Funk rejection (an update)

Pulling up out of the funk I’ve been in the last few days. Was kind of rough for a minute there. Very likely hormones played a role. Not much can be done about it other than to wait it out. Might make some folks uncomfortable to even hear about, but so be it. It comes and goes, but always it will return. Figured out by now that to expect to live without the funk’s repeated interruptions is a pipe dream. Certainly helps to pull out of it when my loved ones and I are getting along. And I’ll leave it at that for now.

Went in for a massage yesterday, courtesy of a gift certificate received by a lady I work for. Had the masseuse lady work mostly on my left arm and back since those are my problem spots currently. And she did an amazing job! Haven’t had many professional massages (maybe 3 now total), and that was the best so far. Confirmed that I probably do have a mild case of so-called tennis elbow from strength training, so I have to take it easier on my triceps for a while. Need to pay better attention to my form too. But then she said it seemed to her that I have a disc problem in my lower back, which I figured has been the case for years. Can’t afford to see a doctor for that, so my only option is to strengthen my back and core enough to manage it, as I’ve been doing. There will be no surgeries in my future, no MRI scans, nada. Only physical therapy on my own and with my gym trainer. Been knowing this has been a problem for a long time already, perhaps since teenagehood when I first began experiencing acute lower back pain, but regular exercise has helped immensely in reducing the pinched nerve pain down my left leg over the last 3 years. It returns occasionally, but I’m doing a lot better these days than I was about 4 years ago. So, in short, strength training has helped, and I intend to keep it up for the rest of my life in order to maintain the feeling of relief.

We humans weren’t designed the greatest when it comes to our backs. Becoming bipedal messed us all up apparently. Ha!  But c’est la vie. My best guyfriend has been suffering major back pain again lately also, and he went in to see the doctor this past week since it got to where he couldn’t stand. Already had a surgery many years ago for discs in his back, and now other discs are acting up on him. Unfortunate. Difficult to enjoy living when your back hurts too much. He’s always been an active guy, but still he has to go through this. Not sure what to say about it other than to expand his exercise regimen since biking doesn’t really help build the muscles to support the back. He has medical insurance so they’ve provided him with pain pills and an exercise plan, with the option to undergo another surgery in the future if needed.

Told both him and Former that they ought to go in and see the massage lady I met with yesterday. Might do them each some good. Of course Former will have nothing to do with it, for whatever reasons.

Been cooking a decent amount lately, per my new norm since I’m trying to improve my diet. Fell in love with roasted brussels sprouts (who’d a thunk it?!). Been eating on leftovers of a beef mac-n-cheese with broccoli cuts tossed in — came out terrific. Made avocado/banana brownies again a week back, which were delicious, but I forgot to freeze them so they went bad pretty quickly. Today I whipped together an olive oil-based pasta salad with zucchini and mozzarella chunks to take over to Former’s house later since he’s cooking up a turkey dinner tonight. Looking forward to all that. Throwing caution to the wind in terms of carbs today so as to enjoy his spread. Last night I experimented with zucchini hasselback, which was just a notched zucchini filled with pepperoni slices and mozzarella (and seasoned with red pepper flakes and garlic powder), baked in an aluminum foil tent until fairly tender. Turned out good. Not a bad alternative to pizza.

What else? Been listening to a couple new audiobooks. Recently I finished The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig. An excerpt from his publisher’s summary of the book:

While researching the toxic and addictive properties of sugar for his New York Times best seller Fat Chance, Robert Lustig made an alarming discovery – our pursuit of happiness is being subverted by a culture of addiction and depression from which we may never recover.

Was a pretty good book by a pediatric endocrinologist. Would recommend it to my peers.

The book I’m currently listening to is Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy. It’s so far covered a lot of what I’ve already read elsewhere, but I do really appreciate his delivery style and am planning to check out his book The Obstacle Is the Way in the future.

Haven’t been taking time with any print books lately, preferring instead to listen along while going about my day.

For the record, it’s now been over 21 weeks since embarking on my commitment to quit drinking. No slip-ups, though I did have some strong cravings last weekend for some reason. Former was drinking a strawberry margarita in front of me and I damn-near reached over to sample it. Then he’d partaken in a big sale at some local grocer that marked their alcohol way down, dragging home a crate full of bottles including Captain Morgan rum and wine and some blue stuff. Kind of tripped my trigger for a minute there, but then I refocused my attention and forgot about it. Gets easier and easier to leave alcohol alone. Already know what kind of a beast that particular drug can turn me into, not needing to reconfirm it. Moderation never worked for me, so the only option now is to simply leave it be. And so I do. But the cravings still come and go, as they perhaps always will. That little gremlin in my brain likes to try to remind me of the positive side to drinking, but thankfully I remain well-aware of the downside to it too. Can’t recall one without the other. Any substance that causes me to act like a fool and quit liking myself is no friend of mine.

An old man bar pal called up the other day out of the blue. Might be what initially set my mind to thinking about alcohol again. He asked where I’ve been, said he’d heard through the grapevine that I’d quit drinking, and then suggested that I should still come to the bar and just abstain from drinking while there. Not too interested, frankly. Especially not so as to visit with that particular grabby old man. Told him off a number of times already for groping me and saying perverted shit. Wish he’d lose my phone number (which I gave him a couple years ago when he gave me rides to and from the bar a couple times, before he turned as gropey). But of course everybody out at the bar likes the guy, thinks he’s swell and makes excuses for his behavior toward the younger female clientele (of course we’re all younger than him there). People used to say that I was “being mean” to him when I checked him, that he’s an old man so I should be more tolerant and forgiving. Ugh. Sometimes I really loathed my fellow bar patrons. They liked to make excuses for the sorriest shit. And I wound up looking like a bitch for not going along with the program. Oh well. So be it. I am a bitch. And I don’t like 70+-year-old men pawing at me while I’m out. He’s not entitled to do that. They can all put up with it if it suits them, but it bothered me, so I said so. And yet he still adores me, still considers me special and tries to get me to communicate with him. Says I remind him of his wife when she was younger. Lovely. I gave him a bunch of chances, but now I prefer to avoid him. Sure, it does make me feel kind of like a bad person to be so bitchy toward an old man, but then again, I also am really perturbed to see all these old men out in society demonstrating themselves to be such crappy role models. Don’t teach us anything; just prefer to act like perverts. Just here to get their jollies off messing with the (relative) youths. Gets old. Makes me feel queasy inside. I put up with such nonsense for years from a number of guys in trying to appear easy-going to those I was surrounded by. Well, they’re not worth it. Bunch of loser drunks with skewed consciences so far as I can tell anymore. Not saying that against all of them, but plenty of them, yes. Besides, those who aren’t like the rest still do tend to behave as they do so as not to rock the boat, so how’s that really any better? They enable one another.

So, yeah, I still have a decent amount of animosity toward the barscene. Probably partially because since leaving it I find myself a lot more isolated, yet I know this is for the best. Better than hanging around with a bunch of people who only concern themselves with hedonistic escapism. Gotta keep that party rolling on and on and on, lest they be forced to reckon with real life and how they’re failing at it. Fucking depressing. Depressed me about myself when I was a part of it too. Fifteen years is a long time to devote to such people and places, so I’ve paid my dues. Don’t owe any of them anything anymore. Their lives are their own, and they can poison and ruin them if they so desire. Not my problem and I don’t wish to belong among them. Been there, done that, and damn-near wrecked what I have in the process. And all for what? So as to lose yourself within a crowd? To try to tune out reality? Well, reality has proven to be awfully persistent regardless of how much alcohol I tried pouring on it. Better to just face the facts than keep on dallying until you wind up losing more.

I met so many characters in that lifestyle over the years. But when I sit back now, a few months removed from the last batch, with a sober perspective, I’m unable to grasp what the great appeal really was. Wicked women and stupid men like to populate bars. Myself included in that assessment. What makes us wicked? Remaining immature, which alcohol aids in by allowing us a repeated escape. Keeps one’s thoughts dulled, along with our reflections and introspection. Plus, it puts us in contact with others doing the same thing who are more than happy to pat us on the backs and tell us shit’s not our fault and to lay blame elsewhere. Because every regular in such taverns is looking to escape personal responsibility and negative thoughts about their own past choices and behaviors. Hence why we regularly drank — to escape something. To delude ourselves into believing the problems didn’t lie in us, that we were unfortunate victims of circumstance. That life is largely about luck so all we really need to do is wait around for that stroke of fortune to come our way (no active work required on our parts). To cry in our beers over past loved ones and heart-breaks and questions we can’t find answers to. To drown out the past instead of finding a way to forge through its remnants. To meet up with sexual partners to add to the hedonistic experience and provide an outlet for the mounting tension within. To await death, partying in the meantime, telling ourselves that you only live once and that there’s no point focusing on the things that bring us down. Etc. I’m very familiar with how that lifestyle operated.

Sometimes I get to feeling like I was put here so as to provide an example of what not to do. But now I’m taking steps toward better directions, so perhaps now I can redefine my personal purpose as a striving toward redemption. Lounging around in the muck with those perfectly content behaving as swines doesn’t help one’s soul one iota, especially not when that path is embraced for years on end. And now I stand a mere 5 months removed from it. So I’m still finding my bearings and trying to figure out where to go from here. Figure my Papa is probably proud that I gave it up too, and that gives me some peace. But I am still angry at what that lifestyle represented to me and how I let myself go within it, plus how much jeopardy I placed myself in by dealing with the wrong sorts, as well as what unnecessary drama and jeopardy I created.

It’s very difficult to forgive others, but I’m finding it especially difficult to forgive myself. Though I know I have to let that go eventually so as to move on, the bitterness that realization produces still has a strong hold on me. Makes me angry at myself along with all the others who aided and abetted me. Looking back on them all, I’m having trouble accepting them for who they are. Yes, sure, they’re a bunch of fallible humans like myself who are destined to learn things the hard way, as is natural. But damn. The severity of our blindness and how that spills over onto others is astounding. Willful blindness in many cases. Advantage-taking motivations and raw selfishness. Like not only did we lose our ways, but then we came to encourage others to follow in suit. We spread it around and lured others in so as not to feel lonely in the games we played. To feel validated perhaps, instead of shunned like we very probably deserved. But I was shunned regardless, before then, during, and still now. Gives me mixed feelings there since it felt like the shunning was what I initially (as a very young adult) was aiming to escape in the first place. And you don’t feel like such a misfit when you’re surrounded by a bunch of other misfits.

Too bad it was all an illusion. Didn’t fix a thing and instead created quite a few added problems. But here we are. Onward and upward. Can’t change the past.

There are some very painful aspects from the last few years that will continue to trouble me for many moons to come undoubtedly. Things that I succumbed to. Ways that I behaved. Surprised myself with how cruel I could be. And the reminders are always around. I’d love to blame the drug, but alcohol is only part of the equation. An important part, no question, but only one aspect. The rest involves reckoning with my own human potential, which, come to find out, isn’t so rosy and innocent. People say that you’ll bog yourself down in thinking about all of that, spinning it around in your head, that you’re just at risk of developing a new victim complex of sorts. Hmm. I can see where they’re coming from with that, and I am being careful in this stage as a result. But I have mixed feelings on such claims. You really have to see yourself as you actually are, not what you wish you were, not what you pretend to be, right and wrong. That stage in personal exploration is undeniably important. To try to skip that step is likely to wind one up seeking out another addiction to hide within. And that I cannot tolerate or allow. I’d rather be hard on myself and get it over with than treat myself with kid’s gloves and not ever get to the bottom of this situation, thereby risking history repeating. I understand why others shy away from such talk, as they’re so prone to do, but I am not them nor do I wish to pretend to be like them any longer. I can take the fight and I’m not so scared of myself and my capabilities. Seen enough of my own dark side that I can’t help but be well aware of it. Can’t force a genie back in a bottle once it’s out. Gotta learn to live with it. So that’s where I’m at presently.

So yeah, this is how my days go. One foot in front of the other. Try to keep steady, accepting that sometimes that’s not possible but putting alcohol in my mouth will most certainly only make things worse, as the past has proven. Don’t plan on staying in this state of mind forever, but this remains where I’m at right now. Life doesn’t always (or often) unfold the way we think it should or wish it would. And there’s no shortage of people out there willing to pat us on the back and help in deflecting responsibility elsewhere, but that’s not actually helpful, nice as it might feel at times. If it feels good, question it — that’s become my motto. Because we tend to be weak in the face of comforts and pleasures, though it should be evident by now that a lot of those lull us into a false sense of security. Which certainly doesn’t make us stronger and more competent in managing our lives.

All is a bunch of lessons to learn, and plenty winds up being learned the hard way. Such is life. Hop over one trap only to find ourselves mired in another we didn’t see. That’s just the way it often goes. But that’s also what makes life so interesting and perplexing. If nothing else, it keeps us busy in trying to make heads or tails out of what’s going on. Some days I’m up to the challenge, while others I’d rather hide my head, wondering what the hell this is all for. And that’s precisely the wrong question to be asking. THAT is where we succumb to seeing ourselves and others as victims of circumstances instead of as fellow travelers in this journey we call Life. Giving in to nihilism and destructive tendencies is too easy to be of much (if any) value. Counter-intuitive as it seems, it’s almost as if trying to carry the toughest and heaviest load we can bear winds up bringing greater life satisfaction, as well as provides a better example to others so as to lessen their fears. But I’m still sorting all of that out and won’t make grand claims. I just know that we’re capable of a lot more than we typically give in this life. Sitting up in a bar is for laborers after a long day working, not for commonfolk running from reality.

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.

Putting myself on a diet

Enjoying a lazy weekend over here. Though I am a bit moody as well, partly to do with trying out a diet plan (referred to as ketogenic wherein you severely reduce carbohydrate intake). Why? Because my weight bugs me. Went down between 2015-2016, then jumped up again in 2017, irking me a great deal. Occurred because I got lazy over last winter and spring and also because my former partner is a good cook who loves to make all things fatty and/or sweet. I don’t care to cook much, so I rely on his meal offerings instead, and so then I ballooned up 20+ lbs. once again. Certainly not his fault — he has enough muscle to allow him to eat whatever he wants. I, on the other hand, must be more restrictive.

Can’t say that I’m terribly enthusiastic in this stage of the game though. My net carbs today came out to 20g — on point. But I can’t stand the taste of artificial sweeteners. Never did and likely never will. Tried Stevia, tried erythritol. Nonplussed, to say the least. disgusted  Would rather skip sweeteners altogether than deal with that crud. Ugh. But this is a temporary diet intended to help burn off the stores of fat I’m currently toting around so that eventually I can maintain at a healthier weight level. That and I’ve been having issues with my blood sugar acting up during the day, leaving me jittery and shaky. Can’t be having that. Gotta get my body under better control and cut out a lot of this highly processed food, particularly the carb-rich, starchy products that have long played havoc on my health. Heaven forbid I turn out to be pre-diabetic.

So, this is what I’m trying to do currently. Figure it’s high time I confront this sugar addiction. Not a major fan of sweets so much as potatoes and bread, but all winds up affecting my blood sugar in a similar fashion. I guess I consider this phase 2 where quitting drinking alcohol was phase 1. Seems like a good idea, or at least it did until I tried eating a bowl of artificially sweetened chia seeds and hemp hearts this morning.  yuck_smilie  Straight-up sucked!

Lots of eggs are also involved in this diet plan. Lots and lots of them. Made an egg bake yesterday with tomatoes, spinach and cheeses that will hopefully be finished up tomorrow. Tried making a veggie pasta the other day with spaghetti squash noodles alongside a grilled chicken breast, but something was seriously off about the squash. Didn’t smell right. Must’ve bought a bad pack, so into the trash those noodles went. Settled for sauteed zucchini grown in my best guyfriend’s garden, which was great. And bacon is permissible on this diet plan too, so that’s comforting.

I’m not one to diet. Never really have been. Tried Weight Watchers once upon a time (over a decade back) just so that I could track my food intake on their nifty website (now a better and free alternative exists: myfitnesspal.com). Tried a water fast for 4 days back in early 2007, but only because it was necessary that I drop a few pounds pronto (for reasons I don’t care to disclose here, just know it wasn’t for vanity purposes). That wasn’t too bad after the first couple of days, so I’d be willing to try a water fast again eventually (during a week when I’m not too busy). But other than that, dieting has never been my bag. Always struck me as unsustainable and not worth the time and effort. Better to just exercise more and eat relatively sensibly. But then I got to reading about the dangers of sugar in our typical American diets and how it’s linked with various medical maladies. Then I learned of people who dropped significant amounts of weight (even without exercising) through cutting down on carbs. So now my vanity is acting up and wants a piece of the action.

So, this is the new project to keep me occupied in weeks to come. Have a few items on order from Amazon to aid in this pursuit, including a dark chocolate protein powder (that received high ratings and better be tastier than the other I sampled recently). The primary goal of making shakes/smoothies for me is to use them as a means to hide other ingredients within, such as beef and pork gelatin powder (for my joints — still having a lot of trouble with my knees) and veggies that I otherwise won’t eat (like kale). We’ll see how well that works out.

A few days ago I purchased a bottle of Torani’s sugar-free hazelnut syrup for my coffee and was left seriously disappointed. Perfectly good cup of coffee ruined by that. The aftertaste lasted for hours no matter what I drank or ate (even after brushing my teeth). Ugh. So gross. Wondering which neighbor I can possibly pawn that stuff off on.

Am thinking that I’d be better off finding ways to utilize the sugars in fruits instead of screwing with those nasty non-sugar sweeteners. Otherwise I’m just going to stick with eating fruits by themselves on occasion and Ghirardelli’s 86% cacao squares for when I crave a dessert. Earlier tonight I tried my hand at making a chocolate mug cake, though I reduced the amount of sweetener the recipe called for since that stuff sucks. Turned out tasting pretty weird. Not sure I want to go that route again. Seems I’d be better off using a tiny bit of actual sugar and then cutting carbs elsewhere on days I decide to fix a treat. Or maybe I can find a blueberry mug muffin recipe that doesn’t call for sweetener at all. That’d be ideal.

AND, this week I also fucked up by sampling a seaweed snack on sale at the local natural grocer. OMG! SOOO nasty! It had the texture of crinkly plastic film and came in super thin sheets. Folded one sheet into my mouth and attempted to chew, but no. No no no no no. Had to spit that crud out right away. That’s not food. Tasted like a dried salty leaf (which technically is exactly what it was) and smelled like old seafood (duh). Made me angry at myself that I ever put that in my mouth. Ha! No joke though. That was disgusting! I kept the bag just so as to warn others. Annie Chun’s Roasted Sesame Seaweed Snacks — buyers beware. Its texture and taste is still haunting me.

Yeah, so I’m off to a rough start. Not a seasoned dieter, so I’m bound to make dumb mistakes like this. Probably will be best if I just keep it simple and stick with basic tried-and-true foods that also happen to be low on carbs. Like meats and cheese and veggies. But it is fun experimenting, at least some of the time anyway. Turns out that I happen to like unsweetened vanilla almond milk. And I found some tortilla wraps that are high in fiber and low in carbs that actually aren’t bad (brand name: Tumaro’s). Sunbutter (kinda like peanut butter but with sunflower seeds instead of peanuts) is all right. And I’m planning on trying my hand at making a pizza crust using only riced cauliflower and parmesan cheese — wish me luck with that.

As of the last time I weighed myself (on Wednesday, I think), I was down approximately 5 lbs. Will likely weigh myself again on Tuesday (when I regain access to a scale, refusing to own one myself). Still working out, but only at the gym maybe 3-4 days a week right now. Playing with my dumbbells at home some too. Still trying to take it easy so that my left elbow will heal, but it’s proving to be a very slow process.

Currently am 15.5 weeks into my commitment to stop drinking, with no slip-ups since that first week. Giving up beer seems to have contributed to me turning toward consuming more carbs and putting on a few pounds — hence another reason why this all feels necessary right about now. Many people quit drinking and lose weight, but not me apparently. Nope, I turned to snacking on junk food instead. So this is my attempt to rein myself in and develop greater self-discipline while aiming to curb my appetite for sugars so that hopefully those cravings will lessen with time. Sounds good in theory anyway. It promises to be an interesting exploration regardless.

Save

Save

Journaling on a Wednesday evening in August 2017

Been a good week so far. Hit the gym hard the last 3 days with plans to continue doing so tomorrow and Friday, in hope of making this a regular M-F routine. So nice having my trainer stationed at a nearby gym once again, plus I’m now saving money in not needing to pay him for training on the side. Determined to lose several pounds since I put so much back on over the last year (particularly the winter) after his gym closed down. Slowly but surely I am doing so, though now I’m kicking my activity up a notch, once again. Feels good. Nice and tiring. Haven’t lost my strength gains either, which is wonderful. And, come to find out, I haven’t lost any balance and flexibility either (demonstrated during last night’s yoga session). So…onward and upward there.

Currently in week 10 of my commitment to stop drinking. All is going well there. It’s gotten easier with each passing week. Less often do I drop into my favorite local watering holes nowadays, and when I do I’m only there for a short spell. Still nice to run into folks I haven’t seen in a minute and to chat and catch up. And I do like playing the Megatouch machine — got a rolling competition with a couple people across a few locations that’s been going on for years. Waste of money, sure, but I’m spending $5 or less usually when I do go out now (a far cry from what my outings used to cost me!).

Been successfully squirreling away money once again. Most of it is earmarked already, but it’s great to see my finances improving. Amazing how much money one saves by not blowing it in bars. Also picked up a new business contact whom I start working with tomorrow, so that too will help in giving my finances a boost.

Went grocery shopping for some healthier meal and snack options today. Not been doing terrible in that department lately, but wanting to tighten up on the reins a bit when it comes to carb intake. Still preparing pasta regularly, and that will likely never change, but I’m turning my attention more toward veggies and leaner meats. A couple nights ago I whipped up a Mediterranean-style omelet with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and spinach. Delicious. Plan on having that again tonight.

Cutting down on my coffee intake since that made me jittery. It helped for right after I quit drinking alcohol, but then it began creating an interference of its own. Even caused me to post up a couple videos on YT where I was visibly hyper. Ha! So I switched to part-decaf and reduced the amount I drink each day. Feeling fine with that decision. Tea is typically more my speed anyway. Still drinking the heck out of seltzer water…good stuff.

Was invited over to my former partner’s place for tacos last night, which went well. We went 5 whole weeks without seeing one another after our last fight, but then we started back talking on the phone and last weekend decided to get together once again. Guess we’re fated to deal with one another indefinitely, and that’s fine, so long as we manage to get along better. He’s been sweet lately so I can’t complain. Wish we’d get our shit together so that out friendship isn’t so rocky, and hopefully we will. Obviously enjoy one another’s company when we are getting along.

What else? Oh, I stopped by a local independent bookstore on Monday and picked up a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. Why? Because I want to know what protesters are being taught out there. Doesn’t strike me as wise to employ the same methods, but I’d at least like to learn about them. Currently resuming listening to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. I — one long-ass book. Interesting to learn about Soviet Russia though. The other print book I’m still reading in when time permits is Otto Rank’s Art and Artist (another long-ass book). Actually sat outside yesterday afternoon for about 45 minutes reading it, allowing the dog a little extra time to run around in the yard.

As of today, I’m working on training a puppy to walk on a leash. So far, so good. He’s a fairly fast learner, aside from his terrible teething phase. It’ll help the owner to get his energy out since it’s difficult for her to walk him far. Learning to heel on the right so as not to trip her up is the current challenge. We’ll get it — just takes time.

Sorted more of my books a few days ago and redecorated one of my bookcases. Improves the feng shui up in here.

Headed out to catch some rays at the “beach” with my best guyfriend on Sunday. We also dined at a Mexican restaurant we both like. Was a nice afternoon.

Not much else to report on at this time.

Urges will remain into the indefinite future

Had a dream last night. In it I was at some small, out of the way bar I had never been to before, accompanied by a few friends, and decided to order a drink. The beer I had ordered arrived, but it wasn’t beer. Someone said something about the drink containing vodka, but it tasted like a sweet white wine. I recall the way the bartender looked at me very curiously. And I took the small glass and sipped its contents. Felt rewarded for a moment. Inside my head began the struggle between enjoying this one libation and throwing caution to the wind and going ahead and drinking my fill for the evening. Seems that in the dream I opted to carry around the cup rather than down it and refill it. There were a bunch of vehicles around, including some that didn’t appear capable of running, like we were out on somebody’s private property. I can’t recall who the friends were who surrounded me, but I heard us laughing. Then I woke up to the alarm blaring.

The urges remain, as they likely will continue for a long time. Nothing I can do about that. Though so far I haven’t had many dreams about drinking alcohol. Just every once in a while one pops up into my imagination. Habits die hard. But this dream contained no profound insights or interesting events. It was humdrum and felt typical. The only part that really stands out to me about it was being presented the clear, slightly fizzy concoction in the small cup that looked nothing like beer with the unknown bartender looking at me in a peculiar way. Though I can recall feeling a rush of release, the sensation of the floodgate coming down when I give into temptation. Experienced that feeling many times in the past and know it well. It feels elating, pleasurable, welcome — the opposite of holding myself back and restricting my access. But with the latter comes a greater long-term payout: increased satisfaction with myself and my decisions.

Not much more to it than that. Decided to record it here regardless since most dreams evaporate within a few short hours if I don’t trap them in writing.

Late-night journaling in early July

Now 3.5 weeks into my commitment to stop drinking and feeling fine. No big problems thus far. The cravings come and go, but they so far haven’t proven too difficult to resist and move past (other than that one snafu night a couple weeks back, but that being the only one — feel like I have to note that for full disclosure purposes — keeping it real, heh). But yeah, so far so good. People drink around me sometimes but it hasn’t really bugged me much. One night my former partner’s beer started beckoning me, so I prepared my stuff to leave and let him know I felt a bit tempted, then I wound up reverting my attention to a National Lampoon movie on the television and forgot about it.

Though the cravings do remain and are very real. Just that they’re not as difficult to combat as I’d imagined they would be or as they were during previous times in trying to quit drinking alcohol. Still do kinda miss a big frosty mug or pint glass in my hands, but not too much. My beer can fetish is easily enough remedied by toting my Schweppes seltzer water cans around instead. Fizzy yet no calories. Goes down easy and keeps me distracted from the barley pop. Obviously lacks any kick, which I do sometimes miss, but I remind myself promptly what all tends to accompany that kick. All it takes is a trip down memory lane (even memories from this year alone) to cure me of wanting a repeat of any of that. So not worth it.

Been spending a lot more time online lately, seeing as how I have a good bit more time on my hands. Watched countless videos by Kevin O’Hara on his AlcoholMastery channel over the last three weeks, all of which have proven helpful. His calm demeanor and Irish accent is very soothing while the information and experiences he shares really resonate with me. Also wandered onto other channels on YT to listen to others’ experiences on quitting drinking, including a few millennials. Good to see so many of them recognizing the problems with that lifestyle so early in life, though I’m saddened to hear the sordid details of some of their tales. Can relate to plenty of that too. They tend to refer to their issue with alcohol as “binge drinking,” but like my former partner pointed out earlier tonight, that’s what older and heavier drinkers refer to as “novice drinkers.” Which is to say that every drinker starts out with bingeing; over the years it develops into a more steady (and generally daily) habit. It’s a progression.

Very glad to have come to my senses finally. Been knowing I had to get to this point sooner rather than later, but I struggled with it over the last couple years and wouldn’t give up the drinking. Not until I got seriously pissed off, at both myself and a good many of my fellow bar patrons. This is one example where getting angry really paid off. If one can harness it, that is. Which I finally did, partly by choice and partly because I was going to blow my lid otherwise. So sick of some of the losers I found myself in the company of at these various watering holes over the years, culminating in me arriving at the worst pub I’ve ever set foot in. But I’m grateful for what major assholes some of those people proved to be — made my decision so much easier finally. Gave me a terrific wake-up call like no other. Showed me what lay in store for folks who give in to that lifestyle and take it too far. Also showed me what a bunch of bitter jerks we can be when our lives wind up reduced to shallow indulgences that do us no good. So, for these reasons, I’m glad I waltzed into that joint earlier this year and took time to get to know those assholes. They definitely made an impression on me, and I’m pleased as punch to keep putting distance between myself and folks like them. Full-on misery loving company there. Good riddance.

Not that assholes are limited to that one watering hole. Assholes abound all throughout the barscene. I don’t doubt I was an asshole too. Kinda goes with the territory.

And I’ll probably remain an asshole-of-sorts. Just glad to no longer be ingesting a chemical that messes up my mind to where I say so many of the wrong things and frequently enough can’t even recall what they even were. Tired of feeling guilty about that. Also tired of dealing with idiots who love to get a reaction out of more emotional folks like myself. Too difficult for me to check my emotions and remain level-headed once I’ve had enough to drink. I tend to get far too reactive and mouthy. Irritated by disrespect and unnecessary bullshit, or I create it. And we’re all so prone to talk over one another’s shoulders and misunderstand each other’s intentions. They react, I react, and all communication bogs down. Hence why they prefer to keep talk so light and stupid, thinking that will stave off reasons for people to argue. But it doesn’t work that way for me. Their attempts at light and stupid tend to grate on my nerves. Just don’t possess enough patience any longer to deal with all of that. Something went snap in me over time and I no longer wish to put up with my fellow barhounds’ bullshit. Went beyond stupid, beyond depressing even. Became downright pathetic. And I do include myself in that assessment as well.

It’s all still on my mind day to day as I adjust to this new way of being. But more and more I find myself thinking about other matters and letting the bad aftertaste of dealing with those jokers slowly fade away. Will take time though. Dealt with those sorts for too long. Became one of them, at least so far as I was able to. And now that’s over and there’s all kinds of new terrain to explore.

Been re-listening to some of my audiobooks lately, including Taleeb Starkes’ Black Lies Matter and Dr. James Hollis’s What Matters Most: Living A More Considered Life. Put the last bit of volume 1 of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago on hold a few weeks back, with plans to finish it soon enough. Picked back up my print copy of Otto Rank’s Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development now that I have nifty reading glasses to aid me. Already mentioned on another recent post reading Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. A couple weeks back I listened to The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault, which was just okay. Before that I listened to A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History by Nicholas Wade. And also The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, which was an interesting story. And a couple other titles that slip my mind right now.

Yesterday afternoon I rented 3 of the remakes of The Planet of the Apes films, in preparation for watching the newest one coming out later this month. Don’t know much about these movies, having only seen bits and pieces of the originals. The storyline sounds interesting, so hopefully it lives up to the expectations. Thinking of cooking up spaghetti Friday evening and nestling in to begin this series. A friend of mine also wants to see them, and my former partner said he too might try to sit through one of them (not much a movie-watcher usually). Might be fun. (Might also finally break out the new popcorn popper I received as a gift months back.)

What else? Trimmed my hair this evening. It needed it. The bleached tips are drying out and in need of gradual removal. Oiled it up tonight with argon oil (and coconut oil on the tips) after putting my usual drops of jojoba oil in with my conditioners. Managed to create a nice layering effect in the back this time around. Took some time and patience but I like the result. Been trimming my own hair for a couple years or more now and so far so good. Thinking of dyeing it again sometime soon, though I can’t settle on a shade. Went with black with reddish copper tips last time, but the black dye faded all throughout pretty fast. So much for Garnier Nutrisse being a permanent dye. The black dyes I’ve used in the past were steadfast, but not that stuff. So nevermind that brand. Leaning with going for a golden medium brown to slightly lighten my original color a bit. Done it plenty of times before to nice effect. But I’m also toying with going more amber, though it seems everybody is going for red hues these days. But solid black looks flat, and my hair is already dark brown. Burgundy shades are out since they too are all the rage right now. So medium golden brown it probably will be. Avoiding the frosting this time since it’s so damaging to my hair. Been dyeing my own hair since I was a young teen, rarely opting to go the salon route, and I’ve been mostly pleased with the results. Saves money to do it oneself, plus I’ve had my hair botched worse by stylists than by myself.

Little pretties like that make me happy. Still meaning to get around to doing my complete pedicure and possible manicure. Been lazy lately though. Have to stick with neutral shades when I do it myself since I don’t have the skills that the Asian nail tech ladies possess. Best to leave the application of dark and bright shades to them. Someday I’ll be able to afford their services again. Just have to catch up my finances for a spell before indulging in such luxuries.

That’s about it for now. Taking it easy, relaxing when not working, exercising occasionally, still staying up late most nights but aiming to wake earlier, sharing meals pretty regularly with my former partner (he’s been particularly generous lately in inviting me over for dinners — probably part of the reason I’ve yet to lose any weight these past 3 weeks), and keeping the alcohol out of my mouth (in the words of Kevin O’Hara). Oh, and on the 4th of July my former and I went on a walk to observe the local fireworks, which was nice. We rarely walk together much anymore, so that was good. Didn’t bicker too much either.