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Portrait of a Young Man as The Artist

Seeding Interstitial Time

At the beginning of December I made a choice: stop filling empty time with diversion.

I, like many in my cohort, love my iPhone and my iPad and all the wondrous things of the connected world. I, like many in my cohort, enjoy updating and checking all my social media. Currently, I interact with Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr, and Ello (a little). (RunKeeper abd MyFitnessPal too insofar as I have two people I follow who use it as actively as I do.)

I, like many in my cohort, spend inordinate amounts of time bouncing between social media streams. I follow enough people that by the time I’m done with a round of checking, there’s new stuff to be seen.

The random reinforcement, the dopamine hit, is strong. It’s classical (thanks @_toddmc) conditioning, you see, and a pleasant way to spend your free time. I just felt like it was getting out of my hand.

So. Instead of checking twitter in those moments of down time, I either read a book (a real paper book) or engage in active mindfulness (sort of like short term meditation).

The results have been rather neat for the first one. In the last 20 days, I have read the following books:

  • The Quick and Easy Way to Effective Public Speaking, Dale Carnegie (224 pages)
  • Confessions of a public speaker, Scott Berkun (240)
  • Keeping it Straight, Patrick Rhone (175 pages)
  • This Could Help, Patrick Rhone (145 pages)
  • Presentation Zen, Gar Reynolds (312 pages)
  • Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs, Carmine Gallo (256 pages)
  • The Elements of Style, Strunk & White. (88 pages)
  • On Writing, Stephen King (320 pages)December 2014
  • Beyond Trying, Mike Vardy (e-book, no listing)

They aren’t hefty or anything and I’m obviously reading outside of the interstitial times. But: I’m finding the change significantly more gratifying.

And when I read more, I feel like I’m doing something good for myself. When I’m feeling good about myself, I do good things for myself like exercise, write, plan projects, and the like.

The reduction of the dopaminergic reward cycle of social media has allowed my drive for self-actualization to reassert itself rather than hunt for the next stimulus.

In other words: Be Pavlov; Not the dog.

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do good things

Thanksgiving come and gone. It was quiet this year. We went from three families to just the one, me and my Dad. The introverts. It was sedate with a steady cooking cadence that felt like mastery over Side Dish Logistics. Nothing burned. Everything offering a warm comfort simultaneously.

Dad was chill, bouncing between football updates and asking me about house and home. He has always been delicate trying to discover me. I don’t get that given my lasting memory of his candor, usually born from a need for simplicity. But he did ask in a gentle way about things never before discussed.

“Don’t worry, I’m a weirdo too” was how he reassured me when asking about Shibari, about processing hemp, about my market for Bunny Rope. He appreciates my approach to my business as well as my plan, both entrenched in the simplicity he taught me. It resonated with him, with us both, when talking about dye chemistry and my inability to comprehend selling rope that could dye your hands just from picking it up. Do good things, carefully, not too quickly.

“As a parent, you always wonder what else you could or should have noticed.” My tattoo, which he learned more about because others were less timid to discuss it with me, represented harder times in my life. Times when, like thanksgiving, it was just us bouncing between football and commentary but I had something more sharp than typical teenage angst trying to cut through my identity. He knew. He didn’t know. Who could have known what was really in my mind? I told him it wasn’t his fault, it was me and the dreadful people I surrounded myself with. But it was his advice that led me to the right college, the right light at the end of the tunnel, I told him.

“But it is unexpectedly gratifying to see what your kids become.”

Left unsaid but as plain as the tears in both our eyes, the guilt over not acting more overtly.

Guilt is self inflicted. I know these things: Do good things, carefully, not too quickly. You let me be me how I needed to be me when I needed to be me.

Don’t worry, I’m a weirdo too.

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Traveling.  Energy.  Creativity.

     I’m regularly exercising again and I’m traveling for work right now which has a curious affect on me, the combination of the two.  

     Exercise lightens my mood in a (medical) textbook way.  My brain moves quickly, focuses well, makes connections, and keeps me pleasant.  I view myself and the world about me with a particular clarity and easiness I feel is generally reserved for runners and buddhists.  I am in the world.

     When traveling, I feel surprisingly less-stressed, (even) better organized, and productive.  This is especially true when I have a few things to work on back at the office that I can do remotely.  Working from a hotel is surprisingly engrossing, something about the different setting keeps me lively.  I am about the world.

     Of late, I’ve been feeling tis bubbling need to do something large and creative and being on the road has given me more time to think about it.  It feels like it wants to be a treatise of some sort, something longer and over-arching, touching on themes I’ve been recently thinking about regarding my favorite aspects of my life- buddhism, self-presentation, quality, privacy law, and productivity.  Which, take together, looking mostly unrelated.

     I am not sure they are necessarily related, or should be.

     But I feel like i want to write a book about something in there.

     Or make a podcast.

     Or go to law school.

     Or just do something that brings together all of the things that I care about in my day to day.

     I’m not sure how to tease it out either.  I vaguely expect that, as I think and write and read on any and all of these things that I’ll have that magic Aha! moment when some final connection happens in a conversation and I’ll have it.

     Similarly, I feel like I should be funneling all this… I don’t know.. Glamour into Bunny Rope but that feels… misguided. I have so many interested and they’re so disparate.

     How do you work through that fog to clarify what the Thing is supposed to be?

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Treadmills, man.

Treadmills are dreadful. I had forgotten because I had not seriously used one in winter in a very long time. Normally when I have a running goal it’s after winter and i can run outdoors like Darwin intended.

Not so much deciding to do a 13 week mini training program before MTKF. Thus: I am tethered to a treadmill 3-5 times a week.

Really the worst part is that there’s nothing to look at in my gym. The have a bank of TVs but it’s all News or Sports and I disagree with Sports and New and especially Sports News but that is a different discussion. So I sort of pan the room and try really really hard to not watch the pretty women on various machines in eye sight.

Of course, the only thing that mesmerizes me enough that my mind blanks is cross fit butts when I’m on a treadmills.

Apparently I’m that guy.

It does make it easier when @alyska is at the gym with me.

Otherwise, the mini-program is going pretty well. I’m essentially starting over because I’ve gained enough weight that I have some breathing issues though I have few muscle endurance issues. I had a minor “Oh Fuck” moment today when, after running for what seemed like too long, the dial read .73 miles.

“I’m never going to make my targets,” I though.

But. I didn’t give up. I, in fact, sped up.

And wouldn’t you know it, .73 miles later the treadmill hit cool down. Because it was counting down from my target distance.

That was really nice.

And the cross fit butts. That was nice too.

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On Weight and Health

Weight is not health. Let me say that now,
I am bad separating the two. Let me also say that now.

Some numbers for you:

I currently weigh 208.7lbs at 6ft tall.
My body fat percentage is pretty frightening at 31% which is the highest its been since high school.

At my best weight, I was about 170 at about 28%.
At my worst I was 260 at 45% (O_O).

At my healthiest I was about 180 and 26% and running 5 or so times a week training for a half marathon in 2010. And defining healthy here as “felt confident and looked good in my skin.”

This week, a friend started a Biggest Loser type contest for attendees of January’s Madtown Kinkfest. No matter what you say, people want to look and feel fantastic during the event and much of what feeds our self-perception, discounting the incessant and blaring societal judgments, is that number. It is nice to feel attractive when you’re running around the evening parties, especially in kinky atmosphere. It is inevitable that you want to look good.

I am attempting to track my progress in the facile, weight-based fashion with a few specific goals, hopefully achievable in 16 weeks.

Goals

Cardio based:
– Run a 5k at 9min pace
– Finish a 10miler

Strength based:
– 75 Kettlebell swings at 50lbs
– 1 pull up

Food:
– Track intake (just an excuse to use a FieldNotes notebook :))
– Stop carb snacking

I’m most worried about the second goals in all category as they are a stretch. I’ve not run more than 3miles at a time for months nor have I ever been able to do a pull-up (for obvious, one-hand reasons). And keeping away from carbs as been tricky with how we have to stock for some of alyska‘s dietary needs.

These feel emotionally possible though they may well be physically impossible.

In all honesty? I don’t really care if I don’t make those goals in time. I more need the target and maybe a place to talk about it.

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Lover’s observance:
Slowly pulling at grasses.
Hear the lark’s head sing.

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Underwood

Additional “acquisition” from the weekend. This is alyska‘s grandmother’s typewriter. It spend the last few decades in a basement without the best moisture control.

I cleaned it up this morning with alcohol and soap and a tooth brush. The black paint is chipped and the metal rusted in places. The bell rings clear and the carriage advances when you connect the belt. Some of the key faces are cloudy and yellowed and the hammers stick a little bit. They all depress with a satisfying cluck.

It has character and personal history which makes it the best kind of relic.

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Shuk

My fascination with typewriters stared young. My mother, wanting to encourage the creative writing I was already doing, retreived a typewriter from her mother’s basement. I remember it feeling enormous when she handed it to me. I could barely lift it.

I don’t remember much otherwise. It was in a powder blue suitcase with beige keys and metal casing. It made a delightful shuk shuk shuk sound. The keys slotted back in place easily. It was the first time I was satisfied with putting ink on paper. It wasn’t handwriting but it was still tactile and pleasant to feel and legible.

It didn’t write much with it though. I never get the hang of writing first then editing afterward with a pen. I was a perfectionist child and didn’t understand the creative process. Clearly the great poets of the world would simple dash our perfect couplet after perfect couplet.

If I couldn’t do the same, I wasn’t doing it right. And it’s why I couldn’t bring myself to write on the typewriter.

I feared the misplaced letter and avoided that fear on the computer. I taught myself to stare at a blank page and write and rewrite a phrase in my head until it was perfect them put it on the page. With a computer, I could fix the typos, the regular transpositions I create from typing one-handed. No one could see them. No one could see that I wasn’t spectacular.

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Super dorky new iPhone wallpapers.

Also: new home screen organization.

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graydancer interviewed me for an upcoming Ropecast. He asked about passion and I had some thoughts.

Harnessed.

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