Friday, January 18, 2008

Day 23... a mess of a post.

I had a little bit of a falling out yesterday with the friend mentioned in my last post. I probably shouldn't have told him that "I was hungry" was a (and I'm not defending this) "F'ing Lame Excuse" (only I didn't say it quite politely). He hung up on me, I called Ang, Ang called him and when I got home, I was on the hotseat from Angela. I haven't talked to this friend yet, but he did IM me last night...

i don't understand why it was wrong for me to stop the fast

i can understand you feeling a bit isolated while you're still doing this, but still...

9:20 PM

fasting is a very personal thing, and you should seek to understand my true reasons for stopping before putting me on the defensive and asking me to give you one good reason you shouldn't think i'm a loser.

9:25 PM

anyway, i'm sorry that i reacted so harshly, but after that text from angela this morning that assumed i had given in to a physical urge, i was on the defensive waiting to hear from you.  anyway, i hope we'll be able to talk about this tomorrow after the situation has cooled a bit.

I don't know that I'm ready to talk. I'm certainly still upset, and I do realize that it's a personal thing, but at the same time, I still think that even quitting before the half-way point is kind of giving up.  He told Angela that he woke up hungry and that that hadn't happened in the previous days. I guess I know I should believe that and  I don't have any reason not to, but I guess I just don't. That's probably wrong. But part of me feels like he quit so that he could eat on his birthday and the Superbowl. That probably makes me an asshole. I don't know where to start dealing with THAT.  

I mean, I started out at 250. I haven't gotten 'ravenously' hungry yet, but it's not odd for me to feel some hunger. I've dropped weight (most of it probably water) but I still have a bunch of fat on me that I can burn. My friend is even bigger than I am. In theory, shouldn't he be able to go longer without food? Like I said, I just can't relate. I can't understand. 

My friend mentioned from the beginning that he didn't know if he'd go 40 days. Maybe not being committed to the 40 made it easier to opt out, made it easier to say that he'd prayed and 'heard from the Lord'. Ugh. Look at how awful I sound. I'm going to post this because I don't want to filter myself. If there's ugly inside of me, I want it to be out there so that I can get rid of it. I know I NEED to get rid of it, even if I really don't want to. 

If I was really telling the truth, I find myself a little superior... like I'm hot stuff... at least a chunk of the time. That's been there for years. Even in High School I had a lot of resentment that I wasn't in the honors group. I could have been if I had applied myself. I only worked as hard as I needed to and, thus, was looking in from the outside. In my head though, I knew I was just as good, if not better. I remember that it used to drive me crazy when I ran into someone who WAS better than me. Probably the best example of that was Jessie Shelton. Jessie was scary smart. She used to nonchalantly brag that she could read a page of text by looking at it. She hung out in the same little group that I hung out with in the AV department and just the fact that she was capable of things that I just wasn't wired for would drive me up the wall. 

It should have made me feel better that I did have gifts in other areas that Jessie didn't have... but I was too stupid to see that at the time. After high school, as I went off to broadcasting school (Let's go into radio! Whee!), Jessie went off to Princeton, then MIT for graduate work and then off for Post Doctorate work elsewhere. I've lost touch with her (we never really got along anyway), but it was one of my first exposures to real feelings of inadequacy. 

Y'know, since then, I've chased after the smart people and I've pretended to BE the smart person on occasion (ok, it's a mask I wear on a regular basis), but I fear that the truth is something different. 

There are all sorts of things I chase after. I enjoy the work that I do, but I work my ass off so that I can guarantee that I make more than my friends do. 

I used to brag (kiddingly) to my friend Eric that just because he'd run marathons (and eventually qualified for Boston) that he still hadn't done an Ironman. 

and why should I even be able to brag about the Ironman ANYWAY? Certainly there have been people that have done it MUCH better than I have. I barely finished. My freestyle was so awful I swam about 2.6 miles worth of backstroke, ruining my legs because I kicked them around the course. 

I had really long transitions because I was just trying to finish. 

I tried to ride the course as fast as I could... but old fatty couldn't do much on the hills. Then, I got to walk with my bike as I looked for a mechanic... holding my chain in my hand as cyclists rode by looking forlornly at me. I remember running into one of the guys that had helped fit me on my bike at Gear West in Minnesota. He recognized me (probably because there aren't THAT many heavy Ironman participants) and just looked really sad.... commiserating that I was in a pretty bad situation. 

Then, I walked the run course... not all of it, but most of it. That's not really Ironman behavior. Truth be told, maybe the Ironman behavior is just sticking it out, but let's let me keep beating myself up for a minute... it might make my friend feel better. :-)

Anyway, I just don't know that I'm in any sort of position to lord it over my friends head, but there's still part of me that wants to. Jim, the senior pastor at work, was preaching over the weekend and used a quote from Luther (which sadly I can't find). He talked about how "the old self is drowned in baptism, but the damn guy can swim!" 

Do you know how often I fear that's the case? 

I don't know where I'm going with this besides taking myself to task for taking my friend to task. Hopefully we can reconcile, one incident shouldn't destroy a friendship, but it's going to take some more introspection for me to get through this. I guess that's what the fast is for, isn't it? I think though that it will probably take longer than that, it will probably take my lifetime to sort all of this out. Maybe that's the lesson I need to learn. We'll see. 

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Day 22

I'm a little annoyed this morning. Forgetting to log out of my instant messenger client at work, I came in this morning to find an IM from one of the other guys doing the fast. Apparently he's decided to drop out, which leaves one of us out of the small group left (I think there are two others still going in other parts of the larger group).

I guess I'm annoyed mostly because 'he got hungry'... he didn't get sick, he didn't faint, he got hungry... in his slight defense he got 'ravenously' hungry, but I still feel like it's a cop out.

I've felt hungry. I've even written about wanting to stop the night I went to Applebee's last Wednesday, but I didn't. I made a commitment between myself and God that I would do this... and maybe I'm just stubborn, but I feel like I need to complete it. Truthfully, I've felt pretty good for most of this and it hasn't been a really HUGE effort, but I guess there's still part of me that has a lot of derision for this person that dropped out. That's probably not a healthy thing.

I know he's working hard, but I've been working pretty hard too. I have a project I need to tape on Tuesday mornings... that means getting up at 4:30am, I had a class I needed to tape last night, that meant being here until 8pm. I spent several hours on the Chili Cook-Off project the other night after I got off work. I spent 5 hours last night and this morning working on a DVD project for another client. I'm tired and I feel like it's been a long week, but I don't know that my friends work load is any harder than the stuff I've been carrying around all week.

I guess I probably shouldn't be comparing. I probably shouldn't say... "Well, I've gone 22 days so far and still feel pretty good... why in the hell can't he even go 16/17 days?"

There's a certain amount of competitiveness inside of me, and it's hard when I don't have someone who's along side me that I can relate to about what I'm going through, someone I can commiserate with, someone that I can push against and who can push me to keep going. I wish I had been around when he was hungry. This friend suggested to me last Wednesday night that I at least give it until the morning to decide if I was going to end the fast and that was enough to push me forward. If I had been around, maybe I could have said the same thing for my friend.

I hope my friend was able to learn something out of the experience that he'll be able to apply to his life... I hope that he doesn't go back to old behaviors. I hope that he's able to build an exercise regiment and get to the point where the weight he still has starts to come off. Part of me fears though that none of that is true. Oh well, I guess the onus is on him... which is where it's been all along.

You're still my friend and I still love you like a brother. If I'm a pain in the ass it's only because I see the potential that you have in you and I want you to achieve that potential.

226 this morning... I woke up tired but with the extra freelance hours this week that's pretty understandable. Hopefully I'll be able to catch up on some sleep tonight. I need to work on insulating the apartment tonight. The January freeze has made our cozy little aboad pretty inhospitable, particularly my office in the den. Maybe I'll pick up a little space heater on the way home tonight.

More later.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Day 21

So two days ago we had three weeks left, now today we have three weeks done. I've felt really good the last couple of days, surprisingly. I don't think that I ever expected it to be this way. That's not to say that I'd like to do this forever, but it's really not as bad as I thought it would be. I'm almost finished with Messy Spirituality. I'd say that I expect to be done tonight, but I have a bunch of freelance to do tonight. We'll see how it goes. 

Weight this morning: 227 in case anyone is interested. I'm really not. Ok I am, but I'm not completely obsessed with it. (Alison my coworker would probably disagree) Lately I've been on a bit of an air-boxing kick at work. I put on the Rocky fanfare the other day and threw air punches around for a minute, mostly to make Alison roll her eyes. That probably means that I need to spend more time on Angela's heavy bag when this fast ends. There's something really therapeutic about beating the snot out of a heavy punching bag. 

I've taken to using my moment of waiting for my head to clear when I sit up from bed (get up any faster and sometimes I fear I'd faint) to pray for the day. It's been a good thing. 

More later.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

what I've been working on this evening...

the past few weeks have been surprisingly freelance free (I imagine it's mostly because of the Christmas season). Two of my clients had projects this week so I've gone back to being a slave to the machine. That's a good thing though because I need to catch up on my taxes and after that we need to throw the money at getting out of debt. Man, adulthood is so exciting. heh. 
Anyway, in lieu of an in-depth post, I thought I'd post some of what I was working on tonight. It's an identity piece for an Austin chili cook-off. My original thought was to have the cowboy riding a kidney bean... but then I realized that that would be sacrilege in Texas. Digging around chili cook off websites I noticed that a lot of them used chili pepper iconography instead of a bowl of chili. New thoughts went through my head and I thought for the "Boots and Hats Chili Cook Off" I might throw a cowboy on top of a big chili pepper.
Round one had the initial combining of the pieces. It was determined that it was probably a good idea but that the chili pepper looked way too placid... it needed to be bucking like some kind of chili pepper rodeo... 

I went back and did some editing and threw in the fire... suddenly we had "El Rodeo de Chili Diablo"... kind of cool, but pretty busy. 

Round three introduced a spoon into our Chili Cowboy's hand. What's better for rustling chilis than a wooden spoon? This round also introduced the text. Since the warp tools in photoshop are better than the text warping tools in Illustrator, I layed my text out there and then went to LAYER --> TYPE --> CONVERT TO SHAPE and then copied the newly outlined text and pasted it into Illustrator. Suddenly, quite easily, I had text in Illustrator that I could mess around with. I spent some time trying to figure out how to separate the red shadow on the text from the main lettering (it was part of the same font) and made some letter spacing and sizing changes. 

Version 4 (officially version 3) 

Some of the people I showed it to thought that the cowboy looked to be a little too hunchbacked. I dug up some other cowboy illustrations and experimented with a slightly different pose. I think this one is actually a little bit stronger. The spoon has moved into this cowboys other hand and is partially hiding behind his head. I think it's kind of a cool, subtle effect. 

Finally, this is a guess as to how the final ad will be put together. It's just a draft at the moment and a lot of the other text that will eventually be there isn't... but for a few hours work, I think this is kind of cool. I think my favorite part is that it's pretty different from all my other work. 

I'd love to know your thoughts. I'm going to be making final changes in the morning. If you have any feedback, I'd welcome it. 

More later. 

Day 20

Yesterday it was making note of three weeks left. Today, let's consider the fact that I'm halfway there. Thank heaven. Although we'll see whether it's easier to count down than count up. February 4 is day 40. I turn 30 the 7th. I didn't get a chance to jog yesterday, couldn't find the access card. I had freelance to work on anyway. More freelance is coming in today, it's going to be a busy week.

More later.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Day 19

Three weeks left. That's kind of heartening. Three more Mondays. Three more Tuesdays. Put in that perspective, I think this is going to get easier. It hasn't been extraordinarily hard, but getting closer to the half way point, I think it will be much easier as I start counting down.

I know I've talked about the spiritual struggles with this, and I still struggle with that, but at this point I have to admit that for me, I guess it's become a bit of a challenge, like I'm relying on myself and testing myself to see if I can do it. That's probably not the healthiest thing.

I don't think I posted it, but there was a chunk in Messy Spirituality that really spoke to me.

A couple of years ago, my wife and I sat across the table from a woman we highly respect, a deeply spiritual lady who had profoundly impacted our lives. This woman spent most of her life resisting the noise and activity of the world to seek God in silence and solitude. She had spent hundreds of weeks in silent retreat. This was a woman so saturated with her faith, you could almost smell God when she came into the room.
We were talking about prayer. "It's embarrassing to be sitting with you," I blurted. "You spend days, weeks, even months in prayer. I'm lucky if I spend ten minutes. Compared to you, I'm not very spiritual, I'm afraid."
Her eyes, flashing with anger, caught mine, and she fired back, "Oh, Mike, knock it off. First of all, you don't spend every day with me. You don't know me at all. You are comparing what you know about yourself to what you don't know about me. Secondly, I battle depression daily, and it has won during several periods of my life. I never told you about it. I don't have a family; I like to be alone and silent. Trust me, I am just as 'unspiritual' as you are."
Then she said gently, "You think about God all the time, right?"

"Well, sort of," I said.

"Thinking about God is being with God. Being with God is spirituality. Thinking about God is praying. So shut up with this guilt stuff; you have been praying most of your life! You are a spiritual person!"

What? I've been praying most of my life? What was she talking about? It never occurred to me that Paul's "pray without ceasing" might actually be possible. It never occured to me that praying could include thinking, that praying could be done with my eyes open, that praying could be done standing, sitting, driving, dancing, skiing, lying down, jogging, working. How could anyone accuse me of praying all the time when I didn't pray all the time... unless my friend was right, unless I was praying without ceasing.

How could anyone accuse me of being spiritual unless spirituality comes in unlimited shapes and sizes, unless spirituality looks like whatever you and I look like when we're thinking about Jesus, when we are trying to find Jesus, when we are trying to figure out what real Christianity looks like in the real world?

Spirituality looks like whatever you and I look like when we're thinking about Jesus, when we are trying to find Jesus, when we are trying to figure out what real Christianity looks like in the real world.

That encourages me. It says to me that I'm not crazy. It wraps Christianity up into my life in a way that Karl Barth and John Shelby Spong never did in the Contemporary Theology course I had to take back at Augsburg a few years ago. (I'll honestly admit that while a good part of the reason I failed that course was because of everything going on in my life at the time, I had a hard time dealing with the subject matter in a way that it probably deserved. I had a lot of derision for the professor, and she of me. Apparently she wasn't fond of the Lutheran church I grew up in, and I wasn't too fond of the Lutheran church she went to where they had just installed a lesbian pastor. I REALLY don't want to go there, so don't dig into it, it's just a statement of what was going on at the time.

Anyway, I feel like even if I don't have all the answers, God is listening and understanding that I'm a mess and can work through me anyway. If that's the only thing I learn during this fast, I think that sense of 'being' is more than enough.

Weight this morning. 229. I thought my gastro-intestinal issues were gone yesterday but they came back this morning. We'll see how long they last. I'm guessing it went away because I didn't drink any of the V8 Fusion juice yesterday and I think the additional fiber in that was acting correctively. I'll drink some more of it tonight.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Day 18 pt 1: Numbers...

Today's weight? 230

Miles walked last night: 2.31

Calories Expended: 396.4

Average Heartrate: 163

Time: 35 minutes

Water consumed last night: half gallon

I can't think of many more numbers to throw out there. I feel pretty good this morning. A little tired, but that's mostly because we had friends over. We watched The Lookout and The Usual Suspects last night. Surprisingly Nate and Angela had never seen The Usual Suspects. We turned off To Live and Die in LA and switched right over to their first experience with Kaiser Soze. What a great movie The Usual Suspects is.

I'm going to go grab some juice and my multivitamin and head out the door. I hate early mornings. Oh well. There's talk of moving to a bi-weekly Monday-Friday, Sunday-Thursday shift. The cool thing about that would be that every other weekend I'd vary between one day off and three days off. I kind of like the idea of a three day weekend every two weeks. We'll see. We're still talking about it. It would be nice to ride down to the Sunday afternoon club ride without being sleep deprived though. That's one of the reasons I've kind of fallen off the cycling wagon... a really weird schedule on Sundays.

Anyway, more later.