2016 Wrapup

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Chele had been reminding me (and Jenni) to do this for years, so I can’t let her down! I was able to find mine all the way back to 2007, but I think this end of the year tradition is probably older than that.

1. What did you do in 2016 that you’d never done before?
Graduated with my Bachelors Degree.
Graduated from the West St. Paul/Mendota Heights Citizen Police Academy.
Became a Reserve Police Officer.
Went to my 1st SHRM Conference.
Went to Duluth for a couple of nights.
Had high blood pressure.
Went to Bemidji.
Went to my 20th class reunion.
Shot a handgun. (And I was really good, you guys.)

2. Did you keep your new years’ resolutions and will you make more for next year?
Don’t make ’em. Unsubscribe.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Some of my co-workers had some terribly awesome babies this year.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
My dog.

5. What countries did you visit?
The usual, which is only this one.

6. What would you like to have in 2017 that you lacked in 2016?
My dog. More traveling, more organization in my life.

7. What date from 2016 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The day Riley died, my grandma’s 90th birthday, surprising Jenni for her birthday, seeing Ozzy’s face at Disney when he recognized some of the characters he knew (also the same day Prince died), election night.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Continuing to co-raise a little boy, who’s turning into a really great toddler. Getting a college degree and a promotion are cool and all, but they don’t hold a candle to that little guy.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Losing my prescription sunglasses. They were like $15, man.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
High blood pressure, the start of some weird ass thyroid thing that’ll flare up sometime or other. Old people stuff.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My backpack. Anything travel related.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My wife’s. It seems like it does every year.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
I’m looking at you, Trump voters.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Our house. Our kid. And now savings because we’re scared shitless about what money we might need when Obama’s no longer in office.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The Lynx winning the championship again this year. Being in an airplane going anywhere. Anytime my kid does something for the first time.

16. What song will always remind you of 2016?
I don’t even know. I don’t listen to music in the car anymore! Maybe Hamilton stuff, though?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:

a) Fatter or thinner: Thinner.
b) Richer or poorer: Probably the same.
c) Happier or less happy: Happier.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Learning. Teaching. Moving. Doing.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being a lazy ass.

20. How did you spend Christmas?
In Missouri with family, like we always do.

21. Did you fall in love in 2016?
I did. I do.

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Fixer Upper. And then I learned that Chip and Jojo give money to queer-hatin’ Republicans and it makes me so sad because I JUST LOVE SHIPLAP. I don’t even know what TV programs are on right now and we’re ditching cable next month, so I’m always gonna be mad at this question from now on. Stranger Things was great.

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is a strong word. But then again, I’ve never felt so much hate in my life with the way things are in America right now.

24. What was the best book you read?
You guys, I actually read books. Like 14 of them. None for school. I mean, I should have read four for school, but I didn’t.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery of 2016?
The Hamilton soundtrack. I heard it for the first time playing a game with Matt and Jenni and I couldn’t even pay attention to the game because I wanted to read along to all the lyrics.

26. What did you want and get?
A promotion. A degree. A healthy son.

27. What did you want and not get?
A positive pregnancy test. A briefcase full of large unmarked bills.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
I don’t think I saw a movie this year that wasn’t animated.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I was 38. And I don’t really remember what I did.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Different election results.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2016?
Sweater vests are coming back, you guys. I know it.

32. What kept you sane?
My kid’s laugh. My wife. My friends. Oddly, my boss.

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Michelle Obama. Dem guns, you know?

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
My potential lack of individual freedom for the next four years tend to stir me a little bit. Russia blowing the United States off the face of the earth. People being shot or punished or, oh, what’s that word… oh, discriminated against because of who they are. I mean, nothing too big.

35. Who did you miss?
My dog. My grandma. My family in Missouri. My friends that I can’t just call up and be like, “hey, wanna go to brunch?”

36. Who was the best new person you met?
We met a handful of queer parents at a random play date earlier in the year and it was awesome to finally find a group of like-minded parents with toddlers. My new co-workers.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2016:
Uninstall those weather apps when you’re on vacation in Key West and be the person on a bike with no shoes on riding down Duval Street laughing out loud because it’s pouring down rain.

101 thing in 1001 days v 3 – two years left

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Since I actually thought about this list the other day, I thought it’d be appropriate to update it… mainly to see if I still remembered my WordPress login.

Here’s the list in its entirety.

Items Completed: 14/101 (13.86%)
Items Not Completed: 0

Bold indicates a completed item
Italics indicates an in-progress item
Red indicates a non-completed (i.e. failed!) item

Self
Read at least, on average, one book a month. (33 books by the end of this project.)
So far I’m at nine and I’m pretty proud of that, despite being nine books short of my 2016 goal on Goodreads. It’s only been since May that I’ve read all of these since I’m not nose deep in college-related reading. And by college-related reading, I mean skimming and Googling a lot of things.
Adult Stuff
Go out with friends in some fashion at least once a month. (2016: complete)
This should probably just be called SOCIALIZE WITH HUMANS. Since my last update, the Konrads came into town in August, we went to the zoo with the Mickos in September, we went to the Family Equality Council Halloween Party and another Halloween party in October, spent time with Ani, Shawn, Julie and Regina in New Jersey in November, and went to the Koch-Mason Winter Social in December. My extrovert self needs this; my introvert wife is amazing for understanding it.
Date night once a month with my wife. (3/2016, 5/2016, 8/2016, 9/2016, 10/2016, 11/2016, 12/2016)
We really suck at this, even though we know we have people in our life that will watch Ozzy. We went out for dinner on our anniversary in August, had a night on the town in Sedalia for my 20th class reunion and went to see TORUK in September, went to the Mall of America to do the Flight of America thing in October, had a quick post-wedding happy hour in New Jersey in November, and we went to the casino in December when we got a negative on our first attempt at making Ozzy a big brother.

Community
Volunteer for a new organization. 
So, I’m one week away from being an official Reserve Police Officer for my town. There’s apparently an exam I have to pass. I feel like this warrants more than a brief update, but I’m gunshy of blogging about it because it’s total book material. (Also, let’s be serious, I never write here anymore.) I’ve already volunteered for a Christmas event, which was amazing and solidified how much I love being able to make an impact on my community.

Family
Send my grandparents at least one postcard a month.
Postagram. Lifesaver.

Make a decision on Ozzy being a big brother.
Decision has been made and it’s yes. We’re actively trying to make it happen, which is also deserving of another blog post. I have so much to offer this blog!

House

Paint the dining room.
It’s 1/2 painted and it’s a lovely shade of green. If our toddler would take a damn nap on the weekends, we could totally finish it.

New Thing

Go to a gun or archery range.
I went to a gun range as part of the West St. Paul/Mendota Heights Citizen Police Academy. (Again: so much to talk about!) I can’t be humble about this, because I was dead-on Annie Oakley style accurate. I’ve never shot a handgun in my life, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t hit every single target square in the chest. However, the smell of gun powder and the empty shell that flew up and got stuck in my hair was enough to confirm that gun shootin’ ain’t for me.

Use Untapped again to try 10 new beers. (3/10)
Nobody said they had to be good beers, right? Uncle John’s Apple/Pear Hard Cider, Sociable Cider Werks Apple Jack, and Ephemere Bleuet are my latest three. I know I drank a bunch of different ones in Key West, but I didn’t have Untappd installed on my phone because I needed space on it for ocean pictures. Many, many ocean pictures.

Out and About

Go to three different sporting events at the U of M. (1/3)
We went to a Gophers women’s basketball game thanks to some sweet tickets from work.

Ozzy

Keep Ozzy’s baby book up to date.
It’s a slow process, but I’m keeping up on it!

Get Ozzy’s pictures taken once a year (outside the holidays). (2016)
We got family pictures taken this summer and he was in some of them, so it counts!


Photo Stuff

Print out our Disney pictures from last year and put them in an album.
I skipped the trip from last year, but took the pictures from our 2016 trip and printed out a book on Snapfish with them. I’m super happy with it and just need to get around to doing last year’s trip, too.

Travel

Go to my 20 year class reunion.
Done. It was ridiculous. It was so much more fun than I thought it would be and there weren’t any redneck assholes and/or methheads that showed up. Or maybe they did, but they were super cool so I don’t even care.

Work

Go to a work conference on average 2x a year. (2016: SHRM Talent Management Conference in Orlando and TCHRA Spring Conference in Minneapolis, Felhaber Law Conference in Bloomington)
Went to another one-day law conference in September. So incredibly fortunate to have an employer that believes ongoing education and learning is important!

 

a 6ish month update on my 101/1001 list

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Man. I am so timely and so consistent with this type of thing. I wish you all would have been committed to reading this blog back in the early 2000s. You would have found it to be much more riveting (not at all) and consistent (too much even). I just can’t keep up with the cool kids these days when I’m busy being my own cool kid and raising the next generation’s cool kid. I think about it, though, and how fun it would be to type all of these ranty things that are too long to fit into 140 characters on Twitter and the type of things that I don’t want to see all these “Blah Blah liked your post”. Because let’s face it, you better damn well like everything I say, you know?

So, yeah – almost six months into the 101 things in 1001 days list and here’s something like an update. To be honest, I didn’t look through the list before I decided to update it, so here’s what you get to learn:

12. Take a full week of vacation at once every year. (Duluth/Key West in 2016) Next year’s vacation probably won’t involve a top secret birthday flight, but MAYBE IT WILL.

19. Go out with friends in some fashion at least once a month. (3/2016, 4/2016, 5/2016) June was going out a few times with Matt and Jenni while I was visiting Key West and, in July, we went to three different birthday parties, met some random GLBTQ parents (that I actually LIKED) in a park to hang out and went to go see Indigo Girls with Jenny.

42. Get my eyes checked once a year. (2016) I need “readers”, as my eye doctor puts it, but it’s not really required. So screw that. No bifocals until a doctor tells me to do it. I’m already on high blood pressure medication. That’s enough old-timey stuff.

58. Try 10 new recipes. (Buffalo Chicken Soup, Kalua Pig). We got an InstantPot off Amazon a couple of weeks ago. It’s nuts and I love it. I’m also making buffalo mac and cheese tonight for my lunch, so if it’s that palatable I’ll have another one to add soon.

69. Go to the Minnesota Zoo again. We did. And then we bought a yearly membership, because why the hell not?

71. Go to five shows. We went to the Indigo Girls again. We have to. It’s a lesbian requirement.

89. Spend a night/weekend in Duluth. Done and done. We celebrated Ash’s 19th birthday during a middle of the week trip to the North Shore. It’s on our “need to do again” list for sure.

93. Visit Paul Bunyan and the Blue Ox in Bemidji. Went north for work, but brought the family along and did all that touristy jazz. It’s another on the list of, “hey, northern Minnesota is pretty cool!”

 

I’m probably going to have to kick things up a notch to knock most of this off my list, but I’m feeling good about it. Or it could just be that I’m feeling overly ambitious to start projects I’ll never complete, but at least that won’t come as too big of a shock for me.

my 2016 take on pride

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I’m really glad I live in state and metro area where we celebrate diversity, specifically the LGBT variety this time of year. I’ve been celebrating it since I moved here in 2003. My first parade blew my mind. It was three months after moving from a town where faggot and dyke are still used as popular vernacular from homophobic poopheads. Not cool, you guys. 

It wasn’t until I’d lived here a few years and had met some friends that were like, “hey, you’re cool”, that made me realize I was cool the way I was and I could stop spending time on match.com trying to convince myself I was something I wasn’t. (By the way, big thanks to the dudes out there who took me to dinner on our first dates, because I was hella broke and Chili’s was so delicious.)

A few years later involved a move to Minneapolis, a job in downtown Minneapolis where I worked with a real life gay dude, and I was finally like, “yeeeeeeah, I ain’t hiding anything anymore.” And ever since, I’ve been all WHAT? I GOT A WIFE. WHAT IS YOUR DEAL? 

It was a little defensive at first. Some people still aren’t sure about the whole gay thing. Maybe it’ll be like laser discs and go away one of these days. But then after a while, it finally just felt like me. And I’m proud of that. 

It took me a while and it needed to. I’m glad I can feel comfortable enough in my own skin to have pride in who I am. I wish that for everyone. I wish a lesbian from a small town in Missouri could have short hair, wear a tie to work in an office and not feel weird about taking her girlfriend to the movie theater without fear of being taunted or made fun of. I wish a gay man in a small town in Northern Minnesota didn’t have to hide who he was at work every day, but I’m so glad he works for my company now where he beams with pride every day that he can come to work and be his authentic self. I’m proud of those people because they have to work even harder to be true to themselves. 

The weeks leading up to Twin Cities Pride have been rough. 49 people were gunned down in a place they felt safe and free and able to not worry about who they wanted to dance with. That’s stripped so much feeling of safety for a huge amount of the gay community all over the world. It’s taken away some of our pride because it’s scared us. But it’s also given us more pride because we’ve come together and realized that we’re all together in this. 

Happy pride. I hope you can celebrate it in a way that makes you feel proud. I’m proud of you. Every single bit of you. 

a dad, three grandpas and my son

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Happy Father’s Day. Since it’s a retail-recognized holiday, I’ll celebrate by blogging. 

Happy Father’s Day to my dad. 

 You are the best. Ever.  There was that one time when you yelled at me for burping out loud when we were having dinner at the Pit Stop Cafe. But I learned it from watching you, Ronald.  And then there were all the times you let me try things and do things and always encouraged me in your own way. I mean, Dad, that time you coached our 5th grade basketball team and we beat every single team was even more fulfilling since the only basketball game I think you ever played was H-O-R-S-E. Unless you didn’t feel like playing that long and you turned it into H-O. Or when we used THAT ONE PERSON’S NAME. I’ve learned a lot from you and I’m proud of it all. 

Now that I see you as a papa to Oslo, I get to see the love you have for him and it’s the sweetest thing in the world. He’ll grow up being able to have a grandpa in his life and I’m so happy for that. No, he will never talk and, no, you cannot cut his hair. Other than that, you’re a grandpa so everything else is free game. 

Growing up, I had two truck driving grandpas. And when there truck driving grandpas weren’t driving cheese all across the country, they were at home taking me fishing, giving me quarters, never letting me win at checkers and putting boobies on my snowmen. 

One died when I was in 2nd grade, which made it the worst year of my life. From him I learned that people don’t hand you shit. You work for it and you get better at it. That includes winning at checkers. I also learned how to negotiate Cheeto trades while sitting at the dining room table. Life skills, you guys. They don’t come with participation awards and my grandpa would likely mock every child that had one. 

My grandma remarried a widowed plumber that drove an orange and white Studebaker. The first time he showed up to pick her up for a date, I shut the door in his face. Soon after, they got married and moved from right next door to 30 minutes away. TRAVESTY. But he because the best third grandpa I never thought I’d have. He couldn’t hear a marching band two inches from his ear, was bow-legged enough to drive a Mack truck between his legs and just wore a rope as a belt on his dress pants when he couldn’t find a belt. He taught his grandkids a lot by  example; he exemplified not letting the little things get to you. He never told you that, but you saw it. He was the most patient soul I’ve ever encountered, even when he crushed your ribs with every hug. He died in 2006. 

My other grandpa is 91 and was running over a cat with his electric wheelchair when we were trying to FaceTime earlier today. This grandpa doesn’t say much; when he does share something, you stop what you’re doing and you listen. If he’s taking time away from watching the Weather Channel or RFD-TV, it’s important. He called me two weeks ago to see what Oslo was doing and tell me he might grow up to be a stand up comedian. The time before that, he called when we were driving through Iowa to see when we’d be there. That’s two more calls than I remember getting from him my entire life. He’s such an amazing silent example of an incredibly hard work ethic and a desire to provide everything you can to your family. He exemplifies pride in what he’s worked towards, like the riding lawn mowers he used to wax regularly or the fishing boats and trucks he would trade in on a regular basis. He’d give you the world if you needed it and wouldn’t ask why. I’m so thankful he’s gotten to know his great grandson. 

My little son doesn’t have a dad and not all kids do. My boy has a papa and a great grandpa. He also has two uncles that are so different in so many ways and yet are both the perfect role models from to see. He has a big brother that adores him and will no doubt be there to guide him along the way. He’s got more than a lot of kids out there and, for that, we’re so fortunate. 

We’re also thankful for the sperm of strangers in this household, both from Oslo’s donor and the fella who contributed to my existence. Thanks, fellas. I’m afraid there’s not a Happy Seed Provider Day, but we would definitely celebrate your… generosity.  

Happy Father’s Day, however you celebrate or however you don’t.