Monday, December 29, 2008

Fashion Show . . .

My poor father has been gaining weight for the past few years. Just getting bigger. It is probably equal parts depression, over-eating, lack of excercise and general "acceptance" that getting older means getting fatter and not being as healthy.

Regardless of what it is that causes it . . . I don't like it. It reminds me a) this is EXACTLY why I had gastric bypass surgery and b) that we all need to remind ourselves that while poor health is sort of certain (let's all agree that if the body lives long enough it will eventually start to fail - no matter what) . . . it is not something you have to rush towards or simply accept.

Anywho - happy thoughts - the UP side to me losing 250 pounds and to my father gaining weight (NOT 250 pounds, I should point out) is that when I am home, I get to go through his closet and take anything that is too small for him and that is small enough for me. The DOWN side of even that? It was the late 80s/early 90s the last time he was the size I am now . . . and my father never throws away old clothes.

With that in mind - Ryan and I spent an hour or so last night going through all of my father's old clothes and picking and chosing the (few) things we wanted to keep and just laughing our proverbial butts off at the rest of the piles and piles of "fashion" that we had to dig through.

A few of our favorites? This Napoleon Dynamite-inspired three piece corduroy suit for Ryan (the skinny little bastard is a size 42 suit (I am a 46 still) or it would have been mine. ALL MINE!) . . .

. . . and a Christopher Wallace inspired sweater/hat/pants combo for moi (I have to bust out a little French when we are talking fashion show stuff, right?).

So - what WILL I be taking home from Joe's House of Style? Two golf shirts, three ties and a button down shirt.

The other dozens of items of clothes that we perused will have to wait for Dad to successfully diet his way back down, a yard sale, a United Way donation or Godot. Whatever or whomever comes (mercifully) soonest.

We're Gonna' Miss You, Ro-Ro . . .

Ryan left this morning. Back to Maryland. Back to his life. Back to his world and his sphere of influence. It was hard when Patrick and Joyell left but at least Ryan was still here. I was not "without" my brothers as long as he was still here. And now he's not here.

I was very sad, as I was with Patrick and Joyell, to see him go.

It was sort of funny though . . . he overslept (or something) and from the minute he woke up he was RUNNING to get out of here. Left behind the ham and potatoes my mother made specifically for him to take home (my mother is a feeder/enabler for sure) and skipped the breakfast my mother was cooking to feed him before he left. He hastily threw his stuff in the car and - bam - he was gone.
I was sort of surprised and expressed some concern over how snippy he got and how harried and hurried and rushed he became. Joy laughed and pointed out that I'm exactly the same way the minute I get behind schedule or things fall out of my control. Ah, genetics. You cursed beast!

It was all we could do to get him to sit for a few pictures with Ava and to give us some hugs and kisses (as I sobbed) to say "goodbye."

I'm gonna' miss you, brothers! Let's get togeter again SOON!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Old Friends . . .

Joy, Ava and I piled in Gamma and Gampa's minivan and headed West this morning. Destination? Victor, New York. Specifically the home of Brian, Kim, Morgan and Adam Usselman.

Kim, while someone I was not very close with until our Senior Year, is one of my very best "high school friends." I use quotes because, 14 years removed, we have much more friendship and shared time outside of the friendly confines of Groton Junior Senior High than we ever had in them.

Not only was the Usselman family there but Ma Boo (what Morgan and Adam lovingly call their Grandma Ballow) and my dear, sweet Dr. Laura Rendano (and her new boyfriend Tom) were there as well.

We had a lovely afternoon with them. Ava got to play with some kids that (at 4 and 6) were older than her school class mates but younger than her cousin, Lexy (9) and I got to spend the afternoon with three women who have been true friends to me throughout the hundreds of pounds I have gained and lost in my life and who only ever believed in and wanted the best for me.

It was very emotional to go to the Usselmans. Brian, usually very quiet and somewhat stoic in nature greeted me with a "you look good" and then Mrs. Ballou and Kim (both of whom were notably skinnier than the last time I saw them too) proceeded to lose their minds when I walked in the door. Hugs, kisses, tears, shouts. It was fun. Laura arrived much later in the afternoon and, being a loyal reader of this here blog, knew to keep her cool (smile) but she said kind things none the less.

Laura, Kim and Mrs. Ballou are very special people in my life. They were, outside of my family, Chris and Darren Delenick and some DC friends, the first people I introduced Joy too. I would dare say that they were the most important - outside of family - people I introduced Joy too. If they would have had any issues or reservations . . . I don't know what I would have done. LUCKILY they knew, from jump, how amazing of a woman Joy is and they gave her their blessing.

I guess I needed the approval and the "endorsement" of these women on my success since surgery and on my life after surgery almost as much as I needed them to give Joy the thumbs up. There are not many people in this world that I want/need/care about their approval on these sorts of things but . . . these women are special! Very special.

My Groton Girls (as I might refer to them plus Melissa (if I was going to give them a nickname)) always loved me and got me and encouraged me and supported me and I never felt heavy or depressed or whatever when I was with them. They were always just fun to be with and we have, collectively, seen each other up and over and around several mountains. They are the types of friends you truly love because we can go six months, a year, three years (whatever) without seeing each other but the minute we get back together it was like there was no time in the middle. The fun and the laughter picks right back up as we catch each other up on life in the meantime.

I saw Joy and Mrs. Ballou having some secret chat in the kitchen at one point and Joy was crying. I can only hope they were happy tears about how far we, as a family, have come since the fall of 2003 when they all first met Joy (or something like that). I can't believe Mrs. Ballou would make Joy cry for any other reason.

Anywho, it was lovely seeing the ladies (and Brian and Tom and Morgan and Adam) and I hope that I don't have to go almost two years before I see them again. I promise I won't!

Friday, December 26, 2008

A Tiring Day . . .

We spent a family Christmas from about 7:30 AM until about 11:30 PM. We were all more than ready to go to bed when the lights finally came up and the bouncer announced that we "Didn't have to go home but (we) can't stay here!"

Nikko (Patrick and Joyell's bulldog) went to bed shortly after Ava did . . . he was exhausted!

Mom Shows Her Charades Skills . . .

A favorite game for Patrick, Joyell, Ryan, Erin, Jess and Tim (and others - from what we heard) is Cranium.

Joy and I have owned a copy of the game since we lived in Connecticut but have never played. We'll be changing that as quickly as possible (plan on coming over soon, players!).

The "ladies" won (not by much but they still took home a victory) but we all seemed to enjoy it.

That's right. The Amore family sat down and played a board game. No one fought. No one screamed, yelled or cried. It was fun, fun, fun!

Bubble Wrap . . .

Ava got a ton of gifts from Gamma, Gampa and her Uncles and Aunt. Her favorite gift of the day? The packaging from one of Uncle Ryan's gifts!

Christmas Pictures . . .

We had an amazing Christmas with my family.

Ava and Joyell helped make Christmas Eve dinner . . .

There was plenty of food but - being an Amore gathering - there was lots of wine and beer to be had too (for everyone but Ava and I, of course) . . .

In a twist on old tradition, instead of each of us getting to open one gift on Christmas Eve -Ava got to open one of each of our gifts on Christmas Eve . . .

Ava and I went to church with Gamma and Gampa Amo on Christmas Morning (I'm happy to report that the church was not struck by lightining when I entered) . . .

Ava seemed to be the best gift that Joy and I brought home with us. A real crowd pleaser!

My mother is an avid quilter. She makes quilted stuff for all the women in her extended family and circle of friends. Joyell, despite having a decade of "service" in the family FINALLY got her first quilted gift on Christmas morning . . .
Today is Joyell's birthday so she and Patrick packed up their stuff and Nikko and headed to spend the rest of her birthday, and a belated Christmas, with her family. I was very sad to see them go!

We are here in hilly, snowy, wonderful Upstate until Thursday (New Year's Day). More to come!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A Little Bit Awkward . . .

I rolled in to St. Anthony's this morning without thinking much of the fact that I'm only "half the man" (sha-dump-dump!) I was the last time people in this town really saw me.

I was, admittedly, a little excited about coming "home" a week or so ago. I thought it would be really exciting and wonderful and gleeful to bump in to people and to be seen and to maybe even have people pay me a compliment or two.

Eh. Not so much. Now - don't get me wrong - I like compliments and no one said or did anything wrong (so if any of you fine Grotonians who were kind to me yesterday are reading this do NOT take what I'm about to say at all personally) but it made me super uncomfortable to have people do literal double takes when they saw me. It made me very sweaty to sit in my parent's church and wonder how many people were looking at me (my ego is that out of control that I assumed all eyes were on me). It made me genuinely uneasy to actually talk to people about my surgery and my weight and so on (I kept deflecting the attention to Ava - thank GOD she is the cutest child in the history of the world (see my ego disclaimer above)).

I don't think it is that I mind people looking at me. I know it is not that I mind people saying things about me that are positive. I am all but positive that they have wonderful hearts and spirits to go out of their way to be kind to me.

The "trouble" comes when I think that this is a lot of pressure. I know have to stay at this weight (or lower) for the rest of my life. Or I'll disappoint people. Or they will at least, when they see me again years and years from now, will go "tsk, tsk, he couldn't do it" in their heads and hearts. But no one will come up to me and say "Sean, you look TERRIBLE this morning. What happened to you?"

Does any of the above make any sense? Nope. It is the ramblings of a person who's always had low self esteem trying to justify the pressures he puts on himself by making it about other people and their expectations BUT it is what I felt yesterday morning and what I might likely feel when and if I venture out of my parent's house for the rest of our trip and maybe bump in to other people while I'm here (I grew up in small town America, it is not that out of whack to assume I might see people).

I need to get more comfortable in my new skin. Bottom line. Put that on the ol' 2009 Goals List!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas with the Family . . .

Thanks, in no small part to a minor miracle on the part of the airline and some very brief cloud clearing above (United was able to find a captain to come in on his day off to fly us out of Chicago and on to Syracuse), we made it to Groton for Christmas with the family.

What a day! My other-mother arrived at the house at 4:45 AM CT to take us to the airport and my parents picked us up at 2:15 PM ET at the airport and we were home/home by 4:30. Six of our seven pieces of luggage made it here on time (Joy's suitcase will be delivered between now and 2:00 AM ET in the morning (the poor delivery guy - driving around Upstate in the middle of the night on Christmas).
Anywho - some gastric bypass relevant content (for the first time in a while (smile)) - Today was the first flight I've had, since I went to France as a high schooler, that I was not forced to use the arm rest (to rest my bulging belly, not my arm - by the way) and the first time in as long that I not only did not need a belt extender but I could actually see the belt to fasten it . . . and I could then TIGHTEN the belt (low and tight around the hips, they tell me).

I won't say much now about the trip and how great it is to be with my family but know that it is WONDERFUL to be with my family! I will try to blog a bit while we are here but my brother Patrick and Joyell are leaving on Friday and Ryan is leaving early next week so I want to soak up time with them as much as possible but MERRY CHRISTMAS to all and to all (especially those stuck at the airport in Chicago . . . again) a good night!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Sorry, Ladies - I'm Taken . . .

I did my first photo shoot on Wednesday (long story that I can't really elaborate on now but I'm blurring the line right now for a certain client). This from a guy that spent a good decade of his life refusing to even be photographed with family and friends and BARELY allowing our wedding itself to be chronicled by a photographer.

I was mortified, to say the least, to spend half the day in front of the camera but not too mortified to post one of those pictures here.

Soak it all in.

And then be thankful (unless you are Wifey) that you don't have to spend your life staring at this mug and the balding head on top of it!

That's Why It Is Called a CANDY Cane . . .

Co-Worker: "Wanna' candy cane?"
Me: "No, thanks. I can't have any modified sugars."
Co-Worker: "Diabetic?"

Me: "Gastric Bypass."

Co-Worker: "So why can't you have a candy cane? They are just peppermint flavoring."

Me: "Are you f&$%ing serious?"

Co-Worker: "Yeah. There can't be much sugar in these things, can there?"

Me: "I'll repeat the question . . . are you f&$*%ing serious?"

THIS is why the sugar tax is such a good idea, folks!

Obesity Tax Coming to New York, Maybe . . .

For all of you in the Empire State, you might soon be getting a tax to help curb obesity. And, unlike the program proposed in Alabama, I'm ALLLLLL for this one.

Gov. Paterson, who's been quite impressive since taking over for Spitzer (go ahead and put a Kennedy in the Senate, sir, you have my blessing) is going after childhood obesity by suggesting, like with a cigarette tax, a premium charge be levied on all "sugary" beverages as a way to curb purchase and consumption.

Will it work? Hard to say. Is it worth a shot? Heck yeah.

I mean, look, I know plenty of people (like my brothers) that continue to smoke even though they know the health risks and the prices continue to climb and climb and climb and I don't know of too many people that currently drink soda (Wifey!) that will suddenly stop if they get a few extra pennies tacked on the cost of their fizzy-fun.

The charge, in just one state, is certainly not enough to end an epidemic in America either but what it DOES do is start the process. It sees a director contributor to childhood obesity and it is trying to take that threat on. Next might be fatty foods. Then sugary foods. A fast food tax. By the time it is done you might have enough extra taxes to really deter consumption, to raise state funds for education and funding of physical education specifically (let's be honest, Guv, taking gym out of schools is not helping our kids with their weight) and having people think TWICE about what they put in their bodies.

Drink 'em while you got 'em, folks.

Top Ten Songs of 2008 . . .

With only 12 days left in 2008, I am comfortable announcing my "definitive" list (might be altered if I hear something that blows my little ear drums in the coming week) of the top ten songs of 2008.

They are, in a very particular order . . .

10 - All Good Things, The Weepies - I really like "folk" music but only if it skews towards pop. I am not a Bob Dylan guy. I've never really understood Neil Young (whatever genre he and Eddie Vedder want to be in on any given day or not) and I don't really miss Peter, Paul or Mary but this group sort of grooves for me. I like pretty much all their stuff but All Good Things is my favorite of their songs from this year. It makes me think of people that I want nothing but the best for . . . which is 99.999945% of humanity (no "love" for you, suicide bombers and those that hurt children and/or their spouses).

9 - Paper Planes, M.I.A. - So what if the song came out in 2007 . . . I didn't hear it until 2008 and that is all that matters - speaking of there is this hot new group called the Mamas and the Papas that you MUST check out in the oh-nine! If you can get past children singing about getting high this is a damned catchy little diddy from one of music's most eclectic ladies. And, I mean, come on . . . PINEAPPLE EXPRESS was one of my favorite movies of the year . . . chicken and the egg argument time (sadly - this is where my pop culture life has gone - unless you want to talk about cameo appearances from celebrities on Yo Gabba Gabba and Sesame Street).

8 - Mansard Roof, Vampire Weekend - Listen to the song twice. If you aren't tapping your foot - you and I can't really be friends/family/strangers. I'm sorry to break the news to you this way but . . . it's for the best. I will play my number ten in your honor and we shouldn't cry over this goodbye.

7 - I'm Amazed, My Morning Jacket - This song makes me happy. Really happy. I am working on a video for this blog (one of these years I WILL finish it) and this song is the "soundtrack" to the video (get your lawyers on the case now, Mr. Jacket). Every time I work on the video I end out crying and putting it away for a while. Interesting that the song, alone, makes me happy but with the pictures it makes it complicated. Oh well. I'm complicated!

6 - Happy, N.E.R.D. - When I was single and living in DC, I would occassionally entertain weekend guests (Laura, Melissa, etc.) and when I did - I would rent either a Caddy or a Lincoln Town Car. I would pick it up on Thursday, drop it off on Monday and drive it the ENTIRE weekend. My DC friends would pile in, my out of town friends would pile in and we'd pimp it all over that darned beltway. I rented a car because guests always wanted to site-see (cursed Smithsonian and dozens of National Landmarks, Treasures, Memorials and Monuments) and I was too fat and too lazy to Metro to and from them all. ANYWHO - N.E.R.D's (led by Pharell Williams (sp?)) first commercially successful album came out at that time. There was a song called Truth or Dare on the album that I loved. It strikes me as odd - now that Pharell and I are both dads (smile) - how far we've come in terms of what tickles us. I do miss my Town Car though. One day I WILL live the dream. Vanity plates (C-M-D-M-S-T-R (shot out to Vinu, The Thomases and Ben Mufti) and all. One day!

5 - Viva La Vida, Coldplay - I'm not going to justify this one. I don't have to. Be happy. Live life. Sweep the streets you used to roam. It's all good. Thanks for reminding me of that, Chris!

4 - Sure Hope You Mean It, Raphael Sadiq - Joey Weeks and I used to actually fight over who "discovered" Tony, Toni, Tone first. Not fistacuffs fighting but raised voices and angry shouts. He's a musical hack, for the record (smile). 15 or so years later, the Tonies are no longer. Raphael is still doing his thing though. His CD from this year reminds me of some old Otis or Marvin or someone else Motowny. This is my favorite song off the album (all of which, for the record, is great for walks with the iPod and/or for car rides with Ava).

3 - Run, Leona Lewis - I love Leona Lewis. Not like I love my wife but more like I used to love Swiss Cake Rolls. I'm not sure why I love them. I know no good might come from it. I know people might judge me for that love but - there it is - LOVE! I was tempted to make this list 30% Leona Lewis BUT this song - since I forced myself to choose just one - is my entry on the list. It is a remake of a Snow Patrol song. I don't like Snow Patrol. I do, if you haven't heard, love Leona Lewis though. Light up, light up, as if you have a choice! I don't ever want to have to (nor do I think she ever will) seperate from or say goodbye to Joy but - if I did - I would want her to know how special she is and how much bigger than me she is anyway. Morbid to think about but - I always do think about that. Especially the morning they were wheeling me off to surgery. This song reminds me of those emotions.

2 - Live Your Life, T.I featuring Rihanna - I once sent a text message to Ro-Ro. It read - "What the hell is wrong with me? I am 32. I love in Kansas. I am married. I have a child. Why do I love a song by a guy that calls himself T.I. and is headed to jail and a girl who's best known as Ri-Ri talking about chasing "that" paper?" He texted back a very simple, "Don't know." On that note. My number two song of the year, curiously enough, is Live Your Life. Do that, please. Unless you are a suicide bomber or you hurt children or your spouse. In that case - seek help!

1 - You Don't Know Me, Ben Folds - Ah, Ben. I love you. In a strictly platonic way. I wanted to put Cologne on my Top 10 list (beautiful song) but I've already got Run on the list so I don't want to imply that there is something wrong in my home life . . . granted the gist of this song is about how a husband and a wife don't really know or listen to each other BUT it does so in an upbeat way so we'll go with that (smile). Check it out. Love it - if only for the Regina Spektor presence. PS - please come closer to Wichita than Kansas City on your next tour, Ben. Please?!

What were the "jams" of the year in your ears? I'm open to new things.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Biggest Loser . . .

It is over. I am sooooo glad that the at-home vote went soooo far against Heba (I have to believe that was Kharma) and that Vicky was nothing more than an "also ran" for the big prize (he he he he he he he he he). I was so happy for and proud of Amy (yowzahs!) and PHIL! Dear GOD Phil looked amazing. Most importantly - kudos to Michelle - the contestant that almost quit and really had an emotional and physical transformation that we could all root for.

I'm also super excited for Season 7 (which starts in just THREE short weeks). The show has 11 teams (versus eight) and the heaviest cast the show has ever known/seen. I WEPT when they showed the preview and my boy, Daniel Wright, who - at only 19 - is the heaviest contestant the show has ever had. I'm pretty sure Daniel is the old me. He's on my orange team. Please GOD let him redeem my color after the Ed/Heba debacle of Season 6 and the Chastity invation of Season 5.

Did you watch last night? What did you think?

One Week . . .

You have NO idea how excited I am to be able to say that I will be home and with my family in just ONE WEEK. That's right. I get to see my brothers and Joyell and my parents in just seven short days. It has been 16 months since I could say that!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snowflakes of Love . . .

We had our company holiday party last night. I was on the committee. We did a "prom" theme for the party and called it Snowflakes of Love. It was cheesy, it was campish, it was drunken (for those that partook (I did not, Joy did).

Joy and I had a great time and really got in the spirit of "prom". We went for a "Mad Men" inspired, early 60s "look." Yep. I'm wearing WHITE on top of my waist. Without the slightest hint of irony. And the white makes me look bigger than I am and that is okay with me too . . . for once! Seriously - how beautiful is my wife?!

It was nice to go to a party and - for the first time ever - really DANCE and have a good time without having to strip down half naked or sweat through my clothes (or both). I think I'm going to eventually get used to this being sorta' skinny thing.

My Colleagues . . .

My boss, Shawn, and our coordinator, Catherine! We make a cute team, right?!

Friday, December 12, 2008

Another Option for Weight Loss . . .

If you have a few hundred extra pounds to lose and you're not a big fan of surgery - simple - just bag up your stuff and head off to China. 235 pounds in seven months? Makes me feel shy about my weight loss success. Hmmmm.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sebastian . . .

Joy was studying for her finals this weekend but, as Ava's escort, I had the distinct pleasure of attending my first Build-A-Bear birthday party on Saturday afternoon.

Wichita's only other Grotonian (Tricia (Williams) Udland) and her husband, Kyle, celebrated the third birthday of their SUPER cute and bespectacled son, Sebastian, on Saturday and were there to see all the fluffy madness go down.

Joy and Ava have been to Build-A-Bear. A few times. I've never really been in (I ran in once to buy an outfit for one of Ava's existing creatures but have never seen the actual "process" of building a bear before).

The place is scary and enchanting all that the same time. "Madness" is the best word for it. Hundreds of outfits. Stuffing blowing machines, air washers, "dressing" rooms for the creatures, etc. Kids kissing hearts for their bears and dancing about.

I was a little overwhelmed by it all (not sure why) but Ava, Sebastian and the fellow party goers seemed to love it (and all the other parents handled it much better than I did too, to be honest).

The highlight, for me (outside of watching Ava make and dress "Holly" her Christmas Moose), was seeing Mr. and Mrs. Williams at the party.

Mrs. Williams is a reader of the blog (waddup, Mrs. Williams?!) and I've talked about her and her family many times in this forum (they were the unofficial "parents" of the Groton Marching Band (and they suffered many, many long trips with me accordingly). It was very weird to see them - for the first time in probably 14 years or so - here in Wichita but it was great to chat with them and catch up with them.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Williams made some very kind comments about my general appearance (a nice thing to here now that the weight has plateaued) and, frankly, it made me miss my parents and it made me super excited for our trip (two weeks from today!).

My ego, as I've always acknowledged, knows very few limits but I am sort of excited to go home and show myself off to the "home crowd" (wink!).

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Vacation . . .

I am wrapping up five days of "vacation" today. I took Friday off (worked six hours from 4:00 AM - 10:00 AM) and I was obviously off on Saturday (worked two hours) and Sunday (worked for about two hours) and Monday (worked almost three hours) and then Tuesday (didn't really work at all on Tuesday) and today (worked for about two hours). Long story long . . . my work/life balance is clearly NOT as in check as I bragged about it being a week or so ago.

Grimace, frown, more work to do on me!

The "good" news is that I get to go back to work tomorrow where the struggle between "here" and "there" is actually easier in an awkward way.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

We'll All Go Down Together . . .

Billy Joel has a song, Goodnight Saigon, that talks about how soldiers all sort of have this shared experience and this bond that is truly unbreakable. I prefer Billy Joel's earlier and more "soulful" work vs. his more commercial stuff like Uptown Girl, We Didn't Start the Fire, ironically It's All About Soul, etc. but Goodnight Saigon is probably my favorite Billy Joel song.

Here's why . . . it sort of touches on the idea that you can form tight, permanent and - if need be - morbid bonds with people by sharing just one part, aspect or fraction of your life.

The military, college, 9/11, Kennedy's assassination, surviving a bus with a bomb strapped to it that must stay above 50 MPH for you to survive. You get my point. But what about obesity?!

Is it a shared experience that some how bonds and connects us and should carry us or somehow endear us to each other? Certainly ethnic backgrounds have this effect on people . . . otherwise there would be no "Little (Country)" in most American metropolitan cities and half of all the episodes of Law & Order would have needed better writing. Certainly religion or views on (or away from) God seem to bond us. I've watched The Craft. I get it. As I work more and more with The Arc, I see that developmental disabilities can create a bond between those that have them and those that love people with them. But . . . obesity?!

Here's what I know. In my life I've had two obese parents, three actually obese friends (many of you all are/were pleasently plump . . . but that's all I'm giving you . . . I am not backpedaling from all those times I insisted you were not "fat"), a few obese co-workers.

The truth? I was immediately attracted (emotionally) to and/or felt safer with them because of our shared weight. I am not saying that was the only reason I liked (and/or loved them). I mean two of them were my parents, a few of the heavies were some of the best friends I have ever had and the co-workers were smarter, funnier and more capable, I felt, than many of their thinner contemporaries.

The other side of the truth? I have a wife that is within a healthy range-of-weight. My brothers are both thin. Most of the friends I have had in my life have been thin or on the lighter side of overweight and almost every person I have ever worked with (and many of the co-workers I have admired most like Norma Samson or Lisa Lanspery or Stacy Simpson, etc.) was and still is/are skinny.

But . . . I don't know that I connected myself, emotionally, as quickly to the skinny people as I did my pudgy peeps! I'm sure, as I sit here and type, that I did not. Nope. I think I always prefered, felt a tighter bond with and enjoyed heavier people.

Now - that didn't mean that I was always kinder to those people. No. Quite the opposite. Generally when those people got breaks in life that I did not (note that I call them "breaks" - I leave no room for the person to have earned true opportunities and/or to have had the intellegence, presence, poise and, where appropriate/relevant beauty to get what they got) I resented them double for it?

Look good in bold colors? Pft. Skinny souled bitch!

Find a soulmate? Whatever . . . you'll be on a diet in no time, I'm sure.

Get a promotion? (insert inappropriate musings about "padded knees" here)

Find happiness in any form and actually lose the weight? JUDAS BRUTE ARNOLD!

You see what I'm saying. I was petty. I was so small for being so big.

The idea that I could be one-upped, bested or otherwise challenged by someone that shared my physical disposition and, in most cases, self-esteem deficiency would just crush and infuriate me.

And it worked the other way too. When Joy and I first got together she had a good friend who had once been heavy. He woke up one day, as far as I can tell, and just started losing the weight. He hit the gym. He watched what he ate. He lost the weight. And he hated me for finding a woman who would love me, as Joy did, without me having to shed the weight. I've had people resent me for getting married before them (how DARE I?) and people resent me for having a child before them (how double DARE I?) and I've had people actually express anger that I had gastric bypass and that I'm cleaning up my physical and mental and emotional self.

I am sure I am oversimplifying things here but the point is that being fat does bond us together - in my opinion - and it does give us comfort and enablement and empowerment to be with those that are also heavy but in that bond comes even more pain and anguish when we feel "betrayed" or otherwise "wronged" by someone that we should always agree with . . . right down to which flavor of Ben & Jerry's is best for which type of bad day (I actually had a chart at one point . . . that would make for priceless blog fodder if any of you still have it and want to send it back to me).

I know that many of my friends have been friends for many years. They have seen, in some cases, hundreds of pounds go on my body and a few have seen hundreds come off. No one has experienced the impact of this weight shift - or felt the impacts within our relationship more - than Joy. And she still loves me. No more. No less. I still have good days. I still have bad days. I still have days where I feel good about me and the world is sunny and bright and I still have days where I am not happy so therefore the entire planet should be in misery too. She's a saint and a keeper, this one!

Here's the moral . . . let's take care of each other. Heavy or not. Let's be friends to each other - not because of our weight challenges but in spite of them and let's remember that, inside, our skeltal masses are all approximately the same. Our souls are weightless. Our hearts are fragile and our egos can be limitless.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

The Plaza . . .

Growing up in Groton, the "premier" salon for all of your hair, nail and beauty needs was The Plaza in Cortland, New York (we would say it Plahhhhhzuh to show it due respect). Living here in Wichita now, the premier place to do your J. Crew and Tiffany and shopping is also The Plaza. But The (Country Club) Plaza is not a 15 minute drive to Cortland though. Rather, a three hour drive to Kansas City . . . on the "mo" (Missouri, for all the unfamiliars) side!

Thank GOD Tom Kelly was flying in to town - giving me the perfect excuse to frequent the Plahhhhhhhzuh. Tom sends his regards to all of his "Bariatric Journey" fans (he thanks all two of you for your support and interest in him)

It has been a little over a year since I saw Tom Kelly. Ironically Tom was the last "East Coast" friend - besides my sofa-surfing host Casey - that I saw before leaving town and he's my first East Coast friend I've seen since (we also had Chinese food both times we got together - coincidence?! I think NOT!)

We had another great time hanging out. It is, as Tom pointed out. a rare friendship that will allow you to not see a person (and not even talk much with them . . . the occassional e-mail and this stupid blog being your main link) for over a year but to get together and just sort of "pick up where you left off."

Friday was a nice evening. I bought Joy's graduation gift (my "lady" does love the Robin's Egg boxes and all that they contain). I bought some argyle socks. I saw Tom in an adult "union suit" and I also spent a lot of time reflecting, with Tom, on an e-mail exchange I had last week with another old friend and trying to explain to him the deep guilt I have about the way I used to act and how much I appreciate second chances with people that I love.

We also met up with a client of mine (I think Tom was a wee smitten) and a co-worker (who lives in Kansas City and happened to be in the neighborhood).

I didn't get home until 1:00 AM on Saturday (I promiesd Joy I'd be home by 9:00 - thank GOD for the blue box I was holding) but it was well worth the six hours in the car. I crave and adore time with friends - especially those that can finally put their arms all the way around me for the first time in the 14+ years we've been friends.

Come back any time, Tom. Maybe even fly in to the Wichi-Wichi next time. We have Chinese food here too, you know!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Tree Lighting . . .

We ventured out in to another cold Wichita evening on Thursday to see Mayor Brewer flip the switch on the city's Christmas tree and to enjoy the fireworks display that followed.

Amazingly, the "quality" of the pictures we got this year were about the same as the duds from last year but one of our many budding "family traditions" remains in tact and we really, really enjoyed it.

I missed my 250 extra pounds as the wind blew right through me and chilled my bony, little fingers to the, uh, bone (check out my remade wedding ring in the picture of Ava and I and please let me know if you agree with a few that have shared their opinions that the band is too thin and "girly" in nature) BUT I was happy that I was able to once again "offically" kick off the holiday season in good health and with my wife and daughter.

Not that many years ago I would have never believed I might actually be "here" to see Christmas 2008.

God bless us one and all indeed . . .

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy Anniversary, Chris and Michele . . .

I would be a liar if I told you that I was positive that today is the "official" 14th anniversary of my friend Chris and his wife Michele.

I think I remember their first official "date" being a concert. Ray Charles or the lesser-known Del Amitri seem possible but it might have also been some crap-production Handel's Messiah or a Phish concert. A quick Google of "Concert, December 2, 1995, Connecticut" was of little help, as you can probably tell.

What concert they went to was of little consequence in the grand scheme of things. What DOES matter is that a love that endured much was born that fall/winter and I was none too happy about it.

Let me clarify . . . Chris, from the first day I met him, was my presumed Best College Friend. He was the total package. Funny. Genuine. Caring. Smart. Charming. Catholic. No - I didn't want to date him but I needed to hitch my wagon to a positive force if I was going to survive the college "transition." It all worked sooooo swimmingly. Until that damned Biermann girl came along.

Let me further clarify . . . I liked Michele from the minute I met her too. We were cast together in the play. Not just any play. No. No. We were doing "parallel" versions of Dracula that had a traditional male vampire and a "reimagined' version with a female blood sucker to fear and love. Sound crappy? It WAS! Our director that semester was a Yaley (the brilliance and the pain he brought to our campus productions was felt deeply, I can assure you). Michele, a talented freshman with legit credentials behind her, was having none of this "creative license" crap and I adored her and he swaggart and attitude on the whole thing from jump. I'll give you one example . . . the night of the DRESS REHEARSAL Michele technically QUIT the show when our director tried to force her to use a ladder, horizontally wired to the beams of the theater, as a "monkey bars" (if you will) over a dangerous pit. A change to the show he hadn't thought out and hadn't presented before the very moment we got to that point in the play. Ah. It was wonderful to see the spark in her. I saw me and her making many a beautiful theater production together and I was anxious to socialize with her too.

Then. It happened. Michele met Chris (she came over for Days of Our Lives one afternoon (one of the many things Michele and I both loved was bad day time soaps)) and the rest was history. Suddenly my Best College Friend and my budding Best Theater Buddy were smitten and I was on the outside looking in. It was obvious from jump. How could I have let me worlds collide? Curse you Dr. Marlena Evans!

So - it was time for that patented (and much lamented) Sean the A#$&hole! It was so easy . . . make Michele's life hell as long was she was around and I would get Chris back and we'd all be happy. Chris would marry someone that didn't challenge my role in his life and Michele would no doubt find another man to love and marry too.

People who only know bits and pieces of me or who don't really "know" me don't believe the negative and nasty and vindictive side of me that plagued me for sooooo many years. It was very real. It was very ugly. It was very destructive and it was very, very common. I don't miss it at all . . . I live in fear of it coming back (but don't "miss" it) and I am truly sorry for all the people that got clipped in the crosshairs of "that" Sean.

Back to Michele . . . by the time semester break was over (a month in to the relationship) . . . I was in full swing. New comforter purchase because Chris and Michele laid on my bed together to watch Scent of a Woman? Check. Nasty comments to Michele at spring musical practice? Check. Rumors and gossip to bother Chris? Check. Petty, little crap coming out of me as a way to "assert" I was a better friend than she was a girlfriend? Check.

For the next FIVE YEARS I tried to assert myself. This girl from Maine (who actually holds some sort of record for being the youngest girl in state history to bag a moose (I should have seen her power coming)) was not to be messed with. She took all my crap. Like a CHAMP. She even dished it back at me on a regular basis. She was always more comfortable and confident than I was ready for. I admired and feared her for that.

Long story short . . . Chris was content to have us both. I wasted all that time that I could have spent getting to really know her and I went from moments of greatness to moments of great mortification and I just wish I could go back and undo/redo it.

Chris proposed to Michele. We were all elated (really, I was happy for them) and then I realized that I had to go in to damage control . . . I had to somehow back pedal years of being "me" and try to force Michele to understand that I had always liked - LOVED her.

Yeah, uh, how'd THAT work out? Not so well. She was always a gracious lady about it though. She allowed me to come and stay in their apartment while we were prepping for the wedding. She hugged and kissed me at any time we crossed paths but I always knew that she was pretty sure that I was always going to just be that pain in the ass that tried, for YEARS, to drive a wedge between her and the love of her life (I could give examples but they are very embarassing . . . VERY embarassing).

Anywho - Chris asked me to be his best man. SUCH an honor. He has two brothers. He has many friends. All the rest of them were much more genuine and welcoming to Michele. I don't know why he chose me . . . I might never. I guess because I introduced the two of them or maybe it was one last attempt for Chris to reassure me that it was "okay" he could have his Wife and his friend too (I would use the "cake/eating" cliche here but it gets awkward).

So - Rehersal Dinner. Big moment. My big chance. The toast. I wrote the toast and had it proofread and reviewed by the one and only Stacy Simpson. It was touching and warm and funny and emotional and set up how I had a great friend at my side for all these years and didn't realize how important they were, etc. Cut to the chase? Okay . . . so in the end I was toasting Michele for her friendship and her love of Chris. The Zepplin rode over smoother (and less people died) than this toast. It was terrible. People thought I was taking one last cheap shot at her the evening before her wedding. I was too embarassed to even clarify or defend myself. Instead, I cried. For about 15 straight minutes.

I barely slept that night (a) I had a party in my room until about 2:15 AM and b) I felt terrible). The next day, wedding day, I barely spoke to Chris about any of it. We went and had his wedding gift from Michele (a watch) fitted. We went to breakfast with the group. We headed to the church.

As Chris got married, I stood behind him - staring at his beautiful and lovely and wonderful bride and realized how pathetic I had been for the six full years between the day they met and that moment. There is a picture of Chris exchanging vows with Michele. He's holding her hand with one hand and my hand with the other. I'm crying more than Michele. It was gut wrenching for me.

I don't think Michele and I have really "talked" about any of it since. They moved to Vermont so she could start med school the day they got back from their honeymoon and I have only seen her thrice. Once for a college reunion weekend. Once for Grandpa Delenick's funeral. Once for my wedding. She was as much a lady and a class act at those gatherings as she ever was. God I admire her for that. Truthfully . . . I actually use her as a guide in how I deal with my own anxieties towards those that have upset me since my surgery. I "channel" my inner Biermann. It's powerful and beautiful.

Anywho - since I started this blog - there have been many comments left. Many readers come and gone. Many people that touched base. NONE of them have meant as much to me as this . . .

"Wow, Sean. That's all I can say. I'm sitting here at 3am on call at the hospital and just read the last 2 entries and decided I had to write right now. There is too much I could say but instead I'll try to keep it brief.1. I am so, so, so happy for you and Joy and Ava. You and Joy are very lucky to have each other and I'm excited for the wonderful years you have in store as a couple and as parents.2. I miss you. I wish I knew Ava and Joy. Reading your blog has brought you back to Chris and I. We hear your voice in a way we haven't for years. I'm sorry that there has been a distance. Watching Chris read your blog has made it even clearer how much he's missed you and how much he is absolutely thrilled for you. I'm so glad you two had a good phone call the other night. I hope we are on your list of people to reconnect with and/or be honest with if in any way you have not felt the support and love we have for you.3. Thank you for being an inspiration to fix what seems wrong and celebrate what's right in my own life.Happy Surgaversary old friend--love, Michele"

I keep it, printed out, in my work bag.

She cares about me. She loves me. She's forgiven me. She roots for me. She is the friend she always was even when I didn't notice.

Anywho - LONG STORY long . . . Happy Anniversary to you two crazy kids and know that I miss you and love you both and I am so very, very happy that you survived the ups and downs (including me (grimace)) that got you from first meeting, down the aisle, in to/through med school and to a family of four living in Maine. Life is wonderful, blessed and full!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Great PBS Television . . .

Was flicking through the old channels last night after Ava went to bed and I came Austin City Limits on PBS. Coldplay. Had to stop. These two songs made me all warm and gushy thinking about this time of year. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Silent Sunday . . .

I got an e-mail the other day challenging there was "no way" I actually wore orange pants to work. Here I am. At work. On my DESK. Rapping along to LL Cool J's "Mama Said Knock You Out" in my orange pants. Co-workers in background should confirm this photo's legitimacy. Orange pants fo-life!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Things I'm Thankful For 2008 . . .

I have had this post rattling around in the "drafts" folder for like a month. I was hoping to get it done before Turkey Day rolled around but I failed. I finished it a few minutes ago so I figured, what the heck, I'll post it anyway.

Dear Reader Who Sorta' Cares About Me (Enough To Read My Blog At Least) -

I wanted to take a few minutes to put in (digital) black and white the twenty things that I am most thankful for in 2008. You might confuse it for my 2007 list but - I think the "repeats" deserve to be mentioned twice (and probably every year for the rest of my life).

1 - Joy and Ava - I won't go too in to detail on either one of them here. I am thankful for every little thing they do. And the big stuff too!

2 - My Family (Amores) - The rush of energy that will be radiating from the "Finger Lakes Region" of New York on Christmas Day will be the sheer joy that comes from me seeing my brothers play with their niece and from me being able to see and hug them and laugh with them. My energy will be enough to reverbirate "locally" - my parents enjoying their three children and two of the three loves of their sons lives and their grandaughter in their home for a full day will make the experience "tangible" on a much broader geographic level. I can't wait.

3 - My Family (Terry/Salmans) - We moved here to be closer to you crazy people. The growing pains of living in the same town have been a learning experience for all (at least the Amore part of the family) but, a year later, we woundn't want to be any other place but here and we appreciate the hell out of having you here with us!

4 - My Family (Amores, Coyles, Dicks (no, really, that is my Aunt and Uncles last name), Timmermeyers, Tilsons, Terrys, etc.) - I never understood aunts, uncles and cousins. Now I long to go back and get to know my extended family . . . something tells me they are all amazing people (if not all in a positive way (smile))!

5 - Finishing the Official "Journey" of Gastric Bypass - Seriously! I am glad to have it over so I can get started on looking at the rest of my life and how to maintain my weight, etc.

6 - Good Eats. Hands down my favorite show on television (besides The Biggest Loser and The Ghost Whisperer (I'm embarassed to admit we still watch every episode . . . and cry at many of them)) and the ONLY show that Ava will watch with me without at least asking/demanding we turn the channel to Noggin in the evenings.

7 - Living in the Central Time Zone - We're done with prime time television by 10:00 PM. MOST nights we are done by 9:00 PM. What a difference an hour makes when you aren't struggling to stay awake to watch the last few minutes of any given TV show (besides the old episodes of Seinfeld they show on our Fox affiliate).

8 - Seth Rogen - He just makes me laugh. His movies. His interviews. The way my wife has replaced him for Kevin James on her "crush list" (she's a Chubby Chaser, clearly). His story (fascinating stuff - if you don't know the back story behind the "overnight sensation" that is Seth Rogen, you should check in to it).

9 - Obama - Nope. I'm NOT jumping on a wagon here. Hillary was my "guy" and still is and always will be but there was something magical about seeing just how ready for "change" this country really was/is. Now let us all hope he can make good on the hype.

10 - JC Penney - It has been a full year now since I first got "thin" enough (size 52 waist is not exactly "thin") to shop in one of America's leading retail department stores. I give them a lot of crap for all their sales but CLEARLY I'm sold on the company and going in a store and trying stuff on and so on. Shopping as a skinnier person is fun. Affordable prices and great quality make it more enjoyable.

11 - Penny Loafers - I was e-mailing with Megan Thomas the other day (there was a picture of Horatio Sanz (down 100 or so pounds and looking suhweeet) wearing some killer kicks that Megan thought I might enjoy) and I had to confess to her that I shop at Brooks Brothers now. I haven't bought an utterly irresponsible pair of sneakers in years. At one point in my life - even being completely opposed to any/all forms of excercise - I owned 20 pairs of sneakers. They were gold, yellow, burgundy, purple, green, blue, silver, black/gold/silver and orange (to name a few). I don't know why I bought them . . . the new "introspective" side of me thinks it was a combination of a) shoes being the only "fashion" 500 pound men can have fun with and b) it took the attention away from the rest of my body (in theory).

12 - Reduced Fat Triscuits - I haven't really eaten "bread" in almost two years. Sure - I'll have a slice of it every now and again. ESPECIALLY if it is Joy's latest loafy obsession (Ezekiel bread). But, in general . . . wraps and Triscuits have kept me off the easiest pitfall in a high-protein, low-carb diet/lifestyle. . . bread. For that, I'm thankful.

13 - The Torah - I don't own a copy yet but I've been reading all about the books of Moses on-line and I'm anxious to finish my current religious readings/prep materials so I can dive in to the textual basis for all Judeo-Christian religions. Gettin' back to basics, folks. I'm thankful for that!

14 - Friends - I still don't talk to them as often as I might like (I don't "talk" to some of them at all, sadly) but I appreciate how many people I can stay in touch with and that show their continued love and support for me (and vice versa) in this crazy world through the bonds of friendship. I hope to do some traveling to the DC and NYC areas in 2009 . . . let's all catch up with real, face-to-face, time. I want to hug all your children and tell them how amazing their parents are!

15 - Vampire Weekend - I discovered and/or was "turned on" to a lot of new music in 2008. This year was the least hip hop/rap/r&b year of my life since my early teens by far (curse you T.I., Rhianna, The Roots and Jay-Z for refusing to let me break free of your respective genres in the last year). Vampire Weekend was, hands down, the most impactful of the new stuff. They may not be Coldplay (for better or for worse - many of you might be thinking) but I really enjoy them and hope to fill my ears with more music like them in 2009!

16 - College - No. Not for me. I am blisfully 8 FULL years away from the trappings of education. For Joy. NOT just because she is finishing her degree (in just two short weeks) but because this fall has been the most hectic and stressful time in the incredibly padantic history of our relationship and we have passed it with flying colors. The jury is still out on if we will finish with a 4.0 or not but - if they had a Dean's List for people suffering each other's stress and strain and rooting them through it - Joy and I would be the first people in line for those cords on graduation day. Only 21 more months until Joy finishes her Bachelor's Degree. Somehow I think it will be easier (and perhaps go faster) than the last 12 months . . . for all of us! I wouldn't trade a moment of this experience though. We're gonna' celebrate the night after the madness . . . but I think the real appreciation will come when Joy's head hits the pillow that night - knowing she's finished something she started 15 years ago! That's something to appreciate and a miracle to behold!

17 - Playa Azul - I can't even ballpark how many meals Joy, Ava and I have shared at this place in the last year. Nor can I approximate how many times I've been there with co-workers. All delicious. All enjoyable. All somehow memorable (as I point out that I can't tell you how many times I've been there). Yuhmay!

18 - Orange - Still my favorite color. Which still means I'm likely insane. Which still means I'm still the same old me . . . just lighter . . . and better able to pull off wearing the color orange.

What are YOU thankful for this year?

Friday, November 28, 2008

Navy Blue Friday . . .

So I'm already back from my "Black Friday" shopping (have been back for about 20 minutes already at it is only 7:40 AM CT as I sit here typing).

Joy and Ava are still asleep. I've already had my eight ounces of fat free, organic milk (had that at about 5:25 this morning when I rolled out) and I am having my "breakfast" as we speak . . . some leftover turkey and a slice of pepper jack cheese.

I figured I would do some blogging while the house was quiet and before I resume packing away the Thanksgiving decorations, carrying the Christmas stuff up from the basement and raking up the rest of the leaves in the lawn (the good news there is that it is supposed to rain here today so I might not have to deal with the lawn and the outdoor lights/decorations today after all).

I had an okay morning of shopping. I finally got my Christmas Eve outfit for our nervous (will explain in another post) return to St. Anthony's Catholic Church in Groton, New York. I also picked up three additional new sweaters, a pair of navy blue pants (I can now say I own all the colors of chinos that JCPenney has to offer (smile)) and I got my Christmas Pajamas too (a flannely tradition here in the Amore household). Then I crossed the street to Target where I got matching flannel pajamas for Ava and Joy for only $15/pair. I finally picked up season 7 of Gilmore Girls (we DO miss you, ladies) for only $14. Bought Madagascar for like $6 and we got Ava her own digital camera (in hopes that she will forget her obsession with our beloved camera) for $20 and even found a sweet deal on paper towels. Who knew Target blew out allllll the stops the day after Thanksgiving?!?!?!

It was a good morning. I had some fun and I am now officially in the holiday spirit. I'm soooo in the spirit that I actually want to run to Hallmark later this morning, buy three cards and then get the light-up gingerbread house thingy they are hawking for Ava.

That being said, LAST year on "Black Friday" I was probably the giddiest damned shopper on Wichita's East Side. I'd only been home for a few weeks. I was finally small enough to shop in most retail stores and I was creeping towards being able to leave the Big & Tall world behind. I shopped with my Other-Mother and Stephanie for several hours before finally, heading home exhausted and satisfied.

This year? Not so much on the "giddy" side. I think it is one more reminder that my surgery was almost two years ago - that the weight loss has slowed/stopped and that this is the rest of my life. I didn't even walk by the Big & Tall section of JCPenney. I didn't think twice to just grab a few long sleeve t-shirts (size Large) and to look at pants without immediately going straight for the bottom of Chino Mountain (where the biggest sizes are).

I'm excited to be "normal" - don't misunderstand and I do sort of miss the sheer joy of being able to shop for ME, in clothing stores, at 5:45 AM (if you've never gotten up to do some crazy, mid-o-the-nite shopping the day after Thanksgiving . . . just trust me . . . it can be thrilling and joyous) but I am THANKFUL (you'll be seeing/reading/hearing that word a lot in the coming weeks) that my life is more normal now than it was a year ago and that I am getting comfortable with me. I say that, of couse, acknowledging that I pretty much HATE the way my body looks in any/all clothes lately (all this excess and sagging skin is hard to strap in/down, dang it)!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thank U . . .

Call me "sappy" (or a slightly more derogatory (sp?) adjective) but this is one of my favorite songs of all time. Takes on a particular "importance" this time of year and in my current mindset/outlook on life!

Happy Thanksgiving . . .

It is Thanksgiving! I have many, many thoughts about Thanksgiving (that I will be sharing throughout the coming weeks as I clear out some draft posts and some emotional purging that has been going on in my head) but I wanted to share one very simple thing that I am thankful for ON Thanksgiving itself . . . that my priorities are finally focused on what truly matters - my family and myself.

Let me clarify. I used to be a workaholic. Would work and work and work and stress and stress and stress and would miss countless moments and opportunities to be with friends and family, to take better care of myself and my health and to just sort of enjoy life as it unfolded. I don't know why I was so obsessive about work but I would assume it was because I felt I had to work so much harder than other people to overcome the assumptions people made about me based on my size.

ANYWHO - shortly in to my life with Joy I realized I had a real problem and I tried to get a better balance between work and life. It was very, very hard the first few years (insert sheepish avoidance of eye-contact because I know this was my fault here). It wasn't until we moved to Connecticut and I knew I was going to be a father than anything really started to come of it and even during my time with IBM, I struggled to figure it out.

The move to Kansas was a clear change in my attitude though. Family first. It was clear and certain and deafening to those who, knowing my old persona and priorities, wondered how I could give up what I was losing for what I was gaining. I did it though and - a little over a year later - I'm walking the walk and I'm so proud of myself for that.

Case in point . . . I went to work at 5:00 AM yesterday. I was hoping to get some work done for The Arc and for my real job and I wanted to be home by noonish to extend my weekend with Joy and Ava. The day, instead, fell apart. I didn't get to The Arc until about 1:30 (was hoping to be there at 10:00) and I was there for about an hour. While I was there I had a co-worker - herself a pain in the butt workaholic who reminds me a LOT of myself when I was her age (and not in the most flattering of ways) called me and asked if I had a few minutes.

I told her the truth - that I was in the middle of something and would need to call her back. She, instead of respecting that, just proceeded to tell me what she needed and to imply that I needed to drop everything to handle the situation (a "hot ticket item" as she put it - whatever the heck that even means). I angrily hung up and went back to what I was doing.

Years ago I would have been too scared to leave work to do stuff for The Arc during the day much less to blow off a work "crisis" when one presented itself. Now I know that I work my hours and do great work and if I want to shift some time around - that is what I will do (within reason) and I don't need to feel like a slave to work.

I got back to the office about 25 mintues later. I called about the "hot ticket item" and, within five minutes, the "problem" was solved.

I was still angry with my co-worker but, instead of lashing out at her (as I once would have relished in doing) I just sent an e-mail that the problem was solved (I was a little passive agressive in mocking her in the note) and went back to the work that I left on my desk.

I was in at 5:00 yesterday morning and I was the last one out - at about 4:45. I didn't get to spend my extended Wednesday with Joy and Ava but I did get the reassurance that I was actually honoring my commitments when it really mattered.

I'm thankful for that!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Happy Birthday, Lexy . . .

Today is my niece, Lexy's, ninth birthday. It is weird to think that she's nine. When I first met Lexy, she had just turned FOUR. It was almost three years in to "knowing" Lexy that she would really talk to me. Not that she's anti-social but more because she was young and I was always the weird man who flew in with Aunt Joy for a few days at a time, etc. It wasn't until the summer that Ava was born - when we spent the entire month of July and most of August crashing with Joy's parents and seeing Stephanie, DJ and Lexy daily that she and I really got to know each other.

We're going to Chuck E. Cheese again tonight to celebrate her birthday. I'm okay with that. It might well be the last time that we get to celebrate her birthday in a "childlike" way.

She didn't have a "kid's" birthday party this year. Last year I spent three hours running, jumping, bouncing and otherwise playing with about 15 eight year olds. This year I was allowed to sit (quietly) in the living room during dinner at a girls-only slumber party. What was once a little girl that wanted toys, DVDs and makeup for her birthday has turned in to a young woman that wants boots, clothes and, um, makeup for her birthday.

It is strangely "emotional" for me to think of her as becoming a young woman. It a) scares the hell out of me that Ava will someday be going through this same transition and b) my only niece is quickly growing in to a person that has very little time, effort or energy for her "boring" Uncle Sean.

Lexy's birthday also reminds me of how much life has happened and how much things have changed in the five years I've known Lexy. I weighed 500 pounds when I first met Lexy. I was just her aunt's "boyfriend." I was not a father (and was not 100% convinced I wanted to be) and I was not yet sure if Joy and I would share a life together (I already wanted to but I was not so sure about her at that point). How things have changed. No more flying in for Lexy's birthday - we just drive the ten minutes from our house to hers. I'm a dad. I'm married. I weight in the low 200 pounds. I'm a happier and much more focused/grounded man than I was at the time.

For now though - we're going to Chuck E. Cheese. We're going to have cake. We're going to sing and we're going to file away one more memory of a birthday with our "little" niece.

Happy Birthday, Lexy. We love you!

Ava Explains Thanksgiving . . .

We bought Ava some Thanksgiving "toys" and books to help her understand the magic that is the totally reinvented, reimagined and otherwise fabricated story that is Thanksgiving.

The truth is that we'd really like to just have her take one full day a year to be really, truly retro and introspective and to be thankful and appreciative for what life has given her and for the things in her life that she values (lately that would largely entail her Wall-E DVD, her many Madagascar 2 toys and her fake Ugg boots) and to spend the day with friends and family, etc. BUT we also want her to enjoy the magic and spirit of the holiday season too (we will be encouraging her to embrace Santa Claus so we should be fair on the other occassions as well, I suppose).

Anywho - Joy and I have told Ava the story of Thanksgiving many, many times and we've read the books to her and we've let her play and enjoy her toys. HERE, on the eve of her third Thanksgiving, is what has stuck in her brain about the lore of the holiday.

Ladies and Gentlemen . . . Thanksgiving, acording to Ava . . .

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

So Tired . . .

It has been a long and tiring fall for the Amore family. Ava, who continues to try to assert her "independence" (I believe common cliche calls it the "Terrible Twos"), decided not to nap on Monday. A near fatal mistake for Mommy (who had a paper due Monday night).

Anywho, Ava fell asleep while we were running errands Monday evening. I brought her home. Carried her from the car to the house (Top 10 Favorite Things About Being a Dad - #6 - Carrying a Sleeping Child from Car to House) and put her on the living room couch.

She was clearly more than a little tired. Give this a listen! Joy claims that this snoring/volume is only a fraction of what it was like sharing a bed with me, before my surgery, when my C-PAP would come off my face . . .

Sleep tight, Geepers!

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Obesity News Out of Canda . . .

It must be some kind of epidemic up north (get it? Obesity is an epidemic?! Hardy-har-harrrr!). I just read another interesting story about obesity in Canada.

It turns out that an age-old debate that has raged here in the 50-nifty is also raging its way through the ol' red-white-and-leafy too!

What SHOULD an obese person pay to fly on an airplane? If you are on several US air carriers, you should pay double . . . even if you just "bleed over" (as one airline put it when the policy was first introduced (I wish I could find that link/content/statement today)). In Canada though - not so much. You should pay for ONE seat as you are ONE person.

It turns out the high court in Canada (they call it the Surpreme Court too) believes that people with obesity and other disabilities should only have to pay for one seat.

Read that again . . .

Obesity and OTHER disabilities. Interesting that the ruling was about disabililties but a majority of the coverage of said ruling focuses only on the obesity part. I guess the press and the public at large would feel bad dumping on one of the participants in the case that had a disease that impaired his motor skills or a woman who was involved with the initial case that requires a personal assistant and some additional help (wheelchair and/or crutches) to travel too.

Yep. Best to leave those folks alone . . . their conditions are not their "faults" but the obese? Screw 'em! They ate their way in to the problem and they should just excercise their way out, right?

I mean COME ON! I've ranted and raved about this topic too many times. The long and short of it is this . . . let's start to really recognize obesity as a true medical problem (note - some of the medical establishment - thanks to insurance companies that are forcing their cronies on the other side of the billing process to start doing something about this problem for financial reasons (ahem)) and let's put some resources behind it.

Let's start with coverage of psychological and physical therapies for obese persons, greater pharma research for medications and enhanced coverage - for those that meet criteria and are good candidates - of procedures like gastric bypass surgery and let's continue with a little friggin' compasion for people who are heavier than you.

In the meantime, let's just let CANADA make up its own mind and deal with its own problems (or lack their of, from the sounds of it) and not get too upset about their decisions in the meantime. We're not upset that they still sort of report to the Queen of England, are we?!

My two cents on this . . . let the obese of Canada take the friendly skies like anyone else. Let them deal with the stares and glares of their fellow passengers (trust me on this - I would GLADLY have paid double to fly if I didn't have to take the visual loathing on every plane I ever boarded) and let's just keep seeing obesity for what it is . . . another debilitating medical condition that needs more attention and sympathy.

OH - for extra "giggles" (and by that I mean offensive chat from people who really don't undertsand how to just discuss obesity without getting all nasty, negative and stoopit about it) read this article with focus on the comments the kind folks with Internet access leave behind.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Go On Home, Big Man . . .

I'm way behind on this (has been in my drafts folder for over a week) but I read this interesting story about a Canadian inmate (and drug dealer, if I read the story correctly) who was released from prison two years in to his five year sentence for being too large for his cell.

Mr. Lapointe, or "Big Mike" to friends, customers and cartel members, weighed about 450 pounds at the time of his release and was only released after two other detention centers refused to take Mike off the hands of his current holders.

This story fascinates me, for a few reasons. One - it shocks me (as a man who had nearly 100 pounds "on" Big Mike (we're like friends now)) that I could have been too large for prison if I was Canadian. This doesn't make me want to gain my weight back, move north and commence (resume?) a life of crime but it DOES make me think twice about my mortification every time I got on the Metro or squeezed in to an airplane chair or huffed and puffed my way through meetings in regular sized chairs, etc.

This guy was too big for prison. He's a free man now. He's good to go. He was - to be clear - a drug dealer. I'm sure if he was a murderer or a child molester or something of a "violent" criminal they would have figured something out.

I was super annoyed with this story . . . who is this guy to have his weight get him OUT of situations and things he didn't want to do?! Then - I started to think about it . . .

I got out of all kinds of crap because of my weight. Physical education class? Nah. BUT other stuff - sure. LOTS of stuff. I never intended for my weight to give me a free pass but the world, including those that loved me and knew me, saw me unfit to do all sorts of crap.

Anywho - I hope Big Mike goes straight and doesn't put himself back in a situation where jail could await him ever again but I sort of appreciate this story for helping to remind me of all the times my weight got me out of situations and how often I wished my weight would have gotten me out of or precluded me from being in other situations.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Yep. My Pants are Orange . . .

When I was a wee lad (and by "wee" I mean young as I was never small (the true definition of wee)) I was what the clothing industry called a "husky" boy. Husky, for those not in the know, is a poor euphemism for fat. On behalf of all "husky" boys - we knew what you meant and it didn't make us feel any better about ourselves.

Anywho - I've always (even as a wee lad) dressed like and favored the fashions of old men. I remember being ten years old and adoring dress pants and turtlenecks with sweater vests. Yep. Take a minute. Absorb that. Try to move past it. I don't know why - I just did. MAYBE because I had to wear the clothes of old men (Garanimals didn't really cater to the husky set). Maybe because I always liked my father's (I-now-see-as-questionable) sense of style. Maybe because I just liked the "maturity" that clothes could put on my otherwise childish (I mean that in the negative conotation) persona. Hard to say.

The crowning jewel of my early fashion passion was the corduroy pant (and vest, and sportscoat, and jacket, and shirt, and hat, and . . . ), I would look forward to fall's crisp air so I could put on my waled pants and rock out all winter along. And rock I did. Like the musical genre.

ONE challenge to cords, as you might know. Cords on a fat kid have a distinct sound. Yep. I said "sound" . . . as in zip. Zip. Zip. Zip. Thighs. Rubbing. Together. In. Waled. Fabric. Sounds. Like. Zip. Zip. Zip. Zip.

I didn't care. I wore 'em proud and let the pants quite literally speak for me.

At Quinnipiac the only part of college "hip" that I really took to (I never went to class in pajamas and never used laundry detergent to write black-light-only legible things on the wall) was the corduroy pants and big, oversized, wool sweater look. I wore that "uniform" from the minute the first leave fell until Spring Break most years.

Then something happened. In my mid-20s, being of tight budget and ever-tightening clothes, I got rid of the corduroy pant from my wardrobe. Truth be told the rubbing would wear through the fabric forcing me to buy newer pants (or show my crotch to the world) too often for my liking and I had tons of dress pants and turtlenecks in the closet anyway so . . . they had to go.

I went several years without a trace of my corduroy obsession but then, last year, being of thinner elk, I went back to the fabric that has always sang to me. I bought a few cords and wore them throughout the winter (my father now has those - crotch in tact - for him to enjoy this winter). Those were all "wide wale" (euphimism for "quieter") cords though. I didn't really test the waters but - last night - I took the full on cord challenge and WON!

I bought myself, for $19, a pair of American Living Collection (my fashion idol Ralph's line for JC Penney) ORANGE corduroy pants in a fine wale.

I put them on for the first time this morning (even took a few crotch-centric pictures of myself in them at 6:00 in the morning (Joy and Ava were finally sleeping (restless nights for both of them lately) or I'd have had Joy take the shot for me) and walked out of my closet to the beautiful sounds of SILENT corduroy pants.

I am suddenly super excited for winter . . . and my appropriately sized/fitting wool sweaters (I won't be going back to college "hip" any time soon).

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Wedding Ring No Longer Fits II . . .

About a year ago, I mentioned that I had a serious problem - my wedding ring didn't fit anymore. I spent an anxiety filled week without my wedding band (the ladies FLOCKED to me without the "forcefield" of a wedding ring to keep them away (totally kidding)) and got back a ring that fit again and that made me as happy as the day I wed my beautiful bride.

Well it has been a year and I've lost another 100 or so pounds and . . . as the cold air continues to swirl around the mighty Wichi-Wichi, I went to the same jeweler tonight and, fearing I might lose my loose fitting gold band in the chill, had my ring resized again.

Not just "resized" though. Nope! Rebuilt. Redesigned. Rethought. Retooled. Redone! It should be ready for me on Wednesday. What will it look like? What did I have done? One of three things . . .

a - Just had it resized down to a size 8 (the ring started as a size 12 three and a half years ago).
b - Had the design featuring two buffed "bands" joined together with shiny white gold rejiggered to just be one buffed band (about 1/3 the width of my previous ring) with beveled edges and they will give me back the other half of my ring so I can use it for any future white gold needs (or melt it and sell it to pay for cable one month - my choice)
c- Had flames, a white dove (of peace) and T-H-U-G airbrushed on the ring

Which one did I go with? You'll have to wait to find out (I know, the "anticipation" is killing all of you) but I'll give you a hint -they refused to do any airbrushing, the prudes.