Okay. Here we go.
There are things I will talk about and things I won’t. Some things I will never talk about.
If you’re reading this, chances are you have a general idea what I’m going through and what the past five months has been like. In the next two months, a lot of that will be finalized. Some of it already is. And I’ll be starting a new phase after twenty years of the previous phase.
So to get caught up, here’s the stuff that should make me feel great but doesn’t:
I just passed over my five-month sobriety anniversary. I haven’t had a drink in 155+ days. I never went to an AA meeting or slipped up. I have no intention of ever drinking again.
I started Nutrisystem about two months ago and I’ve lost over 30 pounds. I can tell. Of course I can tell. Anyone can tell. That’s a lot of weight. I have more to go. I have no intention of slipping up and eating an entire family-sized pizza. Mainly because my system couldn’t tolerate it if I did.
I am not life coaching anyone. I believe in it, I’m just not doing it right now.
I wrote a second novel. I’m in rewrites and editing right now. It’s a breezy story with a lot of dialog about a private eye because why not?
I’m still employed. My girls are happy and healthy and we have a house with a roof and everything.
There has been more transition in the past five months than in the rest of my life combined. I’m doing my best at handling it.
Most mornings are filled with anxiety and most days are hard to get through. I had a good day yesterday, pretty much from start to finish. That was rare and noteworthy.
The nights are easier until they get sad.
And I know what I should do. I know who to talk to and what to do to make myself feel better. I continue to work on actually doing those things. It’s a short list and if I actually do one of those things, there is an undeniable improvement. Though temporary. But I still can’t make myself do them every day.
Because it’s a process and a practice and yes I know this and I talk about it and write about and give all the advice about it but then something small and silly happens and I go to pieces.
I know these things intellectually. It’s the doing that matters. Making new habits of these things that help would be a holy shit great idea.
How do you make something a habit? By doing it, and then doing it again as much as possible.
The remarkable thing is if I listed everything I’ve accomplished — actually done — over the past five months, you would freak and say oh my god you are a person who does instead of just talks. And I would say thanks and not believe it.
I don’t think there is ever a moment when we say, “I am a person who has it figured out and my life is happy.”
It’s so much harder than that.
I know I am a person who feels. More so now that I’ve slowly gone off certain medications and the drinking, of course. I fired most of my numbing agents.
I would like to learn to accept the dark moments and let them pass. I would also like to learn to appreciate the good moments and live them as they happen.
I have some experience with both.
I read a thing about a Zen monk who has a bag of white stones and black stones. Throughout his day, if a negative thought occurs, he takes out a black stone and puts it somewhere. Say on his desk. A positive thought and he digs out a white stone and puts it there.
And at the end of the day, he tries to have more white stones than black ones. Some days they’re mostly black, some days mostly white. Some days half and half.
I think of this story and I wonder how the hell he ever accomplishes anything like that. Digging out stones and watching every thought. I’d go nuts.
But the idea is this. You’re gonna see both. You’re lying to yourself if you think it can be any other way. But maybe after a lot of practice it gets easier because the whole point is paying attention to your thoughts.
This is training the mind. They say the observed mind is less likely to run off without you. I’m sure the same can be said of kids or pets. You gotta pay attention to them. When you don’t, isn’t that the moment you know they’ve gotten into something? When it’s too quiet?
I don’t know. It’s a day at a time. A moment at a time. Some moments I feel inspired and prolific and hopeful and charming. Other moments I feel like the monster everybody should run screaming away from.
I’m trying to learn that it’s okay to be both.
Peace & Love,
There’s a story that would be a media circus right now. We would all be talking about it, reading about it, seeing it on TV. It would be a frenzy.
Except it didn’t happen. It was prevented.
There’s a 20 year old kid in Kansas City who was going to shoot up another midnight movie. The Twilight one. Just like the kid at the Aurora, Colorado Dark Knight shooting.
After he was done at the theater, he was going to hit the nearby Wal-Mart and kill more people at random. When he ran out of ammo, he was just going to break open the Wal-Mart gun cases and hold the police off from that position.
Dozens of people would have been killed. Hundreds more injured.
Except it didn’t happen. Why not? Was it the FBI? Local authorities?
It was his mom. His mom called the police and said I think my son is planning to shoot a lot of people.
Now that in itself might not have made much difference. Fortunately, she also said I think he’s off his medication. And that gave the police probable cause to search his room and find an arsenal.
Like the Dark Knight shooter, the Twilight shooter bought his guns legally. And before anyone starts arguing for concealed weapons, I’d remind you that Colorado is a concealed carry state, and it didn’t help any of the Aurora victims. The guy was in body armor head to toe. Add to that darkness, chaos, noise, and smoke grenades. I don’t know if anybody in that theater was armed or if they fired a shot. It doesn’t matter. It wouldn’t have made any difference.
So why am I talking about a story that didn’t happen. I was deeply affected by the Aurora shooting. I didn’t know anybody who knows anybody who was there. It was just a movie I wanted to see as well, so that started a feeling of connection.
I read their stories. I repeated them. I read their obituaries. I read about the first responders and the way he was caught. It’s amazing. His plan was to wait for the SWAT team to arrive and then just blend in with them. And he would have, except he left his gas mask on and a couple of the cops noticed it wasn’t regulation.
How amazing is that?
And here’s the thing. The Twilight shooter was stopped by his mother and police. The killing didn’t happen. But I would still like to read a short biography on every person who saw Twilight in one theater that night. We know which theater. He bought a ticket.
I’d like to see the faces of the people who were there and read a little something about them. Because their lives still matter. Even though they weren’t slaughtered.
They matter. It’s just not news.
I’d also like to read something about the first responders who were on that night. The ones who weren’t called but could’ve been.
I’d like to appreciate them and feel the sense of connectedness we feel after a tragedy but only reserve for successful attempts. Why do we do that? Who cares? Let’s stop.
I’m not providing any links. You can find the story and read it yourself. You’ll wonder how he could have possibly legally bought weapons like this with a history of documented mental illness like that.
Also, I’m not naming either shooter. Because that’s what they want. They want us to know their names.
Not from me.
Peace & love,
Here’s what I propose.
We give up Thanksgiving and Black Friday in exchange for:
Do Some Fucking Research Day (Monday)
Election Day (Tuesday).
We don’t need to stuff ourselves and tell the same old lies about the Native Americans and then get up early, take a shit the size of a Buick, and go pepper spray each other in a mad frenzy to buy a bunch of Chinese crap we don’t need.
We don’t need gluttony and consumerism anymore.
We need an informed electorate.
Peace & Love,
PS: What’s the difference between the traditional Thanksgiving story and a Holocaust denier?
Confession. I used to drink between five and twelve bottles of Red Stripe Jamaican Lager. Every night.
On the nights where I exceeded five, there was usually a shot or two of Jack Daniel’s in there as well. Sometimes straight from the bottle.
Sometimes I’d kickstart the evening with a Jack and Coke or two, then downshift into beer.
And this was my habit. First thing I did when I got home, last thing I did before going to bed, and everything in between.
I rarely drank with anyone else. About once a week Science Boy would join me for a few, but the majority of my drinking was done at home, by myself.
Naturally, I gained weight. Lots of empty carbs went straight to my gut. My recycle bins were overflowing with empties. And I’m lucky there was never an emergency that required me to leave the house. I never had to show up at the ER in a cab.
And then one day I quit. The why or how isn’t as important as the quitting. The motivation is whatever you need it to be.
I didn’t join any support groups and I really haven’t talked about it outside of Twitter.
When you drink alone every night, to excess, to escape, you have a problem. A rather scary problem at that.
Quitting isn’t a magical switch you turn off. It’s a decision you make every night. You just decide.
30 days ago I made that decision for the first time in years.
I didn’t purge the house of alcohol. There are Red Stripes in my fridge right now.
There was no intervention. I just decided.
And I guess the point of this blog is to say this:
If I can do it, anyone can.
I have a family history of alcoholism. I have chronic tinnitus and clinical depression. I have liquor stores all around me. I’m lazy, I get next to no exercise, and I still did it.
And the awkwardness is gone. It’s not really much of a decision anymore. I just don’t.
I’ve been in liquor stores since quitting. I’ve walked past the aisles at the grocery stores. I’ve been in restaurants and maybe even a bar or two.
Temptation is just a feeling. Addiction is just a habit gone on too long. It’s not a disease. It’s a choice.
So if you’re like me and you sense there’s a problem and you’d like to change, I know you can do it.
If I can do it, anyone can. Even you.
I’m not even gonna offer you the carrot on the stick. I’ve lost a little weight, sure. I feel a little better in the mornings. But the sky doesn’t open up and miracles don’t happen.
I just decided to do it. And I keep deciding.
And one day if I decide to have one or two, I’ll be okay with that. I won’t go back to my old routine, though.
Why? Because I’m proud of myself. I didn’t think I could do it, and now I’m 30 days sober.
Make yourself proud. Make a decision and stand by it.
That’s all it is. I don’t need congratulations or a medal or a chip. I just wanted to put this out there. Make yourself proud. Decide. You can do it. Of course you can.
Why NOT you?
Peace & love,
A little background. I trained to be a Co-Active Personal Life Coach back in 2005. It was easily one of the most rewarding experiences in my life, and I was pretty successful at it.
I read about life coaching in the paper. Someone locally was doing it and she was interviewed. The day I read the article was already an amazing day. I was at work, doing my day job, but having email conversations with three different people. Just about things going on in their lives, nothing abnormal for me. People tell me things. I don’t really give advice; I just ask questions that provoke thoughts they may have been avoiding or willfully ignoring.
Anyway, within about an hour, three people in three separate conversations all said the same thing. They said I inspired them. That’s a powerful thing. I wasn’t inspiring them because I had done something great like an Olympian or changed MY life in any great way — I inspired them because I encouraged them to follow their own inner voice. They felt heard, understood, and empowered to do something positive in their given situation.
And then I went to a really dull meeting and I was sitting there thinking, “That’s what I should be doing with my life. Helping people.” I was beaming with a sense of fulfillment. And that’s when my wife forwarded a link to the article in the paper.
I trained for five weekend seminars in Chicago. I didn’t know any life coaches, I was wary of what it would be like, and I had no one going along with me. Basically I was going to travel to a place, walk into a room full of strangers, and find out.
After the first day, I woke up the following morning and I felt an overwhelming sense of purpose. I felt alive in ways that were alien to me. The only way I can explain it is I knew, for the first time in my life, that I was in the right place at the right time doing exactly what I’m here to do. I had found my calling.
And so I trained. The seminars were deeply personal and powerful. I worked with everybody in the room, one on one. I sat across from strangers and 15 minutes later I was thanked and hugged. Eventually, people sought me out. And what was I doing that was so great? I was just sitting, listening, and asking questions.
That’s the beauty of it. As they said in class, “the client is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole.” I wasn’t trying to change anybody. I wasn’t giving advice or telling anybody what to do. I was just helping them find their own answers.
I don’t push an agenda and I do not try to “fix” you. There’s nothing wrong with you. You already know, deep down, what to do. All the answers are there. Like files on a computer. Sometimes they’re encrypted and you can’t access them. I help you unlock them and read them.
It sounds simple and familiar, doesn’t it? Whether you’ve heard of the profession, you already know something about this if you’re lucky enough to have a really good friend. The kind of friend who listens to you instead of waiting for their turn to talk.
And that’s what it is. I worked with professionals. People who wrote books and lived in beach houses and worked entirely from their homes. One man specialized in working with professional NASCAR drivers. But still from home.
That’s another beautiful aspect of this. Back in 2005, a coach would work with a client once a week in 30-45 minutes sessions, all done over the phone. But the client had to set that time aside and be in an undisturbed place.
In 2012, we have Skype. We have Direct Messages on Twitter. We can text, email, whatever’s most convenient.
And in these uncertain times, suddenly this type of work is back in demand. People are confused, worried, scared and they have nobody to talk to. Our friends don’t listen. Sometimes we can’t share out deepest thoughts with our mates. There’s therapy, but that carries a stigma and many people would never consider that, even if they had the health coverage to pay for it.
Life coaching is not therapy. I don’t need to dig around in your past for every painful moment. Truthfully, therapy and coaching can overlap, but here’s the simple difference. A therapist wants to know how you got here. I want to know where you want to go.
This is a lot of information and there will be more, but for now, don’t worry about it. I’m not selling anything or asking anything of you. I’m just being authentic again. I have decided to step back into the pool and so far the water’s very, very nice.
Having said that, if anyone would like to know more about it, send me a DM on twitter. Or email me. I’m not charging anything for this right now. Right now it’s charging me in a way I haven’t felt for too long.
And that’s it for now.
Oh, and the “World’s Greatest Life Coach” bit is an inside joke with some of my friends. Don’t worry, they also call me the “worst life coach ever”, but again, it’s a gag.
More as this story develops.
Peace & love,
I was a fat kid and endured all the bullying and rejection, the fucking humiliation, the things no one should ever have to experience. We moved right before 7th grade, so I was a Fat New Kid.
I survived it.
Then in late high school/early college, I lost pretty much all of the excess weight. Life became far more interesting. I remember it all quite vividly.
And then I got married and got a sedentary job and just started escalating. I know how to work out. There were times when I lost significant weight, but life went on and I’m generally a laid-back, kinda lazy dude.
Throughout that progression, I could still pull it off. I’m handsome, funny, big personality, and I’m tall and broad shouldered, so I wear it well. And in adult life, particularly when you’re a married man with few male friends, there’s none of the shit I went through as a kid. Nobody weighs an adult out loud while surrounded by all of his peers.
Now I’m 41. I’ve been through 15 years of escalation, and I’m fat. To the point where it hinders my life. I can’t fake it anymore.
I get winded going up a flight of stairs. Fuck, I get winded tying my shoes, which is becoming increasingly difficult.
I know what it is. I eat like I’m in college and I drink a lot of beer. In the mornings I drink a pot of coffee (really, really GOOD coffee, mind you) with lots of half and half and lots of sugar.
And that’s pretty much it. I don’t binge, I don’t slam deserts, nothing like that. I don’t even really eat that much. But when I eat, I eat with gusto and I don’t stop until I hit table.
And then there’s the beer. That’s a long story but now the recycle bins can’t handle the empties I produce.
I should say this is not an inspirational essay. This isn’t going to end with me making promises of better choices. We’re not starting any programs here.
I’m not interested in advice. I know how to lose weight. I just haven’t cared.
The one glimmer of hope I’ll give you, and it’s barely even that, is I feel truly uncomfortable all the time. The shoe-tying thing is fucking ridiculous. I’m starting to get a dull ache in my middle/lower back. I’m ashamed of myself in public and I truly fucking hate feeling this bad. So there’s a chance I’ll want to change. That I’m about to start caring.
Why am I telling you this? How many virtual crushes am I vaporizing right now? How humiliating is this?
Well, I started writing here again because I wanted to be honest. Authentic. Not hiding behind a façade of any kind any more. I’m not going to tell you my weight. But I can show up with how I feel about it.
I hate it and there’s some pretty strong self-loathing going on. The things I imagine myself incapable of doing, like a project or painting a room or anything that doesn’t involve taking a nap with the dogs. The thought of running errands exhausts me.
And if for some reason I had to travel, I’m sure I’d get kicked off a plane. Southwest Airlines would stamp a big fucking TOO FAT TO FLY on my forehead and then laugh demonically and kill a chicken or whatever those malicious fucks do to celebrate humiliating another lazy fat customer.
Customer, consumer – I have allowed myself to become the stereotypical fat white American.
Even though I’ve gotten my sleep apnea diagnosed and fixed via my CPAP machine (which I haven’t named yet, which is weird), I still don’t want to get up in the morning. I feel rested, but not energetic. I feel “not tired” in the morning and all I wanna do all day is go home and lie down.
Again, not looking for advice. I know what I need to do, I know what the benefits would be, and I know what I must prevent, if it’s not already too late. I know how to do it, and I can do it. I know what’s preventing me from starting and I know how to clear the path ahead.
I just wanted to take a second and be who I am, where I am, right now.
I’m Joey Baggadonuts.
The question is, will I continue to be fat until my heart explodes while I overexert myself getting the vacuum cleaner out of the closet?
I dunno. But I know you can’t do anything unless you know where you are. In the words of Louis L’Amour:
Up to a point a man’s life is shaped by environment, heredity, and movements and changes in the world about him. Then there comes a time when it lies within his grasp to shape the clay of his life into the sort of thing he wishes to be. Only the weak blame parents, their race, their times, lack of good fortune, or the quirks of fate. Everyone has it within his power to say, “This I am today; that I will be tomorrow.
I guess we’ll see.
Peace & love,
I can’t remember if they still call it Wizard World or if it’s just the Chicago Comic Con, but whatever, it’s happening right now and I’m not there.
Even though I paid – IN ADVANCE – MONTHS AGO – for the full VIP package to go to the con for 4 days and meet Stan “The Man” Lee. A living legend.
I had the book I wanted him to sign (a first edition copy of… oh what the fuck’s it called… not Bring On The Bad Guys, the other one, the first one, doesn’t matter).
I had the hotel room booked months ago. I had the generous sponsorship of my mom to help cover expenses because she’s a wonderful person who appreciates me and is always willing to help me do something for myself. And I’m not just saying any of that because she reads this blog. Hi mom. This is weird, right?
Yes, I had every single intention of going.
So why am I not there? Stan Lee, if I ever get a chance to meet him again, which is unlikely – I could’ve met Stan Lee.
I don’t know, man. A lot of reasons. If I had to narrow it down to one, it’s because July was officially the hottest month EVER in US history (redundant but I’m leaving it), and I suffered the fucking heat and there were a few days here and there I just didn’t feel like going to work. At all.
So the biggest reason is; I took the time off when I needed it, and now I don’t have it to use. I have to be diligent for a while now and keep showing up and occupying this veal-fattening pen so my paid time off will build back up to a reasonable level.
And then I’ll probably blow it all on a staycation with the dogs and it will be GLORIOUS.
I do enjoy the comicons. I’m a lifelong comic book fan, I have a massive (insured) collection, I love to just go and look at the comics. Rifle through them. Find something I wanna add.
I even like seeing the “celebrities”. The quotes are because, well, Luke Perry? Avery Brooks? The girl who played Marty McFly’s girlfriend before she was replaced by Elizabeth Shue in the sequels?
But some of those people are really cool. I met Linda Hamilton and she’s a wonderful person. Lou Ferigno is odd, not much sense of humor, but still fun to see. Margot Kidder is overwhelmed by crowds. And Sam J. Jones had his voice dubbed in “Flash Gordon”.
And I met William Shatner and thanked him for his work with the American Tinnitus Association.
So there’s cool stuff like that.
Everyone knows these stories, dude. Why aren’t you there?
Because for me to do it in the way I enjoy, I need my own hotel room and 3-4 days of it. I’ve tried going up for a one-day pass on Saturday, but that’s when everybody else in the world is there so it’s jam packed and you can’t even move around.
I wanted to go up today (Thursday) and stay until Sunday evening and then take Monday off to catch up with the dogs. So that would be three days off work. And I had the time, but I used it up.
I disappointed people. I disappointed myself a little bit. But fuck it. July was the HOTTEST MONTH EVER. I needed a day here and there. An afternoon.
All I can do is shrug. And wait for the pictures and stories of the people who went. And the taunting, but whatever. I just couldn’t keep coming to work when it was 130 degrees outside.
Call me a hermit, call me lazy, call me whatever you want, man. I gotta do what I gotta do. It’s my money, it’s my job, my time, my life.
Am I struggling with this? Obviously a little bit cuz I just spilled it all over this blog, but not really. I’m content with my decision. And let’s face it, Stan Lee is a parody of himself anymore. Part of my VIP package included a guaranteed seat at his panel, and I don’t know what he’s gonna talk about and I don’t really care. I love the man for what he created and all the joy his creations continue to give me to this day. Nothing changes that.
But I couldn’t go up and meet him. Not in the way that would’ve made it fun for me.
Matter resolved. Thanks for letting me vent. And PS: since this was a vent, I’m not gonna proofread it. Fuck it.
Peace & love,
Not everybody. If you are lucky enough to have a good – I mean REALLY good listener in your life, this person is far more valuable than you realize.
Most of the people you know aren’t listening to you. They’re just nodding their head, waiting for their chance to talk. Or they’ll get impatient and just interrupt you with a better story about themselves. I call this “story-humping”.
And the worst are the ones who give you unsolicited advice. Holy crap. You should do this. You really need to take care of that. You should stop being like that.
You know what that is? It’s that person interjecting him/herself into your life and showing you how much cooler and stronger they are based on a minimal understanding of what it is to be you.
“Well if anybody said that to me I’d punch them right in the windpipe!”
No, you wouldn’t. You would internalize it and wish you had someone to listen to you so you could get it out of your system.
People think we’re communicating less because of social media and technology. I disagree. I think the world is short on listeners.
And it’s not like it’s hard. Just shut up and listen. Resist the urge to trump a story with one of your own.
Don’t just sit and stare into space either. Don’t let your eyes glaze over. I’m talking about active listening. Here’s a selection of things you can say to stoke the fire.
Oh that sucks.
Just sit and be there for someone. It’s the easiest thing in the world and it means everything.
But it’s so, so rare.
I encourage you to make sincere effort to be an active listener. Don’t feel the need to fill the empty spaces.
The world would be a better place.
Peace & love,
You know what I don’t understand?
Both of my dogs are microchipped. If by some terrible misfortune either one of them ended up at the pound or another vet’s office, they can be scanned, the chip is read, and the system outputs my contact information.
But as long as they’re chipped, why can’t I pinpoint their exact GPS from my phone? Where’s THAT app?
I know there are collars you can buy that have GPS, but why not work with the existing hardware?
Somebody figure that out and lemme know when it hits the App Store. Thanks.
Also? Adapt the same thing for kids and you’re rich.
Peace & love,
I never run errands over lunch, but today I decided to get it out of the way so I could more efficiently plan my route home. One additional errand: gas and beer. But that’s on the way home. The post office is OUT of the way. I have a system.
Because I hate running errands.
Whenever I have to run an errand, I get pretty self-conscious. I suppose most people do. Some don’t. The normal people don’t. They have no problem getting around. Normies can go to the dentist and the dry-cleaner and get in a run and eat something healthy and still be back to work in forty-five minutes. I don’t know how. They just do.
So it’s harder being, you know, whatever I am. And I feel genuinely sorry for people who have to deal with me in these situations. I should wear a sign. “I know. I’m sorry. I’m a big giant fat man with long hair and a beard. I wouldn’t wanna deal with me either. It’s not a look I’m going for, it’s just who I am right now, so I’m sorry. I do smell nice, though. Not cologne. Just, you know, I don’t smell BAD. I don’t smell. I’m not upsetting, I’m just a large unmade bed.”
And a little while ago, I had to go inside the post office to sign for a package.
It’s a clothing order. It’s not a computer or anything. But some places require signatures upon delivery and, lo and behold, most people aren’t home at 1:30 in the afternoon or whenever the mail comes.
So I go to the window and there’s a short line. At the back of the line is a perfectly nice woman with her little daughter. The daughter was tiny and adorable and being very good while she and her mother sadly endured this errand because they had to. I guess they weren’t home at 1:30 that afternoon either.
And nobody wants to take their kid into the post office. That’s general population in there. You don’t know what the fuck you’re gonna run into at the post office. And now, in this little girl’s day, I’m that what the fuck.
And I feel bad. At least I don’t stink. And I’m not unattractive either. I wear my weight pretty well, but there’s no question I’m a fat, sloppy… you just don’t wanna see that. So I feel empathy for this mother and child. I give them plenty of space and try to stand tall and politely like a Normie would.
For a second, I even thought about cutting my hair and shaving my beard because although it will make me plain and even more depressed, at least I won’t be a burden on others, socially.
I’m being kind of hard on myself, but these are the honest thoughts going through my head at the time. Cary Grant would clean up. Nobody would mind Cary Grant standing behind them in line. They’d be enchanted. But I’m not Cary Grant, and for that I usually feel remorse.
Then I noticed the guy at the front of the line, standing right in front of the mother and child, is wearing a tee-shirt that on the back, in unavoidable view, reads:
SATAN IS MY FUCKING CO-PILOT
He wasn’t a fat dude, he didn’t have long hair and he may have even been clean shaven. But that dude was at the front of that line FOREVER. There was no hiding it. Black tee, red letters. We stood and looked at that sentiment and thought about it for a good three minutes.
Wearing a shirt like that, man, that’s a lifestyle choice. That’s a statement. That dude wasn’t self-conscious. He just liked that shirt.
But it made me feel a little better about myself for not being Ryan Seacrest in summer attire. At least I’m not THAT dude.
Not yet, anyway. I’m kinda wondering if that shirt comes in a 3XL.
Peace & Love,