Are You Insane or Is Something Else Going On?



I think by now we’ve all heard Einstein’s definition of insanity; you know, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If this is the case (and all roads lead to it being so) then I am bat shit crazy.

Sure I could list the many, many, ways that would colorfully illustrate this insanity; tales of arrogance, ignorance, insecurity, fear, and on occasion, good ol’ fashion stupidity.

As funny (and sometimes sad) as these gems are, I’ve put them behind me. I’m changing the record, rewriting my movie’s story, switching out the 8-track (what?). I’ve decided to do things differently.

As someone close to me once asked, after I spent 12 hours in Nicaragua after impulsively accepting a non-paying job working with drug addicted kids in the barrio, and then moving back to my parent’s house, ”How’s this working out for you?”

In the Seinfeld episode, The Opposite, George Constanza begins doing the opposite of what he would normally do. I have to admit that I’ve only seen the first six minutes, so I don’t know how it ends, but it’s really the concept that I’ve taken to heart. I’ve been doing the opposite.

I’ve made crap ass choices and I’ve made some of the best decisions of my life. But when it feels as if you’ve been chasing your tail, because you keep ending up back where you started, time and time again, even I can see that something isn’t working.

It makes sense (at least to me) to take an honest look at possible reasons and explanations. I mean really look; like pick up the friggin’ area rug and sweep that shit out, looking. Look under the bed too. And of course in the mirror.

I’ve pulled geographics, I’ve left jobs when things got too hard and I’ve doubted myself, and let insecurity take control. Even when I’ve identified my impulsive choices, and less than stellar decisions, I carried on, expecting, as Einstein said, that this time would be different. It wasn’t.

Doing things differently isn’t for the feint of heart, especially if you’ve got decades of thinking, reacting and behaving in a certain way. Resisting what comes naturally, or what is habit, is not easy.

Unless of course you like chaos, drama, endless complaining and dissatisfaction, while you continue to wonder why where you are is not where you’d like to be, but just can’t understand why. If this doesn’t bother you, carry on.

I can tell you from personal experience that when you begin to do things differently, doors open, and opportunities reveal themselves. I know now that when I catch myself and there’s is a clear choice between the old and the different, and the idea of the latter scares the holy bejesus out of me, then I know that I’m in the right place.

Besides, what do I have to lose? Insanity will always be available to me.


Betrayal and Trust

Betrayal and Trust: This Video Speaks Volumes

Betrayal and Trust


Trust is everything and it’s betrayal can have everlasting and profound effects. Then I saw this.

I took the liberty of transcribing it because the words about trust and betrayal are just as beautiful, and inspiring, as the dancers and their abdominals. Holy crap.

I don’t know who wrote this piece, but credit goes to the dancers, Alya Titarenko and Gael Ouisse, (who may, or may not be the writers), and Cirque Du Soleil.

Alya and Gael have to trust each other, as acrobats in Cirque du Soleil they sometimes literately put their lives in someone else’s hands. Trust is a confusing thing. It seems so simple but when you try to pin it down, it can be elusive.

I think of the way that my body sits on a surface that’s new to me, unknown, and how my muscles remain tight, anticipating anything, and I’m constantly aware of that surface.

Over time, with familiarity, I can relax and start to lean back. For many of us that initial tension exists so much of the time, we expend so much energy watching and calculating, trying to predict, reading signals in people, ready for anything to change suddenly, preparing to be disappointed, so much energy spent. 

We talk about trust as something we build, as if it’s a structure or a thing, but in that building there seems to be something about letting go. And what it affords us is a luxury that allows us to stop thinking, to stop worrying that someone won’t catch us if we fall, to stop constantly scanning for inconsistencies, to stop wondering how other people act when they’re not in our presence. It allows us to relax a part of our minds so that we can focus on what’s in front of us. 

And that’s why it’s such a tragedy when it’s broken. A betrayal can make you think of all of the other betrayals that are waiting for you and things that you haven’t thought of; people you rely on, and you can feel yourself tightening up, bracing, and in the worse cases, you might resolve to trust no one.

But that doesn’t really work. Trust is your relationship to the unknown; what you can’t control and you can’t control everything, and it’s not all or none, it’s a slow and study practice of learning about the capacity of the world and it’s worth it to keep trying and it’s not easy. 

Alya says that trust is like a fork; not one way, many ways, physical, emotional, maybe something else. I almost imagine trust as these invisible hands that we stretch out into the world looking for someone to hold onto, as we walk into the unknown future. Alya and Gael began practicing together as friends and now they are a couple. It took time.

So who do you trust and how can you grow? 

Texting in Dangerous Places is Dangerous

Texting while on a bike

I think that we can all agree that texting while driving is dangerous. Yet, I don’t see it ending anytime soon, no matter how many innocent lives are lost, or graphic PSA’s are shown.

And it’s bad enough that people are texting and walking, with their heads bowed, focused on their cell phones, making a never you mind about bumping into people, carrying on without so much as an “excuse me”, or “sorry.” 

But may I present to you the latest in stupidity and selfishness. Texting while bike riding. Since I’ve taken to biking around the city as my mode of transportation, I’ve had the displeasure of witnessing this dangerous and idiotic behavior first hand.

The thing about riding a bicycle is, um, well, you have to pay attention, especially when you’re navigating through midtown traffic, trying to cut a path between the Fresh Direct delivery truck and the M23 bus. And how are you supposed to do that when you’re looking down and texting?!

Then, to add utter cluelessness to the already asinine, let’s wear earphones, so I don’t hear any of those adorable bells frantically being rung, begging you to look up to see that I’m about to cross your path. 

All I ask is that my life not be compromised. Be a douche on your own time. Don’t endanger others. How precious can that text be, that you have to reply while you’re making a left hand turn off of the bike lane, forcing the bikers behind you to slam on the brakes because you’re working the key pad instead of your hand signals? 

It’s truly astounding to me what people are willing to risk because of their impatience. And for what? Walking, driving and biking can all be dangerous, why up the ante? I don’t get it. Do you not value your life? Others? Do you think that you’re invincible? Tragedy only happens to others? 

This selfishness, and the inability to digitally disconnect, is only getting worse. I shutter to think about when Google Glass (or some other hi tech gadget) is on everyone’s face. People will be able to text, leave voice mails, check their emails, twit, Facebook and post the accident that they just caused in real time on Instagram. 

Maybe it’s time to leave the city. Hmmm….

Half-Naked In Front Of Strangers

Half Naked In Front of Strangers In her autobiography, Good Morning, I’m Joan Lunden, Joan Lunden wrote, “4:30am comes around very early.” I couldn’t agree with her more. I was up at the butt crack of dawn this past Sunday, for I was about to compete in my first Pole fitness event.

I rode my bicycle to the theater, as a feint drizzle fell onto the dark city streets, and my freshly flat ironed hair. I wondered if rain was good luck on pole competition days like it is on wedding days.

When I arrived, the doors were still locked (I might’ve been a tad overanxious), so I rode around the block a few times and returned a few minutes later. While I waited to check in, I nervously watched half-naked women warm up, wearing their leg warmers and youthful grins.

I retired my leg warmers years ago, but the nerves were the same as those felt when I took dance class in the city during college. Half Naked In Front Of Strangers I started to rethink this crazy idea.

Am I really going to get up on stage and dance, half naked, in front of strangers? Unlike doing stand-up, and hiding behind jokes and self deprecating humor, the 45mm pole wasn’t going to shield me from squat, and they’d see the squat as well.

Sure I danced in musicals, but I wasn’t a professional. Most of the time I was only pretending to be a professional dancer by walking around with my feet turned out (ow) and carrying a stupidly large dance bag. Seriously, how much room do leotards and Capezios need?  

We had an hour to practice on the stage with the poles. It was the first time under the lights and it all felt a lot bigger than my living room, where I did most of my practicing.

I ran my routine once, humming the music in my head, and when I was finished, I went to the end of the line, which moved slowly. I grew increasingly impatient and nervous. I told myself that it was okay if I didn’t run the routine a second time (like everyone else was doing). If I did poorly, my excuse was not having enough practice. And who does this hurt exactly?

The other thought I had was, did I have a right to take my time, and practice again? Simply put, I wasn’t taking myself seriously because, as I am starting to understand, this leaves less room for rejection, failure and heartache.

I caught myself, and because I’m doing things differently, no matter how uncomfortable, I said, fuck it, I’m taking another spin. Why wouldn’t I do whatever I could to ensure the best possible performance? Hey Freud, you’re needed backstage.

I had another revelation. Keep in mind this is all happening before 8AM. Pole isn’t a career move. As sad as it is, that ship has sailed. Oh, the lost potential.

Doing something for the simple joy of it was never enough. There had to be a pay off, a goal, an end result. Inevitably, I’d see whatever new thing that I was attempting as a career move. I’d easily drop what I was currently working on for the new kid in town.

I’d soon realize that it was going to take more work than I had anticipated (why does being the best take so long) I’d find something else. This all could’ve been avoided had I learned the word, hobby.

Before I took the stage, I remembered to see the pole for what it was; a hobby. No pressure. My only job was to have fun, and not fall. And if I should become National Champion in the 40+ category some day, it will be because it came out of an honest and healthy place.

Something happens when I’m on stage. If I know the material cold, (as I should) and in this case, the choreography, my body goes on auto pilot. In stand up, I’d just keep talking. In both cases, I watch my performance from outside of myself. It’s surreal because I don’t know if I’m in the moment or I’ve blacked out.

I finished my routine and walked offstage feeling a surge of adrenalin, wearing a big ‘youthful’ grin on my face. The stage manager, who had competed the day before, and who was in my age bracket, said, “Keep doing this.”

I will continue because I can’t quantify the smile that I wore or the joy that I felt in my heart.

Later in the day, when I changed clothes, I noticed that my shorts were on backwards. I cannot wait to see the video. At least they weren’t inside out.

I placed second and I was shocked, speechless and proud. It was the icing on what had been a very informative and revelatory cake.

Half Naked in a pole How do we see ourselves? How do strangers see us? Are they the same? Isn’t it time that we release ourselves from our negative self perceptions that we’ve been hauling around since junior high school?

As evidenced by straddling a pole half-naked, and in shorts that were on backwards, my old perceptions of myself no longer apply. Can I get an amen?

Doctor, I’d Like A Nurse Please

Doctor, I'd Like a Nurse


I had a physical a few weeks ago, and like the prior eight years, my auto immune numbers were high. One course of action is to see a  Rheumatologist because that’s their domain. This isn’t webmd, so look it up if you want to know more. Nothing has ever come from these high numbers and without other symptoms, life goes on.

However, my doctor suggested I see a Rheumatologist since it had been a few years. Something in her tone (a hint of alarm?) inspired me to make an appointment. Maybe this was her tone with everything, from life threatening diseases to chronic constipation, which I suppose could be life threatening. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor.

The Rheumatologist’s office was small, even by NYC standards, and for a moment, I questioned whether I had the correct doctor’s office. It looked more like a free clinic, and there weren’t any names on any of the doors; inside or out.

Five people sat shoulder to shoulder, in a very small corner, while two receptionists, worked side by side, behind, what can only be described as a glass desk from Ikea. I think they were sharing a single phone. I opted to stand in the only other available corner.

A doctor walked into the narrow hallway, grabbed a chart and called my name. I followed him into an examining room, which doubled as his office, and I sat down in a chair. He tapped the exam table, indicating that’s where he wanted me to sit. Okay, if you insist.

Before he started speaking, I said, “You’re a Rheumatologist, right?” He was but when I told him the name of my referring doctor, there wasn’t a look of recognition. He asked me what kind of medicine she practiced. Why didn’t I call my doctor you wonder? Exactly.

Doc asked me questions that a new patient would be asked. I offered my knowledge of what the auto immune numbers might mean, including early signs of Lupus. He interrupted me.

“You’re too old to have Lupus.” Excuse me? Did you just call me old? Well, you’re bald. And you have a dangling nose hair the size of Cleveland, so I guess we’re even.

I see now that a more appropriate response might’ve been, “Oh, thank cabinet-making Jesus, that’s terrific news.” But c’mon, no one wants to be told that they’re too old for anything!

Cleveland looked at my lab numbers from the last three years, and did not seem concerned. I thought I’d be on my way, but instead, he took out a paper gown, told me to leave my undergarments on and he’d be right back for an exam. Whoa, whoa, exam? Hold on there insulting man in a lab coat.

I told him that I was in good shape, healthy, and I just had a physical. I wanted to know what he was looking for. He said it’s protocol for new patients, and he’d look for rashes that I might not see. What?

I inspect my body from all angles on a daily basis, looking for irregular moles, I think I’d notice a friggin’ rash, unless it’s microscopic, and then he wasn’t going to be able to see it either.

I asked for a nurse to be present during the exam. It’s our right ladies. Mr. Nose Hair seemed surprised at my request. I want to know why I’m taking my close off; in any situation.

When I tried putting the paper gown on, it ripped. Then it was less a gown and more like a, well, sheet of paper. I opened the drawer and helped myself to a new one.

Nose hair came back, accompanied by one of the receptionists. They didn’t have a nurse, or a nurse practitioner, or anyone qualified to ask for a urine sample. Where was I?

The poor receptionist leaned against the wall, looking like this was her first rodeo. I was sorry to have made her uncomfortable but shit, better her than me.

The exam consisted of, temperature taking, saying ‘ah’, checking for swollen glands, pressing on my stomach, listening to my heart and lungs, taking my blood pressure, moving my ankles side to side, and looking at the front and back of my hands. I’m sorry, why did I have to strip down to my intimates?

He didn’t even look at my back. I’m this close to reporting the guy. I left feeling like the whole thing was a colossal waste of time, and I’m never listening to my humorless doctor again. However, the old me might not have spoken up and asked for a female to be present in the room, so that I wouldn’t be uncomfortable. I think that’s a big something.


Collateral Damage: My Relationship with The Kids

Collateral Damage


In the last month, on separate occasions, people have referred to my Girlfriend Mom daughter as my ‘friend’. The implication, as I internalized it, being that she was no longer my GM daughter because I was no longer her Girlfriend Mom because of a certain break-up.

I felt like lacing up my red and black boxing gloves and defending my title. Friend? The comment seemed ridiculous and inaccurate.

Does a stepmother stop being a stepmother if she divorces? Does she then refer to her stepchildren (or children) as her friends? Holy, shit, does she? I don’t know. What the hell? I don’t know. What the f’ happens? Where did I put the instruction manual?

If the girlfriend doesn’t exist, does the mom part suffer a similar fate? Should I call a meeting? I deplore my loneliness in this process. It hits me once in awhile (or daily) how one action set in motion the undoing, redefining and rebalancing of several relationships.

I like to think that my current relationship with the kids has development organically and gracefully, under the circumstances. That being said, I’m not comfortable describing us as friends. It makes me feel marginalized and minimized and probably some other ized’s.

Hey ‘unsolicited comment giver’, please don’t take my friggin’ title away. I worked hard for that title. I put in the time. I earned it and I trademarked it, so… “I mean, I’m not gonna be ignored, Dan!” Yes, from 1987′s Fatal Attraction

Funnily enough, I never saw my role as temporary. I’ve also seen first hand, the collateral damage that a break up has on children. A relationship with a child is fragile and I’ve never taken it for granted.

Every so often (or daily) there is some pain. It’s manageable pain, though, because I understand its origin and I’ve learned to take the pressure off and to let things unfold. It was far from manageable back in January.

I hadn’t seen the GM son since October and, although we texted weekly, I ached to see him. I know, that was a new one for me. I asked his sister about his wrestling schedule because he never knew it. I couldn’t reach out to the ex-wife because this was before we became best buddies. The GM daughter told me what she thought was true.

So on a snowy Saturday, I drove to New Jersey, found the high school, in a town that I had never been to, parked and walked into the gym alone. It was surreal.

I peaked my head in but I didn’t see him. After pacing for 20 minutes, debating on whether to go in, and feeling more than a little foolish, I texted the GM daughter, asking for her mom’s phone number. Enough of the middlemen.

I didn’t hear back from the GM daughter, so I texted the GM son, which in hindsight, I should’ve done before I left the city.

ME: Hey are you going to b wrestling. Is your mom watching?

(He recently had a concussion, so I didn’t know if he’d be competing. I’d still get to see him, even if he were on the bench.)

GMS: No im not and my mom isnt going

(I still thought that he was in the gym)

ME: I had work down here n thought I’d stop by your wrestling. Can you come out to say hi? 

(I lied about work because I wanted things to remain casual. And did I mention that I didn’t know what the f’ I was doing?)

GMS: I didnt go i wasnt feeling good

(cue the tears, anger, embarrassment and pain)

ME: Oh. Are u ok? Feel better n we’ll talk soon. Xo

(How’s that for casual?)

GMS: Yeah im fine i just got sick last night

ME: Well feel better. I miss you. Xo

GMS: Miss u to

I felt like an idiot. It was my fault for not communicating. Who was I supposed to coordinate with?

I didn’t know what I was allowed to do. Was I out of place? Was I overreacting? I was angry at my ex for putting me in this awkward position and for making me feel that I was the only one that took this relationship seriously.

I was in love with his kids. They mattered to me and I thought that I mattered to them. Now I wasn’t sure. I cried the entire ride back to the city, feeling like a stranger, wondering how I was going to keep this relationship alive.

Did my ex see any collateral damage on his end? In these moments, when I thought that I’d drown in the intense feeling of being abandoned, I wondered if he truly cared or if it would be easier for him if my relationship with the kids faded away.

Maybe it was his way of coping but at the time, it made me feel marginalized and minimized and some other izeds, nonetheless.

It’s now six months later and my relationship with the kids remains and the GM will live to see another day.