Category Archives: Advice Column

Serious Conversation

I’m coming up on my one year anniversary of weight loss surgery on the 12th.  I’ll do a blog post about the stats with that on the 11th.

Today’s post is about a side effect, or a cause, or a redirection maybe, of addiction.  It’s about alcohol.

Last night, I got slurred stupid off of two cups of wine.  I’m not going to lie—they were not small cups either.  The apples didn’t help much, except as maybe a food source.  I don’t have an excuse or a reason for drinking last night other than it felt good and I wanted it.

Before surgery, I might have gone through a six pack of beer in a few days.  It tasted good and I enjoyed the relaxed feeling that came from it and stayed with me.  I wasn’t chasing demons or anything like that, not like what I was doing when I was in my earlier 20’s.  There were days I still wanted to get smashed to the point of being sick, but that wasn’t for any of the reasons that I’ve heard people say before.  I also wasn’t one who thought drinking before noon was cool, although I spent much of my 23rd and 24th years of life showing up for work hungover.  Fun, right?  Not really, but it happened.  Moving on.

After surgery…  I’m not even sure where to start.  One drink can either hit you like a ton of bricks within minutes or several hours later, but you feel it in different way than before.

Food and eating it can be an addiction.  Please don’t tell me it can’t be; a recovering foodie here, so I know.  It’s one of the few used substances that is completely accessible in so many different forms and companies make billions of dollars to create food that makes us want to eat it—constantly.  All because without food, we don’t survive very long.

For me, food was a comfort.  I didn’t know how to work through feelings growing up.  I didn’t care a lot of the times, and we moved around so much as kids that keeping friends wasn’t the easiest thing to do.  Every year, new school, new people to meet, etc., until 6th grade, and then I was the weird kid.  Not really going to get into that too much; I’ll save that for therapy.  But, hey, excuses right?

I’ve always been fat and have always turned to not-so-great food choices.  When I left home a month before my 18th birthday, I started drinking.  It didn’t replace food, but it become something that went with food and made me feel good.  Sometimes, it was the only thing that helped me get from day to day, just numb enough that I could over look problems but not so numb I couldn’t function.

After surgery, I took a shot for New Year’s Eve.  I was fine.  I made it most of the way through January without drinking; had a sip at dinner and almost didn’t eat anything because I was full.  Tiny stomach equals not much room for things.  Went another month and some change and had a beer with a friend.  Started drinking beers once every few weeks and gradually increased the intake, until Thanksgiving this past week, with a beer before noon and then three glasses of wine in about three hours.  I was floating and happy and I was pushing my limits.  I’d been pushing my limits all year long actually.

Why so much (Because…reasons)?

Didn’t I eat (Yes, and Ray had to take my plate from me because I’m used to eating a lot at Thanksgiving; some habits never stop being habits)?

Am I depressed (With work, yes; life in general, no.  I just completed a first draft of my next book; who would be upset with that)?

Demons finally catching up to me (Maybe)?

News flash:  Alcohol, like food, is addictive.  When you have surgery, what they tell you is that you should avoid alcohol, at least for the first year.  Well, there’s a good reason for that:  You just had surgery to help curb one addiction, they didn’t want you needing to cope with another!

It’s damn hard getting past one addiction when all I really want right now is to take a bite out of a Red Robin cheeseburger without being full off that one bite, or to have a slice of cheesecake without getting the sugar shakes and needing to fall asleep as soon as possible because my body can’t deal with the sugar content.  That last happened with a slice of apple pie last week; wasn’t expecting it, but boy was I happy I was at home.

This surgery thing is not easy, and there are plenty of ways to still screw up.  But I wouldn’t make a different decision because losing what I have has let me do so much more with my life and with my wife.

So, I just admitted I have a problem.  Now what?

Listening to:  My writing mix

Reading:  Blood Bound by Patricia Briggs and Before the Devil Breaks You by Libba Bray

Quote of the Day:  Hold yourself responsible for a higher standard than anybody expects of you. Never excuse yourself.” ― Henry Ward Beecher 

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Filed under Advice Column, Weightloss

Just because you can…

…Doesn’t mean you should.

I’ve referring to borrowing books, not something tragic, like opening my mouth to someone who doesn’t need to know what’s really going on and just dropping all my emotional baggage onto them.

No, I’m talking about borrowing audiobooks and books fitting the reader’s state of mind.

A couple weeks ago, I borrowed Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert from Overdrive.  I put it on my TBR and everything, hoping to get to it.  I haven’t.  In 11 days, I haven’t picked it and up and now that I can, I don’t want to.  The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, same thing.  I also have a few physical books that I want to read but I’m just not in the mood to read them.

Eat Pray Love I have read a few times over the years.  I’m not in a truly dark place in my life now, but I think I want to make notes in my copy of the book so I’m holding off on that one until next year.  The Girl on the Train may also wait, since I own a copy of that book too.

Physical book wise, last night, I had a book picked out and was going to start it after reading a few graphic novels.  Something happened between me reading them and the other book.  When I went to go pick it up, I couldn’t crack the cover, metaphorically speaking.  I just wasn’t interested in it at that point.

I wanted dark.  I didn’t want light and fluffy.  I wanted dark reading.  I had quite a few books that fit that bill.  Thankfully, the one I picked up, I haven’t really wanted to put down but had to so I could get work done.

Whether my book choices are trying to help me gear up for the last quarter of my NaNoWriMo novel or not, I’m starting to be very particular about the books I start and those I don’t.

All books are meant to be read from a place of love because all books carry something for the reader.  The string of Meh books I’ve had lately, I’ve come to understand I don’t have to finish the books I don’t connect with because there are books, like You’re Never Weird on the Internet (almost) by Felicia Day or History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera, that deserve more of my attention.  I took things from those books (go get it because you’ve got this!  And being said after someone dies is okay; the destructive behavior afterwards, no so much) where the Meh books just sort of where a “What not to write” warning.

Longer post than I meant it to be, but I have to do this with real life, too.  Being stuck where I am not happy isn’t good for me or those around me.  Writing for NaNoWriMo helped me pull out some tools and I’m ready to get back on the saddle and finish other books outside of just the book this month, starting with Shadow.

Happy Friday folks.

Listening to:  Little Ones by Highly Suspect.  It’s not been on repeat all day today so that’s a plus.

Reading:  The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden.  Holy *&^%.  I’m not far into it, but it makes me want to grab a warm beverage and a blanket and curl up somewhere so I can just devour the rest of it.

Quote of the Day:  “Let today be the day you stop being haunted by the ghost of yesterday. Holding a grudge & harboring anger/resentment is poison to the soul. Get even with people… but not those who have hurt us, forget them, instead get even with those who have helped us.” ― Steve Maraboli

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Keep Going!

I was thinking about how I’m doing my NaNoWriMo novel—how I’m keeping myself motivated, how I’m working through all my word sprints, and how I will actually finish this novel this time.  Also, how I’m liking it so far too.

My novel is a bit history, but a lot more romance and what coming to America could mean for dreamers.  I’m writing it without much research except what I can pull from random breaks in the word sprints.  The main characters are people that I like and the ones who are side characters are just as interesting as the main characters.  Are they interesting enough to make it beyond 50,000 words?  Well, considering it’s day 11 and I’m am at 18,334 words so far, yeah, I gotta say they are.

A mantra I have to keep telling myself is that what I’m doing is just a first draft.  This is just the first go around with this story.  This is just the first time I’m meeting these characters and they will evolve throughout the story, and more throughout the editing process.

The problem I have always had is that I am a perfectionist.  Everything has to be perfect the first time, every time.  That’s not a good way to live life.

So, what I’m attempting with this year’s novel is to just make good art.  Not great art, not this time and not yet, but so simply just make something good that can become great.  Because being great takes practice and even the greatest writers start their books with a first draft before their story is ready for their readers.

Happy Friday!

Listening to:  Little Ones by Highly Suspect on repeat

Reading:  History is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera and Forever by Maggie Steifvater

Quote of the Day:  “I’m serious. Husband runs off with a politician? Make good art. Leg crushed and then eaten by mutated boa constrictor? Make good art. IRS on your trail? Make good art. Cat exploded? Make good art. Somebody on the Internet thinks what you do is stupid or evil or it’s all been done before? Make good art. Probably things will work out somehow, and eventually time will take the sting away, but that doesn’t matter. Do what only you do best. Make good art.” – Neil Gaiman, Commencement Speech 2012

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Managing Expectations

I had a few things happen to me personally over the weekend.  They weren’t bad things just annoyances that are still hitting me today.  When I came in this morning for work, I was talking to a friend about them, and about something else too.  I forget the exact words, but we ended up talking about managing expectations.

See, I have expectations for things in my life.  When things don’t meet those expectations, I get upset.  Normal human reaction, especially for someone with control issues.  Here’s how all this came up though.

My expectations for this weekend:

  • Make between $300 and $500 this weekend ridesharing.
  • Finish at least one book that I was reading/listening too.
  • Walk seven/eight miles.
  • Pick up the remaining things needed for vacation.
  • Post two videos: One wrap-up video and one book tag video

One… One thing out of those actually happened.  The others were partly done or not done at all.

My expectations for life:  That people are open enough that my lifestyle shouldn’t bother them.

I’m gay.  I get that there are people out there that don’t like gay people, aren’t okay with, etc.  I hadn’t really met any of those people.  I’ve met people that don’t agree with my choice to not have children (at one point I did, but now I have three.  I’m good.).  I’ve met people who make comments about my day job and how I couldn’t make it in the private sector.  I’ve met people who wouldn’t even say “Hi” to me because of my size.  I’ve met people that I didn’t feel comfortable telling I was gay to while they are stuck in a car with me.  So my expectation I guess had become that more people than not are okay with my lifestyle.

Yeah, no.

I was talking about my son going to Marines this past week to a couple from NC.  When I got asked if I was a nervous wreck, I said, “No, but his mom is.”  *Confused looks*  “But you said ‘your son?’” “Yes, my wife has three boys, so that makes them mine too.”  *Subject change*

Needless to say it was awkward after that confession.  I did it to myself by being proud of my relationship and our son.  I stopped talking so much after that trip and just drove.

I’m waiting to hear back from my application for Amazon Flex so I can give up rideshare driving.  Between that instance and people abusing the system (UberPool and Lyft line are for two people per trip.  Please stop trying to get away with 3 or more people.  Please order the right vehicle for your party, too.  OMG, the horror stories people…horror stories–See this upcoming Wednesday’s post).  I liked the money but I’m over the people.

Sigh.  Come on Sunday!

Listening to:  Human by Raggin Bone Man

Reading:  A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness and The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Quote of the Day:  “There’s a certain grace in accepting what your life is and embracing all the good things that have been – but there’s still an expectation of good things to come. Not necessarily what you expected.” ― Emmylou Harris

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Socialism and Nationalism

Over the weekend, there was a riot/protest in Charlottesville between white nationalists/supremacists and everyone else.  The BBC News article can be found here.  The rally was around “Unite the Right,” extremely right-wing thinkers who believe the ways of the past without the ethical standings America stands for today and a smaller government.  Welcome to the New American Era.

Last summer, I took a history class that talked about how WWI started by exploring Europe’s bloodiest history.  I really wish some people would pick up a book, even if it’s just George Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.  Book is really brutal in how it nationalism and war in Spain is very different from the front lines and the town in which Orwell returns to.  I’m mentioning this class and this book because WWI and WWII were fought over nationalism.  Sound familiar?

Look up “American Nationalism.”  New York Magazine did an article about three different kinds of American Nationalism.  Disengaged people, the smallest group of those interviewed, where those who “professed particularly low levels of pride in state institutions, and because they appeared to refrain from wholesale engagement with a national identity.”  Restrictive Nationalists “expressed only moderate levels of national pride but defined being ‘truly American’ in particularly exclusionary ways.”  Ardent Nationalists are the traditional flag-wavers in almost any crowd, people who view “Jews, Muslims, agnostics, and naturalized citizens as something less than ‘truly American.’”.  Creedal Nationalists believed in a “form of national self-understanding associated with a set of liberal principles—universalism, democracy, and the rule of law—sometimes referred to as the American creed.”

Where do you think the money lies in this?  The group where companies exist, where many Wall St. and Forbes Top 100 list people exists:  Capitalism.  Socialism with a major twist, where money walks and major players with bank rolls talk.

Still think I’m joking or off my rocker?  I helped on a paper that researched how marketers play mind games with the companies’ or politician’s audiences to help “raise awareness” or “hook” a new customer.  It was very interesting to see how emotions, clothing color, and portrayals actually got played on.  The next time you look at a commercial that you relate with, ask yourself why you feel you relate to it.  Why did the company do this or show that statistic in the commercial?  Am I relating because I feel a connection to the person speaking?

We live in an information age, yet we are increasing standing on one side of the fence or the other.  We are adamant about saying, “Do the research” while not doing the research ourselves.  We judge based off of our emotions and our experiences, which is normal.  But what’s not normal, or shouldn’t be normal, is the way we treat our fellow human beings.

Want more information?  Check out Crash Course’s Sociology playlist.  They’re YouTube videos that talk about sociology, conflict theory, and give real world examples in their videos.

With that said, hope you enjoyed your Monday folks.

 

Listening to:  “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Reading:  “The Diviners” by Libba Bray and “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” by Jamie Ford.

Quote of the Day:  “Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Patience and Determination

This past week, I have been driving around like crazy.  It’s not been easy and I’ve spent almost 30 hrs on the road in the last week.  It should have been more.  I didn’t imagine this being a full-time job when I started it almost two years ago.

What I did imagine was getting further along in my career to where I wouldn’t have to drive around to make ends meet.  I set myself up for this though so I shouldn’t be complaining.

Determination to have a different life will always get the better of you.  When you are satisfied with the status quo, you stay where you are.  Some people are happy just surviving.  They aren’t doing much else with their lives, but they are happy for the most part.  There are days sometimes I wish I could be satisfied with a simple life, or in my version of things, the bare-minimum American dream.

I have always found the American dream to be a sham.  The big house with a white picket fence, a dog, a cat, two kids, a husband… I have already failed at this one since I’m gay and won’t be having any kids anytime soon.  But my wife wants that dream so I’ll patiently and determinately give it to her because it makes her happy.

Roots are not something I have ever wanted and/or needed.  Connections with things and homes don’t leave much space to move around for work or to have a somewhat vagabond-ish life that I had dreamed for myself as I had gotten older.  I used to joke on my dad about his wanderlust.  Looks like I have a version of that bug too.  Being married with kids and responsibilities has gone a long way to making sure that bug stays tucked away in a “What if” part of my brain.

Patience, though, keeps me stationary just as well.  Without patience, the need for instant gratification hits hard.  It’s definitely a generational thing, where I want something and I want it now.  If I don’t get it quickly, I stop working towards the goal and then when I think about it again, it’s too late or has lost the luster it once had.

Patience is definitely needed when it comes to getting the house we are trying for; determination is the only thing keeping me from walking away from it.  Determination to prove to everyone I can do this adulting thing and that I can finally get with the program to reach a lifetime milestone.  Well, that and $3,000 in earnest money (a DMV standard from those I have talked to about it.  Most other states require less.).  That’s too much money to just throw away, when building it back up would take six more weeks of me trying to kill myself.

Isn’t life grand?

Listening to:  The construction going on outside.

Reading:  “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Quote of the Day:  “Doubt is a virus that attacks our self-esteem, productivity and confidence. Faith that you and your life are perfectly unfolding is the strongest vaccine.” ― Sean Stephenson

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Filed under Advice Column, Driving, Finances, Goals

Saturday Night

I have been driving people around for a while now.  It’s not an uncommon situation:  When someone asks me what I’m doing at night/on the weekends, I’m driving to make money.  June saw me with no car and no extra cash for things.  Needless to say, things were, and are still, a little tight.

That’s why I found myself driving around trying to get to my monetary goal on Saturday night.

My last ride of the night was a young man in relative terms.  I don’t often work the drunk crowd; it’s my scene and I’d rather be the person drinking, not the DD.  Anyways, this guy is slightly wobbly and I’m like this is going to be a really irritating ride.  I picked the young man up; he was headed to the opposite of the Harbor.  His first comment was, “Take whatever route gets us there.”

In the following 20 some minutes, I found out a lot about my passenger.  Former Marine and he was dealing with a heartache.  His girlfriend of several years had a skewd view of a relationship.  We both agreed that a relationship is about spending time with each other.  On top of that, he had started setting up roots for their future.  He had moved to the area, bought a house, and had a decent job…He wanted the works everyone over 30 is supposed to want.  After serving his country and doing several tours, he deserved that.

What pissed me off was here was someone who had fought for our country who deserved to have his dreams come true.  Four years and newly single when all he wanted was to be happy with the person he saw his future with.  We kept talking about how nice it would be to have someone to come home to after a long day who loved you.  Her argument was that he seemed like he wanted Little Suzy Homemaker.  After talking to him, I didn’t get that impression at all.  Of course this was only over 20 minutes of talking to this guy while he was slightly intoxicated.

As an Uber Driver, what gets talked about in the car is supposed to die there, unless it’ an argument with the top dog of the company.  However, this guy’s story stuck with me all weekend.  I wanted to say something prolific about how we treat veterans like crap.  I have seen so many homeless vets and vets like my dad who hasn’t had anything good happen in couple years.  Maybe it’s my guilt of not being there for my dad right now, or when he needed me a few years ago.  I haven’t gotten past what I didn’t do when it would have been so easy to just help, and now it’s way too late to do anything about it.  Whatever it is, this young man’s story had me wanting to end my shift and grab drink just to continue the conversation.  I don’t get many passengers like that.

If you have military personnel in your life or know any military personnel, please say “Thank you” and hug them.  Start a conversation with them and see how they are truly doing AND LISTEN TO THEM.  Take them out for a nice day out and remind them the positives of what they have/are fighting for.  Help with what you can, even if it’s babysitting so they can have some time with their partners.  Most importantly, love them.

 

Listening to:  “Lydia” by Highly Suspect

Reading:  “Uprooted” by Naomi Novik

Quote of the Day:  “Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” ― Vince Lombardi

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Filed under Advice Column, Driving