Saturday, March 26, 2011

Trail Journals setup

I took another step in preparing for my Appalachian Trail thru-hike. A few weeks ago I logged onto and set up my profile. is the consumate hiking page with links to photo's, gear lists, AT links, and the place for my trail journals as I post them. My website is almost finished and once my friend helps me get it online, I'll have a direct link to my trailjournals page on that website (as well as ELEVEN). If you're interested in logging on now and seeing my trailjournals page, follow the link HERE. If you can't use the link and need to copy and paste, the address is

As many of you know, thru-hikers usually go my trail names when on the trail. Sometimes the person chooses their own name and sometimes the trail names the hiker. I lean towards the latter as more authentic, but for now I'm going by the name, Uncle Sam. I have some pretty awesome nephews and nieces, and many people think my career makes me, "The Man", so I figured Uncle Sam was a good trail name for now.

If any of this interests you, follow the link and sign into my guest book.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

From one end to the other

What a crazy wild ride these last two months have been. I think I've had every emotional swing known to man and then maybe a few others that numbed me to the core due to their undefinable characteristics. And the strangest part is that in the moment I'm in right now, I can see that all of those were necessary to heal. Let me explain...

A little less than two months ago I could still say I was married. And with that nomenclature, part of me was still holding on to some faint hope that Ell was going to snap out of whatever messed up (in my opinion) mental capacity she was in and see what she was missing. Even when I forced myself to see the truth that she had moved on, my subconcious was still holding on tightly. And then the court day arrived. Ell flew in a few days early, we went through the house one more time to see what she wanted, we had lunch twice and tried to talk about our new existences, and then it was over. I cried deeply that day out of a sense of utter loss. But then the strangest thing happened after I'd cried the whole way home, I stopped crying. I didn't cry again for almost a whole month.

Then my, "Black Gives Way To Blue" night. That song flooded my emotions with the reality of where I was like nothing else before that point. In hindsight, that was a breaking point for me. That was that, "rock bottom" place so many people talk about in unhealthy, harmful life situations. I was preparing for a party that had never been thrown by me any more than I could say it had been thrown by the house it was held in. I had always been a glorified spectator to the immense work and planning that Ell did every year to make the Jamaican Party a success. And here I was pretending I had a clue what it really took to happen. All I could do was sweep the floors and build a hot fire. Everyone I've spoken to or who has seen pictures calls it the most subdued party ever. And it was. What was can never be again and while many lauded me as brave for throwing it, that party shouldn't have happened. And so as I prepared for a party I didn't want to have, the, "Black night happened. I wanted more than anything for Ell to walk in that door that night --and the night of the party-- and when she didn't it shut down everything for me. I wasn't sad. I wasn't mad. I wasn't happy, either. I just was. I wanted to be all those things but they just never happened. And it's easy to see now, that was a moment I needed to experience in its purest sense. I needed to feel nothing. I needed to have a blank slate or I was never going to move on, let alone heal.

That nothingness has caused March to be the rebirth of Sam.

The first thing I noticed was that I now fully realize the love of my good friends. They were always there for me and I knew they cared, but I hadn't been able to accept their love because they wanted what was best for me even when I was fighting it. Now that honesty and reality are one-in-the-same again, I am so greatful for each and every one of them. If you are one of those people, and you know who you are, thank you. On the same note, I've also realized I have some bad friends in my life. These were the friends that told me what I wanted to hear, let me complain and whine without slapping me, and who did everything they could to make me hate Ell. None of that was ever what I needed and it certainly wasn't healthy. I'm not sure how to deal with these people right now, but I can already see a distance between us since March began. I have but one life and as harsh as it sounds, people like that aren't worth having in it.

The second thing I noticed is that I'm worth something. It's no shocking surprise that having someone leave, someone who knows you better than anyone else in the world, leaves in its wake a gashing hole of rejection and worthlessness. In my mind I was damaged goods; and certainly not able to be wanted. What a lie! All it takes is one new friend to put their arms around you and ask you to put their arms around them. That's all it takes. That happened to me. I met a friend who wants nothing else but to be around me. There's no pretenses or expectations, just something that is; something that just fits because I am, after all, worthy of being around.

I write all of this at the extreme risk that readers will think me desperate, sad, broken, selfish, in denial, or other just as descriptive adjectives. Worse, I know that writing all of this carries with it a risk that people will think my marriage wasn't good or that Ell and I didn't really have something all that special. How could we have if I'm so easily moving on, right? The reality of hitting rock bottom quickly takes those things away, though. Sure, I can plainly see how I had fit into every one of those adjectives at one point or another throughout this journey, but I needed to go through them to see that they weren't me. They're no longer me and never will be again. Going through the Jamaican Party without a single tear was that point for me. It was my point of no turning back. It was my first step towards being whole again. And that spilled into March.

Last Sunday I got home around 6:30 in the evening, and all at once I hated having anything in the house that was Ell's. It wasn't a hate driven by anger, but rather a sense of displacement. How could I live in a house with anything that wasn't mine? I didn't go to my friend's house and grab their couch, or pictures, or dishes, and take them back to my house; that's just crazy. So why was I living in a house with her stuff all through it? That was just as crazy to me. With a smile on my face, I spent an hour taking everything of her's out of my living room and putting it in a box. As the week went on, I emptied the kitchen, then the bathroom, the spare bedroom, and finally the shelf in my bedroom that still held stuff I was supposed to take to her Mom's house. That box will be gone from my house this week and I plan to hold a traditional, Native American smudging of the house, wiping her presence from it. Again, I say none of this out of any, any, anger. I'm Sam again. I'm no longer part of a team or a couple or anything else that doesn't define me as just me. As such, I need to have everything be mine in the place that I call home.

As I said, I get that reading this may sway your opinion of me or my situation. If you've been following this journey (at least the part of the journey I shared publicly), I get that you may also need time to formulate your emotions. But I can no longer wait around for anything except what benefits me. And so I have to move on with Sam. There's no one else here I have to be responsible for. That's my reality.

And so I want end by sharing this... I'm happy. I'm really happy. That's a far stretch on the emotional scale from where I was only two months ago, and that's so crazy to me. Two months ago I would never have envisioned this. And right now I can't envision why it took me so long to get here. I missed being happy. Being happy feels good.

Saturday, March 19, 2011


I'd like to introduce you to my friend, Tabetha. This picture makes me laugh. :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It's official... I've had more beer than food over the last 24 hours. And I'm not done yet as tonight is Beer School at my house. Thank goodness for my Irish constitution.

It started last night when my new friend Beth called and asked me to come crash her ladies night at a local Mexican restaurant. After making fun of her for eating Mexican food so close to Irish day, I changed clothes and went to meet her. When I got to the restaurant I wasn't hungry, so instead I had a 32 ounce Dos Equis. Then the party moved to a karaoke bar where I had four Killian's beers while Beth proceeded to take over the microphone no matter who's turn it was. After more drinking (and other fun not to be mentioned on the www) I finally made it to bed at 3am.

I got up at 8am and welcomed the, "hair of the dog" with a Great Lakes Brewery Conway's Irish Ale. After showering I drove back to Salem and picked Beth up. We headed to Ohio's largest St. Patrick's Day party at O'Donald's Irish Pub where I switched to Guinness with my Reuben sandwich (my first and only food of the day). Then we drove to another bar in Boardman, Ohio and I went back to Killian's for a couple hours.

So if you're keeping track, it's almost 5pm now and according to my math I'm well over a 4:1 ration of beer to food. Isn't this a great day? Green clothes everywhere you look, lots and lots of good beer, good friends, and a day off work with pay. Oh yeah. If you haven't yet, go get your drink on, and a Happy St. Patrick's Day to all within sight of this post.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Announcements, Announcements, Annowwwwwncements

In this season of change I'm living through, I decided it was time I got around to doing a few things on my, "Life List". The biggest thing on that list, and the one that would cause the most radical change to what my current situation looks like, is my dream of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail. Well folks, I'm doing it.

With a drop-dead-date of St. Patrick's Day next year, 03/17/2012, I'll be hiking the AT. It's easy to say that and another thing altogether to make it happen. Here's a few of the major things that are slated to happen/change in anticipation of this adventure...
  • Selling the house
  • Selling/Gifting most of my possessions
  • Saving a bunch of money
  • Quitting my job
  • Losing at least 50 more pounds

Most of those things "must" happen before the dream can be realized, but there's a bit of wiggle room built into every item. Wiggle room or not, this is huge deal and I'm really excited. This past year hasn't been my finest hour, and while this isn't an attempt to compensate for that, it is something that will move me into the next stage of my life. I've wanted this for a long time, and now seems like the best time to pursue it.

My family and friends have had a lot of questions (and probably have many more), but for the most part have been supportive. I don't need their support but it's nice to have it versus opposition.

I'm in the process of setting up my own website so that people can follow me on the AT using trail journals, as well as still be able to follow ELEVEN. I think I'll include a link to buy my book and a few other fun things as well. I see the website being a one-stop-shop for all things Sam. When I get it up I'll let you know. Outside of that, let the questions begin. What do you want to know about this announcement? Questions... Concerns... whatever... I'll answer anything you ask.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Charlie Sheen

A little brevity...

All week I've been watching the morning news, a next-to-never event for me. Monday morning I awoke early and decided to relax in my Lay-Z-Boy before going to work. I was fortunate enough to catch the end of The Morning Show's interview with Charlie Sheen. Then Tuesday I caught his reaction interview and the introduction of his live-in girlfriends, the Goddesses, as he calls them. This morning I found myself turning on the TV hoping to catch another peak at this crazy individual and caught his live interview after his children had been taken from him in the wee hours of the morning.

As only my close friends know (and now the whole www), I'm a closet celebrity news junkie. That said, to say I'm hooked with the Charlie Sheen story would be an uber understatement.

Alright, let's break this down. The guy is obviously off his rocker. Why, is the question everyone (including those claiming not to care) seems to have an opinion about. Whether it's a side effect of his drug detox, the true self coming out from the same effects, or something else completely, the truth is the guy is a wired out individual. The last three days have shown that clearly. So why is he going so completely off the edge? Publicity? Maybe. Frustration? Maybe. Mental break? Maybe. But whatever it is, people are interested in following the downward spiral. Charlie started a Twitter account yesterday and he already has over 800,000 followers. In one day!

I don't know how this is going to play out or what will happen next, but I'm enjoying the crazy ride. Anyone else have any opinions or thoughts?