My eating habits have changed a lot lately. I used to consume tons of sugar and I gave that up about two years ago, then I stopped eating dairy except for special occasions, and this year I stopped eating grains Monday to Friday. Plus I started working out a lot and I’m midst of a sobriety binge. And I did a fast for one day last month.

I was still worried that I was eating too many calories to burn body fat and get visible abs, I was worried that I was basically good all day then eating too much in the evenings, eating too much on the weekends for the weekdays to matter, etc.

And man was I battling sugar cravings. Just all day everyday ice cream sandwiches calling my name, intrusive thoughts about how a little sip of cola would cure what ails me.

Luckily I eat the exact same things everyday and it was easy to calculate my calories. Also luckily there’s an internet and it was easy to find out what my calories should be. Turns out for a man my age, weight, and activity level I could still be in a slight caloric deficit at 3000 calories a day and I was eating about 1000.

My body was probably cannibalizing my muscles for energy. I’m surprised I wasn’t fainting or ripping people’s head’s off. All of my conscience emotional work must have paid off, it stood the test it didn’t know it was taking. This also explains why I was eating so much on the weekends, my body thought we’d hit the oasis after a famine.

It’s quite likely that even after I cut out breads and pastas the amount of booze I was drinking was balancing out my cals for the day. 4 pints is a grand in calories. Plus booze makes you reach for the comfort foods, plus it messes up your sleep which effects your insulin sensitivity blah blah blah alcohol’s the worst.

Anywho I tried to get to 3000 calories yesterday and it was brutal. I was worried I was over-eating and it turns out I can barely eat.

All that said I don’t believe that “A Calorie Is A Calorie” as some people say. There’s more calories in a few ounces of walnuts than a mocha from Starbucks that doesn’t mean walnuts are bad for you. Imagining consuming 2000 calories of broccoli in a day or consuming 2000 calories of coke, the coke would jack your system all over the place and you’d be starving, the broccoli would get boring at worst.

So that’s my thinking right now. I can totally relax my worries, pressure’s off, and I’ve got to get some more healthy calories into my day.

Posted in Pragmatism

To Forget Or Not To Forget – Part 3

The Present:

My thinking about this anew started with a funny conversation at work. We were listening to Oasis and I told the story of Noel being on stage for the Unplugged show and realizing that Liam was in the balcony heckling him.

After the laughter I thought about it and commented that it’s shocking that, even as much as they hated each other, he’d do that to not just his band mate but his brother.

I said “There are people I would step over if they were dying in the street but I’ve never tried to ruin anything for someone.” I’ve hoped someone wound up ostracized but I’ve never tried to ostracize someone.

I’ve given up on people, I’ve had to. Once you hit the point where you know exactly what they’ll sell you out for you can never go back.

It’s in 1984 actually. Under torture Winslow implicates Julia in dozens of thought-crimes but it’s only when he’s exposed to his deepest fear does the bridge from his heart to hers collapse. And when they see each other later they both know it, instantly and forever.

I’ve got people in my life now that I’m very close to. I trust them to an extent, I trust them to be them as some people say. And I don’t think I’ve got self-protective walls up, I think I’ve finally got non-idealized expectations. I always wanted so badly to let myself be myself around people – to feel that I simply, inherently belonged – that I set myself up to get crushed. I put the weight of all my hopes on people with no instruction and then I was blindsided when they dropped them.

So I do and don’t trust the new surrogate family that I’m building. I’m not blind to the fact that they’ll sell me out at a certain point but it’s not inevitable and I don’t need to challenge it. I feel a tentative armistice with life. I need to be good so it will be good to me, I need to protect people just so I know there are people in the world who will protect others they way I wish I was protected.

I hope, dear reader, that you notice these posts were broken into The Beginning, The Middle, and The Present because I have no sense even after two thousand words or trying to figure it out that anything is at an end. When some things die they stay actively dead forever. Day 3 of life anew after a death is different than day 2 just as day four thousand is different than day four thousand and one – it’s just that the difference is a lot more imperceptible.

Character seems on one hand to be about being shaped by one thing until you’re reshaped by something else. But it is also about how you choose to reshape things – past, future, and present.

What makes you okay in one present moment may not be the thing that can make you okay in another. And that’s okay, they’re just moments.

Posted in Depression & Suicide, Pragmatism

My Evening Routine

As promised.

I get home from the gym and get in a hot bath. It started because my shoulders were always killing me after work because I’m looking slightly down at the cutting board or prep table or dish pit all day.

Part of my day is that when I ever I think of something I want to look up, a recipe, a work out, a math problem, a swim tip, I search it on YouTube on my phone and add a few videos to my Watch Later list. When I’m in the tub at the start of the evening I set up my laptop and go through that list. The old Relax-o-learn.

After that there’s a lot of stuff I do but not in a hard and fast order:

I lay out my clothes for tomorrow. Anything you can do to make tomorrow as frictionless as possible, do it. Every Sunday, for example, I make sure I have 5 bananas, a tupperware of walnuts, and I cook a dozen muffin tin frittatas so that I never have to devote a calorie of mental energy to breakfast all week and I can streamline and focus.

We’ll watch an hour tops of TV. Right now on weekdays it’s Batman The Animated Series, two episodes at night while we eat a very healthy paleo dinner.

I make what has been dubbed ‘A Potion’ of Apple Cider Vinegar and Raw Honey in a cup of hot water. I got it from Tim Ferris and even he doesn’t know why it works but I suspect it just calms your tummy and lulls you to sleep in about an hour.

I’ll make a quick list or chart of whatever is rattling around in my brain. You’ll notice that one or two thoughts about what you have to do tomorrow or this week will keep popping up and up in your brain because your brain has no respect for you and thinks you won’t remember. So just jotting down whatever it is in any haphazard fashion will calm it down. Oddly, talking about these things doesn’t help, it just keeps you up talking and worrying more and exploring all the caveats.

Then I’ll do a yoga routine to get some present-state awareness and to prevent as much tossing and turning in bed. A little movement helps you lie still.

Lastly, I do my math problems in bed. Burning off the last bit of mental energy and ensuring that the newly formed pathways in the brain are the ones getting the most overnight maintenance. If Liv is still reading I’ll pick up something and read for a while and then it’s lights out around ten. Which is necessary for getting up at six and doing it all again. If Sisyphus gotta push that boulder he might as well push it like a mother fucker.

Monday to Friday I keep it disciplined and hyperscheduled, I’m never waiting. And I found in the past that that’s what makes weeknights shitty, you realize you’re just waiting for the day to be over so you can get to the next day which you’re not looking forward to. People think they work a lot because all they do in their down time is try not to be thinking about work.

I end up leaving work early most days, which is reaming my bank account, because I’ve attacked everything I had to do and rather than drag anything out for a hour I just rush to the gym and the pool because I’m Mister No-Down-Time during the week so that when I hit the weekend the down time is blissful. I still do tons of stuff but I do it with leisure.

Even Sisyphus got to enjoy watching the boulder roll down the hill.


Posted in Pragmatism

To Forget Or Not To Forget – Part 2

The Middle:

I’d like it if the ballad of Alastair is that he got super healthy and moved to a tiny village on a Japanese island and lived to be a hundred writing with a quill and no one ever thought of him again.

I used to ask people if they felt like a totally different person now or if they felt like they were the same inside and simply adding layers as they grew up. Almost always people said they had felt both at different times. One good quote came from when Allie went home and had the conversation with her dad and he said he always felt like his 20 yr old self looking out from a 50 yr old body.

Currently it’s not at all how I feel. In all my investigation of the self and all my disregard for the downsides of narrative thinking I realize I cant even come into contact with how it felt to be that person. I feel like I don’t really know anything about myself 3 years ago anymore.

But if I run into someone who knew him – or imagine being thought of by someone who knew him – I still have to explain him. And it’s tedious, benefitless work that I don’t want to do.

Putting things firmly behind you, building strong walls works for some people. In a traditional, i.e, romantic, break up the best thing to do is delete them from your socials, don’t do things that remind you of the person, don’t try to go on with the same life sans them because you’re just fostering heartache. Even in a good break up cut them out of your life for a while and do a bunch of new stuff, you’ll get stronger faster.

But in cases of trauma, where someone has a heightened anxiety response around trivial things that even slightly remind them of their trauma, it’s terrible to carry about that weight. There’s a woman profiled in Surviving Survival who was attacked by a shark and even though she didn’t see the shark’s teeth during the attack the sight of rows of teeth could give her a break down. She toughened up by putting a picture of the shark that attacked her, taken by her husband that during that dive, on her monitor and looking at it everyday. It reset the fear response. Sure it’s easy to hide from sharks but sharks weren’t her problem now, it was the idea of sharks. And it’s near impossible to hide from your own ideas.

I’ve realized, and I’ve written, that float tanks make forgiveness automatic. Safely cocooned and floating free from life I feel no animosity, it makes purely pragmatic sense to wish the best for everybody. I wish the best for all my former band mates. It makes sense that I should wish they were in great bands because the world needs as many great bands as possible and just increasing the sum total of thriving people in the world is reason enough. And it’s easy to think that way because in the tank I’m not part of the equation. That’s where that Japanese Island thought came from, I like being disappeared. It’s a (much) healthier version of my suicidal urge to just not exist because that would uncomplicate everything. Out in the world, or accurately online, I am part of the equation, the awareness of where I stand is omnipresent, overwhelming.

Most people aren’t aware of the power their ego has over them but it’s like a mistake in a movie, once you know it’s there you can’t not see it. I’ve been relentlessly looking at my own ego, and the mind of happy and unhappy people, for years now.

I know this pain comes from my ego. I have this little chime that goes off when I’m reminded of the scene that says all you friends betrayed you and don’t even care, that’s how little you’re worth to people. And they betrayed me over nothing so I must have been worth less than nothing to them the whole time.

And that internal awareness of rank doesn’t go away, I can’t make myself not care. Anyone can say they don’t care, they can pretend they don’t care, they can put up internal walls that reinforce the notion that they don’t care but there’s no way around the fact that human mind hates being ranked zero. There’s a study where they had people do a bunch of meaningless, random tasks, then gave them a score out of ten that was either high or low and, of course, even with no possible sense of value to attach to the score, the low scores were agitated and the high scores felt great… felt they deserved it.

I feel like the lone objection to consensus reality. I don’t know what to do if I’m right and I don’t know what to do if I’m wrong.

Posted in Depression & Suicide, Pragmatism

How To Make Getting Out Of Bed As Easy As Possible

My working definition of a successful life is one with as little friction as possible. Successful people are those who plan for obstacles and then sail passed them on the wings of well laid plans and contingencies.

Successful people also get out of bed without being little bitches.

So here’s what I’ve done to succeed so far at this, you’re going to have to invest a little money in it but I feel like you’ll notice a change in your baseline happiness immediately.

  1. Get a sunrise lamp. It starts getting brighter half an hour before it’s alarm time and then it makes delicate bird sounds. It’s a peaceful way to wake up. And if you’re like me and you wake up a dozen times in the night you can comfortable get a sense of if it’s still the middle of the night or if morning in approaching, I enjoy that instantaneous knowledge without having to look directly at a glowing clock which messes you up.
  2. Get a full spectrum light. Mine’s by Verilux. These lamps are sold to help with seasonal affective disorder because they mimic a bright, bright sun shiny day. What they really do is make you unable to sleep. Seriously, the first time I turned one on I went from being super sleepy and wanting to lie down to… not wanting to lie down.
  3. Static Stretches. Get into a position you can hold and hold it. No matter tired you are you can align your body, take a deep breath, and count to thirty. Just Youtube morning stretch routines, I’m partial to Tom Merrick
  4. Exert yourself. After some stretches pick up something heavy, do a 3 minute plank, push ups, whatever but get that blood flowing.

So at this point you’ve been up for 20 minutes. 5 to stretch and 15 to work out. And you’ll be feeling pretty good. Next phase:

  1. Hit the shower and when you’re done turn the hot water off, even just the anticipation of the water going cold will start to get you jazzed up.
  2. Eat your pre-planned and partially pre-made breakfast, put on your laid out clothes, (I’m doing a companion piece about going to bed that will cover this again) and take your vitamins. And trust me, you need to be taking something.
  3. Do something like write a blog. That’s what I do each morning between all that that and having to leave and it took me exactly 90 minutes from waking up to all of this -including this blog- done. That’s the normal amount of time people say they wake up before leaving yet they claim there isn’t time to do anything.

Okay this post feels like a bit of mess because I’m wanted to get it done in a flurry to illustrate how much energy I have after my morning routine so there you go.

Evening routine coming at you Thursday.

Posted in Pragmatism

To Forget Or Not To Forget – Part 1

The Beginning:

What does it really mean to move on?

It’s strange the things that embarrass us. I’ve been deeply transparent with a lot of things, I’ve talked openly about massive life and death stuff but it’s the seemingly trivial things that haunt me, things that shouldn’t be worthy of attention that I don’t want to have to write about but clearly I do because they never go away.

When I think about the Vern’s scene, all my ex-band-mates who became ex-friends, there’s this big blind spot of pain that I can’t get a POV on, I can’t find a thread to fallow. It just leads from one confusing pain to another and back again.

I try to write and just nothing comes out. The feelings of betrayal never heal because I feel re-betrayed by the fact that they don’t feel bad. They got to go on with my life while I got chewed me up spit out. They’re just fine while I had to build a whole new self from scratch.

I wish I didn’t feel this way, I wish I could let it go but the unfairness never stops tugging at me. And it’s compounded by the fact that I feel it’s not tugging at them.

And I keep thinking I have to do something, I can’t hide or ignore it but maybe that’s the something I have to do to keep myself sane. I unfriended anyone who’d even post a picture of those guys on Facebook because seeing them by surprise just hurt so much. But because I believe in taking on challenges and facing things I fallowed a few people from the scene on Instagram this year and the pain was just there waiting for me.

The truly strange thing is this pain only exists on social media.

I’m happy where I am when I don’t have reminders. I love running, I love working out, I love the Gateway, I’m still a passionate fan of bands and albums, and then a photo yanks me back through time and I feel on the outside, I feel rejected and betrayed by people that I don’t miss; that I wouldn’t hang out with if I could. If I had a time machine I wouldn’t change much except I’d slow down Greystone Gardens for a while rather that calling it quits. That was just the typical suicidal person’s urge to show everyone how much they’re hurting you.

I was spiraling in a suicidal depression and none of my friends were trying to help me. In fact they all made it explicitly clear they didn’t want to help. Even telling my then-girlfriend to distance herself from me.

Why it’s so embarrassing now though is it makes me unpragmatic. You shouldn’t be angry if someone steals something you didn’t want. And I, of all people with the hard line ethical and emotional advice I doll out, should be better than this.

Why I want to hide is that I don’t want to remind myself how I used to be, I don’t want to have to justify who I am now in relation to that person. I don’t want now to be the later of then because I feel like that cheapens who I am now.

When Harrison Ford starred in Air Force One they didn’t have to put in a bunch of back story about how he got to Earth in the Millennium Falcon from a galaxy far away. We all just get it that, though identical except for chronological age, this is a totally different person.

People don’t move away from cities, they move away from the character they played in that city. Which is why it sometimes makes people happy and sometimes doesn’t. Like a gay person who was closeted in their small town and then goes to living open and out when they move to the city in a different time zone. They’re instantly happier until they see something or someone or have to go home for something and the split in their movie-universes is wrecked.

I think this is why rather than being suicidal I’m just in hiding. Like I said, suicide is partly about making people finally understand how much they were hurting you, but it’s also about wanting an end to a story. And if you can’t have a happy ending then a tragic one is the next best thing.

Well in this case the story did end. This is all epilogue. It’s over, dust settled.

If nothing is unresolved, what is still bothering me?



Posted in Depression & Suicide, Pragmatism

What I Read This Month

January 2018. Some food, some science, a depressing chick lit classic, neat brain stuff, and bar fly fantasies, here we go.

How Food Works – DK

DK essesntial makes grade school text books for adults.

Illustrated, informative, I’ve never had such an experience of not being able to put a book down. Every page you turn leads you to a perfectly digestible (NPI) bubble that leads the eye around the rest of page that makes you want to text people in the middle of the night to finish a conversation you were having about zinc absorption.

I brought this book into work one day to show off a chart for vegetarian substitution and it was a hit with a lot of people. I love talking about nutrition with everyone I can these days and I think everyone has suspicions, beliefs, and superstitions about their food that need correction or reinforcement. Control of your diet is control of your life. And a sense of pride that comes with sharing what you’re doing, what you’re working on in the realm of food, is how you stay true to your goals.

The Man Who Wasn’t There: Investigations into the Strange New Science of the Self – Anil Ananthaswamy

God, titles people…

I love this book, it’s rare that I love a book so much I want to save it but I really enjoy reading this book in small bits. You can kind of trip yourself out reading about the agency of movement, involuntary thoughts, and the connections of memories, etc until you’re so immersed in study your own mind in the exact moment that you’re not reading the book anymore.

Fascinating stuff about Cotartd’s syndrome, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s, and what it means to perceive yourself  as person.

It’s also a good reminder that it’s a miracle anyone is a functional person. The brain is like a car made of old stoves, it sort of works for what it does but it’s mostly by accident. It actually fuels my sense of wonder at the world that the human body is so drastically imperfect and sub-optimal and yet we can do so much.

Surviving Survival: The Art and Science of Resilience – Laurence Gonzales

I didn’t like this book at first and by the end I cherished it, I put it in the keep on hand for reference section of our shelves. Why I didn’t like it was that some of the stories felt like Oprah-baiting emotion-porn for housewives that had resilient endings and no science. But after forty or fifty pages it turns out those are just the opening volleys for the wider audience and he gets down into some good stuff, and by the end he writes clearly actionable lists of what to think and what not to think before during and after trauma. I’ve had some tough evenings in my on going daily battle with depression and I like to read over the list and correct my negative thoughts.

It makes me think of the book Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (I saw a cheat sheet on how to pronounce that once but I can’t remember how), which has a lot of likeable emotion-porn stories with important lessons and science sprinkled through out but lacks the concise reference at the end. You don’t have to take notes for Surviving Survival, Gonzales put them in for you. So thanks.

Running a Bar for Dummies

I bought this on impulse because of a conversation I’d had about the selling of the Beagle, our beloved crappy watering hole. I was riffing one night about all the things I’d do if a bar just somehow fell in my lap right now. Everyone has an ongoing daydream checklist at their job titled Well If I Ran This Place… but I’m also fully aware that everyone thinks they know exactly what they’d do and everything is way harder than you expect when you don’t know anything about it, and blah blah blah so I started joking about all the traps I’d fall into if I actually had to start running a bar.

Cut to me in Indigo and my eyes fall across Running a Food truck for Dummies and I think there’s got to be… there it is… Running A Bar for Dummies, so I bought it to help my imaginary self not fall into the traps he’d foreseen that jovial evening.

And it actually scared me straight off the idea. Not just the traps I know I’d have to watch out for but the millions of big scary business things I’d never thought of and know nothing about. But the imaginary bar in my head is better off for it and more than ever I’m keeping my head up and ears open at work about the goings-on around and above my lovely small empire that is the grill station.

What I actually want to do someday is run a breakfast-type diner near a gym with a menu built around niche diets like vegans, paleos, body builders, and some good indulgent food for people on a cheat day. It’s imaginarily called Healthy As Fuck and Bob and I own and operate it but this is getting pretty far off topic.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath

Aside from whims I also have categories to fill when I go book shopping. I aim to get something historical, something motivational, something fiction, and something from a woman’s point of view (which has expanded into something from and about a different life experience like something by and about a black American or a queer Japanese person or whatever to keep my empathy horizons broad) Bell Jar covered femininity and fiction this month and it’s a fantastic book. The language and characterization is pitch perfect, it’s like a female quarter-life crisis Great Gatsby but the grammar isn’t randomly terrible. And The Bell Jar is uniquely feminine, while I can identify with the protagonist I’m fully aware that universality does not apply, this could not be the same story if it were about a man and I’m not sure how I’d feel if it were by a man.


I’ve always identified with women in writing because I’ve always had a sense that the world isn’t quite for me. My strength is fragility compared to the world, I have a desire to feel beautiful and a desire to accept myself as I am, I’m emotional but not at the whim of emotion. I’ve just never sat right with the macho misinterpretation of stoicism.

I think reading fiction is important because it reminds you to slow down and take everything in. I had a talk once about reading in poetry-voice. I didn’t get poetry at all when it was taught to me, awfully, in school but when I discovered the spoken poetry of the truly wondrous Sarah Kay and then bought her book and heard her as I read it I learned to read in what I dubbed poetry-voice. Now I realize I have a non-fiction-voice as well and it reads fast and hard, I just chew up paragraphs as if they were brilliant discussions with a friend or tedious discussions with a bore as I aim to digest only pure information and get that sweet, sweet high of knowledge.

Which sometimes causes me to tear through a book so decisively that I know I didn’t get everything out of it that I should have. So slowing down and reading in that mid-range fiction-voice, looking when you don’t yet know what you’re looking for, is a peaceful helpful reminder.

Everything You Need To Know To Ace Math In One Big Fat Notebook – Workman

I’m still fortifying my math skills in the wake of the SAT practice tests so I’m doing math every night last thing before bed. This book is great for it’s quick, obvious, kid-oriented style and it’s brief practice questions that simply let you know if you grasped a process or not. If you’re a parent and you want to help your kid brush up on Math, this is the book I recommend and if you’re a grown up who needs to rebuild the shitty foundation our atrocious cattle lot education system stuck you with then this is how you regress and start anew.

I can already detect myself doing typical daily encounters with math more quickly and confidently.

And that’s January’s reading people, stay tuned for more food science, modern Nazi’s, Batman, Scooby Do, and sex, sex, sex already on the docket for next month.

Posted in books