So I really only have just a couple of vices that I engage in regularly, and I should probably start thinking about giving them up. I always said that as long as I worked in restaurants, I would probably continue smoking, as those 3 minute smoke breaks (of my allotted 10) were the only time I had to myself since becoming a manager. They were a chance for me to step away from the insanity and chaos and collect my thoughts, regroup within myself and come up with a game plan. That is, of course, until it became customary to be hit up for a cigarette five times in those 3 minutes. Actually, for a little while, I considered giving them up, not because of the associated health risks, but because I was getting sick and tired of random people coming up (no exaggeration, like 30 people a day) and asking to bum a smoke. I know they are a luxury when you don’t have anything to call your own, but I can’t give out a pack and a half a day, especially when I am smoking a little over half a pack myself.

The other evil I should probably excise from my life is the constant flow of energy drinks that I’ve pouring into myself for the past five years or so. I love the rush of caffeination and the way it casually combats a lifelong dedication to apathy, but just like other uppers I have partaken of in the past, I know that I could achieve similar results if I were to just figure out how to get a good night’s sleep. Not that I’m expecting that any time soon. Perhaps when my son is out of school, and living somewhere else, and my wife and I are able to transmute our worries about the daily rat race to something involving a small garden. I’m sure that as long as I am obligated to live by someone else’s schedule, I’ll probably remain intimate with my dear old friend, exhaustion. When I was a teenager, I rebelled against Authority, whereas now I seem to want to incite rebellion against reality. Go figure.

And while I am confessing all of my dietary sins, I should also include all the preprocessed garbage I regularly shove into my bearded foodhole. I am a slave to snack food, candy, and Mountain Dew. My waistline and swelling breasts are evidence that something must be done to curb this slowest and deadliest form of self-destruction, but I’ll be damned if sugar, salt, and fat aren’t just the tastiest ingredients of any unbalanced meal. Unlike the previous two evils on this guided tour of my own failings, I have already taken steps to begin cutting this nonsense out of my life. For years, I’ve said to wife that we should plan out a weekly menu so we can buy groceries with purpose, and minimize on prep time, and the amount of things in the freezer which have microwave instructions. Next week, yours truly has been tasked with the grocery shopping and cooking duties, and I will be ensuring that we’re eating fresher and healthier than we’ve done previously. Vegetables, less salt, olive oil, smaller portions of meat, butter only when absolutely necessary (unfortunately, I will most likely find countless justifications for its usage, but still…). And we’re going to try an have an actual family dinner time!

For the past few years, my wife and son-in-law have worked nights and evenings, while I was stuck with morning shifts, so the feasibility of getting everyone around the table to eat something we could all agree on was so nonexistent as to be laughable, outside of the Big Two holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas). But since I left my job, my son-in-law has been able to take over my shifts at work, and my wife successfully changed her availability to mornings as well. That means that, for the first time since we have all lived together, we have a time when we can all be in the same place at the same time when at least most of us are hungry. I don’t know if it will bring us closer together as a family, or help with my son’s behavior (as has been suggested), but I do know that it will definitely cut down on dirty dishes, as only one meal will be prepared, and at a certain time, as opposed to the two or three separate meals that are our current standard.

Having said all of this, I don’t know how dedicated I am to self-improvement. I’ve spent the better part of three decades just biding my time until I wouldn’t have to worry about it any more, and being disappointed by every passing milestone that I’m still around to see it, thinking, briefly, that maybe I should take a moment to prepare for the future. And of the few things I’ve said that I should do this year, I’ve taken steps to make at least a couple happen. My process is glacial, and I’m inordinately more stubborn than even I might have previously imagined, and yet I’ve still managed to make at least a little progress over the past several months.

The most important thing was getting back into the rhythm of writing every day, so that it wouldn’t be like pulling teeth when I wanted to get started down the path of my dreams, and I can say that it’s finally coming easier. When I started this blog, it was a pain to sit and think of what I wanted to say, and then to pad that out a hundredfold to make it to my quota, and I found as many excuses as I could to avoid the one thing that I ever truly wanted to spend my whole life doing. Sick? Day off. Holiday? Day off. Returning home by train? Okay, that one was totally justifiable. And I’ve been writing every day since, and usually done early enough that I still have time to work on other things once I’m warmed up. So have I done enough? I don’t know, but at least I got the ball rolling, and that’s something.


Stay tuned this evening for the first edition of Batmart After Dark, an occasional showcase for the people and things which are currently rocking my entire world.

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