"I guess I have a lot of problems, so many that I don't have time to go into them all in detail. Suffice it to say I'm anal, obsessive, vain, quick to temper, overly introspective, lazy, judgmental, insecure, and self-righteous. Probably the most annoying thing about me is that I'm hugely opinionated. But I kind of make up for that by always being right."


Monday, July 31, 2006

Day 56: Rick's Cineplex

Yesterday was one of those days I just didn't want to do anything. So I watched movies. Six, to be exact -- In Good Company, The Dead Pool, Hostage Negotiator, Whirpool, Kill By Inches, and Hatred Of A Minute. The best by far was Whirlpool, a 1959 film noir gem directed by one of my all time favorites, Otto Preminger. The worst was Hostage Negotiator, a made-for-cable snoozer from 2001.

I bring this up to point out one of the things I like about being single. I can do anything I want. How many women out there, really, would be okay with their husband or boyfriend sitting around in his shorts all day -- and I literally mean "all day" -- watching old movies? I can also spend my money however I want. I can buy 400 DVDs in a week without having anybody yell at me, or question my sanity, or try to make me feel guilty.

Also, I'm drawn to movies that most women just don't like -- hard-edged films of questionable moral value. For instance, I just discovered a brilliant independent film called Red Cockroaches, that I absolutely love. But every woman I've ever gone out with (or married) would not only hate this film, but would think that there was something seriously wrong with me for liking it.

Bottom line is: when nobody's around, they can't get close to you, so they can't climb on your back, so you'll never have to ask them to get the fuck off of it, so they won't have their feelings hurt, so you won't have to interrupt your movie long enough to apologize, so you won't grow resentful for not being able to do what you want, so she won't pout all night, so you won't break up, so you won't be alone, so you won't have to sit around all day watching old movies.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Day 55: Trapped

Two months ago my ship was sinking. After a lot of fairly hard work I think I've managed to patch up most of the bigger holes, but now that I'm afloat I find myself without a rudder. I just kind of drift through my days. I watch what I eat, walk, attend exercise -- yoga -- and Tai Chi classes, watch a lot of movies, read, hang out with my boys (on the days they're here), work on my documentary and internet TV show, do a little web surfing, and sleep.

In a way I suppose that sounds like a lot. But you'll notice I don't say anything about seeing friends, or making love to beautiful women (or even ugly ones, for that matter). There's no mention of going to parties or traveling. Not a word about visiting family or meeting new people. Because I don't do any of these things. In a way I feel as though my life has become frozen in place, a kind of ice sculpture with me trapped inside of it.

What's weird is that this isn't anything new. It's been this way for a long time. Only before I had my depression to keep me from seeing it. Now that I've finally climbed out of that black hole and looked around, I see what my life really is. And though it's not horrible, by any means, it's just not enough.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Day 54: A Word From Ricky

I love writing songs. They often help me express something I'm feeling or deal with some extremely sensitive issue from my childhood. At the risk of being a little indulgent I'd like to share the lyrics of one of my favorites.

FROM HIS HEART TO MINE

Though his tears dried long ago
Though he's mended blow by blow
And though to all the world he looks just fine
He still yearns for love in vain
And I'm still living with the pain
That's strewn along the road that stretches
From his heart to mine

Though his mother never gave
Half the things that children crave
He still looks to her for some small sign
That his heart is worthy of
Some slight portion of her love
So this boy can pass this blessing
From his heart to mine

The child cries out for answers
But the man just can't explain
Why some parents don't love their children
Why the smallest feel such pain
Why big people are so selfish
Why they all have doubts and fears
So the man ignores the child
And wipes away his tears

Though his mother often screamed
In the dark -- It was no dream
The nightmare was that she preferred these men who smelled of wine
Though years ago his small heart ached
Still the pain reverberates
Over all these empty years and
From his heart to mine

And though his life was all but fair
My mind often wanders there
Still I wonder how this woman could have been so blind
Could she not see that he cried
For the love that she denied
That little boy whose tears still flow
From his heart to mine

Friday, July 28, 2006

Day 53: Watch It Again, Son

As I try to rise to a state of semi-consistent happiness (which, according to most national polls, is considered "being normal) there are times throughout the day, of course, in which I do feel momentarily happy. Last night is a great example. First, I should mention that last father's day my boys got me a book called "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die." Much like those AFI "100 Best" lists, it's the sort of thing that's frustrating both for some of the films it includes ("The Passion Of The Christ") as well as for many of the films it doesn't include ("The 39 Steps," "Key Largo," "Only The Truth Is Funny," etc. etc.).

Anyway, every week my boys and I have been watching one of the movies listed in this book. So far we've seen "On The Waterfront," "Tootsie," "Annie Hall," "The Apartment," "The Shining" and "Rain Man" just to name a few. Last night we watched one of the movies that should have been on the list but wasn't -- the funniest of all of Woody Allen's films, "Play It Again, Sam." I can't tell you how tickled I was as my sons laughed at Woody's bumbling manner, and all of his great classic jokes ("Another woman was raped in Oakland yesterday..." "I was nowhere near Oakland!")

For some reason I love thinking that I'm exposing them to movies that most of their peers have not only never seen, but probably never will see. And I just love sitting there with them as they get to experience one of my favorite movies, for the very first time.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Day 52: Upswing

I've hired some professionals to clean my house. Three people worked for three hours yesterday and didn't even finish half of the place. It's that dirty. It's such a good feeling to know that every inch of your living space is really clean -- no dirt, no grime, no cobwebs, no dust, no vermin droppings, nothin'. It gives you that "fresh start" feeling. I know it sounds corny but I almost feel as though they're wiping my emotional slate clean as well.

I've been feeling very upbeat lately. A lot of it has to do with this internet TV show my friend Tom Scheuber and I are working on. It's called "Rick Reynolds Gets Happy." We finished the first one, which runs about seven minutes, and I think it looks pretty good. As soon as we get a few in the can we'll start posting them here on this site. We'll do one a week and see how it goes. I'm kind of excited about it.

I also caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror today and for the first time in three years didn't think I looked half bad. Nothing women would swoon over, mind you, but nothing to cause them to gag if I paid them a little attention, either.

I guess you could say I'm cautiously optimistic. I'm on the upswing, but I've seen myself plunge back down into depression too many times to get all that excited.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Day 51: The Walking Woman

Something interesting happened on my walk today that I think a lot of guys can relate to. I passed a fairly attractive woman (of indeterminate age) and said "Good morning." She said good morning back, and as I began to move away she asked me something about the shoes I was wearing. I answered her and continued on. But as I kept walking I wondered if I'd just missed an opportunity. Did she really only want to know what brand of shoe I was wearing, or did she want to strike up a conversation (which might, in fact, lead to a date -- and then sex -- and then a relationship -- and then, of course, bitterness and heartbreak)?

God knows I would have liked to talk to her. I like talking to people. And though I don't feel as though I'm ready to be in a relationship, I'm sure my penis would argue otherwise.

So what the fuck was I supposed to do? I could have slowed down and struck up a conversation, and she might have liked that, but she also might have been annoyed and regretted having ever said anything to me in the first place. I know women resent not being able to have eye contact with men -- let alone speak to them -- without it seeming like a come on, and I didn't want to reinforce this feeling by acting on my suspicion that she might have actually wanted to talk to me.

God how I long for the good old days -- when you could just club a woman over the head and drag her into your cave.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Day 50: Rotten To The Core

Yikes! I was about to go to bed when I remembered I hadn't made my blog posting yet. In fact, my day began with my personal trainer calling early this morning asking where I was. I'd forgotten that too. I've also been losing things lately. I'll set a pencil down somewhere and 30 seconds later not be able to find it. I swear, if my wallet wasn't attached to my ass I'd lose that too.... Wait a minute! It isn't attached and I do lose it all the time! Damn.

I had a great yoga lesson yesterday. I actually think I'm starting to "get it." Both my personal trainer and my yoga instructor keep going on and on about my core, which is apparently rotting due to lack of use. At first I had no idea what they were talking about, but now I'm just beginning to understand. They're also constantly telling me to breathe. "Breathe, damn it! Breathe!" I'm surprised I don't fall over dead when they're not around to remind me.

Before I go, I'd like to take a moment to day "hi" to Gillian, one of my devoted (i.e. bored) readers. I wish I could pick up the phone, call up a friend and get together with them the way you described in your comment. Unfortunately, none of my friends live in the same town I do. That's part of my problem, really. Rattling around in this big old house by myself gets me down sometimes, but I've always got my 73-inch Mitsubishi high definition TV with 5.1 Dolby sound, and almost 5,000 DVDs.

Hey, I think it's time to watch one now.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Day 49: Rebel Without A Clue

When I get depressed, as I was last week, I can't find the wherewithal to do anything. It's not that I can't do anything -- hell, if you were to put a gun to one of my boy's heads you could even get me to sit through an entire Bush State Of The Union speech -- it's that I can't find the motivation to do anything. And especially anything that's "good" for me.

For example, last week I remember walking by my vitamins thinking, "I should probably take some of these," but somehow not being able to. What's really ironic is that "doing the right things" (exercising, following my diet, getting out of the house) makes me happier than not doing them. I know that for a fact. And yet, even knowing that I'm perfectly capable of doing them, I don't. Why?

My guess is that doing even a little thing like taking vitamins (when I'm depressed) is admitting to myself that I have hope -- that I believe in myself. In a way I'm like a stupid teenager, putting on a cool front to fool people into believing he doesn't care about anything. Only in my case I'm trying to fool myself. I look at the pills and say, "Fuck it, what does it matter? Who cares if I take these stupid things, anyway?"

But the fact is -- I care. I care so much it scares me sometimes. And it does matter. It matters because I promised myself that things would be different this time. That I wouldn't let myself feel out of control again. That I wouldn't wallow in my unhappiness anymore. So rather than say, "Okay, I made a mistake. Let's learn from that and move on," I said, "I can't do this! Who am I trying to kid?!" And to those watching me from the outside I added, "Why don't you all just leave me alone?!"

Just like a stupid teenager.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Day 48: The Haughty Godless

As you no doubt know, I'm trying to get happy. And I'm trying to do it without God, who I not only don't believe in, but also find extremely annoying. Almost as annoying, though, are the pompous atheists who wear their disdain for religion as a badge of honor. For reasons known only to themselves, these self-proclaimed minions of truth actually define themselves by this lack of belief.

I bring this up because yesterday a man (who may or may not fit into this category and, to tell you the truth, sounded like a pretty nice guy) left a comment deriding me for learning Tai Chi, because there's no such thing as "Chi." I wonder if he'd have gotten equally annoyed if I'd said that I liked celebrating Christmas (or, as he would no doubt call it, "Crutchmas").

Believe it or not, religion is not intrinsically evil. It's a way to cope. I'm pretty sure it's all a bunch of crap, but so what? As long as its deluded practitioners don't force their views on the rest of the world -- and believe it or not, many don't -- why not let them be?

And to those who say, "How many people have died in the name of God?" I would say, "How many people have died in the name of love?" Should we give that up too?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Day 47: Tai Chi Feely

Just got back from my first Tai Chi lesson, and just like everything else in life (with the exception of sex, at which I excelled right out of the gate) it's a lot harder than it looks. I've never been comfortable looking bad at something, and this discomfort just seems to keep increasing as I grow older. Also, my patience -- especially with myself -- seems to grow thinner with each passing year. In other words, I not only sucked today, I had a bad attitude about this suckage, to boot.

But unlike the old Rick I plan on sticking with it, until one day I too can look like one of those quaalude retards you see out in the park.

I did have one piece of good news today. I tried on a pair of size 38 jeans and they fit! Three weeks before beginning this project I couldn't even pull them all the way on, let alone snap them. In fact, I couldn't even snap my size 40s. In a way this goes to show how relative everything is. As I'm losing weight, I'm very happy that I fit into these size 38 pants. But when I was gaining weight, I remember being really depressed having to buy these very same pants in the first place because I couldn't fit into my 36s anymore.

Maybe one of the secrets to happiness is to keep reminding yourself that things not only could be worse, but actually have been worse.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Day 46: Thanks For Writing

Because I find it hard to believe anybody reads these postings, I love getting comments on them. I even worry when certain regulars don't check in for a while. Have they grown weary of my ramblings? Have they tired of rolling their eyes thinking, "Get over yourself already"? Have they finally glimpsed that tedious and somewhat boring guy lurking behind the words?

A man wrote me yesterday confused as to how a "depressed guy without any money" could buy 400 DVDs. In the first place, I didn't buy 400 DVDs! What kind of obsessed maniac do you think I am?! I bought 426. Secondly, I shop the same way I eat hot dogs -- with great relish.

Also, depression comes in many forms. For some it involves not being able to sleep. For me, I can't get enough sleep. For some it involves not being able to eat. For me, my mouth isn't large enough to cram all of the food into it that I'd like. For some it involves not wanting to do anything. For me it's often wanting to do one particular thing to the point of obsession. In this case shopping.

As to the money, I'd just received a check for $40,000 for the sale of my beloved record collection. To take the sting out of losing these cherished bits of Americana, I'd promised myself that I could go on a little spending spree. Also, the DVDs were used and cost less the two thousand bucks. Yes, the healthy thing to do would have been to save the money and use it only for essentials until I had more money coming in. But let's face it, if I were healthy I wouldn't need this project, or this tedious and somewhat boring blog.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Day 45: Regaining Momentum

I kind of dreaded going to see my nutritionist today. She'd always described me as her best client because I'd not only followed, but actually exceeded, her recommendations. Until this past week, of course. So not only did I have to confess to her my transgressions (and transfats), I had to step on that cold-hearted bitch of a scale and be weighed.

I was fully prepared to have lost no weight, maybe to have even gained a pound or two. The last time I was weighed it had been three weeks since my previous appointment, and in that time I'd only lost five pounds. This time only two weeks had passed since I was last weighed, so stepping up onto that judgmental, metallic whore, I braced myself for a firm slap in the face. But instead received an embrace.

In the three week period in which I walked everyday and stayed on my diet, I lost five pounds. In the two week period in which I didn't walk everyday and cheated on my diet, I lost six pounds. Go figure.

So I'm down from 265 to 242. The 230s are actually in sight! I only wish my other project goals could be measured so precisely.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Day 44: Stuff

Often, when I can't cope with the everyday trials and tribulations of life, I turn to my stuff. Which probably explains why I have so much of it. I have tons of cool old paperback books, old comic books, old Mad magazines and teen magazines, old 45 rpm records, old radios, old toys, old sheet music, old Big Little books, old board games, old cocktail shakers, old movie posters, old guitars -- the list goes on and on. It's to the point, really, that my house looks like a museum of popular culture.

I'm also into DVDs, especially the classics and obscure stuff from the 40s and 50's. These are generally the ones with really cool covers. During my recent five day depression I bought over 400 DVDs. I know that probably sounds a little incredible, but it's true. I spent nearly 16 hours a day on Amazon, searching for bargains. Many of the movies I bought I'd never even heard of before, but they just sounded too interesting to pass up. And I can't tell you how much fun it was to discover a little gem that I'd been looking for and have it be on sale!

I actually just got through watching one of my favorite finds, "The Beginning Of The End," -- a campy 50s science fiction movie starring Peter Graves and a bunch of giant grasshoppers. What's weird is that I knew I'd probably only watch it this one time, but I still had to own it. It's part of the collector's mentality.

In the middle of this buying frenzy, my 15-year-old son observed what I was doing and called my behavior "a sickness." Most people, I'm sure, would agree with him. There are a lot better things I could have done with my time and money. On the other hand, I prefer thinking that my little shopping spree helped me get through a very rough patch without resorting to hurting myself or anybody else.

And, of course, I now have even more cool stuff.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day 43: Oops

It started five days ago. I was watching the movie "Just Like Heaven" and began to get depressed. And not just because Reese Witherspoon was in it. By the end of the movie I was crying, partially because romantic comedies always pull at my heartstrings, and partially because I yearn so desperately for romance in my own life. I can't tell you how much I miss being in love -- how much I want to hold a woman, to kiss her, to cuddle up and talk all night. I quite literally ache for these things.

It's interesting that my two favorite genres of movies are horror and romance, because I've done such a good job of combining these two elements in my real life. And that's the problem, really. It's not that I couldn't get a woman -- well, okay, it's partially that -- it's that I'd eventually drive her away once I did. That dark brooding thing may be attractive at first, but apparently it gets old really fast.

So, anyway, that's how it started -- a little lonely desperation mixed with a three year backup of precious bodily fluids. I added a dash of self-pity and was off to the races. By the next morning this seed of unhappiness had flowered into a full blown depression. Why did I need to lose weight? I was never going to be with a woman again anyway. Besides, eating was the high point of my day. I was depriving myself of the one thing I had to look forward to. And the meditation/yoga thing was a bust. I'm about as spiritual as a corn dog (hmmm... corn dogs).

So I filled a bowl with cookies 'n cream ice cream, covered it in a sea of Hershey's chocolate sauce, and dove in. Before I had a chance to actually appreciate the experience, I found myself licking the bottom of the bowl. This set off a five day binge of shame and debauchery that I'll go into some other time.

Suffice to say that the program bent, but it didn't break. Not only am I back, but I came back so much sooner than I've ever come back before. And I actually learned something from the experience this time -- something that's never really dawned on me before.

I'm totally fucked.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Day 37: An Apology

I feel like I should apologize to those of you who've been reading this blog lately, but I just can't shake this fucking depression. I know a lot of you tune in for the comedy, but believe me it's hard to be funny when you're constantly on the verge of tears.

To tell you the truth, I'm amazed that I can even write anything -- that I haven't given up on this project altogether and gone on one of my week-long sugar binges. But I've been here enough times before to know that this will pass -- that I'll wake up in a day or two and suddenly be okay. I just need to ride out the storm.

I know this sounds a little melodramatic, but I really do feel like the project -- walking, eating right, writing this blog, all of it -- is the anchor that's keeping me from sailing into some horrible abyss. So if you can just hang in there with me I promise you that funny is on the way.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Day 36: Crazy Man Crazy

I sometimes hide from people how incredibly screwed up I am. People who know me know I'm depressed, of course, but only my best friend, Dave, knows the full extent of this depression. When I do open up to others about, say, my plan to kill myself when my kids go off to college, or maybe my intension to not seek medical help if I contract a deadly decease, they just get uncomfortable, as if they were in the presence of a crazy man. And, let's face it, in a way they are.

But at least I'm sane enough to recognize that I'm crazy.

On the days that my boys aren't with me I live with a loneliness that's so intense I can almost hear it. It's an actual presence here in my house. I long to share my life and love with a woman, but know I can't -- at least for now -- because my depression would only gain a firmer hold on me by eventually driving her away and breaking my heart. This is one of the many destructive patterns I've repeated over and over again throughout my life that have to stop if I have any chance of ever becoming a healthy, happy human being.

And in a way that's what the happiness project is all about. It's me taking one last stand against my demons, in an epic battle to become normal.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Day 35: How's That Working For You?

I've been feeling a little down these past few days, but there seems to be a sense in which this new lifestyle I'm trying to adopt is slowly changing the way I cope with things. In the past (i.e. last month) I would have somehow embraced this unhappiness. Experts say that's because I'm comfortable being depressed. As Dr. Phil ( a guilty pleasure of mine) would say, "You're getting something out of it, or you wouldn't be doing it."

Like all over used expressions -- "You only hurt the ones you love," "Time heels all wounds," "Rick Reynolds is totally fucked," -- this is only partially true. I also embrace my happiness because I don't know how not to.

Yesterday my physical therapist told me that I walk, stand and even breath wrong. I don't do these things incorrectly because I'm getting something out of doing them that way; I do them incorrectly because that's the way I learned to do them. Same with being unhappy. A lot of bad things happened in my childhood. Listening to your mother being beaten night after night, -- never knowing when she would snap again and beat you herself -- these things can't help but create the person you become.

I had the notion that maybe it wasn't too late to change that person -- little by little, inch by inch. First by changing the way he eats. By changing how he treats his body. By changing how he spends his free time. By getting him out of the house. By introducing him to new people and new experiences. And eventually by changing how he copes with anxiety. By freeing him from shame.

And though I'm a long way from being the new, improved Rick Reynolds, I'm at least starting to recognize the things I am doing wrong. Like embracing my unhappiness. And like old baldy says, "You can't change it if you don't recognize it as a problem."

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Day 34: Training Day

Had my first personal training session today. Learned that I not only know absolutely nothing about my body, but that I naturally do everything wrong. Lately, for example, when doing my daily walk, my shins have been killing me. My trainer said this is because I walk wrong. What?! Who the fuck doesn't know how to walk? Well, apparently me.

Instead of taking large strides, in which you straighten your front leg and land on the back of your heel, you're supposed to take smaller steps and land on the "front" of your heel. Sounds goofy, I know, but I tried it and it actually works. (The secret is to lean forward slightly when you walk, exactly as you do, naturally, when you run.)

Not only do I walk wrong, I actually stand wrong. Turns out I even breath wrong. I've also let my "core" muscles go to shit by doing most everything using just my arms and legs. The reason I can't play tennis, for example, is that I don't put my entire body into my swing, so my right arm does all the work and gets tired very quickly. I also have less power in my swing that way.

I'm such a loser. If my trainer saw me masturbate, I'm sure she'd say I do that wrong too. (My ultimate goal now is to one day be able to pleasure myself using the force of my entire body, and not just my wrist.) My God, then I really would be happy.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Day 33: A Silver Lining

I went to see my nutritionist today and was very disappointed at my weight loss. In three weeks I'd only dropped five pounds. I guess this is good compared to a lot of her other clients, but because I'd already lost five pounds in just the first week on my new "diet," it was really disheartening. What made it even more painful is that I didn't cheat. I did everything by the book. I'd even taken a big dump before going in to be weighed!

In the three weeks before I started seeing my nutritionist I stopped eating fast food and desserts, and went from 265 to 258. After the first week of monitored dieting I went from 258 to 253. Three weeks later I'm only down to 248. At this rate I won't get down to my goal weight of 200-210 lbs. until early next year - months after this project is over.

There is a silver lining behind this cloud, though, -- I'm not giving up. In the past I would have seen this slow progress and thought, "Fuck it. It's not worth the sacrifice. So what if I'm overweight? I'm not getting laid, anyway. And besides my boys, eating is the only thing I've got that makes me happy, even if it's just for a little while."

The only way I can plow through these feelings is by making this (happiness) project the focal point of my life. This is my job now. This is what I do. It's easy to see how a lot people -- with the pressures of work and relationships -- would just give up and turn to food for comfort. It says a lot about how far I've come that "turning to food" right now would depress the hell out of me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Day 32: Looking Stupid

Went to my first dance class tonight. Mixed results. At one point I really wanted to walk out, and might have if I could have done so discretely. They kept moving on to a new step before I'd learned the last one. In retrospect, my reaction was kind of interesting. I had the feeling -- almost the certainty, really -- that the instructors were inept, that they were moving too fast, asking too much of us. Because I was having so much trouble learning what they were showing us, it had to be their faults. It couldn't be me -- I'm a bright, talented guy. And the fact that others in the class didn't seem to be having that much trouble catching on didn't deter me from this feeling.

Making it even worse, we had to keep changing partners, until every woman in the class knew how developmentally impaired I was. I was never in sync with any of them. They were doing the East Coast Swing -- I was having a spazz attack.

There was a moment, though, toward the end of the class, when for a brief moment I got it, when the movements became natural, and I actually started having fun. It made me wonder how many other things in life I've missed out on because I was too damned proud to look stupid in front of somebody.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Day 31: To Do Or Not To Do

I can't imagine not having a to-do list. I've always had one. And it's always filled me with dread. Especially lately. I recently came across one of my lists from years ago on which many of the chores listed are still on my current list. Pathetic. One of my goals over the next five months is to eliminate this list altogether by finally -- for the first time in my life -- doing everything on it. And thereafter to take on tasks as they come up.

I realize, of course, that the anxiety created by this list is much more painful than the work it would take to complete the damned thing. But for some reason that's never seemed to matter to me. The choice was always "do the list or feel the stress." And in a weird kind of way that I can't really explain, it wasn't so much that I didn't choose to do the list, it was that stress chose me.

Anyway, here's my list. The items on it range from extremely easy to very difficult to who the fuck am I kidding? My plan is to do three of them a week until I'm free from its unholy grip.

1) start meditating 2) start Tai Chi 3) make a to-do list 4) email "fans" 5) have boys clean out drawers 6) finish record project 7) rewrite "Other People's Lives 8) clean out desk 9) clean out downstairs closet 10) give away chair 11) have house cleaned 12) start dance class 13) pay off flooring bill 14) sue Abbey Carpets 15) buy spoons & forks 16) sell broken juke box 17) fix lock on good juke box 18) make first internet TV episode 19) begin man on the street interviews 20) investigate book deal 20) fix lamp 21) fix futon 22) fix couch leg 23) paint baseboard 24) figure out sprinklers 25) do something about back yard 26) cancel ADT 27) put up picture sleeves 28) figure out multitracker 29) buy walking & cross training shoes 30) renew driver's license 31) pay July bills 32) begin film diary 33) begin exercise program 34) start regular yoga classes 35) find racketball partners 36) fix TV speaker 37) reconnect other DVD player

Hey, you know what? I've done #s 3, 12 and 29, so I'm off to a great start already!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Day 30: The Honeymoon's Over

Looking back over the first month of the project, I feel oddly inspired. I'm not as optimistic as I was that first week, but then again I'm not as pessimistic as I was later on. In fact, I think it was that initial "honeymoon" period that set me up for the fall I took toward the end there. (On a similar note, maybe it's not such a great idea for couples to go on their honeymoons right after they get married. Maybe they should wait about a year to let the reality of married life sink in. That way they could reward themselves for a job well done, and maybe even reconnect to a time when they didn't want to kill each other.) Really, why start anything out with a feeling or experience that can never be duplicated, let alone topped? Nothing worse than thinking that it's all down hill from here.

Anyway, I think I have a realistic view, now, of where I am and where I'm going. I'm in Fuckville, on my way to Okaytown, hoping to eventually wind up in Happyland.

Switching metaphors, in the beginning I simply bit off more than I could chew. I managed to swallow diet, nutrition, walking and keeping a diary. But yoga, exercise, meditation, Tai Chi, dance, and getting my shit together wound up on the side of my plate, all half-chewed and matted together in a big ugly ball.

The secret, it seems to me, is to keep taking these small bites until I can get it all down. At the risk of stretching this metaphor even thinner, I have to admit I'm not sure about meditation. It tastes like sweaty socks and has huge veins of gristle running through it.

Okay, I'm done.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Day 29: Report Card - Part Two

Continuing from yesterday - I would give myself an incomplete in dance because no classes in the area started this past month. I am taking a swing dance class starting this Thursday night, though. I expect to look like a complete idiot, but then why should this be different from anything else I've ever done in life?

In the getting-out-of-the-house, having-a-social-life, and watching-less-TV categories I'd give myself a D, a D-, and an F, respectively. I do get out a little more because of this project, but not for any other (more personal) reasons. I've recontacted a couple of old friends, but the facts remain that most of my friends are scattered around the country, and that I haven't made what I would call a good friend in the past 20 some years. Also, my recent close encounter of the vaginal kind proved that I am far from ready to meet my next alimony recipient. And as far as cutting down on TV, that's a complete non-starter. I only wish Direct TV offered a feature in which the signal could be fed directly into my veins. Ahhh, sweet surrender.

I had planned to do a lot of studying about my old friends depression, anxiety, anger and shame and in this area I'd give myself a C-. I've ordered a bunch of books from Amazon and am currently reading "The Happiness Hypothesis," which, unfortunately, is a little hard for me to follow. But then, if I cut out all reading materials that were over my head, I'd be left with only "Archie" and "Sad Sack" comics.

In the catch-all category "personal habits" I'd give myself a C. I'm showering more regularly, but not nearly as much as I probably should (could this have something to do with my lack of a social life?). I finally filed my taxes (only three months late this year!) and paid off the huge pile of bills that had stacked up on my desk. I'm also proud of myself for publishing a blog post everyday. But I have a "to do" list that's so intimidating I keep it out in the storage shed for fear of accidentally stumbling across it.

Well, that's it. Not great, but it's just the first month. And as far as "happiness" goes, I guess I'd give myself a C-, a remarkable improvement from the F I started out with just one month ago. I wouldn't exactly say that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, but at least -- for the first time in many years -- I can see the tunnel.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Day 28: Report Card - Part One

Tomorrow it will have been four weeks since I started this project, and so far the results are mixed. For nutrition and diet, the thing I would have guessed would be hardest for me, I give myself an A. For me "cheating" now is having an extra piece of fruit or 8 ounces of yogurt. For exercise, the thing I would have guessed I'd take to the easiest, I give myself a C. I do take a brisk 2+ mile walk everyday, but I've yet to start my workout program. I have hired a trainer, though, who is supposed to call me after the Fourth. I'll be working with her three days a week for a month. Ultimately, my goal is to walk everyday, to work out every other day, and to play racketball on the days I don't work out.

For yoga and Tai Chi I give myself a D-. I've taken one yoga lesson and have already forgotten almost everything my instructor taught me. Why I haven't called and made another appointment is beyond me. I've also put off finding a Tai Chi instructor for reasons known only to Bad Rick, that fat, lazy, depressed guy who lives inside my head. I wish Reason and Will would get a backbone someday and kick this bastard's ass.

I also give myself a D- for meditation. I knew this would be a hard one for me, and it is. I went to that Buddhist retreat one night and meditated pretty well, but when I try it here at home, Bad Rick keeps cutting mind farts, cluttering my brain with millions of useless facts. He's pretty much got me convinced I'll never be able to acquire this particular skill. It really does seem that my brain's switch has only one position -- "On."

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Day 27: The Way The Truth And The Light

From time to time people email me about Jesus. They assure me that I would be happier if I gave him some of my burden. For them Christianity is such a matter-of-fact, common sense notion they can't understand how I could be so blind as to not embrace it. Even worse, it isn't as though I'm a savage living in the jungle, unaware of God's great love for me, I've actually read The Good Book. It's as though I've been given a precious gift I stubbornly refuse to unwrap.

First let me just say that I'm a big fan of Jesus. He's my favorite character in the best selling book of all time. I am a little curious, though, in The Bible we hear about Jesus as a baby and, later, about Jesus as a man, but we never hear anything about teen Jesus. What's up with that? I suspect it's because he was a spoiled kid. I mean, think about it. Imagine you're 13 years old, and you show up at the father-son picnic...with God. You'd win every event you entered. Nobody can eat more pie than God!

Anyway, a very nice woman from Texas wrote to me yesterday, and I sent her this reply, which I now pass along to all of the nice Christians who have written me similar letters:

Dear Xxxxx,

Thank you for writing.

I am not a Christian because the religion is nonsensical to me. Different races, different nationalities, different centuries, have brought thousands of different belief systems. At this time and in this place that system is Christianity. Why should anyone believe that because they were born here and now that their system is any better than any of the others? And truly, if you do not believe that yours is the one true religion you are not, in fact, a Christian. At least not according The Bible I've read. You are simply a spiritual person who has gravitated toward the beliefs you have been exposed to the most, and are therefore the most comfortable with. Which is fine. But it has nothing to do with truth or reason.

As my son Cooper said to me when he was eleven years old, "Jesus is like Santa Clause for adults." Only Santa doesn't threaten to send you to hell if you don't believe in him.

take care,

Rick

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Day 26: Extra Starch, Please

Today was a pretty good day. My kids went to Texas for a week with the ex-thorn-in-my-side, so I ventured into the big city to see the Davids - two guys I graduated from Reynolds High School with back in 1970. (Yes, I really did go to Reynolds High.) I sat and watched them eat lunch. I didn't order anything because it was a Thai restaraunt and everything came with or on rice, and was drenched in rich sauces made with peanuts or other dietarily suspect legumes. It's a shame, too, because I've always enjoyed ordering the "King Prik" with a lascivious smile on my face. Small minds -- simple pleasures.

For lunch I had a big bowl of blood red cherries. I know this has been said a thousand time before, but it really is true that if you go a month with almost no processed sugar, simple things like cherries become unbelievably delicious. On a similar -- though ironic -- note, I've noticed that going three years without sex has actually lowered my standards of beauty. Even overweight men with breasts are starting to look good to me now.

Speaking of eating, I spoke with my nutritionist today and complained that I was having trouble keeping my starch intake down to eight and a half units. She agreed that perhaps this was unrealistically low and raised me to ten units. I can't tell you how much I enjoyed that extra bowl of Special K I had tonight.

Big guts -- simple pleasures.