Archive for February 2014

Boxing

I’ve always been a bit of a boxing fan. I probably became a fan because my grandpa used to watch it pretty much every weekend, be it on ABC’s Wide World of Sports, or some other televised event. I didn’t know who the boxers were then, but there was always a fight on at some point on the weekend, and I guess that stuck with me.

Oddly, I never became a fan of MMA fighting. It was always about boxing and still is. I even watch it on ESPN pretty regularly, but finding a fight with people I recognize is pretty tough to do. Even the PPV events are a drag because the main event doesn’t usually happen until midnight. That’s a lot of undercard when you’re paying for a particular fight.

Anyway, I was never really interested in actually getting in a ring and learning how to box, but hitting a heavy bag was always fun. Recently, it has become an outlet for pent-up emotions, of which I have a metric fuckton. It’s not unusual for me to end up on the floor of my basement bawling my eyes out after a session with the heavy bag, but that’s good. It feels good to let it out.

The one thing that sticks with me with boxing, though, is the level of exercise it gives me. I couldn’t go more than a few minutes without being utterly exhausted, and seeing as how I hate running and I hate riding the exercise bike and I hate, well, almost anything that causes my heart rate to increase, in the back of my mind boxing always had a glimmer of light for me.

Therefore, at the behest of a good friend of mine who has been working out in a boxing gym for about four weeks now, I went and checked out a gym in Ann Arbor to see if it was something I’d like to do. Title Boxing Club is on the west side of Ann Arbor, oddly enough, in the same building where I bought a bicycle several years ago.  They have an offer of one free class to try and see if it’s something you’d like to do, so despite battling a cold, I decided to do it today.  I’ll use my texts to the aforementioned friend to describe how it went.

First of all, I had to buy hand wraps, and the woman who showed me around last week was there to help me wrap my hands. You get to use loaner gloves for your free hourlong class, and since I seem to have big hands, I got to use the full leather ones, which was pretty cool. About 15 people were in my class, and the hour is broken down into a 15-minute warmup, 8 3-minute rounds of various combinations on the heavy bag with a one-minute break in between, then 15 minutes of core work.

The bell rung for the beginning and I was already nervous about the level of energy our class trainer had. This woman was the captain of the women’s boxing team at the University of Michigan, she was muscular and fit and happy and I wanted to kill her, but holy hell was she awesome.  Anyway, the first 15 minutes summed up as so:

So it’s 15 minutes of warm up consisting of squats and high knee and jump rope and running in place and mountain climbers and burpees and OMFG kill me now

I think we were a minute and a half into the warmup when I was sure I was gonna die at some point. There was prayer, and pain, and the desire to punch myself in the face for even thinking there was a chance in hell this was a good idea. My GOD did it suck. And there was still 13 minutes on the clock.

I survived the warm-up, and not only was I warm, I was just about done. But nobody else was. They all were ready for more, and I certainly didn’t want to be the loser who walked out then and there, so it was time to box. Round One came up on the board, and the clock started, and the trainer continued barking commands…

Then 8 3-minute rounds of various combos both regular and southpaw and one guy said he couldn’t get thru six rounds the first time and I want to punch handicapped kittens

I did it. I stopped a few times in awe of my lung capacity, and to make sure I could still lift my arms, and that I had feet at the bottom of my rubbery legs, but I did it. I finished all 8 rounds. The guy who said he’d been coming a year and was a part-time trainer is the same guy who told me he got through six rounds his first time and was done – he came over and fist-bumped me. I was pretty pumped. We were almost done. 15 minutes of core work and I will have survived.

Core work. It sounds so innocent…

Then 15 minutes of core work like planks and side planks and crunches and scissors and I think I’m dead now.

This was way worse than the boxing. Planks, side planks, crunches, a medicine ball, twists and turns. At one point I could actually feel my ab muscles twirling into a ball in revolt. It was awful. I wondered what I did to deserve this. I wondered if it would be better just to bang my head against the brick wall until I bled out. If I could stand or lift my arms or blink I would’ve decked the trainer right then and there. But I couldn’t. Sneaky bitch.

And then we were done. The misery was finally over, and I could lay there in my sweat-soaked shirt and peel off my hand wraps and catch my breath, which literally took about 10 minutes it seemed. And then, after talking to one of the other trainers, I did the unthinkable…

I paid them to do the same thing to me over and over again for a year.

But here’s the thing – as much as it hurt and as much as I complained and as much as I thought I was gonna die, I didn’t want to quit. I wanted to be able to do squats during the one-minute round breaks. I wanted to be able to do the speed punches at the end of each round. I just wanted to be able to do more. I know I pushed myself harder than I’ve ever been pushed and there’s still so much more to do and I want to do it. I hate to run. I hate to bike. But this is fucking awesome and I loved hating every single minute of it. Most of all I made it through and it felt incredible and all I wanted to do was tell everyone.

So I’m going back to do it some more. Assuming I can stand up tomorrow.

Title Boxing Club – Ann Arbor 

Paralyzed

I can’t get up.

I can’t even refill my coffee cup.

I have to do something and my mind tells me to just get up and do it. Stand up and put one foot in front of the other and just fucking do it. But I can’t, and I have no idea why.

Did I do something wrong and I don’t know it? What’s making me feel this way today? What’s going to get me out of it?

It may be grief, or pain, or sadness, or uncertainty. Or maybe the world just doesn’t need me right now. Maybe it all goes on and spins without me helping it today. Maybe it’s looking at me and saying “It’s okay, just come up when you’re ready.”

But then it’s gotten the best of me, and I’m not ready to succumb. Undefined sadness stabs me in the heart but doesn’t kill me. It makes me suffer. It makes me find a way to fight.

Hope brings no happiness today, but I still hope I figure it out before I run out of ways to fight.

I just need to stand up now.

thisclose

I felt inspired by my earlier post and wanted to write some more today. I thought about working on my screenplay more (huh? you say) but couldn’t get more than about two minutes of screen time on that, so I came back here. But what to write about? Anything and everything, I guess.

I have a friend who went through what I went through. She lost her husband a little over a year ago and had a very difficult day today. I offered my shoulder to cry on as I’ve done on hers so many times, but she said no. She didn’t want that. She didn’t want anybody. I don’t know how that makes you feel but it’s perfectly understandable to me. We perfect the art of putting on a pretty, happy face for people around us whose concern is probably genuine, but our apprehension in sharing our grief is incredibly overwhelming.

I often talk about the pain of being alone. I often talk about how loneliness is debilitating and destroys any plans I may have for any given day. But you shouldn’t think for a second that being alone is always a terrible thing for me. I regularly choose to be alone and I’m not above lying about what I’m doing to have time for myself. I listen to the Shit list I mentioned before, or I go to breakfast. Shit, I even just flat-out close my office door at work, because being alone is so much better than being fake. So much better.

At the same time, my happiness isn’t always fake, either. I honestly enjoy the company of my friends and do what I can to be with them as much as I can, when I feel like it. I went to a concert last week in a smoke-filled bus and had a fantastic time with a bunch of people I haven’t really hung out with before. I enjoy the pick-up line at school because it affords me the opportunity to spend five minutes with people who often find it difficult to spend social time with me.

So what’s the point? My life is feeling more like mine. It feels less like a life I am hoping to have and more like one I’m supposed to have, and I’m getting comfortable with it. I’m setting boundaries all around me and controlling how effective those boundaries are. I’m accepting what I can get when it doesn’t jive with what I want, and I’m worrying less. I’m here for people to come to for whatever reason, and I’m going to people who can help me with whatever I may need, even if it’s just a smile.

I don’t know if it’s right or it’s wrong, and I certainly expect a different plan will be in place before long, but this is how it is today. I wrote before about playing my cards closer to the vest. I wrote about some people getting more of me than others. Those things are still true, but everybody gets a little bit of me. It may just be here. This place is the least I give. It’s everything I’m completely comfortable with. But there’s so much more. And I like saving that for just a few of you.

I think I’m gonna learn to fly.

Just write

Write every day. It doesn’t matter what you write about or how awful it is. It doesn’t matter if you are in the zone or in left field. Just write, and do it every single day.

I’ll admit that I’ve been hesitant to write here lately. The reasons aren’t important right now, but after a few days and conversations with friends I’m back in the right frame of mind. So I’ll write some more.

I don’t know what will come of it or what I will talk about, but the therapeutic outlet it gives me is nothing I can walk away from easily. I’ve simply adjusted my sails and have become more mindful of the effect my writing may have on others. I like to share my life with all of you and will continue to do so, and it will probably be easier and more introspective now, and yet more controlled.

I’m still the same old me, and I hope you look forward to reading more from me. I hope to do it every day, no matter the quality of the content. I enjoy having you read along, but I don’t write for anyone but me. I’m excited to get rolling again.

Valentine’s Day

I hate this day. I didn’t think I would, because we never really celebrated it, but I hate this day. I’m happy for everyone who has someone today and for those who don’t but do not let it bother them. I envy all of those people. I never expected it to feel this way.

In less than two months it will be a year since she died. I fear that day more than all the milestones that have passed combined. Today by itself has been tear-filled as I try in vain to make the time pass with anything I can get myself to do. Everything is coming together today to bring me down. “Think of it as just another day,” is the advice I’ve gotten. The other days haven’t been very kind lately, either.

I hate this fucking day.

Inner Happiness

It’s a term that has come up an insane amount of times in the past few days. Friends, therapist, myself, Google. I Googled “Inner Happiness,” because that’s how desperate I was to find a meaning I could work with. Inner happiness has been missing from my life for a long, long time, since before Dawn passed. I’ve talked about the last 18 months of her life and how difficult it was to deal with, be it from the pain nobody could seem to diagnose or treat, or the deep feeling that the battle was being lost.

Since she passed, I’ve found my happiness in things outside of myself. I’ve found it in doing things I hadn’t done much my whole life. Happiness, to me, was in staying up late, or missing work. It was in leaving my children with others at the drop of a hat, or at the bottom of a bottle. It was in relationships with wonderful, yet unattainable women.

I’m not saying I won’t find happiness in some form of these things, but to the extremes I’ve been using them, it’s not been healthy. It’s immensely easier to take advantage of these things and enjoy the feeling they give me than it is to recognize how they actually affect me when they were used in excess. A good friend brought this point to me and I pretty much refused to listen, but after a couple of days of thought and looking within myself, I know she’s right. Maybe that makes things easier for me – simply accepting it as unhealthy on that level.

I suppose this is rather bland and ambiguous, but specificity isn’t the point. The point is I didn’t manufacture my own happiness. I made everybody else generate it for me, which isn’t fair or healthy.

Once I came to this realization, I wondered what used to make me happy. The most obvious and most difficult to remedy is the happiness I got from companionship. So let’s push that aside for now. The other things that made me happy, that I enjoyed, came to mind as such, in no particular order:

The boys
Outdoors
Diet Coke
Cooking
Beer
Cigars
Video Games
Flight Simulator
and now – exercise

Yes, beer is on that list. I had a couple at lunch yesterday and stopped long before it was a problem, and it felt good to feel that control again. I suppose it came from the realization that quitting drinking wasn’t what made me happy; quitting drinking before I was drunk was what made me happy. Unhappiness came in excess, yet again. I’m still vigilant and cautious about alcohol, and so are my friends in my stead.

I’ll move forward with these things in mind and try and continue to work these things back into my life instead of what I’ve been doing. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I’ve gone too far, hurting myself and other people along the way. I hope I’m forgiven by those I’ve hurt, but I understand if I’m not. I know now I don’t have carte blanche just because I’m not married anymore, and I feel terrible about the disrespect I’ve given. I can cultivate a new, happy life that is fulfilling, fun, and most of all respectful to the people who mean the most to me, no matter where they are or how they fit into my life.

Most importantly, I need to be patient and let time do its work. It’ll get better. It already has started.

I don’t know

I try to share as much of myself as I feel comfortable.  Some get more than others, while some get none at all. Like anybody, I’ve always wanted people to like me and accept me into their group, but I rarely end up in groups. Perhaps I’m just too damn comfortable as a wallflower, because I always worry about doing stupid shit and embarrassing myself. I also don’t take praise too well. Never have, probably never will. It’s just how I’ve always been – pensive, quiet, on the fringe, to steal a phrase from a previous post.

When you get me, though, you get all of me. I’ll never apologize for that, but it comes with its own adverse qualities. Recent experience has taught me that all is too much and that I should probably live a more closed-in existence. It may look good on paper to share feelings to the nth degree, but in reality it doesn’t work, not for me. For me it brings heartache, regret, sadness. I’ve not been capable of anything but persistence lately, to the point of discontent toward me. I just can’t let go, even when someone lets go of me.

Conventional wisdom suggests that I should take my dignity and go home when someone pushes me away, but it’s not that simple in practice. We fight for what we want and we try and convince ourselves that there is nobility in this tactic, but do we ever consider the success of it? For every time it works, maybe there’s ten failures, but that one time it worked is all we think about. “I can do this again,” is the refrain. This, frankly, just breeds more despair.

I’m emotionally exhausted. I don’t know if I have any fight left in me, not for these kinds of battles. I’ve shared my happiness, my pain and my sorrow. I’ve begged for acceptance and another chance. I’ve turned it on them, as if I’m the only thing that could keep them happy. I marvel at people who find strength somewhere in the pain, but they sometimes do so at my expense. This isn’t to vilify them, rather, it’s admiration of their self-serving ability in the face of all that is crumbling before them. I respect that and I wish I could do that for myself.

There just isn’t any strength for that right now, so my pain shows tears.

All by myself

A couple weeks ago the boys headed to grandma’s house for a sleepover, affording me the opportunity to head out on my own and do whatever. My plans for the night, like Napolean’s, were to show up, then see what happens. 11,000 Internets to whomever gets that reference.

At the end of that night, I wasn’t doing well. I probably expected way too much out of an evening ripe with possibilities, and when nothing came of it, I was disappointed.  I’ve had trouble managing my expectations since I started going out in search of something more, but I think I’m getting better at it. One of my friends reminds me to expect nothing so as to not be disappointed, but I’m not so sure about that approach anymore. I’ve yet to find a way to adequately express why that is, but I can’t eliminate expectation from my life. In the same way, I can’t eliminate hope. God knows I’ve tried.

Last night I went to the pub for dinner and ended up sitting with six or seven friends who I didn’t know would be there. They razzed me a bit for my Pepsi order (“Pepsi and what?”), but they do that in fun, knowing that the problem I feel I have is less than I make it. This isn’t to say they don’t support my decision to not drink, but they know me and know how to tease. It’s cool. I sat and laughed with them for an hour or so before going to the movies to see “The Monuments Men.” Before you ask, I’ll say it’s a good movie for a rental, but I wouldn’t recommend paying at the movies to see it. That’s just my opinion.

This was the second time I’d gone to the movies by myself in the past month. The first time ended horribly, partly because of the aforementioned expectations issue, and partly because one of the guys in “Lone Survivor” took his last breaths in exactly the same way Dawn did. It was a huge shit sandwich and I had to take many bites.

Last night went well, though. I went back to the bar after the movie to see if there was anybody there I knew, and also because I wasn’t ready to go home yet. I watched Tretiak run about 83 miles to get to the Olympic Torch, I fished around on Tinder for a bit, then I went home, happy with my evening. Once home, I turned on the TV while relaxing on the couch and thought more about the idea of enjoying my own company before seeking out the company of others. I honestly don’t know what I enjoy by myself. Which carries with it the question of how in blue hell am I supposed to know what would be enjoyable with someone else, right? Maybe I keep the relationships and friendships I have now in their place and not look for more. It’s just a matter of convincing myself to do just that. In a strange turn, I need to not expect more than that out of the people in my life. Funny how I come full circle.

The hits just keep on comin’.

 

Friends

There are people in my life who fulfill many of the needs I have.  Most of them are right here in my neighborhood (these are the people), but some of them are hundreds of miles away.  The ones in my backyard, so to speak, are the ones I probably take for granted.  I won’t lie, we all probably do to some degree.  I pissed one of them off recently because I didn’t bother to look at her reasoning for things I felt were hurting her.  She set me straight and I think all is well.  It was good to clear the air, because I was worried.  I had no reason to be, though.  She has it under control.

There are others locally who fill various needs as well, and I won’t be specific on that.  One of the jokes made by my widow friend is that she has five guys who, when combined, make the perfect boyfriend.  I won’t say that’s what I’m saying, but I know people who make me happy in many different ways that are all their own.  That’s why we have so many friends, right?  Cuz they’re all so different and unique and awesome in their own way.

It’s the ones who are far away who I wish I had more time with.  You meet these wonderful people and they are so far away and all you want is to have them around the corner.  I worry sometimes that I overreach and maybe even annoy a bit, but then I remember how awesome I am and that thought disappears.  Amirite?

These people who are so far away are almost friends on a deeper level than many of the ones nearby, and again, that goes back to taking the locals for granted.  There’s plenty of time to delve deep into who they really are, but with the friends who live so far away, all we have is to get into what really makes us tick, and that’s where the beauty is.  It’s not that I desire the friendship of these people over anyone else, because there’s a lot to be said for face time, but theirs is a friendship I value in a different way than those of you who live around the corner.

Perhaps that’s something I should change.  I suppose I should also make more time for my friends who live on the fringe of my life, and there are plenty.  We all have plenty of friends like that.  I hope to spend more time with those who are so far away, perhaps even see if something real and exciting could come of it, but in the meantime I hope to build better relationships with those who are physically closer yet emotionally hundreds of miles away.  Why can’t we have it all?

Sunday

I was eating breakfast with a friend Friday morning when she asked me what my worst time of day was.  I hesitated for a bit before answering, because it has changed from time to time in the past few months. “Night time,” I said.  Night time is when I’m left alone with my thoughts.  It’s the time between turning off the light and actually falling asleep.

For the first couple of months after Dawn passed, this was easily the worst part of every day, and every day was bad.  Even when my days got better, bedtime was the time I dreaded most.  I’d lay there, exhausted, begging for sleep when my mind would just race and race and I couldn’t sleep.  I’d find myself awake for hours pondering a million things about my life, none of which stayed in focus for more than a few seconds at a time.  For a while that changed, and I grew to enjoy the solitude. It gave me a chance to focus on things I enjoyed doing by myself, but before long it came back and I now dread the nights alone.

Sunday has always been hard.  Sundays are quiet and relaxed, save for the cleaning of the house and washing the laundry.  We’ve always had easy Sundays in our house for as long as I can remember, and now they are no different.  What’s become of Sundays, however, is that they are essentially 24 hours of night.  I have no energy or motivation to move a muscle or do a thing.  I sit with my thoughts and I live with the loneliness that death has given me. I suppose a big part of my weekend drinking was to spend at least a portion of the next day nursing a hangover, so I could be distracted by alcoholic illness instead of dealing with my life.  Obviously not a healthy choice, but it did wonders for my mental state.

As expected, I was up early this morning despite all my best efforts at staying asleep for as long as I possibly could.  My morning was filled with thoughts of trying too hard to form relationships and if I was ever going to be able to just let things be.  I got nowhere with that.  I miss everybody, but does anybody miss me?  This is how my mind works on Sundays, and at bedtime.  I can’t escape it.

I crave companionship, like so many other single people.  I crave it and I think about what’s wrong with me that I can’t find it.  I can’t help it.  I know I try too hard.  I know it will happen organically, as Tanya always tells me.  I’m just lost and sad and lonely and impatient.  I haven’t given up on Hope, but it has tried my patience on many occasions.  I just want something to take my mind elsewhere, for just a little while, and that’s why I try so hard.  I hope I can quit trying, because it hurts too much to get so little in return.