The Great Purge (Saws and Tight Underwear For Sale, Cheap!)

One of the most exciting aspects of our impending move to London is what I’m calling the G-POOSH, or The Great Purge Of Our SHit. (Okay, I’m not really calling it that.) It’s the process of jettisoning everything but the essentials. For example, I have a shirt that pisses me off when I look at it because it fits a little funny. I like the idea of wearing it, but not the actual practice of it. At one point it had potential, but ultimately, it’s a huge disappointment. Needless to say, it’s not going to London. In fact, if it had a face, I’d punch it. Yes, I’m the kind of dude who would punch a cantankerous shirt right in the face without remorse. Pow!

Not me, not my shirt. This is the worst shirt I have ever seen in my life. Or the best. I'm not sure.

Not me, not my shirt. This is the worst shirt I have ever seen in my life. Or the best. I’m not sure.

That reminds me of my tight underwear. A year ago, I bought two pairs of tight underwear at Target to wear while I jog and exercise. You know, to keep things in place. I haven’t decided if they’ll make the trip. Sure, they’re small and take up very little space, but I haven’t touched them all summer. Each time I open the drawer where my underwear live, they’re like “You bastard, you better not abandon us!”

This will probably be a last minute decision. I’ll be at the airport with my tight underwear balled up in my hand, and the authoritative airport voice will say something like “Last call, get on the plane now or we’ll leave your ass in the United States!” and Jennifer will be, like, “Come on Mike, we have to go!”

Me: But what about my tight underwear? Do you think I’ll need them?

Her: Are you freaking insane?

As a family we have a thousand decisions like this.

But some have already been made for us. We have a Blendtec blender that cost about as much as a 1984 Honda Civic (with low miles) that is worthless in the UK. It’s not that they have strict anti-smoothie laws, but the thing just won’t turn on over there, or, worse, will electrocute my dumb ass for even thinking that a spinach-blueberry drink is a good idea. I would tell you why this danger exists, but I have no knowledge of basic electricity. I will just type words like “voltage” and “fire” and numbers like “120” and “240” and leave it at that.

Blendtec and 1984 Civic

Since I no longer know how to use electrical hand tools (I swore them off in 2009), I am especially happy that they won’t work over there either. Actually, I haven’t even checked, but I’m hoping really, really hard because I would rather read or sit around looking at the walls than saw boards and drill holes. Books will never, EVER tear my fingers off. (I especially hate circular saws. If I believed in hell, I would think there would be running circular saws all over the place.)Saw Injury

The most annoying problem so far are the toys we have accumulated in the “play room.” I would say that it looks like a tornado has swept through the room, but that’s an overused, boring expression. So I’ll go with this: it looks like three elephants devoured the contents of our kids’ youth and took giant shits all over up there.

I’ve collected enough broken crayons and pencils to choke a rhinoceros. No, a HERD of rhinoceroses. (If it were up to me, the plural of rhinoceros would definitely be rhinoceri.) I have amassed a pile of broken and mismatched toy parts taller than me. Tiny doll blouses. The smallest blue jeans you ever did see. Itty-bitty rubber shoes that won’t even fit on my pinky. (Where’s the doll wearing all this tiny shit?) Plastic pellets from exploded bean bags. Confetti. A headless Toy Story Woody doll that does absolutely nothing when you pull the string. And about four thousand pieces of paper with, like, one scribbled line on each.

What I don’t throw away immediately, I have been bringing down for Ainsley to go through, to choose what goes and what stays. So far–luckily!–she’s decided to “shitcan” about 95% of it. Since she’s discovered Minecraft, she’s much less interested in REAL blocks, like Legos. It’s pixels over plastic.

Okay, that’s it for today. If I continue to write about moving, that just means that I’m avoiding the actual work of preparing to move to the other side of the world.

A Re-Examination of Derek Jeter in Rhyme in Light of his Enormous Retirement Home

Derek Jeter is in the midst of his 20th and final season of playing professional baseball for the New York Yankees. He has earned over a quarter of a billion dollars because of his ability to hit a leather-covered ball of yarn with a stick and to catch that cork-centered ball with a large leather glove placed on his non-throwing hand.

Obviously, I’ve never met Mr. Jeter. People say he’s a great guy, a natural leader. They say he’s private. They say he plays baseball “the right way.”

Here’s a curious quote from Albert Pujos on Jeter: “On and off field, he’s the way you want your kids to grow up. Only Jesus is perfect, but he’s pretty close to that guy.”

What. THE FUCK?

Apparently, each time the guy farts, he cures eight kids of cancer. That’s what I’ve heard. (If you’re a Red Sox fan or, like me, you’re sick of people losing their minds over His Royal Highness, go read The Hater’s Guide to Derek Jeter.

I want to remind baseball writers and Yankees fans that Mr. Jeter is a human being like you and me. He was lucky to be born with this specific set of skills that allow him to play a game at the highest level. He was born into the right family at the right time and received the right encouragement and development. That’s about it.

All this good guy stuff? Please stop. We know nothing of how he behaves within his four walls, nor should we know. I think I’m a decent guy. You’re probably a decent human being, right? Have you kicked a puppy recently? I haven’t.

Let me just say: Celebrity worship is a big fucking problem in the United States.

Look at the house Jeter built in Tampa. What do you think?

Let’s hear the justifications for this sickly monstrous house, this flagrantly immoral display of wealth.

  • He’s earned the right to live like a king. This is the United States, the capitalist king of the world!
  • He needs a fortress to hide in from the paparazzi and other curious people.
  • He “gives” back through the Turn 2 Foundation.

Whatever. Here’s what I think:

A Re-examination of Derek Jeter in Rhyme

 

 

 

Our Dogs Kind of Love Uncooked Brown Basmati Rice

Warning: This post contains profanity and several references to feces. If you’re offended by this type of thing, you might want to skip this one.

*  *  *

I’m carefully crafting a blog post about how I literally almost crapped my pants on the evening of Wednesday, May 7 at approximately 8:30 pm.

Often people exaggerate and use the phrase “I almost crapped my pants” casually, like “This big, hairy spider came out of nowhere and was, like, right by my face; I almost crapped my pants!” This person doesn’t really mean that they actually ALMOST SHIT THEIR PANTS. I’m almost certain of this.

But once in awhile it’s real. Because I almost shit my pants thirteen days ago–FOR REAL! So check back every couple of days or, better yet, subscribe to this blog because you seriously don’t want to miss it. Now, for more poop talk . . . .

*  *  *

I wasn’t going to write today, but the dogs got into the pantry yesterday afternoon and helped themselves to a six dollar, 16 ounce bag of organic basmati brown rice, ripped it open and scattered it about the front room. (It was my fault; I left the door open.)

When I discovered the mess at around 2 pm, it was impossible to know how much they had eaten, if any. I mean, it’s uncooked rice. Eww. For humans, eating uncooked rice is not much fun. I can think of a 150 things I’d rather eat. But dogs? Who fucking knows. Dogs are crazy.

The mess our dogs made

riceCouch2

This morning while walking them, Dexter stopped and assumed his pooping stance while I jabbed my hand into a black shit-bag (because I pick up after our dogs unlike most people in this neighborhood) and waited. And waited. His eyes bugged. He strained. Nothing came out. The other two dogs were like What’s your deal? Come one, let’s get going! We ain’t got all fucking day.

Finally, after much effort, he pinched off this amazing little rice roll that put an end to me wondering if this particular dog had eaten any brown basmati rice. He definitely had. The rest of the way home, I fretted about all that rice sitting in their guts soaking up water, wreaking havoc and wondered what all this meant for our future walks. Alas, I predict much standing around staring at dog ass today and writing more about rice rolls tomorrow.

(I didn’t snap a photo of the rice roll. If I had known it was coming, I probably would have. But since I was standing there with a ready poop bag instead of a camera, I had it scooped up before I could think about it. Too bad for you because it was pretty awesome, though still gross, because, well, it’s dog shit.)

Since this is a shit-centered blog post, I’m sitting here trying to think of another incident I can talk about, but I can’t think of anything significant. I mean, I walk the dogs 3 to 5 times a day, so I see a shit-ton of dog poop. “Shit-ton” is a word that means “a lot” if you’re unfamiliar. I pick up so much dog poop, such a shit-ton, that we buy pet waste bags in bulk, 700 at a time, like the people who have pet waste removal companies.

Okay. I agree. Enough shit for today.

 

Help, I Married a Gum Litterer

It’s a miracle that I’m able to write today during such a difficult time. Here’s the problem: I just found out that my wife is a litter bug.

I’ve been asking myself: Should I alert the authorities? Should I file for a divorce?

I know. It’s not like she killed someone. She littered.

But before you stop reading because you think I’m a crazy person, know this: she’s not your typical public nuisance, she’s a chewing gum litterer, an assault to shoes all over Madison County.gum-dailymail

The first time I stepped in someone’s chewed gum, as a kid in the early ‘80s, I instantly hated all people who had ever spit their gum out on the sidewalk and hated unborn people who would someday spit their gum out on the sidewalk for innocent people–kids like me!–to step on while wearing their favorite and fastest pair of running shoes. (I didn’t particularly care for those who even had a passing thought of disposing of their gum improperly, but thought better of it. If you’re related to someone who has spit their gum out on a sidewalk, I hate you. I hate everyone!)

It’s a cruel twist of fate that I would end up married to one of those people.

I found out from our responsible (non-littering) fourteen-year-old daughter.

Here’s how it went down. While pulling out of our local Home Depot, my wife removed her well-chewed gum of indeterminate brand and flavor and chucked it across the front seat and out of the passenger side window onto the ground. She kept driving and apparently didn’t look back. The gum practically zipped right under our daughter’s nose, so I have no reason to doubt her account of this incident.

Obviously, it’s difficult to admit that I’m married to this woman. We took vows and stuff!

When confronted, she shrugged and said she was trying to throw it in a bush. Like that makes it okay.

You’ve probably stepped in chewing gum too. What a mess, huh? Maybe you went through the familiar stages: confusion (Why does it feel as if my right foot is partially sticking to the ground at every step?); anger (I’m going to break the friggin’ neck of whoever left their gum here!); uncertainty (How am I going to get this gum off my shoe without touching it?);  resignation (I’m going to throw this fouled shoe into that pond and walk home with one bare foot!); and finally, practicality and acceptance (I’ll scrape off what I can with this stick and deal with the rest later.)

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Stupid gummy shoe in a pond.

Of course, I’m not perfect. I littered like a madman as a teenager. I would eat an entire McDonald’s meal while driving and, without guilt, toss all evidence of its existence–including the receipt and straw wrapper–right out the window. But I stopped littering during the Clinton administration. Before Monica Lewinsky! Over the years, to avoid littering, I have swallowed enough chewing gum to choke a stable of thoroughbreds.

And I thought she stopped too.

There were signs.

Two years ago she tossed a banana peel from a moving car and seemed surprised at my disgust.

Her response: What? It’s organic! It’s not littering when it’s food.A discarded, gross banana peel

We’ve all seen a rotten banana peel on the sidewalk or side of the road. It’s not pleasant. And here’s something I have never said during such an encounter: “Oh look, some thoughtful citizen has started a compost heap right here in downtown Edwardsville.”

I think it’s safe to say that no person has ever said that about food scraps thrown from a car window.

But it’s my nature to find the silver lining in sour situations. And here’s mine. I realize that I have raised a daughter who, instead of repeating such a foul act, would report it. Obviously, gum littering is not okay with her or she would not have even thought to tell me about it. Thankfully, after being raised by one littering parent and one non, she has taken the path NOT fouled with globs of synthetic rubber.

Like her father, she wraps her chewed gum in its wrapper that was thoughtfully saved and placed in a pocket, or, again, like her father, she dutifully chews gum that long ago lost its pliability and flavor until it can be disposed of properly.

No, this won’t end our marriage, but we’re going to renew our marriage vows to reflect our current reality. I’m working on a couple of spots where I can insert some common sense.

Until death or gum litter do us part.

And, I promise to be true to you until you throw something gross from a moving car.

Let me know what you think.

My Wife Should Know I’d Write About This

I might change the design around here; things are looking a bit stale to me, and I can’t stand that pink border WordPress insists on wrapping around my photos. I’d like to wrap it around their heads.

PurposeSoap2012_opt

Anyway, this is too funny not to write about. This is the stuff I wash my face with at night. I recently used up the last bit in a bottle (well, as you know, the very last bit is impossible to reach without sawing the bottle in half) and filled it with water, shook it up, poured it out and filled it again to clean it to recycle. I set it aside out of the way and forgot about it. Amazon sent a new bottle, which and I placed in its usual spot in the cabinet. Here are the bottles, on the left with water.

TWObottles

Jennifer, my wife, who normally uses her own facial cleaner recently began to use mine. One night last week she asked me something like “Why are there two bottle of that stuff?”

“That one’s just water.” I pointed at the old one.

Heh. This is hilarious. For several nights in a row, she’d been washing her face with the one filled with water. Notice on the bottle it says “Clinically shown gentle as water.” I guess that’s why she kept trying. She was rubbing like hell in her wash cloth wondering why it wasn’t lathering even just a little.

Needless to say, I laughed my ass off that night and showed her the obvious difference in color and consistency.

Whew, that was fun to write. I’ll hear about this later when she reads it. I’m sure she’s done some other dumb stuff lately, but I can’t think of anything. Of course, I do dumb stuff all the time, but it’s not as funny, and I’m holding the “pen.”

* * *

 It’s getting colder every day. Some observations and predictions.

  • Ice cream will be less fun to eat.
  • Riding my bike will begin to suck.
  • I’ve almost completely stopped saying, “I’m sweating my balls off!”
  • More often, I’ll be saying “I’m freezing my balls off!”
  • Soon I’m going to say “Where’d I put my damn gloves?”
  • Getting the girls to walk the dogs will be five times more difficult than it already is.
  • Once I find the gloves, on a dog walk, I’ll spend too much time trying to open those maddening poop bags, while the dogs wrap themselves around my legs. Then I’ll get all pissy and tell Jennifer we’re getting rid of the dogs. And cats.
  • Our puppy, who will be experiencing her first winter, will be like “What the hell?”

A review of my death as a way out of sorting girly undies

This is something from a long ago abandoned blog.

Today I’m reviewing my death as it relates to the end of sorting laundered socks, underwear and random female accessories.

If I’m in an elevated mood and a rogue “death” thought takes over my brain, my good mood is stomped on, punched in the mouth, spit on, and then tossed out the door like a sack of garbage.

A rogue thought can sneak in like this: one minute I’m staring into space thinking I’m hot shit (you know…cool) and the next minute an image of myself in a coffin flashes behind my eyes. Where did that come from? Contemplating the end of my own existence is a sure way to bring me back down to earth.

I think about my own death, on average, once a day. What will happen when I take my last breath? Will I “survive” my own death?

The hell if I know.

On the heels of the coffin image in my head, I can instantly bring myself back up (so I can be hot shit again) with the realization that, after I die, I will never have to dig through a big pile of socks and underwear trying to piece together this weekly puzzle.

Four baskets of clean clothes reduces down to one of just socks, underwear, and other random female accessories that I don’t understand (tiny scrunched up black things that I just toss into the box of American Girl doll clothes, belts that I thought were scarves, and head bands that, at first glance, I thought were underwear).

Nowadays, when I find scrunched up black garments that look way too small for human use, I know that I shouldn’t throw them into a toy box. That leads to Jennifer rampaging around the house–usually when we’re running late to get somewhere important–yelling things like why can I never find the girls’ tights? I know the damn things don’t just get up and walk away!

What the hell IS this?

After much delay, it’s time to suck it up and tackle that basket of hell. As the girls have aged, the size of their stuff gets harder to differentiate. Six years ago, it was easy to tell the difference between a diaper and a tiny pair of underwear. It was easy to pick out Ainsley’s socks (they looked like adult thumb covers). Her shirts really could fit a doll back then.

When I reach into the basket and find that I have pulled out one of my own items, I feel this slight jump of satisfaction in my belly (I’m feeling it now as I think about it). All of my socks are big and black. All of my underwear are boxer shorts. Nothing is pink. It’s simple. It’s a temporary break in this horrible, ugly work. I sometimes hold a big, black sock tight in my arms, close my eyes, and just take a couple of deep breaths, savoring the moment.

I don’t want to move on (it’s like setting a rose down just to reach into a bucket of snakes). I know that eventually I’ll pull something out, hold it up–what the hell is this?–look at the four piles I’ve made, and just sit there stumped and pissed off, because I don’t know where to put it.

Lately–and this is a very recent, very IMPORTANT discovery I’ve made–I immediately throw “unknowns” onto Jennifer’s dresser BEFORE I spend much time fretting. I mean, I’ve really turned a corner here, I think. She seems to know where all this stuff belongs anyway.

My death, on its own, would earn less than a full plum. Death, when seen as a way of escaping this evil chore, scores four plums on my scientific five point scale of review.

Share

The Great Summer Peach Fail of 2013

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RQ6e9siQyrY

On a hot Saturday morning in late July, my wife and I walked down to the local farmers market. We came upon a busy stand selling one thing: large, perfectly ripe, locally grown peaches. I slid in line and began to study the options. How many peaches were we able to haul home without a car?

The options and prices were confusing: a peck, a half peck, a bushel?

Five dollars for a half peck, that’s like, two big peaches. Isn’t that kind of high? How much more are we willing to pay for local peaches?

To make things worse, we had brought our puppy who was attracting attention. Every kid in the city was petting her and she was acting a bit flustered, as was I.

A Peckel of bushes? A Bush full of peckers?

Then I spotted a large box of slightly inferior peaches under the table. Written on the box: Seconds, $10. My bargain radar–my bardar–went off. At “above table” prices this big box would cost forty bucks. I squatted and inspected a couple.

Hmm, minimal squishyness. A young girl behind the table noticed and said the peaches were not rotten or anything, just bruised or otherwise inferior to the peaches above the table.

I threw down my ten triumphantly. Ha suckers! I wondered why all these people ignored the Bargain Of The Day. I knew I could cut ‘em up and freeze most of it, and Jennifer said she could make peach preserves. In fact, she even mentioned she was excited about it. It’s going to be so good!

I imagined myself spreading deliciously sweet preserves on many slices of toast. And we’d have peach smoothies throughout the fall and into the winter.

Yes, life was good.

The heaviness of our bargain box combined with the brutal heat made the walk home uncomfortable. I arrived a sweaty mess, but I was riding a peach fuzz buzz so that made everything okay.

Immediately, I got to work slicing the peaches. I grabbed a small bowl to hold the icky spots, but it quickly proved too small. I replaced it with a larger one.

As I made my way down into the bowels of the box, my peach high was wearing off. I found entire peaches that couldn’t be saved, completely gooey and icky. Fruit flies zipped from the box and into my face. With each toss into the discard pile I imagined a meter like a speedometer with the needle moving incrementally from “bargain” to “rip-off.”

I despise rotten produce. Once in awhile, in a bag of spinach, I’ll find a slimy, black piece among all the nice looking, green leaves. I seriously have to suppress gagging. I have to beat back this urge to toss the whole freakin’ bag because it’s been contaminated by this rot. So, at this point, I’m hesitant about reaching into this big box of sketchy peaches.

And it’s not my nature to stomp down to the vendor demanding a refund. I can be assertive, but I knew the young lady thought the peaches were in decent shape. They were probably much firmer when they were placed into the box. And then maybe they sat there for a couple of days. Who knows.

Anyway, I put some in the refrigerator, some in the freezer, and I took two miserable trips to the compost pile for a wet peach dump.

Jennifer took what she needed for the preserves, and later I found it simmering on the stove. Let me say here that I don’t know a thing about making preserves. I didn’t even know it involved heat.

Before I poke fun of her, I have to admit that I also abandon ideas and put off projects. In June I wrote about ripping the dryer apart, finding the broken part, and ordering a replacement. I still haven’t fixed it. We have a replacement part for our dishwasher that I have not installed, so I’m still washing dishes by hand.

I’m not here to make fun of myself, so let’s get back to the brown peach stew on the stove that would soon be preserves. Later in the day I noticed it had been transferred to the fridge.

Let me remind you that this was late July.

It hasn’t been touched since.

PeachMess

Though I look at it every day, I haven’t said a word about it to Jennifer. Normally, I’d be all sarcastic like “Are you saving that for NEXT summer?” I’m afraid to open it. But even if I could muster the courage, I’m kind of curious to see how long it stays there. Heck, maybe it’s supposed to age like wine. As I said, I’m clueless.

If you add up what we tossed into the yard with what we wasted for the preserves, the bargain box of second-rate peaches turned out to be a disaster, a totally shitty deal.

If you didn’t think it could get any worse, the frozen peach chunks are so stuck together that it takes a chainsaw to dislodge enough for a small smoothie. I’m almost certain I’ll lose a finger this fall screwing with the massive peach iceberg.

Peach season next year I’m staying above the table.

The End of Seven Days + The Saddest Pancake You’ve Ever Seen

Day 6 – Sunday, Sept. 22

  • Steps Taken: 15,773
  • Calories Consumed:  Around 1,800
  • Morning Weight: 138.2
  • 24 Hour Weight Change:  0
  • Total Weight Change: .6

Day 7 – Monday, Sept. 23

  • Steps Taken: 12,444
  • Calories Consumed:  1,600 to 1,700?
  • Morning Weight: 138.2
  • 24 Hour Weight Change:  0
  • Total Weight Change: .6

My 7 Day Challenge was not a total success. I didn’t hit 15,000 steps on Monday for the first time and over the weekend I didn’t track my eating as closely as I had planned. Also, I didn’t lose those three pounds. I was probably overoptimistic about that anyway.

Yesterday, instead of continuing this experiment, I failed to wear my pedometer and didn’t track calories. Let’s call it a buffer day before I begin anew today.

* * *

In other news . . .

Early Sunday morning Chloe finished off Ainsley’s “birthday” box of cereal: cinnamon toast crunch. It was supposed to be Ainsley’s personal, special occasion, sugary treat except for whatever she decided to share. To avoid a meltdown, I decided to bake Ainsley a single serving cupcake without the streusel. It was supposed to be done in 13 minutes, but it was still gooey, so I freaked out and tried to make her a single serving pancake despite the recent meltdown of our electric range.

I could have given her the more healthful oatmeal or Ezekiel bread toast, but she surely would have marched down to Lincoln Middle School to beat the tar out of her sister. Cereal is a serious business in our house.

I attempted to make the pancake in the Instant Pot 6-in-1 Pressure Cooker. This beauty can cook beans in thirty minutes. It’s a rice cooker. It’s a slow cooker. It can steam. It can vacuum the floor. Sometimes I squeeze my little butt in it and drive to the market. But it’s not a shit for pancakes. I tried the sauté setting and of course that provided way too much heat. In half a second the batter was stuck to the bottom. So I had to treat it like a big piece of broccoli, continuously flipping and turning it. Take a look at the disaster that she happily ate with some maple syrup.

pot_opt

Plate

Day 4 & Day 5 Summaries – Party Bomb

Day 4 – Friday, Sept. 20

  • Steps Taken: 16,521
  • Calories Consumed:  Around 1,800
  • Morning Weight: 137.2
  • 24 Hour Weight Change:  +2.2
  • Total Weight Change: -1.6

Day 5 – Saturday, Sept. 21

  • Steps Taken: 21,006
  • Calories Consumed:  1,800 (+ or – 100)
  • Morning Weight: 138.2
  • 24 Hour Weight Change:  +1
  • Total Weight Change: -.6

I saved a thousand calories for Friday night because I knew Dewey’s pizza was coming. But nothing good can come from consuming a thousand calories of pizza at seven o’clock in the evening–all the salt, sugar, gluten, etc. And then Saturday I quickly realized that measuring food was not an option. I wasn’t open for all the ridicule that would come from carrying my kitchen scale around. I guess that’s why my weight climbed from 135 to 138.2 in forty-eight hours. But even yesterday I demonstrated a respectable amount of moderation, consuming just a small piece of cake and opted out of the fire pit smore-fest once the sun descended.

Instead of this being a 7 Day thing, I’m going to extend it indefinitely until I reach a “permanent” weight of 135.

(Side note: There’s a girl in Panera who looks like Shelly Duvall of The Shining and Popeye fame. I can’t stop staring at her eating her souffle. It’s freaky. Wow, she really ate it quickly and left. Maybe she noticed me looking at her. But we never made eye contact, so I doubt that. I wish I would’ve stealthily snapped a photo.)

shelly-duvall-making-of-the-shining_opt

Day 3 Summary – Weekend Challenges Ahead

Day 3 – Thursday, Sept. 19

  • Steps Taken: 17,875
  • Calories Consumed:  1,694
  • Morning Weight: 135
  • 24 Hour Weight Loss:  1.2
  • Total Weight Loss: 3.8

Again, more of me has disappeared. Yesterday I wrote it off as random fluctuation, but when I eat my regular “unregulated” method of eating, my weight remains pretty steady from day to day or even creeps up. A dietitian might tell me I’m losing weight too fast. Everywhere you read, they (experts, I guess) recommend losing up to a pound a week. I’ve lost 3.8 pounds since Tuesday.

If you know anyone wanting to lose weight, I think religiously counting your calories and steps works better than any fad diet. After a period the tedious reporting–two weeks, a month?–you get the hang of how much you’re consuming and moving throughout the day and you can put away the kitchen scale and pedometer. I often revert to the food scale when I need “recalibrated.”

I might have scheduled this “challenge” at a bad time though. Today is my youngest daughter’s ninth birthday. That means parties. That means cake, ice cream, pizza–the usual madness. Tonight, five girls–all of whom love to scream in that vexatiously high pitched way only nine-years-olds can–are descending upon our abode for a sleepover. Pray for me.

Parties and morbific food, as, sadly, they go hand-in-hand, are killers for me. I dread parties. I’m anxious about all the people, so I stuff my face in a vain attempt at squelching those emotions. It’s quite unfair given that I I’m faced with anxiety when birthdays and similar events are near, festivities that are supposed to be fun and memorable. Frankly, I’d rather hang out in a hole and pop out for about ten of every sixty minutes, a “checking in” of sorts. And don’t throw cupcakes into my hole. I’d rather do without, thank you.

Yes, I’m a birthday party scrooge, but I try not to let it show to the girls. I’m there to smile, to snap pictures, to retrieve stuff when my wife requests something, but I’m secretly wishing for time alone with them where I can be myself, much more the clown (not the creepy kind), always wanting to play and be silly. That’s the guy very few people know.