So Different From This Hell I’m Living

I had a dream my life would be so different from this hell I’m living.
The lyrics above were sung by Fantine, a fictitious factory worker turned prostitute mother in the musical Les Miserables. It’s been reported that in preparing for the role of Fantine, actress Anne Hathaway tried to envelope herself in sadness. She even sent her husband away from her for a time because his being near her made her too happy to play the role accordingly. Her plans certainly succeeded for she played the role flawlessly.
However, the words she sang are all too often the very true unsung anthems of countless people in our world today. These victims of life live in all corners of society, silently marking time with their steps and lives, all the while watching their dreams being pulled further and further away. I think if people everywhere spoke honestly, they would…

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Two men called me fat today. 

The first cried out to me loudly enough for all passersby to hear, “You look like you’ve gained 100 lbs since I last saw you. What have you been eating? Lard mixed with cement?”

The second man was more subtle. He asked, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Kevin James?”

“Kevin James?” I asked. “He’s not a bad looking guy, but isn’t he quite a bit heavier than me?”

“Sorry,” he replied. “Did I say Kevin James? I meant to say that fat guy from the Guinness Book of World Records who was buried in a piano case!”

“Am I that big?”

“My apologies,” he replied. “I meant to say that you look like Jabba the Hutt from Star Wars!”

Ok, so none of that happened exactly, but two men did call me fat, sort of. The first saw me and said, “Wow, you gained back all of the weight you lost and more. That’s not good. You should lose it again so you won’t be, you know, fat.”

“Thanks for pointing that out,” I replied. “I hadn’t noticed.”

The second guy pointed at me and said, “You look like Mike Golic.”

“Who is that?” I asked.

“Don’t you watch Sports Center?” he asked with raised eyebrows.

“No, I don’t,” I replied. 

He looked down, shook his head, and walked away in disgust. 

I did a quick search for Mike Golic and showed the images to my wife.

“Do you think I look like this man?” I asked.

“The one where his hair is longer looks like you,” she said.

“But that’s the picture where he looks the heaviest,” I replied.

My wife smiled and tightened her lips at the same time. That’s her way of telling me I’m fat without actually having to say the words.

So let me correct my earlier statement: “Today, two men and my wife told me I was fat.”

I guess it’s time to do something about it.

I guess.


I don’t know.

*Image courtesy of Andre’ Hunter and Unsplash

The Fine Art of Exercise Procrastination

I’ve been eating food all of my life. I’m a big fan. Some might even call me a fanatic.

Recently, I’ve written about bougie food grocery stores and the dangers of the demon weed kale. Once, I even wrote about Healthy Eating’s Evil Cousin better known in the underworld as exercise. I’ve been avoiding the topic of exercise because I’ve been avoiding exercise altogether, but as I approach my next birthday, I can’t hide from it any longer (at least I think that’s what my wife said when she told me I had to start exercising). 

Avoiding exercise is one sport where I reign supreme. Move over squats, treadmills and elliptical machines! Mama says we have a new exercise Daddy now and he’s here to stay because I have perfectly mastered the fine art of exercise procrastination. 

My wife tried to tell me that if it’s not in the Olympics then it’s not a real sport. I beg to differ. I’ve traveled all across this world and I’ve seen it practiced everywhere. Entire cultures have been built around it. Take, for example, the entire nation of Spain and its practice of the siesta. If that’s not avoidance of exercise, I don’t know what is unless it’s our practice of fried chicken and waffles in the south, better known as nirvana. 

To help me overcome my exercise procrastination, a “former” friend sent me an article titled Exercise Motivation: How To Overcome Procrastination by Fit Day, a free diet and weight loss journal and app designed to make my life miserable. 

The article suggested I do the following: 

  • Set Achievable Goals (not working out is pretty achievable to me) 
  • Exercise for a Minimum Amount of Time (I can’t get any more minimum than nothing)
  • Choose Enjoyable Forms of Exercise (I considered hammock mastering. It takes a lot of effort to get in a hammock and sometimes even more to get out)
  • Exercise With A Friend (I’m trying to avoid friendship accountability in this area of my life)
  • Reward Yourself for Exercise (How about a large pizza after every workout?)

I suppose if you really want to get motivated and move forward with exercise, this is good article with good advice. However, if you want to be cultured and support the arts, more specifically the fine of exercise procrastination, avoid it at all costs.

*Image courtesy of Giorgio Trovato and Unsplash

*Thanks to the editors of Fit Day whose article really did challenge me. Check it out here.

Review – The Reset by Jeremy Riddle

The first page of the introduction slapped me hard across my face: 

This is what it said:

I don’t believe there has been a moment in history when the temptation to be a worship leader for all the wrong reasons has ever been greater, never a moment where the seduction of personal glory, fame, followers, adulation, money, self-gratification and earthly reward has more surrounded and infected this precious thing we call worship.

Then, I turned the other cheek so I could read it again. 

I first heard about The Reset: Returning to the Heart of Worship and a Life of Undivided Devotion from a friend of mine. I was intrigued, so I purchased the short book, expecting to finish it in a day. It took me a week because I had to spend time reflecting after each chapter. 

The book causes me to pray for those musicians who play or sing in multiple churches but who aren’t a part of any. At the same time, it reminds me of the times when I’ve settled for less than what God wants of me as a worshiper and a disciple of Jesus Christ.

If you desire to worship the Lord in a way that is deeper than music, status, and position, this book is for you.

Get ready to repent.

*Photo courtesy of Ben White and Unsplash

I Sinned. He Paid.

I betrayed him with a kiss.

I arrested him I took him to the high priest.

I stood before him with the Sanhedrin.

I declared him a blasphemer.

I blindfolded him,

I slapped his face I yelled, “Prophesy!”

I denied that I knew him three times.

I tried to free him, but my plan was doomed.

I screamed, “Crucify him! Crucify him!”

I ordered him flogged and crucified.

I put a robe on him and yelled, “Hail, king of the Jews!”

I shoved a crown of thorns down on his head.

I hit him on the head with my staff

I drove the thorns deeper into his head.

I spit on him.

I humiliated him.

I tied him to the post for his flogging.

I whipped him, 39 times, with a cat of nine tails.

I made him carry his own cross.

I drove the nails into his hands and feet.

I stood the cross high so the world could see his death.

I cast lots for his clothes.

I cursed him from my own cross.

I took a spear and jabbed it into his side.

I saw how he died.

I heard what he said.

I sinned but he paid the price.

“Surely this man was the Son of God.”

Number One Colonoscopy

This past Friday at 6am, I checked in to the hospital for my colonoscopy. I signed up to go first. I was happy to have the procedure because it meant I was finished with my prep: a clear liquid diet, four laxative pills causing explosive diarrhea, and two bottles of liquid solution torture water. My prep began at noon on Thursday and ended at 3am Friday morning.

Let’s just say I became very acquainted with my bathroom. 

The morning of the procedure, I dressed in a hospital gown and jumped on my personal rolling bed. I had promised myself I would stay calm, but that was hard when the staff arrived. They asked me for my date of birth while they simultaneously took my temperature, blood pressure, and pulse. 

One of the assistants asked the doctor, “Why do we ask all of these security questions for a colonoscopy? It’s not like he’s trying to sneak in here to take someone’s test!”

“That’s true,” said the doctor, before turning to me. “Any kind of music you’d like to hear?” 

“Doesn’t matter to me,” I replied. “Whatever will help you all be calm and steady.”

“Ah,” he said. “Good answer. I think it’s time for some Michael.”

“Oh good,” one of the nurses replied as a grin covered her face.

As my IV was inserted, Michael Jackson sang, “I want to love you, PYT, Pretty Young Thing.”

Suddenly, Groucho Marx entered the room, removed his cigar, looked at me, and said, “So today, you get to be the guinea pig.”

My eyes grew large. “I’m sorry, what?” 

“Don’t say that to someone about to have a procedure!” scolded the doctor. 

Groucho shook his head and said, “Well, anyway, here’s his anesthesia iPad.”

I breathed in deeply as Michael Jackson switched to Blame It On The Boogie. 

“We’re trying this for the first time,” said a nurse, trying to comfort me. “This iPad sign in, I mean, not your procedure.”

“We really are medical professionals,” said the doctor. “I promise.”

A nurse shook her head at his comment, turned to me and said, “Before we put you to sleep, can you turn onto your side please?”

I did as she instructed and noticed a monitor showing the ceiling. Something told me the picture was coming from the camera they would use to, well, you know. 

“Ok,” said the anesthesiologist. “I’m putting you to sleep now. Believe me, you wouldn’t want it any other way. This might burn a bit at first.”

I started getting sleepy. The last thing I remember is the music switching to Montel Jordan’s This Is How We Do It.

I woke up later to hear a nurse say, “Looks like you’re waking up. Would you like some water?”

“Yeah,” I mumbled. “Thanks.”

I dressed as the nurse went for my water. She came back and shared my results as I sipped my water. Everything was fine. 

As I stood to leave, she handed me a thank you note from the staff.

“We’re really glad you came,” she said as if I had visited her church. 

“Ok,” I said, feeling awkward. “It sure is quiet at this end of the hall.”

“Oh, it will fill up soon. Your procedure was first this morning.”

“Oh yeah,” I said with a smile, “I always wanted to be number one, just not quite like this.”

*Photo courtesy of Clay Banks and Unsplash

Please Don’t Do This

Most people give up too early. Their closets are filled with unopened saxophone cases, shrink wrapped canvases, unassembled carpentry tools, unopened art supplies, unread books, unlearned language resources, and dusty exercise bikes with 2.4 miles on the odometer. Giving up on dreams can be devastating to people, but can also have disastrous results for others. 

Here’s one example:

As a young man, Adolph Hitler applied to the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and endured a two day entrance exam where his drawing and painting techniques were evaluated. He failed the entrance exam. He demanded an explanation. He was told, in no uncertain terms, that his art demonstrated a lack of talent for artistic painting, especially when it related to the human form.

Although devastated, young Adolph vowed to develop his skills and reapply the next year. However, he was distracted by his mother’s illness and abandoned most of his projects before they were completed. Hitler did reapply the next year, but wasn’t allowed to take the final artistic exam because of his lack of effort.

Hitler became homeless for a short time on the streets of Vienna, until he finally moved into a homeless shelter. Once there, he abandoned his art, sold his paintings to Jewish merchants, and joined the German military. It is said that on the day war was declared that he fell to his knees and thanked heaven.

Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, makes the following observation:  “Call it an overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.”

Don’t give up. Don’t give in to distractions. Pursue it, whatever it is, passionately. Pray for direction and work like your life, and mine, depended on it.

*Image courtesy of Justyn Warner and Unsplash

Truth from the 70’s

It was drilled into me as a child.

At school. At home. At church. On tv. Even in Comic books.

No matter where I went, someone was proclaiming, “You are what you eat” like they were the one who coined the phrase.

I’ll tell you a secret.

I never listened. 

But you probably already knew that.

So now, decades later, I get to hear it again from my wife, various health care professionals, and other mean people. Only now, they often follow the phrase with a question, “So, if you believe that, then what does that make you?”

When my wife asks me that question, I almost lose it. I hold my head high, stick out my chest, and say, “Listen here, woman! I’ll be the one asking the questions in this house! Now go and fix me something filled with sugar and gluten.”

I don’t really say that. I’m not stupid.

Instead, I smile sweetly and quote the food pyramid from the 1970’s: “Well Honey, I’m 4 servings of fruits and vegetables, 4 servings of grains, 3 servings of dairy, and 2 servings of meats.”

Ok, that doesn’t happen either.

Honestly, my head hangs in shame, tears well up in my eyes, and I reply, “I’m a large pizza, a half gallon of ice cream, a bag of microwave popcorn, a gallon of soda, and one serving of broccoli.”

She shakes her head, takes a deep breath, and says, “John…”

“I’m sorry,” I interrupt. “Was that your broccoli?”

She has never laughed at that. 


So I’m going back to the message I learned as a child. 

I am what I eat.

My body will be made up of the foods I put into it. 

If I consume healthy foods and water, I will see the benefits of eating healthy foods and water.

If I eat a lot of fat, greasy food, I will become a fat, greasy dude.

*Photo courtesy of Tim Mossholder of Unsplash

My Fate

There I stood in my kitchen, frustrated beyond belief. The task before me was daunting and try as I might, I was unsuccessful. My wife had long since retired for the night. After what seemed an eternity, I surrendered to the agony of defeat and dropped the fresh new garbage bag to the floor, unopened.

I have a malady, a disorder or deficiency if you will. No matter how hard I try, I simply do not possess the ability to open a new garbage bag. I just can’t seem to pull the plastic apart. It’s like, when the garbage bags see me coming, they all cry out, “Here comes the buffoon! Everyone, fuse your molecular agencies together and make his attempts to fill you with trash unsuccessful!”

It’s a completely different story with my wife and garbage bags. She calls them liners which is just weird and wrong. While I’m asleep or at work, she must charm the bags so they will open for her. I’m not exaggerating at all when I say this, but when she is within a ten foot radius of the bags, they fling themselves into her hands, fully opened, ready to do her bidding. They practically fly through the kitchen and the rest of the house, picking up trash items and emptying smaller trash receptacles into themselves. I kid you not, one day I saw one of them vacuuming while another was cooking dinner.

If anything ever happens to my wife, I’ll have no choice but to become a hoarder. My house will be filled to overflowing with used tea bags, microwave popcorn bags (which I can open), and pizza boxes from years gone by. I’ll roam the streets for hours at a time, simply looking for fresh air and pondering my inadequacy as a functioning adult. Adults will see me and shake their heads in disgust. Women will run from me because of the stench. Small children will point at me and cry out, “Look, there’s trash house man! Isn’t he stupid? He never learned to open a garbage bag. Now he can’t even get to his bedroom because of all the trash.” Then one day, I’ll just disappear. People will wonder if I just buried myself in my own garbage or relocated to the city dump. 

Yeah, I guess that’s my fate. Glad my wife is here to help me survive.

*Thanks to Dimitri Houtteman and Unsplash for the image


She was terrifying.

The dental hygienist was a size zero but her protective gear doubled her weight. She wore a weird combination of hazmat suit, welder’s gear, and executioner’s hood. Her breathing would make Darth Vader proud. 

The dental chair jerked back as she thrust the interrogation lamp inches from my face. 

“Shall we begin?” she asked in a creepy whisper.

“Ok,” I said tentatively. 

She switched on the lamp and my face was enveloped with a zillion lumens of light. My eyes started to water. I wiped them quickly, hoping she wouldn’t think less of me.

She ignored my uncomfort and picked up an old spear from her rusty pile of tools on the floor. 

“Open up!” she commanded with the authority of a drill sergeant. 

I opened my mouth nervously and tried to move my lips and gums away from my teeth, even though they’re attached.

She laughed and shouted, “Wider!”

I may have pulled a muscle somewhere in my face as I obeyed. I opened my mouth wider than ever and then doubled it. I’m not sure because I was blinded by the light, but she may have actually stepped inside my mouth for the remainder of the examination.

She began the exam by jabbing the gums surrounding each of my teeth with a javelin used in the 1988 Olympic games. Then I was forced to remove all moisture from my head and upper torso by closing my mouth around her industrial strength straw vacuum. After using what sounded like a spin saw to coat my teeth in gritty goo, she rinsed my mouth with at least 20 gallons of water. Fortunately, she removed it once again with her liquid sucking torture device. Finally, she pulled out a large rope salvaged from the Mayflower and used it as dental floss. She jammed the rope (and probably a few chains) back and forth through the rows of my teeth as I wept silently and gripped the sides of my chair. 

Then, her verbal assault began.  

“You haven’t been flossing. You know you can get floss anywhere. Pharmacies, grocery stores, Walmart, Walgreens, Dollar General, they all have it. Even some gas stations sell dental floss. You have no excuse… No excuse.” 

Finally, my punishment, uh, exam was over and I was able to close my mouth and breathe normally. 

Suddenly, I heard upbeat 80’s music and the dentist popped in. 

“So, how’s it going, my man?” he asked too energetically. “Open wide and let me peek inside.”

I opened my mouth as before and he examined my teeth for approximately 8-10 seconds. 

“Looks great!” he cried as he shoved a plastic bag in my hand. Inside I found 6 inches of dental floss and a firm toothbrush that we’ll probably use to clean the grout between tiles.

“Thank you,” I replied to thin air, not realizing he had disappeared.

I crawled to the checkout desk and paid my copay, the most enjoyable part of my visit.

“See you in six months!” cried the clerk as I limped away.

I vowed at that moment to switch dentists, but I’ll probably forget, just like I forget to floss.

*Special thanks to Jonathan Borba and Unsplash for the image