life's latest chapters

thanksgiving. This past weekend was the first time in a long time that I went home to visit the family. And it was the longest time I had been home since I moved out in May. As expected, the holiday visit was wonderful.

I came home Wednesday evening, just a few hours before my sister. That meant I had dibs on the twin guest bed, which is currently living in my old bedroom. She had to spend her first night home on the family room couch, until my dad and I could fish out the old mattress from the garage. As we went to complete the task the following morning, I noticed that my parents had decided to get a head start on their packing, in preparation for their move sometime within the coming year. A lot of their stuff was in boxes in the garage, and the house was emptier than it had felt in a long time.

Thanksgiving Day was not as over-indulgent as I had feared it would be. I ate just enough and didn't take any leftovers home with me. I slept a little, partially because of the turkey and partially because I was gearing up for Black Friday. My mom, sister, and I shopped from 6:30 in the morning to about 5:30 at night. We got some great deals and finished a good portion of our Christmas shopping. Most importantly, we had an amazing 11 hours together. That hasn't happened lately, so it was nice to have the time for just the three of us. Feeling bad about leaving my dad at home all day - though he was happy to have some peace and quiet - we ate dinner together, something I hardly ever remember us doing when my sister and I were growing up. I guess that as the years move on, you realize there are some things you can't ever take back, but it's always worth a shot.

I spent Saturday looking for a new phone, since my current one is falling apart and I am planning on switching to Verizon from Cingular because of my employee discount. After nabbing a new Motorola Razr, I met up with Danielle for dinner and gossip, as usual. A trip home isn't complete without some time spent with the best friend.

On Sunday, I made a last-minute decision to cancel my singing lesson (more on that later) to spend an extra couple of hours with my family. For the past few years, I've always missed out on decorating for Christmas because of some term paper or exam or something or other. I expressed my intent to decorate my parents' house for what was sure to be their last holiday there. It was as much fun as I could have hoped for, regardless of the fact that my parents opted to skip the fresh Christmas tree this year. I took their four mini fake trees, set up a tree forest of sorts, and themed each tree: red/gold, angels, toys, and Disneyland. Corny, but that's Christmas for you.

Who knew I had so much to be thankful for?


moving on. Seeing my parents' house slowly being packed away brought on an unexpected feeling of nostalgia. I never considered their house my house because we had moved there during my senior year of high school, and much of my time since then has been spent outside of and away from the house. But knowing that they would be leaving Antioch, the place that shaped my childhood and adolescence, made me just a little sad. And I realized that their next home wouldn't be my home. I wouldn't have a bedroom there. I'd have to make arrangements to visit. I'd have no place to store all the stupid things I don't want to keep but just can't make myself get rid of. I'd really be on my own.

I'm officially moved out.


puppy love. Precious is... well, just that. I've come to love her more and more in her old age. Despite her loss of hearing, she still is as eager as ever. Granted, the change has been hard on her. She has always had a companion since the day she arrived, and she has required more attention since Chocolate's passing. We let her play with us inside the house, despite having raised her as an outside dog. We fawn over her, buy her new doggie confections, and shower her with treats.

But the time I spent at home really showed me how much of a burden she's become on my parents. They are rarely at home, spending most of their days at work, and she needs more attention than they can offer her. Coming to this realization, my family decided it would be best to permanently move her to my grandmother's house. She doesn't leave much, and since she lives alone, the companionship will do them both well. It's a nice and comfortable place for Precious to spend the last part of her life.

For the first time in 12 years, there are no signs of a dog in my family's house. It breaks my heart a little.


all work, all play. God, I love my job. There are probably a large handful of people I know who despise me for constantly saying that, but it's true. It's so much fun, I don't even think of it as work most of the time.

My supervisor talked with me briefly the other day about how I've been progressing. She expressed her satisfaction with my work, and that makes me really happy. I'm hoping to stay here for a while, and things are looking good.

I'm currently on the Community Benefit division holiday party planning committee. For the next few weeks, I'll be getting paid to spend a portion of my time planning for the year's biggest party. How great is that?


moonlighting. I've just started teaching private vocal lessons, and it has thus far been an incredible experience. I currently have one steady student and another more sporadic one. Both have been progressing exceptionally well, and I am so proud of the work they are doing. I've always enjoyed teaching; when I tutored math in high school and college, it was the greatest feeling to see my students achieve their goals. This, though, is a thousand times better because I'm teaching something I love and feel so passionate about. Not only are my students getting a better grasp on technique and style, but they both seem to be gaining a self-confidence that will surely assist in their stage performance (I have yet to see either of them perform solos on stage, but I will get to very very soon!).

I hope to acquire a few more students in the coming months. It will depend on my availability with work and soon-to-come extracurriculars, but I believe this is something I will continue to pursue. It's sort of like a dream come true, in a smaller kind of way.


personal growth and education. McRatha and I just signed up for an introductory conversational Spanish class at Laney College. I'm hoping to acquire new skills for work, particularly because many of the communities we serve are Spanish-speaking. Plus, one of my goals in life is to be bilingual. This is one step towards that aspiration of mine.

I'm also planning on enrolling in an beginning tap dance class at Diablo Valley College. First of all, I want to get some more dance training under my belt. It would really help when auditioning for musicals. I hope to someday get cast in A Chorus Line, one of my all-time favorite musicals, and I need some serious dance training for that. I've got to start somewhere. Secondly, the physical benefits of a two-hour dance class are pretty much amazing.

Speaking of physical benefits, I've finally got back on track with the weight loss and exercise program. Success is surely on its way. Five days after Thanksgiving, and I'm already a few pounds lighter. Go me!


significant others. Pshh, as if this is actually happening to me. As of yet, this chapter is unwritten. I suppose it will continue to stay that way for a long time, considering I have limited opportunities to meet guys - straight guys, that is. I've made plenty of new gay boy friends in the past few months. This part of the blog is just to vent, really, because lately, I've wanted to talk about some things regarding my non-existent love life, but I feel like my "problems" are too petty for anyone to want to deal with. Even my best friend (who is currently experiencing the relationship drama of all dramas at the moment). So boo to being stuck in a rut.

And no, I am nowhere near considering online dating. Not even close.


end scene.


fits like a glove

Last Thursday, ETP went on an all-company off site to Costanoa Lodge in Pescadero. The scenery was beautiful, and our rooms were so comfortable I think I could have stayed there forever. Most of Thursday was devoted to a team survival trek, which encompassed a handful of survival-style tasks that were dispersed within a square mile area of wild vegetation. We were instructed to complete as many tasks as we could within three hours, with only a few shoddy supplies (tarp, duct tape, a single sock, etc.), a map not drawn to scale, a compass, and our own limited survival skills. Our team was only able to complete three of the six tasks, but damn, we did them well. The first consisted of transporting water from one location to a distant other, using the small stock of supplies we had on hand. With a lot of improvisation and transforming plastic into lining, we managed to bring back enough water to have successfully completed the task. After that, we had to create a compass in two ways: one with just a 3-foot stick and another using a cup, water, wax paper, a needle, and a magnet. After picking our team's random store of knowledge, we actually figured both compasses out and were the only team to successfully do so. Finally, we had to find an injured "rescuer," which was actually a 65-pound dummy, diagnose and attend to his injuries, and evacuate him from the site. All the while, we were hiking through tall grasses, led by dirt trails, and desperately trying to avoid poison oak. One of my team members was wearing a pedometer, and we clocked in about 7 or 8 miles that afternoon. Needless to say, it was an extreme test of intellect, physical ability, and teamwork. So fun, and so exhausting.

Later that evening, after all the showers and food, we had the annual ETP Cabaret, a showcase of employee's talent that extends beyond the usual performing we do at the workplace. Several people did skits, most of which were original and all of which included the humor and topics not entirely appropriate for school-age assemblies. There was some dancing, rapping, musical instrument playing, and singing, of course. I took this opportunity to perform, especially because my personality outside the workplace differs so much from that within the workplace. At work, I'm quiet and diligent, keeping to myself and focusing on the task at hand. I wanted to show people that there was a side of me that was fun, entertaining, and really quite outgoing. As nervous as I was (I still get stage fright after 15 years of performing), I pulled off my song, "Vision of Love" by Mariah Carey, really really well. Though, throughout the performance, some of my more inebriated colleagues were cheering rather exuberantly for me, which made me break out in a fit of laughter during the second verse. At least I know they were enjoying it.

Before heading off to bed, a few co-workers and I decided to venture off the grounds and try to find the beach. In the pitch-black dark, led only by two small flashlights, we walked toward the coastline and pondered things such as the beauty of nature and the power of music. It was one of those kind of nights. We never ended up finding the beach; the path we took led us to a cliff overlooking hundreds of rocks and the crashing waves below. Regardless, it was a fitting ending to an incredible day.

The following morning, we did a three-hour time line activity intended to highlight the connections among the different generations of people in our company. It was interesting to see others' interpretation of the world's events and the different effects on people such things can have. Similarly, we had the opportunity to share some of our lives' most significant moments. I learned that I work with some amazing, well-travelled, and adventurous people. I became inspired by people, both in and out of my generation, that had the courage to explore, and often change, the world around them, and it made me happy to know that I was working with people like this - people who could challenge me to take that next big step.

At the end of it all, I came to more firmly believe in something I had known all along: this job truly is a perfect fit for me. I feel so fortunate to have found such an amazing place to begin the adult part of my life. A place that not only incorporates all of my interests, passions, and strengths into one job, but also a place with people I enjoy being around. Sometimes I can't even believe it's real.

I'm happy to say that I love my job. Really, it's amazing!