What if Your Father Was An Alcoholic?

Alcoholism destroys relationships, families, health and minds.  It has sadly consumed my father, to the point where he prizes the next sip and adult beverage more than having healthy, meaningful relationships with his own children.

9 years ago, I realized that there was nothing I could do to change his behavior and make him healthy again.  So, I made a separation and distanced myself from him – allowing myself to get out of a dysfunctional household and relationship.  I haven’t seen him in nearly 10 years.  I made it clear to him, that I wanted something better in my life.   I wanted a better dad.  I wanted a father figure who didn’t drink anymore.  So I told him, that the only way we could have a relationship again was for him to stop drinking.  Go sober, and only then can the work begin to build something that can be deemed as a healthy relationship.

Unfortunately, none of this has happened.  Powerful life events have transpired without him being a part of it.  I regrettably had to notify him that he was not welcome at my wedding, due to the fact that he had shown nothing in terms of moving towards sobriety.  Despite this decision, I felt like he at least deserved to know.

What follows is a letter (via e-mail, in red) written by me to him regarding the decision.  Followed by his reply (in blue)

Hello,

I’m writing this to inform you that on March 6th  of this year, I will be getting Married.

Additionally, I’ve reached my limits in terms of the e-mails and messages you send.  Enough is enough.  Please  try to be coherent and respectful, or don’t communicate at all.

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen each other, or even had a conversation.  And that is most definitely by choice.

No, I don’t count the shockingly disturbed e-mails you send from time to time as talk or conversation  Nor do I count the thinly veiled and obvious jabs at me through other people (the references to my hairy back and butt at dinner with you, (Brother), and (Brother’s Girlfriend).

And your last e-mail about me not introducing you to my fiance and future wife – because she’s black?  Get a clue.  I could not care less about that.  The reason is, I don’t want her near YOU.  Get it?

Are you even aware of your own behavior and the impact it has on people?  I mean, you’ve always been obnoxious – but this is just really becoming sad.  And the saddest thing of all, is that I know you will defend your position, not accept responsibility, and try to place blame on me, or someone else.

How much longer can you continue to live like this?

I’m writing this e-mail because at the very minimum – you deserve to know that I will be getting married.  But secondly and more importantly – that at this point in time – you are not invited and I don’t want you there.

At this point, I do not feel your presence will add to the event.  In all likelihood it will be an unnecessary distraction and provide an energy that I don’t want.  You can’t and won’t come sober, which is the prerequisite of any interaction with me or my family from this point forward.

Additionally, at this point – I don’t want you near my fiance and soon to be wife.   If she had been in (Brother’s Girlfriend) shoes at the dinner – trust me on this, there would have been no awkward giggles or rolling of the eyes – she would have confronted you head on, and let you know exactly how rude, strange, inappropriate and disturbed she was.

There has been zero progress in your department in terms of seeing the reality of your situation:  You are an alcoholic with a serious problem.  I feel like the drinking was used to hide from your problems, not confront them.  And because you never properly dealt with your issues, particularly of accepting your sexuality,yourself and the reality you face,  combined with other issues – you have one gigantic mess.  A mess that just keeps festering and getting worse with time.

When was the last time you looked at the world clearly?  And realized that your family has distanced itself from you?  And that nobody wants to be around you?

And lastly – everything is not about you.  Yet, even as I get close to a day that I will cherish and celebrate for a long time, you continue to take credit for something that you shouldn’t be taking credit for.  And continue to make everything about you.  My Angel?!  Spare it.

I hope that one day we can have a real relationship, and not this.

Sincerely,

His Reply:

wow .. i never said any of that ever …. yet was just a simple e-mail of a smile that you’ll be happy … boy Dallas … you sure seem to have many issues that are repugnant …..

some day maybe …. your seemingly of odd mind …. hope you find your way ….

there’s alot you don’t even know …. thank god I blocked the abortion ……. there’s alot you don’t know ….

anyway …thanks for reading … I’d never goto your wedding if you asked anyway ….. not till your ready of your twist of thought will you circle and realize ….. enjoy the life I gave you …….. are you sure your not bi-polar? …….

Notice the bolding of one of his statements – “I’d never goto your wedding if you asked anyway”.

Really? If I was a parent – I would be devastated beyond belief if I was not part of my son or daughter’s wedding. I would ask myself some deep questions – and reflect on how the decisions I made and continue to made led me to that point. Some serious sacrifices and life changes would follow.

For those of you reading this and have had an alcoholic father / mother – I sympathize.

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What I Said To My Wife On Our Anniversary

3 Years ago today, I met the most beautiful, sweet, intelligent and terrific woman any man could ever ask for: my wife Angie. Angie, if you see this- know that words can’t really do justice to how much impact you’ve had in my life. To this day, you make me aspire to be better than I am, and I cherish each moment I am blessed to spend in your presence.

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What if Your Parents Did This?

My dad refused to come to my wedding.

How would you react to this if it happened to you? How would you feel?

I think any person in this situation would strongly consider changing the nature of their relationship with their parent(s) – Unfortunately, in this particular case – my father is already a terribly sick alcoholic whose habit has deluded, diseased, and twisted his relationship with the world. So what can be changed? How can you reason with the unreasonable?

I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s wise to invest my energy building a new family with my wife and friends I can be proud of.

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How the Body Works: Glycogen and Exercise – Part 2

In a previous post, I talked about what glycogen is and where the body likes to store it.  Today I want to talk about WHEN the body utilizes glycogen, and how that can actually help make you thinner.

In order to grasp the basics of how your body utilizes different fuels for exercise / activity – it’s best to think of a spectrum.   On one end of this spectrum, you have complete bed rest or couch surfing.  In other words – you’re not doing anything.

At the other end of the spectrum, you have hard exercise.  Not sprinting (because sprinting is not sustainable for long periods)-  but something you can sustain for at least 30 to 45 minutes – but not much longer.  Typically, you do those kinds of workouts when you may be training for a race, an event, doing a boot camp type class, or just working really hard for various reasons.

Now,this is precisely when the greatest percentage of glycogen is used – during HIGH INTENSITY activity / exercise.   This isn’t to say the body doesn’t use fat or blood glucose with these intensities- because it does (this is a topic for another tangential post – the “Fat Burning Zone”).  But rather, that the body leans very heavily on stored glycogen for really hard exercise.  An average individual is capable of storing nearly 500 to 600 grams of glycogen in their muscles and liver -so your body has A LOT stored up.

Also remember that nothing in the body is completely black or white.  Everything is gradations.    Even at an intensity this high – you’re not using 100% glycogen for fuel.  It is simply the largest contributor – but other fuel sources continue to chip in.

Now, research has shown that in a severely glycogen depleted state, that the body ‘shifts’ its fuel consumption towards fat oxidation (also known as ‘burning fat’) to help meet demand.  This is advantageous for two main reasons.  First, if you exhaust your glycogen stores – it means you did a hell of a lot of exercise / activity and thus burned a huge amount of calories.  Second, the shift towards fat oxidation is extremely favorable for people who want to lose excess body fat and trim down a bit.

A professor of mine once told me that you could think of exercise as a sped up fast.  Nothing could more true in this situation.  A fasting state is extremely similar to a glycogen depleted state (in both cases your body shifts towards fat oxidation).  You ‘spend’ energy during exercise, as well as during a fasted condition.  Compared to postprandial events where the body goes into synthesizing and storage of the food you just ate.

So this is all good an fancy, but how can it be applied practically?

Well, for starters you can restrict your carbohydrate intake MODERATELY, and exercise on the moderate to high moderate intensity scale (typically 70 – 85% of your maximum heart rate).  The restricted carbohydrate intake will not allow your glycogen beds to refill, along with the higher intensity exercise that will keep pulling from what glycogen is left – thus keeping you in a perpetual, elevated state of fat oxidation and semi-glycogen depletion. Be warned however, that continually and detrimentally restricting carbohydrate intake and exercising longer and harder for weeks is NOT a good idea.  In this scenario, at some point you will face complete glycogen depletion and your body will need to rest and recuperate.  I never recommend this approach for a long-term solution to ANYBODY.  It’s stupid to do so for longer than a 6-8 weeks TOPS.  Plus, it’s very difficult to pull off without giving into the primal urge for carbohydrate heavy foods that overcomes you in such situations.

As a secondary option / addition, you can implement exercising in a fasted state early in the morning. The effects of this method are more pronounced AFTER the exercise bout, when you have an even MORE glycogen depleted state – that’s when Fat oxidation will be at its peak.

Now, these tips are meant for people who have already tried conventional calorie restriction.  This would not be a first plan of attack for somebody I would consult – but a more intermediate / advanced technique to help someone break out of rut or plateau.

In my next post, I will talk about the controversial “Fat Burning Zone” along with some last words on Glycogen.

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Understanding How Your Body Works: What is Glycogen?

Glycogen is the stored form of glucose.  It is the primary source of energy during higher intensity exercises such as running, cross-country skiing, and heavy construction work.

Understanding glycogen is pretty easy actually.  Think of many, many glucose (sugar) molecules that are stuffed and stitched together through complex chemical reactions.   The main advantages of ‘gluing’ glucose molecules together is more complex chains take LESS space to store.  If you can pack tons of glycogen molecules  into your muscles – not only does it give you more fuel per unit of storage space compared to packing JUST glucose – it contains more energy.  It would  be similar to being able to pack an entire wardrobe into one bag of luggage!

Now, once the glycogen is produced (in a process known as  gluconeogenesis which is beyond the scope of the article – and will be covered in a future post).   The body has preferences where it likes to store it.

Your liver and skeletal muscles are the two big spots for deposit of glycogen.  The kidney also stores a tiny bit. But muscle is the star of the show – it contributes first and most to whatever you’re doing.  You can think of the liver  as the back-up to the muscle: It only contributes when the muscles are empty of glycogen.  Plus, once your body starts taking fuel from organs – it’s a sign you probably need to refuel and eat something.

In my next post, I’ll talk about why having low glycogen can actually help you get thinner.

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3 Simple Reasons You’re Not Losing Body Fat

A Quick Nugget:

1.  Eating Too Much: Okay, seriously.  This is like “duh” territory.  But you know what?  So many people are so bad at knowing how much the actually eat.   When was the last time you sat down and honestly appraised the caloric value of everything you eat?  Try it.  You’ll be surprised.

2.  Lack of ACTION: It’s the act of doing something that helps you achieve your goals.  Stop thinking about that 3-mile jog, or “getting around” to writing down your eating in your calorie diary – and actually DO IT.

3.  Inconsistency: You start with a huge burst of emotional energy in the beginning.  Yeah, that works for maybe, what – a couple weeks?  Then things start to get HARD.  Once the emotions runs dry that fuels your motivation, what are you going to rely upon?  Yeah, that’s right – planning, scheduling, and discipline.

 

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3 Tips For New Small Business Owners

Navigating the sea of business for any newcomer can me fraught with apprehension, fear, and uncertainty.   Who wants to risk losing the security and comfort that a ‘regular’ job provides in favor of starting your own venture?  After all, you’re guaranteed a paycheck on a regular basis, health insurance, and a 401k at the office.   Security like this can be tough to walk away from.

Yet more and more people are choosing to do so.  Call it a fundamental paradigm shift in our economic fabric.  A shift away from following and obeying to leading and rebelling (not violently mind you, but philosophically).

One thing is clear: An entrepreneurial revolution is now upon us.  Everywhere across the world, people are leaving the comfort of corporate life and rolling the dice chasing an idea or passion they want to share with others.

Each individuals journey towards self-ownership is different, and no two paths will be the same.

Here are 10 Tips for the Newly Minted Small Business Owner

1. Drop the false front and reveal your true self:

Every step of the way, there is going to be some person, some entity, and your own mind that is going to conspire to make you become like everybody else.  Call it the lure and gravitas of conformity – the majority of sameness and unremarkable.

As the siren calls of sameness shriek in your ears – cover them and Don’t give in to it.

Stay true to yourself and walk along the edge of the precipice to stay innovative and different.  Don’t merely Copy what works for somebody else, or another business – study the underlying principles of their success.

Can you imagine if all restaurants looked the same and served the same food?  As humans, we are each programmed with different tastes and sensibilities.  You can’t appeal to everyone.  So why try to?  You have more to gain by being yourself than being what anyone else is.

Acting and being yourself is difficult.  You may get rejected for who you are by a lot of people.  But you know what?  You’ll get embraced by a very special group of people who love what you do and how you do it.

2. Act Like You Already Have What You Want: Referenced mightily in one of my seminal favorite works:  The 48 Laws of Power by Robert Greene: he references a strategy known as the strategy of the crown.  That strategy plays out as follows:  If you believe deep down that you are destined for greatness, then those who surround you will be illuminated by your confidence, and believe as well as you – that you are destined for that very greatness you believe so strongly in.

One of the most powerful things you can do is to spend time each and every day visualizing what it would be like to have those very things you want.  It will calm you and decrease your worry, anxiety and frustration – and increase your happiness, contentment, and confidence.

Just play pretend!  Nobody will know that you are faking it.  The confidence you generate from this make-believe situation will translate into the real world eventually. Opportunities will start to make themselves available to you, and obstacles will come crashing down.

2b. A close relative of this is to appreciate and be thankful for what you already have.  It’s the emotional energy that you broadcast when you’re in a thankful mode that tends to bring more things to be thankful for to you.

3. Have a VERY Short Memory:

Rejection, setbacks, miscalculations, and failures are part of the journey towards being a successful small business.

You must begin to cultivate the mentality of having an extremely short memory.  Developing this habit is important to remain balanced and not become too overconfident with success or sullen with failures.

Being a small business owner is a test in mental stamina and toughness.  Not everyone will like what you sell.  There will be stretches of time where literally, you feel like things are stagnating or not moving in the direction you want – despite your continued hard work.  Fear will creep in and fuel your imagination to conjure all kinds of bizarre scenarios.

Remember – just push past the setbacks and failures.  Pay attention and see if there are lessons to be learned.  But if there are not, just realize that you are doing a fantastic job.  Why?  Because you are doing something so many people don’t want to do – face rejection and humiliation.  The mere fact that you are facing those very things sets you on a path that can yield enormous rewards.  You’re a trailblazer.  People respect trailblazers.

 

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The Frenchman Chronicles: Strip Club Edition

In most situations, taking your pants off at a strip club is a social foul penalized in the following ways:

a. Embarrassment as you are heckled by patrons and employees.
b. Getting the supreme crap beaten out of you by female and male bouncers.  To the point where people pull out their cell phones and record it as a once in a lifetime moment, show their friends, and laugh at your expense.

Sure, many men have entertained the thought of it. Seldom actually follow through with it. Even fewer have successfully done it, and lived to tell the story.

I have a friend however who was one of them.

A few primers:

1.  His history of bizarre night-club and gentleman club incidents is not limited to this tale alone.

2. He was to the best of my knowledge neither drunk nor sober – but kind of that fuzzy threshold between.

3. I never asked specifically how much this whole soiree cost him.  But VIP + NYC + Well Respected “Name” Establishment = at least $3oo – $500 dollars – conservatively.

Let’s start the tale from the confines of the VIP room where this all occurred.

My friend, who we will call TheFrenchMan and his friend –  TheMissionMan made their way into the darkly lit VIP room.  Lights dimming, their hearts racing.

“Hey Boys.” The stripper said.  “Have a Seat, Relax, and enjoy the ride”.

Now most of us would translate the three requests from the stripper / dancer as follows:

1.  Stay in your seat (don’t touch me).

2.  Relax.

3.  Enjoy.

I’m not sure if he momentarily had forgotten the English language in general.  But I know for sure somewhere in his brain those instructions were interpreted as:

a. Sit Down.

b. Unbuckle my Pants.

c.  Take Out my Dick.

-Sidebar-

From head to toe, he told me had never seen such a beautiful stripper in his years of seeing strippers (I was told she was the most stunning black woman he had ever seen – which COULD be interpreted as a racist statement… BUT…).

-End of Sidebar-

Of course, I got the usual deluge about the eye contact she was making with him was “More than just the usual”.  Or that she was sending signals that she had wanted to possibly spend more time with him than JUST the time he was paying for.

-Another Sidebar-

Just because you think a stripper is “sending you signals” doesn’t mean she is.  For Christ’s sake – these women make their living on sending out signals that have NO basis in authentic, true interest.

-Second Sidebar End-

I’m sure that figured into his decision making for what he did next.

-Back to the Story:

Grinding, gesticulating, and sashaying to and from from MissionMan to FrenchMan, she wove.  Their 15 minutes passing by so slowly, they are totally unaware that each of those minutes is costing them over $40.00.   Everything seemed to be going just fine.  Until…

Stripper:  “OH MY GOD!!!”

My friend had done the taboo.  The ill-advisable, and the disturbing:

He had unbuckled his pants, let them drop to below the knee and taken out his penis.

Stripper: “What the hell are you doing?!!?  Don’t you know you can’t do that?  You’ve got to put your pants back on fast.  Hurry!!”

By now the closed circuit TV cameras had surely seen him.  It was only a matter of time before a pack of bouncers and security would be coming to “help” him put his pants back on.

“But…But…I Just Thought It was like….Cool, you know???” TheFrenchMan Said”.

“Cool?!? What on Earth made you think that was cool to do?” said the Stripper.

“Just the signals you were sending…Plus you’re pretty hot and seemed like you’d be okay with it”.  The FrenchMan Said.

Now there are two things I never thought a grown man would combine to form a reasonable argument.  Sure, I could see a guy thinking a girl is hot.  But how hotness correlates with permission to be okay with taking your pants off is a concept I have yet to grasp.

“Listen, I’m ‘gonna do you and your friend a favor”.  She said.  “Before security gets here, I’m going to get you two out of here.  Grab your coats, your wallet, and your belt (Which was out of his pant loops and on the floor).  Take the back door exit so they don’t see you”.

TheFrenchMan and TheMissionMan gathered their belongings and hastily made their exit out the rear entrance of the club.  Without incident, making it to their hotel room in Midtown.

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Kamikaze in the Toilet

Have you had the misfortune of being overcome with the urge to take a dump with no bathroom in sight?  You know,  those urges where squeezing your ass cheeks together won’t work?  Nor pressurizing your crack by sitting down on a chair to “force it back up there”?

One of my more polished skills happens to be delaying the urge to take a toilet destroying dump in inconvenient situations. Much like a top athlete under pressure drowns out all distractions during a critical game-deciding moment – I’d like  to think I am peerless when the urge overcomes me (see future story on the Dental School Incident).  My mind becomes very strategic and focused.  I drown out all  outside distractions, influences, and thoughts – and strictly focus on  the question:  Can I hold it, or – do I gotta go?  If it’s the latter –  where, and how far is the  nearest *usable* public facility?   Sun-Tzu would be proud.  Pure objectivity baby.

This skill was tested mightily on a recent trip to New York City.  For those of you who haven’t visited NYC during the holidays – the big spots (Times Square, Rockefeller Center / Plaza, Central Park) are completely saturated with tourists.  Particularly Rockefeller Center.  NBC and TheTree are so irresistible to so many.

My wife and I made our way to Rockefeller to see the tree, soak in the moment, and enjoy the end to what was an unusually sunny and bright Christmas Eve Day.  A cross kissing homeless man solicits me for a few dollars, a horse pulling a trolley lays a massive crap 10 feet away from us;the signs are slowly coming.

Then it hits me:  I instantly get the urge to take a huge shit.

Blame the low-fiber fare we ate the day before.  Or the 3 slices of overwhelmingly calorie dense, delicious  New York Pizza we had for lunch.  Whatever caused it- was irrelevant.  A storm was brewing.

Fortunately, both my wife and I know a set of very usable public bathrooms exists in the Rock’s lower level.

We make our way through a very busy promenade to get to an even busier mens room.  As expected, the mens room is crazy busy, but unusually every single stall is unused (shockingly) and I have the luxury of the 1st pick in the stall selection draft.  I can pick the best located, well kept, least troublesome looking stall.

I initiate my public bathroom stall checklist (checking the seat for standing urine, making sure there’s enough toilet paper, spacing myself properly).  Satisfied, I get my poop face on, sit down, close the stall door and let relief ensue.  As the sense  of relief overcomes me, I get a glimpse of a middle-aged Asian man and his 2 kids running into the stall area.

It didn’t take long for me to figure out they were Japanese (I took about 2 years of Japanese in high school).  Surprisingly, I can still understand and remember some basic words and elements of conversation.  But, besides being Japanese – it was apparent  this man was in some kind of distress.  You could sense the distress in his voice by how fast he was talking as he gave his children (Takai and Hira from what I deciphered) directions like a general:

Asian Man: “Takai Son! (authoritatively and commandingly).”

-Takai’s Stall Door Slams.  He now focuses his attention on his other son, Hira-

Asian Man: “Hira Son! (again, more authoritative Japanese).

-Hira’s Stall Door Slams-

I thought to myself: “This guy is ordering his kids to go to the bathroom!”.   I was half tempted to hit my iPhone’s record function to get a snippet.  It was funny, because now he was upgraded (in my mind) from a mere general issuing orders – to a shit general ordering his children to man your stall, and take a dump.

Yet, like any good parent – the man took care of his children before himself.  Because the man was about to unleash a shocking turn of events that would forever alter the way I view public restrooms.

As fate would have it – he of course  picked the stall right next to me.  Even with his stall door closed he continued shouting out to his two boys.  It sounded like orders.  And then, all of a sudden, he starts raising his voice and shouts:

Asian Man: “Ooooof.  Hira Son… Takai Son…. eh, oooh… TAKASHI OOOOOO!!!”

The sound of muddy shit exploding from his asshole and smacking against the inside of his toilet bowl violently echoed throughout the entire bathroom.

Now, Takashi-oh is a Japanese suru-verb.  It has one literal translation:

To Flood or surge.

Yes, this man shouted in Japanese that a flood of shit was flowing from his asshole.

I started crying from laughter.  Careful so he wouldn’t hear me, I took my coat sleeve and covered my mouth.

He was whispering to himself in Japanese.  I could barely hear him, but it sounded like prayers.  I was half tempted to do a polite courtesy knock on the stall to see if the man was okay. However, just as I drew my hand to knock:

Asian Man: “Ooh…Takai son…Hira Son….  seeta ooh ehhh….OOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

It was official: This man was shitting his brains out.

More pressurized diarrhea exploded from his ass.  He also  ripped a huge fart that seeped into my stall.  Driving me to wipe, flush, and finish.  I stumbled to my feet, asphyxiated from the lack of clean air.

My face was drenched with tears and my stomach was tied in knots from laughter as I exited the mens room.

I found my wife after I exited.  As I approached her, this look of disbelief came over her.

Wife: ” Dally?!  What happened?!  Why are you smiling and crying coming out of the restroom?”

I then told her that the man had nearly killed me from his ass antics, and from the shear hillarity of having a grown man shout he was flooding the toilet under duress in his native language.

She broke down in laughter.  For the rest of the trip she implored me to share it with everybody and anybody.  The story made its rounds.  Aunts, uncles, cousins, old, young- the story was loved by all.

And hopefully you too.

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