Category: Life

Captain America and the American Ideal:Thoughts on a post election America.

 

So, as anyone who’s alive knows, the American Presidential race is now over and done with, and America has chosen Donald Trump to be it’s next President.  A lot of us are happy about this fact, and even more of us are shocked, hurt, betrayed and scared by this country that we either love, or at the very least live in.  (Yes, it’s entirely possible to live in this country, and still hate it).

Being a patriot isn’t about blindly loving the country, love should never be blind, especially to one’s country.  Just like any relationship, if  the other does something messed up, you are totally within your right, and you should, call them out on it, to try to better themselves and the relationship itself.   Now, what does this have to do with being a geek, one might wonder?   This is supposed to be a geek site, not a political commentary.

Well, you see, it got me thinking, ever since I was a kid, you ask me who my favorite superhero is, I’d say it’s Spider-Man.  Because I can relate to being the awkward kid who can also be a wisecracking smart ass when the time is right.  But, lately, as I’m getting older, I have to say it’s Captain America, Steve Rogers.

Why?  Because I share that idealism that he has, even in the face of the stark reality that the country has failed us, that he refuses to give up.  Which is much easier done when you’re a fictional character written as such that you’ll get out of most any scrap that you’re in.  But reality is messier, and, as we’ve seen last night, sometimes the bad guys win.  But, much like Steve Rogers, we can get back up and keep fighting for what we believe in, if we choose to.

Now, I’m a white guy, so this hopefulness is viewed through the prism of white privilege, not in the sense that I get anything handed to me in life because of my skin, but I also don’t have to fear for my life because of it either, which is just appalling to me, but this is the world we live in unfortunately.    But even still, there’s just something in my very soul that refuses to see the world as a dark, evil, place, or worse, some type of cosmic joke, a mistake that needs correcting.  I believe that good does win in the end, even if that end takes years, and things aren’t wrapped up in a nice neat bow in 20 pages of a comic book or two hours of a movie.

But we can’t allow fear and hate to win, to beat us.  We can take that Captain America example, and fight for the American ideal.  Not alleigence to a political party, either party, but to that ideal that the country was intended to be about, that we’re all created equally, and that we all have the same rights as humans, that this is the land of opportunity.  It’s not always, but if we fight for it, we can make it that.    To paraphrase our soon to be President’s campaign motto, we can make this country great again, but not in the way that he set it out to be, but in the way that it should be.     Putting aside our hate and joining as one country.  Not forgetting the atrocities of the past but learning from those mistakes and moving forward to make this country actually be what the hype is about this place.  To make the American reality something that it actually could be and should be.

I don’t know the age range of the group reading this, but it doesn’t matter because whoever is reading this, we are the future, and the future is starting right now.  Whether or not it’s a bright one is up to us.  Either with our leaders, or in spite of them, we can turn things around.    That much I believe in.   No matter our age, race, sexual orientation, gender identity, it doesn’t matter.  That is all superficial, what we are is Americans, and we will not go quietly into that good night.     Not without a fight, and what we need to do is stop fighting each other, and fighting together to make this place what that paper that Thomas Jefferson, a messed up man with a few ideas of greatness, had written to be for this country those couple hundred years ago.

I leave you with one of my favorite Cap speeches, from the Civil War story-line.  Let’s hope that Civil War II can stay a comic book story and not a reality.

steverogers

The Scale

 

I realized earlier today that when I started this site about 6 months ago or so, I’d started out with a purpose, and that was in part, to be a fitness guide, part of what my Instagram account is dedicated to is my fitness progress, and I’d been neglecting to give out fitness advice and/or motivation here.   So, I realized that I should write about something, that could hopefully help somebody out there.  I’m no licensed fitness expert, but there is one thing that I am qualified to tell you as a human being.    But first you need to do some things, step one.  Go get your scale out, right now.  I’ll wait.    Okay, you have it out, now, stand on it, take off your shoes of course, get down to about as close as you can in your situation right now to remove any excess weight from your person.   Now, you’ve done that?  Okay, now go stand on it, and look at those numbers that are on that screen right now.     Okay, you’ve done that, and now, that you know what you weigh, you can do one of two things with it, you can use it as a motivation to press on and get closer to your goal.  Or, you can just disregard the number it tells you, and go about your life.

Not what you thought you were going to hear, was it?  Well, the reason for that is, I’ve come to the realization as of late, that the numbers on the scale don’t really matter, as long as you’re happy with where you are.  If you aren’t, then there’s things you can do to get there, but if you are, then just keep exercising for your own benefit, for fun and stress relief, not for anyone else’s.

When I started this site, and then even before that, when I started my workout routine, it was all borne from heartache, and pain.  I’ve mentioned this before, if you’re a long time reader.  All I had was my mission, which was to lose as much weight possible.  Not that I was truly like fat, fat.  Kind of puffy maybe.

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Me circa December, 2015.

I’ve already told that part of the story before, so I won’t here, but in any case, I had my mission and I was dedicated to the cause, eating a chicken breast every night, limiting what I eat, and working out 5-6 times a week.  My best weight was when I’d cut down to 200 pounds even a month into this routine.

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Will the real Slim Shady please stand up?

Right around that time as well, I met someone new, fell in love, and while I wasn’t neglecting the workouts, I still hit the gym the same amount of times as I was, I was living life more, and eating all types of good things that aren’t necessarily healthy.   And the scale reflected these changes.  It bothered me at first but then it hit me, I was happy, I had a beautiful woman who loves me for who I am, and thinks I’m hot, so what does it matter what the scale says.  Even still, I’ve been working out this whole time, so while the scale is telling me that I’m only a pound off of where I started at at 214, this time it’s a totally different reasoning for that weight, more muscle than fat, maybe a little fat, but my 34’s still fit the same, so I’m not too far off.    Plus, I feel great, so , pardon the language here but Fuck what a scale tells you.  It can’t measure your happiness, or  how someone else sees you.

 

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Me, last weekend.

The point is, don’t let the numbers on the scale be your determining factor in your self esteem.  The scale only tells you one part of the story, it’s up to you to fill in the rest of it.  And for you to decide where you go next.

Learning How To Fall, or the Reinvention of Me.

“Why do we fall?  So that we can learn how to pick ourselves back up.” -Batman Begins

Shortly after I’d just turned 20, I was told that I was getting kicked out of my college, the Art Institute of Philadelphia, for failing three out of my five classes, for the second and final time.  I was devastated, going to school for video production was my dream, and instead I threw that dream away with partying and the college lifestyle.  For a little bit then suicide had crossed my mind, my life was over, what was I going to do with my life?   Thankfully those thoughts didn’t last long, I forget how they left, I don’t recall talking about my situation with anyone, or any profound moment that snapped me back into thoughts of loving life, but those thoughts did happen.

I went back home to my parents house in Virginia Beach, and restarted my life again, got a job at Wal-Mart, til I got tired of how I was treated there, for the amount of money I was getting paid it wasn’t worth it, and at the time, I felt like I was above all of that stuff, I had this entitled mindset (the same mindset which I ironically mock millenials and hipsters for having today) that I was better than this, that I didn’t need this shit.

I did my own thing for the next few years, bouncing around to various jobs, including my dream job at the time of working at Blockbuster Video, until life brought me to joining the military in an effort to really doing something with my life again.  I busted my ass to get in shape for that, going from a 204 pounds of pure fat to about 179 of lean muscle, I looked great, (I say, ever so humbly).

I did my time in the Navy, gaining that weight back because I lost that fire I had in me, and because, well, in Lemoore California, where I was stationed, there wasn’t much to do but drink, so I drank, and drank, and drank.

There was one time that I thought it’d be a great idea to go to a 4th of July party in the barracks, I bought a case of beer for the event, and it was a fun time, there was beer pong, and it was a blast, until it got busted by the XO of the squadron, and we were all sent to Captain’s Mast.   I got off light, they sentenced me to AA, which helped me out a lot, and for the longest time after that I was convinced that I was an alcoholic, but later realized that, unlike so many others, I wasn’t, not really, but I was just bored.

I eventually came to the USS Enterprise, where I butted heads with the CFL quite a bit, whom to be fair, was kind of a dick to begin with, but when it came time for me to leave the ship to go on to my next Navy life as a Corpsman, Baker got the final word, by putting it in the paperwork that I had failed the last physical fitness assessment, and therefore should have been not eligible to go to Corps School in the first place, but this wasn’t realized until after I graduated the school  some months later.

So I was stuck in this limbo of Hold Company, while I watched my friends go off to do great things in their Navy careers.  I was there for a year, not doing anything with my job at all, but rather standing watches, sweeping decks, etc.  I was there so long I eventually was leading Hold Company, as the liason between the Petty Officers in charge of us, and the rest of the division.

Eventually, my time had come to move on, but I didn’t remember a bit of how to Corpsman,not really.  All the while my marriage was falling apart, (Oh yeah, I was married at the time too for the majority of my Navy career) and my life was in shambles, so things got worse from there, as they pulled my corpsman job title from me, saying I was going to be an undesignated seaman on the Vella Gulf out of Virginia.

 

So, I came back home, to Virginia again, as my divorce stuff was getting together.  Met a great woman, who helped me, or tried to help me at the least to get my life together, and we lasted for a while, until after getting out of the Navy I was more focused on relaxing, and myself, then finding another career, I felt that I had done my time for this country, so now they owed me.   We went to church every Sunday too, but the message wasn’t clicking in with me just yet.

I was screwed over, that’s why I was where I was, it was their fault, not mine.  I refused to take ownership of any of my actions or reasons for why my life was where it was.  I told my sob story to anyone who would listen, but still did nothing to change my situation.

Eventually she got tired of my bs, and broke up with me at a hockey game, like a Kevin Smith movie.  Went back home to my parents for a few weeks, until I found an old friend from the corps school days that needed a roommate, so we got a place.

I lived there for a few years, tried my hand at a few jobs, eventually settling on insurance agent, as my cast of roommates had changed a bit as well during that time.    The insurance industry was great for me, but it also changed me into something I wasn’t liking, I became materialistic, using my friends, family, and anyone else I knew to try to make a sale, make money off of their fears for the future, caring more about the nice suits I had, and the expensive haircuts and mani/pedicures I was getting, all to look the part of the consumate professional salesman.    I lost some friends during that time, but what really made me leave the place, though all of that was a huge factor, was I wasn’t getting paid.

 

Insurance, as you may or may not know, is commission based, only.  Some months you do quite well, very well for yourself.  Others, it’s Ramen and Pork and Beans three meals a day.  And I was in a downward slump, my anxiety was kicking in in full strength, and I didn’t really like talking to strangers, but that was my only option, as none of my friends would even meet with me.  And I realized that I needed to leave this place, and use my GI Bill Benefit to go back to school, start over again.  End this now, by my own choice, so I did.   I took actions, I got registered for school, and told my boss I was leaving the company.   It’s not often that I took initiative like that, so it felt really good to do that.

 

So, it was time for a further reinvention of me,  Mike Keskeys, college student. This time I’m serious.  And this is where I’ve been since, kicking ass for the most part, I let myself get lazy here and there, but a fire is lit under me  now, especially now, with the love of a good woman in my heart.

I often cursed and looked back on my past failings as being screwed over, it was their fault, not mine, they did this to me.  But I’ve recently learned to let go of those things, even in my most recent situation, getting evicted from my apartment on account of taking on a bad roommate, who was stuck in that mentality that I had once, “They” screwed him over, it was everyone else’s fault, not his for his failings, and the world owed him.   But that wasn’t the case, and I realize now that I needed to see that, for this to happen, so I can reinvent myself once more, in a rebuilding spot right now again, but I’m only going to get better from this, like the wrestler Seth Rollins latest tagline is, Rebuild, Redesign, Reclaim.   And that’s exactly what I’m doing with my life.

I realized recently that I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I would always stop myself from pursuing this, because I was afraid of what other people would think, that maybe my stuff isn’t that good.  But I’ve started to learn, thanks to the help of my girlfriend, and of our talks and devotions and getting back in line with the church, that I can’t be afraid to fall, I need to just take the leap, and write, can’t deny my calling forever.

And I know that there are those of you out there that aren’t religious, and that’s okay too, but I’m just writing to let you know my story, what’s helped me, and maybe there are those that can relate to that other side too.

I’ve learned that I have to let go of the past, because if any of those things hadn’t happened, when they did, then I wouldn’t be here right now, where I am, and actually a lot of people’s lives would be different now, so things do happen for a reason, no matter how chaotic life my get, you just need to find out what that reason is for you.  You have to work for whatever you want to achieve in life, it’s not going to be handed to you.  Even if you did get screwed over, you have to let things go, forgive your grudges, and move forward with your life.  I’ve seen what happens when you don’t, it’s not good.

 

This is the longest post I’ve ever done here, I hope it can inspire someone today, maybe someone else needed to read my story, or maybe it’s just my ego compelling me to talk about me, either way, I hope this does some good for someone.

 

How To Be The Best You That Ever Is, The Best You That Ever Was, The Best You That You Will Ever Be: Using Pro Wrestling As Inspiration For Self Improvement

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So, Wrestlemania just came and went yesterday at the time of this writing (4/4/2016), and it as always was a great show.  ( Could have been better in parts, but a lot of memorable moments happened, as they do every year.)   But that’s what Wrestlemania is, it’s the showcase of the best talent that WWE has to offer each year, and they work their hardest all year long to get to that moment, the Super Bowl of professional wrestling essentially.    I’ve been a fan of the ‘sport’ all my life, since the days of Hulk Hogan telling us to say our prayers and eat our vitamins, up through to today’s “PG Era”.    And it’s been some great, and not so great entertainment all these years.

You’re probably saying to yourself, what does this have to do with improving yourself?  I don’t even like wrestling.  Or the ones that do, are probably asking, why do you have a picture of Daniel Bryan at the top of the article?, He wasn’t even there yesterday, he retired!  Well, that’s because his story, like mine, like a lot of you, is that of the underdog, the person that nobody really believed can make it in the thing that you’re trying to do, but somehow overcame the odds, and did it.  Yes, his story was scripted, but there’s lessons to be learned in all stories, wrestling included, and what inspired me yesterday, and really recently, in general, was to put this article together for you, to maybe inspire you, and give you some tips and tricks for your everyday life that can be gleaned from the stories of professional wrestling, and give yourself an extra boost of non liquid confidence and courage when you need it.     So, without further adieu, I give to you, a few tips on how you can use professional wrestling to become the best you that ever is, the best you that ever was, and the best you that you will ever be.

 

1. Make a ‘gimmick’ for yourself.

One of the many conventions in the world of pro wrestling is that everyone has a gimmick, this goes back to the old days of wrestling, where all the wrestlers played different characters.  You most likely remember, (if you’re around my age or slightly younger, the very gimmicky early 90s era of WWE, where everyone had occupation based gimmicks for the most part, your garbage men, race car drivers, and dentists to name a few.

In more recent years, from the Attitude Era on, the more successful wrestling gimmicks were that of the Superstar’s actual real life personality, just cranked up to 11.  You can create this kind of gimmick for yourself, and use it in your everyday life when you need that extra bit of confidence.

You can create this by getting a notebook, I’d reccomend starting a journal for yourself, doesn’t have to be a daily diary type thing, but a book where you can write down your ideas, thoughts, plans, and goals as you begin your journey to be a better you.   In this notebook, on one page, write down three of your best qualities you think you have, for example, mine would look like:

  1. My heart (I care about a lot of things, and a lot of people, wearing my heart on my sleeve has always been my main operating system, no matter how many times I get burned by it, me becoming permanently cynical is just something that will not happen)
  2. My determination. (When I get into something, a tv series, a video game, writing, and now working out/running, I will accomplish what I set out to do, in some cases that’s more productive then others, but I refuse to let anything come between me and my goals, especially when my main obstacle is myself)
  3. My resiliency. (I’ve been defeated more times, in as many different areas of life, including love, more times than I’d care to recall, but each time, I get back up and I throw myself back out there, I bounce back like a three year old that just fell down and scraped his knee.  I’ll cry for a minute, feel sorry for myself, but I get back out there, and return to whatever it was I was doing before.

 

So, I’ll take those three elements of myself, and create an alter ego, which is still me, but with these elements in the forefront of myself.   I’d be Mike ‘Rebound’ Keskeys.   You can only keep me down for so long, before I bounce right back, and I’ll keep at it until I win.

2. Find your ‘Entrance Music’ – Since the Fabulous Freebirds in the early 80s, every pro wrestler worth his/her salt has had entrance music, some catchy or awesome tune that plays when they’re on their way to the ring.

Your own entrance music is a song you’ll play, either on your phone or in your “mindPod”, as I called it getting songs in my head in boot camp to pass the time, that gets you pumped, and ready to take on whatever it is you’re about to take on.   Mine is “Heroes” by Shinedown.

 

Great song, right?  It gets me going whenever I’m about to do something ‘big’, trying to break my run distance, or just before a job interview, or big test.  It’s my song that gets me in the mindset that I’m going to go out there and kick some ass.

 

And the next and last step I have for you today is  cut a promo on yourself.

Wrestlers since the dawn of time, part of the job is being awesome in the ring, the other part is being great on the mic, being able to talk yourself up has made even mediocre wrestlers like Heath Slater more entertaining to the fans.    Some of the best ‘talkers’ in the history of the business have been CM Punk, The Rock, Chris Jericho, Macho Man Randy Savage, Dusty Rhodes, Ric Flair..for the sheer insanity of the promos, The Ultimate Warrior.  You get the picture.

 

 

 

And to use this technique yourself, when you’re home by yourself, in your room, or in a private bathroom, talk about yourself in the mirror, tell ‘the world’ why you’re going to do this thing that you’re trying to do, tell them who you are, why you’re there, and that you’re the best there is at what you do.   Yes, it’s similar to the Stuart Smalley character form SNL from back in the day, that “You’re good enough, strong enough, and gosh darn it, people like you” but in a more awesome fashion then that.  You kick ass, dammit.  Never forget that.    And then, when you’re done with that, put on your entrance music, and get out there, and do what you’re trying to do.  Get that job, run that mile, ask that girl/guy out, just be yourself, but a better version.  Now get out there, and be awesome.

Reel Geek Origins

 

Good morning once again fair readers.  I figure it’s only appropriate in writing this new blog that I fill you in as to why I’m even writing a geek fitness/lifestyle blog anyway, where are my credentials.   Well on the fitness side, I don’t really have any.  I’m just an ordinary geek like you, who just decided to turn my life around one day and so far it’s been getting better, as have I, every day.  I don’t have a fancy gym membership, or even a not fancy gym membership, just a small kind of crappy gym in my apartment complex and a decent pair of running shoes, and a lot of willpower and dedication.   But I’ll tell you that story in a minute.

As far as the geek cred goes, let’s just say my fate was sealed when my first memory was seeing Return of the Jedi, opening day, back in May of 1983, when I was 3 years old.  I grew up in the prime decade for great geek things, the 80s,  Transformers, GI Joe, Voltron, Robotech, The Goonies, Ghostbusters…all that stuff.  That also dates me a bit, but I don’t care, it was a fantastic time to be a kid.

 

mike keskeys before

 

This was me before, a few years ago, but I this is about the same level where I was at fitness wise, as in not so much.  Not fat fat, but not like particulary fit either.  And at the time I was perfectly content to live that way.   It was of course, until a girl came into my life.

 

Met her at a Star Wars trivia game at Dave and Buster’s, and I was hooked instantly, beautiful, smart, and as much, no, I take that back, more of a Star Wars geek than I was.  We clicked instantly, but as it turned out there was a boyfriend in the picture.   So I moved on, we stayed friends though, and ended up dating a few months later, just in time for the release date of Star Wars Episode 7.   We had a great month together, it was like a dream, being with someone who not only was beautiful, but I could be me around, which is to say a total geek.  She wanted to see my comic collection, and that was a turn on.  That doesn’t happen in real life, but it did.  But things started to fall apart soon after.  It didn’t help that I was a smoker of 18 years.  Even trying to brush my teeth and chew gum, changing clothes before I saw her didn’t help.  It was a definite problem in our relationship.  The other problem was, well it was me, I have an addictive personality, when I get into things I get into things, relationships included.  It got to the point where I became clingy, and it’s definitely not an attractive look.

 

It could have been any number of those things, but one day towards the end of January, she comes over and says to me whatever spark she once had for me it was gone, just like that.  I was devastated, to feel like I finally found my match, after years  of searching, and thinking that women like that are a myth made up by bad writers,  and it was just over.

I of course turned to my only comfort in times as dark as that, alcohol, and chain smoking.  It turned out that some new level of maturity hit me that neither of those things was actually helping me feel any better.  It certainly wasn’t filling that void in my soul.

So, after a weekend of that, I made the decision that I was going to turn my life around, and re-dedicated myself to a workout routine, 3 days a week I figured was good.  So, I ran a bit on the treadmill, then Monday was chest day, Tuesday was back and shoulders, and Wednesday was arms.    It wasn’t enough of course, but it’s a good initial plan, like 12% of a plan.

By Wednesday I realized that I couldn’t get anywhere doing things like this and still smoking, so I smoked my last cigarette, and got some nicotine patches.  By the next week I was able to actually run again,  doing a mile in short gaps of walking then running.  And things were slowly forming together.  After that it hit me, what if I started actually eating right, what could I do then?

So, my next time grocery shopping, I got all low calorie options, some vegetables, some grapes to snack on, a healthy cereal, Lean Cuisines, all that stuff.  And actually spent less on that then I did when I was buying junk food.  Go figure.

So, the next step of my journey was complete.  I started cooking a chicken breast for dinner every night, along with either a salad or microwaved vegetable of some kind.  (My personal favorite was the Bird’s Eye Buffalo flavored Cauliflower, so good)  I’d Mcguyver up some kind of seasonings with it from the spice rack, Lemon Pepper and Cayenne was a particularly good choice.    And I was on my way to the path of awesomeness.  I bought a scale, and saw that I’d gone down from 220 to a about 215 or so, and I knew I was on the right track.

A few weeks after all that, came the day that my ex had mentioned to me was going to be a thing, we’d go on a try out date to see Deadpool,  as we’d already had plans to see it before things fell apart anyway, to see if things could work out between us.  The date was great (as was the movie, go see it if you haven’t), but in the end, she said things were still as they were a few weeks ago, my recent changes weren’t enough to lower the red flags from earlier, and that was that.

Second heartbreak even worse than the first.  I couldn’t sleep that night, well barely.  I was up at 4 am, and did the only thing I could do to make me feel anything other than empty.  I ran.  I ran so far away…no wait that’s a Flock of Seagulls song.  But I did run, longer and farther than I had previously.  From my apartment to the Wal-Mart Supermarket parking lot, like a mile away.

I felt great, accomplished, some good had come out of this pain.  So I shared my distance calculated by my Google Fit app on Instagram, and it got a few likes, and I started to see the pieces come together.

That became my new addiction, running, 4-5 am, five days a week, I’m out there, getting better every day.  I also added in a core workout for Thursday, and a circuit training session for Friday I read about in an issue of Men’s Health.      And just like that, the routine was complete, and I went from that, to this.

 

mike keskeys after

 

Not that much different, a little slimmer, 6 pounds lighter, and a pants size smaller, but you can see the change.  I’m only just getting started too.  As I said on Instagram yesterday, No supplements, No substitutions, just Maximum Effort.   That’s all I do, and I’m still working on improving myself. My journey’s not over, it’s only Chapter 1.   Welcome, we’ve got a lot of work to do, so Allons-Y, and let’s get dangerous.

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