What a difference a year makes

This time last year I was driving a moving van halfway across the country. The days before were dedicated to packing up our home in Columbia, for the second time in a matter of months. The first packing up occurred May 2010 as I moved out of my precious District apartment in the Fredrick.

My beloved apartment in the Fredrick

My beloved apartment in the Fredrick

It was my first apartment without a roommate. Leaving that home and moving in with Ryan was an exciting time for me. We’d been living between two homes for three years. Ending my time at the place that brought me so much independence and growth was intense. Continue reading

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JUSTIN IS TUMBLING AWAY FROM TUMBLR

I love Tumblr as much as you do but all things must come to an end. Between the servers crashing all the time and dividing my audience between two blogs, it just seemed like the right idea to fold my Tumblr into my actual blog, It’s Just Justin.

I will continue to feed links to my blog posts through here (Tumblr disabled that feature just as I was about to start using it. Another reason to leave the service, they keep taking away features!) but all future original posts will be available via my new Tumblog on my site.

Hope to see you over there!

I’m Moving Back to California

While it might be the worst kept secret, ever, I wanted to give myself time to tell each of my friends (as best I could) the news face to face before posting it here on the web. But, yes, I am moving to back to California, and quite soon. In fact, as of this writing, I have roughly 21 days left of life in Missouri before I head west to the Golden State.

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Visiting San Francisco

I’ve been staring at my screen for the last twenty minutes or so trying to decide just what I wanted to title this blog post. Choosing the right title for a post is important. Will my title convey the post subject of the post succinctly? Will it capture the attention of a potential reader? Will it SEO? Will it blend? Will it give the wrong message?

Obviously I just gave up. Oh well. Better than something totally cheesy like “I Left My Heart in San Francisco” with an embedded video from YouTube of Tony Bennett singing…well you get the point.

A few weeks ago, as many of you know, I took a trip to California to see Ryan, our new apartment, our amazing friends and to get a little bit of a break from the Midwest. The trip was awesome. I had an amazing time and if anyone were to ask me, yes it was too short. My time in the Golden State also brought up the question of why I was living in the Show-Me State. Why am I living 2,500 miles from Ryan working a job that can be done from anywhere in the world?

In fact, I did much of my job while I traveled across France, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and Germany. If I can do it from Saudi Arabia through a government implemented firewall, I can certainly do the job from San Francisco.

No need to dwell on my longing for California, let’s instead, celebrate the great times I had while I was there! including a morning stroll through Dolores Park!

It was a long trip out there. Started way too early in the morning and didn’t end until around 2 in the morning my time. Long day. But who can complain when you have Ryan picking you up at the airport to drive you to your new home in the city?

When we got home, he gave me the tour of the apartment and neighborhood, talked about how wonderful it would be to live there together, full-time, and finished the moment off with a climb to the roof and a stunning view of the entire city.

The next morning I went to the roof to take this picture. Be sure to click to enlarge!

Our apartment is in a great area for us. Just a couple of blocks from a Safeway, a couple of blocks from a MUNI station, not even a block from a bus station and snugged in just outside of The Castro. When I previously lived in San Francisco, I lived on the other end of Market, about five blocks from Union Square. It was a different life then. Seemed I made whatever excuse I could to go down to the area where we now live and enjoy the higher altitude, the slower coffee shops and local color. I worked near Union Square but ached for The Castro, Mission and Haight.

I think it was the second night in town when I lamented to Ryan of the good ‘ol days. The days when I lived with Mike and Kevin in Santa Rosa. It was right about the moment that I turned to Ryan and said, “You know, I really wish you could meet Mike. I think you’d really like him…” when I’m interrupted by a callout, “Justin?!”

It’s Mike and Kevin, standing 15 feet from the front door of our apartment! By the way, Mike moved to St. Martin a few years ago, a Caribbean Island not known for its proximity to San Francisco.

It was amazing. We went out for drinks, Mike and I caught up on all the changes in each other’s lives while Kevin and Ryan, likely, shared embarrassing stories about me.

I couldn’t think of a better way to close out a night in San Francisco than that.

Living Long Distance

Seems like I keep writing blog posts about change and loss. How depressing right? And come on, after a summer where your precious goldfish went to bigger waters, four of your best guy friends moved away, a semester where you said goodbye to two jobs and a ton of great classmates, a year that your parents moved to Saudi Arabia and your apartment of the last three years was vacated… what the hell else could you have left to say goodbye to?

Believe it or not, something bigger than all of that recently left, moved away to the great left coast of California.

Ryan and I have been trying for years to get back to California, visiting at least two times a year since we started dating three years ago. I never thought it would be Ryan that would move to San Francisco first but it sure did happen that way. Just a week ago Ryan made the long drive west to start a new chapter in his and my life.

We’re both baffled when the two of us think about how much has changed for us over the last three years, how much we’ve endured, grown and loved. When I moved out of the downtown apartment we were both so excited to actually, officially, share a home together. I think that lasted all of around 2 weeks. After a whirlwind summer between coasts for education seminars, job interviews and some well deserved vacation time, Ryan got the great news that he would be moving to San Francisco for a fantastic new job.

Oh, and me? Well… I’m here in Columbia. I’m continuing my work here, which I enjoy so much, paying a mortgage, which I am not enjoying so much, and thinking about the day I get to make the very trip Ryan made nearly two weeks ago.

It’s actually kind of funny. Phoebe, aka @fotofobe, joked that Ryan and I were the only two people in a long distance relationship who lived in the same house. Never a truer statement was spoken. You can see a typical Monday through Friday on the right.

I only worked 5 hours on Sundays so my weekends were mostly free. Unfortunately, Ryan often worked 24 hour shifts on Saturdays so there goes the weekend.

But I guess what I’m really getting at here is this. For three years we lived together and more or less barely got to see each other. We took trips from time to time, we were lucky enough to have a few weekends off here and there but really, on average, we saw each other only a handful of hours every week. It’s insane right? Yet it never messed with us. If anything it only made the time we spent together more important and more cherished.

We always looked to the summers, when I wasn’t in school, for long trips to California or somewhere on the east coast. This summer, for the first summer ever, I was done with school and had entered the real world. That is to say, I had a job. Which also means, our summer together traveling never happened.

In less than a month I will be flying to California to spend a week with Ryan in our new apartment in San Francisco. Do you have any idea how exciting that is? After a summer behind a desk and away from Ryan, we will finally have some time together, for an entire week! I cannot wait.

Ryan moving away has been incredibly difficult but I refuse to let it be the coup de grâce of my life here in Columbia. I’m so lucky to have some great friends still left here in Columbia, a job that let’s me travel and iChat for us to video chat.

Big thanks to Laura, Chadd, Korrie and Dave for being there for me. I may not be showing how sad and lonely I am but with you guys, I don’t have to.

So look forward to lots of pics from San Francisco soon! It’s been forever since I broke my camera out and shot things I wanted to shoot. Way too long.

I’m Alive in the Lone Star State

I’ve been busy working on my internship/job here in Texas.  Having a great time all the while but really missing home, Ryan, Mr. Belvedere and my friends.

Yeah, so working a lot, hanging with my grandparents who are fantastic and figuring out my future.

As of this moment, right now, as I lounge in bed watching Dead Like Me on Hulu… I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that it is completely feasible that as of this December, I will be motherfucking done with the University of Missouri.

Now, I don’t hate the university or anything, it’s just that it kinda hates me.  I figure, it’s best for both of us for me to get out, asap.

Therefore, by the end of this summer, I will have completed 12 hours of summer school.  Yes, the limit by statute of the University is 9 hours and that’s only if you get permission to take over 7.  I worked my way into it.

So yes, maybe I graduate in December.  Then?  Oh crap, that’s where I start to freak out.  The plan of course is to move back to the golden hills of California.

Yes, the beautiful hills of California. They’re golden because they’re starving for water, not because they’re full of gold.  That’s so California 1849.

Soon I should hear back from my advisor who will tell me if I graduated in December or May.  Either way, I’m getting the hell out of Dodge and moving on with my life with Ryan.  We’ve even casually looked at some homes to buy in the city!  Exciting right?

But what will I do for work?  Continue my work for the Agency?  Start my own company?  Do I even THINK about photography much less graduate school at Stanford?

Life is so full of questions, obligations and unknowns.

But… Let’s worry about those as they happen.  Right now I need to get back to bed.  Busy day ahead of me!

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Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?

Golden Gate Bridge by Kelly HobbThis is the first time for me to come back to Houston and not hang out with high school friends.  It seems that I have reached the point in my life where old friends have become forgotten friends.  I spend my time with my family and alone doing work instead of prowling the town into the late wee hours of the morning.

I was just here in March for Spring Break and my Lasik surgery and even then I had friends with whom I got to enjoy my time here.  It is amazing to me how quickly our lives change and how few of my former high school classmates have decided to stay in Houston, or even Texas altogether. 

It isn’t just my high school friends either.  My friends from Mizzou seem to be moving to the coasts, primarily San Francisco and New York City/Washington DC.

And coincidently, or perhaps not, right now Ryan and I are planning our escape and what are the two top places on our list?  San Francisco (the bay area) and Washington DC.

What is that draws us all so far from the Midwest?  What is so undesirable?  The east and west coasts are significantly more expensive and the job market is much more competitive, especially for college graduates.  Housing is up to ten times more expensive on average and crime is up.

We sacrifice security, cheap housing and our set of wheels for these destinations and what’s more?  We stay there!  This isn’t a vacation.  On top of that, we recruit.  I can’t count the number of people that moved to San Francisco after I did.

Alas, until Ryan and I pack our things and move to the coasts of California or the Capitol City, we will be rehearsing our goodbyes as our dwindling number of friends continue to venture out of Middle America for the cities with the power to make, or crush dreams.