Sunday, January 31, 2010

Reflections (6): On Being a Guy

Walking by a beauty salon the other day I stopped dead in my tracks. Turns out it was some sort of day spa for dudes. For a fee of over $100 a guy can enjoy a pedicure, a manicure, a lucious mud bath and complementary bath oils and soaps. Full-body massages are extra.

What. The. Fuck?

I don't know about you, but after spending almost three months “showering” in McDonalds' bathrooms all of this metrosexual bullshit pisses me off. I understand that Simple Living can mean different things for different people, but I can't help but feel sad at the current state of heterosexual guydom.

In the great tradition of Edward R. Murrow here's my own This I Believe short essay:


I believe in Moday Night Football, pickup basketball and sweaty gyms.

I believe in shaving only when I feel like it.

I believe in making love to beautiful women.

I believe in drinking good beer and embracing occasional hangovers.

I believe in never shaving my chest.

I believe men can be considerate, loving, open and honest with their partners without turning into total pussies.

I believe half-naked chicks riding mechanical bulls are hot. Yeah, I said it. Again.

I believe I would rather get punched in my balls than watch The Notebook.

This I believe.

[Reflections Introductory Post]

Monday, January 25, 2010

GUEST POST: An Alcoholic's Perspective


The following is a Guest Post written by my friend R, the subject of a prior post on alcoholism. I think it speaks for itself.

An Alcoholic's Perspective

I am R.

Jack invited me to read and contribute to this article a few days ago. When I finally read it, I was extremely touched and also awakened. I guess the main message I would like to communicate here is that a disease such as alcoholism--as with any other infliction--is extremely difficult to truly understand unless one experiences it first-hand. I know I'm a great was mentioned by Jack, successful, traveled, educated, all of that. But I have this evil little devil sitting on my shoulder at all times. I hate this part of my life and wish there was a way to just hit the "off" switch. But through personal experience and extensive research, I've learned that there is no easy fix. It takes time, determination, support and constant adherence to daily goals.

To draw an analogy: it is like trying to convince yourself to not drink get thirsty, then thirstier, then even worse...and you finally convince yourself that you need to drink water in order to survive. Well, granted, water is in fact necessary for survival, and alcohol is not, but in the mind of an alcoholic it is.

Another thing about this condition is that alcoholics often don't even realize what is happening when they are drunk. They don't comprehend reality in the same fashion as others. Hence they make irrational decisions, such as prolonged drinking. Sometimes when I am drinking, I find myself having a dialogue in my head, "I don't want to drink, but I will anyway. Why? I don't need to. I know it is destructive. There is absolutely no reason for me to drink. But I will anyway."

This is an example of irrational thought that pervades my mind. So in an effort to combat this, I set little daily goals and stick to them. For example, I will not allow myself to have a drink before X time of day. I will limit myself to X number of drinks. I've found that I cannot go without alcohol completely, but if I set little goals like this and regulate my drinking, I am OK from day to day.

And also here I must mention my indescribable appreciation for Jack and his selfless graciousness. He hauled my butt to the hospital more than once when nobody else was around. Who knows what might have happened if he hadn't. Not only has he done this, but, through conversations (a kind of informal counseling), he has extended a whole world of insight and compassion for me to embrace. On the surface, it's friendly dialogue between two friends about a problem. Deeper, it has had a profound effect on me and my outlook on life. Thank you for this Jack -- it is appreciated more than you will ever know.

In closing, I guess I would just like to extend this entire blog post and responses to others who suffer from the same infliction. Just remember that life is too beautiful to let oneself slip to such lows. And, as one poster here mentioned, sometimes it is necessary to hit rock bottom before recovery. I feel like I'm pretty much there currently, so I'm looking forward to a big rebound. I have many great things in my life right now, and I look forward to getting back to enjoying them.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

On Alcoholism


Those of you who follow me via Twitter and Facebook probably noticed a couple of rather strange-sounding status updates over the past several months. They all, in one way or another, referenced several trips to the ER and being there for friends in need. I think I'm about ready to talk about it. If only because it has taught me valuable lessons about how difficult life can be when you are no longer in control.

Back in September I met R, a guy who lives in my apartment building. R seemed intelligent, interesting, well short, a pretty nice guy. R and I hung out a few times and as I got to know him I realized we had tons in common. I'm not going to get into any substance, but let's just say that he seemed just as damaged as I was in some pretty fundamental ways.

A couple of weeks after we met, as I was hanging out one Friday evening in my place, R knocked on my door. He looked absolutely terrible. He was sweating profusely, his eyes were dilated and he could barely walk. He told me he had always suffered from some mysterious illness that prevented him from sleeping for days on end and made eating difficult. Even as he slurred his words I made the executive decision that he needed to head to the ER immediately. I grabbed my keys, grabbed my wallet and slowly walked him downstairs to a cab.

At the ER, everything was pretty routine. They took blood and urine samples, gave him an IV and after 4 hours told him that they could not figure out what the problem was. Heading back home R was more himself. We even joked about a couple of smoking hot nurses who had treated him.

Sometime in late December R showed up at my door looking even worse than back in September. Again, I dropped everything and took him straight to the ER, where, for the first time, an inkling of what was really going on began to emerge. “Have you been drinking?” the attending physician asked. “No,” was R's response.

Up until this point, I had assumed that any drinking on R's part was merely exarcerbating whatever affliction he suffered from. After the nurses and doctors were gone I pressed R a bit. “Dude, when was the last time you drank?” “Jack, I'm an alcoholic,” he said with some seriousness. After he was discharged we walked back to the apartment building in silence.

Early the next morning, several people in our building walked into R's apartment to find him catatonic. He was seated in a chair in a daze, arms raised to shoulder level. There was a nearly empty bottle of rum on his desk. It took three of us to carry him downstairs to a waiting taxi.

R spent 15 hours in the hospital and was released early the following morning, only to continue drinking for several weeks after that.


I think I've learned several things from my friendship with R.

First and foremost, it is clear to me that, whatever my demons might be, there are people who are struggling with far worse. I think back on what I have accomplished over the past several years and wonder if I could have gotten this far if I had started out as damaged as R is. Somehow, I doubt it.

I've also learned that alcoholism, like any other addiction, can affect even the smartest and most capable of all of us. R is still a great guy. I still respect him greatly. I just wish he would slay his demons so he could be free as well.

Good luck R. I believe in you.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Yoga and Meditation are Awesome


I just had an awesome Yoga-guided meditation session! I just can’t believe I ever lived my life without yoga and meditation. They have become a a part of me in ways that I could not have imagined a year ago.

Definitely encourage everyone to take a couple of yoga classes just to see what it’s all about. Those of you curious about meditation can start in the privacy of your own home. I highly recommend the online podcasts run by the Insight Meditation Community featuring Tara Brach. She has a wonderful gift for guided meditation.

Take care everyone,


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Inspiration: The Alchemist


I know I might be preaching to the choir with this post, but I have to say that reading The Alchemist was a transformative experience for me.

I first read the book back in college, at a time when getting laid, drinking with friends, and “finding myself” were very much priorities. Looking back, I have a feeling that the real message of the book was probably muddled by a good deal of post-adolecent angst and a perverse (naïve?) confusion only a classical liberal arts education can generate.

Some years later I reread the Alchemist at a time when getting laid, drinking with friends, and “finding myself” reemerged as priorities. The experience was completely different. Coelho's narrative was now crisper, mode defined, and less allegorical. I no longer saw a boy tending to his flock and traveling the world in search of a treasure he has only seen in his dreams.

Suddenly, I understood what I had to do. Where I had to be. And, more importantly, who I didn't want to be.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Love You

I can´t stop thinking about you. And there is so much to think about…

Your long, flowing hair.

Your knowing eyes.

Your easy smile.

Your love of literature, film, and art.

Your courage.

Your capacity to love.

Your capacity to understand.

Your independence.

Your sense of adventure.

I just have two questions for you: (1) Who are you, and (2) When will I finally meet you?