Friday, February 27, 2009

Crisis . . .

This might be a geographic issue versus Kraft screwing with me but I can't find my South Beach Living Meal Replacement bars ANYWHERE!!!  This is a full-blown crisis for me.  

Sure, there are other protein bars on the market that are moderately proteinful and that are low in sugar but they (almost) all suck compared to my favorite bars . . . especially at the price point.  

How the hell am I supposed to live fifty more years with responsible eating if I am going to have to scrap for two meals a day every day?!   Come on, Kraft . . . let's get a shipment of the bars Wichita-bound ASAP.  

For the rest of you (and I'm only sorta' kidding) my birthday is coming (any month now) so feel free to throw a box in the mail to me . . . just not the Vanilla ones.  They suck anyway.  

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Met Tucker . . .

I told you I met him.  And I told you he was wearing a long tie.  He was still very funny and very charming and a great speaker (despite his clearly flawed political leaning/thinking (smile))! 

Teenaged Obesity . . .

With much thanks to Megan for calling my attention to this story (and cursing her for making me cry (with happiness) for this kid on a Tuesday morning), I wanted to share  a great story about young obesity and a story with lots of good statistics about the obese life and weight loss surgeries that touch all of us in some way or another.  

Here is the gist . . . 15 year old kid.  Living in Virginia.  5'4".  260 pounds.  Morbidly obese.  High blood pressure.  Severe sleep apnea.  General self loathing and misery as he is confronted by a teacher about his food consumption in the cafeteria.  Needs to do something (insert general routine of failed diet after failed diet and even a stint or two in "fat" camp) or he's going to die.  Young and sad.  So what is a kid to do?  Beg for help from the medical community and he got it . . . in the form of lap band surgery.

You all know my feelings on lap band surgery (sorry, I feel how I feel) but this is a great example of how weight loss surgery - of any type - can greatly impact and even save a life.  For a 15 year old kid who just needs to survive adolescence it might be perfect (after all - he's still very young and can likely fight the good fight moving forward if the lap band does not do it for him long-term).  Anywho . . . he's doing great thanks to the procedure.  He's lost 90 pounds.  He's almost textbook "normal" weight for his height and I guarantee he's having a better high school experience than he would have if this procedure was not made available to him.

Now - let me be clear - I don't know what it would be like to be Andrew.  I really don't.  I had a great teenaged experience.  I had a few kids that called me "fat" (and they bothered me very little because my overly-well adjusted sense of "self" would allow me to point out that none of them were people that I admired or wished to be like or have the approval of anyway (put that in your pipe and smoke it, haters)) but, for the most part, I was no different (besides my girth) than any other kid in my small, protective high school.  

I had great friends.  I had fun.  I socialized. I never felt left our or alienated.  I never got any trouble from anyone that I didn't deserve.  

I don't mean to imply that Andrew had a miserable life.  I pray that his life was and is even more blessed than mine was and is.  I really do.  I just know that, for the average fat kid, it is hard to be fat and young in America.  Even as we get fatter as a society.

Good luck with the rest of your life, Andrew.  Welcome to the other side of your journey! 

Looks Restful, Dohnit?! . . .

For anyone that doubts that our bed is like a bad game of nightmare filled Tetris . . . I give you exhibit A.  I woke Lily up when I crept back in to our bedroom with the camera this morning.  Otherwise her nose would have been buried in Ava's curls and her body curled behind Joy's 

To really "appreciate" this picture you'll have to understand that Ava comes to our bed on her own.  The quilt Gamma Amo and the polka dotted pillow require Joy or I (generally Joy) to walk back down the hall in the 12:00 AM hour to get them.  Most nights there will be at least one more walk up and down the hall to get Ava's bear puppet that she will NOT sleep without.  3:00 AM brings demands for hot dogs, macaroni and cheese and/or candy.  4:15 AM brings demands for milk, fruit juice or vodka (Joy is the one begging for vodka (smile)).

4:45 AM will finally find Joy and Ava really asleep for the night.  My alarm goes off at 5:15.  

Can you tell I'm a little tired this today?!  

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Home Improvement Projects . . .

So, we (and by "we" - I mean Joy and her sister, Stephanie, and their parents) have been kicking around this novel idea for about a month or two. The idea is pretty simple (and wonderful) - every Sunday afternoon we will take turns going to each other's homes and doing basic home improvement projects.

I am, for the record, the least handy person in the entire world (except my father (I love you, Dad)) and even I can now hold my own, because of the guidance, patience and teachings of my wife and my in-laws.

Today was our first project day and our house got the first treatment . . . we put a chair rail (which is "I-care-about-my-home-and-know-the-fancy-terminology-for-home-repair-accordingly"-ese for a piece of wood nailed to the middle of a wall) in Ava's playroom.

It only took about an hour (not including our lunch break) and I think it looks great.

It was nice to help Joy get something else knocked off her aggressive, impressive and ambitious "to do around the house" list and it was nice to do a project with Mom and Dad Terry again (it has been almost a year not including the time Dad Terry helped me get my Connecticut license plates off Morpheus).

Saturday, February 21, 2009

My First Facial . . .

Sooooooo . . . as you might notice in the super-zoomed in and poorly-lit photo (taken with the camera on my brand new Mac here at work) to the immediate left . . . I did the borderline "unthinkable" today.  I went to a spa (sorta) and I had my first facial.  That's right.  Yuck it up, pally.   My nose is less blackheadish.  My skin is clearer than it has been since it better resembled a baby's bottom.  My cheeks are rosy and glowing (in a hydrated vs. oily context).  I feel good about my face today!  

Here's the thing about my facial.  It was a gift. Part of my Valentine's Day "haul" from Wifey, to be specific.  And it was something that I asked for (not her subtle way of telling me that my face was a horrible place to rest one's eyes).  As I've gotten skinnier I've become even MORE vain than I ever was (difficult - but not impossible) and I've decided that I am okay with the balding and the nose and ear hair (genetics being what they are) but I am not okay with clogged pores, these terrible zits I am still getting . . . 20 years later . . . and not looking as healthy and youthful as I should look as a 32 year old man that has never been a smoker and who generally takes care of their skin.

There was just one real problem with the facial . . . well TWO.  One, I don't like my general appearance or discussing it with people and two - I can't STAND being touched by strangers (I don't even really enjoy the business handshake in some situations).  This general anxiety made me less than psyched for my gift and made me more than a little irritable towards Joy about her gift (which I regret, in hind sight).  

So - I got in the car this morning and I drove to the Eric Fisher Academy on the West Side no less (that is a Wichita joke - the locals, especially my fellow East Siders are laughing uncontrollably right now) and I checked in at the counter of the salon/spa hoping and praying they would not have my reservation/appointment or that they would say "Oh, sorry, we don't treat fat and ugly people here.  This is a salon/spa, Mr. Ugly Ape." or that they place would have a fire drill that precluded my service or something (I would have taken a flat tire on the drive over at this point) and I waited and waited and waited.  

I got taken to the back spa, out of the noise and chaos of the hair salon, the nail salon, the massage center and the waiting room and I was told that I had to turn off my cell phone ("But, but, but, but . . . I am Sean.  I must be reachable," I considered arguing (hoping to get sent away)) and that I had to whisper the whole time we were in the spa . . . now, again, if you KNOW me - you know this is a problem.  I am the loudest person in the history of the world and my "whisper" is just about deafening to most people with only moderate hearing damage.  Again - please send me away for being loud, I prayed.

No dice.  I got taken in the back and I helped fill out all my paperwork and screening questions, etc. and I was then told to go ahead and take off my shoes.  Huh?  "No, no.  I'm here for a FACIAL!" I explained (with moderate disdain) to the lovely woman who was saddled with touching my face.  She paused - as though to explain - and decided to just let me go.  Then she told me to go ahead and disrobe.  "No, no.  I'm here for a FACIAL!" I again explained (with moderate disdain) to the woman who was saddled with touching my face.  She paused and said I should at least take all my shirts off (I had on three today - long story) as the "product" she would be using (ugh to people who say "product" without a sense of irony) might stain my shirt(s) if I was not topless and then I should lay on the table - safely covering my moobs with the sheets and blankets provided.

So - she left and I stripped and got on the table and then I got in a full blown panic.  What was I doing?  How terrible was this going to be?  How bad was my breath?  Could I make a run for it still?  Do my feet stink?  What if I have an allergic reaction to this thing and look like a walking lesion for the next 48 - 72 hours?  Oh dear Jesus.  What have I done?  

The nearly 90 minutes that followed . . . I'm both embarrassed and thrilled to tell you . . . were AMAZING!

The woman who took care of me was amazing (No, Ben, no "happy ending" involved (smile)) and it was relaxing and calming and "fun" (in a weird way) and it was something that I am totally glad that I did/tried/experienced.

I don't know if I will be making facials a regular part of my life but I WILL be back for another one eventually . . . and I walked out of there (sucker that I am) with $45 worth of product (said here with MORE than the "needed" amount of irony) that will help me take better care of my skin in the meantime. 

Long story long . . . I've now tried another "new" thing and I've tried something that I always wondered about but was always too scared, self conscious or otherwise self-prohibiting from doing in my former, fatter days.  

Happy Birthday, Mom . . .

62 years old and still the most wonderful woman on the face of the earth!  Happy Birthday to you, beautiful, caring, dear, sweet and wonderful mother-o-mine!  

If only I could actually get you to return our birthday phone calls (busy lady, must be) I would not have to send you these greetings through the World Wide Web! 

Friday, February 20, 2009

Facebook . . .

So, I sort of reluctantly joined Facebook a month or so ago.  I had, in the interest of full disclosure, been "on" Facebook for a few months prior to that but I was there as my mother.  I was doing a little research on how the 60+ set use and get used on social networking platforms (always the PR professional (smile)) and I was getting requests from people that wanted to chat with my mother about her quilts and her other two sons and what not and I figured it was time to come clean.

I joined unsure of the "value" in really getting on Facebook (I am a tireless advocate for social media and social networking for my clients but - like any good professional I am more of a "do as I say not as I do" kind of guy from time to time.  In the meantime - I've come to LOVE Facebook.

Who knew Phoebe and Ray were pregnant?  Not me.
Who knew that KER was shacking up with a guy?  Not this guy.
Who knew that people would say things like "It's complicated" on their relationship status and not expect me to ask what that means?  Color this person confused.
Who knew that some of the kids I went to high school with, including a girl I had a crush on, would turn out to be gay (not that there is ANYTHING wrong with that)?  You do learn something new every day.
Who knew that when you updated your status that everyone in your network got to see your changed status?  Consider me "clued in" by now.  

Anywho . . . 

I've gotten up to almost 150 "friends" on Facebook - which is sort of odd to me . . . but in a good way.  People I went to high school with.  Friends from college.  Former coworkers from my DC and IBM days.  I've even gotten requests from people that I largely lost contact with in the late 80s.  

What is odd to me is that everyone comments almost immediately (if they send actual notes - I suspect most people are just gathering Facebook "friends" like they are trinkets or like they are some sort of contest for who can die with the most friends (and I am okay with that mentality, for the record) about my general appearance and almost everyone points out that it has been too long since we last spoke/connected/communicated.  I find myself wanting to comment on people's appearance since they almost all comment on my weight and general appearance but I just don't know what to say . . . I'm very bad at taking and paying compliments.  This is a known problem that I suffer with/from.  

I, of course, take pause and try to remember the last time I saw these people.  What my approximate weight was.  How generally miserable with myself I was at the time of our last interaction and how deep I have to dig to get them caught up with my life in the meantime.

Needless to say, Facebook has become a total "time suck" for me.  I find myself logging on first thing in the morning (in the 5:00 hour some days) and in the evening and over the weekend.  I try to actually look at my newly (re)found friends profiles and I try to actually figure out what they have been up to since our lives went their respective ways.  

All this attention to the computer makes Wifey borderline insane BUT, most days, it is just too interesting for me to turn away.

I'm "pro" Facebook.  I can't get enough . . . just like any other good train wreck.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

What's It All Worth . . .

A colleague told me this morning about a terrible story in Atlanta.

It seems a 57-year-old, recently retired cancer researcher (Dr. Eugina Calle) who headed up the Analytic Epidemiology unit of the American Cancer Society and taught at Emory was found murdered in her apartment Tuesday. She was apparently murdered.

While all of Calle's work was impactful and helped the world better understand cancer and how it "works" - what she is best known for is her ground breaking work to link cancer to obesity (this might shock you, fellow fat people, but being obese opens you up to greater risk of just about every medical strife you can imagine).
She retired just a few weeks ago, from what I can understand, and now she's dead.

I mean - really - who the heck is going to go to the home of a woman who's almost 60 years old and who's devoted her life's work to saving lives and just kill her? Really? Who is this person? What in the world did Dr. Calle possible do to deserve her fate? I really want to know so I can be ashamed of the way life plays out.

It makes me worry about the world around us. There is something really wrong with pockets of our society that are so dark that they could snuff out such a positive force/light as Dr. Calle.

I don't want to get too "obsessed" with the whole thing but it just makes you wonder what it is really worth to work your butt off for 30 years and to try to better the world if some creep could just kill you on the back side of that work.

I guess we should just focus on today and the blessings of it. Be thankful for what we have. Cherish those that we share love and life with. They are all, sadly, temporary.
UPDATE - I just found out that they've arrested someone for killing Dr. Calle. It seems that the guy made his way in to Dr. Calle's apartment and killed her. He probably didn't even know who she was. He just killed her. There is no known motive for the crime. Sad!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Bananas Foster Child . . .

When I were a fatter, more desserty man - I enjoyed NOTHING more than a dessert that combined sweet with savory, hot with cold, crisp with soft . . . and booze. It was with great delight that I first discovered (and fell in love with) Bananas Foster on my second trip to New Orleans in the summer of 2002.

Have you ever had bananas foster? REAL bananas foster? Forget about it if you haven't, fellow GBers. A sugar-free version of the dish would likely stink on ice since the rum is really the lynch pin of the dessert and there would be enough sugar alcohols in a substitute dish to blow out even the strongest of colons.

No, no. Forget it. It's gone. Never to return. You CAN still have something as sweet (pun intended) as Nahlins itself though . . . in a small, calorie-counting friendly serving that you can easily build in to your daily calorie count when you need the occassional splurge.

I present . . . the Bananas Foster Child (a Sean C. Amore original, patent not pending (I'm too lazy for that crap)).

Ingredients -
1/2 Medium (six to seven inch) Banana
1 Tbsp. Ground Cinnamon
1 packet Splenda (to taste)
2 Tbsps. Sugar-Free Caramel Syrup (in the ice cream sundae "endcap" at a Dillon's near you)
2 Tpsps. Cool Whip Lite

Directions -
Chop up the half banana (use the other half for a dessert for wifey (or your roommate of choice smile)) in thin slices (I prefer a "two nickel" thickness). Put in a small bowl or ramekin (if you want to be all foodie about it). Sprinkle on your cinnamon and your Splenda (ONLY if you have an immature/not-yet-ripe banana or a serious love for faux sugar). Stir it all together (gently as to not mush your banana). Spoon your caramel syrup over the top of the bananas. Put your dallops of Cool Whip on top. Enjoy.

If I'm doing the math correctly here - you are in for about 100 calories, 2 grams of fat, 1 gram of modified sugar (there is fructose in the banana, clearly) and 2 grams of protein.

No reason to throw your plastic beads as a "thanks" - I only show the moobs to Joy!

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What I'm Listening To . . .

It's been a while since I rocked the musical establishment by sharing what's playing on my iPod and in my ears so . . . with the Grammys just a few days away (whooooooo cares?!) here is my latest playlist. Enjoy. Download responsibily. Etc.

1 - Morning Passages, Philip Glass - The Hours is one of my favorite movies. Ever. Not because it is beautiful or well acted or because it is a nice snapshot of how lives impact and echo each other in sometimes harmful ways. All of the above is true but it is not why I love the movie. I love the movie because it is profoundly sad. There is very little upbeat or positive in the movie. Death. Abandonment. Fears of death and abandonment. Suicide. AIDS. Clare Danes. It is just sad and allows you to be sad if you want to be and - when the movie came out - I was sad and I wanted to be sad. I bought the score because a) I love Philip Glass and b) I like to listen to sad music when I'm sad. The score took on a whole new meaning when Joy and I started dating (I would put the CD on while we hung out at my apartment, read tabloid magazines, ate bad snacks and made out) and I listen to it now with a sense of that irony . . . but I still love the movie, the score and the idea that sometimes you are sad. And that is okay. The world is not always going to prove itself to be beautiful and happy and positive (like one of my other favorite movie, The Goonies, might have you believe).

2 - Can I Stay, Ray LaMontagne - Here's what I know about Ray LaMontagne. The man can sing. And write songs. That is all I know. I don't know who he is or what his life is like or if he's happy or sad or a republican or a democrat. I don't know where he sits on politics or religion. I just know that I like his music and this song is one of my favorites. It's a very pretty song about just wanting to spend the night with someone . . . and to see them in the morning.

3 - My Hero, Foo Fighters - Two words for ya . . . Varsity Blues. Five more words. "I don't want yer-liiihf!" When the movie came out in 1999 we all piled on the metro and went to see little Dawson grow up and play some football. My dreams, like Dawson's (or whatever his character in the movie is) of a life at Brown were still very much "real" to me. I never "played" football in high school (I was on the team in 8th grade but I wouldn't exactly say I "played") and I never got the idea of drinking and partying and wilding out as a teenager (I really was a goody two-shoes for much of my youth) but this movie made we want to go back and give the rest of it a run. Thankfully - that shipped had sailed. Luckily, I get the Foo Fighters song as a back up. And, in my mind, this song cues up every time I walk by a stranger in the mall. I'm kidding. I don't want to be anyone's hero.

4 - My Girls, Animal Collective - Here's what I can gather . . . Animal Collective fans are "cool". They work at law firms, but don't want to. They are artists, who work in graphic design to keep the lights on. They wear patch pants. They detest Starbucks - but their $4/cup "mom and pop" coffee shop of course is just fine. They are thinkers. They are movers. They are shakers. They may be recreational drug users. NO matter. I'm not an Animal Collective fan. I love the song My Girls though. And I love my girls. And I've been to Merriwether Post Pavilion. That must give me some "cred" in the Animal Collective community.

5 - Crack a Bottle, Eminem, Dr. Dre and 50 Cent - I'm mortified - MORTIFIED - to admit this but I am a fan of Eminem. NO matter how old, bald, husbandly and fatherly I get - makes me happy. I think it is because the world first met Slim Shady when Anything-but-Slim Sean was in his glory and Marshall Mathers just sort of spoke for both of us. I don't like what Eminem has to say about his mom or his ex-wife (wife again?) or women in general but I like that he is who he is and he's just plain fine with that. I have long since stopped drinking. I haven't smoked anything in years. I no longer enjoy bar hopping or partying in general. I hope to never return to any of the above behavoirs but I will always have my old Eminem CDs (and the new one) to remind me of all the fun I had when I was the man (child?) I was when Eminem spoke for both of us.

6 - Yellow, Jem - It wouldn't be a Sean mix if there wasn't some Coldplay on it (or something inspired by Coldplay) and this list is no exception. I'm usually not a fan of the remake - although my favorite "Please God Go To Sleep, Ava" lullaby CD is Rockabye Baby's Coldplay album (you can also get a Rockabye Baby album covering just about any artists you've ever liked - and hoped your kid would like too) - but this version of Yellow is just very pretty. I still don't know if I really understand what "yellow" means in the Coldplay context. I think it is meant to be cowardly and then I think it is meant to be peaceful and then I think it is meant to be just a placeholder for another word and then I think it is actually about being bathed in a shade of the color. Regardless - pretty song. The original and this remake.

7 - Just Dance, Lady GaGa - I know. This song is written for the club set and the pop music set. It is not meant for 32 year old heterosexual men. I know. I know. But you have to love a song that starts with the lyrics "On red wine" and then continues to talk about how you've lost your keys and your phone, you don't know where you are or what's going on and you are not entirely sure you are even in control of yourself but . . . life is going to be alright so long as the music stays good. It reminds me a bit of the life I lived before surgery. I was not sure how long it would last or what would ever come of me or if I had any real happiness ahead of me but - as long as I was dancing along and avoiding thinking about the reality that awaited me . . . it was all very "dancable".

8 - Last Words, The Real Tuesday Weld - Joy bought me Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist for part of my Valentine's Day gift. This is my favorite song of a soundtrack I really enjoy to a movie that I really enjoyed. I don't think this song has anything to do with anything in my life (past or present) but . . . a good song none the less. Sometimes - even for me - music is just about music.

9 - Let It Be, The Beatles - (NOTE - The Beatles are still not available on iTunes so the above link is to a live, McCartney-only version of the song). I would LOVE to pretend that I have an OUNCE of easy-going, come-what-may ease in my body. An ounce. Just one. I wish I could let anything just "go" or just sort of be in the moment and just understand that I will eventually see the wisdom and the benefit in every little thing that happens to me in the here-and-now. I do. I know other people around me (my wife, my co-workers, my friends, etc.) would love to see that change in my personality. I am not that guy though. Have never been. Might never be. Don't know if I want to be. I don't have to be. Paul and John are my zenful glib guys.

10 - I Keep Faith, Billy Bragg - Joy and I have often struggled with people getting "us". We are both very strong personalities. Ava is already showing herself to be even stronger than the two of us had ever dreamed she might be. Strong personalities have a tendancy to be . . . uh . . . misunderstood. People think that we are trying to be strong. Trying to influence or force other people to do our bidding or to follow our lead. Neither of us, from what I can tell, want to be "in charge" of others. We just want to be us. We want our shared life and, when appropriate, individual lives, to be on our terms and to our liking. We want people around us to respect that and to support that. We give people the same respect. We don't mind or criticize those that do things differently. We just want us to be us and to be happy in that. We're not afraid of the friction that comes out of that attitude. I think that is where the real stigma comes from - especially with me. Joy is, as I said, much more political than I am in her independence and positions. Anywho, this song makes me think of that attitude we share and how, on some days and moments, Joy has been the only person I felt was standing "by" me . . . even in those few occassions where even she thought I needed to just calm down and stop being so "me".

11 - Dusseldorf, Regina Spektor - No offense, Kansas, but I want to travel the world. And have fun doing it.

12 - Miss You, The Rolling Stones - I like the Rolling Stones and their take on missing people. I won't really dress it up or take it beyond that. There is something really "cool" in the way Mick and the boys lay out being alone and tortured over that.

13 - Love's Divine, Seal - When I waited on the altar/stage (we got married in a former church) for my lovely bride, I let Seal tell the story of how Joy and I both felt about each other - for as different as our previous lives and perspectives were - and the role love would have in our shared life moving forward. "Then the rainstorm came, over me. And I felt my spirit break. I had lost all of my, belief you see. And realized my mistake. But time threw a prayer, to me. And all around me became still." There are two versions of this song on Seal's greatest hits. The "original" version is great for happy times. The accoustic for sad. Choose your version accordingly.

14 - Less Than Strangers, Tracy Chapman - I take pause every year at about this time to think back to how crazy the months of January and February are in my life. So many things (good and bad) have happened in the "early months" of the year in the first 32 years of my life. NO more impactful than January and February of 2006. We found out about Ava in January. I got my IBM job in February. What happened around those months, and in the months to follow, really changed just about everything for me. I had a very dear friend that I lost in the transition of a new job, moving, preparing to become a dad and trying to really settle in to the life of a husband, father, provider. Three full years later I am still sad that I could lose 15 years of friendship in just a few months and only a handful of interactions. I did plenty of things wrong. I didn't do my part of being the best friend I can be. I only have myself to blame for my share in the fallout but - regardless - this song always makes me think about what happens when love goes away. It leaves you with very little to stay connected on.

15 - Forgiven, Alanis Morissette - I love this accoustic version of Forgiven. It is probably the most elegant "F you" letter I've ever seen written to a religious body - specifically the Catholic Church. She's not upset with God or with faith or with true belief - to be clear - she is okay with all of the above. It is the insititution she's not sure of. She's not sure of the way God is channeled through the church. The way hands are forced in the church. I share your discontent, Ms. Morissette.

16 - Friends in Low Places, Garth Brooks - I mean, really! How much fun is this song?! Not that any of my friends are associated with "low" places - most of them really do clean up quite nicely!

17 - Whatever, Gnarls Barkley - If you want to know what it is like to move from a life lived in the Northeast to Wichita and to take a job at an advertising agency where you are the stuck-out thumb that some people, even in an environment that both fosters and promotes indivudality and has lots over very smart and talented people who are all different and all brought together to intentionally create the "culture" of the agency, just didn't want to embrace only to - months and months later - see yourself fully embraced and "understood" and "welcomed" by the critics, the skeptics and the nay-sayers . . . take my word for the wonderful experience it can be. Or let Gnarls Barkley tell you how it felt. And how little I cared when I was not "fitting in" as well as I could have simply because I was (and is (are?)) me!

18 - Stuck With You, Huey Lewis and the News - This is to be clear to Joy. She sometimes wonders (or express concern - perhaps) that I am not 100% happy and fulfilled to be here in Wichita and in the life we are living. I guess all spouses worry about these things . . . I had doubts the whole time we were in Maryland and Connecticut (and somedays I worry here in Wichita too). Let me be clear . . . I am HAPPY to be "stuck" with you here, Pop Tart. You, me, Bids and the dog (why not) - as long as it is the four of us I don't care where we are or what we are doing. Okay! Okay!

19 - Comfortable, John Mayer - Not every song that I like is about my personal life or has any reference in my life. A good mix is not always about 100% "this song applies to me" so there is no reason to assume anything is wrong in the old Amore household when I am listening to a song about how unfortunate it is when you find your true love before you are ready for them. Truth is that I was not ready for my true love when I met her - but Joy's stayed patient with me ever since (insert gag here). Anyway - really well written song by a very talented (and polarizing (as noted by the eye rolls from the Mayer-haters out there reading this right now)) musician.

20 - She Loves Everybody, Chester French - You know what I was saying about Eminem? I feel the same exact way about Chester French. Not that they remind me of my youth but they have that energy in their music that I just enjoy . . . I'm sorry enough to admit it here but not nearly sorry enough to not listen to this song again and again and again. I can't WAIT for their CD.

21 - Someday (I Will Understand), Britney Spears - Yes. Correct. Britney Spears. On a Sean mix. It is true. I won't back down. Here is what happened . . . I was playing some music for Ava (Backyardigans, I think) on iTunes and we walked away for a few hours and came back and this song was playing and it reminded me of a mix CD I made for Joy when we were packing up to drive to Kansas for Ava's birth. Joy was finishing fimling on a movie she had been working on (long story) and I took a copy of the CD with me the for what was supposed to be a last childless weekend spent with my family. Long story short, I only stayed with my family for a few hours and I decided to head back to Bethel. It was a miserable afternoon (see #14 above) and I was left driving - tired, alone and in tears - for four hours when all I wanted was my wife to comfort me. I threw in the CD I had made her and this song came on and I just listened to it on repeat the whole way home. I understood. I got it. Thanks, Britney!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Love of a Child . . .

And how much do I love this little one too? And how much does she love Disney Princesses (third only to her Mother and Disney Fairies (in that order (smile))?

Joy and I got Ava some candy, a DVD, a CD and a few hundred stickers for Valentine's Day. That's the way to keep the little one happy (if not the appropriate way to show her you love her), right?! RIGHT!

She didn't care about anything else this morning - for the most part - because it was the card itself that really "got" her attention this year (although I don't think it was the sappy notes from Mommy and Daddy about how they are "completed" by her that made her love it so, I fear).

Happy Valentine's Day, Curly Gurly. Enjoy the card. May you always know the safety and security of love and may you share your presence, love and gifts with the world in a loving way. On - and may the the battery in your card die very, very soon (smile)!

Happy Valentine's Day, My Love . . .

Today is, of couse, Valentine's Day. We know this because Hallmark told us so! And Hallmark has been telling us so for about 1,000 years and they tell us just often enough that every man, woman and child in the world feels like today is the ONE day of the year that we must spend money - on red, pink, chocolate and floral things - to tell the one(s) that we love that we love them. Right? Right!

I'm a sucker to the holiday. My last name means love, for Chrissakes! I have to embrace the horror of the holiday.
I didn't always get the holiday though. I remember all too well being a (fat, pimply and overcompensatingly insecure) kind in high school. There was always some class or club that sold carnations outside of the hallway at lunch time. They were moderately priced. You could choose red, white or pink. They would go so far as to market that you could send the white to friends, pink to crushes and red to loves (like the average 14 year old really knows love (no offense, state of Kansas (they marry young here - for the unaware). I would always send one or two to someone - generally my beloved Melissa - and would never understand why that didn't leave me (or her) feeling any more fulfilled as a person.

It was then that I decided how "stupid" this holiday really was. I raged against it. I barely attended the Valentine's Day semi-formals for the rest of high school (groan) and I barely wolfed down the stacks of pink, heart-shaped pancakes that my mother made us every Valentine's Day (I mean a boy HAS to eat (a 3,000 calorie) breakfast before school). I went off to college convinced that I would personally destroy this "holiday" . . . and I tried damned hard.

My freshman year we had "lonely heart's night" on Dana, One West. Lots of champagne and an overpriced dinner. Sophomore year we repeated the fete on Dana, Two East. Lots of champagne, some rum and some cafeteria food. Junior year I took my friend Danielle on a sorta' date (we had Italian food and went to see a play at the Long Wharf theater). Senior year I took the train from DC to Quinnipiac to be with my friends (whom I loved and missed) and got caught up on all the drama I missed (I won't name names but there was a friend of mine that hooked up in the shower with a friend of a friend's (now) wife and the fallout with the mutual friend that was in love with the boy in the shower (lonnnng story)).

Needless to say - I softened my position on Valentine's Day quickly.

I realized that it was not about romantic "love" - it was about love. It was about taking one day a year to remind people that you love them. Something you SHOULD do the other 364 (365 on a leap year) but don't. I tried to take full advantage of the chance to show my friends that I loved them on Valentine's Day. What a disaster that is when you are filling your life with booze, food and depression meds.

Then - along came Valentine's Day 2004. I had been dating this "girl" - Joy - for about six months. I was madly in love. We were talking marriage already (had been for months) and I was sure that I would do anything I could to make this girl happy. And I had my first EVER "real" Valentine's Day (I'm not kidding - we ended the night with sex and everything (sorry to be so blunt, Mom). I realized that the real spirit of Valentine's Day was . . . again.

It was a chance for me to try - for one friggin' day - to not be an egocentric, self-loathing, blow hard bastard to the woman I loved and wanted to spend my life with. As if that one day would make up for the other 364 (65 on a leap year) days of me just being "me". And God LOVE Joy for loving me for "me".

It is hard for me to think back to those days. I would get winded walking up the stairs. I would shop online because I was too fat and tired to get her love trinkets on foot. I would make sure that the real focus of our celebration was dinner . . . and dessertS! It is weird to think how distracted I was by food. How much my life centered on food. How everyone else just sort of fit in around my food. I'm digressing - this post is about my forever love (not my former love).

Anywho - I've grown a lot over the years since our first Valentine's Day. I've changed. I'm a better man. I'm a more deserving man. I'm a man that is proud of himself. But I still enjoy this one day a year that I can look back at the other 364 days (I've made the extra day on a leap year clear by now, right?) of the year and thank her for standing by me and supporting me and loving me and challenging me and making my life as full and wonderful as it is.

If you don't know Joy - I mean really KNOW Joy - you wouldn't get it. You just wouldn't. But if you know Joy . . . if you are one of the lucky ones that has gotten even that first taste of the real, beautiful woman that lies inside the beautiful shell . . . you know exactly what I'm talking about here and you know - almost too well - how true it is when I say that I owe her this one day every year. And 364 more (yep, the leap year thing too).

It is that love for her - that sense of duty and responsibility - that allowed me to sit through He's Just Not That In To You just a few hours ago. Let me say again now (to get me through the next year) - I love you, wifey. And I would do anything to prove it . . . but no more Jennifer Aniston movies for a while, k?!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Quote of the Night . . .

"Daddy, I get in the f*&#ing bathtub and play with bubbles now?"

- Ava Grace Amore (2 1/2 years old)

I, Sean Christopher Amore, of improving physical health and questionable mental stability, hereby (re)dedicate myself to curbing and eventually ending my overly prolific use of any and all four-letter words that are not suitable for job interviews or toddler vocabularies.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Ava and Lily . . .

Ava isn't always accidentally tormenting Lily. Sometimes they like to just curl up on (seperate ends of) the couch and watch a little Noggin together. Domestic life (now officially "complete" with a dog in the mix) is so much different . . . and better than I used to think it might ever be!

Who Do You Want to Be Today . . .

I've rambled and rambled and rambled on and on and on here over the last 18 months. I've talked about weight loss. I've talked about forgiveness. I've talked about expectations. I've talked about defying expectations. I've talked about open wounds. I've talked about closed doors. I've talked about fears. I've talked about hopes. I've talked about The Biggest Loser . I've talked about me and my formerly loserish ways. The ONE thing that has tied most of this blog together is the idea of taking control of yourself. Ownership.

Deciding who you've been. Who you are. Who you are going to be. The differences between the three and the pros and cons.

The important part of the process, at least for me, was to wake up one day and decide who you are going to be and then making that work. For me it was about deciding to a lifetime of a different diet. To finally tackling a life time of mental doubts and self-insecurities and dancing crazies in my head. It was about saying I am a father and a husband and a son and an uncle and a friend and a co-worker but - first and foremost, I am me.

We had the pleasure of spending some time with Joy's cousin, Airelle, yesterday. Airelle is, like most of the Joy's family, a sweet and quiet and reserved young woman (no, seriously, they don't really age like the Amores . . . Ava's great, great grandma on Joy's maternal side is kicking around New Orleans as we type/read). I've known Airelle since the first time I visited Kansas. I don't profess to know a ton about her but I thought I knew a few things about who she is - or rather who she was not.

I was not correct in my assumptions and in my deductions about Airelle. It turns out, much to just about everyone's surprise (from what I can gather) that Airelle is a singer. And a pretty darned good one at that. Yep. Airelle, who politely chats with you but is far from the loudest and most obnoxious person in the room (especially if I am there (smile)) is a performer who wants to entertain and share her musical gifts. She is not only a singer but she writes her own music. She scribes her own lyrics. She tried out for American Idol. With 10,000 other people. She was willing to sing on national television. I had NO idea!

And here's the rub that got me really happy for Airelle and excited about the idea of tapping in to your hidden potential and defying the assumers and the nay-sayers out there. She just started singing a few months ago. I'm sure she has probably sung in the car or in the shower before. I'd bet that she might go a little crazy with friends when "I'm Here for the Party" comes on the jukebox. She's not "trained" though. She hasn't been in vocal lessons for 20 years. And - for the lyrics and music writing - she's never been taught. She wasn't one of those kids that scribbled poems in a journal for her teenaged years or would just ramble on in prose for anyone who would listen.

Nope. As far as I can tell, Airelle just sort of woke up one morning and - perhaps sick of something in her life (that was there or that was missing/nagging) or otherwise searching for a way to expand and extend who she was - just started singing. And I, for one, am glad that she did. I don't know how to describe her music but I like it and I like the idea of it.

It was fun to watch Airelle dance and sing along with her songs on her MySpace page and to see how happy it made her to talk about getting ready to "gig" and looking for a new bass player as her curent bassist is "in true rock star form" in rehab and how she and her producer met by accident and just sort of hit it off.
It was even more fun to see the pride that Joy's Aunt Melinda and Uncle Bill (Airelle's parents) had as their daughter's music played from our computer speakers and Ava danced to the music. It made me think about my own daughter and what surprises might be inside her (on top of the 1,000s of surprises we discover almost daily).

I don't know who you will wake up to be tomorrow, Airelle. I can only hope adjectives like famous, fulfilled, proud, happy and rich (why note?0 describe you. In the meantime, thanks for sharing your voice with me and reminding me that I didn't just have my weight as something I could wake up one day and decide to change about myself. I can wake up every morning and change one thing. For the rest of my life.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Dinner with the Koskies . . .

We had the Koskies in for dinner last night.

It was my FIRST (of 25) promised meals I made for people other than Joy and Ava in 2009.

I think we had a good meal. I made some guacamole (and by "made" I mean cut the corner of the pouch it came in) and chips for our appetizer. Brandi, Shelton and Joy had big spinach, chicken breast, Texas caviar and cheese salads with homemade (I really did make them) croutons and spicy ranch dressing.

Ava had a "ghetto-dilla" (a tortilla and cheese, microwaved) that she was kind enough to share with Brandi (fair is fair - Brandi shared her beer with Ava - kidding).

I had chicken breast, Texas caviar and some cheese.

For dessert I made a "Angels Foster" . . . some cubed angel food cake, sliced bananas, cinnamon, whipped cream and caramel sauce for everyone and I Ava and I enjoyed a sugar-free jello while I attempted to help get Ava to sleep (it took over two hours last night to get her to give in to the sleepies).

As with any time we get together with the Koskies we discussed obesity (they might actually be the most obesity-informed and empathetic skinny people I've ever met (smile)) and we discussed The Biggest Loser too. We talked about people, like Joelle, who are overweight but don't seem aware or don't seem ready to really do anything about it and the people who empower and enable them and the fine line being loving someone for who they are and loving them enough to encourage them to improve on themselves. A delicate dance that my beautiful wife could teach classes in.

Ava put on a fashion show (she was Fancy Nancy the Burger King in the picture above). We laughed at YouTube videos and talked about life at my job (Brandi worked at my agency years ago and still stays in touch with people htere) and about Shelton's job search and just had a great time.

We are super excited for Brandi and Shelton. Even with everything going on in the world, they are positive and upbeat and are still 100% focused on becoming parents. They are going to start their IVF in June. Here is a sales pitch that I hope won't embarass them too much . . please check out their funny and heartwarming and very-informed/informative blog and consider donating to their cause! The Koskies are going to make AMAZING parents . . . and you can take part of the credit for that if you do (smile)!

Thanks for coming over, Brandi and Shelton. We look forward to having you over again soon.

See, I DO Excercise . . .

Here I am taking the girls for a stroll in the neighborhood! We must have gone walking for a good 30 minutes. That should fulfill my quota for the week, right?! Okay, maybe not!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Party Like It's 1984 . . .

Forget 1999 - Ava is taking it back 25 years this spring with her 80s inspired "glam" looks.

My parachute pants and Z. Cavaricci jeans are on order! Just kidding!

Another Anniversary . . .

I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that today is February 7th. Another year of improved life. Another year of "making it". Another year of believing tomorrow will be better than today. Where does the time go!?!

Friday, February 6, 2009

David After Dentist . . .

Seriously?! How funny is THIS?!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

JOELLE (and Carla) . . .

I finally watched the Biggest Loser. What an episode. And not in a good way.

Here's my thing about Joelle. I am not "sad" that she's gone. I didn't really like her on the show and she was bad for the general morale of the house and I don't think she was really ready to be on a show that forced her to live in front of cameras and to compete and to have her every move up for review by the whole world.

She just wasn't. Weight loss is not about "Here's my chance." It can seem that way but - long term - it won't last (just ask anyone that has ever dieted for someone other than themselves or who dieted to reach a short term goal (like looking dead-sexay at the class reunion). It is about "I'm ready for my chance and here it is."

For the pink team (for the record - the tears and cheers of a mothers pride as Shanon carried Sione across the gym floor got me misty - Yes, you "can do it" Shanon . . . you can carry a man on your back (smile)). . . they are ready. The purple team is really ready. I'm straight up psyched about the blue team and what they are doing on the ranch (and at home). I'm even sorta' happy for the black team (as much as I don't like Blaine and as confused as I am about Dane (are wifey and I the only people who've noticed that Dane never speaks. EVER. They don't interview him. They don't ask him questions on the scale. He doesn't talk in groups. Hmmmm.).

Anywho - I'm digressing. Joelle was not ready. She just wasn't. It was very telling that Carla confronted her that "she" got Joelle on the show and "she" was the driving force and that "she" chose to go home so Joelle could stay (a sign that Carla did not trust Joelle on her own (and what a disaster that could have been if she went home when the couples were split, huh?).

Here's the thing, Carla. For as much as I enjoyed you and think you are a dynamic persona and as much as I wish you had stuck around with your swaggart and your charms - you should have known you could not "make" Joelle do or want anything because you wanted it. That is the nature of friendship though. The nature of loving someone in general. You seem to think that what you want for them should be what they want and the potential you see in them should be what they see in them.

But it's not that simple. Joy could tell you that about me (the lack of general confidence and self believe ran (runs?) deep with this one) and anyone who's ever had a "simpatico" friend - especially those of us who have been on the heavy side of obesity with heavy friends - can atest that sometimes it is easier to just maintain the status quo together and to point to the rest of the world as the problem or the issue than to figure out what it is inside of you/them that drives you to obesity and food and so on.

To be clear. I think Joelle has probably had a life time of self doubt, disappointment and I would dare suggest abuse (mental, verbal, physical - who knows) in her life. I think that is why she's heavy (self protection) and I think that is why she failed on the show.

I should clarify here that I am not a mental health professional (but I do play one on my blog) but I just could not help but notice how "divorced" she seemed to be from herself for most of the time we shared with Joelle on the ranch. She never really made eye contact with anyone. She never really answered a question. Being questioned/challenged lead her to shut down. She spouted off things like "I am willing and alive with hope" (or whatever) that sounded like babble from the self-help books on the nightstands of Americans everywhere (including my side of the bed at home (smile)). Even when directly confronted - TWICE - by her dear friend Carla . . . she just sort of stood there (she pushed back in the gym, I guess).

The "reunion" of the two in the closing moments of the show were the hardest for me to take, I guess. Carla tried to be upbeat. She paid Joelle a compliment. Joelle inflated the compliment and then refused to return one and the minute Carla challenged her, true to form, Joelle shut down and walked out. It could make for interesting reunion/finale fodder but - for now - it is just plain sad.

It was not your time, Joelle. You were not ready for it to be your time.

I hope Joelle gets some help for whatever has happened to (or continues to) her and to figure out how to get the monkey off her back so she can be a better friend to Carla and, more importantly, a better friend to herself. I hope she loses weight before the finale as a first step to a life time of weight loss and better health. Physical and mental.

OH - and I hope the brown team has a breakthrough or they are going home for sure next week. They are out of protection at this point.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Do Not Eat . . .

We got some beef jerky for the trip to Topeka yesterday.

Always a fan favorite and, in my opinion, the "ultimate road trip food" jerky - as long as it is not flavored (and, really, who wants their jerky flavored anyway?) and sugared up accordingly - is also one of the few gas station snacks we can eat (in moderation (smile)) following gastric bypass surgery.

I was just unpacking from the trip and I found the remnants of the jerky and I noticed there is a pack of preservatives in the bag that is marked with large, obvious warnings that I should NOT eat the preservatives. For any reason.

Really though? Do you need to tell me not to eat the preservative pack? And NOT warn me to not eat the plastic packaging itself?

Thanks for the delicious snack AND the heads up, Jack Link!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Another Year, Another Annual Dinner . . .

We made the annual pilgrimage to Topeka tonight for the Kansas Chamber of Commerce's 2009 Annual Dinner last night. Much like last year, we rented a van. Loaded a cooler. Grab some co-workers. Filled the tank and headed up 35.

A few differences this year. We took clients with us. The weather didn't make the drive home life threatening. OH - and we actually had a good time.

Yeah. True story. I was a little slow to load the van after George Will's blood pressure spiking diatribe last February but . . . much to my surprise . . . Tucker Carlson was actually HILARIOUS (my bow tie, by the way, was an homage to Mr. Carlson (who wore a long tie to spite me)) and engaging and self (politically) deprecating and very nice to chat with too. We had VIP passes so I had a photo taken with him before the event started.

I really enjoyed the trip and my dinner with the Governor (okay, she was in the room with us - not at my table . . . but still) and getting to know a few of our clients a little better. The open bar closed way too early for my co-worker Jennifer's (pictured with me above) comfort (smile). The crab cakes looked suspect. The crowd talked all through the Governor's remarks (a little awkward but . . . politics are politics, I guess). The steak was delicious. The keynote was great. The awards presentation was impressive. The night was brisk and fun.

I got in to a long chat about gastric bypass on the ride home and discovered that one of my co-workers has one sister that has had GB and another who is about to have the procedure. I also got to prattle on about my blog and some of my feelings on life after surgery as well as the IMPORTANCE of mental health and mental readiness for aspects of life after surgery (something you know I'm passionate about). I also listened (a little) and learned a little more about weight loss surgery options here in Wichita (something I've long been curious about).

I can't wait for next year's dinner!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Ugly Hooters . . .

DJ, Stephanie and Lexy invited us to their Super Bowl party yesterday. We went and had a great time (it was nice to spend the evening with family and to celebrate Dad Terry's 55th birthday). I don't care about sports but I know that Super Bowls - like Thanksgiving - is mainly about food so I knew I would be okay. I planned to have a little fun with my eating but I was not expecting, when we loaded in to the car yesterday to head over that way, how wrong the evening would go for me.

I got there and fell in love with the huge container of 50 Hooters wings that was in the middle of the table full of food.

In the two hours I we were at the party, I ate nine wings. NINE of them. It was, unquestionably, the most absurdly over-the-top eating I've done since my surgery almost two years ago.

I knew I would regret looking at the nutrtional information for my indulgence. I did not expect to regret it this much. Nearly 1,800 calories (well more than the calories I get in the typical full day) and 125 GRAMS OF FAT.

Anyone who reads my blog and thinks I am full of crap or that I can't possibly have the discipline I claim to have or to take my life after surgery as seriously as I say I do should know this . . . I know that I can occassionally indulge and "treat" myself. I know that one evening of junk food does not 260 pounds regain. I am aware that I don't need to beat myself up over this. I'm also aware that - for me - food is very slippery slope that I can't risk falling down.

Because of that . . . NO more Hooters. Never again. I mean "never" . . . as in not for at least another year.