Friday, June 12, 2009

A Look Back on the Year That Was . . .

I turn 33 today. Yep. It is my birthday. Cue the balloons, the sugar free cake, the sing-a-longs, the huge pile of gifts, the rented ponies, the inevitable breakdown, the ginger ale-sherbet punch and, of course, the self reflection about being "another year older, another year wiser."

Or - cue NONE of it. Here's the thing . . . I'm not a "birthday person" and I do not mean that in a "me thinks thou doest protest too much" way either - I mean I do not get birthdays. Don't care about them. Barely understand why any one cares about them and am very slow to even grumble a "happy birthday" to other people on their "special days" accordingly.

Nope. They're overrated EXCEPT that one fleeting moment every June 12th when I realize that I have lived another year. It usually happens while brushing my teeth (I also remark that I've lived another year with all of my teeth (long story)) and it usually sort of plays out in a "mental montage" of moments that would make any film an Oscar winner, if I had my say.

Here - for your review (and likely disposal) are my Ten Top and Ten Bottom moments of my 33rd year of life (techincally today starts my 34th year of life - I crunched the numbers so trust me). I ONLY included MY moments here (no mention of Ava or Joy here (lest anyone think neither of them are crucial to my every moment)).

Top Ten . . .

1 - Hanging Out with Vinu, in Wichita and Tom Kelly in Kansas City - Proof that moving here does not mean never seeing my "people" again. The visits were short but they were important to me. I hope to repeat that time with the guys again (and more friends) very soon.

2 - Getting Below 250 Pounds and then to 225 Pounds - I am getting skinnier. I am 300 pounds lighter than I was just a few short years ago. This year has seen my weight loss slow, greatly, and my perspective on my weight grow, greatly. I can and will do this. I'm going to be fine. I'll get to my goal weight, eventually, I promise.

3 - Exercising 13 Out of 14 Days - It might not seem like that big of a deal to all of you but I did it. I actually made a commitment to work out and I kept it. I am KEEPING it (four days a week is about my average) and I've had a few days where I've done double workouts. That is nuts. Who'd have thunk it?! Not me. I'm proud of myself though.

4 - Christmas with My Family - I got home. For a week. Sure we came home with a kid that looked and acted like an extra from The Exorcist but it was TOTALLY worth it for the seven days we had with my parents, five days with Ryan and the two glorious days I had with both of my brothers and with Joyell. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I'll skip church the next time though. No offense but that was AWKWARD!

5 - Getting a New President - I still think about what "coulda-been" with Hillary but I have come to really appreciate Obama and I've had a sip of the Kool-Aid. It wouldn't matter though. Bush is gone. We're better off. In the next four years there will be NO mistaking or disputing that. Sorry, Scooter, Rove and Cheney. It's just true.

6 - Getting the 18-Month "Journey" Over With - I'll admit it, now. I hated being under the microscope of my surgery. SURE - I had some great results and I worked very, very hard but it was something I got tired of talking about and being so "important" all the time. Life is better now. We eat where Joy and Ava want to eat. We buy groceries for the whole family. I don't feel like people are looking at me as a shrinking man any more. Life is just better now. I'm 27 months out. That's like an eternity. An eternity I'm happy to spend.

7 - Finding Out I'm Going to Become an Uncle Again - I miss my brothers and their ladies ALL THE TIME. It makes me sad that we live so far away from them and that we have their niece and that Ava is without her uncles (I didn't know my aunts, uncles and cousins and I worry about Ava feeling the same way about Patrick, Ryan, Joyell and Erin (if thinks go the way the are heading for her and Ryan, at least) that I feel about my extended family). That Patrick and Joyell are having a kid thrills me and it motivates me, like we used to fly in for Lexy, to be a better family member and to be a GREAT uncle to that little baby. Even if all I can do is spoil them from afar.

8 - Hearing Air and Simple Gifts - If I was still in DC I would have ditched work for the day and gone to the inauguration. I don't and I didn't. I DID catch a little bit of it on television and through Internet streaming though. I happened to click on to a live stream just as Yo-Yo Ma and company were sitting down to mimmic a live performance of some of the greatest music I've ever heard. Stressed out? Feeling annoyed? Need to get to rest your mind? Plunk down $0.99 for this on iTunes and just assume that you are welcome for the tip. Beautiful. Brilliant.
9 - Seeing The Soloist and Up - We saw a lot of movies this year. Some good, some bad. These two were my absolute favorites (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was a close third). Both movies inspired me in their own special way.

10 - Embracing my Kansanhood - It took me a while but, this is home. I'm here. I'm going to be here. I'll probably get my gold watch here and I might even have my ashes scattered here. It's a great state and the conservative viewpoints are so entertaining I should have never bristled at them. Trust me on this. Life in Kansas is outstanding!

Bottom Ten . . .

1 - Crushing My Finger In a Storm Window - This one just happened so it might not be that big of a deal but I literally CRUSHED three of my fingertips (nails, bones, nerves, etc.) in a storm window two weeks ago. Try having a desk job where you type for a living when you can barely move three of your ten digits without wincing. I like when God tries to make me humble. Keep trying, big guy!

2 - Having the Economy Hit Home - Half of Joy's cousins are out of work. Her father and uncle are going on furlough. Joy can't find a job in her profession. My friend Shelton, a very smart man, just found work after seven months of searching. I don't know anyone in this town that doesn't at least think about their job being secure from time to time. I don't like it. At all. I want everyone gainfully employed, happy, going on vacation and getting fat with joy. In the meantime there is always the reminder that life is precious, beautiful and rare and a job is not your life - it is a job and money is not all important. That being said - I LOVE my job. I WANT my job. I NEED my job. Enough already. Let's turn this economy around, smart people!

3 - Plateauing - I know I said I'm glad that my 18-months is over. I am. That being said, I don't like the plateau. I don't like that I have only gone down one pant size in the last six months. I was dropping two inches a MONTH there for a while. The weirdest part is that if your body is not getting smaller you feel like it is getting bigger and that makes me miserable. I'm on the way down again. Slowly. Surely. No more plateaus for me, please. Until I am at that 200 mark and stay there until the day I die (smile)!

4 - Nearly Dumping - I came very, very close to dumping this year. Twice, technically. Neither time was on purpose (I was not testing the limits of my sugar consumption - I was ignorantly taking on sugar assuming there was none in the food I was eating) and I didn't fully dump either time. There is nothing more scary to me - in this post-GB life - than sugar and dumping. I will never not be fearful of sugar. Never. I'm sweating right now just thinking about it.

5 - The Roosevelts - The cats, not the real FDR and his lovely wife, Eleanor. As you may remember, we adopted two cats last fall. I was trying, very hard to become a "cat person" and I proudly went on about that and then you never heard me mention the cats again. Here is why . . . as much as I was ready to love the cats, the cats HATED me, my family and our home. They peed and pooped everywhere. They were tearing apart the furniture. They were trying to eat the computer. They were making prank phone calls at 3:00 AM. They were hatin' on us on their Facebook page. They were Tweeting about what tools we were. We tried to let them adjust to the house (we gave them five days) and in that time we called several vets and the Kansas Humane Society and all the professionals agreed the cats had to go. We returned them. They both got adopted again almost immediately (fret not, animal lovers) but it was, as an insecure person that just wants to be loved by everyone (smile), a crushing blow. Be well, Franklin and Eleanor. We have Lily now. We're happy with her. She is happy with us. We'll alllll be fine.

6 - Realized How Destructive Social Media Can Be - Between the Franklin/Eleanor Facebook/Twitter debacle and my own realization that people read this stupid blog and check my Facebook page to "know" me and to "learn things" about me and to look for me to say and think stupid things . . . I realized that these "new" ways to communicate are really no different than passing notes in high school or talking trash over e-mail. We're all just 15 year old kids with bad skin and racing hormones. Best to stick with phone calls, in-person chats and the occasional telegraph to communicate. I've stepped back. I've set new rules for what I will and won't say and do through my online "persona" and I'm happier for it. My family is happier for it.

7 - Seeing Not One but TWO "Jennifer Aniston" Movies This Year - I love my wife. I want to see her happy. To that end I do stupid and regretful things like seeing "He's Just Not That in to You" and "Marley and Me". Yep. I went. I supported Jennifer Aniston. The WORST part? I didn't HATE either movie (didn't LOVE them but didn't hate them). Curse you, Rachel!

8 - The Closing of Harold's - When we used to just visit Wichita we'd frequently go to lunch at Bradley Fair which is this sort of "outdoor" shopping mall full of a mix of national and local stores and restaurants and open spaces (and Ava's favorite duck pond in the whole wide world). One store always stuck out to me. I had heard of Williams & Sonoma and Gap. I knew Banana Republic. I understood Brick's but - there in the corner - was Harold's. I never went in. Until we moved here. Oh my. I LOVED Harold's - specifically the tie table. I've dropped more coin on neckwear from Harold's than I have probably ever spent in any given store on any give item of clothing. Then - as soon as my love affair became full blown and my body got small enough to really take advantage of the store - the place closed. Went out of business. The clearance sale was a beautiful send off to my favorite store but now I'm left with only the "hit and miss" world of JCPenney and my unaffordable wish list at Ben Silver for my tie shopping needs. I miss you, Harold.

9 - Chips - No. Not the TV show. The snack. The potato-, corn- or rice-based, often fried, salty goodness that plagued my life before surgery and screws with me after. I easily shed sweet junk food (the occasional sugar free pudding, jello, cookie or ice cream is my only real indulgence there) but I have struggled with the chips. My "needs" are manageable - don't get me wrong (I'm not going to get back to 530 pounds any time soon because of my occasional chip indulgence, God willing) but I don't like that I even crave the damned things. I just wish that GB made your body physically reject sugar AND chips.

10 - Teaching My Kid the "F" Word - I have a filthy mouth. I'm 33. It's not okay. It doesn't make me look "intelligent" and it is not "endearing." I don't have any friends nor have I ever landed a client or furthered my life (personally or professionally) BECAUSE of my four letter word obsession and, frankly, I don't feel any better when I use the words. I actually swore off swearing the day Ava was born (ask my sister-in-law . . . Stephanie laughed and laughed and laughed). I was going to be a father that kept his wits and proper language about him when his daughter was around (if not all the time). But . . . here it is. Ava has used the "F" word (properly, I might add) in my presence. Several times. And I can't blame this on Joy (Ava's need to accessorize, have pretty nails and to be sweet, charming and beautiful are ALL Wifey's fault, clearly) so I have to blame myself. My new commitment? Swear LESS in front of her. And get more strict when she uses the filthy stuff (while not being a hypocrite in that authority).

Anywho - let's hope my 34th year of life is a great one. And that I get to keep all my teeth for another full year (and then some).

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