Back to sobriety

It’s been a long year so far. Not necessarily bad, at least not in full, but definitely strange, shifting, changing. The man who was once my love is now gone, off with a new woman, and good riddance. Our game went well beyond tiring. Though it is a transition to leave it all behind, to let it all go and not keep looking back. No point in questioning where all went wrong or why when the questions have already been asked countless times. The answer remains: life is crazy, life is mad. Sometimes people come into your life and things go berserk because of the dynamic between the players involved. Simple as that. Reminders of the past can create intrigue and solidify bonds that probably never should have been. But we learn from all experiences regardless.

That he referred to himself as a “martyr” during one of our last phone conversations a couple weeks back is severely disappointing. Thought we were beyond this cat-and-mouse game of accusations and guilt. But that game never ends apparently. The only way to stop it is to cease playing by ceasing interacting altogether. And so be it.

Unfortunately, throughout the transition I decided to try my hand at drinking once again after 7.5 months sober. As to be expected, this three-month spell only further proved my inability to moderate. So, as of nearly 2 weeks now, I have returned to sobriety. Absolutely necessary if ever I am to move on in this life and arrive at greener pastures. The past cannot be changed, and that drug doesn’t help a thing — just makes each day foggy and keeps the ruminating alive. Keeps the pain alive, forever in limbo.

Been giving a great deal of thought to the reality that is addiction. Come to believe that anything can be addictive, not only substances but also relationships between broken people with dysfunctional pasts. Seeking to fill a void is all it ever is, and yet it does not work. Will never work. Depression can grip you like a vice, strangling all that matters while robbing all present and future potential. That much I’ve come to see very clearly over time. That anxiety can’t dissipate so long as such a dynamic is allowed to interfere with one’s daily process. Just keeps the wounds raw and forever reopened, never letting healing to take place. Why? Who knows? Competitiveness? Anger, justified or otherwise? Needing someone to blame? Seeking an ultimate reason on which to lay blame (God, Life, etc.)? I tire of trying to sort it all out.

The answer is that it doesn’t matter anymore. It’s been over for years and yet kept rolling on so long due to being allowed to do so. Like sleep-walking, it just kept happening regardless of intentions. Unconscious motivations must drive it. As well as spirits, quite literally.

Alcohol is a hell of a drug. Seems rather innocuous when looked at through the lens of socially acceptable pastimes. But that’s a mirage, come to find out. It’s the closest I’ve come to feeling possessed by forces and drives that felt foreign, hidden, dark and destructive and nihilistic. That’s not offered as any sort of excuse, just a realization of the power of intoxication once indulgences have gone too far. Years and years went by within that lifestyle — nearly half my lifetime. More than half of his thus far also. Amazing how communication breaks down and truths wind up distorted over and over again. How crimes become commonplace, dismissed, accepted, laughed about, ignored, downplayed. Shocking how much time slips away…

Months slide by. Then years. And you arrive at a point where you have to ask yourself what the hell is going on here. Why have I forsaken myself? To escape? Why? There is no escape from reality. There are just ways to complicate it further unnecessarily. Addiction being just one, albeit a powerful one.

It’s not about transferring blame to a substance, though it is about recognizing the power such substances can grow to have over one’s life and mind. It’s certainly not a secret that people can and do fall prey to such traps and have for thousands of years. Why? Temporary easing of pain, escapism, alteration of mood, seeking pleasure, etc. And then one day you wake up to the inescapable realization of the shackles you’ve placed on yourself. A new form of slavery, this one self-induced. Not intentionally, sure, but intentions have little to do with what becomes real. All feels like a choice in the beginning. This sort of thing can even feel like fun…until it isn’t.

So much time escaped me. Years. Wake up and you’re middle-aged, worn out and feeling defeated, overwhelmed by new grief you’ve self-imposed through ongoing hedonistic pursuits, crying out to God to show you a sign and help give you the strength to walk away from what now binds you. Such is this lifestyle…eventually.

But here we are, back to taking a long hard look in the mirror. Back to recalling the dangers and pain we’ve put ourselves and others through. Back to contemplating future consequences if that path is not abandoned. Swirling in the stupid memories of a life on autopilot, of a relationship headed nowhere and only going through the motions. Of self-inflicted wounds created out of a desire to escape from thoughts and feelings of previous wounds. On and on and on it went.

Part of me feels guilty, like I’ve let myself and my loved ones down. But none of that can be changed now. All we can do is get up and stay up and learn to fight a better battle. Mourning over time and money wasted helps nothing, erases nothing.

I feel much better when I’m sober. But, at the same time, I have a lot of time on my hands needing to be filled in other ways. Been exercising more and trying my hand at preparing low-carb meals once again. Tried to get out to socialize and meet new people, but so far that hasn’t proven too fruitful. Needing to reconnect to my creative side, though it’s slow to come back to life. Been listening to a lot of music and am back to watching more films and videos. Occasionally go to the movie theater with friends. Resumed the decision to start getting up earlier so I would go to bed earlier in an effort to bypass the “witching hour” (as I refer to the late-night timeframe). Listening to audiobooks like usual, but also trying to get back into reading print books more now too. Finally worked on a website yesterday that I’ve been putting off for ages, so that was good. Still have a little more work to do on it. Glad to have bought a newer car a month back and am looking forward to taking roadtrips when time permits. Basically needing to get out of the rut I’ve mired myself in over the last several years.

Takes time. One day at a time. But onward we go…

Speaking of “batshit craziness”…

Recently while perusing the listing of local counselors and therapists on Psychology Today’s website, I stumbled across (to my horror) a profile belonging to somebody I used to know well. There she was, after having completed her master’s degree during the last 7 years since we cut off contact, offering her services as a licensed therapist to work with children, adults and families, claiming to specialize in treating depression and providing grief counseling. Charging, according to the site, $140-$250 per session (notably with no sliding scale fees available for low-income patients, though accepting various insurance plans). Huh.

People pay THAT woman for help??? WOW. Pardon me for sounding like an arrogant jerk here, but I knew that woman for a few years as a friend and can’t help but find that shockingly absurd. Mentioned this to another friend of mine who also used to know her and he too was floored by the news. Just goes to show that the mental health field will indeed take all comers, so long as they can pass the social work or psychology curriculum (which apparently isn’t too terribly difficult).

I knew her, and through knowing her I can’t imagine her having anything of value to bring to the table when it comes to aiding anybody with depression or overcoming grief. Sure, she herself experienced grief when her father died, but that doesn’t mean she’s a good candidate for helping others in a similar predicament. In our time knowing one another she was drinking to blackout limits on a regular basis, taking home strange men who she’d then accuse of raping her (due to them taking advantage of her blackout state), contracting STDs as a result (on more than one occasion), and then completely fucking up her social services job that eventually fired her and then aggressively refuted her attempts to collect unemployment benefits (a very painful lesson to her that occurred shortly before our friendship ended). THAT lady, a mere 7 years onward, is now credentialed to be a source of aid to others, and at a very steep price.

Okay. Examples like this are why I don’t place much faith in the mental health field. Look, even if that woman has turned her life around and is doing much better these days (as I sincerely hope she is), that still doesn’t qualify her to be a mental health professional to others. It would take a lot more than a few years and an additional academic degree to provide her with enough life experience and wisdom to be of much use to others. I recall her temperament and in no way can I see her personality as being that of someone who’s truly and deeply committed to helping others or exploring life in open-minded ways or relating to depression in others. She was one of the more selfish women I’ve ever befriended, and I say this as a pretty damn selfish woman myself. The difference being that I have the sense to recognize I’d be a charlatan if I hung out a shingle and played therapist to others for a paycheck.

I’m not trying to come across angry here. Mostly I’m incredulous. And I can’t help but wonder how many folks have visited with her and whether they felt they actually received any benefit from doing so. Was she mentally and emotionally present with them during sessions? Does she have any worthwhile advice to offer, or is she just regurgitating whatever she read in college textbooks? Is she sober these days or still living each day in the hazy fog of a perpetual hangover? Has she actually done more soul-searching over the years and unearthed the problems and pain that were driving her own self-destructive tendencies? Is she less of a bitch nowadays?

How does one go from raging drunken party girl to professional counselor in such a short span of time? And how does one feel right about doing so? She’s younger than me, so in her early 30s by now. How much useful advice can people like us give to others when we’ve spent our 20s drowning our sorrow in bars, depending heavily on the help of friends and others ourselves?

Like the blind leading the blind…

Just strikes me as utterly queer to have come across her profile on there. Yet another example of what I’ve grown aware of over the years: that there’s a disproportionate amount of fucked up people in the mental health industry. By that I mean that the very people we’re instructed to turn toward during our times of need unfortunately tend to be the ones who have a shitload of drama in their own lives, and often enough of their own creation. Why? My assumption is that those of us trying to heal ourselves tend to be drawn to those fields and their material, which for some gets them thinking that because they learn a lot about these subjects that that then qualifies them to join such fields in order to earn a living. In short, crazy attracted to information about crazy transforms into professional for other crazies in order to earn a profit and prestige. Maybe it’s a way to help oneself to feel less crazy by comparison. I don’t know. I just know that it makes me very uneasy when I keep seeing this play out time and again.

Reminds me of a close girlfriend of mine whose uncle is a child psychologist. He and his mental health field wife had one daughter and she happens to be one of the most batshit crazy people some of us have ever known. Seriously. Enough to where my friend’s husband refuses to leave his own kids alone with the woman for any amount of time. And of course, as to be expected of completely unhinged people like herself, she went to college and became a teacher. And when that blew up in her face finally (due to her bizarre behavior and ongoing disruptive lunacy, including screaming on her cell phone and hysterically crying in front of a classroom of children, that ending one of her teaching jobs), she’s now decided to return to college to pursue her master’s degree. In what, you ask? Psychology. Naturally…

Nevermind having been locked up in a psych ward herself due to multiple suicide “attempts” (more like manipulative displays to distress and guilt the hell out of her parents, who continue to financially provide for her into her 30s).

Makes the head spin.

While I can understand the attraction to these fields of research, it’s one thing to learn about them and yet quite another to preach from their pulpits. Unhealthy people aren’t the best at defining or demonstrating what health is. Winds up being abstract and theoretical rather than lived experientially. I can understand this as a lover of sociology — the study of human dynamics, particularly among or across groups — as someone who repels from groups. It’s as if we’re attracted to that which is foreign to us. Not saying we can’t offer up unique perspectives about these subjects through our own research, but how helpful to others are we likely to be when we can’t embody that which we wish to teach?

Just a thought this morning. The more I learn, the less I really can claim to know. But I do tread carefully in my dealings with anyone claiming to belong within the mental health establishment (in any capacity) since life has been teaching me that crazies tend to flock within its ranks. And I’m not down with having my mind screwed up even more by folks who play a role they have no business playing.

The way that game is currently set up, there are no checks and balances to deter unhealthy people from joining such fields and then passing along their own warped way of looking at life onto others (or simply wasting our time and money in our search for useful guidance). And yet we as a society grant them so much power and funnel the masses toward these supposed professionals. It’s worth seriously pondering on the potential consequences of this trend.

“MENTAL ILLNESS IS THE BIG TENT SCAPEGOAT FOR CIVIL RIGHTS/POWER GRABS FAR BEYOND GUN CONTROL”

One man’s struggle with quitting drinking

A timely video on the subject of one man’s struggle with alcohol addiction:

I relate with so much of what he said in there. Know the feelings expressed inside and out by now. The drinking game definitely does get weirder over time, as does the barscene. Weirder and scarier once you realize how much of a grip it really has on you.

That man’s name is Noah (a.k.a. BigNoKnow) btw. And here are a few other videos I watched by him today that share about his journey thus far, beginning with where he’d been sober for a year:

Going back 4 years, his dealings with relapses and trying to get sober:

His decision to start drinking again in 2016, with the goal of keeping it under control:

Brave of him to put all this info out on the internet so that the rest of us can observe and relate and hopefully learn vicariously. He shares some very raw details, particularly when it comes to his struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts. I very much relate with the feelings he expressed throughout, as well as being familiar with some of the logic he was operating with at various points. My own mind is an insane chatterbox too, and the thought of being trapped with it forever with no means escape is a daunting prospect.

Actually helped me today to stumble back across his channel. Watched a little from him in the past and was already subscribed, but then his 1-year sober video came up in my feed and gave me pause, leading to binge-watching a few of his videos this evening. Nothing better to do since I handicapped myself and am laying around feeling miserable today.

Daunting is the best word to describe how it’s making me feel on this day. So tired of this insane game — long past being fed up with it, and yet still playing it. We definitely are cruising toward a worse outcome. Seems inevitable. I feel super lucky that I’ve gotten by relatively unscathed as much as I have so far, but it’s always a gamble and not one I’m likely to beat all odds on indefinitely.

Anyway, just wanted to save his videos here.

A new dawn, a new year (first journaling update for 2018)

Well, here we are in a new year. Welcome to it. Can’t complain thus far. Had a nice NYE with Former where he cooked us a very nice meal (beef tenderloins wrapped in bacon, baked potatoes, button mushrooms, and fettuccine alfredo) and we watched the movie “The Running Man” until around the halfway point when I fell asleep. Was absolutely nothing like the book, for the record. Different storyline, the main character was completely altered as if the role were adapted for Arnold Schwarzenegger to show off his Rambo-wannabe persona. Planning to finish watching the film before the week is up, just to see how it ends. The book was great, but this movie so far is a piss-poor adaptation.

Woke up on New Year’s Day to dessert in bed (chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream). Pleasant start to a new year.

Today I took myself to the local theater to see the movie “All the Money in the World” starring Mark Wahlberg. Ate a bunch of buttered popcorn, which was my primary reason for stopping in, having never heard of that movie before. Was a pretty good flick. Decent anyway.

And I made it through my favorite holiday without toasting wine to the new year. Decided to avoid all temptation and not go out on the town that night. And I’m glad. Nice to not have my progress wrecked by one night of foolery. So, 6.5 months and counting is where I stand currently in quitting drinking. That’s really good.

Ran out of audiobooks for December and my Audible subscription doesn’t renew until Jan. 7th, so I began re-listening to previously purchased books: Carl Jung’s Modern Man in Search of a Soul and now Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy.

Did a little shopping at Sally’s Beauty Supply earlier with my Christmas gift card and selected new hair dye from a brand I’m unfamiliar with. Eventually we’ll see how that turns out. Decided to bleach streaks in my hair last month that wound up being a bit choppier than I’d hoped, which I then covered with a demi-permanent black cherry shade that I kind of like. But it’s nearing time to move on to a new permanent dye, preferably one similar in color. If all goes to hell I can always dye my head back to black. It’s fun to play with beauty products and usually my experiments turn out fine enough.

On another random beauty-related note, I tried out the “jelly sandwich” technique on my nails using jelly polish concocted by mixing a few drops of a dark blue polish with half a bottle of Seche Vite top coat that I had been planning to toss, layering a cheap blue and silver glitter polish in between coats. Turned out quite pretty and has me looking forward to future “jelly sandwich” attempts with other shades.

What else? Delivered most of the treats I had planned, though I should make one more batch to deliver to a few more folks on Friday. Thinking peanut butter cookies with hershey kisses as well as Ghirardelli double chocolate brownies. Tomorrow already promises to be a long day, followed by more baking.

So basically easy-going over here. Chatted with my best girlfriend tonight and got caught up on gossip. Rarely does she find time for lengthy conversations since she has kids and a busy schedule, but the stars aligned for an hour-long chat today, which was nice. Normally it’s 15 minutes here or there while waiting for the kids to get out of school or when she’s out picking up food for the family. More hectic of a lifestyle than I’d care to contend with, but it works for her.

Yeah, pretty simple week thus far. Cold as Hades here, but hopefully it will begin warming up some this weekend. Oh, and I got the great idea that I ought to challenge myself to lose 10 lbs. by Valentine’s Day so as to keep from becoming a total sloth this winter like I did last year. Hate heading to the gym when snow is on the ground, so I need to start working out at home. Already am aware of HIIT workout videos freely available on youtube and really ought to exercise along with them. Really seriously need to. Because I fell off the low-carb bandwagon in November and am struggling to get back on there and need cardio to help balance me out. Improves the mood too, which is necessary during winter months when sunlight is in shorter supply. Will continue trying to coerce myself into going along with this scheme…

Ear worm that won’t leave me alone this week:

That was “These Eyes” by The Guess Who. Never realized they were a Canadian band before now.

Bracing for another winter

Feeling kind of down today. Not sure why. Feeling very sensitive.

Finished listening to the audiobook The Chimes by Charles Dickens and before it ended, it had me crying. It’s an emotional day. But at least it had a happy ending, unlike a lot of the books I typically read/listen to.

Grandma called this afternoon, and we had a nice chat. Was good to hear from her since we haven’t been talking as frequently over the last year or so. My best girlfriend tried beeping in too, but I texted to let her know I’d get back to her another day. The timing in their calls, one after the other and both directly after the audiobook went off, had me kind of wondering. As if we can sense one another sometimes despite being many miles apart…

Just wandering thoughts. Superstitiousness never seems to leave me.

Didn’t get to go to the shooting range today as scheduled since Former had a long, bad day at work. So probably for the best for both of us that we skipped today. We went out for Mexican food instead and then lounged around until my late-night appointment called me across town. Promises to be a busy weekend with several scattered appointments throughout, plus a meeting with a new client, plans to meet for coffee with an older lady friend, then plans for dinner on Sunday with my best guyfriend. Maybe we’ll  find time to go to the range later tomorrow afternoon.

Discarded my diet the last couple of days. Had bread last night and tortillas today. Ah well. It’s highly doubtful it’s a food plan I can reasonably expect to adhere to daily no matter what. Life just doesn’t roll that way. But it has been teaching me a lot and I intend to go forward with an eye toward reducing carbohydrate intake most days. Though probably not as low as the keto diet calls for. One issue I’ve had with that low of carb intake is that it’s left me feeling weaker when doing strength training, I’d be doing a set that I’m used to doing but then need to pause after a few reps, then continue, then pause again before finishing out. That kept happening throughout Wednesday’s training session, and Former blames the lack of carbs. So I’ll look into it further.

Had all kinds of things on my mind lately. Many societal concerns, plus private worries over my loved ones and myself staying safe. Though we live in a pretty safe area, I do get nervous in wondering how long it will remain this way. Seeing as how the crime and homicide rates have been ticking upward in recent years. Paranoid? Maybe a little. Mostly just concerned since the close men in my life have a habit of being very helpful toward strangers, and I really hope the day doesn’t come when someone tries to take advantage of their hospitality. Like, for example, on the side of the road when they’re claiming to have car problems. Hell no, I don’t trust people. Well, I do to a point since we have to, but that doesn’t mean I’d put it past a few of them running a scam or acting a fool on the bike trails (as some already do) or trying to break into houses (as already happened at Former’s place a few years back). I trust people to be what we humans tend to be, which is a bunch of opportunists. Until I know you I can’t help but be a bit wary about you. And I sometimes wish my menfolk would be a bit more so as well. Which is sad since it dampens a person’s spirit to have to walk around worrying about who might be trying to work an angle. But we hear the local news and should be aware that things are shifting in this relatively calm city as it continues growing and experiencing so many newcomers from other states. I don’t trust the suburban kids either — too many of them are up to no good also.

LoL  So yeah. In my own little misanthropic mood over here today. Just journaling it out of my system for a spell, like usual. I think it’s all of us aging that’s getting to me. Gets to realizing how vulnerable we all are (and probably always have been, though it was nice feeling blissfully oblivious in our youth). Car accidents. Workplace accidents. Asshole opportunistic people to look out for. And now that fall is creeping toward winter and it’s getting colder outside, there’s the upcoming snow and ice to brace ourselves against.

Now that I think about it, I likely get melancholic around this time every year. Winter’s approaching, and that alone always makes me nervous. Winters here can be so harsh, much harsher than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. But this is the new home, so I try to adjust and get on with it. But when your car starts sliding on ice and the others around you are doing the same, you can’t help but get nervous. Especially if you’ve ever gone off-roading as a result before (as I have once many years back — was pretty scary). Then people get stuck and need to be pushed to get started, so the guys get out to help, but there’s the worry about another car coming along and sliding into them. Scares me straight every winter knowing this going on. I’m not strong enough to help much with pushing, so I don’t usually stop for people other than to call help for them. They say I’d only get in the way otherwise. This place just turns into a big ice rink every winter (except last winter, the mildest on record in a long time). Gotta be careful out walking (my guyfriend fell on his driveway once while out trying to get the mail and smacked his head and back — I’ve fallen on ice several times but usually manage to land on my knees, a big reason why they’re so jacked up). Been rear-ended twice because of ice. I sincerely wish everybody would put snow tires on their vehicles since they help SO MUCH, but they’re pricey ($150/snow tire for a midsize sedan).

The cold itself takes a lot out of you. That chilly air blowing hard in your face, especially in the suburban areas where there aren’t enough trees and tall buildings to break it up. Fingers feel frozen even when inside super-padded insulated gloves. Gotta dress up like the michelin man just to leave the house, padded from head to toe. Long johns on underneath, three layers of shirts, thick Carhartt coat, skull cap plus ear muffs plus scarf, super-thick socks with snow boots with deep treading (and yaktrax for when even more grip is necessary). Hence why it’s no fun going to the gym in the winter — takes a while to change out of all that. Wish I could wear a ski mask so as to keep my nose warm, but then people would look at me funny and probably think I’m trying to rob the place.

Winters are just daunting. We all tend to worry about its approach, though I try really hard not to until it is here since it’s a waste of energy worrying about what inevitably will come. But then here I am, worrying anyway. By the end of this month the snow will have started falling, and it will continue to fall until March, maybe April, maybe even early May. Can’t blame the gods for picking on me in sending me here since I could’ve moved elsewhere by now. This is where the economy is good, and this is where I’ve made a couple close friends.

I tell myself that it’s all a trade-off and that these harsh winters are more bearable than Mississippi’s hot-as-hell summers. And I believe it too, up until around February. That’s the hardest month out of the year, every year. Makes me wish I had more tolerance for heat and bugs and snakes. Causes me to question the locals on why they’ve remained here all their lives. Somewhat amuses me to observe newer transplants trying to cope with all this blusteriness. It’s not fun, not when it gets down below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But I will say this: I can’t tell much difference between 10 degrees F and zero degrees F. Both suck equally. Especially when prolonged for days on end. And the sun comes out less, and it grows so dark so early. And I’m at the mercy of ambient heat funneled into my apartment — not much way to adjust it other than to either open or close the vents.

Some years we put plastic on the windows to help reduce the draftiness. Thinking this seriously needs to be done to one of Former’s bedroom windows since its outside pane still hasn’t been repaired. While over there I can feel the coooold swirl of air drifting down across my face at night. Have to hide my nose under the down covers to keep warm while I sleep. He doesn’t mind it, but I threaten to freeze to death.

But it’s also the time of year when it’s nice to bake since the oven helps to heat the place. And a lot of us sleep better when it’s cold out (albeit not too damn cold). All that time spent indoors trying to get warm and baking leads to chubbiness though. lol

Ugh. Oh well. Another winter approaches. Nothing can be done about it. Just have to be careful. Could be worse — we could live in Alaska. So gripe, bitch, complain, fret away…changes nothing. Simply is what it is. Year in and year out. Like clockwork.

Preemptive worry never does me any good, but it’s hard to avoid. On a brighter note, Former says he’s thinking of roasting a turkey next weekend. So that will be nice. An early Thanksgiving this year. I need to figure out a veggie side dish to bring along.

If it were only weather that worried me then it wouldn’t be so bad. But when you toss in fear over others acting a fool and worry about technologies not operating as expected and then also wonder what’s going to happen to our nation on a societal scale when there’s all these divisions being sown — then worry transforms into dread. Hard enough to stomach a lot of that when Mother Nature isn’t actively draining you.

Guess this is my way of bracing for at least one inevitable set of circumstances. Maybe we’ll get lucky and experience no blizzards this time around. But as for the rest…I still am unsure how to brace for where that may lead.

For days now the song “I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After continuously plays in the back of my mind…

Inching toward winter (journaling/updates)

In other news, I’ve been doing very well on my diet the past several days. Managing my macros and keeping my carbs under 30g per day (20g or under for 4 of those days). Weighed in on Tuesday and am down to 165 lbs. (fully clothed), so that’s nice. Even decided to snap a photo yesterday (perhaps the first one I’ve taken all year).

cropped_oct312017

Not known for being photogenic, but that’s okay. Working with what I’ve got over here. Hair was frizzy after working out — didn’t feel like trying to get fancy for the camera. So anyway, I’ve been tracking my calories through MyFitnessPal for over 40 days now and am really appreciating that site. Unfortunately I’ve had to stay home and away from Former this past week in order to stay true to my diet, lest he wreck it like usual.  LoL  Missed out on his chili and tacos. Bah! But oh well. Might stop over to visit him tomorrow.

Been working out with my trainer a couple days a week (would like to do so more often but we have schedule conflicts). Beyond that, been going to the gym a day or two a week on my own. Mostly focusing on strength training, plus some cardio on the elliptical. Same old, same old there. Overall I’ve been feeling pretty good. Kind of felt like I might come down with a cold at the beginning of this past weekend, so I stayed in as much as possible and kept warm and managed to stave it off.

Besides that, the new books I’ve listened to in audio format recently were The Art of Invisibility: The World’s Most Famous Hacker Teaches You How to Be Safe in the Age of Big Brother and Big Data by Kevin Mitnick (narrated by Ray Porter); The Dark Net: Inside the Digital Underworld by Jamie Bartlett (narrated by Matt Bates); The Secret History of the World: As Laid Down by the Secret Societies by Mark Booth (narrated by John Lee). Those first two were very interesting (especially enjoyed Ray Porter’s narration) — gave me a lot to think about in terms of personal security online. That last book was a bit of a wild card, and I can’t recall how it ended up on my wishlist. Actually was interesting to take in up until the last chapter or so, then it just seemed to wrap up quickly and in a super-woo-woo form of a happy ending. Can’t put much stock in the content of Mark Booth’s book, but it was something different to contemplate.

Since finishing up those three I decided to re-listen to a couple others: The Antidote: Happiness for People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman (read by the author) and Thomas Sowell’s Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality? (really appreciate this one!). Made some electronic bookmarks so that hopefully eventually I’ll get around to uploading clips so as to lure others into checking these books out for themselves.

Believe I already mentioned before on here that I also listened to Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (and loved it). Would so highly recommend that one to others. It’s a must read for people curious about evolutionary psychology, biology and/or sociology.

Been getting chilly out lately. Down in the upper 30s the last couple of days. Not looking forward to snow, but it’s coming whether I like it or not. Praying this winter doesn’t kick my ass, having been spoiled by such a mild winter last year (which people around here say was highly unusual and probably shouldn’t be expected for another 40 years or so  eye-popping_smilie ). Just a matter of weeks before I have to get my snow tires put back on (usually around Thanksgiving) and start trudging around in my heavy-ass snow boots again. What fun. But ah well. So long as we don’t have blizzards then it’s not so bad.

What else? Oh, my little brother celebrated a birthday recently. He’s now firmly in his 30s. I ordered him a cake, which hopefully tasted good. As always, he’s super busy with work.

Not been getting out much these days aside from working and going to the gym and occasionally visiting a couple of friends. Haven’t set foot in a bar in weeks, therefore I haven’t kept up with any pals in that scene. Yesterday marked week 20 in my commitment to stop drinking alcohol. Still going strong with no problems there. In fact, a couple days ago when I was out driving along I got to thinking about wine, but this time it was accompanied with a sickening feeling, reminiscent of a particular brand I used to buy and a few bad nights I had with it. Wasn’t alluring. So I suppose that’s progress — no longer dreaming of wine in a tempting fashion. Rarely do I miss beer despite that being my main drink of choice. Not sure why. Perhaps I drank enough of it to suit me for an entire lifetime. lol  Probably.  Still amazed at how much money I’ve saved by not going out to bars or buying drinks to bring home. Saves me oodles of money, no joke. Shocks my friends when I calculate up what my average cost of drinking likely was in any given month. Even the one that drinks more heavily seemed surprised. Note: drinkers are notorious about NOT tracking how much we’re spending while involved in that lifestyle. Starting to think I’m having a positive influence on Former since he hasn’t been going out to his bar as often in recent weeks, nor does he seem to be drinking quite as much at home. I never nag him about it since that’s his lifestyle and his choice and I know for certain he’ll never give up alcohol. C’est la vie. But for whatever reason he seems to at least have cut down, which makes me happy in terms of his health.

I certainly haven’t cut down on smoking cigarettes though. If anything I probably smoke a bit more nowadays, unfortunately. So easy to do when I’m hanging around the apartment much of the time. Though I do smoke less when I’m over visiting Former. My lungs have been giving me a little trouble this week, as they do sometimes. Twenty-two years of smoking is taking a toll — imagine that. Though this is one addiction that has my butt straight-up kicked, so I’m pretty terrified of trying to go up against it. Keep saying I will one of these days…

Not been sleeping too well lately. Actually I sleep fine once I finally get to sleep, just can’t seem to get there. Just bounding with energy and curious about what all is going on on the internet at any given moment. Ha! Thinking about picking up some more of that bedtime (Chamomile) tea to see if it might help relax me. Probably need to find ways to exert more physical energy.

And lastly, my eyesight is very noticeably declining. Having trouble reading more and more without the aid of my new drugstore reading glasses. Former says it’s due to all the years I’ve been sitting staring at the computer screen. Heh  He’s likely right. Thinking I’m going to have to locate a coupon and go in to see an eye specialist one of these days and maybe purchase prescription reading glasses. The joys of aging…

Anyway, that’s about it for now. Onward into November!

Betty Crockering my ass off over here!

Been a cooking and baking fool lately. chef Trying out new lower-carb recipes mostly, figuring out what’s edible and what isn’t. Attempting to break free from my old dining ways, seeing as how I keep too much weight on in going that route. Been holding steady in the upper 160s in recent weeks, which is still too dang big. Wanting to see at least a 10-lb. reduction before I’ll be somewhat content again. Still been working out at the gym at least 3 days a week, mostly focusing on strength training.

Of course my former partner will have none of it when it comes to my new diet plan, preferring to eat as he always has. And so be it. No point in encouraging him to try much of what I make, though I did get him to sample a couple brownie recipes I made a week or so back. The first one (a banana/avocado brownie recipe) came out great, IMO. He managed to eat it. The second one (a low-carb cheesecake brownie recipe) I goofed up on, and he couldn’t make it past a bite of that one. Said it was too chocolatey, going way overboard. My best guyfriend said basically the same thing. Though I thought it was all right. Won’t be trying that second recipe again.

This weekend thus far I baked up some low-carb egg cups (at least that’s what I’m referring to them as), which basically were cupcake tins filled with spinach, tomatoes, a little feta and extra sharp cheddar cheeses, and then covered with beaten eggs. Freezable, ready-made breakfast food. Though I didn’t add enough salt and the spinach proved to be too much. Next time I’ll reduce the spinach by half and increase the tomatoes and cheeses. But they’re okay and I’ll snack on them over time.

Then I baked a batch of almond flour blueberry muffins, which turned out delicious! Really proud of them and plan on sharing them with people tomorrow. Not as low in carbs as I would’ve liked, but the taste is right on.

Then today I created my first spaghetti squash lasagna. Never cooked with spaghetti squash before, so that was interesting. Lots of water to drain out of those things. I used the squash in place of traditional pasta noodles to cut down on carbs, layering that with ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and a tomato and basil sauce I’ve been meaning to try out (Rao’s brand — which I added to ground chuck beef and seasoned to my liking). Turned out pretty darn good! Doesn’t taste much like actual lasagna, but it is similar to the spaghetti bakes I typically make, and I didn’t miss the noodles in that dish. As always, I used a good amount of fresh garlic, so “Former” (easiest to just call him that on here) was unable (and unwilling) to sample that meal since garlic gives him heartburn. Served it with a side of whole green beans fixed up in my normal fashion (steamed with a little olive oil, garlic powder, coarse sea salt, and almond slices tossed in).

THEN tonight I decided to try my hand at making a no-bake pie. Been a looong time since I’ve made one since I’m not a huge pie person. This dessert does not qualify as low-carb, but Former loves pies and it was a way to use up some oreos I had up in the cabinet (that he recently gave me — I swear he’s intentionally trying to sabotage my diet, lol). My 17-year-old food processor is too small to accommodate 24 oreos, so I put them in a gallon-size ziploc bag and went to crushing them up with one of my dumbbells. Ha! Crumbled them the best I could and then poured in the melted butter and massaged it in through the baggie before pressing the mixture out in a pie tin. Refrigerated that while whipping together the filling, which consisted of melting some dark chocolate chips in refined coconut oil on the stovetop, then mixing in some coconut milk, pure vanilla extract, maple-flavored agave, and a pinch of salt. Chopped up a couple avocados and placed them in a blender and added in the cooled chocolate mixture and got that all smooth. Topped the pie crust and now it’s all chilling in the fridge, awaiting being sampled tomorrow. There’s a coconut cream recipe to go on top that I’ll whip up tomorrow once I get ahold of another can opener since my 16-year-old electric can opener decided to finally break down this evening. It served me well all these years — RIP.

So, my kitchen is officially destroyed now. Got more dishes stacked up in the sink than I know what to do with. Will wait and run the dishwasher in the morning since it’s loud. Believe I’ve gotten this cooking/baking bug out of my system for a minute and can turn my attention back to other matters. Like watching videos on youtube. Planning to hang out with my best guyfriend tomorrow afternoon and probably head out to dinner. No work tomorrow. So it’ll be an easy day of cleaning up around here, visiting with a couple of my people, and relaxing.

Been enjoying this slow transition into the fall season. And, for the record, it’s been 18.5 weeks since embarking on my decision to stop drinking alcohol. Going strong on that without a desire to return to my old habit.