Tag Archives: journal

What is Love?

EngagementNo, I’m not quoting Haddaway, but feel free to bop your head to the side while reading if the mood strikes you.

This is actually a serious question that comes up in everyone’s life at some point. There are different perspectives on exactly what love is. Some follow a purely science-based and rational explanation and say that love is a biochemical reaction to promote the mating cycle and the continuation of our genes. As much as I love science, this is a little too fatalistic to me, since the way the brain works makes me at least want to believe that humans are more than just the sum of our parts.

Philosophers have asked this question, as well. Some say it’s the driving force of human nature. Some say it makes the world go round. Some distinguish between types of love, such as brotherly love, erotic love, etc.

When I say that I love Olivia, it is not without pause. This is not because I don’t love her. It’s because the word itself falls far short of expressing my true feelings for her. You see, like many people, I’ve thrown the word “love” around when describing a lot of things in the past. I’ve said that I love pizza, or that I love Star Wars (original trilogy, just to be clear). Obviously, my feelings for Olivia go far, far beyond my fondness for any of these mundane things.

But even when you strip away these casual remarks, the word “love” still feels insufficient. My feelings for her dwarf what anyone has ever described love to be. It’s a feeling that cannot be expressed properly in words. To my knowledge, no word has been invented that can adequately describe how I feel about her, and with emotions this strong, I am ill-equipped to invent such a word myself. She is my light. She is my inspiration. She makes me a better man. And I tell her I love her because, as poor a description for my feelings as that word is, it is the only word available to me.

We’ve had a storied history. We originally met all the way back in middle school, but mostly knew of each other without really getting to know each other. Still, something about her stood out to me.

A few years ago, we met up at our ten year high school reunion (Go Conquistadors!), but lost contact again shortly after that. About two and a half years ago, we reconnected once again through Facebook and have never looked back. So I’ll always have a bit of a soft spot for Facebook because it ultimately brought us back together in the best way possible.

Since then, there has never been a day when we haven’t at least talked on the phone, if not seen each other. Even today, this far along into our relationship, every time I see her name come up on my phone, my heart skips a beat. Every time we hold hands, I still feel that spark. Every time she smiles, it lights up my day. And every time she laughs, it fills my own heart with joy.

Last week, I took Olivia out for her birthday. We were going to Cirque Du Soleil: Iris at the recently renamed Dolby Theater (formerly known as the Kodak Theater) in Hollywood, but before then we needed to kill some time. So we went to the Glendale Galleria, where she wanted to look for some home furnishings for her sister. While she was shopping, I excused myself to use the restroom, but I really ran downstairs to get a little sterling silver ring. I had ordered a real ring custom-made, but it wasn’t ready yet.

We moved from the Galleria to the Americana across the street and went for an early birthday dinner at the Cheesecake Factory (if you don’t live in Los Angeles but watch “The Big Bang Theory,” you’ll get these references). After dinner, they brought her a little birthday desert, and I asked the waiter to take a picture of us together. But this was a bit of a ruse, as my real purpose was to get next to her in the booth so she could hear me. I gave a little speech I had prepared, but only about half of it because I was so nervous that I forgot the other half.

Then I slid out of the edge of the booth, took her hand, got down on my knee in the middle of the restaurant, and asked her to marry me, using the little sterling silver band as a stand-in until the real ring was ready.

Later last week, I got the real ring, but the jeweler who made it couldn’t find a ring box, so he gave me a very nice little pewter and crystal pig with an enameled interior, wrapped the ring in tissue paper, and put it inside. I took Olivia to a casual dinner at Topanga Plaza, then we walked around the mall and sat down on some cushioned and surprisingly low seats in the middle of the mall. There, I got down on my knee once more, skipped the speech, and asked her to marry me again, but this time with the proper equipment, and with the encouragement of the little engagement pig.

Oh, yeah, and by the way:

She said “yes”! (both times)

Our first picture as an engaged couple (at my cousin's Bat Mitzvah reception)

Post-Birthday Catch-Up, and Then Some

ThumbnailWell, my birthday has come and gone. It was nice. Fairly subdued. My parents took Olivia and I to Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion. Or they were supposed to. Unfortunately, my mother got sick at the last minute, so Olivia and I went on our own, with my parents picking up the tab. If you’ve never been to Roy’s, you should go if you’ve got one in your area. It really was some of the best restaurant food we’ve had in a long time. It’s not cheap, but the food and the service was truly excellent. And I’m the kind that, if I like something, will usually refer to it as “not bad.”

Among other things, I got the first season of “A Game of Thrones” on Blu-Ray and the three volume set of Robert E. Howard’s Conan stories from Del Rey, both of which were pretty much the only things I asked for, and both of which Olivia got for me. So, all in all, it was actually a pretty good birthday. At the same time, I’m now 34, so if I wasn’t before, I’m now officially in my mid-thirties, and I’m getting the gray hairs to show it. Hopefully, those grays won’t continue to develop much in the near future.

I’m continuing to work on training Molly. I’m trying to keep in mind that she is still a puppy, so a little mental growing-up still has to occur. The biggest problem we’ve got with her is that she has separation anxiety. Whenever we’re leaving the house, she starts to freak out, cry, does everything to stop us from abandoning her. It really is a problem, that doesn’t seem to be getting much better. We have to train her with treats and keep her focused just to get through the garage door. Does anyone have experience with this kind of thing and have a good solution?

My mother is getting better. Slowly, but she’s getting better. The main issue that I can see now is that she still has a problem with pushing herself beyond the point that she should, causing increasing pain and setting her back for the rest of the day. Maybe I need to start training her with treats to get her to stop.

I’ll be continuing my run of “Keep on the Shadowfell” this weekend. The last session was focused on mechanics and picking characters. Since my players have never touched 4th edition D&D before, I made things easy and created a bunch of pre-generated characters for them to choose from so they could get the idea of how the game works. This session should go a little better, I think, as we can probably go straight into the game. Since they didn’t know the mechanics when they started, I plan to give them an opportunity to change characters if they so desire.

There’s been a few other interesting bits lately, so more later.

Meet Molly Brown Nylander

ThumbnailThere have been many goings on recently. There’s actually been so much, that I haven’t had time to attend properly to this blog, like I wanted. But busy is good.

To start, I would like to introduce everyone to the newest adopted member of the Nylander clan, Molly Brown Nylander (sorry for the bad lighting, but if I used the flash, then I wouldn’t have been able to properly capture the color of her eyes):

Molly the Puppy

As I’m sure you can tell, she is a chocolate labrador retriever, recently turned one-year old. So she is still a puppy but in a full-grown body. Her favorite activities include sleeping on people’s feet, sniffing crotches, and playing keep-away in the backyard. She even has her own Twitter account: @mollybrownnyl.

She has been occupying a lot of my time lately. I recently moved out of my Santa Monica apartment and am on my way to living in Venice for a while, but for a short time I’m staying with my parents in the San Fernando Valley to help them out with Molly (she’s their puppy).

My mother recently went through major neck surgery, and with a rambunctious full-grown puppy around, it was a concern about her being able to take care of Molly the way a puppy needs during the day, as well as if Molly could get too rough with her while she’s healing. So, I’m staying with them to puppysit while my mother heals. My mother is actually doing very well so far, by the way.

However, this along with my job hunting has been taking up most of my time. This means that I will not achieve my goal of completing my novel, Payroll, by my birthday, which is in less than a week. I’ll have to give myself some other arbitrary date in the near future for when I will have it done so that I can once again miss my self-imposed deadline.

It’ll happen. You’ll see.

Now, if you’ll excuse the short update, I have a brisket in the pot to make my corned beef and cabbage recipe.

New Year’s Post: Better Late than Never

ThumbnailSo, here we are, halfway through January already, and I have yet to make a post to this blog. In my defense, part of the reason for this is that I suffered a catastrophic computer failure on New Year’s Eve. After six years of being driven really hard, my old laptop kicked the bucket, and I had to order a new one in the emergency. After all, I’m not going to get anything done without a working computer or be able to write to this blog. Since then, I’ve had some usual distractions, but have been spending most of my time on the new computer (which I’m writing this one) setting it up the way I like it. Which is not easy, as I’ve been married to Windows XP for the last ten years. In my opinion, XP is where Microsoft finally got it right, and I was reluctant to move away from something that had proven itself so well. I avoided Vista like the plague, and I’m now running on Windows 7, which is familiar and yet different enough that I get lost easily. So far, I like it and I don’t, although what I don’t like is probably due to my lack of familiarity.

Well, onto the New Year’s post. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write in this post. All I knew was that I needed to write something. I’ve averaged about one post per month lately, which isn’t good. I need to keep up, make people know that I’m still alive. I didn’t want to write any New Year’s resolutions. I don’t believe in them. I’m a firm believer that, if you want to make a change, there’s no reason not to do it now, immediately, in the middle of the week, month, or year. However, I will make some New Year’s reaffirmations, to be sure that I stay on track with my goals:

  • Continue getting in better shape. I was doing this fairly consistently, although I’ve had some trouble lately for various reasons. So I just need to keep plugging away.
  • Finish the first draft of my novel by my birthday. I initially had the goal of completing it by the end of 2011, but I knew at the time that it was probably too ambitious. I’m giving myself a new goal of completing it by my birthday in March. Again, this might actually be rather ambitious, but it’s more reasonable, and I’ll hopefully make it. Then comes the editing…
  • Continue the job hunt. I’ve had some good prospects, but I need to continue looking for regular work, even at the expense of finishing my novel in March. The bills need to be paid.
  • Post more regularly to the blog. Yes, I know, I keep saying this, but I’m coming up with a schedule in my head for how I want to do this, so I can make it more consistent.
  • Find a cheaper place to live. I need to cut my expenses down, especially with the anticipation of more expenses in the future. So I need to save more money, and to do that, I need to cut expenses. I’ve enjoyed where I’m at up to now, but the expense has recently been vastly outweighing what I’m getting for my money.

I don’t think these are unreasonable, and they’re just continuations of what I’ve already been doing. Although the last one is new, but something I’ve known would be coming along anyway.

On a side note and an as update to my earlier posts on my experience DMing Dungeons & Dragons Encounters, the season I was DMing finished, and it seems that a fun time was had by all. I had a very consistent group during the entire season, and by the end I had killed two players’ characters. I guess I was more brutal than I’d planned. Unfortunately, the location where I’ve been playing did not get the new season because there was too much interest in it, so now I’m in a group has started getting together in the off season to play The Dresden Files RPG. We’ve had one play session so far, but it seems pretty fun and I’m looking forward to the whole campaign. And while I’m talking about D&D, I will have some thoughts about D&D 5th edition (commonly referred to right now as D&D Next) later on. But in short, I think that Wizards of the Coast may be missing the point of why they’re having some issues with 4th edition. More later.

A happy belated New Year, and get cracking on those resolutions.

NaNoWriMo: Fail; Weight-Loss: Meh

ThumbnailMore than a month without an honest blog post. Because I’ve been working hard…or hardly working.

In short, I ultimately did not participate in the National Novel Writing Month this year. I had everything ready to go, and at the closing bell on November 30, my word count towards a NaNoWriMo novel was a whopping zero. That’s not to say that I didn’t work on anything. As I had decided near the end of October, I chose to focus on the manuscript for “Payroll,” but that has also slowed down somewhat, and I’m losing faith that I’ll finish the manuscript by the end of the year as I had hoped. Am I disappointed? Of course, especially because I thought my idea for a NaNo novella was not bad. Maybe not great, but something to write in the insane pace of NaNoWriMo that I could feel comfortable with and not get too attached to.

But, as I said, I also didn’t get as much work done as I had hoped in general during November. Aside from increasing the amount of time I’m spending trying to find regular work, I’ve also had some depression issues that started around the end of October. This isn’t unusual for this time of year, and it’s been something I’ve struggled with in the NaNoWriMo years I’ve participated. Every year around this time, I start to suffer from a general depressed feeling. I’m pretty sure it’s not Seasonal Affective Disorder (more commonly known as SAD) because I tend to feel the same way around April and May of each year, too. It seems to run on a six month cycle, so it likely has a biological basis. I think I’m starting to do a little better now. It’s also probably the reason I haven’t written an honest blog post for over a month now.

I have started exercising and trying to improve my diet, not only to combat my current depression issues, but also because I really need to lose weight and get in better shape. I’ve had some other physical issues, and with my back problems getting worse as the weather gets colder, I’ve decided to actively try and strengthen it before I become bedridden again with back pain during the winter to see if I can make it easier or shorten the down time. When I weighed myself a couple weeks ago, I weighed in at 199 lbs. Not good, and my blood pressure has been responding in kind, being in a pretty consistent state of prehypertension. That’s the biggest concern. However, my girlfriend gave me twist stepper as an early Christmas present, something I can use to get a good lower-body cardio workout that’s low impact so my back is able to handle it. As of now, I’ve only lost about 2 or 3 pounds (my scale is not terribly precise), but I’m looking leaner in the face and neck, and my girlfriend has said that I’m looking different. I’m chalking up my slow weight-loss right now to muscle gain, as I’ve been taking protein shakes after my workouts to facilitate muscle-healing, but it seems to be having the side effect of building a lot more muscle than I’m used to. The fact that I’m looking leaner with much actual weight-loss would confirm this.

I’ve also started drinking these nasty vegetable drinks, which consists of spinach, broccoli, carrots, tomato, cucumber, a squeeze of lemon, and water blended together to get the maximum nutrients out of it. I’ll admit, it doesn’t taste great, but after a few time, it felt like my body was craving this drink, like it was desperate for the nutrients. Actually, it’s more tasteless than anything, so the squeeze of lemon gives it some needed flavor and opens it up a bit.

Of course, during all of this, I seem to have caught the cold that won’t die, so while I’m still doing all of these things to fix my body, a virus seems to have some other ideas. So, I’m cutting this blog post a little short as I’m still groggy from the NyQuil and it’s hard to concentrate. The only good thing about being sick is having a reason to take that stuff.