Monday, February 28, 2011

On the Beach

T and I took a trip to an island some where southeast of disorder.  I took this picture of him laying on the beach.  He looks so good, I had a hard time keeping the other homos on the beach from trying to pick him up.

After hanging out on the beach for a while in the morning, we walked to the other side of the island where we could swim with the sea turtles.  This was the time of the year when they gather on this remote island for breeding, so there were lots of them to look at.   

After snorkeling, we had lunch on the beach.  After eating fresh fruit (grown on the island) and fish baked in palm leaves in the sand, we laid back together in an over-sized hammock for a nap in the shade of banana grove.

After our nap, T wanted to try parasailing so we walked down the beach to where they do that.  After a quick lesson, we strapped ourselves in and up, up and away.   It was a beautiful day and from up there it felt like we could see the whole world.   They took us around the island and no matter how beautiful the scenery was, I could not stop looking at T's face.  Seeing the wonder in his smile and the love in his eyes just made my heart melt.  I could not help but lean over and kiss him.

When we landed back on earth we poked around the local shops on that side of the island.  I liked looking in the shops run by local craftsmen who make jewelery, and other personal items.  I found a colorful hair-tie for my daughter.  A shark took necklace for one of my sons and knotted bracelet worn by warriors of the local tribe for my other sons.  I even found a nice necklace for K and a something cool for AJ.

T liked the shops that had handcrafted home furnishings.  He bought a hand blown glass lamp for his mom and some other items for his dad and sisters.

We had a nice dinner at a little cafe next to the beach.  We ate scallops and shrimp while listening to the surf as the tide came in.  We shared a frozen desert made from locally grown mangoes.  

As we finished our meal, the sun was just starting to set.  We had a 10 minute walk down the beach to our room.  Walking hand in hand we alternated between looking into each others eyes and looking out to sea.  By the time we realized it, we had walked half a mile past the hotel.  Oh well, I guess we will just have to walk back.  I could not think of a more perfect place to be or a more perfect man to be with.  

One day, I hope to take a trip like this.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Nice Day to Be Together, That Wasn't

Today was a really nice day in my neck of the woods.  Not as nice as here, but pretty nice.  I think it was the warmest day  so far this year with the daytime high reaching 78 degrees with a nice breeze.  

I spent the first part of the day with K and the kids.  We went to church and then we all went out to lunch.  It was so nice we even are outside on the patio.  (If you are a northern reader who still has 3 feet of snow in your yard, please forgive me.)  After lunch a quick trip to Wally -World for supplies and then home.

All the time I was thinking about how much I wanted T to be there with me.  How I wanted him to be part of the family all the time.

Then I got to thinking about vacations.  K and AJ took a cruise over the week of Thanksgiving.  (She does not think that counts as a romantic vacation because AJ's daughter went too.  (boo hoo)).  I want to have a vacation alone with T.  I want to be able to go somewhere and not have to worry about anything other than him and me and making the most out of our time together.  We had a really good time during the weekend we spent together over labor day, but that was only 2 nights and I really wanted more (not to mention that he was sick for one of those nights).

I think all the time about spending time with him.  And I don't really care what we do, so long as we are together.

For now we see each other once or twice a week.  Each visit is a few hours long and then we go home.  I need to find a way to see him more often.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Who The Hell Is That?

If you have spent any extended time in the closet pretending to be someone else, you probably reached a point where you became comfortable with it.  When you first looked in the mirror and saw that the reflection is not really you, it feels funny, strange.  But that just strengthens your resolve.  You don't really like the man you really are.  You want to be the man in the mirror.  You want to be someone else.

Over time you become good at pretending.  You might even believe that you are straight.  That you are like everyone else.  You have been ignoring the man in the mirror for so long by now, you actually think he is you.

As more time passes you realize that the man you see in the mirror is not you at all.  You realize that the man in the mirror is a stranger.  Someone you don't know.  Other people seem to know him, but not you.

Whether you know it or not, this is the last day you can stay in the closet.  You realize you cannot pretend anymore.  You realize you have to be the person you really are.

This is actually a familiar story to many of the people reading my blog or other blogs like it.   I have written about it myself, though not exactly in this way before.  

The reason I bring it up is that K experienced exactly the same thing, at the same time I was.  Her experience was different, she is sure of her sexual orientation, but really about her own happiness.

While K and I have always gotten along pretty well, we have not had a perfect marriage.  Then, I guess it was about seven years ago now, she let me explore my sexuality.  She let me connect with men online and in person for sex.  She knew what was going on, and she told me she was OK, but she was not.

She told me the other day that she was so unhappy back then, she figured that if she could make everyone else happy (me and the kids) then she would some how become happy too.  That is why she allowed me to explore when other wives would not.  She thought it would make me happy, which in turn would make her happy.


Now, today, she is finding her happiness with AJ.  I am finding mine with T.  She is looking in the mirror and suddenly recognizing the woman in the mirror.  What is more surprising to her is the fact that she got so used to seeing that strange woman in the mirror that she had hard time remember that her own happiness was just as important as everyone else's.

It was a rough road for both of us to get where we are today.  While we were in the most hellish part of it, there were times when we both thought it would be best to try to go back.  To put things back the way they were.  But now that we are each happy with the person we see in the mirror. there is no way we would go back.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Friend with Bad Judgement

I have written before about my former neighbor, let's call him "Shawn".  He came out to his wife and they divorced in a mess.  He lived across the street from me when his wife moved out, taking the kids with her.  He lived there for another year before be let the bank foreclose and he moved to a neighborhood a couple of miles away from me.  

All in all, I think he is a good guy who is fun to hang out with from time to time.  A few years ago, he took me, and a group of others, to a gay strip club (my first time).   Shawn's real problem is he has poor judgement.  In addition to other things he participates risky sexual behavior.  When I say "risky" I don't mean just not using condoms (I actually am not sure if he does or not) but things that could actually get him killed.  Here is an example:

He found a guy on Craigslist that wanted to come over a perform oral sex on him.  That's not so strange, but Mr. Blowjob, told Shawn to leave his house unlocked and lay naked and blindfolded on his bed and wait there for him to arrive, service Shawn and then leave.   Shawn claims he actually did this and told me later how cool it was.  

I told you, he has poor judgement.  

I don't see Shawn very often, maybe every couple of months or so.  During those meetings he frequently tells me stories of his exploits.  I do not offer opinions, I just listen.  Occasionally I wonder what it would be like to have his courage and freedom, but then I remind myself that I think he is kind of pathetic. By the end of the visit I generally feel sorry for him.  He is adrift and I don't think he even knows where he wants to go.  While I may not have his freedom, I have T who truly loves me and helps keep me grounded.

He knows I have never done most of the things he has done (or claims to have done) because I told him.  Occasionally I have told him about fantasies I have thought about, but never acted on and a few that I have actually done.  At one point, maybe a year or two ago, I told him that I have always wondered what it would be like to be with 2 or 3 other men at the same time.

This past Sunday, he sent me a text asking if I wanted to stop over his house later that evening.  I told him I would.  He said he had someone he wanted me to meet.  That sounded interesting.  I have meet his friends before and generally they have been fun to hang out with.  

I got my chores done around the house including getting the kids ready for school the next day and off to bed.  K works at the church on Sunday nights so when she got home, I got dressed and headed out to my car.  I called Shawn to let him know I was on my way over and would be there in 5 min.  I asked him if his friend was there.  He said there were 2 friends and they were on their way.  The he asked what I thought about having a 4 way with him and them.  After all I had told him I always wanted to try that.  Ummmm....

Like I said, Shawn was always telling me about his exploits, but I have never been a participant, or even a witness for that matter.  I have never really wanted to be either.  I think his stories are sleezy and they are not me.  Even if I was not already committed to T, I would not be interested in actually getting involved with him, or his friends.

Now I had told both K and T that I was going over to Shawn's house.  I had not left my driveway when it became clear what he was planning.  I told him I was not going to come over and made it clear I was not interesting in participating but he could tell me all about it later if he wanted to.

I got out of the car and headed back into the house.  I had been out in the driveway for about 5 min.  When K asked me why I was back so soon, I told her that Shawn had developed a migraine and canceled.  I then told T the same thing.  I probably should have told them the truth, but I didn't want them to think badly of Shawn.

I am not sure why Shawn thought I would be interested in a 4 way with him.  I think if I made a pass at him, he would probably take me up on it, but I never have.  I never would either.  Of course the first reason is that I am committed to T.  Even if I was not, Shawn's risky behavior would make me concerned that he might have disease.  Add that to the fact I do not find him attractive and, well you get the idea.  

Well, anyway, I don't expect I will hear from Shawn for a while.  I think he was embarrassed that he was setting this up for me and I didn't accept, especially since I was not that nice about it.  I may have lost an occasional friend, but I have kept my integrity intact.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dreaming About the Kiss

Last night I woke in the night.  Without my glasses I cannot really see the clock so I am not sure what time it is.  The windows are open and I can hear crickets in the woods beyond our yard.  The only other sound I hear is your breathing.  

I put on my glasses to look at the clock, but I my eyes are drawn to the moonlight cascading on your body.  You shift slightly but you remain asleep as I prop myself up on my elbow.  Even though I know every curve and contour of your body, I cannot take my eyes off you.  

I focus on your chest.  Your smooth skin almost seems to glow in the moonlight.  I watch it rise and fall as your breathe.  It is almost hypnotic.  Up.  Down.  Up.  Down. 

My eyes move up to your face.  I focus on your lips.  I can almost feel the softness of them pressing on mine.  I notice there is a little stubble growing on your chin, now I can feel it scratching gently on my chin as we kiss in my mind.  

I lean over and touch my lips to yours.  You return my kiss without waking up, almost instinctively.

I return my glasses to the night stand.

I lay my head back on my pillow.

As I close my eyes and drift back to sleep, I listen to the crickets and your breathing.  I dream about the kiss.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sweet Sorrow

So can I just whine for a minute?

This has actually turned into a busy weekend.  My sister, her husband and their 2 kids are here for a visit.  They are not sleeping at my house (there's really no room), but they are spending most of their time with us. I usually only get to see them once a year when I am home at summer time.  Since we don't get that many visitors, it is really nice when someone come here to visit.  I am glad that she came, and even though it is pretty low key, I am enjoying their visit.

The kids, particularly the little kids, are happy their cousins are here for them to play with.  My older kids are more interested in hanging out with my sister and her husband (who is a cop which my boys think that's cool.).

The visit is going well, but my kids are not behaving as well as I would like.  The younger two are always fighting, but this weekend it seems like it is more.  Or at least it is bugging me more.  K has not been around much, partly due to work but also because of recreational activities.  In fairness she did take the kids to the horse barn and let them take turns riding.  She likes to do that, so that worked out pretty well.

Last night, T came to spend the evening with us.  We all went to a pizza place the kids like for dinner and then to a movie.  Again everything went well, but as soon as the movie was over, T left.  While I am glad he came, I wished he had stayed a little longer.  I know he left so I could focus more attention on my sister and nephews, and I know he thought he was being considerate, I still wish he would have stayed longer.  But, on the other hand, I am glad he came at all.  I guess I should consider my glass to be half full.

The movie we saw tonight was Gnomeo & Juliet.  As I kissed T good night, all I could think about was the line from the actual Shakespeare play: 

"Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow,
That I shall say good night till it be morrow." 

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You Just Know

There are things that you know are just right.  They seem natural.  They fit you.  You cannot imagine that you were ever any other way.  

When I look back at the person I was pretending to be for so long and then I look at where I am today, I sometimes have a hard time seeing the man I once was.  Not that I am really that different.

I was with T tonight.  I went to his house and had dinner with his family.  They all talked around me in a language I do not yet understand.  T would tell me the topic of their conversation from time to time, but mostly I was there alone.

But I did not feel out of place.  There was no place else I would rather have been but by his side.  I was perfectly content.

When the meal was over, we went up stairs.  He bought home several boxes of work from the office.  I had bought my work computer with me too.  I have a big presentation to give on Thursday that still needs work.

We sat on the floor in his loft and we each did our own work.  Occasionally stopping to chat or kiss.  I could tell I was exactly where I needed to be.  I was with the person I needed to be with.  Just being with him was enough.  We were not even sitting close together, but I still felt close to him.

There are some things you just know are right.  This was one of those things.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Sleeping... Or Not.

Back in December I wrote about how I really dislike sleeping alone (here).  For most of the past twenty years, K and I slept together as most married couples do.  I liked it, though sometimes she would complain I snore too much.

For the past 9 months I have been sleeping alone.  While it is not my favorite, I still sleep pretty well.  I sometimes get up in the night to use the bathroom, but I always immediately fall back to sleep.

Occasionally, I will wake up, usually from a dream, and my mind is active and I can't get back to a proper sleep.  I experience kind of an intermittent sleep.  You know the when you look at the clock and it's 3:00, then you sleep and you look again and it's only 3:15.  Ugh!!

But last night it was different.

I woke up at 3:00, but as I was trying to go back to sleep, I woke with a start.  I don't know why, but I was anxious and I really could not go back to sleep.    

It was not a very fun feeling.  I was uneasy and I think I felt worse because I was alone. 

I drank from the water bottle I keep next to the bed.

I caught up on some other blogs from my Blackberry.

I walked around downstairs a little.

I went back to bed and read some... er... naughty stories and did what you do when you read naughty stories. That usually helps me relax, but not tonight

No.  So there I was.  Wide awake, just like this guy.  I gave up on the Blackberry and opened my laptop on my bed,  surfing around until I heard the alarm on my son's room go off just before 6:00.  CRAP!!

It was about time for me to get up and get ready for work anyway.  

I was tired and cranky all day.  I am still more than a little anxious and I don't know why.  Let's hope tonight is better.


All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die in one life before we can enter another.

It may seem strange, but I am friends with AJ on Facebook.  This was the status he posted the other day.  I don't know if he made it up or read it some where.   I thought it was interesting because not only does it equally apply to him and me, it also applies to a lot of my blogger friends.

A lot of the stress, fear and uncertainty that guys like us (or at least guys like me) is about the transition from our old life to our new life.  Compounding the fear, is the fact that most of society is not entirely supportive of gays in general, much less gays who appear to be abandoning their families.  

What I thought was particularly significant to me, was the part about "...even the most longed for..."   This made me think about my laundry room moment (read about that here) and the life that I longed for for so long.  The straight married life that I had and the gay life that I wanted were inherently incompatible.

When I look at the quote it talks about dying in one life before entering another.  At first I didn't like the sound of that, kinda melodramatic.  But as I thought about it more, it might be right.  There is a huge shift from my old life to my new life.  Even though I have been doing it in slow motion, I am still making the shift. 

AJ is making a shift too.  His first wife passed away 3 years ago after a very long illness.  He still has a fair amount of survivor guilt.  I, on the other hand, have homo guilt.  We both have to put our old lives (and guilt) behind us in order to embrace th new one life.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Not Tonight

K was gone at a tournament all day Saturday and was not to get home until late.  The plan was for T to come over to my house.  I was going to make a nice dinner for him and my kids and then we would all go see a movie.

Things started to fall apart.  Yesterday, my kids lobbied hard that we should go out for pizza.  (They are not always big fans of my cooking).

My daughter was complaining of a sore throat that turned out to be strep.  After getting her medication I knew she would not be able to go to the movies.  As the afternoon wore on, it was clear that she felt worse.

I told T that it may not be a good idea for him to come.  It turns out that was the right call because she started throwing up things that I was pretty sure she had not even eaten.

By the time K got home, I was tired, cranky and my daughter still "actively" sick.  

It was late by the time we finally got her to bed, it was late and T had gone to bed.

I know that these kinds of things sometimes happen with kids, and T was very understanding, but I'm sure he was a disappointed as I was.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Just Feeling the Feelings

When we are together, I just feel the feelings.  It does not matter what we are doing, I feel them, just the same.  All I need is your body close to mine and I can feel the feelings.

Over the years I often wondered about the stories of the guys doing crazy things for love.   I did not understand how the love of a woman could make a man do crazy things.  I did not feel the tingles in my belly that being "in love" with one special person was supposed to bring.  I knew how to make it appear to others like I had those feelings, but I did not really experience them for myself.

That is, not until you came along.  Once you came into my life, I learned what all the brew-ha-ha was about.  I learned what in love felt like.  I learned that I could not longer live the lie.  I could never go back to who I was.  I could only move forward and be the person I truly am.  Falling in love with you was my great awaking.  

Now when you are lounging in my arms, I just feel the feelings.  I know I am where I belong.

Monday, February 7, 2011


I don't usually comment on comments, but when I do comment on comments, I always make a point to say I usually don't comments on comments so people won't make comments expecting me to comment back.  Now that that's out of the way, I have been thinking I may not have my life as worked out as I like to think.

In a comment on my last post Biki said, "Good luck, and remember, you are trying to untie yourself from K, not make more strings...

Is that really what I am trying to do?  Maybe my concerns are not really about the kids at all, maybe they are about losing K.  After all she has been a constant in my life for 20 years and we are resolved to remain best friends.  It is probably normal that I would not want to distance myself from her.

Four people, including T, have told me that my (our) plan to stay connected is not a good one.  They are telling me that I should be working to make myself more independent and separate from K. 

I need to think about this more before I have much more to say.  But as I am thinking, I have to remember something.  With only 2 or 3 exceptions, everyone, and I mean EVERYONE K has told that we are divorcing because I am gay, has told her she is crazy for letting me continue to live here.  That she is crazy for not kicking me out and hiring a scumbag lawyer the first day she found out I had "turned gay".  They said she was stupid for not suing the shit out of me.  Some even suggested that she should cut me off from my kids.

Now considering that I live Baptist central (the road connecting the major airport to the interstate is "Billy Graham Parkway") it would not have been hard for her to such a lawyer.  In a state where judges are elected and the more Conservative ones tend to get elected and re-elected, the odds are good she would get a judge that is less than sympathetic to a guy like me.

To her credit, she has rejected everyone of those suggestions.  Because we have a special relationship.  We have a special bond that seems to flow past this gay business.  I firmly believe that even given how much she has fallen in love with AJ, if he were to suddenly develop a hostility to me, she would end the relationship with him.  It would be a deal breaker for her.

All that said, maybe there is something to giving her (and me) more space than we are currently planning.  Maybe it will be better for all of us. 

It's late so there may be more typing mistakes than usual.  I need to sleep and think about this more.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Caretaker's Cottage

The current living arrangement that K and I have is not sustainable over the long term.  I had hoped we would be able to put up with it until she finished school in 2 years, but it is becoming more and more apparent, that we will not make it that long.  So K and I have been talking about what kind of situation we want to live in.  Because AJ, is in her long range plan, she has been talking about it with him too.

K would also like to have several acres of land so she can bring her horse too, which would same her a fair chunk of money.  This time last year, before she met AJ, we assumed we would buy property together and live together with the  kids.  We would not necessarily live in the same house, but on the same property.  Now that AJ is in the picture, they are talking about buying together and I would basically rent from them, at least as long as my kids are young.  As they grow up and move away, I will probably too, leaving K and AJ to live there together.  

So K has been talking to me about what I want, need and could accept.  She has been talking to AJ about what he wants, needs, or could accept.  Last night the three of us got together to talk about it.

My needs:

Minimally I need a room with a private bathroom (3/4 bath is fine).  I don't want to be sharing a bath with the kids and if T comes over, I want to be able to fool around and take a shower afterward without walking down the hall in a robe.

Another option is the Katrina Cottage.  (No kidding.  Look here)  These are little houses that can be built most anywhere and many of them would be perfect for me.   This could be built on the same property as the house K & AJ and the kids live in.  It would give me easy access to the kids and them easy access to me.  At the same time it would give me and K the privacy we deserve.  T could come over and we could watch TV on my couch, in my living room.  Then we could sit out on my porch on a warm summer evening to look at the stars before retiring to my bedroom to fall asleep in each others arms.  I really like this option.

Next would be the in-law apartment.  A small one bedroom apartment attached to the main house.  It may, or may not have it's own entrance.  I probably don't need a full kitchen.  This would cost more than just a bedroom, but less than a free standing cottage.  I think I would get the privacy I need here along with the feeling of family that I want.

All of these options are short term.  Eventually (I hope and pray) T and I will live together as partners (as husbands?) and I doubt he will want to leave his fabulous house to move into my cottage.  I don't know what that will look like for us (or really even if, but I keep hoping) but the reality is I will not live in the cottage on K's horse farm forever.  A cottage or a self-contained in-law apartment would be best for them because they could rent it and make a little extra money that way.  Alternatively, it could be a place that my middle son, who is partially disabled, could live, because he may not be able to live on his own easily.

I think that AJ is leaning toward the apartment or the cottage choice.  While he is a good sport and pretty accepting of me, I think the limit might be reached if I am actually living in his house (or rather his and K's house).  Right now I don't know how much he will want he hanging around all the time.  I can't really blame him for that and to be fair, he has been very accepting of our fucked up situation.

This then makes me think about my kids.  I strongly feel that connections are forged and maintained best by frequent and close physical proximity.  I know I have a connection with the kids that will last forever.  I do not worry the kids, even the youngest ones, will eventually come to see AJ as their dad rather than me.  I know that K will not let that happen and there really is not indication that AJ is eager to sign up for parenting responsibilities for my kids anyway.  But I think about it anyway.  If I am not around and lot as they are growing up, will those relationships not be as strong?   I also wonder if they will get better.  K will be living with them all the time (with me in the apartment or cottage) and she will be doing the day to day discipline.  Maybe they will see me as the "good parent" because I will be calmer and do less yelling.  Hmmm.

On the other hand, it's not like I am moving out of state.  If I am living in a cottage 100 feet away from the main house, it should be pretty easy to maintain a connection to the kids.  And to K.

I am sure I am reading more into all of this than I need to.  I also know there is a lot that needs to happen before anything can happen.  Both AJ and I need to sell our houses.  Even in today's market, we both have some equity in our houses.  Proceeds from the sale of his house will buy the property.  Money from the sale of mine will go to building my cottage.  

There is still a fair amount of work to do to figure out the logistics of all of this, but we will figure it out.  I'll keep you posted.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Pizza & Beer

Sometimes I take comfort in things that are familiar.  Tonight, beer and pizza is my vice.  

When I was in college I used to drink a lot. Too much, really.  After college, I moved in with my best friend from high school (let's call him Steve) and we always had beer in the fridge and we drank a lot of it.  This time was about the time I met K and I was deep, deep in the closet and in denial about who I am.   (Before you ask, nothing ever happened with Steve.)

I don't really know why I drank so much, but we (Steve and I) both did.  We also ate a lot of pizza, mostly because neither of us knew how to cook.  I had a good time living there.  We were both single with no real responsibility expect to pay our rent every month.  I did not even have a real bed, just a mattress on the floor and that was OK with me.  I guess things were just simple then.

Today I do not drink very much.  I will have a beer or two with dinner when I go out or if I have company over to the house, but except for that, I generally do not drink at home.  The kids like pizza so we get that a lot, more than we should.

Tonight I am trying to take some comfort in pizza and beer.

I was supposed to see T last night, but that did not work out.  I was not anyone's fault, it's just that life got in the way.  Tonight his parents return from being away for a month, so he is spending some time with them (as he should).  Tomorrow he is singing at an event for veterans of the Vietnam war.  More on that here.

So tonight I am a little melancholy.  K has gone to spend the evening, and the night, with AJ.  I don't know when I will see T again.  I am feeling lonely and sad.  

In the end, I ate some pizza and drank two beers.  It took me several hours to drink them so there was no "chemical" effect tonight.  Now I finally have the kids in bed.  Nothing left for me to do now but go to sleep and dream of when I can...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Just Nice

I picked up T at his office yesterday after work.  He was ready for me.  At first I thought we were going to have dinner with his sister, but she decided that she was too tired and she went home.   I had him all to myself.

As I drove him home he told me about the employee he had to fired that day.  He was not feeling good about it and wanted to talk about.  I listened, sometimes asking questions or offering opinions.  The details are not important.  I was thinking about the big picture and what I was seeing was the man I love, who was telling me about the hard day he just had a work.  ( melt )

This is one of those moments that I dream about for us.  We stopped at a noodle place and ate a quick dinner for 2.  Then we went back to his house and watched some TV.  We were sitting, melted together, occasionally turning steal a quick kiss from the other.

Close to heaven.  We stayed like that for about 2 hours, when I had to start the trek home.


On another note:

I very much appreciate the words of encouragement and support I received on my last post about coming out to the kids.  I am still working out my strategy, but I feel a lot more confident than I did before.