Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday #9--Seeing clearly

"I can see clearly now the rain is gone.
I can see all obstacles in my way.
Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.
It's gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin' day.
It's gonna be a bright (bright) bright (bright) sunshinin' day."

            "I Can See Clearly Now" by Johnny Nash 


After my depress-fest post from last week I want to be happier.  I am at least on this journey and being more honest with myself about what I eat, why I eat it and where I really want to be in life.  When I think about the fact that my kids will get to see my struggle someday and know that I was trying to improve myself for the better that motivates me to want to go on.  I will continue this journey for the people who are here and hereafter so that I can motivate someone else to improve their life.  The only way to do that is to do this and lose some weight.  I am still here and I am still going!

I am officially 325.8 pounds.  Not close to where I want to be after nine weeks, but I have lost some weight and I just have to get consistent in my eating and moving to lose weight consistently.
I love my sister.  I preface this post by saying that because the stories herein may come across like I am some gigantic clutz/jerk who does not love his sister, but that is far from the truth.  I was a fat kid and oftentimes I did not know the true magnitude of my girth.  
One Sunday morning I remember coming into my sister's room while she was sleeping.  I think my mother was in the room too and we were all getting ready to go somewhere.  I just plopped down on what I thought was the edge of my sister's bed.  Well as soon as I sat down my sister shot up and started screaming like she was possessed.  This scared the crap out of me and I thought she had awakened from some horrible nightmare.  
She was in a horrible nightmare, but it involved my fat behind.  When I sat down I plopped right on her ankle and sprained it.  She needed crutches and I felt incredibly guilty.  That, however, is not the worst part of the story.  When freak accidents happen they scare us, but after the healing we go back to our complacent ways.  In other words a few months later I skipped my fat behind into my sister's room and sat on her bed and she shot up and...I wish I had a time machine. 

                         Actual picture of me at 9 years old:

Another time when we were kids we were in the back yard and I was lifting her by her legs up a tree.  In fairness to me I thought there were some bird eggs up there, which was really cool, and since she could not lift me it only made logical sense that I lift her up by her legs on this tree while unsupervised.  She naturally was terrified having never been up that high and pleaded with me to let her down.  I was angry at that point at missing my chance to see some cool bird eggs and said "FINE!" and dropped her.  
I literally opened my arms and let my sister, my baby sister, drop to the ground.  Again, that is not the worst part of the story.  She scraped her stomach against the tree.  So while I was supposed to be watching my sister and "playing nice" I instead was hoisting her up trees and exposing her to potential gangrene conditions in the outback wilderness otherwise known as our backyard.

Now before you start believing that I am a horrible monster and this was a one sided bullyfest I have two stories that show there was some level of turn about. 

Once my sister was watching a show in the living room and she left the room for some reason.  Obviously this meant I could change the channel to whatever I wanted to watch that was not the obvious crap she had chosen before.  When she returned to the room she definitely wasn't pleased and requested the remote control back.  I refused and may have potentially "run" a little bit with the remote until I was cornered by a wall.  At that point I thought to myself, "Really, what is she going to do?"  

                                My actual face at that moment:
Well what she did was take both of her hands, grabbed the pointer finger of my left hand and turned (some would say wrenched it) allll the way around.  I never knew that your finger could actually turn almost 360 degrees.  I learned that fun fact at that moment.  And yes it felt exactly how you think it would.  I remember my knuckle swelling up and my finger hurting for a few days.  I never went to the doctor (did I mention I was from North Carolina) and to this day that finger looks and feels different than the one on my other hand.

The last story didn't happen until we were teenagers.  I think I was 17 or 18 and she was either 16 or 17.  We were at the mall and we went to the food court.  We ordered from Taco Bell (because why not right?) and I remember she ordered nachos.  When we sat down with our food, she must have forgotten something because she started to get up.  She turned to me, looked me in my eye, she may have pointed at me and fog may have arisen around us as she said, "Do not TOUCH my nachos."  She then walked away.

Ok, so obviously even if I was not considering it before I was now forced to take a majjjor portion of her nacho real estate.  On principle of course.
As I was eating them three thoughts actually popped into my head:

A) YOU are not my MOMMA!
B) YOU do not tell ME what to do!
C) THESE NACHOS are especially GOOD this season.

So my sister returned to the table.  She sat down and looked at her nachos and then looked at me.  I smirked....

The next thing I remember is looking to my right and my left cheek burning, probably because my sister smacked the SH*T out of me.  The smack, which was really loud, was not the worst part.  The worst part was that sitting about ten feet away from us at another table were two teenage boys who were DYING laughing at what they just saw.  It was like Sinbad, Martin, and Def Comedy Jam were performing live for them at our table.  If my face could have turned red, like my left cheek probably did, it would have. 

                                  Let us name him Tyrone:

The lesson I learned from that, naturally, is that my sister is right handed.  I should have expected the hit and been ready with my left arm to guard myself.  Then I could have laughed at her and cracked a joke about her being an unsuccessful abuser instead of sitting with my cheek bumping as the world laughed at my pain.  See people, you have to pay attention to the lessons in's the little things.

It was great growing up with her.  We had lots of tender moments as well and I always know there is one other person in the world who knows what it was like to grow up in our home.  I hope my sons get to experience the lifelong love that we have (minus the potential assault charge worthy behavior).
Join me on this journey next week as I mark #10 into the books.   

Friday, October 24, 2014

Monday #8-Scared Straight

                      "Sometimes I give myself the creeps
                       Sometimes my mind plays tricks on me
                       It all keeps adding up
                       I think I'm cracking up
                      Am I just paranoid?
                      Am I just stoned?"

                     "Basket Case" by Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day

It was a really bad week mentally. I have felt like giving up, which is incredibly pathetic.  It is like saying you are going to run a marathon, then deciding to quit after your first five feet.  But, truthfully I have wondered if I can really do this.  

Losing one hundred pounds is a big goal and these first few pounds have played with my mind.  I have been engaging in bad comfort food habits for years and doing something different has been difficult.  And by that I mean I have not really changed anything yet.  I took the batteries out of my scale because I am so embarrassed that my weight is creeping back up. 

I think about things I say to my kids and I feel like a hypocrite.  I don't let them use the word "can't" around me and I tell them that just because you are not good at something at first does not mean you should just give up.  I tell them to keep trying and keep pushing.  I tell them that they can be great and they just have to give their best.  I tell them these things because I believe they are true..for them.  

My problem has been believing that all of this good advice is universal and actually applies to me as well.  I walk around with my mental hangups and intellectual road blocks and convince myself that the trying itself is a wasted effort.  Failure is definite so give up before you embarrass yourself--is a song that plays in my head at different volumes constantly.  I read about successful people all the time--it is one of my favorite past times.  The constant theme is that they are just as scared or more scared than most people, but they act despite their fears.  They push to greater heights even when their mind is screaming the "you-are-not-good-enough" mantra.  

I read this and understand this, but knowing it to be true for me has been the barrier.  I do not really know how to overcome that. 

Growing up as a teenager in North Carolina was fascinating.  At the time all of my insecurity and uncertainty about life pressed upon me, but looking back I could see how my environment was positively shaping who I was.  I used to attend church regularly and my mother encouraged me to go out for the Church Basketball Team.  

Now I do not know the exact rules for how you select players for Church League Basketball, but I am pretty sure it is something like, "If the kid's family goes to Church, then they are automatically accepted onto the team."  I am sure that the selection process for the choir was much, much tougher and if you could not sing the Choir Director would say something like: "You are terrible!  We are making a joyful noise unto the Lord and we will not have your non-singing self participate!  Use your other holy gifts that the Lord has bestowed upon thee like...umm...sitting quietly and listening to us sing!"-and then the Choir Director would put the lollipop back in his mouth.

So I was a part of the "team".  My first coach was a man who if I saw him today would probably still make me a little nervous.  Let us call him "Lil' Debo".  Lil' Debo, much like his name sake, was tough as nails and I think even his eyebrows were made of muscle.  I don't think I ever actually understood a word he said except for an occasional "RUHN!"  "JUMPHH!"  "PLAY BETTA!!"  He also had the strongest handshake of any person on Earth.  

When he shook your hand his goal was to try and get your pointer finger knuckle and pinky finger knuckle to touch in a warm embrace--otherwise known as breaking your hand.  He would not stop there as his second goal was to get them to do a seductive rhythmic samba as you literally cried in pain.  I am pretty sure he punished his kids by making them shake his hands.

 Someone not me playing basketball:

Looking back I am glad Lil' Debo was my coach.  I was so terrified of him, and I think my teammates were as well, that I ran when I didn't want to and PLAYED BETTA out of fear that he would whoop my tail.  I learned to push myself a little bit, which was an important lesson for me.  I also learned that being a little scared of your coach is good for discipline and motivation.  Having respect for his authority as coach helped shaped my character.  Plus if I didn't show him respect he would have made me shake his hand.

                                      Coach Lil' Debo:

Now my formative teenage years were during the 1990's so I was subject to the phenomena of the day.  At that time there was a focus on young Black men going to prison at ever increasing rates.  Someone decided the solution to this problem was to take youth who were going down the "wrong path" to the place they were headed; specifically prison.  This program affectionately known as "Scared Straight" was en vogue back then.  If you don't understand the concept it is like taking a young man who smokes a little marijuana to a crack house and yelling at him the whole time.  

Lil' Debo decided that what we needed to increase our discipline was a visit to the local jail so we could be Scared Straight.  I was too scared of Lil' Debo to raise any objections, and my mother probably assumed this made sense because she had a young Black boy who would face all kinds of pressures in life as he became a man.  Plus I don't think my protest would have succeeded anyway.

Me: "Listen, I get it..but I really don't need to do this.  I am a good guy, I don't do any drugs.  I am not having sex, (even though if I knew how I could have some sex I would do that immediately!).  I am playing Church basketball people, the key word is Church.  I am straight, I promise!  You don't need to scare me."

Prison Guard: "Well the form here says you are a teenager and you are Black so you are definitely going to jail. GET ON THE BUS MAGGOT!!"

So I was headed to jail along with my teammates.  I have no clue what I expected when I was on my way, but I just knew I was scared.  Movies and television shows were made about prison and they were never nice stories about people acting kind to one another, praying together and getting on the court for a friendly game of b-ball.  The movies usually involved a knife and someone using it not to cut food, someone being beat up by a group of other people, and the violent assault upon one man's out passage by another man's dual function lever. 

I do not know exactly how young men grow up now, but when I was a teenager one of the major rules was: DO EVERYTHING YOU CAN NOT TO BE RAPED WHILE IN PRISON! (this is found in Section 32B of the "Growing Up" handbook which of course is available on Amazon).  

Up until that point in life I never even thought about that rule, since I was not planning on going to prison anytime soon and I was doing everything I could not to ever go.  But now, on this bus I was headed to a place where the "while in prison" part of the rule was going into effect.  I was nervous, on guard and irrationally scared as crap.

Looking back there are only a few things that spring to my mind about my Scared Straight experience.  The jail itself was a compilation of rooms with bars that could automatically open and close, and lots and lots of cots.  It looked like every movie scene of military barracks I had ever seen and I guess that made sense when you think about it.  These men were told where to go, when to sleep, and when to eat at every point of the day which was similar to a soldier's life.  The only difference was they were not being paid for their time and when they got out there were not going to be any "benefits".

I remember most of the men were Black.  At the time I don't think I thought much about it, but looking back we were not in the majority in my city, region or state.  And yet in that jail at that time, I was seeing men who looked like they could be my cousin everywhere I turned.  My whole basketball team was Black, so I am sure my teammates were feeling some strange feeling just like I was.

So we were walking through the jail, seeing different rooms there and having prisoners talk to us and stand really close to us and brush up against us every now and then.  I don't remember any of us "acting tough" because we were all young, good kids who just wanted to be the hell up out of there.  Everything was going as well as I guess it could have when it happened.....

I looked up from the room and about ten feet away there was this opening in a wall that was covered in glass.  I assume about ten feet behind that wall was where the showers were.  The opening was obviously there so a guard could look into the showers and make sure there were no shenanigans going on.  But the thing about windows is that they have two faces...

A man walked into the area of the glass opening with a wide smile.  He had a shaggy almost afro and started drying himself off in front of us.  He was completely naked and to this day had the largest penis I have ever seen in my life.  Let us name him "Killa".  

Here is another fun fact about Killa, he was way, way, way too comfortable talking to 11, 12 and 13 year old boys, while naked and drying himself off, while in prison.  I don't remember much of what he said, but I am sure my eyes and my teammates' eyes were bugging.  I do remember one thing he said, "What y'all ain't never seen a GROWN man before?  Move a little closer!"  I did not however, "move a little closer".  I was frozen in place, wishing to God this man would not KEEP TALKING TO ME AND TRYING TO STARE INTENTLY INTO MY EYES.  My greatest fear was that his d*ck was going to bust through the glass somehow and touch me from ten feet away.  I was also probably wondering how his penis was hitting the side of his ankle while he was standing straight up like he was tapping out a beat.  At least that is what I wondered in my nightmares later.

                                       Killa if he were albino:

Looking back I would have asked him some questions (while maintaining constant eye contact with his face...just his face).

Me: Sir what is your name?

Killa: Well "sugar buns" they call me Killa.

Me: Please don't call me that.

Killa: Ok "honey tail".

Me: Sir what are you in for?

Killa: fraudulense?

Me: you have any problems in here?

Killa: Yes I most definitely do!

Me: What are they?

Killa: Well "sweet throat" I have an ass problem!  See...

Me: No further questions...  

Seeing Killa was incredibly unpleasant, because he vividly reminded us that we were in a prison with grown men.  If we ever came to the prison we would be forced to be around other men, eat together, shower together and sleep together (on cots, please just on the cots!!)  When I left that prison I was changed.  I was a good kid before, but now I had a little extra motivation not to be an idiot.  What is that?  You want to hang out after school?  MY MOMMY SAID I HAVE HOMEWORK!!  MY MOMMY SAID I HAVE HOMEWORK!!!

I imagined getting arrested and convicted and going back to that prison except this time the conversation with Killa would be different.  First someone would push me into a room and there would be Killa with a wide smile.

(While Holding his finger to my lips) Killa: "Don't talk "sugar".  They call me Killa and from now on they will call you "my bitch".  Let me show you how this works, just get on your knees (unziiipppp)."

Yeah, that was not happening because I was scared completely straight.  In a way that weird social experiment worked, since I stayed away from activities that could put me in a cot next to Killa.  I think if I saw Coach Lil' Debo again I would thank him for being so tough and for taking us to jail that one time.  But I would definitely give him a fist bump though...

Catch you next week.

P.S.--The mind can be a terrible machine sometimes.  The one thing I can not remember about that moment with Killa is the towel.  I CAN NOT REMEMBER THE TOWEL!  Out of all the horribleness of seeing Killa play the original ADAM I can not remember the towel.  It is like I just remember him making all the hand motions of drying, but doing it while only holding air.  YOU HAD ONE JOB PART OF MY MIND THAT SUPPRESSES HORRIBLE MEMORIES!!   
P.S.S.--Special shout out to my wife and best friend who convinced me to be honest and keep this up.  I can do this because you are here to support me.  Special shout out also goes to the smartest seven footer I personally know who told me I need to get on this blog post because the people are waiting for it!  Thanks for the extra motivation bro...


Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Monday #7--Try again


"Ever tried. 
 Ever failed.
 No matter.
 Try again.
 Fail again.
 Fail better."

                                      -Samuel Beckett


I am 325.6 pounds.  Someone I love and trust very much told me I need to be harder on myself and set more specific goals.  That is good advice, so this week I want to walk for at least 3 hours total and do something that makes me sweat and feel energized everyday.  I want to lose three pounds by next Monday (October 20, 2014) and I know I can do it by eating less and moving much more. 

This is my 7th week into my journey and I am happy to still be here doing it.  I have to raise my level of commitment and I will.  My life is messy, big and beautiful and I want to live it and enjoy it as long as possible.  Losing this weight and staying healthy physically and mentally can only give me positive results.

Last week I told the story of how I learned to ride a bike by falling several times.  Well I was able to ride a bike, but I never became an expert.  In fact I took some chances that at the time made perfect sense, but now seem pretty stupid.

In our neighborhood bike riding was the main activity.  Kids at every age level would ride their bikes up and down the cul-de-sac.  But my neighbor, let us call him Keanu, was the leader of the bike riding pack.  He was what I imagine girls would refer to as a "bad boy", he was a tough kid who didn't smile much and loved to do "tough things".  I don't know what any of those "tough things" actually were other than riding his bike fast, but I am pretty sure he did not button his collared shirt all the way up! 

                            Keanu at 12:

His dad had built him a bike ramp.  At the time it looked like a an amazing feat of engineering that I could not understand.  Now looking back I realize it was just an inclined plane that went up a few feet, and no I could not build that for my kids on demand without having written instructions and watching a 20 minute Youtube lecture that I stopped and replayed every 3 minutes to understand it.  His dad did not have that modern technology so he simply built his son a kick ass bike ramp for the 80's.

                     The Ramp:

I used to watch Keanu and the other neighborhood boys get up lots of speed and go up that ramp and "fly" in the air and come down safely on the pavement.  I must have watched them do that tens of times, over and over.  I imagine that I was fine just watching, enjoying the spectacle and feeling a part of the action even thought I most definitely was not.  Then one day it happened.

Keanu said to me, "Hey, you want to try it?"  He said that to me. He asked if I wanted to try it, which was like giving me permission to try it.  That was awesome.  I was definitely going to try it, because he asked me to and I would look like a punk if I said no and my sister was standing right beside me when he asked and I would look like a punk to her if I said no.

Here are a couple of reasons why I should not have tried it.

1) I had never seen bike "stunts" before.  In this day and age everyone is used to Tony Hawk and the "RIDICULOUSNESS" phenomena of seeing skaters and bikers doing all kinds of crazy stunts on the television.  That did not exist when I was a kid.  Today, this is a world where the ESPN "X" Games exists.  The first time I turned to ESPN and my regularly scheduled zoning-out programming was interrupted by the "X" Games you should have seen my face.  I was so confused.  There were people riding bikes doing stunts on television then after I naturally turned the channel and turned back in ten minutes hoping the mistake had been fixed there were other people doing ski "tricks" on television.  I thought I was being punked. 

I wanted to call up my cable company and say this, "Hello, hi yes ummm..I think there has been some mistake.  Yes I know you know my address, but ummm.., I don't know how to say this but only Black people live here.  Yes, I am African-American, no, no I get that all the time; I have talked this way my whole life.  Yeah, and I turned to ESPN and sports is not on it.  What's on it?  Well there are these people riding bikes and skiing I think?  Those are sports?  Where do they play those sports?  No, I am sorry I am not interested can you change it back please?"

2) I did not have the equipment to get on that ramp.  Here is what I mean.  I imagine when my parents bought me a bike, they thought "Hey, he kind of sucks at riding a bike so let's get him the safest option out there."  Well, the "safest option out there" featured a specific warning on the side of the bike.  This is almost verbatim what that warning said, "THIS BIKE IS NOT MADE FOR STUNTS.  DO NOT ATTEMPT ANY STUNTS ON THIS BIKE.  IF YOU DO ATTEMPT STUNTS ON THIS BIKE YOU WILL DIE A FIERY DEATH.  THAT MEANS YOU PERSON WHO IS READING THIS WARNING.  ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ATTEMPT STUNTS ON THIS BIKE!!"  or something to that effect.

          The face that accompanied the warning:

3) I was a really bad bike rider.  I was just getting the hang of not falling when I tried to ride in a straight line.  I repeat: Not falling when I tried to ride in a straight line.  You don't send your infant who took his first step out on the track to run the 100 meter dash at the Olympics.  You don't put your first grader who just learned to make a fist into the Octagon to face "Rampage" Jackson in a no holds barred match.  But you do send a shaky bike rider with too much unwarranted confidence onto a ramp of death to try his luck.

So there I was twenty feet from the ramp ready to DO THIS!!  I had seen these guys DO THIS countless times so I knew what I was doing.  I would just build up speed, hit the ramp and glide through the air as I safely landed back onto the pavement.  Effortless...

I did build up speed.  I managed to stay in a relatively straight line going towards that ramp at the fastest speed I could muster.  I was able to hit that ramp in its relative middle at enough speed to give me a good lift into the air.  What happened next is disputed, but what happened after that is not.

My sister remembers this story as me getting about one to one and a half inches off the ramp into the air.  I remember the story as being about eight to nine feet in the air.  The truth is probably in the middle somewhere and I was about seven feet in the air off that ramp.  Whether one inch or seven feet, at that time in my life I had never been that high in the air.  As a kid I rarely jumped (did I mention I was fat)?  In high school I could dunk the basketball so being high up in the air wasn't scary or weird.  As a kid, however, I did not know what to do.

I was in the air and looked down and felt myself as almost weightless.  I saw the bike under me and felt like I was still going up.  Now when we make stupid decisions, I don't believe it is our intelligence at play as much as our instincts just being incorrect.  Something told me (THE DEVIL) to let go.  I was in the air, with my hands and body solidly on the bike and something in my head (THE DEVIL) told me to just let go.  So I did.

I remember seeing the bike fading away, almost like it was falling somewhere behind me out of my line of vision.  I felt like I was flying and I was horizontal to the ground.  Like Superman really.  And then I remember seeing the actual ground.  The concrete started getting closer and closer to me.  At that moment I realized I was not actually flying, but I was falling face first (again) into the sidewalk.  I don't remember the pain, but I do know that I hit the pavement face first and I sliiiiiiiiiiddddd to a stop.  My face and my whole body actually sliiiiiiiiidddd to a stop.

                  Actual picture of me afterwards:

That really must have hurt, but once again I don't remember anything after that.  I imagine my sister went screaming into the house and my parents spatula'ed me off the ground and brought me inside.  I never tried Keanu's bike ramp again and I don't remember playing with him much after that.  I probably should have put that one minor setback aside and practiced my bike stunt skills more, but I decided to retire my wild bike side after that and stick to leisurely rides around the neighborhood.  Just shaky straight lines for me thanks!

I will see you next week, three pounds lighter with another story to tell! 


Monday, October 6, 2014

Monday #6--My beautiful struggle

"Without a struggle, there can be no progress."

                                       -Frederick Douglass

I am 323.6 pounds.  That sucks that I do not weigh less than that, but it is not all bad news.  Yesterday I got on the basketball court, dribbled, ran and shot the ball for the first time in a long while.  It felt very good to run up and down the court (by myself) and dribble the ball and make layups again.  And by felt very good I mean, "OH GOD I AM SO OUT OF BREATH.  WHY DID THEY MAKE THE RIM SO HIGH?  I DON'T WANT TO BREAK A LEG ON THIS COURT OUT HERE ALONE!  THIS WAS SO MUCH EASIER WHEN I WAS YOUNGER!"  Besides the wheezing, I really enjoyed it and bouncing a ball and moving was special yesterday.

I am incorporating more activities into my weight loss; things I can do with my wife and kids.  I love walking and playing basketball so while the weather is nice those will be my main activities.  With winter coming (no House Stark-o) I have to come up with some fun indoor exercises to get me moving and keep me interested.  I have to eat fewer calories, and burn many more calories so now I have to get to work!

Always the Black Pirate...always:

Nothing motivates me like seeing other people beating me.  The reason I know how to tie my shoes and ride a bike is because of my sister.  I remember when I was a kid and my parents tried to show me how to tie my shoes I gave up because I decided it was too hard.  I had the foresight to know that shoe tying was not something I needed to clog my brain with when there needed to be ample room for comic books and fantasy.  Until one day, I saw my little sister sitting down on our steps with untied shoes.  I expected her to call my parents, but what I saw next amazed me.  She took the rabbit ears and put it through the rabbit hole and tied one shoe, then she tied the other shoe, and then she got up and walked away.  I felt like I just saw an alien moonwalk across our driveway while pointing at me and nodding its head to an intergalactic beat.  I didn't know many cuss words then, so I just yelled "NOOO" in my head.  It was either that exact day or the next day that I learned to tie my shoes.

A similar thing happened with riding a bike.  My parents tried to teach me to ride a bike, I fell a few times and then decided that bike riding wasn't for me.  See..the way my body was designed was not symetrical to the shape of most bikes therefore I had to sit down and read a comic book to work on my eye muscles.  Then I saw my sister riding a bike and I am not quite sure, but I think she may have been popping wheelies and doing handstands that first time.  Either that or that is what I imagined she was doing since I thought bike riding was impossible.  I was determined to ride a bike just like my sister did no matter what.

Actual picture of the first time my sis' rode a bike:

No matter what meant I fell on my ass every chance I had.  I was finding new ways to fall off of a bike.  Sideways, forward, backwards, upside down, reverse cowgirl...I think that last one was not a typical falling off of bike position but I was an innovator.  It hurt to fall off that bike, but what hurt worse was my pride since I was the only person in our house who did not know how to ride.

Then this one day I decided to go outside early and practice by myself.  I felt good that morning and for some reason there was no one outside when I went out.  We lived on a U shaped cul-de-sac near the end of the horshoe and I decided to ride into the middle of the street towards the center of the U.  When I say no one was outside, I mean no one was around like my name wasTom Cruise and I was driving through Times Square in "Vanilla Sky".  When I say no one was around I mean like Will Smith when he is in NY in "I Am Legend", except I didn't have a dog that would become a mutant I would have to lovingly choke out.  

                 I think he was outside though:

So I got on that bike and I expected to fall.  Except I didn't fall, I was staying up.  I was staying up!  It was the shakiest bike ride in the history of bike rides, but I was staying on that bike!  I was shake-riding my way down the street.  

Now if this were a movie, you would see me--this oversized kid shake-riding on a little bike.  Then the camera would pan out to a skinny, ominous looking tree that was growing at the middle of the U.  Then you would see me with a gigantic smile as I was shake-riding down the middle of the street looking down at my bike and not noticing the terrifying tree which seemed to be growing bigger and thicker the closer I got.  You would start to see me shaking even more, the camera would fade to black and you would hear a big crash and THUMP!

Well this was not a movie.  I shake-rode that bike to the middle of the U; I think my front wheel hit the edge of the curb and I fell head first off the bike.  Either I hit the curb (head first) or I hit the tree (head first).  To this day the last thing I remember is starting to fall off the bike.  The next thing I remember is waking up on the ground (ALL ALONE IN A POST-APOCALYPTIC WORLD) getting back on the bike and shake-riding home.  My non-remembering or questioning of what happened will be important to the story (I promise).

I had what I remember to be a normal night and then when I woke up in the morning I had a huge black eye.  My mother was worried and my father said, "Did you get in a fight?  If you did the other guy better look a lot worse than you do!" (Philly stand up?)  I could not remember for the life of me why I had a black eye.  Honestly, I didn't even remember falling off the bike or waking up on the ground.  That was very scary, because I thought monsters were whooping my ass at night and then taking my memories away.  Which is crazy, but the only rational explanation to a kid for not remembering why you have a black eye.

Then the next day, flashes of memories started coming back to me.  I was sitting down watching television, and a flash of my shaky bike ride came to me.  Then a few hours later a flash of the skinny tree came back to me.  Then finally, I remembered the feeling of the bike tipping forward and the feeling of the curb getting closer to my face.  I never remembered the impact, but the final thing I remembered was getting off the ground and riding home.

That was my first concussion.  I rung my own bell and I understood from personal experience what they mean when they say people with concussions have memory issues.  I don't remember ever hearing a person who suffered a concussion remembering the hit.  It is like the mind shields us from pain, in reality a concussion occurs when your brain shakes in your head so the mind may not be able to process what is actually happening at the moment of impact.

Me a doctor? No I just read:

I finally learned to ride a bike, so I was successful.  I needed motivation.  I now have to create my own motivation to get moving and drop these pounds.  I will lose 100 pounds during this journey, but I need partners.  Are you willing to stay with me on the journey and take your own journey as well?  Let me know and join me next week.