Want to Lose Eight Pounds in Five Days?

The truth is that it’s been, in general, kind of a sucky week.

I’ll talk about it more in the Buddhism column tomorrow, since it coincidentally — or was it? he says, as the spooky music rises — fits really well with talking about the Second and Third Noble Truths, but I’ve been off work all week on vacation, and had all sorts of aspirations for the week, many of which went unrealized. I really haven’t managed a fast day, and I’ve been back very close to my old low-carb diet, and I’ve had a certain amount of drama around my “new” car, and I haven’t written as much as I hoped to.

And I’ve lost at least eight of the “ten freaking pounds” I gained last week.

Sometimes I think it’s all just an illusion of control.

I’m going to veer from the usual weight and glucose topics this time, though — by the way, my weight’s back to 270 and my glucose has been a little higher, averaging about 120 this week — to talk about something emotional. I went to a Fourth of July party at my next-door neighbor’s house. It was a good party, and lots of interesting people. I talked with a space scientist about Mars surface imaging, with a little bit of local science gossip; I talked with some other people about STEM education using Arduino computers; and I talked with a bunch of people about writing and movies, especially the upcoming movie of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and the long process it went through to be made. (I think I read Card’s first screenplay version 20 years ago.) And I talked about learning Chinese, and even spoke a little Chinese, with a guy from Taiwan.

Then I came home, to a computer just waiting for me to sit down and write something dammit, with no car — I’m going to write about my used car adventures another time — and $2 in cash in my wallet.

And I was suddenly really depressed. How was it that I could be so smart and still not be able to get my weight down, have trouble with my new used car, and find myself with $2 in cash and a demagnetized ATM card? Not that I could get to an ATM.

Now, the obvious answer is that stuff happens. When I put it out like that, it’s just some ordinary everyday nonsense, not very important, just annoying.

I was having a little flashback. I honestly don’t remember if I’ve written about it before, but I was more or less a prodigy, taking my first college classes over the summer between second and third grade. My parents’ friends in Alamosa were mostly faculty at Adams State College (now Adams State University because in Colorado we don’t apparently have “colleges” any more) and I’d stay up at their parties to talk to the adults. It was great in a lot of ways — I was taking an entomology class, but I was also learning about physics and chemistry, and I learned to run the planetarium.

There’s a dark side to being a prodigy though, which is that, well, you’re weird. You’re a prodigy. I could hold a fairly good conversation with adults on adult things, and while I’m sure I was naive about them, I understood things well beyond my years. But adults can’t spend all their time with a seven year old, and a seven year old who wants to talk about the morphology of a beetle’s thorax or how the Zeiss projector could tilt and rotate to project the sky from anywhere on Earth at any time in the last 10,000 years doesn’t make a lot of friends his own age.

And hell, this was 1962 — the Beatles with an A were just recording their first track; I couldn’t even hope for a misunderstanding.

So, you are probably asking, should be asking, what? It actually applies to the 13 Weeks thing; last week was yet another week of what I think everyone trying to diet experiences, a week in which at least in the short term what you’ve been doing seems to have failed. This week the weight was better but I was struggling with ordinary-life issues, and feeling incompetent and stupid.

I was once again running into the problem I understood a few weeks ago: I find it hard to forgive myself for any imperfections at all. I’m fat, I’m absent-minded, and I don’t fit into a lot of groups — and then when I do fit into a group it bites me from another direction.

But then — I’m not going to quote this, since my correspondent didn’t give me permission, but I’ll paraphrase — I got an email from someone who is a reader of this column and the Facebook page. The reader said that with a history of liver troubles — hepatitis and other things that had led to cirrhosis — it was a surprise to get back regular blood tests, with an A1c of 5.7 and liver enzymes in the high-normal range for the first time in a very long time. This reader had been following a low carb diet and doing other things on a 13 week experiment, and said that thanks to my, our, example, basically hadn’t died.

Now, I don’t think I did all that much — as Buddha said, “attend to your own enlightenment” and as they say in AA “you can’t recover for someone else” — but still, on a week in which I was feeling very much a Martian it made a big difference.

Maybe sometimes it’s okay to be a Martian.