Cunningstuff

A new life, for an old man.

Category: Memories and autobiography

Mind Body Festivus

orion-nebula-space-galaxy

Public domain image woot! Courtesy of: http://www.public-domain-image.com/

 

I went to the Sydney Mind Body Spirit Festival this weekend, and actually had a good time. I tend towards skeptical and critical thinking, but there is room in there for improvement. Being born on Samhain, I have a tendency towards the Wiccan side of things, but to be honest, there is a streak in them that runs rampant at times, angry men hating goddess only worshiping women, who will put me off the whole thing. I like the Tibetan Monks and their inclusive view, but damn, why are women not at the center of things as well? I like yoga, but I have no interest in showing off my ass in tight yoga pants, with my 100% green friendly eco minded white woman bamboo mat. As matter of fact, I think as soon as you try to organize the ideas into something easily digestible, you water it down and make it unpalatable. So I went to this with a healthy hip pocket full of skepticism, and got a nice surprise at the end.

The festival ran Thurs-Sun, and we went Thursday and Saturday. Thursday was just my beautiful Queen and I, and it was a relaxing fun day. We went to a few angel seminars, and 1 was good and the other bad. The first was a lady by the name  of Michelle Newton, and she was subtly sassy and entertaining for an angel psychic. She commanded the room well and presented herself with confidence. No big push about how great she was, a little personal history, and then bam, right into reading her cards she handed out as we entered the room. She did about a third of the room, so everything went well for her. My lovely Lady was her first reading, and she spent a good bit of time with her. I am and will always be reasonably skeptic of psychics in general, but to be honest, I could have had a reading by her and not been bothered. She had a calm decent feeling, and was not hurried to get off and away to some thing else. Which is not what I can say about the next one, Debbie Malone. Although I think she can help some people out there, specifically those who are grieving it seems, she is flighty and her helper is ridiculous and not helpful. She told the room about 7 times that she had died 6 times, so that you  knew you could not possibly know what she does. Her helper was pushy and hurried, and I felt honestly that basically this room was imposition to her, and we just needed to be gotten out-of-the-way. She had a drawing at the end, and when a lady came up with her ticket for the drawing, they pushed her aside as they had already done the drawing in the 10 seconds they allotted. Yuck, what a waste of time.

Not that it was bad for the whole day, once we were done we entered the festival again, and didn’t make anymore stops for seminars. We missed one my Lovely wanted to be at, but it was us being fascinated by all the shinies around us, so well, it had to go! There were many different kind of readers there, psychics, healers ect, ect. I had but one mission and it failed miserably. I wanted to find a supplier of resins, oils, and herbs. I found tons of oil suppliers, but what I was after was a bit to hardcore for this crowd I think. I touched base with a few people, but never made any decent connections. It was much more about letting my Wonderful Baby find her feet in this world, and look where she wanted.

The second day was with friends, one who is curious but skeptical, and the other who is straight forward not going to be interested. My Dearest went to the Mind Body Spirit part, and I took off with her partners husband to the home builder and renovator show next door. I grew up building houses, so I pretty much know what is happening, and thought to enjoy myself at the second half as well. The same company owns the MBS as well as the Home show, so they throw them at the same time, and you can go to both for the price of one. There was one seminar I wanted to see though, so I took off and left my buddy to find his way around for while.

Creative writing. At a mind body spirit festival. What could go right? I was just curious honestly, because well, if you want to teach creative writing techniques, I could be at the forefront with bold new ideas inspired by the best in the biz. Not ringing my bell here, but I started this blog to teach myself how to write so normals will understand me, and temper my creative fire into something I can use, instead of constant experimentation. This was the biggest surprise of the entire event. This guy had no aspirations to teach me to talk with my inner self, or learn his automatic writing technique, or tell me my spirit guides had gathered in force with me, he told me in simple, honest, down to earth, almost farmer tactics of writing a book and producing results. No mumbo jumbo, no hoopla, no self inflation, just here is my process and it works. Then when I asked my question, his answer was honest and inspiring. I may have been the only person in that room who knew just how valuable the advice was he was giving. I think they all expected another wizard with answers. I chuckled and thanked him warmly as I left, honestly surprised at how much motivation I received from him.

The final surprise was a couple who had started a magazine together called HSS – Heart Soul and Spirit. It is in its infancy, and maybe it will work, and maybe it will not, but I enjoyed my banter with them. He took a peek at my “spirit guides” and started seeing a whole damn bunch. I laughed and decided to spend time talking with them a bit, and perhaps making the beginning of a friendship. One step at a time though, I will make my friends slowly and with calm that I never had before I met my Wife. Who was enthralled and happy about the entire ordeal, as was I. It was fun to see her let her hair down and really enjoy herself. We had fun, and if it interests you, it is worth the paltry 10 bux AU that it costs. I even had my hearing tested while I was there, so there is something for everyone, if you are open to it. If not, just go next door and check out all the Home gear that is lying around.

 

 

The Break is Over

 

This pic is called “Going back to work.”

For all who would consider waiting to see this blog active again, I am stepping back up to write here a bit. I started this blog to see if I could write regularly for a year, and I did, and now, well, I miss that exercise. I got off writing for a bit, and I really feel, not just understand, I understood, but really feel, you have to write to be a writer.  I took the break for personal reasons, and I will talk a little bit about them. This will just be an introductory back into the mess blog, and this time, I am writing because I want to, not because I have some obligatory set goal. I never set WHAT I should write back then, I just set that I HAVE to write. Now I have nothing set, this will just be my personal blog.

First off, I moved to Sydney and got married.  My wife and I never had personal time together, so I didn’t want writing to be in the way while two adults in their 40’s tried to learn to live together. It was touch and go at the start, even though we had lots of love for each other, there is a reality of dealing with another human that is just going to make everything go a little pear shaped. She did not have the time alone before I got here that she thought she would, so it was a stress full event.  Also, it is one thing to tell a morbidly obese person that you can deal with their weight, it is quite another to actually live with them, no matter how much better they are when it happens. Cheers to my ever-loving Queen, she came through all of this quite happy, and I am healthier and mentally better than I have been in decades.

Secondly, her mom died of complications from bowel cancer. Everyone knew it was coming, but for a very long four months, her mom was dying. Strain, stress, and grief make for a tough road, and to boot, I had pretty much the crappiest job in Australia at the time. It took me away from my wife when she needed me most. Setting time aside to write and do a blog is not something I wanted to do.  Everyone talks about breast cancer, everyone knows about lung cancer, but bowel cancer and prostate cancer are big killers as well. Educate yourself and your family on it if you haven’t, it is one of the more preventable, treatable cancers if caught early.

Third, and probably most selfish and revealing, is that I wanted the break. I had forced myself to write a lot, after never writing at all, and I was a little burned out by it. I am not the burn out type, but I am fond of having a measured pace at which I produce things. I can pretty much stick out most everything, but yeah, I really pushed to write a lot. I wanted to prove to myself what I was capable of, and I also wanted to prove to my future wife I was no chump, and could do what it takes. I was motivated by things outside of the realm of creation and writing, so I think that is what the burnout really comes from. When those motivations simmered down, the burn out set in.

I never intended it to be a year-long break, that is the honest truth. I wanted to break, but all kinds of things conspired to keep me away longer than I wanted. All it really means is I will be doing my blogs again, and now, I dunno, I think it will be with free spirit and purpose, those giving me a different point of view.  If ANYONE is still checking, keep up just a bit more, I have a lot to write about.

Losing the Weight

I am finally below 160 kg. I know it is not bragging time, but I just wanted to get back into touch with my healthy side today. I have a lot of blogs coming out soon, as I am behind and have some material to share, but the first and foremost one is this, how happy am I now?

I am excited and tremulous about being in Oz. After all the preparation and desire, to actually be here is every bit as good as I thought it would be, and better in many ways. I thought I would miss the ol’ USA, but I could not care less. I love this country, the people and my fair Lady, my dearest Everstar, is every bit as wonderful now that I am here, as when we met. I was worried about one thing though, one thing nagged at me, other than just being poor and old, was being fat. I have changed my life, I am now moderately active, and as my body and mind heal from all those dark years of being huge, I am working towards becoming highly active. I have changed how I eat. I have changed what I do on a daily basis. I am very truthfully, painfully aware of how out of shape I have been for the last decade.

I can not relate to you how important it is to me to have my partner with me. I need someone who is a no bullshit person, and my dearest is definitely that. She tells me how it is in no minced words, but instead is truthful and honest. I also need to be around her, to become a better person. I only hope I give her the ability to become better herself, as she is such a wonderful power for me to have.

That all brings me to the realization of how important your peer group, whoever they may be, really is. I have friends who all accepted me, but very few would tell me to my face how fat I was, or how bad my attitude could be. Ultimately, I ended up being very alone except for some very dear friends from my workplace. I think all of us who get so big have the exact same problem for this, we isolate ourselves to only the people who will not be confrontational with us, and we end up having no real support for ourselves when we start trying to change things. Those of us who fight to change in spite of this, I salute you. I am saluting myself, but not a lot. I was not in the best of shape when I got here, although I had laid the groundwork for real change, it really was my Queen who ended up making the difference in me choosing to live a healthy lifestyle.

I AM WEAK. I am weak on my own, and I needed the extra provocation of my love to really get me changing things. I think that ultimately, that is the catch-22 of all of us who are obese. Romantics at heart, we are emotional and need support to change, but we isolate ourselves from the truth that pervades our real state of mind and body. We use food as an emotional outlet, and we end up cycling into ever more destructive bad habits and obesity. One day we just give up and say, screw it, food makes me happy, and since I am alone, it is the only way I can be happy, but like all addictions, it never turns out to be true. We end up very alone, very sad, and finally, dead.

As our capitalist society seeks to ever more isolate us from each other in all its ways, always pushing for more entertainment and less exercise and getting together, I believe we are only experiencing the beginning of the obesity epidemic. Three years ago I decided I would no longer voluntarily accept any more chains from the buy buy buy orientation of American food. I first got rid of milk from my diet. Milk does NOT do the body good. There are many better sources of calcium for adults than milk. I grew up thinking milk was the healthiest drink on earth, I finally accepted that at 40 years of age, it really was killing me. Then I got rid of sugar, literally not buying the bag of sugar anymore. I kept doing this, but the hardest thing to give up, in the end, was the bad hobbits of fast food.

I did not really give them up until a month ago. Years of changing, and the best thing I could have done was eat sensibly, but nooooo, I have to be stubborn and give that up last. I have however, finally understood the pleasure of eating real meals, and healthy meals, and I am losing weight on the average of 2.5 kilos per week. Last week I measured out and nice 154.4 Kg, which is 10 Kg less than when we found a scale that would measure big enough to weigh me in.

So to compare…

fat at crawfish boil

 

To yesterday she took a pic of me.

IMG-20130519-00138

 

Do not get me wrong. I am not bragging, yet. And that is a big yet, I feel soon, maybe a year more, I can brag, and not just brag, but help others put their lives on track, and change things for all of us. I am still VERY overweight. I am still on a long painful road to recovery. I am still struggling with my issues, my depressions, my doubts, my eating and my bad habits. I am however, very proud and very happy to finally SEE the change, to be able to point to myself and say, I am no longer that person over there, the huge one. with a chip on his shoulder.

If you are in any way in need of motivation or help, leave me a comment, and I will do what I can. First and foremost, do not give up, you can always make the changes you want, if you want them.

 

Cleaning the Slate

My slate has 44 years of trash, old markings, embedded permanent marker glossed over with a fine coat of clear nail polish, graffiti done in indelible ink, and chiseled scratchings etched in acid and rust. I did so much last year, so much I am proud of, and I have yet to start anything this year. I think it is because my slate is not clean. I am here by denoting this, and setting about clearing it. First, let’s get out a rough steel wool and take off the first layer of garbage.

I have an almost uncontrollable urge to eat crappy food. I have done so well, so much, started riding my bike this past year, getting exercise, getting out. I feel like I hit this wall yah know? I hate winter, honestly, it is so easy to make an excuse when its -8 Celsius outside, to not go or do. Oh bloody hell, I miss writing. Soon as I turn on the pen, on comes the brain. Ok ok, that was confusing. So it is like this, although everyone says it, and I watch the event occur with my lady, who goes to the gym VERY on spot and regular, unlike me, it is exercise. I literally just thought it as I wrote it. I need to exercise again, no matter what.

I really do not want to go through any more layers now, sheesh. It is exercise, and only exercise that is missing from my routine again. I just hate the holidays. Work was completely unbearable, and it gets me depressed  and I get depressed and I start eating. I have everything going for me, why the hell am I depressed? I am 58 days from the big move to Oz, land of my dreams, island of hope and love for me, and I am depressed from the holidays again.

So that is the second layer, depression. I do not know how to deal with that one, I really do not. Maybe the exercise will work against it. I can’t see a doctor, I sure wish I could do something about it medically, just to get over this hump, but I am on my own here. Scrub a dub dub, three layers on the tub, and one of them is not soap scum. I hit the third layer, I can see it so clearly now. I fear myself, I fear, that she will not love me when she sees me. I wanted to lose so much more weight, before I left, and I was on the right track too, dammit.

The third layer of my unclean slate is fear of failure. I want anyone who reads this to understand, right now, what you are reading is the actual thought process as it happens, I am not going to change this, but instead continue the automatic writing until I am clear. I will just go back for spelling and gobbledygook. I can see now my three barriers I must overcome, before I can carry my slate above my head proudly. I must first of all, get into exercise again. I think it may be the key. I sometimes wish we were like the Japanese were back in the 80’s, doing yard exercise every morning before the work routine began. Second of all, I must battle depression, using what tools I have. Thirdly, I must build my confidence back up, to where it was this summer.

These three things are the dirt clouding my clean slate, the grunge of untold years of horrid conditions, that sit on me and weigh me down even after all this time, even after all my luck changed when I met my Everstar. I met her because I was more confident, although I am still impossible, I was confident the day we met, and I am overtly confident even now. She keeps me going and has been wondering what was wrong with me, asked a few times lately, now I know. I know why she asked, and I know why I didn’t answer.

Quiet all this time, no blogging, no direction, just silence.

This is the price I pay, trying to be a cashier in a shitty job, and trying to uphold my values as a writer. Hmm, maybe I am not saying that right, but that is the gist of what I am trying to say. We humans pay a terrible price for jobs, for although the job is not the single underlying cause of my feelings right now, it is the major contributor and the direction the negative force is coming from. I only have 58 days left, I can do it, I know I can, and it is already getting easier, even the lords and judges of the workplace are taking it easy on me and laying off now. I did 45 days in jail once, it was a miserable experience  but worse than going to work. Not much worse, which is a source of another conversation later. Funny how jail and work compare though, almost as equals, well, at least in my toxic work environment.

I do not know how I will come out, but tonight, for the first time since thanksgiving day, I feel like I have a hand on the handle of the problem. I can see now where I went wrong, and what I can do to change it. I can also see the end of the main source of my depression and lack of motivation. Soooooooo many people feel like I do too, not just me. So many people need vacations and time off, and can not afford it in america. America, land of dreams stolen and sold, childhoods erased by 4th grade. Personally, I will not weep for its passing, when the time comes and it passes, because all my dreams were thoroughly squashed until I met my Lady, and even after meeting her, the hydraulic piston of dream squashing is working overtime and getting over heated at the idea that I have dreams again.

I can say I am glad I wrote today. I am sure most of you are bored by line 10, to long, didn’t read, ect, ect, but I am glad I did. I have handles to grasp now, and I have a toolbox, even if it is mostly empty and overused, that will help me along. Apologies to all for the long silence, part of working out includes using my brain, so I will be posting quite regular again. I want to hit over 100 posts by the end of January, and not filler either, but some good articles and maybe another review of a Denver restaurant. Cheers!

Freeform with Stasis of Seasons

This is my face whenever I get to play live with a band.

Whispy wiffling changes muted only by drastic numbers of volume, pushing ever harder to achieve the numbers and the seconds they want to achieve, the other two outside of us pushing in their developments they are looking to achieve, playing the numbers game as well, if in a different mode. Nothing seems the same in this room, nothing but blue light and white noise, acoustic panels barely left attached after the monstrous assault constantly played out on them. I did not know I would end up here, in this strange joyous land of fun, when we were walking up to the room. Clinical, isolated, horrible colors reminiscent of high school or possibly even a county jail. Five of us, stacked in a tiny Honda, getting out was such a relief, but the building looked so ugly, so sad, it seemed impossible dreams could be manufactured inside. Electronic number keyed locks kept us outside while a scrap of paper was retrieved with the sacred numbers on it. Two people disappeared into some crazy offset bathroom, not seen or heard when they left, just when we got to the room they were not there. Some of that was the really shitty metal being played everywhere, the bands that were trying at the moment of our arrival sounded like they had only ever heard Metallica play, and it was repeated three times before we got to the inside of the space. I had played with these gentlemen before, about 40 miles from where we were, in a tiny leaky shack in Golden, Colorado. Now we were in Commerce City, and it had a totally different atmosphere.  I however relied on the judgement of my friends, not on my judgement of what looked like an isolation ward in a state prison.

The door shut behind us, and there was my old rig, all sitting pretty, looking used and loved. The crappy metal had faded a good bit on closing the door, only twice revisited when the other two folks came in. I found a 1/4″ cable on the floor plugged into the main on my amp, and plugged it into my bass. Flipped the amp on, and boom, she was purring. Steve-O had climbed behind his kit, and we were practicing some simple times before the other guys had tuned up. Oh yeah, I had to tune a half step down, BECAUSE GOD FORBID ANYONE USE STANDARD TUNING. Ahem, excuse me, it’s a personal rant. We jumped right in, playing a song that was basically A and E, in 4/4 time. I had not played with folks in about a year, but some things never leave you. I had two good guitarists and a great drummer, and when things are that good, you don’t need to think, you just need to play. We rolled it over like Beethoven was dead, jumping in and around those two simple chords, with just a tiny hint of humility. Probably about a ten, maybe fifteen minute jam. We decided it was good, and stopped.

The second jam was about ten minutes, and it was all based on a nice 3/4 beat of funk. Again just two chords, but the guitards got upset at the drummer and I, and cut us off a bit short after the ten minutes. I had some troubles here though, I wanted to get as fast the drums were going, but I was so rusty, I could not pull the licks off. I settled for power instead, and bumped the shit out of the 4 x 10 cabinet behind me. Tapped into the groove power of my ax and made the people shake their ass. We had a violinist along for the ride, mostly just drinking free beer and listening to us, steaming over some personal problem I didn’t want to get into, but when I started pumping the groove, he could not help himself and got lost in the beat, the play between ass pounding bass and subtle drum patterns. Nice to know I still got it. When the guitarist got frustrated as he knows no funk, the drummer stood up and said let’s go outside, where we ate fresh crab apples falling from the tree in the courtyard. Again, I was amazed this place could manufacture dreams so reliably, but the crab apples made up for it. Sweet and tart as all hell, I could see stars, and I figured well, if I gotta play in a prison, this ain’t so bad after all. I had a moment of clarity, so to speak.

Third jams are best jams, it started all convoluted, *7/11 time, C,A,E,A, 4/7 time G, 13/11 time F flat, G, but we finally settled to just play with C, A, E, and A. That settling took 15 minutes, then we let the pipes loose. Settings were adjusted, sounds were tuned in, fastidiously held ideals were tossed aside and broken. We took that beast of time and tamed it into something resembling 4/4 time rock and roll, and then we pounced and chased, turned tail and ran, came back for another pounce, did amazing sweeping gestures, and pounced some more. I forgot about the guitarists for a bit, and the drummer and I played hide and seek within beats, each hiding something and finding something on return. I would run to base, and he would lose me, then I lose him, then he would tag me from behind and we would laugh and start all over again.

I really love playing with a great drummer, there is something about bassists and drummers that see eye to eye, yet have this totally different approach. I think it could be like a bauhausian architect designing a playground with mechanical engineer. However it works though, it’s a great time and space to be, for me. We met up at around 8:00 p.m. and I got back home in about four hours, but it just seems like we played for 45 minutes. I never feel time going by when there is music to be created. I am kinda a bastard in music, I hate playing the same old same old, and refuse to play covers, but instead just play what I want to hear with whatever is going on, and these guys indulge me, even think its pretty neat. I want to thank my friends in Stasis of Seasons for letting this old fart play around a good bit. If you are ever in Denver, you should see them, great band, great friends, never afraid to do something new, even if it doesn’t turn out so well.

* I am not claiming I even understand what times were presented or what they should be, it’s all a farce of what I might have understood.

My Reading History

The famous Cat’s Eye Nebula, as visioned by the Spitzer satellite telescope. No imagination needed for this one.

I think, if you are a reader or a writer, what you read is one of the greatest influences you will ever have. I do not remember when I really began to read, but I can tell you what the most important first thing I read was. It was the encyclopedia, that seemingly endless fountain of knowledge. I love knowing a lot about my world, I love thinking about what people are like in other lands. I have never stopped being so curious. I may have mentioned this before, but did you know if you took a box, a very sturdy special box, and emptied it of everything, making a perfect vacuum, that it would still have materials floating in and out of it? I mean really empty it, using all your knowledge, create a perfect vacuum, scrub the walls of hidden and clingy atoms, due to the uncertainty of the quantum world, particles would still be all up in there. Sorry, I resorted to bad english there, but it is true and it is the freakiest thing I have ever heard. Now that kind of knowledge, that is a thing of beauty to me.

Not far behind that my entry into fantasy and science fiction start to ramp up. I find I have a declining interest in television, instead finding the theater that is used inside my head far outweighs the crap television puts out. Don’t get me wrong, I love Monty Python, but I never could tolerate Saturday Night Live. I think one reason was I was in love with the Retief science fiction series by Keith Laumer. He died in 93, and I did actually mourn his passing, though many people did not understand. Retief was the ultimate british officer, set in the future, a dashing daring, hilarious idiot that I loved. I was reading Analog back then as well, and I remember having the issues with a series called “Ender’s Game” by Orsan Scott Card, who funny enough, is a Mormon. Tolkien, who needs no link or introduction, was a perfect read, but so was CS Lewis’s Narnia chronicles. All of this was influential, but nothing like I encountered after I got through the basics.

Glen Cook and Gene Wolfe came onto my reading schedule like a freight train powered by a nuclear missile engine. Glen Cook’s powerful sense of soldier and duty overcame my inhibitions about the self. The jokes are callous, the energy is manly, and he makes me laugh and laugh.  The only women in the books are either super hot, super deadly, or old battle axes, but that’s about what you could expect when you might be in a merc group in the fantasy world, hey what? Gene however, Gene is a font for the mind, and a builder of great imagination. If you have not read Shadow of the Torturer and its imposing fellow titles under The Book of the New Sun series you have literally left you yourself bereft of some of the best writing and language ever used in a book. Cook falls off after about the fourth book in The Black Company, but I think those first four books are beyond extraordinary, they really reveal the fantasy world in way I could grasp as a human, they are almost factual in the settings and characters. You are wandering in this amazing and shifting northland, and it really fires my imagination into overdrive, his style just puts you there. On the other hand, Wolfe is just damnable in his abilities. Severian and Thecla are the most unimaginably real people I have ever met, that are imaginary. The complexity of their twin nature in one person defies and boggles most people’s minds, it really is just this beautiful exercise in human understanding.

Then, and the reason I am writing this, then there is Richard Bach. Right now Richard is fighting for his survival, but we all know he is also doing his best to make the most of it. I do not know whether he will live or die, but I must attest to his influence in my life and thinking. Richard once saved my life. I am to smart for my own good, and I come from an abusive background. I thought I was done, I was probably searching for my excuse to die when I found his book Illusions. I am not going to quote it, I am not going to paraphrase it, I am not going to go off and try to write like he did, but I will state, no other book has ever had the influence that book has had on me. Gene Wolfe is a better writer, Tom Robbins is a better moralist, Kurt Vonnegut is a better introspective journalist, William S Burroughs is of a higher plane of imagination, but none, no matter how much influence, have ever given me the calm, soul healing advice I got from reading Richard. He doth giveth me clean waters to swim in, and healeth my mind with expansion and love.

Richard is in dire straights, *light a candle for him.

So in a nutshell, that is my history of reading. My history of writing is here, everything I have, you have. I intend to be as transparent as they come, with only one exception. I fully intend to be a writer for a living, so any books I publish I will sell, and I will sell my services for those who wish to pay. I am not a capitalist, but at 43, I am trying to put some meat on the table as well as be a the human I want to be. I am not proud of it, but the world is what it is. Also, I left a lot of writers hanging in the dust, Rachel Pollock, CJ Cherryh, grok, many things and influences, but this was personal. I wanted to give you the best I have ever encountered, for personal, not professional reasons. I will be doing some book reviews in the future, none of which were mentioned here, because these few writers are the ones that, eventually, made me want to write. That and the support of my beautiful Everstar, to whom I owe my light and my energy to. Feel free to ask me about any of these, I will tell you what I know.

 

Two Weeks and I am so done with smoking!

My last vice, I swear. I do not count chocolate as a vice, it is a food group.

Well folks, I have finally kicked the habit. I am lucky in that I can change my habits pretty easy, but oh! This was a hard challenge. First and foremost, I want to thank my beautiful Queen. I would have never gotten through this without her special care and love, because I was basically a raging asshat for about 10 days. I am still a bit edgy, don’t get me wrong, but her love and patience with me, combined with some giggles at my asshattery, kept me quite in line. I have quit before, then fallen off the wagon, but this time, I dunno, I really wanted this, and I never want to go through this again. I am so done, and since I am with the most wonderful woman in the world, I do not especially want to put her through that wringer again. I suggest to those of you who are trying to quit and failing, get a partner! It really helped to just talk about my addiction and cravings with someone who understood.

SO get this kick to it all. We quit right? Good for us right? We did it to live longer and to save a ton of money right? Well we both have gotten the shit kicked out of us for even supposing the world gives a rat’s ass. Her car has been broken and saved and fixed and now its broken again, and my landlord is at my door screaming for rent. Not for us trying or being good either, just random circumstances basically that went against us trying to save a buck for a change, so now we are in a deeper money hole than before. I would like to ask the world to give us a break, just for once.  Ok, yes we were very lucky to find each other, but that is not notice to the fates to now screw us every chance! Now please laugh, because all this is said in jest, but seriously, how can I not laugh at the irony.

It is not that I think I should get some special reward for quitting. No, as a matter of fact, I kinda would like the world to stop telling me congratulations every time I mention I have quit. I do not want recognition for me stopping being an idiot. I am just talking about what ever is affecting me at the moment, cause well, that’s how I get through my trudging horrible day in this crap fest we call america. Right now it’s all over for me, the tenseness is mostly gone, but the anger is the slowest emotion to fade from quitting. I figured it out though, the anger is from the drug being there, not the absence of it. It is just when you finally start to get it out of your system, that’s when you actually start to react like they say the drug will affect you. For damn near 30 years, I have indulged in this drug daily, and now that it is finally faded away, I wonder how many crappy decisions I made were based directly on me being high on nicotine my whole life.

I remember all the bullshit back in the 1980’s about how pot was a gateway drug. I am thinking my first drugs were beer and cigarettes. Those led me to other drugs, if the whole gate way thing is to make any sense. Not only that, but cigarettes were the first rebellion in drugs as well. I was sneaking smokes and dipping tobacco when I was really young, like 8 or something, as soon as I was allowed to go ride in the forest trails with my friends. Since I had smoked with all the bad kids and the good kids from the neighborhood, I was definitely allowed to try out beer and pot.  I say I started when I was 14, but to be honest, if you go to smokes and beer, I started when I was 8. Funny how the DEA never goes after such small fry as the tobacco industry.  Fourteen though, I was buying my own stuff, my own smoky treats, my own beer, my own pot. So I can not blame anyone or any industry, by the time I had figured out who I was going to be, I had quite included the trinity of smokes, weed and alcohol as my three legged table on which to stand.

Taking those three legs out, then was the real battle. I have been trying to quit smoking for years, almost 8 years, I have been putting them down and picking them up again. I knew I would have to quit drinking, but I never thought I would have to quit all three, until I understood I had to quit drinking and marijuana to get rid of smokes. Four years I been trying to quit all three, and while I was by no means an angel during those four years, I kept trying, cutting back, stopping, quitting, starting, falling off the wagon, getting back up, over and over, until finally, I put 1 and 1 and 1 together and realized I really had to quit all three, not just one of, or two of. I had thought, even up to the end, I could keep one vice out of those three and be fine, but now I have gotten over drinking and weed, I finally saw the light, and comfortably quit smoking cigarettes as well.

I will admit I have one vice left that I might, and I do mean I “might”, get rid of. I freaking love coffee, but it does not drive me to smoke or drink or get high. I love a crisp long pulled single macchiato made from some really dark italian roast. I don’t really ever need more than one, though occasionally I will take a large coffee to go if I have a lot to do, after I had my macchiato. Just… a triple dose of caffeine, but really, who cares at this point of the game?

Music, As I See It

Music is best when you are involved, in any way you feel.

Music is a complex beast, full of both originality and creativity, and stifled by ridiculous pandering. I do not claim my childhood as a beginning to understanding music, although I was lucky to have a little, and mind you very little, insight into the world of notes. When I was in fifth grade, everyone was taken hostage by Pink Floyd. I was not trying to be a rebel, but I found classical to be soothing and interesting, and I thought it had a much higher skill level than rock. I learned about Beethoven and Bach, Wagner and Vivaldi. When Electric Light Orchestra hit in the early 80’s big, I bought the Discovery album, and loved it.  I can’t really claim much until 1982, when I found Missing Persons. In the summer of 1984 I went to my first concert with them, at Astroworld, a Houston Texas theme park with and awesome wooden roller coaster. I saw two people with colored hair, and met them, and that began my life long love of punk.

I traded my 10th grade typewriting homework for the Dead Kennedy’s album In God We Trust. Holy crap, that damn near blew my eardrums out. I continued bugging my friend for tapes, and got amazing punk tapes from him. I don’t remember all the tunes, but damn good stuff. There was “Pablo Picasso” by The Modern Lovers, “Argh Fuck Kill” by the Dayglo Abortions, “Rat Patrol” by Naked Raygun, “TV Party” by Black Flag, and “Wankers” by The Exploited are the few I remember from those tapes. I sorta just fell right in with such velocity and happiness. There was a music that truly struck a chord with me, and let me be angry about the world and happy there were others like me out there.

Let me take a moment to talk about such things. One thing that is definitely missing is unity of energy these days. Now it is about trying to impress people with your amazing knowledge of music, instead of getting together and making some noise because we are all pissed off. I never see such unity, such energy these days. I mean, yeah, I love the new bands that are out there, there are many, and I will touch on new music soon enough, but to be honest, we were friends, we were united, and we walked around with chips on our shoulders. Speaking of unity, I learned about amazing dance music in the eighties as well, from two main sources. When I was still in high school and right after, Visions was the bomb place to meet up and get into trouble. It had a stainless steel dance floor, so it reflected every light with industrial gleem, and the DJ’s went on to spin at the infamous Numbers later on. New Order, Siouxie and the Banshees, Love and Rockets, that list is probably a lot longer than any other to be honest. I fell in love with the Cure, saw them at Astroworld and then at the Colosseum. I think the Colosseum show was Kiss Me Kiss Me Kiss Me.

I found out about the industrial scene then as well. Ministry, Caberet Voltaire, RevCo, and a particular but shortlived favorite called The Sisterhood. I was tuned in to all these different musics, and they all seemed damned worthy, where everyone I knew from my youth was stuck listening to the same old music, and no expansion. Punkers stuck with punk, metal heads with metal, ad nauseum.  The best part of the whole Houston 80’s music scene however, had to be the almost monthly shows from the Butthole Surfers. Back before they went huge and got famous, they would tear up venues in Houston, with the longest craziest shows powered mostly by LSD, and the twin drummer set up that provided monstrous and tribalistic sound.My personal favorite though, was the introduction to the noise scene, very much courtesy of Chuck Roast from Vinyl Edge and his show on KPFT. I recently got a new tape (yes, cassette tape) from a Hospital Productions out of New York, courtesy a man called Boyd Rice, a friend of mine here in Denver, in 2012. All these bands came through Houston as well, giving us great shows, sometimes mind-blowing shows, that I would come to miss when I moved to Denver in the early 90’s.

Now don’t get me wrong, Denver actually does quite well when it comes to music. When I first moved here, I got to catch quite a few good shows from Crash Worship, and Carbon Dioxide Orchestra, and a few others, but my all time favorite in Denver will forever be Rainbow Sugar. Now we are getting down and dirty, and don’t get me wrong, almost all these bands are gone or out of the loop, but please understand, its MY music, not yours. I hope you enjoy the journey if you take it, but it’s still where I come from, not anyone else.

Moving on the the now and the future. I still love punk, I still listen to rock and metal, I love dubstep and DnB, and I have finally made peace with love songs. I found a few bands back in 2008 that are making good on the now, Temper Trap, LED Soundsystem, and Metric come to mind. My fiance is putting me to rights with both current and older Aussie rock, even if I knew about Hoodoo Gurus and Spiderbait for some time now, I really love hearing the currant and the old from her insightful point of view. It is one of the things we love about each other, a deep, loving, personal relation with music, even if my music is a bit tattered on the edges for her most of the time. Although I will never find replacements for… well, the Replacements, Curve, or LUXT, I will always hold them near and dear to my heart. Music is one of my best and most loved escapes, and I did learn to play bass, gratefully decently, thanks to all those artists and their unique takes on time, tempo, measure and notes.

Ultimately, I think I just want to say, have fun, don’t ever limit yourself. There is beauty in all music, all over the world.

Cauldron of Fire – Final

My three year goal, to be able to keep up with runners… running. But not here, Bondi beach, darnit.

The future is never a solid surface or color, but instead it is a morass of vitality. It is something to be both looked forward to, and scared of.  I am very happy with my progress so far, but I am by no means finished. Indeed, as I finally lose weight and start to become human, I am realizing that this is the culmination of my entire life so far. If I want to double my life, I am going to have to work twice as hard in half the time to make up for it. Now by no means do I want to be a health nut, but I do want to be in great shape. I want to be in a position where I know what I am eating, if it is too much how to get rid of the excess easily, and mostly eat fresh vegetables and fruits.  I do not want however, to become antisocial about food, I want to gracefully accept other people’s offerings, and I want to indulge once in a while.  I am positive I can pull this off, but it will be at least two to three years before I feel confident about my appearance. I have been told less time than that with training, but I am not holding my breath. I am not going to punish myself for being so big, I want to know and love myself for everything I have been as well as what I am going to be.

When I feel I have my appetite under control, I am going to be doing a juice fast. I have a calendar of guesstimates I am following, and I’m going with the flow of time and rational thought. I want to take 60 days off completely from any sort of bad food, any sort of temptation, and clear my system for the big change. I will have plenty of nutrients, and I would like to see my body get some good stuff in it without me screwing it up. I think the change will do me good, and make me appreciate things like broccoli salad and apples more than I do. I intend to go to a 6 day a week fresh food only diet, where if it is processed or cooked, I can not eat it, but to eat raw food only.  That leaves me one day a week to eat with a friend, to have dinner with the family, to pig out on chocolate or brisket. It is not that I have these cravings to eat bad, it’s just, damn, BBQ is soooo good. I want to be able to go to the hot new sushi restaurant, I want to be able to have a lunch with a business associate, I want to share champagne and brunch with my fiance  and not be labeled a nut job.

I also have a goal for exercise, not just eating. When I can go 20-30 kilometers a day without struggle, I will be a very happy man. I can currently go 9-10, so I think my goal is very modest. When I can do 50 kilometers without busting myself, I will consider most of my exercise goals to be accomplished, I want some stamina, and I want to be able to go all day with anyone who chooses to go, whether I am swimming, hiking, or walking the dog. I had thought about going to a boxing gym, but to be honest, I think I am to passive for such active training anymore. I would not mind having a few muscles and whatnot, but I want to write more than I want to become Mr. Olympia when I am 50. You never know though, I may change my mind on how I want to approach this. I have some 1 year and 2 year goals, mostly let’s get me into a x-large t-shirt instead of 3x, and I would like to be able to buy pants off the rack at any store I go to. That is my premise for 1 year, to be just XL and wear jeans again. Once again, pretty modest goals, and there is allowance in there for some failure, I am not that strict, but I want to be throwing clothes away because they are to big, not buying clothes because I got to big.

Funny thing to, everyone wants to know what I weigh, well, to be honest, I have no clue. I want to fit into stuff, not worry about my kilo’s. I want to be able to bike for 20 kilometers, not tell you I lost so much this week. I could care less about the numbers, I will let a doctor worry about it. I do not care what my heart rate is, I do not care how long it takes to do 20 kilometers, I just care that I can do it.  That was one thing the trainer I spoke to agreed with me on. It is not a suitable goal to worry about your weight, when you should be proud of your accomplishments instead. Weight worry is stupid stress I think. I know I am healthier, I can give succinct medical reasons why, and they have nothing to do with a number on a scale, but instead things like: less pain, easier on my feet, back is stronger, grip is stronger. I hope that any one who is battling with their weight problems read’s this: It is not about your weight, it is about your health. Let the doctor worry about those numbers, let them tell you this or that and then go home and laugh, because today you did one kilometer on your bike, tomorrow you can do two. I like shrinking my living area into something I can get around in without a car. I like telling my fiance, “Oh the grocery shop is only 1 kilometer away! I can get there faster on my bike than it takes you to get in your car and drive there!”

Thank you for letting me get this personal business out of my system. I needed to get it out of my head and onto paper, (so to speak, heh.) I want to put it in a place I can not ignore, and I want to be able to measure myself against it in a year, and then again in two. I am always willing to speak to anyone about what I am doing, and if you know anyone who is struggling with weight problems, feel free to direct them to me, either personally at my email or to just read this series. I am no doctor, but I am living in ‘merica when I began this journey, without a professional doctor to help me, and I have done alright. I would like to know I can help, at least in getting started, because I do know something most doctors do not, I know what it is like to be scared to death of death and your fat, and I am open and candid about what I have been through.

THUS ENDETH THE CAULDRON OF FIRE

Cauldron of Fire – Part Three, the Now

Point of view, I think this concept is very important when fighting the battle to eat right. We often can not see the forest for the trees, no matter how hard we look, we get our ideals screwed, and thus this pic is perfect.

In part one, I stated what went wrong, now let me talk about what, after my strange event of theft, what I am doing right. This past thursday I did 9km on my bicycle, and it was long, but not tortuous, and I will be doing 9-10 km every thursday from now on. I think it is very important for me to say that more than anything, my current state of health is on a fast track since I got up and did some exercise. First I made the effort to start walking, and got up to about a mile, and started feeling more confident about my body. It took about a month of walking to get to where I could ride a bike confidently, and right about that time, my friend loaned me a really nice one to ride untill I go to Oz. I started by just counting blocks, then worked my way up to kilometers.

Having fun without that giant gut.

I was terrible with food and alcohol, both being my only comforts at the time. I started first with milk, cut it out, and then sugar, that was about three years ago. I then met a friend who was fat and became thin, and asked him how, he was like, well, just stopped drinking so much damn beer. It really struck a chord with me, because I know how he used to look. I thought about it a long time, then followed in his footsteps. I think it is also very important for us to contact other people, because we want to emulate those we respect, and I respected this fellow a good bit. Quitting beer was tough, cause, unlike milk and sugar, I really love beer. It is a long time favorite drink, I have expansive knowledge of all kinds of beer, because I liked it so much. I would love to actually just finish this blog on how many kinds of beer I have loved, and what kinds, and where from, but I have a point today, and I want to finalize this statement.

Next was going towards sobriety, by cutting all drinking and smoking marijuana. Cutting out drinking really helped by losing empty unneeded calories, and no more pot helped with all the late night eating and snacks. I am horrible about late night munchies, often going way out-of-the-way to eat until I was full, and since I was eating so much before, eating until I was full really was a lot of eating. Around this time, maybe a little before, I started eating more fresh fruit instead of chips and other bad snacks, avoiding more and more processed foods. I buy bags of apples and oranges, usually common oranges and granny smith apples, because they last a long time, and do not go bad so quick like a lot of fruit. The nice thing about having my bicycle is now I can go get more fresh fruit, and start having variety more often, because 2km is nothing to me anymore. I have lights on my bike, and can ride after work to go find good things to eat at the 24 hour grocery store.

Happy and feeling much more like a human than a walking sandbag.

The last thing I have cut out now is unnecessary snacks, eating just because I want to eat. I did some fasting, I skipped a lot of meals, and really found out what it means to be hungry. To be honest, this is the battle I am currently fighting, because you lose so much contact with what it means to be hungry at all. When you become morbidly obese, you have stopped listening to your body completely, and have no clue as to what to do about hunger. You are constantly hungry, because you are using hunger to substitute emotional needs on so many levels. I still want to eat when I am upset, just screw it all, I am gonna eat this or that, and feel full and comfy. Writing this today is helping me understand that I good bit better, and I am doubling my resolve to only eat when I feel  hunger. I know we have biological alarm clocks that work, and having skipped as many as three days without eating, I am coming to know what they are. I want to eat when my body tells me to eat, not my mind or my troubles. Everyone freaks out when I talk about it like that, but it has worked wonders for me. I ride my bike, and my body gets to where it is shaky and I feel weak, then I get juice and fruit in me and I feel fine. I want to know these signals loud and clear, and not just eat like I have been for the past few weeks, which is more like, oh, it is lunch, eat, oh, it is supper, eat.

I think the clearest path I am searching for is simple, but very hard to find. I am searching for the path of my body telling me when to eat, and it is very hard to do in this modern world. We are constantly bombarded with ads and billboards and bad advice about our diets, and we do not listen to our best informant, our body. I have no clue what it is like to have a real craving, misinformed or not, and I want to know what that feels like. I have been poor most of my life, so there was always this little idea in me that said, look, you don’t know where your next meal is coming from, so eat, and eat big now. I want to rid myself of that voice, because it is basically a falsehood and not the truth of the matter. Being poor makes it very hard to make good choices all the time, because if you have but one dollar for the day, do you eat an apple and a banana or do you eat a double cheeseburger? Now I know, after research and educating myself on the matter, it is the apple and the banana, but that is not what we learn in america. One more reason to not capitalize the country of the halfwit, the teachings of which I am desperately trying to overcome, before it kills me.