Saturday, September 17, 2016

Baked Lays Update, Guilty Pleasures

Just a quick update to let you know I did indeed eat the Baked Lays and Helluva Good French Onion Dip. Not all at once, but a handful or so. And up until today, I've been a wee bit obsessed with the combo. But, it’s all good. I haven’t pigged out, just let myself have it whenever I felt like it and generally eating healthy the rest of the time.

And today I have absolutely no interest in Baked Lays and Helluva Good French Onion Dip. 
That spree is spent.

Funny thing, I have no clue what’s next. Remember I told you about that list of forbidden, fattening, guilt-ridden foods? I don’t know what I want to work on next. Hmmmm….

It’s a very, very strange feeling for me to eat what I want when I want. I mean, I was never the type of person to completely forbid any food. Like on vacations, I would eat what I wanted for the most part, but I always felt the need to plan things out. I guess because that’s what most dieting programs tell you to do. And it does work. If I make chicken and salad ahead of time, put my meals in containers, it’s so easy.

I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being prepared and planning ahead. For me, the problem has been the fearful need to control what I eat so I don’t dare gain a pound. But then I spent several months tracking the calories of what I would eat in a day, and even on a maintenance plan…I was not eating enough. 

That worried me.

There’s no way that 1500 calories/day was appropriate for a woman who works out an hour a day, including strength training and jogging. Uh uh. But if I ate more than that, I did indeed gain weight. Is something wrong with my metabolism? *sigh*

I’m trying to overcome a lot of guilt associated with eating while making sure my body has the nutrients and calories it needs to get out of the starved/dieting state it’s been in for fifteen years. 

Some days the guilt takes over and I have this incredibly intense urge to go back to my controlling ways. 

Like yesterday.

I wanted to hop on the scale so bad, but I knew the end result would be a long day haunted by the number. Unless the number was down from last week, I would feel that compulsion to diet and lose weight. It never fails. I WANT to see the scale move down.

But I’m sticking to the intuitive eating thing. I have to give this the real college try. And I HAVE to get out of the weight-loss haunted house. My life is supposed to be about so much more than food and scales and pounds.

I hate the scale today because I want to step on it so bad.

But I haven't.


I need to choose a new play food for the upcoming week. I seriously have no clue what I want to work on, so here’s the list:  Which would you choose? (and yes, my list is very specific)

Turkey Hill’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Ice Cream
McDonald’s Fries
Cheeto’s - Crunchy
Snyder’s Honey Mustard and Onion Pretzel Pieces
Cheez Its and Tomato Soup
Kozy Shack Rice Pudding
Coconut and Pecan Oatmeal Cookies (homemade)

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Letting Myself Eat is Scary And Other Sinister Food Thoughts

The stuff of my nightmares
This allowing myself to eat anything is scary. I mean, all these years of control is hard to let go of. From counting calories and fat grams to categorizing foods into healthy and fatty-fat piles, I've trained myself to, well, fear food. And don't get me started on being indoctrinated to believe that certain food was my enemy.

Yeah, my enemy.

How so? Well, for example, have you ever heard that processed foods are designed to make you eat more? Lose control? I'm sure you've heard of High Fructose Corn Syrup. If you looked at the ingredients of a lot of processed snack foods not so long ago, you would have found HFCS somewhere in that seemingly endless list. The story goes that HFCS somehow messes with our hunger and satiety hormones, turning up the hunger and interrupting the satiety.

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD states in this article that HFCS "can strongly affect your brain's satiety center--in a bad way." It's also the famous article that spurred a worldwide debate, which in turn prompted some food manufacturers to remove HFCS, which in turn prompted the Corn Refiners Association to initiate a damage control campaign in defense of HFCS.

The assertion I embraced: because of certain ingredients in processed food you never feel full and that's why you eat the whole box or bag.

See? My enemy. Food designed to make me overeat against my will.
How's a gal to lose/maintain weight with sinister stuff like this on the shelf?
The answer? Avoid it. At all costs.
This article that appeared on Huffington Post says I should never, ever eat HFCS again.
As long as I live.

In the interest of fairness, here's a link to the European Food Information Council reference to a study that seems to show that this is not true. You can check out the study for yourself and do some digging. You be the judge.

Flash forward to today...

Today I went for a long walk with a friend. We tend to talk nonstop and before we knew what we'd done, we'd walked over 7 miles. 7 miles! I thought, oh wow, I'm going to be famished. But strangely, I wasn't. Maybe it was the coffee with real cream and coconut oil, the full-fat coconut and almond granola, or the fabulous Indian food from the night before.

My next stop was the grocery store and I hesitated. What if I'm hungrier than I think and I go in there and buy a crap ton of fun foods? I took a deep breath, told myself to chill out, and marched into the store. I needed ingredients for a BBQ chicken salad, as well as a couple afterschool snacks for the kids. I grabbed the salad ingredients and found myself in front of the snacks.

Oooo boy. I was already sweaty from my walk in the 90 degree sunshine, but I definitely upped my sweating quotient as I stared one of my long-time enemies in the package.

Baked Lays.
I loooooove Baked Lays with Helluva Good French Onion Dip.
I mean LOOOOOOOVE them.

While neither of these favorites has HFCS in the ingredients, I have been known to eat an entire bag with dip. Obviously, I had no control with them. Obviously, they were my personal enemy. And guess what?

Hunger roared.

My stomach growled like a dragon who has just woken from one hundred years of slumber. And it wanted Baked Lays and French Onion dip. That. Bastard. At first, I walked away and grabbed the two items my children had requested and headed for the checkout. Mid aisle, I halted. Was I serious about this intuitive eating thing or was I playing with the concept?

I knew how to walk away from "bad" food. I'd been doing it for years. Most of the time. Until I didn't and succumbed to the terrifying and temporary beauty of a gorge fest.

Wasn't one of the exercises of learning to eat intuitively actually listening to my hunger and cravings? As scared shitless as I was, I went back, grabbed the bag of Lays and headed for the dip.

I have to stop here to tell you I was also irritated. I mean, I was irritated with myself for even wanting this pointless, nutritionally vapid food. Pointless. Vapid. Right. There were those negative terms that demonized certain foods that aren't nutritionally dense. Another lesson I'm trying to learn: stop demonizing food. Food is not the enemy. And, yes, the only purpose of Baked Lays is to taste good. No nutrition. But...

Another precept of intuitive eating is when you ignore your cravings and force yourself to restrict foods you really want, you will eventually cave. You will run back to that callous, abusive lover and devour them, their socks, and your own soul because you've made them off limits. Forbidden sweets are sweeter, right?

I decided amidst the Reese's Peanut Butter cups and discounted Krispy Kremes that I was serious about intuitive eating. I embraced my craving and bought my play food.

That was around 11 am this morning and I have yet to open the bag. It's sitting on the coffee table. Right now. Staring at me. As soon as I'm done with this post I'm going to do it.

I am.
I'm serious.

I'll let you know how it goes.

What about you? Am I a freak? The only one who fears certain foods because they are "bad" for me and I can't stop myself once I start?

Please tell me I'm not alone.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

I Want to Eat Whatever I Want, Damn it! And not gain weight.

Me at 155 pounds
I have to tell you that I've had this overwhelming sense for the last couple years that diets and the focus on weight loss are bad, bad, bad. While somewhat well-intentioned, our national obsession with body weight has produced the exact opposite of what was hoped. Instead of a nation at a healthy weight, Americans have the reputation for being the fattest on average.

We are a nation obsessed with body image, weight, and healthy living, but are our bodies and minds any healthier because of this? I don't think so. Oh, sure, there are wonderful stories about people turning their health around, losing lots of weight, and getting fit. That's great. I'm glad people are happier with themselves and choosing to live in a more healthy way.

But there are also some interesting statistics about weight loss and keeping it off. I did some research and the bottom line is at best 20% of people who lost at least 10% of their body weight were able to maintain that loss for 1 year (Long term weight maintenance; The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition). At worst? Only a dismal 2% of 100 obese participants in a 1959 study were able to maintain weight loss of at least 20 lbs.

But I'm not going to write about the generalities. Instead, I'm going to write about my personal experience, so hold on for a bumpy story.

I've "struggled" with my weight since I was twelve years old when a well-meaning person told me that "at my age" my stomach should be flat. Of course, it wasn't. I weighed 125 pounds and wore a size ten. I bought one of those 80s workout videos and got to work. I also started my first diet.

Thus began the restriction mentality with food, as well as the shame and blame food game. My weight would fluctuate over the next 20 years, sometimes as high as 155 and a few times as low as 120. I was at my thinnest after hiking the Appalachian Trail, getting down to a size 6 and weighing 114 pounds, and at my heaviest right after giving birth to my second child in a size 16 and weighing 200 pounds.

It was after my second child's birth that I became fixated on health and fitness. I had been teaching yoga classes before I got pregnant but because of health conditions during that pregnancy, I stopped teaching and my weight ballooned.


As a yoga teacher, I couldn't believe I'd let this weight thing get out of control. Imagine how I felt when after my son was born I went back to exercising at my gym, and my former boss saw me at the gym and asked me if I wanted to start teaching again. My first thought was "There's NO WAY I'm getting in front of a class looking like this." BUT, ultimately, I decided it would be good motivation. So, I swallowed my humiliation and started teaching again.

Faster than I could have imagined, I lost the first thirty pounds. But in my mind at 160 I was still at an unhealthy weight, especially when I constantly compared myself to the other fitness instructors and personal trainers I worked with. Over the next ten years, I would work hard on my eating habits and exercise, chiseling away at what I thought was an unsightly body.

When I finally left the fitness industry with chronic overuse syndrome in my shoulder and at 155 pounds, I was so over the fitness and wellness scene. Not only had I witnessed people obsessed with their weight and body composition to the point that they literally counted every fat gram, carb gram, and protein gram...I had become one of them.

At one time, I became obsessed with a clean eating regimen, which meant everything I ate had to be systematically portioned out and made with whole foods. That didn't last too long, but long enough for my children to notice. I didn't make them eat "my" way, but they witnessed me making my special meals and had to rummage past my stacks of pre-made lunches in uniform containers to get to their milk. (Big huge shout out to my friend Ev Bishop who wrote Bigger Things, where there's a scene of one of her characters doing exactly that. Gave me a HUGE wake up call)

About a year ago I decided enough was enough. I was done with controlling my eating and spending two hours each day exercising. And I was scared out of my mind. If I don't "control" my eating, I'm going to get fat, is what I thought. I'll eat myself into a coma and wake up with diabetes. I couldn't trust myself to eat without restrictions.

But, I stopped the food journal and the weighing and the grueling workouts.

And over the course of nine months, I gained 20 pounds.


I reached 162 pounds before I caved to my panic. I went back on a diet plan that had always worked for me and the pounds started to come off.

And then the weight loss halted.

In the past, I would have redoubled my efforts and forced those damn pounds off my body. Everyone hits plateaus, as they say in the biz. But this time, I was listening to a little voice whispering in the back of my head saying, "Get off the rollercoaster. Trust yourself."

I scoffed. Trust you? You did this to me! 20 pounds! If I keep eating like this and not exercising like a beast, I will be obese in very quick order.

"Trust yourself."

I wasn't sure what to do. I WAS sick to death of the weight monitoring, the on again off again food restrictions, and the punishing myself with brutal workouts for my sins of eating "bad" food. Because I never could give up real honest to goodness cheese or wine.

I was pissed.

My experiment had failed.

Or had it?

Something was telling me I was on the right track, that I just needed a little insight and patience.

I stepped off the scale, backed away from the dieting regiment, and did a little research online. I found two books that I downloaded from Audible and listened to every morning while I went for a walk in the local park. I like to walk and decided to treat myself to easy walks in the park instead of a grueling workout AND bonus! Someone reads books to me.


The first book was Body Of Truth, recommended by my online friend Lisa Gott. The second I found on my own and it's called Intuitive Eating. Both books have been incredibly eye-opening and exciting to listen to.

Body Of Truth told a story of a nation that has been derailed from health maintenance and put on a track of weight maintenance. How did this happen? Read the book, but I will say this, there are lots of reasons, not the least of which is profit.

The second book, Intuitive Eating, I'm still listening to, but I will tell you this: if there is any shame or guilt involved in your eating lifestyle, you are probably not an intuitive eater. If you feel the need to measure, count, and track, you are not an intuitive eater.

If you have any sense of fear or anxiety about food, you are not an intuitive eater.

But you can be. I can be. And I'm working on it.

I'm currently dismantling the diet mentality as I write this. It's scary as hell because I'm doing things like making a list of all the foods I think of as unhealthy and that I shouldn't eat. And one by one, I am giving myself permission to eat those foods WHENEVER I want, as MUCH as I want.

The first item was frozen pizza. There's a certain brand that I always craved but would say, "Nope. Not healthy, not even close." So whenever I craved it, I'd make my own little pita pizza that never quite satisfied the craving.

So last week? I bought FIVE of those frozen pizzas, put them in my freezer and gave myself permission to eat it whenever I wanted. Ack! The first day? I ate a WHOLE pizza. Yes, I did. When the guilt feelings started to emerge, I told myself one meal was not going to make me fat or ruin my health. And I let it go.

THAT was a big, big deal.

The next day? I did it again. Now, I was feeling quite sure that I was going to have to buy new pants.

But something happened on the third day. Come lunch time, I THOUGHT about the frozen pizza in the freezer and started to tell myself "Nooooo, you've had enough." But changed my mind. I baked it and cut it up and stared at it. Do you know my stomach felt queasy???? I closed my eyes and listened to that feeling. What was my body telling me?

After a  moment, I opened my eyes and put a couple slices on a paper plate. I sat down at the table and made myself really pay attention to the taste, the texture, the smell of that pizza. By the time I was a few bites in, it didn't taste good! It tasted kind of greasy and salty and ... not much else in the flavor department.

I wrapped the rest up and made myself a grilled chicken salad with fresh cilantro and a spicy, homemade southwestern creamy dressing. I didn't eat much of it, but every bite was fabulous. I truly savored it, enjoyed, and felt utterly satisfied.

So there are two more of those pizzas in my freezer and I haven't had the slightest interest in them. I suspect one day I will and so I've kept them as I reminder that I can have it whenever I want.

This week? I'm working on cheese. I've never said no to cheese, but I have rationed it out. I'm hoping my obsession with cheese will work itself out. This is day three and when I prepared a plate of some high quality, tasty cheese, pickles, and crackers, I only ate a few bites before my stomach pretty much said enough. So I made a chicken salad sandwich with lettuce and swiss cheese. Ridiculously yummy.

I'm excited to say that I'm looking forward to playing with more foods like this because check this out...between eating in a relaxed, aware way with no restrictions and listening to my body about what kind and how much to exercise, my weight has stabilized.

Well, I have to be honest. I snuck on the scale this morning (something else I'm working on: Not weighing myself, but baby steps) and I was actually down from 162 to 153.


Without dieting.

Without KILLING myself with exercise.

And can I tell you something else? For the first time in a long time I'm excited about food and have absolutely no reservations about what to eat. Yes. Excited that I can let it go, trust myself, and still enjoy life and love the body I have.


I will be up dating you weekly (if not more) on my personal experiment with intuitive eating and healthy living, mind and body.

What about you? What is your experience with food? Do you fear food? Love food? Hate food? All of the above?

What about you, your body and self-image?

*NOTE* If you follow any links to books or products and buy one of them, I do get a few cents. If you don't like that, no problem. Look the books and products up on Google or Amazon yourself and then buy them. Totally understand. :-)

Friday, July 01, 2016

Why Do I Overeat? OR Why do Prescribed Diets Piss Me Off?

The answer is quite simple, and yet I had no clue! 

And probably you don't either. 

How often has this happened: You get all excited to start a new exercise and eating plan and within a day or 5 you're hiding in the pantry scarfing a bag of Oreos while punching the walls, and people in the next room are whispering fury-inducing words like "hangry" and "mentally unstable" about you?

Well, I'm here to tell you there is a very good reason those prescribed diets are pissing you off.
The answer?
Or more accurately: Serotonin deficiency.
 I have been doing a lot of research about serotonin levels and their effects on not only mood and mental illness but also on weight management. Two books you HAVE to read if you struggle with hangry or depression or eating binges (they usually go hand-in-hand, don't they?) are The Serotonin Power Diet and Secrets of Serotonin. (if you click on these links and buy I will get a kickback from Amazon. If you don't like that, go to Amazon and search the books.)

I am currently a guinea pig in my own experiment. I'm keeping track of what I'm eating in an app so I have an easy reference for protein, carb, and fat consumption without having to count that stuff outright. I'm also keeping a journal of my day including exercise duration, kind of exercise, mood shifts, and energy levels. And of course, weight. This is to start. Might add other things along the way.
Why am I doing this? I'm convinced that the secret to long-term weight and health maintenance is to KNOW MYSELF, and that means understanding how MY body and mind react to any given exercise or eating routine or lack thereof.
Every time I've tried a prescribed dieting plan, I want to punch the walls...or someone's face. It's always frustrating and I think to myself "Why? Am I such a petulant child that I can't pull up my big girl panties and deal?"
Well, part of the problem is that serotonin cannot be created in my brain without tryptophan making its way across the blood-brain barrier. I've known this for years, but what I didn't know is tryptophan cannot cross the brain barrier when I've consumed a lot of protein. 

Holy cow! (pun intended)

So what that has meant is when I try to eat high protein, low carb, I'm an anxious, depressed, or pissed off momma. Not good.
I used to think I needed to eat protein when my mood shifted to the negative (hangry, anyone?) but with only a few days of experimenting I'm realizing I need a carb snack. Not only that, I have to time it right. If I've had protein at breakfast, then my carb snack needs to be eaten 3 hours later and 1 hour before a meal that contains protein.
If I time the snack right, as well as the general nutrition, my mood lifts, cravings diminish, and I easily eat reasonable portions at meals.
Holy hell.
And there's a lot more, but I will share more later. This is a long-ass post but I'm really excited over what I'm discovering.
Know this: if it's killing you to eat low carb, then don't. Honestly, all that "weight" you lose so fast at the beginning of the Atkins or South Beach diet is mostly water. You need carbs to maintain adequate hydration (if you doubt this, eat a bunch of sugary snacks and watch yourself bloat like a pork sausage). That's also why as soon as you eat one fucking piece of bread you put all that weight back on. Just saying.

If your high-protein low-carb diets piss you off, you may need to support serotonin production and the quickest way to do that is to try a carb snack 3 hours after a meal containing protein and 1 hour before a meal containing protein. In other words, make sure your stomach is NOT trying to digest both at the same time.

This doesn't mean your meals have to be protein high and low or no carb. It just means to get the best serotonin boost, you need a carb snack that doesn't' have to compete with protein. See, there are these "gateways" between your bloodstream and the brain and they only allow so many amino acids and such through at any one time. 
If your bloodstream is flooded with protein amino acids, the tryptophan gets pushed to the back of the line. If you wait at least 3 hours and then eat carbs, it's like the others have either passed through the gate or get turned away and tryptophan moves to the front of the line. 
For more on the science, read the books I suggested above or consult an expert on the subject.
Here are your carb snack guidelines:
1. If you have 15 lbs or more you want to lose, the snack must be between 30 and 40 grams of carbs, no more than 5 grams protein (less is better), and no more than 3 grams fat. Of course, give yourself some wiggle room. This is just a guide. If you have 15 lbs or less to lose, carbs change to no more than 30 grams.
2. Consume your carb snack within 10 minutes. Do NOT graze on it over an extended time. Expect the serotonin boost with 30 minutes. After you lose about 10 pounds, the surge will happen within 20 minutes. 3. Consume your carb snack 1 hour before a meal containing protein, and at least 3 hours after a meal containing protein.
And if you're craving something crunchy or sweet after dinner, consider making your dinner a carbs and veggies one. This will maximize serotonin production in the evenings, easing cravings and setting you up for a good night's sleep.
HoWEVER, if you still have a sweet/carb craving in the evening, have another carb snack in the evening, 2-3 hours after dinner.

Learning means sharing, so please let me know how this works for you. We can all gain knowledge from each other's experiences so comment away!

Peace out. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

New Website and Ch-ch-ch-changes...

Hello to all the peaceful warriors and truth seekers who have been loyal followers of my blog. It's been over two months since I posted anything on this blog and that's way too long.

It's not because I don't have anything to say or that I'm done with this blog. It's because I am renovating this blogger site, as well as finalizing my official Author Melissa Lummis website. When you're done reading this, go check it out. I'll put a link at the end of this post.

While I was getting my official Author site up and running, I was trying to figure out if I wanted to keep this space going as something separatee or go ahead and blog on the new Wordpress site. For now, I've decided to blog over here, although I will be posting things over on the offical website as well.

Here's where I have a loyal following and here is where I shall continue to pontificate, at least for the now. If or when I decided to take all this blathering over to the new site, I promise I will send you a notice and have a way for you to subscribe to the new blog. I want to make that kind of transition seamless for you, and since I'm not ready to do that right now, I'll hold off.

In the meantime, keep an eye out for future posts. I have many things I've been contemplating and can't wait to share. I'll also be doing some renovations and repairs here, especially repairing permalinks to the series I was working on so you can find them, again.

Please excuse the mess, the dead links, and dust as I do some repairs and clean up this joint.

Oh, and as promised, here's my new Author website. 

Namaste y'all!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Music #9 in the Little Flame Series

release music 3

Buy on Amazon

I've done things I'm ashamed of. I've stolen. I've lied. I've even taken a life or two. But what I have to do next makes that all look like random acts of kindness.

Finding Dee's murderer trumps all, no matter what the cost, even bonding myself Hross until death do us part.

Give up Max? Check.
Break his heart? Yeah, that too.

But putting Max's life in danger was never, ever part of the plan.

I have this one chance to make everything right, once and for all. And I better get it right the first time because what I'm about to do requires the ultimate sacrifice: my life.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Another Weight Loss Book? Ugh

Everyone it seems is writing a book about weight loss these days. I mean everyone. They make over the top statements about changing their lives and transforming yours in 8 weeks. 

Something bothers me about this. I think it's my own experience. I'm trying to come at this with a positive attitude. 

Here's the bottom line: you can count calories all you want and exercise til your knee gives out, but you must change the thoughts, the beliefs, the habits, the self-doubt, the negative thinking, the hard wiring, your life situations, and the programming that led to weight gain in the first place. 

This is a life long journey. It can't be done in 8 weeks. 

You CANT fix yourself in 8 weeks because you're NOT broken. I dislike that implication. It's cruel. And don't get me started on the warped version of "healthy" we have been sold, quite literally by every marketing campaign ever. 

Your weight? Is a symptom of your life. It is not the end all be all of existence. But it is intimately tied to every facet of your life. 

Btw: the people who don't have weight issues have other problems. Trust me on this. They just handle their crazy differently. 

You can gorge yourself on veggies and organic this and locally grown that and you will see results. 

You can run, lift weights, and practice yoga consistency and you will see results. 

But what happens when the next real stressful crisis hits? 

When the winter brings on the depression or your mother gets diagnosed with Alzheimer's? What do you do? Your knee jerk reaction to life's hardest moments reveals the root of our weight issues. Or whatever issues you might have. 

Honestly? It's key to the root of all our problems. 

And THIS is where the real work happens. And it's not sexy or flowery or a simple 3 step plan. 

It happens in the everyday moments. And it's so much more than food and exercise, although learning about a healthy lifestyle is important. 

It's a life long journey of self-awareness, doing the hard stuff that brings about gradual awareness until we see clearly our personal fears, one at a time.

Then we have to address that fear. 

And then we have to do that whole thing all over again. 

And again.

And again.

And again.

Until we die. 

I guess that's why nobody has written that book. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

As You Were - Installment 17

You have been thoroughly warned. 
If you are squeamish about colorful language, don't like sex scenes, and honest dialogue makes your hair curl, walk away now. Do not read this.

I'll be posting installments every day until the end. I don't know how many days that will be because I am still writing this story. You can read it or not, share it or not, like it or not.  It's up to you. Unlike me, you have a choice. I can't not write it.

As You Were
Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Lummis

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Chapter 6

I rested a hand on his chest and he turned to look at me in surprise. “Despite my exceedingly bad behavior, I’m glad you came.” I struggled not to cry, swallowing the tears with determination, despite the way the deck seemed to rock beneath. “I’m glad you told me.”

Erik’s face faltered between a smile and something painful. He lifted his hand to cover mine, and I was surprised to feel it tremble. “I mean it, Anne. I’ve always loved you. I was just too stupid to understand what I was feeling. After my mom left,” he cleared his throat, “I thought I’d stopped feeling, anything, but that wasn’t true. I can’t explain it because I really don’t understand it, but I somehow disengaged, distanced myself.”

“Kind of like how some people deal with pain,” I murmured.

We stared at each other for a long moment. The ceaseless crash of waves and the jingle and buzz of the far away boardwalk filling the silence. There were times in the past when Erik and I hadn’t talked for days, times when I wondered if I’d said or done something he didn’t like, but we’d never gone an entire year before. This past year had been full of confusing things: Jack’s betrayal, my own insecurities, how I’d turned my back on Gena. But the most confusing of all was why, after the initial phone call post-Gena incident, I hadn’t picked up the phone to call Erik. Or why he hadn’t called me.

“So what now?” I asked.

Erik dropped his chin to his chest. “I don’t know.”

I half-laughed, and then covered my mouth and swallowed a burp. “Ugh. I drank a lot.”

Erik brushed a stray strand of hair out of my eye. “Yeah. Let’s get you the Erik Hangover Miracle Cure and then tuck you in bed.”

I grabbed his hand, woozy panic filling my belly. “You’re not going to leave, are you? I’m sorry I was a jerk. I guess I’m still drunk but that’s not an excuse, although it makes sense…the crying…the laughing, the freakin’ mood swings from hell.”

I heard myself babbling but I couldn’t stop. Despite the rollercoaster of emotions, or maybe because of them, Erik’s presence was a comfort. Didn’t make sense to me, but I didn’t make sense to me often. Erik being here had opened up a lot of old baggage, and I’d certainly thrown our past around in my head and heart, made quite a mess.

“I’m not sure…“ Erik looked pain. He glanced toward the doorway, running his hand over his crew cut. “Uh,” he chuckled. “It’s not a good idea.”

I held out my hand. “The 7-11 is two blocks away, on the corner.” I didn’t think it was a good idea either, but the thought of him leaving and maybe never seeing him again made my stomach flip.

Erik nodded, took my hand, and led me through the suite and out of the house. We walked in silence, the first block dark, dotted with moonlight and the occasional light from a balcony. Laughter and music drifted with the wind blowing through the tree tops. For the 4th of July, there weren’t a lot of parties going on, but then again, Sylvie’s grandparents probably picked a quieter neighborhood.

I squinted at the bright street lights over the main road. If Erik left now, would I see him tomorrow? Or later today. I fished for my cell phone, but it wasn’t in any of my pockets. I huffed. Who cared what time it was? What did it matter? Erik was leaving and—

He squeezed my hand. “Hey. Earth to Annie. What’s going on in that head of yours?

“Anne!” a female voice yelled. Sylvia dashed across the street and fell into with a drunken giggle. 
“You’re not going to believe what Meredith did!”

End of Chapter 6

Continued in Installment 18...

Monday, March 21, 2016

As You Were - Installment 16

You have been thoroughly warned. 
If you are squeamish about colorful language, don't like sex scenes, and honest dialogue makes your hair curl, walk away now. Do not read this.

I'll be posting installments every day until the end. I don't know how many days that will be because I am still writing this story. You can read it or not, share it or not, like it or not.  It's up to you. Unlike me, you have a choice. I can't not write it.

As You Were
Copyright © 2013 by Melissa Lummis

Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the above author of this book.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.

Chapter 6

Holy hell. I sank back on my heels between his legs and pushed the hair out of my eyes, my fingers trembling. And I slapped him across the face. He nodded, a tear trickling over the faint stubble on his cheek, over the red finger marks.

“Don’t you dare blame me for your emptiness. Females have also been just a plaything for you and that’s not my fault!” My voice rose, a little hysterical. “That’s all on you, bub. I was always a good friend to you, tried to talk some sense into you because I saw what it was really about.” I sprung up off the chair, picked up my empty soda can, and flung it at him.

He didn’t dodge it. The can bounced off his forehead and clattered onto the deck. “I’m sorry,” he whispered.

I spun around, my back to Erik, my rage sputtering out as I realized what I’d done. Oh God. What was wrong with me? I hid my face in my hands and took quieting breaths. I heard the chair creak and felt Erik close behind me. He didn’t touch me and I didn’t blame him.

“I know what I am, Anne. I know what I’ve done. I don’t blame you. I’ve wanted to slap some sense into me for a long time.”

I dropped my hands, fighting the quiver in my chin. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have done that.” I took a deep breath and blew it out. “I shouldn’t have hit you or thrown that can at you. It was a pissy thing to do and I’m sorry.”

Erik tentatively touched my shoulder. I flinched and he immediately pulled his hand away. “I know I’m not relationship material and God knows my timing couldn’t be shittier, but I had to tell you. I still love you, Anne. And I’m not blaming my lack of morals with women on you. I didn’t mean it that way. I’m not saying I couldn’t have a relationship with anyone because I was in love with you. I didn’t know I was in love with you, okay? I just realized it over the past year.”

I stood there, the endless ocean in front of me, a definitive past behind me. A long car ride with Erik one summer when I was touring colleges played out in my mind. He was DJing with his new iPod while I set the cruise control.

Two hours,” I’d said. “If we don’t hit any traffic.”
“You know what I like best about road trips?” Erik had asked.
“It’s like you’re in between things, like everything else doesn’t exist. Your past, your future, your problems. Poof. Gone. At least while you’re on the road.”

I turned to face Erik in our present, at the beach. “So you came here to tell me you loved me?”
Erik looked away, his lips drawn into a thin line. He shoved his hands in his pockets. “I know how this all seems. It’s selfish, right? But I.” His words caught in his throat. His Adam’s apple bobbed. “I can’t stop thinking I’ll never see you again. I can’t…die…and not have told you, Anne. I don’t want to blow up or bleed out in a foreign desert and never have said the words to your face.”

I rubbed my forehead with a shaky hand. “You’re not going to die,” I whispered in a hoarse voice. 

But I didn’t believe my own words. He could. Die. I gazed up at his face with the five o’clock shadow, the too bright eyes, the muscle in his jaw flexing as he fought to control his emotions.

Contined in Installment 17...