A Little Catch Up

I don’t even know where to begin here.  There’s so much going on these days that it seems hardly possible to keep up with it all.  It has been a bit since I posted, but really I blame my friend Kevin for this.  He was able to crank out a post over at his site, so I thought I ought to do something similar.  Thanks, Kev. 😉

I’ve been quite successful with the non-smoking efforts here.  I had a moment, though, as I transitioned down from Step 1 to Step 2 of the Nicoderm patches, that pretty much underlined in as thick of a marker as you can find why I need to be done and over all of this malarky already.  I turned into a humongous monster towards Ray for about two days, being absolutely snarky, emotional, cranky, and all the rest, while my body adjusted to the new level of nicotine the patches were delivering to me.  I woke up mad for three days straight, and no matter what I did, nothing seemed to make me feel any better.  Well, except distraction, which, thankfully, Ray was able to help me find.  I couldn’t focus on anything for too long, but I could at least let my mind calm down for a minute and let my jaw relax.

It needs to be restated here:  I will never, ever, never go back to smoking again.  This quitting shit is for the birds.  I never, ever, never want to go through this again.

Now that some time has passed, and I’m about one week into my new level of drug delivery, I’ve been able to get on with my days.  Work is work, which is neither here nor there.  We start our Winter runs in a few weeks, and for me, that means I’ll be working a fixed schedule (Fri-Sat-Sun) for the first time in a number of months.  I’ll have “regulars” again, and I’ll have to get used to the quirks and needs of a set amount of people whose schedules align with my route.  It’ll be fine, if not a little boring on some level.  What it also means, though, is that I’m guaranteed set days off for twelve weeks straight, which are Mon-Thurs each week.  I can schedule workouts, writing, trips away from home, errand completion, and all of that, without needing to consult my calendar too much.

Speaking of the calendar, we’ve got a few things coming up that are pretty exciting.  First, we are starting the new year with a trip to Arizona together.  I’m meeting his mother and step-father in Prescott, AZ, and we are also taking time to explore his home state.  He’s going to show me some of the highlights, as well as some of the places he always wanted to visit as a kid, but either didn’t, or didn’t appreciate enough in his younger days.  Tucson, Flagstaff, and Sedona are all on the list, and maybe a view of the south rim of the Grand Canyon, depending on things.

After that trip, we are also planning a little adventure back east, with plans on seeing Washington, D.C., New York City, Boston, and of course, Maine.  It’ll be my turn to show him where I’m from, what I grew up in and around, and explore the courses of my life when I was younger.  I’m not as nervous about doing this with him – I’ve done this before with other boyfriends, so I’ve had practice – but I am interested to hear his thoughts about New England specifically.  He’s never been there, and while it’s going to be a really, really cold time of year to visit, he will certainly have a better understanding of the kinds of things that shaped me.  Especially in the cold and dark of early March.  My only hope is that winter this year isn’t as awful as it was last year.  If it’s looking like another wallop of snow for the east/northeast, we will have to re-align our plans some.  Still, it’s important to show him where I’m from, especially as he and I get closer.

Creatively, I’m really, really enjoying my new writing group.  After being cyber-introduced by my good friend Ren to this cadre of other writers here in Portland, I’ve met up with them a few times now, and am actually redrafting that damn memoir again.  It’s taken on a lot more life, gotten a lot more colorful and engaging as the editing has been happening.  The feedback has been really, really good, and it feels good to be putting down words that matter again.  I also get to read their work, and critique and edit their stories, which has also kept my brain moving in the right wavelengths.  It’s amazing how much I missed the interactivity that Goddard gave me with other writers.

Life is still pretty good here in Portland, OR for me, and I am truly thankful for it all. The beard is bushy, the rain has returned, and I’m finally feeling like my life is spinning in the right direction.  I’m ready for the demands of the holidays.  I’m ready to tuck in for a nice, dark winter, sink my teeth further into more books, and enjoy breathing.

Milestone

I stepped on the scale, and registered the number there:  215.

For a couple of days now, I’ve sat with that, putting it on the back burner, and going about my life.  Things are rolling on here at the house. I’m caught up in the settling, the anxiety of a new place, still getting my bearings, and so I really didn’t let the number on the scale really take on any meaning.  That is, until today.

I just got back from a walk/run of about 10k.  While out there, feeling the endorphins and all that comes with elevated heart rate and such, it hit me.  By reaching that number, 215, which is thirty pounds less than the last time I stepped on the scale, I’ve, in fact, reached about half-way to where I want to be in my skin.  I feel my best at around 185 or so, which if you do the math, is about 60 pounds less than where I was at my heaviest this year.  The fact I’m drawing in close to that mark, that midpoint along this journey, means that, actually, I’m doing something right.  I can, for just a moment, be proud of myself, and this morning, while I was putting one foot confidently in front of the other, I felt that emotion: pride.

No, I’m never going to be a skinny little otter thing.  I see plenty of that walking around town here – tall, lanky, barely 150 pounds, able to whip off their shirts at any opportunity, confident in how their flesh sits on their frames.  Typically, this only works to make me grind my teeth and self-loathe even more because, let’s face it, we’re all a little jealous of the pretty people we see.  Today, though, for just a few minutes, I allowed myself the feeling of being among those confident, head-held-high men.  I inhabited my own body, my own flesh, and while there was still plenty of jiggling and such going on under my tee shirt and around my thighs, in a white heat of euphoric endorphins, none of that really mattered.  What mattered, and what continues to matter, is that I’m effecting positive changes in my physicality.

Giving up sugar in my coffee, cutting back on the alcohol, swapping cereal for a green smoothie or scrambled eggs, drinking more water, paying attention to my sleep, getting out for walks when feasible – these are the steps I’ve taken.  Small, incremental, and at the micro-level, barely registering as change-making.  Taking a step back, though, and reflecting on where I was when I began to regain control of my body about five months ago, I’ve come a long way, and today I am proud of that fact.  The journey continues, though.  It is my life on the line here, after all.

 

Eating Differently – An Update

It’s been nearly three weeks now since I started eating differently.  To be honest, this was just going to be a week of a trial-effort.  I never expected it to have lasted this long.  So far, though, I can see this sticking, so long as I make some tweaks sooner rather than later.

Firstly, I’ve lost way more weight than I thought I would by now.  I started off at 240 pounds.  Now, when I step on the scale, I’m down to 225.  That’s a fifteen-pound loss in three weeks, ten of which came off in the first week or so.  Now that my body is adjusting to the way I’m eating, weight loss has slowed up, but is still progressing towards the weight I should be at.  I will admit that it sure feels nicer to step on the scales and see the numbers getting smaller, rather than larger, as they had been for the past year and few months.  More importantly I’m able to fit back into the jeans that Ray bought me last summer, which means I’m about 1.5″ smaller around the waist than I was at the start of this.  Ray also commented that he was seeing weight loss in my face.

Secondly, my housemates and Ray have been super supportive about this dietary shift.  Bil made some off-hand comments to start, but after reporting the results so far to him, I think he’s come around to seeing this as a good thing.  Ray knows of some decent paleo-friendly restaurants around town which I’ve enjoyed trying.  Dick’s Kitchen, for example, will get more of my money.  Grass-fed beef over greens?  Yes please.

Ray has started taking my dietary needs into deeper consideration when we do go out to eat,  which has caused us some nonsensical friction.

At first, I told him not to worry about where we grab a bite – I’m a big boy who can find something to eat pretty much anywhere, and this is not a dietary restriction of his food.  When we went to a new sushi/Japanese place here in our neighborhood, though, I made the mistake of saying “I’m not sure what to order” while we were looking over the menus.  He got quiet, and replied “we can leave,” which is not at all what he wanted to do.  I immediately felt bad, and found two appetizers on the menu that had the least amount of blacklisted food, and proceeded to order them.  Soy sauce is off the menu, but the dishes I had contained some.  Same goes for sesame seeds (a grain).  Still, the bulk of what I did manage to order was fine, and while I did notice an up-tick in bloating and gas the next morning, it wasn’t completely uncomfortable.  Ray got whatever sushi/rice he wanted, and as the meal finished, I told him how sorry I was for making it awkward to go out to eat, apologizing for my diet, and that I never expected him to make any changes to suit my personal needs.  He looked at me, smiled, and explained that he wants me to be able to enjoy a meal with him, and that his only concern was that I wasn’t able to get enough to eat to be satisfied.  I told him that being satisfied with food isn’t why I go out to eat with him – it’s the shared time with him that I most enjoy.  He grinned and blushed, and I thanked him for his concerns about my new diet.  He can see that I’m pleased with the results so far, and he is being supportive in a way I would have never expected from a lacto-ovo-vegetarian who’s diet is based on bread, rice, beans, and milk.  Once again, my boyfriend is amazing.

The biggest hurdle I’m having, though, is what to eat when I finally do get hungry.  Because my cravings for food have changed, I can go hours in between meals unlike ever before.  That said, when I do finally realize it’s time to eat, I find myself searching for something quick to make.  I need to be better about planning and prepping my food for the day.  I’ve got breakfast down pat – eggs and spinach/greens, or a green smoothie.  Lunch is usually a piece of fruit and some nuts (breakfast seems to last a lot longer in my system these days, leaving me full and satisfied for much longer).  At dinnertime, though, is when I falter.  My housemates enjoy all food – “paleo” and not – and as it’s a shared food situation (and they outnumber me 2:1) there is one meal made that is shared.  Sometimes, it’s all things I can eat, like last night’s baked chicken and fresh steamed green beans.  Other times, it’s stuff I have to avoid, like Friday night’s pasta bake.  On those nights when the meal isn’t going to fit me, I need to have more options.  I need to take more initiative there.

I also need to incorporate more exercise into my week.  I typically get about 10,000 steps in a day, with more on my days off, but I need to up that.  Walking, or even running, is going to help me shed even more weight, plus it’s great for my cardiovascular system and fights off a number of bad effects from having a sit-down, sedentary job.

I’m going to nail this down, in time.  I’ve learned that paying attention to the signals my body is sending me is crucial, and now that I’ve cut out the sugar and junk, it feels like I’m hearing the signals a lot clearer.  I am happy with the way things are going, and I know I’m doing the right thing for the body that I’m inhabiting.  I feel like, perhaps, this is the first time I’ve felt like I’m treating my body with the dignity it deserves, and that makes me feel at peace.

Ray

I haven’t mentioned much of Raymond much here.  There’s a perfectly good reason for this.

I met Ray on a Saturday back in January, as I previously mentioned in an older post.  We met via Scruff, and soon after a really engaging conversation about the things we wanted to do with our lives, our connection began.  I guess I could just end this post here, with the point being made that he and I are still seeing each other, but that wouldn’t be telling the entire story.

Caleb and I ended things officially last July, but it wasn’t until the new year, really, before I was able to come out from under that situation and start anew.  I moved into a new home with my pals Bil and Brandon, and along with a new job, I finally felt like my life here in Portland, Oregon was beginning again.  It was a fresh start in a place that had up until that moment, had held me at arm’s length, not quite sure what to do with me.  Being unemployed had taken it’s toll on me, and my nerves.  Being in my relationship with Caleb had also shook me up a bit, and any confidence I had in myself and the ability to make good, healthy choices about where to put my heart had gone out the window.

Thankfully, along with the kindness and support of my friends Dan, Yoni, and Alan, I had managed to pull myself together a bit.  A lot of things in my life pivoted around the turning of the year, and it was in the midst of this pivot, this restart, with the blush of all things new, that Ray entered my life.

He is a thirty-year-old man, and five-year resident of Portland, Oregon.  He had moved up here for school, where he studied design at Portland State University, originally from Prescott, Arizona.  He has a flare for the details, and a love of many of the things I find engaging in life – hiking, travel, a similar taste in music (which *never* happens), and an appreciation for the simple pleasures that exist out there.  He’s tall, standing at 6’2″ when he doesn’t slouch. He’s a bit of a nerd, a bit of a goof.  He’s not too coordinated.  He’s not athletically supercharged.  He’s unassuming, pleasant to be around.  He knows his manners.  He ticked off all of the boxes in my proverbial checklist.

At first, when I realized that he might be exactly what I am looking for in a partner, I freaked.  Everything in my life was so new – some things had literally not been unpacked from my move to the new space and I still was unsure where to keep my toothbrush in the bathroom – that it seemed absolutely ludicrous to start something of any value or meaning with another person.  I was simply too confused, too out of sorts.  Ray spotted this instantly, and through our initial conversations, it was clear that he was also just starting to put out feelers for a new shared experience with someone.  We made a promise to each other from the start to not apply pressure to the future, and to experience time with each other in the present-moment.  No promises, but also no limits.  We didn’t set any rules, and we actively chose to avoid (and still do) any labels or identifiers that might indicate to others what this thing between us is.

It is this behavior, this set of non-rules, that has made all of the difference this time around.

It has forced me to exist simply in the moments I get to share with him.  Since January, we’ve slowly been opening up to each other and offering support and kindness to each other in a way that is truly meaningful and beneficial to us both.  He has seen me through a couple of nervous moments, when my anxieties got the better of me.  I’ve been there to help him push the envelope on his creativity and sense of adventure.  He constantly tells me to never change for him.  I call him my encouragement to be a better person, and not my only reason for change.  He respects my creative streak, and I help him stay in touch with his even when his work life seems to consume him.  He has been nothing but honest with me, and I have been slowly peeling back the layers of protective walls that I’ve built around myself over the years that have kept my true self safer from harm.

It’s barely sufficient to say that whatever this thing is that we are sharing, it’s been good for me.  The biggest and boldest difference between this relationship and the connections I’ve made in the past is that I am actively not disappearing inside it.  I am not slinking into the shadows and becoming the thing I think that Ray wants me to be.  He is not doing that for me either.  I remain actively writing, actively pursuing my health goals, and remain engaged with my friends here in town.  I still have my own space, and will for the foreseeable future.  I have things I still need to achieve for myself, and Ray is proving to be another leg of support along that journey.  My only hope is that I am for him as well – though he keeps reminding me that I’m good for him, so that has to be a good sign.

In short, I’ve met someone quite extraordinary.  In the process of meeting him, I find myself being reintroduced to myself too – in a much more complete, profound, and holistic way.  I think, maybe, this is how it’s supposed to work.  Maybe, just maybe, I’m rewiring old, bad habits and appreciating myself a bit more in the process.

I hadn’t mentioned Ray much prior to now because I wasn’t sure how legit things were between him and I.  The fact is, now three months in, it’s clear that we are more than just a passing connection.  He and I have started down a shared path, and for the foreseeable future, we will continue to hold hands and move forward.  Putting this down in writing feels a bit like making a promise to myself and to you, my readers.  We both know, though, that things could change, and that words I put down here may not apply tomorrow.  Still, I needed to validate this thing between Ray and myself because it is real, and it has a shape and form and weight.  I needed to write it down.