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.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Coat . . .

It is cold here. I mean COLD! Perhaps not enough to argue with Al Gore about his little "theories" and perhaps it is another reminder that I have lost 250+ pounds in the last two fall-to-winter transitions versus a true crisis of Ice Age indication but I don't like this cold weather one bit.

I used to sleep with my windows open in the winter. I kid you not. Central New York. "Lake effect" snow. 20s and teens for the daily high. January. My bedroom window? OPEN! In college - skinny little Bruce would close the window each night in the winter once my snoring really set in. Even in the early days of "Sean and Joy" . . . much battling over the windows in the winter. I could not get cold enough. Not any more. The first hint of cold winter air and I'm running for my wool sweaters and thermal undies. I have been sleeping with SOCKS on (the horror of that admission chills me).

SO - last winter I bought myself a "farewell" to shopping in New York City gift at Ralph Lauren. I $400, 3XL, heavily insulated, olive green coat that I adored . . . and that was loose to begin with and sloppy big on me by the time the thaw came. My father has the coat now. I hope he's wearing it as I type because - if it still fit - I'd be wearing it just to have something I love on my shoulders. ANYWHO - I found myself "coatless" again this week.

I remidied the situation though. I've got myself a nice, little, black, wool driving coat that I scored for $70 at . . . I hope you are ready for this . . . a SALE at JC Penney (they NEVER have sales so I had to take advantage (smile)). It is NOT the $200, chocolate brown, cashmere/wool/cotton blended Cole Haan coat that I fell in love with at TJMaxx earlier this evening and I don't "love" this coat but it is a size large and I love th at I have a warm coat as the cold weather hits home.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Swing and a Miss . . .

"Like this!" I said to Ava as we sat on neighboring swings.

I kicked my legs forward and threw my head back, reached the top of my swing's arc and tucked my legs back and threw my head forward.

Higher. Back.

Higher. Forward.

Ava squealed with delight.

I saw the horizontal bar that the swing's chains hung from come closer and closer to my line of sight. I haven't swung "competitively" since I was in fourth or fifth grade.

Higher. Back.

Higher. Forward.

Kick and tuck. Body weight ahead. Body weight behind. Back and forward.

I looked down and smiled at Ava . . . who kicked and tucked in her own little way. The smile and look of pride at daddy going crazy on the swing!

One . . .

last . . .

tuck . . .

and . . .

Slip. Fall. Crash!

Glasses flew. Sand in the hair and mouth. Park spinning. Ears ringing.

"I'm not ready for World Championship Swinging," I thought.

Ava continued to squeal with delight.

I stood up, took stock of the "rest" of the kids and parents in the park. Brushed myself off and decided it was time to head home for dinner!

"You funny, daddy!" was heard on the short walk home.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The Biggest Loser . . .

I got an e-mail about The Biggest Loser the other day. Yes. I'm still watching. Yes. Obsessively. Yes. I still love the show. Yes. I still find great motivation in the contestants and I still cry at almost every episode (a few times per episode, sometimes).

Here's the thing though . . . this season is NOT your typical Biggest Loser. It's not a love fest. I don't have any characters that I really root for (I did - Phil and Amy) and I don't really care who wins this year (I guess I do, I'd like to see one of the women on the (formerly - they are down to singles now) black team win). In reality though - the show is sort of tainted this season. There is some negativity and "drama" in the house that I don't like and I don't get and that, frankly, makes me sad for myself as a fat person who was insecure and invented drama and made trouble for the sake of feeling "empowered" for too long in my life.

Here's the set up . . . there is this woman, Heba, who reminds me a LOT of someone that I used to be friends with and run around with and she is . . . well . . . not a happy woman. She wants you to think she is and she wants to pretend that "if only" her troubles (Phil, in this case) were not in the house she'd be a huge success and the happiest person ever but the reality is that Heba is just like so many of us - she's limited by her body and her size and the impact it has on her self esteem and her success in life (she won't try to have children at her size, for instance) and she takes that out on any one that is around and who "dares" to cross her. I was on the "inside" of my friend and her anger and her judgemental ways for many years but the minute I got put on the outside, I saw not only a) how devistating it can be but b) how much like her I was without really realizing.

And then there is Vicky. Dear LORD what the heck is wrong with Vicky? Her own trainer has described her as "Shakespearian", evil and a puppet master. She is the "biggest game player ever to enter the house" and she, I'm pretty sure, has a number of screws lose and/or missing. She's mean. Angry. Mean. Rude. She is ME (or the older version of me) and she twists up the drama and roots for other people to fail and she says mean things "under" (and yet OVER) her breath and she seems to take great delight in other people falling short.

I guess I don't like this season of the Biggest Loser as much as I normally do because it hits too close to home. Yep. I'm really a mid-30s woman with sagging breasts and a large chip on her shoulder (smile). I should find motivation to continue to improve and to run from "old Sean" when I watch the show but it just makes me sad for how I once behaved and how I once carried myself and how the rest of the world - that only ever saw that little part of my life - must have judged the rest of my life (like I judge Heba and Vicky).

I don't know what the future holds for either of these women (on the show or in real life) but I hope that they are sitting at home on Tuesday nights - looking skinny and wonderful - and wondering why they acted the way they did and hoping that they will have their apologies (should they make them) accepted by their cast mates at the finale/reunion.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Back to School . . .

I got an opportunity to scratch a long, long festering "itch" today.

I was asked to go to take part of the day to speak with two classes of future/aspiring public relations professionals on the nature and improtance of "pitching" at Wichita State University.

I was once an aspiring academic! Yep. Call me "Prof" or "Doc" because when I started my masters program at GW I seriously intended to go on to pursue a PhD in political science at an Ivy League institution (and I was accepted to go to two of them).

I don't know what about my ego told me that I was smart enough and talented enough to help shape the future (and/or analyze the past) but that was a long, long held "goal" of mine that I first "postponed" and then cancelled altogether once I met and fell in love with Joy (she only ever encouraged me to pursue my goal, for the record).

Anywho - my day with the WuShocks . . . I was truly scared to go and "teach" - I put off, true to my nature, preparing my "lecture" until 5:00 a.m. the morning of my first class and I was not really sure how well I would connect with the 20-somethings that would be staring at me.

I still sometimes see myself as a 500 pound man that is easy to mock, especially to cynical college kids with their "hoodies" and "messenger bags" (smile). I even felt COMPELLED to mention this here blog in my talk and to clarify that I was "still losing weight" (lest they were snickering at the skinnier me).

I guess it was all for naught. No one laughed or rolled their eyes at me and no one mentioned my physical presence at all. I was really, really relieved to get some good interaction and interest and attention in the class, frankly.

I left feeling like the proverbial King of the World.

THEN my second lecture happened . . . oh my. NOTHING against the kids in that class (if they Google me I don't want them to decide TO mock me) but I just could not seem to connect. Same presentation. Same lame jokes. Same relative amount of energy. NOTHING. It was painful - for me and seemingly for them. They were all too happy to clear out the minute it was over.

I stuck around though . . . why? They had those chairs . . . those annoying chairs where the desk is connected to the chair by a stainless steel (and inflexible) pipe. I spent only one semester at Quinnipiac in a phyiscal condition to really "fit" in those gosh darned things. The rest of my time there was a very, very tight fit and my gradutate school experience was largely based on me using the desk/chair NEXT to me as an actual writing surface while my desk/chair was a shelf for my bulky body. Miserable. Hated them. I would actually schedule classes around rooms that had those things, if possible.

I had a moment of "going back" that I could not resist though . . . when I thought no one was looking I walked over and slid in to a desk/chair. Slid right in. No sticking. No huffing. No puffing. No gut lifting. Just me, in a chair, with plenty of room to write and read and doodle/grafitti on the desk in front of me.

I realized that it is hard to teach and that I likely made the right decision to stick with a much more profit-potential-having occupation and to become a "practicioner." I hope to be invited back to speak again and would love to even teach my own classes some day (part time, adjunct, etc.) too but - I take victory at one good class and one easy fit in to the student seating.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Blues Traveler . . .

When I was in college, I used to carpool to and from Upstate with my friend and hallway neighbor, Corona (who is a reader of this here blog). When it was his turn to drive and Corona didn't have access to the Explorer and his mother was busy, his older brother, Joe Junior (as we called him) who went to St. Bonaventure University (the alma mater of mes parents et mon frere Ryan (and several others in my extended family) and a place I almost went to school myself), would come pick us up or drive us back. Joe Junior was (and likely still IS) the man if ONLY for introducing me to Blues Traveler (in hind sight - I was technically "introduced" to Blues Traveler while working at Camp Barton as a high schooler but that story is not nearly as memorable as the Joe Junior story so we'll go with this one instead).

Anywho - Blues Traveler - so I took my first steps towards away from my chosen musical genres of youth (pop, R&B, soul, Rap, Hip Hop and Classical (yep, you read that right) with my first Blues Traveler purchase . . . Four.

To this day it is one of my favorite CDs and my favorite song on the CD is "Look Around". I was messing around with my iTunes a few minutes ago and stumbled across it and gave it a spin and realized that I had NO idea what that song was really about as a college kid (in my defense I didn't understand the mysteries of smoking pot either but it didn't stop me from giving it a few hundred tries).

I'm not even totally sure if I get it now but the song reminds me of how angry I was at most of the world for my mid- and late-20s and how unapologetic I was to those that I hurt and annoyed and alienated and yet, frankly, how much I disliked myself at the time anyway.

I'm rambling and I don't know if this post makes sense anyway . . . I'll let John Popper explain it (or try) . . .

You'll get no answer from me
About what I get or want I want
That was enough to make her leave
She's not the first one come and gone
And I don't care
Buyer beware of me
Cause it might get rough

If you want peace then live alone
If you wanna hide then find a stage
Each a brief but perfect home
To accomodate your rage
And sometimes
In the midst of all my crimes
I feel lost
Or have I lost enough?

So - to those "come and gone" I just want you to know that I am now able to let things go and I do feel like I've lost enough.

In the meantime, thanks for the tip on the killer music and keep on rockin', Joe Junior!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

The Scales of Justice Swing Mightily . . .

We went to Lexy's basketball game at the YMCA yesterday. Ava, who is a real trooper at potty training, informed that she needed to go pee-pee so we hurried down the hall to the men's room to take care of bid-niz.

I realized, as I stood at the sink and watched Ava strain to dry her own hands, that I haven't been on the scale in well over a month.

I tried to come up with some good excuses to NOT get on the scale (I was wearing a heavy wool sweater and clunky sneakers . . . not good enough! I would miss some of the intense athletic excitement of 10 nine year olds chasing down a basketball . . . not compelling enough . . . I was afraid of what the number would be . . . not strong enough . . . Ava would not want to wait while I weighed myself . . . not likely enough). After 15 seconds of excuse searching - I jumped on the scale - exhaled deeply (does air in the lungs make you heavier?) and pushed the little weight thingy up and down the balance bar until it plained out in the middle of the window.

I closed my eyes . . . I said a little prayer and I looked down . . . 236.

I had a moment of panic. I started to strip down to have a "redo." My eyes welled up with tears. I could not believe my eyes. Then I sort of chilled out for a minute.

For the first time in almost 20 months I have gotten on a scale and not seen a lower number than my last check in. I have not gained weight. I have not slipped. I have not reversed nearly 20 months of good work and progress and accomplishment. I just haven't furthered myself in my goal to get to 200 pounds or less.

What was the net impact? None. I took the 4,000 paper towels Ava had pulled from the automatic dispenser from her and put them in the trash. I rinsed my face. I exhaled and inhaled and reminded myself that I have come a long way and have a long way to go and we walked back down the long hallway to Gymnasium B to watch the rest of Lexy's game.

I said nothing to Joy. I still haven't (she's probably reading this post right now - worrying about me) and I have not made any plans to to freak or flip out or do anything crazy.

I DID make a few commitments. I'm going to use our Christmas trip home and my long terms goals as re-motivation to get back on it. I'm setting my sights on 225 by 12/25 (that's right, people, a catchy slogan for my latest goal). I'm going to look at my diet again and see where I can cut calories and enhance my nutrition and I am going to really, really try to get motivated to excercise consistently (20 months later I'm still struggling with making that a regular part of my life).

Don't fret. Don't worry. Don't call in the support or the encouragement. I'm fine. It is fine. It is my first serious plateau. Nothing more - nothing less.

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'll Be Home for Christmas . . .

I got the most exciting e-mail from Joy a few minutes ago!

It seems that she and my parents have been conspiring against (for?) me in the last few hours to give me the greatest Christmas present I've ever recieved (including a radio that was shaped like a cheeseburger when I was eight and a Strawberry Shortcake figurine collection when I was nine) . . . we are going home for Christmas!

That's right - Joy, Ava and I are going to board a plane on Christmas Eve and we'll be in Upstate, New York through New Year's Day!

Even more exciting . . . my brothers are going to be there for Christmas too! We have not all been together since we spent a few hours at Patrick and Joyell's home in August, 2007!

I am soooooo excited to be going to see my family and hopefully some high school friends who still live in the area.

Make no mistake - I love living in Kansas and being close to my wife's family but - as another famous Kansan once pointed out . . . "There is no place like home!" Especially for the holidays!

More to come as the big trips gets closer but, for now, I'm just very, very excited to get home and to see my family and some old friends!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An Important Message from Ava . . .

I vowed not to talk too much about politics in this forum (I'm still smarting from Hillary's loss, etc. but I HAVE come around to see the potential, beyond pretty speeches, in Senator Obama ESPECIALLY with Senator Biden at his side (love me some Joe Biden)) BUT Ava is very, very passionate about her politics this fall and insisted that I share her thoughts accordingly.

Anywho - vote on Tuesday! ESPECIALLY if you are a "blue" voter in a "red" state. We're gonna' make Kansas blue this year . . . I can FEEL it!