Stream Portions of the Summit Live!

Hello everyone,

We’re looking forward to the Theta Alliance Summit this weekend at the GSR Resort in Reno, NV! Portions of the event will be broadcast on Facebook Live on Rey Robles’ personal Facebook page starting at 9:30 AM on Saturday, 6/24/17. We also plan to post more video of the event later after the Summit is over on Rey’s Youtube channel. We hope you can tune in!

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B’s Fitness Plan

In my last post I gave a lot of details about where I’m at now, where I want to be, and how I plan to get there this year when it comes to my fitness goals. In this post, I’d like to share more details about my fitness plan.

Important Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or fitness expert. Far from it. I am just a guy trying to lose weight and get in the best shape of my life. If this information helps you, too, great! But the primary goal for me is to help me keep on track. Consult a doctor before starting any weight loss or exercise plan. I do not have any ties to the authors or sites mentioned below and am not benefiting financially in any way from them either.

With that out of the way, here we go!

More Info on Vital Stats

Fitness is about much more than weight and BMI. These are just a couple of measures to help reach fitness goals. That’s why I’m also tracking % body fat, inches, blood pressure, and other measures. I may add other goals and measures as I go.

In regards to % body fat, I’m mainly using a digital bathroom scale that estimates this, so I have no idea how reliable it is. I also went into Reno Diagnostic Center to get a more accurate % body fat measure by DXA (or DEXA) analysis, which involves a full body x-ray scan. Using this measure, I’m actually even higher in body fat than my scale indicated, at a whopping 42.3%! I also took “before” pictures and plan to take further pictures as I go, but may or may not share them on here.

One tool I found helpful is the 4-hour body measurements cheat sheet from Tim Ferris’ blog found here. Tim’s blog has a lot of great info and it was his book, The 4-Hour Body, that is one influence on my weight loss plan. His cheat sheet also calculated I need to keep under 2400 kCal per day with diet and exercise to lose 1 lb/week, to start with.

More Info on Diet Plan

Tim’s blog and book also influenced me to try the Slow Carb Diet plan he promotes for weight loss. The reasons I’ve selected this plan for now include:

  • Relatively easy to follow. There’s no calorie counting, just eliminating “white” foods like sugar and starchy foods, as well as alcohol and dairy. While most experts agree that calories are the key to weight loss, I figure if I’m eating more veggies, protein and beans and less sugar, carbs and alcohol, then I’ll automatically be restricting my calories, too. Obviously portion control still plays a role here.
  • Cheat Day. I get one cheat day per week on which I can eat and drink whatever I want, which helps me keep on track without feeling like I’m totally sacrificing all the foods (and beer!) I love. The cheat day also supposedly helps keep your weight loss from plateauing over the long term since your metabolism slows after prolonged caloric restriction (again, supposedly, not sure on science of this). I may scale back or eliminate the cheat day depending on my results.
  • Customizable. Tim encourages experimentation and making your diet work for you. My wife was Vegan for a couple of years and prefers not to eat a ton of meat so we’ll be substituting more veggies, beans, and plant-based proteins although we’ll still include some meat, poultry, and fish. I also need to watch my sodium intake to reach my blood pressure goals, which can be more difficult if you’re eating a lot of meat or canned goods. I’m planning to eat mostly whole foods to help with this. For example, buying fresh or frozen veggies and bulk beans instead of canned foods.

Part of my diet plan also involved a 3-day juice cleanse to start the year. My wife and I did this and I can tell you it wasn’t exactly easy although I’ve heard the first few days are the hardest for a liquid-based diet. I don’t think it’s a healthy or sustainable way for me to lose weight long term and there’s a lot of sugar from all the fruit, but I feel like it did help kickstart my goals. It’s also rather expensive and a lot of work to do all that juicing. The juice cleanse was inspired by the documentary, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead and we used the plan available on rebootwithjoe.com.

More Info on Exercise Plan

My starting goal is to get at least 30 minutes of activity at least 5 days per week. This is rather low for most weight loss plans but it’s a good start since I rarely exercise at all now. I don’t want to overdo it on exercise because from everything I’ve read, diet is the key to weight loss and working out too much can actually make you hungrier and encourage overeating. This will include a mix of low, moderate, and high activity.

Examples are:

  • Walking at least 30 minutes
  • Doing at least 30 minutes of moderate to high intensity cardio
  • Doing moderate to high intensity cross-training, mostly with body resistance
  • Occasional weight lifting
  • Outdoor activities I enjoy like hiking and skiing

More Info on Blood Pressure Reduction Plan

In some ways, lowering my blood pressure is the most important health goal I can achieve. I want to avoid medication in the long term if possible. High blood pressure greatly increases my risk of heart issues, among other things.

The main things I can do to reduce my blood pressure are to lose weight, exercise regularly, limit sodium and alcohol intake, and reduce stress. The first few are covered in my plans above but for the last part, I want to get in the habit of meditating at least 15 minutes per day to help relieve stress. I will likely increase this as I go, especially if I feel it is beneficial for me. There are studies out there showing that daily meditation can help reduce stress and blood pressure, along with diet and exercise. This ties into some of my spiritual goals this year as well, so I’m killing two birds with one stone.

Final Thoughts

As I mentioned, these are just starting points but once I make them habits I can raise my targets or add more. If some things aren’t working for me I can change them, too, but I’ve got to start somewhere.

‘Til next time!

 

Getting in the Best Shape of My Life

In my last post I wrote about all the many goals I have for 2016. One might say I have a “plethora” of goals…and the only way I can make real progress is to focus on a few goals at a time. One of my most important goals, and the one I’m most focused on now, is losing weight and getting in better shape. This is the year I finally get in the best shape of my life. It’s not going to be easy since I’m currently in the worst shape of my life, but I know with some self-discipline and determination (and a little help from my beautiful wife), I can do it!

To help me stay on track, I’ll be writing regular posts checking in on my progress. For this first post, I’ll lay out where I’m at now, where I want to be, and most importantly, how I plan to get there.

Where I’m at Now

It’s not pretty. I’m pushing 250 pounds, the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. I’ve always been overweight but typically range between 220-230 lbs. At 5’11” this puts me well into the “obese” category by BMI (Body Mass Index). My blood pressure is especially concerning to me as I should probably be on medication but I want to see what I can do with diet and exercise first.

For my measurements, I’m using a digital scale that also estimates % body fat, % water weight, and muscle weight. I doubt it’s very accurate (especially for muscle weight) but at least I can use it as a relative measure. I’m also using a digital armband blood pressure monitor and of course, a good ol’ fashioned tape measure. For more info on what some of these measures mean and what is considered healthy, see this excellent summary.

Here’s my vitals on Day 1 (1/6/16):

  • Height: 5′ 11″
  • Weight 247.8 lbs
  • BMI: 34.6
  • % body fat according to scale: 37.8%
  • % water weight according to scale: 46.6%
  • 146.4 lbs muscle weight (59.1% of total weight)
  • Blood pressure (avg of 3 measurements): 134/100
  • Resting pulse (avg of 3 measurements): 80 bpm
  • Left/right biceps: 15.5″/15.5″
  • Waist: 48″
  • Hips: 44.5″
  • Left/right leg: 23.5″/23.5″
  • Total Inches: 170.5″

Like I said, not pretty, but that’s just more reason to make a change for the better before I get even unhealthier. Time to get to work!

Below are the health goals I’ve set for myself to reach this year. I will probably add more to this list as I go, but again, it’s best to focus on a few specific goals first. Of course, if I can exceed these goals, all the better.

  • Weight: 200 lbs
  • BMI: 28.0
  • %body fat according to scale: 25.0%
  • Blood pressure: 120/80

Here’s my plan to get where I want to be:

  • 3-day juice cleanse to start new year
  • Slow carb diet to lose weight longer term
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes per day at least 5 days per week
  • Daily meditation to help reduce stress and thus, blood pressure
  • Weekly check-in on weight, % body fat, and blood pressure
  • Post at least once a month on progress to stay motivated and focused

The above plan may not be enough but it’s a start in the right direction. I’ll be modifying as needed as I go and sharing the results here on the blog. I hope it not only inspires me but also others to reach their fitness goals in 2016 and beyond. My next post will give more details on my fitness plan.

What are you doing to get in the best shape of your life this year?

DYI Metalic Clutch 

When I came across this old worn suede clutch, I was instantly inspired. It just screamed “DIY me!” I have also been looking for a fashionable statement clutch, so when this fell into my hands I felt like it was my chance to transform this unloved item into a bold piece that can go with any outfit. And I love the way that it ended up coming out!

This was just a basic black suede clutch. It had some dirty worn out spots which made it look discolored and shabby. It was time to either donate this item or maybe even throw it away.

Suede has small fibers that stand up from the leather and I wanted to paint on top of the suede, so the first thing I did was sand down this bumpy, already uneven texture. As you can see above it made the discoloration look even worse.

Next, I polished the outside with shoe polish. This created a great texture throughout the outside of the clutch, while making the whole thing black again instead of a dull dark grey. I applied the polish with a sponge and brushed off any excess with a shoe polish brush. I let it air out for a few minutes before I started painting on the leather.

I used a metallic colored leather paint. I picked this up from Jo-Ann for a few bucks. Then I lightly dry brushed the whole thing with a fan shaped brush. I put a thicker layer on the edging while very lightly brushing the main body. I wanted the black color of the leather to be apparent and I wanted to give the clutch more of a texture with the metallic paint rather than just a solid look. I waited till this fully dried before going to the next step.

Though painting was my favorite part, I felt like a little extra on the top flap of the clutch was needed. So I added some gems to the top. I had a combination of 10 different jewels that I used. I mostly wanted to use clear white gems; but I also used black, grey and gold gems lightly, of all different sizes and shapes. I wanted a mixed metal look, something that could go with everything. It ended up being my favorite statement clutch and very versatile!

      

Do you like?

Thanks for reading!

K

B’s 2016 Makeover

Do you smell that? It’s the smell of a brand new fresh spankin’ New Year! Time to reflect on resolutions, goals set, wishes wished and dreams dreamed. I’m posting this as part of my many resolutions to help me become a better me and realize my full potential. You know you’ve got some ideas like this and mine are probably similar to yours. Lose weight, write more, travel more, pay off debt, make more time for the things that I actually enjoy doing instead of spending all my time doing things I don’t really want to do. Mainly I’m posting this to help crystallize my goals for this year (and beyond) and help keep me on track to actually make some of my dreams come true. So hear’s to 2016!

My goals basically break down into four categories: financial, physical, mental, and spiritual. This post outlines my main goals and further posts throughout the year will detail my plans, progress, successes, and failures. I hope doing this will help me, and maybe help a few of you, obtain your goals in the coming year. So without further adieu…

Financial Goals

In some ways these are the least important to me and in some ways the most important. While getting in the best shape of my life, learning and experiencing new things, and experiencing spiritual growth are appealing and worthwhile goals, the bottom line is we live in a world of money. Unless you want to give up all wealth and live as a holy beggar or a hermit, then you’ll need money to live a good quality of life by modern standards. Specifically I want to:

  • Finish paying off all debt
  • Accumulate 3-6 months worth of expenses in savings
  • Increase my investments and insurance
  • Move into a new place
  • Earn the most money I’ve ever earned in one year
  • Start working more for myself and less for others
  • Be able to travel more and have some fun!

Physical Goals

Basically I want to get into the best shape of my life this year. I stepped on a scale recently and had the depressing realization that I’m the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life. I have a lot of work to do but I know I can do it if I put my mind to it. I want to:

  • Get under 200 lbs. (lose about 50 lbs.)
  • Lower blood pressure to healthier levels
  • Improve all around fitness

Mental Goals

Last year I did a wonderful workshop with my father-in-law, a personal counsellor, to learn my purpose in life. I found my purpose was to learn, or to seek knowingness. To this effect, I want to:

  • Read a lot
  • Write on a regular basis and finish a novel
  • Learn at least bits of other languages (Spanish, Italian, French)
  • Improve my guitar and other musical skills
  • Take some classes
  • Experience new things

Spiritual Goals

Last but certainly not least, I want to expand my spiritual potential as a human being. Here’s my list:

  • Nurture relationships with those I love and grow new relationships
  • Explore different spiritual paths
  • Define what I believe in spiritually
  • Make meditation a daily habit
  • Reach new levels of enlightenment, self-actualization, and serenity

Now I know what you’re saying–that’s a lot of goals! And some of them sound downright wishy-washy or so vague they might as well not be goals. My future posts will focus on refining my focus and setting more specific targets to improve in each area, as well as detailing how I’m doing and hopefully providing some tips, insights, and pitfalls that you find helpful along the way.

What are some of your goals this year?

Goodbye Old Year

What happened in 2015?

photo (32)Staycation – This is when you go on vacation but you are still in the same town that you live in. We stayed at a local hotel for two nights. This was the bowling alley where we played a few games, unfortunately this was the only snapshot I got.

photo (38)St Paul and the Broken Bones Concert – Great concert, but this was actually taken after the concert, we ended up at a bar and I thought that Marilyn, James and the gang were all having a great time.

photo (36) Art Show – I had my first art show this year! It was very exciting and was a life changing experience. This is a photo of my bio. (Side note: The photo with this picture was taken a few years ago, but I made the arch that is behind me).

Fourth of July – What is one of the most patriotic things we could do? Go to a local baseball game! It was also one of the coolest days for a panoramic. Luckily we did not get rained on.

photo (31)Giants Baseball Game – Can you tell what kind of sport we like? We did a whole weekend trip to SF for a Giants game. I always love the view at AT&T Park!

photo (39)Burning Man – This is a yearly festival where people gather out in the desert, anything you want to find or do is there. It’s all about self reliance and radical self expression. These are the tickets from when we went.

photo (34)Apple Hill – This was the first year that I have ever been to Apple Hill, and it might become a recurring fall tradition. This was a bit of a drive, but was worth it! We picked pumpkins, ate amazing food and did a few wine tastings.

20151022_213747Hozier Concert – Um, this was just great!

IMG_20151024_214628Zombie crawl – Every year downtown bars fill up with people dressed as zombies. This is us at one of our first stops.

20151225_123528.jpgTahoe on Christmas – Fresh snow on the mountains fell the day before Christmas. We decided to go for a day trip to ski and be around a real winter wonder land.

20151231_211926Last Photo Taken Before 2016 – A New Year in here, with so many more possibilities! Be safe, be Merry and Happy New Year!

K

Yearly Baklava

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Everyone has a Holiday tradition; in my family, my mother and I make baklava. We only make it once a year, typically the weekend before Christmas. This way during Christmas we can enjoy this mouth watering dessert while it’s nice and fresh. 

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Baklava is 40 layers of paper thin dough. Each layer is coated in clarified butter making the dough flaky and melt in your mouth with every bite.

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In between 6-9 pieces of dough there is a walnut filling, with a total of four walnut filling layers. However, the bottom has additional layers to make a more solid base. The filling consists of sugar, walnuts, allspice, cinnamon and cloves.

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After baking, it’s syrup time! This is what really makes the whole dish. It is made with sugar, water, lemon, and orange blossom water! I can just eat this out of the bowl, it’s so good! The syrup is coated on top of the pastry. It leaks into the cracks that were previously cut making the layers of baklava stick together and completes the dish.

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This is one of my favorite rituals during the Holiday season, and pairs best with a strong cup of coffee. Have a Merry Christmas and keep those traditions going!

K

Tick.fic: So Cute It Hurts (pt. 4)

John sipped his coffee contentedly. It was shitty burnt office coffee but he didn’t care. He’d not only managed to turn in his report to Bill last week with 5 minutes to spare–and be on time ever since their little “chat”–but they’d also managed to land a big order from their new client partly as a result of John’s analysis. He was back in Bill’s good graces, for now. And he’d even rebuffed another invitation to a rendezvous with his ex. He felt pretty good about himself.

“Hey John,” Derek whispered urgently, “There was a third victim over the weekend.”

John sighed. Leave it to Derek to bring him down with his tidings of bad news and gossip.

“What are you talking about?” John asked.

“The head-splosion killer, man!” Derek whispered urgently. “I knew it wasn’t just a couple of freak accidents. There was a third victim. A dog-catcher this time. The cops are investigating it as a possible homicide. I’m telling you it’s some kind of freaky serial killer.”

John rolled his eyes, “Uh huh. A serial killer who blows up his victim’s heads.”

“Dude, don’t cry to me when you’re head’s blown into little bits. This is serious man. It’s making national news now.”

“OK whatever. Listen, I’ve got work to do. You know that thing adults are supposed to do when they’re paid by someone else. A job I think it’s called?”

Derek snorted, “Yeah, OK guy. Mr. Dedicated Employee, John Wilson, over here. Heaven forbid I distract him with the fact there’s a freakin’ terrorist on the loose blowing people’s heads off for fun.”

John ignored him and got back to work.

 

That night found John staring at his phone, thumbs hovering over a text message he was about to send. He’d rewritten it five times. He didn’t want to admit to himself how bad he wanted to see Jeanie. Not just for the sex either. He missed her. She hadn’t texted him since he’d refused her last invitation.

She was the first one he thought could be The One. Sexy, smart, classy but fun, great job, great apartment, great family. She was everything he’d wanted in a girl. And they’d been in love. Or at least he thought they had. It had started falling apart when they moved in together. Maybe it was too soon. Little spats over leaving the toilet seat up or leaving dishes unwashed turned into bigger fights and finally shouting matches about how inadequate and shitty each of them thought the other was. Now he couldn’t remember exactly why they had broken up, just that it had happened.

“Ah fuck,” John mumbled as he took a deep breath and hit send.

A few minutes later the reply came back.

Sure! I would like that. See you soon. 🙂

When he entered her apartment, John found she had shacked up with another man. Or a dog anyway. It was the cutest little lap dog, probably some kind of Pomeranian, Chihuahua, Shih-Tzu mix that yapped at every little noise and made John want to punt them like a football when them wouldn’t shut up. This dog didn’t make a sound though. Just stared at him as he walked into the kitchen of Jeanie’s apartment.

She picked the dog up and smiled. “And what do you think of little Johnny boy?” she asked the dog, scratching him and talking in a baby talk voice into it’s ear.

“New pet?” John asked, “I didn’t think you were much of a dog person.”

She set the dog down, sighing, “And what is that supposed to mean?”

“Nothing, just never knew you wanted a dog.”

“That’s not the only thing you never knew about me, John.”

He shrugged, letting it go instead of launching into another argument with her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, putting a hand on his chest, “I didn’t mean anything…”

He wrapped her in his arms and kissed her, “I know. It’s fine, I’m sorry too. I didn’t mean anything either.”

She laughed and looked down. She was just so damned cute it hurt.

“So what’s his name?” he asked.

“Not sure yet. I’ve been calling him Fido since I haven’t thought of anything better yet. I found him outside my building with no collar. I was going to take him to the Humane Society shelter but haven’t had a chance yet. And now he’s sorta growing on me.”

“Sounds like someone I know,” he joked, referring to how they had first met when they literally bumped into each other on the street outside her building.

“Yeah except I didn’t spill my coffee all over him,” she laughed.

They kissed again and quickly found themselves in her bedroom, undressing each other.

Later, John had his arm over his forehead while Jeanie stroked his chest.

“Mmm,” she said, “I kinda like this friends with benefits thing. We haven’t had sex this hot in months…”

John stopped her hand and looked at her fiercely, “Seriously? What the fuck?”

She returned his anger in her gaze, “Well sorry but it’s true. At the end we weren’t having sex at all. I don’t mean to hurt your feelings but just saying, maybe this is better for us right now.”

John threw her hand away from him and got out of bed in a fluster, grabbing his clothes and pulling them on.

“Oh John, don’t be like that. Come back to bed. Come on, I’m sorry. I was trying to give you a compliment.” She realized how bad that sounded right after she said it.

“Oh well thank you so much your highness for the wonderful compliment. Perhaps you’ll deign to give me a tip as well? Since you like me as a man-whore and all.”

“Fuck you, John!” she said loudly. There was a scratching at the door.

John flung it open and found the dog gazing at him with that same dead-eyed stare. It was rather unnerving and stopped him in his tracks for a moment. The dog ran into the room and jumped on the bed, curling up with Jeanie.

“Yeah, fuck me!” he shouted, “That’s all you really want right? Normally I’d be down but I actually still have some feelings for you like the stupid fuck I am! Well curl up with your precious poodle there and have a great fucking night!”

“God you’re such a fucking dick sometimes!”

“Yeah I know, that’s why you had me over right?”

Their shouts had escalated into one of their classic fights. He didn’t even know why. The dog was still staring at him. It was adorable but John wanted to strangle it by its little neck. His head was pounding. Jeanie was about to retort but stopped, suddenly concerned.

“John, you’re bleeding. Are you OK?”

He checked himself and realized his nose was bleeding like a faucet. The blood trickled down his chest and spattered on the carpet.

“I’ll be fine. Thanks for the concern. Go to hell.”

He stormed out of her apartment half dressed and clutching his bloody nose, slamming the door behind him. He could hear Jeanie crying. His nose seemed to have stopped bleeding, for now. He hurriedly finished dressing as best he could and put on his shoes, then stomped down the hallway. A neighbor peeked her head out her door at him as he passed by.

“What?” He shouted at her, “Never heard a fight before? Mind your own business!”

The neighbor hurriedly shut and locked the door and John took the elevator down to the garage where he had parked. He got in his car and started bawling. I’m so fucking stupid. What the fuck was that about? God dammit!

He sobbed heavily and got himself under control enough to drive home. When he got home he took a long hot shower, drank a bottle of wine as fast as he could and crashed into his bed. He fell into a deep sleep, the best sleep he’d had in weeks.

In his dream, he saw Jeanie’s dog. But it wasn’t just a dog, it was a demon. It leered at him silently, it’s sharp demon teeth slobbering in anticipation of devouring his soul. But then an old lady, the old lady with the dog from the bus stop he’d seen a week or two before, rose up to defend him. She told the dog, “No! Bad doggie.” The demon dog promptly ate her face. John could hear the bones crunching in it’s teeth. Then it stared at him again, stalking him, blood and slobber dripping from it’s little jowls. It lunged for him…and John awakened screaming, drenched in sweat.

 

To be continued…

 

DIY Ugly Christmas Sweater

A great staple for this time of year is an ugly Christmas sweater. No holiday party should be without one! With just a good imagination, needle and thread you can create your own DIY ugly Christmas sweater.

Supplies Used:

  • Ugly sweater
  • Battery operated lights
  • Mini Christmas ornaments
  • Mini garland
  • 3D star
  • White fur trim
  • Mini nutcracker
  • Mini burlap sack
  • White puffy fabric paint
  • Bow (optional for back)
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • Clear E6000 Craft Adhesive   

I found this awesome sweater at the Goodwill for $15. Pricey I know, for a used item that was made over two decades ago. I suggest buying off season to avoid any seasonal inflation.     

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The first thing I did was throw it in the wash, with cold water (to maintain the color). Then cleaned up any loose threads, just by knotting any extra thread and cutting off the end.

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From here I am ready to add anything that I want: trim, garland, lights, or mini ornaments. 

Here is a full photo of the end result:

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I sewed everything by hand except the lights; these I weaved in and out of the knit, so if need be, I could remove them at anytime. The only thing that was glued on was the star, which is the tree topper. I only did this because I didn’t want any threads showing. If you do not want to sew, you could just glue everything on. I recommend using clear E6000 craft adhesive, it holds very well and you can probably still wash your sweater without a problem. I’ve used it on other clothing items before and never had a problem.

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Adding the trim really made the whole piece come together. If you didn’t notice, I ended up taking off the pearl garland that was originally on the sweater. However I didn’t want to loose this detail, so I ended up sewing the pearls back on to make the bows more elaborate. A large bow made out of ribbon was added to the back to make it into a sweater dress, and to give the sweater more of a shape when worn. But you can get creative with this type of project, making it your very own unique ugly Christmas sweater!

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Hope you enjoyed.

K

 

Tick.fic: So Cute It Hurts (pt. 3)

John walked briskly into his cubicle the next morning, breathing heavily, sweat beading from his brow and forming lovely pit stains under the arms of his white dress shirt. He was late again. He had almost run into the building and climbed the stairs two at a time up the five floors to his company’s office.

“Hey man, late again eh?” Derek snickered at him.

“Yeah yeah, it was a long night.”

“Oh really, anyone I know?” Derek’s snicker turned into a sneer.

“Maybe.”

Derek shook his head and clucked at him. “Let me guess…your ex?”

John’s silence said yes.

“Man, you gotta get over her,” Derek sighed, “Look dude, I understand the whole post-breakup sex thing as much as the next guy but come on! Move on already. You think she hasn’t?”

“Fuck off dude.”

Derek laughed, “Yeah OK don’t tell me I didn’t tell you.” His voice shifted to a conspiratorial whisper, “Dude, did you see the latest on that head-splosion thing I was talking to you about yesterday?”

John shook his head, clocked in on his computer, and wiped the sweat off his brow while he started checking emails to pretend he was a good little worker bee.

“Check it out! There was another one yesterday. Old lady this time.”

John glanced over at Derek’s monitor and did a double take. There was something familiar about the picture of an old woman on Derek’s screen. John wheeled his chair over to take a closer look.

“Too bad, right?” Derek said, “She was a retired nurse. Hope you haven’t eaten yet because it isn’t pretty.”

The article described the latest victim and showed a picture of her. John didn’t know her but somehow she looked familiar. The next picture from the crime scene showed a headless corpse with blood and gore scattered all over the vintage wallpaper of her apartment.

“You’re twisted, man,” John said, shaking his head and wheeling back to his desk.

“Me? I’m just a concerned citizen,” Derek chuckled.

“Excuse me, boys,” said a strong female voice, “Hope I’m not interrupting anything resembling work.”

The voice belonged to Nikki, secretary to the boss of their department, Bill Johnson. She was a fit athletic-looking brunette in her late twenties, with a slightly Asian cast to her features. Derek pretended to work while John turned to face her.

“Just living the dream. What’s up?” John knew that if Nikki was here it probably wasn’t good.

“Bill asked me to come find you when you got in the office. He’d like to see you right away.” She smiled to take the sting off her message which basically meant You’re in deep shit.

John’s shoulders slumped dejectedly and he stood to follow her.

“Ohhh somebody’s in trouuuble…” Derek teased.

Nikki rolled her eyes and escorted John towards their boss’s office. “He’s such a dick. No wonder you come in late if you have to work with him every day.”

“He’s not so bad,” John said, “I’ve worked with worse.”

She smiled slightly and looked at him sideways, and flicked her hand through a stray strand of hair. “Mm hm. I’m sure you have. Bill’s not happy with you today, John. You’ve been coming into work late and he’s still waiting for that report on the Thompson and Bender order.”

“Yeah, I know. I haven’t exactly been an exemplary employee lately.” John was starting to get nervous. It sounded like he was heading into a shit-storm.

“Everything OK? At home I mean?” she asked, seeming genuinely concerned. Nikki was alright, and John had a suspicion she liked him. As more than just a co-worker. Which made him even more nervous.

“Yeah, I guess. Personal stuff, you know? I’ll smooth things over with Bill and get my head together.”

“Lady troubles, eh?” she teased. “Well, I hope so for your sake. Abandon all hope, ye who enter…” She smiled, gesturing to Bill’s office door in front of them as she returned to her desk.

John braced himself, knocked on the door, and entered.

Bill Johnson looked up from his desk. He was a stout man in his late forties, gray at the temples and slightly bald in the back of his brown, perfectly groomed hair.

“Ah,” Bill said, “John. Sit.”

John sat in front of him, getting even more nervous as he wondered if he was about to be fired. He hadn’t been that lax, had he?

“Listen,” John started but was cut off by a wave of Bill’s hand.

“No, you listen,” Bill said, “You’ve been coming into work late. You promised that report on my desk first thing this morning and then show up late again. And I assume no report?”

John shook his head, trying to look properly chastened.

Bill sighed and leaned back in his chair, crossing his hands behind his head. “Look, John, I like you. You’ve done good work for us. In the past. But lately your performance, or lack of it, has been unacceptable. When you arrive late, you hurt the whole team. It’s a basic expectation for you to be on time and ready to work. And when you don’t have reports ready for me the day I’ve got to go into a meeting with an important new client, you make me look bad. Understand?”

John nodded, “Yes sir.”

“I hope so. I really do. There’s a dozen other guys out there looking for work with just as much experience, or more, than you. I’m starting to question how badly you really want this job. If you want to prove it to me, then I need that report on my desk in the next hour. And be on time tomorrow. Any questions?”

“No sir.”

“Go,” Bill said waving his dismissal.

John stood and left, closing the door quietly behind him even though he wanted to tell Bill to fuck off and slam the door in his fat face. He made the walk of shame back to his cubicle and sat down heavily.

“So you fired yet?” asked Derek.

“Not yet. Not looking good if I don’t turn in this report in the next hour though so I’d appreciate it if you kept your smarminess to yourself while I try to concentrate.”

Derek raised his hands, feigning innocence, “Not a peep.”

At least tomorrow was Friday. Thank God.

 

To be continued…