With yesterday being my 28th birthday (who cares?) I’ve officially avoided the #27Club. Not everybody can be so lucky.
The whole birthday thing, combined with the end of the decade has caused me to do some serious reflecting. Reminiscing like I’m in the Little River Band
Thankfully, I’ve grown from the man-child I was on February 29th, 2016 when I posted my first blog on DOL.
Instead of dedicating my birthday to charity to give the illusion of being philanthropic like everybody on Facebook who raised five whole dollars for cancer, please allow me take the next few minutes to explain the last four years (and then some). A journey of one step forward, eight steps back that has brought me to the point I am currently; in hope of helping others.
For the first time in years, maybe decades; I’m happy. Or at the very least, happier. Life’s not perfect by any means, but I want to see where it goes. I’m not ready to check out just yet. I feel that life is worth living, that I am worth it and the future is bright. The last few years have not been easy, but they shaped me into who I am today. Like Florence (Welch) said for the first time in human history in 2011’s Shake it Out “It’s always darkest before the dawn”. Buddy, it felt like I was draped in Pantone Black C Sabbath weighted blankets. Which of course, we all know is the darkest Pantone known to man. I would not be nearly as strong as I am right now without the days I felt like dying because they didn’t actually kill me. They were just coachable moments! Spoiler alert there were thousands of "coachable moments" that caused me to think I wouldn't be here today, but here I ammmm ***Rick Ross Voice***
When I started DOL in 2016, I did so without much of a plan (shocker). I had done some writing in the past on free Wordpress blogs; I “did” my senior project in high school on sports journalism for the now defunct scoutRI.org. s/o Brian Manfredi.
Not long before I started DOL, some random nothing blog, whose name I legitimately forgot, reached out to me on Twitter. I feel like it was called "sideline stories" or some corny BS like that. Heroes might've been in the name. I wrote a few articles for them in January 2016, but they wanted me to only write about football. That’s like a restaurant owner telling Gordon Ramsey he can only make nachos. That’s when the light-bulb went off. As a lover and advocate of freedom, I decided to start my own blog.
Over the last four years DOL has been my baby, my passion project and sample blog for that illusive Barstool dream. I'm beating a dead horse at this point but I fundamentally believe I was put on this earth to entertain and make people laugh. I know I'm good enough to work there. It's just about getting a chance because there's so much competition. Sure I’m no Roy Donk or Mookie Kramer, but I think I do alright. My IG has almost 50 followers!
DOL has been a timeline of the last four years and counting; filled with takes on sports, music, life in general + the awkward mess that is me. In a way it’s inadvertently been a scrapbook in my journey to “manhood".
As an awkward fuck, I love writing. It gives me an outlet to express myself without having to actually talk to people out loud. Same reason why I’m great on tinder/bumble until it’s time to meet IRL. As someone who’s been described as having no on-deck circle for their thoughts, it’s nice to have a place where I can take the time to better try to get my point across.
What started as a spin-off of a short lived “sports only” twitter account, @dozonsports pivoted into DozonLife. In thousands (hundreds?) of blogs since. I’ve hit on a variety of topics in (not so) popular culture. In the early days I made myself a focal point of my #content. (dozo-goes-on-okcupid.html, my-presidential-platform.html, dozo-the-dentist.html)
2016 is hands-down my favorite year of the 2010s. It's when DOL was born and I lost 120 pounds. I went from 376 to 256 lbs and was VERY open about my entire journey (important later). I followed Papi’s final season like a Deadhead, Pats went 14-2 and won the Super Bowl in semi-dramatic fashion. I was writing close to full time, going out on a bunch of dates (nbd). Ole Dozo was flying high. I was pretty, pretty, pretty close to living the life I wanted. Like the plot of an episode of Curb I was in for a few hiccups along the way.
As I’ve gotten older and more accepting of the possibility this never goes past a passion project, I’ve weaned off the Dozah-centric content in attempts to not entirely sabotage my back-up career that I spent 5 years and 75,000 dollars completing the necessary training. I have no issue at all making fun of myself, combining the most serious issues with a light-hearted approach, or putting myself in an awkward position for a laugh. That being said, it has been formidable challenge to try to balance being an educator with a wannabe be barstool personality-type online. I’ve been in this limbo for four years of being half way between writing/making content and teaching. At war with myself and those around me. To paraphrase Ron Swanson, I was half-assing two things, instead of whole-assing one. IMO it has hindered me in both fields.
At the end of the day my heart has never fully been in education. It’s just a job, but the fact that it was meaningful work appealed to me. Plus I was trying to make people who aren’t me happy. I love kids, but I hate being a disciplinarian or rule guy. That ain’t me. I hate how much schools harp on meaningless shit. Plus you’ve (likely) read my blog; I proofread like 36% of the time. I do not have the qualities you find in most teachers. I’m lazy, unorganized, think for myself, likely to pick favorites and hate reading.
I was the stereotypical “class clown” my entire academic career so there is a great irony in me "picking" teaching as a career after being an ass-hole to countless teachers. I’ve always been able to make people laugh. One of the few benefits of being fat growing up lol. During high school all I cared about was sports and girls. I failed at both but did alright academically purely off of my above average, but still developing brain. I put in next to no effort and still was an A-B student to appease my parents. #Humblebrag. I’ve wanted to write about sports for as long as I can remember. For years people have been telling me to go into this field. All these people were entirely justified in their thinking, as I am brilliant, but not everybody felt that same way.
Enter scene, Daddy.
Now before I go any further I want to explicitly state that I have no ill will towards my old man. He’s a great, but complicated guy. I love my dad very much. More than any other man alive that hasn't won 6 Super Bowls. As a boomer, I get his POV, he’s old school AF, trying to do the best he can...this is just a vital part of my story and where I am today. There is a lot of shit I've left out out of respect for him and to not try and keep this under 10,000 words.
After college, I didn’t get a job right away. I was still a pizza delivery driver. Like a lot of people my age (23), I still lived at home. Finding myself if you will. My dad helped me out a ton financially, as I lived there rent free after graduation, but the emotional support left a lot to be desired. He just wanted me to get a real job and chase the dream afterwards so I could “get off the payroll”. With hindsight I completely understand that. He did his time. It’s my turn now. But it’s not like I didn’t I want to be on my own, supporting myself too. I want my freedom. Sure I was a blogger in my dad’s basement but it’s not like I enjoyed being in my early-mid 20’s this way. I was trying, just not in a textbook way, which in his eyes wasn’t trying.
I could tell my days at home were running out as my current living situation was Chernobyl level toxic. So I moved to Nashville, TN in August of 2017 for a teaching job 3 weeks into the school year in a very difficult inner city middle school .My rationale was if I’m gonna have to teach in a city, it might as well be a cool one that I want to live in. I wasn't escaping him. He fucking drove me to the Music City afterall. To again quote Florence “It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back”. And my move to Nashville was my attempt to Shake It Out. Needless to see my experience in Nash was horrid (why-im-already-back-in-rhode-island.html) as I lasted less than 3 months. At the time I don't think he truly understood how unhappy I was down there and how much I regretted completely uprooting everything in this shotgun life altering event. That I had to leave and while of course at times I still think "what if?", at the time I did what was the best for me. This put a strain on our relationship which caused me to go into an even deeper depression. After I got back to RI, it did not help things improve. I proceeded to gain back 2/3 of all the weight I lost in the time it takes to watch The Irishmen.
Between the weight gain and feeling like a complete failure, I was at an all time low. I hated my life and every aspect of it (like I said earlier, there’s a lot more to it than what is posted here) I was someone who a few years earlier was using their weight loss story as a way to inspire others (and of course get a little ego boost from the love) only to put a majority of it back on and look like a complete FRAUD. Despite being huge, I never felt so small.
As time went on, sure, once in a while there would be a good day, but for the most part everyday was hell. I was miserable, barely writing, eating my feelings, feeling incredibly alone and isolated in scuzzbag West Warwick with minimal prospect. It felt like I had nobody. That most of my "friends" had completely forget I was alive after I moved out of my hometown. Not shortly after in 2018 I started to try and break out again. I moved into a new place, I had a gf for first time since 2013 (aka somewhat-steady sex) the Sox and Pats both won it all. You’d think I would be at an all time high. OooooOoo not even a little bit.
It wasn’t until earlier this year when I finally had enough. I didn’t wanna let these feelings be my undoing and have my lasting legacy be “suicide guy”. My divorced parents have both tried to get me to talk to someone for years and I always brushed it off. “I’m not a pussy, I don’t need that shit.” Textbook I need this shit behavior. I’m sure I could figure out the exact date with phone records but let’s just say in April 2019 I finally had enough. I broke down to my dad and told him how I was feeling and how low I had truly gotten. How broken I felt. How useless I felt. How much I hated my life. Not even two years prior I felt like I was finally getting my life in order. I was doing the whole adult thing. Now I was this fat, unhappy, loser with no will to live. How did things go so wrong, so quickly?
My relationship with self-image and body positivity is a complicated one. While I do think all people should feel worthy enough of being loved, I don't think we need to celebrate people who are morbidly obese. I hate everything about Lizzo. It's not fucking okay and as someone who has dealt with weight problems for 75% of their life it drives me CRAZY. Finding a middle ground is something I still struggle with. It wasn’t until this summer when I started seeing a therapist and losing weight again that I slowly got myself back. Confidence came back. It didn’t happen overnight and is still something I have to work on everyday. I’m a depressed binge eater with anxiety who uses food to cope. Not an ideal combo! Of course I’m terrified that I’ll just put myself in the same situation again. I said all the right things in 2016 and ended up right back where I was before.
I do think things will be different this time around because now I am conscious about how much I am in control. I honestly was so fucked up that I lost track of some of the most basic human functions. Talking to someone professionally has helped me shake the cobwebs off my brain and get back to my 2016-summer 2017 mindset. I had felt trapped for years, but this is my life. I’m the captain of my own ship. For years I’ve tried my best to be authentic to myself, but of course as a human I want to be accepted and liked as much as I’ll say I don’t care. Even on DOL I’ve been influenced by others to try and change my style to try and "make it" or cast a wider net. Fuck that noise. I am going to be me. As best as I can be. Throughout all of this I have regained the power to be authentic to me and what I want out of life.
I think that’s why I got to the place that I did. As far as we know this is our only shot at life and I was living one I hated so much I’d rather just not have one. The irony here with my blog being called Doz on Life does not escape me. Although in a way talking about this is exactly what life is all about. It’s messy, it’s gross, it’s uncomfortable. Yet we all try and portray this fake version of ourselves for the validation of people we don’t even like on social media. Like what the fuck? WHY?! Why do we do this? How is a generation that's more connected than ever so fucking sad and alone? For years I tried to please others and wasn’t living the life I wanted. Why? I know I can be a little too idealistic at times but honestly why live a life you hate? You only get one chance. Fucking go for it. Stop punting on 4th and inches in opponent territory. Do you know what this planet would look like if everybody just gave up on their dreams to fit in and be normal to impress people they don't even like or fit into a box they don’t want to fit into? How boring would life be if all those musicians, actors, artists, comedians, athletes, you name the field gave up because the odds were stacked against them? Idk man. Maybe I had to deal with all this before I was truly ready to move forward? I wonder all the time “why me?” why do these things happen to me? Why am I not enough? Recently I've really tried to break that mindset. I will think about how literally billions of people on this planet are worse off than me and they didn’t give up. How lucky I am. There are homeless people, ALS patients and Lions fans that didn’t give up on life. Why should I?
That’s why I’m so incredibly grateful to have so many people in my life that care enough about me. Without them and the fear of hurting them, I honestly don’t know if I’d be here today. I’m grateful that we as a society are finally starting to address the mental health epidemic and stigma so tightly associated with it. Men don't have to be afraid to have express their emotions.
I'm grateful that Gary Gilman can have a fucking HBO comedy special talking about his battle with depression and there's overwhelming support. I’m grateful for Carol for listening to me and making me feel worthy of happiness again. I'm grateful for my family. I'm grateful I was born in New England in a time where their sports teams would dominate for 20 years and continuing to bring me some joy. I'm grateful for the music that has inspired me to go on and know I'm not alone. I'm grateful for the people I loathe who are the pilot light that keeps me going. I’m grateful to be here and I’m grateful for anybody that has ever read a single word I’ve wrote on DOL. I don’t know if I’ll ever get to where I want to be but for the first time I can truly say that I know I have what it takes That I’m worth it, that I’m worthy and so are you. You too can shake out whatever devil is on your back. I’m 28 and feeling great(ful).
As long as Michael Thomas or Jared Cook don’t fumble I’m going to make the make the finals in my fantasy league. LFG