I know, Christmas time might not be the best starting point for a *ahem* reshaping of my body and diet, but I’m nearly two weeks in and no going back.
Unless I eat seventy-five Oreo’s, but still.
Before we go any further, a point of clarification: Weight is not my sole concern. In fact, it’s actually fifth on the list, behind my heart, teeth, ability to live long enough to use coupons without irony, and blood pressure.
Goal: Somewhere between then and now, but with shorter shorts.
So, the grim statistics:
49 years old.
Starting weight– 260 (pounds, not kilograms. I’m an American, not some fancy European who measures out tiny blocks of cheese and carries it home in a wicker basket while laughing and listing to French jazz or whatever).
Starting blood pressure: Not bad, but not great. 121 over 90.
Hair and teeth: Present and accounted for.
General feeling: Thick, not Thicc, and vaguely immobile. This galls me in particular due to my love of sports, running (running isn’t a sport, it’s meditation while gasping), and walking up stupid hills. All hills are stupid when you’re not hiking, and even then, they’re only tolerable.
I’ll report weekly, and then in January, will go to the doctor for a general “State of the Union” exam.
If you’ve made any life changes and have found recipes or foods that scratch the itch, so to speak, I’d love to hear them.
My weaknesses are:
Things that can be made sweet by adding sweeteners.
We’re almost through the year, reaching the heart of the holiday season here in the United States. It’s a time where old grudges should fade, new kindness begins, and we share thanks with everyone we hold dear.
And those we don’t.
This has been a year of transformation for me, and you’ve all been incredibly kind to me. Thank you for all of it. I’ll see you online, and on the road, too. That’s the best part of being a writer, I think, so thanks.
Dad died last month, and it’s been a lot of things. It was closure, and sad, and frustrating. That was in the first ten minutes, and then it settled into my bones and became real.
Grandpa and Grandma Maggert
I went to Iowa for the funeral. I connected with people who are my flesh and blood, but have never met. It was an uplifting, somber, joyous mess of a day sandwiched in between two twelve hour drives with my own thoughts.
I miss my dad, I ache for my mom, and still have flashes where I think both are alive. I don’t know if that will ever pass.
My cousin Richine– well, I saw her and knew we were kin, and it felt like a gift. She sent me a hundred or more pictures of my family that I’ve never seen, dating back to the 1930s. It’s a treasure. My cousin walked me across the old farm and pointed out the place my grandmother was killed in 1955. I miss her, even though we’ve never met, and wonder how life would have gone for all of us if she had lived.
It’s a time of possibilities and sadness, metered through a lens of my own family. We are unique, identifiable, and now that I’ve been back to Iowa, more connected.
I’ll be in Columbia, South Carolina on Nov. 11 for the Authors Invade Columbia Event. Stop by and see me if you’re around. Check out the page here: Sakarlina, Y’all! Come see me!
Dad passed away last night. He’d been fighting cancer for six years.
Life is going to change a lot even if I think it won’t. He was a complicated man who never truly recovered from the loss of his wife. When mom died twenty-one years ago, we lost our family despite our best efforts to keep it. He loved his family because we were everything he never had as a child.
We were a 1970s family. Dad was a lineman. Mom raised us kids. We never lacked anything because of how hard they worked. I learned by watching, even if it took me years to understand what real commitment to a family means.
I’ve thought, over the years, about the good things that are part of me. He taught me how to be good to animals, how to interact with the natural world, and about loyalty and the value of work.
Losing him means being honest about a lot of difficult things. My own age. Our relationship. Wanting a family that is gone. Wishing for a life that can’t come back. Thinking of him as a person, and not a personification. Being thankful, even when I miss him. With each passing hour today, there’s a lot more hurt. I miss him. I miss my family. I don’t know how to explain wanting something that’s gone for good.
You can think you’re ready for things, but you’re not ready. You’re never ready. I miss him today, but I think I’ll miss a lot more things tomorrow, and beyond.
There’s only one Amy, but every writer should aspire to have a friend like her. Here’s why:
She loves books.
She knows the book community.
She LOVES books.
If you have further questions, see 1-3.
Amy is my friend and Publishing Assistant, and a visible sign of how four years of work can be good– but not enough. I’ve written constantly for four years just to get to the point where Amy can help me.
If you’re an author, you need people like Amy to do things you’ve never even thought of. Release day activities. Twitter lists. Meeting other writers. The list goes on, and all of these things– outside writing– are the building blocks for being a professional.
You can do a lot on your own. If you want to go to the next level, find a person like Amy.
But not Amy. She’s busy being amazing.’
*No Amys were harmed in the making of this blog post. 🙂
Doom brought on by pushups? Soon. I’d like to say more, but my “side-man-boobs” hurt every day and there’s no end in sight. I feel as if there is something happening to my body, but I’m not exactly sure what it is. There are lumps– also known as muscle– but they’re under my arms in a weird place, presumably good for some purpose that has not yet revealed itself.
I’m sort of thinking that one day, I’ll be in a stressful situation and BOOM, flap of skin or wings or gills or something will burst forth and won’t that be fun?
Here’s the new cover, and we’re going to have nice giveaway one week before. Two Amazon gift cards, some paperbacks, all that jazz. I’ll let you know, and until then, I’ll be doing pushups, writing, and avoiding butter beans, which as we all know, are Of the Devil.
We went to Illinois! Land of Lincoln, corn, wheat, soybeans, cows, people with Scandinavian names, and the finest breakfast pizza in this wing of the galaxy. But I digress. First, some background.
This is Uncle Leon (of Leon and Cindy Oleson Farms), along with my enormous son, who is also an Oleson.
We spent glorious days on the farm. There’s no other word for it. I’ve never farmed a day in my life, unless you count raising chickens and gardening. Uncle Leon and the family are farmers; it’s what they do. They have an encyclopedic knowledge of topics that range from the hydraulic pressure in a tractor line to the tendencies of obscure beetle species. Riding around on the farm is like the best possible college lecture ever– you’re learning but you don’t realize it until after the lesson ends.
Iowa is, in some sense, my ancestral homeland, and there are a lot of similarities between Elkader, Iowa and Shabbona, Illinois. We start with the scenery.
That’s a lot of corn, and it requires large places to put it.
We visited Cousins Amber and Brent and their dairy farm. To sum up: loud, fun, smells like the essence of life, busy, beautiful, real. The Mueller farm is everything a farm should be, but with excellent Wi-Fi and lots of cats. It’s a lot like heaven.
It’s impossible not to feel connected to this place. There’s a visceral reaction to things of great purity, and being on the farm around great people is one such event. And now, the requisite picture of corn, if you will.
That’s the kind of scene that makes everyone think they can farm.
(full disclosure: not everyone can. it’s demanding work with a high degree of uncertainty. in short, farmers are cool under fire)
But the fact that simply being close to a farm engenders such feelings tells you that anyone who wants to refill their proverbial tank should consider a visit to the farm. I left with a head full of words, and it was more than the excellent company, food, and rest. It’s a mythological connection to something from the time before, when concerns, like life, tended to be more centered on community.
Speaking of community. Let’s see main street,, a couple towns over. They got the sign right the first time, so there’s no need to change. This is a testament to the power of Midwestern Culture, and yes, that’s a thing, because it’s so easily identifiable. If you step into a town and start looking for Frank Capra’s ghost– you’re in the Midwest.
My writing batteries were also recharged by something that is so rare as to be mythical. It’s the distinction between nice and good.
When you visit the Midwest and your family is filled with people who are nice and good, take a moment to consider the distinction. People can be nice– nice is polite, pleasant, mannerly. Nice can be your friend. Nice bakes for neighbors and picks up your mail when you visit relative on the other coast.
But nice is not necessarily good. Good is a kind of innate construction that makes some people break to the side of goodness out of instinct. Good is doing the right things without effort or thought, it’s the communal willingness to donate the two most precious things– time and work– to something other than oneself, in order to better the life of someone else. When you visit your family and realize that they are truly good, there’s a validation and hope that your child– my enormous, goofy, replete nine year old– will be emblematic of that tradition. Good is, in some sense, a choice, and it’s cultivated, not unlike the corn that soars across hundreds of acres on the family farm.
Good is not a goal. Good is a permanent structure, built by learning from others who share the ability to see beyond themselves out of a quality that cannot be measured or weighed.
Four days in July, and my tanks are full. Here’s to a wonderful fall.