Category Archives: Personal

Another Life

I woke up this morning grateful to hear the birds chirping. Even at 2 a.m., when some miscreant biker needlessly revved his motorcycle with a cacophony to awaken the dead, I was happy. To be alive – and to not be confined to the hospital another night. Twice I awoke, worried that I had imagined my discharge or that I was trapped in a Groundhog Day cycle of never-ending hospitalization.

Washington Regional is about to loosen its visitor restrictions again. It was good practice before – and it’s a better practice now: do as much as you can to have someone with your friend or family member as much as possible to be an advocate for their care. With staffing issues and the seemingly impossible task of coordinating complex care and so many moving parts, one of the single best things you can do for your family member is to simply be an eye and advocate. It is possible to be kind to staff while aggressively pursuing good care for your friend or family member. Never apologize for being an advocate for your loved ones; good healthcare workers are humans too and will not resent your participation. And if they do? Trust your instincts.

I learned a lot of lessons while I was in the hospital. Some of them I’ll probably never write about. Though my eyes were open before being a patient, I’ll never be able to relapse back to ignorance about the challenges our healthcare system faces. For those great people who work hard to be both compassionate and medically competent, I can’t say enough to thank them. For the others, my words won’t have a positive impact on the problems. I’ll have to think about how best to translate much of my experience into a helpful narrative; criticism, even well-earned criticism, seldom lands how we want it to. This is true one-on-one, and more so with complex organizations.

I imagine that many of my experiences will find themselves buried inside jokes, mirthful anecdotes, and disguised narratives. Comedy is one of the best means to hide the truth in plain sight. Most great jokes are wrapped around a nugget of truth, no matter how brazen or outlandish. Here’s an inside joke, based on one of my experiences: “She didn’t fall out of bed. She climbed over and sat on the floor from a surprising height.”

For now, it’s Saturday. The breeze is cool and the birds are dive-bombing their food. I’m waiting on laundry to finish because, well, let’s face it: the laundry doesn’t care where you’ve been. It places its demands like every other mundane chore required of us. In a minute, I’ll carefully go down the flight of stairs into the dungeon to retrieve clothes. And I’ll be happy to do it.

Even the Zen masters have a saying: “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.”

Each of us has to find a way to not only put one foot in front of the other without fail but also discover a way to find meaning and joy in the distractions.

I’m good.

I hope y’all are good too. I was reminded how much all of us need other people. Even those with tough exteriors need kind words and soft voices sometimes. Life wouldn’t be worth living without other people. I’ve had enough of Blake, though.

Love, X

P.S. I put a picture of my incision in the comments, so you can skip it if you wish. I’m currently working on a series of false and/or creative explanations for the scar I’ll have. I love scars; they remind us that we survived.
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Here’s a post from my social media from Friday morning….

It’s a good thing I’ve always had a wild imagination. Though I was allegedly a fall risk, I was left to get up and take care of myself these last few days. It is odd that the room they put me in overlooks my favorite place at the hospital. Below me is the gazebo, facing out toward the rustic farmhouse. It’s always been an escape and meditative spot. I have stood at the window three dozen times in the last two days, remembering how many times I stood at the gazebo. Sometimes watching the sunrise, sometimes waiting. Off to the right, I can observe the building I normally work in and the relentless comings and goings of daily commerce. The hospital is undeniably a business. But it’s powered by people and people need it to be made whole and healed. I am running toward the idea that I will be able to leave today. It’s possible that the ongoing and inefficient bureaucracy of the place might needlessly prevent that. Hopefully, sooner rather than later, I’ll be back here to work. The first thing I’m going to do, though, is to walk to the gazebo and look up, to perhaps find the window of the room I laid in. We all need people more than we like to admit. I’m already futurizing because that is optimism in action.

P.S. the surgeon’s nurse ripped off the bandage. The wound is really cool, bordered by an insane number of small staples. It avoided my belly button, something that was on my mind for some reason. I contacted my agent. He was so happy, because an unblemished belly button means that I’ll soon be gracing the underwear pages again.

Love, X.

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Here’s a post from my social media from Thursday…

I don’t have a catheter or an ngt tube anymore. (Old friends I never hope to see again…) The IV will be pulled sometime soon too, since I’ve been drinking a river of ice regardless. I haven’t eaten in 68 hours. The irony is that last Friday I started deliberately incorporating other foods into my diet to get my weight up to at least 155 or 160. Did I mention how good the Impossible Whopper was on Saturday? For the last few days I guess it has literally been impossible.

It is such a crazy coincidence that after 11 months of die-hard level commitment to health and healthy eating that something like this unexpectedly slaps me so hard.

I’m starting a clear liquid diet this morning, something that should have happened yesterday. I’ll be polite and skip all of that story for now. PS just because vodka is clear doesn’t mean it’s included in the diet.

I feel terrible for my coworkers, who are already strained from covid and absences. Some of us openly joke about how these kind of surprises and tragedies happen simultaneously. We rarely have enough help to do the job the way it needs to be done. I suspect this may be a universal symptom of our modern times- and the medical field in particular.

I have 2,342 stories already to tell about my incarceration, I mean my hospitalization. I’m glad to be alive to ponder them. But I am leaving here with a first-hand and profound education regarding healthcare. As much as I thought I knew before, this has been a true education.

I hope everything continues to go well and I get out of here. Because this is a bureaucracy, there’s no clear answer or straight path to getting that done.

Meanwhile I’ll continue to engage in a battle of amusement and wit with anybody who comes by. If they get snarky or out of control I usually have a mostly full urinal by the bedside. I’m guessing that it is very aerodynamic.

Thanks to everyone who reached out.

Life can still surprise me.

I hope I can still surprise myself.

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Seeing the Grand canyon and running a marathon might be great, but having my catheter yanked out will certainly be more memorable.

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Here’s a post from my social media from Tuesday…

An obstructed bowel jumped up at 3:30 yesterday and put me in the ER. I had emergency surgery early this morning around 1a.m. Worst pain of my life! I didn’t have time to be anxious or scared. PS no, this is not a Photoshop.

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A Celebratory Coincidence

I’m going to celebrate an unusual life eventโ€ฆ

I’ve been in this apartment for over a month.

Sadly, my first roll of toilet paper expired yesterday morning.
RIP, Roy.

I snapped a picture of the deceased roll yesterday.

In a cosmic coincidence, an Amazon driver just dropped off a relevant surprise gift from someone about ten minutes ago: a toilet timer!

I’m laughing.

I was going to coin a toilet paper joke, but they are all tearable.

An Affirmation

I love affirmations and pithy insights. And quotes. And also the entire range of humor, even the kind that makes decent people cringe.

The picture is of my sister Carolyn, the one my Dad and the world hid from me for about 46 years. She loves affirmations. I don’t hit ‘like’ on all the ones that resonate with me, but I read them. I do the same for other social media friends who post them to remind themselves that so much of what is essential to us is invisible.

I chose three affirmations that I read on her social media. 3 out of 1,000. ๐Ÿ™‚

You never know when a clever affirmation might ring a gong in your head. You’re a new person each day and insights often stay in plain sight until we’re ready to accept them.

Love, X

PS I didn’t tag my sister Carolyn in the post. The universe will ensure she sees it. That’s optimism in action.

Optimism Disguised As A Pizza

Watching the sun inch down, I found myself asking Alexa, “What’s the score for the Razorback football game?” I NEVER do that. Being around hard-core fans somehow has made me hopeful for them. This stupid epidemic has stripped a lot away from people. Is it too much to ask for the team to shock Texas and win? Probably. But I’m hoping. I told a fan today that I predict that Arkansas will win.

Because one of my neighbors is a huge fan – and because I was feeling especially grateful to just be alive and optimistic about anything, I decided to surprise the family with a couple of anonymous pizzas as a gift.

When the driver knocked and explained that a neighbor bought them pizza, the woman’s face shifted from absolute confusion to delight.

I took that glimpse of delight and pocketed it inside my heart. It’s not about me giving something, it’s about the surprise.

PS Dominos was supposed to take all the information off the box. They accidentally left my phone number on it. The person getting the pizzas called. The anonymous part was ruined but the feeling of giving a surprise remains.

I’ll gladly accept. Things often go awry. It’s no reason to keep trying.

Love, X

My Date With Fast Food

Because I’d dropped to too low of a weight, I decided to have my first full meal at a fast food place: Burger King. I ate an impossible Whopper and fries. I’ve eaten the patty from an impossible burger about once a month, but never the sandwich and especially not french fries. I don’t count calories, but the Impossible Whopper is about 600-800 calories. I love them. (The calories and the burger.)

Most people who skip eating such things for a while say that eating it the first time makes them queasy. Not me. It was delicious. I didn’t feel nauseous. And I don’t feel guilty. I’ve said 1,000 times that I don’t believe that foods are intrinsically healthy vs unhealthy; it’s just quantity and frequency that cause us problems. I’m rounding the corner in a few weeks to making my health plan succeed for a year. I’ve paid a hard price for all of this and don’t want to compound those failures by derailing my success.

Even though I wasn’t hungry, I just ate a healthy meal of fruits, vegetables, and yes, meat. I also drank a V-8 and ate a banana. I drink 1 or two V-8 every day, take fiber, the best multivitamin I can find, and a couple of other supplements that were recommended for someone like me with my activity level.

I was so proud that I’d listened to someone who was telling me to “pull up” on the eating scarcity. Instead of conveying that message, I inadvertently came across as snarky. The dumb lesson is that I communicated with a picture instead of an explanation. I thought, for once, I’d forego torturing someone with my inability to say something simply. ๐Ÿ™‚ Yeah, I failed. It turns out, sometimes needless explanations are preferable to succinct ones.

I didn’t eat Burger King to make a point: I ate it because it’s delicious and a great way to eat calories.

I went to Harps over by the campus a little bit ago. I finally bought a package of Oscar Meyer Smokies, which for a lazy vegetarian, are about the best snack item I can imagine.

I also limited myself to 500 pushups today. That’s another success, too.

The people, the noise, the traffic, the joy of people celebrating. I’m not a sports fan, but I was taken with the sheer enthusiasm in all the hubbub. It was so contagious even I’m beginning to believe we could pull off an upset.

Friday Afternoon Melody

Sitting at my desk around 4:20, I heard “Save Your Tears” by The Weeknd being belted out. I loved “Blinding Lights” the first time I heard it. It didn’t take long for “Save Your Tears” to become my favorite. It was the last song I listened to as I fell asleep last night.

I looked at my devices to see if one of them was on. 1 of my 2 giant TVs displayed the Blink camera view. But the sound is down on that. Or so I thought. It dawned on me that I was hearing it twice: both through the window and through the Blink camera streaming to my tv. I stepped out on the deck to watch the brother and sister from downstairs walking across the parking lot, heading home after school, both of them belting out the song with enthusiasm. They were pretty good, even though they were clowning around.

“That’s one of my favorite songs. I love it and listen to it on repeat sometimes. Y’all are pretty good.”

We got a good laugh out of it.

The sister said, “Nah, my voice is cracking.”

“You never know,” I said. “You could be a singer. It just takes practice and a willingness to belt it out just like that.”

Earlier, I met my neighbor, Noah, while I finished laundry. He told me about himself. We share something in common, too: he’s not a fan of Johnson and for many of the same reasons.

I don’t use the camera as a security device. I use it as a window, staring out into the open world. Game weeks bring a lot of traffic. I’ll try to remember that each vehicle is occupied by someone living a life of melody, even if we don’t hear it.

Sometimes, it treats me to a melody.

What Is Too Thin?

This post is personal. Please forgive me if my tone is harsh; it’s not my intention. Like I always do, I write vaguely at times, use a word or adopt a tone carelessly. Read this with the idea that you’re getting to know me better. If you read it looking for errors or a fight, you’ll of course find motive.

I woke up this morning to find myself weighing 146.9 lbs. I was shocked. I knew my day yesterday had been intense. I walked over 40,000 steps and managed to do 2,500 pushups. Not to mention an insane amount of physical work during the day, too. I’ve always imagined 165-168 as the control setpoint, with 170ish as the upper limit.

I am a little amused that anyone would lecture me by saying, “You’ve lost too much weight.” From my perspective, it is a great compliment. Losing 35% of who you were makes for interesting stories.

I’m sorry you don’t see my weight as normal. That’s a problem.

Not for me. You. ๐Ÿ™‚

My cousin is concerned, and rightly so, because she recognizes how easy it is to let a goal turn to obsessive madness. I’m not anorexic or suffering from an eating disorder. There are days when I burn as many calories as an athlete. Work alone is so intensely physical that I look back over the last 16 years and wonder how I managed to be obese so many times. My cousin has earned the right to be the chiding voice in my ear. Her voice is in my head, reminding me to eat a wider variety and more calorie-rich foods in the process.

It was in part due to my cousin that I started doing pushups on June 1st. If you’d told me that I’d do 2,500 in a day 13 weeks later, I would have said, “You’re crazy!” But I did learn an invaluable lesson: there is no upper limit to how many I can do. At the outset, I had to be careful of my right shoulder. Work is intense and taxing. The pushups have largely eliminated the pain. I’m going to do my best to limit myself to 500 a day for a while. Yesterday will be in my head for years, though, because I surprised myself. That can’t be taken away from me when my body finally gets old and surrenders.

In October of last year, I had an epiphany. I saw myself as thin. Explaining the certainty of it doesn’t translate well when I talk about it. While my goal shifted increasingly downward as my vision became a reality, I didn’t plan on going past 170 in my wildest fantasy. While other parts of my life exploded, whatever happened to my head in October didn’t fade. As the months passed, I was amused that people attributed my success to willpower. It wasn’t that. It was clarity and stubbornness. Looking down at the scale and seeing “155” is a fantastic feeling. 146.9 is a bit disconcerting. I’m working on that without succumbing to many bad eating choices: Doritos, thick pizza, cheese, 54 pieces of chocolate, that sort of thing. I eat “unhealthy” food at times. (I hate labeling food as healthy or unhealthy; it’s volume and frequency that are the culprits.)

There are a couple of precursors to my “moment.” In February of last year, I started the process of losing weight, in part due to Covid. Stress took its toll, and I regained most of the weight I lost. Not all of it, thank god. At some point, I replaced the relatively new stove in the house with a bigger, better one to be able to more easily cook batches of healthy food. That drive to finally kick the fat bucket was brewing inside me. I know that reeks of an excuse. In October, my brother Mike died. Thereafter, I thought I had Covid and felt like I was dying. That morning is when the light bulb went off with an explosion in my head.

I often think about what would have happened to me had I not lost the weight. Would I have experienced a health issue? Or died? I know that losing weight during the long stretch of the Covid run saved my bacon on countless days. It let me stop feeling my knees hurt and my back. The converse of that is whether or not the rest of my life would have blown up had I stayed obese. It’s a real question for me. How much did my massive weight loss and attitude change have to do with my marriage imploding? There’s no question that staying so fat was going to cost me a part of my mobility – and perhaps forever. Being so overweight takes away a bit of so many corners of a person’s life. It’s because we gain incrementally and in ways we don’t notice. From there, we realize, “I’m fat. Oh my god.” We choose the hard that we’ve learned rather than embracing the hard of making positive choices.

For anyone who hasn’t experienced it, the feeling of eating healthy and making endless good choices is sublime. It’s a self-reinforcing mandate. This is true for any personal goal.

Today was the lowest weight I’ve hit. I got close Monday night after foolishly running five miles. Upon returning, I had to drink a gallon of water and then attempt to sleep. I think I dreamed about a running river, and that made me nervous for reasons that should be obvious.

For weeks, I’ve been in the low 150s. This week has been a barrage of work, running, walking, and pushups.

I get a lot of compliments. Questions. And some criticism. Some people are waiting for me to balloon back up. When I started, I repeatedly objected with, “Let’s see in a year.” The year is coming fast upon me in October.

One morning, the wife of a friend passed me in the hallway. “You look amazing, X!” We both laughed. Yesterday, someone said, “If you lose any more, you’ll dry up and blow away. You look great.” She lost a lot of weight herself for health reasons not too long ago. There’s rarely a day that passes where someone doesn’t notice that I’m thin. Today, a security guard who resembles me was standing by the elevator and saw that it was ME standing there. He thought I was someone he didn’t know. “You need to tell me your secret and how to do it.” He patted his stomach. “I’ll call you,” he said. He’s going to be disappointed when I tell him the big secret is to choose healthier food and to listen to what his body actually needs. “Keep your mouth closed” is a terrible name for a diet book.

On a recent morning, someone asked me in all seriousness, “How did you do it? You’re not sick, are you? Or did you have the surgery for weight?” I told her that it was simply eating well and that I didn’t have a secret. I told her about my friend Tammy, who managed to do what I did and that she was also about my age- and that if she could, I had nothing except excuses. I indeed started doing pushups on June 1st. But I had already hit 150 by the time I started.

“Just don’t lose any more weight, X.” My coworker meant it in kindness.

I have a couple of people in my life who resent that I lost the weight. It’s a bit bizarre to me, even now. I made it clear when I started that I was a bystander to my transformation. While I did adopt a diet that I experimented with, a big part of what happened was as if it happened to someone else while I observed it. All I can is that obsessively following a system yields results.

I’ve tried to avoid being too evangelical about weight loss. Some people do have medical issues that make it impossible or difficult. For those who’ve been less than enthusiastic about what I’ve done, I attribute it to that odd human proclivity toward pettiness. Watching someone do it renders many objections that it is difficult or impossible to be completely moot. With enough motivation to move from ‘wanting to’ toward ‘making it a reality,’ most people can do it. Anyone who decides that it is a ‘must’ will find a way. Or try. I remember a cartoon from years ago. A man was sitting on the pavement, having stopped halfway through the race. He said, “It’s too much. I can’t run 26 miles.” The next panel showed a man with prosthetic legs racing past. The people with the “sitting on the pavement” mentality often don’t appreciate it when people go racing by, ignoring objections. I used to find myself being that type of person, too.

It’s tough to be around someone who steps into a new motivation. Though I never intended my weight loss to be an insult to anyone else, it did happen. This sort of journey inevitably changes a person. A success in one arena drives them into others. Of course, the person is going to change. Sometimes fundamentally, especially as behaviors become habits and a new way of life. A common complaint in relationships is “You’ve changed.” A trite but true rebuttal to that is, “And you haven’t.” We’re not meant to be static. If you’re in a relationship and one of you will transform themselves, my word of advice is to have frank conversations about it – and go to a counselor if you see that it’s becoming a wedge.

One critic insisted that people were constantly saying how ill I looked. That I am too skinny. Relentlessly adamant. They quoted the anonymous “they” to me. When I’m ready to hire a consultant about my choices, I’ll let them know immediately. IF such people care for me, they will find a way to communicate it to me. Since they didn’t, I have to attribute what ‘they’ allegedly said to a polite conversation with my critics. There’s no crime in honestly talking to someone about their weight if you care about them. The bigger sin is not to do so.

So, of course, despite having the tools to show otherwise, I visited a nutritionist. She said, “Oh baloney!” She agreed that some of it is attributable to the fact that I was obese for so many years and that the change was abrupt and substantial. She looked at my pictures at 252 and 232 and then as I am now. “You’re great, X. If you do add muscle, your BMI will seem off. But it won’t mean you’ve become unhealthy. You have to balance your body against more than a simple BMI. If someone still incorrectly tells you that you are underweight, send them to me. I’d be shocked if they don’t realize how overweight most people tend to be now.”

If I continue to be as active as I am now, muscle mass will increase, resulting in a higher weight without the associated fat content.
I chose 168 as my set point. My job is very physical, and I’ve kept my leisure time activity rate higher than average, too, without going to a gym. I’ve channeled my anxiety into exercise. As the counselor I saw told me, short-term measures are warranted; if they become long-term measures, you’ll have to figure out that, too.

I lost a lot of weight that year, as part of an intense 3-way weight loss bet.

Most of us don’t have a realistic idea of how much we should weigh, nor how many calories we should eat on an average day. I look back at my pictures and shake my head. I missed out on a lot by being so overweight. I can’t get that time back, so it’s on to the next goal of ensuring my habits remain permanent – without risking developing a food issue. They are rare in men who are 54 years old. Food is too damn good and calls me by name like everyone else.

The majority of people around me don’t think, “Ugh, he’s TOO thin and looks terrible.” They think, “X looks normal.” So, if you’re in the minority who feel like I’m too thin, get online or talk to your doctor.

Or get a hobby.

The consensus is overwhelming: I’m at a normal weight, with a buffer of loss and gain comfortably on both sides.

This is how I’m supposed to look, so get over it and be enthusiastic for anyone who can do it. If you love me, of course, you should step in and tell me I’ve got my head up my ass if I continue to lose weight.

To be clear, I’m not talking about my face; whether that’s normal is up for the monkeys to decide.

My weight, though? I’m good. It’s not just my body saying so. It’s science.

In time, people will see this as the new normal. It looks normal, but it feels fantastic to be able to move with agility, walk for miles, do pushups, and run even if I stupidly decide to do so.

There’s always the danger of forgetting the lessons I learned.

One of those lessons is to stop letting critical people get inside my head. They can make fun of my brooches all they want. Just not my weight.

And if I get off track or fail, I proved to myself that my objections and excuses about why I couldn’t do it were all dumb. And that I could do it again. We all fail until we don’t.

No matter who you are, you can do something today. That’s enough, no matter how small. Tomorrow, a little more. The law of increments seldom disappoints.

If you see someone finally get past their excuses? Take the time to applaud. We need it. We’ll return the favor when you succeed.

PS For my cousin: I don’t plan to stay quite this thin. I love you. Please keep an eye on me, though.

Love, x

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Extras…

In Cancun…

Failure? Success!

I made my first bottle of Eau de toilette. Goodness gracious, the missteps I could recount about that! I smell like the red district in New York City. It was a failure. But one I’ll do again. And again. I learned many lessons: if you’re diligent, there’s no reason you can’t make a scent precisely to your heart’s desire. Also, most people might not realize how many unique scents there are, both exotic and mundane. I’m not sure what I made. I’ll let you know tomorrow, depending on whether the building is evacuated.

P.S. Today was the perfect day to do 2,000 pushups. ๐Ÿ™‚ Tomorrow, I’ll settle for less than a thousand and hope that no one calls me out for “being lazy.”

89,000+ Potential Friends

I left work and walked down the hill to the lower parking lot, feeling the sun and the cooler temperature soothe me. Work was fast-paced and physical today; I walked for miles before work, as well as obsessively did an insane number of push-ups at random intervals.

Because I’m not the brightest, I didn’t know that I had Google Fit on my phone until last weekend. Today’s tally by 1 p.m.? 25,000 steps. Please forgive me if it sounds like a humblebrag. The truth is that I woke up early this morning and felt compelled to wander the streets; evidently, all of them. ๐Ÿ™‚

Walking down the hill, I saw a man with a black backpack standing at the Razorback bus stop. I said, “Hello,” as I passed him. “How are you doing?”
He returned my greeting and said, “Good, except waiting on the bus is a pain today.”

I crossed the plant barrier along the outer rim of the parking lot. For a moment, I thought I had my car stolen, though. At that point, it dawned on me that I parked in the parking garage this morning. (Stolen by myself and hidden from my memory.) I turned and went back up the hill and found my car. I assume it was mine, as the key worked. The odds of there being two tiny Chevy Sparks that color of spa blue was slim. After walking so much, I didn’t care if I had the wrong car.

I turned and drove back toward the lower lot. The man with the backpack still stood there. I turned into the parking lot, exited the car, and said, “Hey, this is going to sound weird, but do you want a ride instead of waiting for the bus?”

He looked at me with a bit of surprise on his face. “How do you know which direction I’m going?”

Without missing a beat, I said, “Pam told me.”

He was confused. “Who is Pam?”

“Exactly. I’ll take you wherever you want to go. Doesn’t matter where.” It seemed like a good gesture.

He bent and picked up his backpack and walked over, and got inside the car. “These are small, aren’t they?”

“I get a different car each time I gain or lose weight,” I said. “I should have been driving a Tahoe until last October.” I laughed.

I introduced myself and tapped my work badge to show him that my name is X. He told me his name was John.

“Where to?” I asked. “This is like non-profit Uber, so make your wish.”

“I’d like to go to Walmart, actually. It’s not where I was headed, but I can catch the bus again from there. Is that okay?”

“Yes, lord knows they need the money.” We both laughed.

He told me that he is a part-time student at the university. He wanted to go back full-time but couldn’t afford it this semester.

“It’s a long story,” he told me.

“Yes, and it’s a long life,” I said, laughing. “There’s not really a deadline for school. Keep going, even if you can only afford a class or two at a time. You’re going to burn through the years anyway.” I didn’t tell him I knew this from experience; the grey hair on my face and head probably made that clear.

I drove him to the Walmart by the mall. As he thanked me for the ride, I told him, “I’m going to Home Depot to return a can of paint. If you want, I can drive back over and pick you up.”

“Nah, that’s kind, but I can’t ask you to do that,” John objected.

“You didn’t ask me. I offered. It’s not out of my way.”

He thought about it. “Okay. I shouldn’t be more than fifteen minutes, but I’ll be by the garden center side of the store.”

He walked toward the Walmart entrance, and I risked life and limb crossing over to the opposite side of the road where Home Depot is. The traffic in that area is hair-raising on the best of days.

Thirty minutes later, I saw John standing where he’d said he’d be. He didn’t have a Walmart bag, so I assumed his purchases were in his backpack.

“Where to? It better be somewhere interesting,” I told him.

“To campus, if you don’t mind.”

“Mind? I’d love to see what’s going on there and ponder that it’s been 35 years since I first attended school there.” That’s a sobering thought, that expanse of time filled with a lot of living.

While I drove, John asked me about my name and the backstory. That turned into quite the conversational odyssey.

“That is cool, X.”

I dropped him off in one of the campus parking lots.

“Nice talking to you, and thank you so much for the rides. Most people wouldn’t pick up strangers, X.” John smiled.

“You’re not a stranger anymore, John. Besides, Pam vouched for you.”

He laughed unexpectedly.

I drove to the apartment, thinking about John and his story and how many thousands of people live a similar life here in Fayetteville. They arrived with plans and a timeline; life intervened, and they adapted.

Haven’t we all?

Love, X

A List of Posts…

The sun is about to set.

I’m trying to figure out why I didn’t put a rocking chair on the deck. Fall has its hands on my shoulders.

As I leaned against the railing, a hummingbird flew up to feed, less than two feet from my head. Another one swooped in, darting around, and hit the first one. It darted down and hit me in the chest and fell to the boards of my decking. I leaned down to pick it up before I had the inclination to wait. As I stood up and held it loosely, I spread my hand with fingers splayed. The hummingbird madly fluttered its wings and flew up. It did so within a foot of my face, and then turned and darted away.

I don’t have a tidy recap for the moment.

Love, X

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The above picture is not a typo. Look closer.

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I don’t have a house. Or a lawn. So why did I buy a lawnmower blade on Amazon? I’ve had a totally stupid but creative project on one of my lists for FIVE years. It is going to come to fruition. This is the kind of time and whimsy that fuels me. Even crazier, I’m wondering why someone hasn’t marketed my idea already. It is SO stupid that it would sell like hotcakes. Lord help us all.

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The above picture is one I drew at work years ago. A talented co-worker colored it in. He recently sent it to me.

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Though I took this picture when the sun might have greeted me, it’s a picture of a streetlight.

Regardless of whether it’s the sun or artificial light, the truth is that if it illuminates with the intensity of what you need, both can be true.

If you embrace a truth, though it might not be factual. your life will radiate your embrace.

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I don’t understand the appeal of having a pot to piss in.

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I tried to adopt a cat yesterday. The zookeeper got really angry and I also have a lot of claw marks on my buttocks now.

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I figured out the perfect way to avoid getting into a fight. Simply stop for a second and put on a bright red shade of lipstick.

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At this moment, I REALLY needed a joke, so I pulled one of the 700+ I have done from my draft folder…

A friend of mine had a breakup with his girlfriend.I looked at a picture of her. She’s a pretty woman with light hair.

I told him, “I guarantee that I can describe your frustration with the relationship and with how she is toward you – and probably make you laugh in the process.

“No, I don’t think you can, X.”

Here’s what I quipped:”Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Blonde.”

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This morning as I discarded things from the work fridge, I stopped and reread the scrawled words on top of the old vegetable platter: “… help yourself please for everyone.” Though the words were written with the intention to let everyone know that they should take what they wanted, I couldn’t help but realize that it was also metaphorical. The way I read it the second time: “Help yourself. Please. For everyone.”

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Usually, I enthusiastically jump out of bed. Wednesday punched me in the face this morning. I thought of this Douglas Adams quote as I stumbled around the living bedroom. (My hybrid name for mine.):โ€œMany were increasingly of the opinion that theyโ€™d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.โ€

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The Brian Law Of Guitar: You NEVER ask yourself if you SHOULD play the guitar or loudly; the question instead is for how long.

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If I were a gangster, I’d carry a clarinet in my hand everywhere I went. People would never see it coming, getting hit hard on the head with one of those. And, if played, probably causes just as much head pain as getting hit with it.

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Self-help and affirmations can be problematic: I asked a co-worker why she was eating 23 bags of Doritos.”My counselor told me to be the bigger person.”

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Since not all of y’all have a straight-talking ex-military handsome older man around you, I’m going to quote Clisson from this morning: “I ain’t got time for young girl problems with an older woman.”

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Family photos for the new apartment!

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Juan sped past me holding a suitcase.

“What are you doing?” I asked him.

“Just running something past you.”

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The only complaint I have with the dealers in this area is that none of them take personal checks, PayPal, or Venmo.

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Someone pointed out to me that an arrow is basically a projectile knife. And I pointed out to them that both E’s in the word “pee” are silent – which is weird because the activity rarely is.

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Call me crazy, but I want to form a mariachi band, one in which everyone plays a banjo.

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I was going to learn to moonwalk. But I need $422,692 to get there.

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As a joke, I signed up my neighbors for Mensa. 50% of them thought they received coupons for feminine hygiene products.

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It’s weird to think that the future version of you is talking a lot of smack about you, and wondering what in the heck you were thinking today.

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Everyone asks about the security at the new apartment. I have an ax, hatchet, and pellet gun. The best feature I installed? You have to solve a basic algebra equation using an abacus, which is tied to an electronic lock. Given the demographics, good luck. ๐Ÿ™‚.

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I wanted one inside for a long time. So I bought one in the color I wanted. Y’all can proceed with all the old people jokes you want. I remember the last time when I flirted with buying one of these. I was 75 lbs heavier and the weight limit was slightly under that for the chair I wanted.

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Apartment Adventures”X, why is the fridge in the bedroom?””Well, some people say they love food.”

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I wrote the best possible marketing tagline for the American BDSM Association: “…When You Need Someone To Mistreat You Right.”

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2005 vs 2021, aka 97 lbs. The guy on the left could have eaten the guy on the right. .

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(t r a n s l a t e d anecdote)”Yes, I would like the Jesse’s Special.Without the queso, without the tortillas, without the rice,” I said.”Uh, that leaves just the chicken only, sir.””Serves the bastard right for crossing the road, doesn’t it?”.

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My friend Jessica told me I have a face that’s hard to forget. Just as I started to feel the compliment, she added, “…and that works in favor of the police sketch artist!”

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Unity and harmony aren’t always a positive thing. Just ask the voices in my headโ€ฆ

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Epictetus: โ€œHe is a wise man who does not grieve for the things which he has not, but rejoices for those which he has.โ€I have: Life. Choice. Opportunity. Whether I squander them is entirely my choice or fault. This has been true for my entire life, whether I believe it or not. At 54, I believe it. Love, X

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Knowledge you won’t find in a textbook: “Never complain about not having a shoulder to cry on if you’re around cannibals.”

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When I met the new Latino coworker, I couldn’t quite put my finger on why I didn’t like him, although something about his name, Adversario, gave me pause..