Fat

One way you can always spot a formerly-much-heavier person is by how much they obsess over their weight. That’s not to say that all obsessives-about-weight were once heavier, of course. But I’ve noticed that it’s a certain trait that is hard to ignore. Myself, included.

In the past six months or so I have very quietly put on a small amount of weight. Depending on the day, just 5-to-7 pounds. That’s really not that much, of course. But in my mind, it’s a huge flashing red light with claxons. Having twice had to take several weeks off of running and cardio in general certainly accounts for some of it. But not enough. Meanwhile, to confuse the issue, starting in January I’ve been actually using the weights at my gym for the first time in, well, ages. (I think one would have to go back to when I first joined a gym in 1997, in fact.) And as we all know, muscle does weigh more than fat. And I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but there has definitely been a change. I mean, I have bicep muscles now. I’ve never had bicep muscles that would show up if I flexed. It’s a noticeable difference, if admittedly just baby-steps.

Temptation

At the same time, though, I do know that I have been eating… perhaps not badly, per se, but not as well as I could have in 2007. (January was a rough month and I never really got back on track.) Temptations that might’ve been avoided in the past are now, well, not so much. For lunch today I had a very sensible meal, and then promptly followed it up several hours later with a piece of chocolate and two cookies that were left over from a meeting in the office. Smooth, huh?

So where does that put me?

In an effort to figure out exactly where I am, I did break down and get (after extensive research) one of those devices that uses an electrical pulse to help determine what your body fat percentage is. I used it this afternoon, and starting tomorrow morning I will use it on a regular basis (complete with recording the results) so I can get a better idea of what’s happening.

To be fair, my pants still fit and that is more than anything else my big method of figuring out where I am. So I should be in good shape, no pun intended. (I only shifted from 31″ to 30″ with about 10 pounds left to lose, if I remember correctly.) But I do worry. After all, when I lost all the weight a couple of years ago, I was in a relationship at the time and I remember what started out as encouraging comments suddenly becoming less so. (And towards the end, a little negative. Never mind that when I hit my goal weight I was literally about 2 pounds from the official upper end of the weight range considered “healthy” for myself.) It all came flooding back to me today, what with being in a relationship now and suddenly having a weight fluctuation.

Now if I could just find my willpower, I can’t help but think that it would put everything in its place. And I have vowed to stop buying two pounds of prosciutto when I go to CostCo from now on. (It’s so good. I can’t stop eating it.) We shall see, right? In the meanwhile, I’ve been told that we’re going out for dinner tonight. And more importantly, everyone at work so far is having fun with the body fat scanner. It’s a game everyone can play! Just remember to look up what the “healthy” percentages for your gender and age are first, though. It can be a little distressing otherwise. (My super-skinny co-worker Laura just about had a heart-attack when she saw her percentage. Then she did some research and felt much, much better.)

It Is Called Pride, After All

Last weekend, my friend Chip and I drove down to Wilmington, North Carolina to visit our mutual friends John and Andy. It was a nice trip and great to see them (the last time we’d gotten together was Pam and Brent’s wedding in October 2005), and generally a lot of fun. But one funny bit of coincidence is that Wilmington was holding their second annual Gay Pride week while we were there.

Since we were curious and were heading downtown anyway, we decided to swing by Saturday’s Pride Festival, which was running between 10-2pm. This seemed like a slightly strange group of hours, but all right. Now, to be fair, before I continue any further I should point out that Wilmington’s population is approximately 100,000. So while it’s not a tiny little town, it is also not a huge bustling metropolis. Sure, there’s a sizable film and television industry based there (One Tree Hill, Dawson’s Creek, Surface, Blue Velvet, and so on), but this isn’t a multi-million person area.

Anyway, we got to the Pride Festival and there were approximately fifteen people there. I’m including the people running the booths, all six of them. Now, this was actually not the big problem. The problem was that the booths and the general presentation reminded me of a bad church social. Wait, that’s not fair, most church socials these days look better presented. It was sort of like if some ten year olds were setting up lemonade stands and someone passing by had given them tent coverings to protect them from the sun. Everything was ramshackle and generally unimpressive; signs were written in sloppy magic marker lettering on poster board, and a boom box was playing the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” Yeah.

Needless to say, we left awfully quickly. Over lunch, we talked about what we’d just seen and more or less came to the same conclusion—the problem wasn’t that it was small, but rather that it was so badly put together. By way of comparison, there was a Juneteenth parade going on just next to the Pride Festival, and it seemed better put-together in general. In the year 2007, the resources are out there for a certain level of professionalism to be available to just about everyone. It’s not that expensive to get a booth sign printed professionally. A table skirt, likewise, doesn’t cost much at all. Sure, it does mean that you have to spend a little bit of money. But is that a bad thing if it means that you don’t scare off people before they even arrive?

It was that night when the phrase, “It is called Pride, after all,” finally jumped into my head. And it’s something that applies across the board, really. Just because you’re small doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. I see it all the time with small press publishers (both comics as well as prose books); bad, unprofessional font choices, shoddy cover design, impractical or illegible formatting, and so on. Sure, we don’t all have award-winning designers like Chip Kidd on our payroll. But if even a novice like myself looks at your back cover and thinks, “I’d have fixed the following five things,” then something is wrong.

I’ve been far, far behind on my reviewing the past couple of months. And the other comic-related blog that I contribute to hasn’t gotten that many postings from me, enough that the editor/publisher occasionally nudges me to make sure that I’m alive. I guess it’s because I’m not willing to just dash off a half-assed review for the sake of doing so. I’d rather people get something strong once a week (or so) than mediocre-at-best on a more regular basis. (Ideally, I’d like to have strong things written more regularly. One step at a time, right?)

So, anyway, this is a roundabout way of saying not only that last weekend’s trip was a real joy, but that people need to take pride in what they do. It’s not too much to ask, is it? Here’s to next year’s Wilmington Pride looking a little more spiffy. I’m sure they can do it. Let’s just hope someone steps up to the plate and pushes them to do so.

Life’s (Not-Welcome) Little Surprises

My Monday morning had started out well enough. I’d gotten up early so I could go to the gym and knock out an easy 4-miler, then use the weight machines. I’d made it out my apartment’s front door and down the five steps to the exit to my building—and that’s when I saw glass all over the ground.

Violation

Some jerk had broken two of the panes of glass in our building’s front door. I couldn’t help but notice that they were the two closest to the building’s doorknob; the insinuation is certainly that someone did this in order to get inside. Now, that might not be it at all. It could just be some kid being a jerk, or a complete and utter accident. But none the less, it’s hard to not draw that sort of conclusion.

I’ve been fortunate enough to never end up getting robbed. I was attacked (blatantly) by pickpockets in Italy twice back in 1999, but I’ve never come home to find that someone’s been in my home and taking all of my prized possessions. I hope to keep things that way, to be honest. My first response was to just stare at the destruction, shocked that someone would do that. Then I got a little pissed off and angry at whatever jerk did this.

Aaaaaaaaaaaand, then I ran for my camera. I am, if nothing else, slightly predictable. (When I got back from the gym I then took a second set of pictures that turned out much better. Probably because I was thinking a little clearer.)

By the time I got home in the evening, the rental office had already stripped all the glass out of the door (they were sweeping up the stuff on the floor before I even returned from the gym) and temporarily nailed a big sheet plexiglass over the window in the door. All that mess and destruction and 18 hours later, it’s already gone. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still irritated at whomever did that, but I wasn’t hurt and to the best of my knowledge neither was anyone else in the building. So all’s well that ends well, right? A minorly distressing event, but I’m past it. Onwards, right?

In a tangential piece of news, I also received news yesterday that neither Julie nor I got into the New York City Marathon. It’s funny, I’d assumed that either both of us would get in, or one of us would and the other wouldn’t and we’d have to figure out a new strategy. It honestly hadn’t struck me that neither one of us would make it in. That was pretty unexpected. And having to scratch our plans for the marathon sucks, perhaps because I already had to scratch one other race earlier this year that I’d really been looking forward to.

Still, at least we didn’t end up with the “one person made it in and the other did not” dilemma. We’d promised that we would both run the same marathon this year but I suspect that had that situation actually happened, the person who didn’t make it in would have pushed the other to do so. So both of us not getting it is better than just one. We’re eyeing another couple of options now and will probably decide in the next week or two what we’re going to tackle.

Life is full of little surprises.

A Thousand Little Pieces

Shattered

It’s funny how one can be technically not that busy, and still feel like there are hundreds of things you’re forgetting to do. Most of the big things happen, but it’s everything else that just seems to slip through the cracks these days. You know, that crucial ingredient you were supposed to buy at the grocery store, or maybe getting around to finally having prints made and sent to your grandmother from an event three weeks ago. That sort of thing. Not earth-shattering (or glass-shattering like the picture above), but still.

I thought about using the “Tasks” option in Outlook/Plaxo to try and keep a list, but the problem is I always forget to look at said list. So that doesn’t really help me much. I do love Julie’s ever-present “to-do” list she has on a clipboard on her desk but I feel it would also fall into the “forget to look at” category. Especially when I go home. Hmmm.

I think what I need to figure out is the best way to have those reminders always waiting for me at home. Perhaps the home page on my browser being said list? Something like that. Either that or I can just start peppering my journal entries with subtle reminders to myself to stretch, and check which ingredients I will need for making cupcakes, or perhaps another self-nagging mention about finally taking my old (heavier days, and hideous pleated pants to boot) suit to Goodwill.

Anyone else have any ideas on how the heck I’m supposed to be all responsible? It’s frustrating because the big things happen, but I forget that I’m planning on giving a friend a call until almost midnight. That does me (or anyone else) no good. Bleah.

mag-no’li-a

This is one of my favorite pictures in a while; it was just down the street from Rob and Peter’s last night, after a massive rainstorm a couple of hours earlier. Barrett, Julian, Wess, and I admired it for a minute and we almost kept walking before it suddenly hit me to pull out the camera.

I ended up cropping off a tiny bit of extra darkness up at the top of the shot, but otherwise it came out just about exactly as I’d wanted it.

mag-no'li-a

365pictures: Days 181-210

Well, not really. Technically this set is Days 144 & 182-210. You see… I made a mistake earlier on and left out day 144. So everything from that point has been off by a day.

Fortunately, once I realized that a day’s picture was missing (and was able to track it down—I had actually taken a picture that day and uploaded it to Flickr!) the problem was easy to solve. It’s now in its proper order in the full set, but for the purposes of this posting I’m letting it “borrow” the position of Day 181. (Which was shown in the last set. Don’t worry, it all makes sense.)

Blah blah blah. Anyway, this is the next set of photos! I might just make it all the way to 365 after all.

(The full set, as always, is located at this link.)

Trying for SpringToys Weren't This CreepyAll In A RowThirstAzalea
Something Not Quite Right
Panda and Polar Bear CupcakesReceptionFingering the KeysLife Continues
Channel 4 HelicopterArlingtonVanityFlowAir Force Memorial
IntersectionsMr. Soft-TThe Wasp FactoryThe Other MeSumo Wrestler Weeble
Prelude to ThunderSplashTotemTangleNeed Some Butter?
Green * White * RedSidewalk's EndMeridian Hill ParkWillow Oakmag-no'li-a