A vegan, a person on a gluten-free diet, and a person who does Crossfit walk into a bar. How do I know? Because none of them would shut up about it.
If you haven’t heard this joke before, you can probably relate. I know I can. I remember meeting Sarah on Day 1 at a new job. Not only did she tell me her ex-husband came out as transsexual and divorced her, she then proudly stated she was gluten-free and proceeded to reaffirm this stance to me daily during my entire employment there.
I promised myself when I radically shifted my diet in June I wouldn’t become one of those idiots. Well, I’m about to become one of those idiots. Sigh.
I stepped on the scale this morning and weighed in at 182.8. When I did the same thing back in June after wondering why I was able to fit into only two pairs of my work pants, it read 213.7. Everything felt horrible back then. I was in the midst of Longhaul Covid hell, I’d just come off a round of high-dose steroids attempting to fix a Covid-caused mouth issue that still hasn’t improved, and none of my clothes felt right. I was puffy, inflamed and jiggly.
On June 2, I went to a functional medicine doctor. She ordered a new round of different blood tests — 11 tubes in all — and a few weeks later, I saw her again to go over the results. Inflammation was my enemy. Gluten, dairy and a whole host of other things were contributing to it. So I would need to radically change my diet.
As she went over what I could and couldn’t — or at least should and shouldn’t — eat, I was panicky. No pizza? No pie? No… bacon?! When she paused, I quickly jumped in: “So, like, um, how closely should I adhere to this?” which was short for, “You’ve got to be freaking kidding, right?”
“Well,” she said, staring at me seriously. “That depends. How bad do you feel?”
I went home and talked to Wifey Poo. I told her this was what I was going to do, that I was sick of being sick, and nothing else had worked so why not try it? She immediately agreed to join me in my food overhaul.
So I did it. I cut out the things that were said to cause inflammation. I started thinking of food in an entirely different way — as fuel for the machine that is me instead of as a thing that goes with social interactions or creates pleasure or comfort.
And I became one of those annoying gluten-free people. Silently, until now, which proves it is, indeed, possible.
I didn’t do this to lose weight. I did this because I felt like shit and didn’t want to feel like shit and had tried everything else to not feel like shit and still felt like shit. I had nothing to lose and nothing else left to try.
Four months later, I feel in so many ways better than I have not just since before Covid kicked me in the balls, but in the past 20 years. I have energy that carries me throughout the day. My brain fog is largely gone. I’m mentally healthier than I have been in a long time.
And oh yeah I lost 30 pounds.
I’m happy that my pants fit — that they’re even too loose now. I’m glad I can wear my T-shirts without showing my manboobs, err, huge pectoral muscles.
But the weight loss? That’s just a by-product of changing how I look at food, how I look at myself. Instead of a dumpy old Datsun, I’m a finely engineered Ferrari that needs the best fuel.
So I don’t eat the stuff I used to love. I got through the readjustment (read: withdrawal) caused by ditching unnatural sugars. Yes, I still allow myself one cheat day a month, in which I still keep things under control but chow down on a piece of pizza or some wings or a bowl of ice cream.
But even then, I keep it in moderation. Not because I’m concerned about my weight. I just don’t want to wake up in the morning and feel like I used to feel. So that’s my motivation. That’s why I’ve lost 30 pounds. That’s why I’m confident I’ll never step on a scale and see a “2” as the first number ever again.
It’s not about the weight. It’s about living a better life.
One of my earliest memories is being in the back seat of the car Mom was driving, waiting in line to get gas. Our car’s license plate — the old orange New York version — started with an even number, which meant that Tuesday was a government-approved day to fill up. The line was huge — yes, for an impatient 4-year-old, but also for an impatient Mom and a whole host of other impatient people who didn’t like the current president.
We’re in another energy crisis right now, though not as bad as the late 1970s. Prices are jumping, oil’s above $80 a barrel, and countries not exactly friendly to our ideals still are calling the shots.
But there are still moments of levity in it for me.
There are two gas stations at the exit I take to get home after work. Mr. Fuel is on the left side of the road. I remember when Mr. Fuel was built. I would see it when I would come to Future Wifey Poo’s house while we were dating. Gas was $0.98. Booyah.
On the right side is Travel America. I’m not sure when that was built, but it’s a bit down the service road, and it’s the favorite of truckers traveling down Interstate 70. I don’t go there often because getting in and out behind slow 18-wheelers is annoying at the end of a long day.
Every once in a while, Travel America sticks a big middle finger up in the direction of Mr. Fuel and drops its gas prices a few cents lower than its rival. And then Mr. Fuel, not being one to take that shit lying down, drops his prices a few cents below Mr. T&A. It happened again yesterday.
I love this. And not for the economic benefit I get by being able to fill my tank for less money. After all, it’s a freaking Nissan Versa. It has a 12-gallon tank and gets 6 billion miles a gallon. Fuel isn’t a huge expense in my life. No. I get the joy from knowing — or at least imagining — there’s someone at each station looking across at his rival and getting all Yosemite Sam when the other guy lowers his prices.
The ‘Don’t Blame Me, I Didn’t Say It’ of the Day
So here’s the thing: There aren’t too many people out there who mean to hurt someone. You’ve got your loony-toons, bullies, murderers and that one girl who took the heartfelt letter I wrote her in ninth grade and read it to her entire school bus. But in general, the vast majority of people hurt others without intending anything ill.
That doesn’t absolve them from the responsibility for the hurt they caused, and “I didn’t mean to” isn’t a good excuse.
If you want to say that cancel culture, in some circumstances, goes too far, I’ll allow you to take a step down that plank. If you’d like to follow up with, “But he wrote it 10 years ago,” hey, have at it… that board gets kinda shaky when you’re at the end.
Nevertheless, the way Gruden handled the situation once his first comment dropped about the size of a Black man’s lips — by saying it had nothing to do with race but rather was a little quip he frequently used to refer to people he thought were lying — was something I, as a crisis communicator, knew wasn’t going to end well. It was a good try to play the “The Lips Are Close Enough to Pinocchio’s Nose That Maybe People Won’t Notice The Difference” defense. Bonus points for the bold attempt.
But Gruden knew — or should have known — that more damning information was coming. So what Gruden’s initial explanation amounted to was, well, let’s all take a look at the size of his lips.
Whiskey From the Boss
I might have unwittingly given myself a gift yesterday. As part of my job, I’m assisting our Director of Growth with our recruiting strategy. She asked for some input, so I developed a six-step plan. Step one is to reduce turnover on our team in an industry notorious for lots of it. And strategy No. 1 in doing that is to think about the people who, if they left, would hurt to lose and then go make sure they feel like rock stars.
“How can we do that?” she asked.
“Well, how do Division I schools treat top high school football recruits? Go do that.” Without the strippers, of course.
So I surveyed the team: “What’s a gift you could receive that would really show you that someone sees you.” The answers were varied, which is the point: One-size-fits-all thank-yous don’t work in business.
And so it came to pass that Big Boss and the Director of Growth, who happen to be married, gave me a card and a bottle of whiskey to say thanks for everything I’ve done for the team so far. I’ve only been there two months. I wasn’t thinking about me in the least when I suggested she go to great lengths to keep good people. It’s humbling and flattering to be thought of in that way.
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- Boy The Younger’s fall baseball season came to an end tonight. He played the team that scored 17 runs in the first inning the last time they met. This game didn’t look much better, though they held them to 13 runs in the first inning. Winning! And then, down 14-0 in the top of the last frame, something clicked. A team that had scored no more than 1 run in a game all season suddenly put up a 10-spot. The Super Team went through five pitchers. Their fans grew restless. One dad even walked away. Now, it wasn’t a win, but in Little League, moral victories count for something.
- I’m going out to lunch with a colleague tomorrow. We’re talking about how he can build his social media presence as a new Realtor.
- Wifey Poo and I have a date Friday night.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Self-Teaching 👨🏫Beer Flood 🍺🌊Space Mission 🚀 When I left the newspaper industry in 2009, I knew how to write, take decent photos, design pages and copy edit. I landed a job in which the mandate was, “Go make our communications program better,” something I’d assured those who interviewed me I knewContinue reading “Boy The Singer, Nov. 23, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beard Trim 🧔🏽Grunge Shopping 🛒Funny Animals 🐒 When you find yourself with a straight razor poised a millimeter from your neck, you realize this is probably what was going on when the Almighty said “Be still and know that I am God.” I found myself in this situation this morning, inContinue reading “The Costco Plaid Mafia — Nov. 20, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wifey Poo’s Laughter 🤣Expensive Turkey 🦃🍗My Boys 👨👦 Walking back to my car last night from The Funny Bone comedy club in St. Charles, I got to thinking. This comes as a surprise to no one who knows me (not many people, as I’ve recently discussed) and no one who readsContinue reading “Family Matters — Nov. 19, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Drinking on the Job 🍷The Land of the Giants 🏀Joseph McCarthy Returns 🏴 It the past week, my job has taken me from a chocolate factory to a wine bar — all in the name of business, of course. Last week, Big Bosslady and I visited Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate, which isContinue reading “Wine & Chocolate — Nov. 18, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Itchy Foot 🦶Pay Cuts ❌💰The Best Pen Ever 🖊️ Wifey Poo woke up around 4 a.m. itching, itching, itching her recently repaired foot. Underneath the Ace bandage and the gauze and the padding to keep it safe, she’s got a rash of some sort, and the foot is swollen. Doc saysContinue reading “Who Needs Medical School? — Nov. 17, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Warm November 🌡️The Jaguar People 🐆Squid Game 🦑 I’ll take a 70 degree day in the middle of November, thank you very much. I spent part of my workday on my back deck doing the things I do for my real estate team — social media ads, flyers to promote openContinue reading “Warm November Day — Nov. 16, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩A Year of Hell 😷Where’s Ben? 💔Profiting From Pollution 🏭 Happy Covidaversary to me. On this day one year ago, I had a Q-tip shoved up my nose to confirm what I already knew. Wifey Poo’s sister had been diagnosed with it. Wifey Poo’s mother had been diagnosed with it. WifeyContinue reading “Happy Covidaversary To Me — Nov. 15, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oh Deer 🦌The Thought Gap 🧠Unplugged 🔌 I was sitting in my as-yet-to-be-named home office this morning when this big boy ☝️☝️☝️ walked out of the woods into my yard. It’s the opening day of deer season in Missourah, a day of significance for many local inhabitants on par with theirContinue reading “Big Buck — Nov. 14, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Picnic in November 🥶Happy Wife 👩Pour-Over Coffee ☕ Scheduling a picnic outside in Missouri in November seemed to me to be a very gutsy call. That’s until I stopped to realize who was scheduling it — Boy The Younger’s cross country team. These folks run everywhere, and, thus, I assume areContinue reading “Homeschool Stuff — Nov. 13, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hoops at Twain’s House 🏀Lunch With The Big Bosslady 🥪Breaking Up Is Efficient 💔 After a long week of work, I traveled north this evening with Boy The Younger for his second hoops game of the season. I missed the first because of an early start time, but this one wasContinue reading “Huckleberry Hoops– Nov. 12, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Gross Photos 📷Sand? Sand!? ⏳Sleeping With Cheese 🛏️🧀 I had major ankle surgery back in 2008 to essentially reconstruct my left foot, which had a nasty propensity to roll over without the rest of my leg accompanying it on the journey. After a four-hour operation and two weeks, I went backContinue reading “Toys in the Hall — Nov. 11, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pizza Visit 🍕French Fry Vodka 🍟🥃Let’s All Move to Portugal ✈️ We were surprised at dinner time last night with the sight of a kid who’s really no longer much of a kid. Matthew, who’s been Boy The Elder’s friend since the two weren’t even toddling, stopped by, pizzas in hand.Continue reading “Absolut Curly? — Nov. 10, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Death List ☠️Doctor Day 🩺Stay Calm, Be Confident 🧘 Sometimes the internet does something useful. For example, in the early days, there was the site that was nothing but The Hamster Dance. I’m not making that up, kiddos. The only thing this website had was The Hamster Dance. Don’t believe me?Continue reading “Inventor Regret — Nov. 9, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩What Makes a Sloth a Sloth? 🦥Launch Day is Nigh 🚀Talkin’ Free Speech 🎙️ I find myself going down some interesting rabbit holes lately. For example, tonight I wondered why exactly sloths are so slow and how exactly such a creature could survive in a survival-of-the-fittest world, especially when they liveContinue reading “Sloth Talk — Nov. 8, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Morning, Bank of America, How Are Ya? 🎮Woods Walk 🌲🌲🌲Big Bird’s a Commie ☭ I awoke this morning to a text from Bank of America about potentially fraudulent charges on my debit card. “Pshaw,” thought I. “Probably just a scam.” So I stumbled into the kitchen, made my coffee andContinue reading “Early Morning Gaming? — Nov. 7, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cute Pic, Dumb Response 📷A Musical Connection 🎵A Time-Change Analogy ⌚ My first solo venture into Costco today did not end up in familial bankruptcy, surprisingly. Oh, it could have. It just didn’t. I walked right past the $40 slabs of ribs and steered clear of the $2,000 monster TV thatContinue reading “Adventures in Costco – Nov. 6, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Wrasslin’ 🤼♂️Wifey Poo 🦶Costco 🛒 Boy The Younger and I found ourselves this evening in the most difficult-to-spell-without-looking-it-up building in the Midwest, Chaifetz Arena, home of the Midwest’s most-weirdly named college basketball team, the St. Louis University Billikens. But we weren’t there for hoops. We were there to watch the oddContinue reading “Punk! — Nov. 5, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Role Reversal ◀️Work From Wherever ⌚People Talk Funny 📣 Today was Part I of Operation “Return Wifey Poo’s Ability to Walk Not Like An Old Lady.” We arrived at Barnes Jewish Hospital West, which graciously allowed us entry despite us not being members of the tribe, just before 10 a.m. toContinue reading “Wounded Wifey Poo — Nov. 4, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 📺 A Broadcast to Watch 📰 An eNewsletter to Read 📽️ A Documentary to Skip Here are two things that receive the official John The Storyteller-in-Chief’s Seal of Approval — and one that doesn’t. ✅ Peyton and Eli Do Monday Night Football I have been alive for many variations of theContinue reading “John’s Seal of Approval — Nov. 3, 2021”
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Good Journalism 📰Fish Farts 🐟💨Dystopia 🧟 I’m officially old. I say that not because of a birthday or a sudden recognition that I am, indeed, 47. Rather, I say it because I’m increasingly pining for “the good-old days.” Now, I get it, Billy Joel. The good-old days weren’t always good, andContinue reading “Get Off My Lawn! — Nov. 1, 2021”
🔻 What’s Below 🔻My Red Wagon 😊F’n Nightmares 💤I Hate Facebook 😠 I greeted the Halloween morning sunrise while taking every last thing out of the garage of my little country home and putting it in one of four sections on the driveway: Stuff to throw away. Stuff to give to Wifey Poo to tryContinue reading “Cleaning Out Memories — Oct. 31, 2021”
👎 What’s Below 👎Boy The Medalist 🏅Ricky The Trash Eater 🗑️Sweating It Out 🥵 Waiting for Boy The Younger’s blue-haired head to pop over the rolling southern Missouri countryside for the final sprint to the finish line this morning was torturous. He was running in his final cross-country meet of this, his first season, oneContinue reading “My Blue-Haired Medalist — Oct. 30, 2021”
What’s BelowShoulder Ouchies 😧Chris the TigWaBaFatu 💁♂️Murder Pods 🔪 I’d love to know what idiot thought it was a good idea to get a COVID booster shot in one arm and a flu shot in the other less than a minute apart yesterday. Oh, that would be me. I spent much of the night sleepilyContinue reading “Make Mine a Double — Oct. 29, 2021”
👇🏻 What’s Below 👇🏻🚦 Red Means Stop 💉 Vaccination Ethics ✍️ The Many Voices in My Head I’m convinced that people in every state think their state’s drivers are the worst, and never do they count themselves among them. I learned to operate a motor vehicle in New York, whose drivers have a particularly bad reputation, butContinue reading “The Idiot Driver? Tis I — Oct. 28, 2021”
🔻 What’s Below 🔻Heading South for the Winter 🥶Laughing With Wifey Poo 🤣👩Americans Suck at Math 🧮Therapy 🧠 I love my role as the family’s vacation planner. I’m not sure exactly when I put on this hat, but I think it’s a generally recognized Family Truth that it’s something at which I’m good. I’ve planned everythingContinue reading “Christmas Road Trippin’ — Oct. 27, 2021”
👇🏾 What’s Below 👇🏾In the dugout ⚾What if I’m … wrong? 😢Angry face 😡 I spent part of the morning in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout. The fam took a trip downtown to tour Busch Stadium. It was a good visit. We saw the owner’s suite (posh), the Champions Club (pricey) and peeked in on the battingContinue reading “Sitting on the Bench — Oct. 22, 2021”
👇 What’s Below 👇On Men and Crying 😭 Why I write ✍🏻Back Crackin’ 👨⚕️ So here’s a thing I sometimes hate about myself: I cry. Like, easily. And often. Or at least it’s “often” in comparison to how often men normally cry. At least, I think it’s often in comparison to the frequency men normally cry. IContinue reading “So Many Damn Feelings — Oct. 22, 2021”
What’s Below 👇🏼Nazis and Mongols ⚾Hippie writing ☮️Inside marriage 💍 The Astros playing the Red Sox to see who advances to the World Series is, to me, akin to the Nazis fighting the Mongols to determine who gets control of the planet — and if you haven’t heard about how the Mongols killed their prisoners,Continue reading “Baseball is Broken — Oct. 20, 2021”
What’s Below 👇On being self-taught 📷The Bee Battle 🐝Ahhh, Ben Platt 🎶 I set up a little makeshift portrait studio today in a training room at my office. Lights, a backdrop — the color of which matches our new brand hue — and a tripod with my Nikon Z6. It all looked very fancy-shmancy. Here’sContinue reading “Say ‘Cheese’ — Oct. 19, 2021”
Human beings of the modern age like to think of themselves as the pinnacle of all creation. Of course, this is not necessarily new to the modern age. It wasn’t all that long ago that some of the brightest minds of their modern age — guys like Sir Isaac Newton — thought women got pregnantContinue reading “Technology Sucks — Oct. 18, 2021”
Being a bald man, I don’t have many reasons to be in a barbershop. And I miss barbershops. They are one of the few remaining oases for guys, and barbershop talk is fun. I took Boy The Younger to have his mop managed Saturday morning. Boy The Elder found Walt’s Barbershop a few years ago.Continue reading “Even a Bald Man Needs a Barbershop — Oct. 17, 2021”
Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day, and even almost 21 years later, I’m not sure how I feel about it. So much of time is arbitrary. We screw it up so badly that we have to add a whole day every four years. So for me, today is just like any other dayContinue reading “Infant Loss Awareness — Oct. 15, 2021”
There’s this state of being that’s not quite asleep, not quite dreaming but definitely not awake. That’s where I found myself Thursday evening at Livin’ Sublime Wellness, my little yoga studio in Wentzville. Restorative yoga is a lifesaver for me. If you haven’t tried it, you should. Not to sound all Hippie-Dippy or anything, butContinue reading “Fourth State of Being — Oct. 14, 2021”
The one thing I know how to do better than anything else is write. I love it. But it’s also sometimes very difficult. Because I know how to tell a story, I’m tapped to do so in trying times. I did so when my father-in-law died in January, writing his obituary and helping my beautifulContinue reading “The Family Writer — October 9, 2021”
I found it funny this morning to be walking through Kohl’s with a meat thermometer in my right hand and two toilet seats tucked under my left arm. There are some moments in life that are just serendipitous. Boy The Elder and Wifey Poo are indirectly responsible for this little portrait you now have inContinue reading “On Toilet Seats and Meat Thermometers — Oct. 8, 2021”
I’ve been a Yankees fan since I was a small boy. Some of my best memories were born in the old Yankee Stadium. It’s in my DNA to not like the Red Sox. I can think of no good reason to despise the Sawx or their fans, but I still am repulsed by their logo,Continue reading “Painful Playoff Baseball — Oct. 5, 2021”
I once played in a baseball game in which it was raining so hard that, when I picked up a ball stuck in the mud in the middle of a puddle in a centerfield that resembled a shallow lake, it felt like I was throwing a shot-put to the second baseman 15 feet away. Today,Continue reading “An All-Sports Weekend – Oct. 3, 2021”
Life sucks when you’re tired. I know this. I’ve lived this. A lot of people like to say they have insomnia. I used to say I had insomnia. Then I actually got insomnia. There’s a difference between a few nights of poor sleep and insomnia. Which isn’t to diminish a few nights of poor sleep.Continue reading “So. Damn. Tired — Sept. 28, 2021”