Archives for August 2012

Who We Were Meets Who We Are

My children told me that they don’t want me to compete in any of the Tough Mudder events.  They watched videos like the one below and told me they are afraid I will get hurt.

Who We Were Meets Who We Are

It irritated me to hear them say don’t do it. I understand their concern for my safety and am grateful for it but it wasn’t what I expected to hear or what I wanted.

I think of myself as being somewhere being 19 and 25. I am still ripped in every way. All those hours in the gym and all of the hard work have made me into a beast and then I open my eyes.

I was that guy. It is not an exaggeration. I was 9% body fat and just solid muscle. I could eat whatever I wanted and I could move a mountain with little to no effort.

When I open my eyes I see a big beefy guy who looks like he can still throw the weights around, when he is not eating. I see a guy who could complete some of the existing challenges today, but would never finish the whole course without serious training.

What Are You Doing About It?

Part of what I like about an event like Tough Mudder is the focus on willpower and mental toughness. You don’t finish something like that unless you can do a little of the mind over matter bit so many people talk about.

I have the force of will to do these things. I have the strength, the fortitude and the mental toughness to complete it or so I keep saying. What I seem to lack is the discipline to do a better job with my diet.

There are regular periods of time where I get serious and I bear down. I watch what I eat and engage in consistent and serious workouts. My body changes.

How do I know this?

The answer is called: pants. I know this by whether I need a belt or not to wear my pants. If I need that belt than I know I am doing a decent job of cutting down on the calories and increasing the exercise.

When I don’t need to wear a belt than I hope that I have enjoyed some very fine meals because there is something irritating about knowing that you wasted all those calories on crap. If you are going to get yourself in trouble you might as well earn it.

English: This is a photograph that we have per...

English: This is a photograph that we have permission to use. We hired photographer Dmitry Gudkov to take this picture at our event on November 20, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am not in that picture but I could be. The guy I used to be would have done it. He would have entered and loved every moment of it. He never could have imagined that one day the children who used to think he was Superman would be concerned he might fall into a Kryptonite mud puddle.

Here is the thing, I am the adult. I am their father and if I want to do this I can.

Even if I don’t enter I can still train. I can still get myself into shape, but will I.

Will I complain about their concern and lack of faith and leave it at that or will I just do what needs to be done. Meaning, will I prove to myself and everyone else that a 43 year-old man has the discipline and wherewithal to stop the clock and restore his hard body.

I guess you’ll have to wait to find out because I can’t answer that question now.

What about you? Have you any interest in competing in something like this?

Linking up with Dude Write.

I Got F*cked

Fence

There are boundaries in blogging that I wrestle with. There are things that I don’t share because they aren’t “my stories” and because there are people who will try to use those stories to hurt me.

That isn’t paranoia speaking. I am not a victim and I don’t walk around watching out for black helicopters or worrying about all of the people who are out to get me. I say this because I have been the beneficiary of some very special treatment because of blogging so I know things can happen.

It is not my nature to tiptoe or walk around a fight. I am not the guy who is afraid to mix it up but I am also old enough to know that some of these fights aren’t worth it.

I don’t need to wave Mr. Winky around to prove he is bigger than yours and frankly I’d rather not. People get embarrassed when they inadvertently step on me and I can’t tell you how badly a well placed stiletto heel can hurt.

Are We Poor?

My kids asked me today if we are poor and I damn near split a gut. We aren’t poor. We aren’t homeless. We don’t go hungry and no one worries about having clothes to wear.

But the truth is that our situation isn’t what it once was. I take responsibility for some of that. I haven’t any problem saying that nor do I consider it a contradiction to say that I got fucked.

Yes, I removed the asterisk, but let’s not get caught up in that.

I got screwed by the greedy and irresponsible. I got hammered by things outside of my control and it would be easy to rant.

I could tell you about how I was fired on the day of my grandfather’s funeral. They knew where I was and what I was doing that day. I could share more details but that should give you real insight into their character.

I could tell you a few other stories about bad things that happened. I wouldn’t have to exaggerate or make anything up. I could share the sad and sordid tale and make some of you cry.

But I don’t want or need to. Some of that is pride and some of that is recognition that my situation could be much worse.

Gratitude and Frustration

You see I am torn by the contradiction of gratitude and frustration. I haven’t recovered as fast as I would have liked to. I haven’t climbed back to the top of the damn mountain yet and it irks me.

It hurts me to hear my kids say these things. I don’t want to just give them everything because they won’t appreciate it. I want them to work for some of this but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to provide.

As a man and a father this is the sort of thing that stabs at your core. If you let the darkness overwhelm you it will suck the very essence out of you.

But gratitude won’t let that happen. I am well aware that our situation isn’t what I want but it is not that bad. Not only that I know that I will get back to where I want to be.

And I can say that this experience has taught me a million different lessons and forced me to recognize that I had to change paths. It has been hard but rewarding. There have been moments of doubt and more pain than I would like, but shit happens.

A Plan of Action

I have a plan of action that I am following and I expect this will help us get to where we want to be. It is a flexible plan that was created so that adjustments could be made when necessary.

The reason I share all this is because I am done being force fed negative energy by the people who love/hate Obama/Romney. The world is not going to come to an end if he is elected or re-elected. Life will go on and we will do what we have always done- adapt and overcome.

Adapt and overcome comes from a line in Heartbreak Ridge. BTW, that link is NSFW.

Why Write About It?

The answer is simple. This is cathartic for me. When I write things down it helps me to clarify my thoughts and ideas and to vent.

I am not waiting around for change. I am doing my best to make it happen.  Part of that is making it clear to friends, family and whoever else is listening that whining about what could or should be won’t make anything happen.

Action. It is about action. Action makes me feel better.

This isn’t a one act play. The way I see it we are at intermission now and I have the entire second act to perform.

Sometimes life is hard, but nothing good comes easy or so I sometimes whisper in the dark.

Plenty Of Time

time

This story was written for Yeah Write and is being included here by special request. The original copy can be found at my story blog.

*****

I could hear the echo of my father’s voice inside my head, “Boys don’t ever hit girls.”

He ignored my protests and told me he didn’t care what my sister had done. It didn’t matter if she hit me first or what she used. I was a boy. We weren’t allowed to fight back that way.

I told him again it wasn’t fair and he shrugged his shoulders at me. “We are bigger and stronger. Use your words to settle things. They will.”

He was right and so was I. Thirty-seven years ago they didn’t fight fair and they still don’t now.

I suppose the big difference between then and now is that it was much easier as a young boy to look at them as “annoying people” whose sole purpose was to bother boys.

Puberty changed all that. Those “annoying people” cast a magic spell on me and suddenly I went from not noticing any of them to having trouble focusing in school.

Hormonal overdrive and young love kept me from recognizing the kind of trouble that lack of focus could get you into.

But I found out.

Her name was Tammy. She was a tall blonde with bright green eyes and an electric smile. At 14 she was two or three inches taller than I was and quick to lord it over me.

She spent our freshman year of high school doing her best to tease and torment me. I tried to give it back to her and almost got my head taken off.

I don’t remember exactly what I said but I remember she was angry. When I told her she was acting like my sister she lost it. She stopped talking to me. When we passed each other in the halls she just looked through me, it was like I didn’t exist.

You would think that I would have appreciated the respite from the teasing and the incessant comments about my height, but I didn’t.

We didn’t speak again until November of the following year and to this day I can’t tell you if she even noticed, but I did.

Her refusal to speak made me so angry that I walked over to her. “You aren’t as special as you think you are!”

She just laughed, “look who finally grew.”

Until she mentioned it I hadn’t noticed that I was finally taller than she was. That wasn’t

I wanted to yell at her again but that laughter and the smile that accompanied it took the fight right out of me.

We went on our first date two weeks later and three months after that we lost our virginity in her aunt’s pool house.

It was young love and a healthy dose of young lust.

Her father almost put the fear of god into us. He came home early one day and surprised us.

We heard him and I tried to jump out of bed, but Tammy was fearless. She told me to relax and said there was plenty of time.

That became our line and our little joke. Life was filled with plenty of time and much laughter.

When it came time to go to college we ended up attending different universities. Neither one of us was worried about our relationship. We thought it was strong enough to survive anything, but we were wrong.

I don’t know when she slept with him or how many times she did but I know it happened. I wasn’t blameless either.

The girl I hooked up with was just as tall as Tammy and had those long legs that I loved, except she was a brunette with dark eyes. The moment I kissed her I knew that things had to go farther and that something else was dying, but hormones don’t care about relationships.

Within six months or so we had both acknowledged that it was time to go our separate ways.

It was painful but also somewhat exhilarating. Tammy and I had done almost everything a couple could do together and I was excited to be with other women.

That 18 year-old boy felt like a kid in a candy shop and for a while I really enjoyed it, but I noticed very quickly that these girls didn’t respond like Tammy did.

She would do anything and they wouldn’t. Hindsight makes it easy to recognize that love was the difference but that kid didn’t know it.

By that time Tammy and I rarely spoke and if we did we usually found ourselves fighting but it wasn’t like those days in high school.

Eventually we just stopped talking.

Five years passed and then I ran into her at a New Year’s Eve party. At midnight we kissed and it was like no time had passed.

Thirty-five minutes later we walked into my apartment and stayed there for three days.

Two days later she left for a two year Peace Corps assignment in Africa. When she kissed me goodbye she said she loved me, laughed and told me not to worry because there was plenty of time.

She never wrote me.

Twenty-five years passed and the silence continued. We were just a memory.

Last week there was a knock at the door and I saw a beautiful blonde standing on my porch. It was like being transported in time, there was my Tammy, except it wasn’t.

She said her name was Heather and asked to come inside.

“My mom said if something happened to her I should find you. Her name was Tammy and I think you might be my dad.”

“What do you mean her name was Tammy?”

Her eyes filled with tears and so did mine. I guess we never did have plenty of time.

Middle School Magic Meets Blogging Blues

My old friend Mr. Buffet is playing in the background while I sit here, beer in hand and brain in motion. I am thinking about the story that Judy told today about this song and her days as a teacher.

Her story makes me smile and well, Jimmy’s song and this beer make me think of other things, mostly a soft sandy beach, endless blues skies and summer. Yeah, I know you thought that I was going somewhere else with this and the answer is that I did but I didn’t share it with you.

That is because I am more focused on the other old man in this house, the one who started middle school last week.

He came home today and told me he got an ‘A’ on his science test and followed that up by telling me why he hated lunch. It would be great if I could say it was the cafeteria food. That would be beautiful and poetic but it is not the case.

Nah, he ate lunch by himself and was angry about it. There wasn’t any space at the table so he felt “like a loser and lonely.”

I told him the great joy of middle school is that we all feel left out and lonely.

Blogging Blues

My blogging blues aren’t exactly blue. I am not depressed or upset. Irked is a good description and so is mildly irritated.

That is because there are a few technical issues that are impacting this joint and I am not really in the mood to deal with them. That doesn’t mean I won’t, just that I’d rather focus my energy elsewhere.

Here is the short list:

Feedburner– Word on the street is that Feedburner is going away. It comes from reliable sources so it is worth checking out alternatives. I won’t tell you about the negative impact RSS has had on blogs, at least I won’t in this post.

What I will say is that I don’t want to spend any cash on the replacement, at least not now. I am making a few bucks here and I like seeing a positive cash flow. Not quite the internet tycoon yet so I am cautious about the cash I put out.

Triberr– Overall it has been a great experience but man some people just aren’t carrying their weight. It reminds me a bit of group projects in school where we all received the same grade but some people did more work.

Not especially thrilled about this. Hate sounding whiny, but something has to change and it will probably be me. About time to evaluate my tribes and see if they all make sense. Some of them are filled with members who haven’t officially dropped out but are still listed.

Good time to clean house.

Fake Editors“- I won’t ever say my writing is perfect. You won’t hear me claim to never make any errors or produce content that doesn’t ever need to be rewritten but some of the “collective” needs to learn something about editing. There is such a thing as style and you need to know when to leave a piece alone because you are killing the voice and when to edit because it is gibberish.

Sometimes writer and reader are poorly matched. By that I mean sometimes we as readers just don’t “get” the writer. Our lack of understanding/appreciation isn’t always indicative of something being poorly written either.

Tonight I sat on the floor in my son’s bedroom and told him about how there were many times when I felt like an outsider in school. I told him that it still happens to me sometimes and I am ok with it.

I told him that I don’t expect him to be just like me, but that sometimes this is how life is. There are moments when we feel like we are on the outside looking in and moments when we feel like we understand every secret life has to offer.

This was a big moment for us. I could see his eyes and the expression on his face told me he only sort of got it. But that sort of got it look also told me the boy is soon going to be a pre-teen.

It reminded me a bit of when I used to swim competitively. That moment just before the race was the time when I cleared my mind and then took a deep breath because I knew the gun would go off and I would hit the water at breakneck speed.

That is what this feels like, the pause before the race.

One More Word On Blogging

If you open yourself up to the blogosphere and let your community in you will find that you get more than you give. There is magic out there, floating in the ether and all you need to do is let it in.

Drunk Blogging For Amateurs

“All good books are alike in that they are truer than if they had really happened and after you are finished reading one you will feel that all that happened to you and afterwards it all belongs to you: the good and the bad, the ecstasy, the remorse and sorrow, the people and the places and how the weather was. If you can get so that you can give that to people, then you are a writer.”
― Ernest Hemingway

“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words? He thinks I don’t know the ten-dollar words. I know them all right. But there are older and simpler and better words, and those are the ones I use.”
― Ernest Hemingway

This post comes with a guarantee- many of my fellow Triberr Tribesmen won’t share this post because the headline will scare them off.  We won’t talk about whether they’ll actually read the damn thing first or not.

The second thing you need to know is that I am what they call stone cold sober. I thought about grabbing a beer to accompany me but it is after midnight and that seems like a poor time to begin drinking.

In the days that once were I might have chosen to pop open a bottle, take a hard pull and then try to bleed here at the keyboard but I am not that kid anymore. Don’t need to pretend to be like the man I heard old Uncle Ernie was. I just need to be me.

Hell, I prefer that. It is easier in every way.

Read The Quotes Above…Again

If you haven’t read the quotes I used to open this post I am going to ask you to do so now. They resonate with me and I take more from them than I can possibly express.

Not unlike most people I am on a journey, a spiritual quest of sorts and I feel like I am doing the two steps forwards, one step backwards dance. It is sort of an awkward and ugly shuffle but I am not built for grace.

That is ok with me because I know who I am and what I am about. I have a goal in mind and a general idea for how to get there. That is my way of saying I see the spot on the mountaintop I want to reach but I don’t see the fucking trail.

Not that it makes much difference, I walk, I hike and I climb. Doesn’t much matter whether there is a path or not because while I may not climb like a monkey or mountain goat I get where I am going.

I Stopped Trying To Figure It Out

Some of you have asked me to provide the back story behind posts in this series. You read posts like:

and then you move on to things like:

and try to figure out what is fact and what is fiction.

Sometimes you send me emails telling me that you have figured it out and ask for confirmation but I never give it. That is because it is not important.

What is important to me is trying to figure out why I seem to focus on the same sort of theme/stories or at least it used to be. It used to make me scratch my head how I could go from being a sportswriter who dabbled in fiction to this sort of thing.

And then I just stopped trying to figure it out.

I stopped trying to understand why songs like this and this worked so damn well for these stories. That’s because I see a connection between them and that place I am trying to reach.

Dreams

The long term goal is to make a living from writing stories and those posts above are always among my most popular. People read and re-read them. They pull in new readers and make the older ones come back.

And if you if you believe that the universe provides a guide or road map to follow you’ll understand that it makes sense to pay attention to the signs that keep flashing red.

It doesn’t really matter to me whether that connection is real or imagined because either way I see it as pointing me towards opportunity.

So I am just doing my best to try to recognize when possibility turns into opportunity so that I can take advantage of it.

And there you have my few words about drunk blogging for amateurs.

Write to be read and read so that you can write.