The Gym For 30 Days

I finally went out and got a new gym membership yesterday. I had a gym membership at this great gym in Downtown Louisville, but it’s still closed due to the pandemic. My membership was only for a short time before the shutdown in March and I’d barely figured out any sort of routine before. I maybe went a total of four times so I still don’t know that much about the gym. Now that I have a new membership, I’m going to go to the gym every day for 30 days.

I tried Krav Maga a few weeks back, but it doesn’t seem like something I’d be too interested in continuing if I had other options, like a gym. This downtown gym isn’t charging me anymore until they reopen, though I still have the membership. They have not indicated when they’re going to reopen. I have a sneaky suspicion that they won’t reopen. I know the coronavirus is a real thing and I’m not criticizing them. If they can’t open safely, they shouldn’t.

Anyway, I need a new gym. Yesterday I did some googling and found another gym that has 24/7 access and is within walking distance, sorta. It’s a 20 minute walk according to Google, maybe a 10 minute bike ride. So now, for whatever reason, I’m ready to try the gym for real.

Why I’m Going To The Gym For 30 Days Straight

Is starting my gym experience out by going to the gym every day for 30 days extreme? Probably. However, it’s the only way I know of to get myself into the habit of going to the gym on a regular basis. 30 days is a good habit-forming period of time for me. I got a month-to-month membership so that if my preferred gym does reopen, I can go back to it, maybe. Who knows, I might like this gym more. It’s not as big, but it’s accessible 24/7. My previous gym wasn’t. With all the stuff I’m doing, having a gym that is 24/7 seems like a great idea to me.

There is the issue of me not knowing much about the gym at all, even though I had a gym membership for a few months before everything shutdown because of the coronavirus. I can’t bring a guest to the gym with me, so I’ll have to either go it alone, or make a friend, or hire a personal trainer. For 30 days, I’m going to try going it alone to see what I can accomplish.

My Gym Fears

I do have a few fears. Well, it’s a lot of fears, but they mostly stem from two categories. The first set of fears are based on me being gay and being in the gym. The gym is in The Highlands in Louisville, which is a very gay-friendly area of Louisville. However, I still worry about homophobia in the gym. What if it’s the one business in the area that is super homophobic or something? Then there’s the shower room fears. Different from straight guy shower room fears only in the sense that, once or twice, something might actually pop up awkwardly. There may be a distracting cute guy every so often. I don’t plan to use the gym for dating or anything, and would never act on anything. At least not at the gym.

Then, there are the high-school-like fears. Friend-clicks, acceptance, the possibility of making a friend or two, or the possibility of no one liking me at all. All of that stuff. None of it is the end of the world or anything. But, I’m human and those fears are there. Another big one is the fear that maybe the gym just won’t work for me at all. Like, what if, you know, it just doesn’t work? My body doesn’t change? I don’t get any healthier? Stupid fear, but it’s there.

How Will I Measure My Progress?

I suppose it would make a lot of sense to take a photo of my body so that I can look back on it. Of course, I’m not going to show that on here. Subjective physical attractiveness isn’t the ultimate way to track gym progress, but maybe it’s a place to start.

I suppose I’m not the worst looking guy I’ve ever met or anything. However, there is a lot of room for improvement. My belly is a little bigger that it should be. I don’t have abs. My arms are small. My chest is, um, not right. I don’t think it’s realistic to tackle everything all at once, so I’m starting small. For now, I’ll settle for a bigger chest and arms. Chest mostly, for now. I’d like it to be more proportional to my gut. Again, I don’t have abs, but if I can make my chest a little bigger, I’ll feel better about my belly.

So, for 30 days, I’m going to focus on building a habit of going to the gym. My target area is my chest, though I know I need to do other things besides chest stuff. I’d also like to do some cardio to help lose a little weight, but I’m not stressing about that right now. Honestly, if I actually make the trip to the gym every day for 30 days, I’ll put it in the win column.

Let Me Know If You Have Any Gym Tips

Hopefully, after 30 days, I’ll keep going frequently. 30 days worked well for my blog. I blogged for 30 days and I’m still blogging every day. While I may stop blogging on the weekends at some point, 30 days helped me form a habit that I’m super into now.

I’ll tweet some about the gym and probably blog about it, too. Comment below and let me know if you have any gym tips for newbies.

You can follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook.

Eric Shay Howard 30 Days Gym
Continue Reading The Gym For 30 Days

I Was Busy But I Still Took Selfies

For whatever reason, this week was insanely busy for me. I don’t even really know why looking back at it. It’s just that I feel drained. I mean I guess I got further in my reading of The Goldfinch, I am almost done with editing the paperback of my fiction collection Crushes, and I read through some submissions over at the lit mag. Also, grad school stuff. Okay, I guess I was kind of busy. I still managed to get my lunchtime latte selfies this week, though. I think I started recapping my Twitter stuff on weekends here on my blog, right?

My Selfies On My Twitter This Week

Of course, I took my selfies every day. Here they are. Gosh, why no one has married me yet is beyond me. (<– Sarcasm!)

Other Things From My Twitter This Week

You know, when you tweet a lot, Twitter becomes sort of a good mini diary to look back on and figure out what happened to you. Sure, it’s mostly mundane stuff, but that’s life I suppose.

I got these business cards so that when people see me walking around with my book proofs or my manuscripts or my Canon Rebel SL3 and ask me what my deal is, I can hand them a card and say, “Don’t worry, I’m just creative.”

This was a spontaneous tweet during my reading of The Goldfinch. The narrator is not the author, of course, but the narrator definitely has his share of sexuality issues.

It’s probably boring, but I’m very excited about it. Boxes and boxes of books and old manuscripts have me ALL hoarded out. I’ve needed a storage unit for a while. Maybe now I can make my room more interesting and get my YouTube channel going with a nice modern I’ve-got-myself-together look.

And, you know, that’s that. It’s been a week. How was your week? Do you feel good about it? Were you lazy? It’s cool. Comment below and let me know how your week was, or what you’re doing this weekend, or whatever.

You can follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook.

eric shay howard selfie

Continue Reading I Was Busy But I Still Took Selfies

On Football Video Games

I never played physical football. The only thing I know about football is that they wear tight clothes. I did pretend to like football once with a high school crush.

On Football Video Games

I walked down the steps, through the den, and into Jack’s bedroom behind him. He offered me a corner to put my backpack.

“So, this is it,” Jack said. His bed was on the left side of the room. There were folded clothes next to his pillows. Above his bed had an Evanescence and a Lacuna Coil poster. Rob Zombie was behind the television on his dresser. There was a blue bean bag chair at the foot of his bed. His brother’s bed was bigger and on the right side of the room. His brother’s dresser was against the opposite wall, and he had a larger television.

Jack took off his shirt and sprayed some cologne. “You want anything to drink?” There was a small refrigerator just outside his room. It held an assortment of cheap department store branded sodas. Red cream and strawberry flavors dominated the few cans of grape. There was one diet Coke.

“I’m okay for now,” I said. Jack took a red cream soda and chugged it. His elbow extended and his chest stretched. There was hair under his arms, but no hair on his chest. “You can get comfortable,” he said. He changed into a pair of athletic shorts. His legs were skinny and were as tan as his chest. I brought a pair of sweatpants in my backpack, but I left my jeans and thin black sweater on. I took off my shoes.

He laid out some video games over the blue and white quilt on his bed. He switched on the PlayStation 2 as I checked out his collection. The title screen of Madden 2002 loaded. Footsteps walked across the floor above us. He closed his bedroom door.

“Do you play Madden?” He asked.

“I have before,” I said. It was a lie. He handed me a controller. He sat on the edge of his bed with his legs spread apart. I pulled the bean bag chair away from his bed a ways and sat down in it. I picked the 49ers. He was the Broncos. Plays were presented along the bottom of the screen. I mostly lost yards and failed at blocking Jack. When I meant to sprint, I passed. I preferred playing defense, that way I could look up and over my shoulder more. I scored a touchdown accidentally once. He got down off his bed and grappled me at my shoulders.

“You’re getting it!” He said. I blushed when he touched me. I realized this, so I laughed.

We played Madden all evening until we got tired. The only thing I learned about football that night was that they wore tight clothes.

“You can sleep in my brother’s bed if you want. He won’t be here. Or the couch out in the den. Wherever you want,” Jack said. He went upstairs to the bathroom. His brother’s bed had Guns and Roses and Black Sabbath posters, and their records hung above it. They were all symmetrically separated. The records were placed like bricks in masonry work. When Jack returned, I walked all the way up the stairs to the bathroom to change into my sweatpants. When I got back to his brother’s bed, I took off my sweater. I slept in my white shirt. I knew I was gay.

I’ve been blogging about my childhood and high school a lot lately. I wrote this post about the first time I cooked mac and cheese. I wrote this post about one of the times I came out as gay to a friend.

Have you ever pretended to like something because of a crush?

I don’t think I’ve played a football video game since then. Someone will have to actually teach me how football works one day. Have you ever pretended to like something for a crush?

Comment below! You can also follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook.

Also, the edits for the paperback of my book, Crushes, are coming along. I promise it’ll be out and available for purchase soon. It’s a short fiction collection.

Selfie me of with my fiction collection Crushes, and coffee.
Continue Reading On Football Video Games

My Writing Routine

So this week I wrote some slightly-more-creative blog posts and it was a lot of fun. I started a new little writing routine by writing a few little stories every night before bed, sort of based on my childhood. They’re not 100% honest; I change names, try to ramp up the tension a little, and write until I feel like I’ve completed some moment. They’re fictionized enough to where the real people from my life reading them can’t really say “that was me!” or “you’re an asshole for writing about this!” Maybe some of them aren’t quite fictional enough, maybe some of them are too much. I’m not sure. I’m not worried about that probably as much as I should be.

Each morning I’ve been taking one of the little fictionized autobiographical stories from the night before and posting them on my blog. There are sometimes a bunch of typos early in the morning. I try to fix them as the morning progresses. If I worried about typos before publishing a blog post I wouldn’t post for a year, probably. Here are my thoughts on creative writing and typos, if you find that sort of thing interesting.

My writing routine got interrupted.

Lat night, I ruined the momentum I had going with my writing routine by staying up too late helping my roommate install a 65-inch television set he impulsively bought from Costco. I guess that’s going to happen sometimes: roommates will buy TVs. So, today, I’m trying to not let my routine completely fizzle out. I’m really good about things when I can establish a routine. However, I’m really bad about giving up on them forever when too many life interruptions happen. My goal is to not let that happen with this, because I really liked writing these stories every night.

I’ve been reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. It’s one of those books that just about every writing teacher mentions at some point. I’ve never really read it before. I bought a physical copy of it a few years ago and never opened it. I had some Audible credits and got it, and I’ve been listening to it. I’ll put an ad so you can buy the book from Amazon below if you want. Just so you know, I’m a member of the Amazon Associates Program and I earn money from qualifying purchases with the ad below.

I’ve also successfully blogged every day for about 20 days or so. I’d like to make it all the way to 30 days, then eventually every day for three months, six months, a year. For my own sanity, and for when days like yesterday happen when roommates impulsively buy new TVs, I’m going to have to pick a day or a few days where my blog posts are in more of a “life update” style. I don’t think it would be very realistic for me to try to write a creative, fictionized, autobiographical “piece” every night. I mean I can try? But, maybe on the weekends I’ll just talk to you all like this, because this is kind of fun, too.

Eric Shay Howard selfie with coffee
Here is a selfie of me with my coffee in Downtown Louisville yesterday, because I also have a coffee routine.

Comment below! What is your creative craft, and what is your routine for it? Do you have a writing routine? How do you deal with interruptions and starting up again after them? Do you think breaks are helpful? I worry sometimes that if I take too long of a break, like I did last year, I’ll go way too long without writing. If you’re not very creative, let me know what you’re up to anyway.

You can also follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook.

Continue Reading My Writing Routine

On Mac And Cheese

The first thing I learned how to cook was mac and cheese. When I was about ten, we lived in a giant house on a hill. It wasn’t a mansion, but it was a large house with lots of rooms. We had lots of property and horses, too. My stepdad’s daughter was visiting for the weekend. Her name was Allison and she was thirteen.

I was hungry. Allison was busy sneaking cigarettes in the bathroom. Grandmother had a babysitting client that day, so she was occupied. My mom and the truck-driver were doing horse things. I found the mac and cheese in the cabinet, read the directions, and started the process.

The first major mistake I made was not letting the water get hot before I put the noodles in. I hadn’t learned yet that the noodles would stick to the stainless-steel pot if you didn’t. I also didn’t know about adding salt to the water. It was fine, eventually. I only drained the noodles for a few seconds, then added the cheese and milk. What I had brewing now was a soupy, liquid-cheesy bland mess.

Cheese splashed all over the stove. It got under the burner. I wiped the stove with a paper towel. I got another one to get the cheese-spots near the burner. The paper towel caught fire. I screamed and threw my hands up. The paper towel just burned on the stove next to the pot like kindling. The baby Grandmother was watching started crying. After no one came into the kitchen, I took my shoe off and hand-stomped the fire out with it. I turned off the stove and cleaned up the evidence.

A few minutes later, Allison came out of the bathroom twirling her curly brown hair with her finger. I ate my precious mac and cheese that I’d hoarded into a big plastic container. She sniffed her arms, her shirt, her hair, around the kitchen, and then rushed back into the bathroom. I went back to the trash can and poured some water over the burnt paper. I sniffed until I couldn’t smell the smokey smell from it any longer and dropped the water cup in the sink.

Allison came back into the kitchen. She sniffed the stove, the wall behind the stove, the sink, the spice cabinet, the refrigerator, and the trash can. She took a little too long at the trash can, then sprayed perfume from it all the way back into the bathroom.

My stepdad came in. He went into the cabinet and pulled out a Nutty Bar. He looked down at me and my empty bowl.

“Did your Granny burn something?” He asked. I nodded. He shook his head as he walked to the trashcan. Then, after a moment of thinking, he wandered over to the bathroom and knocked. Allison yelled and he turned back to me. I tried to look like I didn’t know anything at all, but I don’t think I was doing a very good job. He pounded on the bathroom door again.

“Allison!” Allison came out of the bathroom.

“What?”

My stepdad went into the bathroom, opened every drawer, opened the medicine cabinet, checked every box inside, lifted the toilet seat, pulled back the shower curtain, and checked behind the door. The baby down the hall cried again.

“Where is it?” He asked.

“Where’s what?” She said. He looked to me. I ate an empty spoonful of mac and cheese. They argued about how her mom had told him that she thought she was smoking but she didn’t know for certain. When the argument was over, she was grounded for the rest of the weekend there, and he was going to see to it that she was grounded back home, too. She went down the hall. My stepdad opened his Nutty Bar.

“Don’t ever sleep with a woman,” he said. I nodded and put my empty bowl in the sink. I eventually got better at making mac and cheese.

Were you brave enough to try to cook mac and cheese by yourself?

What was the first thing you learned to cook? For instance, was it mac and cheese? Ideally, you had supervision if you were really young, so maybe it was something a little more complicated? Comment below! I soon started cooking spaghettis, which quickly became my favorite. Eventually I graduated up to cooking a hamburger, but I remember being super grossed out by it. I didn’t try cooking anything else for a long time because a lot of the other foods freaked me out. For instance, chicken is just weird.

To be honest, I’m one of the few people who don’t enjoy cooking. All I can think about is the dishes. However, I cook because I have to. I’ve somehow become the designated cook in my apartment, too, which was not at all my plan.

Oh yeah, in addition to your cooking stories, let me know if you accidentally almost burned down your house or if you accidentally ratted on your stepsister for smoking.

Eric Shay Howard with coffee at Belle of Louisville
Me with coffee at the Belle of Louisville, thinking about my next blog post.

I also wrote another recent blog post about my childhood, On Decaf Coffee, so check it out sometime.

Continue Reading On Mac And Cheese

Coming Out Over An Evening Phone Call In 2004

Harry, the father of my mom’s boyfriend, sat on the couch smoking a cigarette. The news was on the TV by the air purifier. The phone was in the big chair by the sliding glass door. I answered it.

“Shhh,” I said. I listened for any sounds of other lines being picked up.

“Is it true?” Jay asked. I was glad to hear his voice. I imagined what he looked like now. Maybe he’d started growing some facial hair. Maybe a few chest hairs, too. Was his black hair still short, or had he grown it out a bit? After a while, I answered.

“Yes.”

Harry sighed, lifted his single crutch from the arm rest, and pulled himself up. He walked back through the kitchen and into his bedroom. He shut the door. The oxygen tank groaned.

“Are you sure, though?” Jay asked. His voice cracked a little, going down too low and coming back up too high.

Yes,” I said. I think my voice did the opposite.

“But what about Jenny and Alex? Remember? On the bus?”

“No.” I remembered the bus. “And you liked Alex.”

“Man, this is wild. Does anyone else know?” He was starting to sound anxious.

“Everyone at school.”

“Dang. You have to be careful.”

“I know.”

“Wild, wild, wild. Hold on—”

A muffled voice beside Jay came and went. Jay’s audio stayed muffled. Sounds of swirling and sucking grew from behind Harry’s bedroom door, with a few coughs in-between them. I dragged the phone and the cord over to the couch, turned on the air purifier, and watched the replay of John Kerry conceding. After a few minutes, the smoke cleared.

“Sorry,” Jay said. “Anyway, it’s good to talk to you. When are you gonna come and visit?”

“I can’t drive. My eyes.”

“Oh, shit. Right. Well, when I get my car I’m gonna come and get you. Me, you, Pete. We’ll go to Lexington or something. They have gay bars there.”

“We’re 16.”

“Pete can get us in. No limits, man. Hey, can I ask you one more thing?”

The oxygen turned off. I hurried back to the chair. Harry’s crutch pounded back through the kitchen.

“What?”

His voice stayed steady. “Did you ever, you know, like me or anything?” He breathed into the phone, then quickly breathed in. I thought about the conversation we had with Alex on the bus. I remembered Jay’s big, blue eyes, and I imagined they were sitting in front of me.

Harry stopped at the fridge and pulled out a can of beer.

“No.”

Jay breathed into the phone again.

“You sure? You can tell me.”

I turned my head and looked through the sliding glass door, then back to the hallway behind the kitchen, past Harry. My mom’s bedroom door was closed. I listened for the silence on the phone.

Harry speed-crutched his way back to the couch with his beer in his other hand. After he sat down in his spot, there was a loud pop as he opened the can.

“No.” I said.

“Because we’re like brothers.” He said.

“Right.”

“Right.”

Coming out is hard.

This is a story about coming out. It was one of the times I came out to a friend. Do people still “come out?” If you’re out, how many times have you came out? Do you still find yourself coming out to people, or do you just sort of let people figure it out as an adult? If you’re not an adult, what’s on your mind? If you’re straight, cool. Do you come out? Comment below and let’s discuss. You can also follow me on Twitter and like my page on Facebook.

And, for those of you who can’t come out right now due to, well, reasons, that’s okay.

Eric Shay Howard selfie in alleyway in sun
Continue Reading Coming Out Over An Evening Phone Call In 2004

I’m Starting Graduate School in August

Let me back up a little bit. I used to have a lot of other blog posts on this website, but they’ve all been deleted because I forgot to pay my web hosting bill once. Okay, I guess that’s not entirely true – that would’ve been easily recoverable. I’m not even really sure what happened. I was redoing my website after it was down for a few months and could’ve sworn I had a backup. Turns out I didn’t, or I can’t find it. But no big deal. Here’s the summary of every blog post that was on this blog since 2014:

My name is Eric Shay Howard. I currently live in Louisville, Kentucky. I’m gay and hopelessly single and in my 30s. I was a late bloomer. I have my Bachelors in English from the University of Louisville. I graduated with my BA degree when I was 30 in 2017. I blogged about campus life as an adult student for the 5 years I was on campus. I complained about all the guys just wanting to hook up with me on Grindr. On campus I got lost in the shuffle a lot, but I pushed through it and did the stuff I needed to do anyway.

I started a literary magazine my last semester at UofL. I edited it for 2.5 years, then I got busy with a full time job and had to put it on the back burner.

I have a short fiction collection called Crushes available on Amazon.

My full time job is at a big company and I work downtown. In June of 2020, I got admitted to Western Governors University for my Masters in Business Administration. I figure I better do it now while I still kind of feel like it.

Last year, I pushed the buttons to setup a Facebook page and a Linkedin page for a nonprofit I want to start that will help people with their personal transportation problems. It’s still in the seed money stages. I feel that Electric Scooter laws in many states need to be refined to allow people without driver’s licenses to operate them legally if they don’t go over 20 miles an hour. Many lower income groups don’t have a car and many people with disabilities can’t obtain a driver’s license, and bicycles are not a solution that works for all.

I like short fiction, photography, and coffee. I’ll probably mostly be blogging about my life as a grad student in an online program while also working a full time job. I will probably complain a lot. Occasionally I’ll take some photos. I like doing street photography.

Here’s a photo of me.

See you all in a week or so. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram, like my page on Facebook, or subscribe to my YouTube channel.

Eric Shay Howard Author Blogger
Photo by John Eric Davis

Update: I found an older backup, and luckily I didn’t post too much in between then and now, so I’m only missing a few posts that weren’t really anything important anyway.

Continue Reading I’m Starting Graduate School in August