It’s A Mystery

Sometimes this whole blogging thing is just a mystery to me!

I average anywhere from zero to eight hits on any given day.  I’d love to have more, of course, but that’s not the only reason I keep this blog so whatever.  I’m grateful for the readers I do have and I’m really grateful for the creative outlet (thought sometimes it doesn’t feel so creative.)

Yesterday, I had 44 hits!  Today I have 24 and it’s only 1:30 in the afternoon!  I don’t know what’s caused the surge in visit’s to my blog and I’m not deluding myself into thinking that it’ll stay this way but it’s kinda cool to see that spike in the graph.

But here’s the mystery part, in my mind anyway.  The top “search term” on my dashboard right now is “Gang Showers”.  Now, I know exactly where I used that term but it is not a category, or a tag on my blog.  Yet the post in which I made a reference to a “gang shower” has the most hits of all the posts listed.

Makes you wonder sometimes, what people are hoping to find… I’m sure they didn’t find it here.

This $#!+ Is Fi-in’ To Get Real, Yo

OK, I don’t know what’s up with that blog title, except that it’s the first thing that popped into my head and it’s TOTALLY tongue in cheek.

Anyway, this thing really is starting to get real.  Let me ‘splain.  No, there is too much.  Let me sum up.

After more than a few months of thinking about and making not entirely whole-hearted attempts at taking this EMT class I’ve talked about, I had sort of begun to lose momentum on the whole subject.  I’ve been enrolled in the class for a few months but with months to wait it didn’t exactly feel real, so much as just a vague notion, far off in the future.  Once I enrolled in the class, there wasn’t much more to do with regard to the school and the truth is, I sort of let it all fall by the way-side, thinking, “I’ve got plenty of time.”  The campus bookstore didn’t yet have the information about my textbooks and I still had to take CPR for the Professional Rescuer and Standard First Aid as well as getting two Tuberculosis skin tests and the first two of three shots for the Hepatitis B vaccination.

To be fair, I scheduled the first injection and the TB test right away after I enrolled in the class and it’s a good thing I did because there’s a specific timetable for those.  But as for scheduling the CPR and First Aid classes I kind of dragged my feet.  Can anyone spell Self-Sabotage?

Finally, I realized I was running out of time to take the safety courses and I got busy scheduling those with The American Red Cross.  The CPR class was last week Monday and by the time I was creeping up on it, I was feeling a little apprehensive.  I think that’s somewhat normal but at the same time, I’ve taken Basic CPR w/AED three times.  It’s not like I didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into.  This class was just going to expand on what I’ve already learned.

The class was awesome!  I really enjoyed it, and it actually served to re-energize me about the whole thing!

I have a month and two days until my EMT Class starts.  I have had my two TB Skin tests and two of the three Hep B shots with the third one to be administered in November.  I have taken the CPR class and the Standard First Aid class is scheduled for this Saturday morning.  Just today the bookstore has my textbooks which have been order and should arrive tomorrow.

It looks quite a lot like my friend isn’t going to take the class with me after all, which is really OK.  I had mixed feelings about her taking the class to begin with.  I had looked forward to taking the class with someone and having someone to turn to if I needed help with the material, but I was concerned that walking in the door with someone I know would hold me back from opening up and getting to know other people in the class and I didn’t want that to happen.  Also, when I first found out that she was thinking of taking the class, I told her if she did, I would drive her to and from if she wanted.  I realized early on that driving her to class was going to be tough unless she could meet me at my office at 5:00 and be dependable to be on-time.  I told her that and she didn’t resist.

The thing is, when I made the offer, I didn’t realize that the school is less than a mile from my house.  If she decided to take the class with me and take me up on my offer, I would have to drive about 12 miles, one way, out of my way to take her home before going home myself… at 9:30 at night.  Now, I made the offer and I know her circumstances.  If she decides to take the class, the offer will stand and I’ll drive all that way out of my way to help her out… but I won’t be bummed if I don’t have to do it.

It’s kind of funny how these things work, I guess.  When I started this process my thinking was that I felt like I didn’t get enough information from the CPR and First Aid classes I have taken and that I’d like to know more.  I considered the idea of a career change but didn’t really think it a very likely possibility.  Later I thought of it as something that I might like to do, but I didn’t know how likely it was to happen, feeling that there were a number of things to hold me back.  Just in the last week or so, though, my thinking has changed.  I don’t know when it happened or what it means, but my thought process has been more along the lines of, “After this class is over, I’m going to become an EMT and I’ll just have to find ways around the road blocks.”

I know I can.

And I will.

This $#!+ is fi-in’ to get real, yo!

Irony At It’s Best

Lindsay Lohan turned herself into to custody today to begin her 90 day prison sentence.  I heard a brief report about this on the radio this morning and I saw a single tweet about it on the feed from my local ABC affiliate.

I’ve also seen about 100 angry tweets from various and sundry every day folk who think it’s a travesty that Lindsay Lohan is getting more coverage than say, the oil leak in the Gulf.

Now that’s what I call Irony!

Gym Class

“I’m too tired.”

“It’s too late.”

“It’s going to be too crowded.”

“I’ve got too much to do at home.”

“I just can’t get up that early.”

These were all excuses that I have used over the years (months? weeks?) to not go to the gym.  Early morning is much too hard.  After work tends to be very crowded and, well, I am tired and it is late and I do have a lot to do at home.  I have been ignoring the obvious solution and allowing myself to make excuses.

~~~~~

When I was in the sixth grade I was required, as was every other student in the school, to take PE.  I happened to have PE in the second to last period of the day.  This was fortunate as we were not required to take showers after gym class and I can’t imagine having sat through the whole day in my sweaty skin.  Not having to take a shower was a blessing for me, because I was terribly insecure about my body and the last thing I wanted was to subject myself to the taunting and teasing and ridicule that I was sure would come from the other mean, mean boys in my class.  We were however required to change into gym clothes and I remember I used to stall as much as I possibly could in the locker room.  I didn’t want to look at anybody and I didn’t want anybody to see me looking at anybody, thereby subjecting me to yet another round of “Kevin is a faggot” jokes that I endured entirely too often as it was.  But that wasn’t the motivation that kept me stalling in the locker room.  It was my own shame and embarrassment at the idea of having to change clothes in front of other people and I waited till the last possible moment to change.

In High School, I was required to take one year of PE, however I could trade that one year of PE for three years of music.  This was a no-brainer for me because I loved music and was in choir class every year anyway.  I would have taken choir even if it hadn’t gotten me out of taking PE.  That it got me out of PE class was just icing on the cake.

Through-out my childhood, teenage years and most of my early adulthood I avoided any situation that precipitated taking off my clothes in front of other people, opting instead to change clothes in bathrooms and closets if necessary.  Anything to not have to take off my clothes in front of people.  Even people I was related to.  Even people I was having sex with.

~~~~~~

I was sort of enjoying running the lake after work because, even though it was late, I didn’t have to worry about the crowds or knowing what I was doing.  I just got out there, ran the lake, and then went home.  No crowds, no locker rooms, no gang showers or public nudity, just the open “fresh” air (everything’s relative when you’re running around a man-made lake – by the way, those of you up north would consider this a pond, what with being able to see from one side to the other with the naked eye.)  It worked for me.  I was getting regular exercise, I was burning calories and I was making progress.  But as you know if you read this blog, I was also having problems.

Shin splints were getting the better of me and on the advice of a Physical Therapist I stopped, temporarily (or so I intended) until I get some more weight off and/or make some progress in other areas.  The PT’s recommendation was to work on the elliptical machine until I developed more endurance (and lost more weight) and she said once I could consistently do the elliptical machine for thirty minutes then I could start incorporating running in my routine again.

I took her advice and stopped running the lake with the best of intentions of going to the gym and using the elliptical machine and, oh yeah, I really need to buckle down and start lifting weights too, only… well…  “It’s too late.”  “I’m too tired.”  etcetera, etcetera.

Last week-end, while doing my weekly shopping, I bought a couple of cheap towels, a bigger gym bag, a bottle of body wash, a can of deodorant, a pair of rubber flip-flops and a pad lock.  I made up my mind that despite my fear and anxiety, despite my deep seeded, residual shame and embarrassment, it was time I gave going to the gym “on my lunch break” a try, and yet I still managed to make excuses all last week.

This is a new week.  I made up my mind.  I scheduled it on my calendar.

I went to the gym today.  I went to the location closer to my office and I went at 1:30 in the afternoon when I hoped it would be less busy.  I took my bag, slung it over my shoulder and I walked into the locker room with my head held high.  I acted like I owned the place – well, anyway, I acted like I belonged there.  I found an unused locker that wasn’t surrounded by other guys in various stages of changing clothes and I set about preparing myself for my endeavor.  I sorted out my things and changed out of my work clothes and into my gym clothes.  I didn’t pay any attention to anyone else.  I didn’t about worry whether, or knowing if, anybody was paying attention to me.  I just did what I went there to do; what we had all gone there to do.  I locked up my things, headed to the floor and did my work-out.

I managed to spend ten minutes on the elliptical machine which is five minutes longer than I thought I could and only the last minute and a half sucked.  When I finished that I spend 35 minutes on the treadmill walking at 3.5 mph.  I have to admit it felt a little like going backwards.  The last time I exercised, I ran for several minutes and walked the rest of the 3.5 miles of the trail.  But on the other hand it felt like a step forward.  It felt good just to be there, just to be taking action and working toward my goals.

When I finished, I went back into the locker room to face my biggest fears, but once again, I acted as though I were perfectly comfortable with the situation and just hoped that no one could see that I was shaking.  After stripping off my sweaty clothes and grabbing my supplies, I walked into the shower room found an open stall and cleaned up.  I was taken aback for a moment when I realized that while they have individual shower stalls with glass doors at the gym by my house, this gym by my office just has glass partitions between each shower head, but no doors or curtains for privacy.  I wasn’t very happy about that, but I was already committed.

But you know what?  It really wasn’t that bad.  Nobody was paying attention to anyone else.  Nobody was pointing and laughing.  Nobody made “Kevin is a faggot” jokes.  It was no big deal at all.

And the best part is, as soon as I hit the “publish” button on this post, I can go home and make dinner and take care of the other stuff I have to, without delaying it by going to the gym first, or feeling guilty ’cause I didn’t do anything for exercise today.

~~~~~

Despite my lack of regular gym attendance, I have continued to lose weight albeit slowly.  Among many other, far more quality reasons, I pushed myself to get back to the gym because I have been hovering in the neighborhood of 250 pounds for some time now and if I want to push past that plateau, I’m going to have to do more than just eat properly 80% of the time.

That being said, I have lost a grand total of 58 pounds and it definitely shows in the way my clothes fit.  Last Friday, I wore this shirt for the first time in 5 years,  It was purchased to be part of a New Year’s Eve outfit, worn that night, and never again, because I soon gained back enough weight that it never looked right on me again.  I’ve still got a way to go, but for those of you who read my posts about meeting Aisha Tyler last year and saw my fat ass picture standing next to her lovely thinness, you will see that progress has indeed been made!

Table for Eight; Party of One

Saturday evening, I was invited to a dinner party at a friend’s house.  The friend is someone I met on Twitter.  I don’t even remember how, but that’s no surprise, because I can’t remember becoming friends with most of the people I’ve been friends with.  We were just strangers one minute and the next, as best I can remember, we were friends.  I tend not to remember or retain how it comes to be.  John is much the same.  I know I met him on Twitter, but who followed whom first, or how we became aware of each other, or how we went from being strangers who stalk follow each other on Twitter to two people who actually cared about what the other had to say, I do not recall.

Several months ago, John mentioned having me over to his house sometime, but it just never really came together.  Meanwhile, his company moved their offices from San Francisco to Downtown Oakland, just a few blocks from my office, and when we realized we were going to be in close proximity to each other we determined to meet for coffee.  Now I no longer consider John to be “this guy I follow on Twitter” but he is my friend.

A few weeks ago, John told me that he and his husband were having a dinner party on July 10th and that they would love to have me come over.  I was thrilled because I don’t spend a lot of time socializing and I really wanted to meet John’s dogs (and his husband – but mostly his dogs.)  🙂

When I first arrived at John’s house, a very boisterous black cat, sitting on top of a fence started talking to me and making his way to the ground and toward me.  “Hi!” I said to the kitty, “Are you the early warning system?”  I knew that John had two cats but I only knew what one of them looked like (’cause he looked like Mischa) so I thought maybe this was the other cat; it was not.  The cat walked right up to me,  I reached down and let it sniff at the back of my hand.  He took one whiff of my hand and ran away.  I guess he didn’t like smelling other kitties on me.

Walking into the house I was introduced to the rest of the guests and told “These are all of our dearest friends.”  I was very honored to be included in that gathering.  One of the couples hosted the hosts’ wedding, one of the other guests officiated over the ceremony and the other two were long time friends.  The company was great and I did my best to hold my own in conversation.

The food was fantastic!  John’s husband whose name also happens to be John is a wonderful cook and grill meister! We had kabobs and veggies, artichokes and for desert there was a delicious cake with berries.  They had the biggest bottle of Champagne I had ever seen and I resisted temptation for a while opting to drink only water instead, but eventually I caved in and had a glass of bubbly shortly before we sat down at the beautifully laid out table.  I saw Second John pull a bottle of Zinfandel from their wine cabinet and put it on the table.  Zinfandel, happens to be one of my favorite wines and I couldn’t resist having a small glass.  It was delightful.

The conversation over dinner was wonderful and I learned a lot about the history of this group I had been invited to be a part of, for the evening, and I was having a wonderful time.

Unfortunately, I do not know how many times my wine glass was refilled, I only know it was too many.  The next day, I knew I had overdone it and learned a valuable lesson.  But all in all, I had wonderful time.

Sunday, in addition to nursing my spinning head, I spent entirely too much time second guessing the previous evening.  There was somewhat of an age difference between me and the rest of the group which is relevant only in that they were all established and seemed to be secure in their lives.  All but one of the attendees were partnered up, and I don’t know if the one remaining person was single or if her significant other just wasn’t in attendance.  By the hazy light of the day Sunday, I worried that I had not fit in as well as I first thought.  I felt a little as though I’d been wearing my father’s clothes and sitting at the grown-ups table when really I belonged in overalls and sitting with the rest of the kids.  This is my own insecurity and in no way the result of how I was treated.  I even know that it’s probably inaccurate, but I couldn’t shake the sense.

Michelle once told me that women will sometimes leave something of theirs behind at a guy’s house so that they will have to be invited back.  Well, I swear I didn’t do it intentionally, but Sunday evening I got a direct message on Twitter from John letting me know that he had found my sunglasses.  Apparently, I left something behind, and now I have to be invited back…

This Doesn’t Even Scratch The Surface

It’s kind of amazing to me how some days I can sit here and stare at this screen, racking my brain for something to write about and come up with nothing, and then at other times, I’m so busy experiencing the things about which I would write that there’s no time get it on paper – or computer screen as the case may be.  Things have been kind of crazy the last several days for me.  I can hardly even believe that my last post was written twelve days ago.

Last Thursday, in a somewhat unexpected turn of events the verdict came down for Johannes Mehserle.  Unexpected only in that, due to multiple delays, illnesses, scheduled vacations, and three juror substitutions, the final jury deliberated for a total of only seven hours and then returned with a verdict of Involuntary Manslaughter.  I won’t spend a lot of time talking about this as I’m sure my view-point will be controversial and at the end of the day won’t make any difference anyway.  I’ll just say that I suppose this is probably the correct verdict even though I don’t feel very good about it.  I think what he did was absolutely “involuntary” as I do not believe that he intended to kill Oscar Grant.  On the other hand, he did kill Oscar Grant and I suppose something must be done about it.  My opinion is unlike many other people who were unhappy about the verdict, feeling like it was not severe enough to cover the events of that night.

When the press announced that the verdict was coming it didn’t take long for people to begin congregating in the streets near the courthouse for a “peaceful demonstration.”  As a precaution, my employer authorized the employees in the area to leave work and exit the immediate area for safety.  It was a wise decision, thought it didn’t end up being necessary.  The “peaceful demonstration” lasted until it began getting dark and then many of the demonstrators went home.  Once darkness fell however, those who remained, mostly anarchists, began stirring up trouble, first breaking the windows and through the security gate of a Foot Locker store before looting it and then rolling dumpsters in the streets to set fire to the contents.  Ultimately, they broke into several banks and retail outlets along Broadway, mostly looting the stores, merely for the sake of finding things to burn in the streets.

By the end of the night, the Police had arrested 78 people roughly 85% of whom were not even from Oakland.  More than half were not even from the Bay Area.  Sixteen percent of the people were not from California.  One of them wasn’t even from America.  He admitted he came from Canada, just to be part of the rioting and looting after the verdict was announced.

Once again, as a precaution, my employer made the determination not to reopen the buildings on Friday, just to be safe.  Thanks to our founding fathers, and the looters, I had a three-day work week last week.  Well, two and a half days.

It would be nice to believe that this is over now, but Mehserle has not yet been sentenced.  The Jury found him guilty of Involuntary Manslaughter “with a gun enhancement.”  This means that because a gun was used in the killing he could be given additional prison time.  Originally the sentencing was scheduled to take place on August 6th.  It was postponed to September first and then I heard rumor that Mehserle’s attorney was appealing the Gun Enhancement and that the outcome of that appeal will affect the sentence.  I have just read that the sentencing has now been scheduled for 8:30 AM on Friday, November 5th.  Assuming that’s not changed again, I expect I’ll be having a three-day weekend in early November.

I had the best of intentions how I was going to spend my unexpectedly free day off work, but after calling the hot line at 6:00 Friday morning and finding out the building was closed, I went back to sleep and didn’t get up until just before Noon.  When I got up, I fixed some lunch, and sat down to eat and watch a little television while I worked out my bills as well as my menu and grocery list for the week.  I can’t really even begin to explain how the day got away from me, but the next thing I knew it was 8 o’clock in the evening and I had not taken a shower, fixed dinner or left the house.  I took a quick shower and threw some clothes on before heading out to Target to do some of my shopping.

I had thought I might go to the grocery store next, but once I was finished shopping at Target, I decided to pick up some inevitably unhealthy fast food and head back home.  Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on your perspective, the only Arby’s restaurant I’m aware of in the whole bay area, is right next to the Target I went to so I went through the driveway there and picked up an Arby-Q sandwich with Curly fries and a large Diet Coke.  I can not, however, go to an Arby’s restaurant and not get a Jamocha shake so I picked up one of those as well.  Thirteen hundred calories later I was on my way home.

Saturday, I got up fairly early (9:00-ish) and took about $40.00 worth of bottles and cans to the recycling center to trade in and then I went to Michael’s Craft store to exchange some Yarn I had bought.  I’m making a baby blanket and the yarn I bought was not as soft as I first thought it was and it tended to split when I was working with it.  What I exchanged it for is much better.

My next stop was a near-by mall where I was determined to buy some not terribly expensive dressy pants for work, and a not terribly expensive pair of black shoes for work.  I have two pair now, one of which is too dressy for regular wear; the other of which has soles that seem to be two different heights and when I stand or walk in them I am lopsided, which is not good for my knees or my hips.

I spent three or more hours at this mall, and walked from one end to the other, into every even remotely appropriate store and didn’t find anything that was right.  At my last stop, Sears which I saved for last because I was parked nearest there and because, well, it’s Sears, I found two pair of pants that I was happy with the fit.  They were$19.99 each so I could justify the expense, but they’re made by the same manufacturer who made most of the pants I’ve been wearing, which are now too big for me, but which I’m quite certain I only paid $12.00 a pair for, at Sears!  Inflation takes its toll again, but I had to find some pants.  Many of the pairs I have are just ridiculously too big on me now and I have to start working on trading them out gradually.  It’s an awesome problem to have, but it’s still a problem.

Three hours later, I left the mall having spent only $40.00 plus tax, and with two pair of pants, and no shoes.  At least, I’d racked up quite a few steps on my pedometer.  From there I went to the grocery store where I picked up my weekly produced and the few items I couldn’t get cheaper (or at all) at Target and headed back home.

And oh, my lovely reader, I have so much more to tell, but alas – yes, I said alas – it is 5:30 and I need to go home.  I’ll have to continue my harrowing (or is it boring) story in another post – hopefully tomorrow, but I make no promises.

Apparently I’m Now A Pundit

It was never my intention for this blog to become a place for political ravings or even social commentary on the world around me, but sometimes things drop into my lap that just blow me away and I can’t seem to help myself; I must comment.

Yesterday I posted the new story about the twenty million dollar settlement that was reached between the hopelessly, cripplingly broke state of California and the family of a woman who was the unfortunate victim of a deranged sexual molester after she was taken from her family at the age of 12 and held captive for 18 years by a man who was neither the owner of, nor an employee of the hopelessly, cripplingly broke state of California.

Not one hour after I posted that unsolicited rant to my blog, this came to my attention:

Now, I can understand the thinking behind lowering employees salaries, temporarily, in the midst of a budgetary crisis.  I know it would suck, a lot, to be one of those 200,000 workers whose salary was suddenly and without warning cut by more than 75%, but I can understand the reasoning behind it.  But get this, Governor Schwarzenegger isn’t just cutting people’s salaries to minimum wage; oh no, he’s cutting it to the Federal Minimum Wage.  The Federal Minimum Wage is $7.25 an hour.  In California, the state minimum wage is $8.00 an hour and there are many counties with a cost of living differential where the minimum wage is even higher.

This means that not only will we be paying our valuable state workers minimum wage, but we’ll be paying them even less money than the pimply faced teenagers sacking their groceries down at the Piggly Wiggly.  And if that weren’t insult enough, this news was announced on the same day that it was announced that the state is just going to hand over a $20,000,000 check to one individual who was victimized by one individual who was not acting on behalf of the state in any way!