"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."


Thursday, August 31, 2006

Day 87: Blog Blog Blog

It looks like I'm going to stop posting these little articles for a while. I just can't get over the feeling that I'm standing in the middle of a big room full of strangers shouting, "Look at me! Look at me!" Everybody has problems. What makes me think mine are any more unique or interesting than anybody else's? I get the feeling that the internet is all about commerce and ego. Everybody's either trying to sell you something or bore you with the tedious details of their lives. The worst of the lot, like me, do both.

So for a while I'm going to print any questions or comments you may have and try to respond to them in a half-way intelligent or humorous way. Tell me about the boring crap in your life. Maybe we can get a half-way interesting conversation going about it.

Write me at rick@churchofrick.com

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Day 85: Blue Balls And Cold Showers

In case anybody noticed, I took the weekend off. Even I was getting sick of hearing about the minutiae of my sorry little life. Who gives a rat's ass, really? My mom named me after Humphrey Bogart's character in Casablanca. 54 years later I've finally figured out he's right -- it doesn't take much to realize that my problems don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world of ours.

So, I've been doing some thinking. I've been avoiding women, dolls, skirts, dames, because I just wasn't ready to take another plunge into the always stormy Sea of Love. I've been spit up onto shore -- bruised and battered, my balls covered with barnacles -- too many times to take such a move lightly.

But might it not be possible to just stick my toe into the water? In other words, am I doomed to follow the same pattern - see woman, talk to woman, kiss woman, fuck woman, love woman, annoy woman, lose woman -- over and over again? I love the idea of hanging out, going to movies, having dinner and long conversations with somebody whose breasts I long to caress but don't. And though it's true I've been doing this for years with my friend Dave, that's not what I'm talking about here.

I'm talking about being friends first. I'm talking about getting to know each other and really like each other first. I'm talking about exercising a little self-control. I'm talking about blue balls and cold showers, and getting it right for the first (and last) time in my life.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Day 84: What's Your SPQ?


Episode Three of "Rick Reynolds Gets Happy"


Rick Reynolds Gets Happy video podcastAre you a slut? Does your sex life qualify as "pathetic?" Rick dons his sexologist hat to help viewers calculate their SPQ (Sexual Promiscuity Quotient). "A profound sociological study" -- Big Jugs Magazine

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Day 81: Letter From A Friend

My touchy-feely friend, Paul, sent me this yesterday, and rather than strain my brain to come up with something new today I thought I'd pass it along.

Rick,

Just read your last two blogs. Nothing like hearing someone say you should be happier to make you feel like saying, "thanks so much and fuck you." My only response to this is a quote I once saw on a t-shirt, "whatever the question, the answer is love" and to also say that all someone can do sometimes is to keep getting up off the canvas after life smacks you in the head (and that can just as easily come from within rather than the outside world).

So happiness is like a new muscle you've never exercised before, you start with one rep and gradually move up. Some people are never going to be one of those cheery, ain't life grand types and have to settle more for contentment and equanimity and that may only come in fleeting moments. For me, I'm looking more for peace than happiness, a kind of even-keeled neutrality that allows me to experience both life's highs and lows, without getting overly excited about the former and overly depressed about the latter. That's why meditation appeals to me, it helps me clear the decks and focus on the moment, which as long as I'm above ground, is a much easier place to live than the past or future. It's also why exercise is a good outlet, it gets me out of my head and into my body (not to mention the group sex and crack parties).

Paul

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Day 80: The Ideal Weight

I saw my nutritionist yesterday, and the news was not good. In the last three weeks I've only lost one pound. On the plus side, though, my body fat has fallen to 21 percent, dipping into the "acceptable" category for the first time in recent memory. Supposedly, through working with my trainer, I've replaced some fat with muscle, which apparently weighs more. Sounds like a bunch of crap to me, but rather than feel like I'm doing all of this for nothing I'm buying it.

So I've gone from 265 pounds to 234 in just over three months. By the way, here's a little formula for figuring out your "ideal weight:"

Start with 108 pounds. Add six pounds for every inch in height you are over five feet. If you're small boned subtract 10 percent of that number. If you're large boned add ten percent. If you're never boned contact me.

I'm six feet two-and-a-half inches tall, so I'd multiply 14.5 (the number of inches in height I am over five feet) by six, then add that number (87) to 108 -- 87 + 108 = 195. Because I'm big-boned I'd then increase that number by ten percent -- 195 + 19.5 = 214.5 pounds. That's my ideal weight. Which means I have about 20 more pounds to lose. Which sounds doable, especially since my stated goal at the beginning of the project was 205 pounds.

I just wish somebody would come up with a formula for calculating a person's ideal happiness.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Day 79: Is That Still All There Is?

I'd like to take a moment to respond to some comments I've gotten lately to some of my more recent blog postings.

First, why is it so hard for people to understand that not everybody is like them? Just because you've found a path -- a way to experience some kind of lasting happiness in your life, doesn't mean that others are blind or stupid or stubborn for not seeing that path too. In fact, others do see the path -- I see the path -- it's as clear as fucking day to me! My boys are playing on that path -- their laughter so sweet it brings tears to my eyes. The air is touched with the scent of pine, and birds are chirping. Beautiful women tread softly there, waiting for me to pass by and steal their hearts. Trust me, I see the path. I see it every single day. But I can't take it. I've spent 54 years trying, and I can't drag my sorry ass up the damned thing. And if you think that I think I'd be "happier" if I had more money or more fame, you know almost as little about depression as you do about me.

There's a scene in some old John Wayne movie where he cures some kid who stutters by yelling at him to stop stuttering. That's how people feel about depression these days. "You've got money and the love of your kids; you're healthy; just get over yourself already." "Other people have it a lot worse than you." "Stop dwelling on the bad stuff." "Count your blessings." "Just be thankful for the precious gift of life." "Look around -- there's plenty to be happy about!"

The problem is -- the obviousness of these little pearls of wisdom only serves to make the depressive even more depressed. It's much more frustrating to not be able to grasp something that's right in front of you, than something that's far outside of your reach. Long story short -- I'm b-b-b-broken. So get off my b-b-b-back.

Day 78: Is That All There Is?

As I edge my way toward nonfatosity and unsuicidalness, I find myself drawing closer and closer to pointlessnessitude. I am overcome, these days, with that old Peggy Lee ennui, and often lie in bed at night wondering, "Is that all there is?"

At the risk of sounding sophomoric, let me ask you -- What is the point? We're animals, of course, so part of it has to be just plain old survival. We gotta eat, drink, sleep and perpetuate the species. Yeah well, I got the eat, drink and sleep parts down cold -- trust me. And so far I've perpetuated twice. But as far as I can tell, that and a nickel would buy me a tablespoon of coffee.

Some would say that having kids and raising them to be good adults is the point. But if you're just raising something whose entire point is to raise something whose entire point is to raise more somethings who are just there to repeat the process, then the "point" is a self-perpetuating cycle of... well, survival. It's like saying "the point is the point." Which, of course, is pointless.

Then there's the people who take every question they can't answer -- "Why are we here?" "Where did we come from?" "What's going to happen to us after we die?" "How did Adam Sandler get to be such a big star?" -- and they sweep them into a big pile they call "God." For them the point is to not only get into heaven, but to drag as many people along with them as they possibly can by annoying the hell out of them. These folks, of course, are crazy...........(more tomorrow)

Monday, August 21, 2006

Day 77: Meditate On This

Here it is, Episode Two of my weekly Internet TV show. Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think...

"Rick Reynolds Gets Happy" - Episode Two

Rick Reynolds Gets Happy video podcast - Meditate on ThisRick takes a hike and gets jiggy with nature, trades jibes with his disgustingly spiritual friend Paul, then crashes a meditation retreat where he is forced to shut up and eat his vegetables. "Funny and Insightful" - Buddha Call Magazine     (Running time: 4:46)

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Day 76: Fat Lazy Bastard

Somebody left a comment for me the other day about my daily schedule. He thought it would be better if I moved my "work" -- my career-oriented tasks -- to some time earlier in the day. His thinking was that if I put the hardest stuff off until last it might never get done. And I agree with him. That's a definite possibility. Which is precisely why I've scheduled exercise, yoga, Tai Chi and meditation first.

These are all things that for some reason I can do in a class setting, but when it comes to doing them at home by myself I'm completely lost. I'll be sitting there in front of my TV and think, "Hey, why don't I get down and do some sit-ups or push-ups while I'm watching?" But here's the interesting thing: I'll like the idea of doing some exercises; I'll know it would be good for me if I did some; I'll know I would feel better about myself if I did some; I'll even know it would make me happier both now and in the future if I did some -- but I won't do any.

My theory is that this has something to do with not wanting to fail. The best way to not fail is to not try. It also has a lot to do with inertia. I've been this way for as long as I can remember. The grooves I've worn in the record of my life are so deep it's hard for me to crawl out of them. And it has to do with not believing in myself, which can be traced back to an even bigger problem -- not loving myself.

And, of course, it has a lot to do with being a fat, lazy bastard.

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Day 75: Growing Pains

I know that some of you just want to slap me when I write about how "hard" life is for me. After all, I'm not dying of cancer or being thrown out on the street, or anything awful like that. I'm not blind; my house isn't flooded; my kids aren't hooked on heroin; I don't have chronically bad gas; I don't hate my boss (I don't even have a boss); I'm not a republican -- so what's my problem?

When you hear me complain about how depressed I am I'm sure you just want to shake me and scream, "Hey, there are tons of people worse off than you and you don't hear them whining about it all the time!" When I complain about how hard it is for me to lose weight you must want to shout, "Just eat less crap you fucking pig!" When I say I'm lonely you no doubt think, "Then go out and find somebody. The world is full of women looking for fat, depressed guys like you."

Believe it or not, I feel that same way. Sometimes I just want to shake myself and yell, "Get over it already!" I want to look at the positive things in my life -- my boys, my friends, my career, my health, my "stuff", my skills, -- and feel good about that life.

There are those who look at me, I know, and say, "You're unhappy because you want to be unhappy." To those people I say, "Kiss my sad ass!" Closer to the truth, I think, would be, "I'm unhappy because that's the only way I know how to be."

Pardon me if I complain as I struggle to learn how to be happy.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Day 74: Blood Is Thicker Than Kool Aid

I just got back from shopping, and am pleased to announce that I saved over 44 bucks using my Safeway discount card. Another victory for the consumer! The fact that my boys and I are now forced to eat a bunch of crap we don't really like does little to diminish my satisfaction at having lowered my monthly nut by nearly one whole percent!

Two of the items I found on sale today I didn't even know they still made -- Jello and Kool Aid. I bought the sugarless variety of each in hopes of satisfying my sweet tooth without ballooning up like Mr. Kool Aid himself. I don't know if you've seen the old guy lately, but he's really let himself go. Granted, it's true that he only has one love handle, but my god it's huge!

And speaking of weight, they really should get some physicists to study how these products are made. The packets of Kool Aid and boxes of Jello were so unbelievably light I was worried they were going to float out of the bag on the way home.

Anyway, I can hardly wait to whip these treats up and take a trip back in time, and try to my recapture some of my childhood. I may not have a drunk woman here to abuse me, but I'll try and make do.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Day 73: Never Put Off Till Tomorrow What You Can Do The Day After Tomorrow

My boys, Cooper and Jack, are starting school next Wednesday, so I've earmarked that day to finally start my "schedule." Whenever I want to "kick it into gear," or start a new project, or just get off my ass and be productive, I put it off until some clearly-defined temporal line of demarcation. New Year's Day would be the best example of this. "I'm going to go on a strict diet starting the first of the year." We all know how well that works.

I might tell myself that I'll start writing the script on the first of some month, or that I'll learn how to meditate after some construction has been completed on my house, or that I'll stop masturbating so much after hell freezes over.

Well, anyway, I figure it's about time I incorporated some of the crap I've been working on into my everyday life. So starting next Wednesday -- and God strike me dead if I don't make good on this (thank god he doesn't exits, huh?) -- my day should look like this:

7:30 write blog
8:00 walk
9:00 exercise
9:30 yoga
10:00 Tai Chi
10:30 meditate
11:00 read
12:00 lunch (free time)
1:00 chores (from to-do list)
2:00 "work" (on TV show, script, etc.)
6:00 done

I'll let you know how it goes -- i.e. when the whole thing goes to hell.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Day 72: Love Thyself

For years now my best friend Dave has been telling me that part of my problem is that I don't love myself. I could never agree or disagree with this evaluation because, in a very real sense, I had no idea what he was talking about. How could a person love themselves? (Insert your own masturbation joke here.) Seriously, though, the concept of self-love made absolutely no sense to me.

Recently, however, Dave said something I did understand -- that I treat those I do love better than I treat myself. That's certainly true. And from this small insight I've begun to have a vague inkling of what he's talking about. And for me it boils down to this: I don't feel lovable.

I never felt loved as a child. And if I was it wasn't expressed in any conventional way. In fact, the only times I can remember an adult family member even touching me when I was growing up was to beat me. The women I have loved, with the exception of one, have been fairly cold and unaffectionate. I've also convinced myself that that one exception was so emotionally needy she would have loved anybody.

Cut to today. A lonely man, trapped in the suburbs, feeling unloved -- even by himself, sits and writes a blog about his growing awareness of his unlovability. Pathetic, huh? I agree. In fact, the more I think about it the more I really hate that guy.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Day 71: Podcast Advice

Hope you enjoyed the first installment of my new "TV" show. I got a lot of positive feedback. And, of course, people had suggestions for making it better -- almost all of them wrong (at least for me) in one way or another. One person wanted me to express more angst, one wanted me to act out a tragic scene from my past, one wanted some kind of useful advise, one wanted it shorter and zippier.

Well, in the first place, as with my one-man shows, I do not act in these pieces(and, in fact, can not act, period -- as is evidenced by my failed sitcom). You get the emotion I'm feeling at that moment. Angst will come -- when I'm feeling angst-ridden. But I will never act anything out. It would defeat the purpose.

Also, I cannot give advice about something I myself am struggling to understand. The closest I could come to giving any kind of really helpful advice would be, "Don't be me." Future pieces will be shorter and funnier than this one, but as far as making them "zippier," no thank you. These aren't made for kids; they're made for intelligent adults who enjoy seeing someone much worse off than themselves make a fool of himself week after week.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Day 70: Bubzac

Well, here it is, the first episode of my new internet TV show, "Rick Reynolds Gets Happy." I put a lot of time and money into the damn thing, and my big fear is that hardly anybody will see it. So, if you could, do me a big favor and let your friends (and if you hate it, your enemies) know it exists. I'd really appreciate it.

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"Rick Reynolds Gets Happy" - Episode One

Rick Reynolds Gets Happy video podcast - BubzacRick sits down with another suicidally depressed guy, comedian Larry "Bubbles" Brown, to discuss the ups and downs (and ins and outs) of life, romance, and happiness. Funny and uplifting, in a sort of "Gee, I thought I had problems," kind of way.     (Running time: 7:16)

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Sunday, August 13, 2006

Day 69: Daddy Bashers

I woke up crying this morning.

I had just had a dream in which I was on some sort of amusement park ride, and in the seat next to me was a woman with an incredibly cute baby. Looking at the baby I wanted very much to kiss its cheeks. The more I looked at it the more it reminded me of my boys when they were babies. And the more I thought about my boys when they were babies, the sadder I got.

I longed for the days when I would rock them to sleep -- one hand on their butt, one hand on their back, their face nestled in my neck. I miss that so much. Now I have two nearly six-foot, smelly, sarcastic daddy-bashers. If you look at them and squint your eyes and imagine them without hair and about a hundred pounds heavier, you can almost see me.

So I started crying in my dream. Crying for the days when they were so damned cute and needed me so much. And when I woke up I kept crying, because I knew the day would soon be here that I would wake up and even my big boys would be gone.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Day 68: Friendship

I'm too lazy to write an article today, so instead I'll post this letter I just emailed to my old friend Lizz Winstead, who, among other things, created The Daily Show. Lizz and I were very good friends for years and then lost touch until just recently. My rational for printing the letter here is to give you an insight into who I am. As they say, you can tell a lot about a person by how they treat their friends.

Lizz,

I can't tell you how happy I was to talk to you the other day. How could such good friends let so many years pass by without staying in touch? I blame you, of course. You were so busy championing your left-wing pinko causes you didn't have time for friendship. How many times did one of your assistants tell you I'd called, only to have you say, "My time is too important to waste on the likes of that nobody,"? Now that you're down in the gutter, though, a washed-up has-been whose vagina is drying up even faster than her career, you throw me this bone. Well you know what? I'm not too proud to take it. Yes, I'll take it. And I'll caress it and stroke it and fondle it until it's engorged with that same affection we once felt for each other. Because that, my selfish, celibate slut, is what friends do.

yours in Christ,

Rick

Friday, August 11, 2006

Day 67: Coming Soon!!

Well, for those of you still with me after my apparently controversial, "close-minded" and "judgmental" postings this past week, I have what I hope will be good news. Starting this Monday -- and continuing every Monday thereafter -- I'll replace my usual written posts with episodes of my new internet TV show, "Rick Reynolds Gets Happy."

The shows will run between five and eight minutes, and will have the feel of my past one-man-shows. That is, they will at least attempt to be honest, interesting, and humorous.

The first episode deals with depression, and features a very funny interview with my favorite depressed comedian, Larry "Bubbles" Brown. Show number two deals with my frustrations regarding meditation. Number three is about nutrition, and in number four I'll help you calculate your SPQ, your "sexual promiscuity quotient."

I'm producing the shows with my friend (and soon to be lover -- come on, Tom, you know you want it) Tom Scheuber. Tom isn't particularly good at what he does, but he thinks I'm funny, so he's in.

Anyway, keep an eye out for it. It starts this Monday.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Day 66: The Burrito Exercise Program

There are few things in life more embarrassing than accidentally farting in front of somebody you don't know very well. I did this the other day during one of my sessions with my personal trainer, Sandra. I was doing crunches and out came a tiny pooter -- just loud enough to bring a little color to my cheeks (the ones on my face). She ignored it, of course, and we just kept going.

Well, I just got back from another session today, where something interesting happened. For some reason I had really bad gas, which kept wanting to come out every time I'd exert myself. So I found myself clenching my buttocks and stomach muscles all the time. Which, as it turns out, is something I'm not only supposed to be doing anyway (it's called "working from your core"), but it's something I've always had a lot of trouble thinking about during my workout.

Which brings me to my new revolutionary workout idea -- the "Burrito Exercise Program." It's pretty simple, really. You just eat a large bean burrito an hour before working out. If you don't work with a trainer, go to the gym, or anywhere there are people within earshot. If you workout outside, make sure you're upwind from somebody.

And then let your God-given sense of shame work those core muscles until you're the lean, mean machine you've always wanted to be.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Day 65: I'm An Asshole, So Shoot Me

I just sent this email to a woman who keeps trying to converse with me about God. I've tried telling her that such a conversation would be pointless, but she just keeps insisting. So finally I sent the following. (By the way, a friend of mine read this and thought that it was much too harsh. "You sound like an asshole," he said. "Of course I do," I replied. "I am an asshole.")

Jennifer,

The truth is, believing in Jesus is no different than believing that The Wizard Of Oz actually happened. To discuss such a possibility with someone who believes it is to converse with a crazy person. There is no point to it. You have found a path to happiness. Good for you. The fact that it's utter nonsense doesn't really matter. But I really don't want to talk to you about it, because in a very real sense, you are crazy. I don't mean that as an insult. It's just that you need this belief of yours so badly you've warped your sense of logic to make it somehow fit into your otherwise "real" world. Trust me, you are incapable of actually challenging these beliefs, because they are essential to your emotional survival. You, of course, think I'm exaggerating, that you really do have an open mind, that I'm the one who is closed to other's opinions. But as a very wise man once said, "There is but one true prophet -- deception."

Because you are in possession of "the truth," because that's your starting point, all of your discourse on the subject of God can amount to nothing more than rationalization. Trust me, you don't want to discuss theological issues with me, you want to convert me. Or, at the very least, come to understand why I am so blind to the beauty and greatness of God.

Rick

Monday, August 07, 2006

Day 64: Zealots Get Thee Behind Me

There are two types of people who are offended by what I'm trying to do with this project. In fact, they sometimes act as though they're actually afraid of it. Religious zealots are one type, of course. Even worse, though, are the psychology zealots. You know the type -- they've been in therapy (group and private) forever, they've read dozens of self-help books, attended countess seminars, and are the most screwed-up people on the planet. And like their deluded religious counterparts, they annoy everybody with whom they come into contact. It's hard to tell what's worse, their non-stop platitudes or their self-righteous attitudes.

Religious zealots think I should put my life in the hands of God. Psychology zealots think I should put my life in the hands of their so-called experts. If I can do this on my own, if I can take back control of my life and find happiness without the help of their divine prophets, maybe their slavish devotion to their particular chosen paths was for naught.

So they cower behind their anonymity and take pot shots. Their fingers scurry across their keyboards like rats on a drainboard. They lob their words carefully, so as to appear they mean no offense, and then slink back into their holes before having to take any responsibility for their actions.

Well, you know what? Fuck you. I'm going to do this thing. And I'm going to do it without the crutches you've convinced yourself you need to make it through life. I'm going to do it with willpower. Because I don't believe in God. And I don't believe in therapy. I believe in free will.

And I believe in me.

Day 63: Retaking Breakfast (part two)

Another reason I'm so focused on the weight loss aspect of this project is that it gives me the feeling that I'm not only doing something, but that I'm doing something really hard. Which means that -- at least in this one particular area -- I'm in control of my life. Which is important because up until two months ago I felt completely out of control.

I'm very proud of the fact that I've lost 30 pounds. And in a way, doing so has made me believe in myself again. It's made me believe that I can get out of my head, acquire grace, control my anger, learn to love pseudo-intellectual psychology junkies who leave long-winded passive-aggressive comments on my blog, and even -- dare I say it -- become happy.

The hardest part of my new "diet" was giving up cereal in the morning. For as long as I can remember I've started every day with a giant (3 cup) bowl of raisin bran with a sliced-up banana in it. Pour 2 cups of milk over that and you're talking almost 1000 calories, which is half the calories I'm now allowed for an entire day. So I started eating eggs for breakfast. Eggs! And for two months woke up every morning actually kind of dreading my first meal of the day. It wasn't that I hated eggs; it was just that they weren't raisin bran.

Anyway, after intense lobbying with my nutritionist, and agreeing to cut back to two and-a-half cups, eliminate the banana, and use less milk (and because she felt that I was losing too much weight too quickly) I got my raisin bran back.

Oh, glorious day! Oh, golden flakes of love! Oh, raisin bran!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Day 62: Retaking Breakfast (part one)

Somebody wrote recently and asked why I put so much emphasis on the diet aspect of this project. I've mentioned before that this is partially because losing wight is the one part of the project that's actually quantifiable. How much happier am I? How much has my stress level gone down? I couldn't really say. True, I note progress with things like yoga and Tai Chi, but I can't objectively measure that progress the way I can my weight.

But there are a couple of other factors, as well. For one thing, "eating right" is something I do all day long. I only do my yoga and Thi Chi a few times a week, but I do my diet every time I open my mouth and don't cram some sweet, fatty crap into it.

I've always hated psychological terms that moved into the public sector and eventually became over-simplified catch phrases. "Gunny-sacking," "enabling," "co-dependant." The most recent of these, of course, is the phrase everyone seems to be using now to describe someone who gets a great deal of sick pleasure out of complaining about their own life. They say such a person is "pulling a Reynolds."

Anyway, that's a kind of long-winded way of saying that I hate it when people say that they eat a lot to "medicate" themselves. I ate a lot, and especially a lot of crap, because it tasted good and I was bored. It brought me a moment of pleasure. And as we all know, pleasure is the methadone of the happiness junkie.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Day 61: State Of Grace

Driving back from my Tai Chi lesson today, I suddenly realized what it is that so attracts me to this deceptively simple discipline -- grace. I want to look graceful, to feel graceful, and eventually to actually be graceful. For most of my adult life I've felt kind of big and awkward. And when I watch myself practicing Tai Chi in the mirror, I realize that I look even more awkward than I feel. Often, the word "lummox" comes to mind.

Even harder than the whole grace thing, though, is -- and yes, I know I've talked about this before -- somehow changing who I am. See, I'm the guy who makes fun of this kind of shit. I ridicule guys walking into the gym clutching their yoga mats. I taunt Tai Chi teachers -- criticize calorie counters -- mock meditators. That's who I am -- the asshole with the big mouth, putting down what he doesn't understand.

Cut to: Having realized that the way he is -- that who he is -- just doesn't work anymore, he suddenly finds himself in the very classes he once made fun of, trying to regain control of his life, to get out of his head for even just a few minutes, to learn how to deal with stress, to change how he eats, and even -- as "prissy" as it may have once sounded -- to add a touch of grace to his life.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Day 60: Relearning Life

Two months into the project and all is going well. Though I take a step or two backwards every once in a while, it's always after having taken two or three steps forward. So progress is being made.

I think back to my worst times now, after my marriage broke up (i.e. after my wife came to her senses and left me) and wonder how I could have let myself sink so low. I was respected in my chosen field of work; I had money in the bank, two boys who adored me, and a fully functional penis. And yet there I was, huddled on my bedroom floor hacking away at my wrist with a dull paring knife. (Sometimes I think the only reason I'm alive today is that I'm too cheap to buy good cutlery.)

Lots of people had much worse childhoods than I, and they manage to make it through life without the occasional suicide attempt. People have lost everything they own, they've watched their children slowly die of cancer, they've spent their lives surrounded by war and hatred, they've been subjected to these tedious blog postings day after day, and yet they live their lives outside of the orbits of self-pity and despair.

As I sit here today and ask myself how I got to be the way I am, especially given that I don't like the way I am -- that I am, in fact, ashamed of the way I am -- I realize that I got here slowly. Year by year, month by month, day by day. Baby steps have brought me here. I crept up on craziness so slowly nobody -- least of all me -- saw it coming.

And so I'm just beginning to realize that, in a very real sense, the Happiness Project is about relearning how to live. It's about making me somebody I can be proud of.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Day 59: Half Way There

I stepped on my nutritionist's scale yesterday with a great deal of trepidation. On my last visit there I'd lost six pounds in two weeks. This time, though, I'd cheated a little some days by eating too much cereal. Cereal, as I think I've pointed out before, is my big weakness. Anyway, I'd weighed in at 242 pounds two week before, and was really hoping to be somewhere -- anywhere, really -- in the 230s. Even 239 would have been fine with me.

So as I stepped up onto the scale I tried to "think thin." When she announced that I was down to 235, I was elated. I'd lost half of what I'd set out to lose two and-a-half months earlier. In 75 days I've gone from 265 pounds to 235 pounds. Not bad, huh? Also, my blood pressure -- which was dangerously high two months ago -- was down to a normal level. And even though I know it's going to get harder and harder to lose weight as I get closer to my goal (205 pounds), for the first time since I started this project I'm absolutely sure I'll make it.

When my depression finally gets to be too much for me and I kill myself, I like the idea of two women passing by my coffin, and one of them turning to the other and saying, "What a waste!"

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Day 58: Growing Up Poor

Two of the most vivid memories of my childhood deal with being poor. One was when I was in the second grade and my mother couldn't afford a gift for the kid whose name I had drawn for our class Christmas party. An hour before we were to open our presents, I took my teacher, Mrs. Powell, aside and told her that I had forgotten to bring mine. She knew the truth, of course, and gave me two dollars and sent me to a store in the neighborhood to buy something. (I remember I got one of those Life Saver books. Remember those? You opened it up and there was a row of maybe eight rolls of Life Savers on either side.) Mrs. Powell was one of my favorite teachers of all time. We shared the same birthday, and every year, through the sixth grade, she would come to my class on December 13th and give me a present.

The other memory is of having to go to the Wood Village Scotty Store -- I think I was about ten years old at the time -- and buy some groceries on credit. The problem was that the owner of the store, Al, had told me just days before that we couldn't buy anything else on credit because our account was too high. When I told this to my mother, she said to just wait until they rang everything up and then tell them it was a charge. I can't tell you how hard that was to do. I sat outside of the store for about an hour working up the nerve to go in. As Al rang everything up, I started to cry. I just couldn't help myself. When I said to charge it he yelled at me in front of all of these other people, and I just wanted to die.

I bring this all up because somebody in one of the comments here asked what I was doing about making a living. I just wanted to give you a little insight into why I have so many issues with money, and to assure you that I have a plan in place to make plenty of it. Meanwhile, the project is what I am doing to make my living worthwhile.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Day 57: I'm An Idiot

I think there's something wrong with my brain. I'll have my Tai Chi instructor show me a certain move over and over again, and I'll do it in class until I think I know it, then I'll go home and be completely lost. The same thing happens to me with yoga. And it's very frustrating. I'm constantly having to fight this "Ah, fuck it!" impulse, and to ignore those slutty sirens of surrender, who never stop beckoning me homeward, to the sweet bosom of stagnation and complacency.

As I see it, there are three major obstacles standing in the way of my mastering these time-honored, exasperating arts. The first is that I'm old. Not only can you not teach this dog new tricks, you can just barely keep him from humping your leg every time he sees you. Secondly, I'm a man. Men don't like to look bad at anything. This is the main reason we prefer making love with the lights out. And lastly, I'm an asshole. And assholes can't stand not feeling sure of themselves. They also hate taking orders. Unless they're making love with a beautiful woman in a very dark room.

Nobody said this project would be easy. I realize that. But I wish somebody would have at least warned me that one of the hardest parts of it was going to be looking and feeling like a complete idiot.