A January Silhouette

Alex sat in the nondescript sedan, huddled into the driver’s seat, hoping the shivers would soon subside, and cursing under his breath. Two hours standing against a wind-swept building in January made him question his choices. The man he was supposed to meet didn’t appear at 9 p.m. A friendly black cat kept him company, sitting at his feet as if it were waiting for someone as well. Alex waited another hour until the cold seeped into his joints. Knowing that texting their mutual acquaintance would be pointless, he carefully walked back to his borrowed car. As the car warmed, some of Alex’s ability to reason returned. He knew he would need to go back and wait, even if the person he was to meet took all night to make an appearance. So, he sat and felt the warmth of the vents surround him. Twenty years of this job made him cynical. And also practical. Five more minutes.

As he shut off the ignition and opened the driver’s door of his car, a gunshot echoed through the alleys of the nearby buildings. Unlike what happens in tv shows, Alex’s pulse quickened involuntarily, but he did not react. And he didn’t rush to hurry. Only fools or rookies barge into gunshots. Also, he knew in his gut that the man he was supposed to meet undoubtedly was the one receiving the bullet. Men like him invited such calamity. Alex calculated the odds of the police arriving in less than five minutes. He shut the car door and walked back toward the place he’d waited previously. As he neared the spot, Alex saw a body on the ground. A light above one of the stores’ rear doors provided enough illumination to see the body slumped against the bricks and cement. The friendly black cat sat a few feet away, watching. It didn’t surprise Alex that the gunshot hadn’t scared the cat. Like Alex, it had undoubtedly seen a lot.

Alex paused and listened for approaching cars, voices, or footsteps. Silence. He moved along the edge of the wall, face tilted down in case of clandestine cameras. He pushed against the slouched body with the tip of his right shoe. Dead. Alex crouched to his knees and carefully put on a nylon glove, which resisted stretching in the cold. Using his left hand, he pulled the torso of the body toward him and over.

For a few seconds, Alex’s mind went blank. Nothing in his twenty years of this crazy life prepared him for what he saw. He always considered himself prepared for anything. Alex remained crouched, staring at the face on the ground. It was his own face, detailed down to the bullet scar across the bridge of his nose. Alex reached down and inside the corpse’s coat. He removed the wallet and flipped it open. He saw himself in the driver’s license photo. Everything in the wallet looked identical to the same wallet he had inside his coat pocket.

Alex didn’t notice the approaching figure, stealthily moving behind him. He didn’t see the arc of the baton as it descended on the back of his head, knocking him unconscious. The cold cement welcomed him as he fell.

The black cat, having seen enough, meandered away into the darkness.

*

A Renewal Of Vows

From somewhere across the plaza in the revitalized small-town downtown, the sounds of a soft piano wafted into the air. Alex shifted uncomfortably, without realizing the piano brought unwelcome anxiety as it reached him. He nervously took a large sip of his bitter coffee, burning his throat a little. He relished the distraction of the pain. Across from him at the nearest table, a couple sat quietly in the fading afternoon light. Neither had spoken for the last twenty minutes. He knew they were both wrestling with ending their marriage, though for different reasons.

Alex felt their pain. It gave him no comfort to know that he would end their stagnant conversation for them: the husband wouldn’t leave this place alive. Seventy thousand dollars in Alex’s bank account guaranteed that Steve wouldn’t walk away. Though he didn’t know the details, he studied Steve’s life just enough to understand that he had crossed the line with a business partner. His wife Kathy was blameless.

Alex and the couple were the last three people in the plaza. The approaching chill encouraged the others to leave. The restaurant attendant tasked with keeping the shared area clean moved to clear the remainder of the tables. Alex indicated that he could take his coffee cup and saucer, as well as the $10 bill for the tip.

Just as Alex prepared to stand up and do what he came for, Steve looked across the small table and said, “I love you, Kathy. I’m not having an affair. My partner Mark is embezzling. He’s ruined us.” Kathy unexpectedly reached across the table and grabbed her husband’s hand. “I’m so sorry! I love you.”

Alex rarely saw anything to surprise him. They still loved each other.

Alex stood up, stretched slightly, and walked over to the couple’s table. “Have a good evening, both of you. And great lives,” Alex said to them. They look at either confusedly, and then both said, “You too!” reflexively.

Alex walked across the plaza to find his car. His plans had changed. He would kill Mark, the partner.

He hoped Kathy and Steve would consider it a belated wedding present from an interested bystander.

An Unwelcome Hand

This picture is the best representation of how fear, doubt, and insecurity can infect you.

No one is immune to the clutching fingers of our lesser emotions.

No one.

Perversely, such emotions initially comfort us – because they are frequent visitors to our secret hearts.

They do not leave easily.

I Look Lovely?

I dropped by the Salvation Army store after work. It was the location that I would choose last if I were going for a better selection. As it turns out, I was completely wrong. Time hasn’t been kind to that area of Springdale. I lived near there more than once and my head and heart have many memories of the area.

I found a suit coat immediately. Because I’m much smaller now, I picked up the one I liked. And it fit. It complements my favorite vest, too. I promised myself that when I lost weight, I was going back to my eclectic (weird) way of dressing. Until today, I bought my other ones new. For a combination of reasons, suit vests and coats are more difficult to find.

I’m not sure if I will have another pair of pants with one leg altered to end mid-thigh and the other full-length though. I might. Years ago, the seamstress looked at me like I was crazy when I told her I wanted one leg to be mid-thigh shorts and the other full-length leg. She did it, though. If you’re picturing me conducting a series of shenanigans to catch people off guard, yes, you’d be right.

Today, I went around the long coat rack, with a motley assortment of quality, colors, and styles. My eyes went directly to a dark coat with a set of vertical floral designs. Without hesitation, I knew it was the coat for me.

I walked over to the cracked mirrored column and twirled around. Two Latina women watched in amusement. They were a little startled a few minutes later when I spoke to them in Spanish. Is the coat really for you, they asked. Heck yes, I told them. We all laughed.

Looking closer, I realized that the buttons were on the wrong side. And that it was clearly in a section for women. I picked it up and tried it on. Great fit.

And one of the large front buttons was missing.

Sold!

In another admission, I don’t currently own a ‘real’ winter coat.

But now? I own this fabulous floral coat, one which clearly indicates what I’m all about.

I’ll leave it to you to decide what that might be.

Love, X

A Hint Of Murder

~One~

It had been a typical Friday night until his cellphone rang. All calls routed through the office system caused his phone to ring with the sound of a baby crying. Sheriff Taylor learned through experience that the sound would wake him from the dead. If it failed to rouse him, it certainly woke everyone around him.

Sheriff John Taylor sat on his plush living room couch, with plans to stay there until the next morning. His wife Jamie often told people she’d find the Sheriff loudly snoring, with the television still playing an endless list of home improvement shows. It was true. The Sheriff loved all of them. He didn’t need the woods, bar, or a fishing pole, which suited Jamie just fine. Before coming back home to take the Sheriff’s job, John caused her many nights of worry.

Because his back and hip hurt a lot, sitting up to sleep sometimes was his only recourse. He knew if his cell was ringing that one of his deputies decided to ignore his do-not-disturb order for a good reason. Even Burt Reynolds, his mutt, raised his head in protest of the cellphone ring. Dogs weren’t fans of babies crying, as it turns out. “Okay!” the Sheriff grumbled as he reached for his phone on the table.

“Go,” John said to the voice on the line. He nodded his head a few times as he listened. “Will be there in twenty.” Sheriff Taylor preferred concise work-related communications. Except for Deputy Barnes, all of his deputies diligently adhered to his taciturn way of speaking. Barnes graduated from college with a Master’s in English and Latin.

When the Sheriff pulled into the long driveway, he saw that two of his six deputies were parked on each side of the drive while leaving ample room for other vehicles. As he’d trained them, neither had their lights flashing. Unless someone was in danger, lights were a ridiculous distraction. Most days, the Sheriff didn’t even require that his deputies wear uniforms. They were fiercely loyal.

He walked up to the porch as Deputy Hensley told him the little bit he knew. “Call thirty minutes ago, anonymous. Gunshot. I arrived, front door open. Jimmy next to the kitchen table with a gunshot wound to the head. Dead.” The Sheriff nodded and went inside as he opened the screen door to the house. It banged shut behind him.

His other deputy took pictures as he walked around carefully inside the house. Jimmy was on the dirty linoleum floor. Blood pooled around his head and shoulders. The Sheriff noted the small hole in Jimmy’s left temple. He couldn’t see the exit wound. A dark spray pattern was visible across the fridge. Every inch of counter space contained dirty dishes and empty beer cans and bottles.

Deputy Barnes walked into the small kitchen behind the Sheriff. “Suicide?” He asked. “Or did Jimmy succumb to the unnaturally unkempt condition of his own residence?”

Ignoring Deputy Barne’s flowery language, the Sheriff said, “Too soon to say. But if it is a suicide, someone will have to explain why there are two other water rings on the ends of the table.”

Deputy Barnes looked at the table, surprised that he had missed that detail. He picked up the half-empty beer bottle from Jimmy’s presumed place at the table. A water ring formed there from the beer bottle’s condensation. “I surmise the bottles aren’t in the trash. Someone outwitted themselves, didn’t they?” The Sheriff nodded affirmatively.

It was going to be a long night.

Someone would have to find Jimmy’s dad, Tiny. They’d start with the dives and bar parking lots in Evansville. And the Sheriff would find a way to sober him up enough to tell him someone probably murdered his son. Jimmy was Tiny’s youngest son. Both other boys had died in the last eighteen months. Counting Jimmy, this was the Sheriff’s first murder case in his six years on the job. He was beginning to get a tickle in his brain, one that told him that Jimmy’s brothers might have been murdered too. The Sheriff never ignored those tickles in the back of his head. They saved him several times at his last job. The last time he ignored one, he got six bullets to show for his carelessness. Not to mention a furious wife. The Sheriff knew that the wife had been a more significant risk to his health than six bullets.

As the Sheriff turned to Deputy Barnes, the deputy said, “Protocols commenced, boss.”

~Two~

The night did indeed drag on. By the time Sheriff Taylor drove back to his own house, the sun was over the horizon, blinding him. His right hip flared with a pain that he couldn’t ignore. A dark sedan sat next to his mailbox, engine idling. The tint was so dark that he couldn’t see the occupant. The car screamed, “Federal Government.”

Sheriff Taylor exited his vehicle and pocketed his keys. Instead of going inside, he turned and walked back to the mailbox. Without seeing the occupant, he made the universal sign to “roll down the window.” The dark window slithered down, revealing a shockingly young face. The agent inside smiled, revealing brilliantly white teeth, the best that money could buy. He held up his identification card, one emblazoned with “Special Agent” on the front. “Agent Shatner. Get in.” He tilted his head quickly to the right, indicating that the Sheriff should get in the passenger side.

Instead of arguing and asking needless questions, the Sheriff walked around the front of the car. As he did, he looked up to see his wife Jamie watching from the porch. He motioned that he was going to be a while longer. Jamie waved and went back inside. Years of being married to a mercurial cop taught her to conserve her commentary for later.

The Sheriff opened the door and climbed inside, shutting the door behind him.

Agent Shatner put the car in gear and accelerated away. “It’s better for you to see this first, Sheriff Taylor.” The agent was surprised to see that the Sheriff only nodded and remained quietly watchful from the passenger seat. They drove in silence for ten minutes. Agent Shatner turned off Highway 47. As they neared Hunnington Creek, Sheriff Taylor noted that a red pickup truck was parked near the bridge on the creek’s Evansville side. Beyond was Hunnington County, outside the Sheriff’s jurisdiction.

Agent Shatner pulled over, turned off the ignition, and climbed out. The Sheriff followed suit. A man dressed in blue jeans and a Georgia Tech t-shirt got out of the red truck as they did. “No issues, Agent,” he said and nodded to the creek. Agent Shatner wordlessly walked to the bridge.

“That’s going to be a problem, Sheriff,” he said, as he pointed to the opposite creek bank.

When the Sheriff peered over, he saw two dead bodies, men at least forty years old. He recognized neither of them.

Because Sheriff Taylor didn’t believe in coincidences, he asked, “These two murdered Jimmy last night?”

“Yes, they did.” Agent Shatner said.

“Do you know why?” Sheriff Taylor asked.

“You’re not going to believe this one, Sheriff.”

~Three~

A Certainty Of Luck

Thursday afternoon, Kerry sat in the convenience store parking lot, watching the neon letters as they faltered in their luminosity. He stared at the four tickets in his right hand, each emblazoned with the Powerball logo. He bought the tickets Monday afternoon after work. He handed the clerk a $20 bill. When she attempted to give him the $8 in change, he declined. “That’s for you.” She made eye contact and smiled. “Well, thank you! That’s generous!” Kerry found himself avoiding places that didn’t allow their employees to be tipped.

2020 reaffirmed his promise to tip the clerks as much as he could. Typically, any winnings from his winning tickets served as tips too. Admittedly, there were days when his tips were a bit excessive. Everyone walked away with a smile, though, Kerry first among them. Though Kerry wasn’t a believer in karma or being rewarded for good acts, the idea did cross his mind each time he bought lottery tickets. If such behavior earned rewards, Kerry paid his dues in the year of Covid. Probably hundreds of dollars. Indeed, many clerks said “Thanks!” or “Have a good afternoon!” to him with enthusiasm after buying tickets. Even if he failed to win, his choices left people with a smile.

A few times, Kerry waited weeks to check his tickets. The idea of unknowingly walking around for days without knowing he was rich was compelling. On a few occasions, he was one number away from a big win. In those instances, he ensured that the money went to people who needed it. He shocked a few people. His mental notebook slowly filled with moments of surprise. That’s what he thought the lottery would do for him; fill him with the possibility of a creative life instead of the constancy of necessity. Kerry wasn’t one to dwell on material things.

Unlike his contemporaries, Kerry told people that if he were to win one of the outrageous prizes, he would reward dozens of people. His win would result in a gaggle of millionaires. And although he wasn’t much on the idea of being rich, he was a huge fan of options. Few people outside his close circle thought he might be telling the truth. Everyone claims they will reward those closest to them. Kerry planned to reward both friend and foe. Not in equal measure, but enough to create happiness and to clear his ledgers.

The year of Covid drew to a close without a significant win. Kerry didn’t falter in his enthusiasm, though. For him, it was about continuing the tradition of rewarding people unexpectedly. As long as he stepped up to the plate, his swing might reward him. And if it did, he knew that the world around him would change for a lot of people. He didn’t plan on giving it away to preach an example. He wanted to give it away to make happiness.

At work on Thursday, Kerry avoided the water cooler chatter about who might have won the Powerball the night before. Kerry’s four tickets were folded in his billfold with several previous tickets that were still unchecked. He stopped at the store on the corner with the friendliest clerks. As he turned off the engine, the hair stood up on the back of his neck. He went inside and bought tickets for the Friday and Saturday night drawings. Instinctively, he opted to avoid the self-service ticket checker to the right of the cashier station.

He returned to his car and searched for the winning numbers for last night’s drawing. Fundamentally, he already knew what he’d find. On the third ticket, he saw it: 15 21 40 64 66 03. He won $790 million, half of which he would share with another winner. On a certain level, it failed to surprise him. He simply knew. His smile widened, one years in the making.

Kerry exited the car once again and went inside. He handed the clerk the $200 cash he had hidden in his billfold. “I’ll be back soon. Write down the name of every clerk who works here. Thanks!” The clerk stood speechless as Kerry left without waiting for a reply.

As Kerry started the car to drive away, he was trying to figure out how many people he could reward with $220 million.

Karma was in his heart.

He couldn’t wait for the mayhem of infectious joy to spread around him.

But first, he would live a few quiet days with the secret swirling inside him.

Nothing Tastes As Good As This Feels

I’m wearing an absurd surgical cap. But I’m also optimistic in the picture, which is worth a lot of words.

She wrote, “And nothing tastes as good as this feels!!!” She sent me a picture of how far she’d come. I found it hard to imagine I was looking at the same person I used to know. She was part of the reason that I imagined I could achieve a lot of success this time. If she could do it with so many obstacles, how hard should it be for me to stop the rationalizations and just do it?

I re-read it. And again.

It struck me as resonantly as “Choose your hard” had many weeks before. Why that one stuck in my head when so much for so many years hadn’t is another mystery.

For her, she meant that all the bad food choices couldn’t compare to the elation and satisfaction of being who she’s supposed to be.

While her comment was focused on her war with eating properly, it also extends to other areas in life. The payoff at the end of the race, the peace of making a long series of decisions that result in a triumph of consequences…

Once you’ve done the work and reached your goal, it really is hard to let yourself fall into the trap again.

At least at first.

The pain of ‘who’ we were before getting to our own pinnacle is still fresh enough to serve as a reminder.

Life intercedes. Time evaporates. Fatigue weakens our resolve. Loneliness and self-esteem issues propel us backward.

It’s why I constantly remind myself that yo-yoing dramatically in weight must be approached in a manner similar to how we deal with addiction.

It is okay to fall off the wagon. Just don’t let it run you over.

In my case, there is more to it. But it certainly isn’t willpower.

Love, X

A Life-Threatening Laugh

I never thought of her as pretty. Or interesting. She snarled even when saying, “Hi.” In the same way some people exude enthusiasm, for her, it was a startling disposition and a propensity to snark. Chatting her up was like trying to interrogate an irritated detective on his way to the dentist. If first impressions always proved right, I imagine that I crossed Lisa off my list within five minutes. We spent many weeks pointedly ignoring one another, much in the same way that two hyenas avoid the water hole when the other approaches.

Three months later, I realized I was wrong.

I sat at my desk, several cubicles away from my other coworkers. I heard the most vibrant and laugh I’d ever heard. It sounded like a warbling bird being driven over a series of speed bumps at a high rate of speed. Without realizing it, I started laughing. As the laughter from the other cubicle continued, I laughed harder and louder. Seconds later, I was crying from the effort and turned away from the cubicle entrance. As my laughter subsided, I swiveled my chair back to face my desk.

To my horror, Lisa stood at the entrance to my cubicle, hands on hips, snarl glued to her face. Her hair fell over her blue eyes. I realized that it had been Lisa’s laugh chirping all over the office.

“Something to share, Lenny?” She tapped her foot in impatience.

“Uh… listen. I’m sorry. Your laugh is awesome, Lisa.” I don’t know why I blurted out the truth in such simple terms.

“Haha, very funny, Lenny! Laughing with me, right? Not at me. Jackass.” Lisa started to march off, probably to recite my list of defects to our other coworkers.

“Wait, Lisa. I’m sorry. Your laugh is infectious. I mean that. I never heard you laugh before.” I stopped talking.

“I’ve been told that my laugh is life-threatening,” Lisa said and marched away. The snarl never left her face.

Her comment lingered in my head. Something inside me tingled.

*

A couple of hours later, my desk phone rang. Expecting a call from accounting, I picked it up immediately.

“Lenny. This is Lisa. Here’s what’s going to happen. You’re going to take me out to eat at that Italian place, the new one. Saturday, at 6.” I started to answer her, but the phone went dead.

Confused, I hung up the phone. From a distance, I heard Lisa’s high-pitched warbling laugh. She probably had someone else listen to our brief conversation on her end. Involuntarily, I smiled as her laughter echoed across the row of cubicles. She won that round.

On the way out that day, I stopped at Lisa’s cubicle, something I’d never done. She looked up, her hair still falling across her blue eyes. The snarl was already up and locked.

“I’ll pick you up at 6? On Saturday?” As I asked, the snarl fell away from Lisa’s face. Her eyes lit up. For the first time, she smiled at me.

“I’d love that, Lenny. Bring someone good-looking with you for me to look at, will you?” And she laughed. The cubicle filled with her laughter. I laughed too. “Yeah, as long as you bring a hat the reaches your chin.” We laughed harder.

Lisa’s closest work friend Antonia looked over the cubicle, probably wondering if she were in an episode of the Twilight Zone. She looked from Lisa’s face to mine, then back again as she shook her head.

As Antonia ducked away from sight, Lisa looked at me. “For real, though. 6.” She took a slip of paper and noted an address on it. Presumably, hers, although it would be impossible to know.

*

A year later, we were married. During the vows, Lisa broke out in laughter. As the pastor’s face recoiled in surprise at the raucous laugh from Lisa, I joined her.

Lisa was the prettiest girl there.

The only one, really.

A Stolen Memory

It was barely noon on an unassuming Tuesday, under a bright January sky, one warring with both sapphire and translucent clouds, in front of a store where passersby failed to notice that a moment was within their reach if they’d only pause, appreciate, and listen.

Almost no one took notice. Each hurried past, taking sideways glances at the older busker with his guitar cradled in his hands, the case propped open on the ground adjacent to the bench on which he perched.

Entering the store with my attention diverted, I didn’t pause. The musician was silent upon my entrance. My mind swirled with the details of what might interest me.

As I exited the store with my cart, the air filled with chords and a broken voice singing simple words. It’s hard to mimic the simplicity of a simple melody, especially when the voice accompanying it has walked countless miles and endured unimaginable heartache. We all recognize such voices. While we might appreciate the songbirds who sing effortlessly, it is difficult to deafen our ears to a voice that adds gravel to what most of us find in our hearts.

I walked the long parking lot, almost to the outer perimeter abutting the access road. The busker’s voice receded to a whisper behind me. I threw my scant purchases into the car and walked back. Giving the musician time to finish his song, I handed him $20 and asked if he knew any Merle Haggard. He sheepishly said he didn’t, which surprised me. Merle’s voice accompanying his would have been akin to walking into an old country church to find the place filled to the rafters with song, the kind any voice could join without embarrassment.

I told him, “Surprise me.” And he did.

I walked around the column and wall behind him and leaned against it as he played. It wasn’t Merle. But it was more. As the song ended, he tentatively leaned around and said, here’s one I wrote called “Ball and Chain.”

As people entered and exited the storefront, as they drove by and looked in our direction, the older man sang his song. And then another, one probably chosen because of my initial request.

As he played “Horse With No Name,” I realized I never thought of the song that way before. As sometimes happens, I heard the song for the first time through the man’s voice. As the chords diminished and the strings went quiet, I walked over and handed him another $20. “God bless you,” he told me, making eye contact. I could tell he genuinely meant it. “God bless you, too,” I told him – and not reflexively, either.

Though you might not understand why, I confess that there were tears in my eyes as I pivoted and walked away.

A took a piece of the sapphire sky with me as I left, tucked away as a memory I know I will retain. I looked across the expanse of the parking lot and saw the man singing another song. He probably wondered who I am and what my story might be. I’m a man with no name – but a lot of moments and memories.

After this afternoon, I have another.

160: I’m Fading Away

I’m fading away.

A week ago, I admitted my goal shifted to reaching 168 lbs. I’m chunking that again. My new goal is 160. That is what success does: it stains other areas with the desire for more.

In the last week, I went to 175, a weight I always imagined as something wildly desirable but impossibly difficult. I haven’t weighed less than 175 since after high school.

Losing weight is supposed to be more challenging with age.

I guess it is. I just wouldn’t know.

In 3 months, I dropped over 50 lbs. It’s not the best way, but fighting from the middle ground would have been another failure for me. Lucky for me, this time followed an episode of realization. Absent that realization, and this wouldn’t have happened. I still don’t expect people to ‘get it.’ After explaining it a few dozen times, it’s this: I saw myself as thin and also pictured that it was ‘the’ me I should have been my entire adult life. I couldn’t see myself making poor decisions that led me away from the vision of that life. So far, it has been entirely sufficient. That ‘me’ in the indefinite future continues to free me from the pangs of willpower.

It was also in that moment that I realized that despite biting my nails for 50+ years, I didn’t do that anymore, either. It’s a shame I didn’t visualize being a millionaire in that moment.

I still can’t figure out how to write a book and make millions.

“Have an LSD trip without the LSD and just do it” would undoubtedly result in a lawsuit. “Don’t put stuff in your mouth” is another possible book title. (You have to appease the vulgar-minded, too.)

Today, I watched a naysayer’s eyes as he realized that I don’t possess superpowers or anything he doesn’t. Previously, he preferred to snark at me. Now, he is considering finding himself at my age and being overweight. “It’s all choices,” I told him. “For most of us,” I added, being reminded of what a friend reminded me of a couple of weeks ago. “So what if you fail. Each day that slides past is another day that you won’t know the answer.” And I offered to help him figure out a way to do it. “Choose your hard,” I challenged him. I don’t expect my system to work for everyone. But a modified version of it will work for a hell of a lot of people.

I might not have mentioned that the one thing I’ve tried all year is to ensure that I consume enough fiber, both in food and through supplements. Though you might not believe it, I get my RDA through eating. I take fiber supplements to ensure I do. While I can’t know with certainty, the fiber seems to have worked wonders for me. I mix both psyllium and gummy fibers. Find a mix and diet of high-fiber foods that work for you.

And because I mention this in every post, every bit of my huge weight loss came through diet. No gym visits, no costly supplements, no specialty drinks, and nothing outside of my usual scope of living. While my job is very physical, I would still have realized a significant weight loss if it weren’t. I’ve stuck to the idea that it is unwise to start a habit you can’t continue for as long as you live. If not, as soon as the practice stops, the benefits stop, too.

I like to imagine surviving the last few months at almost 230. I can’t. I’d be on statins, blood pressure medication, and almost certainly facing some calamity with my feet or knees. Taking 50+ lbs off of them rescued me. I don’t want to think about my cardiovascular system, especially against the backdrop of this pandemic. Stress? Forget about it?

I’m almost at my statistical weight. Soon, I will have to turn to my next goal: don’t be a jackass. That one’s going to take a lot of work.

It’s all lemons.

Choose your hard.

Whoever you are, if you want to do something like this under your control, please do. Start today, in the smallest way. Your life is sweeping past you. You are not trapped in the prison of your previous decisions. Those choices and those years cannot be recaptured. It’s gone. Stand up. Embrace. Try. And try again if you fail.