What Happened When My Wife Blogged About Her Zero-Carb Life


Turns out, diet talk is hugely popular–and controversial.

Author’s update: This post originally appeared in my website’s forum; I’ve reposted it here, along with this exciting news: MyZeroCarbLife.com has now reached 1,000,000 page views

My wife, Kelly, has a pretty amazing story. A little more than ten years ago, she was overweight and miserable. When she went for an annual check-up with her doctor, he delivered sobering news: she needed to lose 100 pounds. Otherwise, she’d risk a lifetime of poor health. He had a simple but difficult suggestion: eating a very low-carbohydrate diet.

Sugars, which are the building blocks of most carbohydrates, are extraordinarily addictive. Science shows that eating sugar lights up the same neurons in your brain that blink on when you snort cocaine. If you’ve ever seen a kid wolf down a bowl of Sugar Smacks, this isn’t news to you.

Breaking addiction is extraordinarily difficult, and that’s the path my wife had to walk when it came to eating sugar. And, by God, she did it. Continue reading “What Happened When My Wife Blogged About Her Zero-Carb Life”

This Sonnet of an Evening


The boy didn’t want to go to sleep.

He wanted Kel to read him his book–The Very Hungry Caterpillar for those of you playing along at home–and when he realized it was my turn to read to him before bed, his eyes welled up with tears. He drug out his little beanbag chair into the hall, pulling it up to Kel’s feet as if it were an offering, a way of begging into her arms for a nighttime story.

We compromised. (Julia, in her own way, let it be known she expected Mommy to read to her. I was chopped liver at that point, I guess.) Kel read Caterpillar to them both, one tucked on each side on their beanbag chairs, and I relaxed in the rocker in Thomas’s room, listening to their voices, to the cold rain drumming the rooftop.

T came back into the room afterward, still not entirely sure about letting me read to him, but soon enough we were finishing our third book (Scat Cat), and he still wanted another one. Continue reading “This Sonnet of an Evening”

Looking for Jan O’Brien

WCU's Jan O'Brien



A journey to say goodbye to a campus legend–before it’s too late.

UPDATE, DECEMBER 5, 2016: Western Carolina University announced today that Jan O’Brien had passed away. It’s important to note this story is about the summer of 2014, when Jan’s passing was erroneously reported.

Jan will always be a cherished part of my college years, and I am deeply saddened to hear she’s passed away. I will always be grateful, however, of the chance I got to tell her how important she was to so many of us before it was too late.  –jdh


THIS STORY BEGINS SIXTEEN YEARS AGO, the fall of 1998, when I was a high school senior visiting my college sophomore girlfriend at Western Carolina. We were kids, so we were drawn like moths to the flame by the on-campus Chick-fil-a, where fried chicken sandwiches wrapped in foil bags sat under heat lamps, waiting for us to collect them and pay for them with a mysterious and seemingly inexhaustible supply of declining balance points.

We’d gathered our meals and headed for check-out, and that’s the first time I met Jan O’Brien, the infamous register attendant in the University Center food court. She was an older lady, short but strong stature, white, curly hair, and a vibrant smile, which she flashed warmly to me. “Hello, sweetheart!” she said.

“Hi, Jan!” Kelly said back to her.

I grinned. “What, no ‘sweetheart’ for me?”

She laughed, and then she called me sweetheart. We chatted, and then we checked out, and we ate, and the next year I came back to Western Carolina as a freshman. Jan was still there, and she called me sweetheart. She called me that for the next four years. Continue reading “Looking for Jan O’Brien”