Merry Christmas!

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I can’t think of anything interesting to say, so I just decided to post a handful of drawings.

Today I’ve been sitting in front of my heater, sipping eggnog, and watching episodes of Benson on DVD. (The DVDs were a Christmas present from my parents. Benson is one of the first shows I ever remember seeing as a child. It’s like comfort food to me.) I’ve also been writing down some goals and plans for 2014 in a little blue notebook. I’m excited about the coming year.

I hope you had a merry Christmas, wherever you are in the world. And I hope you have a wonderful 2014.

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Some drawings from 2013

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I’ve taken a break from drawing lately, so I decided to post some pictures I drew earlier this year. The first is a caricature of my blogger friend, Myla Laurel, who lives in Dubai. She takes mouth-watering pictures of food. The second is Spock from Star Trek. (It’s supposed to be the Leonard Nimoy version.) The third is G.E. Gallas, a talented writer/illustrator/blogger.

Like I said, I’ve stepped away from the sketchbook. I wanted to remove the clutter from my mind and spend the rest of the year relaxing. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve reflected on 2013 and kicked around some ideas about what I would like to do in 2014.

I’ve also watched Will Vinton’s Claymation Christmas over and over and over again. It’s almost 30 years old now, but I never get tired of it.

***

I’ve tried to get into the habit of visiting the park regularly and walking around the track. Since the park is so close to my home, I don’t bother to drive. I just walk over there — past the old storefront buildings and all the small, quaint houses with Christmas trees twinkling in the windows.

Each time I make my way to the park, my neighbor’s little dog eagerly scampers along behind me. I call the dog Regis, because he reminds me of Regis Philbin, the TV icon. It’s difficult to explain why. I think it’s because of the way he grins. I see the essence of Regis Philbin in his happy little face.

Whenever I walk through town, trudging toward the park, Regis always accompanies me. But he doesn’t move in a straight line, like I do. Instead, he makes one detour after another, waddling away from me and waddling back to me again, exploring each lawn with his twitching nose.

I’m usually deep in thought during these walks, brooding about my job and worrying about life, but Regis is always happy. He’s just a high-speed ball of joy … with the face of a game show host.

Sometimes, I look over and see Regis tinkling on a garden gnome. When this happens, I clap my hands and shout, “Regis! Come away from there at once! You don’t have any business urinating in that person’s yard! Get back here! Right now! I command you!”

And he happily trots back to me, wagging his tail and smiling. I half expect him to say, “Is that your final answer?”

Once we arrive at the park, and I begin to march in circles around the track, Regis continues to come and go, sniffing and peeing everywhere, as if he has some kind of quota. I enjoy his company, even though he makes things more complicated. I’m always afraid his little antics are going to get me in some kind of trouble.

But so far, everything is fine. And if I stick with this regimen, I’ll probably slim down in 2014.

Thanks for reading. Merry Christmas.

(Both of my e-books are available on my Amazon page. One is a science fiction story aimed at young adults. The other is a Southern gothic novel filled with dark humor.)

The Clockwork series

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Here are some colored pencil drawings I did back in 2010. They tell the story of a person’s life from birth to death. In each picture, you see the same man in a different stage of life. You also see a robot, with a clock for a head, relentlessly stalking the man. The robot represents time. I originally did these pictures in 2003, when I was 23 and still learning about colored pencils … but I decided to do fresh, new versions of them in 2010. I’m currently selling them on posters and coffee mugs in my CafePress store.

You can click here to visit my store. I have other art there, too … and the other stuff isn’t nearly as depressing. You will find pictures of happy things like kittens and flowers. (Seriously. Go take a look.)

I haven’t used colored pencils in a long, long time. Colored pencils are tedious. For the past few years, I’ve just worked with graphite pencils. I’ve mainly done “head and shoulder” portraits this year. I plan to do bigger, more ambitious art in 2014.

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In other news, I’m still sticking with my new eating regimen. This week, I’ve been subsisting on Styrofoam discs (aka rice cakes) and steamed broccoli. But today is a special day. Today is “splurge” day. I’m about to visit this quaint little Mexican restaurant I recently discovered.

Have a lovely weekend and try to stay out of trouble.

(Also: you can click here if you’d like to download my new novel, Citizens of Purgatory. It’s a story about Nick Youngblood, a struggling sportswriter who doesn’t know anything about sports. One morning, as Nick drives to the newspaper office, a deranged ex-convict crashes into the back of his car. A nasty conflict ensues … and Nick’s life becomes very complicated.)

The diet dilemma

I recently discovered a new comfort food: scorched English muffins with grape jelly smeared on them. (They’re always scorched because my decrepit little toaster oven has gone haywire and the timer no longer works.) I spent most of my Thanksgiving break lounging on the couch, watching Benson, and eating a charred English muffin from time to time. It was heavenly.

A few weeks ago, I attempted to go on the Atkins Diet, but I ran out of food … and I didn’t have enough money to buy more Atkins-friendly groceries.

So I’m trying to lose weight the “regular” way: power-walking at the park, cutting back on soda, drinking more water, and avoiding food that tastes good.

Still, I wish I could continue with Atkins. I lost 70 pounds that way in 2003.

The Atkins Diet is easy if:

1.) You have an unlimited amount of money.

2.) You’re the only human being on Earth.

I’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to stick with the Atkins Diet during social gatherings. If you say you’re on the Atkins Diet (or any diet, for that matter) people immediately start to squirm and twitch. Maybe it’s because they think you’re miserable and they feel sorry for you. Maybe they’re worried about your health and well-being. Perhaps they can’t enjoy their own food while you’re sitting in their presence, “depriving” yourself.

Whatever the reason, if you arrive at a birthday party and tell people you’re on the Atkins Diet, they will inevitably pin you to the floor and cram handfuls of cake and ice cream down your throat. It’s just a law of nature.

It doesn’t matter if you say, “Hey, don’t feel bad for me. I’m fine. My body is in ketosis right now. My appetite is pretty much non-existent. Just go ahead and enjoy your food and don’t worry about me, OK?”

They won’t listen. They will force you to eat what they’re eating.

***

Before my doctor absconded to Mexico without warning, he told me that exercise is the most important part of an effective weight-loss program. While your dietary choices are obviously crucial, your exercise regimen is the real key to getting rid of fat. (Marcia, please correct me if I’m wrong. You know more about these things than I do.) I’ve made it a point to start walking at the track a few times a week. In fact, I need to finish typing this post so I can get up early in the morning and take a good, long walk.

Still, my relationship with food is what got me into this situation to begin with. Especially fast food.

In the back of my mind, there’s a hazy memory of a family road trip. I was about three years old. It was late at night, but I was wide awake. Boredom gnawed at my mind as I sat in the back seat, watching illuminated billboards float by in the darkness. (We were traveling from Central Florida to Northwest Georgia. It was a horrendously long ride, especially for a child.) My heart skipped with delight when my dad veered off the interstate and stopped at McDonald’s. I got a Happy Meal. The hamburger and fries were delicious. There was also a plastic pencil sharpener in the shape of Grimace, one the McDonald’s characters.

The feeling of boredom and restlessness gave way to euphoria as I ate my hamburger and played with my new trinket. In my little toddler mind, there was almost no difference between the Happy Meal and … say, Christmas morning.

That’s where it all started, I think.

I’m a grown man now and I’m responsible for my own actions, including my eating habits. But I’ve always found myself reaching for fast food whenever I feel anxious and uneasy — and I always feel a little bit anxious and uneasy.

***

I’m not going to draw anything else for the rest of the year. I want to spend the whole month of December relaxing, praying, reflecting on 2013, and taking stock of myself. (And eating burnt English muffins. And watching Benson. You know, I drew a picture of Robert Guillaume the other night and sent it to him on Twitter. It actually looked more like O.J. Simpson, but Mr. Guillaume seemed flattered. And that’s all that really matters.)

Anyway, I will write more later. It’s late. I need to sleep.

In the meantime, here are some “healthy” foods that I plan to start eating on a regular basis. If you would like to suggest some more, feel free to post a comment below.

* Broccoli with melted cheese

* Grilled chicken from KFC (by the bucketload)

* Canned corn

* The aforementioned English muffins

* Banana chips

* Baked potato chips

* Raisin bagels

* Tuna