Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Buying into the LIES

First, one of the pieces by Scottish artist Robert Montgomery, an street artist who covers up advertising billboards with poetry:

I think that of the photos in the gallery (check out the article and gallery here) this was my favorite. It is extremely in step with what has been on my mind lately. Advertising is a LIE. It is the lie that life is better with "Product X." It is the lie that perfection is actually attainable, especially with the help of "Product X." The models are photoshopped and air brushed until they look like the poster children of perfection. They are in fact normal human beings, some are more attractive than average, who are digitally nipped and tucked (and this is after a lengthy sit in the makeup chair!) into what somehow became the standard of beauty. They have blemishes, they probably don't have as amazing abs, or as nicely shaped arms and legs, their lips probably aren't as full, etc. And yet, we see them on a billboard or in the pages of a magazine and we believe that image is a "true" representation of the model. That if they are able to look that good, well, so can we. And we torture ourselves trying to live up to this standard, which is nothing more than A LIE.

And this is the worst part: our striving to achieve this standard is exactly what keeps these companies in business. Their ads always tell us one thing, and that is not just that their product is amazing, but that we are unhappy. They tell us that in order to be happy we NEED their product. Amazingly enough, even when we buy the product, we somehow don't actually end up being any happier than we were prior to it's purchase, often times less (especially if it is related to health and beauty). But have no fear, a year later they will have re-branded "Product X" into "Product Y" and a new model will sell us that picture perfect image of perfection and happiness that we so desperately want, and we will buy away and strive away, until our souls wither away.

Now here is an awesome video that illustrates just how deceitful advertising is and how powerful a tool like Adobe Photoshop can be:


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Song I'm Feelin' Right Now

Yesterday a friend (who knows about the whole recent dissolution of my fledgling relationship) sent me a link to this awesome Whitney Houston and Robyn mashup. It blends together "How Will I Know" and "Dancing On My Own" into one groovy little poppy dance track. I remember being just a little boy and listening to Whitney's first album in the car (on tape of course) as my mom drove me to school. She practically wore that thing out (as well as her Madonna and Janet Jackson tapes)! And of course I love Robyn to bits, so for the moment, this is my JAM!

What makes the whole thing even more appropriate is that these two songs pretty much exemplify my current thoughts and state of mind.

A few lyrics from "How Will I Know:"
"There's a boy I know
He's the one I dream of
Looks into my eyes
Takes me to the clouds above

"How will I know if he really loves me
I say a prayer with every heart beat
I fall in love whenever we meet
I'm asking you what you know about these things"

"Oh tell me how will I know?
(Don't trust your feelings)
How will I know?"

And some from "Dancing On My Own:"
"I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, oh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me? Oh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooh
I keep dancing on my own
(I keep dancing on my own)"

So, I think the million dollar question we all ask ourselves is, "How will I Know?" I thought I knew, but it turns out I may have had the wool pulled over my eyes. So, for I'll keep dancing on my own.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Year 4 Wrap-Up

Where the hell does the time go? It is a fact that as the universe continues to expand, time is also speeding up. However, because we are all on the planet together, we are all experiencing time together, and so we don’t actually notice anything different. Maybe subconsciously we do, but we still measure a day/hour/week/month in the same manner, so our frame of reference is unchanged. Anyway, I know that years seem to be passing by faster than ever, and it can’t just be that I am getting older and experiencing time in a different manner that I did when I was a child or a teenager.

All of that aside, the years really are flying by. Four short (or were they long?) years ago I started this blog as a way to keep myself motivated on my journey to achieving a healthy body. There have been many highs (breaking the 200 pound mark was huge, and completing my first triathlon was unreal and overwhelming) as well as some lows (gaining back weight I had worked so hard to take off, dealing with body image, mild depression, and frustration). But that is par for the course, right? On any journey one sets off on, you can’t expect everything to be smooth sailing or bump/pothole free roads. At least not any journey worth embarking on!

Oh, and really quickly here are the current stats:

As of February , 2012

height: 6'0"

weight: 186 lbs.

chest @ nipples: 41”

under breasts: 40"

biceps: 12.5" (definitely increased muscle here)

@ belly button: 37"

hips: 36"

butt @ widest point: 39"

thighs: 22"

calves: 15.5”

Body Fat: 18% (again, bathroom scale so I take it with a grain of salt)

The biggest changes athletically speaking are the result of my decision to become a Triathlete. My competitive nature and my desire to test my personal limits meant that I pushed myself to swim/bike/run farther and faster.

I am now running on the treadmill at 8.5 miles per hour for 4 miles, and if I am running farther I decrease the speed by 0.5mph every mile (though I try not to go below 7.5 mph). When I run outside of the gym I maintain a pretty even pace that works out to 8-minute miles. Considering that in high school I was barely able to do 1.5 miles in 20 minutes, and when I first started running in November of 2010 I was only able to maintain a 5.5 mph pace, I am feeling pretty good. My longest run to date was 10 miles, and that is fine by me (honestly, why go farther than that?). Also, in the running column, I repeated the Thanksgiving Day run I did in 2010, though this year I opted for the 10K distance (finishing in about 50 minutes) and then ran the 5K distance with some family members right after. So, crazy! My legs hurt like hell the next two days.

On the swimming front I managed to modify my entire freestyle stroke to one that utilizes my legs less (so that I can save them for the bike and run portions of the races) and also increased my swim pace in a big way. It’s funny because it is four fewer kicks per stroke and yet I am moving through the water more quickly. I also upped my distance, swimming at least one mile and sometimes doing as much as two. I love to be in the water so this never feels like the chore running does.

And then there’s the biking. I’ve always enjoyed biking, but this is the first time I am training my body for more than just joy riding. I started going to a lot of spin classes at the gym, mostly because it is a lot easier (and safer!) than riding in Los Angeles. But I also got myself a bike (Tri bikes are super pricey, so I got a Tri/Road Hybrid) and got out on the roads and hills of Los Angeles and Orange counties. My longest ride to date was in October 2011 and it was 32 miles (it was a pretty nice ride too!).

All of that training prepped me for two triathlons this year. The first in San Francisco, one that is not recommended for beginners (whatever!), and then another local one in September. I did really well in both and am looking forward to another successful race season in 2012.

A big part of my training schedule shifted in the early fall when I added yoga to my regular routine. At first I shot for two days per week, then three, and then this last week I went four times. There is nothing I like more than an ass-kicking spin class followed by a challenging yoga class that ends with laying in “Shavasana(corpse pose)” and just letting it all go. I love the strength and stability that comes with the yoga as well as the mental side of it, which I see benefiting me in races as well as everyday life.

A quick note on something I wrote about in my Year 3 Wrap-Up: Back Dimples. They are those two little indentions on the lower back, bust above the top of the glutes. Well, I consider them a sign of fitness (you can’t clearly make them out if they are covered by fat) and also to be very attractive. So it was with great surprise that one day after a shower, I noticed in the mirror that I have ‘em. They are there! It gave me a smile. Along the same lines, I am noticing increased definition, especially in my arms lately, which I am proud of.

And now onto a non-fitness related topic: The Year in Love (or something like it). And honestly, what more appropriate day than Valentine’s Day to discuss this topic?

January kicked off the year with a bang (quite literally, though I already covered that in Hookups and Hangups: Part Deux).

And then the very next weekend things heated up again. I met up with a friend at his place before heading out for a night of fun in “The Gayborhood.” He and some of his friends had just come back from seeing a queer play and we were all hanging out and a having a couple drinks before hitting the boulevard. I had only met one of the friends previously so I had to keep doing the, “Hi, I’m _________. What’s your name?” thing, and make small talk. It turned out that one of the friends happened to grow up not far from where I did, and we went to college together, and knew a lot of people in common. So we “hit it off” in a way. I wasn’t really interested in him, but we managed to chat for a while at the house, then on the way to the bar, and then inside the bar. At one point I offered to buy him a drink (because he didn’t like the one a friend bought for him and I was going to the bar, so I offered to grab him something new), and I think in his mind that was a sign of interest. By the end of the night, when I had managed to display my natural inclination toward chivalry on a couple occasions, and both of had had more than enough to drink we ended up making out on the dance floor of one of the clubs. Then it was 2 AM and we were being kicked out. So we made out in front of the club. And then we walked up the street and made out in a parking lot (at one point on the hood of somebody’s car) and then at last I walked him back to my place, as everyone else was long gone and he was too inebriated to go anywhere unassisted. The brief walk helped to sober us up a tad, and after a bit of fumbling around in my bed we both called it a night. In the morning I gave him a ride home.

A couple days later we met up for coffee. We talked for a while and seemed to be getting on pretty well. I am not sure yet whether I am interested in a relationship but am willing to see where things go. We continue dating and hooking up. After about a month or so I am convinced that I like this guy as a friend but romantically I am not interested. I try to find the right moment to tell him this each time we meet up but I can’t seem to find the right moment to do it. I let things continue until it gets to the point where I don’t even want to kiss him when we see each other. I remember the last time we were “intimate” I felt like I was going through the motions, which was a horrible feeling to have. I know that my lack of honesty is not good for either of us, but I can see how much he likes me and I feel terrible for not being able to reciprocate those feelings. Things finally come to an end in late spring when he has to move across the country for work. It is a clean out for me, and to be honest, I knew it was coming and decided it was easier to play along than to “be a man” and be honest with him. We see each other for the last time before he leaves. Things end on good terms with us agreeing to be friends, something I am totally cool with. After he is gone I wonder if I made a mistake, but realize that I learned a lot about myself (my strengths, my weaknesses, and everything in between in a relationship). We still talk from time to time and have seen each other when he has visited Los Angeles (and I suppose that if I am ever on the East Coast I will let him know so we can meet up).

I had a couple dates in May, June, and July. They were fine, all the guys were attractive but lacking that spark. The conversation was great, and we got on well, but each one felt like more of a friendship that any sort of romantic relationship potential.

In October, I had a date with a guy who seemed very promising. He was a bit older than myself, had a lot of similar interests, had a stable job, and was pretty cute too. We had a nice first date and then decided to go out again. We went to a wine bar for a drink and then saw a movie. The movie was good and he kept leaning into me throughout it. After we headed back to his place (where we met up at the beginning of the evening) and he invited me in. I decided to take him up on the offer, “What the hell? Why not?” He opened a bottle of wine and we each had a glass. We sat and talked about all sorts of things and then he looked at me with “that look” in his eyes and we kissed. It was nice, and I hadn’t kissed anyone in a while. Then we were making out and then he asked me to stay the night. We make our way to the bedroom. Everything was very innocent, mostly just kissing, but it was fun. We woke up in the morning and realized that he was supposed to be at his meeting (which he mentioned the previous night) in less than 30 minutes. We quickly got dressed and ready and he asked me to wait and walk out with him. We kissed goodbye and went our separate ways. I wasn’t sure after that night how I felt about him but I figured I wanted to give it another date or two to figure that out. I called and asked about setting something up and he mentioned that he was busy all weekend with friends in town, so we decided to chat after that. I attempted to set up another date and got a lame response about being friends. I responded with, sure, let’s be friends, but let’s actually be friends if that’s what we say we are going to do. I get no response. I am angry for about five seconds and then get over it. 

In November I met a guy and went on a date and we hit it off right away. We share the same twisted sense of humor and interests in many of the same things. It is fun and flirty and a nice first date. We make a plan to get together at the end of the date, hug and go our separate ways. We text back and forth that evening and off and on the next couple days. We meet up for our second date and it is another good one; good conversation, laughs, touching each other’s arm or leg as we are talking (signs of interest). He had walked to the venue so I offer to give him a ride home (Hollywood can be sketchy and it was cold). We pull up to his place and he looks over at me. We kiss. We chat about something random, and before he exits we kiss again. Later that night he texts me and at some point says, “I’ll be kissing you again.” My response is, “We’ll see about that ;)” We talk on the phone and text over the thanksgiving holiday. We meet up at his place one night to hang out and watch a movie. We chat for a bit. We watch the movie. We make out like teenagers. Hands are moving all over the place. We go at it forever (not that “at it,” we kept it innocent), and finally calm down and just lay there next to each other chatting and making one another laugh, enjoying one another’s company. After a while I decide that I need to get going, I gather my shirt and jacket, and yes, my pants and shoes. He walks me out and we kiss goodbye. We text a bit the next day, and we talk on the phone a couple days later. I think at this point I am starting to like him. We have some trouble coordinating our crazy schedules the next couple days. When we finally do meet up again it is after I have had a long day of work and I end up visiting him at his place of work. We chat and hang out for a bit. Then I need to take off because I have work early the next day. We kiss/hug goodbye. For the next couple days there are periodic phone calls and texts. At one point he tells me that he likes me a lot, but is worried that he isn’t able to devote the time and energy to me he feels I deserve. I tell him that if he really means that I am sure we can figure out how to make it work for both of us.

At this point I like him but am in that weird place I always let myself get to where I pursue someone even though deep down I know I am not 100% attracted to them and don’t know that I see them being good long term. I guess I am just a “benefit of the doubt” kind of guy.

We meet up again before Christmas and just hang out. He is working on some projects and I help him with some stuff. I mention a trip I am taking right after the holidays and he is very excited about it. I decide to invite him along, he declines (due to work obligations, but not that it really matters). We text and chat on the phone more over the next week and then I ask him about getting together over the weekend. He goes into some rant about how he has “this” on Friday and “that” on Saturday, and so on. I tell him, “I give up!” He says, “Whoa” and to hold on, because he was going to say he was free Sunday. I tell him that I was half-joking. He says he warned me about how busy he was, and that he finally has all of these things going on in his life that he has been trying to make happen, and friends he has been neglecting, and blah blah blah. I tell him I think it is wonderful that lot’s of good things are happening, and that I would never expect him to push his friends aside for me, just that if he is too busy to (or unable to figure out how to) fit me into all of that, then in essence, I am giving up on trying to make it happen. We meet up one last time in early January to hike one of the Hollywood hills trails. We talk like friends would and I realize I don’t want to pursue a relationship at all. Thanks clarity! We leave on a good note, agreeing to be friends (because who doesn’t need more friends to neglect?).

In mid Jauary I went on a “blind” date with a guy. We decided on a nice spot (a bit romantic, but not too much so for a first date) downtown. We met up and grabbed a table. I was immediately attracted to him. We talk and talk, and have some drinks, and it is wonderful. As we are leaving I offered to drive him to his car, as he had parked further away. Not knowing how he feels (I would totally have made out with him right then and there) we went for one of those awkward car hugs. In hindsight I probably should have at least gotten out of the car and given a proper hug (“If I could turn back time . . .”). He texts me later that night. I text back. He mentions something about if he were with me right then he would be cuddled up to me. I tell him if I had known that earlier I would never have let him get out of my car. We text back and forth the next day. I think it started with him saying “good morning handsome” or something along those lines. The next day we meet up near me before I have to leave for work (ugh, working nights is the pits). After hanging out and having a nice time I walked him to his car. He went in for a kiss, which took me by surprise. He smiled, I smiled and then he went in for another one. We talked quickly about meeting up soon and then he drove off. He texted me, almost instantaneously, to apologize if he was too forward. I told him absolutely not, and that he could be forward any time. We then texted back and forth the rest of the evening. Things went on like that for the next couple days. We talked on the phone a a few times (sometimes twice a day). He visited me at work one day when I had an odd break in the day. Then he went on vacation (out of the country) for a week and we had no contact at all.

He contacted me as soon as he landed back in LA. We talked on the phone and texted and made plans to meet up in a couple days. We met up in the afternoon to hang out. We grabbed coffee and chatted. We walked along the beach, and then we grabbed some food. We had wonderful conversation and all I could think about the whole time was that I wanted to kiss him. At the end of the afternoon he walked me to my car and we kissed. It was more than a peck but not quite making out. It was broad daylight in a parking lot and it just didn’t seem appropriate to go further. After we had gone our separate ways, he texted me some nonsense about not being able to “read” me. I told him that I was surprised by this, and told him I found him a bit hard to read as well, but that the whole day I had been looking for an opportunity to pull him aside and “accost” him. He then made some comment about realizing how similar we are, and how strange it is to get used to dating yourself.


The texts and phone calls continued for the next few days. At one point he sent me some risqué photos. I told him they were nice, but I wished his face weren’t covered by his hand and phone (for me, it is all about the face). We saw each other again early last week and had another wonderful lunch and coffee date. When we were leaving I decided to walk him to his car. We made out in the elevator of the parking structure and then at his car. He made some comment about our actions getting him worked up and in a mood that was inappropriate for the location and where he was off too. Before we went our separate ways, I handed him a card that I made that said, “Will you be my Valentine?” He said, “of course.” I was on a high. I was smitten and definitely beginning to fall for this guy. For once I was on the same page with someone, felt a connection, was mentally and physically attracted to him. It was like a whole new world had opened up and I was more than happy to be swallowed up by it. We continued to text and chat. He called me twice one day, before an event he was attending and then after. That same night he texted me and we went back and forth for a bit. We now had plans together on Valentine’s Day but also to get together and do something a couple days prior. I was beside myself, planning the perfect casual yet romantic evening for my Valentine and me.

Then on Friday I got a text that said he felt like we were developing a friendship, not a romance, and that the anxiety about V Day, and not knowing if he saw me as a romantic interest or would after Tuesday, had been eating at him and he felt he had to let me know beforehand. I was caught completely off guard. Blindsided! I thought things were going so well. Even though we had only kissed so far, I felt like I was taking things at his pace, and being a gentleman. I would have preferred to go out and do things with him in the evening, and do something other than coffee, but that was what he kept suggesting and so I played along. Like a fool, I played along. I probably should have just grabbed him and kissed him when I felt like it. I probably should have said NO to any of the day dates and made him agree to spending the evening together. But, I can now chalk all this up to experience. I have learned a bit in this short period of time and can move forward with that knowledge when I enter my next relationship. If he wasn’t right, and didn’t appreciate what I have to offer, then it wasn’t meant to be. I know that there is someone out there who is, and when I find him I will be better prepared for him.

Now, instead of spending my Valentine’s Day 2012 with a new love, I am spending it with my true love; myself. I am getting my hair did, taking care of my body at the gym, and getting some retail therapy. I may even go out with some friends tonight for an adult beverage (or two). And honestly, that all sounds a lot better than spending my energy on someone who isn’t receptive, appreciative, or worth devoting it to.


 P.S. The photos are of the adorably attractive Colby Keller (taken by photgrapher Gabe Ayala). He is a porn start with a brain, but what I like most is that he is not too buff or overly worked out, has a cute smile, and is comfortable with his natural body hair. You can read more about him at his blog, Big Shoe Diaries.