a good day

Today I snoozed my alarm. It was so difficult to get out of bed, but I realize that there is a great benefit to setting intentions. Last night, I DECIDED that I would wake up to go to the gym at 0500. That was my intention for today, and I was committed to seeing it through. Although I arrived at the gym at 0516, I received a huge boost to my confidence because I had struggled with that part. 

In the morning, I worked on squats. I lifted 135 lbs on the barbell for 5 sets of 5 repetitions at a 2:00 interval. Then I did box jumps and lunges with a kettlebell. I don’t feel very explosive anymore. My legs feel tired and drained most of the time, but I have the opportunity to put on some real strength in the coming weeks. 

When I swam, I felt even better than I have the past few times. I swam 3×50 (Free, Kick, Pull), then 3x (4×25 Free, Kick, Pull), and I finished off with a 50 Breast. I did the Free and Pull intervals at :40, and the Kick intervals on :60 intervals. I hope to be back in the water tomorrow afternoon for some more swimming as I continue to get comfortable with myself in the water. 

After work, I returned to the gym for roughly two and a half hours of basketball. I can’t really run right now, so I may start taking a break on basketball to focus on strength training and calisthenics. But that is the struggle, that I am not as comfortable, nor confident, walking into the weight room to lift weights. 

Tomorrow, I will be at the gym at 0500. I will work on upper body lifts (the bench press, should press and upright rows – my favorite workout, and front and lateral raises). I will leave every thing laid out so that I have a smooth morning tomorrow. I’m already sleepy.

w24 re-cap

Mid-month check in

Earlier this month, I set my monthly intentions for the month of June, see below. Today, I’d like to take some time to thoughtfully reflect on my progress thus far with my goals.

I’ll be moving away fromI’ll be moving towards
• Netflix, HBOMax, basketball Scores
• running and basketball
• sugar, candy, soda, juice, dairy
• stupid purchases, supermarket sushi, take-out meals
• reading, journaling, meditating, blogging
• swimming, stretching, calisthenics
• water, and fruits and berries
• saving what I earn, paying off cc debt

The Systems

Grade: C-. 

They’re not always working. I have some work to do to limit my exposure to those sites and minimize my time on Netflix, Youtube and following the basketball scores. When I have unaccounted time, I typically fill it with basketball highlights and interviews on Youtube. I need to block these sites on Safari, but curiously it blocks me from Skype as well when I turn the parental controls so I end up having to shift on and off of it because I need Skype for my REV call on Tuesdays.

While it wasn’t featured on this list, I did eliminate social media (instagram, facebook, strava). This has been a big step for me, and so far I think I like this decision. I am becoming comfortable with it.

Running and Basketball

Grade: C+.

I have been avoiding running, but I haven’t avoided basketball. Today, a particularly rough day for me mentally, I needed to go and shoot the ball around. I feel like it’s the closest thing to meditation, but the consequence is that I miss out on the lifting, or the swimming, or the calisthenics. Tomorrow morning, I’ll try something new. A morning workout at the gym at 0500. I added it to my calendar (I have the google calendar app now). 

Sugar, Candy, Juice, Soda, Dairy

Grade: F. 

Slipped up on all of these. Frosted Flakes cereal with evaporated milk, Whataburger Bacon Cheese Burger and Large Coca Cola Drink, Lot’s of Cheese Sticks, Juice at the galley, Pop Tarts. All in one week. Making too many exceptions to my diet, and I’ve felt my mood shift toward the negative spectrum. Yogurt too, which wasn’t good for me. A positive note. I ate a lentil soup for dinner, and I have been including mushrooms in my salads. This cleaner food is exactly what I need more of. 

Wasting money, wasting time, waste, waste, waste

Grade: C. 

The What-A-Burger purchase was a stress-meal that I didn’t need. I need to surround myself with people with healthy habits, and continue to build on my own strengths. I bought sushi at the market, not the best purchase, expensive and not very nutritional. On the whole, I have been managing my money a little bit better and my credit card debt is down to $400 so I can eliminate that within the next pay period.

Reading, Journaling, Meditating, Blogging

Grade: B+.

I have been having a really hard time emotionally. But I am able to make time to read, journal, and blog most days. With blogging, I have been extremely consistent. I’m at like a 12 day streak, which I can’t say I have ever done. I have also been reading, sometimes 5 minutes, sometimes 15. But I am intentional about this. On the weekends, where I should have more time to read and meditate, I stress out and waste the time. I don’t know how I will get out of this emotional hole, nor how I will handle these feelings of emptiness, but I think writing is going to play a big role in all of this. 

Swimming, Stretching, Calisthenics

Grade: C.

It’s the inconsistency. I have the ability, but I don’t seem to have the patience, the focus, or the drive to show up consistently and work on these goals. I swam maybe twice this past week. I did calisthenics around the same amount of times, and I didn’t stretch at all. When I do show up, I am happy with my efforts. But the inconsistency will prevent me from ever making real progress. I need to drop every thing else and make the gym my second home. Show up with a plan and execute.

Water, Fruits, and Berries

Grade: B+.

So many fruits! So many berries. I ate a Mango! I ate about 3 containers of blackberries, a bunch of bananas. I skimped out on water a couple of times because I was too lazy to go refill my bottle down at the laundry room. I need to get better at that. 

Savings and CC Debt

Grade: B-.

Making progress on my credit card debt. I spent very little this weekend, I think $25 at the most. I bought a book and bought a few things at Walmart (Pickles and Oatmeal). I’m getting better at not spending too much, but I need to lock in this week and keep the grocery bills low.

Weekly Performance: C+.

I know the areas for improvement. I could really benefit from the use of the calendar and the productive app to organize my days. Consistency will be the key for habits like swimming and strength training and meditation. If I can make those improvements, I’ll be solid. I need to learn how to reward myself for good efforts. 

he is gone again

“You’re not really here, are you?” 

I keep searching for you, but I can’t find you. I opened up that door when I first passed it, and there was a wall of bricks directly behind it. The other door led to the edge of a cliff. I was afraid that the last door would open to an ocean that would flood the whole containment, so I left that door closed. It was leaking from the upper rail, and the knocks I made felt like thuds against the moisture-seeping oak. 

Where could you be hiding at this time? Why aren’t you answering me? I have the feeling that you’re listening, perhaps even observing me as I meander curiously in search of you. 

“I’m not going to hurt you. I only want to see you and talk to you.” This seems hopeless, but I continue anyway, “I want to know that you’re alive.”

Now I am beginning to feel scared. What if he is actually hurt? What if he feels trapped and scared? He’s been evasive for a while now. But how was I supposed to reach through to him? Every time I tried to talk, he’d put his head down and cry incessant tears. Tears that he’d catch to save them in jars. He labeled them with the memory of his latest regret.

The room with the jars, I remember now how scary it was. Endless rows of glass with their little aluminum caps. Their bodies labeled, “my first break-up,” “the day my father left,” “the lies my mother told.” Some were vague and buried deep underneath the rest of them. “The thing that happened when I was 7.” 

“Dad? I’m really starting to get worried about you. Could you please come out?” I called to him, feeling a bit hopeless, but knowing that this was probably just his latest episode. That’s what people called his behavior, episodes, as if his life was a tv show.

Growing up with him felt like the best at times. He was so strong, so motivated, so curious. A conversation with him could take any turn, and I loved that so much. As a kid, it was my favorite thing, that he didn’t talk like an adult to me. He talked like another child, imagining always. But there was something that still made him feel so distant, so inaccessible, that even though he said the words “I love you” and it was hard to doubt his meaning, you’d wonder exactly how he meant it. Or what it meant to him. Did he understand that love, above all other things, meant being there for those you love? That it didn’t mean the endless games of hide-and-seek which to him were more like a magician’s disappearing act. 

He could vanish in an instant. He’d go off to some other world, some other planet, and he would come back weeks later, not having aged a bit, with a bit of soil from Mars. Everyone in the neighborhood pointed this out, the Mars soil he’d found came from the side of the road by riverside drive. He’d travel everywhere on foot, but supposedly he’d known those who came from afar to pick him up. I can’t say I was used to his disappearance, but I was comfortable speaking in his language. And maybe that’s why he still talked to me after years of silence toward everyone else.

“Dad, do you know what we call a wingless lizard who lacks the gills of a hammer-headed shark?” I said the question almost to myself this time.

“A lizard.” He responded from underneath the floorboard. 

the bus driver

It’s quiet. On these winter nights, it feels like the entire city is asleep. Save for a few cabs drifting through the streets like downstream washaway, there really isn’t much going on. 

I’m looking up at the windows of buildings. Some of the lights are still on. I guess people are awake, their tv-screens glow like little microwaves. I wonder what’s going on up there, what’s keeping them awake.

Oh, here comes the bus. I think it’s the last one for the night. So empty, but thank god it stops. I don’t feel like walking. I guess it’s just me and the bus driver. 

“Late night, huh?” I say to him. Why did I say that? What response did I expect from him? 

“Mhmm.” 

I swear I had my wallet in my right pocket, but it’s not there. It’s not in the left one either. Oh, shit, yeah my backpack. Here it is. I grab my metrocard and swipe. 

“Sir, does this bus stop on 147th street? I’m going there now, will it leave me there?” I ask him.

“Yep. Goes straight down St. Nicholas. Since it’s just you, I’ll stop when we get there. Otherwise, I won’t be making any stops.” 

“Thank you sir.”

I stand beside him and hold onto the rail. There is something about the bus driver, but I can’t tell what it is. How many hours must he be into his shift? Could you imagine being a bus driver? I sometimes wonder how people end up in places where they end up. 

“Sir, do you like being a bus driver?” I ask. 

The question seemed to catch him off guard a little bit. 

“What do you mean if I like it? It’s what I get paid to do.” He responds.

“Well, what would you do if the money didn’t matter?” 

“I think I would be a mechanic. I’ve always loved working with cars. I understand them. When I was home I was a mechanic. I come to America, bus driver. Every thing is different here, not many opportunities.” He says.

“Then why did you come here? Where is home for you?”

“Hong Kong,” he says, “and because of money. I need money to send to my family from home. My wife, my kids, my parents, they all need money so I have to drive the bus.” 

“hmm…” 

A man journies this far, leaves everything behind, to drive the bus to pay for everything behind. We make sacrifices, but when do we know the purpose, the real why? 

“Why don’t you be a mechanic here then? At least you could still make money and send home, and be happy.” 

“Happy? You have a lot to learn, kid. Nobody is happy. Nobody that has to work to support family is happy. But family, you love them and this is what you do.”

“How long has it been since you’ve seen your family?” 

“4 years.”

“4 years, and you haven’t seen your kids, your wife?” 

“Yep.”

“How come? How could it be so long?”

“Tickets are expensive. It could cost $2,000 for me to go see them, and I spend 2 days in travel time so I can only see them for a little bit. Here is your stop.”

I turned around to leave. 4 years. And $2,000 is all he needs to see his family. Who could agree to that? 

or maybe

So what I am choosing now is to focus entirely on myself for at least 5 years. I don’t want to enter any serious relationship or pursue anyone romantically. Maybe this is a prerequisite for the love I hope to one day experience, but I need to do serious work on myself. 

  • I promise to seek the help of a professional even if it costs me my opportunities in the Navy.
  • I promise to love myself and smile every day and give thanks for everything in life.
  • I promise to continue growing and exploring, to expand into new dimensions and cultivate true friendships and relationships no matter how broken they seem right now.

two strangers

“Excuse me, what book are you reading?”
She looks up from the page and removes one earbud. “Did you say something?”
“Oh, yes. Your book.” He points down at it. “I was asking what’s the title.”
“Umm,” she flips the book over to see the title, “it’s called After The Quake. Did you recognize the author or something?”
“No, not really. I just couldn’t help but notice you smiling at the book as you read it.” He responds.
“Oh!” She lets out a chuckle, “the man in the story, his wife left him. She said living with him is like living with a chunk of air.”
He laughs, “Wow, that’s a little bit harsh. Don’t you think?”
“Is it?” She takes off the other earbud. “Well, I guess I’ve just never heard anyone described as a chunk of air before.”

The train comes to a stop. Some people get off, and some people get on. A massive exhale, and then the doors shut. An older lady, heavyset and carrying a purse, struggles to make her way to a seat in the middle of the crowded train. As she moves between the two strangers, the woman with the book gets up to offer her the seat. They trade places, and the train accelerates, causing everyone to tense up a little to maintain balance.

“Are you going to read the book?” She asks, now standing beside the woman with the book plopped open.
“I don’t know; it sounds a little too depressing for me, so I don’t know. A book about a breakup? I’ve read too many stories like that, and they kind of just leave me sad.”
“It’s not entirely about the breakup. It’s not even about the breakup, and there are more short stories in this book. This is just one of them.” She explained.
“What are the other stories like?”
“I don’t know. I’ve only read parts of this one so far.”
“What if the other stories also about breakups?” He asked.
She smiled. “I guess you’d have to read them to find out. You can’t just avoid a story because it’s probably going to be about something that makes you sad. The stories in this book all have to do with the Kobe Earthquake in Japan in 1995.”
“So people die too?”
“I guess,” she said.
They both turned quiet as the train slowed to a stop. The woman stores the book in her linen tote.
“This is you, huh?” He asks.
“Yeah.”
“You’re very interesting.”
She looks at him again. “Oh, stop. It was nice talking to you too. I hope you get to where you’re going safely.”

Before he could say a word, the woman was dragged by the current of bodies exiting the train.

He thought about her for a while. What was her life like? Would he ever see her again? Then he put on his earbuds. The sounds of Joy Division drowned out the noise from the train, and his gaze centered on the old lady who had taken the woman’s seat. He watched as her eyes drooped like heavy curtains, indecisive they seemed, whether to stay here or there.

zugzwang

these heavy bones; 
a collapsed chair underneath the weight of my skin
furrowed over like a long, stretched sheet
over antique furniture

thick, like a blanket of dust,
this weight strangles me,
restricts my movement, 
constricts my breath

a pod of barnacles so long entrenched
they must be rent-controlled, 
a mark left from prior generations, 

an artifact of descendence, 
a symbol of dependence?
a gift? from my ancestors

and do i need them more for myself?
for my sanity, 
that grandma’s suffering 
came down to mom 
and hers is now my own

can forgiveness exist if memory does?
do they take walks together, 
and can they share
a cup of tea?

i look into the mirror again, 
my face feels pressed into itself
leaving a smudge and

consequences, 
the ones i must face, 
because i can no longer delay 
the passage of time

she sings zugzwang, zugzwang… 
and smiles with grace

maybe

maybe i’m a little afraid to go back there

because i remember the pain.

maybe i wonder if its being alone that 

i’m scared of, these thoughts

have such a strong grasp on me.

maybe its the sense of urgency or the fast

approach to nothing

maybe its that im scared of what i’ll discover

maybe its that i’m a coward – sometimes and 

the nights are so long like, niiiiiights, with so

many i’s and its the part i cant escape

because i is what it always came down to,

i is who i’m afraid to be left alone in a room with.

is there anything i’m more afraid of, maybe its 

forgetting the past because now it’s so much a part

of me.

maybe it’s crying to sleep, at 28, when it’s getting late

and i forgot to shower because i’m 

not really worried about that.

maybe grandma’s right and you should forgive and 

she’s been alive longer so maybe she knows.

maybe i’ll be here longer than i think, and so i will feel alone.

or maybe i wont, maybe tomorrow i’ll go, 

and there will be nothing left,

not a tooth or a hair or a piece of bone marrow 

to show. 

maybe i’ll just vanish, like the sun sometimes does 

behind the clouds. 

sitting

I crave a serene quiet which I imagine to be a peaceful expression of self. To find this quiet, I must take a deep dive into my own thoughts and fears to learn to sit and do nothing.

Sitting in silence in search of calmness. A metaphor: the water in a lake becomes unsettled, creating ripples and waves. You cannot settle the waters by trying to iron out the waves with your hands. If you want the water to return to its natural, calm state, you must simply do nothing. It will settle on its own accord.

The loneliness, feeling unlovable – are moving forces that create unsettled waters. There are also distractions, most of which are found in technology, that cause me to feel unease.

I have been using sites like Netflix, NBA, and Instagram to cure boredom and loneliness for as long as I can remember. But yesterday, I decided to remove myself from social media to experience life without these distractions. Doubt appears.

Can I give all of this up? Will I be able to find peace in the quiet hours of a Gulfport night?

i/e and the games we play

Internal games I play

  • Am I pursuing something which sparks curiosity?
  • Am I learning at work, am I present, and do I have a good attitude?
  • Am I living within my means and choosing a minimalist lifestyle that still supports my interests?
  • Am I able to keep a clean and professional appearance?

External games I play (“should” programming)

  • Do people know that I’m pursuing something which sparks curiosity? The Social Media Curse (Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp, Strava)
  • Do I need to please people to get a higher Rank/Title in the Navy? What requirements must be satisfied so that I can earn medals/ribbons?
  • Net Worth Race – How much is in my retirement accounts? What percentage of my net earnings am I able to save? When do I get paid – actually matters? 
  • What brand of clothes do I wear? What kind of haircut do I have? What car will I drive? 

The internal games make me happy, but they’re more challenging to sustain. The external games make me stressed, but it’s what everyone else notices.