Friday, April 20, 2018

Tech Addiction: We Are The Flies In The World Wide Web



            Technological advances were meant to make our lives easier and to make us move through the world more efficiently.  In some ways these advances have accomplished this goal.  We are carrying tiny computers with us at all times, we can use the internet to easily get directions, check account balances, and we have the wealth of the world’s knowledge at our fingertips.  One could argue that we have become rather self-sufficient, but truly we have become tech reliant.  Our tool has become a crutch and is ruining our ability to socialize.

            For more than 20 years experts have hemmed and hawed over whether internet addiction is an issue or not.  They voiced concerns about internet usage soon after it became a household standard.  Internet Addiction was first reviewed by the American Psychological Association in 1996 (Gerhart, 2017) and they decided that there was no apparent issue.  Seven years later in 2003, New Zealanders chimed in with “some psychologists opposed the idea that caution was called for in the area of on-line behavior” (Carlsson, 2003). The concern was there but they were still not willing to raise a red flag.  As of 2017, “the American Psychological Association (APA) has reserved judgment on the clinical diagnosis of technology addiction” (Gerhart, 2017 pg. 180).  Over two decades of observations and discussions have occured but no decision or action plan has been made.
            Who is it then that will raise a red flag?  Former executives of Facebook and Google will.  This year, 2018, they created The Center for Humane Technology (Langone, 2018).  The very designers of our technological prison are “alarmed over the ill effects of social networks and smartphones, [and] are banding together to challenge the companies that they helped build” (Bowles, 2018).  These former executives are openly discussing how they designed our obsessions to entice and enthrall us.  Robert McNamee, an early Facebook investor notes that “Facebook appeals to your lizard brain – primarily fear and anger [coupled] with smartphones, they’ve got you for every waking moment” (Bowles, 2018).  These creators are trying to correct their wrongs.  They are actively fighting back against their creation.  I fear we may have become too entangled in the World Wide Web to escape.
One area where we personally see a major shift in our culture is dating.  In the past we would meet a romantic/sexual partner by introduction from a friend or happenstance encounter in a social setting.  Along came internet dating with Match.com arriving in 1995.  Then Grindr was released in 2009 followed by Tinder in 2012 and a slew of other geolocational social networking apps (further referred to as the apps).  The apps brought us lists of potential partners X feet away.  They displayed profiles so that we could find common interest.  This should have been an awesome breakthrough for daters. Sadly, it just became a tool for haters.  People were now just a list of stats, a photo (hopefully), and maybe a short resume.  We no longer saw personality.  We no longer saw people.  We saw checklists.  The worst part is there are hundreds of headshots at our fingertips.  There is no reason to settle for one that doesn’t check all of our boxes.  Plot twist:  No one is supposed to check all of our boxes.  We miss out on opportunities because on paper, pardon me, on screen this person does not meet our unachievable criteria.
A further issue with the use of geolocational social networking apps is people defaulting to them.  Walk into any bar and look at the staggering number of people who are logged into dating apps.  I have watched time and time again when a friend sees an attractive potential mate in a public space, the first thing they do is fire up the apps.  They perform reconnaissance to find a reason to not engage.  “He’s interested in hiking/dogs/opera…  I can’t talk to him.”  The reality with this is the sheer number of people I have seen on the apps that are into hiking, camping, and travelling should indicate that there is no one in cities… ever.  We took a tool that should have made our dating lives easier and turned it into a method to maintain our isolation.  We utilize the wealth of information at our fingertips to close doors.  We walk away from potential matches based solely on provided metrics. 
We are eschewing genuine, intimate connections in favor of digital ones.  That is okay though, because we have thousands of friends on Facebook and Instagram.  Robin Dunbar tells us about how that is simply not true and concludes that humans “cannot maintain many more than 150 meaningful relationships” (Bennett, 2013) with any real consistency.  Social networks make us feel like this limit doesn’t exist.  It lets us feel like we are participating in our idols’ lives.  We rejoice that our favorite Instagram personality just got a new dog.  We share in their joy, just like the rest of their 50,000 followers.  Our endorphins flood if one of our celebrities likes our comment.  We feel a personal connection even though we are not even a blip on the radar.
Locations like public spaces, restaurants, and bars used to be a haven of social interaction.  Now they are a sea of cellphone screens.  People taking photos of their food are the least offensive.  At least the phone sometimes gets put away after that perfect Instagram photo is captured.  Watching a group of friends sitting or standing around a table all staring at their respective screens evokes such a profound sadness in me.  I watch people foregoing personal interactions with the people we are spending our time with to engage in online actions.  Really who are we spending our time with at that point?
This past winter, my sister-in-law was visiting me in New York City from her home in Las Vegas.  We had a snow storm and had the joy of walking through Central Park in the snow.  We were both shocked by the volume of people experiencing the park with a screen between them and the scenery.  Some were video streaming their experience.  Others were texting or updating Facebook or posting to Instagram.  I have observed the same phenomena at concerts.  People are spending the entire event Snapchatting, Facebooking or just videoing what’s going on in front of them.  I understand the desire to capture and share our experiences, but when did we stop actively living our experiences?
Recording the world around us has helped us in some ways.  Citizen Journalists, pronounced bystanders, are capturing all sorts of occurrences, and spreading them worldwide in a matter of seconds.  “Social media activism performed via social networking sites has emerged one of the most significant and newest participation channels in [social] movements” (Ravanoğlu Yilmaz, 2017).  We get to see social injustices practically in real time.  As awesome as this phenomenon is, it is also a double-edged sword.  Things are posted and shared without media bias, but also without media credentials.  These postings lack background information typically provided by reporters and professional credibility yet reach a wide audience in record time. 
The power of this reach is reinforced by the fear and anger component of Facebook.  Masses are incensed instantaneously and a call to arms is created.  The beauty of this is the speed in which rallies and protests can be organized and orchestrated.  The flipside of this is “the participants who are involved in a social or political movement virtually and with a minimum personal effort to support it” (Ravanoğlu Yilmaz, 2017).  These participants are “signing e- petitions, joining social networking sites’ groups, publishing and sharing campaign content, participating in short–term boycotts and taking part in online discussions on politics” (Ravanoğlu Yilmaz, 2017) and feeling sufficiently vindicated in their ‘action’ over the injustice du jour.  The problem here is that they are not taking any real action.  They are alleviating any sense of responsibility that they may have had and placating their outrage and indignance without any real effort or consequence. 
Cyber skeptical scholars state, “the Internet has a destructive influence on civic engagement; because it is a tool mainly used for entertainment purposes” and it “plays [a]n important role in decreasing the opportunities for social interaction between people” (Ravanoğlu Yilmaz, 2017).  We are choosing to devote our time and energy to the internet and our devices.  Our research is online instead of in person.  Forums or subreddits have taken the place of actual discussions.  We are disengaging from our vibrant physical community in favor of a virtual one.

            As a society, we are living in a great and marvelous time.  We have so many tools at our disposal, and unprecedented opportunity for connection around the globe.  We aren’t taking advantage of this opportunity.  Our addiction to mobile technology and social media, as recognized by its creators, is shutting more doors than it is opening.  We are no longer dating; we are performing online scavenger hunts.  We aren’t conversing with one another; we’re chatting and texting.  We can’t even disconnect from our tech long enough to enjoy a meal, a walk, or a concert.  It is imperative that we document every aspect of our lives and broadcast it to our followers.  We raise our virtual voice against injustice and then go back to our memes and cat videos. 
Our tools have become crutches and we are fully entangled in the world wide web.  Can we break these strands that hold us?  Can we find a balance?  Is there a way to utilize these tools without becoming beholden?  If we can cut free it will be hard.  I know I’m asking a lot of you.  I’m asking for you to put down your device and interact with me.  I don’t know if we’re too far gone.  I do know that I am going to close this laptop and go talk to a stranger… right after I check my Instagram.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The Stonewall Inn: Where History Meets The Neighbors.

How does a local bar create a movement?  What happens to that bar after said movement gains a life of its own? The historic Stonewall Inn in New York City answers these questions.  As a meeting place for the most marginalized members of the queer community, Stonewall was the stage for the 1969 riots where the queer community raised a collective voice against police brutality, and mistreatment.  This voice sang out and spawned activist groups spanning every major US City as well as several other countries and led to the first Pride Parade in 1970.  From its past as a Mafia owned establishment to its present as a privately owned, unassuming neighborhood bar, Stonewall is a living piece of LGBTQ history.
Image result for stonewall Inn
The Stonewall Inn
During the late 60’s and early 70’s gay life was very prescriptive.  Homosexuality was classified as a mental illness and in most parts of the country it was illegal to be gay.  It was common to run photos of suspected homosexuals in the paper for public shaming.  There were no civil protections in place, and gays and lesbians could lose their jobs, their homes, and their families if they were forced out of the closet.  This led to an uncompromising “uniform” among gay men, who were all to look like the Castro Clones (i.e. Freddy Mercury) and gay women were supposed to look like respectable housewives.  Any deviation from this look would lead to life as a social pariah at best.  There were no truly established gay bars, but there were private clubs like the Stonewall Inn, which was run by a mob family.  Those that did attend were forced to submit bribes and deal with blackmail and extortion.  Even with all of that the Stonewall was a haven.  It was known as “the” gay bar in New York City.
Private clubs were subject to frequent police raids.  Typically, the clubs were bribing the police to get a warning prior to the raid, so that they could minimize the impact on their business.  This was not the case in the fateful raid of Stonewall on June 28, 1969.  The club had no warning, and was invaded by a cadre of police officers, who attempted to corral the patrons.  The men were lined up and required to present identification.  Anyone dressed like a woman was taken to a restroom by a female officer and forced to prove their biological sex.  This raid drew a crowd outside from other residents of Greenwich Village and took a few errant turns from the normal raid.  Protests erupted.  Violence ensued.  The gays and the drag queens fought back against the police and the riots continued for the next few days. 
Image result for peter hujar stonewall
Photo by Peter Hujar
A year after this riot there was a commemorative march which became the first Pride Parade.  It started as people remembering what their fellow community members stood up for.  It evolved into a rally cry across the country for queer activists to take to the streets.  Within a few years, every major city in the United States had their own Pride Parade, many of which (Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and New York City to name a few) are scheduled for the last weekend in June to commemorate the evening at Stonewall.  Since then Pride has shifted to meet the demands of the community at any given time, from the AIDS Crisis to Marriage Equality and many other issues in between.  It still hearkens back to a time when the patrons at a local club stood up and refused to be marginalized.
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NYC Pride Parade
After the riots, The Stonewall Inn was forced to close.  Since then the physical establishment has changed many times.  The bar was sold, and the property was broken into parcels.  What was once the main bar of the Stonewall Inn, became several iterations of different eating establishments and is currently a nail salon.  Private owners bought half of the property and reopened Stonewall in the 1990’s and returned to its namesake of The Stonewall Inn in 2007.  According to Peggy, one of the bartenders there, the owners are planning on eventually buying out the nail salon next door and returning the Stonewall Inn to its former size.
Image result for stonewall inn interior
Interior of Stonewall
At a glance, there is nothing particularly spectacular about the interior of the bar.  The wood used in the décor is warm and inviting, but not particularly pristine or stylish.  On the main level there is a pool table, a tiny stage and a few bar tables.  There are some commemorative t-shirts posted above the bar that are for sale.  Upstairs is a larger stage and a second bar that is used for various shows.  When you look a little deeper the history and uniqueness start to surface.  On the main floor a “Urinal Room” and “Private Stall” serve as the restrooms for patrons.  There are newspaper clippings from the times of the riots posted on the walls.  There are original signs of “This is a Raided Premises” from the NYPD visible.  There is a recounting of the historic evening by one of the patrons who lived through that fateful raid.  Peggy mentioned that he is in his 70’s and still comes into the bar every now and again to grab a beer.
The history of the Stonewall Inn calls to people who have studied the queer civil rights movement.  Jason, a dear gay friend of mine with a degree in History, heard that call.  When he visited me from Seattle, one of his definite to do list items was to see Stonewall.  He was shocked by the fact that a place so steeped in historical significance maintained such a low-key atmosphere.  It was early afternoon on a Tuesday when Jason and I had the opportunity to chat with the bartender, Peggy.  He asked her what it was like to work in such a monumental place.  Her response was that most days it was just like working any other job.  Occasionally she would encounter people that lauded over the historical significance.  Those occasions served as a reminder to her of the weight of the venue.  We talked to her about the various events, marches and rallies that still start there, all the while enjoying two for one happy hour cocktails.  There was a visitor from Sevilla, Spain who had a friend translate “Thank you Stonewall for paving the way” into English so that he could say that to the bartender.  A couple of early twenties came in and played a few games of pool.  We observed an after-work crowd come in wearing shirts and ties.  We witnessed people taking photos of the sign out front and venturing in to read a few of the newspaper clippings on the wall, and then turn around and leave.  They saw the monumental location and that completed their visit.  We delighted in seeing gay men beside lesbians (which is surprisingly uncommon in most queer bars) and their heterosexual friends all coming together in a communal establishment.  Most of these interactions are nothing even remotely out of the ordinary in a neighborhood gay bar even though this is a place of utter historic significance for the patrons within.

As I am writing this, I am sitting at the bar in the Stonewall Inn.  I feel the weight of history within these walls.  At the same time, I feel the comfort and camaraderie of the neighborhood vibe of this bar.  If these walls could talk, what stories they would have!  Stories of a historical uprising would be balanced with stories of first dates.  Stories of drunken Monday nights playing Drag Bingo would be paired with stories of after work happy hours.  Stories from bartenders who have had bland days would be matched with stories of visitors in tears at the monumental nature of the birthplace of Pride.  The Stonewall Inn is living history juxtaposed with mundane neighborhood appeal.  Come in for history and stay for a two for one happy hour drink with friends you’ve yet to meet.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Heroin... nah, just Social Media.

Had I been born 5-10 years later than I was, then perhaps I would have been more ingrained with the social media culture.  I would have curated my body and my life to gain likes.  Of course, that would also mean that my late teen years and early 20's would be captured in digital.  There are two sides to everything, I guess.

Instagram

I found myself the other day lamenting that I had not received much buzz on Instagram lately, and I thought that I had better post some more photos.  I looked through the recent photos I had taken on my phone and decided that none of them were particularly good enough to garner the likes I was craving.  Let's make no mistakes, I was definitely craving those likes.  I liked to think that I was above all of that, but in honesty I am not.  I know that the things posted that gather the most attention are food, bodies, and pets.  I decided on a photo of my cat.  I love him dearly, and he is adorable, so it scratches the itch.  The problem here is that I wasn't posting something I liked because I wanted to share a glimpse of my life.  I was solely posting something to get attention.  Granted IG is a tool, and you can use it however you feel like it.  I do not think there is a wrong way to use it.  I just felt cheapened by what I was doing.

I have also changed my username on IG countless times (current one).  I want something that is creative and witty, something that expresses who I am, something that stands out, but doesn't limit my appeal.  I want the perfect, unique gem that will make people like me.  In fairness to myself, I have the best self esteem I have ever had in my life currently.  That does not stop me from wanting more.  That would be like a rich person declining money because they have enough of it...

One of the other issues that I have with Instagram is the faux familiarity that I gain for the people that I follow.  I develop an attachment to this person I have never met.  I feel like I know them.  I know their life.  I know what they are trying to accomplish.  I celebrate their successes with them.  I commiserate in their setbacks.  I am so happy that they nailed that yoga pose, made it to Thailand, beat their own PR at crossfit.  I forget that this person has no idea who I am.  I forget that I only followed this person because they posted an underwear shot and looked like I can never look.  I forget that I have never met this person, and likely never will.  Plot twist:  Since moving to NYC, I have actually met, or at the very least seen in public, several of these people.  Let me tell you, that is a great way to fuel your insecurities.  When you have convinced yourself that these people only exist in some far off fantasy land, and that they are not real, you have comfort.  Then you end up sitting next to one at brunch and chatting about mundane worldly things.  It shatters the illusion.  It brings them out of the internet and into the flesh.  It then makes you reevaluate yourself, and unjustly compare yourself to this fantasy person in the flesh.  Then they start talking about their ex, RandomHOTTY486 on IG, and of course you know all about the breakup because you have followed both of them for years.  You hear that RandomHotty486 left them for some new guy, who you know is DaddyPaysBoysBills15 on IG.  You remain attentive and pretend like you know nothing about this person.  In truth, you don't know anything about this person, but you do know EVERYTHING about this persona.  It's such a bizarre situation to be in.

Facebook

This one will be quick.  When I scroll through FB, I am either barraged with people posting grandiose statements aimed at their personal echo chamber, or statements so riddled with social blunders, and outright bigoted commentary, that I find myself getting frustrated.  I know how fruitless it is to try to involve myself in either of these scenarios, so I scroll past.  Really FB has devolved into the medium that a few friends tag me in memes.

Gruffler

For January of this year, some friends and I deleted our gay dating/hookup apps. One friend did so in an attempt to force himself to connect with people in the real world.  Another did it in order to budget his time in existing relationships versus always looking for the next or most convenient thing.  My reasons were a little different.  I do not like the offerings from those services truth be told.  I am not interested in sex from a vending machine.  I want to know something about a person, before I shed my skin.  I view the apps as an electronic extension of the bars.  I am more or less alone in that viewpoint.  So then I find myself starting conversations that quickly devolve into photo exchanges and then drift back to the obscurity of the internet.  To say that I find that unfulfilling would be a gross understatement.  The saddest part is that every woof, every new message, every unlocked album still floods me with validation.  Someone likes me.  Someone thinks I am sexy.  Some random stranger approves of me.  Then there is the minimal 'interaction' followed by the ghosting, which just makes the entirety of the encounters that much emptier and meaninglesser.  I have met some great people through the apps, and am still friends with a few of them.  Those gems are a minuscule percentage though.

I have watched several of my friends at a bar that see a man that they find attractive and then immediately fire up Gruffler to see if he is on there.  If he is, then they find something in his profile to dismiss themselves with.  If he is not then they decide he is either a weirdo, or straight.  It doesn't matter that he is wearing a hot pink Cum Dumpster crop top.  He is obviously straight.  I have also received a message while I was at a bar, from someone else at the same bar.  The message was asking me if I was at the bar.  When I replied that I was, the guy mentioned that he was also at the bar and that he saw me.  I put my phone away and walked around the bar until I found him, and I said hello. He was terrified.  He had no idea how to interact with a human without the aid of wifi and a keyboard.

I also get super irritated when I am out with friends for a night on the town and every time I look over, they are on the apps trolling for sex.  (I won't even mention the times that I spotted a date that was on the apps...)  Personally I do not understand this.  To me, there is a whole room full of potential people to interact with.  Talk to someone.  Flirt with someone.  Compliment a stranger on their whatever.  I know it may not lead to that exciting tryst with ThoTMasc4MascIhaTemyselFF24, but you might actually make a connection.  The conversation may not go anywhere.  The interaction may not go anywhere.  You might get embarrassed.  He might be with his boyfriend.  NONE of that matters.  The potential connection is all that matters.  Interacting with another soul is what matters.

Hypocrisy

I realize fully that I am writing a blog about the ills of seeking likes and that I will be posting it to my Instagram and my Facebook.  I realize that this is exactly the type of behavior that I am decrying in this post.  Even though I recognize the ills of this system, I am still a participant.  I can not help myself.  I may want to sanctimoniously rise above it all, but in honesty I still crave the attention.  I love the attention.  I love the Nightlife... I want to Boogie... On the Disco ro-ound.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Body... Ody... Ody... Part Duex

So I have been fighting with my fitness, just like almost everyone else.  I figured I would post year in review results.  Normally I would just post them directly to facebook, but I do not want to deal with people having the ability to flag them as inappropriate.

I think in feb of 2014 when the first set of photos is from, I was probably around 275 lbs. (Pardon the grainy self phone pics.)
  

In feb 2015 I am currently at 247 lbs.
 


The current photos are from an intimates shoot I did with Dan.  http://www.danieljeffreyphotography.com/  I was so nervous to do that shoot.  Taking off my clothing as a guy to expose my body to the judgment of someone else is not something I do lightly.  Dan put me at ease, and was so professional and nonchalant about the whole thing that now I am looking forward to another shoot (probably in the fall).

The changes in my body are almost entirely from lifting heavy weights.  My results are readily apparent with strength increases, and endurance increases, but my body is not dramatically changing shape anymore.  At least not in my eyes. People keep telling me how different I look, but I have a hard time seeing it.

I had been haphazardly monitoring, and adjusting my diet eating habits, but I would always find a reason or an excuse to cheat more than I should.  Statements like... But I am soo good everywhere else that a little sugar in my coffee is fine.  (4 cups of coffee, and 12 tablespoons of sugar later...  Am I really being good at all?) Reward eating is terrible for me.

To be fair to myself... After moving into a house with my new roomie:
I cut out fast food entirely.
I have been bringing my own breakfast, lunches, and snacks (fruit) to work, and mostly making dinner at home.
I have limited my liquor to no more than one night a week.
I will still have a glass of wine occasionally on other nights.
I drink at least a gallon of water a day.

I have tasted success with the gym, thanks in large part to my gym buddy.  That is why I am redoubling my efforts at healthy purposeful eating, and making sure that I am putting the right things in my body.  I do not have the luxury of being lax in what I am using to fuel my body.  My metabolism is like a toddler.  It has no idea what it needs, but will scream loudly for what it wants.  I am shifting into parent mode.  I will consume what I need.  What I want will take a backseat to that.  I still plan on allowing myself treats now and again, but I plan on shifting that to more of a once a month type basis, instead of once a week.

It is hard.

It is really hard.

It is worth it!

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Body... Ody... Ody...

This blog entry is about my body.  There will be photos of me in my underwear.  If that offends you please do not read further.  If that excites you, why haven’t you hit on me yet?

I will also preface this entry with the statement that it is very difficult for me to give myself praise.  It is much easier for me to point out my own faults.  I think that holds true for most of us.

I also think most of us have had many a toxic session while looking at the mirror.  I know, I have beaten myself up with a pint of Ben & Jerry’s a time or two.  I have battled with my weight, and body shape for as long as I can remember.  Really though that should be stated, I have battled with accepting my body for as long as I can remember.  (In fairness and full disclosure etc…  I came to accept my body, long before I put things in motion to change it.)

Anyway, enough of the negative, let’s get onto what I intended to write about.  About 18 months ago, I asked a friend to help teach me how to work out.  We went to dinner and discussed gym habits, and eating habits, and life habits, and all kinds of other stuff.  I told myself, I was going to put all of this new knowledge to use.  I was so excited.  I was going to use that gym membership that had been lying dormant (but still being paid for) again. 

One week passed.  I hadn't had time to go to the gym, because I was busy. 
Two weeks passed.  I still hadn't had time.  Now I was getting mad at myself for wasting my friend’s time.
One month passed.  I just gave up, and figured I would try again later.

Around May of this year (2014), I went to brunch with the same friend I had asked for help.  The topic shifted to health and the gym.  I mentioned my earlier failure, and talked about the fact that I felt lost in the gym, because I felt like the fat kid that didn’t belong there.  I felt like everyone would be looking at me and judging me.  I felt like everyone would be wondering what the fuck I was doing there.  I felt like everyone would be cranky that I was just ‘playing’ with the weights and machines that they needed to use. 

I needed support.  I needed a gym buddy that knew what they were doing.  My friend volunteered to help me.  He told me when he worked out, and to just show up and he would work with me.  Again I was stoked!  I was about to change my life.

The next day…  I went into work early to make sure I would be home in time for the gym.  So then I got home early, and promptly fell asleep.  I woke up about 15 minutes after I was already supposed to be at the gym.  I was furious at myself.  I had broken my word.  I was wasting the time of someone that offered to help me.  I had failed yet again.

I sent him a message apologizing, and he responded almost immediately with “I’ll be here for another 45 minutes or so.  Just come join me now.”  I threw my clothes on and was out the door.  Near the end of that week, he asked me to promise him 1 month in the gym, which I gladly did.

We worked out together for about 3 weeks when he mentioned he had found this 12 week program online that he wanted to do.  I was intimidated, but I agreed.  We just finished week 12/12 and are currently taking a week off before we start the program over again.  The 12 week cycle consists of 63 separate gym session.  Of those I missed 3.  So I had a 95% attendance.  (I even did one of the days without him, which filled me with pride.)  

I did not really adjust my food consumption that much, so my results are from just heavy lifting, with the dancing I do as cardio.  

I took pictures at the start (269 pounds), after week 6 (263 pounds), and after week 12 (255 pounds).  Here they are:
Front:

Start
Week 6
Week 12


Profile:
Start
Week 6
Week 12





















Back:
Start
Week 6
Week 12





















Things I have discovered:
  • I am an extrovert, and need to do things with other people.
  • There are days at the gym, when I have NO desire to lift that damned thing even one more time.
  • Pull Ups are from the devil.
  • Most people in the gym are there to do their own thing.  They’re not paying you any mind.  (If anything they are self-centered and unaware that you exist)
  • Personal trainers make their clients do some bizarre shit.

Messages for you, dear reader:
  • If you want to lift weights.  Do it!
  • If you need someone to do it with you, that’s okay.
  • If you can do it on your own… Do it!
  • If you are afraid of what others are thinking about you…  Don’t be.
  • Perseverance works.
  • Weight training is just like learning any other skill.  You have to do homework, and spend time figuring out how and what to do.  You are not expected to be perfect from day 1 (or ever).
I will tell you this:  If I can do this, so can you.  Also, I am starting a new 12 week cycle on Monday Sept 29th.  

If you want the workout that we were using it is here: Buff Dudes 12 Week Plan  





Monday, April 28, 2014

You think that’s bad…?

I understand that we all try to commiserate, and relate to what each other are saying.  I really do.  It is not a bad thing for someone to note that their weight is higher than mine.  It is more that if I ever mention something about my weight to one friend, they bring up that they are heavier than I am, etc.  If I mention anything to a different about my weight he launches into kombucha and ginger, and weird dietary world.  If I mention anything to other friends they try to tell me I am beautiful.  Newsflash…  If I say I am overweight, or heavier than I want to be, I am not saying I am ugly.  I am also not looking for anyone to validate me.

This commiseration is problematic.  It makes me feel like I can not comment on my weight because someone’s is higher than mine, and that if I mention anything about it, I am somehow slighting or insulting them. Which I understand is STUPID.  Also everyone and their cousin has some miracle weight loss plan that is for sure to work.  I know my body, and I know that I eat crap food more often than I should, I drink more often than I should, and I exercise less often than I should.  If I rebalance all of that, my weight goes down.

I get frustrated, because I feel like I can't talk about things without some sort of competition.  I realize the 'competition' I am feeling is really commiseration.  Still it challenges me, because I find myself limiting my topics.

If I chat about my income, I am reminded that I make more than some around me, or that others are paying off student loans, or how hard it must be to not have dual income/no kids/professional wages.

If I chat about dance, I am reminded of other people's hardship with dance, or how they couldn’t possibly do what I do…  I must have been born with special talents.

If I chat about relationship issues, I am reminded that those around me are also single, or have been in sexless relationships, or have a string of abusive relationships, or whatever.

I find myself wondering why the whole world is in competition for who is the biggest victim, and why people try to make others feel bad for any accomplishment, or advantage they have in life. I realize that they are not consciously attempting to do that, but still.

Long story short... I do not want to be guarded with close friends.  I do not want to have to watch what I say around those that I consider my family.  So when I do find myself guarding my words around those I hold dear, it makes me irritable.


“My family dog passed away…”

    ‘You think that’s bad…’

         “Yes, Asshole, I do!”

Friday, January 31, 2014

If you are a 9; don’t tell a 4 to find their ‘Inner Beauty’ unless you are willing to ask them out…

I have seen and read a lot of articles on the topics of relationships, and self worth etc.   The funny thing about them is that they are often times a ‘Model’ writing to a Plain Jane or Average Joe.  It is great to tell PJ or AJ that they are beautiful, and that if they find their self worth then they will be happy, and will find the motivation to attend yoga six times a week, and eat better, and wear that daring date outfit.  If they turn around and ask you on a date, what are you going to say?

On the one hand, there is some truth to that.  When you are in that place of self loathing, you do not feel like you deserve to be loved, or to be improved.  You feel like you are not worth taking up a space in that yoga class.  You feel like the people at the gym will openly harass you for being inadequate.  You feel like that attractive person could not possibly like you, and worse that if you do talk to them they will sneer, and say vicious and vile things (about you) to you.  So you reject yourself in advance for these external influences.  Because at least you will be polite about your rejection… 

If you are anything like me, you are not at all polite about that rejection.  The things I say to myself behind the closed doors of my mind are some of the most reprehensible words that could ever be said from one human to another.  Luckily though, most of us reserve that level of vitriol for our own personal destruction.  We would never dream of saying those things to another person.  Even if the most hideous troglodyte hits on me at the bar, the worst I say, is ‘Thank you, but I’m not interested.”

Now… A lot of this might look like I am just pointing out weight or physical fitness as factors of beauty that I am discussing.  That is not the case.  When we look at another person we assess their everything.  We assess how they put their outfit together, how they applied (or didn’t) their makeup, how they entered the venue, and how they move through it, and interact with it.  Granted, much of this is body language driven, as opposed to conscious observation.  Regardless, someone can be sublimely physically attractive, and then you see they are a total douche to the waiter…  Alternately, AJ or PJ can lightly touch your arm to grab your attention and send shivers down your spine.

What is the difference between cute and pretty?

What is the difference between pretty and sexy?

What is the difference between sexy and sultry?

The answer to all of these is style and demeanor.  Luckily we control both of these things, as they pertain to our lives.  We choose what we are putting on our body, and how we are presenting it to the world.  I’m not saying you should be wearing designer labels, and expensive clothing, or that you should always be dressed to the nines…  I’m saying… if you have an article of clothing that makes you feel bad about yourself… Throw it the fuck away… If you want to feel bad about yourself, you do not need an uppity dishrag helping you to do so.  Have your hair done the way you want it done.  Wear clothing that suits your shape, and your body.  Get that piercing or tattoo, you are afraid people will judge you for.  Let me say… you are judging yourself for it way more than anyone else will.  You will find that when you are truly happy in your own skin/look, that you will radiate a confidence that is beyond reproach.  People will not question your choices, because they will fit the whole package.  What they will see is you.  Some may not like it.  That is okay.  There are WAY too many people on this earth to be concerned with those opinions.

This leads me to my last little bit of ramble.  A very wise person once told me that if you make eye contact with someone twice, in a short period of time, there is a meaningful interaction to be had there.  Three times… there is a connection.  So I challenge you…

If you find someone attractive… talk to them.  Say hello.

It sounds so simple… Because it is!