Wednesday, March 11, 2009

A Month in Time

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a long post. Don't read it.]

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This is an old post (Feb 19th). There was about 2 weeks that I wasn't in an environment to keep track on a lot of this stuff. Stay tuned for "next month" sometime soon.]

One day you have "it", the next day it’s gone. "It" can be anything really - cars, cash, people, places, houses, love, health, happiness, fortitude blah blah blah. It’s crazy.

Buddha and his ilk nailed it. It is Impermanence (kind of .. I think Buddha was talking more in a life and death sense). The gist being that you can't tie yourself to these things. If you do, you'll find yourself perpetrating a wildly disproportionate response when they disappear, or in a vain struggle to keep your death grip tight.

Once upon a time, I had my wagons rallied so tightly around myself with such an intense fear of failure that I wasn't able to let anything go or let anyone in. Loosing a big fat client or eating in a restaurant vs. takeout …. I was completely indiscriminate. I found myself holding on tight to shit that really didn't matter - even then.

I was, in a word, rigid.

Rigid materials are usually hard and are often brittle. They are strong, but they don't bend very well. If you put too much stress on them they'll snap if you are lucky; shatter if not. Take a look around you folks. Ask yourself why you are holding on so tight to this or that. "Because it’s important to me" doesn't cut it. I know that I thought it did, but the mental energy required to hold on to it all is startling. Why is it important? Am I a better person for expending this mental energy? I certainly wasn't.

Those whales died. Every single one of them. When I was on Isabella, I smelled them. There are few more striking moments in my memory than of being in the back of that pickup, smelling that fetid carcass smell of those useless deaths. That night the would-be rescuers had dragged one of them 3 miles out to sea by the tail. Imagine the smell of 5 boat dudes mixed with the rotting fish smell of a confused whale's breath in the salt spray. They finally let the ropes go and there had to have been this infinitesimally small slice of time which decided the fate of that great brute. A few muscles contract, deciding whether this being, this energy with its sad and wise eyes, answers some calling to go and beach again, or he comes to, shaking its head and saying "wow that was some experience. I am sure glad for that boat ride which saved my life. What was I thinking? I wonder what's over there? That fish has a fluffy tail". [EDITOR'S NOTE: cheesy boat metaphor redacted]

A fluffy tail indeed.

Now me and the Buddha are homeboys, and the above is a kind of a contradiction on my part. One way to look at it is if it is time then its time. The other, and what I am talking about here, is that a whale had it in its head that it was going to beach no matter what and that there were other options if he just wasn't so damn rigid. I guess what I am trying to say is that I need to work on being more flexible with things. When I hold on too tight, I end up beached.

There is a flip side to impertinence in that it goes both ways. The new age'rs and their ilk also have it right. You need to set yourself up for good things to come into your life. Just know that they might not stay and get it into your head to be ok with that.

My unified theory of life is still a work in progress, but being fluid is something that I have been wishing on for quite some time.

I've also been wondering why I don't keep up with the random nice things for my body. Like eating right, or working out. Little things don't take much to make a difference. I learned this once opun a time, I just need to be reminded every now and again.

So I set out to set a stage for good things to happen to me this month. I put myself in an environment that was simple, removed and well… stable (it has been far too long). And hell, a month is only a drop in the bucket from a time perspective.

The Good News:

I don't operate very well when I am over 200 pounds. Running the numbers, I gained 25 pounds last year.. Yikes. It hurts just to write that. When I was recovering from dengue fever, I weighed 179lbs, which was the result of a nasty piece of illness, but 2 months later I still weighed around 180 and felt pretty stellar. When I left early in December, I weighed in at 205 and change. Argghhh.

I've realized that I have never really lost weight unless I've been horribly sick. So this month I made a concerted effort to eat more better like. I ate about 25 tagines ("tagine" in restaurants refers generally to a type of food and not usually actually cooked - but served - in one), of which 14 I cooked at home. Lots of veggies. Lots of hearty food. I feel great.

Every morning I'd throw on a coffee and do as many pushups as I could in one go. My whole life I've been in the 20 pushup range (if and when I ever did them), but at the end of my kickboxing I could do 30.. Which was a world record for me. Some days ago I did 45. I also did sit ups every morning, but didn't keep track.

Everything in moderation.. Even moderation.

There's some beer math going on here as Moroccan beers are 250ml and 4.7% alcohol, so I converted everything into standard 1.5 ounce, 40% drinks. So all in all, I averaged 1.25 drinks per day.

I don't generally sleep all that much. I used to… a lot. But in the last couple of years I have tapered off on that trait. This month I slept as much as I wanted. Every morning. Some mornings I didn't want to sleep, or I was doing shit until 5am and 10 just seemed to be a good time to get my move on. Some mornings I slept in a ridiculous amount. The apartment is pretty noisy and the bed is lumpy so it wasn't a perfect experiment, but it seems like, all things being equal, I like to sleep an average of 8.5 hours a night. Any Google search could have told me that I need 8 hours of sleep a night, but I digress.

Take joy in the little things

I bought myself a coffee mug that says "I love you" on it. Every morning I'd get a little affirmation. Hahaha... the wit. That and the fact that I tended to talk to my cooking. Like "Look at yooouuu. You are gonna be taaaasty" in a most lascivious manner. Everyone does that though don't they?

Seriously though I spent a lot of time just looking at stuff. My brain has been pretty active and I have denied it no road. I haven't judged it and I've been scribbling thoughts a plenty.

I've tried hard to say things that needed to be said. In terms of being vulnerable, this post is a big step for me. It is rife with opportunities to bashfully write long posts in the future about how things that I learned just didn't stick… again.

There are some simple things that I am doing that I won't bore anyone with. But there are 5 of them, and I did them every day.


I set a goal of billing 80 hours this month, which roughly translates to half time. In this I was mostly successful (72). It was a pretty frustrating project and next month is looking a bit thin, but in terms of testing my ability to work in a beach town, I was very successful. My quality of life has been quite high, and I've made a decent wage this month which is in stark contrast to where I have been at of late.

I continue to vet out a business idea with a good friend which has been fun.. and I continue to learn Ruby on Rails and Linux which has been a huge challenge for me. I have only scratched the surface of each. Baby steps.

The Bad News:

I locked myself into a closet and smoked all of these in one go.

I need to quit smoking. I average exactly 20 a day. That was my cap, but basically I smoked every time that I wanted one and that’s where I netted out. Gross.

I am addicted to caffeine. I love everything about it… in all its forms.

Which leads us to this months goals:
  • Smoke less. Less caffeine. Standard fare.
  • Continue to track what I am doing, but annotate my days with a how do I feel?
  • Likely doing one set of the maximum number of pushups is a stupid way to become proficient at doing pushups. I want to figure out an exercise routine that is a little bit more balanced (and useful)
  • This month is going to take a beating on cooking at home, but I want to continue to make good'ish choices. Don't get me wrong, I ate some pringles and chocolate bars, but they were treats not snacks. My only bad snack was one macaroon cookie a day. They are soooooo good. Its ridiculous.
  • Shave
  • Learn a minimum of one Arabic word a day.
  • Write a "what I did this month" post... next month.
  • Kick this OCD tendency that I picked up some where apparently.
And if they don't work out? Well then that’s ok, but I will celebrate the little accomplishments along the path. At least I feel like I have finally chosen to go somewhere.



  2. I read your post and it wasn't that long at all! I enjoyed your charts but most of all, I enjoyed your honesty and lack of "smirk". It's not that you are particularly smirky. It's just that most people, especially online, are trying too hard to be witty or smart or entertaining. It can get in the way of real communication (in my opinion). Anyway, I also wanted to share that I talk to my food too, but not out loud :)