Sunday, November 4, 2018

Thanksgiving II: Gratitude, brick by brick

Good morning! Is there anything as comforting as the beginning of November?  It’s just such a delight after such a busy time to be able to really stop and catch your breath.  My world has been pretty nonstop since February and it’s nice to be feeling some normalcy and the commitments slowing down a bit.  When I last wrote in March I was wrapping up my South Carolina real estate license and really just getting ready to begin my new venture.  I honestly could not have imagined it would all go so well so fast.  I think the hardest part of taking on anything new is accepting that it will often be uncomfortable and you will not know what you’re doing.  When you are a pleasure and comfort loving Taurus like me, stepping outside your comfort zone doesn’t just sound stressful, it sounds ludicrous.  And yet as part of this bigger picture, I’ve known it’s absolutely necessary.  The days have felt long but the months have flown by and every day it all feels a little bit more second nature to me. 

It’s been exciting to feel the shift from treading water, to swimming, to actually getting somewhere.  Something I am really trying to be mindful of as I build this business is to allow myself to accept individual achievements as success, even if I haven’t crossed The Big Thing off the list.  I think it’s a mistake I made while building my first business.  I was so obsessed with getting there that I didn’t give myself the credit for placing each brick along the way.  Some businesses can be bought pre-fabricated but both my salon and real estate businesses are really made brick by brick. Rather than be grateful for the clients on my books, I’d feel frustrated by the open spaces.   I’ve always thought of myself as a creative person who has a business, not necessarily a businessman.  To call myself a ”businessman” feels kind of like Romy and Michele dressing up andpretending they invented Post-its.  Yet through this period of growth, change, and mild to moderate discomfort, I’ve realized I have a lot of the fundamentals covered, thanks to my previous experience.  The good news is if you’re thinking of starting a business, I can tell you it’s pretty simple.  Keep in touch with people, answer your fucking phone, offer help to your community with the expectation of getting nothing in return, and don’t be an asshole.  Oh, and don’t be afraid to tell people what you do and ask for the business.  So put me in your phone 614.314.8099! I think sometimes we can be so hungry to accomplish the goal we snowball every part of achieving it into crossing the finish line and don’t let ourselves feel success for the achievements along the way that ultimately piece together the end result. 
The benefit of this previous experience is helping me enjoy this process and really feel immense gratitude along the way.  It’s a healthier way to work and I only wish I had learned it sooner.  Another part of this is allowing yourself to adapt along the way and forgive your own mistakes. 

Luscious lowcountry greens! Around every corner, I am tempted to take snips and make new arrangements. 
first, a soak in the tub! 

Some of my most fond memories on Hilton Head are collecting pinecones with my grandmother. 
A tradition that goes on
 So what does all this have to do with Thanksgiving? Well it gives you an excuse to buy new shit! I’ve been a bad boy lately and it’s really all between me, God, Paypal, and the USPS.  I can hardly believe how much my style has changed in the last few years.  On one hand it has gotten a bit more austere but on other other, a lot more fussy.  In anticipation for my tsunami of cardboard boxes headed my way via eBay, I decided I really needed to do some clearing out.  Do you have some things you pick up and put back down several times before you pull the trigger and just get rid of them?  Such is the case with these stupid cobalt glass shell plates.  I’ve had them way too long and never used them, and yet I still get why I bought them.  They’re cute and kinda coastal and remind me of something that would have been in a Gourmet magazine “Surf and Turf Dinner Party” in like August 1987. 
Sorry I hardly even got a photo of them! On their way out..

I bought them in like 2011 because while I didn’t yet have my own Hilton Head property on the vision board, they gave me that feeling, as much of HHI was developed in the 80s.  But the plates and I have had a come-to-Jesus and the fact of the matter is while I like them, I don’t like them enough to use them.  I have now entertained in Hilton Head several times and when given the chance to use them, I opted not to.  So if I’m not even going to use them in an 80s coastal environment, I think they gotta go.  While it’s my instinct to be a little annoyed with myself, why the fuck did I buy these and why the fuck have I kept them so long? Through my kinder, gentler, hoardier lens, I see perhaps they were a little piece of the puzzle toward my current path.  So off they go into the thrift store abyss, perhaps to be found by another emotionally unstable gay man to fulfill his own 80s coastal dreams.  See, so it’s like totally okay that I have like seven boxes of china coming. 

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Thanksgiving I: Getting Political...ish

Good morning! I am so excited we’ve made it back to November.  Personally, it’s been a great year for me. Though I have to admit I feel out of sync with the world as so many problems loom large over our heads.  I wrote like three painfully long and detailed posts but I don’t think they’re worth publishing.  My rule is if something I’ve written is too boring for me to read back to myself, I’m certainly not about to ask you to bother!  
October arrived late and lingers, but yesterday morning was purely November!
What I love most about Thanksgiving is that is not ever as set as Christmas.  Thanksgiving has room to grow, allows for tweaks to be made, and is forgiving.  My Thanksgiving may be heavily labored over but the beauty of the holiday is that all it needs to be is a gathering, a meal. 

I think it’s the elemental that we so desperately need these days.  Everything is so inflated, so hot, and so contentious.  My advice for holidays has always been to keep politics off the table.  What good could come from it?  I’ve changed my mind.  I think families need to have the tough conversations about political identity and how we’ve handed our country over to the far side of either party.  I think I’ll have ten for Thanksgiving this year, of those ten I know that four are staunch democrats, four are staunch republicans, one doesn’t care, and the other is me.  What am I? I don’t like the term independent but  I’m certainly not a democrat but I’m not a modern Republican either.  I kind of feel like I’m still at the Grand Ol’ Party but all by myself.  I really want to see if I can manage a discussion about gun control at Thanksgiving?  I’d rather know where my family is on that than who’s golfing where this winter.  As I see it, gun control is our single largest problem and should be the easiest to fix.  I am a strict constitutionalist so I am not at all about taking all the guns away.  In fact I wish way more women had guns.  But I see the biggest problem in our country as the NRA.  I think at this point in time, gun manufacturers should be held more responsible for what their products are capable of doing.  There’s just no need for assault rifles.  

As Heather says, the only way out is through and I feel I need to be doing more on this journey in bringing another view to the table rather than letting the extremes cancel each other out.  Keeping to ourselves and like-minded cohorts has only made things worse.  What do you think? Do you think it can happen? A civil, sane discussion on gun control? Politics at your table?

Thanksgiving is always a little different.  How will yours be different this year?

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Good morning! Here we are comfortably on the other side of the holidays and I’ve still yet to post. I’ve sort of been holding my breath and I’m not exactly sure why.  I suppose it’s the old diet/still fat theory.  Do you know what I mean? You have a friend who makes these incredible proclamations about the diet they are starting, all the rules of the diet, how difficult their workouts are, etc…and yet frankly the friend stays fat despite their dozens of facebook (or in my case, blog) posts about the diet.  One learns the hard way you ought not to tell people you’ve lost weight, rather let them notice.  Well don’t worry cause I’ve gained ten pounds so this is not about one of my many weight loss journeys. I guess it’s more about keeping the shutters closed because the house is kind of a mess. 

When I posted in July about my plans to start a business in real estate, I honestly believed I would have it wrapped up and finished by the end of the year.  Well, it’s March and I’m still not entirely finished.  It’s been a long time since I have been in any sort of school and it requires a completely different type of discipline than to get up and go to work.  I think depending on all of our personalities, one tends to be easier than the other.  Of course there have been days in my life where I have felt loath to get out of bed and go to work.  But for me, it’s an easy switch to flip and the second I am out of bed, I sail through to the end of the day.  School is a little different.  Ohio allows real estate course work to be done online and South Carolina requires it be in a classroom with a teacher.  Thank god SC has this stipulation because if not I would have done both online and probably pulled my voluminous hair out in the process.  After finishing the Ohio coursework a few months ago, I closed my laptop and literally put it in a closet.  I was not sure I could ever look at a computer again.  No, deskwork is not for me.  That and my penchant for falling down rabbit holes.  I have a ridiculously strong memory (I think I recently creeped out a client because I remembered her grandma’s birthday she had mentioned like three years ago).  But there is no memory without understanding, so many of these things—especially real estate law—I chew on and read more and more until I can connect the dots.  Obviously this is worth the time, but it makes a slow and thorough Taurus even slower. 
I’m sure some of you are like okay that’s nice Stephen but what the fuck are you saying? I guess I’m saying I’ve been a bit reluctant to say anything until it’s all done, but at this point it’s pooling at the dam and stopping me from writing about other things, and I miss writing! But I’m going to try and ease back into the habit.  I’m sure it seems I have forgone my blog for Instagram, and while that has been technically true, it’s not.  Frankly, I hate Instagram just like I did before.  Don’t get me wrong, there are elements I love, but the system as a whole makes me insane.  Why do we reward talentless people?! And I’m not talking Kardashian talentless, I’m talking actually tal-ent-less.  Guess what, bitch, recycling the same fucking 300 pinterest photos we’ve all fucking seen ten thousand times because some of us actually paid for the fucking magazine ten fucking years ago does not make you a tastemaker.  I love how snobbish some of them are about it, too.  Saying things like “Now, THIS is elegance”. Like, no you dumbass it’s a fucking magazine and no one can see each other with 39 taxidermy ostriches between them. Then once a year they’ll post something they actually did themselves and you get a dark ass closely cropped shitty photo of a plate of food resembling vomit on dishwasher safe plate.  Ummm? Where’s the priceless china you’re posting seventeen times a day with “inspiration…”? Whoops, my teeth came out.  How about this, please tag me with your favorite real accounts.  I love Instagram for its connecting of passionate people, if there’s an account of a real person sharing their real passion in just about any arena, I’m interested.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t have any trouble finding inspiration… when I need it. 
So, here I am on a glorious Sunday morning in Hilton Head.  I have been here a week and am here for two, maybe three more, getting my South Carolina education.  I am so glad to have a teacher and classmates, even if it is hard for me to sit still for eight hours a day.  That washes off quickly when one can start and end his day at the beach.  The plan still stands and I’m more excited about it the deeper I get.  It’s a great feeling to know you are a natural fit for a new endeavor.  Even if you’re getting there at ocean liner speed rather than Concord.  There’s a lot to see and learn along the way.  So what have you been working on?  Am I the only one moving a little slower than expected? I hope not.  I’m having an issue with comments on Blogger, so I might respond with an anonymous account just called SAJ rather than my official Blogger account.  I don’t like to do this because anyone can comment under a blank account called SAJ but hopefully you’ll know if it’s me or not. 
So, all that to get to my photos which pushed me to post.  Have you ever been to Beaufort? It is the most beautiful little town completely ensconced by glimmering marsh, river, and sea.  The trees are colossal, the Spanish moss tends to hang even lower and more luxuriously languid, the houses are old and just take your breath away when you turn a corner and feel you’ve discovered another Most Beautiful House.  One of my friends from class lives there and said that when she went to the showing for the house she ended up buying, she just cried because she couldn’t believe she could live somewhere so beautiful.  Yesterday I explored Beaufort again with Barbie bopping along at my side.  The sun was bleachingly bright, the air was so fresh off the water, and the strong breeze sang through the Spanish moss in a muffled chorus.  A spectacularly gorgeous morning. 

Palmetto and American Redbud in bloom! What could be a better representation of the subtropical, deciduous magic of the

Every street ends with a similar view.