Nothing Special, Really

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Speaking of Being Dead…

Just because my last post was about death doesn’t mean this blog is dead. Barely breathing? Perhaps. But not dead.

Lots has happened since I last wrote and, at the same time, nothing has happened. Anyway, let’s just write again and see what happens.


We got back from our yearly trip to Bend, OR on Sunday. I’ve written about this at least once. I didn’t write about last year’s trip because it wasn’t nearly as epic, especially considering Saturday was wasted by going to urgent care because of chest pains which turned out to be just heartburn.

Given how last year unfolded, this year was probably the most relaxed trip of the three. The first year was an all-out drinking binge. The second year started that way out for me until I ended up in the hospital. This year, Wac and I made a more conscious effort to do more around the city and not spend as much time getting hammered. There was certainly enough beer to go around – we were staying at a hotel/pub, but we didn’t make the trip to be about getting drunk all the time. We did a fair share of drinking on Thursday and even more on Friday when did our own bicycle tour of the 7 breweries in the city. It wasn’t a sober trip by any means.

Saturday was definitely a lazy day. Breakfast didn’t happen until around noon, and we didn’t really do much until 3:30 when a group of us decided to rent some tubes and float the river that runs through the city. Being the de facto group organizer finally got to me right around this time as we experienced some difficulties coordinating the tube rentals. We weren’t sure how we were going to get the tubes to the river nor how we were going to get back to our cars once we were done. Part of the group wanted to just figure it out later, part of the group was OK with postponing the float until Sunday. I was already frustrated by having to transport our own tubes, which put me in an easily combustible mood. All sorts of suggestions were being made but not any decisions, and I felt everyone’s eyes on me to be the decision maker. I refused and instead walked off to let everyone else figure it out. They decided to float since we were there and already had the tubes, and it worked out in the end. I was calm and in a good mood by the time I met them up at the beach, and the float was what everyone needed at that point.

Tangent: I have to say, if you’re in Bend and you want to float the river, I highly recommend renting through Sun Country Tours. The tube rentals were some of the cheaper prices we found but, more importantly, one guy in particular really bent over backwards to help us coordinate the float. There’s no way we would have figured it all out if hadn’t helped us out so much.

Anyway, it was another successful Bend weekend. However, I’m wondering how much more I have it in me in terms of making it a group trip. It’s sort of become tradition at this point but organizing the trip each year is becoming less and less enjoyable. It was our idea three years ago so we’ve been the group coordinators each year, meaning we’re the ones who make the reservation. We’re the ones who try to round up people each year. We’re the ones who have to collect money from everyone for the hotel and sometimes the food and beer runs. When it comes to activities, often times the group follows our lead. Part of this is due to being the common bond between a bunch of strangers in the group, part of this is just my natural tendency to plan and prepare for these kind of trips, part of this is my willingness/ability to make decisions when others do not. The group dynamic is an issue too – everyone for the most part gets along, but the group itself isn’t closely knit. Factions of the group will break off and do their own thing, which for the most part is great. But I’m wondering if the group aspect is really necessary. If there’s 14 of us, but we’re hanging out in clusters of 4 or 6, does it really need to be a group of 14?

We’ll see what next year holds. It’s always a blast and it’s pretty much a tradition at this point, and I’m not interested in NOT going. I don’t want the tradition to fall apart if we don’t organize it, but I’m afraid that’s exactly what might happen.


Speaking of trips, we’ve got a big one coming up in October: either Santiago, Chile or Buenos Aires, Argentina. Neither city was high on my list of places to see (through no fault of their own) but when an opportunity like this presents itself, you kind of have to take it.

One of our good friends, Simon, has spent the year traveling through Central and South America to do some volunteer work originally planned for Santiago. He’ll get there sometime in the next month or so and spend the rest of the year working. So this trip kind of kills a couple birds at once. We get to travel to an awesome place on another continent, we get to spend a week exploring this place with a close friend, and we get to see said close friend for the first time in 10 months. As an wonderful added bonus, our friend James is heading down there to visit for the whole month of October as well. I’m sure we’ll have some stories to share from that trip by the time we’re done.

The only thing up for debate at this point is where we’re going. Simon is contemplating, and it sounds like at this point he’s leaning towards, spending his time in Buenos Aires instead. I’m down for either. Santiago looks incredible and lends itself to some awesome day trips to the western coast of the country; Buenos Aires look amazing as well and lends itself to Argentina steakhouses and a day trip to Montevideo, Uruguay if we want. Wherever we end up doesn’t matter to me; I can’t wait either way. Even though it’s three months away, I still check ticket prices and/or read up on either city on Wikipedia every day.


I’m trying to run another half marathon in little over a month. This time, it’s the Disneyland Half in Anaheim.

Like the race in Phoenix last year, I’ll be woefully unprepared for the run. I’m only up to three miles right now (maybe four, depending on how successful my run tonight is). I’ll be running 3-4 times that amount in less than a month. I’ll take solace in the fact that I completed the race last year despite never running greater than 5 miles, a distance I plan to surpass in my training this time. But it’s still a crash course in half marathon training.

The race should be pretty awesome. The first four miles of the course go through Disneyland, you run through Angels Stadium between miles 9 and 10, and you finish back at Disneyland. What won’t be fun is that the race STARTS at 5am, meaning we’ll need to be there by 4:30, meaning a very early morning. I really hope I don’t have the same sleeping problems I had before the Phoenix half marathon. At least this time we’ll be flying in Friday night vs. 6am the day before the race.


That’s it for know. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep this blog going at the same pace I was writing when I was unemployed. But maybe this will be a kick start to writing a bit more often. We’ll just see.

Monday, January 11, 2010


This certainly wasn’t what I had in mind when I said something was coming soon.

On January 2nd, Wac got a call from a friend of hers. One of their mutual college friends passed away during the night. He was 28. Initial reports were that it was due to a heart attack, although I don’t know if that was confirmed. What I mean is that I’m sure it was confirmed by doctors but Wac hasn’t thought to confirm. Whatever the case, his death was completely unexpected. He was undoubtedly in better shape than I was. We’re talking about a kid – a kid who has scaled Mt. Rainier. A husband and a father for only 6 months.

On January 1st, he updated his Facebook page with a comment that he was listening to old Beatles records that evening. To most of his friends and family, these were his last words. He was gone later that evening.

We attended his memorial service on Thursday. 150 or so friends or families gathered to pay their last respects. He, Jordan, was deeply involved in the church. He was a graduate from a Christian college like Wac and was a leader of the youth group at the church. Some of his friends paid their respects by performing a couple of songs, others took to the podium to say a few words or relate to the congregation some of their favorite memories of Jordan.

I spent the service in another place, mentally. I don’t share the same faith that most everyone else there holds. Not to say that I wasn’t touched or that I didn’t choke up a bit; I did. It was a very touching service to a kid who’s life was tragically cut short (the pastor made a similar comment to this point which I thought was incredibly poignant; to me, it seems too blindly faithful to always chalk a tragedy like this to “God’s plan.”). But, while others eulogized their best friend, their brother, their husband, I kept thinking about something else.

I was thinking about what I would say at my father’s funeral.


I got a call from Laurie, my older of two sisters, as I was driving home from work on Tuesday. I try not to answer the phone when driving if I can avoid it, especially at night on a rainy two lane bridge. I figured she was following up her call that I missed on Sunday.

When my other sister, Bev, called me 5 minutes later, I knew something was up. This couldn’t just be a coincidence. So I answered.

Bev tells me that Dad had a heart attack. He is alive and under care at the hospital.

I didn’t know how to react. The fact that he was still alive was calming, and I took Bev’s demeanor as a sign that he was doing well, considering.

She asked whether or not I would come down to Phoenix. The rest of the family was on their way to the hospital. I didn’t know. I didn’t get the sense that I would be going to say my final goodbye, so I had less of an urgency to go. It would have been difficult to make it happen financially anyways. I knew that my family would want me to be there if I could, but I didn’t know what I would be going for.

I wasn’t really prepared for this.


I spoke with the rest of my family that night, including my dad. The impression was that he would probably recover from this, with some help of course. Stents to help with the blockage of two arteries. A pacemaker to temporary, and maybe permanently, help his heart out. A lot of medical words were being thrown out, and I didn’t really know what all of it meant. It was too much.

When I spoke with my Dad, I teased him about his idea of fun. I didn’t get a chance to talk to him for long. His voice was terribly hoarse and he was on the way to the helicopter to be air-evac’d to Phoenix. But it was good to talk to him nonetheless. With a heavy heart, I decided I wasn’t going to follow him there.

That night in bed, the guilt started to set in. I knew my family would understand why I wasn’t going, and that it wasn’t out of a lack of caring. But still, I couldn’t tell if I was making the right choice. Was I being selfish? Should I have figured out some way, any way, to be there with my dad who just suffered a heart attack?

At that moment, even if I knew it wasn’t going to be the last time, I just wanted to see my dad.

I cried myself to sleep that night.


I haven’t been confronted with death in a long time. The last time someone I knew passed away was my grandfather on my Mom’s side, and that was so long ago I don’t even recall how old I was. The last time I can remember death affecting me was when I came home from basketball camp to find that my Mom & Dad put the dog that I grew up with down to sleep. I was only 16 then. The only other death I can recall was the death of my childhood next door neighbor and best friend during elementary school, but at the time of his death, we had been out of contact for around 10 years. It’s not that I was sad, but at that point, it had been too long for me to be affected like this.

It hadn’t even been a week into the new year and I’ve already been confronted twice.

I’m trying to wrap up this post but I don’t know how. There’s so many things that I feel like I could say. I could talk about what we as a family could learn from this, or how I believe that it will probably take most of us following our father’s path before any of us even begin to consider dealing with our problems with obesity or diabetes or smoking or whatever else. I could talk about the changes that I plan to make to avoid being my dad, a man who neglected his own diabetes for nearly 20 years, or I could talk about the fact that I had pizza for two meals over the weekend is proof that I haven’t learned anything from this. I could talk about how thankful I am that I have Wac with me to give me motivation and purpose, or I could lament the fact that it’s all lip service until I actually put forth the same effort she does. Part of me wants to take my family to task and ask what changes they’re going to make to avoid the issues my dad is now having, but part of me knows that I’d hardly be practicing what I preach.

In Jordan’s death, I’m able to witness the incredible sadness from a life taken too early. In my father’s flirtation with death, I’m able to see exactly what I’d become if I didn’t make changes. And I’m affected for sure, but do I feel affected enough to make the changes I need to in order to prevent my own death for as long as possible? I don’t know.

That might be the scariest part of all of this.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Coming Soon


Thursday, August 20, 2009

Like Optimus Prime

31 is not old. I’ve had friends try to convince me that I am wrong when, in fact, they are wrong. You lost your chance to convince me that I am old last year when I became part of “the thirties”.

My rebuttal to anyone who tells me I am old is that 31 is a prime number so, obviously, I’m still in my prime. You can talk to me about this next year when I am divisible by 2, 4, 8, and 16.


I had a birthday on Sunday. Many of you tried to call me or text me your birthday wishes, and to those who did, I appreciate it. I’m sorry my phone is such a piece that it decided to break on my freaking birthday. Basically, the hinge on the flip part broke partially about two weeks ago, and when I decided to check it on Sunday, the whole thing broke off, ripping at the wires and rendering the whole thing useless.

Anyways, due to such a great group of friends & family, I had an awesome birthday. The birthday weekend started with a camping trip in the Olympic mountains at Deer Park, a campsite essentially at the summit of one of the mountains. Easily the most breathtaking place I’ve camped yet:

We got back to town on Sunday afternoon in time for Matturday, the annual joint birthday celebration between our friend Matty and I, who celebrate back-to-back birthdays. Since it was his 30th, he called the shots on the plans, and we spent Sunday evening staying low-key with some food and drinks at a couple of bars in Pike Place Market.

A birthday weekend celebrated with some of my good friends is all I really need these days, but Wac took things to another level this year, like she usually tends to do. For whatever reason, Wac likes to go overboard on my birthdays, and I’m not complaining. Previous birthdays have included trips to Yakima to do a tour of the wine country, “staycations” at a hotel Downtown, and chocolate & food pairing dinners at Theo’s Chocolate. This year, Wac asked me if I wanted an event or a gadget. Since we were going camping for the weekend, I chose gadget.

I was supposed to find out Monday what the gadget would be, but we had sometime after we got back Sunday afternoon, so we went to the undisclosed location to get it. On the way there, Wac disclosed that we were going to Northgate Mall. Specifically, Best Buy.

To get me a laptop.


Talk about the coolest girlfriend ever. My 2002 Dell PC is completely outdated but I haven’t had the resources to replace it. Wac realized that a new computer was probably the one thing I needed the most and made that my birthday present.

Oh, and I should mention that she planned an event anyways – a cooking class dinner scheduled for the end of the month.

See, I told you I’m still in my prime. There’s no way an “old man” would end up with the best girlfriend in the world.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Just Some Stuff

Hello there.

Yes, it’s been a while. I haven’t felt like posting much lately, nor do I have as much time to post as I had over the past year. I know a lot of my readers rely on my blog to know what’s going on with me, but for me, that’s not much motivation to post. This blog is supposed to be a creative outlet for me, but yes, sometimes, that creativity is fueled by life events. I haven’t post the past couple of months because I haven’t felt anything interesting to post about. I’ve had a lot of things happen since my last post, but nothing that jumped out to me as something I wanted to write about.

So I’m forcing this post out for two reasons. One, for the sake of my readers who want to know what’s going on in my life (yet, for some reason, choose not to call or email) and two, perhaps by just recapping what’s happened lately, I’ll trigger that creative spark. So here goes.

When I last left you, the ‘Betes was on my mind. It’s something that’s always on my mind, even if I’m not managing it as well as I could. The good news is that I’m managing it better than I thought, despite a scare that I had a little over a month ago. For some reason, my glucose was testing higher than normal. It still wasn’t astronomically high (for those with the ‘Betes, I was running between 170-180) but it was higher than I normally test, and it wasn’t coming down as fast as it usually does. It seemed for a while that, no matter what I ate, I couldn’t get my sugar down to normal levels like I usually can.

I was really bothered by this because I couldn’t help but think that I was mismanaging my Diabetes for a very long time. While I was unemployed, I could only afford to check my blood sugar periodically. My concern wasn’t that I was running high that day, but that I’d been running higher for a much longer period of time. I started freaking out, to the point that I left work one day because I couldn’t help but fixate on my blood sugar.

The good news is that it was a smaller issue than I was making it out to be. I finally went to see my doctor, and my blood sugar has improved a lot since I was diagnosed. When I found out I had Diabetes two years ago, my A1c was in the low 9’s. When I tested it again last month, I was at 5.9. For those not familiar with that – my 3 month average blood sugar was now in the normal range, and very close to what a non-diabetic would measure as. This was a relief for two reasons. One, it meant that my blood sugar spike was most likely just a recent thing. Two, it meant that I had been fairly successful managing my diabetes through diet & exercise, even despite the fact that I still have a lot of room to improve.

The flip side is that my doctor felt my cholesterol was higher than he preferred, despite the fact that A) it had improved vs. two years ago and b) only my good cholesterol was outside of the “good” range. He prescribed me two medications, one to help lower my bad cholesterol, the other to raise my good cholesterol. I haven’t done anything with those prescriptions; instead, I scheduled an appointment with a different doctor for another opinion. I don’t want to be on three medications, especially when I’ve shown improvement just through diet & exercise, and still have room to improve in those two areas. I haven’t been happy with my doctor since I first saw him, and this was the final straw. I met with the new doctor last Friday, and he confirmed the same thing I was thinking - I'm in a great position to be able to reduce my cholesterol via diet & exercise if I put the effort in to it. Plus, this doctor loves beer and doesn't think 6-10 drinks a week is excessive for me. Methinks I have a new doctor now.


About three weeks ago, Wac and I finally bought our tickets for our much-delayed trip to Chicago. Some of you have asked “Why Chicago?” It started a couple of years ago when Wac expressed an interest in moving there sometime in the future. At the time, I had no interest in doing so because I had only been in Seattle a little over a year. However, I told her that we should at least check it out, and if we end up being serious about doing so, we need to check it out a couple times, especially during the more miserable seasons. We planned to go in 2007 but we weren’t able to afford it. We budgeted for it last year but unemployment prevented us from going. This year, now that I’m working again, we made it a priority in our budget.

Despite the difficult winters and the muggy summers, I’ve seen, heard, and read enough about Chicago that makes it sound like an appealing place. Take the weather out of the equation, and everyone I know who’s been there has nothing but wonderful things to say about it. We planned our first trip during the middle of October, so I’m sure we’ll have a great time as well. I think we’re both in a position, especially Wac, where we’re viewing this more as a vacation than a scouting trip for our next apartment. However, it only took me a week to fall in love with Seattle, and it could very well happen with Chicago.


I sold my car. I put it up about three weeks ago on Craigslist for $2200. Four days later, I sold it to the first guy I showed it to for $1900 cash.

Wac and I thought the decision through pretty extensively. Originally the idea was to put the money into my car to get it fixed. It needs a new radiator right now and, eventually, a new water pump & timing belt. That’s about $1700 to put into my car that I’m not going to get back when I sell it. It is a Honda and still has great mileage, but it also has considerable body damage that I never got fixed. There’s a dent in the rear passenger panel that would have cost $1600 to get fixed; at the time I needed money so I pocketed the check instead.

Anyways, we were going to put in at least the $500 for the radiator to get the car running until the timing belt was due & either fix that or trade it in for a new car. We’ve both been interested in the Mazda 3’s, and we’d both like a more professional car than my beat up Accord or her less beat up 98 Tacoma. I was going to put my car down as a trade in towards the Mazda when I had a realization about 2 months ago: we don’t even really need a new car right now.

The last thing I want to do is take on additional debt. Furthermore, we’ve been down to one car since November when my radiator got really bad, and we’ve been fine since then. There were a couple times when I had to bus it to work, but with Wac working downtown, only one of us has to worry about commuting by car regularly. On the weekends, if we’re not doing stuff together, we’re very rarely in a position where both of us are going somewhere that requires a car.

When I came to this realization, I was literally beaming. I was in the middle of reconfiguring my budget, and the idea that I could get an extra $2k to put towards my debt, on top of eliminating my monthly insurance payment, was seriously exciting. Reducing my debt is my number one priority right now, and selling my car can knock out two credit cards right away & get months closer to having $0 credit card debt.

I hated to say good bye to my car. It was the first car that I purchased that I was actually proud to own or enjoyed driving. The day before I sold it, I took it to the car wash. I had an old CD in that I hadn't listened to since before my radiator cracked. I'm not ashamed to admit that I got slightly misty-eyed driving it that day, but, it’s just a car. Any sad feelings went away once I looked at the stack of hundreds I had sitting on my desk.


I mentioned before that my biggest priority right now is reducing my debt. I had paid off most of my credit cards before I moved to Seattle but, in the year and a half following, I proceeded to run them all back up and then some. The biggest reason for this is that I failed to adjust to a more meager lifestyle when I moved here. My expenses increased but my income really didn’t. I used whatever cash I had saved up to get by the first couple of months but when that ran out, I didn’t adjust and started using credit instead. It’s pretty ridiculous the amount of credit card debt I have but it was my own doing.

I caught bits and pieces of the documentary Maxed Out a couple weeks ago, about the supposed evil doers that are credit card companies. I’ll grant that they do have some unsavory practices, like jacking up your interest rate at the slightest hint of a problem, outrageous fees for being over the limit or being even just a day late, and relentless solicitation. But, for the most part, the movie played up the American public as the victim, and I don’t buy it. I’m sure my perspective is skewed a bit from being on the lending & customer service side of credit cards for nine years, but I don’t have a lot of sympathy for people in trouble with credit cards. Certainly, there are some unfortunate circumstances that get people into trouble that they can’t avoid, but often, the problems people get into are self-inflicted.

I’m not unlike many people in that my credit card woes are the result of over-consumption. I bought too many things I didn’t need, and I used credit cards to get them. Instead of being responsible with my credit cards and using them only when absolutely necessary, I used them to finance vacations, numerous dinners and bar tabs, and countless items that I either don’t use or don’t have any more. A responsible credit card user would have found cheaper ways to eat, refused to buy things that weren’t essential, or saving up enough cash to use for a vacation instead of charging it all. I know I can’t be the only one who did this.

I started heading down this path of debt freedom last year, when I used part of my severance package to pay off my car. In hindsight I should have been more responsible with my severance, but at least it was a start. Being unemployed certainly changed my focus from paying off debt to just staying afloat, but now that I’m steadily employed again, I’m on the path to paying off my debt in September of 2011. I could pay it off sooner if I wanted to be really frugal; the fact that I’m planning trips for Chicago & Vegas this year, as well as a large chunk for Christmas, probably extends that date by about 4 months. I’m fine with that though because at least I’ll be paying for those trips with cash this time.

Actually, I’ve accelerated that schedule by at least 2 months already. April and May were successful poker months for me. Although it wasn’t the most money I ever won at once, I won $600 in my first ever flat-out tournament victory. I also had several smaller victories that totaled $1200. Last month, I got concerned about my ability to cash out that money down the road, so I took it out now with the intent to put it toward my debt. I didn’t use as much as I planned for credit cards, but I paid one off completely and cut another one in half. I was close to using a lot of it to replace our TV that broke down, but since one of our friends came through and loaned us their extra, I was able to stay smart with it.

What’s ridiculous is that, once my credit cards are paid off, I’ll be at a point where every other paycheck is essentially free for whatever I choose. I can’t imagine what that’s like – the closest I’ve come to being so financially free is when I was living off of student loans. But it’s safe to say I’ve learned my lesson. I spent the entire decade of my 20’s being burdened by debt (crazy to think that at one point I was stupid enough to consider bankruptcy or voluntary repossession because I was falling behind on my car payment every now and then) – I’m looking forward to spending my 30’s doing something completely different – saving. Saving money for a house eventually, setting aside a considerable amount each month for retirement, building up a nest egg. These are all foreign concepts to me but, with each credit card payment, I’m able to get just a bit closer to making that a reality.


See you next time.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

It's In The Jeans

Even in dreams, running in jeans doesn’t work very well.

The last dream I had before I woke up this morning involved me running a race. From what I remember of the dream, I was watching Wac run a race when she encouraged me to run it as well. The race weaved in and out and around a series of hills that looked like fairways on a golf course, only it was all compacted into the size of a city block. I hadn’t run in weeks, but I decided to jump in anyways. I started off pretty quickly, doing a lot better than I started, but by the second loop, I remembered that I was running in jeans, and dropped back down to my “dream pace”. Dream pace is that run you do in dreams where you’re trying to run but it feels like you’re running in pudding with anchors for feet. It happens to me all the time, especially when I’m trying to run away from something. They never catch up to me though; I always wake up before they do.

This morning nothing was chasing me, but as soon as I got the molasses feet, I woke up and immediately thought one thing:

“I HAVE to go running today”


I made the decision last night that I was going to run today, so that’s probably where my dream was spawned. Furthermore, the part about running in jeans probably came about because I made the decision to run today because of my jeans.

An hour before I went to bed, I weighed myself with my jeans on. Normally, I weigh myself without my jeans, so whatever my weight was doesn’t mean much in comparison to what I usually weigh, but my weight with jeans still hammered home a sobering point.

I’m gaining weight.


When I was in Arizona two weekends, family and friends both commented that I appeared to have lost weight. The last time they saw me was less than four months prior, when I was in the best shape I had been in years, ready to take on my first half-marathon. That weekend was the least I had weighed in probably 7 or 8 years.

The length of time between my two visits to AZ must have deceived them, because I, in fact, had not lost weight. I had gained weight, about three pounds since January. I wasn’t worried about the gain though, my weight usually fluctuates about 2-3 lbs on a regular basis. Of course, that’s also my regular fluctuation if I’m not eating in Arizona .

I splurged on my first night back home, taking down a chimichanga and way too much chips with salsa. I justified this by making sure I ordered veggies instead of rice with my dish, but whatever I saved in carbohydrates by omitting the rice I canceled out with several pints at Casey Moore’s. I told myself this was OK though since it was going to be my only splurge of the weekend.

Apparently, my definition of “splurge” has changed. The next day I had two burgers at In N Out. Since I don’t get to go to In N Out very often, I’ll usually get two burgers but forego the fries so that I can stay within my allotted carbs for the meal. I didn’t get fries, but Wac did, and I couldn’t help myself. Later that night, we arrived at my parent’s house. Dinner was her infamous taco salad. My serving size was probably just the right amount of carbs. The problem was, so were the second and third servings.

The following day was my sister’s wedding. The good little diabetic angel on my shoulder encouraged me to skip out on cake and make sure I had water available since the only other options were iced tea and fruit punch. I listened, but I also listened to the bad little non-diabetic devil on my other shoulder, who talked me into not one, not two, but somewhere between 7-8 servings from the 6-foot Walmart sub throughout the evening.

Sunday was a little bit better, but not by much. Leftover taco salad for breakfast, followed by a snack on the road of some Mini Sirloin Burgers from JITB. Lunch at the Grand Canyon was two more leftover sub sandwiches and an apple, followed by an ice cream cone a couple hours later (although that was justified since it was crazy hot out and we had been hiking for almost two hours). Dinner was a salad & pizza.

Our last day was a gutbomb of a breakfast: bacon, sausage, hash browns and biscuits & gravy, enough to push lunch back a couple of hours. When lunch finally came, I indulged once again with a couple of tacos AND rice from some hole-in-the-wall Mexican joint. We were hungry once again halfway though our flight home, so in the Salt Lake City airport, with only minutes between flights, we grabbed a sandwich at the Wolfgang Puck stand. We flipped the sandwich over and looked at the label:

700-something calories
20-something grams of fat
60-something grams of carbs

Yet, for some reason, it wasn’t until I got out of AZ that I asked the one question I should have been asking all weekend:

“Maybe we should split this?”


Two thirty-five.

That number stared me in face with that look your parents give you just before they say “I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed” which always hurts so much worse.

Two thirty-five with jeans, but still. My jeans are not five pounds.

I crossed into the 220’s many months ago and thought I’d never look back to the 230’s. I also thought I’d stick to running after I completed my half marathon. I also thought I was finally making progress with my diet as a diabetic. I was wrong on all accounts.

Two thirty-five is the result of many things: A weekend derailment off the healthy living train, a return to a lazier lifestyle, jeans, and other things. But, with the exception of the jeans, there’s an underlying factor that ties all the other reasons together.

I’m not being serious about my diabetes.


The evil diabetes struck again in my family, this time it’s my brother. It’s already gotten my dad, one of my sisters, and me. Four out of six members of my immediate family are diabetic. Sadly, that’s a lot closer to becoming status quo for our country than you might think.

My brother was understandably bummed about his diagnosis, and we talked for about a half-hour about all sorts of things diabetic. How it feels, how to cope, what to eat, how to exercise, who to talk to, etc. I admitted that I haven’t been doing everything I should be doing as a diabetic, but I’ve been doing a lot better than I was before I was diagnosed. I told him that it was important to see the little ways that you’re making progress because it’s not something that’s going to change overnight. It’s easy to get bummed out when you’re not seeing the bigger picture.

The two thirty-five on the scale last night was a reminder that practicing what I preach isn’t enough. It’s one thing to focus on the progression, no matter how small it is. It’s another thing to get comfortable with the little progress you make, to the point that it stops being progression and falls back into regression. Consciously I was thinking that I was doing certain things right while steadily working to improve. Subconsciously, I was resting on the laurels of my small successes too much to the point that I was chipping away at the progress I was making. I’m still living healthier than I was pre-diagnosis, but these days, that’s more an indictment of just how unhealthy I was than it is a confirmation of how healthy I am now.

It’s easy to forget about being diabetic because, although I do feel healthier, I don’t feel like I have a disease. I don’t have any pain, I don’t feel like I’m sick, but the reality is I have a disease that is one of the leading causes of death in America . It’s a nasty disease that can lead to consequences like amputation of limbs or blindness if gone untreated. I’m nowhere near needing to be concerned about that, but at the same time, the fact that I’m diabetic makes it a possibility, and if someone were to ask me if I’m doing everything in my power to prevent that, I would be dishonest if I answered “yes.”


I just got a call from a friend, inviting Wac and I out to go see Star Trek at Cinerama tonight. As gay as it sounds, the first thing I thought of was “but then I’d miss the finale of The Biggest Loser.” It’s pathetic, I know.

What’s even more pathetic is that it took me another moment to realize that going to the movie would also make running tonight even more difficult.

So, tonight, no Star Trek. I’ll find time to see that when I can. I’ve digressed from healthy living for far too long, and as a young diabetic, there’s no excuse for that. It’s that same mentality that helped put me in this position to begin with. Instead, I’m going running tonight.

Even if means I have to run in jeans.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A Long Overdue Epilogue

You may recall a couple of posts I wrote last summer about a situation from January where I sort of fell into a weird, depressed state. It only lasted for a week or two, but during that time, I was constantly fixated on a very uncomfortable thought; the notion of my own death. I started writing about it as it happened, but it took me nearly 7 months to finally get most of it out for a couple of reasons.

1. Even in August, I was still having a hard time coming to terms with what happened
2. I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to capture my thoughts into words as clearly as possible, but with a hint of drama as well

I tried turning it into some sort of epic 5-part story, but I stopped after Part 4. I made the mistake of finishing these posts right around my birthday, I got distracted with birthday events, and I couldn’t find a way to conclude it all afterwards.

I still don’t know if I’m ready to write the conclusive post, but I’m going to try anyways. It’s been almost a month since I’ve written anything, and I’m trying to see if this can get my creative juices flowing once again. So far, so good; I’ve written this first part pretty quickly, with little to no editing, so I guess I’ll run with it.


I haven’t had another bout of panic attacks or depression like the big one from last January. That doesn’t mean that I haven’t let those thoughts creep into my head again, but after letting those thoughts consume me like they did before, I’ve become much more adept at shaking them off. Thinking about my own death, the absence of my own existence, is still pretty scary to me, but I’ve gotten so much better at deflecting my thoughts elsewhere.

Saying that I came out of those two weeks with a new outlook on or appreciation of life is too dramatic for my taste, but there is some truth to that idea. I somehow found a way to convince myself that everything we do isn’t meaningless, but I didn’t have a definitive answer about what that meaning was; I doubt I ever will. Looking back on that time as part of a bigger picture, I see it as a culmination of events over the prior three years that left me more confused than I realized. By the time 2008 rolled around, several aspects of my identity from January of 2005 were different. College was over, friendships had changed, work became more serious, and that’s not to mention that I lost a significant portion of my identity when I began my relationship with Wac, to this day my one and only serious relationship. On the exterior, I probably didn’t seem that different to anyone who knew me, but inside, I was hardly the same person I knew myself, and I guess it’s easier to see now why I could get depressed when I struggled to figure out the meaning of everything or anything. But anyway, I did come out of all that with some new ideas about how I wanted to live my life going forward.

The first change was that I became much more focused professionally. It seems strange to me, but my focus improved when I realized that I had no desire to define myself by what I did for a living. Let me backtrack for a bit; this was an issue for me as early as the fall of 2006 (two of my favorite blog posts were on this very subject), the first time I was really disenfranchised with my career path. Since then, a couple things happened: I found that HR was something that I could actually be good at, and I found aspects of HR that were at least satisfying if not enjoyable. But beyond that, I realized that it wasn’t a goal of mine to define myself as an HR professional. For me, my career is what will enable me to do the things I really enjoy in life, like traveling when I please, to both distant and familiar places. What I really want is the freedom to go anywhere I want to at any given time, whether it be Barcelona, Vegas, home to Tempe, or a weekend getaway to Portland, and if the best way for me to achieve that is to excel as an HR professional, then that’s where I find the reward in my job. It’s basically a “work to live, not live to work” philosophy, but I'm trying to be more eloquent than that for my readers' sake.

The second change was that, for better or worse, I’m less passionate about life in general. I mean this in a very Existentialist sort of way, not in the depressive sort of way I viewed life 15 months ago. There are certain things I’m more passionate about, but they’re really just support of my passion towards getting the freedom to travel. Part of getting that freedom is improving my financial status, and so since last January, I’ve been more focused on reducing my debt and improving my financial freedom. For the first time in years I’m contributing to my 401k again, and once I can get my debt reduced significantly, I can start putting money away into savings again.

The counter-effect is that I’m not as passionate about certain things as I once was, things like music, basketball, and poker. It’s not that I don’t enjoy these things anymore; instead, this slight shift in the way I think prevents me from being as passionate about them as I once was. At the worst of my depression, I saw everything as absolutely meaningless because, at some point, everything we know and experience will be gone. I’ve been able to find meaning in certain things once again, but ultimately, the aforementioned activities don’t really contribute to the bigger picture outside unless we’re talking about traveling to these events (like going to a big music festival like Reading or Glastonbury, going to the WSOP, or traveling to see the Suns play). There is sort of an absence in my life in the sense that I don’t have anything going on that I’m very passionate about, but I’m at least able to counter that by understanding that A) there is a bigger picture to it all and B) tempering that lack of passion with enough activities that I still enjoy.

I can’t say that I’ll never fall into that depression or have those panic attacks again; in fact, it’s probable that it will happen as long as I’m living in Seattle (seriously clouds, it’s been almost 8 months, you can go away now). More so, I can see myself falling into that again as I get older, closer to the end of it all, not out of regret or disappointment but out of sadness. And when that happens, I hope that I'll be able to welcome it. Therein lies the third change, my acceptance of all this. I’d much rather be afraid of death than indifferent to it because ultimately that means I’m still happy. If I wasn’t enjoying life, if I wasn’t living a good life, then the concept of my own death probably wouldn’t be so scary. Those unfortunate enough to hit a point where they take their own life don’t do so because they’re afraid of dying; instead, they prefer the terminality of death over the burden of life. For me, life isn’t a burden yet, it’s still something worth living, and I realize that my fear of death is a natural instinct to keep me living. It’s this same instinct that’s behind things like stopping at a red light, drinking water, or saying no to prostitutes; we do these things so that we don’t die. My fear of death is just me being very conscious of this instinct. Others are able to resolve this fear better than I can through belief in their own religion; I’ve chosen a different set of beliefs that doesn’t give me that luxury, but that shouldn’t warrant any pity from anyone. I believe, more definitively than most, that our death is the end, and that if there happens to be any continuation beyond that, we’ll never be capable to know, just as we’ll never be capable enough to understand how we got here in the first place (aside from being delivered by storks, EVERYONE knows that). Fifteen months ago, that uncertainty was enough to paralyze me into such a depression that I couldn’t enjoy the life I still had yet to live. Now, I realize that uncertainty is nothing more than just a reminder to keep living the life that I still enjoy.