Helluva Decade

Photo of me from January 2, 2010

For my own edification, I am going to go through the last decade of my life STARTING with a photo of myself that I took on January 2, 2010. I was 30 years old and living in LA. I had accidentally brought my Dad’s hat to LA and sent him that photo above as proof.

I’ve had a helluva decade, you guys. Another interesting thing is that I start a new decade of my life just as we all collectively start a new decade. I just turned 40 and now we’re going into the 20’s. It feels like a neat divide.

2010: Here we are staying in the KOA outside Shambala Preserve. We didn’t know it was there and got terrified by the sound of lions roaring.

In 2010, I was freshly 30 and we were freshly living in LA; having arrived on September 9, 2009. I was interning at Lionsgate Films doing script and book coverage, breaking down scripts by location and order for screenwriters, and logging dailies. The biggest thing I worked on at that time was the Hunger Games! We were living in the first apartment on Effie Street which was a disaster area; not of our own doing. Kristyn was working at ASEC Animal Hospital. I started interning at Stand Up to Cancer on the Sony lot later that summer, for a man making a documentary about the Nicene Creed, and for another man making a web sitcom. I went on a TON of job interviews in 2010 and didn’t get ANY of them although I got close a few times. Our days were mostly me feverishly job hunting, doing chores around the house, driving Kristyn to work, and picking Kristyn up from work. We didn’t have much of a life whatsoever. I blogged a LOT then because I had nothing but time. We went to Trader Joe’s for the first time in 2010 and started learning about LA. That whole year was kind of a total fucking blur with no money and no social life. Still, it was incredibly exciting. Towards the end of 2010, I started to lose my shit. For about a year and a half, I was A-OK with not working or at least, I was able to tell myself that I was okay with it. Basically, I chose to make the most of it and to see the bright side of things: “Lots of time to explore LA! To learn who I am and what I want to do! To intern! To watch every episode of Roseanne! To watch every episode of The Sopranos!” But then, it got old…very very old. I broke down and applied for welfare. The woman at the office said to me, “You should have done this a year and a half ago.” Honestly, readers, I should have. We got $150 a month for groceries and $100 a month for other bills in connection with a job program. This doesn’t sound like a lot of money but YOU GUYS IT WAS. Holy shit did it help and I’m so glad I did it. One last cool thing is that in 2010, Kristyn started working at an animation studio called Cosmic Toast. With that, she also started writing for LA Music Blog. This allowed us to go to a lot of local concerts with press passes to take photos which was fun. We got sosososo many parking tickets this year and ended up having our car towed. We got fleas from alley cats that year. We volunteered for the GLAAD Media Awards (which was fun). We found Giles outside our apartment. We also had to call the city on our landlord because sewage kept coming up through the drain in the bathtub. Blerg. Oh AND, we got our Associate’s Degrees. We also flew home for Nana’s 80th birthday.

2011: My cousin, Heather, came to visit us in LA (from NJ). Soon after this photo was taken, we learned that her car had been stolen and flipped by teenagers. Good times.

I started 2011 continuing with the job program. I had a hinky experience with it in that they wanted me to answer the phone for Bank of America convincing people to take out loans and mortgages whether or not they called for that purpose or not. It was a commission job. I declined, thank God. I also started writing for LA Music Blog. In connection with that, Kristyn got to interview JD Samson and MEN as well as Liz Phair. On March 16, 2011, I got a call from Lionsgate’s HR team asking me if I wanted to do a contract job in their TV Business Affairs department. I accepted and also that night, we went to see Liz Phair! I started that job the next day and it lasted for one full year. I got to work on Mad Men, Weeds, Nurse Jackie, and Orange is the New Black (among other cool things). Kristyn interned at Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition which was cool. That year was SO MUCH BETTER. We moved apartments to a much, much, much better one. That apartment had a balcony, an open layout, a washer and dryer, a pool, and an underground garage. We started school at CSULA. We started having a social life in that we went to some parties, were able to do fun things like go to the movies, and to LACMA. We got a season tickets to Disneyland and Universal and went often. Whenever I wasn’t working or at school, I spent my days swimming laps in the pool. We used to grill our food a lot on the balcony. It REALLY felt like we were in California in 2011. Oh, also, we went to the People’s Choice Awards that year. We flew home in November for my sister’s wedding. We also drove down to Temecula’s Wine Country. We marched in LA Pride. We had the best New Year’s Eve that year because we went to Universal Studios, had some beers, went on rides, then came home in time to count down and watch the fireworks all over LA from the balcony. So much fun. Oh, one terrible thing that happened in 2011 was that my Nana died. We went home to see her and then I went home for her funeral. I mention this last because it’s always hard to remember when that happened. That was a really dark spot on an otherwise good year.

2012: I took this photo at lunch while working at LG. I used to like to wander around Santa Monica for lunch. One time I fell headlong and landed on my belly in front of a man. My phone shot out of my hand and onto the next lawn. The man walked past me, took a look at me, and kept going. I could hear Kristyn’s disembodied voice hollering “Are you still there?!” from the phone. Indignity.

In 2012, we started the year working and going to school a lot. My status at work was on the fence because my contractor position at Lionsgate TV kept getting extended but wasn’t a sure thing. We started getting seriously homesick and discussed going back to NJ. On March 1, 2012, I got told that I was being laid off due to a corporate merger. I was given the choice to leave immediately or to finish the month. I chose to finish the month so that I could earn as much money as possible. Once I got laid off, we decided that we’d definitely move back to NJ. I didn’t want to be job hunting in LA again and Kristyn was incredibly homesick. We finished the semester and made plans to move cross-country; renting a pod, downsizing our stuff, finding an apartment in NJ, looking for jobs in NJ, applying for colleges in NJ, and deciding which route we’d drive home. After the semester ended, we drove up to San Francisco and Sonoma Valley because we wanted to see Northern California at least once before we left the west coast entirely. We stayed in a campground in Petaluma. We drove through garlic country and had garlic ice cream. We packed up the apartment and drove up the Pacific Coast Highway. We stopped at Kristyn’s family’s house in Pleasanton which was awesome. We went to Reno, stayed in Lake Tahoe for a few days, went to the Wizard of Oz Museum in Kansas, saw the arch in St. Louis, Missouri, went to a Cracker Barrel in Kentucky, and got home on July 3, 2012. We rented an apartment in Clifton, NJ and IMMEDIATELY got bedbugs because the guy upstairs was infested with them. We had to throw out our couches and our mattress. Kristyn got a job at an animal hospital right away and I spent the summer watching the Olympics and feverishly cleaning everything we own to debug it. We found another apartment and paid rent for both places in August so we could clean things and then bring them over gradually. It was a goddamn nightmare. Basically, we moved three times in one year: 1) Into the moving Pod, 2) Into the Clifton apartment, 3) Into the apartment we’re currently in. The day we got to NJ, we went to the Tick Tock diner in Clifton and knew right away that we’d made a mistake. I don’t think that anymore but we weren’t thrilled, LOL. I started working with a headhunter through Lionsgate in NYC that Fall and then Sandy hit. Parts of our town were without power for at least two weeks and so was NYC. I applied for a job at Audible and got hired. Both Kristyn and I got into Rutgers and continued to work on our Bachelor’s Degrees. Basically, we ended that year earning money and buying furniture.

2013: We got married! This is a photo of us in my Uncle Ken’s jalopy. It’s a replica of a car built in the 1920’s. It was awesome.

In 2013, I got promoted at work. We spent all our time working and going to school. We started tent camping at the campground that my family had always gone to. We had a baby shower for my sister. In August 2013, we got engaged at Eleanor Roosevelt’s house. Gay marriage got legalized in NJ in October 2013 and we got married at the Town Hall at the end of the first week. We had our “reception” at the Argyle; our local fish and chips shop. We had a mini-honeymoon Upstate New York at The Sullivan and The Roxbury. We also put a deposit on a seasonal campsite at the campground. Foofaloo was born!

2014: My Dad and Foof playing a tricky game. It seems like Foof is losing?

In 2014, it was all work and school. Kristyn still worked at the animal hospital and I stayed working at Audible. We bought a camper early on in the year and put it on the site. We had our first season up at the camper which was a lot of fun. We spent a lot of time gathering things for the camper including dishes, utensils, blankets, towels, groceries, board games, a TV and VCR, and all kinds of stuff. We explored the Catskills and re-learned the area. We went to Kate’s Lazy Meadow for our one year wedding anniversary. We had Foof’s one year birthday party and he smashed a cake. It was a great, busy year.

2015: We graduated college and went to Scotland and England as a present for ourselves. This guy photobombed us while we were on the Royal Mile.

In 2015, I got promoted at work again which meant some traveling to Dallas, Texas and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Both Kristyn and I FINALLY graduated with our Bachelor’s Degrees from Rutgers. We had a graduation party at my sister’s house with a cardboard cutout of Hillary Clinton (and our family). As a delayed honeymoon/graduation gift to ourselves, we went on a 17 day long trip to Scotland and England. We met with my family there and went to Edinburgh, Glasgow, London, and Leigh-on-Sea. We drank SO MUCH WHISKEY. It was incredible. We also went Upstate all summer. Kristyn also took the GRE’s and applied to Grad School. She got in and started that Fall! This was a really good year. On New Year’s Eve 2015, I suggested that Kristyn quit her job at the animal hospital. She did and it was EXCELLENT. That job was breaking her back and they kept cutting everyone’s hours and then suddenly forcing them to do overtime. When we ran the numbers, she was spending almost exactly what she was making just to get there. We decided that it would be better for her to go to Grad School full-time. For work I travelled to Dallas, Texas and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Kristyn started working on the Queer Newark Oral History Project. LGBTQ+ marriage was legalized! We marched in the NYC Pride Parade with GLAAD. We had Foof’s 2nd birthday party and Santa was there. He hated Santa. One terrible thing is that Kristyn’s Uncle died this year. It was terrible.

2016: We got a little noodle named Shirley and she has consistently rocked our world since. As the kids say, “She came in hot.”

In 2016, I threw myself fully into my job and Kristyn threw herself fully into Grad School. In 2016, I travelled to Chicago, Illinois and Ft. Lauderdale, Florida for work. In connection with another work trip, we went back to LA for the first time. We stayed in Silver Lake at an AirBnB that had a hot tub. We got hair cuts, mani pedis, and massages. We went to Disney, Universal Studios, and did the Warner Bros. Studio Tour. We visited our apartments, our supermarkets, and did a mix of things familiar and fun/touristy like the Museum of Death. It was awesome. We adopted Shirley. She was a baby puppy Boston Terrier and she was so damn cute. We spent the summer Upstate, NY and took Shirley swimming in the river. Kristyn graduated with her Master’s Degree in History from Rutgers! She applied to a PhD program in American Studies at Rutgers and got in! We had a graduation party for Kristyn at her sister’s house. Also, I started therapy which was and continues to be awesome. Kristyn started her PhD in the Fall. In 2016, we also did a lot of Pride-related events. We marched in the NYC Pride Parade with Hillary Clinton. In connection with the Ft. Lauderdale trip, we went to Orlando and went to Disney with Karen and Universal to Harry Potter World. We went to the Jacob Javits Center on election night and went home when things took a dark turn. The rest of that year was a dark turn EXCEPT for Foof’s third birthday. Santa came and he still hated that but I had fun at least.

2017: Talk about a helluva year. Believe it or not, the Women’s March was one of the “simpler times” in 2017. Look at us. Just kids then.

In 2017, we started the year by going to DC and marching in the Women’s March. That was a wild experience. For work, I travelled to San Diego, California. We went Upstate New York all summer; doing day trips to New Paltz, Warwick, and Phoenicia. It was really fun. I co-lead Audible and Amazon marching in the NYC Pride Parade. We marched in Newark Pride. We went to my 20 year high school reunion. We went to Kate’s Lazy Meadow for our four year wedding anniversary also. Everything was going great and then Thanksgiving weekend, my brother Charles died. That leveled me. We were all floored because it was so sudden. We think he probably died by closing off his windpipe when he was sleeping. Poor Charles. I ended up going on medical leave from the Monday after Thanksgiving to mid-January. The end of 2017 I spent crying and sitting in an armchair and trying to pull my shit together. Just before Christmas, we went to a Tex Mex restaurant with my cousin and I got food poisoning. On Christmas Day, my entire family decided to go to Scotland for our Great Uncle’s 90th birthday. We had a lot of fun in 2017 but also, two of my cousins died suddenly, then my Grandpa died, and then my brother. A fucking nightmare.

2018: Family trip to Scotland. We look great in this photo but we were all sweating uncontrollably. You can see it in my red face. Go on, take a looksee.

We started 2018 by going to the Women’s March in NJ with our friend, Silvia. In January, we drove up to the camper to see what it’s like up there in the winter. I’d always wanted to do that before. It was SO FNG COLD and also weird because there was snow everywhere which we didn’t expect. Still, it was nice ride and felt good to finally accomplish that; even though it was a small thing. We brought Shirley with us and I’ve never seen her so cold even though she had a sweatshirt and a winter coat on. We had to wrap her in a blanket with the heat turned all the way up. We also scared the owner of the campground who though we were thieves breaking into our trailer. I went back to work in January and had a pretty angry and unfocused year. I DID co-lead us marching with Audible and Amazon in the NYC Pride Parade again. Kristyn continued on with her PhD and Queer Newark. I didn’t travel for work at all. That spring, my Mom had a triple bypass which was scary and wild. And then in June, we went to Scotland. That was an incredible trip because it was almost my entire family on my Father’s side including my Dad, sister, brother-in-law, nephew, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, great uncles, great aunts, etc. The only person who couldn’t come was my Mother because of her surgery. That was terrible. We went to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and the Highlands. We went on the Harry Potter train and had so much Guinness, Cider, and Fish & Chips. Kristyn and I bought Cambridge Satchels in Edinburgh. We went to so many Harry Potter shops and tourist places. We rode double deckers. We sprinkled Charles’ ashes. We went to our Great Uncle’s 90th birthday party/family reunion. We stayed in a castle. Kristyn and I also got giant tattoos of Shirley; Kristyn’s on her forearm and mine on my thigh. After Scotland, Kristyn and I went to Ireland. We stayed in Dublin and then took a bus trip to Northern Ireland. It was fucking awesome and exhausting. Thank god for that trip. It really made our year. We also went upstate quite a bit and then to Kate’s Lazy Meadow for our 5th wedding anniversary. Oh, also, we went to Kristyn’s 20 year high school reunion. Basically, 2018 (like 2017) was one of the best/worst years of my entire life. We took Foof to go see Mary Poppins, saw Santa, and had his fifth birthday party. That was fun.

2019: Us and the Eiffel Tower with champagne and Lay’s chips (because they came with the champers) for some inconceivable reason.

In 2019, we started the year by going to Paris for Kristyn’s 39th birthday. We only went for a few days but it was the most gorgeous few days. We went to the top of the Eiffel Tower, we took a bus tour of the city, we went to the Catacombs, saw the Moulin Rouge, and went to the Palace of Versailles. After that, I took a work trip to Southern California and we tacked a long vacation to LA on the end of it. During that trip, we went to Disneyland, Harry Potter land, the Magic Castle, to get massages, mani pedis, and haircuts. We went to see our old apartments and old haunts. We took a tour of Paramount and planned to tour Sony but that last part didn’t pan out. We went to see Busy Phillips’ talk show. We went Upstate all summer long and even took a week long vacation up there. I co-lead an LGBTQ+ initiative at work and co-lead Audible marching in NYC Pride and Newark Pride. Kristyn got published in a History journal and presented at conferences. She also started a podcast for the Queer Newark Oral History Project. We got licensed for the NJ Foster to Adopt program which was a ton of work but we did it! I also got Gastric Sleeve surgery and have lost 54 pounds so far. We went to Kate’s Lazy Meadow for our sixth wedding anniversary. It was only a month after surgery so we really didn’t do much but it was so nice anyway. We also went to the Poconos to the Great Wolf Lodge for Foof’s sixth birthday which was really fun. Mostly though, from September until now I’ve been re-learning how to eat, exercising, taking vitamins, and resting because I’m tired constantly. Still, I’m so glad I did this. I also turned 40 this year the week before my surgery while on vacation at our camper. We just chilled and relaxed all week and then closed up our camper. This year (although a little challenging at the end) has been a great but very busy year.

Okay so I’m going to end this here because I’m worried that you have gone unconscious. I considered splitting this into two posts but nah. LOL.

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