Monday, February 21, 2011

My own fight club

And now the other half of the blog I did on Fight Club. In many ways, the gym is my own fight club. I go in and completely wreck myself day in and day out in hopes that I will be able to find the answers I need in order to actually start moving forward with my life somewhere in the bottom of the barrel of my own self-loathing. I go in not very talkative and I leave pumped, hungry, tired, and feeling like I went a few rounds. Somewhere in the self-induced pain, the adrenaline high, bigger arms, chest, shoulders, legs, I will find a way to exorcise the demons I carry. The demons of regret, loneliness, indecision, and my own dark side. In the shirts that continue to grow smaller, I fill them with the built-up scar tissue that proves to me I can feel and be a normal human being. This is where I over-exert myself to point of seeing stars. This is my freedom. This is my church. This is my fleeting happiness.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dragon Quest 6

Dragon Quest 6 came out today for the DS and it was one of those rare games I actually pre-ordered. Why? Because it came with an adorable plush slime! That's the straightest sentence you will ever read!

Now a little history here. Dragon Quest 5 and 6 and the remakes of the first three games were all canceled in America back during the SNES days. Long story short, these games finally come out in America and I will be damned if I am going to miss them. Dragon Quest 5 turned out to be a bit of a letdown, but I am totally fine with that because I finally got to play it and own it.

Knowing that Dragon Quest 6 will finally complete my collection I pre-ordered and went in to pay for the game and the guidebook because I must own anything with Dragon Quest plastered across it. Along the way, I have to make my case with the cashier on how I am entitled to my adorable slime because that was part of the deal and I would not have bothered even walking in there had I not gotten my cute thing. He then tells me that he thought they had no guides and that I should have pre-ordered that too, and I should go ahead and pre-order the 3DS since I am already there, and why not go ahead and upgrade my shopper card while I am at it? Now I just finished a real good workout and I was pumped, hungry, and wanted a nap. Doing anything beyond handing me my damned game, book, and toy and watching me walk out the door is standing in the way of progress. So I find myself getting really crappy with this guy as he is continuing to try to sell me more crap I have no desire to own.

Which brings me to why I no longer go to a GameStop. Just let me buy what I want to buy. I want no comments, no small talk, no attempts as selling a pre-order, guide, or magazine. I want none of it. And I especially want none of it after a workout. I would gladly drop money at a store that does that, oh wait, one does. Fry's Electronics.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Workout status

So I worked out six days last week and either went light or attempted to go light all week just to get back into the swing of things. In the end, I am rock solid, feel great, and have somehow gained three pounds. This week I am only working out five days and are going to go with my normal amount of weight. But the bonus is that I have some packets of Superpump 250 to try out and I hear it is a bit more intense than Jack3d so this week will likely be hilarious.

The Fight Club

I started reading Fight Club again, and I must say that if ever there was a monument to the man I used to be, this subject would be it. When I saw the movie, every single frame seemed to speak to me directly. And once I read the book, every single witticism seemed so clever and well thought out. Both mediums present a bit a different message and I pored over how this changed during the movie making process as though the answer would be so convoluted and deep that it would truly change my life.

And for a very long time, I had a series of dreams in which I had created my own fight club, or had been part of a fight club, having attended a fight club for the first time, or faced some very hard truths about myself standing in the crowd at a fight club. The two that really stand out for me to this day is one where I completely lost it and utterly destroyed another human being, but in the process I had become so overcome with emotion I had utterly destroyed myself as well. The other was kind of a two parter. In one, I was in the crowd wearing a shirt and Tyler called me out on the floor. He took my shirt off me and there I was, tattooed solid and still very skinny. Tyler then uses me as an example to the group - having been unable to put on any mass I chose to cover my body in tattoos in order to be comfortable within myself. At some point, I found myself even more self-conscious of my body than before and then kept it covered up all the time. Tyler was right and there I was bared to all and mostly to myself. I did not have to fight that night as I had been destroyed in a different way. The other part was kind of the opposite as I was finally able to build muscle but still find myself extremely self-conscious of my body.

These dreams have never really stopped but they are a lot less frequent. I believe that it is due in part to my endless need to feed my adrenaline addiction and in part for me to deal with my never ending frustration with my own endlessly stalled life.

Back on the subject, upon reading the book now, I just see characters who are trying so very hard to be different, unhappy, and unfulfilled, that they see themselves as modern philosophers. I just see the hipsters and the punkers of the scene I used to be a part of years back. These are the people who never change with the times. They do not seem to see the light, as it were, or have a true catharsis.

But ultimately, I know I have mellowed to a certain degree. While muscular, stronger, and much more dangerous in a fight I finally reached a point where I mentally just do not care enough to get angry. I am an intelligent man and do not have to use my fists to settle differences.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Days and Nights of the Emerson Theater

After the moving experience I had at the Purple Underground, my friend introduced me to a whole lot more new music. I really fell in love with Snapcase and learned from him that they were going to be playing at the Emerson Theater with By The Grace Of God, and Anti-Flag. We set out to see this show and it too was quite a night.

This was about a week after I really ate some asphalt skateboarding and my left knee was still partially scabbed over and leaking puss. So obviously I wore shorts for this outing.

While in line, I was introduced to a lot of Jim's friends. They were all very cool people, as one would expect. One of his female friends laid her hand on my chest after getting my name and I had never felt such an instant calm before. At this point, I had an extreme aversion to people touching me so Jim jumped in real quick and stopped her. Thing was, I didn't want her to stop but I couldn't say that without sounding like a creep. I know nothing about her beyond that night.

We got in and I found that the Emerson was an old theater stripped of all furniture and painted black. Jim's band, EIC, had played on this stage and it did not seem to phase him that he has stood in the same place that Snapcase will be standing. By The Grace Of God went on and they were your typical hardcore band - hulking shirtless dudes screaming, and screechy guitars. Being new to Straight Edge, I enjoyed them. Then Anti-Flag went on and all the punkers jumped around and really got into it. Their extremely opposite political stance intrigued me greatly and they put a lot of energy into their show. Their last song, "A New Kind of Army," played with be-mohawked and tattooed skinny people jumped all over the stage was an electrifying performance. Finally Snapcase went on and it was completely awesome. They played "Ambition Now" and to see one of my newest favorite songs live at the second concert I've ever been to really was one of the best times in my life.

Also, let it be known that I had to give a speech for Speech class that day but I skipped it to go to the show. As a result, I failed the class and had to take it again. It was one of two classes I would outright fail during all my years in college. But I think the experience was definitely worth it.

For a while, I went to the Emerson every single Friday night when I lived in Greenwood. Some shows were great, like the Suicide Machines in which a girl I was seeing at the time danced around in a bra and a necktie all the way through their set. EIC broke up and became Jim Fix and I had seen them, unfortunately they were on right before one of very worst bands I have ever seen went on. Piebald was that band and I can not stress enough how much I hated them. All the dancing around stopped and everyone sat along the outer walls of the building just watching. I left just a couple songs into their set. I have been there for New Year's Eve with Sloppy Seconds with friends. I have seen other friend's bands perform on this same stage, and the very odd performance of Cool Hand Luke in which the band played with their backs to you and the drummer is also the singer.

As mentioned previously, I got out of the scene. People became very political. I had a number of arguments over the tattoos on my chest and arms because they were not Straight Edge enough. The same people also ruled their entire existences by irony: the hair, the clothing, the sense of humor, and the taste for music, all were their because of irony. I was swimming in it and was just sick of it. Nothing was enjoyed on their merit. I don't even really know what my last show was there. I know that I stopped going long before I went to IU and was kind of shocked to learn that it had shut down sometime while I was in Bloomington. And I know very little of what anybody from that time of my life are doing these days which was kind of odd because they were my life. I had a very clear and clean cut from that group.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Finally back in the saddle

Worked out for reals for the first time since I injured myself. The plan was to go pretty light, so I figured three sets 10 reps neutral grip pullups then immediately 10 reps dips then immediately 10 reps pushups. That's light, right? Then after that I did incline pushups, 15 reps a piece, going up the Smith machine two notches at a time and back down. After that, I figured that I really did start out a little hard so I kind of threw a bunch of stuff together with no rhyme or reason other than to work the muscles. And I tried hack squats today on a machine we have. They are tough but it's harder to do with a barbell. It's amazing how much a good lifting session helps my mood.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


I have been thinking about joining the Coast Guard Reserve for a while and, and no thanks to a popped tire, I was able to get the dialogue started today. I talked to the recruiter only to find that they do not do Reserve Units here in Indianapolis, so he gave me phone numbers for Chicago and Louisville and told me to call them. In the meantime, I dropped by the Armed Forces Recruiting Office and talked to anybody I could find. Turns out I am definitely too old for the Marines. The recruiter did not seem to happy with that because of my size. I already know the Navy and the Air Force are not for me, so I did not talk to them. I did talk to the Army about Reserve positions and I ended up getting a dialogue going with two recruiters, one saying do the Reserves, the other saying become Active Duty. I got a lot out of it and a lot to think about, but the Army Reserves sounds like it could be more my style. Coast Guard Reserves involves driving to Chicago, St. Louis, or Louisville to get something going and with my swimming ability it is not likely I could even pass. I need to give the whole thing more thought obviously. But it's not like I am getting interviews anywhere else and I really want a direction with my life.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Firesea part 2

My very first show or concert or whatever you want to call it was certainly a life changing experience. I had just learned about Straight Edge and took it on for myself. One of the guys that introduced Edge to me had a couple bands up in Indianapolis and he invited me to come experience hardcore music for myself. Now he did borrow me a few cds as a primer. One of them featured the song "Stare Into the Firesea" and it has a more couple songs that became instant favorites: "Epicure" by Harvest and "Small Talk" by Ex Number Five. He also introduced me to the band Snapcase which has another one of my all time favorites "Ambition Now."

Anyway, I went to this show and having never been at a show or around a large group of Straight Edgers, I waaaay overdid it: spiked bleach blonde hair, pierced ears and eyebrows, wallet and choker chain, and Xs on the backs of my hands. The venue was The Purple Underground, a small place in the basement of an abandoned building. People had small tables set up selling cds, shirts and so forth, and they also had a small concessions stand with mostly vegan food. The place had a couch on the far end and graffiti all over the walls. The bands went on and I was completely moved by it. I had experienced something so new and so alien to me that I must become a part of it.

After the show was done, I headed back to Vincennes a completely changed man. Night had fallen and the city was awash in light. This sea of light was something that I knew I must become a part of at some time during my life. I had never felt so at peace with myself and so filled with a hope that I can actually find my place as I did that night.

Years later, I lived in Greenwood and found a parking garage just south of downtown Indianapolis that had the greatest view. I would park on the roof and mess around until night fell and then go to the roof, stare into that firesea, feel the happiness of the idea of belonging somewhere wash over me.

I went one last time before moving to Bloomington and knew that it was time for me to move on. The view became a depressing feeling of knowing that I must have screwed up somewhere as I did not find my place, and that the group of people I would run with on occasion would not lead me toward personal fulfillment. The scene was tired, and I was just as tired of searching.

In Bloomington, I would head to the roofs of parking garages and take in the views that they would provide. They were nice but nothing like the parking garage in Indy. I continued to still not find whatever it was I was searching for.

And once I moved back to Indianapolis, I find myself no longer even going out to catch a view off the roof. The firesea seems to just fill me with emptiness and doubt. Somehow I never feel like I will find my place, find a mate, find a good job, reach personal fulfillment. I will always search desperately for answers to how I went wrong and how I can fix it. Nothing will ever change for me as I will always walk the razor's edge. But that is why I am writing this blog - I need to sort it all out.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Three times

Back at IU, I was given a statistic that it takes three attempts before you will stick to some sort of exercise. For me that is only partly true.

In middle school, a friend and I decided we wanted to be real muscular human beings so we did crunches, attempted pushups, and rode bikes for very long periods of time over very large areas. So we did not get very far on the muscular scale, needless to say, but the bike rides were always great fun. We would one day ride into town which was roughly 7 miles one way. Another we would ride all over the nearest golf course because they had a lot of hills until we would get chased off. The people at the golf course never seemed to get wise to who was riding all over their property. They just knew some teenage boys were doing it. That friendship ended in high school and the bike rides no longer felt worth doing as I would have to do them alone.

So once high school ended and I took up skateboarding, I took a whole new approach. This was to be mostly a singular activity and I would not make the mistake of hinging my enjoyment on whether or not I had a friend along.

While at Vincennes, I tried twice to take up weightlifting. I walked into the gym for that first day feeling very out of place. Something about moving weights around felt very odd to me so I quit the first time after about two weeks. The second time, I went with a friend and he showed me a couple exercises which helped me with my confidence in even being there. I kept this up for about month and a half and I put on some weight, which somehow freaked me out because I could not equate being muscular with being heavier. I quit again.

As mentioned previously, my interest in skateboarding started to wane back at IU. They started charging for a gym fee regardless of whether or not you used it, so I figured I was going to at least use it. It took me some time to find the SRSC and I literally skateboarded right in front of it one day. Needing to use the restroom and knowing this was a campus building, I went in to find out it was the gym. A couple weeks later, I finally got up the nerve to go in. I had some rules though. I had to use a day locker and I should be able to workout in whatever I was wearing. Should I need a change of clothes, that was to be done in the bathroom and everything thrown in the day locker. I had a very severe phobia of people seeing any part of my body unclothed. The first few months was more or less spent playing around, trying to learn exercises, learning how to do them right, and doing them in no particular order whatsoever. I watched people bigger than me do their exercises and mimicked with very light weight. I went at it with a lighthearted attitude that this thing was not to be taken very seriously.

Things started to change. I learned that this time this is what I want to do. I noticed my weight increasing and it did not bother me as I could not see any difference anyway. I started to use the locker room and started to bring clothes to work out in. The concept of lightweight clothes to allow for maximum mobility would still come later, but actually changing in a locker room around people was a huge step. My workouts started to take shape and I became more focused.

I tried climbing and stuck with it immediately. That did not take multiple attempts to make happen. I felt natural there and I knew I would be able to come into my own very quickly and naturally.

I learned to make the two work together. Climbing would complement my lifting and likewise for my climbing. Somehow climbing brought to the table the last piece of the puzzle for me as far as fitness goes. I could finally feel at home in a facility designed for exercise. I can focus on something and be good at it without being a total meathead about it. I can enjoy doing both, one, or the other without them turning me into the people I despised back in middle/high school. I can work with and be supportive of people without being harsh, bullying, and so forth. And I know how hard it can be for people to start something new. It certainly was hard for me to understand that I do not have to be extremely skinny, and that I can be muscular without having what I consider a bad mentality.

Some things just take time and many attempts to get it right. Believe me, I am the true embodiment of that.