Thursday, March 24, 2005

Responses

I’m never sure if people go back and read responses to comments so I’m putting my responses right here in a main post. I’m sure there’s a blog net-iquette book out there somewhere but I don’t plan to read it so here goes.

WAM is “Weeks at Maintenance,” that is the number of weeks I’ve been at or below my goal weight. Maximizing this number is the whole point of my weight loss effort this time. I’ve lost weight before but never kept it off. Eventually, I’m hoping I’ll move to MAM (Months at Maintenance) and maybe even YAM (Years at…).

“4W” is Weight Watchers Weigh-in Weight. This is my “official” weight, though it tends to run about 1.5 pounds higher than my “HSW” or Home Scale Weight. The difference is mostly due to clothes, I believe, because though I’ve been tempted, I’ve never completely stripped at the WW office. Yet.

Sarachkah, I heartily endorse the WW non-points plan (called the “Core Program”). Screw portion control and dealing with emotional eating. Those are long-term projects and worth tackling. But if you want results, I say go “core.” Keeping track of points would drive me batty; even keeping track of non-Core points (which I’m supposed to do) is not something I have the patience for.

I’m sure the points program works for some people. Maybe people who benefit from the awareness that comes from the bookkeeping aspect of tracking everything you eat. But my biggest problem is that I eat what’s around and what is usually around me is crap. Vending machine food at work or HUGE portions if I go out for lunch. At home, carb-heavy food that the kids thrive on.

What the Core program did was force me to surround myself with good food. I go shopping on my way to work every Monday now and load up on raisins, bananas, carrots, celery, salad fixings, etc. etc. So when I’m hungry, I have good things to turn to. After a while, portion control takes hold naturally – I mean, I can’t eat but so many carrots.

So no disrespect to your M-in-law but I’d go Core if I were you. Ask the lovely wife for her perspective, I think she likes it better too.

Saw 160.5 on the home scale again this morning so promptly went out and grabbed a frappucino on the way to work. What would a person do without Starbucks?

And by the way, my interview with Craig Wright from “6 Feet Under” is in Style this week. Here’s a link:
Craig Wright interview

When is a person supposed to work when there is so much blogging to do?

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Stabilization

I may actually be stabilizing. I’ve been in the general vicinity of 161-2 for the past week, which is the only week I haven’t dropped more than a pound. On Thursday, I think, I took a precarious dip downward with 160.5. My WW weigh-in was on Saturday the morning after going out with Gramma B and B for Mexican food (yum) and then ice cream (oh baby!) so that explains the small bump upwards. I’ve been re-acquainting myself with bread on a regular basis and that seems to have been giving me the points I need to stay at my current weight.

Took another long look at myself after working out last night and got a little creeped out. Is this what skinny people look like? I’m not skin and bones or anything but I’ve got a lot more angles and weird crevasses where flesh used to be. This is definitely as thin as I want to be. Will actually be hoping to add at least a couple of pounds in muscle over the next couple of weeks with more regular work-outs. And have been desperately craving a frappucino all week – gotta get me one a them!

WAM: 4
Last 4W: 163.4
Last HSW: 161.0

Thursday, March 17, 2005

You Forget

…how quickly these things can happen. My lovely wife was picking up things in the playroom and I was in the kitchen. Meanwhile, child #4, all of 15 months old, climbs up on a coffee table in the living room and proceeds to fall off it, right on his face, biting clean through the skin right below his lip. He recovers remarkably quickly but, as the blood starts to spill from that clean little slice, it’s clear that a trip to the emergency room is inevitable. Oy.

The thing of it is that he was out of sight for maybe all of 20 seconds. I’m sure I had laid eyes on him within that amount of time and that he had toddled past the lovely wife even after that. I wasn’t really looking for an object lesson in how your life can change dramatically in an incredibly short time. But I got it anyway.

One of my favorite parenting songs is “The Toddler Song” – which has the immortal lyrics “I am the toddler – my goal: to kill myself!” Just when he moves out of this phase, I’ll have to start worrying about the eldest learning how to drive. Double Oy.

The Mind is a Terrible Thing

After racking up maybe 24 points this week, I got on the scale this morning and saw “162.0.” And, even though I realized that it was actually a GOOD thing, that my weight is just where it needs to be and I don’t need to get it any lower, and BTW it’s a full 25 pounds less than it was just a few months ago, I still had that reflexive “Oh no, I’m up a pound” reaction. What’s up with that?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Getting serious about loosening up

Thanks, Don, for your gracious offer of helping with the weight loss modulation. Maybe a non-“core program” lunch is in order, though remember, I’m putting on the brakes here, not slamming the sucker into reverse.

Took some steps yesterday. My points total by the end of the day was probably in the 8-10 range. But I think I get some negative “activity points” because I went to the gym (see how this all gets too complicated?) Anyway, adding both points and activity were good things and I’m going to try to keep that up. This morning still had a HSW of 161.0. As soon as I see 160, I’m giving you a call Don and will meet you at the nearest greasy cheeseburger joint in town.

PS: Hey, Sarachkah, what’s up with the double comments? Is there an echo up there? Sorry we couldn’t see you, too. Will look forward to checking in with the BB as soon as our stomachs return to normal!

Oldness

“This night is gonna last forever, last all last all summer long…”

Woke up late, rushed around crazily this morning, made lunches that are probably not going to get eaten, was generally pissed at everyone (even the 1-year old, who was up at 5am), clamored into the car, fired up the radio to hear “Heartache Tonight,” and almost started crying. The Eagles put out “The Long Run” in 1979 during my junior year in high school and I remember the “boom chick, ba-boom chick” background thump of this song like it was yesterday. I remember those high school nights like they were last week, the ones full of tumult and opportunity, heartbreak and desperation. The wide-eyed rambling through new frontiers, unaware of the steep cliffs on either side of the road. Damn, does it suck to get old.

Quick calculation of net worth reinforced reality that taking off for undiscovered points west was not a viable alternative. Went to Starbucks instead. Ran into acquaintance who recently separated from his wife after a decade and three kids. A seemingly nice guy who, if his ex-‘s story is to be believed, is really an incredible jerk and whether justified or not, was sent reeling when his wife finally showed him the door.

Realized life could be much, much worse.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Too much money

OK, it’s getting a little scary now. If you check the stats down there at the end you’ll see that I lost another 2.6 pounds last week. This puts my official weight loss total since starting with WW at 24.8. Someone has failed to inform my body that I’m at maintenance, not still trying to lose weight.

It feels a little like complaining about having too much money, but really this is not a good thing. For one thing, I’ve gone from looking trim to starting to look skinny, a look I have never had and don’t exactly covet. My clothes have gone from roomy to falling off me and I’m starting to look a little bony in spots. I’m not at “The Machinst” levels yet, but the continued downward trend has me worried.

Health-wise, it’s not that great also because last week’s drop happened mostly because of having surgery on Thursday (and eating very little) and feeling sick on Saturday (and eating almost nothing). Also, the weight loss is happening with virtually no exercise (once a week does not qualify). So part of this process is undoubtedly affecting muscle mass. I’m not getting dizzy or anything and I don’t think I’d get sand kicked in my face at the beach yet. But still, I’m thinking I’m done stripping the fat and it’s time to start to layer on some more muscle.

I’m still not clear on how though. I’m going to be adding WW points to my diet but still feel I need to do this systematically or else OUTRIGHT CHAOS may break out. Just adding liquid calories doesn’t cut it, in part because I don’t have the time for a beer regularly enough and when I do, it’s one and out for me these days. Yes, lightweight is the correct word for this state of being.

So yesterday I tallied 6 points but this morning saw my weight still falling a bit (HSW of 161.0). I don’t think I’ve seen 160 since I was a sophomore in high school. Which may just about drive me crazy because it’s so tempting to a) go for the WW 25 pound landmark and b) go for 160 just to say I was there. Ack! So far today I’ve had 7 points worth of stuff so hopefully I’ll be stable come tomorrow morn. Somehow, I’ve got to transition from tapping on the brakes to stamping down on them more firmly.

WAM: 3
Last 4W: 162.8
Last HSW: 161.5

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Another Saturday Night

First things first: for anyone who watches 24, J posted my latest commentary. For your entertainment: Hour Twelve review.

It's Saturday night and I'm watching Gilmore Girls with my eldest. It's actually a pretty entertaining show. Just what I need: another show that I should watch. How is a person supposed to get anything done when there's so much passive entertainment to enjoy?

Last night was another landmark night in the history of parenthood for me. Two out of the three kids that were home with me (while the lovely wife was out bonding with other women) were throwing up. The eldest (hi honey! she's reading this as I write it) left three big platter size puddles of, ya know, STUFF, on the family room floor and a small lake of it in the downstairs bathroom.

hello daddy how are you today?? i am not very tired since i took almost a three hour nap a couple of hours ago. :-(
so when do you think mommy will be home? do you think i will be awake when she gets home??
will you please!! start me a blog!!! please!! :-D I really want one. :-)
i love abc family!! and sometimes disney channel but only around 5:30 to 7:00. what do you like??
i do not know what to type but i feel like typing so i am going to keep on typing about nothing.
okay well now you said that you have to go to bed so i am going to stop typing :-( and say goodbye!! good bye

This is the daddy -- moral of this entry: don't leave your blog open for abuse by your children!

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Lasers in my eyes

Tomorrow I go in for LASIK vision correction. If you had told me 10 years ago I would willingly be submitting myself to a procedure where lasers would be shot into my eyes, I would have laughed in your silly little face. Because of various things, I've had more than my share of surgery in the past year so I decided to go ahead and get it done. What's one more trip under the knife, right? Except that this particular knife is a tiny microblade (microkeratome) that will be slicing a little flap out of the surface of my eye (corneal epithelium). If you were reading the informed consent form I'm reading right now, you'd run away screaming. Or be thinking I was crazy. Or maybe both.

Also, here's a link to my latest for "Style." May not be too interesting if you aren't considering coming to Richmond to see a play, but there it is just the same:

Review of "Volume of Smoke"

Sunday, March 06, 2005

New restaurant, old habits

Went to a restaurant tonight that we hadn't been to before -- Brio Tuscan Grill. Excellent stuff. Was able to get a "core" meal by splitting a roast chicken with the lovely wife.

The children however, went for Mac & Cheese (at least two of them did). Oh and it was awesome Mac & Cheese, high quality pasta with a tart and tasty parmegian heavy sauce. This was the real deal. Of course, the children, Kraft fans that they are, left 3/4 of the stuff. I HAD to take a least one bite to see if the stuff looked as good as it tasted. The second, third and fourth bites, well, they were because the damn food was just sitting there and the kids had moved on to the kid menu word search. The slippery slope was looming intensely, so I grabbed the youngest -- who was antsy anyway -- and eescaped into the night. Whew!

Oh, also must add that the LW and I specifically requested that they NOT bring the mashed potatoes with the roast chicken. Of course, they screwed that up too and sure enough, they were among the best damn MPs I've ever tasted -- heavy on the garlic and buttery like nobody's business. Pawned most of them off to the eldest who thank goodness placed them out of my immediate range or I would have worried them away into my gullet before the night was over.

For some reason, this weekend was the biggest test of my resolve yet. Part of it was sitting around the house a lot -- Saturday in particular was just a crappy day. The other part is now being comfortably within my maintenance goal, I'm starting to get the sloppies, the "well, I can have a bite of that because I'm well within my goal weight" rationalizations. Getting back to work tomorrow will help with this. A little pathetic to take refuge in work but you gotta do what you gotta do.

On the home improvement front, finally tore out one of the 7 humungous built-in shelving units in our "office" in preparation for conversion to the eldest's new bedroom. Found pink and perky floral wallpaper stuck in behind it. Oy. Can't wait for the wallpaper removal bonanza -- sure it will be fun.

Also, finally after 9 months, put up some damn art in the house. We had been living under subsistence art conditions, with a couple of prominent place-holder pieces in place. But actually cleared the closet of a good 6 to 8 old pictures and now the walls are alive! Thank goodness. I was a little starved for something besides the white-on-white walls.

A shout-out to the Man de la Maza, on his final day of his extraordinary chess adventure. Great work there, Don, you are an inspiration.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Two interludes

So the youngest of our 4 children is 14.5 months old. Two interludes from the world of child-rearing:

Two weeks ago I was walking through the snow and smiling. Snow is a relatively rare occurence here and I forget what a poetic thing it is. Cold rain, which is more common, is such a soul-dampening, mood-darkening force. But drop the temp a few degrees and you have this fluffy coldness scattered across the landscape and floating crazily in the breeze. Cold rain puts a gray pall over everything whereas when it's snowing, everything is about the snow. In a semi-strong snow, whiteness obscures nearly everything at a distance so you have this bright flickering veil that you walk through to get anywhere. I find it nearly impossible not to try to catch a snowflake or two on my tongue.

But the snow is not why I was smiling. I had in my possession, finally, a small piece of paper that for some reason seemed profound to me. It was my youngest son's birth certificate. Because of a paperwork snafu, we discovered that he was without documentation a few months ago and getting it all ironed out was a major battle against the bureaucracy machine. It was the type of thing that made me want to bring the child into the Dept of Health's offices, plunk him down on a desk and say: "See -- here he is. He is not a figment of my imagination or a foreign-born terrorist. Please make him out a fucking birth certificate."

But something about the snow made me think of things in a more ethereal way. In the Waldorf School philosophy of teaching, there's this concept of how children start out still in transit in some ways from heaven down to earth. This explains why they don't seem fully here at first, don't seem fully within their bodies for years sometimes. I think since he's the youngest of four, our little boy has seemed even more sketchily "of this earth." We take less pictures of him than the others, he doesn't have many toys with his name or monogram on them, he is so angelic sometimes it's hard to believe him human.

But with that piece of paper in hand, he seemed more fully ours than before, more solidly grounded in our spectral plain. And when I saw him that night, he seemed heavier and his eyes looked into mine with greater recognition. Maybe it was because I was looking at him differently, with some look that said, "wow, I guess you're really here." And he was looking back with a look that said, "oh yes I am dad. And do I have some things in store for you..."

Which leads me to the second interlude which occured just this morning. With the rest of my family scattered about, it was just me and the little one over breakfast. You have to understand that our two oldest are 11 and 10, many years past the distinct challenges of baby and toddler-hood. And our oldest boy who is four has been a monstrous pain in terms of interpersonal relations (he's a little punk, basically), but healthwise, he's been relatively easy (two trips to the hospital for stitches already, notwithstanding).

What I'm getting at is the astoundingly disgusting things that comes out of children's bodies that us grown-ups have to deal with. The girls had some amazing moments -- projectile pooping that decorated a wall like a Pollock painting, the lovely occasion when daughter number 2 threw up all over daughter number 1, etc. etc.. I guess I was just out of the habit.

But little number 4 has had a bit of a stomach thing going on this past week. His "discharges" have been particularly rank and numerous, this from a kid who on a normal day poops 3 or 4 times. Well, over breakfast, I noticed him squeezing out his usual post-oatmeal deposit and I thought, oh, I'll get to that in a couple of minutes and went back to this week's "Entertainment Weekly" (Best and Worst Dressed at the Oscars!) Well, a couple of minutes later, there was this gurgling sound, kind of a low simmer, and it went on. And on. And on. Maybe a full 20-30 seconds later, the sound stopped. But then the odor started. And grew. And soon became something of a sense tsunami, overwhelming me and nearly knocking me out.

Now you have to realize that the poor boy had on this warm, cozy, fuzzy red one-piece outfit. It's very cute. It also essentially hermetically seals up anything inside of it. When I took the boy upstairs, I unzipped the back and it was like opening a Ziploc bag of the most rank shit you can imagine. Only there's a squirmy little boy inside the bag desperate to get out, and it's your job to do so.

I will spare you too many more details, because I'm sure you've had plenty already. But all I'll say is that it's a good thing for the boy that it's winter and frigidly cold outside. If the temp had been above 60, it would have been outside for a thorough hosing down. From a considerable distance. Or maybe a call to the toxic waste unit for detox.

I really hope that stomach thing clears up soon.

Random Coolness

So, I've been writing for our town's "alternative" weekly for about 7 years now and, while sometimes it's a moderate pain, for the most part it's pretty cool. I write 2 things a month on average, the magazine I write for pays better than the competition, I get to see plays for free, and once in a while, I get to talk to some cool people. Several years ago, I was actually supposed to interview Chris Rock but that fell through. I've talked to Brenda Lee (on purpose -- and I made a fool of myself at least twice) and Harry Hamlin (by accident, but that's a long story).

Probably the biggest disappointment was talking to comedian Stephen Wright, who I've always thought was hilarious. He was a pretty lousy interview. Deadpan when you're saying funny things is one thing, but off-stage, he's just deadpan and kinda boring.

Anyway, this past week I talked to one of the writers for "Six Feet Under," and he was a pretty fascinating guy. He ran away from home at 14 and stayed with friends in Minnesota through high school. He's a playwright and in the past couple of years, has become one of the hot new playwrights (bet you didn't know there even was such a thing!). But his theater agent hooked him up with the HBO folks a couple years ago, and so he moved to Hollywood and is working on movie scripts, etc.

But the best part is that he was totally un-Hollywood. In fact, I asked him to kind of compare and contrast Minnesota and Hollywood and he had a great description (which I couldn't fit into my article). He said, "In Minnesota, if you work in the arts and you're incredibly successful, you aren't supposed to act like you are. But in Hollywood, even if the only thing you did all day was go to an audition, you're supposed to act like you're the hottest thing on two feet. There's no modesty in Hollywood, while there's way too much of it in Minnesota."

Anyway, just sharing a little tidbit from the scraps of the entertainment world's table. Oh, and by the way, here's a link to my latest piece in that magazine I was talking about:
Swift Creek Mill's "Angel"

Catching Up

It's been a long time. I keep thinking about things I want to write but I haven't had the time. Well, it's Saturday, my lovely wife is off at a school event, and I'm here alone for the evening. Last night I was home alone also but was a good boy and wrote up my article that is due on Monday, and cleaned up around the house, and moved some things down to the garage. Tonight, I'm going to do some blogging.

First things first, I went to Weight Watchers today, just me and the littlest one, who was a crazed munchkin at the meeting. I was hoping to hang in there because there was this somewhat dyke-y leader who was very dynamic and was saying some cool stuff. But my lovely little son was tearing posters off the wall and fishing old coffee cups out of the trash. So I had to run.

But the bottom-line was that I had lost another pound. Technically at maintenance I shouldn't be losing any more but generally I've still been adding points sparingly. The big items this week were a night out to celebrate the lovely wife's 40th birthday where we had movie theater popcorn (not the fat-free sanitized WW-safe kind) and then had a lovely light late dinner at a yummy Italian restaurant (the only place in our pathetic little town that was open after 9pm on a Tuesday). We topped it off with this dessert which was ice cream swimming in something called spagniole, which is this sweet, light custard stuff. Oh baby!

But the next day, I had a weird stomach and was really feeling queasy at work. I finally left at about 11:30 but didn't eat hardly anything all day. So I guess that balanced out the night before and left me in a weight-neutral place. I feel like I'm stabilizing here and I think the 164-6 range is a good one.

So much for the boring food news.

Weeks at Maintenance (WAM): 2
Last Weight Watchers Weigh-in Weight (4W): 165.4
Last Home Scale Weight (HSW): 164.5