m growing some doubts.

In any case, I’m not concerned so much about religion. I am more inclined to believe that one should do good in their life, and try to do good unto others. You don’t need religion to be a good, morally sound person. Although, when someone calls an atheist an amoral, corrupt person to my face, it does stir an urge in me to besmirch them with a punch to their thick, myopic skull…but I digress…

1Literally…or maybe more accurately, scared some sense out of me, since it doesn’t abide by normal logic in my head.

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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