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Positive Sarcasm Presents: No Excuses - The Long Walk Home.

“I went downstairs and grabbed the box full of her stuff including a painting she did that I liked and the picture of her in Boston Harbor, drove across town in the snow, my heart pounding, my head racing with pure insanity regarding the actions I was performing but with the idea that I never wanted to be taken for granted again, never being gullible or believing in the idea that humans are inherently good. I could no longer help her or myself, but hopefully someone else could; which is why I didn't hesitate when I pulled up to the house...and dropped the whole box of Melissa's crap right on her friends porch...Happy New Year."

-No Excuses: Chasing Dante – Part Two, October 2016

Writing about your successes in life is easy. Writing about your failures is even easier. Writing about your stupidity/insanity isn't. Planning out the approach to this article was like playing mental Ping-Pong with a live grenade. As with the other three articles, this piece will revisit my life between January 2016 to Spring 2017 with my final thoughts on the entire series and the people who greatly affected it. There are no real secrets in this world anymore, so as I close out this article and the series it's attached to...expect shit to fly.

“Everyone has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.”

-Mike Tyson

 

January 2016:

Holidays have zero meaning to me at this point. Birthdays, Christmas, it doesn't matter in my routine, I'm only left with disappointment as my journey towards crazy town had hit full speed. For three weeks I would barely speak to my roommate, Beth after the messy confession I left on someones porch. It clearly had no effect as in late January I receive a text asking the question, “Do you still hate me?” Fucking really? After I dump all of Melissa's stuff on her friends icy porch, she's still reaching out? At this point, who's the crazy one? If you don't mind, I'll be calling her M for the majority of the article...it helps keep the writing on track and the computer in one piece.

Apparently she wants to talk, why, I have no clue, I agreed to listen to whatever bullshit she has to say on a treadmill somewhere in Goffstown. I don't like how my emotions swing in so many different directions whenever I think of her and at the time when I saw her. She knew what I wanted each time throughout the three years of knowing her, so when I left her at the gym that night after hearing her out, I was left with no real conclusions, other than that the door still may be open, Christ am I fucking stupid. I should of known better considering that if you workout at a Planet Fitness, your not committed to bettering yourself or others around you. She said she still cared about me and I guess that was enough to fuel me for another year of bullshit.

Article writing was spotty at best during 2015 so I found it important to find my style again, but where to begin after a long hiatus and no place to call home. Lying on a makeshift bed on the floor each night didn't offer much inspiration, so I braved the winter cold and booked a lovely spot by the ocean for a “Writers Retreat.” No TV, no friends, just a view of the ocean and a steady supply of coffee. Since the original “No Excuses” dropped in November 2014, I only dropped three articles over a span of one year. After kicking off the New Year with “The Hiroshima Effect”, which was in response my little escapade across town with M's box of stuff, I sat in that hotel room and wrote two sweet little Gems over the course of eight hours. I was pleased with the unapologetic approach my writing was becoming. After M checked in with me to see how my writing was going, I reviewed my spelling and grammar as well as I could, prepared the artwork for Instagram and called it a night.

It seemed at the time that I had found my knack for writing again, regardless of how dark the tone of the articles were, so I was more fearless in the topics I would cover going forward. Generally when life was more hopeful, my writing would tend to come more frequently, but when it was pure chaos, my keyboard would be mostly silent, but I never really was able to rekindle that flare I once had before all this shit went down. Women tend to have that affect on me, especially the ones that are lying, cheating whores...more on that towards the end.

My food prep business was starting to burn out as it was a great strain on me, I always wanted to be available to everyone at all times. I considered myself a great time management person and could achieve anything once I had the time pattern down. However when it came to dealing with people, this was a skill I never really sharpened and this prove to be a major factor in 2016.

March 2016:

I thought it was my moment to shine as someone who could be relied on. The car was clean, the gas tank was full and M's daughter was excited. I offered to drive them down to Boston so they could attend a concert on Lansdowne St where Fenway Park sits. While they were inside, I shot across town to the North end, grabbed a bunch of pastries and had some dinner nearby. When I returned, they seemed to be at odds over a t-shirt or something, I didn't wanna pry too much, so I just gave them their pastries and endured the quiet ride home, I could make out the tears on M's face, what they were from, I'm not sure, but I was insistent upon telling her daughter how much I appreciated seeing her and hoped it wouldn't be the last time. M handed me gas money for the trip...what the fuck? I may need money, but I sure as fuck don't want yours. As she grabbed stuff out of the car, I quietly stood next to her daughter and slid the cash into her hand. I have no clue what impact this may have had on her, if any. It would be the last I would hear from M for a little while, cus I don't like initiating texting with people cus it's just not my thing, I don't like putting pressure on people like that, I'd prefer to call or get together, it feels more human that way. I personally can't stand the winter months, so let's just jump to April.

April 2016:

The whole food prep client thing was dying, my patience was wearing thin and so was my cash. I had become less and less attached to humanity with each passing day. So early on the morning of April 19th, I received a message from M saying that it's best that we don't speak anymore. I asked her what she wanted, she replied that she doesn't want anything from me. I can't go thru all the “he said, she said”, because it would take forever, but our communication obviously wasn't in the same language, I was very clear about what I wanted and was ready for long term whenever it was available to me, her decision making was questionable, secretive and non-committal and that's being kind. Once again I was left with that empty feeling inside my head, but this time with a growing anger that read like a magazine cover across my face. There I was, standing in my front lawn almost coming to blows with my final food prep client, I was becoming more greedy with how I wanted to spend my free time and it led to a tightening of my fist. I was standing there in full view of the public, one snapped twig, one small shove, one cross word away from putting four white knuckles across a woman's face. I put my head down, walked upstairs, locked all the doors, turned my phone off and bled my heart of all emotion. People didn't matter anymore, Chivalry was dead to me, I wrote one final article and tried to disappear. At this moment, Positive Sarcasm and it's entire promising network of content...was dead.

May 2016:

I could go days without talking, not muttering a single word to another human being. No matter where I went, I could accomplish zero human interaction. At the gym, headphones were on, brim was down and I didn't stay very long. At home, Beth was so wrapped up in her now dead relationship and we had very different schedules, so by the time she was home, I was in my room asleep, habitually slept and still do sleep with the door open, she would watch TV and I would be hoping to sleep at least six hours.. At the beach I would set up my stuff and put in my ear buds and lie there all day not saying a word, at the store I would use self-checkout, at Starbucks I would use the app, grab my coffee and go sit outside, I was purposely nothing more than a name on a receipt. People would call, but I wouldn't answer. The Jay Cutler Classic in Boston came and went without my presence.

The longer a person goes without putting effort into certain things, the more perverse and dark their mindset can become, this proves to still be a factor with me, so I figured it best to just stay away from people altogether and not get tangled up in there lives, however the more I ran away from all those people, I would run eventually into others, also less I went out, the more I noticed my body physically changing, as I had just dumped a huge emotional load to the side and filled my entire heart and mind with a more aggressive and point blank approach to life.

One day, while at the ocean, I decided to make a phone call...

June 2016:

I don't fully grasp how he was able to do it, but Bobby had managed to put together a life free of financial stress, a castle in the clouds and a V8 Convertible to pierce thru the highway of bullshit that life tends to throw at the slowpokes. We sat down like men over Cigars, Scotch and I absorbed everything that he told me. The power of a cigar can never be truly measured. It's truth wafts thru the air and with it you can tell right away who is of good moral value...and who is completely full of shit. I only brought a small bit of research to the table that evening, we discussed a new business venture for myself, completely separate from everything else I've done, something I could replicate with little effort at a moments notice. “Just shut up and do it.”, he said. So that's what I did, I set up an entire lab for stuff I could jar and sell, made sure I had all the legal stuff ready to go, took all my prototypes and nailed it down to one easy to make product and quietly started collecting the essentials for packaging. So as the side project reemerged as something more promising, I also made a plan to visit the doctors “unofficially” to see how my body had recovered from all the crap I put it thru. Ever since the debacle of 2014, I had pulled away from family cus it was too much to handle. I treated everything like it was a task, family included. Regardless, I felt it was time to make a trip to Carolina and visit family, but it wasn't my only reason for going there. A quiet little mission had conveniently made it's way into my plans. Since April, my nutritional habits had veered towards a more Keto style meal prep with fewer carbs, and higher amounts of decent fat sources, plus the weather was improving, so I could go for a nice walk in the morning on an empty stomach. This didn't feel like a stress at all, so I maintained to the point where I losing about a half pound of body fat per week. I never stopped food prepping for myself so staying on top of my physique was not a huge task. As long as I kept my stress levels down, competing again seemed more like a possibility with each passing week. I didn't want to do any shows anywhere even near The Northeast for that could bring my stress level up, but with Bobby having done my tan for the New Englands in 2014, my new knowledge of which products to use and an improving knowledge of food, I asked him to fly with me down to Charleston, South Carolina for a show called “The Excalibur”. No one was to know, not even Bruno. I practiced my own posing, did my own diet, (better than last time) ditched all that High Intensity Cardio bullshit and stuck with Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for a nice afternoon beating. Bobby's response to my request was the same one he always gave me, “Yeah, sure just lemme know.”

...fucking Bobby.

July 2016:

My desire to eat any bad foods or talk to anything with a Vagina were at an all time low. I was truly focused on the task at hand. I was gonna start a new company and give the people a product they could truly appreciate and have in their home on the regular all while preparing for a possible return to NPC Men's Physique. All the prep in the world doesn't get you ready for standing in front of hundreds of people on stage in just a pair of shorts. It can be nerve wracking for many, but the NPC is the only league that takes Modern Physique seriously, the other leagues as well as the competitors tend to treat it as more of a joke. Plus the NPC has the best competitors, I would still go in with a natural physique, cus that's just my code. I don't care if the kid next to me is 200 pounds with Steroid Shoulders, I'll stand right next to him at 170 with a legit chance of beating him, I've done it before and I'll do it again.

Yet there was more to be done. If you think starting a new business and prepping for a fitness show will occupy all of my time, we've clearly never met. Since April, my fuel tank had started to fill up, most of my fuel stemmed from anger, but it was fuel either way and I planned to use it. Sitting around and being sad is for fucking pussies and doesn't help anybody. It doesn't help society, but most importantly, it doesn't help me. So it was time to raise the PS flag, It was important tho that if I were to raise the banner that it would stay up for good. No running away, no being taken as a joke, no being afraid of someone being offended or not calling out those who deserved it. I would bring the writing back, I would bring in collaborators for certain projects, I would resurrect and clean up every part of the website and offer my services to whomever required them. It would take a lot of time, equipment and money. I scraped together whatever I could and built a physical and portable approach to each part of the website. For what I couldn't afford or operate, I would have collaborators come in to fill in the gaps. I've already lost a lot in my life...I wasn't losing this...no fucking way. On July 21st, I took to social media and made the announcement. That is when my phone lit up with questions, some people excited to see my content again, others were worried about what I would say.

August 2016:

Flight booked. Show Registered. Everything was set, it wasn't without Bobby that this was all possible. It was the opportunity to see if I had the ability to still compete with all the changes the sport has gone thru. I had certainly made some mistakes thru this prep, but it was far more successful than the last time and I was about 8 pounds heavier than the disaster of 2015, plus no one familiar was around to give me any stress. It also gave my roommate Beth some much needed free time, cus her boyfriend, Nick was driving her crazy by taking off every chance he could get, like a beagle off it's leash, only with half of the brain and a fraction of the loyalty. So time away from my crazy ass would almost certainly be beneficial. I had setup several photo shoots with my newest collaborator Myrina Jalbert for after I had returned from South Carolina. I was pumped to see how my approach would work opposed to how others prep during the week of the show. I packed as much food as I could for the flight down, Bobby is always up for an adventure, so he was ready to rock out to whatever I had planned. Since my diet consisted of almost no carbohydrates, it took a few days for my body to fill out, cus I like to run around in the towns that I visit, a lot of people sit in there hotel rooms and count their macros and all that crap, that can stress anyone out, so I tried a different approach, we went down to Isle of Palms across from Charleston and rented a couple scooters after visiting the Yorktown Museum and drove around the island bare chested like a bunch of idiots for over two hours, we accidentally jumped on the highway and crashed our scooters into each other, causing Bobby's to stall. We didn't care. It was high time in Sushi Town and after trashing the scooters for two hours, we went back to trashing the rental car, fucked up one of the tires, returned it and got another rental car and proceeded to trash that shit box as well. Reasons to travel with Bobby: He's got the money to go anywhere, he's got the open mindedness to try anything...except for Burning Man, not sure what his thoughts are on that. I don't hear no from him often, other than “No Problem” or “No way I'm going to miss that shit show!” We went from not speaking for almost two years to having some serious bro-ventures together. I also need to mention his impressive ability to put on Pro-Tan, the product I use to make myself look darker under stage lights. Who needs an expensive spray tan when you have “Bobby Bronze”? Kid can do anything, if he wanted to be a physique athlete, he would be a class winner, he's just that intelligent. He just chooses to be a Scotch and Cigar Connoisseur...which is probably healthier than most of what we do backstage and the gorging we do afterwards.

Anyways, back to the story. One giant plate of Korean BBQ, three coats of Pro Tan and off to bed I went...

...Saturday Morning came with less stress than I anticipated.

I was lean enough to not look terrible, better than I ever looked onstage. We strolled into the Sottile Theater with a slight Caffeine buzz and made our way backstage to where we would eventually be segregated by division. All the Physique dudes got there own room and we bonded rather quickly. Jason Rapuso had a million dollar smile and was quick to soak in my backstage personality. I get a bit chatty when I'm back there. It helps keep the stress level low and helps pass the time so your not thinking about stupid stuff. I did miss the smell of the tanning products and the odd brotherhood that comes with being behind the curtain, but make no mistake, I want hardware. I didn't fly down to Charleston, South Carolina for a free fucking donut.

Why I didn't register for Novice class as well, I have no clue, cus that sinking feeling when your standing there in 7th place is not one I tend to enjoy, cus at that moment you have no clue how far off you are from being a first call out, your just cast aside like a sock with a hole in it. Novice class would have dropped me right in 3rd place and I would be shipping a Dagger shaped trophy to my old posing coach, Bruno. I still to this day kick myself for not adding that extra class. No trophy for the black boarding shorts today...but they may have a chance in the near future. In my personal opinion, the shows in the Southern Region are run more efficiently and reward competitors with much superior hardware than up in the cheap ass Northeast. I'll be back for that dagger someday, hopefully Bobby will be with me for one final time.

We ran around town buying bread, wine, cigars, donuts, pastries as Bobby chased Pokemon in the park.

After a big bowl of Ramen Soup, we hopped in the rental and crushed two hours south of Charleston to the small town of Conway, where my parents reside. The excitement of today's festivities began to dissipate as my father, once a wrestler, a cop, a stiff necked Sicilian, now rolling on a tennis ball walker and memories of the past. A misdiagnosis had allowed the cancer to spread from his hip and starve him of his ability to be a man. He spent his whole life working towards retirement, but no one ever taught him how to properly live it. He wrongfully assumed that the pensions and all that other bullshit would take care of my mother in his final days, we would later learn that this wasn't the case. So as we would check in with him every day as he watched old movies from his bedroom, Bobby and I took off with my mother's Mustang and blasted straight for Myrtle Beach. Fuck it, we were on vacation.

I realized that week that I could still compete, I could still place well, just needed to tweak my diet a bit and tighten my posing a bit. No more dead lasts for me. I wasn't built for that. So when we returned home from South Carolina, I wanted to really push my creative boundaries, I didn't want the word “no” to be a strong fixture in my vocabulary. However random texts from M would continue to pop up and send me into a desperate rage, always ending with me more confused and pissed than the one before it. It would eventually come to a serious head...how, I wasn't sure yet, it would bleed somewhat into my photo shoots, although I must admit, despite Myrina just getting to know what I was like as a creator, she handled my short temper rather well, but with the colder weather approaching and her having to go deal with some real life shit, we put a halt to the collaboration so that she could go put her life back together, something I have been trying to do for the last three years.

Since I returned home, pretty much everyone I knew was splitting up. Josh Brown was entering the world of divorce, Beth had more complications with that meat head bigot fucktard from Quincy, Bobby called off his engagement, plus Zack and Lindsay split up. So many others had cut ties as well, but I can't name them all, because the body count was just too high. I may have recovered from that little brain issue, but some scars still hurt when you touch them. So all this affected me greatly...hold on I'm getting a text...guess who?

December 2016:

The black truck that hasn't graced my front entrance for just over one year was now idling outside after a phone call made in my direction asked for coffee. I hopped in nervously and sat beside M near the lake as the snow began to fall. I made it clear what she needed to do to get her shit together and that if I don't hear from her, communication with me would become more difficult as I still to this day have a weak heart for past company. I looked at her one more time and walked up the stairs. I had no desire to write, I had done a little bit of video work, so I desperately began to explore the possibility of doing a weekly vlog on youtube, since the podcast was stale and still awaiting consistent guests, I pieced together a small amount of gear and learned how I could put together a decent amount of content in an area that really isn't New York City or Los Angeles. I made do with what I had, to this day, I don't get a ton of views, but its made me money, sharpened my skills and oddly enough, given me exposure with producers at ABC and Good Morning America. My skills have definitely sharpened since that garbage first episode and I haven't wavered from improving all aspects of my website, as the posing music has a true passion and has given me an ever welcoming hand within the fitness community. At this point, it was whatever I could do to keep my brain busy.

January 2017:

4 weeks into my vlog, I get a phone call from my brother, “We have sort of a situation going on with dad in South Carolina, dad is...terminal.”

I packed up my gear and flew down to Myrtle Beach with my brother and sister. The scent of impending death lingered thru the air. Since this whole journey began three years ago, I had distanced myself from all family members as I was embarrassed about being homeless, penny-less and fiance-less. So the deterioration of my fathers condition seemed more rapid from my perspective. Sleep was his hobby now, morphine was his diet. We had an ambulance bring his lingering soul back to the house and made him as comfortable as possible. My mother started handing us stuff like it was spring cleaning, I didn't really want anything. I took one photo of my father when he picked up our late cocker spaniel who passed in December and that was about it.

Imagine watching the sunset knowing that when It reached the horizon, it would never return. That's about as best as I can describe it. We had to catch a flight later that week and as my fathers internal clock was in it's final stages, I looked over his weakening frame as my fathers eyes stared lazily towards the ceiling. I dunno if he heard what I said to him, but I put my hand on his chest, told him with a stone cold face that I would improve upon all his teachings and that I would never let anyone make a fool of our last name again. I glanced over him one last time and walked right out the door, zero emotion on my face or in the words to my mother, “let's go.”

One Week later, my mother calls me while I'm home editing that weeks vlog, “Daddy passed away this morning.”

...The Beautiful Bastard had left us.

February 2017:

I found that the only way I could show emotion was thru my video work, so I allowed for my vlog to have a more dramatic theme at times, deeming it necessary to allow parts of my real life in it and be completely open with the general public as it would most obviously affect how I would write and record video. So when it came to dealing with M (or lack there of), I thought hard about who was there for me and didn't have to be, who wasn't bound by the obligation of blood or law. My niece and I were tighter than a twisty on a loaf of bread, Bobby was clearly a lifetime bro, Beth despite her awful track record with men, was more genuine with me than most women in my life as she was to leave me with the keys to my first home in three years, Zack and I became super tight after January and was the first from my gauntlet of shows to give me a bedroom. Bruno I'll punch babies for, he knows that.

Who wasn't there? Every single fucking time I was in a bad way, who seemed to be off filling herself up with more Booze and bullshit with each passing day. I sat on that infamous park bench by the river and finally used the strength of my brain to compensate for the weakness in my heart...odd that Verizon only allows you to block a phone number for 90 days, but instagram lets you do it for life. I figured stacking the two would do the trick...welcome to Week 11.

March 2017:

This month was full speed ahead, I had no time for bullshit.

I was so focused on putting stability into my life so that I could focus on creating, that was my greatest asset. I could always create and I wasn't afraid to explore any topic or ask any question or go after anyone I deemed to be full of shit. When she messaged me via facebook, it was a slap in the face. “Why is it so hard to just be my friend?”

Men and women can't be friends, that's a horseshit cop-out. They can be acquaintances, but a friendship is more likely to be lopsided. I stood my ground, said that'll never happen, my wants are clear, I've seen no effort and I've done this already a half dozen times. I will not stand by and be friend zoned why they go pig it up on the other side of town. Fuck that. No more lazy social media messages. That's for 12 year olds. When I blocked her, I didn't feel relief, elation nor any other good vibe. I felt anger. How was I so gullible? I know laziness when I see it, but my ability to spot bullshit needed some improvement.

Lesson Learned.

Conclusion:

This is life, it's fucked. I use to have the ability to block things out and not let thoughts get to me, but after all the damage I did to myself, my brain has never been the same, I can't unsee these things. They walk with me wherever I go. Certain things in the background of my eyesight can make me clench my fist. So after three years of being able to properly absorb everything to myself and others around me, these are my official thoughts on this whole journey if that's what you want to call it.

Brace yourselves...

It's one thing to be dumped and sent packing, it happens to all of us. The truth is I was betrayed, deceived and conspired against. I was made to believe that I was solely responsible for my failed relationship with Andrea, that I wasn't a deep enough soul. That I didn't understand her, that I was unknowingly given multiple chances; so I threw all my possessions in the trash, believing I didn't deserve them, sending me on some stupid redemption tour to hopefully win her back by stepping on stage where she once did. Great plan, Joey.

If I would known that there was another man already in her, it would have certainly explained why her pussy started to smell like a traveling carny running a Tilt-a-Whirl at the fairgrounds. He was already there in the shadow; which means every decision made within that home was done with an ulterior motive and once I was out the door for good, he was there where I once laid my head at night. Your new stepdaddy's here! I'll just slide right in, eat at your table, sit in your living room, watch your TV, brush my teeth in your sink and since I'm already penetrating your girlfriend...I'll just keep doing that. So much for that engagement ring. Never mind the fact that this wasn't revealed to me until I was backstage in Boston six months later when Bruno took me aside and brought me up to date of what had transpired.

We all as people think about these things over and over, we generally just don't admit to them, we reveal them to the general public in some unrecognizable way, in a selfie or some bullshit inspirational quote that was stolen from a book they never read or a Rocky movie they never watched. My thoughts are right up front. As far as I'm concerned with Andrea, it's crossed my mind on several occasions over the last few years that if all the adults in the Dalhberg family were to die in a house fire, pissing on the ashes would've seemed to be the suitable ceremony they would deserve. They were either too ignorant or too involved. Both make you guilty. The cover-up is always worse than the crime and as they are a family of deep Catholics, good luck to you at the Pearly Gates, assholes.

Those are my official and final thoughts on that subject.

And what of Melissa? What kind of person was she? Was she just a lost soul trying to pick up the pieces from a troubled past? Or was she just some bruised uterus, a back of the refrigerator carton of Chinese leftovers that aspires to be nothing more than a dent in a headboard?

I can't sum it up any better than saying it was a lie. She was a lie, verbally, spiritually, emotionally, physically, just kept tossing more bullshit onto the pile until there was a wall.

My heart may still be weak, but my brain has now recovered enough to know when I'm about to be fed something with an unsavory aftertaste.

I have made many allies and clearly pointed out my enemies. I've pulled myself and where I sleep off the ground, I chose to not only dive into all the circles of my own personal hell, but I was somehow able to coherently journal most of it and share it with you, the reader. I fully admit that all these people have one thing in common...me. It was my fault. I met these people, I chose to put my trust in them. I decided to take chances with them. I could have just walked away and not given it a second thought. So in the end, I completely absorb the blame. Doesn't make anything right. I will not preach to you right or wrong, good vs bad. This is life, it's insane as well as the choices we make during it. I lived it knowing very well that others have lived much worse, but I'm not them and they're not me.

This is where it ends. My story may not be completely over, but this series is. Whatever version of me surfaces after this is all over, I hope he makes a difference...but, for now, I better tighten my shoelaces... for it's gonna be an awfully long walk home.

 

'We hustle, we fight, we live and die by the light.
 

We struggle, we claw, we work our hands and minds till they are raw
 

Outside of the norm may be a better life. A car, a home, a yard, a wife.
 

Tho your not meant to chase their dreams only your own, u still work your abilities to the Bone.
 

Then one day it's taken away. You now own nothing so you look to the sky, your quivering mind can only ask why.
 

When no answer arrives, you begin that long trek while recounting the moments from your past lives, muttering the lyrics from a song that last played before it all went wrong.
 

Your armor is gone and without your cloak, you wander thru reality mirroring a joke, whom others choose to question, doubt, prod and poke.
 

Now you want answers, now you seek the truth, you become a detective, an investigator, an emotional sleuth.
 

As u begin to reveal answers, for a life thought to be true, you question the motives of all those now and once around you.
 

The truth is the most expensive item you can buy and the price skyrockets when you realize it was all a lie.
 

A new body and mind are born that fateful day as your previous self will rapidly decay.
 

You now have no master, you have no Lord, for the evidence of truth has become your armor, as well as your sword.
 

For now you are nimble, now you are light, ready at all times will your body and mind be awaken to fight.
 

Now you are dangerous, because your purpose seems true, you seek aggressively to reclaim what has been taken from you.
 

Do not give an inch, go the extra mile, isolate the demons whose acts are so deceptively vile.
 

You were never the norm, but you are now the storm. For without the cold, they'll never be the warm.
 

In such a crusade, you'll make mistakes, at times you'll lose your way, but if you stay true to the path paved during the night, the peace you sought all along will warmly greet you as a brand new day.'
 

FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT,

- Positive Sarcasm

Positive Sarcasm Presents: No Excuses.

Trying to summarize this entire experience from the snap of the first progress photo to my final moments on stage is like trying to fit an elephant into a shoebox and mail it across Africa…yep, that’s my opening line.

 

            I remember ripping my shirt off, exposing what I thought was a pale-ass frame for the first time as my prep coach pokes at my body fat while several six-packs were doing bodybuilding poses directly behind me at the gym. All my doubts and nervousness were quickly swept aside as he quietly muttered, “I’m really excited to see how you’re body is going to progress.” After a brief emotional side discussion, I buckled down, fueled up the angry part of my brain and started what would be around 18 weeks of soreness, late nights, early mornings, emotional breakdowns, panic attacks and a war with myself that only now has subsided thanks to the love and support of my friends, teammates, coaches, family. Someone said this was supposed to a fun experience…I don’t remember that part.

 

Oh crap, lemme back up…after meeting a fellow gym rat and agreeing to train with him for five straight weeks, I stumble upon a charming white smiled bodybuilder, let’s call him “TJ”. That’s actually what everyone calls him. I asked for his help and he stared like a laser all the way across the gym at a local legend, a man who exudes more confidence than George Clooney in a dorm full of virgins. Bruno was his name…his last name. At this point, I had no idea who I was speaking with, all I knew was that TJ trusted him, so I went with that.

 

At this point, I had already decided what division I would be competing in and what League offered me the biggest challenge. Since the inception of Men’s Physique and Women’s Bikini, popularity for the National Physique Committee has risen insanely over the past few years and other leagues have quickly followed suit. Your physical appearance still matters greatly, but personality also plays a part in determining who places where and if you place at all. Essentially it boils down to conditioning, symmetry and stage presence. So during this process, I’ll be learning how to portion and prep my food on a day to day basis, pose as a bodybuilder in order to harden my muscles, all while resisting the temptations of everyday distractions or excuses…yes, all of them.

 

My first trip with Bruno was down to Newburyport for a local OCB show, a league he wanted me to warm up in before diving into the NPC and all the baggage that comes with it. First off, why the hell are these boarding short guys posing like bodybuilders? Why were they doing full routines? Why am I asking you? This show caused me many late nights in the gym trying to perfect a routine that I never actually performed on stage. One huge takeaway from this show was meeting Tom and Kim, a couple with more muscle than the Russian Mafia. Tom’s back required a topography map just to navigate across it and Kim’s abs coupled with her Dorchester accent could make any punk Irish kid under 5’8 run for his life. A couple steaks and black coffee’s later, Tom is videoing Kim and I half naked in a busy café street posing off in front of ….an oncoming Toyota Four-Runner. Quick, hit the oblique pose and get the F&#k off the road!

 

Oh…she won the pose off, by the way.

 

Anyone ever used a stair-climber machine? Looks like normal cardio equipment as you stroll thru the gym, but at 5am…it’s a death machine of pure evil. With nothing but a handful of vitamins in your nauseous gut, you ascend up this mountain of never-ending steps. Your head leans against screen in pure exhaustion, and you only keep your eyes open just enough to peel through all the food porn on Instagram. This, of course, is only your cardio, your workout still awaits you at the end of the day, along with a psycho gym rat, whose chest only reads “FEAR GOD.” Welcome to my summer of 2014.

 

In order to properly prepare for what would become 4 shows over 34 days, I had to lighten my mental load. Three weeks into training, I went to my storage locker; which contained what was left of my 30 years of existence. Without any hesitation or cognitive thought, the first trash dumpster I saw within a mile was where I left all of it. Armed with with a laptop, a smartphone and a small arsenal of gym clothes, I ambushed social media like it was 1968. Knowing that a large community of fitness fanatics eagerly were awaiting another Gym freak, what they got was me, a man with no “home”, no attachments, no identity…and no excuses.

 

By week 6, I was attacking the gym, social media, and after being screamed at by my nutritionist, I was also attacking the salt. By week 8, what once was a 180 pound soft shelled podcaster was now a 170 pound overly aggressive ball of veins. I had a chest, I had abs, I had wings, I had promise. 

 

My posing still sucked, but hey…baby steps.

 

Now after 3 months of posing, lifting, dieting, and video journals; which looking back I can barely understand what the hell I was talking about, the team was one week out from the first show. After a fun photo shoot with my Niece, I headed for posing practice feeling a little tired, but I thought it was from just working so damn hard to prep for my first show. Two days later, my temperature was 102 and the physique I had worked so hard for was shedding like a dog in the summer time. My first show was only days away and I was barely able to stand. By Wednesday I was full of drugs and covered in Pro-tan by Alison who was the only woman I even allowed to touch me during this process. Nice girl, just don’t piss her off. Regardless of how awful my first show was going to be, I was getting up on that goddamn stage no matter how sick or stupid I looked.

 

Somehow I manage to Dayquil my way up to Maine and register for the show, keeping in contact with Jimmy, my council, I sat in my hotel room and rested as I listened to the couple upstairs screw each other stupid…how goddamn romantic. It is now September 27th.

I don’t remember much of the morning, other than doing pushups in the parking lot before the show. I can honestly say nothing during that show went right for me, I had lost so much weight, my trunks didn’t fit, I was sweating thru my dream-tan, turning my skin a solid gold color, and before announcing my name for 3rd place, I puked up a phlegm ball so big, my lung was still attached to it, I went out onto the stage, became light headed and nearly buckled to the ground. Welcome to Men’s Physique.

 

There was no time to really review what happened during that show, because the next day, I was back at the gym, lifting and posing with the rest of the guys. Patrick’s season was over after one show, but his physique consists of very little flaws. Watching him and Tom battle head to head on stage was a show in itself. I’m glad everyone walked away from that show with hardware, but what I wanted was still 30 days away.

 

Next up was Cape Cod, tearing back into the weights with a body running at maybe eighty percent capacity, that’s more than enough for me and apparently it was plenty for my friends on social media, as I was surprised at the amount of support I was getting heading into the next show. I stuck with the same plan, reloaded on supplements and went shopping for new boarding shorts. It’s critical what colors a person picks, because dream-tan is unforgiving on lighter clothes. I’ve been told this before, but ignored the warning as I picked out a streaky white bathing suit for my show on October 11th. This time Jimmy accompanied me down to the Hotel where various topics including how great my hair looked were fired back and forth. Imagine a 168-pound Physique competitor and a 230-pound bodybuilder with very little patience for scratchers like me riding in a Saab for 2 hours down to the Cape, only to sleep in the same bed and watch him consume an entire seafood platter while I sip an unsweetened Iced Tea. Mmmmm delicious.

 

If you’ve ever been backstage at a fitness event, the heavenly scent of tanning products and body odor welcomes you as competitors scramble to find their buttons before running on stage. My dilemma lied not with my button, but with my shorts. Dream-Tan doesn’t really dry, so when I sat down for about an hour…yes I was wearing white shorts.

Thankfully I had a backup pair, which are now the most recognizable in my collection. Before hitting the stage at a carb-heavy 173 pounds, Bruno, Jimmy and myself briefly went over something I now call the “Victory Pose”. The photographer nailed it at the perfect moment, as I gaze at my closing hand and although my competitors were far better conditioned, this photo defines my entire experience thru this transformation, a tiny smile, a little redemption and a growing love for the stage. Tom, Kim, Shaina, and I all took home OCB hardware that day. However their season was over…mine was just getting started.

 

In a last second addition, we added NPC New Haven to the schedule, so just one week later I was back in the mix against much larger competitors. I found that since starting fat burners, my body wasn’t holding food like normal; which was expected, but my appetite was dropping rapidly. That I didn’t expect. So when I woke up Saturday morning in New Haven at 162 pounds, I had a feeling it was going to be an interesting day.

This was Rick’s, Hung’s and my first NPC show, so it was good we had a warm up show before the November 1st beast called The New England Regional Championships.

Lemme back up again, cus this article reads a lot like a Quentin Tarantino screenplay (see Pulp Fiction). Rick is big, calm demeanor, very approachable, but for some reason I can imagine him knocking out Big Bird without any hesitation. Hung…is a little ball of lean muscle. He lifts big and learns fast. He’s a little shy, but can own any stage, regardless of his height. Looking at my competition, Kevin Richards weighs in at 190 pounds…shredded. So after I see what I’m up against, I start pounding this sweet potato protein pudding I created the night before in order to look a little bigger against these monsters, but after eating a little too much (the whole Tupperware), I spilled out over my abs and chest. Day over. No callouts. No trophy. Lesson learned. Yet I wasn’t that upset, I saw it as a learning opportunity to see where my bodies’ limits were. It was a very well run show and I made a lot of friends at this one, some whom I will see again very soon. Michael Morin didn’t leave empty handed in Men’s Physique and Josh Brown happily returned my towel after crushing in Men’s Bodybuilding. I was happy to have cracked the top ten, so I had something to look forward to, as I was to begin prep for the final and largest show on my schedule.

 

So here we all are, all hands and teammates on deck. Big Rob with quads that only Jupiter could orbit, Bantamweight Andrew Lafond, who in my honest opinion has really nice hair and he really likes to be complimented on it. With the addition of Mike and Derek, we’re all sausaged up in the posing room. I’m not sure where Bruno found Hung, but I’m blown away at his ability to find the more promising Bikini girls in the region. Enter Jen Polk. She’s blond, bubbly, and some other nice word that begins with B that I can’t think of at the moment. This pink bikinied assassin isn’t far away from winning a big show thanks to the support of her fitness freak of a mother, Francis.

 

Okay enough compliments, back to business here…

 

At this point, after all the training and lack of sleep, my body is gassed. I took all the pre-workout I had left (six scoops) and flat-lined in the gym after about 20 minutes. I was 10 days out from the biggest show in New England, was way lighter than most of my competition and I still didn’t like the way I looked. I asked Jimmy if I could rest for a couple days, he agreed for the fact that I over-trained constantly. I was doing fasted cardio everyday and lifting every night. From the moment I woke up to the second I passed out, I was running, lifting, prepping, posing, my only quiet moment was tanning, and since that was the only true moment of peace I had, that’s when my emotions would at times get the best of me. When you train for something like this, there are moments in every competitors training when the brain and body fight back and it’s not always pretty. So just because I trained harder than everyone else, that doesn’t mean I trained smarter. So now if I was to avoid leaving my last show empty handed, I had to show up smaller. Size matters, but speed kills. Enter carb/water depletion.

 

Before leaving for Boston, I said goodbye to my niece, Nicole, who despite all our recent arguments, I hope will one day grace the stage with her cosmic presence.

 

Friday Morning…

 

I was in Boston before any of my teammates were even awake. Covered in Pro-tan and running only on the energy that the city was putting out, my last bit of water was a 2pm black coffee from the North End, about a mile from my hotel, I wanted to exhaust every bit of energy so that my sleep cycle that night would be uninterrupted. Applying Pro-tan yourself is fun, for me…it usually turns into a dance party, but I had to be careful while roaming around the hotel, cus the bill for a hotel in Mid-town Boston is already high enough. To ensure I depleted all my water the night before the show, I popped six more water pills before wrapping myself up at about 11:30pm. I had a feeling it was going to be a rough morning, but my shorts were ready, my food was portioned and my Calvin Klein Suit was hanging in the closet.

 

No Distractions. No Regrets. No Excuses. It was 6am on November 1st.

 

The only water I had was so I could down two multi-vitamins, two fat burners and six water pills. My hands were shaking, making it hard to shave. I put my headphones on, my all black hoodie and walked across the street to the event, by the time I was in line, I started to fall apart. The combo platter of AQX, Super HD and zero water had given my body all it could handle. Bruno saw me in line and tried to calm me down, cus I was in rough shape and would remain that way until they opened up the backstage. I was happy to see all my teammates and was very glad to also see Josh and Mike from New Haven. Since Alison didn’t have a backstage pass, she applied my Dream-Tan right in the upstairs lobby in full view. However, I waited to put on my shorts until we started lining up. The white shorts that were all messed up from Cape Cod were all clean and ready for the stage, but I decided to save them for the night show and brought back a pair of shorts I’ve owned since high school. The shakes were gone and my veins were popping, but competition was even bigger and I was the first one onstage to introduce my class. So I crushed a couple rice cakes, and a little bit of water. At this point, it wasn’t up to me. I was there and that’s all that mattered. 18 weeks and I was standing in the batters box about to pose in front 1500 spectators and 300 competitors.

 

Introducing Number 104…

 

What an adrenaline rush. Your there in front of everyone, lights blasting you in the face and you can only hit your pose and smile. Even thinking about it now, I shake my head in amazement that I did this many shows under very tough conditions in that amount of time. Lucky for me, Jimmy was right behind the judges giving me instructions with his hands, I heard Alison scream, “Corso, your abs!” I squeeze down and Jimmy’s final instruction was a closed fist, meaning, “Lock it up and look right at the judges.”

 

Before leaving the stage, I made a switch with 108 leaving me standing right next to center stage. I knew very well what this meant in prejudging…

 

Break time was rather rewarding, as a burger and fries can warm the hearts of almost any hostile nation. A few laughs later, we were backstage once again for the finals. It was almost over and everyone was doing well. Before heading onstage for the last time, I received some important information. My whole purpose of taking the stage was to become a better person…turns out I already was…by a landslide.

 

I went behind a door and made a rather heavy call to South Carolina, where my parents currently reside. I grabbed my menthol spray and white shorts with a renewed sense of purpose and proceeded down the narrow backstage. It was loud in the theater but at that moment when they called my name, everything in my head became calm. I felt relief, freedom, redemption. I hit the pose, waived to the crowd, took my first NPC trophy and the first two faces I saw were Bruno and Jen, I gave Bruno a hug and Jen a big compliment.

 

And just like that…it was all over.

 

I haven’t stopped thanking people, gaining fans and making friends. I’ve already set the date for my return to the stage in 2015. I’m very excited for my teammates I now know that will be part of my life for a very long time.

 

A few weeks later I was once again across the street from the same venue attending a show and was on my way to the after party to see my buddy and fellow competitor Kevin, when I received a text…one that changed everything.

 

Thank you to all my teammates, prep coaches, friends and fans. I’m at your service.

 

Sincerely,

Joseph M Corso (Positive Sarcasm)