Logical Family

It’s day six of Blogvember. I’m following the prompts from Andrew Canion, which can be found here.

Among queer people, it’s not uncommon to find people who struggle with family. I count myself among that group, having grown up getting bullied in school, beginning in middle school, and then turning around and facing some similar, albeit less open, treatment at home.

What I didn’t recognize at the time, but reflect on and marvel at now, is that I found my way to friends who I likely never would have met otherwise. As something of an outcast, I became friends with other outcasts: Native kids, foreign exchange kids, and more. That was the start of a kinship with diverse people, and once I started college, those friendships grew to include people of all ages. My closest friends from college were older, often having gone to work before feeling ready to pursue higher education. Having more life experience, they often were less hung up about differences than were my age-matched peers, and their embracing me for who I was made it possible for me to do the same. I remain close to a number of these wonderful friends who treated me like family when my own family was struggling to come to terms with who I was, and am.

I learned the most wonderful term for this from one of my favorite writers, having been encouraged to read they book by my partner. Armistead Maupin, an early gay pioneer, writer, and activist, noted in his inimitable Tales of the City series that while many of us have a biological family, it was with our close friends who embrace us that we form our logical family. I adore this idea, and count myself lucky that after a few years, my biological family started to come around, too. Maupin has a memoir appropriately called Logical Family, and it’s a worthwhile read.

I’m grateful that I was able to find my own logical family, who remain an important part of my life to this day. Among that family, I also count the characters from the Tales series, largely because I read them so soon after coming out that they felt, and still feel, like some of my first gay friends.


It’s day five of Blogvember. I’m following the prompts from Andrew Canion, which can be found here.

Over the course of recent efforts to tidy my life, it’s come to my attention that I’m a bit of a completionist by nature. By this, I mean that when things are interesting to me, I can easily become ensconced with a certain idea, book series or other, or hobby.

For example, hearing an interview with Jon Ronson about his book, So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed, lead me to not only buy that book, but multiple others of his as well. Of the three books, I have read two of them. The third is on my shelf waiting its turn to be read.

When it comes to music, I’m an album fan, through and through. Shuffling music is fine at times, but I like hearing how artists compile their music, and the intention with which they place them in order. There’s a predictive quality to enjoy as the album becomes familiar, but there’s also the sense of juxtaposition. (A similar and equally compelling argument about the juxtaposition of shuffling songs on an album, or from multiple artists and albums, can also be made. I just happen to favor albums as they’re presented to me.)

For hobbies, I find myself occasionally dabbing in one thing or another. I occasionally like to paint and draw, but there’s a side of me that wants all the materials I see used by artists I admire. I’ve gotten a few kits but for whatever reason, it doesn’t click for me. (A likely thought is that I have no real art background, and as a visual learner, often like to mimic what I observe elsewhere. This leads me to want to have a certain amount of the “right” materials to work with before starting, which in my head I know is nonsense, but that feeling persists all the same.)

A fellow music fan loved and recommended a certain set of speakers (dedicated monitors) for music. He listened to music a certain way, and knowing as little as I did about music production (he was much more savvy than I), I saved up for them and then got a pair. They sounded… fine, to my ears. They were medium sized speakers, which were large on my desk, and could get far louder than I was ever comfortable with or needed. I used them for a few years before accepting that they were much more powerful than I needed. I sold them and bought a smaller set which sounds perfectly fine for my listening enjoyment.

The older I get, the more I learn about what I value. But more importantly, I learn to enjoy what I enjoy, and care less about what others have to say on the subject.

I get to know myself better each year, and sometimes that means accepting aspects of my nature, while other times it means taking steps to improve. Over the last year or two, I’ve focused on enjoying what I have, and bringing in new things only when I know they’ll be used, read, or enjoyed in short order. This means reading the books I have before getting new. In many cases, it’s meant borrowing books from the library instead of purchasing them. This necessarily requires me to read it promptly, so that I can finish it before it needs to be returned.

It’s also meant that I accumulate less, and can enjoy what I have more.


Food It’s day four of Blogvember. I’m following the prompts from Andrew Canion, which can be found here.

Food is one of my favorite ways to experience the world. I love trying new food when I travel, and I also enjoy cooking. I’m not a big entertainer-style guy, I just like spending time in the kitchen and cooking things I find tasty. While there’s some days where I enjoy spending a few hours doing so, most of the time I like it best when something is simple enough to make within a reasonably short amount of time.

So with that in mind, here’s a few recipes I’ve found over the last couple of years that I particularly enjoy making. I don’t strictly cook Paleo, Keto, or otherwise, but I do try to err on the side of keeping grains to a minimum, so most of what I cook these days comes from those types of recipes.

  • PaleOMG - Chicken Enchilada Stew: This a crock pot recipe that really delivers. It’s especially great for this time of year, and for meal prep.
  • PaleOMG - Pizza Spaghetti Pie: The deliciousness of pizza with spaghetti squash instead. A bit more time-intensive because spaghetti squash, but well worth it.
  • Mark’s Daily Apple - Steak with Creamed Spinach: This one is pretty simple and very delicious. It reheats beautifully, and I get asked about it by colleagues any time I bring it for lunch.
  • Living Sweet Moments - Instant Pot Mongolian Beef: I’m not super fond of some recipes that require the use of the sauté function in the Instant Pot (I like the flavors, just don’t love the clean-up required). This one uses it subtly, and is well worth it. I haven’t made it in a while and might just add to the rotation here soon.
  • Instant Pot hard boiled eggs: I don’t know for sure where I stumbled upon this recipe, but it is super consistent and my favorite way to hard boil eggs. All you have to do is put 1 cup of water in the Instant Pot, place eggs on the included shelf, and cook on high pressure for 5 minutes. Release the air once it’s done and remove eggs immediately once pressure is fully released. I like to place the eggs in room-temp water to cool, then I peel them and enjoy (as is, or make an egg salad). Cooling right away has been key to keeping the yolks at their best.
  • Sous Vide Chicken: I’ve found a number of recipes out there, and they’re all basically variations on the same theme. I’ve found I like to season however I feel like, then cook at 151.5 degrees for about 90 minutes. Then I gently sear them in a pan for two minutes on each side, and I’m in business. This is my current absolute favorite way to make chicken, it’s tender and delicious every time.


It’s day three of Blogvember. I’m following the prompts from Andrew Canion, which can be found here.

Trust the process. Enjoy the journey. Life is about the journey, not the destination. Failure is just another chance to succeed. It’s only a failure if you don’t learn something from it.

The list goes on.

The above are just a sampling of the clichés that saturate what we’re told is a binary distinction: success or failure. It’s inundated in our culture, found in movies, literature, sports, and riddled nowadays in the world of social media. There’s winners or losers, with winners being those who succeed, and losers those who fail. Alas, it’s even constantly sputtered by the President, who is obsessed with winning at all costs, and being viewed as successful (despite a documented history otherwise, but that’s another story altogether).

When I think of the last year, I see plenty of failure. Missed opportunities, details overlooked, things I said but wished I hadn’t. On the other hand, I’ve had some successes. Professional growth, successful interactions when interpreting, or particularly good progress for some patients who come to me for speech therapy. There’s even some overlap there: errors recognized lead to greater success in the end, or perhaps a specific error I made lead me to a new realization about a concept I hadn’t fully considered.

The more I grow in both of my fields, the more I see how much I still have to learn, and how much I still want to get better so that the individuals I serve can benefit more.

I’ve been a novice in two separate fields, and without the mistakes being made, and the subsequent learning and growing from them, I wouldn’t get to be doing even better by the people I work with now.

I have immense gratitude for the individuals who helped me learn great lessons through my mistakes. Even in moments where I didn’t do my best (I strive for this to only be because I couldn’t, not because I wouldn’t), I not only learned how to work through it, but how to recognize when something isn’t working.

When I was facing significant anxiety at a job I loved, and suffering burnout, my leaving my position felt like failure. But within that failure, I learned about what drives me, about what burnout can do psychologically, and I took the lessons learned from what I now recognize (both to myself and aloud) what was absolutely a hostile work environment created by a colleague. Perhaps my only failure was not being brave enough to speak up in time, daring only to do so when it was clearly too late.

It’s a hard lesson to learn, but it’s lead me to take chances on myself I never would have otherwise. Another cliché likes to say everything happens for a reason. I don’t buy this one for a minute either. That said, I do think we have the ability to take perspective of something, good or bad, and choose how we move forward from it. I think about the path I’ve taken over the past few years, since leaving what I thought was my dream job, and realize I’m in a better space now than I was then. It took work to get there, and does each day, but I’m glad to have taken the opportunity to reflect on grow on it, and I hope I can keep that spirit alive.


It’s day two of Blogvember. I’m following the prompts from Andrew Canion, which can be found here.

Sometimes I think about who I am, and where I am today. I think about how I got here, and if this current manifestation of me was where the past manifestation of me really wanted to be. It’s a hard thing to answer, but current me has found that sometimes, I seem to have lost sight of certain parts of myself.

This isn’t expressly a bad thing, because I do my best to move forward, focusing on how I can try to make things better for those around me, as well as myself. What’s been missing, and what I’ve been trying to reclaim, is an interesting thing. Largely, it’s simplicity. I miss the simplicity of my first studio apartment, of a life without the persistent thought of paying down my student loans.

Conversely, when I think about my career, I don’t miss the simplicity of a single job. I run two businesses, and have to plan carefully in order to ensure each is able to run smoothly and effectively. The ability to focus on my work and have a career in two separate fields is worth the extra leg-work required for me to make that possible.

Complexity of modern social networks, and their respective sapping of energy to write online, as I had done for years before, has lead me back to simplify my online presence and focus on having a single blog where I can think out loud, share photos I find interesting, and hold a conversation online, independent of the big social networks.

It’s a fine line I walk, this idea for a simple, calm life with elements of complexity. I am trying to walk it gracefully. I am trying to be mindful of the things that I bring into my life, and the things which I let go. I am trying to take small steps forward, having a little faith in myself to do the right thing. I am trying to not let overwhelm get the best of me. I am trying to walk the path that’s right for me, not the one others think is right for me.


This month, I’ll be blogging every day as part of Blogvember. It’s like NaNoWriMo, but for blogging (and reminds me of course of the old days when we did NaBloPoMo). I’ll be following the prompts from Andrew Canion.

There are days when I look back at photos I’ve taken, mostly on my phone, and I wonder why I took them. What prompted me, in a given moment, to take that photo?

Many times, I want to share a moment with someone. As someone who enjoys cooking, sometimes I want to share some concoction, or its process. I’ll send it to my brothers or a friend, and it sparks a nice conversation. These are snapshots, not artfully framed, and once I’ve eaten, or the conversation has moved on, they’ve served their purpose.

As someone who also appreciates the wisdom of Marie Kondo, I found it insightful that she recently talked about how she goes through photos each day (or other arbitrary frequency) and only keeps those which spark the most joy for her.

It’s here that I understand the appeal of services like Snapchat and the copycat version that is Instagram stories. These services recognize that perhaps we don’t all want photo albums filled with daily trivialities. The appeal is that the photos “disappear”. Of course, we know they never actually do disappear, but they disappear from our memories and we move on, not worried because we don’t personally have to deal with what becomes of them. It’s a false choice, as we who are becoming mindful and focusing on building back the independent web are well aware.

That means that it’s our own responsibility, then, to go back through those photos we’ve taken, decide if they’ve served us well, and delete them and move on.

Thinking about this has helped me be more mindful of the photos I take, and how long I want to keep them. Sharing a picture of a delicious lunch, or a beautiful cup of coffee with careful latte art, is great. These are fleeting moments I like to share sometimes, and that’s great. But I’ve realized they’re less important for me because they don’t quite mean as much to me in the future than they do in the present.

On the other hand, in the spring I joined a Ninja-style obstacle gym, and since joining have taken considerable more video footage. I keep an album on my phone of footage taken so I can watch my progress, and also watch my form so I can learn from my mistakes. It’s an intentional way to learn visually, while also helping document my progress doing something that’s turned into a favorite pastime.

I like the idea of, instead of simply collecting photos and other means of memorabilia, taking an intentional approach to remember what matters most to me.