All posts by X Teri

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.

A Moment

Of all things blowing through the wide alley as he walked hurriedly past, he found the pages of someone’s hand-written manuscript to be the most beguiling. He could only imagine who might have written the pages, each filled with tiny, perfect cursive lettering. What might be contained in the scrawls also remained a mystery. He enjoyed imagining such things. All the billions of people loose in the world, each trapped in the prism of their mind. He’d witnessed innumerable people with something to say rendered silent by the sheer force of fear; fear of sharing, fear of ridicule, fear of exposing one’s ignorance. For all the reluctance, he also knew that everyone shares the fundamental fear of expression. Silence is the most comfortable choice. As he neared the mouth of the alley and the dirty street beyond it, more pages blew past. An entire universe swirled across the dirty pavement. He didn’t notice the dirt—just the possibility. As the wind picked up, he walked faster. He had places to go.

Inanity Is Insanity

Quotes of mine that requires close reading:
“Inanity is doing the same boring thing, over and over again, but expecting different results.”

A world of billions of people and we insist on cloning ourselves in the world when we should be demanding that everyone live the life that echoes inside them.

Apology

“I can only write from the porch of my narrow world.” -x

Not too long ago, someone took exception to something I wrote regarding diet and exercise. She wrote a fierce and compassionate series of personal messages to walk me through her thoughts. I read them all carefully. It’s rare for people to take the time to explain what they’re thinking. She earned much of her opinion the hard way, through life experiences. Voicing her opinion to me also provided me with new things about her that I didn’t know.

Saying nothing is easier. (So is writing nothing.)

I considered what she wrote because she’s smart. She also has experienced some significant obstacles and challenges in life, yet still managed to live a good life. Many of us don’t. Having that kind of person in one’s orbit usually makes everyone live a richer life.

She later felt she had over-reacted. I disagreed. She spoke from the heart. Yes, she bashed me reasonably well. But criticism from people you don’t respect seldom wounds you. It’s just background chatter.

I felt terrible. Her reaction was genuine and not based on a personal attack. That’s rare in people.

Most of the disagreement stemmed from the idea that I was writing for everyone. Or worse, disregarding the immense challenges some people face.

That’s bad writing on my part. I often warn people that I’m not a perfectionist and not a professional writer. That’s not to say that I’m also not wrong. If for no other reason, thinking I was right about things when I was younger, only to discover how wrong I was, taught me that I could just as easily be completely wrong NOW.

For anyone who takes the time and effort to explain to me that I’ve said something stupid, I’ll take the time to read it and consider it. I am a snob about it, though. I have to know that the person writing or talking is motivated by self-expression and a hope that I will understand their ideas.

In this case, she was explaining from a position of wanting me to understand her viewpoint.

I’m sorry I made her doubt herself.

She should continue to speak fiercely. I won’t fault her for it. She’s demonstrated that communication isn’t to wound others. Did I mention how rare that can be?

“It is no accident that those who scream the loudest for you to speak only when you have something positive to say are usually the ones with the most interest in keeping you quiet.” -x

P.S. Not related, but:

https://xteri.me/2014/08/02/09082013-a-list-of-warnings-about-writing-anything/

168

Note: writing these types of posts inevitably comes across as selfish. For that, I’m sorry. Anyone who can lose weight in this crazy world gets a little slack.

I started this healthy eating journey somewhere in the upper 220s less than 3 months ago. I should never be so overweight. It’s part of the reason that I look at my yo-yo eating in the same way someone else might look at heroin. I don’t deserve credit for trying to control something that should have never started.

In other words, this current success is also an accusation of my previous failures. “Look! I stopped doing this stupid thing I’ve been doing.”

A few years ago, in 2017, 2 of my co-workers joined me in an epic weight loss challenge. It contained several layered bets, some monetary, some hilarious. I started at 250, which is ridiculously large. I lost 30 lbs in less than 3 months to finish the challenge over 3 months early. It was a reminder that I’ve always believed that losing weight isn’t hard. It’s keeping it off that’s the terror. Over time, I’ve convinced myself that almost no diets work because people have to return to a sustainable way of eating. Otherwise, it’s a temporary cycle that will plague you for your entire adult life.

Since then, in 2017, I managed to mostly stay inside a range. Still fat. Just not as exaggerated.

In February of 2020, the pandemic gave me the motivation to try again to drop. For all the reasons you’d expect, I got derailed spectacularly. I was lucky! In October, I stopped toying with the idea. Though I’ve written about it before, this occasion was marked by something breaking inside of me. I just knew I was going to drop a lot of weight – and certainly below 200. It wasn’t willpower. It was a certainty. Seeing other people do it, regardless of ‘how,’ demonstrated that I would become one of the success stories.

As for entropy of the potential for eventual failure, it always lurks ahead. We are all complicated, and opposing forces muddy our lives. It doesn’t help that food is incredibly delicious.

I chose my hard. The truth is that it wasn’t hard to begin to eat like a healthy person. And that’s what I did. I had the idea in my head that I wasn’t fat anymore. Everything aligned with it. I melted away. For anyone who has struggled to do something similar, you know what I’m describing. Waking up and realizing I had a sternum, for example. Feeling a space between my thighs. Seeing my face and suddenly realizing part of it was gone. When the comments begin, you intimately understand that people notice that you’re different.

Now, I’m hovering around 180. I weigh 45-50 lbs less than 3 months ago. Yes, I lost weight too fast. Science tells me that losing weight more slowly tends to encourage the body to maintain long-term loss. I initially joked that I was trying the stomach staple diet without the surgery or mimicking a prison camp diet. It’s not inaccurate.

All along, people asked me what my goals were. “Eat healthily and effectively” sounds trite. “Be the person I know myself to be” sounds like a self-help guru has hypnotized me.

Well, here’s the next goal: 168 lbs. While I don’t subscribe to the BMI charts, 168 is the upper region of a healthy weight. (Not giving myself credit for my age.) 168 will put me at losing 1/4 of my total body weight. Can I do it? Yes. Will I? I’m not sure. The absurdity of being unable to make this goal after doing so much would be tragically stupid.

I owe it to myself to get to the weight even if I can’t hold at that weight or drop further. The BMI charts support the idea that my healthy weight range is an absurd 125 to slightly over 168. I don’t know how 125 would be possible. I’d be skeletal. And I don’t plan on running marathons.

I don’t know how long it will take to reach 168. I can calculate the number of calories. But I also recognize that my body is fighting back and resisting at this point, which makes it more interesting, given that I am almost a witness to myself at this point.

For anyone keeping track, I’ve added no exercise. My job is physically very demanding, with a huge range of motion, walking, and lifting. It was that way before, though, and I still got fatter. The only changes I’ve made have been diet, which is the single most significant factor to control for weight management. My insistence on saying so continues to draw criticism. Exercise is essential for a lot of reasons. But you get a bigger bang for the buck by focusing on learning new eating habits without succumbing to changes or diets you can’t maintain.

I’ll see you at 168.

Hell or high water, choose your hard, folks.

It’s all lemons.

Love, X