ON THE SUBJECT OF REAL LIFE……

Writing remains dead. Teaching eats everything; I spend most of my spare time creating resources, marking, or just plain dealing with the steepness of the learning curve that comes from being out of a game for twenty-five years. There’s a writing group in town: Luscious and I went to it a few times, but haven’t been in something like 9 months. We’re talking about going back, just to get in touch with the joy of words. Watch this space. Or, if you care about the outcome, maybe don’t…

Weight loss has tapered off in a major way. See above for the reasons why. I’m still under 100kgs, which is a good thing, and trying to fit workouts into the gaps. Call it maintenance rather than loss, perhaps. I have still lost centimetres, which is positive, and my chest has gained half a centimetre of muscle where there was once only fat. It’s a long haul. I’m still hauling.

The Lego remains in the cupboard. Time, community, opportunity to display are all lacking. But Luscious and I have just swapped offices because reasons, and mine now has a Great Big Giant Table ™, so possiblymaybeperhaps I’ll have a chance to get it all out and noodle around with some pieces just for fun. We’ll see.

Life decisions have been decisioned. We like it here. There are opportunities for us. We’ll be staying for at least another three years.

Have I missed anything?

THE FAT MAN MURPH: HOW IS *THIS* MY NEW YEAR’S TRADITION?

Late in 2017, while making resolutions for our upcoming sojourn in the Pilbara, I was struck by the desire to set a specific goal around my ongoing failure to lose weight. At the same time, Luscious and I stumbled across a documentary about the 2015 CrossFit Games. Apart from developing instant envycrushes on Mat Fraser (and in a subsequent doco, Rich Froning) and three athletes we thought of as ‘The Dottirs’ (Annie Thorisdottir, Sara Sigmundsdottir and Katrin Davidsdottir), we were also introduced to a particularly hellish-looking piece of business known as ‘Murph’.

Murph is a competitive routine named after a US Navy Lieutenant and crossfit enthusiast, Michael Murphy, who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. It consists of the following elements:

  • 1 mile (approx. 1500 metre) run
  • 100 pull-ups
  • 200 push-ups
  • 300 squats
  • Another 1 mile run

Continue reading “THE FAT MAN MURPH: HOW IS *THIS* MY NEW YEAR’S TRADITION?”

BUT WEIGHT, THERE’S MORE…

Nearly 4 years ago, we took a family holiday to Bali. On the final day, Erin went shopping and bought us all a gift. For me, who hadn’t found any clothes I wanted, it was this tie-dye tee-shirt in the largest size she could find: a lovely gesture, but one that was two Xs too small for me to actually wear it. It’s hung in my wardrobe ever since, a visual shaming that has pricked at my self-image ever since.

Until today.

2018 28 Dec

2018: BUY ONE YEAR, GET THREE FOR FREE

Or, at least, that’s how it feels.

Let’s recap, shall we?

At the start of the year, I was a month away from being released from a job that had turned sour and toxic. I was vastly overweight, crippled by stress, and deeply unhappy. I hadn’t completed a full piece of writing in well over 2 years, and hadn’t completed a novel in closer to four (and that one had been stillborn: a melange of bad writing and awkward choices that simply refused to come to life and be sellable).

Then, of course, we moved to Karratha. Luscious took up a position teaching at the High School. I tra-la-la’d out of the job with nary a look back (How well was I respected? My going away gift was a book of art from the Kimberleys (I was going to the Pilbara, several hundreds of kilometres away), and my Director, who knew me since my first day, could only comment on the fact that I occasionally swore when asked to make a speech about my achievements over the 8 years of my time there). I started teaching relief at Luscious’ school a day or two a week, sat down to write, and opened up my recipe books and my copy of House Husbanding for Dummies.

How’s that worked out for me? Wouldn’t you like to know?

Continue reading “2018: BUY ONE YEAR, GET THREE FOR FREE”

TOO FAT FOR CAMELS

Being fat is a humbling experience, particularly when I was once used to a level of physical fitness that allowed me to pretty much do as I please. Here’s this week’s example:

Luscious and I are taking some time away, soon. You might remember, a few years ago, that we managed a writing weekend away we dubbed Battcon. There was drinking, there was a soupcon of tourism, there were wineries, there was writing, there was hanging out in Margaret River having fun, there was more writing. I wrote a bunch of silly blog posts about the whole thing, that you can re-read here. I also wrote an 8000-word short story in 2 days.

Well, the opportunity to repeat the fun has arisen. Continue reading “TOO FAT FOR CAMELS”

THE FAT BASTARD PROGRESS REPORT

I’ve talked a bit about the effect that moving to Karratha has had on my writing (TLDR: I’m writing again), but the other major life change I needed to address while I am here is my weight: at the start of the year I had ballooned out to over 111kg, which placed me not so much in the morbidly obese category as the look-Mummy-a-barrage-balloon category.

The first step was getting a swim membership at the local Leisureplex and walking/swimming lengths. Initially, I walked 15 lengths, swam four, walked ten, and swam 2.

I also started a routine based on an article in a Men’s Health magazine: five times a day I did some push ups, crunches, and squats. I am a fat, creaky, broken man: I started out doing a set of five each.

Five weeks later, and this is the routine I’ll be doing today:

  • 5 sets of nine each: push ups, crunches, oblique crunches, dips, squats.
  • 5 sets of fifty skips with a 1kg-weighted rope.
  • Pool: walk 25 lengths, swim 5, walk 20, swim 4.
  • 3kg weights: 1 set of 20 each of laying dumbbell press, laying dumbell flies, lateral raise, shoulder press, bent over lateral raise.

The rest of the week I’ll do the same except the weight routine will differ:

  • Tuesday: Double dumbbell row, single arm row, lying dumbbell extension
  • Wednesday: bicep curl, alternative bicep curl, tricep overhead, tricep kickback
  • Thursday: goblet squat, Romanian dead lift, dumbbell lunge, Bulgarian split squat, kettlebell swing
  • Friday: no weights, but a one mile run/walk.

Next week, I’ll go to five sets of ten, and slowly work my way up until I’m doing sets of 20, using 5kg weights, and extending my walk/swim distances at the pool.

And the result? So far, I’ve gone from 111.6 to 108.9kg. That’s a loss of 2.7kg in five weeks, while only making small changes to my diet– I’ll discuss that side of things tomorrow.

As starts go, it’s not bad.

 

MATHS LESSONS LEARNED WHILE AT THE KARRATHA POOL

Length of pool when there with the family on Sunday: 25 metres.

Length of pool this morning, after they removed the thing I thought was a permanent feature and didn’t realise was a temporary wall cutting the pool in two: 50 metres.

Distance I can swim before needing to take a break to gasp and flop about like a dying fish: 25 metres.

Lengths I can swim before I am overcome by dizziness, lack of breath, and all-round symptoms of dying: 5.

 

God, when did I become so pathetic?

MY TINY WIFE PRECEDES ME

So, yeah, I’ve joined Weight Watchers. In fact, as you’re reading this, I’m sitting outside the meeting room, waiting to start my third meeting.

It’s Luscious’ doing, really. She joined some months ago, swallowed the pill without complaint, and has worked so hard she’s lost a fifth of her body weight and been approached to become a coach.

Faced with that sort of dedication and positive results, what chance did I have?

So, I’ve a fitbit on my wrist and my sneakers packed in my work bag, and all the crisps and choccie bars and pizzas and beer have been banished to the you’ve-had-your-share shelves. And I’m eating lunch at my desk and going for walks at lunch time, and generally just trying to follow in Luscious’ tiny, increasingly-light-on-the-ground footsteps.

I weighed 85 kilograms when I had my car accident, maybe a kilo heavier when Sharon died. What I weigh now is no longer the fault of those experiences. So, no more excuses, or justifications. Tackle the weight, and the pain and lifestyle will fall into line.

First week in I lost 2.6 kilograms, which felt like a good start but also gives you some indication of just how much I have to lose.

I’ll keep you abreast of how I go.

A RETURN TO WORK

Two weeks into 2014, and the only reasonable response to life is to build a blanket fort.

Watch for the parade. But it’s okay, they have the proper permits.

This last weekend has been the hottest I’ve experienced in a number of years. Saturday night was, apparently, the hottest night Perth has ever recorded. Naturally, our air-conditioner has shat itself and died already– thanks to the fucktarded cowboy air conditioner repairmen who couldn’t even fulfil their job description last year– so we’ve resorted to living at the swimming pool, walking around with ceiling fans strapped to our heads, and this: you can’t see it, but there are three fans inside this bad boy, and the kids slept like, well, kids in close proximity to fans in an enclosed space. Still, as far as family projects go, this was a fun one.

On the personal front, ten days break over Christmas gave me the opportunity to engage in daily exercise for the first time since the last time I had ten consecutive days off, which is going back more than a year or two. Thankfully, I’ve managed to maintain the habit since returning to the day job, and I’m seeing the benefits of it. Since December 24 I’ve lost 3.2 kilograms. I’ve still got somewhere in the region of 18 to go before I’m in sight of my optimum weight, but that’s at least 3.2 that I don’t have to lose again.

I’ve been walking laps of our suburban block, playing basketball with the kids every Thursday night, and have hit the pool on several occasions to walk laps and build up my core strength by throwing children around. Cool drink had been dispensed with in favour of water– although Ginger ale and Lime made an appearance over the weekend as we tried to keep cool– and biscuit & sweeties based snacks have been discarded in favour of lashings of fruit. Nothing revolutionary, just actual changes, all at once.

And writing work has borne fruit: over the Christmas break I completed the text of a picture book entitled I Watch Monsters, and have sent it in to a publisher. It was the first– and, admittedly, smallest– of my writing goals for the year, but it’s still nice to have one scratched off this early in the piece.

So, here we are. Lyn and I are determined to achieve a much more positive year than 2013, and we’re both working hard to achieve the goals we’ve set out. Up next for me: completing the submission package for Father Muerte & the Divine and pushing the 15 000 words of Cirque up towards a full manuscript.

A WEEKEND MOST PRODUCTIVE

It started out well: Lyn rang me on Friday afternoon to tell me she was picking me up a couple of train stops early, because she was at our friend Tehani’s place and they’d decided to stay for dinner. And a fab evening it was, too: I committed Australian Man Adultery (cooked on another man’s barbecue without his consent), we sat and chatted far past the kids’ bedtimes, and Tehani let me borrow her copy of X6, Coeur de Lion’s collection of novellas by 6 Australian authors. I’d forgotten just how much I love sitting around and jawing about writing and writers. Part of the reason I’ve yet to really find a village for myself in the writing world– I’m a writing geek, not an SF geek, when it all comes down to it.

And much satisfaction there has been this weekend. I’ve completed another 2 cartoons, and sent out another two short stories, as well as inputting line edits for half of a third (dinner calls me, or I’d be finished that one too). I’ve finally finished chopping down a diseased hedge that’s been spoiling our front yard, spent an enjoyable afternoon drawing with the kids, and even managed to fit in a couple of good exercise sessions with the Wii Fit Plus– love that rhythm karate, folks! Luscious and I even found the time to watch a DVD together without the kids– looxury, bloody looxury.

The new week starts tomorrow: I intend to lose another 500g, finish another couple of cartoons, and start wading my way through the first round of Corpse-Rat King edits, as well as send out the remaining shorts in my ‘In Progress’ folder. But for now, it’s dinner, relaxing with a nice glass of Myalup Vines Wineries port (okay, my second glass…) and resting my bones before heading into the new week.

Slainte!

HITTING THE GROUND

It’s been a good start to the year.

  • I’ve lost just over a kilogram in weight. I set myself a loss of 12 kilos for the year, so this represents a good beginning.
  • I’ve completed and submitted Plot or Pants?, an article on novel planning to WQ, the monthly magazine of the Queensland Writer’s Centre
  • I’ve line-edited the five stories currently in my ‘In Progress’ folder and submitted the first of them. My plan is to have all five out in the world by the end of next week. Not a big goal, perhaps, but I only saw print twice last year, while I was focussing on Corpse-Rat King, and that’s just not up to my usual standards.
  • I’m up to date with reading for Midnight Echo #4, and about to start filtering the stories I kept for a second stage of reading. If you were thinking of submitting but haven’t got around to it, might I suggest you do so soon? I’ve received 157 submission so far, of which 33 have made it to a second reading. Submissions close 31st of the month.
  • I’ve completed 2 cartoons of the 24 (minimum) that I plan to complete and submit.

Not bad so far. There’s a lot of year left, and some big goals to achieve (2 novels to edit and submit, ya know?). But I’m on the way…

WEIGHT UPDATE

After some big losses over previous months, my weight has plateaued recently. Try as I might, I’m stuck between 93 and 95 kilograms, and I’m finding it impossible to break that barrier and push towards my get-me-a-new-wardrobe weight of 90kg.

It’s prompted me to examine the way I’m fitting weight-loss into my day, and to see what changes I can make to help me drop these recalcitrant kilos.

The first thing that has become apparent is how difficult it has been to maintain my program of not eating carbs after 4pm. To this end, Lyn and I are keeping much closer track of what we eat, and when: our eating habits become lax quite easily, as we’re both snackers by nature, and love our pasta, our rice, our bread (and, let’s be honest, our sweeties, our chocolate, our Chinese takeaway). I’m also making a concerted attempt to eat six smaller meals a day rather than three big ones, and to control the type of food I eat at particular times.

I’ve also noticed that much of my incidental exercise has dropped off since I’ve started attending the gym. I’ve fallen back into using the lifts at work instead of the stairs, and am catching the bus right to my destination, instead of getting off a stop away as before, or walking home from the train station, as I did on a number of occasions. With the wet weather has come a reduction in my gardening time, too, which has meant less digging, less chopping with the axe, less carting about of paving slabs and broken tree trunks. So it’s back to the stairs, and a concentration upon finding exercises I can do at home and in the in-between times.

And whilst I’m hitting the gym three times a week, and usually working at a pretty high intensity, I’m prone to muscle strains and pulls. Part of that, of course, is down to years of inactivity. But it results in a loss of intensity, and a willingness to give in perhaps a little too easily when the ‘wall’ approaches. From this week, I’ll be gymming it up an extra day per week, 4 visits instead of 3, and setting myself a higher calorie-loss total per visit, concentrating on a rotation of exercises to maintain my interest and provide a balance between strength, toning, endurance and ‘burst’ exercising.

I’ve also recognised the need for regular intervention. The Biggest Loser was great for that: a nightly example of other overweight people working hard and seeing the benefits. Now that it’s over, I’ve been on the lookout for some sort of replacement. Lyn bought me a copy of Men’s Health magazine a month ago, and I picked up this month’s issue during the week. With recipes, exercises, and factoids dotted in amongst the adverts for deodorant and hair products, there are a welter of inspirational moments for me to draw upon as I progress.

The goal is this: my birthday falls on the second day of the Night’s Edge SF convention here in Perth. The night of the 10th, I’ll be throwing a birthday party in our room. Some time during that party, I’ll be pulling out the scales and weighing myself.

I will be down to 85 kilograms by that moment.

UNDER THE MARK

I’ve passed halfway.

When I weighed myself this morning, the scales recorded 94.2 kilograms. For the first time since I started this weight loss, I’ve crested the halfway mark, and have less than 15 of the original 30 kilogram target left to lose.

This is a big moment for me. For one thing, it means I’ve earned myself a new set of clothes, which was my self-appointed gift for reaching this point (I also need them- “Baggy Trousers” is a song, and should remain so…) For another, it means that my first weight loss goal has been achieved, and from here, they get smaller.

One thing I realised very quickly when setting my mind to finally shift my fat ass and do something about my weight, was that I simply could not lose thirty kilograms. It was way too much. I could, however, lose five. I could probably, if truth be told, lose five kilograms six times. In fact, I could lose fifteen, given all the help and advice and inspiration I was getting, before I had to think about the rest. So that’s what I set myself: lose 15, and get a prize. Then lose another five, get another prize. Another five after that, and another five, and a couple of prizes along the way to commemorate each milestone. Then add them up and consider the thirty.

I’ve passed the first milestone. I’m sore, I still hate going to the gym , and none of my clothes fit. But it’s a start.

EVERYTHING IS MOVING INWARDS

One of the nicer things about losing weight is the feeling of accomplishment when you have to take your belt in and create a new hole to make it fit. I reached that point about a week and a half ago, and was certainly chuffed with myself.

Saturday I had to go shirt shopping because all my shirts are now too big. And that night I took a link out of my watchband so that the damn thing would stop sliding down onto my hand all the time.

Now that is a feeling of achievement.

A LITTLE FILM GETS BIGGER

The Memory of Breathing continues to gather pace on the road towards production. Producermatt has transformed into Directormatt, and production duties have now passed to Producerjenny at Azure Productions, who is off on a trans-Atlantic jaunt to Cannes, London, New York and Los Angeles with three scripts under her arm, TMoB amongst them.

If our luck holds out, and the trip is a successful one, we could find ourselves with some names and numbers attached to the project that send it into production. Wouldn’t that be fun?

SAVOURING A SMALL VICTORY

This morning, I did something I haven’t done in a very long time: went past all the provided holes on my belt and had to make one of my own.

14 kilos down, 16 to go.


16? SWEEEEET
Consider us old: my Bonus Daughter Cassie turned 16 on the weekend, which means can officially anticipate grandchildren in any given year from now on (although with no current boyfriend, and a consideration that all the boys she know are “fairly idiots”, the actuality of grandkinder remains blessedly distant).
Still, I’m checking out gun shops in the Northern Suburbs, just in case.
16 is a bloody awful age, imho: you’re pretty much expected to be an adult, yet receive all the privileges and responsibilities accorded a child; half the time you’re so on top of your body that the most complex tasks are like dancing on water, the rest of the time you’re lucky to stand up successfully; you’re not ready for half the stuff you want to try, and more often than not, the stuff that’s forced upon you terrifies you ; everybody around you is more mature, smarter, better around boys (or girls), or just has a clearer idea of what the hell they want to do with themselves…. a pox on it.
Cassie’s as angry as a sixteen year old gets, and defence, for her, is definitely the best form of attack. And much of the time, I just want to peel back her skull and damn well force the understanding in. But there are times when she shows the kind of adult she will be: intelligent, hilariously funny, adept, artistically inspired, and capable of great acts of kindness and caring. It’s been a bumpy ride, no doubt about it, but there’s only adulthood ahead of her now, and I can’t wait to see what she makes of it.
DUCK!
What the hell: it was an excuse to frock up– Luscious and I wandered down to Swancon last night in order to attend the WA Science Fiction Achievement Awards, affectionately (and at least semi-officially) known to all as the Tin Ducks.
There is a reason for the name. I can just never quite remember it.
The Tin Ducks are my favourite awards, for a number of reasons: I’ve never seen a result I’ve wanted to argue with; the voting membership is generally far more au fait with the work they’re judging than with the Ditmars; nine times out of ten, the nominees are people I know and whose work I respect; I’ve never won one, and Lyn’s won two!
And then there’s the Mumfan.
The Mumfan (respectfully, and hardly ever, officially called the Marge Hughes Award) is deeply special– no matter what comes before it, it is the highlight of the award night, a recognition of those fans who work so hard throughout the year to make Perth fandom an amazing place, out of no greater sense of reward than a love of our community and the genre which brings us all together. At it’s simplest, no matter what precedes, the Tin Duck Ceremony ends with a standing ovation for an award for being nice. If the Ditmars are Loves ya, maaaate, the Mumfan is We love you. How can you not enjoy being a part of that?
To all who won last night, my heartiest congratulations, but on a purely personal note, my warmest affections towards Mumfan award winner Sarah Parker and my good buddy Martin Livings, who won Best Long Professional Work for his novel Carnies, consigning me to the runner-up spot. In this case, I can say with not a hint of disingenuity or falseness that I was far more happy to have lost the race than won it. A most apt and deserved recogition for a fine writer with far too much of a low self-image. Told you we all believe in you 🙂
Oh, and the room party afterwards was a bloody larf 🙂

A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A FAT BASTARD

Heh. Typical: every year I say I’m going to lose weight, and it never happens. This year I make no promises to myself, and for no reason I can really pin down, I start eating better, get some concerted exercise into my legs, see the doctor and have all the tests done, get on some helpful medication, and lose 13 kilograms in just on 7 weeks.
I’ve made some big changes this year: withdrawing from much of the inconsequential foo-farah that was clogging up my mental space; concentrating on writing rather than the cat-vacumming aspects of the business (goodbye LJs, goodbye mailing lists, goodbye review sites and message boards, and on and on…); returning my attention to securing our financial health and putting the requirements of the family and house above all other matters; and generally just making a sustained effort to bring a sense of balance into my personal equilibrium.
I’m astonished at how good I feel about life. I have a renewed sense of purpose. I feel inspired. My writing has taken a quantum leap forward- Lyn, my most accurate and uncompromising critic, says the work she’s reading now is by far the best I’ve ever done. I’ve accomplished more around the house this year than I did in the entirety of 2006. And the weight, well, it’s not dropping off. I’m working damn hard– I climb an average of 35 flights of stairs every work day, I walk home from the train station (somewhere between 40 and 45 minutes a day), and I’ve started hitting the gym for a high-cardiac workout a couple of times a week. I’m fitter, I’m faster, I have more energy than I know what to do with… I’m sparking, baby 🙂
I’ve got a long way to go, as the little graph below shows, before I hit my goal weight. But I’ve discovered a determination hiding behind a mental corner I’d overlooked before this. It’s not a matter of if. Just when.
The next SF convention in Perth is, conveniently, on the weekend of my birthday, the 10th and 11th of November.
That’s the goal.
(And just because no petard is worth its weight unless hoisted, let it be known that I, mocker of Big Brother extraordinaire, currently watch The Biggest Loser every night. I choose to call it a spur to inspiration. All those friends with whom I’ve shared BB evenings over the years, you have earned the right to call it payback 🙂 )