Archive for exercise

Fall Work, Ashcan, 5k, and Sandra Bland

Posted in real life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2017 by sethdellinger


Winter is coming and I hate winter.  But I am coming around a little more to the idea of liking fall.  For most of my life, I’ve been staunchly against fall, citing the fact that it is a sad harbinger of winter, and the end of summer, and the season where everything dies.  But the past few years I’ve started to feel I’ve just been repeating what I’ve always said, instead of being honest about my changing views.  Fall is kind of nice.  I like wearing longer pants and hoodies.  I like crunchy yellow leaves.  So yeah, another example of allowing myself to evolve here.  Granted not on any sort of major topic, but I wanted to make it public: sure, I like fall.


Work is going terrific!!! I am back to working in Harrisburg and no longer doing my crazy commute.  I work (approximately) 8am-4pm Monday-Friday.  I’m having a blast!  I’ll have a more detailed password-protected blog about it within the next week, but I wanted to give that quick update.


My favorite painting of all time is John Sloan’s “Sixth Avenue and Thirtieth Street”.  The reasons are many.  First, Sloan is my favorite painter overall: his pioneering “ashcan” style–which denotes his muted color pallet, a brush technique that was representational but bordered on abstract, and choice of subject matter–speaks to me and to my view of the world.  This painting in particular (which I’ve included below) hits me on a gut level.  The titular streets are in the “tenderloin” district of New York City, which is another way of saying the poor or “slum” area.  In this work, Sloan chooses to show us this area in broad daylight at a busy intersection.  We are looking at a corner business that is perhaps of some disrepute–a brothel or perhaps a burlesque theater?  There are some finely dressed folks around, but they are not the same kind you’d find down by Central Park.  The focus of the scene is on a woman in distress; she is in nightclothes and carries a pail, is obviously upset.  Most scholars of this painting suggest this woman is drunk and is emotional.  The passersby–especially the two finely-clad young women nearby who could not be more different than the drunk woman–look on with judgement and perhaps even amusement, but no one in the scene seems to have empathy or concern for this woman.

There is a lot more that could be discussed about the painting.  Sloan did not waste a centimeter of the canvas (a quick for instance–Sloan’s decision to place the drunk woman at the bottom of the canvas, rather than center her, leaving him space to paint lots of sky, whereas he could have provided more surrounding context of the city instead; an interesting topic of discussion, that one).




I have made some mention on Facebook that I have begun running, and even signed up for my first 5k (this coming Saturday)! I’m super excited but also currently undergoing a substantial amount of worry as, just 3 days ago I did my longest outdoor run yet and have had some very minor signs of some stress fractures in my shins the past few nights.  Now, these symptoms are very minor and it is 100% possible I am inventing them.  Any way you slice it, I am running the 5K this Saturday and will keep training this week on elliptical machines to avoid high impact work, and should probably know after the 5k (because my body will tell me) if I have to take a break from running and maybe evaluate my running style, etc, moving forward.  But I want to be a runner super bad so even if I have to take a significant break and make some adjustments, I’m on it.  On a side note, the running has really been a key factor in helping me get close to my goal weight: before the weekend I was 144 (goal is 140)…the weekend saw a lot of eating so I’ll know where I’m at when the dust clears on Tuesday :)


Police kill innocent black people with an alarming frequency.  You don’t have to eat animals or their secretions in this day and age.  America should be a country that welcomes immigrants.  Respect women’s reproductive rights and the rights of their bodies.  Resist any and all attempts to make our culture white, male-oriented–including the language you use.  Climate change is real. There is no need to wear wool or leather in this day and age.  Do whatever you want when The Star-Spangled Banner is playing, including eating food, walking to the bathroom, keeping your hat on (I mean really) or sitting or kneeling.  Fund art programs, NPR, Meals on Wheels, and Planned Parenthood.  Oh, and in Major League Baseball, the designated hitter rule continues to be an absolute scourge.

I am Afraid of Food

Posted in Prose with tags , , , , , , on November 8, 2014 by sethdellinger

Making a statement like I’ve struggled with weight all my life would be an exaggeration for me–but only a little bit.  Throughout my childhood and teens, I was a small guy; very much the opposite of heavy.  I’m short–I was then and, surprise, I still am–but I was also just small.  The perfect word for it is diminutive.  I wasn’t so tiny that I got mercilessly picked on, but I suspect this is more because I’m a badass dude with an enormous personality.  I grew up hearing the occasional snide remark about my size (one of my favorites is when my first girlfriend related a story to me about how she was talking to some alpha male redneck prick on the bus one morning, and when he found out she was dating me and asked if she loved me–to which she replied yes–he said to her How can you love him? He’s so short. Shit like that sticks with you for the rest of your life) but generally I skated through adolescence being able to forget I was a small guy.  I wrestled for two years in high school–I did it very poorly, but I did it–at the 103 weight class.

One-hundred and three pounds, ladies and germs.  In ninth and tenth grade, my most formative years, physically, I weighed as much as two big bags of flour.  I was little, although I was, I will say, swathed in a fine layer of muscle.

My early-to-mid  twenties saw me (like most folks nowadays, once we leave high school) plumping up.  I got bigger but not to any point of really being unhealthy.  I never watched what I ate or thought about exercising.  I gained a belly and a nice round face but generally didn’t really think about it.  There would be moments when someone I hadn’t seen in ages would make a comment about my weight gain (do I just know a lot of assholes or something?) but I didn’t really care.  I felt fine and women still seemed to really like me, so my weight, for the most part, wasn’t on my radar.

Sometime around age 25 or 26, however, I started getting plenty bigger, and this is where the “weight struggle” starts.  I’ll spare you the long version.  Let’s just say that from 25 until about 32, I would sometimes gain more weight than seemed practical, and then I would feel pretty bad about myself, and I would take great pains to lose that weight. Part of the problem there, however, was that I was still a heavy cigarette smoker, and smoking seemed to affect my respiratory and circulatory systems even more than most smokers.  For me, exercise was basically not even an option.  Losing weight meant starving myself, living off of Slim Fasts and developing coping mechanisms for the sensation of extreme hunger.  My only path to weight loss in those days was through simple calorie deprivation.  It would work to get my weight down to somewhat acceptable levels, but you don’t have to be Dr. Sanjay-fucking-Gupta to know how those kinds of diets work out.  Time and again, I’d be right back where I’d been just a short while before.  Plus, by this point in my life, I liked to eat REALLY bad food.  And lots of it.  So, when I wasn’t dieting, I was really going for it.

Then, around age 32 or 33, the company I worked for moved me to Erie, PA, about a five hour drive from everyone I knew.  I loved it!  But for reasons not fully within my grasp–I like to think I’m a fairly good self-evaluator but who can really make sense of all the nebulous bullshit stirring in our own depths?–I almost immediately started really going for it with food.  Now, there are surface reasons for this which I can testify to: I had recently quit smoking (some really smart people aren’t sure what this has to do with how much we eat, but most agree it affects it somehow), I was all alone and had more time to kill, I wasn’t afraid of what anyone thought of me because I didn’t know anyone there.  As I got more and more visibly fat, I was less and less concerned.  I wasn’t in the market for a woman, so I wasn’t trying to attract anyone, and like I said, I wasn’t going to run into anyone I knew.  I loved eating.  I loved eating whatever I wanted.  And at first, getting fat was kind of fun.  It was neat to see what it was like to get bigger in this area, that area, etc.  It was like I was growing more me, which seemed, at first, like a pretty cool thing to do.

After about a year this trend changed dramatically in my mind.  Suddenly I was physically unable to do some things properly, from tying my shoes to wiping myself.  Even though I was always alone it was humiliating.  Anytime a picture was taken of me, I would struggle with ways to make my wobbling underchin less disgusting, until eventually I had to admit that no matter what I did, I looked fat.  I was a fat dude who was terribly unhealthy.

So, another long story short: I lost the weight.  I had been cigarette-free for about two years, so I started going to a gym.  I devised a diet that worked for me; it was very, very low-calorie, but I wasn’t starving myself.  And quite miraculously, I lost just shy of 50 pounds in just a few months.  It was one of the most amazing things that ever happened to me.  I felt truly glorious.  I was ready to not just revel in my weight-loss, but totally do the “lifestyle change”: eat right, be active, live like a generally healthy person.  And I meant it.  I did.

Just a few months after my weight loss, I made a bunch of massive life changes all at once.  I quit my job at the company I’d worked for for 15 years (basically, my entire adult life); I moved from being all alone in a remote corner of Pennsylvania to living with my mother and four doors down from my sister, nephews, and bro-in-law, in rural South Jersey.  I also was working (for a new company, of course) in Philadelphia (meaning I had to learn how to navigate where I lived–the vast expanse of South Jersey–as well as where I worked, the fifth largest city in the United States, at the same time).  The changes don’t stop there; suffice it to say there were many.  And this is not to say this was not a fantastic move, and a golden era in my life: it surely was.  But my psyche buckled under the amount of change.  Again, I don’t understand my inner workings enough to know what really happened, but I know this: within two weeks, I was (this is a real thing I am about to tell you, I’m not making this up) waiting until my mother went to sleep, quietly sneaking out of the house, driving to the very close-by Taco Bell, purchasing the ten taco meal (ten!), bringing it home, eating all ten tacos, then either taking the trash directly to the outdoor trash can, or some days, hiding it in my work bag and throwing it out in the city the next day.  I was hiding Taco Bell from my mom.  And why?  I have no fucking idea.  I thought she’d be disappointed?  I thought she’d tell me to stop?  That’s not how she is.  It had nothing to do with her, of course (readers of my blog should already know I have a history of addiction, which is certainly tied up in all this, but this is a blog, not a book, so we’re skipping that conversation. But I will say this: it felt an awful lot like a relapse).

Another long story very short: I gained the weight back.  Not all of it, but most (I ended up gaining back 40 of the 50 pounds I lost).  This was, to me, one of the most depressing things I have ever experienced.  I had been so thrilled with my Erie weight loss; not just how I felt and looked but that I had accomplished it, I had set out a very ambitious goal and not just achieved it, but achieved it quickly, efficiently, in view of the whole world.  And now here I was, in what seemed like a matter of days, just a fat bastard again.  Again I had trouble performing some rudimentary household and hygienic tasks.  Again I struggled with what angle to hold my head at in photographs.  Again and again and again.  After all those countless hours in an Erie gym, after dozens and dozens of cans of low-calorie vegetables and oatmeal and writing down calorie counts on little notepads.  Somehow, someway, here I was again just a short time later, wheezing at the top of the stairs like an invalid.  I was so sad.

Here’s yet one more long story short:  I lost the weight again.  A year and a half after moving from Erie (and about 6 months after moving out of Mom’s to my own place in the city) I decided that if I’d done it once, I could do it again.  And so I did.  Almost the exact same way I did it the first time.  And once again, I feel really, really glorious.

Which brings me, finally, to the point of this entry: I am afraid of food.  Following my “New Jersey Food Relapse”, I am now painfully aware of how easy it is for me to slip into old habits, and how quickly I can gain my weight back, and how I can be overtaken by the physical as well as psychological lure of food almost as if it were gin (which is to say, in an almost hypnotic way, where I act without full self-awareness).  I have been very close to my goal weight for months now; I am no longer actively losing weight but instead simply improving my fitness and adding muscle mass.  I still think about my calorie count every day: I try to get about 1800 a day, with an emphasis on a very high amount of protein for muscle formation.  But I still weigh myself nearly obsessively: at least twice a day but sometime much, much more than that.  I usually hover around 145 (I wake up around 142); on days when I’ve eaten more than normal, or have a lot of liquid in my belly, or have gone a few days without “passing” my food (that means poop!) sometimes in the evenings I’ll still cross 150…and that makes me freak out.  My inner psyche will simply not allow a Food Relapse to happen again.  And it prevents me from really, truly enjoying food.

Food is an interesting thing to struggle with because it’s not a drug.  In fact, it is something you literally can’t quit.  You have to relapse every day.  Everyone around you is doing it all the time.  Sure, you can eat better, sure, you can create a delicious and nutritious meal, but the fact is, when food or weight become a problem, for you, you can’t simply find a way to quit and get “sober”; quitting gin and cigarettes was easy compared to quitting food…

So.  I don’t have an eating disorder, although I might almost have one.  I eat mostly good food, every day, and just about the right amount of it.  I don’t throw it back up, either.  No, my eating disorder is in my mind, where every bite I take terrifies me, as I think to myself What if it happens again?



Sack Races Can Blank My Blank

Posted in Philly Journal, Rant/ Rave, Snippet, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on October 10, 2014 by sethdellinger

1.  It should be noted that, a mere two days ago, I did in fact participate in two sack races at a picnic.  That’s right, on some occasions, folks are still doing sack races.  But the important part:  I totally owned my competition both times.  I won by landslides.  I say this to gloat.  Because it is a rare moment indeed in my life when I find myself vanquishing opponents in any physical competition whatsoever–including leisure sports like pool and bowling.  So yeah.  Apparently I rule at sack racing.  However, it should also be duly noted that even now, 48 hours later, my lower abs hurt like crazy!  And I have been working my abs in workouts for a few weeks, so it’s not just from using unused muscles…there is something about sack races that MURDERS the abs, but especially, like…the very bottom ones.  I’m a scientist.

2.  You know who reads a lot?  Homeless people.  I’m not making some tasteless joke here, I’m serious.  At least in Philadelphia, whenever I see homeless people, I would say 50% of the time, they are reading something, and not always a newspaper, but often books.  I hear what some of you are about to say: They sure have plenty of free time to read!  Well sure, and I’m not sure what my point is with this, but it seemed like an observation worth making.  I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

3.  So there are these two bands I like (don’t stop reading yet, this isn’t actually about the bands).  The bands are The War on Drugs and Sun Kil Moon.  Both bands are fairly recent discoveries for me.  Over the past month, a very odd “feud” has developed between these bands (who, while both “indie” bands, are not bands that would typically be grouped together or thought of at the same time).  The were both playing the same festival, on different stages, at the same time, and apparently War on Drugs’ sound was drowning out the sound of Sun Kil Moon.  Now, Sun Kil Moon is basically one guy, Mark Kozelek, a very outspoken eccentric who often makes waves in the indie community.  Kozelek writes great songs, then gets other folks to play them with him and calls that band Sun Kil Moon.  The War on Drugs is just a band.  Anyway, so War on Drugs is too loud for Mark Kolezek and he gets pissed at them, for some reason, and he says something like this onstage: “This next song is called ‘The War on Drugs Can Suck My Fucking Cock”.  Now, to make a really long story somewhat short: the indie music press loves feuds (who doesn’t?) and reported on this idiotic stage banter promptly, and Kozelek being the guy he is, he just kept making the problem worse and being extremely mean to War on Drugs for months now; for their part, War on Drugs has stayed mostly silent, seeing as they did truly nothing.  Sun Kil Moon went as far as to release, last week a song called “War on Drugs: Suck My Cock”.      You can read very interesting reporting from the feud as it went down here, or here, or here.

ANYWAY, here is what I want to talk about:  the very first time I read that story, I winced at Kozelek’s choice of words.  Suck my cock, while a slam I may have directed at many a male friend of mine over the years, is not a way I would choose to talk to today.  I don’t want to say I am evolved or enlightened, but I think it would be fair to say I am certainly MORE evolved or enlightened about this topic than I used to be.  The topic, as far as I can generally state it, is men using subtle violence and aggression in every day life to perpetuate the patriarchal society we’ve all come to inhabit; even as women gain a more visible foothold toward equality, men still casually sit with their legs wide open on trains, depriving women of proper legroom (your cock isn’t that big, guys), we use terms associated with the female anatomy to mean negative things (what does it mean when you so viciously call another person a pussy as if it is the last thing on earth you’d like to be?).  Men gawk at women as they walk past on the street as though nobody can tell–or that nobody should care.  And men like Mark Kozelek–ostensibly a very artistic, extremely intelligent man who skirts the edges of our culture in a way that one would assume means he’d be more enlightened–uses the language of male aggression to another man; the suggestion of this language goes deep (NO PUN FREAKIN’ INTENDED) and does more than hint at a latent hatred for homosexuality, not to even begin exploring what a mean-spirited “suck my cock” says about the speaker’s opinion about the women who, one would assume, have done so to him willingly.

Look, I know this line of thought seems “out there” to some people, maybe a little too new-agey. Being a male in today’s culture isn’t easy.  We still want to treat women nice and be chivalrous, but it’s tough to do that and play the equality game.  I get that.  We’re not always going to be perfect at it; ours is a culture in the middle of change, and it’s tough to keep up with that as individuals.  But really, at core, it’s easy.  Treat everyone correctly, and realize that language is also action.  The things couched in what you say are real and have meaning, not just academically, but to your listeners.  Realize that your actions in public, even if they seem benign–looking, where you sit or stand, things you say within earshot–can still reek of male supremacy.  Go ahead and hold the door open for your sweetheart (unless she’s told you to bugger off with that shit), but make sure you’re both standing beside each other at the Starbucks register.  Don’t be a fucking asshole.  What are your thoughts?


4.  As much as Mark Kozelek has pissed me off with his War on Drugs feud, his song (as Sun Kil Moon) “Richard Ramirez Died Today of Natural Causes” off this year’s new album Benji, is one of the best songs I’ve heard, not just this year, but in years:


5.  I like a lot of stuff.  I think I have made that fairly clear over the years.  And most people know that I love backscratchers.  But nobody has ever bought me a really good backscratcher.  #justsayin

Manic Panic

Posted in Rant/ Rave, Snippet with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 17, 2012 by sethdellinger

I am currently in the midst of a months-long creative and intellectual mania.  I often say I don’t have enough time in a day, but it has certainly never been more true than it is now.

I attribute this primarily to getting healthy and exercising; it definitely kickstarted an increase in energy, and a change in mood to the extreme end of “good”, and energy plus super good mood=extreme mania, and it’s lasting a long time.  Which is good—damn good—but my lack of ability to do every single thing I want to is getting a little annoying.  Let me describe a little better what the mania entails:

First and foremost, I want to do stuff constantly.  Like, outside of the house stuff.  It being winter, there are a limited amount of things to do, but I have lists of things I want to do when I have time, like “take pictures on Raspberry Street” or “tour the Watson-Curtze Mansion“, etc etc.  When I do have time for activities such as this, it’s damn difficult deciding what to do.

Secondly, I have an enormous list of creative and artistic projects that I want to start, work on, or complete, and the list of projects itself has become a project.  When I’m at work or out and about, I find myself typing ideas into my cell phone’s “notepad” for me to add to the project list when I get home.  Hell, my list of potential blog entries alone is staggering.  This aspect of the mania is the most frustrating, as I am getting more and more interesting and ambitious ideas and I simply don’t even have the time to start on most of them.

The mania is also driving up my appetite for media/ information consumption, even as the mania means I have less time to partake of that particular fountain.  For many years now, most of you know, rather than watch much television, I’ve (through Netflix) watched, on average, one new movie a day.  Even as my appetite for film continues to grow, my attention to other projects and interests is decreasing my time for them.  And the mania has only increased my desire to read; I currently could probably read all day for four straight days and not get sick of it.  Information, information, information, my mind screams at me.  I currently have very little desire to read fiction (although, Mom, I really DO want to read that Stephen King book you sent me, and probably will start it in about 2 weeks).  I read the Erie newspaper every day, and often stop somewhere for a USA Today, New York Times, or Wall Street Journal, depending on what’s happening in the world or if I heard about an article or feature in one of them from one of the websites I simply can’t stop reading thoroughly every day (SlateHuffington Post.  Oh, and Hacking Netflix and Deadline).  And my magazine consumption, which I had finally whittled down in recent years, has skyrocketed during the mania.  I can’t seem to read enough science writing.  I currently read all of the “big three” science mags (Popular ScienceDiscover, and Scientific American;  I’ve been a big Discover supporter for years but right now it’s just not enough), and it seems my hankering for history now bleeds over into magazines.  America’s Civil War has been a mainstay on my bedside table recently, as have some oddballs such as Archaeology and The Saturday Evening Post.  And these are all in addition to the standard entertainment, arts, news, and cultural magazines you’d expect me to be reading.  Oh, and yes, I read books, too!

I have also taken quite a shine lately to just listening to music.  I have found that, in most of my adult life, I have rarely simply sat down, doing nothing else, and listened to music intently.  And now I have started doing it and it is changing my life.  But where is the time???

Oh, and I have REALLY started to enjoy just puttering around my apartment, re-arranging things, finding new homes for this or that, hanging the artwork in new arrays, paging through my old books, putting old photos in little frames, etc etc.

In short, I literally do not have enough time in a day right now.  I already start out with a deficit, working 50-60 hours a week.  Then, remember, I’m spending between 8 and 12 hours a week in the gym, so there is potentially almost 80 hours unavailable a week.  And then there’s sleep, at some point, and getting on the internet.  I have essentially zero downtime.  Please do not misunderstand me: I am loving this.  I am in a constant good mood, and never even remotely close to being bored or sad.  But damn.  Who knew there could be so much to do (without, really, doing anything)?  Also, this is a way of explaining to some of you how and why I might occasionally sound out of my mind, especially after a day that may have been devoted to intense, marathon bouts of reading, followed by writing or otherwise creating something incredibly personal and emotive, followed by going to a hockey game or something, and then back home to shower in the dark while The National plays on my stereo.  It’s a whole lot of fun, but sometimes can make me a little crazy.

I anticipate things leveling off as my body continues to adjust to being some degree of healthy.  But I just had to put it out there how wild and fun and jam-packed my life is at this point, even if it might not sound particularly fun to a lot of you, it is for me.  And almost everything I’m doing or want to do is free or relatively cheap (not to mention my food budget being more than halved in recent months) so I’m actually saving a lot of money recently (concert-going has all but stopped, and there’s much less time to go to the movies now).  How one starts saving money by doing more stuff is some sort of mystery!

Hey, have an awesome day!

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