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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Coming out, over and over again.

Coming out is not something that happens once and it's over.

Coming out is something that happens every time I talk about my wife, or get asked about "my husband" when they see the ring on my finger. Nope, sorry no husband here.

Coming out is just a part of my life. Maybe if I walked around with a rainbow flag I wouldn't have to, but I keep it tucked away until PRIDE, so I just know coming out is something I have to do.

But, as you may recall from past blog posts, the first time I came out was with a bang. Coming out at work was gradual and less dramatic. The anxiety accompanied with the initial big reveal has faded. Nevertheless, I continue to experience coming out over and over again.

I say all of this because yet again, I was in a situation over the weekend where I had to come out.. again. I participated in an event for my graduate degree on campus, which is back in Kentucky. As soon as I found out I had to go and participate in a personal growth group, my nerves went bonkers. Those very nerves made this typically extrovert girl, bury herself in her invisible turtle shell. Why? I dreaded having to come out to my group of cohorts. I was just scared. Scared what would be said. Scared how I would be looked at. Scared for the judgement. I put up my armor. Let me tell you, If you've never worn armor, it's fucking exhausting. But, I could have not said a word. I could have kept my armor up and kept my private life private but I feel like that's wrong. Hiding the fact that I have a wife feels wrong. So, I made the choice,  I came out.

How'd it go you wonder? Fine. The build up was worse in my mind of course.  There were questions, which makes me happy. There was a little judgement but there is always judgement of some sort; human nature I suppose. But, for the most part it went well. I always feel like when I come out, someone learns something new. Stereotypes are hopefully challenged and maybe someone who hears my story gets something positive out of it.

First question I got, how did my kids handle it.

Usually that's the first question. I don't know why that is, if it's a religious thing. I don't know if  people assume there is perversion and madness or if its just an honest to goodness curiosity. No matter the reason, I always answer; my boys are happy.

The unknown is where people have the ability to create assumptions in their mind. Just like any divorce or ending of a relationship that involve kids, there is an adjustment. There was no more of an adjustment for my kids than if I would have introduced them to a guy instead of a girl. They have no biases. They had always been told love looks different for everyone. They saw their mother happy and they were satisfied. Our family is like any other. We love, we lose patience, we laugh, we do normal things. We are so very normal.

So, I will continue to come out. I will continue to answer that question and any other over and over again and I will hope that somewhere I am positively affecting someone. I hope at some point I won't have to come out and it will be completely normal. I hope assumptions will exist less and less. But until then, it's well worth the nerves and coming out over and over again to hopefully alleviate biases.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Gulf Coast Adventures

Seeing the world and enjoying life is sort of at the top of my to-do list. I love to travel to new places and experience as much as I can while I'm there. This past month I had the opportunity to explore the sunny and beautiful Saint Petersburg. Florida.  I got lucky enough, in between attending a conference, to experience some of the best parts of the area. My wife came along for the adventure and I gotta say, I will definitely be going back at some point. 
The trip started with stepping out of the airport to the most perfect weather I have ever felt. April in Florida is amazing. I left Pittsburgh in a hoodie and landed in perfect sunny Florida. After finding the hotel and unloading we went on the hunt for some food. My wife spent a good amount of her 20s in Japan, so she was ecstatic to find a legit ramen noodle place. The food was delicious and according to her, super authentic. 
After filling our bellies we took an Uber to the Weedon Island Preserve  and rented a couple of kayaks from a cute little side of the road stand and spent the next two hours beneath the mangrove trees. A fantastic place to kayak! 

Day 2 was filled with conference sessions and networking while the love of my life lounged at the pool and explored a little of downtown. After session ended, we walked (through a part of town where Rottweilers were running around without a human) and made our way to a rental car place. I just want to say we had awesome Uber drivers and they gave awesome advice but if you want to see the best sites, rent a car. 

So with rental car on the road we headed straight for a Sunset Booze Cruise at Madeira Beach. For super cheap, my wife and I spent a couple hours cruising around the inner harbor at John's pass while ending on the gulf for a stunning sunset. Oh and did I mention, free beer and wine? A must do if you're looking for some evening fun. 

After that we landed at Mad Beach Brewing for some delicious food and awesome craft beer. 

Day 3
, bongo bands and more conference followed by a drive back to the beach. This time, we got our toes in the gulf while we waited for our parasailing appointment. This was our most expensive venture but, well worth it. If you have never been lifted 400 feet in the air for unbeatable views, I highly recommend. The guys at Gator Parasail  kindly waited for us (we got a bit lost finding the place, make sure you read the email a couple of times) and helped ease our nerves as they hoisted us up. 

Parasailing is an unforgettable experience, how many times in your life to you honest to goodness get to feel like a bird? Do it. 

Our last day, after the conference ended, we found ourselves at Fort De Soto Park, where we hoped a little ferry to Egmont Key.  While seeing dolphins follow the boat, we listened to the captain and first mate tell us about the island we were heading on where we would be spending the next several hours. Egmont Key is not drive-able and the only way to get there is on a ferry or boat. This was my kind of place, uninhabited. We spent our time there exploring the island, snorkeling, gathering shells and chasing Manatees. 

There is something so beautiful in places like this....

After a week packed with sight seeing and exploring the beautiful gulf coast every second we had, we headed to the airport.. sad to leave. 

I have never been a huge beach lover, mainly because sand fleas love the taste of me, but also because of how commercial and congested they can be. St. Petersburg is happening, don't get me wrong but you can find so much adventure there, if you look.