Loose Change

I’ve been stealing from myself. This isn’t a good sign, even if it’s less cannibalization or recycling, in my mind, than pulling words out of a (public) notebook. I use stuff I post here in columns all the time, for example; sometimes this is the first draft.

And I’ve mined my own columns for new columns, although this is rare and usually a sentence or two that I think, yeah, that deserves an encore. You can make a case for self-plagiarism, which is a thing and which has gotten writers in trouble before, but not at my level of writing. I don’t have a big enough audience, and my newspaper readers are, as far as I can tell, uninterested in reading me on social media or at this here blog. Once again, I’m pretty sure I could write the same 52 columns every year, with minor changes.

But. Of course. However. I need to modify or qualify here.

Yanking a phrase or graf out of an old blog post or column for a new piece doesn’t keep me up at night. Doing it because I can’t write the same way anymore is another matter, and more of an issue. Although I still sleep pretty well.

I used to jumpstart myself by reading more, finding a voice I liked and just letting it wash over me. Even if it felt artificial sometimes, as if I were just imitating rhythm and tone, I was still grateful for the boost and satisfied with the end result.

Now I can’t even do that, and I spend my time scouring archives, trying to find my mojo. Doesn’t seem to be working, either.

I’m not complaining. None of this odd, barely-a-career public writing was planned or anticipated by me. If it seems logical in retrospect, well, duh. Everything looks deterministic with hindsight. Had to happen that way because it did happen that way, etc.

But so will the end. I don’t feel fatalistic but I sure feel realistic. And optimistic, even, as bizarre as that sounds. I don’t feel done. I might be done with a readership, though.

There are reasons I feel muted. As much as I’d like it to be otherwise, I don’t seem to be a writer who disconnects from his life. And my life is complicated right now, at least in a sense. There are things on my mind I can’t write about, because I don’t want to add to a situation and there are other people involved.

And now I’ve written almost 500 words about not writing. There’s a room in Writers Hell with my name on it.

My daughter and her family are moving this week, something that makes me ache. It’s great news, really, and fits neatly into the plan; Austin is expensive and she always talked about moving further into a rural direction, which mostly meant closer to San Antonio. Which is what they’ve done, renting a house southeast of Austin, more in hill country and on a lake, actually. The house appears nicer than any I’ve ever lived in, which is part of the aching.

Meaning, I’ve barely moved since marriage. Two apartments in the first year, a rented condo for the next three, and then we bought this house in the fifth and that was it. So as much as I do believe in change or die, and this is pretty much a win for them, I still miss their first house in Austin. I seem to be desperately searching for consistency, and forcing Emerson to rattle around in his grave (foolish consistency and all). I imagine I’ll get over it.

I’ve been back in the HBO saddle lately, since I like a couple of series very much. Silicon Valley is a joy, goofy and profane and comedy gold. I like VEEP a little less, but not by much. And it’s even more raunchy.

But I saw the latest episode, in which Hugh Laurie reprised a role from his arc over the past couple of seasons. Always nice to see Laurie, and in fact when I shaved my beard a couple of months ago I got a couple of comments about a resemblance between us. I don’t see it, but I’ll take it. But then I have to take this:

Talk about foreshadowing. This hair loss pattern is very familiar to me, and Laurie is my age. His may be a bit more advanced, but I’ll get there. And it won’t be pretty.

The comfort here, of course, is that vanity isn’t really an issue anymore. These ego blows are glancing, easily shrugged off by someone sprinting toward 60. And I don’t look at the back of my head.

But vanity intersects at this age with health in some ways, so sometimes I look at other things. I’ve slowly dropped some pounds this winter and spring, not a lot but then. I’m wary, let’s say, although given my state of flab I wonder. Not that much.

After I got back home from Arizona, though, I was in the nip-this-in-the-bud mood, so I went for my go-to and ate ice cream. This depresses me, resorting to sugar to keep from thinning out, but it’s easy and fun and I ain’t gonna live forever.

It’s not like I’m clueless. I knew a long time ago that if I ever reached a point where my desire for something sweet ebbed enough that I’d be uninterested, I’d drop a lot of weight without really trying. Which is exactly what happened, and why it continues to happen.

I don’t have to be this way. A little discipline and I could fill my plate with good stuff, plenty of food to keep my mind off the scale. I just seem to lose interest, not a good sign.

On the other hand, apparently I can still get compulsive. My inner overeater is still alive and well, and I’m like everybody else: Food can be comfort, and sometimes comfort is necessary. Combine that with a big ice cream sale at Safeway, where I could score some favorites for less than $2, and c’mon. It just makes sense.

And it helped solidify a theory I have, and other people (many other peoples) have, which is about One Food. My son decided to cut way back on the soda, that’s all, just soda. He was tipping past 270 pounds a year ago, and now is in the upper 220s. For a guy heading toward 6’3, that’s almost normal. And it was just that One Food.

And mine is ice cream, obviously. Two weeks ago I weighed 164. Yesterday my scale said 176, even though the calories in and out suggest I might have gained a pound. There is no alarm here, the result of years of obsession with the scale. I can’t gain a pound a day.

I can’t. You can’t either, probably. No matter what the scale says, it’s unlikely that someone who eats fairly normally (i.e., not pathologically), even if that tends to be too much, could eat enough on a daily basis. From an energy perspective, for most of us that’s getting close to 6000 calories. It can be done, although you’d probably have to snack constantly, and snack on sugar and nuts, calorie-dense foods that don’t fill us up. Hard to do for any length of time, I’d think.

I recently read an article by some person who decided to weigh herself multiple times during the day. Meh. Done it, lots of times. No surprises, either: Her weight seemed to fluctuate 8-9 pounds, and I’ve seen a 10-pound range the times I’ve tried the same thing.

Everything weighs something. My two cups of coffee in the morning weigh almost two pounds. Step on a scale after and not before, and it might be ugly. So this persistent cold goodness has upped the amount of food I’m carrying around in my body. Probably. Or else it’s just one of those metabolic mysteries. At any rate, I was 172 this morning, and if I skip ice cream for the next few days that should settle down to something more accurate, around 165 or so.

None of this matters to me, of course, except to show me that it wouldn’t be hard to pack on 50 pounds if I got in a mood. After 10 years, I don’t see that happening, and I’m not sure I care that much. It’s just weird, and sort of fascinating, which I think means I need to get out more. Or something. Maybe move to a new house. It’s an idea.


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