Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Fragile Human Experience . . .

I won't get in to my personal politics too much here (let's just assume I am pro-choice in just about any debate over a right-to or right-not-to choose) but something absolutely crazy happened this morning here in my beloved Wichi-Wichi.

There is this doctor, George Tiller, who has an abortion clinic.  Yes.  In Kansas.  I know, I know.  And - as you might imagine - people here have very strong feelings about this gentleman and his profession.  He was recently on trial for performing unethical late-term abortions and, if the average Kansan is against all abortions assume a slightly higher percentage is against late term.  

Anywho, he was acquitted.  The court (and a jury of his Kansas PEERS) decided that he had done no wrong.  He could go back to doing what he did (performing what he believed was a service to safeguard the quality of life for the women he treated) but the YEARS since he was first accused of wrongdoing and his recent acquittal had been tense to say the least.

A billboard on Kellogg (one of the busiest bi-ways in town) said that "No One Was Above the Law" and threatened that "God Was Watching" and that "You Too Shall be Judged" and every board mentioned Tiller by name.  Protestors would go to his church (yes, the man was comfortable enough in himself that he would worship in a Christian church (gasp went the bible thumpers)).  Pictures of aborted fetuses in tow.  Families, with young children, just trying to love the Lord were exposed to their anti-Tiller propaganda and acts of protest.

Then, today, it went alllllllll wrong.  The man was SHOT and KILLED.  In the parking lot of his CHURCH!  It is true!  Rub your eyes.  Shake your head.  Let it sink in.

Someone was sooooo sure that their God was upset with Dr. Tiller's actions that they got their gun off the rack in the back of their truck (let's just make some assumptions here, people) and kissed Ma goodbye this morning and sped on down to the Lutheran church to get-em some justice.  Yep.  This jerggov actually thought that killing Tiller was OKAY.  And doing it in a church parking lot, before services, with kids and families everywhere was just fine too.

Hmmmmm.  Two wrongs don't make a right?  I read that in the bible Mrs. VanSlyke pounded against my head as a teenager.  Thou shall not kill?  I read that in a courthouse in Georgia (and in about half of all John Grisham novels).  No man shall pass judgement on another for only the Lord has that right?  Okay, I made that one up but some of you biblical scholars could probably connect that dot for me in a pinch so - we'll go for it.  

Here it is, people.  Just LIVE YOUR LIVES!  Don't worry about other people.  Focus on you.  Your spouse.  Your kids.  Your job.  Your lawn.  Your stamp collection.  Worry about your drive to work and what you're going to have for dinner.  Ponder your favorite color and why ground bison is so damned tasty.  

I can't understand why people need to get involved in this.  If he broke a law - let the court deal with him (which it did, finding he did not).  If he is doing something terrible and against God's will (snicker, snicker) let GOD take care of him with a trip down below for all eternity.  If you think you have the moral high ground to right his perceived wrong(s), take it up through the appropriate channels.

We all deal with this.  Every day (clearly to a less extent).  People who just have to have an opinion on what you do and how you do it.  They judge your shoes or your car.  They think your parenting could be stronger.  They think your blog has too many typos and you are too defensive about fat jokes and sizism.  

It really is not that far of a jump from here to there.  It is a slippery slope, more importantly.

How about this?  Let's just all live our own damned lives.  Let's go to church on a Sunday or make peanut butter-banana quesadillas for your wife and daughter while they play princess and castle and not worry about who else is doing what. 

Let's not worry about anything but our own STUFF!  Unless you see someone who is truly in harm's way and help them out (chase that bear away when you are camping and the guy in the next tent over starts screaming, if you want) and unless you are asked for help in some way (you can give that homeless guy some money, if you want) and until you are actually but on a jury or asked to sit on the bench in the black robe . . . just mind your own business.

We would ALL be happier, I promise.  And the world will be a little safer for those people who do just want to live their life, go to church on a Sunday morning and not have to explain to their kids why the guy across the parking lot is DEAD.

Coming Out of the Closet . . .

No. Put the phone down. I do not owe you $20, Tom Kelly (you see we have this bet where I thought he was . . . and he thought I was and . . . well . . . nevermind). I wanted to share one of the more odd pieces of "fan" e-mail I've recieved since I started the blog with you. And then honor Weirdo McGee's request anyway (I'm trying to make this blog a little more interesting and dynamic). I HOPE the guy is messing with me and/or that he has a good sense of humor as I mess with him here.

Without further delay - here's the note . . .

Sean -

Thanks for the great blog. I tripped in to it a few weeks ago (I am considering having gastric bypass surgery and was looking for information) and I've read every one of the hundreds of posts in just the few short days since. I really admire your honesty and your wife (Editor's Note - I told you this note was weird).

One question. You seem like quite the clothes horse. What does your closet look like? Do you find it thrilling to shop for clothes now? One of the main reasons I want the surgery is so I can buy better clothes. And maybe get a wife like yours once I dress better. (Editor's Note - Seriously?)

Can you talk about clothes and shopping on your blog? Pretty please?

- Name Withheld

Here's my only real response . . .

Dear Name Withheld -

Let me answer your questions in reverse order.

1 - Yes. It is MUCH more enjoyable (I don't know about "thrilling" to shop now than it was 300 pounds ago. I can go to more than just the Big & Tall stores. I can actually find things on sale. I can try things on. I can (but don't) expand my universe of "personal style" (Khakis-fo-life, suhhhn!). I can use regular sized clothes hangars. All that being said, I still buy about 90% of my stuff at JCPenney and/or the sales racks at other stores so . . .

2 - I have a moderately sized walk in closet that houses a majority of my clothes and a chest of drawers directly outside of my closet that houses the rest. I keep my jackets and coats in the coat closet off our main living room. I keep my running shoes in the basement (the laundry room, specifically).

Here is my chest of drawers. Wifey picked it out and bought them (she has a matching one) while I was still sofa-surfing in Connecticut. The candles and picture are Joy's touches. The frog bowl was a gift from my friend Melissa many years ago. It is one of like three things I still own from my DC apartment. I love it!
The top drawer is all socks (I have 64 pair (I am a little OCD about my belongings so, yes, I know exactly how many socks I own). You would also find a box of pushpins and a knife cutter in my top drawer too. Not sure why.
The second drawer is undies and undershirts. I won't elaborate on either of those things. That's just icky.

The third drawer is my collection of pocket and graphic t-shirts. I have 17 pocket tees and seven graphic tees (three from my agency, one from Indian of Wichita (it was a gift from a new biz pitch), one with Kansas Jayhawk stuff on it and one honoring my alma mater, Quinnipiac) and one from a ground beef promotion.
The bottom two drawers are sweaters. My "work" sweaters are in the fourth drawer and my "weekend/personal" sweaters in the bottom drawer.
My closet is equally boring, I promise.

I keep my work pants, weekend pants, colored pants, sweatpants, sleep pants, sleep shorts and and the suit I wore the day Joy and I got married and the khakis I was wearing the day of my surgery on the bottom bar. They are all organized in sections. I own nine pairs of khakis. Six fit me. Three are too big but I love them too much to get rid of them. My orange cords, pink chinos and baby blue chinos are all there too.

The higher bar is filled with my suits, my sportscoats, my dress shirts, my long sleeved button downs, my short sleeved button downs, my golf shirs, my sweatshirts and my rugby shirts. Each of those categories is organized in ROY G. BIV order with white on the left and black on the right. I own 19 dress shirts (that fit me - I have five more that are too big but that I love). I own 11 long sleeved button downs, seven golf shirts, six short sleeved button downs, four sweatshirts (one from Brown, one from Cornell, one from Quinnipiac and one from Wichita State) and two rugby shirts.
You can see my ironing board there on the left behind my dream and focus boards (don't ask but it is part of my whole "I'm going to better myself by surrounding myself with positive thoughts and energy." It actually works, believe it or not. I keep my boards in my closet because I get dressed and undressed in there (yep - my NAKED TIME happens in there) and that is when I try to recharge my thinking. I have a full sized mirror in there. You can't see it but I have a tie rack where my 57 ties all hang - color ordered pink to black. My two bow ties are at the very end. On top of the tie rack is the painting I did the night I met Joy (the second of three things I still have from my life DC apartment), a picture of Ava from her first Mother's Day, a belt buckle and coin from Joy's Grandpa Terry's estate, an old wallet full of almost all the Chinese Fortune Cookie Fortunes I have receieved since graduating from college (hundreds of them to say the least) and my collar stays. And 47 cents. Not sure how that got there.
Along the top of my closet is my shoe shelf. The pair of sneakers Ava wore the day she learned to walk are on the far left. My flip flops are next to those. Then my sandals, my aqua shoes, my three pair of sneakers, my four pair of casual shoes, my three pair of black dress shoes, an empty space where my driving mocassins should be (may they rest in peace) and my four pair of dress brown shoes fill the rest of the shelf (it runs almost the entire way around the closet).
I keep my laundry in a basket on the floor next to my sleeping shorts (you can see it in the picture above) and I keep my spare hangars adn the hangars of clothes in the laundry near my rugby shirts (you can see them too in the picture).

That's it, Name Withheld. A tour of my closet (and chest of drawers).

Good luck with considering surgery. I hope you make the decision that is truly right for YOU and that makes YOU happy. Surgery is not for everyone and - if I can put on my Shrink's Hat I would argue that the surgery will not make you happy or fashionable on its own and it probably won't automatically net you a wife like mine either (she is amazing but she was with me long before my surgery so I can't really attribute that win to my GB either).
And for the rest of you - feel free to send ALL your crazy questions, thoughts and comments to me at I will happily give you the best response I can compose in short order.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

It MUST Be Summer in WIchita . . .

It is in the 90s today. 93, to be exact. Hot. Very hot. Swamp-crotch hot! I'm not digging it one little bit. The bidds? She's LOVING it. We hit the fountains in Old Town this afternoon and she whooped it up with some fellow kids in heat-beat mode.

I sat and watched Ava play in the water and realized that there is something magical about being a child. I won't turn this in to a love request on the Delilah show about how the mystery of God's love shines in their eyes (or whatever) but - let's be honest.

Save for Johnny Knoxvillle and his band of merry Jackasses, there is not a person in the world over the age of about 12 that would run around (SOBER), in public, in nothing but a bathing suit and CROCS jumping in and out of water fountains and screaming in delight as the jets pop up in their face. Hair all damp (but not really wet). The wet concrete downright slippery. The people walking by stopping to watch just long enough to remark how crazy it is that kids will run around in public like that.

Ava played for about 45 minutes in the water. She shared her beachball. She squealed and laughed and chased. She introduced herself to other kids and she had a grand, grand, unabashedly good time. I sat - 20 feet away - snapping pictures and keeping my short-wearning legs strategically crossed to block the horror that is my left calf from the women and children that were walking about.

At least I was wearing shorts, I guess. That speaks to my lowering level of self-loathing (in terms of my appearance (smile)).

I hope that Ava spends the next 30 straight summers running in those fountains (if not swimming in the many, many pools of Wichita or wherever she's living by 30 years from now) and I hope she never loses the freedom of unabashed, unashamed joy that allows her to just have fun like that in a public place.

She can and SHOULD lose the Crocs though. Sooner than later, frankly (smile)!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Running Away with Exercise . . .

"Take off your shoes, roll your pant legs half way up your calves and walk that way," he said pointing.

I didn't ask questions.  He didn't seem like the type that really wanted the fat man who dared to venture in to the leading running outfitter in Wichita to push back in any way.

I took off my shoes.  I rolled my pants.  I strutted my stuff.

"That's enough," he said.  "Come back to me."

I did.

"What size do you think you wear?," he inquired.  (This is how I knew I was out of my element and it was obvious - he was giving me a "what do you 'think' you are here for vibe)

"12, I think," I thought aloud.

He came back with a stack of running shoes (don't call them sneakers).  I hated the first pair.  Tight.  Metallic blue accents, weird tongues, those super round laces that don't stay tied.  I said nothing.  Put them on.  Walked it out.  Told him they felt "tight" - he looked at me with the appropriate amount of annoyance (the fat man WAS giving him some pushback, huh?) and said - they should be tight through the arches and at the heel - you need one thumb of room in the toe.  Told me to tap my heels.  Measured.  Sure enough, one thumb.  At LEAST I knew my shoe size.

Three pairs later I had what he thought was my "winner."  I told him about the running magazine I had picked up and that they had told me to get a totally different sneaker - er SHOE, RUNNING SHOE - one they had on the wall.  I clarified that I was a bigger runner and that I needed it because . . . 

"They don't know your stride style," he interrupted.  "And why do you keep calling yourself 'heavy' and 'bigger'?  Have you recently gained some weight?"

"No, I don't think so, I mean . . . I don't think I've lost any lately but," I stammered.  "Actually I've lost about 300 pounds in the last two and a half years.  I'm down to 230 - which makes me obese and heavy accordingly (I smugly pointed out for some stupid reason) and I want to get down to 199 by late November.  I have recently started exercising (I've either walked, run or both 13 of the last 22 days (I personal record, for sure - and one he didn't really seem all that impressed with) and I, for some reason, am 'drawn' to running.  I feel like I have to try it and embrace it.  To feel light and fast and thin.  To try to be light, fast and thin.  It makes me feel mellow and calmer and I don't mind it as much as I was sure I would."

"Yeaaaaahhhhh," he mellowly uttered.  I noticed his physique for the first time.  This guy was clearly a runner - very trim, long, lean muscles, tanned face, neck and forearms, Popeye legs, Nike watch, etc.  "That's what I'm talking about.  The WORLD would be a better place if everyone just ran for 15 minutes once a week - forget more consistently.  Good luck with that - let us know if you want to join a running club, we can get you set up with other beginners."

I unrolled my pants, put my real shoes back on, had him write down the specifics on the shoes (I'm getting the lingo) he suggested I buy (Wifey is going to get me some kicks for my birthday/Father's Day, I have been told) and thanked him for the words of encouragement and the help.

Then I went home and obsessed over the Asics GEL-Cumulus 10.  I dreamed of them and how great they will look when I take my first outdoor run in them last night.  I've priced them out on 15 different web sites (but, truthfully I am going to have Joy buy them from the store in Old Town because I want to a) support the local business and b) give the guy a nod for the support he showed me).  They are about $40 cheaper than the shoes I was going to buy and the colors are much more in line with my personal preferences anyway (yes, I DO care what my running shoes look like when appearing inches below my shorts or pants). 

I officially have a problem - I am getting EXCITED about working out.  I am running away with it . . . or it is running away with me.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Grizzly Bear . . .

I downloaded the new Grizzly Bear album this evening.  

Here is how I know my sense of "music" has evolved over the years and my "interests" in things has changed . . . I love it because it doesn't make me want to "do" anything - except blog, apparently.

Long gone are the days when music I liked made me want to dance, drink, eat, celebrate, mourn, talk, walk, let my drawers droop, turn my hat backwards, wear preppy clothes (not that my tunes inspire my fashion), drink a foh-tay, uh, inhale deeply and hold my breath or try to apprehensively cuddle up to the cutest woman in the room or try to put my sweet, sweet seductive moves on Wifey (get some Maxwell if you want to really understand the early days and months of Joy and I's awkward, awkward intimacy - again, sorry ladies, I'm taken).

Nope.  I'm no longer influenced.  Sure I would RATHER have something upbeat and spirited while I'm trying to walk and run my way to a skinnier, healthier me but I don't really look at music as anything beyond sounds to fill my ears (except when I'm putting together a playmix for Ava at which point I try to keep the profanities to a minimum and the sing-a-longability to a maximum).

The new Grizzly Bear album might not show up on any of Ava's mixes any time soon (she's much more in to Boots, Backyardigans, the creatures of Yo Gabba Gabba as her "musical artists named for creatures" tastes go anyway) and they probably won't show up on my treadmill mix any time soon either BUT they made me want to type a blog post.  Something I haven't really "felt" like doing in about a month.

Thanks for giving me something mellow to type to, boys. 

Monday, May 18, 2009

Music in Your Ear . . .

With eleven out of thirteen days of exercising behind me (and hundreds of days ahead (ahem)) many of you must be wondering - with only a certain number of episodes of Fringe to watch - what is keeping me on the treadmill. Well - this will shock no one but it is MUSIC.

Here's what I'm listening to right now . . .

Everything I Own, Bread - As Bruce Cohn will tell you - there is no "Greatest Hits" of "Best of" for Bread.  There is only the "Anthology of Bread" and it is quite the album.  I was temped to go with Guitar Man for this mix but - I've got love in my heart lately.  Much love.  For my girls.

Kiss The Girl, Samuel E. Wright - Ava loves The Little Mermaid.  I love that the song, at 2:44 in length, is during my ramp up/walking time and not something I have to run to.

Praise You, Fatboy Slim - In the fall of 1998 you could bet on three things.  One - I was eating too much.  Two - I was at work or in graduate school 17 hours a day and on the Metro almost another hour.  Three - I was either drunk or getting drunk the rest of the time.  Add Josh, Christy and Casey in to the mix and we were probably listening to Fatboy Slim. Ah - the irony of the name.  The magic of this moment in pop music.  The lasting value of saying positive stuff about people "like I should."

Itsy Bitsy Spider, Dora the Explorer - The old cliche is "When in Rome."  The meaning of it is "When your nearly three year old dominates your taste in music."  I can't help it.  I actually find this song to be catchy (a little English, a little Espanol, a little intrigue) and I like Laurie Berkner too.  I chose NOT to defend myself. 

A Matter of Trust, Billy Joel - Billy Joel, like the Steve Miller Band, the Beatles and marijuana is one of those things that I didn't get in to until college.  Not sure why.  I had plenty of high school friends that liked him and the idea of a man with pop music coming out of his piano was no stranger to me (I've loved Elton John since long before my first run in with illegal drugs).  This particular song is one of my absolute favorites.  I feel like I'm going to live a long, healthy and wonderful life.  I have not always felt that way.  I have not always believed that to be true.  Now I trust in my beliefs.  I trust that it is okay to hope, dream and want.  It is a matter of trust.  Thanks, Billy.  

My Love, Justin Timberlake f/ T.I. & Timbaland -  Joy loves Justin Timberlake.  She's loved him since his boy band days.  She'll probably always love him.  I'm okay with that.  She has affection (and perhaps some lust) for many men in this world.  Luckily none of them deliver milk to our house (or provide any services at our home) and luckily I believe that it is okay to be obsessed with a pop star without it threatening your marriage.  I don't like much of "JT's" (as we seem to call him around the house) nearly as much as Joy does but this particular song is catching.  It probably helps that Timbaland is behind it (I do love me some Timbaland) and it DOES help that, at one point, T.I. says "They call me candle guy, simply because I am on fire."  A giggle in the middle of my workout?  Yes please.  

What I Got, Sublime - During "May Weekend" (which always fell in April, confusingly enough) in the spring of 1997, we were juniors at Quinnipiac.  Only Bruce and Jorge were of age.  We didn't care.  No one did.  It was May Weekend.  We got a keg.  JUST for those of us that lived in our apartment.  We drank and drank and drank.  For like four straight days.  In that time I professed my love to four different women (that I can remember - at least two of whom were my friends girlfriends (or would eventually become girlfriends)), passed out at three parties (that I can remember - one of which was in our own apartment), brought two girls back to my room (only one of which turned in to a scandal (I love you, Wifey) and only really listened to ONE song.  We sobered up to the made-for-TV remake of The Shining with Rebecca Demornay and the guy from Wings and the song "Silver and Gold" sang by a kid that lived across the hall.  Hey?!  What can I say?  Overly vivid memories of random moments in time.  It's What I Got!

Young Friend, Brooke Waggoner - There are people in your life that you outgrow and there are people who outgrow you.  Brooke seems to have good perspective on that.  Thanks, Brooke, for putting it in perspective.  

Bohemian Rhapsody, The Braids -  A retake on a classic that has its own values.  It is NOT Queen.  It is not even close.  It doesn't aim to be.  It is what it is.  I remember this song because my Grandma Coyle (my last grandparent) died from that miserable bitch-that-is cancer in the fall of 1997.  We had her funeral on Halloween day.  I did not have a car so I flew to see Grandma one last time and then I flew to and from her funeral.  I was not ready, emotionally, to have no grandparents left.  It was really hard on me.  In hindsight, it was not so terrible (she was very sick, she had been without her husband for nearly 20 years, etc.) and - seeing my wife lose her grandfathers a full decade plus later - I realized there is NO good time to lose a grandparent.  Anywho - I borrowed a friends portable CD player (yep, we're going way back to the time before iPods here) and I flew home with a bouquet of white roses from Grandma's funeral in my lap and this song playing in my ears.  This song still reminds me of how wonderful it was to be with my entire family that week (I never really spent much time with aunts, uncles or cousins as a kid and - with college graduation approaching I knew my time with my brothers and parents was about to go get dicey too) and how wonderful it is to know that SOMETHINGS really matter.  Toooooooo meeeeeeeee.

Dancing Machine, Jackson 5 - Just give the man (or the boy he once was) some love.  Michael Jackson knew how to dance, sing and make great music.   He probably still does.  I will not defend him if he did the things he was accused of doing (clearly two wrongs don't make many rights) but - in the spirit of this here blog - he didn't have a normal childhood and his adulthood, frankly, seems less than idyllic.  The LEAST we can do is enjoy the music that his life got screwed up over and make that sacrifice worth something.  The positives.  The second chances.  The perspective.  That's what the journey is all about, right?

The Middle, Jimmy Eat World - Okay.  This song? I'm ashamed of this song.  I will sweat to it though.  It is good for that.  

Relax. Take It Easy, Mika - I downloaded Mika's CD the day I got home from surgery.  When I first returned to work I would stay late, change my clothes and walk the "tunnels" at IBM while listening to my iPod.  I was still +450 pounds at this time.  Sweating.  Stairs were my enemy still.  Hating moving.  Wondering how long it would take before I felt better.  This album was my friend during that period.  This song reminded me to just - uh - relax.  And - uh - take it easy.  My Interpretation and Happy Ending are my other favorites on the CD.  Totally worth the $2.97 for those thinking about splurging on the iTunes account.

Crimson and Clover, Prince (no link - you can only get this song on his new 3-CD album at Target) -  The man can do no wrong.  He writes for other people.  He does his own stuff.  He covers great songs.  I once heard a joke about Prince (that I retold to Joy just yesterday).  It goes like this . . . "What's the worst part about being one of Prince's girlfriend/muses?  Knowing you will never be as skinny or pretty as Prince."  You have to know the women Prince has spent time with to get that joke (let's just say that they are all very thin and very beautiful).  I might never be as skinny as Prince but I know that, based on my FAVORITE of his women (the wonderful Rosie Gaines), Prince is more about the talent than size anyway.  Speaking of Rosie - check out Prince's version of Nothing Compares 2 U (yes, he wrote it for Sinead O'Connor) or any of her work on the Diamonds and Pearls or any other Prince album that featured The New Power Generation.  She's got a gift coming out of those pipes.

Baby, It's Your Life, Benji Hughes - Just check out the cover art of the Benji Hughes CD and you'll know that the man is pretty sure he's something special.  And he is.  The whole double-disc is killer.  Reminds me a little of Cody ChestnuTT (and I love Cody ChestnuTT so that is a compliment).  I like a guy with swaggart, ego and strut.  This song is my favorite of the bunch (and you have to wait until the very end of the second disc to get it) and it plays right around the time I'm getting sick of running.  For at least a few minutes - I don't want to stop.  Well - I want to stop LESS.

Thirty-Three, Smashing Pumpkins - Smashing Pumpkins were my ONLY toe-dipping in the pool of rock/grunge/emo/whatever the hell you call it in the mid-90s.  Seriously.  While everyone around me was wearing flannel, buying combat boots, slashing their own jeans, crying for the loss of Kurt Cobain and wondering why Eddie Vedder, Chris Cornell and Scott Weiland could not join forces to form the super group that would run the world - I was listening to Barenaked Ladies and pop-rap.  I hated it.  ALL of it.  I was barely willing to allow Dave Matthews and his Band in to my world (I'm glad I did).  Smashing Pumpkins though?  Loved them.  Always will. 

My Girls, Animal Collective -  I love Joy and Ava.  I'm wearing sneakers, shorts and a t-shirt and suffering swamp-crotch for them.  This song keeps me honest about that.  And the parts where they go "Whewwwwww" makes me happy.  I do it with them.  Whewwwwwwwww!

Shake It, Metro Station - They play this song at the place where I get my hair cut.  I think they have one mix CD that they just put on repeat so that every 80 minutes, like it or not, they are hearing the same tunes.  I feel bad for the women getting three hour long dyes, colors, trims, perms and sets.  I'm in and out in 30 - 45 minutes.  Always the 30 - 45 minutes this song plays though.  It is catchy.  And almost as annoying as me in a place that calls itself a "salon."  I run so that you don't have to.  Deep down.  You want me in that salon.  You NEED me in that salon.  

You Are Mine, Mute Math - Blame/credit my boss and CEO for this.  The visionary that introduced me in to this agency also introduced me to Mute Math.  Like with me, the reviews were mixed.  The taste had to be acquired.  The annoyance turned to catchiness.  I thank him for both introductions.  In the meantime this song seems to be about a man who thinks he owns his love but - if you really listen - the song is about how his love, by her captive energy and presence, is his one true and vice.  "There are objects of affection that can mesmerize the soul," they sing.  In my case, it is true.  First came food.  Then came Joy.  I'm a lucky man.  

Get Ready, The Temptations - If your workout mix is lagging just toss in some Motown.  You won't regret it.  Your caloric burn won't either.  I walk on the treadmill and picture myself doing synchronized hand movements and hip sways like the choreography of the genre.  It is a wonder those guys could sing at all in those tight suits and killer dance moves.  Fitness.  That's what we're all here for,  I guess.  

Brown-Eyed Girl, Van Morrison - I won't defend this.  Joy's eyes are not brown (they are blue/green and they get more blue or green depending on her mood and where she is in her, uh, cycle).  It doesn't matter.  I know men who are not "butt men" that adore Sir Mix-A-Lot.  It is the song.  The beat.  The thrill.  Not the factual accuracy of the lyrics.  

Quiet Dog, Mos Def - Turn the treadmill up to 6.5 MPH.  Suffer through the spoken-word crap (as inspiring at is technically is) at the beginning of the track.  Let the beat and lyrics kick in.  Move the treadmill to 7.0.  Run, fatman, run.  

Upside Down, Jack Johnson -  I love Jack Johnson.  Good for going to sleep to.  Good for a cool down.  Good for a back yard backyard barbecue.  Good for running errands.  Just good.  

Yep. A full mix with NO Coldplay. Take a minute. Let it soak in. Then move on. I'm already working on a new mix. It will feature some music from The Soloist, no doubt. I was always a Mozart/Chopin guy but . . . that movie makes me really like "Ludwin van" (as he is refered to in the movie in one of my favorite scenes).

In the meantime - we'll type again in a few days!  

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Back to the Real World . . .

WARNING/SPOILER ALERT - This is a long post that really doesn't say much and doesn't have the "happiest" of endings (for you blog lovers) but I wanted to clarify why I am cutting my Internet cord and, as you know, brevity is NOT a strength of mine.

It is a great relief.  It really is.  

I found myself, at 2:15 AM (and unable to sleep) on a Sunday morning in the dark office off the kitchen.  Only the glow of the computer monitor and the roar of the computer were my companions.  Joy, Ava and Lily slept (sorta') in our oft-discussed "family bed" (ugh) directly above me.  

I was on a mission.  An all-too-common mission.  I was Facebooking, Tweeting, Blogging and E-mailing.  All at the same time.   Why?  Can't tell you.  I really can't.    

Let me be clear.  I am a professional communicator.  I LOVE that the way we communicate is changing and evolving.  I admire these brilliant people who can dream up these social media "platforms" and then get millions and millions of people to engage in them.  The whole reason I got started with any social media was a professional desire to stay "hip, "current", "young" (stop laughing).   

I totally GET why these technologies are infectious.  We can now "stay in touch" with THOUSANDS of people from our past (and, with some technologies that don't require passwords and approved access - like this here blog - the ENTIRE WORLD).  We can do it with just a few key strokes.  People everywhere can INSTANTLY see your cute child's photos.  They can watch videos that you find funny.  They can keep up to date with your status and your desires and they can even learn, for those with enough time to take the quizzes, what your gangster name is, your porn name, your ideal city to live in and which member of the cast of Scrubs you are most like (I wish I was kidding).  It is all.  too.  easy.  

So - later that same day, having pre-typed four blog posts (you don't really think I sit around and prattle on and on and on about this stuff in real time, do you?), having Tweeted nine times and having reached for the phone three times to call my dear friend Chris Delenick but put the phone back down all three times figuring "I'll catch up with him later." and having annoyed Joy for being on the computer AGAIN when Ava's bath time rolled around . . . I did what I didn't think I was capable of.

I logged on to Facebook and just started chopping.  I cut my "Friends" from 330 to 110.  I took down pictures and videos, I turned off my notification preferences so my Blackberry (the other terrible addiction in my life) would not buzz everytime any one in my circle moved, sneezed or posted a "funny" and I told Facebook to NOT let me know every time I was POKED (what the hell is that to begin with?).

It is NOTHING personal (despite the conspiracy theories that might arise) to those of you that got cut.  It has NOTHING to do with any of you and ONLY to do with me.  I kept only people who are truly active and present in my life (co-workers, Wichita friends, IBM people I truly stay in touch with, a handful of my "DC people" and maybe a small handful of other randoms).   

I slashed the high school, college and grad school people I've long since lost touch with.  I wish them well but - I don't know them any more and they don't know me.  I cut the people who sent me invites to be "friends" as part of some frenzy of "add, add, add" obsession (you can see how many people someone recently became friends with and - with some new contacts - I was one of like TWENTY people that day alone).  I even cut out people I had reached out to in the first place.  I was THAT serious about this (smile).  I looked at each one of the 330 people and asked three simple questions . . . 

1 - When is the last time I SPOKE to this person?
2 - What is this person's relationship status?  What is their spouse's/significant other's name (where applicable)?  What are their child(ren)'s names (where applicable)?
3 - Is this web platform the only impression this person has of my current life and is that the appropriate context of who I am? 

There were no absolutes in terms of the answers that kept or lost people but - by and large - I was able to cut anyone that I had not spoken to in 18 months, who's boyfriends and kids (or whatever) I could not name and who I felt I would not want them to only have an idea of who I "am" by reading my crap (and it is all crap) on Facebook.   

I made a commitment to myself to NOT log back on to Facebook for two full weeks (you laugh but I've seriously struggled to honor the commitment - I've got a problem) and I made a decision to NOT use Facebook for anything other than staying current and hip on the technologies that fuel my profession and to maintain and expand my CURRENT network of people.  

So - there it is.  I'm sorta' free.  No more Facebook running my life.  It was too much of a time suck.  I felt too guilty about having to check out people's pictures and videos and to comment and/or having them feel compelled to check in on my life - almost entirely my WORK life, I might add (I had a few pictures of Ava and Joy up there, I would occasionally status update on my personal life, etc. but 95% or more of my crap on Facebook is work related . . . a percentage that will likely increase moving forward).

I'm also making new rules on this blog.  

I'm not shutting it down.  I can't.  I'm 485 posts in and I really find this to be a sort of therapy that I don't know what I would do with out.  I wish I knew who each of the 450 - 500 people per week that read the blog.  I wish I knew what they saw in the blog.  I wish I knew what value it had to them (simple voyeurism, an obsession with my obsession with Ava, a desire to learn more about my great, great taste in music (smile), a connection through the GB world, a long-lost friend that only has a "tie" to me through the blog, a morbid curiosity for the day I would start gaining weight again and what would happen next, etc.) and I wish I felt like I was giving those readers something that was worth the trouble (or at least SPELLCHECKED!).

I AM going to step away from it though - a little bit.  I am not going to spend any more time just typing and typing and typing.  I don't see the real value in it, frankly.  I've just re-read my last ten posts.  I could BARELY do it and I am the person I am reading about (God bless those of you that suffer me on an almost daily basis).

I'm going to Twitter still (seancamore - for those that Tweet) because that is 140 characters per micro-post so I can't spend too much time doing it and I am fascinated with the random celebrities and causes and groups that Twitter and how they use the technology (I feel like Ben Folds and I are personal friends at this point (smile)).  

Why do all this (you wonder)?  Simple.  Time.  

There is not enough of it in the average day.  I'm a husband.  I'm a father.  I'm a professional.  I'm a son.  I'm a brother.  I'm an uncle.  I'm a friend.  I'm a fat man with 30 pounds to lose.  I'm a man struggling to grow my social circle and to focus on my personal happiness and mental growth.  I'm a man who's FINALLY spending time working out and exercising and trying to stop some of this skin from sagging as low as it does (I'm not kidding, my nipples are six inches below where they should be as I type).

I'm going to take the 45 minutes to an hour a day that I used to spend on all these "social media" platforms and I'm going to get SOCIAL.  I'm going to pick up the phone.  I'm going to write letters.  ACTUAL letters.  I'm going to mail a birthday card.  Hell - I'm going to mail out the Mother's Day cards Joy, Ava and I made out to my mother.  I'm going to walk.  I'm going to watch (and participate with) an exercise DVD.  I'm going to read.  I'm going to write.  I'm going to spend even more time with Joy and Ava.

With the exception of letting Ava obsess over Clara Thomas and her blog, I'm going to stop reading my friend's blogs as passionately as I did (a friend of mine recently took down her blog for security reasons and I still check her homepage almost daily - it is a real problem for me) and I will stop being so lazy about trying to be a real family member, friend and partner to the people in my life.  

I'll miss it.  I will.  I twitch every time I check my internet bookmarks and see a friend's blog I will want to check in.  I will want to go on Facebook every time someone takes a picture of me doing something stupid (an hourly occurrence, I can assure you) and I will probably be tempted to get on the blog and RAIL every time a colleague or stranger on the street talks about someone being "fat" but I will figure it out.  

I'll be okay.  We'll all be okay.  Maybe if we all, as a society, spent a little more time truly investing in and spending time with each other (rocking our daughters to sleep in their oversized, purple rocking chair/recliners) we would be happier and healthier.  Maybe we would not be as obese if we spent less time at the keyboard and more time on the treadmill or walking with friends or walking around a museum or just not filling idle time with calories and dormancy.  

I'm going to take the plunge.  I'm going to take my hour per day wasted BACK.  I'm going to put it towards exercise, my family, my friends and my SELF.

Give me a shout if you are missing me (I'll happily give you my phone numbers if you don't have them any more) or zap me an e-mail.  I'll try to do the same with and for you.

Until we type again . . . I wish you health, true happiness and real relationships with people who deserve your time, energy and passion.  And I wish you less typos!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Obesity Caused by Overeating . . .

The world's most OBVIOUS news was widely covered today.  In a word - ugh.  Come on, people.  What next?  Pregnancy caused by sex?  Drunkenness caused by alcohol?  Ugh.  Ugh.  Ugh.  

The article does clarify that the point of the headline is to show that genetics and all that jazz are not as significant of a contributor as overeating.  

Loyal readers will now that this fat guy has ALWAYS said (and known) that we are all responsible for our OWN obesity.  Eat responsibly accordingly! 

Award Winner . . .

I did something that would have been all but unthinkable after college and before my gastric bypass surgery.  

I won an award.

For going above and beyond the call of duty and for being a positive force within an organization.

Yes.  It is true.  Someone out there actually thought I was deserving of positive recognition.  In the form of an award.  Literally.  I have a plaque thingy to show for it.

I didn't have the heart to tell them how utterly undeserving I felt and how awkward it was to be recognized for doing what I am on the board of a non-profit to do . . . help.  

There is no "new" Sean? Oh contrare, mon frere.  I have the plaque to prove it. 

Thanks, those silly enough to award me (and my ego) with something like this!  

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mother's Day, Wifey . . .

It is an odd coincidence that this is my 483rd blog post?  Maybe.  Maybe not.   Why 483?  Why even mention it?  

That is the amount of pounds inside my skin the morning of my gastric bypass surgery. That is the number of days between the day I met Joy and the day I met Joy and the date of the first Thanksgiving we shared as an engaged couple. That is the number of seconds (about eight minutes) in between me first meeting Joy and knowing that - in some capacity - Joy would always be in my life and that I would be better off for having her there.

I was talking with Ryan the other day and I said something, outloud, that I have talked about here in writing and have talked (verbally) with Wifey before and a few very close friends but that I have never talked to any of my family about (we don't exactly share things all that well in my family - I love them all but . . . ) and his pause said it all. I told Ryan that Joy saved my life.  It is not her love and affection, not her kisses 0r quirks (like REFUSING to go exit Lowes through the automatic Enter doors, for example) or her ample bossom (giggle, giggle) or even her beautiful smile or warming laugh that I would credit.  Nope.  It is her PRESENCE that has kept me here.

It sounds cliche. I get that. And it sounds oftly, uh, "soft" and I am fine with that. I think that, like people who claim to be able to see and communicate with ghosts (Jennifer Love Hewitt, et al) that unless you have experienced this sort of "feeling" first hand - it is easy to dismiss the notion that someone can save your life just by being there. By simly loving you. And by willing you to "be" there with them in return.

It is real though.  Trust me.  I have yet to lie to you in almost 500 blog posts (except the one post where I was open about the lie being there to vote on).  I've felt it.

Joy is one of those people that made me - a cynic by CHOICE - believe in the crap I just spewed above. Not only do I believe it but I'll blog about it for the world to collectively roll their eyes at. I felt it first hand. I was a witness to her greatness. She is great. She is that powerful. She is that wonderful. 

But don't, as Jordy LaForge, might say, take my word for it.

Witness our daughter, Ava Grace Amore. 

Joy might not have passed Ava in to this world like so many watermelons passing through a rain gutter (I saw her "crown" - don't dismiss me on that - childbirth is AMAZING and horrifying) but she brought her in to this world.  She, and her love, nurtured the child we now hold and share a bed with (grimace) inside the womb of the woman that carried her.    

She willed Ava to survive to the things that I won't even get in to in this forum from the very minute we found out that adopting Ava was an option for us in January and the minute she first held Ava.  That is seven months, two weeks, three days and one hour (give or take a few mintues later) of loving and protecting a child from 1,000+ miles away and she's been doing it ever since - at much closer distances.

Her presence and force got Ava through the NICU. It got her through her first cold. Her first bump and bruise. Her first rollovers and her first teeth. Her first crawls. Her first falls. Her first steps and her first tumbles. Joy's presence and gifts made a girl that a nurse at the hospital once told us that we'd be "smart" to "just get in our car, drive back to Connecticut and forget all about" into a child that strangers will stop short to comment on. 

Ava has overcome every single obstacle (except her utter refusal to eat three full meals a day (smile)) that we were told might plague us and she's done so in a way that even her pediatrician marvels at.

That's not luck. That's not fate. That's not "God's will" and that's not something that just sort of happened. I've seen the statistics. That is hard work.  Hard work and lots of love.  Lots of power and belief and presence.  Ava should not be the "Bidders" who is refusing to go to sleep as I type this. No.  That is Joy.  That is Wifey.  That is PRESENCE.    

This life that we, as a family, have engineered and enjoy (and believe me - we've COLLECTIVELY orchestrated all of this behind the power and guidance of Joy) is the simple and seemingly effortless WORK of a woman who has a gift. The gift to give, save, improve and build lives.

I'm the lucky bastard that gets to lay next to her at night and gets to suffer her brilliance (when it turns on me - which it occassionally does (smile)) and our daughter is the lucky woman that will have a model of motherhood, womanhood, sisterhood, individuality and grace that is her Mother.

We don't thank her enough. We aren't reverent enough. We aren't deserving of it or her on any given day. But she just keeps on giving us her gift. The gift of her presence.

Happy Mother's Day, Wifey! Thank you for all you do.  Like being here and willing us to greatness. 

Friday, May 8, 2009

BREAKING NEWS - Sean Exercises, Film at 11 . . .

Well, folks.  I've gone ahead and done it.  I have made sweet, sweet exercise to my wife('s treadmill) for three straight days.  

That's right.  Yes.  Pin a rose on my sagging chest.  Pat me on the back.  Give me a ribbon or trophy.  Smell my sneakers.  Roll your eyes.  Consider commenting that you know this is a fluke and the streak will die later today - this weekend for sure.  No matter.  For now - it is what it is.  I am trying to get started on those last 30 pounds.  On my own.  No help from that surgery-thingy (you know, the "easy way out" I had two years and almost two months ago.  

It seems daunting.  That is why I've done nothing about it.  I'll be honest.  I'm scared.  I could easily start gaining weight again at this point.  My diet is a little more liberal than it was.  My mind is clouded again with negativities I have not let really "brew" in years (weird to say) and my self assurance that I can/will get to 199 pounds (or less) is just not as steadfast and braggartish as it was when all this started.  It seemed SO obvious at the time.  So clear.  So "a given."  And it was.  If I would have done the exercise I was supposed to do - I would weigh 160 right now.  Have an eight pack.  Have gotten some super classy tattoo (that is what skinny people do, right?) and probably started wearing cargo pants again (I'm kidding - I will never wear those again (no offense to those that do - but they add bulk and I don't need that help).

I didn't do it.  Ship sailed.  Mission changed.  Challenge heightened.  Direction clear.  So - here I sit.  Almost 33 years old.  30 pounds from my goal.  50 pounds from my ideal weight.  

It starts all over again.  Right here.  Right now.  I'm not kidding.  I really am not.  My brothers are coming this summer.  We are going back to DC Labor Day weekend.  I need to get "there."  I am running a race in November.  I'm jumping out of a plane, dammit.  

And am "started".  I have been moving my body.  For an hour.  Each night.  While getting caught up on Fringe on the basement DVR.  

I thought Wifey was crazy for buying that treadmill.  Turns out she knew exactly what she was doing.  I walk, mainly.  I do 5 minutes at 3.0 miles per hour to get the heart going and the legs ready.  Then 40 minutes going from 3.6 to 4.5 in .1 increments for the first 1o minutes and then doing an additional .5 incline from 0.0 to 5.0 for the next 10 minutes.  At the end of the first 45 minutes, I put the sucker down flat and then - do the craziest thing I could ever think.  

I crank the ol' speedometer thingy up to 6.0 and I RUN.  For ten minutes.  That is right.  I have run two miles (I wimped out the first night) in the last two days.  Something I could have NEVER thought about a few years ago (or ever in my life, frankly) and yet - here I am.  Doing it.  It is a very slow run.  No one will ever cheer for me on the medal stand or break a sweat trying to catch me or even seem unsure of their description of where "The man that just ran by here" went, when asked by those chasing me.  I don't care.  I don't.

Here it is.  I am exercising.  I'm going to retighten my diet belt (and my actual belt itself, soon enough (I have been stuck on this hole for a few months now)) and I am going to do what I should have done all along . . . ignored the sprint.  Ignored the HUGE weight drops.  Focused on the slow, steady and methodical pace of just plugging away at weight loss.  Two pounds a week (or more, ideally) at a time.  

Tortoise.  Not hare.  Or - more importantly - tortoise for 45 minutes, hare for 10.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Whaddarya, Chicken? . . .

I'll admit it. I'm a HUGE fan of all these restaurants and chains coming out with these "healthier" options for their patrons.

Call it self regulation. Call it fear of lawsuits. Call it good corporate citizenship. Call it responding to the trends of the American eating habit (yes, according to the federal government we are, as a country, starting to watch what we eat). Call it whatever you want but call it a GOOD thing.

McDonald's introduced the all-white Chicken McNugget in 2003 (insert Ryan laughing here as Joy says "These are the best chicken nuggets I've had since, like, yesterday!") and then came the grilled chicken sandwiches at fast food chains everywhere. Next came the wrap/tortilla trend. Then the reduced fat and low/no-fat condiments options. Then came the wheat/whole grain roll. Then the smaller portion "snack menus". The bottled water option. The salad. The Fresco Menu. Long John Silvers got in the game. There are hundreds of "movements" I am skipping here but - let's get to the point.

KFC as in Kentucky FRIED Chicken (your acronym doesn't fool me, Colonel) has come out with a grilled chicken option (the chain tried this once before, if I remember correctly, with a skin-less dining option that failed a few years back) that is actually pretty nutritionally sound.

There is still no real reason to eat any of the sides or the biscuits at KFC (ESPECIALLY if you are a GBer like me - come on people, be serious) but with 35 grams of protien and only 4 grams of fat and 180 calories, the grilled KFC chicken is actually MORE nutritionally sound for my body than the protein bars that I live and die by (I miss you, South Beach bars (whimper, whimper).

I am taking a web design class today and have a full hour for lunch so I'm going to go check out the chicken (what else are you going to do on the West side of Wichita at lunch time (smile)) and - for those that want to do the same - check out this coupon for a free grilled meal. You have to print it TODAY and use it in the next few weeks but . . . have at.

Just skip the side dishes and the biscuits, GBers. Seriously. Just the chicken. You'll be fine. I promise.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Kickball . . .

Being the "fat kid" in school carries many, many stigmas and stereotypes with it.  

- Last one picked
- Playing "Deep Left Out"
- Worst player on the field
- Kid eating a candy bar in the outfield
- Etc.

I'm sorta' proud (and yet kinda' embarrassed) to say that none of these things - except the candy bar thing (little league was suchhhhh B.S.) really applied to me when I was young.

I was sort of a fluke.  Very, very heavy and yet not limited by my size (until post-college life).  I played sports.  I was flexible and spry and almost athletic (the speed was lacking but I could hit/catch/kick/throw the ball with limited problems) and I almost enjoyed playing games.  

Let me be clear.  I HATE sports.  Always have.  Always will.  No offense to the men and women in the world that make millions a year playing them and the parents and kids in America that devote thousands of hours (and dollars) a year to youth sports and  the pursuit of the status of professional athlete) but they are just GAMES, people.  Nothing of true consequence.  The world has never, ever been improved by a game.  This is simple fact.  I am not saying that everything I do with my time improves or betters the world (I watch a LOT of VH1 on DVR, for instance) but I just never wanted to really devote myself to something that I knew would eventually, for me, turn out to be a waste of time.

I would screw around with sports though.  I am GREAT at three sports in this world.  Bocce.  Croquet.  Mini Golf.  NOT in that order either (I'll putt the pants off you - any windmill, any time).  I am GOOD at a few other sports - mainly KICKBALL.

It is with great joy, accordingly, that I sit at my desk this Friday morning.  You see we are going to play a game of inner-agency kickball this afternoon (weather and City of Wichita permitting).  

This will be my first time participating in an "organized sport" in probably 12 years (I did intramural sports in college - waddup French Licks) and the first time I've participated in an organized sport in the low 200s since the eight grade or so.  

I am praying the rain will clear - at least enough to let us field the game (a group of us here are willing to play no matter what but we need to have enough folks to really field two teams) because I've got myself some new shorts, some knee high socks, a disco ball necklace, a feather headdress and 45 agency logo printed t-shirts hot off the press and ready to be sweat in.

Fingers crossed.  Groin stretched.  

As they say on Friday Night Lights  - "Clear eyes.  Full hearts.  Can't lose."