Weak In The Knees


Having a relationship is new to me, so ya know what?  You’re just gonna have to deal with reading about it ad nauseam.

Friday evening, my girl Sydney, came on up my way to hang out at my house for the night.  It was her first time here, so that also meant it was the first time she was to meet my parents.  That was a little nerve-wracking on its own, not because I thought they’d hate her, but just because it’d really be opening my life up to my own family.  So, t’was a good thing… as odd as it felt🙂.  Handshakes were given, greetings exchanged, lame parent jokes made.  My mom gave me a brief glance, with a hint of red happy-teary eyes and a sly smirk that said “Oh, my son.. this is wonderful” — but that also just might’ve been the result of the dry, windy weather, too😉.

Syds and I spent the next few hours eating, cuddled up on my floor watching a movie, smoochin’, and just enjoying each other’s close company.  She wanted to be sure to leave around 11:30, so when the almost-muted episode of Friends that was randomly playing on my TV as we lay curled up together came to an end, I sighed heavily… because that was the signal of the clock hitting half-til-midnight.  I was hoping that particular episode would’ve lasted an eternity🙂.  We stood up, gathered her things, and I kissed her again.  I pulled her in close, ran one hand up her back while the other traced downward and held her tight against me.  We pushed into one another, not much space left between us save for a healthy dollop of passion.  Then, it happened.  The sort of thing I’d heard about over the years.  As the two of us stood in the dark of my room, our lips pressed firmly together, a certain someone went weak in the knees.

That certain someone was me.

Yeah, that’s right.  I buckled a little and started laughing.  Resting my head on her shoulder, I asked if she’d felt that — “that,” in this case, being her boyfriend’s temporary loss of standing strength.  Ain’t ever nobody accused me of not being an emotional fella.  So, yeah.. I’m in a new relationship and I swooned first.  I now have a new life goal, though — to do the same to her😉.

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Out Of The Box – 307

Out of the Box 307 weekly stick man web comic Cand Corn-larious

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It’s Who I Am

what have I become babe

I’m a depressed person.  It’s who I am.

My life is quite grand right now; I’m working, enjoying friends, and finally landed myself a wonderful girlfriend (Hi!).  Yet, despite all that I’ve been blessed with, Thursday morning a dark cloud of sadness rolled in.  Depression.  Did I have a reason to be down?  Not really, but unfortunately that’s not how it works.  Like a tide of unpleasantness, the waves just wash over, and everything becomes tinted by a hue of wavy blue as I look up at the world from underwater.

Thursday evening, my friend KB came by and it was a great night of catching up, having a chat about relationships, and laughing hard.  My spirits were lifted, and remained quite high through Friday — which is good, because that particular date night with Sydney was one of my favorite, yet, and I wouldn’t have wanted to sully it with a dour countenance.  Friday night found us snuggled up in my car by the beach, just talking for hours and hours about little things and big things, and it was an incredible time of getting closer with her.  Saturday morning, though, my prior mood reared its ugly head again… this time in the form of a cold, irritable attitude.  If the sad side of depression colors the world blue, this side is nothing but angry red in a black void.

I’m facing a new challenge with these times, though, and that’s having a partner to go through them with.  Of course, when I’m in THAT place, my perception is all extremely skewed — to the point that I feel horrible about asking someone else to be a part of this.  I often express just how much I hate that this is who I am, but it IS a part of me.  This leaves me with only a singular recourse… to be alone.  Woah, woah, calm down… I didn’t break up with anyone or anything, don’t worry🙂.  That’s how I view things when in the haze of depression, though.  I grew up with a dad who would fall off this same wagon quite frequently, and it really hurts to know that I’m the same way… especially now that I have someone very special in my life, and the last thing that I want to do is cause her the same pain and trouble that I witnessed (and experienced) growing up.

Sydney is a fantastic gal, though, and when we chatted about my being sad, she was ready to offer me a very long hug.  When we got together Saturday and I apologized for being a little distant, we talked about it and she said she was still with me all the way.  It’s strange that that is both great and hard to hear — great because I know that she cares and that really is what I need, hard because I think that I’m quite unpleasant to be with at times.

I’ve started attending Sydney’s church with her, and Sunday morning, as I drove down to pick her up, I approached the breaking point of emotional callousness and got a little teary.  Before church I ended up sending a message off to KB, just saying how hard it was for me to want to be this way with a wonderful woman in my life who had to bear the brunt of my issues with me.  That’s why I was teary.  In these low states, I really beat myself up and loathe these emotionally unstable parts.  I am not a fan of who I am, despite the positives.

Early into the message during the church service, I had to excuse myself to the little boy’s room.  While in there, I picked up my phone and saw a message from KB.  She’s not really the most outwardly sentimental person, and it can take a lot for her to be “gushy,” but what she said in response to my previous message about depressively struggling with the idea that Sydney wanted to still be with me (in so many words) was one of the most touching things she’s ever said to me.  I had to send her a message back, thanking her for making me cry in the men’s bathroom at church😉.  What she said, I’ll keep for myself (and Sydney, as we talked about it all later [which was nothing short of amazing, too]), but KB spoke to my faith and how I’ve been in my friendship with her over the years, and it was so very much what I needed to hear.  I returned to the service and put my arm around Sydney… thankful for the blessing God’s given me.

What fully melted my hurt/cold/angry little mood, though, came near the end of the service.  The worship band played the song “Good, Good Father,” a song I am quite familiar with, but I suddenly heard the following lyrics as if for the first time:

“And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am”

It’s who I am.  I cried.  I am not my shortcomings.  I am not defined by my depression and the burden I see it as being on others (though, as KB said in her beautiful encouragement, it never has been).  I am loved by God, and that is who I am.  THAT is who I am.  God spoke to me first through the kind words of my sweet friend, and then through words of praise in a song.  I held Sydney, kissed her head, and instead of worrying about what a travesty it is in her life that she knows me (it isn’t), I thanked God for bringing her into my world… and me into hers.  Above all else, though, I thanked Him for loving me.  Crazy, emotional little ol’ me.  As nuts as it sounds, I am actually and totally loved by God.

It is who I am, after all.

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Short Story: An Undesirable Position

An Undesirable Position short story cover by Mark Mushakian

Hey kids!  I wrote me another one of those short stories, and I’m letting you know!

Following in the tradition of my first published story, this isn’t a new story; I made some alterations to a previously written piece and did so because I wanted to share it with folks.  Now that I have a bit more of an audience here, especially as opposed to the writing-specific online source where I posted it originally, I’m glad to publish it here for y’all.  It’s a lot shorter than my last story, so it’s not much of a reading commitment.  I always liked the story, and I hope you do, too!

So, swing by the Books section and give An Undesirable Position a read.  And as a bonus for you artists out there, I’d love to see your interpretations of what the monsters in this tale look like.  Wait, this story has monsters in it??  Well, what’re you waiting for… go read it!

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Out Of The Box – 306

Out of the Box weekly stick man web comic 306 Slow ClapThanks, guys… I’m a pretty lucky fella 🙂.

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In A Relationship With…

Sydney at the beach

I have written about my friend’s first child, personal reminders regarding my faith, and wonderful movies.  I have shared plenty of pictures of beautiful women and enjoyed having a platform here to work through personal issues or to entertain in my own little way.  I have been running this blog for 9 years, and have had a lot of great posts that I can look back on fondly.  Today, though, I have the pleasure of writing what is most likely my favorite I’ve yet published, and it holds such a place for one simple reason:

I’ve met someone🙂.

Not as in “I’ve met someone and I hope something comes of it” or “I’ve met someone and we had a great date,” but rather “I’ve met someone and she’s my girlfriend and we smooch and stuff.”  For many in the world, that would simply be a nice bit of news, but for your friendly neighborhood Mark Mushakian, it’s a revolutionary thing.  The number of women I’ve taken out on dates can be counted on one hand, 3 is my record for dates with a single person, and the only relationship I’ve ever had was for 4 months with a friend in which we just kinda fell into something comfortable with each other for the moment.  I’m 34 years old, and my romantic experiences thus far have been extremely minimal; I’d never even kissed a woman.

Until this weekend, at least…

Let’s rewind ourselves a bit.  I’ll do my best to be concise😉.  I play trivia once a week at a pub in Vista.  It’s here where I met a new group of friends, and this is also how I met this new girl.  Through a series of life-is-interesting-that-way events, she joined our group, and she and I started to get to know each other.  She’s the only other similarly-Christian-faithed person in this group, in that her beliefs define her moral choices, she is a working part of her church, and she studies her Bible.  Because of this, and the fact that she’s so darn cute, things started to spark a bit between the two of us.  Due to certain things that I won’t go into here, though, I was slightly hesitant in making a full pursuit as I didn’t want to feel as if I was taking advantage of a situation.  I barely knew the gal, and didn’t yet know how strong she actually is, so I was simply trying to feel things out to be certain that everything was really okay to proceed.  But then she wrapped her hands around my arm as we walked and I was done for🙂.

Still, though.. we’re not quite at that point of the story, yet.  Ya know?  Forget conciseness!  I’ve met someone special; this deserves a darn novelization!  So, to begin with, she and I started chatting through Facebook Messenger, to further extend our connection apart from just seeing each other with the group events.  After she specifically mentioned going to church and being a Christian (I knew from hearsay) one Monday afternoon, she invited me to her young adult’s Bible study group that evening.  It was the first time we’d spent time together one-on-one, and when we went for frozen yogurt afterwards (we actually aimed for gelatos from Rita’s, but they were closed), I realized just how lovely she is and how easy she is to talk with.  But it wasn’t time, I thought.  She invited me to join her at La Jolla Cove beach the next weekend, and we had a wonderful time watching sea lions play on the beach with us, strolling around the La Jolla downtown village, and just getting to know each other more.  We each took a photograph with a curious statue and later made a friendly wager: I would post the picture of her, she would post the picture of me, we’d use the same description and post at the same moment, and whoever attained more “likes” within 24 hours would be the winner — and would get to adorn the other in an outfit selected from a vintage/thrift store we found.  As you can see from the images below, it’s an absolute sham that I somehow lost… she is obviously more adorable than I am:

Dogman The Photographer and his adoring assistant. #heWasSoWarm #cuteCouple #latergram #LaJolla

A photo posted by Mark Mushakian (@markmushakian) on

(Her profile is private, but below is the shot she used…)

Mark Mushakian with dog statue in La Jolla

Taking a brief interlude from our tale to address the topic of pictures, while I am well-known around these parts for adding images of cute babes to my blog posts (because I like cute babes), the cute babe at the top of THIS post is actually now my girlfriend.  Hah, yeah… I get to say that now.  Getting ahead of myself again.  Let’s continue…

On that beach-trip evening, she and I ended up stopping off at The Yellow Deli in Vista, her favorite place, and after our meal we took a stroll around the area.  She was a little cold, so I put my arm around her as we walked.  She’s a little shorter than I am, a little smaller, and she fits right in so perfectly… but I did have a little trouble keeping the right rhythm to make it comfortable for some reason.  After I brought my hand down from her shoulder and placing it in my pocket, she reached out and wrapped her hands around my arm — and THAT I could definitely handle🙂.  We spent the rest of our night together walking, hands on arm and head on shoulder, and talking about everything and anything.

I saw her again for our weekly trivia game that Wednesday, and when the weekend came around it was time for us to act on our little Instagram wager.  We didn’t end up finding an outfit for me to wear, but we had plenty of fun perusing a Halloween store, spending time together wandering around Encinitas, and then playing trivia and watching a movie with our group.  After that weekend, though, I knew.

I was going to ask her out.

There was no real question as to whether or not she was interested in me, and I’d learned enough about her that I felt the for-her-sake cautious hesitation I’d had while going into this wasn’t warranted, so I was ready to go for it.  As I sat in my car after dropping her off on a Monday evening after church group, I knew that the time had come.  The next time I was going to see her would be for Wednesday trivia night, so that was to be my moment.  Wednesday rolled around, and it was a brilliant night!  Our team won first place, and that was just the victorious sort of mood I wanted to go into this with🙂.  The group walked over to get some ice cream after the game, but as I was gazing at her by my side, one of our friends said, “Hey, we should all go swing dancing this Friday!”  I smiled, while internally I yelled, “Noooooo!”  You see, we had group plans for Saturday and Sunday, church was Monday night, my girl helps lead youth group Tuesdays, and Wednesday we have trivia.  So, Friday was going to be our date night, but with this new group plan on the table, I was going to have to wait a whole week to take this girl out.  Of course, nobody around new of my plans or internal screaming, so we all verbally signed up for a night of swing dancing together and that was that.  I wasn’t deterred in my asking her out, though, that’s for darn sure🙂.

When I picked her up for trivia that day, I told her that I had something to ask her, but to remind me about it later.  Really smooth, I tell ya😉.  So smooth, in fact, that when I hugged her goodnight after trivia, I had to say “You forgot to remind me.”  I pulled back and as I started to tell her that I’d really enjoyed spending time with her and all of that jazz, I saw her face light up with a smile of realization.  She was backlit by a very strong outdoor house light, but it didn’t matter — that smile beamed like the sun popping up in the middle of night.  Upon seeing that, I didn’t take long to get to asking her out on a proper date, and she gave me an emphatic “yes!” mixed with a “finally!” response, as well.  So, we had to wait a whole week to have our actual date, but we spent most of the days in-between together… with the group and at trivia, but together none-the-less.

Sydney and Mark Mushakian at liveprizeevent trivia Vista Village Pub

Which brings us to date night, September 30.  During our beach visit to La Jolla, we came across this nice little Italian restaurant that she mentioned would be nice to visit some day.  So, take a wild guess as to where I brought her for our fist date🙂.  It was a surprise, but by the time we got to the area, she had an inkling, and then I walked us right up to that restaurant and she gave my arm an extra squeeze.  Acquavite is the name of the joint, and I highly recommend it!  The meal was absolutely delicious, not too pricey, and for being a “fancy eatin’ place” it was wonderfully cozy and not stuffy.  We echoed our prior visit to the area by again getting gelato and strolling the town, though our relationship was noticeably different.  I gave her my coat, she held onto my arm, and we discussed what was next for us.  The question of a second date wasn’t even a question that had to be asked, but with how much time we’d been spending together, we were already at the point of not thinking in terms of date numbers.  Later on, we ended up parking by the beach and snuggling up together in the back seat of my car (nothing scandalous, I promise you that), and I tell ya, kids… I could’ve fallen asleep and died right there.  She played softly with my hand as we sat there together, leaned her head back on my chest.  I had never been so comfortable in all of my life than I was that night.  I wanted to kiss her, but we were never in the right spot or position for it to not be awkward.  I’d never kissed anyone before, but even I knew that much😉.

By the time I dropped her off, I was ready to boldly go where no Mark Mushakian had gone before — to Smoochville.  We hugged after she said “Goodnight,” but she held it and we just stood there holding each other.  As she pulled back, I kept my hand on her hip.  She said that she really liked how my eyes looked in the nighttime light, and hugged me again.  I held her hand as we parted and she giggled and again said, “Goodnight.”  Signal noted, and I said goodnight as well with a jokingly dramatic pulling away from each other with our hands the last to lose contact.  As I told her later, in no way at ALL did I feel bummed about not getting to kiss her, because I was walking on air after that date.

As she and I have grown closer, it’s been a very curious experience for me in terms of other women.  I have spent my entire life interested in the opposite sex.  Everywhere I go, I notice women… both in terms of aesthetic appreciation and as potential partners.  Thirty-four years of experience doesn’t just die overnight, and I can honestly say that it’s been a somewhat strange transition.  Not a bad one, but strange.  Coincidentally, the final queued image of The Random Beauty auto-posted the day after our first date, and I have had no interest in continuing on with it.  I don’t feel as if I HAVE to, but it’s that I want to.  I slowly started unsubscribing in chunks from various cute-babe pages on Reddit, and I found that I was sometimes reminding myself when a woman walked by outside at work or I pulled up next to a potentially attractive lady at a stop light… reminding myself that I wasn’t looking anymore.  Most of my interest in these visual pursuits is dying off naturally, since I now have someone who fills that spot (and then some!), but some of it has definitely been an effort.  More so, it’s just been the readjustment of habits that are simply still there because, as I said above… 34 years.

We had our “second” date a few days after our first, this past Monday — a much simpler affair of a beach day and relaxed dinner.  At the beach we really ended up talking about some personal things… she shared, and I shared, and we were physically cozier than ever before.  The following morning she sent me a message to inform me that she’d woken up that morning really wanting to kiss me.  So, that was all the permission I needed🙂.  My friend Korkie drove down with me to trivia this past Wednesday, so I sure as heck wasn’t going to kiss my girl then with KB awkwardly sitting in the car watching us (Kork-blocked was the term we came up with for that [love ya, Korkie, it’s okay!]).  My gal had invited me to see a production of Romeo & Juliet at her college on Friday, though, and I knew that was our opportunity.  Not that I was in a rush, really.  I really like her, she really likes me, and not once did I feel like I had to do this just to get it over with (as is evident by the fact that I hadn’t kissed anyone for 34 years), but by golly… I just really WANTED to kiss her.  Kiss the living heck outta her🙂.

I’ll admit to you what I admitted to her — I did everything I could to prepare my best for kissing her.  I currently have a beard for a Halloween costume, so I used conditioner in my mustache to soften it and combed it the best I could.  I looked up “how to kiss” articles online, like a dorky teenager, just to give myself the best shot at being my best this first time out.  This is who I am, and I’m okay with it😉.

This Friday, one week after our first date, we went to see our play.  It was actually a really fun show, and I enjoyed how accessible they made the usually-indiscernible Shakespeare.  When I’d picked her up for our first date, I was blown away by how beautiful she looked.  On Friday, I was blown away by how darn sexy she looked😉.  I was checking her out all night, I tell ya.  Having her cuddle up with me for most of the play wasn’t so bad, either.  She and I ended up at Denny’s after the show, because I was darn hungry and she was semi-hungry, and then I took her home.  I parked up a ways from her house, and we hugged goodnight outside of my car.  With a bright light spotlighting us for the whole neighborhood to see, though, that wasn’t the spot.  I was nervous.  I wasn’t scared of rejection or failure, it was simply the nerves of the complete unknown.  All of the advice and research couldn’t really prepare me for how to kiss a woman, and I knew that.  We stopped just to the side of her house and hugged again.  My friend Nick later asked me if I had “a move” or a line that I offered, and my first answer was that I simply didn’t let go🙂.  I held her waist, her lovely slim little waist, and I looked at her.  She had to adjust her hair or scratch her knee or something, so I DID let go.  And we paused for a moment.  I laughed, looked down the street, and said “Sorry, I’ve never done this.”  She said, “It’s okay.”  I looked back at her again, saw this beautiful sexy woman standing there gazing at me, and said, “But you’re not saying goodnight, this time.”  She coyly returned a, “Nope.”  I took a deep breath, said “well” and leaned in.

It’s a curious time for this, seeing as its October, but suddenly fireworks were bursting in the sky.  One of her neighbors must’ve been watching a romantic movie and slipped on the volume button, because the swelling of music filled the air.

Yep, must’ve been that🙂.

I had always expected my first kiss to be simple — a light peck, perhaps.  I’m not one to kiss and tell, except that I’m about to do exactly that, but this wasn’t a light peck.  We kissed slowly, sweetly, and more than once.  Time vanished, the world disappeared, and we floated above the ground.  I was sincerely surprised at just how natural it all was.  I didn’t have a single logical thought about the process or technique or even “OMG this is happening.”  It was pure instinct.  She’s a fantastic partner, too — patient, gentle, inviting.  We stood there together, blissfully, and I half-asked-half-told her, “So, you’re my girlfriend?”  “Yes.”  I joked, “Wait, am I your boyfriend??”  She laughed, “Yes.”  “Wanna tell the world?”  She smiled and nodded, “Yes.”  And we kissed again.

As soon as I got into my car, I went onto Facebook as I told her I would and did something I’ve never done before.  I changed my relationship status.  It was just after midnight, so our kiss and the Facebook-official declaration all technically happened this Saturday, the 8th.  I like that day🙂.  For the next two days, over 90 Likes and Loves came pouring in on the social media platform, and she and I continued to spend time together.  And kissed more.  We have definitely kissed a lot more.  This kissing thing, I like it.  Another!

Last night, after spending the day together, we parked in front of her house and sat talking for a long time.  I have had a lot of “a-ha” moments of understanding over the last month, and even that much more so in the last few days… moments in which I finally understood something that my friends in relationships had told me over the years.  I was finally there, myself, experiencing these things.  The latest revelation came as she and I sat there, touching and holding each other, her head buried in my shoulder and mine resting on hers — and I didn’t want to leave.  Like lovesick teenagers, perhaps named Romeo and Juliet, it was a struggle to part ourselves.  I’m 34 years old, darn it, but feeling so intertwined with this woman already… I wanted nothing more than to stay in that space forever.  I couldn’t, I didn’t, but parting is such sweet sorrow🙂.

And that’s my tale.  I met someone, she really likes me, I really like her, we kissed, and she’s my girlfriend.  It’s entirely surreal for me, and I really am just enjoying every moment of it as it happens — no over-dramatic projections or expectations.  She’s sexy and cute and fun and smart and interesting.  She loves my arms and thinks I’m hot and plays with my hair and likes how I write.  I’m exceptionally pleased to know her and to have her in my life, and I wanted to be sure as heck that I wrote a long, lovely post about it to share just a fraction of how I feel.

So, as my Facebook status now reads, Mark Mushakian is in a relationship with Sydney Thiessa… and he’s very darn happy about that🙂.

Mark Mushakian and Sydney Thiessa dressed nicely

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Curiosity Strains Muscles

curious cat looks at computer screen

This morning I noticed that my left arm was feeling a bit out of sorts and finally narrowed it down to a strained feeling in my biceps.  It wasn’t pain, necessarily, it just felt odd.  A little inflamed, perhaps?  But what had I done to deserve such random discomfort?  I sleep on my back and didn’t work my arms hard during exercise yesterday, so I didn’t know what was up.

Being the interesting, curious little man that I am, sometimes I like to do things “just to see.”  One of these “just to see” activities I sometimes partake in is attempting to do a usual activity in an unusual manner.  At work we have large rolling warehouse doors that open and close by pulling a long chain.  Sometimes I try pulling the chain down from behind my back, just to see how that works my arms and shoulder muscles differently.  Sometimes I try using my left hand as I brush my teeth.  Yesterday, I thought it’d be interesting to start taping up our shipment boxes at work by holding the tape gun in my left hand instead of my right.

Welp, there’s your problem right there.

Somehow, in the midst of attempting to ambidextrously train myself (and to keep myself entertained while the workload is at a calm pace), I strained something in my upper left arm.  Most warnings about curiosity being the killer of cats come in the form of life-threatening situations or near-deadly encounters.  Mark Mushakian?  Well, he gets little biceps boo-boos from taping a box differently.


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