Losing weight slowly but keeping it off

I know everyone has their own weight loss advice but I’ll tell you guys what worked for me. I used to be 270 lbs. I’m 180 now and the bulk of it left me in the first 3 months. And I’ve kept it off.

As far as exercise goes, I started excruciatingly slow. I spent a minute on the stationary bike the first day. And that was it. I added a minute a day and always stopped when the time was up. This helped me to not get discouraged with the early workout pain and frustration that always occurs and it made sure that I got back on the bike the next morning. Once I reached my desired workout duration (30 minutes after a month) I began to vary my activity. Yoga one day, running one day, weights one day and stretching stretching stretching. But I had built up the habit of getting up and exercising before my shower every morning by starting really really slowly. (Only my knee surgery put a halt to it and now I just do the low impact stuff)

As far as diet goes, everyone’s different but I’m a sit-down-and-have-an-impossibly-large-meal-with-meat-and-potatoes type of guy. So when I go grocery shopping I get tons of snack foods. Healthy things. Like fruits, nuts, rice cakes, veggies that can be eaten raw. Did you know you burn more calories eating celery or raisins than either has? So I’m constantly munching munching munching and meal time is just another snack. Even then I try to eat whole grains and colorful vegetables and very little meat and nothing processed. Just real foods. But as long as I stay active I don’t have to worry about what I eat just how much I eat.

My only problem with snacking is snacking late. I really shouldn’t eat too close to bedtime because my dreams get so weird and late meals turn into fat overnight.

The biggest secret, however, with both exercise and diet is tons of water. Water. A lot of the time we feel like we want food but water is really what we need. Someone once told me that food is something you crave in your mouth (that sounded dirty). On the tongue. A taste sensation (Better). And that empty feeling in the gut is a need for liquid, for water. Most people think it’s the opposite. But if you’re eating to fill your stomach you’re doing it wrong and if your mouth is dry, it’s past the time that you should have taken a drink.

But as I stated earlier everyone is different. And I know I’m talking long-term while a lot of dieters want just a quick intense boot camp to reach a small goal. (Good luck with that because crash diets don’t stick) But If you want to change for good you have to think long term and slow is always more sustainable.

Oh yeah and I cheat.

I built cheating into my diet. It used to be once a month, usually a holiday weekend, when I could eat whatever I wanted but now it’s every 2 months that I have myself a cheat weekend. Holidays are a good time to schedule them because everyone else is pigging out and because they’re awful. They really suck the life out of me. (both holidays and cheat weekends) I still look forward to them but I feel like shit afterwards (still talking about both). Because once you’ve eaten healthy for a while you can totally taste the death and sadness in processed foods. Did I really used to eat this crap? It’s making me sick. And it’s making me cry. So why do I keep craving it? But that’s not a physical thing or even a dietary one, that’s a subject for my therapist.



God isn’t made of Oil

I had a dream the other night. I dreamed that I was tracking a swamp monster. A gigantic swamp creature. Some of them were 20 or 30 feet but this one must have been 50 feet tall.

I was hunting it because it was widely believed that it was full of crude oil. That it was made of it. Every one of these swamp creatures had oil for blood which was why they were highly coveted by men like me. The Big Game Hunters. (I know I know but it was a dream)

These swamp creatures lived in the rain forests and in the wetlands all over the world among the tall trees and the thicket. making them very difficult to find.

That morning, I awoke with a plan to solve our global energy crisis. We pave the wetlands. We bulldoze the rain forests. It would create jobs, with millions of people cutting down trees and filling in swamps with concrete. But the best part is that it would force these swamp creatures from their hiding places then we could kill them. We could kill them all and drain their oil. Thus solving all of our energy problems for good. It’s so simple.

Now… before you object. Know that I thought this over for 5 whole minutes before writing this down and I already know how to respond.

Everyone’s going to say you can’t cut down all the forests and pave over the wetlands because trees absorb carbon dioxide and give us oxygen. Trees give us oxygen. You hear it over and over. But trees don’t give us oxygen. That’s just crazy talk. God gives us oxygen. God does. God. And we’re not going to go after God. Pave over or cut down God. That’s just stupid.

God isn’t made of oil.


I missed Marcelo. I missed reconnecting with him. I missed apologizing to him. Now I just miss him.

Of everyone I’ve known he is the person who I most cared what they thought of me. And I couldn’t look him in the eye. As I descended into drugs and homelessness and… I couldn’t face Marcelo. I was never drunk enough. I was just too embarrassed to call him.

Last time I saw Marc, I was walking through Washington Square Park on the way to my death. I had busted into some guy’s apartment in some drug-fueled rage and was on my way to face him and several of his friends and probably get my face pummeled, limbs broken. Then out of nowhere there was Marc like some fucking guardian angel with that big beautiful smile of his. I hadn’t seen him for years.

“Dude, I’m actually on my way to face some guys who want to beat the shit out of me.”

“I’ll come with you.”

And just like that, THEY were outnumbered.

I can’t say if it was a good thing that I didn’t get my head beaten-in, face pummeled. And the girl we were fighting over, she was out of both our leagues. But the universe had hand delivered a chance to reconnect with an old friend, a good friend as well as saving my life in the process. But did I take it? I wouldn’t be crying so hard now if I had.

When I first became homeless, Marcelo would let me sleep on the floor of his closet. I was trying to finish High School and I would spend some nights at different people’s houses when I wasn’t just riding the subways all night. Over-staying my welcome, I think, everywhere I went. Just me and my bottle of Jack Daniels. I didn’t really care. But Marc, he would look at me like, “Mel you’re better than this.”

You’re better than this. But I wasn’t.

Marc, I wasn’t. I was just really good at pretending I was. I’m sorry man.

A Toast to Books, Bookstores, Libraries & Loss.

Here’s to the smell of books.

Here’s to the feel of the pages and the bindings made of cloth or leather.

Here’s to the library shelves and the treasures that can be found within them.

Here’s to an old friend.

I was given this book long ago and as I have aged so has it. As I have evolved so has the personal meaning of the words beneath the cover. I have gazed at it’s face for years.

Here’s to looking up and seeing the labelled spines of books I’ve passed everyday without notice but today they whisper “Read me again. Read me again.”

Here’s to turning yet another page and adding another chapter to the book of things.

The book of things that my computers is trying it’s best to swallow whole;

My Darkroom: Devoured in the 90’s I still miss the smell of the chemicals and the manipulation of light in the darkness.

My Music: Being eaten movement by movement still puts up the good fight but it’s soul is dying by degrees and it’s voice, altered and mechanical.

My Theaters: Whittled down to the size of a tiny screen. Another dark room dying. This one filled with hundreds of strangers all laughing in unison or smiling or crying in the anonymous dark.

And now my books…

Without weight and without substance this tome will dissolve into the constant update of the temporary. The instant.

Dear sir, we have sent the revised version of your favorite book to your reading device. Please re-read it and remember it in it’s current form, free of the passages that we consider inappropriate.

These words, too, will be deleted after you have read them.

I will miss the books most of all.

Anger & Hatred

And now a word about HATE.

I hate people who hate.

Cultural Prejudice, Homophobia, Misogyny or Misandry, Racism, Religious Bigotry, Fear based ignorance and Ignorance based fear will not be tolerated in my little corner of the internet, unless it is being identified and forced out into the light of day to ridicule and destruction.

My track record is by no means perfect when it comes to ugliness, prejudice and hate and I think I can blame my mother for my failings in these areas. She suffers, without apology, from all seven of these forms of bias. Please feel free to verbally punish me if I fall into any of the numerous hate-filled pitfalls that I grew up with and that are so prevalent in our society. However, and I can’t state this strongly enough, have a firm grasp of the concepts of Sarcasm, Satire, Irony, Metaphor, and Dark Humor before you do. I think my feelings on this topic can best be conveyed through the following…

“A lot of angry white bitches and dumb niggers in this god-forsaken country can’t take a joke. I don’t know what’s up with them and I don’t even want to know. Maybe they’re on the rag or maybe they’re Dykes or Fags or something. Maybe they just need to go to hell if they even fucking believe in hell or find a real god to replace their half-assed one. Fuck ‘em all.”

Just kidding obviously or perhaps it wasn’t obvious or maybe I wasn’t kidding. I can never be sure.


Bambi, His Holiness & Losing My Religion

I met a wonderful woman once when I played my guitar. I played on the corner. I played for change, for food, for smokes, to meet girls (or boys), to pass the time. You’d be surprised how often cuties will pick you up off the street and take you home with them if you sing a few songs on the sidewalk.

It was the summer of ’92. on the sidewalk off of Avenue B & 8th I would run through the ten or so songs that I knew by heart until I’d collected enough change to buy a 40 oz. of cheap beer. Then I would play until I could afford a second… and a third. The taste improved with each one. This night I had amassed a small crowd. Some regulars and some new people. It was going well and I was working on my third 40 oz. Then she walked up. She parted the crowd and offered me an apple. The symbolism was lost on me then. She sat down next to me and we sang a few duets. She was as huge a Tom Waits fan as I was but I’d never seen her before then. She just came up, sat down and began singing along and something just clicked.

She had the most hypnotic eyes I’d ever seen and lips that I just wanted to snack upon. The few people left around us began to realize that they were witnessing something intimate and soon we were alone on that sidewalk under the stars. I handed the guitar to a homeless friend so that we could talk and he could make some money but after hearing him play, he was amazing, I told him he could have it. We sat and talked all night. We talked about history, science and religion. We talked until the sun came up. She was a brilliant woman. Her name was Bambi and she made my heart skip a beat.

She came back the next night with a new guitar. She told me she was doing some traveling and asked if I wanted to tag along. I let her know that I couldn’t drive. But she said she’d find a use for me. I interpreted that to mean that she was bringing me along for sex and for conversation. And that was cool with me. So off we went.

We jumped into her big green van and visited a bunch of beautiful towns as we zig-zagged across the country. Picking up and dropping off like-minded travelers as we went. We stopped at a little place outside of Austin to visit a spiritual and impossibly beautiful friend of hers who had been invited to a Buddhist conference with the Dalai Lama in Tuscon. Her insanely beautiful friend (honestly every time I looked at her I had to remember to breathe) asked us if we wanted to go and see the Dalai Lama. He was speaking on patience at the 5 day event. I knew nothing about the subject or the man himself, so my answer was yes. My answer was always yes. But this was the first time I’d been in the presence of two people that radiated so much beauty. I would have followed them into hell.

I wrote His Holiness a letter. Pen, paper, envelope. And I told him my story of addiction and homelessness with a pure heart. I told him that I couldn’t afford the conference fee but that I was very interested in attending. It would seem that even enlightenment has a price tag. He liked my story and offered me, what they called, a scholarship. And with the big green van, we wouldn’t need a room.

On the 2nd day there was a receiving line as the Dalai Lama made his way from the hall to the elevator to go up to his room. The crowd had gathered to shake his hand or otherwise get a piece of him. I stood back because I sort of felt sorry for him. Every one was pawing at him. He smiled and was extremely gracious but I felt that the crowd should have shown more respect for his personal space. Still I had the hugest smile on my face even after only two days of being in his presence. He stopped. Parted the crowd in front of me and came over to shake my hand. He had liked my letter and wanted to meet me. I was so used to people stepping over me or ignoring me but here was a great man who was sincerely happy to just shake my hand.

Meeting His holiness and listening to his lectures twice a day as he read from the Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life, as well as the other speakers, the amazing Robert Thurman among them and taking the Bodhisattva vow is one of the most significant series of events in my life.

I love Jesus but I would no longer consider myself a Christian. And you could say that it all started with a woman and an apple. But really it had begun earlier that day in a little church downtown. This place served meals to the homeless after a short service. There were lots of churches that served but this one had the best music. I just can’t worship without good music. As I knelt at the altar and humbly asked Jesus to accept my apology for constantly letting him down. I finally just asked him to guide me. You lead. I follow. He took me by the hand, led me out of the church and pointed me toward the Dharma. It was exactly what I needed.

Bambi and I parted company somewhere near San Francisco. She dumped me on the side of the road and drove off into the sunset. Perhaps she had gotten what she needed out of me. Or maybe I stopped being interesting once I had found a center in myself. She had way too big of an ego for Buddhism. Maybe she thought her work with me was done. I don’t know. She was heading to the far east. China, Tibet, Japan. I didn’t have my passport. So maybe it was that. I really don’t know but I hope she found her bliss. Thanks to her I was well on my way to finding mine.


Embassy Times Square

I worked in that Theater on weekends and in the summers when I was in High School. The Embassy Theater on Times Square. There were three of them. A multiplex up the square a bit and another next to Radio City Music Hall. I would watch the movies over and over. No joke. I knew every shot. Every edit. Every word. Every note of the score. That would be excruciating if it were a bad movie playing. Luckily the worst the movie the shorter the run. Jagged Edge was good. I must have seen it  100 times.

I met so many celebrities working there. And took so much drugs. All of my managers were dealers.  No joke. There was a pot dealer, a coke dealer and one guy who had LSD and mescaline. I was frequently coked up or high at work. Great place for an impressionable teenager to work. Drugs, movies and all the soda you could drink as long as you brought your own cup (they only counted the cups).

Oh and that fucking bus nearly ran me over. No joke. NYC Bus drivers were assholes back then. He turned in sharp. Knocked me down. Got out of the bus. Checked to see if I had left a mark and then yelled at me. Total asshole.