Friday, January 30, 2009

The Truth, The Whole Truth and Nothing But The Truth . . .

A big "thank you" to the 54 of you that voted in my "You Pick the Lie" challenge. It was very close for most of the voting and - for a few hours - it seemed I would have to give you all "much props" (as the kids would have said a few years ago) and acknowledge you can spot the bull from a mile away BUT - thanks to a flurry of last minute voters (with more self-assurance than they probably should have had) I am PROUD to say that I fooled the masses of you.

That being said - you earned yourself a story.

In the spring of 2004, having dated Joy for about eight months, I decided that I absolutely HAD to make her my wife as soon as humanly possible. Joy was planning and executing weekend seminars for a "medical education" group at the time (pharma companies doing doctor research at over-priced hotels and resorts with golf tee times included in most programs) at the time and, while her travels took her away from me (and often FAR away) for most every weekend - on one particular spring weekend she was only "up the road" in Philadelphia.

I decided to join her for the weekend and - while she was working - I decided to walk down to the "diamond district" of Philadelphia (where my friend Delenick bought his wife Michele's rings) and do a little shopping.

I went in and out of about a dozen shops. I had some ideas in my mind for what I wanted to do but I found the whole thing heady, emotional and a little overwhelming.

My distractions clearly got the best of me because, while in a smaller gallery (I wish I could remember the guy's name here because he had amazing, hand made stuff that I would love to buy a piece of for Joy), I decided I had to make a few phone calls for emotional support and back-up.

I had been holding (on my right pinky) a few rings that I liked and was considering. I told the gallery owner I had to walk around to think about the purchase and I returned the rings on my right pinky.

I left his gallery, got five feet down the street and realized that I still had ONE of his rings . . . on my left pinky.

I quickly returned to the shop and returned the ring. He was shocked that I had taken it. More shocked that I returned it and very thankful that I realized my mistake and returned it.

SO - there you go. I once stole something worth a little over $5,000. And returned it the minute I realized my mistake.

I'm NO thief, dear readers. I'm just a mental, forgetful mess on any given day.

Oh - for the record - I did NOT pee on a street vendor in New York City (and have never, to the best of my knowledge, ever peed on another person) BUT that story - sort of "co-created" by myself and Chris Delenick - has been told to probably a HUNDRED people in the 14 years since it was first spun and only one of them (two, if you count Corona's claim that he knew better) has ever called us out on the lie.

I was an escort. And by "escort" I mean that - for $20/hour I would accompany a 78-year-old, mostly deaf widow with a lot of money and questionable fashion sense to monthly(ish) events at the Kennedy Center, art gallery functions, shopping outings and other random stuff (including a dinner party at Bob Dole's Watergate apartment one evening). Her family lived away from DC and her son had listed the job in an internship book at George Washington University. The woman got put in a "home" (or whatever politically correct term you might prefer) one day and I never say or heard from her again. I DID get to keep the tuxedo she bought me though. Swanky!

And I did once date a member of one of America's richest families but - for all I know she reads this blog (and still sort of hates me (long story)) so I'll tell that story on another day and for different reasons.

So - you can't even tell, 400 posts in to this blog later, when I am being honest and when I'm not?!

Tsk, tsk, people.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

You Stink on Ice . . .

I have been ice skating thrice in my life (and I've been on Rollerblades a few times as well). I've had additional opportunities but I've always declined.

Two reasons - first, I've never really felt the urge to place my hundreds and hundreds of pounds of weight over two metal blades and two - if my hundreds and hundreds of pounds ever fell the wrong way, my shattered hips would make me feel terrible. Almost as terrible as I would feel when the EMTs slip-slod to pick me off the ice with their huge spatula!

New Sean - new attitude thought, right? RIGHT!

So - when my agency's monthly "Account Service
Outing" (some team-building crap, I'm sure) was proposed as ice skating - I triple-cow-towed (sp?) to join the team for some fun on the rocks (get it - rocks/ice (I'm sooooo fuhnay)!

And fun it WAS!

I was not the least bit timid. I didn't worry about my hips or deep bone bruises once. I didn't fret about all the little kids that zipped by me laughing at the fat-guy sprawled out on the ice. I didn't even let my freezing cold hands or my Smurfy-blue skates get me down.

Around and around I went. With relative speed, relative poise and relative self comfort (save for the split-second the picture at the right was taken (smile))!

I could only stay for about 45 minutes (Joy has class on Thursdays) but - in that time - I saw two of my co-workers bite it, another take about 10 minutes to loop the rink only oncebefore returning her skates (God bless her heart and likely fragile hips (age vs. body mass) and, in the process, I heard a song by Daughtry (they play the safe tunes at the public skate) and realized - once again - that my body is not what it once was and that physical activity (in moderate doses (smile)) can be enjoyable!

Thanks for putting together the outing, Shawn. And for taking the pictures, Imp.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Good Luck, Daniel . . .

So - my worst case scenario (in terms of reality TV) was realized last night. Daniel got sent home on the Biggest Loser. Ugh. I blame his "friend" David for showing up with his chicken wings, cigarettes and confessions that he's never even been in the produce section of the grocery store before (really? REALLY? Never?) and then not keeping his mouth shut and for not realizing he even had a problem to begin with (long story) but it doesn't matter.

Daniel went home. Sadness. but the most important part of the episode, and the part where I lost my ever-more-fragiling mind happened in the gym days before the weigh in and before the elimination.

I'm trying to find the video to link to here (the full episode is not on the NBC site yet) but Daniel is in the gym and Jillian is all-up-in-his-grill about how maybe he's given up and why his head is not in the game and why he's not pushing himself.

He looks at her . . . stutters . . . and then deadpans - to my breaking heart and "I've been there and felt that way" sadness - “I never thought it would be possible to not be fat.”

Joy and I had that exact conversation once. We cried almost as hard that night as we did last night. It is a hard thing to look at yourself and to realize that you are NOT the person you want to be and that you don't think you can be that person.

It could be weight. It could be hair color. It could be career. It could be family. It could be choice of outfit on a given morning. It is just frustrating and sad and miserable to feel like there is "nothing" you can do to get up over the hump of what is holding you back (you - nine times out of ten) and to get started and to get to your goals.

I felt that way every single time I ever thought about my weight before meeting Joy (and several times after) and even in the months leading up to my gastric bypass surgery (and a few panicky moments after) I was still not entirely convinced that I would ever be thin. Hell - 22 months later - I'm still not "skinny" in the classic sense of the word and I don't always believe as much as I should that I'll ever get there.

But at 400+ pounds (or whatever Daniel weighed at the time) I totally know how overwhelming it can be to think of myself as "thin" or potentially "thin". Like in my own situation though - Daniel has seen the light. He's shed over 100 pounds and he promises to shock everyone at the finale.

Daniel - you've reminded me of my former desperation and former self for the last time. Next time I see you - I hope you are as thin as can be and you see yourself as even thinner. THANK YOU for reminding me of who I once was and for doing so with such courage on national television.

Winter Wonderland? . . .

We had a "major" storm here in Wichita this week. By "major" I mean there MUST be at least a half-inch of snow out there and the roads were icy and slick at one point to the extreme of making me actually drive the speed limit. Sends a shiver down the spine to see Mother Nature turn her back on us mere mortals. GROAN!

I think I'm just "hardened" to bad weather. I grew up in Upstate, New York. We coined the phrases "Noreaster" and "Lake Effect Snow" - we went to school for anything less than eight-over-night-inches. I just don't know what it means to live in relative fear of minor snow and slush conditions. I guess every one's idea of "snow" and "hardship" is relative.

The general panic here in Kansas, to me, is laughable but this is not the first time I have lived in an area where a dusting of snow can put the world in a panic BUT - unlike Wichita - it was justified in my "once upon a time" reality. At least in the DC/Baltimore area the populations and urban demands of the area lead to logistical challenges that can actually allow a little snow to create a crisis.

That being said - this "storm" had me thinking.

Six years (and a life time) ago, I was a 500 pound man living in Washington, DC. My life was pretty much about work and home, home and work. I was heavy enough that I would generally take cabs to and from work vs. work the four blocks to/from my apartment to the Metro and the two blocks to/from the Metro to my office. Yep. I was that fat, tired and lazy. I am not proud of it but it is reality. I was very lazy but I was still a bit of a workaholic and a neurotic to boot. Here is where the post gets relevant . . .

President's Weekend of 2003 - we had a full blown blizzard in the DC area (I am pretty sure the entire Northeast got hit by it but I know the beltway did). We got FEET of snow. And the streets were closed. Businesses were closed. The Metro was closed. The federal government was closed. The entire city was closed. My office . . . was OPEN. For those of us (myself, the boss and one other guy) that were able to WALK in to work.

So, for two straight days, I got up an extra hour early for work. I took my normal shower. I watched my normal Today show. I ate my normal four Pop Tart breakfast (frosted cinnamon sugar was my go to - frosted fudge worked in a pinch - blueberry if I was feeling "healthy"). I drank my normal 1 liter of Diet Coke. I put on my khakis, button down and sweater. And then added another sweater, a jacket, a scarf, a hat, gloves, socks (never used to regularly wear them), another pair of socks and my boots. I packed a change of clothes (the sweat I would put off on the walk was not conducive to staying in those clothes for the next 10 hours). I turned off the TV and the lights. I grabbed my portable CD player (iPods were not a given at the time) and my David Gray White Ladder and Dr. Dre 2001 CDs (mandatory listening at the time - don't ask why) and stepped out on to the front porch. I cursed my life and started down the buried stairs.

And then I walked. 2 1/2 miles up the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue, SE - over the Capitol (they cleaned those sidewalks and steps off very quickly) and up Pennsyvlania Avenue, NW. It was like the Presidential Inaugural Parade . . . only twice as long . . . and without the millions of adoring fans and the Secret Service detail. And the limo just behind me if I got tired. It took almost two hours. Each way. Each day.

It was peaceful (there was NO ONE out there) and it was beautiful and it was sort of majestic to see the monuments, statues, Mall and city in all that snow but it was also miserable. I weighed 500 pounds.

I guess, like I said though, every thing is "relative".

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Reincarnation of the Junk Forward . . .

Uh oh. When did this happen? When did the "blogosphere" become the latest hit-and-run target of the people who spent most of the late 90s and early 00s trying to get Bill Gates to send them to Disney World or actually baking Mrs. Field's "secret" chocolate chip cookie recipe and/or trying to help an African dignitary get his millions of dollars in to the United States (with a small stipend to them for the trouble)?

WHEN? More over . . . WHY?

Regardless . . . I have been victimized, dear reader. I'm horrified to tell you that I was selected to share my "10 Favorite Places in the World" with you AND to force five other bloggers to do the same in the next 24 hours or a small village in rural Appalachia will be destroyed or the sun will stop shining or something. I wish Jack Bauer was around (and sober) when you really needed him!

Anywho - for the sake of the Appalachians (and those that enjoy the sun) I give you a list of my 10 favorite places. Lest any one think that I'm a sheltered person - please rest assured that I have traveled quite a bit in my day and seen thousands of beautiful and amazing things on those trips. These places just happen to be my favorites . . . perhaps because they are familiar and something I am used to. Anywho . . . enjoy!

10 - Lebanese Taverna - I am no stranger to food (insert sheepish grin here) and I've eaten in thousands of places in my life. In my eight years in DC, I had plenty of "favorite" places - Lucky Bar, Levante, Biddy Mulligans, Buffalo Billiards, Capitol Lounge, Tomato's, 1331, Red Sage, Fuddrucker's, etc. but I only really miss eating at one place in the DC area - Lebanese Taverna. From the first time I ate there (I rented a Lincoln Towncar shortly after 9/11 and we rocked it all the way out to the suburbs for lunch) to the last time (the last time I was in DC - when Ava was about 6 weeks old) it has never let me down. Get the Chicken Shawarma and tell 'em "Sean" sent you. They won't know what that means but . . . I will.

9 - Mackenzie-Childs, Aurora, NY - When I was in high school, we had our prom at Well's College. My friend Melissa's grandparents lived on "the" lake in Aurora and we would frequently drive through Aurora to get to and from the Thruway. In college, Melissa started to buy Mackenzie-Childs pottery (not for the faint of heart or the sticker shockish) and I would go with her to do some shopping. We'd drive by it on the way to and from Geneseo and/or the Rochester area to see Kim. Joy and I fell in love with Aurora and we even wanted to get married on the grounds of Mackenzie-Childs (not for the faint of heart or the sticker shockish). I like the pottery (Ava's "Brown fund" is in a Mackenzie-Childs piggy bank we bought there) but I really just love the grounds. It is just beautiful. If you ever find yourself with an hour to kill on the east side of Cayuga Lake . . . check it out. And eat at the cafe or one of the restaurants on main street in town. You won't regret it!

8 - Raquette Lake, NY - For Raquette Lake, the home of Mrs. Ballou, to really "work" - you have to arrive at the lake at about 11:00 PM on a night when there are no clouds and a full moon. You have to park at Dotty and Bill's. You have to get on the boat to cross the lake (Mrs. Ballou's home is on the far side of the lake with no road access) and you have to be patient. When you get to the middle of the lake yell out "I looovvveeeee the lake" and enjoy the echo of it. Once you've done that . . . you'll know why Raquette Lake is truly special. If I didn't have a career that required me to work in a somewhat urban environment and if Joy didn't have her pelvis crushed in a car accident that lead to arthritic hips that loathe winter . . . I really think I'd try to get a place, on the back side of the lake, to call "home". Amazing!

7 - JC Penney - I am not even going to mince words here. I love the store Mr. Penney built. I go there almost weekly. I just walk around. I don't buy things often (anymore - stupid family budget (smile)) but I can look at stuff and try stuff on and get more comfortable with my body in the process. The new spring stuff is out. The heart wants what the heart wants. This heart wants a new wardrobe!

6 - North Haven, CT - Specifically Liuzzi Cheese! I was going to put Quinnipiac on this list (the greatest four years of my life (to that point) and all) but - truth be told - the reason I love Quinnipiac is because of the friendships I formed there and the people I shared the space with and the things that happened there. To that end - Liuzzi Cheese might be as impactful to my college memories as any residence hall, keg party, girl chasing, all-night studying (ahem), class attending moment might be. Go to Liuzzi. Take Brooooosey! You must take Bruce for this to work. Wait in line. Hear him bark out "Yeah, uh, is Nick (a co-owner) here?" Laugh. Grab a Gasssssooosa from the cooler! Order a sam-ich. Watch Delenick torment himself on buying a t-shirt or a hat or not. Watch Tom Kelly spend 20 minutes "thinking it over" only to order his regular when it is all said and done. Get in the car. Head down the road to Father Lou's. Have him remind you it's "all fresh stuff". Have Bruce do his best Father Lou asking for "briefs" impression. Laugh. Enjoy your sandwich. Finish off your Gasosa. Get back in the car. Head back to campus. Sleep like a baby. If you can't do all that - just get yourself some delicious Italian food and thank me later!

5 - Montmartre, Paris, France - I went to France in high school. French Club, yo! We spent 10 days covering the entire country, a brief drive through Italy and a final night in Geneva that had to violate at least one convention rule. We landed in Paris and spent our first two days there. I largely hated Paris. It is beautiful, etc. Don't get me wrong. But I'm a kid from a small town in Upstate, New York and Paris is huge. And overwhelming. And rude. And I was jetlagged. My favorite part of Paris was not the super-hurried trip through the Louvre (ONLY look at the most famous three pieces of art in the city and then leave again? Sounds guhhhhreat!) and it was not the Eiffel Tower (I volunteered to stay below with a girl who was afraid of heights and then, once sent up by the folks who came back down early, I could not find my travelmates and wound out getting sorta' mugged and actually running from the middle deck to the lower deck on the steel stairs that were fenced in but that you could look down through (they were just slats). The only thing I liked about Paris was Montmarte. I loved Sacre Couer. I loved the cafe where we got our $10 crepe and our $8 Coke. I enjoyed - unsuccessfully (I could not relax) - trying to use the "toilet" in the cafe that was really just a hole in the floor in the middle of the room that you stood/squatted over. I liked looking at all the art that was for sale. I liked the vibe of the market and the square. It was amazing. I want to go back.

4 - The Corcoran - Specifically the bench in front of Niagara. I started going to The Corcoran when I was in graduate school. The woman who worked on Saturdays convinced me to buy a membership when she noticed I was coming in - and paying admission - every single Saturday morning. I really enjoyed the Corcoran because it was not just a museum of amazing pieces from dead artists but it was also a gallery of student work. 18 year old "kids" who might someday be those really impressive dead artists but, for the moment, they were younger than me and profoundly more talented than I might ever be. I liked the old and the new. The traditional and the modern. The touristy and the residential. I also loved Niagara. I would just sit and gaze at it. For hours some days. If you ever stop in to see it - look very closely. The detail is absolutely amazing (plants under the water above the falls, individual leaves on the trees on the river bank, prisms painted in to the mist from the falls, etc.) and - much like Niagara Falls themselves - it makes you feel very small and temporary. In a good way.

3 - New Orleans, LA - Specifically the French Quarter. I want to be clear. I don't care about Bourbon Street. Yeah. Great. I get it. Plastic beads = boobs. Woo-who. I have boobs to look at inside my own shirt (sadly). There is real art and culture and beauty in New Orleans. I've had three business trips to Nahlins and Joy and I honeymooned there too. I've enjoyed all the French Quarter has to offer. I enjoy the tall, frozen cocktails and I enjoy the debacle of it all but I much prefer breakfast at Cafe du Monde or lunch in one of the restaurants on St. Louis. Browse the antique shops and art galleries on Royal. THAT is what the French Quarter is all about for me. I miss New Orleans. The Curious Case of Benjamin Button made me miss it all the more. We want to get back. We will get back.

2 - Groton, NY - Specifically my parent's house. There IS no place like home. I spent nine blessed years as a resident of Groton and it is still and always will be home. I worked at the bank on Main Street. I graduated from the high school. I have nothing but happy memories of my youth there and there is a magic that still hangs over the place when I go home. I don't know if it is a tourist destination or if I could really tell everyone they "have" to go check it out but - if you are from there or have reason to be there. Enjoy it. Life is simple and pure there.

and, finally . . .

1 - Wichita, KS - I know. Cheesy. Trite. I chose where I live to be my favorite place in the world but - let's take stock in the place. I met my in-laws here. I got called "son" by someone other than my parents and a man in his 60s or older in Wichita. I found out I could be an Uncle here. I saw my daughter born here. I watched my daughter scrap out the first 10 days of her life here. I took my daughter for her first car ride here. I moved my family here. I have a great home here. I found balance here. I found my life here. I have a great job here. I have friends here. I have family here. I have a nice movie theater here (I love movies). I have plenty of great (and some chain) restaurants here. I have good shopping here. I have a wife and daughter here. I have a dog here. What's not to love? What's not to be fond of? What's not to enjoy?

Story Time Update . . .

Well - with four days left until the big reveal, it's really heating up on the debate over which one of my stories is a lie.

Between the comments here on the blog and e-mail votes I have received 31 total votes.

If my math is correct, it looks like . . .

20% of you think I'm not really a gigilo.

25% of you think I would not really pee on another person.

30% of you think I'm lying about my romance with the elite.

25% of you think I'm too honest to steal.

And yet NONE of you think I'm not too honest to lie though. Hmmmm. Get your votes in and look for the full story (or the very, very sincere (smile) apology on Friday).

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Story Time . . .

I'm no Forrest Gump and my Benjamin Buttons are not all that Curious but I've been told that I have had some crazy things happen to me (and that I've made even more crazy things happen) in this life. I'm almost 400 posts in to this blog so I thought I would see how many of you think you know me.

To that end - only one of the following stories is made up. Three are completely true. Vote for which one you think is a yarn/lie/tall tale/fabrication. You can leave your vote in the "comments" section or e-mail me at I will elaborate on the winning story (assuming I can fool you here) or disclose that you all do "know me" very well next Friday.

Good luck and happy voting!

ONE REQUEST - If you are part of one of the real stories or if you "know" which one is false, please do not tip your hat in any publicly viewably comments. I am really curious about this . . .

STORY #1 - I was a male escort for the first year(ish) that I lived in Washington, DC.

STORY #2 - I once peed on the shoes of a roasted-chestnut-hawking street vendor near Times Square to get him to leave a friend and me alone.

STORY #3 - I dated a member of one of America's richest families for almost two years.

STORY #4 - I once stole something that was worth a little more than $5,000.

Friday, January 23, 2009

New Shirt Size . . .

Ava and I swung by JCPenney last night. You won't believe this (and I hope you are sitting down) but they are having a SALE right now. I knew I had only a few minutes before the dressing room door would be thrown over by my impatient toddler so I quickly tried on a pair of dress pants and a dress shirt.

I could fit in to a pair of 38 waist pant (proving the Gap jeans were not just a fluke) and I wore a 16 1/2 inch dress shirt.

I am going to "man up" and get on a scale (for the first time in just about forever) this weekend to see what's going on inside this skin of mine. I can only hope and pray that I've lost some weight. My two-year surgaversary is only coming up quick, yuns!

Another Good Night's Sleep . . .

According to my spotty research, a king size bed (one of which Joy and I happen to own) is 72" long by 84" wide. That is six feet by seven feet (if my equally spotty math is correct).

Unless it is "romance" time (DISCLAIMER - I won't elaborate here (our mothers both read this blog and) but when your wife is in costume and you are going under an assumed name it isn't really romance anyway, right Mrs. Naughty Librarian?!?!) and at approximately "normal" body size, that should be plenty of space for Joy and I to hunker down after a long day, the approximate 90 mintues it takes to get Ava to go to sleep on any given night and our nightly toothbrushing/flossing, mouth rinsing and face washing rituals, put some DVRed Real Housewives of Orange County, Good Eats or 30 Rock on and fall quickly to sleep.

Should be.

Since becoming a parent and ditching the C-PAP and having our baby become a "big girl" I've noticed that our bed is starting to feel more and more like a bad game of Tetris (one that you can't win, I might add) lately.

If I'm the long and straight four-block piece (I am getting skinnier, I sleep like a proverbial log and I actually prefer to be on the edge of the bed to being in the middle) and Joy is the L shaped piece (she has this knee thing she does because of her hip issues) then Ava is the little lightning bolt looking thing and Lily, God bless her, is the square piece. All night long the pieces seem to fall, in random patterns, from the headboard of the bed and they move, gently (unless you hit the down key) to and fro to make interlocking patterns that, once complete, break off in moans, groans, mutterances and snores.

"They" always make it seem like the proverbial family bed was some blessed, snuggled and wonderful piece of Americana. "They" don't sleep in our bed . . . and - sadly - neither do we!

My Girls . . .

This is my favorite song of the moment!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Update - Girl Scout Cookies . . .

Apparently, and I'm stunned at who sent me an e-mail to notify me of this, the Girl Scouts of America are "proud" to offer a Sugar Free cookie for "diabetics and others who require or 'prefer' a sugar free product". A sugar free Chocolate Chip Cookie, no less. Enjoy, at your own caloric count, fellow GBers!

Not-So Dreaded Words . . .

Ugh. I know that the little troopers roll out their baked "goods" at different times of the year depending on geography and other considerations but - it is apparently "Girl Scout Cookie Season" here in Kansas.

"Forget magazines, they don’t taste nearly as good as Thin Mints! Yes, Girl Scout Cookies sales are back. If you’ve not already had a uniform-clad young lady knock on your door to sell you cookies, there is an order form at the front desk. Checks can be made out to Brown Troop 40836. Order early & often!" the early morning e-mail from a co-worker read.

What timing!

We were just talking about Girl Scout cookies here in the PR department yesterday. This will, I'm sure, come as a shock to many of you but I used to be more than just a "fan" of the Girl Scout cookie. I was also their number one customer for a few years. I'm pretty sure my order would single-handidly qualify some random niece of a former co-worker's best friend (or whatever) for the iPod or trip to Disney World or whatever they gave those years to reward America's Most Ambitious Junior Obesity Enabler (smile).

"What was your favorite?" I was asked.

"The ones that come in boxes." I deadpanned.

Seriously though. I was an equal-opportunity inhaler.

Thin Mints? Not for long!
Do-Si-Dos? My PARTNER!
Trefoils? Tres Delicious!
Tagalongs? Don'tlastlongs
Samoas? Yes PLEASE (get it - Samoa? Some Moa? Some More?)

And those are just the classics. The "limited edition" cookies tempted me year after year after year.

I would buy, I kid you not, 25 or 30 BOXES of cookies a year. They would last . . . a week?! Maybe?! I mean - how could they last long when I was eating them four or five BOXES in a sitting (you only got like 15 in a box and they were essentially bite-sized, right?). Have you ever really LOOKED at the nutrition information on a box of Girl Scout Cookies? Oh my!

I don't have very many happy memories of Girl Scout Cookies, frankly. Even in high school I overate them and with little intention of actually enjoying the cookies themselves. I never, frankly, really understood the logic of eating for "enjoyment."

I mean - sure - I could go to a nicer restaurant and get a smaller entree that was overpriced and was very decadent and satisfying because of it but - as my BOXED foods go . . . they didn't really seem to be cultured or enriching beyond the sweet effects of that much sugar in my tummy.

I'm all for you sickos who can have "just one" cookie or who can make a box of cookies last for a week or two without it being awkward that they are just sitting there - in the pantry or freezer taunting you (they do taunt all of us, right? (smile))! I am NOT saying they should not sell the cookies or that it is the Girl Scout's fault that I got up to 500+ pounds. I'm all but positive that the cookies should be available to the world without any responsibility to ensure healthy eating. I'm not even bashing the Girl Scouts here. We Boy Scouts (yes, I am/was (long story that makes my mother cry) an Eagle Scout) sold popcorn, for the love of God. I'm just saying that - before my surgery an e-mail about Girl Scout Cookies would have put me in a tizzy/lather of junk food anticiatipation.

I can honestly tell you that I do NOT, since my surgery, miss or long for or regret that I can't partake in or wish I could "go back" and have the Girl Scout Cookie (or any other sugary snack I once binged on). I really don't. I know I'm in the majority here. I've had plenty of interaction with other GBers who assure me they MISS and LONG FOR sweets and junk food and other things we all swore to put behind us.

I don't know why I'm somehow not missing or craving these foods. Truthfully - I think it is because I know me and I had to stare down my demons and swear them all of and I have to acknowledge those demons and continue to swear them off again because I live in constant fear of dumping and reverting to my old eating and self-abusing ways.

I've moved on. I am healthy now. I am happy now. I have am wrestling my emotional baggage and the crap that once made me feel like food was my only friend. It never was my friend. I know that now.

Sure - I still partake in sweets. I've got three different bowls/jars of sugar free hard candies (5 - 15 calories each) on my desk. I enjoy a 60 calorie sugar free pudding snack about four nights a week. I have the occassional splurge with some Murray's Sugar Free cookies too. Honestly though - most of the time - my fat free milk and a teaspoon of organic peanut butter (30 minutes apart, of course) are currently my two favorite sweet things in the world - I'm still holding out for the Sugar Free Swiss Cake Roll - and they make me happier than any boxes of Girl Scout Cookies ever did.

Sorry, girls. No top-selling prizes for you this year!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Along Came Lily . . .

Well. We've gone ahead and done it. We are now DOG owners.

I'm still trying to get my little brain around it but (since the cats clearly didn't work out) we were at Pet Smart on Sunday considering a rabbit or a few fish or a chinchilla as a family pet and - about 48 hours later - we became the proud, adoptive parents of Lily - a five year old Red Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog).

Lily, to clarify, is a gift from Joy's Aunt Melinda and Uncle Bill. The family dog, Lily had to go because Aunt Melinda takes care of her beautiful grandkids during the day and her grandson, Matthew, turned out to be crazy-allergic to dogs.

ONLY allergies could drive a human away from Lily. She's sweet and patient (particulary with 2 1/2 year olds who seemingly don't yet fully understand that dogs are not 100% directable like dolls, stuffed animals and other "toys" in the playroom).

We are still settling in to life with Lily (and vice versa) but - so far so good! She's gotten to know and, uh, "marked" our backlawn and she's found herself a nice place to sleep. My oversized and beloved chair in the living room (you can see it in the pictures of Ava and Lily at left).

Lily came with a full collection of beds, crates, toilet training, great manners, leashes, toys, grooming tools, funny habits, foods, food and water bowls, shampoos, lotions and medicines. Lily, you see, is prone to ear infections (like I was before I had my tonsils and adnoids out (smile)) and she has food allergies that we'll need to watch for too.

We've been warned that Lily is a bit of a "princess" - just what I need with my beloved Queen Wifey and Princess Ava already at home reading books, coloring, fending off the dragons and learning how to strum the harp (or whatever random stuff I picture two highly creative and very talented women do when they are spending the days together) but - if I can handle two members of feminine royalty, I can manage three (smile). We're sure she'll fit in, no matter what.

Here's the plan for Lily and me . . . walking buddy. She likes to get outside. I NEED to get outside. She has energy to burn. I have energy to burn. We have a huge and lovely dog-filled park about a block from the house that we can go frequent and lots of twisty-turny streets in the neighborhood to stomp around on.

In the meantime, we're excited about getting through the adjustment period and just having fun with and making our home more "Americana" and our family a foursome. Ava's already loving life (as this picture clearly illustrates)!

My Life in Haiku . . .

I'm having some stressful times here in the world of work. To ease and entertain me (or to push me over the edge (smile)) my boss asked a bunch of my co-workers ("creative types" that they are) to salute (or otherwise crucify) me in haiku form.

I can't write 'em and I barely understand 'em but I'm certainly honored to be the subject of them. Submitted for your approval . . . feel free to submit your own!

Sound cacophony.
Treble. Bass. Balls bounce above.
From Northeast intrude.

Proud daddy. Cute girl.
Hardware store meltdown. Glass breaks.
Think abandonment.

Proud northeastern roots.
“No, no, no, no, no. Trust me.”
Making presence known.

The Rubber band ball.
Clay turtles and plastic toys.
So much stupid stuff.

He never matches
What’s up with his old-man socks?
Sean: Fashionista.

The North kicked him out.
But we don’t want him either.
Move to Canada.

Tries to be a Bamf
Spends all his time on Perez
Grasping for his youth.

Oh, the sweater vest.
Argyle socks and orange pants.
Bringin’ sexy back.

Gloats about his vast 'stable'
Joy waits with a knife.

Peace Out, Dubs . . .

He wasn't my guy but I've come to really respect and admire him and the hope he inspires and the way he makes people believe. I think, for the first time ever, I finally get why my parents so loved and adored JFK and the "Camelot" period. Regardless . . . I'm very, very proud to call him President Obama today. Today just feels special and magical.

I sorta' wish, for the first time in about three years, that I was on the streets and the metro in DC today. I can't imagine the vibe and the energy.

God Bless America!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Fat, Stupid, Loser Man . . .

I had a co-worker (Imp) telling about her wild and crazy single weekend in the city this morning. She was recounting bar hopping and clubbing and all the other stuff that maybe once would have seemed like fun to me but only now serves to make me feel old, married, tired and happy (smile).

At one point Imp said that her friend got the cute guy and she got stuck with "fat, stupid, loser man." Interesting, to me, that she led with "fat" (in front of me no less (I scolded her, fret not)).

I can think of a lot of reasons to totally dismiss someone but I guess, in a list including stupid and loser (not that these are nice things to say about anyone either (Immmmmmp!)) . . . I would not go with fat FIRST. Of course maybe she could verify he was fat before stupid and or a loser.

Regardless, it reminds me of something Prince said that reminded him of something James (Brown) used to say "I like 'em fat, I like 'em proud." It also reminds me of something that my (now) wife used to say . . . that she loved me for the man I was inside and not the man I looked to be from across the room.

I am not going to chide Imp here (she's a reader and she doesn't deserve it (smile)).

NOR will I insist that people should be less "superficial" in their evaluation of people (yuns go ahead and do what yuns want to do) but I have a female friend of mine that once told Joy and I about a male friend of hers that was "perfect."

He had a boat. He liked to eat at nice places. He was funny. He was charming. He was sweet. He was respectful. He was good at Scrabble. He was . . . just not "as" physically attractive as she would like him to be. Joy and I both wondered what constituted perfection if a mean double word score with a Z in the mix doesn't make any woman swoon! She never said he was fat but I know her well enough to know he probably had bad hair, uncharming eyes and some excess weight.

Long story short . . . it is easy for me to say, now, that people who can accept and see the beauty if a fat person are blessed and that fat people can become less fat but "stupid" and "loser" are likely forever-adjectives (smile) but I wish that Imp, and my other female friend with the critical eye and the rest of the ladies (and GUYS) out there that won't dance with or embrace their bigger, less perfect and fellow single would-be suitors listened to more Prince and/or James Brown.

Life is good!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Silent Sunday . . .

I've talked about the Pezzulo wedding in October, 2000 several times here. My friend Tom just sent me some photos from the wedding weekend. Seeing pictures of myself, eight-and-a-half years later, looking the way I do in these pictures makes me both sad (for what my life was at that time) and happy (for what it is now).

This is me, Chris Delenick, Tom Kelly and Mrs. Pezzullo. Note the "Ms. Senior Sweetheart of America Pageant" banner above us. We, as you might gather, shared the hotel with the contestants of the event that weekend. Oh - the hook up stories I could tell (smile) . . .

And here, finally, is visual proof of the most uncomfortable outfit I've ever worn in public. The irony being how good the outfit looked on a skinny guy like Delenick.

Thanks for the memories (then and now, in the photos) . . . TJK!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Unreal . . .

It is "nice" to see that this sort of crap is happening all around the world (loyal readers will remember me following the turmoil of a guy in Indiana who wanted to adopt his sister's baby and had to have gastric bypass to be allowed to parent the child). Seriously? What is wrong with us that we can say "no" to a would be loving parent because of their weight?

I understand and believe you must protect a child. You can't give a kid to a drug addict. You can't put a kid in harm's way. You wouldn't allow a child to go to parents that don't have food on the table or a roof to put heads under. You would want to make sure that kids have the best options for their long, happy life and the security of parents BUT . . . we only hold parents to those standards when they are looking to adopt. "Natural" parents are only penalized once a problem is well documented (already traumatizing a child).

Enough with saying you can't be a parent because you are too fat. I will admit it is EASIER to parent at my current weight than it would have been at 500 pounds but I could and would have loved Ava as much at that weight as I do now and she still would have had no better or less chance of going without in life unless the random flukes of life (poor health, accidental death, etc.) got in the way of our family.

Let BEING a parent encourage better behavior and discipline and practices and life decisions. Let holding your child thrill and scare you. Let you feel the weight of your weight in proportion to the feathery bulk of a baby. It should motivate you to address your demons and to be better. I won't argue that it is up to a newborn to suffer you if you fail in your attempts to kick your demons (food, drugs, etc.) - it is NOT - but until they start nicotine screening would-be adoptive parents, I don't want to hear anymore "prior restraint" because of obesity.

Do they say no to smokers? Drinkers? People with genetic pre-dispositions to cancer and other conditions? Do they refuse on race? Can you not parent because of gender? Do most places continue to discriminate on sexual orientation? No. No. No. No. No. But be fat . . . and be out of luck.

I've got on my soapbox twice this week and I apologize.

I'll try to have a better attitude come Monday!

Enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cuomo Madness . . .

This has nothing to do with even the price of tea in China but I just read that my beloved alma mater and the polling institute it leverages for public relations reasons has discovered that Andrew Cuomo is a public approval best over Caroline Kennedy for the soon-to-be vacant junior Senator for the great state of New York once Hillary becomes Secretary of State.

I have never really understood the Kennedy obsession but I am all TOO obsessed with the Cuomo family (I could go on and on and on and on and on) and I would be very, very happy in Governor Patterson made Atty. Gen. Cuomo a Senator . . . and if he figured out that sugared beverage tax.

Three Years . . .

It was about three years ago today (the actual anniversary might be tomorrow) that I received the fateful phone call that there was a pregnant woman here in Wichita that might be able to help us become a family, if Joy and I were interested.

The days and weeks that immediately followed were tense and emotional and there were lots of ups and downs and ins and outs but we flew to Wichita and, from the first minute we saw Ava on the TV monitor during her ultrasound, we knew we had seen our daughter and that we were a family.

Three years later - there are still moments, almost daily, that humble me and remind me what a challenge and a reward it is to be a parent. And then there are the moments that just confirm why I am going grey and bald (smile).

Here is one of the moments that thrill me, intended mainly for just four very special people in Ava's world but . . . I could not resist sharing it with the rest of you weirdos that actually read this blog.

PS - Many thanks to the Usselman family who's trampoline became an OBSESSION for Ava to the point that we had to get one of her very own . . . if only to stop being asked (Yep, I know . . . I already told you she still takes my breath away . . . of course I'm a sucker parent that gives in on every little thing).

PPS - Joy would be horrified if I didn't clarify here that we don't actually live like gypsies. Joy is in the process of painting the dining room - hence the lack of furniture, the green plastic on the floor and the shoddy trim work!

PPPS - No. To answer a reader who e-mailed me about this already . . . we don't let Ava run around the house in a tutu and leggings every night (just on Wednesdays (kidding)) but we DO let her wear her tutu when recording trampoline-based videos for Grandma and Grandpa Terry and Gamma and Gampa Amo' though. Oh - and we have added "Avalina Ballerina" to her ever growing list of nicknames. It is a sickness, I tell you, a SICKNESS!

Modern Medicine, Meet Obesity . . .

A colleague sent me this story.

A 5' tall, 275 pound woman was allegedly refered to the ZOO for an MRI when she was discovered to be too big for the MRI machines at the University of Kansas Hospital in the Kansas City area.

Now - I know very, very well that obese people can't fit in any/all situations - especially medical equipment and I have had my fair share of humiliating medical experiences (including having to go to the emergency room to be weighed, breaking one of my dentist's chairs in my DC days and having a primary care physician in Connecticut (that I shan't mention by name here) who might have been the rudest "professional" I have ever dealt with as a morbidly obese person, etc.) but I would hope a medical "professional" would know that there are options, like "open" MRI machines that might preclude them from refering an obese patient to the ZOO for medical treatment.

I respect the fact that the medical community, save the kind and understanding professionals who work in obesity-specific environments (like the outstanding surgery and support teams at Danbury Hospital and the folks I worked with at Union Memorial in Baltimore too), focus more on the harm obesity does to your body and the troubles of medicating the obese more than the empathy it might require to deal with and help the obese. I get that MOST of society, at the end of the day, has an anti-obesity bias (despite the fact that we are, statistically, all getting fatter) and I, sadly, am well aware that obesity is the last, "great", socially acceptable form of bigotry that we cling to in this country.

I was flicking channels for Ava during her TV time last night and even an episode of the always-pithy Hannah Montana featured a "Jabba the Gut" pun from some kid on an airplane who was seated next to a fat man who was stereotyped right down to the loud, Hawaiian shirt so another generation of Americans will learn it is okay to make fun of fat people . . . just not washed-up country/pop music singers and their hack daughters/meal tickets (yeah - guilty as charged of NOT being a Miley Cyrus fan).

Anywho - let's just try to remind people that you can find open MRIs in most communities and most zoos won't treat people anyway . . . even the unlovable, animal-like obese. Tsk, tsk in the meantime - Jayhawk nation!

The Biggest Loser . . .

Holy crap. Last night's The Biggest Loser might have been the best single episode in the legendary history of the show. I loved it for two reasons.

1 - Joelle. Oh, sweet Joelle. How hard do you not have to work to make BOB lose his mind and go on a two-minute long, four-letter word framed rant against you in front of the entire gym? I hope you get your stuff together and I hope you realize how darned lucky you are that my boy Daniel got that one-pound penalty that kept you even on the ranch.

2 - How do you choose between a 63 year old and a 19 year old man that are both battling obesity? In an argument posed by Ron that left me wilted on the floor in tears . . . you realize that Jerry has lived a life and has a wife and kids and grand kids . . . without losing the weight Daniel will never realize or have any of those things. That hit home for me in a way that was far too real as I realize all that I would have missed out on if people hadn't advocated for me and protected me and helped me. The world needs more Rons!

Last night's episode showed the best and the worst that the Biggest Loser brings out of the people who "play" and the people who "watch" . . .

YOU have to want to want to lose the weight and get healty. A $25,000 temptation to leave the show can actually make people who are facing death in the face CONSIDER their "options" and even in a completely safe environment with nothing but positive energy, gym equipment and healthy food - some people will still struggle with their weight and motivating themselves to do something about it. And if you aren't "ready" you will lie and try to convince yourself that you are doing all you can do in the meantime.

And the human spirit is still predisposed to cheer for and to help people more than it is inclined to break people down and destroy them. The people dropping back down the hill to help their competitors climb. Daniel struggling in the boot and them climbing that hill made me want to just give him a hug and tell him how proud of him I am and how much I hope he makes it on the show and in life. The persistence and the support were almost overwhelming for me.

If you are NOT watching the Biggest Loser - please, please start. It will move you or educate you . . . or both . . . on life with obesity.

Monday, January 12, 2009


While it has nothing to do with me, gastric bypass, obesity or any thing else I normally type about in this space . . . this is totally worth the four minutes of viewing on a Monday morning. I might have to pick up a "wing suit" if I get my weight down to a safe level. I'm not sure where I would wear said apparel in Kansas (errand running, perhaps) but it looks like very, very scary fun!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Come a Long Way . . .

I once strained to fit in to a size 70 pant. That is 70 . . . as in 70 inches. As in two inches short of six feet. As in deep enough to dive in a hotel pool. As in almost tall enough to be a male model. As in nearly long enough to be the measure of good coffin depth in the ground. As in . . . you get the point.

In all actually, at 5' 11", I was "as big around as I was tall" for a good part of my late-20s and the first few months of my 30s too.

Not so much any more.

Thanks to the strong/stretching nature of denim, I was able to swing by my friendly neighborhood Gap today (to shop the "end of season" sales, of course) and I was able to fit in to a size 38 pair of "low rise, boot fit" (whatever the hell that even means) jeans.

And I could inhale deeply and exhale deeply in them. And sit. And walk/run in place. And squat. And lift my knees all the way up to chest level. And put stuff in the pockets. And take this crappy picture of myself on my equally crappy cell phone camera (don't look too closely at the photo - you will be able to see my Bilbo Baggins inspired foot hair and my freakish looking big/next biggest toe split on my left foot).

For $30, I should have picked them up but I've already got my eye on a pair of shoes that I plan to blow my January "fun" money on!

It is unthinkable to me that I wore a pant that was in the 30s today. I was in seventh grade or so (I think) when I crossed the 40 threshold.
20 years later . . . it feels damned good to be "in my 30s."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Was Only a Matter of Time . . .

This should not be shocking to anyone but, to me, it is sobering and sad.

According to our federal government, the OBESE outnumber the overweight . . . and 34% of us here in the U.S.A are obese and nearly 33% are overweight. Combined - 2/3 of ALL of us are overweight.
It is important to note that these results are BMI based (enter argument here about how BMI is not always the best indication of true obesity) BUT the facts still stand for themselves . . . and they are "heavy" - pun intended.

By the way - frustrating and illuminatingly enough - I am, 250 pounds down, STILL considered one of the obese (I'm no longer a "Super" or a "Morbid" classification though, thankfully).

The other stat in the release that scared me was the youth obesity stat. 16% are obese. 11% are "extremely" obese (I guess we don't call our kids morbid).
Here's to all of the "lose weight in 2009" resolutions sticking and working.

My, my, my!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hey, Kettle. It's Me, Pot. You're Black . . .

This story cracked me up this morning!

The story talks about, for those who don't want to read the article written by a real writer, a diet book called 9-Inch Diet that was written by a guy named Alex Bogusky that claims that just downsizing your plate (and in turn your portion size) is a great first step towards an impactful diet plan.

While Bogusky is spot on with his advice that cutting down on how much you eat can/will help with weight loss what is interesting is that Bogusky apparently blames our fast food culture and, specifically, places like McDonald's for some of our obesity problems.

But Bogusky, like me, works in "marketing communications" and (unlike me) is BRILLIANT at what he does - so much in fact that two of his biggest clients are Burger King and Domino's.

Talk about potentially biting the hand that feeds you!
A rare "high road" moment from a man who, because of his chosen profession, might be otherwise (assumed to be) without a soul or a drop of morality!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Hard to Say . . .

It is hard to say for sure, given his general demeanor and sense of humor but the usually jovial Ricky Gervais apparently is not a big fan of gastric bypass or the obese looking for ways to deal with their weight outside of going for "a run."

You clearly know my feelings on people who criticize gastric bypass surgery (and those that have it) and try to boil obesity down to nothing more than lazy people who don't want to do anything about their weight and/or that make gastric bypass look like some "easy fix" to the problem to begin with but - I am a little shocked that - if sincere - Gervais, himself not always exactly a "stick-of-a-man" (his weight has gone up and down, like the rest of us) having such tough words for the obese. Unless, as I wonder he might have been, he was kidding.

"I laugh about being fat, but I should be ashamed. I should walk down the street and have people shouting 'Fatty!'. That's what I want, to get me out of it. I get up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say to myself, 'Oh, you f---ing fat b-----d'," he jokes!

Either way - I still love Ricky and The Office, Extras and Ricky's Podcast!

2009 Goals . . .

I haven't really talked about goals since I posted my last set of goals in mid-October. Well . . . those goals are soooooooo last year (and I only got about 1/2 of them taken care of anyway) and I need 2009 goals to get working on. Without much more delay. Here are my personal 2009 goals.

With 11 months and 26 days to bang them out . . . they are sort of ambitious but realistic none-the-less!

1 - Find a hat that actually "works" for me - When I shared this goal with Joy - she politely looked me in the eye and said that she "knew" my goals for the year were going to be "full of sh*t" but I was not kidding her and I'm not kidding now. Here's the thing - as Michael Thomas can/will vouch . . . with the exception of the year I got two knitted ski caps from Vinu for Christmas . . . there has never been a hat that looked good on top of my large, balding dome. Baseball hats? Not a home run. Bowlers? Struck out. Derbies? That horse won't run. Porkpies? Crumby at best. I'm cursed, I think. I'm not defeated though. I shall find a hat that makes me whole (or at least protects my increasingly exposed scalp) by year's end. Keep your eyes peeled for me in the meantime.

2 - Get and STAY under 200 pounds - Enough already. I dropped through the 400s in just a few months. I saw the 300s go in a few more months. I've been "in" the 200s for a year. I'm still at least 25 or so pounds from the 1 at the front of my weight that I last saw in the late 80s/middle school. I must get to my goal weight . . . and stay there. Otherwise, this isn't as much about vanity and ego as it could be (smile) and they will NOT let me jump out of an airplane or have reconstructive surgery in the meantime (so this goal has three very exciting heads). Mark my words . . . by the time this decade ends - I will know what it is like to drop, very quickly, towards the flat and beautiful Kansas landscape . . . and to do that, I've got to lose the weight that keeps me "safe" on the ground.

3 - Excercise 200 times - I know. Absurd. That's like four times a week . . . more than once every other day. At least 180 times more than I might typically have excercised in a year before surgery but if you figure I'm counting and 30 - 45 minutes of sustained physical activity that both raises my heartrate and helps enhance my balance, strength and body tone . . . I can totally manage that. Besides, I need to get fit if I'm going to lose the rest of the weight and make a few of the goals below (read 'em as they come, no cheating). Besides, that is one work out for each pound I eventually want to weigh. Totally managable, right?! RIGHT?! Say it is. Please. Just tell me I can do that. Oy with the excercise!

4 - Clear my nightstand - If you are lucky enough to get the invite to me and wifey's boudouir, you would see a few things that are potentially shocking. No, not the "love swing" or the collection of silky-lacey things she makes me wear to bed (we keep those things neatly hidden away). Not even the shoes that pour out of Joy's closet. What would shock you are the piles of books and magazines that Joy and I each have on our respective nightstands. We thumb at them. We read a page or two of this or a chapter of that. We browse. We mean to read and digest all the literary goodness that Stephanie Meyer (on Joy's side) or Moses (on my side) but we, instead, spend our time on other pursuits . . . like the love swing (I'm kidding. We don't own a love swing. Yet.). I have six books, three magazines, a cookbook and two pamphlets for preschools for Ava that I need to read that stare at me last thing every night and first thing each morning. That pile needs to be addressed.

5 - Get to the Washington, DC/Baltimore, MD area - I miss my people there and, perhaps as importantly, I miss the sites and sounds that my beloved beltway offered. In times B.J. (before Joy) I went, faithfully, every Saturday and/or Sunday to my favorite art museum, if only long enough to look at my favorite painting for almost five straight years. I've not seen that oil-covered canvas in almost three years. I need to fix that. And I need to hang out with Clara Thomas. Check in on Ben (someone needs to (smile)). Walk M Street. Give WMATA some of my dough (while helping Ava learn orange from blue from red from yellow from green). Eat at Lebanese Taverna. I need Ava to see where Mommy met Daddy and where Daddy lived the highs and lows of his 20s.

6 - Get a new job - Yes. This IS a personal goal and no, people at my current job, you don't need to worry. Nope. I want a new job in my current office. I am, I can admit, a career-defined person. Enough already with the current responsibilities and toil. I need to get moving up the ol' ladder and shakidup!

7 - Cook 25 meals for people other than "just" Joy and Ava - I love cooking. I love hosting. I love trying new things. At least twice a month for the next year, I will do all of the above and will enjoy it. Come on over. Seriously! Give us an hour's notice and any food allergies or limitations you might have. Expcect something high protein and low fat for an entree and an over the top dessert to reward you for suffering my issues through the main courses. We'll play Cranium after we eat and, if you are lucky, Joy and I will let you look "comptetive" at it (smile).

8 - De-bloggify my communications efforts - Here's what typing a blog that hundreds of people (including strangers and people I dearly love (and a mix of the above)) read on a daily basis. I don't feel like I have to "tell" anyone anything. Want to see Ava's latest hair cut? It's on the blog. How's my diet going? I blogged on it. Curious about my weekend plans? Read all you want to. It has made me lazy and I regret that. I'm still going to blog but unless all of you start blogging too (and you should, dammit) I'm going to need to start calling, e-mailing and visiting in person more often. I'm serious. This time. Really. Let's get it going. How about a weekly conference call to start - TJK, Linksy and Bah-rooosey?!

9 - Grow something - Joy and Ava grew tomatoes last summer. They (the ones that survived Ava's tender loving, uh, care) were delicious. We want to blow that out this summer with an herb garden, a vegetable garden and maybe even showing the floral beds that the woman who sold us our house put so much loving care in to some of our love. My father has a very green thumb. Surely some of that genetic talent spilled on to me, right?! We'll find out this year. We're going to start with 50 sunflowers along the garage. I'll keep you posted and maybe send you some of our squash!

10 - Show my brothers our home and life here in Wichita - I saw them with an entire week to spare in 2008 and we made my parents the happiest 60-somethings in America by all gathering in Groton for a few days. It's time they venture west of the Mississippi (for more than work) and they see our house and our life and see how we "do things" here in Kansas. We're actually going to have a full blown birthday party for Ava this year. I'm desperately hoping they will come for that but - I have a full year to harass them either way. You've been warned, boys!

11 - Take three vacations - I'm not talking about the Louvre or the Nile (this year) but be it a trip to Missouri to "float" or a drive to Texas to visit Vinu and ChaCha or the above mentioned trip to DC or maybe just a long weekend with a tent at a national park . . . the Amore family is hitting the road in 2009. Thrice! Specific plans still pending!

12 - Spend at least four hours a week doing something that brings me joy - I love movies. I love donating time and efforts. I like feeling helpful. I like learning new things. I love musical performances. I like trying new experiences. I love just being "out there." Time to spend no less than 200 hours (see the growing trend here) doing all of the above and more in 2009. I might take Joy and/or Ava with me some weeks. Others, I'll do it alone. Other times, I might take Dad Terry or Other Mother or Lexy with me. It'll depend on the week and the joy I seek.

13 - Buy and wear fewer neutral clothes - When we do the laundry every Sunday the "brights" load is dominated by Joy's love of vibrant color. The "pinks/reds" load is pretty much all Ava's pink, purple, red and all-of-the-above clothes. The "lights" . . . almost entirely my grey t-shirts, my khaki pants, my navy blue sweaters and my ecru oxford shirts. Enough. I need to get more "invested" in the other loads of the laundry. All EIGHT loads we do on the average Sunday. This is the year that I continue to expand my fashion horizons. Orange cords and pink pants are just the tip of this iceburg of color. If only I could afford you, Ben Silver!

14 - Get Dad Terry's entire record collection on my iPod - I have all the tools. The USB-ready record player. The iTunes software. The HUGE tub of KILLER records from the 60s, 70s and 80s and the desire to convert those bad boys. What I don't seem to have are the dozens and dozens (hundreds?) of hours it might take to actually digitize the music. I'll have to find the time though. Some weeks goals 12 and 14 might just have to overlap.

15 - RUN the 34th Annual Turkey Trot on November 21, 2009 - They say you should end any list of goals with the biggest, the hardest, the most ambitious and the most meaningful. Well - for me - that means running a two-mile "race" (and by "race" I mean I'll be the last one to cross the finish line long after the hundreds of other runners have already gone home, showered and moved on to their weekend plans) but running is one of those things that always baffled me and it is time I figure out what you nut cases who engage in the activity see in the idea of running . . . for "fun." Wish me luck. Oh and rent Run, Fatboy Run. NOT in any way connected to me setting this goal but a very funny, touching and encouraging story that was written by the very talented Michael Ian Black and directed by "Ross" (of all people). Anywho - I'm going to go for it. My goals of working out and making time and taking time and finding joy all lead up to two miles of running. Just in time to start thinking of my 2010 goals.

I'm sure I'll have some short term goals that pop up throughout the year but - by December 31, 2009 - all 15 of these will be accomplished . . . mind, body, pride and logistics willing!

Wish me luck!

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Another of My Heroes . . .

In my life, I've idolized many people. Men. Women. Young. Old. Physically and mentally capable. Physically and mentally challenged. Right brain. Left brain. Good. Bad. It is, I promise, just coincidence that MANY of the people I've most admired have been named Sean (or a bastardization of the spelling of) and/or John (I say "and/or" as Sean is Gaelic for John (or vice versa (?))).

Sean Combs. John Candy. Shawn Carter. John Adams. Shaun White. Okay - not Shaun White - I don't so-much admire the Flying Tomato! It is just coincidence . . . or a Lostonian conspiracy that great men just happen to be tapped as Seans and Johns!

Another great John? John Goodman!

Mr. Goodman not only made me laugh for years and years as Dan Conner but he also stars in my favorite movie of all time. He killed it in King Ralph. He made Fred Flinstone funny. He was one of the many things that I miss about Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. He made the West Wing tolerable. Oh . . . and he gives a really good "What I've Learned" interview to Esquire too!

Some highlights . . .

- There are no coincidences.

- Giving up a lot of yourself isn't really that hard when you realize that you get more than you give up.

- There's no formula to life. If I figured one out, I'd probably have to check out the next day. "Oh, Mr. Goodman, your seven o'clock stroke is here, sir."

Friday, January 2, 2009

We Dropped the Ball . . .

Did the Clintons brave the cold and help drop the Times Square Ball? Couldn't tell ya'!

Did Aspen have to cancel all of its New Year's Eve plans because of a bomb threat? Wouldn't know.

Was it even 2009? The newspaper in the airport said so . . . so it must be true!

While many people favor to ring out the old and welcome the new with elaborate parties or trips to far off places (a DC friend of mine once flew all the way to Paris with his girlfriend just for dinner and trip up the Eiffel Tower (they didn't even spend the night - the suckers)) or even small gatherings with friends (witness Ghetto-Cues 98/99, 99/00 and 00/01 from my personal history) - Joy and I prefer the non-celebratory New Year's Eve route.

2003/04 - Our first New Year's Eve together. Spent in Wichita with me meeting the entire Terry side of Joy's family at a karaoke bash in Mom and Dad Terry's home (I helped sing "I am a Man of Constant Sorrow" and fell asleep at around 11:30 PM CT)

2004/05 - Home alone. Baltimore. We walked out in the backlawn at 11:57 to see the Inner Harbor fireworks. We were in bed by 12:05.

2005/06 - Went to celebrate New Year's and Jess' birthday with the (now) Maddens and Patrick and Joyell and Becky DeBottis. Were back on the road and home by 1:00 (including the one-hour drive back to Baltimore).

2006/07 - Just the three of us in Connecticut. I set the alarm for 11:59 PM. We were back asleep by 12:01. With Ava in bed with us.

2007/08 - My parents were with us here in Kansas. We had some dinner and some drinks in the basement. Stacy (Joy's cousin) and a few friends stopped by for a few minutes.

2008/09 - Best Western Syracuse Airport Inn, Syracuse New York.

Now - let me elaborate. It's not usually like us to "splurge" on a hotel room for the night so we can whoop it up and destroy the place and leave maid service to make it all better but something just got in us this year and we had to make it happen. What got in us, you ask? Why the stomach flu, sillies.

My father, God love him, contracted the stomach flu sometime on Monday. By the time we woke up Tuesday morning, it was all over (literally). In his stomach-controlled delusion he had trapsed all through the house and dragged his germs and ailment with him. We spent the entire day Tuesday like Ithacan nomads. We went to the Science Center, we saw Bolt (again) and then we went home and had nap time and then we went to Target, the mall, dinner, and to see Bedtime Stories. All just hoping to avoid the flu. We even looked at changing our flights but - for $525 - we figured we were better sick than poor. We thought we had made it. We loaded in to the car on Wednesday afternoon and headed for the hotel (something we all decided was for the best considering our early morning flight on Thursday) with healthy stomachs and full hearts.

We got to the hotel. Checked in to room 111 at about 3:30. Went down the hall. Snuggled up on the bed in our "spacious" room. Took a couple of pictures (like the one above). Clicked on the spotty cable and - BAM - Ava projectile vomited all over Joy, the bedding and one of the nightstands.

But it gets better. For the next six hours, we proceeded to just unpack more and more changes of clothes from our suitcases and called the front desk, rinsed the gunk out of the old stuff and prayed for mercy from above. There was, you see, no laundry available to hotel guests and they could not even provide us with fresh bedding as no one there had the key to the linen room (hmmmm).

We called it a night at about 9:30. Joy, having been more exposed than me, took the bed with Ava. I took the cold, cement slab floor with a towel for a blanket. The heater turned on and off every thirty to forty-five seconds. The smoke detector blinked green-green-red-green-red-red every four seconds. The couple in room 109 - uh - "enjoyed each other's company" immensely and repeatedly. The man in room 113 suffered his severe sleep apnea not-so-silently.

Ava begged for milk, food or a combination of the above not yet old enough to understand it would only make her feel worse. We "slept" in 10 minute intervals until, at 5:30 AM, we decided screw it. We all piled in to the bed together. We breathed fluish germs. We stared the reality of climbing on not one but two airplanes with severe stomach distress and "fasten seat belt" warnings in the eye and decided that our familial love would get us home either way.

Now - don't feel bad for us. We may not have rung in the New Year in "style." We may not have even rung it in at all but - in our own special way - we officially said "goodbye" to 2008 and we readied our minds, bodies and spirits for all 2009 might have to offer. Oh - and Joy nor I ever actually feel victim to the stomach bug (knock on wood) and our flights home went very, very smoothly.

It might not be a story that legends come out of but, as far as we're concerned, it is a New Year's Eve to remember and to never, ever repeat.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

There's No Place Like Home . . .

We Kansans (yes, just shy of 16 months in to my residence I am hereby distancing myself from my roots and initial resistance and "we" speaking about me and my fellow Sunflower staters) typically resent all the Wizard of Oz jokes that we are bombarded with when we travel beyond the safe borders of our cozy little state but - today - there is no harm or foul in being reminded and appreciative of the fact that there is NO place like home.

We had an interesting end to our trip and we were exhausted by the time we got "wheels up" over Syracuse (as witnessed by Ava, above, skipping the sights of 34,000 feet in favor of a little Finding-Nemo-on-the-iPod and nap time).

I have a lot of blogging to do (my 2008 year in review, my 2009 goals, some more ups and downs of the trip, another one for the "strangest dream ever competition", etc.) but - for the next 24 hours or so . . . we're just recharging the ol' batteries and chillin' in warm, sunny and wonderful 6-7-2-1-8).

In the meantime - HAPPY NEW YEAR!