Those Moments…

It starts as *that trip*…that most of us middle aged males are intimately familiar with…taken just after waking deep in the night to that somehow surprising but rather fundamental realization that there is only so long a man can go without taking a piss. It’s a trip that this night…sends me down a rabbit hole.

Padding silently across the carpet, eyes well adjusted to the night, I catch a glimpse of motion and turn to face it. A most dangerous thing stands there facing me. THE most dangerous thing in fact. The only thing I’ve faced that has the power to ultimately destroy me and everything I’ve worked for. And it can do it so easily that it’s frightening to ponder.

What I face is me, reflected in the full-length mirror. Starkly and harshly revealed by the shadows of the night.

And I’m in a mood. I learned long ago my particular demons hunt me in the night…they are strongest there. Usually it’s not enough. I shrug them off and do what I do.

But this night…I’m not sure. I don’t recognize this man in the mirror. He is not the man I was in my youth. Worse, he is not the man I thought I was…or even the one I’d dreamed I would become.

He’s also not the man I was just a few months ago. This is probably a good thing…I’ve lost 60 pounds this year…160 since my peak…but again, tonight I’m not so sure. The effort this transformation takes is beyond description…it is…by far…the single hardest thing I’ve ever attempted…and I’ve been through some shit. I wonder if it’s worth it…if it will make any difference…if, in the long run, it matters to anyone at all…even to the man in the mirror.

The man in the mirror glares and gives no answer. The state of my mood is such that I can’t tell if that reflection of myself…has no answers or is just refusing to give them up.

I realize shortly that answers wouldn’t be enough. Hell. I don’t even have all the questions.

At that…the reflection may have shown a trace of a sardonic grin…but he still simply continued to stare.

I stare back and wonder just who the hell he is.

Questions…they are ugly leading things…in the deep of the night.

The career, which once accomplished important things, has shifted it’s purpose. What I do no longer seems to help the world. It doesn’t…really…seem to do anything. Work. Intricate, complex things…with little purpose. Just making a living. That I suppose, is a kind of a purpose…and describes much of the world…but it was never enough for me.

The art. The projects. The writing. All get pushed to the bottom of the list to make room for…what? The job? Did it help? Was it worth the cost?

And the body…hell! I got old. And fat. Just when did that happen? Nothing but muscle and blood in high-school…but, along the way, bit by bit, through injuries, overwork, and ignoring my basic needs I sold my health to the jobs. I let them demand pieces of my soul. And I gave them up for more…pay? Seniority? Accomplishment? I went to sleep as it were…banking on “someday” to make it right. To pay off. Someday never came…and standing here…I wonder if it’s too late.

At that thought mortality comes crashing down. Harshly revealed in the reflection.

The scars. The burns. The loose skin. Damage. Age. Pain. So much can’t be fixed. Too late. Far, far too late.

They tell you that you can’t remember pain…”they”…are full of shit. Time flashes back. Injuries are experienced again. Failures are relived. Fire and blood. Suffocation. Pain floods back…along with the helplessness…and the deep analysis of every failure…every mistake…EVERY shortcoming…that has brought me to this point.

It’s a crushing load.

These are the moments you learn what you are made of.

Thing is…I learned what I’m made of long ago. Forged in the Texas heat…tested by the very things that gave me all of those scars. I AM the man I am because of the path that brought me here. “What if” I had done this or that is a pointless exercise in wishful thinking and unproductive self pity.

I see motion in the mirror…behind the specter staring back…and that cute little short gal that for some reason shares her life with me appears behind me. Wraps her arms around me. It startles me to realize she couldn’t have reached around me mere months ago. She squeezes and stays silent, somehow knowing I’m working through a crises.

No…I’m not where…or who…I expected to be…but I’m me, nevertheless. I simply don’t know how to be anything else. I’ve also fought that man in the mirror before…and I know his secrets and his weaknesses even as he knows mine…

So I stare. And I grin. And he grins back. No…I don’t recognize the man in the mirror. I’m not even sure who he is or who he will become. But rather than despair, this realization breeds anticipation. Excitement.

No, I don’t know who he is…but it’s time I went and found out.

That cute little short gal…who somehow seems to know a turning point has been reached…and at least basically what passed between me and the man in the mirror…stretches up to her very tip-toes and presses her body into my back, raising goosebumps all down my bare spine, and whispers roughly in my ear, “Don’t ya know? Chicks dig scars. Come to bed with me.”

Ahh. Affirmation. Exactly the right kind. They are magic…those cute little short gals.

Life. Love. Lust. All intertwined in everything I do. As I turn away I catch a last glimpse of the man in the mirror. He’s smiling too.

Perhaps I know him better than I think.

I’ll see you on the road.
CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Disconnect…

Me, in the foreground…teaching a seminar at this year’s “Inzane” (the Valkyrie Riders’ Rally).

-60.

I do not recognize myself in this picture….

60 pounds gone…or 160 off my peak.

Picture courtesy of my friend Serk…whom I blatantly stole it from. 🙂

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One too many adventures…

One too many mis-adventures for The Dragon I guess…

These are a pair of rather hefty steel kickstand brackets…a broken one and the replacement…
Out of all the things I’ve smacked, worn out, bent, etc on that bike…this thing is not one I would expect to damage…

NOT something I’d expect to break…twice…

And I’m not sure whether to be proud or ashamed…this will be the second time I’ve had to change it. (There’s well over 200,000 miles on this machine).

I’m pretty sure I know what mis-adventure pranged the first one…this one though…no clue.

I’ve paid the required blood price…

It’s a bear to change too…(made worse by my center-stand and quad horns racked under there).

Got it apart Monday evening after work. No small feat…the main bolts through the frame are an interference fit with the swing arm…and removing that is well beyond what I wanted to do for this project…so I had to grind a 17mm box end wrench to get it on to the left-side bolt. Sheesh…

Between the cursing and the bleeding…I’d had enough for tonight. I’ll put her back together Tuesday after work…I’ve paid the required blood price to the Valk gods…so it should go together nicely…

That’s my theory at least.

I’ll see you on the road!

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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I wasn’t up to it…but…yanno…the plane!

So…a tough week. Way too much work. Way too many night calls. Not near enough sleep. Lots of worries.

Add 5 days a week in the gym (WAY too early in the morning), two of ’em with a trainer…and then factor in a decided caffeine deficit…and…well…my brain does weird things.

My trainer (Hey Blaine!) has this 8/6/4/2 row machine cardio/endurance thing for me to do…get on the row machine, row as hard as you can for 8 minutes (doesn’t sound like much, yes? Heh…try it!), rest for 1 minute, row for 6, rest for 1, row for 4…yeah yeah you get it. That’s 20 minutes of maximum effort rowing…(gasp wheeze)

Then I record the final distance…been doing it twice a week…and I presume I should improve as we go along (I have been…sort of). It’s a bear of challenge, and I’ve been doing it on my “on my own at the gym” days simply because I know how to do it and don’t need coaching for that…and that makes 23 minutes more time I can spend learning new, heavy, and difficult stuff with Blaine.

But it’s a bear. And I woke late in the night (early in the morning) woozy and beat, after too little sleep, and frankly figured I simply wasn’t up to it today. Perhaps I’d treadmill…or sleep in even…

I had another couple hours before the alarm went off so I dropped back off to a fitful sleep.

And THEN…my brain, which has a long established habit of trying to kill me…went to work.

***

Dreaming…

Crammed in my seat…row 273…in the nether regions of some third-world jumbo-jet…tightly wedged between a preacher and a politician…they were arguing about the best methods of liberating the people from their hard earned dollars and I couldn’t tell which one was which.

The floor at my feet is clearly marked with a dotted line and stenciled on it is, “In case of hard landing or crash, plane breaks here and you are screwed.” I resolve not to travel on discount airlines…or Delta…anymore. This definitely wasn’t worth the $29,234.11 ticket price (yeah, I was stupid and checked a bag).

Suddenly the plane shudders…and booms…and a crack appears on the dotted line. The stewardess hands me a roll of duct tape.

But then there’s a voice from up front. “Attention passengers! We need an 8/6/4/2 row! Anybody back there that can do that?”

I look around. Nobody raises their hand. Many hunch down in their seats and try not to be noticed.

“Seriously! We need an 8/6/4/2 row! Lives depend on it!”

One rather fit young lady gets a panicked look on her face and runs and hides in the restroom. Two others tried to follow but she wouldn’t let them in.

I reluctantly raise my hand. The owner of the voice comes back to my seat. “Excellent! This way!”

“Blaine? Is that you?”

“Of course! Who’d you expect? Leslie Nielsen?”

We proceeded to first class. Sure enough, nestled in amongst the dumbbells and weight trees, sat my nemesis…the rowing machine.

“Man…” I observed, “…they really do have everything in first class!”

“8/6/4/2…if you break 5000 meters we all get to live!”

“Surely you can’t be serious?”

“I am serious. And don’t call me Shirley.”

(oh come ON…you KNEW that was coming!)

“Huh…” I pondered, mostly to myself “…of all the skills I’ve acquired over a lifetime…it comes down to rowing a machine to save my life.” Louder now, “I actually AM a licensed pilot…or perhaps you need an electrician? Or a computer guy?”

He points at the machine. “Row.”

Ginger, the big brown Lab gym dog, lounging on the big black couch (man, they have everything in first class), says, “Woof.” This was actually the first time I realized I was dreaming. I’ve never heard Ginger make a sound ya see.

I shrug and commence to rowing.

There’s a point…about four minutes in…where you know you’ve had enough…and the temptation is to say, “Fuck it” and quit…or at least back off a bit…

If you push through it…well then it’s behind you. (yeah, decidedly un-poetic, but there ya go…besides…I’ve never learned how to quit.) I hit that point. Pushed beyond it. And then I was done.

“Hah! 5100 meters! Plane saved?”

“No. Now we need squats! Grab that dumbbell and have at it!”

“How many squats?”

“Well…ALL of ’em!”

Some time later…all out of squats…the plane shudders again. Somebody screams. I ask what’s next.

“Looks like we need another 8/6/4/2 row!”

***

I expect…as in many of my writings…if ya look deep into this story there are probably all sorts of hidden meanings, messages, and perhaps enough view into my psyche to get me locked in a little rubber room (with Leslie Nielsen no doubt)…but the resounding message I took away from this one was quite simple…

If, for some reason, TWO 8/6/4/2 rowing challenges are needed in the same hour to keep the plane full of folks safe…

Heh…well…sorry…I’m gonna hide in the restroom with the cute chick…y’all are going down in flames.

Oh, and yep…I did what I always do when I’m not up to facing the day…I got up, showered, dressed, and went and did it anyway. 5060 meters for those of you keeping track.

Did the squats too.

I’ll see you on the road!

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Inch by inch…

An inch at a time…

That’s 22 of ’em for those keeping count…

And since I like nice, round, numbers?

-40. That’s -140 from my peak…

…and that’s despite the faceplant into the brisket I did at the Red River County Chamber’s BBQ cookoff this weekend…

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Holes in rubbers are never good things..

Well…frap.

Sharp-pointy thing stored in an inappropriate place

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Learning…things…

I’m not quite 12 weeks into an intense weight/exercise training regimen…and significantly modified diet.

36 pounds gone. Significant increase in endurance and muscle tone. I don’t have any jeans that are small enough to fit properly (I reckon I need a 40 about now…haven’t worn that size since 1988 or so).

I’ve learned a few things along the way…

1) The effort required to train a 50+ year old body to the level of a 20-year old athlete is significant…hard labor…construction-like…old-fashioned farm-toil effort…along the same level of effort that ensured my ancestors’ average life-span was something like 45…this seems a mixed bag. To die young in great (worn out) shape or die older of some “preventable” (by dying younger methinks) old-age malady. Ahh. Choices.

2) Jack-in-the-Box is offering their Jumbo Jack, fries, TWO tacos (deep fried of course), and a drink for $3.99. The best satisfactory and reasonably healthy salad I can find at a fast food place usually exceeds $5.99 not including a drink. No wonder we’re fat.

3) Strawberries taste sweet, and mysteriously, have very few calories. I’m not quite sure I believe the numbers. They can satisfy cravings and a sweet-tooth.

$4 worth of strawberries.

4) It is easily possible for one man to eat $100 worth of strawberries in a month. In moderation. Sigh.

Four bucks worth in the pic…tasty. Sweet. Satisfying. Only 60 calories.

A serving of olives?

5) “They” often to make a food appear more healthy by listing its serving size in some impossibly, stupid portion. A serving size of olives, for instance, is 3 olives.

Another healthy treat…for some reason the portion size is listed as THREE olives (15 calories)

6) The federal dietary guidelines? Yanno…the USDA…that massive bureaucracy that sucks down billions in order to tell us how/what to eat? The food pyramid? School lunches? Institutional nutrition? Yeah, all bunk. You eat like that you’ll be fat, sick, have no energy, and die young.

Sort of makes ya wonder what their goal is, yes?

7) Federal sodium/salt standards. Yeah, ignore them too.

8) All that dietary cholesterol stuff they (docs/feds/insurance) are pushing? Utter bunk. No science behind it. Probably one of the reasons for the obesity and diabetic “epidemics” today. There’s not even any verified science behind the BLOOD levels they are pushing. Oh, the dietary fat standards are pure bunk too.

But that’s the standard…ain’t it? It is…well…because it is…and a lot of folks just haven’t quite comprehended what “mandatory” can mean yet (how about we take $6000 extra out of your pay if ya can’t meet it?). It’s coming soon to you too…unless they burn the entire thing down that is.

I’m hoping for a firestorm personally…the question is whether I’ll be bankrupt or dead before it starts.

9) My medical insurance company’s job…and also my doctor’s job…has shit to do with health and wellness. It’s not even a consideration. Their job is to take in as much money as possible, and pay out as little as they can. They are getting better at it. The docs, insurance, and drug companies often work against each other for best advantage. The patient’s care is what suffers.

10) My employer is much like the federal government when they dabble in health care. All they do is compromise the quality and access to it, make it more expensive, and degrade its usefulness in the future. But, and I guess this makes it all right…they tell me it’s for my own good AND force me to sign a form that says it’s “voluntary”.

And as a bonus they like to bring us pizza and donuts…and one of the few vending machines that works on our campus serves ICE-CREAM bars! Also, I can get a chicken-fried steak and gravy AND fries for the price of a banana, an apple, and an expired yogurt at our cafeteria…well, except they’re usually out of fresh fruit.

11) What works? Push yourself hard. Turn it up to eleven. Tell lots of folks to “fuck off” (including your doctor). Beware nutrition guidelines AND labels…they are inaccurate or outright lies in some cases.

12) Eat lots of protein. Work till ya hurt. Then eat some more protein and work some more.

More later…as I attempt to fix…in mere months…what I took years to fuck up.

(the trouble is…you think you have time…)

I’ll see you on the road.

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The Secret

Turn it up to 11 (worn out weight gloves in 9 weeks)

In late 2013, getting dressed for work one morning, I realized that I couldn’t button…a SIXTY inch-waist pair of jeans.

SIXTY inches. Think about that (’cause I don’t want to).

For some reason it was a surprise. It was also eye opening. One of those moments.

Yeah yeah. All my fault. “Weak.” “No resolve.” “Lazy.” “Couch potato.”

Yanno…all that standard issue rot that isn’t true, spouted by folks that have never had a weight problem, have no clue what it’s all about…and think they are elevated…when they drag others down.

But that’s subject for another post.

I said something like, “Screw it.” and got to work.

By late 2014 I had lost 100 pounds. My doc then said something along the lines of, “Knock it off for a while, you’re killing yourself.” He then quit the business and went to work on tits and ass for California babes. No insurance headaches, cash or easy financing, and lots of “perks”…but that, again, is subject for another post (though I do wonder sometimes if I made the wrong career choice).

See, losing weight is NOT healthy. Not even a little bit. BEING a lower weight is healthy…the process of getting there is a serious stress in several key areas.

So, I knocked it off…and despite life clobbering me and mine in about 24 different stressful and serious ways, from late 2015 through 2016 I held my weight within a couple pounds of that number. Woot!

Dateline, February 2017. Woke up one morning and said, “Screw this. Screw the docs. Time to go again.” I joined a gym, hired a trainer, severely modified my diet, and went to work.

That was 9 weeks ago today. 34 pounds gone so far in this go-around.

I am wearing a pair of 42″ jeans today. They are loose. I need to punch more holes in my belt too.

So…it’s working. I know what to do…I just wonder how long I can keep it up. It’s NOT…as many folks will tell you, “Just a matter of willpower.”

Sacrifice, time, sleep, money, family, hobbies, projects, health…yah…apply all of those too.

I get asked a lot, “What’s the secret?” Even by folks that have asked it before.

Truth is, there is no secret. It’s just that nobody likes the actual answer.

Turns out it’s a LOT like distance motorcycle riding. You’ll occasionally love it, often hate it, and frequently wonder, “Just what the bloody hell am I DOING here?”. You’ll hurt yourself, feel better, feel worse, wonder why you’ve not done this all the while, and then in the next moment, swear you’ll never do it again.

You’ll also have people hate on you for no more reason than you are what you are…doing what you do.

And the process goes round and round.

But, the secret…or non-secret…the thing that simply doesn’t exist because folks won’t believe what they don’t want to hear…is this:

1) Don’t eat anything you really like.
2) Be hungry, all the time.
3) Work your ass off.

It’s a decision…and it takes total concentration and commitment…and that sacrifice I spoke of earlier.

Be prepared to irritate and disappoint your friends, family, spouses, boss, etc…when you have to declare, “NO. This time is for ME and I’m NOT going to change it. No. Not even for you. Not even ‘just this once’.”

Anything less just won’t cut it. Folks will tell you, “It’s a lifestyle choice.” and that’s true to some degree…but it’s over-simplified to point of being an idiotic platitude. Choosing to ignore others’ requirements in lieu of your own doesn’t come easy to some of us…

And the cost is yet to be tallied in that regard.

Oh…and one more step…once you get the first 3 down…

4) Turn it up to 11.

Anyway, if you don’t believe that’s actually the answer…that’s okay. There’s about 40 million companies all lined up to sell you the latest “magic pill” to take care of it for ya. Let me know how that works out.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Unexpected…

I have attended…on too many occasions…the “School of Hard Knocks”.

Now…the “School of Hard Knocks” can be a pretty efficient (pronounced “ruthless”) teacher…but I am apparently a somewhat dense student in this regard (pronounced “stubborn”).

I ride for my sanity…I work for my life. I am a man…and have to do the things men must do. There simply is no other way.

A lifetime of construction work, motorcycling, selling my health “to the job”, and the occasionally required “Stand up for what’s right even it if kills you” that’s required in any real man’s life has left its mark.

Did I say mark? Mmmm. Marks. With an “s”…or three…

And when the “School of Hard Knocks” can’t teach ya…well…it just dispenses pain.

It’s pretty good at it.

Several serious and painful injuries…things that never healed correctly and the like have added up over the years to some significant chronic pain…which is made considerably worse when taxing myself for my job, riding, or projects. I exert, I pay. It’s just how it has to go.

One of the reasons I’d hesitated to take on “myself” as a project, and get training/gym/serious exercise REQUIRED to fix “me” is I’d figured pushing myself even harder than I already do would result in even more pain. Real, lasting pain sucks…and frankly, the folks that say “grin and bear it” simply haven’t experienced any.

A shoulder. A hip. A knee. An ankle. My entire left glute (which, over the years, has been stabbed, burned, treated by a veterinarian (had no money/insurance in those days), cut, road-rashed, scarred, infected, re-cut, re-infected, fallen on, slid on, kicked, hit with a pipe, stabbed through with a conduit, surgerized and many other things I can’t…or refuse to…even remember anymore…all added up to the occasional “screw it, I ain’t getting out of bed” moment…even as I’ve always managed to force myself to. The cursing only occasionally bothers the neighbors.

Anyway, seems counterproductive to take on a SERIOUS 5-day a week heavy-exercise routine, including significant weight training and flexing/using all those mentioned “pains” intently and intentionally.

I did it anyway. I’ve been known to be a bit cantankerous.

Here’s what’s unexpected…

I am experiencing MUCH less pain now than I was before I started. Significantly less. Life-changing less. Waking up and wondering just WTF is wrong for a good 5 minutes before I realized that what was “wrong” was that I had no pain at all one morning. My ibuprofen consumption has fallen by half…and probably will fall more…as I’ve found myself on a couple occasions taking it out of sheer habit.

There is still some…pain that is…more when I work on projects than working out…but it is vastly reduced.

This is NOT the weight loss…this is the added muscle and strength controlling those joints/areas better.

-32 today. That’s -132 from my peak.

…and now I’m turning it up to 11.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

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Instincts…

Instincts. We have ’em…in spades. Problem is we’re taught from birth to ignore them…those “feelings” and warnings dismissed as primitive and unsuitable in civilized society.

We also seem to have recently acquired a good dose of “entitlement”…we SHOULD be safe…anytime anywhere…so we seem to declare that we ARE.

Declaring we ARE something we are NOT despite the obvious seems to be in fashion.

This is bullsh!t of course.

While people in general are a good lot…society itself isn’t civil…anywhere there’s a population…the scavengers and sociopaths come. Even if they only account for one in a thousand…well..I’ll encounter 10 times that many folks on my commute (one way) alone today…

It pays to listen to your instincts.

The folks that teach us to ignore them…well…they’re either selling something, or the ones we should be actually worrying about.

Or both.

***

So then there’s that awkward moment…

Scratch that…let’s call it an “interesting” moment…when 3 BIG guys in a pickup rolled up beside me at a light and told me my tire was very low…

Now…I was skeptical…see…I was on The Dragon…migrating through the city traffic…and had just made several turns…and the hard stop that had me sitting at the very light they were addressing me at…and when The Dragon has a problem with a “skin” whilst navigating at speed…well let’s just say she is not shy at all and is VERY quick to let me know about it…

Nary a peep.

Also when I said, “Which one?”…one of the guys said, “Back!” and another said, “Front!” at the same time.

But still…these kind souls…had gone out of their way to warn me of a potential danger…and yanno…”stuff” can happen so it “could” be a wise thing to check it out.

Except for all those damn alarm bells…the ones in my head…saying, “UmmHmmm.”

They are normally *very* reliable.

But yanno…*could be*…

The light changed…their lane moved first so they had to depart first…and once well ahead…seemed like they were going their way so I hit a parking lot for a quick check.

I never made the check though…the truck swung a right at the next intersection (the parking lot went all the way there), immediately turned into the lot and headed my way at a gallop.

Heh…fruitless though…ain’t nobody can gallop like me and The Dragon can. Parking lots are double the fun because of all the double rows of big concrete stops in the parking places…Valks effortlessly go through…even slaloming just to add a little fun to the morning…and the equivilent of “the finger” to the folks that couldn’t follow…insult to injury as it were. Trucks (at least if they want to keep running very long) have to go around.

Had galloping been…impractical…well, the trusty 1911 ready to hand can crack engine blocks…so a couple or three scumbags aren’t normally going to be an issue…and that’s assuming I bothered with it and wasn’t in the mood to simply break somebody (or three) in half.

Yeah, well…I’d only had one cup of coffee. And apparently I’m getting old. That adage again…you know the one…

Never start a fight with an old guy. If he can’t beat ya…he’ll just kill ya.

Here’s a pro-tip fellas…near 300-pound, leather-clad, armed, grumpy bikers…simply aren’t good victims.

Especially old ones.

They’re out there folks.

Y’all be safe.

I’ll see you on the road.

CUAgain,
Daniel Meyer

(once again resolving to put a camera on the bike)

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