Finding a Voice

I’ve been single for at least three years. It’s possible to argue it’s closer to five. By single I mean that I have not had a committed, monogamous relationship in almost half a decade. That, obviously, is a problem for me. I’ve had dozens of casual relationships, many dozens more brief encounters, but with the exception of a brief period of co-habitation with an ex-girlfriend that necessitated monogamy, I haven’t been with a single person who I wanted to date seriously, and with whom the feeling was mutual.

I used to be a writer. From the time I was around eleven until I dropped out of college to move to California and try my hand at ‘business’ I wrote prolifically. I filled notebooks and hard drives full of writing. Poetry and short prose, mostly, but I penned three novellas and 80,000 words of a novella before I turned eighteen. I had a lot going on in my brain, and my outlet was writing. I trained myself how  to write with different styles, different voices. During my first year of college I took a creative writing class and had my professor tell me that she found nothing technically wrong with my writing, though she took issue with my storytelling and topic choice, which was a very fair critique. What I’m getting at with all of this is that I was, for my age, a fairly good writer. I knew the basics, I had a good vocabulary and command of language.

I never published anything other than one poem – I fell for one of the early ‘writing contest’ scams requiring me to pay an entry fee to essentially self-publish my work on a website. It only cost me a few bucks, and that poem still persists in the bowels of the Internet. I sadly had to cut it down to fit the requirements of the contest, but I think it’s one of my better works. When I got to college the creative writing workshop was the only other time I’d had peer feedback and it was resoundingly positive – my classmates said they loved reading my stories and poems. Work was presented for discussion anonymously, so I generally regard their feedback as genuine – they had no idea it was me, for better or worse.

My background in writing actually got me into business – I had to rewrite a friend’s site for him that he had plagiarized from someone else, and he paid me for it. He thought I did such a good job he hired me part time to help him run his one-man e-commerce business, and we grew it into a nice little enterprise (though he kept 95% of the money, of course).

Over time, I wrote less and less fiction. I wrote all day via instant messenger and email, and the drive wasn’t there anymore to write for ‘fun’. Working online with remote employees most of my communication was via chat. Still is, to this day.

Yesterday I read an article about dating culture. I will unpack my feelings on this in a different post, but it essentially made me so disgusted with dating culture and my own dating life that I deleted all of my mobile dating apps (OKCupid, Tinder, Hinge, et cetera) and resolved to not go back on them. Today was my first dating-app-free day in years, and the first one during a workday. All that time I’d spend checking Tinder or OKC or Match, I suddenly had to myself. I spent some of it bike shopping – again, a post for another day – but once I decided that was too deep of a rabbit hole, I started thinking to myself that I needed to find some way to fill the 30-60 minutes per day/workday (or more) that I likely spent screwing around with online dating. What did I decide? Writing.

I’ve spent the last 7 or so years of my life on a rollercoaster ride of business, money, travel, success, failure, food, drugs, alcohol, and of course, dating.  When you’re writing about yourself, in my opinion, it’s hard to find a voice that sounds authentic, and it’s even harder to take stories that seem fun and exciting to you and turn them into stories and thoughts that are fun to read for anyone else. But I’m going to try. I’m finding my voice. More to come!

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There aren’t any easy solutions. There’s cutting corners, shady workarounds, and then there’s your standard ad campaign – chances are the marketplace is designed just efficiently enough so you can’t make any profit. Uphill battle, but if it was easy I suppose everyone would do it!

Sports Teams

It’s impossible to become the fan of another city’s sports team. If you are in any way a serious fan of sports, to the point where you have ever yelled at a television set, jumped up and high-fived total strangers at a bar, know referee hand signals and make them in disgust while watching coverage, any of these things. You can’t change teams. Once you have a favorite team in a particular sport you are never going to feel that strongly about another team, no matter where you live. You won’t ever feel that kinship with other fans, you won’t nod to guys in line at Starbucks while your eyes flick slightly upward to their team hat. You won’t be able to talk about rosters from teams that played 10 years ago or remember where you were when a big win happened. It’s a completely irrational thing, but so is being a sports fan. If you change teams because you move, you weren’t ever really an obnoxious fan in the first place.

June 23

I have very mixed feelings about maintaining a blog. My relationship with writing is complicated at this point in my life. I am over a decade removed from the time when I wrote prose, poetry, and let my creativity pour across the keys. I’ve hardly written a half a dozen recreational things since then, blog posts not included. Not for lack of ideas – I constantly see or think about things that would make good ‘writing’ material, but I never end up doing it.

There’s the old saying about ‘don’t do what you love as your work, because you’ll grow to hate it’ or something along those lines. I think that while I certainly hate writing, what I do for a living has bred an exhaustion in me – at the end of the day the last thing I want to do is sit down and pour my thoughts out on the computer. I have the urge quite frequently, but I just don’t.

I don’t know if forcing myself to write is a good idea – in my free time I like to do things that help me escape. Television, video games, books, articles and videos on the Internet, just about anything other than self-reflection. I tell my on- and offline friends about my life during the day. Do I need to put it down for posterity? Does anyone give a shit? Likely not.

Trying to spin deep, ponderous works off the cuff also feels incredibly conceited. I read great writers online each day, what do I have to say that they couldn’t say better, with their whole day to research, choose words, and analyze so much more carefully?

In order for me to write again I need to define what writing is going to be for me. Therapy? I fail to see how it’s helpful, since I’m talking to an audience of zero. I need goals in my life, plans, things I can strive for. What is my goal with writing? I need to figure it out.

New New

New things in the last couple months:

I moved to the apartment next door to mine, going from 1 bed to 2. In first world problems I now have to figure out where to hang all my art, because the layout is significantly different. Happy in a larger space with more storage, though my OCD is in overdrive trying to figure out where to organize everything.

I hit 8% body fat, and have visible abs. One of my 3 New Year’s Resolutions is complete!

I’m tan on my hands. I don’t know why, but I find that pleasantly surprising. 5 weeks at the pool club starting to pay off.

Joined a rec softball team, and ruined one of my shins sliding into 2nd in shorts in our first game, while we were in the process of losing by 25 runs. Instinct dies hard from high school, I guess?

Doing some actual sparring in the boxing ring. Getting punched in the face isn’t as bad as I thought it’d be, though I’d rather I was good enough to not have it happen so often.

Business is going fairly well – getting my taxes sorted, working on tightening up the books while we build up the advertising agency.

Invested my first money in the stock market, in a brokerage account which will basically act as short term savings for the business and eventually transition somewhat into my own pension account (aka retirement) for myself. Saving feels..goodweird?

AbQuest 2014

Some time last year I decided that before my next birthday I wanted to have a 6-pack. I had been consistently working out for over a year and I thought that I was in pretty good shape, but a lot of drinking and dining out were preventing me from ever having a sculpted body. Each year that goes by it gets more difficult to get lean and toned, and things start getting harder to keep in place, so I decided that 2014 was my year.

I was supposed to have my wisdom teeth out (another thing I am dreading) in early March, so I had decided that this event would start me on the AbQuest, because I’d be on liquid foods for a few days after potentially, and probably drop some weight as a result. Due to some scheduling issues I had to push my surgery back to early April, but I decided to start it the second week of March regardless.

So, here we are. I’ve lost 3 pounds since I started on the 10th, exactly three weeks ago. Most of that, I’m fairly sure, is fat. I now have an ab outline, though I don’t have the definition between the sets that I’d need to achieve true 6-pack status. What started as a silly little adventure to prove I could do something has evolved into something a lot more than that. I went down the nutrition rabbit hole, and it’s led me into some interesting areas. I think that I now have a much better understanding of what I was putting in my body.

People who exercise a lot and try to ‘eat healthy’ tend to be under the false notion that they are, in fact, eating well. Cutting out fast food is easy for me, because I live in a city without much temptation. However, there are many other ways that processed sodium and fats creep in. Carbs are in nearly everything, as I discovered when I cut them back significantly. There are many pitfalls, but also a lot of good options to still eat food you enjoy without feeling terrible about it.

With some help from Internet friends, I decided to go to a 1500 calorie-per-day diet with around 15-20% of that in carbs, which amounts to around 50-75 grams per day of the naughty stuff. I decided not to count things like carrots or berries in the carb totals upon the advice of others. That left me reading a lot of labels to find things I could eat without breaking my budget.

Cutting the calories proved quite easy – switching to a diet of cooked meat/fish and vegetables was not objectionable, and I don’t think I consumed a lot more than 1500 on a regular daily basis as it was. The carbs have proven much harder, and I think I go over with fair regularity, but I do try to avoid them early and mid day, and pack them in either after an evening workout, or with a full dinner.

The exercise has been boring and annoying, generally speaking. Having to go to the gym twice a day instead of once (because I don’t relish the idea of an hour on the elliptical into an hour’s worth of weights or boxing) isn’t so bad with my current schedule, but it certainly can’t last forever. The ‘cardio’ I do is aerobic exercise, meaning I keep my heart rate around 120-122 to avoid heavy breathing. I sweat, I get bored, I watch tv and read books at the gym. It’s not glamorous, I wish I was on a sunny sidewalk in venice pumping barbells, but it’s the most efficient want to get to what I want.

My initial goal was to drink a gallon of water a day, but I have been shirking that a little. I bought a Brita pitcher to ensure I don’t blow through my Poland Spring bottle stash too quickly. I’d say I drink maybe 1/2-2/3 of a gallon per day. When I was doing the full gallon I was living in the bathroom which made going out annoying, but I’m trying to find a happy balance. I should be able to do it in the final push.

I think I’m about a week away, and with my impending surgery I likely won’t be out much this week. Drinking alcohol was surprisingly easy to stop doing – an unexpected side effect is that I now get drunk much more easily, limiting my intake when I do drink. Snacking will be harder to resist at the office, since they have sugar and salt hiding everywhere, but I’ll do my best to be dilligent.

It started as a dumb challenge to myself, but I do feel pretty good about my progress, and I’ve learned a lot about what goes into my body. Overall, I think this will be another one of my ‘goals’ that has the unintended consequence of improving my quality of life overall, and making me appreciate things.

More later on my other self improvement kicks. There are more than a few this year, I’m on a roll.

Other Stuff

Can’t publish this publicly, but I’m going to be documenting the start-up of a new business, which I may publish some day. Stay tuned!


It was good to spend some quiet time at home with the family. I used to have this constant desire when I was at home to constantly be out and doing something, but I find that as I am more comfortable with my life in Philadelphia, the urge has subsided. Really, a lot of my anxiety about having things to do socially all the time has subsided. It’s a nice feeling. I’m not exactly sure I can pinpoint when my descent into personal calm began, but it has blanketed my life with a soothing presence.

What’s Going On?

Suppose I should give a nominal update, and start posting on this thing more. I find that my brand of faux wit is better suited to social media outlets these days, which is probably a shame.

I’m exercising more, and eating better. I’m finally decorating the apartment I’ve lived in for 3 months now. I’ve decided to start re-learning the guitar. I’m traveling a lot more, with some exciting trips to new places coming up. Reading more. Cooking more. Trying to do things with the end goal of being happy with where I’m at, and not holding myself up against some ideal of social. That said, I’m making more friends. I’m setting up accounts to invest in my own future.

Things are, for the first time in a long time, pretty good. Let’s hope it stays that way. There’s something to be said for stability.

Cooking an Egg

I eat eggs for breakfast at least 5 days a week. Two eggs, small pat of butter to grease the pan, over hard, maybe a dash of pepper.

Cooking an egg on a sub-optimal stove and pan has driven me crazy now for over a year. Once in awhile I get it right and the egg comes out perfectly fluffy, not charred around the edges, with a nice hint of buttery goodness as it goes down. I put my stove on the same setting each time (as near as I can tell,) try to heat the pan to the same heat level – waiting till the butter starts to almost brown – and cook the eggs till they are about as firm as I feel they should be. And yet, the consistently perfect egg eludes me.

It bothers me more than it probably should, considering I basically wolf down my breakfast in a couple of minutes, typically in front of the computer or television, and spend precious little time savoring it, but I feel that cooking a good egg is a cornerstone of culinary skill, and I want to do better.

It’s probably a decent analogy for the rest of my life at this point – I have very exacting standards for the way I think I should do things, but when push comes to shove I favor expediency over craft.