Drunks Say The Darndest Things

I know, I’ve said them all myself. I have a naive fascination with people who off themselves. Especially people with money. My thinking is, if you have steady income, something interesting to do, and you’re not working through a bad diagnosis, let’s carry on, shall we? Told you I was naive.

If you must check out, and you have a few bucks, why use a belt or a bathrobe? Why not slit ’em in a nice tub in a five start hotel? Or put one behind the ear from your gold-plated Smith and Wesson? The reason you don’t, in most cases, is your mind is altered. You’re fucked up.

Which brings us to the hapless, Tony Bourdain. Shown here throwing down moonshine shots for breakfast in Northern Thailand. I’ve been devouring “Parts Unknown” of late and you can hear our boy telegraphing his intentions to the world. And CNN, the leader in world news, didn’t hear it.

Here he is getting seriously smashed and the folks in post-production even find it necessary to alter Tony’s POV shot to make it look like he’s hallucinating. Thanks for the visual. Like we don’t know he’s wasted.

His job is to stay on the endless road with a camera crew and document his travels and travails. Almost every episode I’ve seen so far, he’s drinking. The guy is a recovering heroin addict. I say recovering, because drunks and addicts are always recovering. Always.

I wonder if CNN has a twelve step program.

When you’re a drunk or an addict, (no difference) your life is one long, uninterrupted rationalization. You are forced to insult your own intelligence on a daily basis.

So, while this surreal scene is taking place, Tony’s overdub is telling us that even though he’s drinking all the time on the road, he’s not an alcoholic because he never drinks at home. ??????

Isn’t that the darndest thing?

I bet he did it in the morning.

 

 

Forward Head

Hey guys, I know this is a pain in the neck but we have to talk about it. It’s called upper crossed syndrome. Or forward head. It’s becoming an epidemic. As a trainer, I am trained to assess how people carry themselves. I can spot tight calves, tight hamstrings and a tilting pelvis. Upper crossed syndrome (UCS) is the most common. It’s them dang devices we always have our heads in. Hope this helps.
 
Upper crossed syndrome refers to a particular configuration of overlapping overactive and underactive muscle groups in the neck, chest, and shoulders.
  • Common causes include a hunched over posture, often an effect of repetitive tasks, such as computer use and office work.
  • Symptoms include neck and back stiffness or aches.
  • Exercises are the main treatment and can help strengthen the weakened muscles of the syndrome.
  • It is not usually serious, but chronic issues of pain and damage to the muscles may mean treatment is usually wise.

Here are a couple of exercises you can even do at work to strengthen those muscles and relieve pain in the area.

Deep Neck Flexor (Chin Tucks) – cervical spine exercise counteracts forward head position. Stand upright with back to wall. Slightly tuck chin to chest and draw head back to wall. The muscles in the front of the neck should be active while holding this position for a set duration.

Chest Stretch – works on improving the range of motion through the pectoralis (chest) muscles. Place inside of elbow against a wall and rotate body away from anchor point until a stretch is felt across chest. Repeat on opposing side.

Good luck and chin up.

Route 66

The route I run in the wee hours averages out to 66 minutes. In that time I manage to loosen my body up, massage my worry bone, calm my overactive ego, and marvel at the amazing machine. I crave the routine.

I feel I would self-destruct without it. But that’s just junkie-think. Dependency on another level.

My harnessed compulsion.

It’s a condition that’s been saving my bacon since birth. The fruits of that labor have taken me everywhere, so it will continue until the dirt nap.

It’s 66 minutes of mind clearing, prioritizing, sprinting, walking, side-lunging, backwards-running and jogging, all in an effort to confuse my Fitbit.

Does it ever.

Then I shower, eat breakfast and head back into bed with Izzy for the most restful sleep I will get all day.

In a few hours it will be distant memory. 66 minutes invested in a brand new day.

When I find myself driving on that road later, it will feel like it never happened.

But it did.  🙂

Endor-fins

I run in the wee hours. 2:00 am. Impossible any other time out here. It’s Monsoon. Like running with a hot, wet towel over your face. It’s on the dance card, so let’s do it.

Most mornings, I see my friend Al sitting out in front of his garage. In pain. He can’t sleep so he pulls guard duty on El Camino.

I don’t stop all the time, but this morning I did. Al was in an excruciating way. The low back and legs are shot and all they’re doing is pumping him full of dope. I know the feeling

Al doesn’t move around much because he’s afraid he’s gonna fall. Shirley can’t help him, she has her own problems. She ain’t moving either. She has her own dope.

Al says when he is able to ambulate, he feels a little better. The blood gets moving and he gets some relief. I promise I’ll swing by later and get them some exercise.

As I run off down the road, I start thinking about how if we all just moved around more, a lot of physical grief and agony might be avoided. Works for me.

We are made to move. We have to. Things get brittle. The pulleys, straps and levers start to malfunction. Then comes the pain, the pills and dependency. And such helplessness, I see it in his face.

Yes, we need to keep moving, like the shark. If sharks stop moving, they drown. They’re in perpetual motion. We need to shake it and keep shaking it.

Else…? We spend the years we were so looking forward to in pain and misery. They didn’t mention that in the your retirement plan.

When I got home I could barely contain myself. I was bubbling. I opened up Photoshop and got to work on this logo. Endorphins strike again.

Sharks, perpetual motion and less pain. This idea was worth a sweat bath. And believe me, I’m running with this concept. 🙂

OK, sharks….?

Sunday morning dumbing down

It will be different today. No piles of notes, no overheating computer and no furrowed brow. Yesterday, I filled in the blanks.

For months on end I have been slave to the curriculum of the human body. To the miraculous processes that leave me both awed and slack jawed. No simulations or theoretical back ending, no tests. Finally.

Just a soupy, cathartic run at 2:00 am into the soaking monsoon desert.

Even though I accomplished what I set out to do, certify my credentials as an educated advisor in the human movement system, I still find it too much information. Even spooky.

I find it incredible that our bodies have their own agenda. And as long as we’ve been traveling around in them, we know almost nothing. We tilt our heads and happily allow Dr. Oz sort it all out.

Being certified as a personal trainer and specializing in nutrition, weight loss and senior fitness, will allow me to move forward at what most would consider an advanced age to answer the question, “How can I help?”

Studying the inner workings of the human body structure, how it rejuvenates, how it survives, and how it dies, has been overwhelming.

Its innate ability to organize and distribute energy at all times is amazing.

And we haven’t even scratched the surface. Only our heads. What I have learned has saved my own life.

I am not religious, I am not even spiritual but I am …enlightened.  🙂

Kiss My Assessment

Obfuscation. That’s what is. Who do you people think you are? The job market has gone off the rails. I told my next door neighbor I would mow his lawn for him as a favor. He sent me an assessment.

What is this, some kind of trial by fire? You don’t look at this stuff, you just wanna see how bad we want the job. If any of these questions were pertinent, I might understand. I didn’t move your goddam cheese, OK?

There’s a guy in town that does small business marketing. He sent me an assessment. Something John Hinckley might have to fill out. His marketing materials looks like he does his best work with a box of crayons and two hits of acid.

And he’s assessing me?

Sometimes when you’re an hour into one of these nutty things, you realize you’re being had, but you’re too far gone.

It’s bad enough you’re unem-friggin-ployed, but now Dr. Phyllis is giving you the old reach around.

You people should store your assessments in a cool dry place.

Today, not only did I stop the nonsense after an hour of my valuable time, I sent the woman who forwarded it to me a note. Under no circumstances would I continue. Bye.

She called me. She used her actual human voice. She was defending her rope-a-dope. In condescension.

She said “good luck to you getting a job in this town, those assessments are a valuable tool in our hiring process.”

In this company we value unwavering leadership, creativity, innovation and independence.

“I sent you that assessment to uncover what type of an individual you truly are. We’re looking for leaders, independent thinkers who seeks their own counsel.

“And…. it’s what other companies are doing.”

Fear of Living

“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose” – Lyndon Johnson

If you ask me, I’ve lived long enough. No good can come from hanging around the upper limits of a human life span.

If you can’t squeeze a good experience into seventy years, you’ve most likely been too cautious. (It doesn’t make you a bad person.)

While I run in the dark each morning, without music or other distractions, the battle of good and evil rages between my ears. Unabated.

Life has been amazing so far. Everything I signed up for. I think. I laughed, I cried.

The only thing I can hope for until the doorbell rings, is more peace and less pain. I’m talking physical pain. The emotional variety I can handle.

Once you marry an adversary, you will cauterize your Cupid and can move on in solidarity. Living alone can be a dream state.

But living alone scares people. That’s because they expect their bodies to fall apart at some point and the pain and entrapment ensues. They will need a support system.

That’s what I want no of. I do not want to hang around this planet in a diminished capacity.

If I am able to live a life I want, solitary, sane and mobile, then that’s all a guy can ask for. But I have to put the work in. And work I will, with a smile on my face.

In the retirement community where I live, I am surrounded by pain, dependency, immobility and depression.

No thank you, there are sneakers for that.

 

 

The Pantload Method

Oh, if I had a nickel for every person who tells me they don’t run because of hip, back, thigh, shin, feet, ankle and toe problems. I could lip-synch the list of excuses.

I usually respond with, “That’s because you run like a galoop” You hit the street with reckless abandon, thrashing yourself all over the pavement and letting your appendages fall where they may.

No wonder you’re in pain. I’m in pain having to listen.

Meanwhile, your chiropractor has developed priapism over his ever engorging income stream. What kind of fool inflicts that kind of pain on themselves? Uh, that could be you.

To save you any more pain and embarrassment, I will share with you a technique I developed in early childhood: run like you just pooped your pants. Yes, like you have a fresh one in the trunk.

This will keep your stride from becoming unwieldy, stop you from bouncing until your fillings fall out and keep you from wreaking even more havoc on your already weakened human movement system.

You don’t have to look like a gazelle. It’s not like ABC Sports is filming the event. I look like an idiot shooshing down the road. (That’s why I run at night.) But I am pain free, my weight is perfect and my blood pressure is in check.

And don’t let me catch you flopping around on one of those elliptical thingies. Your skeleton needs to make contact with terra firma. Stay low to the ground, take smaller strides and move your arms like crazy.

Leave your phone at home, get some fresh air, strengthen your limbs, empty your mind and get healthy.

See the USA without your Chevrolet.

 

Out of the Haze

Excuse me for interrupting the little party here, but I happen to know something about addiction. And I don’t wear a tweed jacket, mismatched socks, smoke a pipe, and hold my chin a lot.

I don’t have a degree in existential masturbation and Mongolian behavioral habits.

I am a drunk, an addict and a former lost soul, and I don’t need some intellectual spanking my inner child. What does he know?

I know what its like to crave the hair of the dog, to shake myself awake and nod myself to sleep. To lose not only conversations but whole days and weeks.

I remember sitting in a rehab unit at the VA two years ago begging for release. They just stared over the top of their glasses. I wasn’t gonna stroke out on their dime.

The VA couldn’t help me, they held me. They just replaced my drugs with theirs. Lobotomies in pill form.

My primary care doc didn’t help me, she almost killed me. Ambien, Soma, Lunesta, Gabapentin and the one that damn near got me, Xanax.

Throw in almost every antidepressant on the market and I was a local pharmacy favorite.

My doctor knew my history. All of it. Still…

Know what saved me? Exercise. Once they got the majority of the poison out of me, the rest was on me.

A week out of rehab, I was walking my dog down by the railroad tracks and stumbled upon a gritty iron factory. A full blown gym like out of an Arnold movie. 24 hour access.

That’s where you would find me, taking my iron pills. I sweat it out of me. All the anger, the resentment and the animus. Oh, the release.

AA meetings to me are like the Catholic Mass in Latin. Rinse and repeat. It’s just some place to go until the bars close. That’s my opinion and I’ve been to enough of them.

You can’t stop a major addiction and stand still. Something needs to take up that void and it ain’t Jesus. We’re all junkies to something. We all need fixin’. Exercise is that fix.

I won’t simplify it, if you don’t complicate it. We are made to move, to struggle and strain. We are put together to do things with our bodies. When we don’t, stuff starts happening. Bad stuff.

I got my mind right as I watched my body change, the spring return to my step and my attitude get more positive. Exercise did that for me. Saved my soul.

As Gregg Allman sang, “We still have two strong legs and even wings to fly.

Fustercluck!

If you can’t join ’em, beat ’em.

In my ongoing attempts to find employment of the home-based variety, I am having to pimp myself off to the lowest, chintziest bidder.

I find myself traversing hotel meeting rooms, call centers, coffee shops and drug testing facilities. I am fast becoming master of the online assessment.

I can respond to the “Can you tell us of a time…?” question before they end the sentence. I know the “Let him wait” strategy like the back of my hand. I bring snacks.

Recently, I found myself at a Radisson in Phoenix, the day before I took the test for my insurance license. I was hedging a bet, seeing I was going to start a new job the following Monday.

It was Alaska Airlines. They were hiring for home based positions. I am writing a couple of books and I don’t want to lose valuable writing time on the highway. Hence….

So here I am. What a disaster. Murphy showed up with a bunch of his laws and Fellini had a casting call.

They tried to show the “Ain’t we a happy bunch?” video with disastrous results. The projector was an alien intruder, there was no audio, and the video was the size of a pizza box.

It starred captive employees doing that sign reveal thing with printer paper on a windy runway.

These people operate flying machinery?

I’m thinking that poor bastard they have painted on the tail of their planes might be the CEO.

There were four of these ambassadors moving around like monkeys humping a football.

They were wardrobed right out of the nearest homeless shelter. Honey, if it don’t fit, please quit.

I’m thinking a dress code should be relaxed, not limp.

Realizing I have my big test tomorrow and should be home studying, not having my intelligence insulted at this circus, I start losing it.

I stand up and turn my back on them. I am 50 miles from serious study.

I am so filled with remorse. And they can tell. Beyond the garish visual, these people were so unprepared and full of shit, they were choking on it.

I kept thinking of all the flight checks that were going on at the moment and I start praying.

I waited a full 2 hours to tell them I wouldn’t take the position and shouldn’t they be ashamed of themselves?  No response.

Alaska can be a cold, dismal place.

 

 

Fit To Be Hired

There’s more to showing up than just showing up, isn’t there?  Let’s face it, job interviews are pure scrutiny….to the bone.

Like you need a little more “under-the-hood” added to your day-to-day neuroses.

Some puke who looks like he should be valeting your car has your life in his chubby little hands.

Unbearable. (Feel free to e-mail me for support group information.)

But it is what it is. (Such a useless term.) The only control you have in this situation is the knowledge that you’re bringing your best self.

Small consolation at the check-out I know, but you’re all you got.

Until you get the job and Duncan Uplift over there starts working for you.

As men, when we don’t look good, we do funny little things, like buy larger clothes, keep our jackets open, loosen our ties like it’s on purpose and try to hold our bellies in.

Mainly, we try to act like we don’t give a shit. Oh, but we do.

But you’ve been training your body and mind through diligence and discipline. You’re comfortable in your own tight skin. You can’t put a price tag on that. You earned it. Sweat equity.

Bring it.

Ultimate Stiffing

I moved out to Arizona a year ago.

I got stuck with a bunch of bad debt after my marriage ended.

Since then, I have been searching for gainful employment.

I am astounded by the cast of characters out here who call themselves recruiters.

Real estate agents for humans.

And this one poseur who has the misfortune of breaking my camel’s back. He crossed the threshold.

As therapy, I’ll write about him. This way I won’t have to punch him.

He reached out to me on LinkedIn. A very bad move for him because now we’re Linked.

That’s like being handcuffed to a suicide bomber.

In my life I’ve been contained, constrained, conscripted, probed, detoxed, deprogrammed and financially sodomized.

I’ve endured a long, dead, marriage and been legally restrained, ex parte.

You’d think I wouldn’t feel anything by now.

How I escaped circumcision is anyone’s guess. Knowing my parents, it had to be a financial decision.

I’ve met with recruiters who were drunk, high, soiled, morally bankrupt, inbred and incapable of linear intercourse.

Ones with writing on their face, metal in their nose and motor oil in their hair.

Oh, I have endured.

But this guy…

I drove 90 minutes on a busy afternoon at his request to meet in a sweltering shoe box.

I am greeted at this humidor by a woman who appears to be waiting for a bus.

After enduring a series of non-functioning computer intelligence tests, he enters.

Underwhelmed is an understatement. He slouches in wearing a grape colored tent flap hanging out of his drawers with a sheen of sweat on his more than ample face.

With no air in the room, he starts to expel his after-lunch cigarette onto my person.

Think: grandma’s attic.

Although he shows up late for our appointment, he keeps mentioning how he hopes he won’t be late for his next one. How special can I feel?

Beads of flop sweat and disappointment are trickling down the crack of my ass. I close my eyes, praying for Kansas.

If he steps out for even a second, I’m gonna pull the fire alarm.

But the job he’s hawking is one I happen to be interested in. It pays decent and it’s close to my house. Very convenient.

Out here, 50 miles is considered down the street.

I’ve got a little dog who needs my attention in her advancing years. Izzy’s almost blind.

Proximity is required.

After a short interview, he’s convinces me I’m the guy for this job.

Alrighty then, maybe I won’t hit him with that rubber cactus.

He has to run now, but he assures me he’s going to immediately present me to his client who wants me on that job like, last week.

He is blissfully unaware of what I have been going through. That’s unfortunate.

His last words were, “Stay by the phone Bob, I’ll call you for sure by 4:30.”

Which 4:30?

My mother used to say, “Know how to keep an asshole in suspense? I’ll tell you tomorrow.”

It’s tomorrow already.

 

Assuming The Position

As I was donning my running vest this morning, I was reminded of a story I heard years ago that made me think. Probably urban legend, but thought provoking.

In between two large office buildings there was a parking lot with an attendant. Every day as workers parked, they paid the man with the orange vest, parked their cars, and went to work.

As the years passed, the friendly man with orange vest learned the names of the workers, asked about their families, and was always sure to offer a quick hello and “how do you do”.

At Christmas the workers would bring the man with the orange vest gifts – chocolates, wine, and cards with dollar bills.

Then, one day, the man with the orange vest didn’t show up. The workers assumed that he was sick. Nobody knew his contact information. They didn’t actually know much about him.

The man never showed up again.

After some time the management of the two buildings met to ask what happened to the beloved parking attendant.

“I thought that he worked for you,” each manager said.

The man with the orange vest didn’t work for anybody.

The parking lot was a free lot.

This man simply showed up one day, put on an orange vest, and began asking for money.

For 20 years this fraud continued.

I assume that one day he realized that he had stashed away enough money to retire.

Then, he simply stopped showing up.

Right or wrong, he showed initiative.

Some times all you have to do is show up….and assume the position.

Where are you parked? 🙂

 

 

Parting of the Ways

The place is called Health Plan One, or HPONE. It’s an insurance company in Phoenix. They called me out of the blue. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout no insurance.

What they do is, comb through Indeed for anyone with sales experience and reach out. I was blissfully unaware that Medicare Annual Open Enrollment was coming up in October.

I was game, so I went over there one afternoon.

The hiring manager immediately sat me in front of a computer for an hour filling out paperwork and I hadn’t even said “I do.” Yet.

He said, “Can you start June 11?” He sent me for a drug test and we were on. The starting pay wasn’t shabby and it would only get better. I was promised.

Monday morning, June 11, comes and I find myself in a Fellini movie. It looked like they stopped at a homeless shelter for last call. Nothing surprises me anymore.

The woman who is running this “Fast Track” session is a retired prison guard out of Gainesville, Florida. She had on tight, peach colored stretch pants, with calves Richard “The Refrigerator” Perry would have admired.

My irises were getting a workout this morning.

She opened with, “Welcome to Hell” She wasn’t joking. She held up a book the size of a Sears Catalogue and told us we had to get this between our ears by the 21st, which was the Arizona State Insurance Exam. Huh?

We crammed all day, all night, all weekend. It was contract law with woulda’s, coulda’s, shoulda’s and abbreviations. There were linguistic loopholes, exceptions, omissions and gotchas. It was a fustercluck.

How bad did I need the money, you ask?

HR came in on Friday, the last day, and said good luck on the big test, “but if you don’t pass, then we will simply have to part ways.” Awww, so sweet.

Long story short, I passed on a Thursday and twitched all the way to Monday the 25th. Now, I have to say, I have been very fortunate to come up in some good company cultures, Dupont, BMS. etal.

This wasn’t it.

There was something seriously wrong  with everyone in the goddam building. I used a bathroom two blocks away and I never went into the cafeteria during lunch.

But when that Monday the 25th came around, I would have shown up there if the building was on fire. I..really…needed…the money.

After a full morning of congratulations to the winnowed out survivors, it was revealed there was such a high fail rate on the test, they were surprised to see…most of us.

At that point, I let out a sigh of relief and started texting myself a long overdue grocery list. That long afternoon and all the next day, training was pure silliness. Just dumb. But I’m gettin’ me some groceries.

Plus, I had my broker’s license.

Wednesday afternoon, a stern looking woman came in a told us it was time to take AFIP, the Association of Finance and Insurance Professionals exam. C’mon, willya?

It was days of reading that had to be accomplished by the next afternoon. She said “don’t bother trying to read all the material, you won’t make it. Just go to the tests at the end and try to work your way backwards.”

I look up at the trainer and whisper, “Is she serious?” He nodded in the affirmative. She said we would have three attempts, if we failed the third, there would be a, guess what? Yes, a parting of the ways. Awww. (Again)

For me, this was the equivalent of passing the bar. I studied around the clock and it wasn’t sinking in. This material was for veteran insurance brokers. I deleted my grocery text.

I needed a 90, I got an 86. I was done. Gone.

As I was leaving, I saw Lawrence, a 600lb, legally blind kid with dreads down to his way too low slung jeans. He was smiling, I think. He got a 92 and kept his job. I said congratulations and told him he was a smarter man than me.

He said, “Shhhitt, I ain’t smart man, it was that notepad document with all the answers on it that saved our asses. We all had it, didn’t you?”

I don’t need to explain what happened there, do I?

Parting is such…bullshit. I did get my broker’s license, though. 🙂

The Elder Athlete

I bought the domain name so I guess it’s official. I have a book, a blog and a website in the works. I got 1200 hits in 2 hours off of a recent phytness blog. I don’t know who they are and I don’t usually care, because I get paid in catharsis.

So I have decided to write “The Elder Athlete.” It’s not some puffy idea to possibly bring your blood pressure down, or knock a few points off your LDL, it’s about sparing yourself a life of abject misery and doctor bills.

It’s about being relevant, on the scene, in the moment and still be able to put food on the table if your Social Security runs out.

I am the product of good habits, determination and the will to live. I speak with authority because I have made all the gaffes, belly flops and suffered through all the pregnant moments. I went in and I came out. Alive..and more.

Two years ago, I was in a locked down unit at the VA hospital using a walker, heavily medicated, sans belt and shoelaces. I was shuffling around the ward trying to figure out how I got there. Hard lessons.

I was weighing in at 230 pounds with a palpable blood pressure number. I’ve been there.  I came back stronger, fitter, sleeker and wiser.

I’m talking about fitness when it really counts, these so-called declining years. Your seventies and eighties can be a hell of unimaginable proportion.

You will be joining the orange bottle club and be trying to get family members to give you a ride to your weekly, daily, monthly doctor visits.

You’ll be grousing about the cost of insulin and co-pays. Insurance companies will forget to call you back. You want some of that?

You need to be the steward of your vessel. It’s about relieving that pain in your pump.

The good news: we’re living longer. But you want to live, not exist. You don’t want to be part of your parlor furniture. A potted plant. Irrelevant. You want to stay? Then you surely want to play.

Your later years can be the best of times or the worst of times. You can reside in Malfunction Junction…or not. You can sit around Starbuck’s and trade doctor visit stories with your golf buddies…or not.

My bona fides: I am a 72 year old certified personal trainer, a nutrition specialist, a chef, a showman and a loser. But I still have rubber on the end of my pencil.

I will share mistakes, anecdotes, wrong turns, how to feed yourself, how to train effectively, (read: injury free) and get your mind right. I’ll share what’s bullshit and what’s not in personal fitness.

Most importantly…and wonderfully, it’s never too late. I know how to do this. Because I have.

Ready for your finest challenges? Good. They’re up ahead.

See you in the funnies.

Poison….

So here’s what I do. I’ve been out in the Arizona job market for one year and I have been rode hard and put up wet.

Soooo…when someone has the nerve, a recruiter, a business owner, or hiring manager, to let me have one between the cheeks, I blow the dust off of my keyboard and get to work.

I respond in kind. My kind. I have a catalogue of idiotic encounters that would fill a business book.

The mind boggles.

One miscreant, who behaved badly by wasting a lot of my time, lying like a sack of shit and then never calling me back, received a personalized blog in his e-mail this morning. Crafted by yours truly.

It was an interesting story, one full of lies and deceit. Starring him. He thinks it’s going into circulation. Everywhere. He is losing his shit as we speak.

They just think you’ll slink off and lick your wounds. Not these days.

I get even… because I can.

And I do.

My Kitchen Confidential

My brother-in -arms

I’ve been involved with food since I was eleven years old, when I made pizza off the back of an old converted Sunbeam bread truck. That fire trap had a working oven in it and would catch fire fortnightly.

I worked in kitchens while in reform school, in delis, pastry shops, Italian restaurants, pizza and sub shops, and I cooked all through the Army. Those were heady days.

On Mother’s Day, 1970, I started work at Fantasia Restaurant, a five star behemoth in Cambridge Ma, that would swallow me up.

You could get lost in there. It had its own bakery, laundry, butcher shop and dessert shoppe. It had six working bars and more employees than a super bowl game.

Waitresses outnumbered men 200 to one. Penicillin was the drug of choice.

I worked there for 15 years. In that time, I can say, I never drew a sober breath. My paychecks would pile up until Bruno Perni came out of his office and hit me over the head with them.

Booze was allotted on the hour. Every hour. After my very first shift, I threw up in the parking lot.

When the kitchen crew was drinking heavily, the line to pick up food would really slow down. Waitresses would cue up runway style to pick up their food off of the “slide”. The slide was a “pressure point”.

Things would get rowdy.

When cocaine came into vogue, the line would really speed up and food would come flying. The waitresses were amazed. It wasn’t cooked, but at least they got it in good time. We thought.

There were no dupes, only shouting. You had to have an unbelievable memory. You better, some of these gals could chew nails and spit rust. In short, it was a madhouse. Only a fool would attempt it sober. I didn’t.

When Anthony Bourdain died, I actually wept. I read his book, “Kitchen Confidential” years ago and devoured every word. I knew exactly what he meant. I felt like I was in the kitchen with him.

The problems with drugs and alcohol, the unsteady work, the vagabond lifestyle, the smelly kitchens, the transient help, the unscrupulous owners, the unbelievable, and endless effort that goes into working a busy kitchen.

All holidays ever meant to us was more, longer, harder hours. Luckily, we never had to do it sober. Mother’s Day, notwithstanding.

Tony was a heroin addict, among other things, and on his show he would drink. Like it’s not the same thing. Dangerous. With travel, production pressures, time constraints and did I mention…sucky locations?

Look at his eyes. I watched them closely when he was eating in some shit hole in Burma or Rangoon trying to shove some local “delicacy” down his gullet.

Yeah, he was making a lot of money, but that lifestyle will (did) take its toll.

I’m thinking, whatever pain he was carrying around to make him step off the planet, started years ago….in some dirty kitchen.

I miss you Tony, I felt your pain.

 

 

 

I did.

Wearing a tie and jacket in Phoenix this time of year is not for the faint of heart.

After I got my insurance broker’s license, an acquaintance at the gym revealed to me he was a trainer for a nearby brokerage and asked me if I would stop by his place later. I did.

It was huge. He asked me if I felt intimidated. I did.

Then he asked me if I might consider coming over there to get ready for the Open Enrollment Period starting in October. I did.

But I was leery. I was new to this game and knew the high pressure. I’ve had enough failure the last few years to take me to the rapture. Remember?

The sea of desks and humanity out on the floor made me swoon. I didn’t want to get swallowed up in that.

I told him I was new to this game and already suffered enough trauma just getting licensed.

He said I would immediately stand out from the crowd. They were looking for professionals. Like me.

He said,  “You got the right stuff, Bob.”

I did?

He said, “Let’s deal with your intimidation, first.”

He told me to ditch my phone, (HIPPA) and follow him out on the floor. Then he asked me to walk down the main aisle with him.

He told me to carefully scan left and right as we passed each desk. Whoa.

When we got to the end, he looked me dead in the eye and said “Do you know what I’m talking about, Bob?”

I did.

 

Transferable Risk?

This is the soft drink display at the insurance company where I work.

Note the absence of Coke, Pepsi or Mountain Dew.

Insurance companies deal in risk.They understand exposure, hazard, peril and loss.

They use the law of large numbers to hedge their bets.

Their method of dealing with risk and potential loss, is avoidance. They avoid Coke, Pepsi et al.

They must know something we don’t.

This is why you can’t get a Diet Coke in the afternoon at work when you need a jolt.

Insurance companies always shoot for the statistically predictable. Always.

Insurance companies are not stupid. Are you?

 

Guardian Angel

I wanted them. They wanted me. A great job with great potential. All I had to do was get my insurance license. In a hurry. So they put me in a fast track program with a dozen other victims.

The deal was, permanent employment would commence in two weeks, IF I passed the state exam.

Which they would gladly pay for as long as I could qualify out of the training with a 70% score.

It started on a Monday morning and I had to succeed by Friday afternoon at 5:00 pm.

It was murder.

At 4:36 Friday afternoon, yours truly is staring at a blinking cursor. They were going to take my badge and wish me a nice weekend in twenty minutes.

I guess the instructor felt bad for me because I only had 10 questions left out of 100, and I was drawing blanks. Big ones.

At that time, there was no one else in the room, so she silently sat down next to me and put her hand over the top of my mouse hand. When I moused over an answer, I felt a gentle pulse. 10 times.

At the end, when I hit the results button….it showed a 70. SEVENTY! Oh my God, I almost collapsed. I thanked her profusely and promised her I would study my ass off for the real test.

And I did. (Oh, did I ever.)

That real test was yesterday in a locked down, totally secure, frightening environment, and I killed it. It seems like a dream now. I got the job and I start Monday. A huge opportunity.

This morning, after bringing my fingerprints to the Arizona Department of Insurance, I looked at my notes from my fast track class.

It seems my instructor needed a brush up course her own self, because those ten answers were wrong.

Bless her little heart anyway.  🙂

The Corporate Lamp Post

Yes, David was a hero, history should be kind. Though Goliath was a giant, he was also blind.

This is the person or persons that initially interview you to screen you for the open position. Usually someone found loitering around the coffee machine that management wants to keep busy. They are refreshing in that they are mostly uninformed, awkward and have a relative in the C-Suite.

They read the hypothetical questions like a first grader and express relief at getting through the process. (And profusely thank you for helping them.)

The other day, I was taken from the lobby to a series of unavailable meeting rooms in an assortment of campus buildings. (Perhaps that was the tour?)

When we finally settled in, there was a mild argument on who would ask what. (Very entertaining.) I became a bit concerned when they asked what position I was applying for. (They didn’t have my resume.)

When we finally got rolling after about 25 minutes, there was a knock on the door. The real interviewers had appeared. With resumes but more confused than the two lamp posts I was initially awarded.

Again, the same questions in the same awkward, halting, way. HR must want the interviews to be spontaneous. (I’ll give them that.) As Leonard Cohen might say, “I have seen the future, and brother it is murder.”

This was a huge company. I am left with only one conclusion: Big is the new stupid.

 

Groundhog Days

Arizona. This is the most exercise conducive place I’ve ever lived. Every single day is sunny, dry and wide open.

There hasn’t been a day in almost a year that I haven’t been able to take advantage of its repetitive beauty. I think about that every morning as I’m hoofing my way down El Camino in the dark.

Then it hit me: what about me? If I’ve been able to bound out the door every morning, surely that has something to say about my own steady state of fitness and health.

I haven’t been sick or come down with anything to derail my fitness efforts in all this time. Wasn’t always the case. Kind of unnerving when I think about it.

It all comes back to “you get back what you put in.” Which I shrugged off in my younger days. CVS used to give me their annual orange bottle award.

I could go a few months on good intentions but always got sidetracked with one damn thing or another.  I’m seeing it now, real life changing results in my mind, body and attitude.

By the way, what day is it?

The hours in between

I’m a convict not an inmate,
I’ve been in here before.
Thinking makes me suffer
As I crawl across the floor.
Like a prison built on madness,
It scars me to the core.
So I move in midnight hours,
Where my shadow can’t be seen.
Pounding out my penance,
In the hours in between.

That Thinking Feeling

Have to stop thinking. I went out the door this morning with two interviews in my sights. Thinking the first one was just a warm-up, a dog. Just some light sparring before the main event.

Surprise! The first place took my doors off. I was blown away. I am a sucker for elegant office space and co-workers who aren’t dressed like pirates. It was huge and impeccably laid out. Everyone looked coherent and actually happy.

I felt like calling the next outfit and telling them to take the afternoon off.

Didn’t hurt that this first place had the state of Arizona tied up in contracts and they’re staffing up to meet demands. You could smell the money.

The interview went very well, I thought. For me, they’re not interviews, I prefer to call them performances.

If I could get paid to interview, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

After that, I left with a new angst. (Like I need another) I wanted this gig. Oy!

I hit the next target approximately an hour later. The one I originally thought was the prize. It was OK, but no cigar.

Like a bad love triangle, they wanted me like I wanted the other guys. Anyway, at this point, I was warmed up and just happen to love the sound of my own voice, so I went for the fence.

Most places will tell you they’ll call you after they make a decision. Not today.

After my performance, the guy leans over and says. “You gotta work here Bob, whaddya say, you in?” Then he slides a paper cup wrapped in plastic over to me and motions towards the men’s room.

Oh, by the way, I also like being pursued.

I think.

Personal Training: Staying in the picture

Personal training is not unlike any other consultative sell. You have to ask open ended questions, handle objections, have a strategic path forward, a stretch goal, (pun intended) and a WIFM.

The least difficult is the needs assessment.

Most clients will readily agree there’s a need. What they can’t see is an outcome. They just can’t conjure up a suitable image. A long term goal needs vision and support. That’s where we come in.

There is a whole lot more to a successful client/trainer relationship than just changing the numbers on a weight stack, or yelling, “Gimme one more.”

Trainers are in a delicate position, they can nurture or destroy. If you think your guy or gal is a self possessed creep who’s watching the clock, you’re gonna start missing appointments. That’s a lot of responsibility right there. Especially if a doctor dropped your name. Need I say more?

Oh, and making a personal training cold call could get you killed. “Hey, fat boy, what time are those pants due to explode?”

There are calls at night, e-mails, panic attacks, relationship issues, (serious business) stalls, setbacks and folks who are pulling their own chain as well as yours.

When you take on a a client you are almost like an AA sponsor. You have to be there. You take that responsibility seriously. Very seriously.

 

South by Southwest

Verse

I left Boston with a good intention

Now goin’ back there is a point of contention

Seemed like a good idea at the time,

 I’m all out of money, not out of rhyme.

Gotta get back to collect what’s mine

But I been restrained, might be doin’ time

Gettin’ back there’s gonna be a mess, South by Southwest

 

Now money and marriage supposed to go both ways

I’ll get it figured out one of these days

When it comes to legal matters, I gets confused

But I got a good lawyer, to reduce my blues

Then I’ll  get back to what I know best, South by Southwest

Chorus

I know I’m moving in the right direction

When the sun starts staring me down

I’ll drive all night, drive all day

Until I cruise back in to that Old Bean town

Verse

I been up north, I been back east,

But A-Z is the best

You hit Oklahoma City then you hang a hard left, South by Southwest

 

Pluggin’ The Whole

I was invited to give a talk at Salem State Teacher’s College on alcohol abuse. My curriculum vitae for the event was being a gold medalist in the Olympics of self destruction. I had thirty years of sobriety at the time and they thought I would be a safe bet.

What they were looking for, they didn’t get. My approach to life salvaging wasn’t in their course of study. They sat there in stunned silence. Faculty who never had a drug problem. 🙂

When you hit the wall, it’s time to do something else. Whether it’s booze, pills, crack, meth, sex or doughnuts, here’s your sign.

Your early warning blinker is on. You can ignore it as many do, or you can take a turn into a whole ‘nuther life. My philosophy.

Getting hooked on stuff doesn’t make you a bad person. We’re all searching for relief from something. Can I get an amen?

I meet a lot of folks who abruptly stop a nasty habit and wait. They go to meetings and pray. They ask their higher power to just get them one more day without their addiction(s).

When I have to kick something, (see above) I make a decision to fill that void with something life changing. Something positive that will change me forever.

These vices are a distraction, they keep you from becoming you. A simple understatement.

I think that if I’m going to kick something huge, something huge better slide right in there. I feel If I’m gonna be uncomfortable, it might as well get really hot in here.  It works for me.

I have reached expert status in so many things just to keep my “jones” at bay. You might have picked up a little compulsion here.

The first time I almost met my maker was in 1979. I should have hit the rubber table but it was unavailable. I had to go cold.

In my pain and misery, I vowed if I couldn’t drink, smoke, or do dope, then goddamit, I was gonna scare the crap out myself.  And the world.

Then I became enlightened.

I became a track star, dropped fifty pounds, got a GED, started sleeping on top of the bed instead of underneath, went back to church and became a nutrition expert.

After twenty years of burning the candle at both ends and in the middle, I blew my own doors off.

I entered a new world. A beautiful world.

This.. absolutley…scared… the ….shit out of my family. They intervened on me. The old Bobby they understood…. who the fuck was this?

So when I meet newly straightened out folks who have just come out of the abuse tunnel, I tell them to get leveled off by which ever means possible, then replace that negative distraction with a positive.

You should always get some gain from your pain. Open ‘er up and jam something positive in there.

Here’s your sign.

Good luck and God bless ya.

 

 

 

The Swerve

I was taught a crazy technique on an abandoned airfield in Bryan, Texas a quarter of a century ago. It was a Dupont-sponsored safety course that included an evasive driving component developed for bodyguards of the rich and famous. No lie.

We spent three nights on those runways knocking over orange barrels and popping Dramamine. We were swerving and crashing into things until the sun came up.

This was a technically valuable but arduous course. It must have cost thousands. One of the nuggets I extrapolated for personal use was “The swerve”.

When you are on the highway, traveling at a high rate of speed, and you are roaring up on an obstacle like debris, a stalled vehicle, or someone purposely slowing down to detain you, instead of hitting the brakes, you stomped on the gas quickly and swerved your way out with your hands on the wheel at 3 and 9 o:clock. Scary. Bring a change of underwear.

It took a lot of nerve not to hit those brakes. But sometimes, it just felt… good. Know what I mean?

We actually believed Dupont didn’t give a shit if we ever sold anything, as long as we didn’t jeopardize the self-insured behemoth’s bottom line in an insurance case. (I left before they implemented the “seat belts on all toilets” program.)

I’ve changed the name of the technique to “balls to the wall” because it’s an extremely unfair negotiation tactic. When I feel like I’m being taken advantage of, I step on the gas. All bets go off. It has saved my bacon.

You just have to not give a shit at some point. You can’t be frightened and pissed off at the same time. Try it. No one wants to deal with the unreasonable. Because it works.

As the old blues players used to sing, “Be careful with a fool.”

Screech!

My Blue Ocean

I have a plan.

I will freely share it because to steal my plan you need one intangible element….me.

I’ve been inching toward this concept for a few years now and I think I have come upon a model and a strategy: On-line Training for Seniors.

Training people my age who are crippled by real or imagined limitations. A big blue ocean.

If you are familiar with the blue ocean/red ocean concept, you know in the blue ocean, you create uncontested market space and capture new demand, thereby making your competition irrelevant.

There is no one else there. Yet.

In the red ocean, which is bloody from competition, they are competing in a existing market space and fighting over the same treasure. Flowing red.

A reasonable person would try to think up a new angle and move to a space that’s not so congested. Like Starbuck’s. They totally changed the game by not focusing on coffee, but the experience. Uh, that’s gotta be me.

The current state of play in the personal training red ocean is geared toward younger folks with weight problems and insecurities. Or middle agers under doctor’s orders. Neither has a long shelf life. They drift.

I want to bypass that scrimmage.

The positioning I have decided on to differentiate myself will be:

1. A unique selling proposition that will lay out what I do, how i do it, why it’s unique, and why it’s perfect for my client base.

2. A personal narrative that will explain why I care about this audience: my age, my circumstance, my failures, my weaknesses and my success in overcoming my physical shortcomings. Which are legion. And how I did it.

The me element is critical because of my age, my history of failures, belly flops and detours. I have “been there and done that” to such a degree, I’m lucky to be alive.

I have all the boo-boos covered.

What I have learned about fitness and nutrition over the years has not only saved my life but has given me new health and helped me prosper.

3. Creative content delivered by video, blog, podcast and every other source of social media available. Topics will include physical training, nutrition, flexibility and more importantly, attitude. I’ve been producing content for more than twenty years.

I am excited, I have a book in the oven and an outlet for my “uncontrollablenthusiasm.” Let’s get this party started.

See you online.

 

Perimeter Shopping: Are you eating clean?

 Tomatoes are in, ketchup is out.

Eating clean means eating on the edge. It means staying out of the center aisles at the grocery store unless you need coffee or toilet paper. Foods allowed include a variety of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, nonfat dairy, and healthy fats. Which you won’t find next to the chips.

A calorie-controlled diet and regular exercise are the mainstays of any plan. Much like most successful weight loss plans, you should eat wholesome foods high in fiber, along with lean protein to reduce cravings and help satisfy hunger on fewer calories.

Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast and eating high-fiber carbs, lean protein with a little healthy fat every few hours, along with strength training can boost your metabolism and be a natural detox.

Exercise is an essential part of any program, including regular physical activity and weight training at least three days a week for a minimum of 30 minutes.

Here’s your list. See you on the perimeter. Keep it edgy.