Here we go again!

So, the holidays are finally over… I guess technically they ended a month ago but with my partner’s birthday in late January and my birthday in mid-October, it feels like the holidays never end. The new year is off to a steady but chaotic start and I am pretty unhappy with how much I’ve let myself go. Eighteen months ago I was in the best shape of my life and now I am closely approaching the worst. It is time to bunker down and make some changes, so I’m going to get back into the habits I was in when I felt and looked my healthiest.

First, fuck Facebook. Facebook is a time suck that destroys my productivity and mental health. There are some diamonds in that rough, but I need to be honest with myself and admit that I am addicted and right now I can’t handle just a little taste from time to time.

Second, I need a month (at least) off of alcohol. So no booze in February. It won’t be easy because there are a handful of events this month but I need to stick with it. One drink turns into two drinks turns into four drinks turns into junk food, missed workouts, and periods of depression. Again, I can’t take a little taste right now and abstinence is the best course for me.

Third, get my diet under control. I need to have fast days once or twice a week, get back into an 8-16 eating schedule, and focus on micronutrients instead of calories.

Fourth, get back into a strictly scheduled routine that stimulates my body and mind. When I was at my healthiest every day basically looked like this:

  • 5:45am – Wake, coffee, morning readings
  • 7:00am – Daily run and other exercise (gym or yoga) – yes, I ran every day. sometimes it was 6 miles and sometimes it was 1 mile
  • 9:00am – Shower (ending with 1-3 minutes of cold water)
  • 9:15am – Meditation
  • 9:30am – Write
  • 10:15am – Skill building with Khan Academy, Coursera, CodeAcademy, etc
  • 11:00am – Work
  • 3:00pm – Walk
  • 4:00pm – Work
  • 7:00pm – Evening routine
  • 7:30pm – Run or Walk
  • 8:00pm – Read
  • 9:00pm – Netflix and Chill
  • 10:00pm – Lights out

So, why do I want to do this? Because I feel healthier, happier, and sexier and because it will allow me to accomplish the things I want to do with my life. If I keep the trajectory of the last six months then I am going to start facing serious health problems and lack the strength necessary to live the life I want. A healthier Peter is a better lover for his partner, a better volunteer in the community, and a better employee. Bodily health increases mental health increases relationship health increases community health.

So, I’m going to turn this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Into this:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And read all these this year:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m going to try and track my journey over the next month(s). So, here are my starting measurements:

  • Age: 36
  • Height: 5’7″
  • Weight: 187.5 lbs
  • Waist: 37.75″
  • Hips: 37″
  • Neck: 15.5″
  • Chest: 41.5″
  • Biceps: 13.5″
  • Thighs: 23″
  • Calves: 15″

Wanna stay in touch? Got a question for me? Want to tell me why I’m wrong and are curious how I got everything so backwards? Have an idea for a blog post? Drunk and wanna send me a snapchat? Feel free to reach out at any of the ways below while I take a Facebook break!

Email address: pjneiger@gmail.com
Instagram: @peterneiger 
Questions:  pneiger.sarahah.com or www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Snapchat: @pneiger

Spiraling Away From My Goals

The last week or so has felt very hectic to me, like I’m spiraling out of control and away from my goals. It is frustrating and difficult and I’m annoyed with myself for letting even a small part of my life fall victim to chaos.

But with time that annoyance passes and I see the beauty in the chaos and realize that is where life is truly lived. Those moments where I lose control, where days drift by, where I neglect my nutrition and fitness and sleep schedule are the days that I live for. I use periods of control to strengthen myself so that I can jump into chaos with minimal repercussions.

There were times in my life when a weekend of booze and partying and MDMA and late nights would have thrown off my life for a week or more. One weekend would turn into a week would turn into a month. One small moment with my guard down, a moment where I allow myself to enjoy life would start a flood of dominos that were impossible to set right.

But not anymore, my work is paying off. Sticking with my routines that strengthen my body and mind most of the time means that I recover more quickly and can get back to them without any serious loss. Now, I can correct the spiral after two days instead of two weeks… and maybe someday it’ll be two hours instead of two days.

There is joy in losing control. There is a thrill as life spirals around me like a skydiver before pulling a chute. Joy in riding white-water rafting, taking drugs, one-way plane tickets, late night parties, and neglecting responsibilities… especially when you know you have a life vest, a day for recovery, friends and family, a warm bed, and plenty of time to do what is needed.

I love that I have a routine that is becoming more stable, but I don’t feel the thrill of life when I’m meditating, reading, writing, exercising, or eating right. Those are all just tools that allow me to experience the life I want without major repercussions. They are ways to strengthen my mental, physical, and social foundations so that I can jump out of that plane again and again and again… and just lose control.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.comSurveyMonkey:
Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback. Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

Ask PJ: Why doesn’t my hetero male partner like going down on me?

Welcome to another edition of "Ask PJ", where I answer your questions about love, sex, open relationships, drugs, politics, religion, and everything else. If you've got a question you'd like to submit anonymously you can find a link at the bottom of this article. Most questions I get are about "taboo" subjects like sex, drugs, religion, etc. but I'm open to answering anything, even personal questions.
 
Hey Peter! First, thanks for offering this platform for open and honest discussion/debate. I am always curious to see what you’ll post next, even when I find myself disagreeing with your viewpoints. It’s refreshing to have frank dialogue (even if some is initiated anonymously). A romantic partner said something to me recently that I took issue with and I immediately thought- “now I have an AMA for Peter- I want to know what he thinks of this!” Here’s the context: I have had an on/off hetero romantic/sexual relationship with this man for a few years. He’s typically very dominant and aggressive sexually. He’s also very closed off emotionally. We were discussing sexts and what types of photos you might request when asking for nudes from a woman. During the conversation- he mentioned how a genital pic from a woman wouldn’t “do it” for him. The implication was that he doesn’t like to look at vaginas/labia and that a breast photo would be optimal. Side bar- he also really dislikes performing cunnilingus. This is a man who is by all accounts 100% heterosexual. He’s never (that he’s willing to admit) been with a man sexually and has only had relationships with women. I’m perplexed that a straight man would have such an aversion to female genitals. What are your thoughts on this? I find myself going back to his level of heterosexuality- as if that should indicate more openness and willingness to look at and enjoy vagina. However- I think it may have less to do with the spectrum of heterosexuality and more to do with his aversion to intimacy and a deep buried mysogny. I’ve had sex with men who were much more fluid on the spectrum of hetero/homo and they were much more open and generous with their appreciation of vaginas. Do you think this is a form of sexual repression? Is this a form of sexism? Or is it just that some straight men really dislike the look and taste of vagina?
 
 
 
Hi stranger! First off, thank you for including labia in your question instead of just referring to the whole area as "vagina". Most people have never really seen a vagina because it is an internal part of the sexual system. What is generally visible are the labia minora and majora, vulva, clitoris, and clitoral hood. Okay... anatomy lesson over (for now... unless someone has questions about that).
 
 
 
So, why doesn't your on/off partner like sexts with your genitals and why doesn't he enjoy going down on you? I don't have any magic insight into his mind but I think it is one of the reasons you mentioned, or possibly a combination of them. Given the other information you've provided, I think it is most likely an aversion to intimacy and vulnerability and some buried misogyny. It is kind of an old-school view that going down on a woman was unmanly and that real men didn't do that (there is even an episode of The Sopranos where this subject almost started a gang war). Basically, sex was pleasure for men and any specific act that didn't stimulate the penis or provide the man pleasure was unmanly and a sign of weakness. Since you say he exhibits other red flags for misogyny like dominance and aggression this seems like a strong possibility.
 
 
 
It is also possible that he just doesn't like the look and taste of genitals. As for look, that kind of makes more sense to me. I am more aroused by the entire female form, particularly breasts, more than just the vulva in isolation but I wouldn't really say that a vulva pic "wouldn't do it for me". I do think it is a shame and concerning that he doesn't like performing cunnilingus though. There are lots of things we do in an equal sexual partnership that is more for our partner than for us. Giving you pleasure, learning your body, and participating in mutual sexual satisfaction should be some of his primary concerns, even if that means that he does something that isn't a focus on him. If having him go down on you is important then I hope you are making him do it (so to speak), you are within your right to withhold certain sexual acts or sex entirely if he is unwilling to give you something you'd like. Particularly if you are willing to go down on him.
Oh, and I wouldn't worry about the taste issue. In my moderate experience men generally, complain about taste as an excuse. Bodies that are showered regularly do not have any particularly offensive odors or tastes.
 
 
 
Lastly, is this a form of sexual suppression or closeted homosexual desires on his part? Maybe... I actually first thought this until you said he enjoy receiving pictures of breasts. I'd say most homosexual men are not aroused by breasts but it is possible that he is somewhere on the bisexual scale and is aroused by the sight of breasts but not vulvas (brains are complex and have a ton of variety, our labels never do them justice). I don't know what is going on in his head but maybe when he is doing it doggy-style or receiving oral sex he is imagining a man but it is difficult to make that mental leap when licking a clitoris. So maybe it is some sort of repression and he covers that by being a "manly man" who dislikes pleasuring his partners. I do find it interesting that you said "He’s never (that he’s willing to admit) been with a man sexually" because that seems to imply that you have some doubts about what he has told you.
 
 
 
So, I guess I really don't know. I think it is most likely sexism, which could possibly include the other two theories you mentioned. Either way, I hope you are getting what you want and need out of the relationship and are standing up for your own pleasure (even if that means pushing him to his knees). All these theories do point to some red flags with this guy and I hope you act cautiously.
 
 
 
Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don't really say no to requests.
Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH Email: pjneiger@gmail.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/pneiger
Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback. Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

Bookending My Day

I’m constantly trying to improve my habits and get the most out of life. When my partner and I decided to stop our nomadic lifestyle and live in Wilmington I basically had no habits for dealing with “normal” life. That clean slate was good, in a way, but it also meant that I had no idea what I was doing. Still today, almost two years later, my ability to build habits that will help me reach my goals is still in its infancy.

For me, the key to accomplishing what I want is using the time in my life wisely. We all have 24 hours in a day (obvi) and I realized that I was wasting much of this precious life by focusing on the wrong things and inefficiently approaching the right things. So, I know what I should do… alas, reality is much more difficult.

During a perfect day, my life would be broken down into four sections: Morning Habits, The Day, Evening Habits, and Sleep. Morning and Evening Habits involve the work I’m doing to improve myself. During this time I would journal, meditate, exercise, write, read, take online classes, record podcast episodes, plan The Day, etc. This is my time to start and end the day on a strong path. It is 1/3 of my day when I am focused on becoming, creating, and consuming the things I want. My life, my potential, my future is built during these hours. This is my general daily plan, which I often fail at:

Then, throughout The Day, I would take care of necessary business. When my partner is at work that means working but it can also mean cleaning the house, taking care of the yard, running errands, and any other responsibilities I may have. When my partner is home this The Day turns into hanging out, going on dates, exploring Wilmington, etc. Lastly, I would get around 7-8 hours of sleep between around 10pm and 5:30am. Here is a perfect day:

 

 

 

But, as can be expected, there is no perfect day. I wake up late, slack on my morning routine and try to make it up later in the day, I get distracted, stay up too late, and neglect my evening habits. A real day looks like this:

 

But, I’m going to keep trucking on. I’m going to keep trying new techniques and sticking with ones that have worked. I’ll build and rebuilt systems that push me closer to success, forever refining the process. And, maybe most importantly, I’m not going to be hard on myself when I backslide. Maybe I fuck up one day or maybe one year, as long as I keep coming back and trying then I am on my way to success. The perfect day is impossible, there is always room for improvement, and perfection isn’t really the goal I seek to attain (again, because that’s impossible). The goal is to keep trying, growing, and testing myself to see what my potential is. If I do that, then I will have had a good life.

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com
Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback. Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi 
PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
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Humanizing Perspectives – Bisexuality

I recently started reading “Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World”, edited by Robyn Ochs & Sarah E. Rowley. The book is a collection of hundreds of short essays, some only one paragraph long, written by people who identify as bisexual. Reading it has been pretty eye-opening for me, even though I already have a fluid view of my own sexuality.

The book has made me realize how rarely we have the opportunity to hear from people about things that we have a hard time relating too. It is the most extreme voices that find their way into politics or onto the news and the average person is pushed to the back, their voice never heard. I know for me it would be great to read more books that collect essays from people that I have a hard time relating too. That would allow for humans to explain why they feel, belief, act the way they do so that I could learn. Nuance and humanity is lost in today’s society… sadly. And it makes us all worse off.

I also think it would be pretty cool to collect essays from groups that I identify as. Maybe a book by drug users, veterans, poly couples, anarchists, or atheists could allow others to view people like me with a little more understanding and love. And I know that my love and patience would increase if I could understand conservatives, Christians, straight-edge, and even White supremacists. There is no harm in trying to understand why people believe what they do. In fact, I think understanding is necessary if we are going to seek truth and peace as a society.

Here are a few excerpts from “Getting Bi” that I highlighted:

“I call myself bisexual because I acknowledge in myself the potential to be attracted, romantically and/or sexually, to people of more than one sex, not necessarily at the same time, not neessarily in the same way, and not neccesarily to the same degree.” – Robyn Ochs

“Different though the sexes are, they intermix, In every human being a vacillation between the sexes takes place and often it is only the clothes that keep the male and female likeness, while underneath the sex is the very opposite of what is above.”
– Orlando, Virginia Woolf

“However, I truly believe that most humans’ sexual experiences lie not within exclusive hetero or homosexual boundaries, but somewhere in between. I hope that one day homophobia and heterosexism will dissappear.” – Mayra Santos-Febres

“Being bisexual is nothing other than being able to love, at least potentially, humanity as a whole.” – Miguel Obradors Campos

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for something you are not.” – Andre Gide

“Dad, you warned me of the hazards of ‘trying to find myself,’ especially in today’s society. You were right.” – Amber Terrell

“I call myself bisexual because I feel I have the capacity to love both sexes as much as members of a heterosexual couple love each other. It’s not ‘swinging both ways’ or ‘being promiscuous’; it’s about my capacity to love both sexes equally and fully.” – Simone Pantaleo

“But just because someone is bisexual doesn’t mean that they have loose sexual ethics. It doesn’t mean they’re a swinging cat. It just means you’re attracted to men and women.” – David Ertischek

“Bisexuality (whatever that means) for me is about the ability to relate to all people at a deep emotional level. It is an openness of the heart. It is the absence of limits, especially those that are defined by the other person’s sex. It is about not needing to choose. Who said that to love someone you have to renounce something? Bisexuality is the realization that you can indeed have it all. It is the power of not giving yourself limits.” – Andrea Toselli

“Some people say that their feelings were always there or they’ve known they were different since they were children. That’s not the case for me. I totally decided to be this way and now that I have had a chance to be with another woman, I realize that this is who I am.” – Talia Erinna

Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com
Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback. Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi 
PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
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Ask PJ: Why the f*ck are you buying a house?

Alright, it has been a while but I received another anonymous question on Sarahah. As always, if you’ve got a question, comment, criticism, or genital pick you want to send me just check out the links at the bottom of the post.

Peter, we’ve never met before but I respect you and want all the best for you. So take this with a grain of salt that I know you will. Buying a house right now, might directly conflict with your goal of selling it in 3-5 years and traveling more. My brother bought a house before the last financial collapse near the peak of the market, which subsequently lost half of its value in a year or so. He is still underwater on his mortgage and having to sink in tons of money on repairs and maintenance. His future choices have been severely limited by this house. I wish to see you avoid a similar fate. Is there anything so bad about renting for another year or two?
Hi stranger! First off, I want to thank you for sending this question in a modest and appropriate way. You have asked for my explanation instead of just posting unsolicited advice on my Facebook wall. You are way better at this than most people.
Before your question, here is a little background information for those who may not be my Facebook friend (you should change that) or know who the fuck I am.
In 2014, my partner and I decided to leave Los Angeles and we spent about 2.5 years bicycling around the country. We had online jobs which allowed us a very nomadic lifestyle but we grew tired of it and moved to Wilmington, North Carolina. We’ve been here for about a year and a half now and have just started the process to purchase a home.
So, you are correct that buying a house may conflict with my goal of selling it in 3-5 years and traveling more. That is certainly a risk but I don’t think it is a huge one, but first I think you make an assumption I should point out. You seem to think there will be some point in my life when I won’t want to leave a city every few years and keep traveling. That just isn’t the case. It is very unlikely that I will ever really live in a town for more than 3-5 years at a time for the rest of my life. I want to live in dozens of cities and countries, so renting for a few more years here and worrying about purchasing at another time is endlessly kicking the can down the road and off a cliff. The perfect day will never come… besides, I am an unapologetic imperfectionist. Now is good enough for a home purchase, so we are going to try it.
I completely understand your reservations considering what your brother went through. I clearly don’t know the details of your brother’s situation but my parent’s faced something similar. They bought their house at a terrible time, took at an ARM, and have been underwater on their house ever since, which is pretty shitty considering they are approaching retirement (side point: I’m 36 and would much rather make a housing mistake now than when I’m in my 40’s or 50’s). My parent’s experience is a huge part of why I have not owned a home at this point, I just didn’t see why it was worth all the risk. But, I’ve come to realize that that risk can be mitigated in a lot of ways.
First off, my partner and I are buying below our means. The general rule of thumb is to keep housing costs at about 30% or less of income. The home we made an offer on will have housing costs of about 10% of our income. In fact, our mortgage ($600 for a three-bedroom, 2-bath home near downtown Wilmington) will be less than our current rent of $775 for a smaller house in a less central location. Not only will we avoid just throwing money down a money pit of rent, we will be saving dollars on a monthly basis.
But, even if we weren’t saving money we would probably still buy because of the greater freedom it allows. We want to decorate and paint walls, get another dog, build shelving and modifications, build a fire pit in the backyard, install a screened-in porch, and a dozen other things that can’t be done in a rental. We want the freedom to turn our house into a home that suits us.
So, the second reason that I don’t think this is a huge risk is that it is very unlikely that the housing market is at some sort of peak like it was around 2007. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but I’m actually a Market and Data Analyst that focuses primarily on the housing market. I put a lot of research into both Wilmington and this particular neighborhood before we decided to do this. I don’t have everything sitting in front of me but here are a few data points that I think strengthen our decision to purchase a home in Wilmington:
  • Wilmington is about 95% developed and has very little room for new housing, the college (UNCW) is looking to expand the college by about 10% annually without providing additional housing, and the area is attracting a growing number of Boomers from the north for retirement, which points towards a significant increase in demand without an increase in supply (meaning, housing prices are potentially going to go up)
  • Wilmington’s housing market remained remarkably stable during the housing market crash with median home prices peaking in 2008 at around $215,400 and bottoming out in 2012 at $183,900 (or a loss of about 14.6%… which isn’t huge)
  • The area of town we are purchasing a home is currently being reinvigorated with new breweries, shops, and a nightlife. It is an “up and coming” area that may see significant increases in home values in the coming years.
  • My partner and I have actually saved enough money to almost buy the house outright if needed. The only reason we don’t is that the interest rate on a home loan for us using my VA benefits is much lower than the income we are generating in our investment accounts. The home interest rate is 4.125% and my annual return on my Wealthfront account is about 22%, and that isn’t even factoring in how much more money I’m making on blockchain investments.
  • Lastly, rental prices tend to be immune to housing market crashes and keep rising even if home values decrease. In 2008, the median gross rent in Wilmington was $817, in 2012 it was $881, and in 2016 it was $921. Meaning, the cost of renting is going to continue to rise but if we decide we want to leave our home we can easily rent it out to someone for more than enough to cover the mortgage, any repairs, and make a profit.
So, even if the market were to go completely sideways we are okay. We’ve done our research on the area to minimize our risk exposure, we’ve secured enough backup funding to cover unexpected costs or property loss, and we have a backup plan to rent the property if we really don’t want to be tied down but every other contingency falls through. This isn’t a guarantee that this experiment will be the right one for us, but life is risky and I’d rather take this risk now than wonder what could have been. We are tired of renting, we are tired of living by someone else’s rules, and we are very excited to enjoy home ownership.
 
Do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy. You can also friend or follow me on Facebook, I don’t really say no to requests.
Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH Email: pjneiger@gmail.com Facebook: www.facebook.com/pneiger
Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback. Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

Memento Mori

I’m probably going to die someday. It is possible that medical technology will advance to the point of immortality before my consciousness disintegrates (or transfers to some other existence), but I’m increasingly doubtful. It is also possible that I have some sort of genetic mutation ala “The Man From Earth” and I’m immortal, but that seems even less likely.

So, I’m probably going to die. But I’m okay with that. I don’t fear death, even if I’m not particularly interested in it happening anytime soon. I used to be terrified of death back when I was a Christian, which is kind of ironic. I’m not sure how close the connection is between my spiritual evolution and my comfort with non-existence, but I can’t help but think they are at least somewhat connected.

Religion didn’t give me much peace because there was always this fear that I wasn’t “truly saved”, that I had fucked up something between baptism and death and would be spending eternity being tortured by red-horned demons. Now that I think about it, that is pretty psychologically scaring, particularly for children.

Death is often on my mind, not as a fear but as motivation. If this is all ephemeral, if can truly “leave life right now” then life is put in perspective. It motivates me to make the most out of my time here, but also not to take things too seriously. It is a source of inspiration to write a book, record a podcast, skydive over Antarctica, and try anal sex…. because if I don’t do it today then I may never get a chance to do it.

But, it is also a way to provide a little modesty. I’m simply not that important. I’m going to die like everyone else. My name will be forgotten. I will return to stardust, just like everyone else. And that is a huge relief. I can enjoy life and the moment for exactly what it is. As Hairy Soul Man says in his Stoic Hedonist sonnet, “Fuck Everything”:

Now I know most of you don’t agree
with my bleak outlook on life
But I say, it’s the thing that sets me free.

Cause I don’t give a shit what you think of me
No, I don’t give any shits
That’s right, I don’t got any shits to give

Now I’m not saying you can’t go out
and live a fantastic life
You totally can!

You just need to remember
You’re not the center of the fucking universe

So I want to celebrate the absolute insignificance of our existence by coming together, coming together to say…

Fuck everything

So, today I will go out and live my life because I might leave tomorrow. That means enjoying the good things that are within my control. I will enjoy time with my partner, go outside for a run, test my body and mind, and enjoy that strawberry even if there is a tiger trying to eat me. Also, I will try and ignore the garbage in the world like the news and most of Facebook and trash TV (unless those things provide some mental health benefits). I may die tomorrow, but that’s okay because my life is been lived. Besides, my death won’t matter to me or anyone else in the long run and it shouldn’t be taken seriously.

If you have a question or comment feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits. You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi

PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

A Love Story

The following question has been in my Sarahah box for almost four months. My apologies to whoever submitted it. It was a difficult request and I have not been particularly inspired lately. Writing fiction is something that I want to be able to do but I have struggled with it. I have worlds in my mind that seem to disappear as soon as I sit down at the keyboard. The truth is, I fear what I write will be bad. I know that is an emotional response and not a logical one, the truth is that what I write WILL be bad but it will likely (hopefully) get better.

Anyway, here is the story of the first time I was truly in love with someone who I could have spent my life with. This probably wasn’t what you expected but it is a love story. In fact, it is even a true(ish) love story. I’ve changed a few details, though a clever person who knew me in college could probably figure it all out.

 

“Please write a public love story. Dealer’s choice. I am interested in the love story you choose to write. I asked because you seem thoughtful and kind and different from me, and because a love story is a good antidote to daily internet snark and negativity.”

It was her laugh that first drew me to her. She had an infectious laugh that blossomed throughout her entire face. Her cheeks raised up until her eyes were barely a squint, her face already lined with wrinkles showing a lifetime of laughter. Her voice was husky and almost sandy, but distinctly feminine. There was an old soul inside her that had moved beyond the skepticism and apathy that often plagues us as we get older. She was beyond that, she was to the point of seeing joy and love in every moment. Not because she thought everything was perfect or that she would live forever but because she knew that it wasn’t and she wouldn’t. She was one who wanted to suck the beauty out of life and live every moment and that passion came through in her laugh.

At the time I was 27 and a senior at the College of Charleston. My years off after high school and time in the military made me older, though hardly more mature, than my undergraduate classmates. I felt a little odd hanging out with them sometimes and found myself interested in hanging out with the grad students. Which is what I was doing when I first heard her laugh, I was at a grad student party that was mostly Marine Biology students.

Almost without thought, I drifted towards the beer pong table where she was chatting with some friends. I awkwardly tried to join the conversation but spent most of the time listening and trying not to stare. I was painfully aware of my close-cut hair which still reflected my time in the army. I didn’t keep my hair short out of some sort of allegiance or political statement, but because I was broke and literally had no idea what else to do with my hair. Buzzing it monthly was easier and cheaper than going through the anxiety-ridden process of finding a barber, telling them what I want, and suffering through the process of talking with a stranger. Instead, I just buzzed it.

She and I eventually ended up chatting alone as alcohol coursed through our veins. Our inhibitions were low and I was talking openly about my life and she shared her experiences. I learned about her family in the northeast, her studies, and just life in general. I tried to focus on her words but felt captivated by her freckles and dark red hair (I would later find out she is “black Irish”). With every new piece of mental stimulation, my body responded with greater desire. People drifted out of the party and I knew the end was approaching, I wanted the talk to continue, I wanted to kiss her, but I couldn’t bring myself to make either happen.

Instead, we said our goodbyes and I went home, but that wasn’t the end.

Over the next few months, we crossed paths several times at parties and events. Each meeting brought bigger smiles and more talking, and eventually more than that. Our relationship changed after one fateful party when she invited me home with her and I had some of the greatest drunk sex of my life. I shouldn’t have driven to her place that night, I was too drunk to be on the road. That night shouldn’t have happened, but it did and things ended up okay.

After that night we didn’t really discuss what our relationship “was” or if we were exclusive. We both declared what we wanted, I wanted to be open and she wanted to be closed, but we never made a decision. We just assumed the other person was doing what we were doing… which was a mistake. Despite the ambiguity, we grew closer and closer to the point where professors and friends were asking if we were dating, a question we both always just shrugged off but I think others were more perceptive than we were. We were often together, had some of the deepest and most fulfilling conversations, and the most electric sex. We were dating, even if we didn’t want to admit it.

Things continued to go great for about a year. We had told each other that we loved each other and we traveled to meet each other’s family and friends back home. Things were great, but they had to end because our lives were on different trajectories. Upon graduation, I accepted a position in Washington DC and she was staying in Charleston to finish her grad work. I think we wanted to make it work long-distance, but we really couldn’t at that time. We were perfectly in sync and in love, except in the ways that are most important for long-term commitments. We just weren’t going to be in the right places at the right times.

So, after much struggle and suffering, we officially ended things. We tried to remain close friends but neither one of us could really move on as long as the other person was available. We both turned to each other with drunken phone calls and saw each other when I visited Charleston. We had great sex afterward but the spark, the love, the life of our relationship was safely buried to protect our hearts. Eventually, we changed phone numbers and unfriended each other on Facebook. It was love. It was true love. And it was my first. But neither of us were willing to make it happen, and that’s okay because there is no “one and only” and true love can happen many times.

I still wonder about her from time to time, particularly when I hear Flogging Molly or drink a Guinness. I wonder what could have been if I decided to stay in Charleston. I wonder if my life would be different or better, but those thoughts are fleeting. I am happier now than I have ever been and because of our decision to pursue our own lives, I ended up meeting my partner, my second true love, and the best connection, compatibility, and sex of my life. And I think she is doing well too. She is married now to someone she met shortly after we broke up and their connection is deeper than hers and mine was (she told me that shortly before we saw each other last).

Our lives turned out better because we decided to see this love as something that has value even if it isn’t “forever”. In fact, I think the ephemeral nature of it makes it more valuable. It was perfect for a time, but that time had to end. We learned from each other, we grew as people, and both ended up happier in the end.

I love her. I always will. And if she ever reached out to me to rebuild a friendship then I would welcome that. I’d love to meet her husband and I’d love for her to meet my wife. But I don’t think that’ll happen. Instead, I’ll treasure our love and the memory of what we shared together and forever appreciate what we had.


So, that’s my love story. Wanna share yours? Or do you have a question or comment for me? Feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits (as you will probably notice if you read through the on my AMA page). You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi

PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

Working Through “Principles”

Part of my new(ish) morning routine involves spending some time reading and studying a life-improvement or self-help book. I consider this category pretty broad and in the past it has included everything from “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall, “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg, “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield, etc. Basically, anything that will motivate me or provide me with tools to get the most out of life falls into this category.

Unfortunately, I have a pretty strong history of just reading a book, being motivated for about 45 seconds, and then moving on to the next thing. I’m sure what I read is lingering in my neuropathways somewhere, but those lessons aren’t easily accessible or applicable to my day-to-day life. So, I’ve begun more actively studying instead of reading, which involves taking notes, underlining, and reviewing what I read and wrote at the end of the day.

Alas, that has not been enough… I need to more actively apply what I’ve been reading. I thought about waiting until I finished my current book, “Principles” by Ray Dalio, but decided to start working now instead of waiting until the end. In my experience, you should always get started before you feel ready.

To summarize the book, Dalio has recorded a bunch of principles of life and work that he views as being successful. In this book, he shares those principles and encourages the reader to develop their own. I’m not at the point of really reflecting on my life to develop my principles in a concrete way, but I am going to use the principles that worked for him in my own life, in particular I’m using Principle 2 (Use the 5-Step Process to Get What You Want Out of Life) and Principle 5 (Learn How to Make Decisions Effectively). These two sections, in particular, have very actionable advice.

First, the 5-Step Process:

  1. Have clear goals.
  2. Identify and don’t tolerate the problems that stand in the way of achieving those goals.
  3. Accurately diagnose the problems at their root causes.
  4. Design plans that will get you around them.
  5. Do what’s necessary to push these designs through to results.

Second, the important parts of Principle 5:

  1. Recognize that the biggest threat to good decision making is harmful emotions and decision making is a two-step process (learning and then deciding)
  2. Track your progress and goals through time to make sure they are both heading in the right direction and the trajectory is steep enough to reach your goals in a reasonable amount of time.
  3. Be an imperfectionist.
  4. Decisions and goals are set at different levels and it is vital to navigating these levels effectively.

Alright, with all those nice numbered lists in mind I’m going to share one of my goals. After each goal is the next level (from high to low) which basically takes a dream and turns it into day-to-day action items. Below is an example of one of my goals (Financial Security), but I am also working on this process for other (sometimes overlapping) goals which include: Live a Long, Healthy Life; Continue to Learn and Develop Skills; Have an Adventurous Life; Discover My Potential; Explore My Kinks and Other Interests; Community and Giving Back.

Goal 1: Financial Security – Enough money to retire
1.1) Pay off student loans by Jan. 1, 2021
1.1a) Earn $60* per workday beyond living expenses (or, earn approximately $130 per workday)
1.1a1) Work at least four hours in primary job for this purpose
1.1a2) Do not spend money on unnecessary things or short-term satisfaction.

1.2) Have >$400,000** in an investment account by time I turn 55
1.2a) Earn $1,850 per month beyond debt and living expenses and put that into appropriate investment accounts.
1.2a1) Work at least three hours in primary job for this purpose and place in Roth IRA or other investment accounts
1.2a2) When necessary, transfer money from high-risk (ie blockchain) accounts to a lower risk account (ie Roth IRA) to meet monthly contribution goals


Problem 1: In the past, I’ve spent too much money on unnecessary things like coffee, pizza, and beer.
Solution 1: Use tools and habit-building to prevent unnecessary spending.
Solution 1a: Allocate a certain amount of “fun” money for splurging and take that out in cash. Don’t use credit/debit card.
Solution 1b: Reread and “The Power of Habit” to develop a plan to break spending habits.
Solution 2: Diagnose why I am spending money on things that end up being poor long-term investments.
Solution 2a: I turn to some foods (particularly pizza and beer) when stressed out or feeling depressed.
Solution 2a1: Research finding a counselor or therapist to help address these issues.
Solution 2a2: Reread and “The Power of Habit” to develop a plan to break habits that respond to stress.
Solution 2a3: Increase time spent in healthy, stress-reducing activities each day (ie exercise, mindfulness meditation, etc.)

Problem 2: Job and life changes could reduce or eliminate my primary source of income.
Solution 1: Work to diversify income stream with entrepreneurial activities
Solution 1a: Finish podcast series and publish
Solution 1b: Write blog daily to build audience and monetize
Solution 1c: Write more books
Solution 1d: Build additional skill sets that can be done remotely and find secondary work (GIS, data visualization, coding, etc.)
Solution 1e: Produce sex communication card idea
Solution 1f: Research food truck idea
Solution 2: Place money into savings account to minimize harm from this possibility

 

Well, that about wraps up this example of how I am trying to be more consciously aware of my decision making to get the most out of life. I don’t know if anyone else got value out of this but I sure did. And, as always…

If you have a question or comment feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits (as you will probably notice if you read through the on my AMA page). You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi

PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976

 

* This is all pretty rough math. My current debt is ~$55,000 (or ~$1,145.83 per month to pay off in four years) and my living expenses are about ($1,400 per month and includes rent, internet, cell phone, utilities, food and fun fund, and taxes)
** This is basically how much I need to maintain my current lifestyle just by living off of a modest 7% annual return on my account.

Seeing Our Addictions

Another year, another effort to get my writing habit developed. I’m going to keep trying to write daily until I get it down or I die (probably the latter). Oh well, life is about the journey and the struggle…

Anyway, as part of my daily routine I read a section from “The Daily Stoic“. I completed it last year and started it anew on January 1st. I have also added “The Daily Stoic Journal” to my morning routine to help me dive deeper into the text. Today’s passage and prompt really hit a sensitive spot for me:

We must give up many things to which we are addicted, considering them to be good. Otherwise, courage will vanish, which should continually test itself. Greatness of soul will be lost, which can’t stand out unless it disdains as petty what the mob regards as most desirable. – Seneca, Moral Letters, 74.12b-13

I have two thoughts on this passage. First, I disagree with the absolutism of Seneca in this case. I don’t think that it logically follows that because the “mob” thinks something is desirable then it is necessarily something we should “disdain as petty”. The mob can be wrong a lot, but it takes more analysis than just “they like it, so I hate it”. This absolutism is one of the areas in which I tend to disagree with the Stoics and this is a textbook case of that. A better way to put it would have been “Greatness of the soul will be lost, which can’t stand out unless it rationally looks at what the mob regards as most desirable to determine if it is truly of value.” Our reasoning mind is what powers us through life and we shouldn’t value being a contrarian over being a rational being.

The second thought is more personal and has to do with my own addictions. I think addiction exists on a spectrum (is anything in nature truly binary? Spoiler: no). There are certain things in my life that I have an addiction to that really do me no significant harm, other than the fact that I am a servant to these tools instead of the other way around. Coffee falls into this category. Other addictions have some harm but I generally have control over, but I need to be aware of them to make sure the bad doesn’t outweigh the good (alcohol, MDMA, video games, and pizza are in this group).

The last group is the most troubling, these are things that I know are causing more harm than good and I feel like I lack the control to give them up. Scrolling Facebook, reading the news, and concern over my online persona/image are the big ones for me in this group. I wouldn’t say things have spiraled out of control, but they are inching down that path and I find it troublesome. So, I’m going to focus on building a healthier relationship with these things so that I am in control and they are not. I’m not sure what tools will be effective yet, but I think abstinence from the news is doable and valuable. Facebook I want to maintain the good without the bad, which means not scrolling through my feed. There are groups on Facebook that I’m a part of and are really valuable to me, so I’m going to try and stick with replying to those and ignoring the rest.

So, we will see how it goes. I’m really excited about 2018 and I think it is going to be an amazing period of growth and new experiences.

As always, I’m an open book. 

If you have a question or comment feel free to use the links below. There is literally nothing that is off-limits (as you will probably notice if you read through the questions). You can also email me if you want a personal response and I won’t post anything publicly if you want privacy.

Sarahah: pneiger.sarahah.com
SurveyMonkey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/XYRDXHH
Email: pjneiger@gmail.com

Oh, and if you get some value out of this I’m always accepting tips and my book is available via the Amazon link below on Kindle and paperback.
Book: http://amzn.to/2f2tkYi

PayPal: pjneiger@gmail.com
Bitcoin Wallet: 3BZQcA31awrYj7LAXmMY5armp5s1T2gpsL
Ethereum Wallet: 0x05F040cd6FB61377c375d487A37229359Dd6D976