12.31.2014

I Resolve Nothing

I'm gonna say this right now. You may like it none too much. And Jack, forgive me, but it bears being said in just this way.

Fuck New Year's Resolutions.

It's taken me quite some time in my relatively short 43 years on this planet (this time around) to figure out one thing: Resolutions Don't Work.

Now...as with most..ok..everything I've written on these virtual 'pages;' your mileage may vary. Resolutions may work for you. I doubt it, but I've been wrong before. And even if they do work, they're a bad idea from where I'm sitting (which at the moment is on a chocolate colored microfiber love seat while Nick Offerman is streaming on Netflix).

Dude. How can they be bad? Making New Year's Resolutions helps people. 

No. It doesn't. As I'm sitting here reflecting on the sometimes glorious, sometimes completely fucked year that was 2014 and looking ahead, I finally figured it out.

New Year's Resolutions are based on Guilt, Frustration, and Regret.  I feel bad that I didn't spend enough time with my friends...or my daughter...so I resolve to change that. I'm frustrated that I put weight back on...so I resolve to change that. Yada yada...the list goes on. You get the idea.

Thing is...those feelings might be completely valid. They're your feelings, who the hell am I to say they're wrong? And if careful reflection and introspection leads you to a place where you want to make positive changes, then cool. But don't...DO NOT make a resolution from it*. The resolution is a pie in the sky answer to all the problems. Because the sinister part of the resolution is almost always unsaid aloud, but it's there.

I resolve to exercise regularly in 2015 because there are days where I feel like a fat fuck.

I resolve to spend more time with my friends in 2015 because I feel like they are silently judging me for being so hermit-like.

Again, as indicated by the '*,' your mind may not work like this. Mine does (lucky me).   So, because of that, I have to avoid resolutions. Resolutions are the silent reminder that no matter how kick ass things were in the year you just finished, there were still things you aren't happy about.

So instead of focusing on the moment...instead of counting your blessings...instead of looking at all the amazing things that are in our lives, we focus on the things we wish we had..the people we wish we were. And that's just a shitty way to start the year.

To be constantly reminded of that each time you share your resolution is almost a certain recipe for failure. And then what happens when you DO inevitably fail is that you feel even worse....because sticking to your resolutions was suppose to solve the actual problems that the resolution was based off of in the first place.

It's a vicious cycle.

One that I will not be participating in.

There are goals. I have plans for 2015. But they are going to require careful though and preparation. Not some careless scribblings on a napkin used to mop up the leftover pork and kraut drippings.

So as you ring in the passing of another day that just so happens to be the first one on the calendar we all finally settled on, I give you this:

Here's to you, my friends.
Here's to the beauty of living in the moment.
Here's to the long game. Not some reality of who you think you are supposed to be segmented in to blocks of 365 days.
Here's to love and laughter and dancing naked in the rain (although you may want to check both the weather, and the local municipal laws before doing that last one.

Be safe and be merry.

Love to all in the upcoming series of 'nows'.


-A.T.

12.23.2014

A Promise is a Promise

This has been something of an unexpected Christmas season, if I'm being honest.

And it's my blog. Why the hell wouldn't I be honest? Doesn't make much sense, does it? No. It doesn't. But that's neither here nor there at this point.

Point is....erm...OH. Right. Weirdfuckingholidayseason and what-not.

I have a friend who gave me a gift. I have a few, actually. One was a Swatch watch. Vintage. To add to my growing collection (because I like Swatches....and watches in general). To date almost all of my watches have been gifts from friends. It floors me every time. Not only do they know me well enough to know I will love that, they also know which particular watch in the watch universe looks like a Todd-watch. And trust me...there is a mold for that. And my friends nail it. Every single time.

It blows me away. Seriously.

Another friend and reader of my more positive posts and blog gave me this set for Christmas.

It's a 5 year journal and companion piece. The main crux being, each day write one thing that thoroughly kicked ass about that day. At the end of 5 years, you'll be able to see what that particular day of the year was like from one year to the next.  I'm interested in seeing how March 23rd plays out over a five year arc. It's too soon to tell, but I see great things for that day. 

And then I recently got a conditional gift. The gift had 3 conditions. I was not allowed to buy the giver a Christmas gift (or reveal who they were). I had  to buy myself something. And there was a third condition.

I had to start writing again. 

You might have noticed that the Holiday Funk (yes, I mistyped that originally. The 'n' and the 'c' are actually closer on a keyboard than you might think when Dr. Freud is dancing in your brainbucket). But the Holiday Funk had started to set in. Another name for it is Seasonal Doubt. The feelings of going through certain seasons in my new reality have been sowing some seeds of doubt. 

But I had agreed to the conditions nonetheless and ventured out in to holiday shopping terrain 2 days before Christmas (no...I don't have any idea what the hell I was thinking).

I stood in Target (which is as close as I could bring myself to get to the actual Christmas shopping crowd) dumbfounded for nearly an hour.  I had no idea what to get myself. I had a laundry list of things I needed to get for others. But not for me.

I settled on these (along with some nice Staedtler pens):

One is "642 Things to Write About" by the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. The other is an 'inner truth journal' (we'll see how that one plays out and if anyone gets to actually ever read that while I'm still clinging to this mortal coil).  The last is a 'decomposition book.'  It's a composition book made 100% of post-consumer recycled products. I just liked how it was labeled. Reminded me of when I had a LiveJournal. And then later, in my Emo Phase, a DeadJournal (it was short lived...a day or three maybe).

These recent activities have led me to uncover 2 truths about myself.

The first is that I collect things that I wanted as a youth, but never really had. At least not to the extent that my friends did (watches, and Swatches being a prime example. Real Rubik's cubes (not the knockoffs) being another).   I suspect that's the case with many collectors.

The second...and something more of a painful truth.

I don't accept gifts very well.   I mean, I'm not rude about it. But I'm always taken aback.  Part of me feels like....I don't know...that I don't deserve it? I know that seems weird. But I feel like...I dunno. I can't quite explain it. I just feel like, when I get a really nice gift that the person giving it to me maybe got it wrong. Like they had two gift bags and I was supposed to get the fruit cake.

I just don't take gifts well, I guess.  I think part of it was being with someone who downplayed random 'for no reason' gifts. And so that got me in the habit of thinking those kinds of things weren't really called for. And so when I have them given to me I'm a little taken aback.

The love and thoughtfulness put in to the choosing of the gift always catches me off guard, too.

Maybe this is why I haven't writing for almost 2 weeks. I've felt...um...hell. I don't know what I've felt.

I don't know where this is really going.

Friends.  I love them and they love me.

And I'm learning to be OK with that. Because...as I wake up each day...I'm finding that I do, in fact, have something to give.

Here's the simple truth my friends. I'm kind of a pussy and I'm shit with follow through.  The book (books? screenplays? poems? ) may or may not every get published. But...that doesn't matter. In the grand scheme of things, my life's purpose is not to get published (although I'm hoping that's a nice side benefit).

My life's purpose is to be creative. And through that creativity shine a light illuminating a greater force in the universe. And to inspire others to find their own inner creativity.

Period.

I'm a mirror, my friends. A moon, if you will. I don't feel that I'm meant to be a source of light. I'm just supposed to reflect that light from the Source. And to show you that you all have that ability.

It's that realization. Along with the surprise attack random acts of kindness from my friends that pretty much throat-punched the Holiday Funk.

And that feels pretty stinkin' good.

Gifts are wrapped. And I'm writing.

All is right with the world.

Have a kick ass night my friends.

Andrew Todd

12.15.2014

Holiday Funk

I posted today on that social media (purgatory?) site that I was feeling like the Holiday Funk was coming on.  I got a few 'likes'...and a few more people telling me to fight the funk (in whatever form).

And I get that.

I understand fully that I am blessed. If I were to list everything that I count daily as a blessing, I would be high on the list of people you want to throat punch-trust me.  But that's not the point. The funk doesn't come about because I forget to count my blessings. It's not a George Bailey Moment where I have to be shown what the lives of others would be if I weren't here.

It's not really any of that.

It's the grey days. It's the apartment that at once seems massive and fatally constricting. It is the fact that it has only been one year since the divorce was finalized (and all of the internal bullshit that floats in my head from that).

So...with all of that, there is a funk. A funk of trying to remember that yes, this was the best thing for me at the time I was going through it.

I don't think I'm special in this regard. I think that many people that have spent time with someone for  any length of time be it a marriage or relationship of some sort would feel a sense of loss when that is over.

Please don't confuse this with me missing what I had or any kind of longing. It's not that. It's just that there is now a place that is empty. Whether what was filling it was a good thing or not is irrelevant...the spot is still empty.

And the holidays remind me of this fact. I come home to an empty place. No pets. No kids. No background noise from someone doing something in another room.  It's not bad.  It just takes some getting used to. And sometimes that's rough.

That's the funk.

It's not necessarily depression. It's adjustment.

So yes...I'm doing fine. Some days I feel I've adjusted better than others. It's a process.

And there you have it.

Now that my server upgrades are done, I'm going to bed.

Sweet dreams my friends. And even sweeter realities when you 'wake up' to find the dream world in this realm.

-A.T.

12.02.2014

I'm Sorry

Odd title to the post, I know. But I feel I owe you an apology.

You. My friends. My family. My co-workers. The random person in the check-out line I used to joke with for no reason other than I was trying to figure out why you were buying a lawn chair, Dr. Pepper, and a box of condoms (said with a British accent) at 2:47 in the morning.


I'm not going to lie and I'm not going to sugar coat it. This shit with my neck is kind of fucking with me. It started a little over a year ago. The diagnosis (after much physical therapy) was that I had arthritis in my neck (between the C5 and C7). And that since, I could not take Ibuprofen, there really wasn't much in the way of any kind of temporary or long term relief I could expect.

A thin veneer of pain enveloped me.

Later, my index fingers started twitching. Resting tremors is what it seemed to be based on my limited medical training. I tried to avoid WebMD (because everything there usually leads you to something fatal or incurable). My quest to figure out what was going on with my digits led me to Parkinson's. Or Menopause. But Parkinson's seemed the more likely candidate (in a fucked up sort of way).

I went back to the doctor. The pain in my neck (no...not a person...the literal pain in my neck) rides at about a steady 4 out of 10 on most days. Not debilitating, but enough to let me know shit ain't right.

I went to see a orthopedic surgeon. He ordered an MRI. I got one of those. I later found out the Cervical MRI is one of the more difficult ones there is. Because really....you try laying there and not swallowing or moving or talking for a series of 8 4-minute stretches while you're wedged in to a torpedo tube. And apparently it only works if someone is backing all around the tube with a sledgehammer in some kind of rave-induced club kid hyper techno.

Yeah...so...the MRI revealed two bulging disks with bone spurs of moderately serious severity.  I was told that surgery was the best option, but that I was welcome to try a steroid shot if I didn't want to have surgery right away.

I had the shot. 45 minutes of a needle in my spine. Bent over like an extra in Caligula.  And when I was done, the doc (different doc) gave me these words of wisdom....
Because of where this is, I won't do another shot. It's too dangerous.

Oh...and also, apparently because it's the neck, they don't have lidocaine in with the steroid...so I didn't even get the few hours of temporary relief I was promised.

The shot didn't help. Well...maybe it did. It might  have reduced the swelling some. The twitches aren't as prevalent and there's only tingling in my fingers sometimes.  I'd say the pain is back to where it was about 6 months ago. Which is to say, a constant reminder that something is kind of fucked up with my back.

I'm at the crossroads of 'this sucks' and 'what the fuck do I do next?'

I think I still want to try acupuncture. But I am acutely aware that it will only alleviate the pain. It won't make the bone spurs go away.

Which leads me back to surgery.

I'm not looking forward to surgery.  Last time I had major surgery was in 1997. And even though my marriage was on the rocks, there was at least someone there to take care of me.

Yeah. I'm scared.

I'm scared of the surgery. If it works--awesome. But my luck in that area hasn't been stellar.

I'm scared that if I get surgery on my neck, I'm not going to be able to sleep on my back. Which is going to mess with my whole Sleep Apnea CPAP thang.

Most of all....I'm scared of waking up in the middle of the night, in pain and not being able to do anything about it.

I've had it happen. It sucks.

So...I'm sorry. If you find that you have to remind me that you were 'just kidding' ...or that something you said was just to get me to smile.

I'm sorry. I'm in pain-management mode. And I'm finding when I'm in pain management mode, I'm a little more serious than I ever was. And I tend to want to just get things fixed or resolved.  Please keep in mind that I'm looking at things through a veil of 'holy shit can my neck please stop hurting for one fricking minute' and it's clouding how I would normally view the world.

It's not me. And I know that.  

I just want to stop hurting so I can go back to laughing and loving life again.

so...um...yeah.

-A.T.

The App Store Connundrum

I wonder, as I click off the page listing the number of views each of my posts has received, if the title entices the reader. If there's a pic added on the post (which will invariably be added to the bookface post), does that create the draw?

Prior to really actively shilling my written wares on the social media du jour, I averaged about 15 readers per post. I'm sure that at least 4 of those were mine as I checked the page and what not.  I think one of my recent posts managed to break 50.

It's both encouraging and discouraging. Encouraging that at least 50 of my friends took enough time to click a link on my Facebook wall. Maybe they shared it. Maybe they didn't. But the downside of that....the doubt that sits on the sidelines like a fieldgoal kicker waiting to get his big moment in the game....the doubt makes me wonder if I can only get 50 or so people to read this blog which (as some of you may know) is written in much the same voice as my other work, then would I have more than 50 people that would actually buy my book? Leastwise if it was a collection of  posts (articles...random meanderings) of this very same blog?

But Todd, you've got to just kick the shit out of that doubt! You're a very good writer--people love reading your work!

That's easy for you to say italicized other voice on my blog (and sometimes in my head--yeah, I don't know how you speak in italics either, but the fucker pulls it off).

Here's the thing. The doubt IS always there....here...wherever.

It's fueled by a lot of things.

One of the things that seems to be urinating petrol on an open flame at the moment is self-image. Growing up I always thought I'd be a philosophy professor (this was after wanting to be an astronaut, rock star, fighter pilot..you get the idea). But when I was asked by the Philosophy chair at OSU to declare my major as Philosophy, it made sense.  The main thing a philosopher would do (I thought), would be to write and teach.  Made sense. Seemed the perfect fit.

I pictured myself sort of a Doc Brown type...hair unkept, papers flying free from under the arm of my elbow-patched tweed sport coat and jeans as I scurried across the Quad. Well liked by students...respected by my fellow faculty.

Somewhere along the way that image of me, that dream was put up on the shelf.

In 2011, I was pushing 330lbs. I was getting pretty good at telling myself that I loved myself for who I was no matter how fat I was. But the truth was I wasn't very happy at all.

holy jump cut, fatman!

Stay with me here. So...I was fat. I was miserably trying to convince myself and others that things were fine. My body was fine. My health was fine. My marriage was fine. My job was fine.

Everything was fine.

Fine is bullshit.

Everything was not fine.

I wasn't writing (other than trying to be clever in the blog). I wasn't making music (other than some cobbled together cut and paste techno). I wasn't seeing much of a future with the person I had pledged to spend that future with.

In short....I was in a fucking hole. Doubt had kicked that self-image through the uprights and in to the stands and some little shit took it home with them and put it up on a shelf never to be used again.

A friend helped me climb out of the hole. I started my journey toward being healthy.  Other friends steadied me as the marriage ended and my gait faltered.  I am humbled every time I remember what my friends and family endured while I was in the abyss of doubt. And how they selflessly said 'fuck it. We're here for you no matter what, man.'

So...sometime in the next year, I lost a lot of weight.

Skip ahead, we know this bit already.

Yeah. So...I came to the realization this past weekend that things were starting to look too familiar. I was starting to wallow in the excuses.

Yes. I have a bulging disks (two, if we're getting specific).
Yes, there are bone spurs on the disks.
Yes, apparently they have to operate.

And for MONTHS (maybe even a year now) I have been using that as a reason to put off getting healthy. To put off exercising.

So, I'm trying to get back on to that horse. It's slow, and it's just like riding a bike. A living bike that shits as it walks (I was talking about the horse).  But I've done it once.

That's not really the point though. The point of this post (rant, article, toilet-read) is something I found out this past weekend.

I have long said that if I could have any super power in the world, it would be the power to let someone see themselves as I see them. To see the beauty that radiates.

Why is this a super power? If someone is looking at you from a place of love, there is a light that will wreck you. It will shatter any doubt of your worth as a person. It is the ultimate gift you can give someone.

And this past weekend I had several friends, all crowded in a booth at Jimmy V's giving me that gift.

For the first time, I let myself see me as they saw me. The shadow of doubt completely cast away by the light of the love I felt.

And it fucking crushed my soul (and I mean that in the best way possible).  I was overwhelmed. I was  floored.  And I was humbled beyond belief.

You have to have belief in your soul somewhere....even if it's just a seed. But if it IS a seed....having good and true friends to water and nurture that belief during those moments when you may not be strong enough...THAT is what will make you a shining start in this world.

And there are some dark days coming.  We all need to shine as brightly as we can.

To Ryan, Katie, and Jenny....you gave me a gift Friday night that I will never forget. Thank you for that.

And to all of you reading this...you have given me another gift.  I truly hope you enjoy reading these words as I do letting them spill from my brainbucket to the page.


-A.T.
Insert obligatory eye-catching pic here....

In The Bag

There are a few common threads throughout this blog if you read it long enough. One of these threads has to do with my obsession...er...ques...