Mid-Year Update 2012

Well it is a little after the mid-year, but I thought I should make a post – if only for historical purposes. Since the last post (way back in April) a lot has been happening.

Wedding Planning: This is continuing along and we have most of our wedding details sorted out (location, officiant, flights, hotel, etc.). Where we have stalled a little – mainly due to a lot of other things happening – is in planning the celebration parties in Australia and Texas. We are both getting some normality back in our lives, so this planning will resume in the new few weeks as we make the final arrangements to celebrate with our friends and family.

New Job: In May, I received a promotion at work to lead the new mentor2.0 program at BBBS. This has involved travel to New York for some training, and then aligning this program (as it exists in another part of the country) with the standards of BBBS. I have been almost non-stop since then, and have loved the experience of starting a new program like this that will impact so many youth in our community. I have an amazing team that I am working with, and while it was sad to leave my old team, the transition has been extremely rewarding. Along with this change, has been the renewal of my work visa (which is still pending at the time of this post), which always causes an additional element of stress in our life. While I have an amazing attorney helping me, once every couple of years, life is just that little bit more uncertain than other times in our life.

Home Improvements: Yes, I know we have only been in the house for a little over a year, but these are the good kind (and planned) improvements. Chris and I have been looking at pool companies of the last couple of months, getting ideas from friends and neighbors on what to factor in with our pool. We are at that point where we are ready to sign the dotted line and get this pool started, but this needs to wait until my visa has been finalized. Along with the pool, we are moving forward with painting some rooms (yes, we finally agreed on colors), and continue to search for that right piece of furniture for various spots in our home.

Travel: We have not done a lot of travel this year together, but Chris continues to explore the world at times. We recently took a trip to Austin and stayed at the Driskill Hotel (one of America’s most haunted hotels), and got to spend some time with our friends Layton and Sarah and their son, Eli! We are planning a trip to Las Vegas in October in conjunction with a conference that Chris is attending. Chris has never been to Las Vegas (well the airport on a transfer once, but that doesn’t really count), so I wanted to go and spend some time with him in a place he as always wanted to go.

Family: Over the past few months, we have been helping Chris’s mom sell her home in East Texas, and then relocate to Dallas. She spent the month of July with us, and finally moved into her new home at the beginning of August. The stress levels have been reduced tremendously with this transition, as she is much closer, and – to be honest – she seems much happier being in her new home. On the Australian family side, my mother and sister continue to make plans to trek back to the USA for another visit later this year, and I’m excited to see it that happens. We will be travelling to Australia next year so I am hopeful that I will have the opportunity to catch up with all of my immediate family while we are there.

Our Little Brother: Trey started high school this year. It has been pretty stressful leading up to his transition from his old school to his new school. He and his mother moved to a new part of town, and he seems to be pretty happy with the arrangement. Trey and I have been playing a lot of Xbox: Mass Effect 3 over the past month or so, and it’s been fun to work together to destroy the invading forces. He is insanely talented at these types of games, and I can just only sit back and watch him work his magic through the controller. Chris and I thought that maybe now that he is in high school that it may be less cool to have Big Brothers, but I think we might be in a good spot.

Overall, it has been a very busy few months since my last post. There have been other changes in our lives that have posed some challenges, however in addressing these, we have been fortunate to find other opportunities that have guided us to continue to move forward in life. As Heraclitus once philosophized: the only thing that is constant, is change. The last part of 2012 will continue to offer challenges and change, but I am confident that we will  meet these head on and learn and grow from each.

Maybe that should have been my resolution for the year.

Tin or Aluminum Cans?

Chris & James in DC, 1999Ten years ago today I arrived in the United States on a journey that was filled with hope, and built on a new love that had yet to be fully explored. Today, ten years ago, Chris and I landed at LAX and then made our way to DFW where Chris and I started our lives together. It has been an incredible journey that has had its high and low moments, but each step has been something that I have been thankful for every day (well most every day).

The decision to make the move across the Pacific was a very tough one for me. I was leaving people behind that I loved, who were a major part of my life and a stable part of my social environment. I have missed many opportunities to celebrate in the joys that my friends have experienced and the sadness in the loss of dearly loved friends.* It was my decision, but it was a decision that I do not regret, as I have enjoyed the privilege of sharing my life with a man that contributes to my happiness everyday.

Today is about the love that I share with the man whom has been a significant part of my life for the last ten years, and the love that keeps me going every day.

So Happy Anniversary Chris, I hope you have enjoyed our life together as much as I have, and will continue on the journey with me for many years to come.

Side note: We chose today (March 5) as our “anniversary” date as this was the day that we officially started our lives together as a couple. Even though we had known each other for some time prior to this date, it seemed appropriate that we used this date as our date.

* Since arriving here, I have developed many wonderful friendships where I have experienced their joys and our collective sadness over the years.

Facebook Rekindles Family Dynamics Once Forgotten

I’ve not spent a lot of time going through my family history on this blog, as in the most part it is rather boring, and not overly eventful. If I think hard enough, I’m sure there are plenty of anecdotes that I could recall about the oddities of my family (we all have some), but I’m not about to start today. What I am going to do is post a series of dialogs that I have recently had with my (former) sister-in-law (FSIL).

A little history first. My eldest brother, Peter, married Sonia a “long time ago” and after four children they divorced. It was not the most ideal of situations, and there was a lot of anger at the time, and as it turns out, there still is … but I get ahead of myself.

Over the last few months I have been making connections with family members back in Australia. Among those has been – to my delight – Facebook friendships with my nieces and nephew, the children of my FSIL. I’ve had the opportunity to re-meet these amazing adults (as they are now), and share in the joys that have occurred in their lives with their partners, spouses and children. It has to be one of the highlights and true benefits of social networking sites like Facebook.

Anyway, earlier today I get the following message on Facebook from Sonia (direct cut and pastes are here):

why do you want to be friends with me none of you even bothered with us for thirteen years now you all want to be my friend it like your so called brother he did not even want to see his own children now all of a sudden he wants them as far as l’am concerned we have nothing in comom sonia

to which I replied the following, thinking that this would be the end of it:

Hey Sonia,

I didn’t ask to be your friend on FB, so not sure where the request came from. If you received it, then you are very welcome to disregard this. I’m actually very happy with the arrangement we have. You have moved on with your life, and it seems that you are much happier now, and I’m glad that you have that. I’ve moved on with mine. Our lives needn’t connect at any point directly.

For me, I’m excited to be making contact with my nieces and nephews again after being out of the country for nearly ten years. I’m equally excited that I may get a chance to meet up with them when I return to Australia later this year for a visit.

Please don’t misinterpret my recently established friendships with my nieces and nephew to imply that I am seeking a friendship with you as this is most certainly not the case.

Thanks for the note, and I wish you the best in your future.

James

Sadly, there was a response shortly after, which was more direct.

you tell me why is so important that you have to have contact with my children and grandchildren not one of you had bothered for thirteen years now it seems that because that tthey are older all of a sudden you want to see them not once in thriteen years any of you wanted to know about them they are all asking me question why when nobody wanted to know about them yes l’am verey happy l have a woderful husband and we are verey happy now we want some answers as to why none of you wanted to know them before thanks sonia

Needless to say, I was a little disturbed that she appears to be very angry still at what she perceives to be a decision made by me to have nothing to do with her children. Without going into the details – which I won’t – the decision was not mine to make. So I responded in what I hope will be the last communication with my FSIL. Perhaps I’m being a little naive.

Sonia:

I am not really sure what answers you are looking for. 13 years ago we didn’t have social network sites like Facebook, which have made connections with relatives and classmates a lot simpler. The advent of Facebook has created an insurmountable number of connections that many people considered long lost. I’m grateful for this, and especially grateful that family members have been able to reconnect without any of the boundaries that once existed. Of course, for the last ten years I’ve been living in the USA, so that only complicated access to all of my family.

I’m not sure that it’s accurate to say that I didn’t want to know my nieces and nephew more. I think for a period of time it was very difficult to connect with any of them, and rather that create unnecessary stress in their lives, it was simpler to take a step back.

I think the circumstances surrounding your and Peter’s divorce contributed to a great deal of stress and anger, which I am sensing from your communication that you may still have to a degree. That is your right to hold on to that, but it is not healthy in the longer term. Just an observation from personal experience.

As I have said, I am extremely grateful that my nieces and nephew wanted to make the reconnection with me, and I have enjoyed sharing my story with them, finding out about what has happened in their lives, and seeing the remarkable beauty of the children they are raising. I know how proud you are of them, and I know how proud Peter is of them.

Now that I have made connections with nearly all of my nephews and nieces, I look forward to continuing to share their joys and trials in the many years to come. I am not sure that this should really bother you as much as it does, but that is the reality.

Thanks again for the email. I hope you continue to enjoy the life you have, but I don’t really think it is beneficial for us to really continue a dialog at this point.

Peace,
James

Who said Facebook was useless?