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!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Faggotry: Why do gay men make it difficult to be a gay man...


Everyone likes to look at beautiful things.  There is nothing wrong with that.  In gay society beauty seems a prerequisite.  But much like everything else, when excess exists, it can be quite a bane.  This concept is so ingrained that it is mentally debilitating to those that do not place themselves in the mold of beauty.  Those who do not think of themselves as beautiful, have quite the hurdle to jump.
 
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. There are so many forms that people find attractive. Even under those headings are many subheadings. For instance, I have a friend that likes bears… but not all bears… just the muscle bears, otters, and polar bears. I have other friends that like daddies, or chubs, or twinks. To each; their own! It is often hard to remember this when talking to our friends, and our friend says ohhh he is hot, and we look over and think… ummm not at all. We all have very different tastes. Can’t we agree to let people be attracted to what they want, even if we don’t share their opinion? Do we have to voice our opinion that their taste does not match our own? Really our friends think they know what we are attracted to already.
Diagram of common gay 'types'
  
We as gay men denigrate ourselves.  What sense does this make?  We denounce ourselves.  We have our own diction, Twink, Bear, Bottom, Daddy, Hawk.  These are all terms that I have heard used both positively and quite negatively.  These terms have been used with such disdain at times that I cringe.  They are just words, but they are empowered by their speaker.  Any of them can be praise, description, or insult given the tone, and general usage. 
 I do not understand why we as a community try to make others of our community feel bad about their personal views / lifestyle.  I would think we would be open to all lifestyles.  Instead I see songs like “This boy is a bottom” (which I do not condone, so I will not post a link to) or hear people talking about those two went home together, but they are both bottoms, so you know it was just angry scissoring.  Of course... then I imagine two men acting like angry cats in heat, spluttering, and aggressively rubbing their naked asses on one another, while growling, and neither being satisfied.  I am faced with such prejudice each time I turn around.  I know several gay racists, gynephobes, heterophobes, Republican-phobes, Christian-phobes, etc…  It just goes on and on.
When you take the stereotypical competitive aspect of men, and blend it with the stereotypical cattiness of women, you get a heinous thing indeed.  You get a stereotypical gay man.  When he sees competition for his prospective target one of two things happens.  He judges himself inferior to the competition and bows out of the contest, not necessarily gracefully.  Or he decides to ensure that this upstart will not win at any cost. 
Claws are sharpened, teeth are bared, and no holds are barred.  On one hand, it is more civilized than a physical confrontation, but the fact that it is filled with subversive commentary makes it far worse.  Rather than physically proving dominance, attacks are made at the psyche of the competition.  We all know emotional scars take much longer to heal.  It seems that the goal is to get the competition to believe that he is inferior and back off, as opposed to getting the target to believe that you are the superior choice.  It is a lot easier to make your competitor feel bad about them self, than it is to make your target see how great you are.  Again, I am not free of this activity.  I have often caught myself critiquing other people in order to feel superior. 
How can we turn this around?  How can we lift each other up, and be stronger as a community?  How can we support our brethren in their life choices while maintaining the integrity of our own?  How can we break through the stereotypes, and be a people?  How can we break the shame cycles, and cycles of abuse?

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Guilting the Lily


Guilt is a cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person realizes or believes—accurately or not—that he or she has compromised his or her own standards of conduct or has violated a moral standard, and bears significant responsibility for that violation.
 Things that make us feel guilt:
  • Lying
  • Flaking (Though apparently Seattleites are naturally immune to this one)
  • Our Bodies
  • Health
  • Wealth or lack there of
  • Family
  • Friends
  • Privilege
  • Race
  • Gender
  • Other
Each of these things at one point or another has caused those pangs of guilt to rise up in me.  Sometimes I quell those pangs with defiance and anger, and sometimes the pangs get to hang out for a while until something shiny distracts me.
 It is such an odd sensation when you are talking to someone and all of a sudden you realize that you are feeling guilty for something that you have not intentionally done.  Typically this is unintentional on the part of the other party as well.  Yet here you are feeling guilty for being born a certain way, or for having a loving family, or for having a stable job.  Usually this passes.  Sometimes it doesn’t and you grow to resent this person that always arouses feelings of guilt for being who you are.
 Other times we earn our guilt.  We lie to a friend about a prior engagement when really it is something we would rather do.  We assume that our little white lie (why’s it gotta be a white thing?) will somehow hurt their feelings less than the truth.  Then all of a sudden they are behind you in line at the bar…  Your stomach sinks…  You want to hide…  Instead you offer to buy them a drink (cursing under your breath that it is one less that you can have that night, because now you have to pay for one for them, and really why did they have to schedule their fucking birthday on the same night as the underwear party that you HAD to go to, and even though you could have made it to their dinner and still had plenty of time to make it to the underwear party, you didn’t want to have a heavy dinner and then run around half nekkid, so it is their fault that you had to lie to them anyway…) to help assuage your guilt.
 Not only do we have the pleasure of dealing with our own guilt… We also like to share guilt.  This usually takes the form of shaming people.
 
  • Can you believe her?  She has no shame.
  • He just shamelessly cruised that guy.
We make these statements judgmentally. Why?
Why should we have shame when it comes to attraction.  Really it only gets in our way, and why is it there?  What purpose does it serve?  Is there something wrong with being interested or attracted?
Of course there isn't. But there is a self-imposed sense of propriety that is a convenient mask for guilt. The guilt associated with sex and sexuality.
What is wrong with expressing interest... With showing desire? Nothing!
I leave my shame at home.  Really there was no room for it in my outfits.
“Funny thing about guilt: There's nothing so bad that you can't add a little guilt to it and make it worse; and there's nothing so good you can't add guilt to it and make it better.”
- Latter Days
 
As Latter Days eloquently reminds us… Guilt isn’t always bad.  I mean there is always Guilty Pleasures.  That glorious feeling you get when you are doing something wrong that is oh so right.  You know what I am talking about
  • Public Sex
  • Free Balling/Lipping
  • Telling children that Santa isn’t real.
  • Eating a glob of mayo out of the jar with your finger.
  • Reading the Missed Connections on Craigslist
I mean…  It is awesome to waste an afternoon at home even though you should be productive.  It is even better to do it in your underwear…
while eating a pizza…
and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s…
            and sexting an ex that you no longer care about…
                        and listening to Call Me Maybe
or your Spice Girls album.
I had a galfriend while I was in the Navy that would always wear sexy lingerie under her uniforms.  It helped her feel like a woman, and also it felt a little naughty to her.  I also had a guyfriend that wore panties under his boxers in the navy.  I always kept my toenails painted in uniform.  I still do, but it is much less of a statement now.
These little acts of social defiance are all guilty pleasures.  Taking things we are supposed to feel bad about, and turning them into a thing of joy.  Each of these is a personal victory over the human condition, and a step in the right direction toward true self acceptance, and love.
What about you?  What are your guilty pleasures?  Leave me a comment and let me know.