“Me Too!”

So yeah. Wow. I have a blog still.
July….was one hell of a month. I was able to get two weeks off for vacation, although not at the same time. I had a week right at the beginning, and another right at the end. Those two weeks were filled with travel, extended family time, visits to places of historical and cultural value, hiking, a few (not many) trips to the gym, and more and more, on top of the two weeks I had working as usual. August looks to be a little more tame, so I’m hoping to get more time on this thing.

Work is going great, although I still have a few psychological scars from the last job that keep leading me to believe that I’m going to screw something up somewhere along the line. None of my coworkers make me feel that way, it’s just something inside ME that I have to deal with…for another nine months when my probation is ended. I make that hurdle, and I think I’ll be in the clear.

While work seems to be getting easier, parenting….is not. Talk about a challenge, I constantly feel like I’m not doing anything right at all, although the boys are indicating otherwise…more on that in a moment.

The stressful part really, is dealing with two boys where the oldest is grown enough to do fun and exciting things with, and the younger brother can’t stand to be left out of anything. I understand he wants to be included and he wants to be like his big brother, but he’s really not ready for stuff yet. Something as simple as fishing. The Narrator and I used to fish a lot more than we have this season. We’ve cut back a little because every time we talk about going, the little guy pipes up “I want to go fishing too!” Occasionally I’ll try to herd the two of them, but the little inevitably gets bored and irritating only a few moments in, and I have to corral him on top of making sure the seven year old doesn’t spear himself with a hook, unsnarl lines, re-bait hooks, and so on. As a result, fishing simply isn’t as relaxing as it once was. It will be again soon, but it has become one of those things that is a chore more than anything else.

Another example, is the monster truck show that The Narrator and I have been going to every summer since 2013 when I graduated the police academy. This year, we decided to take The Destroyer along with us. I was ready for that, until my wife decided that I’d need help with the two of them, and said she’d go along. The interesting part there, is that neither boy was all that much trouble, but my poor wife hated every second of being there. I spent more time worrying about her being bored than I ever was about the boys. One more thing that just simply wasn’t as enjoyable.

I know this will all fade out, as soon as the boys are a little older, but for right now, every day is chock full of frustration.

But…there’s an upside.

As you may or may not know, I work overnights. I usually leave the house about the time the boys are having dinner, and get home around 8am. Then I go to sleep until around 1 or 2, and on my busy week, I’ll do that two or three days in a row.
Having vacation last week, I was home every night. The usual bedtime routine for us is my wife takes The Narrator in to his room where he reads for a few moments, then she’ll kiss him goodnight and he’ll fall asleep on his own. I’ll take The Destroyer, read to him, and lay with him until he falls asleep next to me.

This past week though, the boys requested that I put them both to sleep. The first night I went in with The Narrator, we finished our story, and I turned out the light.

“Daddy?”
“Yeah bud?”
“I really miss you when you’re at work.”
“I know. I miss you too.”
Then I hear him sniffle. He’s crying there in the dark, thinking about me going off to work at night. We talked a while about why I go to work and why I do what I do.

The little one too-

“Daddy?”
“Yes?”
“Do you go to work on this day?”
“Yeah, I leave around dinner time.”

He too starts to cry, genuinely upset that I’m leaving. It got worse this afternoon, he fell asleep on the couch. I woke him up as I was going out the door. He woke up, saw me dressed and ready to go, and immediately fell apart. That made leaving extremely difficult.

I must not be effing up as badly as I feel like I am at times.

It could be that I’m my own worse critic…I think many of us are.

 

#84

A small monument stands roadside along my patrol route. Curious, I stopped to check it out one day a while back and read the inscription on it.

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It immediately piqued my interest on a number of levels. One of my hobbies is poking around old cemeteries. As an avid student of history, they’re some of the most interesting and amazing places to visit. Not only that, but there’s something very interesting about this particular type of cemetery. Commonly called “Potter’s Fields” they are burial places for people who died without family or were very poor. For the most part, the graves are marked with only simple numbered stones, the names of the interred are matched only with paper records somewhere in a file that often gets lost to history. Often, the grave sites are unmarked completely. I’d visited one such place in Long Island a number of years ago, but didn’t know there was one so close. I made up my mind I had to check it out.

I made a few inquiries, and one of the other officers told me “Yeah, there’s a path behind that monument, the cemetery is back up in the woods a ways. There isn’t much left of it.”

Tonight, while working alone and having completed my assigned duties for the night, I made up my mind to see if I could find it. Around 2:30am I pulled up and parked near the monument, clicked on my flashlight and headed towards the treeline, looking for an opening that might be a path.

I found it not far from where I’d parked, and my flashlight beam played up the path, immediately stopping on the glowing eyes of a barn cat. I followed the path to an opening, a mowed field about a hundred yards from where I’d parked. My flashlight searched for the cemetery, finding nothing at all. The field I stood in had been freshly cut. It appeared I’d wandered into someone’s hay field. I was in the wrong place. There was nothing that even looked like a cemetery. As I walked a little way into the field, my light rested on a wire fence a few yards away- the type commonly used to keep livestock from wandering off. Next to one of the thin metal fence posts, a squared-off object sat. A box? No. It was a rock. As I got closer, I realized I’d found it. Sort of. The simple tombstone sticking up out of the grass was the only one of its kind. Etched into its face was the number that had been assigned to a soul for the rest of eternity. 84.

84

I looked closer at the ground around me and found the remnants of maybe half a dozen other stones either broken off near ground level or laying flat in the grass. #84 was the only obvious indication that there was or had been a cemetery there. I also noticed that the ground around #84 was humped and divoted in places, much the same way I’d seen on Civil War battlefields where trenches and rifle pits had been dug, but the earth had done a fairly decent job of repairing itself. Truth be told, if I hadn’t known what I was looking for at the start, I’d have probably never realized that this was a burial ground. Even though the last burial in this commoner’s cemetery was around sixty years ago, it had all but been reclaimed by the earth.

There wasn’t much else to see, so I started back through the woods, pondering the history of the place. A peaceful hillside in Rural New York isn’t such a bad place to spend eternity, unknown, unmarked, or otherwise, but I couldn’t help but wonder who #84 was. Perhaps one of the 5 WW1 veterans buried there? Even if I take the time to dig into the archives of the county and they HAPPEN to have the records corresponding to the numbers somewhere, odds are it’ll yield nothing more than a name. An entire life reduced to a number which is quickly fading away like several hundred other numbers already had.

My first reaction to such places is always a little sad. But the more I dwell on it, there’s a sort of comforting finality to it. The whole “dust to dust” thing really makes a little bit of sense. Not only that, but nature will ALWAYS take back what was hers to begin with. Even the large national memorial cemeteries will someday long into the future wither away under the elements and the treelines will creep back to where a field had been plotted, and I really like the idea of ‘returning from whence we came.’

Not only that, but I always feel a bit fortunate when I happen across a place like this. I somehow get the idea that I’m going to be one of the last people to see it as it was, before it is swallowed back by the elements. Such places are simultaneously a glimpse into the past, and a look at the future.

I got back to the car after having the daylights scared out of me by a deer that I startled along the pathway, and drove off.

I’ll probably never go back and see #84 and the collection of scattered, broken stones that are sinking back into the dirt and grass again. But I did get there, and I did get a chance to see it before the whole site is nothing more than a memory, referenced by a memorial on the side of the road that scarcely draws a glance from most who pass by. For that, I think I am fortunate…strange though that may seem.

Of course, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a LITTLE chuckle out of the irony of working the graveyard shift tonight.

 

Snippets From the Gym Experience

Well. I went and did. I bought a gym membership. I got a nice little discount for working in Law Enforcement, resulting in a deal I couldn’t pass up. So…I now belong to a local gym.

The time came the other day for my first trip. The Doctor summed it up best.

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But I had to. So, I donned workout clothes, and headed off. I got there, and the place was empty. I had the entire gym to myself. Like I said, it’s a local place and rather small. The weight room is modestly sized, and has all kinds of pieces of equipment in it. Some of which I stared at with a blank look, not knowing what the hell they did or how to use them.

Just a few minutes into my routine of moving heavy things around, my trepidation started to fade. Maybe, just MAYBE this wouldn’t be so bad.

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On I went, discovering fun new ways to stretch out muscles I’d forgotten I even had. They have an ab-lounger, which makes crunches far less uncomfortable, and in a pinch will be a great place to nap if the need ever arises.

Halfway through my workout, I was gaining momentum. Picking up speed. Breaking a sweat. This was awesome, and I was going to be awesome at it. Did that full length mirror depict me as looking a bit thinner already? It did, I know it did.

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Not me- but close. I swear.

I wrapped up my workout, not wanting to overdo things on my first day. I got home and took a shower, feeling genuinely good about myself. I was on to a good thing. I took a small nap, aware that I’d be sore soon from the things I’d done at the gym, but I was ready for it.

Actually. I wasn’t ready for it. At all. By the time I woke up the next morning…

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There was literally no part of me that didn’t hurt a little bit. My stomach was killing me (Someone said there were muscles in there?) from the time I spent not napping on the ab-lounger. My arms were in a weakened state from the rower-thingy, my legs….my GOD my legs were on fire from the leg press, nothing didn’t hurt.

I didn’t go back the next day, I had no time. Good thing, because recovery was necessary. I’ll be going back tomorrow, now that I’ve had sufficient time to have my various sinews and bones knit and heal from the abuse I put them through. I’m aware that the soreness is a good thing, and that if I ever expect to gain anything from this, I need to go…and KEEP going. The problem is I know what I’m in for, so now more than ever…

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Distraction

It’s been a tough week hasn’t it? The news has been a blur of negativity in the wake of the Orlando tragedy. Whereas I used to engage in the post-tragedy debates, I’ve sort of backed away from it now. The bickering between the gun advocates and the gun control advocates seems to detract from the severity of the situation. Turning tragedy into a set of political sound bytes or talking points for your particular agenda seems cheap, disrespectful, and completely worthless in the long run.
Obviously I have my opinions on the matter, but they would amount to nothing more than another handful of manure on the growing pile of stink that arises every time something negative happens. So- screw it. I’m not going to bother. The posts, memes, and debates that have my social media feeds swollen with vitriol go ignored.

Sometimes, when it seems like the world is devolving into absolute shit around me, I look for distractions. I don’t think of it as sticking my head in the sand and ignoring the woes of the world, or even apathy. Rather, sometimes I (we all) need a break from the tears and the fears.

I happened upon such a distraction while conversing with my wife the other day. We were talking about comfort, and out of nowhere, we got to discussing what our “ultimate” comfort situation would be. I’ve worked on mine the last few days, tweaking and changing some of the details, and this little mental project has been a very welcome diversion.

So, without further ado, here is AD’s idea of the ultimate in comfort.

I’m in a hammock stretched between two shady hardwood trees. It is summer. The temperature is somewhere between 75 and 80 degrees, (Fahrenheit) but there’s a regular breeze that blows, keeping it from getting too hot. I am atop a hill overlooking a valley. Nowhere in my sight line is anything at all man-made. No houses. No power lines. No roads, cars, bridges. There aren’t even any contrails from airplanes passing overhead.
I have no idea where my cell phone is, and I have no commitments or appointments or obligations for three days. Next to me is a table with a glass and a pitcher of blackberry lemonade, ice cold. There’s also a massive bowl of dark purple cherries.
I alternate between napping and reading, with the only audible sounds being the breeze and the occasional chirping of the birds in the trees. At some point, my wife joins me in the hammock and we lie and swing. Uninterrupted by emails, text messages, and small children for the better part of an entire day.

This tiny little description has been my ‘happy place’ for the last two or three days as everything transpires. I obviously can’t ignore everything going on around me, but packing myself off to that hammock in the mountains every now and then has helped me keep from completely losing my mind.

So how about it? If you could describe your perfectly comfortable scenario, where are you? What are you doing? Are you inside? Outside? The more detail you put into it, the more fun it is. Try it. Let me know where you’re going to be the most comfortable you’ve ever been.

And don’t be like my incredibly beautiful, incredibly private wife. All I’ve gotten out of her so far on this little exercise is “I have clothes on” and “I’m not on fire.”

Maybe….just maybe, her idea of being incredibly comfortable involves me not being able to find her.

With all that said, be well readers. Keep your chins up. Mourn tragedy appropriately, and please- don’t give into the hatred, either for external forces, or the internal ones that don’t happen to agree with us. Look for the good, look for the helpers, and soldier on.

30 Hour Day- Courtesy of Etsy

I went for an eye exam the other day. As I wrapped up, I got a text from my wife. “I need more white felt.”
This is not a rare request. For my new readers, my wife runs an etsy shop where she makes stuffed toys, name banners, and the like. Most of her orders are custom jobs, so its impossible to know what someone will order. Which means, every now and then she’ll get an order for something that requires more of a certain color than she has in stock.

So, I go into the store where I get another message. “Never mind. I have enough. I need you home. Now.”

This is where I panic a little.

“Everything okay?”
“Yes, someone just ordered 10 cloud pillows, but they want them over-nighted to NYC…TONIGHT!”

The short story here is that a woman from an upscale event planner in the city reached out to her and asked for the order. Usually, something like this would take weeks to put together. If they were going to get the order, it would have to ship in….two hours. My wife had 4 of the 10 already made an in stock, and was racing to get the rest done and shipped by 5pm. I raced home to help.

We formed a first-ever assembly line with me and the boys, stuffing, sewing, and prepping the order, but to no avail. We weren’t going to make it. There was no way.

My wife was bummed. Not only was the order for several hundred dollars, it was also going- as I mentioned, to a rather prestigious client. She was about to cancel the order when I told her no.

“Finish the order.”
“What?”
“Finish the order. First, email the lady and ask her if its okay if we hand-deliver the product tomorrow around noon.”
“WHAT?!”
“You heard me. If she agrees, I’ll leave immediately after work. I’ll be there before noon.”

My wife fought me for a while before she realized I wasn’t letting go. For once…I’d win. She emailed the woman, who agreed to the in-person service, and I started to set things up.

The main reason my wife was so adamant that this NOT happen, is that I was working a 12 hour shift that night. I’d work for 12 hours, get home, pick up the box, and make a 5 hour round trip drive to NYC and back.

Well….that’s exactly what happened. I got by with a little help from my friends too. My Lieutenant at work that night supplied me with my first ever AMP energy drink around 5am. I had my first cup of coffee shortly thereafter. I got home just before 8, stuck shoes on the three year old, (my co-pilot for the day) grabbed the box and a few bottles of water….and left within 15 minutes. Two and a half hours later, with only one pit stop for me and the boy, we rolled into West 27th st. I called the number the customer had supplied, and she said she’d meet me at street level so I didn’t have to hunt for parking.

“Okay.” I said. “Red Ford Fusion. Very confused looking guy behind the wheel.”

I rolled up to the address she’d given us, and she flagged me down. I got out, opened the passenger side door, handed her the box, said a few pleasantries, got back in the car….and left again.

Right around 2pm…we got home. I still didn’t go to bed. I napped a little on and off, but didn’t want to screw my schedule up any worse. I limped along for a while, mustered up the energy to put the 3 year old to bed, and we retired at 9pm…and I slept a solid 12 hours, the most I’ve slept in years.

Mission accomplished, with a fun little story to tell as an aside, and even if it doesn’t translate into any further sales for my wife’s shop…I had a great little outing with my son.

 

Oh, Sweet Misery

It’s 3am. I have off from the police job tonight, yet I am awake.

I am 12 hours into a 15 hour security shift at a local music event.

It is raining, so I am camped in my car, watching an intersection at my post out my windshield, and looking for oncoming headlights in my rear view mirror.

Beside me in the passenger seat is a soggy paper plates with three slices of cold pizza, one thoroughly gnawed on, my dinner…or breakfast. Who can tell anymore.

Every time a car comes up from behind me, I jump out into the rain, stop it, and find out the driver’s destination, and check their credentials. As the hour grows later, the frequency of this task lessens, even as the rain gets ever harder.

I had originally signed on for a 3pm-11pm shift. Somewhere around 10:30, my supervisor drove up in his golf cart.

“Can you stay until 6am?” He asked. The person who had been set to relieve me for the overnight shift had apparently found something better to do.
“Can you find me coffee?”

He said he could, and I agreed to take on the extra hours. I literally traded 8 hours of sleep for a cup of coffee.

The coffee came, two hours later. Cold. With Splenda in it. I got the raw end of that deal.

So. Here I sit. Three hours to go in a rain-soaked shift watching a mostly empty parking lot, with cold food, no coffee, no company, and no phone charger, so wrapping up this little mobile update very soon is a good idea.

The kicker is, I keep volunteering for this stuff. The money isn’t great, so the added hours aren’t going to account for a whole heck of a lot. But someone needed to cover the shift. I was available. I don’t really mind doing it either. One might say I LIKE these long, boring, miserable jobs. Why though? Who can say. But I do. So here I am. And here I’ll stay. Cold, wet, tired, and without so much as a hot cup o’ joe for comfort.

Practice Camping

I bought a tent.

It’s a big one, large enough to house my wife, myself, and the two boys for a few days while we take a small vacation in July. We’re easing into camping. The boys have never done it, and my wife is lukewarm to the idea. She’s not AGAINST it, but she has a hard time seeing the merits of camping in July when there are perfectly good hotels with showers, air conditioners, and continental breakfasts. For some strange reason, my wife equates relaxation to being comfortable. She’s weird. I know.

At any rate we’re not even doing any ‘hardcore’ camping either. Ever since I was a little kid, my family has been vacationing in Gettysburg Pennsylvania every summer for a few weeks. We went there once on our way back from a trip to Washington D.C. and decided that we wanted to go back and learn some more about the park and the history of the battle, so my parents planned an entire trip to the place the next summer. One thing led to another, and it’s been the annual vacation spot for my family, as well as a number of other close-friend families for years. They get a few adjoining spots in a campground, circle their campers and tents up like an old-timey wagon train, and proceed to do nothing but enjoy themselves for a few weeks, take in (and live) the history of the area, and honest-to-god live it up. They count down the weeks and days until they all get to meet up down there.

I was a party to this annual jaunt myself until only a few years ago. Even after my wife and I got married, we went and joined them down there for a few days every year, until the summer of 2013. I was graduating the police academy that summer, and couldn’t make it down. The summers of 2014, and 2015 saw me working schedules and jobs that simply didn’t permit the time.

Now though, I’ve had my vacation time approved, and we’re heading down for a few days. My wife agreed to the trip, but under the condition that we only stay three nights. That would be plenty for the boys to get their feet wet with some rather tame camping.

Still, we’ve got some prep work to do. Since my son doesn’t have school on Monday for the Memorial Day holiday, and Monday happens to be one of my pass days at work, we’re doing some ‘practice camping’ in the back yard, and we’re going to make a whole affair out of it. We have some fun and necessary errands to run in the morning, then when we get back, we’re going to light the campfire, set up the tent, and spend the night in the darkness of the Catskill Mountains, a hundred feet from our house.

Camping has always been one of my favorite things to do. I’m a bit more used to walking into the woods as far as I can and living for a weekend with nothing more than I can carry on my back- but I need to scale back a little bit, for two reasons.

  1. I’m not 20 anymore.
  2. If I’m going to get the boys interested, we need to do this methodically. Throwing someone into a lake and saying ‘swim!’ isn’t the best way to teach someone HOW to swim, nor foster a lifelong love of aquatic sports. So…easy does it.

Funnily enough, I’m honestly as excited about our little backyard practice camping as I ever have been about a weekend of ‘roughing it’ in the mountains, or even our old family trips to a campground outside of Gettysburg Pennsylvania.

This is one of those instances where- while I very dearly hold the memories of our old vacations and experiences, I’m getting to forge ahead with our OWN family trips, traditions, and adventures. I often get nostalgic for the old days of roving over hallowed battlefields with my family, like the one time my brother and I got separated from a tour group and spend hours walking the battlefield to get back to town and meet up with our family. (Before cell phones. Yes, it was a long time ago.) I remember someone had asked my father if he was worried about us, being ‘lost.’ My father shrugged and told them “No. They know this field as well as they do the woods behind our own house.” I was thirteen, my brother, eleven, and it’s still an event talked about to this day.

But even with those fond memories, I even more so enjoy the day trips we’re taking with the boys now that they’re old enough to do things with. Three hour drives to Steamtown train museum, or the Boston Aquarium…each of these experiences are becoming as, if not more treasured to me than the old days are. Because these are the adventures we’re making as a whole new team. We’re the successful spin-off of the classic hit show. We’re the epic sequel to the blockbuster film. We’re Chapter two in a voluminous tome of adventure, memories…and more than a little bit of chaos.

So, stay tuned and find out how practice camping goes, as well as a report on how our first REAL vacation as an entire family ends up.

 

Time Again.

Greetings! I’m still alive, and hopefully back from my extended break from blogging for a while. My absence wasn’t by choice, but was necessary in the face of my work and life schedule. The last few weeks were the end of the academic semester at the college I work at, and business was booming. For some reason, rather than have the mischief and mayhem taper off as finals week approach, it seemed to ramp up as the end drew near.

Now though, commencement has ended and everyone’s gone home. For the next three months, the college is host to a skeleton crew of humanity during the day, and at night the only people here are those of us in the police department.

So, we’ve got a little bit of time to breathe for a few weeks, and I have a lot of catching up to do. A lot of my favorite blogs have gone weeks without my having read anything at all.

The summer time promises a lot of fun, not at work so much, but at home. For the first time in my entire professional career, I am able to take paid vacation. I’m thirty three years old and have never used or even had paid vacation time. I’ve either not worked long enough at a job to get it, or worked at jobs that didn’t offer it. Now that I’m in what I think will be my ‘forever home’ as far as work goes, it’s there, and I plan on using it.
Atop the vacation time, I’ll be home a lot more while my oldest son is on summer break. That means hikes, camping, day trips, fishing, and a whole lot of mischief of our own.

More good news, I got through my first evaluation as a probationary officer here- and I seemed to have passed it with flying colors. “Satisfactory” across the board. Turns out, its easier to do well when you like what you’re doing.

I’ve had a lot of time to ponder and muse the last few weeks, even if I haven’t had a chance to sit at a keyboard and put my thoughts to word. So much has gone down socially, politically, personally, professionally, and just in general that I should have plenty of material to work with for a while, so my updates aren’t simple, dry bits about nothing interesting.

With that said, I’ll end this brief re-introduction and pick up on my reading for a while. Expect something of substance before too long. Hell, if I get bored tonight, I’ll probably hammer out something before I go home at 7am.

If you’ve waited patiently for my return, I appreciate it. If you’d forgotten I existed completely….I can’t blame you!

It is good to be back.

Medical Calls and Seniority

Dispatch: “Units respond to Davis Hall for an unknown medical. Acquiring further information.”

Me: “Unit 2, Received. I’ll be en route.”

Senior Officer: “Unit 1, Received. Show me en route as well.”

Dispatch: “Responding units be advised, female patient, heavy vaginal bleeding.”

Me: “Unit 2 Received, show me on the scene.”

Senior Officer: “…..Unit 1 Received. Show me at campus entrance waiting to escort EMS to the scene.”

-Hashtag: RookieLife.

 

 

New High Score.

Working overnights, sitting sedentary for hours on end, having access only to crappy food, and sleeping through the daytime hours when one usually does things- has begun to catch up with me in the health department.

I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been.

I won’t dwell on it too much, since it’s reversible. Instead I’m focusing on HOW to reverse it.

For starters, water. Dear God….water. it turns out, hydrating with coffee through 12 hour shifts is a lousy idea. I’ve been habitually neglecting hydration, which is bad. Really bad. I’d get home from work, pee dark yellow, and wake from my slumber with dehydration headaches.

Yeah. Not smart.

I’ve already fixed that. I consumed 80oz of water in 14 hours yesterday, and have a water bottle on me constantly now.

Next step: diet. Skipping gas station fare on my shift isn’t going to be easy, but it is necessary. Done need to be the days where slow shifts see me bored-eat a whole bag of combos. I’ve always been a fan of fruit and nuts, so these will become my snack food. I’m not delving into the cult-like cleanses and crash diets, but I am changing what I consume.

Final step: 0600 tomorrow, I run again. My goal by the end of the summer is to run the 7 miles to my parents place without dying. Or stopping. Or dying.

This step will be the most difficult. A lot of health nuts and exercise psychotic love to claim that you can always find time to exercise, you just seek excuses NOT to.
My suspicion is that these annoyingly motivated individuals don’t work a schedule that severely screws with sleep, family, and personal times. Finding time to do anything but work and sleep is not easy. But necessary.

So. There it is. AD is in terrible shape. I admit it, I own it, and I need to fix it. Stay tuned, and follow me as I undertake a journey to lose (data removed) pounds and get back to my Academy weight and form.
I don’t ask you to come along with me for support, but in case I need someone to follow behind me in a car and force me to run more.

Here goes.