My "Diet Coke and aggressive attitude" didn't exactly match the yoga aesthetic, but I somehow managed to fit in anyway.

Last weekend, I performed 90 minutes of storytelling to a capacity crowd at Kripalu, a yoga and fitness center in the Berkshires. I spent the weekend at Kripalu, teaching a weekend-long storytelling workshop to about two dozen people, but the show on Saturday night was open to the general public.

The room was crowded and hot, but it went well.  

My weekend stay at Kripalu included a room, meals, and all of the amenities that the facility has to offer. I actually participated in a sunrise yoga session and spent an afternoon hiking around the lake. Despite the fact that my workshop attendees began to refer to me as a "yogi" and repeatedly assured me that my philosophies about storytelling, productivity, and mindfulness fit perfectly into the Kripalu philosophy, it didn't take me long to realize that I didn't exactly fit into the Kripalu aesthetic.

The first thing I noticed was that I walked at least three times as fast as everyone else. I was charging through the hallways like a bull on fire while everyone around me was walking slowly and contemplatively. 

When I looked at the extensive lists of breakfast options, I could not identify a single item on the menu. NOT ONE. Instead, I left the facility and enjoyed an Egg McMuffin and a Diet Coke at a nearby McDonald's.

I definitely swore more than anyone around me, and I am not a person who typically curses with any regularity. However, no one spoke a single swear word in my presence for the entire weekend, but in the course of my performance and my teaching, I swore a lot by comparison. During my performance, I fired off an expletive in the general direction of a couple people in the audience, causing Elysha to shake her head and offer me a disapproving stare.    

Silent breakfast was impossible for me. It turns out that I make noise even when I'm not speaking. I sigh loudly. Hum. Laugh to myself. Tap my feet. Pound on my keyboard. Audibly scoff. Constantly. 

Also, the concept of silent breakfast struck me as fairly insane. 

But the clincher came at the end of my performance on Saturday night. When the lights came up, a long line of people approached to chat. One woman began to ask if the stories I had told were really true but stopped short, noticing the scars on my face and quickly realizing that the story about my car accident (and therefore the rest of the stories) were true. She traced the scar on my chin with her index finger and said, "You lovely man."

This is something that could only be said about me at a place like Kripalu.

Another woman approached and said, "I wasn't sure if I wanted to come for tonight's show. but you walked into the room carrying a Diet Coke, a McDonald's bag, and an aggressive attitude. These are all things we have never seen before at Kripalu, so I knew it was going to be good."

It was odd to be in a place that seemed so right for me and so wrong for me at the same time.

It's true that the teaching I do as it relates to finding stories in our lives, exploring their meaning, and bringing that meaning to bare in a performance aligns almost perfectly with the recent mindfulness movement (though the word "mindfulness" is kind of stupid and the movement tends to lack the kind of specific, highly targeted, easy-to-follow strategies that I teach). Though I didn't initially believe it, it's true that the philosophies espoused at a place like Kripalu align quite well to my own.  

But at the same time, it's also true that I am happiest and most relaxed when I am doing something. Moving forward. Making progress. Affecting change. Eating a cheeseburger. Hitting a golf ball. Shoving an opponent under the basket. Tickling my kids. Hitting on my wife.  

The quiet, contemplative, farm-to-table, macrobiotic existence is not for me. That level of quiet and thought, absence movement and action, makes me crazy.  

At least for now.  

The McRib is super healthy and nothing like a yoga mat

I have to assume that the McRib will be coming to Connecticut shortly. I ate three McRibs during a two day trip to Indiana in the fall, and according to the McRib locator (yes, it’s a thing), there are confirmed sightings in Oklahoma and a possible sighting in Weymouth, Massachusetts.


There is hope.

As Andy Dufresne wrote to Red in The Shawshank Redemption:

Remember Red, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.

While I wait, I’m happy to report that the McDonald’s cherry pie has returned for a limited time. I introduced Elysha to the cherry pie years ago, and it ranks with things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galactica, macaroni and cheese and hotdogs, and go-karting as some of the best things I’ve brought to her life.

If you doubt me, try one of those cherry pies and see for yourself.


Before the McRib makes it’s mighty return, let’s c;ear up something that became known to me just yesterday regarding the sandwich.

It has been repeatedly reported that the McRib contains some of the same ingredients found in yoga mats and running shoes. I assumed that this was true but didn’t care because delicious is delicious.

It turns out that it’s not true. It’s merely a rumor, probably perpetrated by kale aficionados  or Whole Foods shoppers or Burger King enthusiasts.

Here’s the truth, from a fact sheet produced by McDonald’s:

The truth is a small amount of Azodicarbonamide, a common flour-bleaching ingredient, is used in our McRib bun. This is a common food additive and is used in many items on your grocer’s shelves, including many hot dog buns and other bread products that you probably already purchase. It is regulated under the FDA and is considered safe. It is not a yoga mat, plastic or rubber.

A variation of Azodicarbonamide has commercial uses and is used in the production of some foamed plastics, like exercise mats. But this shouldn’t be confused with the food-grade variation of this ingredient.

Yet rumors persist. Smug foodies ignorant nonconformists cite this nonsense all the time.    

Next time you hear this claim, push back on it, please. Say something like “Repeating incorrect facts that you probably heard third-hand and didn’t bother to confirm doesn’t make you knowledgeable about food. Just stupid about knowledge.” 

Resolution update: November 2014

In an effort to hold myself accountable, I post a list my New Year’s resolutions at the beginning of each month, along with their progress (or lack thereof).

With one month to go, it’s looking like I will complete 15 of my 25 goals for sure, with an outside chance of completing as many as 5 more.

1. Don’t die.

Alive enough to write these words, though I nearly rear ended someone last night on the way to the GrandSLAM in Brooklyn. It was only Elysha’s scream that caused me to apply my brakes.

Actually, even if we had hit, we wouldn’t have died. Low speed, airbags, and seat belts would’ve saved us. 

2. Lose ten pounds.

Up two pounds since October, which means I’d have to lose five pounds in December to achieve this goal. Difficult but doable.

3. Do at least 100 push-ups and 100 sit-ups five days a week.


4. Launch at least one new podcast.

Author Out Loud, my first podcast, is still yet to launch (and therefore still not my first). Once we have that podcast running smoothly, we can think about adding a second podcast.

Progress so far: The redesign of my website continues, which will allow me to actually post future podcasts.

I’ve also secured a commitment from a cohost for that second podcast.

5. Complete my sixth novel before the end of the summer 2014.

Work on this book continues. It will not be finished in 2014.

6. Complete my seventh novel.

Work continues. It will also not be finished in 2014.

7. Sell one children’s book to a publisher.

Three manuscripts are back in the hands of my agent after further revisions. A sale in 2014 is unlikely.

I also had an excellent idea for a new book that is underway.   

8. Complete a book proposal for my memoir.

The proposal for a memoir comprised of 30-40 of my Moth stories is complete. The process of sending the book to editors for their consideration has begun.

A memoir comprising a season of golf is also complete. My agent and I are in the process of preparing the manuscript for sale.

Work also continues on a memoir that focuses on the two years that encompassed my arrest and trial for a crime I did not commit. These two years also include an armed robbery, the onset of my post traumatic stress disorder, my period of homelessness, and the time I spent living with a family of Jehovah’s Witnesses.

It was a memorable two years.

Work also began on a new book which will be part memoir and part how-to.

9. Host at least one Shakespeare Circle.

Scheduled for December 27. Just under the wire. If I can get enough friends to commit. 

10. Write a screenplay.

Done! In the hands of my film agent. I anxiously await her thoughts on the piece.

11. Write at least three short stories.

Nothing. What was I thinking?  

12. Write a collection of poetry using existing and newly written poems.

My agent has spoken. Not only does poetry not earn any money, but she doesn’t think my poetry is worth my time in terms of time and money. She encouraged me to send some of my better poems to journals and contests, which I may do at some point.

Many of my poems are autobiographical, and it turns out that at least a few will make excellent Moth stories.

13. Become certified to teach high school English by completing one required class.

Still one class and $50 away from completion.

14. Publish at least one Op-Ed in a physical newspaper.

Done! In October I published an Op-Ed in the Hartford Courant about communicating with students in the digital world.

My third column in Seasons magazine also publishes this month.


I also published a piece in The Cook’s Cook, a magazine for aspiring food writers and recipe testers. You can read the April-May issue here.


15. Attend at least 10 Moth events with the intention of telling a story.

I attended a Moth StorySLAM in New York on November 11 at Housing Works and was not called to the stage. 

I attended a GrandSLAM in Brooklyn on November 30.

This brings my total number of events for the year to 16.

16. Win a Moth GrandSLAM.

Done! I’m fresh off a victory in last night’s GrandSLAM in Williamsburg.  

17. Give yoga an honest try.

I took my first yoga lesson in November and have been practicing for more than two weeks. I don’t exactly love it, but I’m starting to notice an increase in flexibility, which is huge for me.

18. De-clutter the basement.

My hope is to take a day during my December vacation and finish this off.

19. De-clutter the shed

Done! I dislodged a mouse family, filled the back of my truck with junk, and now I have an empty, organized shed.

20. Conduct the ninth No-Longer-Annual A-Mattzing Race in 2014.

Not going to happen in 2014, much to several of my friend’s dismay.  

21. Produce a total of six Speak Up storytelling events.

Done! We produced a sold out show at The Mount in Lenox, MA last month, bringing our total number of shows to seven. We have one more show planned for this year on December 6 at Real Art Ways

22. Deliver a TED Talk.

I delivered a TED Talk in March at Brooklyn Boulders in Somerville, MA.

23. Set a new personal best in golf.

I played golf once in November. I actually played well but was two strokes off my personal best.

With snow on the ground, my window for realizing this goal might be closed.

24. Find a way to keep my wife home for one more year with our children.

25. Post my progress in terms of these resolutions on this blog on the first day of every month.


Our little yoga clocks

One of our routines at the dinner table is to talk about the best part of each one of our days. Charlie is only two years-old and doesn’t quite get it, but whenever we ask, his answer is almost always the same:


He says this even if it’s been a week since he has been to yoga.

image image image

Last night my wife led Charlie and Clara in Charlie’s yoga class routine in the kitchen. I don’t often see the boy so focused.



Maybe yoga isn’t such a good idea after all.

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to give yoga an honest try.

After reading Lee Anne Finfinger’s The 10 things you’ll do once you start yoga (that have nothing to do with yoga), I’m not so sure that it’s a good idea anymore.

Here is her list along with some of my reaction.

Should I be worried?


1.  At least once, you will force yourself to try to be vegan.

I’d starve to death within a month if I attempted to be vegan. 

2.  Your iPod will now include a heavy serving of Kirtan.

This would be reason enough to never attempt yoga.

3. You will pretend not to notice that your ass now fits in a size 6.

I don’t think this applies to me. Men’s clothing sizes actually match our  actual physical dimensions. In terms of pants, for example, I am a 33-30, meaning my waist is 33 inches and the length of my pants from groin to cuff is 30 inches.

Women use meaningless numbers like 6 or 8. When I have asked the reason behind this indecipherable numbering system, I have been told that the fashion industry uses amorphous numbers like 6 because women vary so much in shape that using actual dimensions would not be useful in determining fit.

This is nonsense, of course, since there was a time when actual measurements were used in women’s fashion. Also, a meaningless number like a 6 is not more helpful in terms of fit than actual physical dimensions.

This piece in Slate explains the history of this absurd system rather well.

Regardless, I doubt that I will have an thoughts in terms of my ass when I begin yoga.

4. You will go back to your natural hair color

Again, this does not apply to me. 

5. You’ll attempt to read The Yoga Sutras, the Bhagavad Gita, or the Upanishads while your stack of fashion magazines calls to you from the next room.

Apparently The Yoga Sutras have nothing to do with sex, and I have no fashion magazines in any room whatsoever, so I don’t see this happening, either.

6. You will take a retreat.

A writer’s retreat? That might be nice, unless it involves picnic baskets and ping pong.

7. You’ll start taking photos of yourself in yoga poses. 

This would presumably require someone to take the photograph, and I don’t see my wife helping me out.

8. You will at some point wear mala beads.

I don’t wear jewelry of any kind.

9. You will become a cheap date.

I already am.

10. You’ll get over yourself

This seems like the least likely outcome of all.