Today I am allowing myself to practice positivity, I am working to let go of the past, I am practicing the right mindset. I am fully embracing the priciples of Buddhism and I am discovering a confidence and strength in
myself that I have not had before. For too long I have dwelled in the past, allowed myself to be weighed down by the events of the past and I have feared the events of the future, how things are going to play out without ever looking at the moment that
I am living in. I have never up until this point allowed myself to be appreciative of what I have at this moment, I have never allowed myself to be proud of my accomplishments because I have always lived in the shadows of fear and anxiety, depression
and self loathing and I am not going to allow that anymore. I am going to move forward, I am going to let go of things and embrace the new because it is what needs to be done. I just finished reading The Heart of The Buddha's Teachings and I have
never felt so inspired and so reassured as I do in this current moment. I have been closed for so long to the ideas of any sort of spirituality because I was very angry, with myself and the world around me, but the Buddha teaches us that anger is not
productive, negative mindset breeds negative outcome, unwholesome thoughts breed unwholesome actions, yes it is quite simple but sometimes it is the most simple things that we don't allow ourselves to see or understand and I can no longer do that.
I am watching it snow right now and where before I would say something like I hate the snow, I hate the cold and I hate the winter, I am now thinking to myself, look at the snow, it is so beautiful and clean and now you can't see
the leaves that were piling up. I am going to fully study Buddhism now, perhaps even become what one might call devout, everyone needs some sort of belief system, and I have found through personal experience that it is better to have one that allows
you a sense of hope and peace rather than a sense of absence and solitude. I am going to tell a positive story from my past as I too often have told a negative story and lost myself in the pain of the moment.
the Spring of 2001 I was at a crossroad in my life, I had worn out my welcome in Keene, endless troubles with the police and a hefty drug habit that was taking its toll on me as well as a sense of aimlessness. I had fallen in love with the woman I am
now married to but had a sickening sense of doubt about myself and what to do. I wanted desperately to leave Keene and be with her but I never had the confidence to make that type of decision. I took a plane to Atlanta to see my sister, someone
I had always looked up to, she was succesful and strong and had managed to build a life independent of her past. It was the first time I had really gone on my own to visit her, in the past I had brought friends or traveled with my parents and I had never
really had the opportunity to just go with her and spend time with her, get to know her and what her life was about.
Our visit was not eventful and that was perfect because instead it was intimate, I got to know about
her life, where she lived and what was important to her, she took me to the different areas of Atlanta and brought me to different restaurants and made me feel remarkably welcome. Most importantly though she talked to me about the need for change, the
need for independence, and the need to move on. I had never really listened to what she had to say before and I have to say that for me this visit was life changing because it gave me the courage to make the choice to leave Keene and move to the coast
and be with the woman I love, it gave me the confidence to make the choice to start over and leave the past behind.
I have many great memories from that trip, one of the most interesting is of the fantastic Italian restaurant
we ate at, with the little woman who danced on the table when the party got rolling. This was also the visit that changed my view of Henry Miller, I had read his work before, Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn, but on this trip I purchased Big
Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymous Bosch, I read almost the entire book on my flight back and then read it again once I arrived in Keene. I have had a lot of different influences in my life, some that I have acknowledged more than others, and some that
I haven't even realized until later in the game, I would have to say that my sister rests comfortably in both of those categories. Today is about appreciation for me, today is about acknowledging the places that my strength comes from. Today is
about embracing the present and being in the moment.
I am having an amazing amount of anxiety right now. Nichole is getting ready to go away until Saturday for a training in Rhode Island and I am going to miss her a great deal. I dread the feeling of her absence at
night, she has such a room filling personality that to think of a room without her just makes me very sad. I love her, she has stood by me through so much, enough to the extent that most sane people would have left, but for some reason she sees something
in me and for that I am forever thankful. I just have a feeling of overall malaise as a result of the anxiety, but I know it will pass, we will text, we will talk on the phone and soon enough Saturday will come and she will be home and life will get
back to normal.
I wrote a letter to my amazing friend Irene today, she is the only person with whom I correspond through hand written letters and I always hear from her in an amazing letter every Christmas and sometimes
in the Summer. She has always been a pillar of stability in my life, she has always been a voice of reason and compassion for me when I needed it the most. In 2010 she lost her youngest son and she has not been the same since. I worry about
her constantly and I try to send her messages of hope.
I hate to see my friends suffer, it gets to me very deep inside, I remember a feeling of overwhelming sadness and despair when my friend Beatrice's son got into trouble
in 2000, just to hear the pain and suffering in her kind and usually brave voice was very debilitating emotionally, but she has rebounded, he has rebounded, he is very successful now and she is a remarkably dedicated mother.
I love the fact that I correspond with Irene through handwritten letters, and that they come in the mail, you can tell so much more about a person, connect with them so much more, elaborate so much more and so much more freely through a handwritten letter
than you can through any other sort of communication and you get the sensation of having received a gift when the envelope comes in the mail and you get to hold it in your hands and keep it for later if you want, it doesn't go away or get erased or deleted,
it is always there.
To get rid of a letter is a much heavier choice as well because you can't just press a button or click an arrow and make it go away, you have to actually physically dispose of it and then stare at it
in the trash or the recycling until you get rid of those too, and then there is never the complete assurance that it is gone, not being read by someone else, unless you burn the paper it is written on but that involves another level of committment entirely.
I took my dog for a walk today, his name is Shrek, he is thirteen or fourteen, blind and a boston terrier, but we have been through a lot together, he layed with me all last winter, and when nobody would talk to me he was there,
breathing heavy next to me, assuring me that even when it seemed like I had nobody, I had him. I am worrying about him lately, he is breathing much heavier and louder at night, his vision is almost completely gone now and he walks ever slower up the
stairs at night at earlier and earlier times each night. I will be very sad when he is gone, he is such a kind and gentle dog and my children love him very much. He likes to talk to me, he grunts and breathes in a different manner to communicate
when he is sitting with you.
I was thinking this morning again about my grandmother Anne, 2014 will mark twenty years since her death. She is probably the most profoundly influential person I have ever experienced
in my life. I had a very deep connection with her on many levels, we understood each other, we were very similar to each other. I remember the agony I felt when she died, how empty I felt without her and how I never thought I would be able to go
on without her. Twenty years later I still feel her absence, though I am more grounded now and I have been able to recover, I have never been back to her grave since the funeral, except for my grandfather's funeral three years later, and I don't ever
want to go to it again.
I think one of the things that I love most about living in the area that I live in is that it is very near to Rye NH, about twenty minutes away, the place where I spent some of the best times of
my childhood, playing on the beach with my sister, building drippy drooly sand castles and swimming and exploring the tide pools with my dad. But it was also the place where I saw my grandmother the happiest. She was a very complex and private
woman, but she had an extremely close friend in a woman named Ethel who owned a cottage on the beach in Rye.
My grandmother was always so calm and magnificent when she was at Ethel's, she would sit with her on the beach
and smoke her long cigarette and drink lipton tea and finally not have a care in the world. It was the one place where she wasn't always moving, cleaning, or doing a crossword. Instead she would play scrabble and drink cocktails, and always she
would be smoking.
I miss her very much, her absence in my life is enormous, she was the one person who understood me at a time when no one else did and to lose her was a traumatic gut punch, and to lose her in such a deceptive
way, her illness was concealed from me until it was very far along, until my aunt slipped up and asked me how she was doing, though even then I didn't quite make the connection, it wasn't until I found her violently throwing up one day when I had gotten home
from school and confronted her that I found out. Even then she couldn't tell me, I asked her straight out, do you have cancer, and all she could say to me was that I needed to ask my father. I had never felt so betrayed, and then over the next
year and a half I had to watch her die as I drover her to an increasing number of appointments. I had to help my grandfather who was in a horrible state of shock and denial, and I had to deal with her suddenly pulling away from me emotionally, cruelly
at times, laughing at me when I baked her brownies from scratch, something we had done together so many times, and brought them to her in the hospital, telling me how foolish it was because she was too sick to eat them. But I understand why she
did it and I learned from her.
Sorry to get so deep today, I just am feeling a bit overwhelmed at the moment and sometimes it feels good to just let it out, it is sort of like therapy. I think a lot of what happened
to me over the past three years is in many ways connected to the death of my grandmother, I never really dealt with it, a lot happened surrounding her funeral, I was the errand boy that day, being told to go here and there and do this or that with never anyone
asking me if I was okay or allowing me a moment to grieve. I was forced to be a pall bearer, something that was horrifying for so many reasons, and my cousin Michael was very cruel to me directly after, explaining to me just how fat and disgusting I
was, he was the biggest trigger for my bulimia. I was guilted into going to a family gathering with him this summer, I have worked to avoid him over the years and I didn't say one word to him or even make eye contact with him despite the fact that he
was sitting no more than seven feet away from me in a circle.
When my father got sick it was like being right back there all over again, cancer is a disgusting disease, and to have to go through the process of it once
is a horrifying experience that truly changes you, but to have to go through it a second time, and in a very graphic manner, my father had surgery after surgery, including a taumatic fourteen hour first surgery is just devistation. I just broke when
it happened, everything fell apart, it was happening again and I couldn't believe it. Well, I do feel better now, I feel a great sense of relief having spilled all of that, having let it go. Buddhism involves staying in the moment, not in the past
or the future, but the present moment and I feel that for me to be able to do that there is some stuff that I need to get out.
It's been a rough morning, but if I said I hadn't seen it coming I would be lying. My head was filled with negativity and sadness this morning, fear and anxiety and I allowed it to boil over and overwhelm me to the point that I had a pretty severe
anxiety attack. I was cleaning, organizing, putting away the last of the mess from everyone being home for Thanksgiving, and noticing how empty the house was and how full my head was and I couldn't stop thinking. I started thinking about last year
a lot, and how at this time last year I was really beginning to wake up to just how fucked up things had gotten. I had been to see a specialist the week before, for a hearing and balance test that she refused to perform, telling me that I was on way
too much medication. I was beginning to really notice that Nichole was no longer communicating with me, that she was angry with me, undeniably angry with me, and I was beginning to realize just how confined my life had become, I was now regularly spending
entire days on the couch, covered in blankets with my eyes closed just wishing for everything to end. It was just about a year ago today that I decided to stop seeing my psychiatrist, I hadn't yet decided to stop taking the medication, but there was
a feeling inside of me that was telling me that I needed to stop going to see him, that it wasn't working, that I wasn't getting better and that I was only getting worse. I hadn't been to see him in almost two weeks when I decided on the 14th to stop
taking all of the medication and I wouldn't go back to see him again until the first week in January when I was dying from withdrawals and was out of medication. Like so much of the past few years I don't remember that last appointment with him, I don't
remember what he might have said to me, what he might have recommended except for the fact that I told him that the specialist would not perform the test, I never told him about what she said about the medication, the only thing I remember him saying to me
that day, and it woud become the deciding factor in me ending our relationship, was that he was going to go ahead and diagnose me with Meniere's disease. I go over this in my head again and again, I can still hear his voice and it gives me the chills
and a sick feeling whenever it passes through my head. I do remember a feeling of uncertainty, a feeling and a fear of where was I going to get my medications refilled, this feeling that I needed them but that I could no longer trust this man, I hadn't
yet been able to make the full connection between how messed up I was and the enormous amount of medication that I was taking. I couldn't stop thinking about all of this this morning, and it is one of the reasons I have so much anxiety about the approaching
anniversary of my coming back from the dead, there is just too much confusion, too many missing pieces to the puzzle for me to be able to fully understand and appreciate what happened, and there are just enough holes in the fabric of it all to make me sick
to my stomach and terrified in my head when I think about it all. I was cleaning this morning, as I said earlier, when all of this came flooding into my head, all of these fears and worries and all of the shame that goes along with fucking up so badly,
and I lost it, I cried and cried and wondered what the point was to any of it anymore, I became deeply depressed and thought I was going to lose the whole day. Then there was a part of me that has been dead for a long time that suddenly came awake and
told me that I was going to be okay, that this was all part of the process, that sometimes it all has to fall apart, break into millions of pieces before you can get it to go back together the right way. A year ago I was seriously messed up on drugs
and tuned out of reality, I was not processing what was happening to me and what I was doing to the people around me, I am no longer that person and I am not longer in that position and though I may be filled with sadness and regret at the moment, I am triumphing
in some very real ways. I am going to work hard now, for the rest of the day, to try and recover a sense of sanity and peace that will hopefully carry me through and make me feel like I am at least okay for today, and that can be a struggle sometimes
but that is all I want, I don't need to feel great or even good as long as I can have a couple minutes where I at least feel okay.
I have always found pleasure in cooking, it is a really incredible way to lose yourself, to let go of whatever is on your mind and just bury yourself in a process, in a recipe and their is near instant gratification when you are done, the results are
there in front of you and they are physical. I just spent over an hour making a pumpkin pie and an apple pecan cake and in a few minutes I am going to work on making rolls for tomorrow. My mother always used to make rolls and they were always so
delicious, she would make the dough from scratch, form the rolls and cover them with a towel before setting them near the heater in the kitchen to rise. I have never made rolls, I have always made bread, and I have been making bread since I was a teenager,
but I am going to attempt them today in the hopes that they come out as good as my mother's. There is such history in food, you can attach so many memories to food, the certain way the certain people used to make certain things. When I was a kid
my grandmother Anne used to spend the whole day on wednesday making a spaghetti sauce and meatballs from scratch so that we could have dinner together that evening, or really late afternoon and watch The People's Court, I think of her all the time when I am
making sauce and when I used to make meatballs or whenever I see romano cheese in the grocery store, she preferred this over parmesan. My grandmother Mini used to make the most amazing baked beans that we would often times go to her house on Saturday
nights to eat, my grandfather Leo used to make tapioca for my father whenever he was sick, as old as he was he would make it from scratch and walk it over to my father no matter what the weather was while it was still warm. My aunt Ello always made the
most magnificent mashed potatoes, they were always incredibly rich and creamy and it was really the only time I would eat mashed potatoes. My father always makes an incredible cole slaw with a secret ingredient, its apples by the way, and though I have
never really cared for cole slaw before I went vegan I would always at least try it because it was something he made. It is wonderful how you can remember these moments, even after these people are gone, as my grandparents are now gone, something I am
really feelingtoday as this is my first year without my wonderful grandmother Mini and I am thinking of her a lot as she always offered me such a sense of peace but I know that tomorrow I will see some food or some dessert and I will think of her and knoow
that she is there. I hope that tomorrow is a day filled with wonderful memories and amazing food for everyone.
I am a huge fan of Parks and Recreation, possibly the most satisfying show on television, and one of my favorite characters is April, played by the great Aubrey Plaza, so when I heard she had a movie of her own coming out I had to see it. Unfortunately
in the new cinematic world where really only giant tentpole films are given a substantial release with screentime to grow an audience I missed it upon its theatrical release this past August. However it is now on demand and I finally got to watch it
last night and I have to say I have not watched such a consistently funny movie in a long time. It is very raunchy and definitely not for kids but it is also right on in its depiction of the early 90s. Plaza's character is graduating valedictorian
in the class of 1993 and she decides to make a to do list of sexual activity for the summer so that she can be experienced when she goes to college in the fall, the results are seriously riotous. The cast is great, it includes among other recognizeable
faces Bill Hader and Andy Samberg, and the soundtrack is awesome, and one thing the movie gets right is the timeline, they don't just throw in a bunch of crap from the nineties as a whole, rather they concentrate specifically on the year 1993 and the detail
is great. Really enjoyed this movie and if you happened to be in high school or graduating from high school in the nineties you will love this movie.
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