Back to the Fridge An odd and somewhat humorous collection of bits on weight loss, not designed to help anybody. Sat, 30 Jan 2016 14:39:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Beginning Fri, 22 Jan 2016 06:18:31 +0000 This is it. For real this time. I know I’ve written various “goodbye” posts over the years. (Looking back, I’m almost sorry I didn’t create a separate category for them.) But today, this one, at long last, is the one. I am officially retiring Back to the Fridge. But don’t worry! There’s good news at the end of this post.

But before we get that far, I wanted to engage in some serious navel-gazing just one last time, in the form of a Back to the Fridge retrospective. It’s long. And if you’re really just here for the punchline, then feel free to skip over all this and jump to the end. But me, I love history and it seems fitting at this juncture to take a long look back. So hop into the DeLorean, set the time circuits for early 2008, and let’s hit eighty-eight miles per hour.


The site’s history can be easily divided into ages. I count seven of them and they look like this:

The top chart shows the frequency of posts over the years (each blue vertical line is a post). Each background color corresponds to an age. The second chart shows a count of comments per post.

That is all. I like numbers and graphs and charts, so why not kick things off that way?

The Prehistoric Age


October 2007 to May 2008

After I published Why Your Last Diet Failed You in October 2007, I immediately began looking for ways to promote it. One early fan of the book asked me, “Do you blog?” to which I replied, “What’s a blog?” A short time later, after I hired a publicist, she said, “Do you blog?” to which I replied, “Okay, I think I really need to look into this ‘blog’ thing.”

That’s when I decided to: 1) find a dictionary and look up the word, and 2) start my own.

The Dark Ages

screenshot of version 1 of the web site

May 2008 to August 2008

The first version of the blog. Man, that was one ugly site. Go ahead, click on the thumbnail for a full-size image. (In fact, all the thumbnail-sized images in this post will link to their large-sized counterparts. So be sure to enjoy this walk through time in high def.)

At the time I thought it looked okay. I knew I could do better, but I also just wanted to get something out there. It’s hard to look back on it, though.

Before moving on, though, a confession. The astute reader has by now discovered an anomaly. Just above I said I started the blog sometime after the book’s launch yet the first blog posts go back to May 2007. What gives? Well, I’ll tell you. The first “year” of posts are fake.

Well, I mean, they’re real posts. I wrote them and everything. However, I spent the months of April and May 2008 writing a year’s worth of posts. When I “launched” the blog around May 30, 2008, I didn’t want it to be empty. Plus, I wanted to document the time leading up to the book publish as well as get some experience writing posts. Looking back, it was a stupid idea. But there you go.

The Golden Age

screenshot of version 2 of the web site

August 2008 to April 2009

Ahhhhh . . . This was, without a doubt, the blog’s Golden Age. I spent a LOT of time over the summer of 2008 working on a new, unique, from-scratch, custom WordPress theme. This would be the first thing to set me apart from the crowd and help “build my brand” so to speak.

I posted once each weekday. Each weekday had a theme:

Monday: Return to Onederland. My personal weigh-in and weight loss talk.
Tuesday: You Know What Sounds Good Right Now? A post about food!
Wednesday: Leftovers. A day where I could post about anything.
Thursday: No Help Here. Semi-serious weight loss information and advice.
Friday: Pizza Night. Posts about restaurants and eating out.

And the posts were just half of it. I spent just as much, if not more, time visiting other bloggers’ sites. I’d leave comments, talk, engage, and again, just tried to keep building my brand. It was an exciting period, truth be told, and one I’m not likely ever to repeat.

Click here for a sample post. One of the many cool things about my custom theme: the header would change depending on the category of the currently-displayed post. I’m sure no one ever noticed, but I had fun coding it.

Lastly, here’s what readership looked like:

Google Analytics Graph

Though I had a couple large spikes, on average daily visits ran anywhere from 200 to 300 a day. I did my absolute best to keep that number going up, but I just couldn’t budge it.

I do like this next graph because it includes April 1, 2009. For whatever reason my April Fools Day-related post hit something on StumbleUpon, and I got over 6,300 visitors in one day, then over two thousand the next. It was pretty cool having a high traffic blog, even if it only lasted for a blip.

Google Analytics Graph

The Silver Age

screenshot of version 3 of the site

April 2013 to October 2009

To freshen things up a bit I created this particular aberration of a theme. The colors were horrid. The layout, very busy. The main reason for shaking things up was to make the site look more like a “real” blog. The site with the splash page confused people and I thought this would help. The five-days-a-week posting format didn’t change. It was just the layout.

This age came to a close on June 5, 2009 when I said “so long!” for the first time. I didn’t actually leave of course. I called it “summer break” and just posted a few things here and there.

The Renaissance

screenshot of version 4 of the web site

October 2009 to September 2011

After my summer break, I got back to my nice, white, fridge look, ditching that ugly orange thing. I retired my custom newsletter in favor of Feedburner support. Fixed the site’s search function and added the All Posts page.

Content-wise, I decided it was okay to just talk about anything and post more freely. The rigid schedule of The Golden Age was tough and more than anything I just wanted to enjoy blogging. My only real rule at this point is I would post on days beginning with a T.

This was a very memorable period of the blog. See, there was this one time where I . . . uh . . . um . . . well, there was also this other time where . . . hmmm . . . oh! And how could I forget that one post about the . . . uhhhh . . . well, something. But trust me, it was very memorable.

The Artistic Revolution

screenshot of version 5 of the web site

September 2011 to January 2012

I’d been thinking about Shaking Things Up for a few months when a Big Life Event finally pushed me over. The shaking part? Making picture posts. The event? The oldest daughter heading off to college. While I provided photos and graphs in my posts, they were nonetheless very wordy. I was curious what it would be like to write posts heavily supported by artwork.

Hmmm, but what would it look like?

Kids drawings, of course. That’s exactly the kind of artwork that goes on a fridge. So I went offline with real life paper and real life colored pencils and started drawing. The resulting pictures are so childish you might be surprised to know how much time I spent studying kids artwork and refining my style. (I’m not joking.)

I then had to do some major tweaking to my custom theme to make the whole drawings-tacked-to-a-fridge thing work.

And then I actually had to write my first post.

I think start to finish the whole first post (drawing, scanning, storyline, and final assembly) took about twelve hours. Or more. Definitely more labor-intensive than the usual blog post. And, in my opinion, definitely worth it.

This period was brief. Like a long-distance runner putting on an exceptional burst of speed near the end of a race, the few pic-posts I did took it out of me and in early January 2012, I took another blogging break.

The Modern Age

screenshot of version 6 of the web site

April 2012 to Present

A nasty bout of non-Hodgkin lymphoma cut short my blogging hiatus. Through the remainder of 2012, I wrote several cancer-related posts. But by the end of the year, I was all out of steam again. I didn’t actually say it this time, but Blog Retirement Number Three happened with my 2012 Year in Review post. I wasn’t in a very good place. There were only five posts in all of 2013. Strange to think back on a time where I wrote five posts a week.

I posted in bursts throughout 2014 and 2015, “quitting” again most recently on April 20, 2015. This retirement was highly similar to the one in 2012, in that I felt like I’d done everything I could with the blog and really just wanted to focus on my other creative endeavors.

Whelp, that didn’t go as planned. Five months later I resumed blogging and I’ve been posting once a week (each Friday) since then. In my own humble opinion, I think the content has been pretty good. I like the frequency. Overall, it’s actually been going pretty well.

So well, in fact, I don’t even feel like retiring today . . .

The Good News

. . . which is why I’m not. The only thing going away today is Back to the Fridge. What lives on is me: Charlie Hills. I started a new blog today. For the foreseeable future, I plan to continue posting each Friday. Content-wise, the posts will be more or less the same as they have been lately.

Which likely begs the question: why not just keep doing it here? Believe me, I’ve asked myself that a few times. But I weighed the pros and cons, and eventually a coin toss decided it.

Just kidding. I used a Magic Eight Ball instead.

It’s a primarily symbolic move. I find myself at another crossroads. And it’s one of those where I want to break some ties to the past and establish a path for the future. Outwardly, and publicly, I want to keep working on all the same things: writing, music, art. Inwardly, I need a fresh start. And I’d rather not carry around the baggage of the “weight loss blog” forever.

My secondary reason is: simplification. Back to the Fridge isn’t my only blog. I’ve had many over the years and a few are still semi-active even today. But not one of them really represents the Charlie Hills direction, so it made sense to create something brand new and focus all my efforts there.

I hope you’ll come along. I always love the beginning of new things. avatar

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Diet #117 Fri, 15 Jan 2016 07:13:07 +0000 Okay. So I let myself go a bit over the holidays. You know, just a bit. The way the Powerball jackpot was a bit large. Or the way Donald Trump is a bit orange. I can’t really explain it other than The Switch wasn’t only just off, it wasn’t even hooked up to any circuits.

I never left Onederland, but I did come close. In fact, closer than I have since I finally got back into Onederland nearly four years ago. I swore, I swore, I swore I wouldn’t squander that opportunity. I haven’t yet but I don’t ever want to come this close again.

The appetite suppressant I discovered worked for a short while but quickly wore off. This time, however, it would be different.

I made a trial run at Diet #117 just before New Year’s Eve. I officially kicked it off on the Number One Diet Day Ever: January First.

Ahhh, the new year. So magical. So wonderful. So imaginary.

So what am I doing different this time that I didn’t do the previous 116 times? Nothing. Better call Simba because this is just the Circle of Life playing itself out all over again. I’m simply trying to not eat everything that falls within a three foot radius of my body. And I’m trying to get up and move around as much as possible. In other words, the basics.

Although now that I think about it, I lied. I am doing one thing different. I’m logging my foods. This in and of itself is nothing new. I’ve been doing that quite regularly since 2008. No, what’s different this time is how I’m keeping track. I have been using LiveStrong’s MyPlate that entire time, but over the last couple years a certain dissatisfaction with the service has been growing. I’ll save the details for a future blog post, but suffice it to say I finally started looking elsewhere for help.

I looked at a number of popular services, but in the end the thought struck me: it’s just a list. It doesn’t have to be fancy. I can keep a list of data using almost any medium. That’s when I switched over to my old Etch-a-Sketch. Sure, those knobs can be a bit tricky. But once you get the hang of it, it’s not that bad.

Okay, you got me. I’m actually using Excel. I have one worksheet for my food log. Another for my food database. Other tabs for tracking exercise, weigh-ins, and other helpful reference data. I was worried at first, thinking that maintaining my own food database would be a horrid undertaking. As it turns out, it didn’t take any time at all to create seventeen entries for “Peanut Butter.”

Is it going to work long term? I’ll let you know when I write up my “Diet #118” blog post later this year.

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Happy New Year Fri, 08 Jan 2016 07:00:33 +0000 So another year has come and gone. In fact, even one whole week of the current year is already behind us. Yep, almost two percent of 2016 has now come and gone, if you can believe it. So, before any more precious time rushes past us, I’d like to use this post to talk about my plans for the remaining ninety-eight percent of 2016.

I’m not going to call them resolutions, because I’m not “resolving” to do anything. I’m simply laying out a few select goals designed solely to depress me severely during last week of 2016 when I write up my year in review and realize I’ve achieved none of them.

1. Weight Loss

Of course there’s a weight loss topic. I won’t say much about it right now, because I’m saving that for next week. What I will say, though, is that my weight got alarmingly high this year and I have to do something about it. My goal? Lose 25 pounds. My deadline? Don’t care.

2. Writing

I swear to #@!$!ing #$@#! I’m going to finish what I’ve started on the writing front. I have many, many unfinished books out there. I can’t finish all of them. But I can finish one of them. Look for my “diet book sequel” this year. Beyond that, I will make progress on the Underhaven series. And I lied earlier about resolutions. I resolve, for the first time ever, to post small parts of the books online. If I can’t finish them, then at the very least I’ll get what I have out there. Then everyone can finally see what I’ve been yammering on about since 1993.

3. Music

I will also finish Connections, the first album of my resurrected “Continuum” music series, and the first of anything that I’ve done in about twenty years.

4. Web Sites

The new version of will go live. I am also about 90% sure I will close shop on and and replace them with a new, unified Charlie blog. It just makes sense.

5. Reading

I will update my account with everything I’ve read over the last couple years.

6. Art

I will make art and show it to the world.

7. Powerball

I am going to win a billion dollars in the Powerball. When that happens, I will give most of it away. In fact, one lucky person to comment on this post will get one million of my Powerball dollars. (Unless my lawyer says I can’t do that. If that’s the case, one lucky person to comment on this blog will get a free copy of my upcoming book.)

Whelp, there you have it. That’s pretty much everything I have planned for the year. The astute reader will immediately notice I’ve said nothing about family or work or moving to a new house or anything like that. Well, that’s because those things will take up 100% of my time and the above seven things will never happen.

Or, I should say, just the first six of those things will never happen.

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Book Review: WYCWYC Fri, 01 Jan 2016 07:02:35 +0000 It’s at last time to talk about the book What You Can When You Can: Healthy Living on Your Terms by Carla Birnberg and Roni Noone.

Now wait a sec, Charlie. Didn’t this book come out, like, months ago? Don’t you know you’re supposed to review books right when they come out, if not days or weeks before?

Yes, normally this is true. But here’s the thing. I’ve written and published several books myself and I can tell you this:

  1. A unique emotional high accompanies every book release; and
  2. By laws of symmetry, an equal and opposite low comes after the excitement dies down and the buzz all but stops.

So when I ordered this book on April 18, 2015, I decided right then and there to publish my review today. I wanted to give the authors a boost, however tiny, eight months after the book’s release. And I wanted to give my readership, however tiny, a solid tool to help with their inevitable healthy-living-related New Year’s Resolutions.

The Concept

Before discussing the book, it’s important to talk about the #wycwyc concept. And before talking about the concept, I need to get two things off my chest:

Thing #1

Truth is, I was the one who actually invented the whole what you can when you can idea. However I made a colossal marketing blunder and only applied the concept to pooping. Sadly, mine never took off. Fortunately, that means Roni gets full credit for realizing its true potential. I’ve since filed the whole affair under “lessons learned.”

The brilliance of wycwyc lies in its simplicity: six words says it all. Life isn’t about taking one or two gigantic steps and calling it done. It’s about thousands of little steps. Not one of them will get you to your goal by itself, not by a long shot. But if you keep at it, then little by little, you will see results.

For example: you know how when you go to a pizza buffet and you look at the thirty hot and delicious pizzas arrayed before you and you think, “Oh no! There’s NO WAY I’ll fit all those pizzas in my mouth at once!” Well, this kind of “all or nothing” attitude is exactly the kind of negative thinking that keeps us from reaching our goals.

Thing #2

Now for my second confession: I’m cynical by nature and I’m also extremely intense when it comes to projects. I pour my all into them (and then some (and then some more)). My philosophy is simple: nothing ever gets started by just wishing it and nothing ever gets finished by half-assing it. So my cynical and intense self first viewed the wycwyc philosophy almost as a cop out.

“Oh, you can’t run a full marathon? Well, just walk to the mailbox and back. Good job!” Really? That didn’t sound like inspiration. If anything, it sounded patronizing. Wasn’t this just the “everybody gets a trophy” mentality at work again?

As it turns out, no it wasn’t. I was wrong. Flat out wrong.

Why It Can Work

No one believes that a fifty yard walk to the mailbox is an achievement equal to running a marathon. But if you make that walk every day for a year, you’ll have walked ten miles that you wouldn’t have walked otherwise. Will you lose fifty pounds doing this? No. But here’s the thing, you’re not going to lose fifty pounds running a marathon either. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)

But what you will get out of that walk to the mailbox, far more than any immediate physical benefit, is a mental boost. All of this starts in your head. And even if that one tiny, three-minute, everybody-gets-a-trophy walk only burns two lousy calories, it mentally aligns you for the next challenge. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Grab an apple instead of a cookie. Missed your workout? So what. Life happens. Hit the gym tomorrow. Or Saturday.

In short, it’s a psychological device for defeating your defeatist attitude. “I’ll never walk a marathon therefore I will just sit here and eat chips and salsa the rest of my life” becomes “I may not be able to walk a marathon, but I will walk to the mailbox. And if I do that, then hell if I’m going to void the whole experience with a donut. And if I can resist a donut temptation then I can basically do anything.”

The Book

Oh yeah! I almost forgot I was supposed to be reviewing the book. Please don’t let me get off track like that again.

So when I first heard about Carla & Roni’s book deal, three things sprang to mind:

  1. I’m so happy for them!
  2. No I’m not. I WANT A BOOK DEAL.
  3. Wait. A book? The entire concept is six succinct words. What more needs to be said?

I admit I was initially concerned this might turn out to be a funny two-minute Saturday Night Live sketch that got stretched into an awful 110-minute film. It’s not. Because even though six words says it all, the book helps you properly internalize what those six words mean. For my sci-fi fans out there, the book helps you grok wycwyc.

As I read through the book, I began adding bookmarks on chapters I wanted to come back and read again later. But around halfway through I realized how pointless this exercise was as I’d basically bookmarked every single chapter. To me, that’s a good sign.

I used to call my own book an “anti-diet” book. I never meant that it was against dieting, per se. I just meant it was the opposite of a diet book. Although written in a completely different style (and with a completely different purpose), wycwyc is nonetheless written in the same spirit. You won’t find a strict diet plan or exercise program. Don’t expect a silver bullet or magic pill. It’s a book full of common sense and lifestyle secrets hidden in plain sight. The book is like the Pet Rock. You finish it and think, “Huh, why didn’t I think of that?”

But you didn’t. Neither did I. Carla and Roni did, so go buy it and read it and learn from it. Don’t allow the big things to get you down. Do allow the little things add up. And proudly take that walk to the mailbox each day.

Just don’t celebrate your small victories with a trip to the pizza buffet because that will never work. (Trust me, I’ve tried.)

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The Year in Review Fri, 18 Dec 2015 14:48:10 +0000 Running a marathon is a big deal. Whether you’re a world-class runner trying to break the two-hour barrier or a slow middle-aged man who walks it in eight, crossing the finish line brings a unique feeling of, “Yes! It’s over!”

So imagine crossing the finish line and catching your breath only to have a race official approach you and say, “This isn’t the finish line. This is the starting line of the next marathon. Keep running! Go, go, go!”

That’s how I invariably feel about the turn of a new year. Time (or at least our tracking thereof) is nearly always cyclical: the minute hand running around a clock, the changing of the seasons, the earth making its full orbit around the sun (only to reach the end where the moon starts yelling at it, “Keep running! Go, go, go!”)

Harry Chapin put this concept into song very well:

All my life’s a circle.
Sunrise and sundown.
The moon rolls through the nighttime
‘Til the day break comes around.

All my life’s a circle.
But I can’t tell you why.
The season’s spinnin’ ’round again,
The years keep rollin’ by.

And here we are, another year has rolled by. And just at the point where I feel like, “Yes! It’s over!” I’m about to find myself at the start line again. I’m tired. I’d like to take a break before the next marathon starts. But unfortunately, the space-time continuum doesn’t work that way. No, the space-time continuum instead just says, “Sucks to be you.”

So before that race official finds me and tells me to go-go-go once around again, let’s at least take a minute to look back on 2015. I’ll begin where last year’s review ended:

So what will 2015 bring? Well, I have many, many goals as usual. I will continue to write, make a serious attempt to get back into the home recording studio, and maybe create some art here and there. But truth be told, if I just got that garage cleaned up, I’d call it a win.


I actually did get the home recording studio set up again and began recording. I also kept working on my NaNoWriMo manuscript. Wow! Looks like this just might be the year for the arts!


I joined the gym at work. Kept at the music and recording. Stopped working on the book. Went on my first trip to Cupertino.


Put all other creative endeavors on hold while I messed around with the Skyrim Creation Kit. Maybe I’ll explain that later.


Things got busy at work. Put most things on hold while I messed around with my day job, though I did manage to find time to start a new, non-fiction book.


Things got really busy at work. Put everything else on hold. For Mother’s Day, Laura said, “Let’s go look at houses.”


Things still busy at work. House hunting got serious. First trip to Tappahannock in thirty years.


Things still busy at work. House hunting turns into house purchase. Second Cupertino trip.


Things still busy at work. Third Cupertino trip.


Things still busy at work.


Things still busy at work.


Things still busy at work. Sometimes I don’t really like it.


And finally, things are back to normal. Whatever normal is.

So, all in all, it was a year. I didn’t quite do what I’d set out to do, creatively. And the whole move-in-progress is something I certainly didn’t foresee a year ago. But that’s life, isn’t it?

It’s like golf. You put your ball on the tee, you say, “I’m going to hit that cup four hundred yards away in three strokes,” and then you just take your best whack at it. Next thing you know you’re fishing your ball out of someone’s tomato soup at the clubhouse.

So! How about 2016!? Well, it’s the same list I’ve had for years and years and years:

  • Finish at least ONE book, maybe TWO if I’m lucky.
  • Get the recording studio set up. Again.
  • And maybe produce some art.

No guarantees, but I’ll do what I can. Well, one thing is guaranteed. Since we’re moving? The garage will be cleaned. (Probably can’t say the same about the new garage, sadly.)

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Down That Road Fri, 11 Dec 2015 07:00:51 +0000 The year 2014 was probably both my most bestest and my most typicalest dieting year in recent memory. My weight began the year at the usual post-holiday high. It then went up from there, for whatever reason (certainly not because I was eating too much and never exercising). But then, nearly halfway though what was shaping up into a terrible year, The Switch flipped on. That’s when things started happening:

2014 weight graph

You can see three distinct drops: one in June, another in July and a nice long one between October and November. I wasn’t operating on any secret. I don’t have any tips for you now. All I know is that The Switch was on. And when The Switch is on, nothing can stop me:

“What’s that, a big plate of donuts? No thanks! The Switch is on!”

“Is that an all you can eat pizza buffet? Sorry, man but The Switch is on!”

“You’ll give me ten million dollars to eat that entire jar of peanut butter? Get away, you! We don’t want any of that here!”

Sure, there were some plateaus in there. And (stupidly) at each plateau I thought, “Well, it was nice while it lasted,” and figured things were over. But for whatever mysterious and inexplicable reason, The Switch never went off, and after a brief pause, the weight continued to come off.

Total net loss between the highest point and the lowest point: 22 pounds.

Of course, the astute reader will immediately notice a slight problem on the right side of the graph. Seems like something happened during December. Well, that “something” was “Chex Mix” and because of it, I threw away the results of the most bestest year in recent memory.

Total net loss between January 1st and December 31st? 1.5 pounds.

A New Hope

“Don’t be sad, Charlie Brown! Today is December 31, 2014 which means one thing: tomorrow begins a New Year! Wipe the slate and start over. I know 2015 will be a great year!”

Fast forward to October. My net loss for this year is now -1 pounds. Yep, I spent the last ten months gaining one whole pound. My problem? Eating. Like, a lot. Like, I’ve lost all control.

On the upside, I haven’t gained twenty, thirty, or a hundred pounds. And I know most people will see the phrases “eating a lot” and “only gained one pound” as some sort of monumental success program to be immediately commercialized. But I should clarify: all the eating is coming in at night. My typical day is:

  • Breakfast: 0 calories
  • Lunch: 200 calories
  • Dinner: 300 calories
  • Evening: 2000 calories

So, sure, 2500 calories a day is FAR better than the usual see-food diet. And that is what’s kept me flatlined all year in spite of everything. But it’s also really, really wrong.

What to Do?

For much of September and into early October I started thinking, “Man, all I need is some kind of appetite suppressant! That was the real magic of 2014: I was perfectly content back then with my zero calorie breakfast, 200 calorie lunch, and 300 calorie dinner.” And for much of September and early October, I saw my “flat” year slowly inching up: one pound, three pounds, six pounds.

Then on October 10, it happened.

I stepped on the scale. I hit my top weight of the year. Worse, it was only two pounds below my Line of Death. Most long-time readers of my blog know that the first few years here were completely dedicated to a quest named “Return to Onederland.” Meaning, I was tired of my weight beginning with a “2” and I wanted it to start with a “1” again. Once I achieved that goal, I swore I would NEVER EVER GO BACK.

The border of Onederland, however, is not the Line of Death. The Line of Death is 190. That’s that ten pound buffer zone that keeps me safely in Onederland. If you wait until 199.5 to “do something,” it’s too late.

Remember: I made it to Onederland and stayed in Onederland using the most effective diet ever: cancer. And I’ll be damned if I’m going to achieve my weight loss goal by enduring six months of chemotherapy only to throw it away on mindless late-night snacking.

I’ve watched myself gain one pound, three pounds, six pounds before. I’ve been down that road. I know exactly where it goes. And I will NOT go there again.

That’s It!

I found the appetite suppressant I needed: fear. Suddenly, faced with the very real prospect of undoing three years of once-in-a-lifetime progress, those late-night snacks suddenly didn’t look as appealing to me.

In four days I dropped three pounds, and the Line of Death was now a more comfortable five pounds away. Whew! That was a close one! If I could keep this up (heck, WHEN I keep this up) I might just get back to where I was a year ago. Wouldn’t that be swell?!

A Happy Ending?

Nope. My good run stopped exactly at that aforementioned four day mark. The Fear was short-lived and I fall back to the old patterns. And on Tuesday this week, December 8, I looked down at that number between my toes and put on my best Charlie Brown sigh:

scale photo

I was sad but not surprised. After all, I’ve been down this road before.

Tune in next week year when we step back and look at the big picture.

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Any Diet News? Fri, 04 Dec 2015 09:56:21 +0000 With everything else going on late, I nearly forgot to let you in on the most important topic of all: I’m on a diet. I realize that’s not saying much. I mean, I’m never not on a diet. In fact, as I look back over these many years, the only times where I’ve not been actively “dieting” is . . . hmmm . . . well . . . uh . . . Okay, so I can’t think of any.

So you would think that after all this time, I would have finally figured out the secret to dieting. After all, had I spent as much time practicing the piano, I would be a touring concert pianist today. If I had spent the same amount of time painting, then I would be inviting you all to my art gallery gala this weekend. If I had spent all that time writing, I’d be J.K. Rowling. (I don’t mean “as famous as”. I mean I’d actually be her.)

Well, I’m here to tell you: I actually have figured out the secret to dieting. Sadly, though, it truly is a “secret” and therefore I’m not permitted to divulge it. (An important point! Always keep this in mind: if anyone else tells you the “secret” to anything, they’re lying. After all, how much of a secret can it be if they’re blabbing about it about every chance they get?)

The complete non-secret to dieting is that in order to lose weight you have to burn more calories than you take in. That’s it. You don’t need to know anything else. Ever. No more diets, no more exercise plans, no more infomercials, no more pills. No more 1 weird tips, no more exotic, magical fruits. No more trusting that Oprah, Rachael, and Dr. Oz have some silver bullet up their sleeves that was “as seen on” ABC, CNN, and MTV. None of these things will magically bestow the ability for you to burn more calories than you take in. That’s all on you.

2014 was probably my best ever year of dieting. Not in terms of overall weight loss (though that was a big component of it) but just in consistency and all-around awesomeness. That is, until . . .

The Holidays

Gets me EVERY DAMN TIME. I let myself go thinking, “Hey, I had a great year. I possess all the tools I’ll ever need to get Right Back on Track. No problem.” And, of course, I gain fifteen pounds in about six weeks or so.

The new year came along and I said to myself, “Self, it’s time to get Right Back on Track.” So I started a “diet” and then waited. Nothing happened. So I waited some more. Nope. Nothing. So I said to myself, “Self, what the heck’s going on here!? Last year this was easy peasy. Pull yourself together, self!” So I started another diet and waited. Same thing.

Eventually I managed to lose weight, only to gain it back. Until I lost it again, only to gain it back. Same old sad story. And now somehow an entire year has flown by and so I thought it was time to share my Final Weight Loss Graph of 2015:

Horizon picture

Tune in next week when I’ll tell you all about the wonderful appetite suppressant I discovered that nearly saved the day. Nearly.

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The Quickest Phase Fri, 27 Nov 2015 07:00:19 +0000 I’ve built many houses in my lifetime [that’s a lie, he’s only done this once before]. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in all that time [note: he’s learned exactly zero things], it’s that the quickest phase of home-building is the framing [no it’s not].

The official phases of home-building are as follows [there’s nothing “official” about any of this]:

  • Phase 1: Finding a place to build: 2 to 120 months.
  • Phase 2: Picking a floor plan: 1 to 2 months.
  • Phase 3: Signing the purchase contract: 90 minutes.
  • Phase 4: Doing nothing while the builder plans everything: 2 months.
  • Phase 5: Foundation work: 1 to 2 weeks.
  • Phase 6: Framing: 14 minutes.
  • Phase 7: Everything else: 1 to 2 years.

The reason that framing goes so quickly, from a psychological point of view, is that no phase of construction is as dramatic as this [Okay, this is true]. In this brief period, you’re going from a flat slab of concrete to something that’s the exact size and shape of the end product. Everything before that is just . . . well, nothing. Everything after that is just wires and tubes and paint.

Don’t believe me? Check it out. I got lucky and stopped by the home site at 08:59 that morning. The workers pulled up at 09:02. They unloaded their gear, plugged in their power tools, and set right to work. I managed to capture these dramatic photos of the framing taking place.

House Framing Timelapse Photo 1

House Framing Timelapse Photo 2

House Framing Timelapse Photo 3

House Framing Timelapse Photo 4

Pretty spectacular, huh? Stop by in one to two years from now to see how Everything Else went.

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A Dark and Stormy Night Fri, 20 Nov 2015 07:00:10 +0000 It was Friday, October 30, 2015: the holiday known as All Hallow’s Eve Eve. We’d been hit with hard rains of late—much needed, of course, but nonetheless making for a positively ruffianly evening. I had hoped to visit the new home site in better weather, but as it didn’t look like that would be happening any time soon, I decided to brave the elements and head north.

In response to my complaints, the builder had finally taken those piles of sticks and assembled them into something vaguely house shaped. Pleased though I was to see what one might describe as progress, the dark and moody evening drove away any chance I might enjoy this visit.

New house construction photo

I parked the car but left the lights on. “Better safe than sorry,” I thought to myself. Double checking that I wasn’t about to lock my keys in the car, I closed the door and approached the foreboding structure.

For reasons I couldn’t pinpoint, a strange feeling overcame me. It was probably nothing more than the wind picking up (and bringing with it the renewed threat of rain) but I felt a cold chill. I rubbed my arms and crept forward slowly, trying to ignore the fact that my current situation also brought the hairs on my neck to full attention.

I thought about turning around and leaving. “I’ll just come back tomorrow. I’m sure it will be much better viewing then. Yes, it was a mistake coming out tonight.” But then I thought of the long drive home (one of the reasons for moving in the first place) and talked myself into staying at least a few minutes.

Pulling my phone from my pocket, I pointed it at one of the rooms and snapped my first picture. Unsure if the flash went off, I double checked the picture. Was that . . . ? I looked up at the building, saw nothing, then back down at the picture. It was very faint, but I could definitely see something in the picture that wasn’t there in front of me.

New house construction photo

I stood for a while, pondering my next move. I looked back at my car, lights still glowing in the gloomy night. Against my better judgment, I decided to press forward. I moved to the spot that will be my front porch next year and snapped my next picture.

Now there was no doubt about it! A shrouded figure hanging in the air in front of me, flanked by two ghost orbs. I suddenly found myself thinking happily of the days when my house was nothing but stacks of lumber in the front yard. Stacks of lumber are never haunted.

New house construction photo

For reasons I still cannot explain, I did not turn and run. Compelled perhaps by morbid curiosity, I moved forward a few more paces. I didn’t even need my camera this time. As clear as day, Ghostface from the film series Scream appeared right in front of me. Scream I did, as you can well imagine, and he vanished as quickly as he appeared. Fortunately, I was able to snap one quick picture.

New house construction photo

Why I did not at this point bolt for my car, I will never know. Driven by some mad desire, I walked to the back of the house, only to be confronted by the greatest horror yet. Is . . . is that what I think it is? No . . . no, it cannot be.

New house construction photo

The floating, disembodied head of Carrot Top.

I bolted back to my car, raced home, and dove under the safe covers of my warm bed. I’m never going back.

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Moving is Moving Fri, 13 Nov 2015 06:44:18 +0000 If you haven’t seen City Slickers then at least track down the two best scenes on YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, or whatever other video medium we have today that Popular Science failed to envision back in 1960.

The first (and arguably best) of these two scenes is, of course, the Ice Cream Showdown. In this scene, the characters Barry and Ira (played by Ben and Jerry) have their knowledge of ice cream food pairings challenged by the protagonist Mitch Robbins (played by veteran character actor Mike Wazowski). I won’t spoil it here with a silly recap. You have to see it for yourself.

I’ll wait . . .

One Thing

But coming up in a close second place, we have the above pictured scene where the grizzled herd boss Curly rides alone with Mitch and helps Mitch out with his midlife crisis.

Curly: Do you know what the secret of life is? [He holds up one finger, shown here, and answers] This.

Mitch: Your finger?

Curly: One thing! Just one thing. You stick to that and the rest don’t mean sh!t.

Mitch: But, what is the “one thing?”

Curly: [smiles] That’s what *you* have to find out.

The thing is, he’s right. Find that one thing, stick to it, and you are already ninety percent of the way there.

My “one thing” is actually multiple things, but I can easily group them into a single concept. It’s something I simply call “creative endeavors.” And the top three are writing, music, and art (the order constantly changes). I feel like I have a modicum of talent in these areas and I believe it’s my calling to produce as much creative output as I can as long as I’m still breathing and able to do so.

And it is exactly for this reason that, like Mitch Robbins, I’ve been stuck in a midlife crisis for the last thirty years. My overall total LACK of creative output is a constant source of stress and anxiety for me. Because “art” serves no practical purpose, it always takes a backseat to absolutely everything else in life. (For more on this topic, I suggest you read this article from The Onion, which hits a bit too close to home, but is still funny because The Onion.)

“Uhhh, okay Charlie. So what does all this have to do with moving?”

Good question, Dear Reader! I am so glad you asked. My answer begins with this picture.

Photo of boxes of VHS cassettes

That is just a fraction of the videocassettes I’ve had sitting around for the last twenty years. They’re not home movies. They’re not Disney classics. They’re what’s left of my video production business that ran from about 1994 to 1999. Back then, when I was only ten years into my midlife crisis, I had a brilliant idea:

Keanu confused

Video production! What a great idea! I could build up my own business and have a great outlet for my creative bent.

In those five years or so, I videotaped and edited a lot of weddings, dance recitals, events, and so on. I did photo and home movie transfers. I learned a lot. I wrote my first books on the very subject.

And I’m not embarrassed to admit: some of that work was pretty darn good. Far better than Uncle Bob with the camcorder would ever be able to do. Sure, it never got far enough for me to “quit the day job” but that was always a long shot.

So now it’s 2015 and time to pack up everything and move again. For our last move, back in 2001, I just boxed all this work and vowed to “deal with it later.” Well, “later” is at last upon us. And there were about four or five hundred of these tapes to go through.

My first hope was to find a way to recycle them. As it turns out, recycling VHS tapes, as-is, is extremely difficult. The thought crossed my mind of just chucking them all, but I simply could not bring myself to do that. Videotape is neither recyclable nor outright tossable, as it’s full of Bad Stuff for the planet.

So I decided to break each tape down into its components: plastic shells, screws, little metal bits, and, of course, the tape reels themselves:

It was slow going at first, until I hit my stride. My first tape took about three and a half minutes to break down, making the entire task feel pretty daunting. Luckily I soon got it down to about twenty seconds per tape. Hey, no problem. I’m cleaning out the garage, moving ahead with my life, and saving the entire planet in the process. You’re welcome.

But then something happened that I didn’t expect. I got sad. And then after I got sad, I got depressed. I realized every single tape was filled with hours and hours of creative effort. I bought all the equipment to record it, bought all of these tapes to store it, spent the time dragging everything out to each gig, spent the time setting it up and shooting it (several cameras per event). I brought it all home and digitized the analog tapes. I reviewed footage. Edited footage. Created graphics. Added music. I produced a pretty dang good product. And now it was just trash.

Every single tape, filled with hours and hours of work: unceremoniously disassembled, divided into piles, and packed up to be sent to different processing facilities depending on the material.

Wedding video. Trash.

Dance recital. Trash.

Home movies. Trash.

Nothing to show for any of that now.

Sheesh, I went through a bout of life-threatening cancer and I never felt this bad. I mean, just look at all this:

See? I warned you about all this when I started. As soon as the topic of moving came up, I knew I’d eventually start whining about piddly problems. I have NOTHING to complain about here. I’m not being driven from my war-torn country. I’m throwing away decades-old videotapes.

The good news is (yes, there’s good news): I got over it pretty quickly. I ended up hanging on to one box of tapes that I felt was representative of my work and oddly enough that helped a LOT. I may digitize those someday and upload them to some other place Popular Science failed to foresee in the World of Tomorrow. Or I may just break them down and recycle them when I move again in fifteen years.

But the real lesson here is: I’m not actually throwing anything away. Because what really matters is what I carry around in my head. It’s not the finished product of hundreds or even thousands of hours of work, but everything I learned along the way. All of that is what helped make me the me I am today. And I definitely get to take “me” to the next house.

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Hoarding Fri, 06 Nov 2015 14:57:47 +0000 Post slugGoing into this move, I knew it would be a lot of work. After you’ve been on the planet for a few decades (and aren’t forced to move around a lot) you tend to accumulate a healthy pile of what can only be described as “crap.” This healthy pile of crap is made up of many different kinds of objects. Some are small, like that floppy disk from 1983 containing all your critically important VisiCalc files. Some are large, like that life-sized model of Chewbacca you made out of a wad of macaroni, Elmer’s glue, and finger-paint. But all have somehow become inexplicably precious.

I’ve seen a few episodes here and there of the television show Hoarders. If you haven’t seen it yourself, the typical episode goes like this. One or more family members concerned about another family member’s inability to throw anything away calls Lifetime TV. Lifetime TV sends out one film crew and one psychologist and one expert closet organizer. They then pounce on the unsuspecting victim, rip away their treasured possessions, and then leave triumphantly. But not before getting the ubiquitous “after” shots so that we can see how much good they’ve done for the Compulsive Hoarding Disorder sufferer.

Sure, the place looks great afterwards. And no one’s saying that it would have been perfectly fine to continue letting this person live in a house where the sole form of navigation is through a tiny channel carved through eight-foot high piles of dead rats. But something about the methods they use have bothered me. For one, I don’t believe that simply clearing up the junk has instantly cured anyone’s psychological disorders. For another, the Cleanup Crew tries to use logic to convince the hoarder to let go of stuff. Look around, people! Does it look like logic has played any part in this before now?

Lifetime TV: “We see you’ve saved this banana peel from 1997. Do you really need it?”

Hoarder: “Well . . .”

Lifetime TV: “It’s a stupid banana peel for chrisssakes! Why do you need this?”

Hoarder: [clearly struggling] “Well . . . I guess . . . I . . . I don’t.”

Lifetime TV: “So it’s going in the garbage, right? RIGHT!?”

At which point the hoarder secretly vows to retrieve it from the trash that night when no one’s looking so the collection remains intact.

While, clinically speaking, I’m not a hoarder, I am what’s more affectionately known as a pack rat. While on a much, much smaller scale than full-blown hoarding, I still “get it.” I still know that feeling of being unable to part with a completely unnecessary object.

Of course I don’t need that old floppy disk from 1983. But here’s the thing. That old floppy disk is part of my own personal history. The disk itself is as useless as that old banana peel. But what it represents is still very much a part of me. I throw it away and it’s like that entire year of my life never happened. Illogical? Totally. Does that mean that feeling isn’t real? It is.

So sure, I’ve admittedly held on to far too many things for far too long. And while overall my house isn’t stacked to the ceiling with rats or trash or macaroni art, my garage comes pretty close. And as we prepare for The Move, going through that has become Job One.

We’ll just pick it up from here next week.

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New House Problems Fri, 30 Oct 2015 06:25:15 +0000 Post slugAs of Friday, October 30, 2015, we’re now about three hundred and eighty four hours, twelve minutes, and thirty-three man-seconds into this project. Last week, in spite of my better judgment, I decided to talk about it out in the open. I almost didn’t, fearing that whether I talked about the ups or the downs, it might still come across as annoying and pointless. Well, here’s my first real update. You decide.

Here is a picture of the lot before all this started:

New house image

I remember thinking, “Hmmm, a lot of trees here. Not much room for a house. I’d better go talk to someone about this.” What I didn’t realize is that this was just the first of several dozen problems which I did NOT expect this soon in the process.

So I went to the builder and said, “What’s with all the trees? Where are we supposed to put the stupid house? We’re not building a tree house, you know!”

“Don’t worry, sir, we’ll take care of it.”

And boy did they ever! I went back ten minutes later and the lot looked like this:

New house image

So I stormed back to the builder. “What happened to all the trees?!” I asked politely at the top of my lungs. “I wanted to keep them!”

“But, sir…” they began. “You said…”

“No buts!!!” I interrupted. “I want those trees put back in the next ten minutes or I’ll just go build a house somewhere else!”

They promised they would put them back. But an hour later, they still weren’t back.

Weeks went by and a bad thought occurred to me. I thought, “I’m buying a new house. I’m paying a lot of money for this new house. So where is it? Don’t tell me after that deforestation debacle, that they’re all done!”

So I drove back out to see my new house. You’re not gonna believe this!!! My house is just a pile of sticks! Look at this picture:

New house image

I paid the builder for a house. Not a pile of sticks! Not even a roof. All our stuff is going to get wet.

So I walked around the pile of sticks to see what the finished landscaping looked like. Landscaping! Ha! You call this landscaping? Who did they hire to do this, a bunch of four-year-olds from the Happy Giraffe Day Care up the street?

New house image

Supposedly this is the guest bedroom! Sure hope you like the plastic “carpet” mom!

New house image

And take a look at this. This is my damn shower! They expect me to take a shower here? Without plumbing or walls or even a little soap holder? I’m really starting to feel like I got the short end of the stick on this deal.

New house image

As I turned to leave, disgusted with this mistake of a project, it started raining. Great! EXACTLY what I feared when I first saw that pile of sticks they call a finished house. Now the floor’s all wet. For the amount of money this is costing me, I sure hope they toss in a free wet-vac so I can clean up this mess.

New house image

I’m hoping things turn around soon, but with the project this far off the rails this early in the game, I’m not so sure. Next thing you know, I’ll find out there’s no electricity.

Wait a second . . .

New house image

Do you see any outlets!?!?

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Moving Fri, 23 Oct 2015 07:00:57 +0000 move
1. a change of place, position, or state. e.g., The move will take place tomorrow.

2. a form that is derived from a verb but that functions as a noun; in English, forms ending in –ing. e.g., the word thinking in What were you thinking?

1. the act of changing of place, position, or state. e.g., What were you thinking when you decided on moving?

Post slugAbout three hundred and sixty eight hours, eighteen minutes, and fourteen man-seconds ago, we decided it was time to move out of the old house and into a new house. Not that I’m counting. Worse, by my current estimates, we are probably less than nineteen percent done with the entire process.

Our current house is fine. Our current neighborhood is pleasant. There’s nothing here we’re trying to correct other than 1) shorten my commute and 2) see if I can’t get all the way up to three jillion dollars in debt.

I debated a great deal about whether I wanted to talk about it here or not. Mostly because there are no real upsides in doing so, while there are plenty of downsides.

Downsides? Like what? Well, at any given time this project will be in one of two states: Good or Bad.

If it’s going good, then for human interest purposes, I’ll still find some cloud in the silver lining. I’ll mindlessly ramble on here, humblebragging my woes along the lines of, “OH! WHAT A DAY! First, I had to go shopping for all new furniture. THEN the artwork we commissioned came back mounted in the WRONG FRAMES. After that, we found out our gold-plated toilets are going to be THREE DAYS LATE. #FML” Voluntarily moving from an old house to a new house just to save a few minutes’ driving each day doesn’t even count as a first world problem. It’s a zeroth world problem. I simply loathe the idea of talking about it in public to any extent whatsoever.

Then, if it’s going bad — like something that genuinely upsets me — I’ll babble on about how the old house still hasn’t sold and we have to close on the new house tomorrow and we still haven’t paid off that fifth mortgage. And even then, it’s STILL going to sound like humblebragging. Hence: I simply loathe the idea of talking about it in public to any extent whatsoever.

So I’d pretty much made up my mind to just keep the entire affair quiet, when I realized that no matter what anyone else thinks, good or bad, this is a big deal in my own little world, plus (and I cannot stress this reason enough) I’m essentially all out of ideas on what to write about on this blog.

So brace yourself for a few house updates.

I’ll spare you from all the nitty gritty details, but I will say that we are having a new house built. It’s not a custom home. It’s one of the eight cookie-cutter shapes offered by the builder in the neighborhood that ended up being closest to work. But we do get to pick out any flooring we want and any cabinets we want and many, many other options (that fit in our budget) in a scene reminiscent of this:

Oh, sure, you can pick stuff from the other parts of the shelf. You brought your checkbook, right?

Next Week’s episode: Another post!

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Back to the Future Fri, 16 Oct 2015 07:00:32 +0000 I’m not sure if you’ve ever noticed this before, but my Back to the Fridge blog logo kind of looks a little like the Back to the Future film series logo. It’s hard to tell at first, but once you see it, you really can’t un-see it.

Next Wednesday (October 21, 2015) marks a very important day in fictional history. It’s the day that Marty, Doc, and Jennifer arrive in their future, to stop their kids from getting into trouble. It went down something like this:

Not that you need me to tell you this little factoid. The interwebs have been positively abuzz with this information all month. Heck, even the Chicago Cubs got in on the action, trying to make at least one of Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale’s predictions come true.

This is also the time we get the rare opportunity to see how well the professionals did with their makeup designed to age characters thirty years. And that just so happens to be what the rest of this post is about. In each photo we have: 1) The actor in 1985 with no aging makeup, 2) the actor in 1985 with a thirty-year aging makeup, 3) the actor thirty years later.

First up, Marty McFly. Our seventeen-year-old hero was played by twenty-four-year-old actor Alex P. Keaton. In Marty’s case, the age makeup didn’t do him any favors. Apart from the cool double tie, this is certainly one washed up 47-year-old. Of course, that was kind of the point, so in that respect they nailed it. Real life Old Marty looks much better, in my opinion.

Next up, our hero’s mentor, Dr. Emmet Brown, played by long-time character actor, the Reverend Jim Ignatowski. The best part about Doc is that no matter which time period he was in, he still looked the same. About the only other person that can jump between thirty-year periods like that without aging at all is Patrick Stewart.

Ah, at last, the story’s antagonist, Biff Tannen, played by then-newcomer William H. Macy. Biff was the quintessential bully, who ultimately grew out of his irascible phase and ending up writing a pretty good song.

Now onto Marty’s mother and erstwhile girlfriend, Lorraine Baines McFly, played by the wonderfully talented actress, Elyse Keaton. We hate her, because she’s also one of those rare people who isn’t getting older at all. It’s not fair.

And lastly we have Marty’s dad-dad-daddy-o, George McFly, played by independent film actor Rubin Farr. This was easily is most memorable and popular role until . . . well, let’s face it. This is his most memorable and popular role. And with good reason: he played it to perfection.

So there you have it. Be sure to check back here in 2045 when we review their 60-year age makeup comparisons.

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Ouch, Part 3 Fri, 09 Oct 2015 07:00:31 +0000 Welcome to Part Three of my two-part series on back pain. (And you thought after last week I would have nothing else to say on the topic. Well, let me tell you: by the end of this post you’ll see just how true that statement is.)

There were two developments in pain management this week. On Monday, I went back to my chiropractor for my regularly scheduled weekly visit. “Feeling any better?” she asked.

I don’t like this question. On the surface, you think it would be very easy to answer. Like, let’s say that last night you accidentally ate twelve pounds of french fries. You felt sick to your stomach and swore you wouldn’t ever eat twelve pounds of french fries again. This week. Then this morning, you woke up, and with the french fries now well along on their magical digestive journey, you feel much better.

But with this come-and-go sort of back pain, I’m never really sure if I am feeling any better. This is more like eating twelve pounds of french fries last night but then only eleven today. “I, uh, think I feel better?” It might technically be true, but it’s also potentially misleading.

“I don’t know. Maybe a little?” I say, answering the question she asked two paragraphs ago.

I think the other problem with this question has to do with my other disability: my constant compulsive need to make everybody else feel happy. If I’m not feeling any better, and I tell her so, then I feel bad because she wasn’t able to magically heal me overnight. She hears, “Sorry, but I’m just not feeling better yet.” But in my brain, it sounds more like, “YOU HAVE FAILED ME FOR THE LAST TIME!”

Anyway, I went through the usual adjustment. (“That bone-snapping sound means it’s working!”) She recommended a couple new exercises. (“I want you to roll yourself up into a tight little ball and have your friends push you around the parking lot twice a day.”) And, as usual, I felt all wonderful and tingly for one or two hours afterwards. If only I could get that to last.

The second development came yesterday, when I had my first physical therapy appointment.

“How are you feeling?” the therapist asked.

“Geez, doesn’t ANYONE read my blog?!” I said to myself, rolling my eyes in self-absorbed disbelief.

She looked at me with mild alarm and invited me to lay on table. Since it was my first time, I got to go through all the first-time stuff again. After that, she assessed the situation by seeing how far my various body parts would bend and in which directions.

“Does that hurt?” she asked, as I lay flat on my stomach looking up at my heels.

“I’m good,” I managed to squeeze out through clenched teeth.

After forty-five minutes of “therapy” she set up four more appointments over the next two weeks. I’m looking forward to seeing some results, but I’m also bracing myself for the end of the fourth appointment when she inevitably asks, “Are you feeling better?” and I have to tell her how she’s FAILED ME FOR THE LAST TIME.

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