(2006) Carmen and I dated towards the end of my time in college. We used to go to Blockbuster to rent movies and even did the Netflix DVDs service for awhile. Our favorite thing though was to play World of Warcraft together. Video games are a cheap date option and it was fun to always have a Player Two. Hanging out with Carmen was an escape from the overwhelming stresses of school and work. I’ve always worked at least two jobs, even when in school. I was doing training with the Marines and had a job as an assistant at a local high school but I made sure to make time for Carmen. I found time because I never studied much. I was always surprised how well Carmen did in school because it felt like we were always hanging out. Somehow, dating made our life less stressful. The biggest thing I learned while we were dating was that we were good for each other. We helped each other be more responsible and disciplined. I know that might not sound romantic but I care a lot about being productive. I was on my own the moment I turned 18. I had to figure out how to pay my bills and how to be an adult. But I was still in college and wanted to have fun. We were hanging out so much that we had a hard time finding movies we hadn’t already watched. But amazingly, my grades got better when I started dating Carmen because I was more structured in my study times. One of the reasons I wanted to get married was because life seemed easier together. We both had big dreams and we were helping each other realize them. Being young didn’t matter because I felt like we would figure life out together. Starting a marriage in an expensive city with debt is a scary thing but I would rather face it together with Carmen than by myself. Book excerpt – if you want a copy, please help me figure out how many physical copies to print by pre-ordering! Link in bio.
(2004) I am so nervous about doing my first Bodybuilding show. I read stuff online about how the day is going to go but I’m still not sure what to expect. I get to the auditorium and immediately start looking around at the competition. Do I even belong here? It scares me to death that I might get on stage and have no idea what I’m doing. I register in the Teen Division and hand in my cassette of music. I go backstage and I see everyone working out so I start doing that too. My division will be one of the first on stage and I need to quickly get ready. I’m already wearing my posing trunks, which are basically speedos for the bodybuilding stage. I see that other guys are using Pam cooking spray to give themselves a shine for when they are under stage lights, so I start using it too. They call my name and I start to head to the stage. There are a lot of great bodybuilders here and I am happy to finally be competing. I do a 1-minute freestyle posing routine and then I listen to the Judges for what poses I should do. I read about the poses online and tried practicing them at home but I’m not sure I am doing them right because this isn’t the same as standing in front of a bathroom mirror. When the posing is finished we are all told to come back for the second part of the show which is at night. I am excited to perform my full posing routine for the crowd. I recorded my own music with a tape recorder I had. After my routine, they announced the winner of my division. I had won my first show! I got my first bodybuilding trophy ever! At the end of the show, I got to stand with all the winners for the group picture and as I come off the stage, the President of the organization Denny Kakos and one of the judges, Lorenzo Gaspar, come up to me. They tell me that I have what it takes to be a great bodybuilder and to keep competing. It was an amazing feeling to be recognized as having potential but am I ready to compete at the bigger shows? Book excerpt – if you want a copy, please help me figure out how many physical copies to print by pre-ordering! Link in bio