Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Weight update

I haven't shared anything about my weight lately so I thought I'd post an update on what's going on.

The lowest weight I reached was right before Christmas and was 285 pounds, which was a total of 46 pounds lost. To be completely honest, I reached that weight because I'd been sick and hadn't eaten much for four days. So while I was happy to be at that weight, it wasn't an honest weight I'd reached on my own efforts. After that, I entered into a pretty depressed state of mind for the couple months surrounding the divorce. During that time, I gained about 25-30 of those pounds back. After reaching that low weight, gaining those pounds back made me feel sick on top of being depressed.

When March hit and I gained my self-confidence back, I recommitted myself to being healthy. I've never been one to believe in diets, and I still don't, but I do know the proper way to eat. So I started eating right again and within a month lost all of that weight I'd gained back. To make things even better, over the past couple weeks I've been maintaining that weight of 285 even without working out. I have a couple weight goals I'd like to hit, so I know I need to start working out again to break the plateau. But it's a nice personal victory to know I can maintain this certain weight without doing anything different than just eating right.

My future goals are as follows...
275 by the wedding I'm in on June 4th
265 by my birthday on August 12th
250 by the end of the year

Knowing my body and continuing to eat right, I think I can blow those numbers away, but I'm keeping the goals at reasonable levels for my own sanity. 250 will still mean I'm a big guy, but much much healthier and definitely in a better place to hike the AT. That's all I can ask for.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Being alone. YAY!!!

So if you're a regular here on Eleven, you know the mood swings and emotional ups&downs I've been through over the last year. I've have my good days, my bad days, and everything in between. And lucky you, you got to hear me talk about it. :) Yeah, that's right... a smiley face.

One thing that's been growing inside my brain this past year is the acceptance --even if reluctantly-- of the fact that my future will be one of being alone. Maybe forever, maybe not, who knows. But whichever one of those happens, I'm alone now. While that was a really hard emotion/truth to deal with late last year and into this one, it's growing on me. Still sad? Sure, but not horrific anymore. Excited? Not necessarily, but not afraid of being excited if it happens.

I've found a few things over the past few weeks (a video from my friend Chel, a feminist blog, new music, pictures, and some other things...) that have reminded me I have a rare opportunity most people don't get... I get to start over. For a long time --a LONG time-- the thought of that sucked. It still does on certain days, but now it's an optimistic thing on just as many days. An inspiring thought process, to be sure.

Some great benefits of this new brain process...
-Had four conversations (hour-plus each) on four consecutive nights this past week with good friends
-Had great dialogue with two old friends about God and what I think about Him these days
-Continued excitement for the Trail
-Dancing around my living room for over an hour just cuz I wanted to
-Listened to loud music ALL day today (not that Ell wasn't into that, but she usually had to study or sleep and I tried to respect those needs)
-Entertaining or forgetting the idea of new love at my own leisure
-Personal triumphs and failures are mine and only mine

If you're wondering, I think all of those are good things. And just saying that makes me laugh aloud. I guess today is one of those good days. :)

Thursday, April 21, 2011


So it's time to thin the herd. Ell was a cat lady... she loved them and they loved her. Over the course of our marriage she acquired quite a few. When she left we had four and unfortunately for them and for her, her new guy was allergic so she didn't take any of them with her. With me leaving next year, I need to find good homes for them before I go. The first one to go is my baby boy, Butters.

Here's his story... A couple summers ago we were having a bonfire and up walked this little blond kitten. He smelled like he'd been rolling around in garbage and every time he tried to get someone to pet him, they'd hold their nose and push him away. Well, I think he took it personally and left for about an hour. He came back all cleaned up and soon after he stole my heart. We called him a rather derogatory name for a few weeks, but after two separate incidents where he ate an entire stick of butter, he earned the name, Butters. (Any SouthPark fans will appreciate the funny.) We litterbox trained him, got him fixed, and got him his shots. Two years later he's still a great cat. He's absolutely amazing with even the most harsh kids. (My five year old nieces Emma, Aurora, and Esther-Faith have all carried him around in the most awkward positions and he's never complained or scratched them.) He's just as comfortable outside as inside the house, but definitely prefers inside during the winter and has become a great behind-the-knees sleeper at night if you're a side sleeper. He's also a great hunter if you have mice or rodents.

So here's the deal... He's free to a good home and comes with a bag of food and box of cat litter. I can even throw in a litterbox if you don't already have one. If you'd like to see him (or more pictures), send me a comment or an email.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eleven for Jen

A few months ago my friend Jen sent me an email about the origins of the term (and blog name), Eleven. I'm sure at one point I explained it, but I have no idea where or when. So here's another explanation.

My Grandpa used to use the term, "forty-eleven" to exaggeratedly (it's a word) describe a number either too large to be serious or on-purpose, too silly to be defined. At some point I shortened the word to, "eleven" and started using it myself in place of any number or answer I either didn't know the answer to or by just trying to be funny. It stuck and became known as my thing. It's funny after all these years I can still get people to believe me when I use it.

When I started blogging it only seemed right to name my blog, ELEVEN. And there's the story.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Something to think about in regards to war

My Dad had an interesting way of explaining things when I was growing up. Most of it was made up in his normal exaggerating way, but even recognizing that as an adult those things still stick in my brain. One of those instances happened when I asked him (as a teenager) about the boy-to-girl ratio in my school class. The boys outnumbered the girls 2:1 and I asked him why. His answer was that God knew there would be a war and there would need to be more males to fight. While that seems silly, my senior year the first Persian Gulf war broke out. I saw the same numbers come to truth ten years later in the families of the youth group I led. And then the second Iraq war broke out. The reasoning broke down in the face of reality when only two of those males actually went into the service, but it still gave me pause.

Anyone else find this interesting?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Love is the ultimate risk

This is an extremely difficult thing to write about. If I even want to publicly post it is still up in the air. But I've made a commitment to myself to stop caring what people think and live my own life so if you're reading this, I've chosen to share.

I met someone. A month and a half ago this small little blond thing walked into my life and immediately snatched my interest. For all the obvious reasons, I never thought I'd be in a place to look at another female while I still had so many regrets and emotional turmoil over losing Ell. Ell was my partner of fifteen years, my mate, the one person that got me and understood me better than anyone else in the world. I am and always have been a fucked up individual. My biggest fault is I think too much; I analyze every life situation down to the detail which causes me to not be able to allow myself to live in a moment or experience spontaneity or even love completely. (Which was part of what drove my last post.) But Ell got that and loved me anyway. When she left it gashed a hole in my heart and my self-esteem and hurt me deeper than I can probably ever wholly admit. So to allow myself to be interested in someone was something I never expected to let happen.

Despite all of my fears about rejection and the private issues I have with my looks and so much more, I found myself flirting with this girl. I found myself wanting to be around her. I found myself sending text message after text message which for the first time in my life caused me to surpass my allotted cell plan. Finding out she had a boyfriend only made me pursue harder and eventually put me in line to be there for her when her asshole boyfriend got caught cheating. My time to take the next step had arrived.

Over the course of a couple weeks I found myself growing attracted to this hundred pound blond girl I aged by eleven years. (A coincidence in numerology, but cool nonetheless.) Neither of us would admit our feelings as being more than platonic, but we both knew it was something else. And on a seemingly normal Wednesday night exactly one month after our acquaintance began, those hidden feelings came to the surface.

With a half-drunk text she asked me to come crash her ladies evening. I quickly answered and twenty minutes later found myself beside her at a restaurant and then driving her to the next bar on their agenda. A few drinks more and a lot of karaoke songs later, she slid her arm around me and kissed me on the cheek. It was the largest rush of blood I'd felt course through my body in way-too-many years. That single kiss and simple arm slide turned into a full hug and the two of us kissing right there at the bar; her tongue flipping ever so gently across my lips and her tiny arms intertwined through mine.

I took her to her house and she led me to her bedroom. For the next two hours I did everything I could to talk myself out of experiencing everything the night had to offer. With better judgement as well as anger at my parents for being in my head and not allowing me to be a gentleman all on my own merits, I left without having sex with this woman who wanted me just to want me. No pretenses, no rules, just intense and alive attraction.

I picked her up the next day and all of my fears were realized as the analytical reality of life set in that alcohol has a tendency to throw aside in its freedom of unmasking. Her pure feelings were that she wanted to be with me but the rules of life as society dictates them told her it didn't make sense. The fact that I'm leaving in a year, our age difference, and a whole list of other things just didn't make sense to the world and being children of the world as we are, she had to follow those rules. We would only get one more night together over the next couple weeks and while that night found us just holding each other on her couch, it was heartbreaking to know our time together was coming to a close.

And so Sunday morning found us on the phone having the break-up conversation. She just couldn't get over the hurdles we would have to jump, and I couldn't argue them away either. My relationship with this beautiful girl who had so much to offer was over almost as fast as it had begun. I can't sit here tonight and admit I thought it was ever going to last. I knew it wouldn't. But being hurt as deeply as Ell had hurt me made me want this new relationship to work so much I was willing to ignore reality and push ahead. And once again, I'm left being the victim of rejection and aloneness. Frankly, it was another slap in the face I'm not sure will ever go away. I'll probably never truly get over Ell, and as it feels right now, I'll probably never get over being walked away from so soon again.

The silver lining in all of this is that this girl with the prettiest eyes I've ever seen, helped me get over feeling worthless. The --admittedly-- superficial reality is that I'm a 35 year old, overweight guy with no money in the bank and not much to speak of in the material world. I have a wealth of friends, but even though that is undeniable, as my best friend Mike put it, friends, true friends, have a somewhat obligatory desire to be there for a friend who's hurting. This girl had none of those obligations. She wanted to be around me, she respected me, and she was attracted to me simply because she saw worth in me. I needed that. I needed one person who had no emotional attachment to me or my life with Ell, to want me for me. And even though that was short-lived and ruined by worldly pressures, it was still as true as anything so purely true can be.

All that said, once again I'm alone in a house I don't want to be in. I'm once again looking forward to escaping into the woods in hopes of completing something since everything else in my life has never seen completion. And I'm sad. I'm sad I wasn't enough. Enough for Ell, enough for my new lady friend, enough for anyone to want to be with me tonight; right now. That sucks. That hurts. That makes me sad. I think I'm becoming a better man though all of this, but that doesn't take away the basic human need for a companion. I just can't help wanting someone to want to be with me. As Andy Hull of Manchester Orchestra and Right Away My Captain said in one of his songs, "I could use a friend to say they love me." That isn't a cry for anyone, cyber or real, to tell me that. I want a woman to tell me that. I'm just being honest here. I do have amazing friends, but that can never replace the deepest need I have in this moment.

I want to apologize if this is too open for you. Love is the ultimate risk. I put myself out there and was rejected and that makes me the man who sat down to write this tonight. Whether what I had with this lady was right or wrong, heck even if the person was someone else, I'm still here alone and that hurts so damn much. That's me right now. That's where I'm at.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

What if?

I grew up with a sheltered life; sometimes I think too sheltered. My parents meant good, but they shielded my eyes from many things that I now have to learn about the hard way. I'm never going to be a parent, so I can't imagine how difficult the decisions my parents had to make must have been in order to keep me and my sisters safe, to protect us from the evils of the world, and most importantly to raise us with the best set of morals they felt we could have. But none of those things take away from the fact that life is shitty and dealing with the shit as it happens is how people grow.

Please don't take this as a slam on my parents. I had great parents growing up. They chose to cover my ears from the worldly influence of music and movies that they felt sought to undermine decent Christian values. They chose to avert my eyes from what they saw as the growing sexual addiction of the nation and instead show me what true love between a man and woman was. And they chose to block all of my senses that would be affected by their version of financial ruin except to allow me to experience small blessings and the giving of others. For those things I am very thankful because they showed they loved me and wanted what they thought was best for me.

And yet I sit here in an empty house wondering what I missed. I went to a movie theatre twice before I graduated from high school. I never got to see Pearl Jam live at the House of Blues in front of only a hundred people or at the first Lollapalooza in front of only a thousand. And outside of material things, I never really learned how to save money; only to spend it fast when it shows up in case I don't make anymore. I also never learned how to argue without yelling or emotional sweeping of the legs. To this day my blood pressure goes up at the beginning of a disagreement for fear I won't be able to get in the first scathing remark or throw the first intellectual curveball before the other person and by missing those key moments lose all credibility or edge in the argument.

One of the things I cling to in reference to human behavior is that once we leave home, it's our responsibility to make our own way. If we don't like how we were raised or the teaching we grew up under or the bad habits we saw day to day, then it's on us to change those things. And yet I loom onto the age of 36 and I still can't get a real grasp on nurture versus nature or figure out how to maneuver the two into the life I want to live. Are any of those things in the last paragraph really all that important? To me they are. Those are things I missed out on and hold as true regrets. We're supposed to make our paths in life but I wasn't allowed out of the house to find where the paths even started.

Again, none of this is a slam on my parents in the way you think (or it might read) it is. I just sit here scared that when life's real hardships come my way I won't have the resources to deal with them.

But outside of where I see lacking on the part of my parents, I also see a distinct disadvantage in growing up in a small town surrounded by other small towns surrounded by the mentality of small town America. Be honest, how many of you reading this know more people stuck in the cycle of life than those chasing dreams? And of those people in the first category, how many do you know watch with an envious eye the second group? Be honest. I'm not saying that being in the cycle isn't fulfilling or enjoyable to some, but to the majority it certainly isn't adventurous and it certainly isn't the thing people mention on their deathbed when asked the deep questions. People want to feel like they can enjoy life, like it was worth living. No one ever wants to feel trapped. When the use of money and so-called life make slaves of its users, that's never enjoyable for those in it. And growing up thinking it's wrong to venture too far from the folds of your community, or at least outside of where the community mindset is, keeps way too many people from experiencing all the world has to offer.

Why the whining, Sam? What's your point? What are you searching for that you feel you've been slighted?

I don't know. Really. I just had the overwhelming sense of oppression today. I had the heaviness on my heart that I've wasted a lot of years not pursuing things I wanted because it wasn't rational or holy or common-sensical. Did I miss out on an interesting career by not going to drum school? Did I miss out on learning how to understand women by rushing into marriage along the suggestions of those pushing, "it's time you settled down." (Not even speaking of what I asked of the twenty year old girl who said yes to me.) And on a spiritual level, did I ignore God's calling(s) by succumbing to the pressure of the, "get a haircut and get a real job" crowd? I guess I'll never know the answers now.

I fully realize there's no greater place to point the finger of blame in all of this except at me. I didn't have to do any of those things if I didn't want to. I get that. And I guess that's what is most painful. As cliche as it is, we really truly only get one life to live. Just one. No do-overs. When it's done it's done. And I can't help thinking I wasted some of my best years.

Am I completely sad and down? Absolutely, absolutely, absolutely not. I have had some great adventures. I have some awesome stories to tell. And best of all, I've been blessed with some great friends. Please know I'm not sitting here tonight with a load of regrets. But I refuse to not ask the question, "what if?" about my life. I refuse to get comfortable with those things and not want more. I live in a country great enough to allow me to want and chase more. I refuse to get complacent and settled into the cycle. I can't or regrets will be my story. I'm tired of having my eyes and ears and every other sense covered. I'm tired of feeling rejection for the things I want out of life.

So what are you going to do about it, Sam? Are you still going to sit around and be bullied into a life you feel is sheltering and confining? Are you still going to blame everyone and everything around you for your shortcomings? Or are you going to get up and do something about it? I wish I knew. I wish I had the balls to ask, "What if?" Maybe I do. Maybe I do.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Holy sports show, Batman

I worked out in the garden for a few hours this afternoon and just came inside to check out the pre-game show for the men's Final Four college basketball game. But besides that, what I found was sports on almost every TV channel, and I don't even have cable! There was a PGA golf event, professional ladies tennis, Yankees baseball game, a college football flashback on last season, NASCAR, and a girls high school basketball game on the local access channel. If you like sports, turn on your TV right now.