11/30/12

Things I Would Do . . .

I am a man of simple pleasures. Reading to my daughter, holding hands and being close with someone I truly enjoy being with, a nice pair of penny loafers over argyle socks, hummus for breakfast, some peace and quiet, a good book, etc. That being said - I'm often asked (and this has never actually happened, LITERALLY) what sort of things I would LIKE to do. What GOALS or DREAMS or WANTS or BUCKET LIST items I have. Well for all those who have (never) asked (or even pondered) - here you go. Things I WOULD do. If I (w/c/sh)ould.

  • Be skinny. I mean truly skinny. Inseam number higher than my waist, shirt sizes that start with S. Ribs sticking out and the ability to go shirtless (even the ones that start with an S) in public.
  • Love and be loved. It's the greatest of the simple pleasures.
  • Be humble. Hey. This is all just fantasy anyway so don't pretend like you're better than me. 
  • Jump out of an airplane. And make a collect call on the way back to earth. From a land line. A "party" line at that.
  • Spend an hour with Tony Hawk and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day and make sure they both truly understand they are in their 40s. It's time to cut the shit.
  • Could HAVE. Would HAVE. Should HAVE. Not of. None of those are of. Stop it. All of you.  
  • Dance. Truly have rhythm and the ability to use it. I currently look like I need a wallet jammed in my gullet to prevent tongue swallowing every time I try. And it stinks. And hurts a little. Deep inside. 
  • Prevent Destiny's Child from ever forming thereby proactively preventing the world from Beyonce and all the hurt and harm she's done.
  • Ask more questions about the things I never understood. Like science. And math beyond basic algebra. And poetry. Okay, I'm kidding. Screw poetry. 
  • Take a million dollars, in pennies, and drop them off the Empire State Building, one at a time, until I've actually pennied my way to the gates of Hell. 
  • Make Skee-lo a little bit taller, a baller, and give him a girl so he could call her. From a land line. A "party" line at that.
  • Find a cat video on the Internet cute, funny, charming, or otherwise worth watching. I want to. Really.
  • Slam dunk a basketball. Chicks dig that. A ton. They do, right? Yeah. They do. 
  • Be able to listen people start a statement with "Today, on Fox News, I heard . . . " and not stop listening by the implied ellipses.
  • Get the McB.L.T. back on the menu at McDonald's. And keep it there. They HAVE the ingredients. They just need the packaging to keep the hot side hot and the cool side cool. They can do that. We put a rover on Mars, for the love of all that is delicious. See also the Asian McNugget sauces. 
  • Understand "Dirty South" rap/hip hop/style.
  • Have the cliche "take a (bodily function)" to me. And/or go back and re-establish the vernacular as "LEAVE a (bodily function)."
  • Wake up in the morning remembering the previous slumber's dreams more consistently. I'm 36 1/2. I can probably count the dreams I "remember" on three hands. Or two hands and a foot, as it were.
  • Abuse an illegal substance. Just one more time. I'd appreciate the finality of it. 
  • Cure cancer. There. I'm charitable. Woooo-who! Go f*ck yourselves.
  • Survive on bread alone. 
  • Hang out with Kenny Loggins so I can reassure him that haters be hatin', ballers be ballin', and Pooh Corner is a place worth returning to.
  • Tell the 16 year old me that it's all going to be okay. I'm kidding. The 2 year old me knew that. These last 34 years have just been reassurance and realization.
  • Get John Candy back. For just one more movie. Okay - two. With a third picture option based on box office and DVD sales. 
  • Solve a Rubik's cube. In 1986. Before you could watch how on YouTube.
  • Teach the world to sign in perfect harmony.
  • Learn Hebrew.
  • Seduce and have rough sex with a lion. I mean, they are the "king of the jungle" (I'd do it with a female, relax) despite NOT EVEN LIVING IN THE JUNGLE. That's power over the powerful. 

11/29/12

Dance Me To the End of Love . . .

Some days are easier than others.

The Family Stone . . .

I want to praise the greatest holiday movie in the history of the genre and I'm willing to bet - nay - I will GUARANTEE many, many, many of you have never even heard of it.

Wayyyyy back in 2005, when we thought Hillary Clinton would be the Presidential nominee in 2008 and the idea of our nation's finances crumbling was something only a handful of people that gave us all mortgages anyway knew about - Sarah Jessica Parker (yes, our generation's most overlauded actress) joined with an amazing cast for a film adaptation of a play about an otherwise-dysfunctional but BEYOND charming and super eclectic (gay, deaf son in an interracial relationship, anyone?) family celebrating its first Christmas with the much-disliked fiancee of the eldest son while lots of tensions on the family itself hang in the air.

Pause for trailer if you're piqued (or skip it if you are piqued (did you know that piqued can mean both intrigued AND annoyed?)) . . .



You can not stream it on Netflix but you can get the DVD from them or you can find it, sadly, in a discount/clearance bin of any store near you that still sells the dinosaur bones that are physical copies of movies.

There are three moments in the movie that make my empty, angry soul spark the "holiday spirit" and they are (vaguely for those who've not seen it) - the bleacher scene, the late night TV viewing scene, and (tears welling in my eyes) the gift opening.

I love The Family Stone because it doesn't violate the "rules" of a Holiday Movie (capital letters to show respect). Your life will not be changed by it. Just about everyone gets everything they might want or need by the and the warm and fuzzies of love in late-December rule the movie by the time the final credits role. WHY does it stand out then? Simple - the entire movie reminds us that the best intentions, the most honest gestures, and the clarity of honoring yourself in the context of something larger (family, in this case) is not only the reason for the season but the reason we're all here period.

Also - the Stone family is way, way more attractive than any of our families. And their house far more lovely. And there is a Volvo in the mix.

11/28/12

Stay On Target . . .

I have seen each of the horrible, dreadful, inexcusable, and inexplicable Star Wars films ONCE each. I know, I know, blasphemy (take your angst to my MySpace page - that is where an argument like this would have its best life). There is only 0:14 of the entire oeuvre that speaks to me. It can be viewed here.

Why does this speak to me when all the other outstanding dialogue, plot lines, character development, and pin-tight twists and turns fall short? Simple. I. Need. To. Stay. On. Target.

I am a narcissist. Truly. I pay attention ONLY to the things in this life that require my focus (even the absurd shit that does NOT deserve it (insert one of a million examples here)). I don't do this for fun. I don't "want" to do it. I MUST do it. I have to, on a constant basis, try to boil back the noise in my life so I can get the things done, accomplish things, develop as a person, father, son, friend, brother, uncle, etc. I might argue a LOT of other people out there (many may even be reading this) would greatly benefit from the same resolve.

STOP caring about every person out there. You do not need 99.99999999999% of this world to even be aware of you much less give a damn about you and FORGET about them "liking" you or not. I'm going to argue that if you have 15 - 20 people in this life that truly know, love, and support you - you are Warren-Buffett-rich! If you give energy to the people in this life that don't like you, have/intend to harm you, or that are in your past rattling around in a hurtful way - you need to find a professional that takes co-pays and does NOT have a couch (apparently professional ethics of a mental health professional forbid couches, FYI) that can help you get a little more focus in your life.

MAKE a point to not busy your mind with things, tasks, chores, and obligations that are not of value to you. I include anything that you say you "must" do as something that you must NOT do. Groceries, dishes, laundry, personal hygiene, etc. are - yes - all things you MUST do but you have to do them because you are human being that stands upright, has a family or colleagues or friends and because that is the bare minimum to keep moving forward. Know what you do NOT "need" to do? Garden. Rake leaves. Pain the for-yay (as we elitists pronounce it). Organize your pantry to finite resolve.

Instead of putting your time, space, mental energy, and emotions behind the soul-sucking-shit-of-the-earth put it on the people and things you love. Go take a walk. Make a lavender bath. Learn to knit. Paint a picture. Get high and watch a horrible movie about ewoks.

And please, for the love of all that is good, sacred, and sugar coated (redundancy) get off Facebook. FOCUS!

11/27/12

Favorite Words . . .

As I struggle and toil with Hebrew, I'm reminded of just how much I love the English language. Here, presented without any particular order or ranking are some of my favorite words (not to be confused with warm woolen mittens, one of my favorite THINGS).

  1. Jettison
  2. Chagrin
  3. Providence
  4. Pusillanimous (greatest "safe word" in the history of S&M, for the record (look it up, you'll probably laugh))
  5. Quagmire
  6. Horny (I dare you to say or hear it with a straight face.)
  7. Cream
  8. Extemporaneous 
  9. Validity
  10. Partial
  11. Lenticular
  12. Disarticulate (shot out to my favorite psychologist)
  13. Uberous
  14. Tepid
  15. milquetoast (doesn't deserve a capital M)
  16. Apropos
  17. Intrepid
  18. Gamey
  19. Proposition
  20. Appenditured 

One note - my favorite word to SAY is "sheet cake" - it has soft and hard consonants, soft and hard vowels, and it feels fantastic to utter. Note (potential cake-related segue here) that the word "moist" (the WORST thing our language has to offer) is not present above . . . so creepy.

What words do you like to fall from the tip of your tongue?


11/25/12

Sean's Guide to Gift Giving . . .

Welllll, Black Friday is behind us. Small Business Saturday has concluded and only Cyber Monday stands between us and the grind of the "holiday season." I hope you're making the most of maxing out your credit cards, draining your patience, and piling crap, especially chosen, for people you "love" good and high.

They're going to appreciate it. Really. For at least 30 minutes. Or until the next gift is opened. Truly. Yes. Get the fancy wrapping paper and the ribbon with the bendy wire in it so the bow can be "just so." Seriously. I whole-heatedly endorse this. And don't just take a square of wrapping paper as the gift tag. Nope. Get the cute ones that coordinate with the paper for another $1 each.

Yes. Tis' the season indeed. Here's what your favorite contrarian is doing this holiday season . . . I'm doing every drop of my holiday shopping (beside for my daughter and niece that won't appreciate my spiteful ways and should not any more than the rest of you) at Dillons (nope, not a possessive s) Marketplace.

WHAT? You exclaim. POPPYCOCK! You shout (and for that, I salute you). THIS BOY'S DONE LOST HIS DAMNED MIND! You espouse. Nope. My sanity is right here - in my breast pocket.

Here's my thinking . . . I'm going to go to Dillons. Get a bunch of cheese wedges, a box of Triscuits, and maybe some of their super-absurd donuts that are glazed, frosted, dipped in crushed cereal, and then accented with frosting dollops. I'm going to get double fuel points for some of the purchases and then I'm going to pick a handful of folks and make a point to spend 30 or 45 minutes with them during the month of December. I'll customize the gifts, to be clear. Make them special for each person . . . so-and-so likes a soft cheese, that person is part of my Hummus Nation, some of you assclowns can't have any gluten so you'll require alternative crackers, and there are a handful of you that will require booze, sweet desserts, or both.

Here's what the rest of you will get - an actual, honest to it HOLIDAY CARD. Yes. One requiring stamps and a good, ballpoint pen. I haven't mailed true holiday cards since 2003 but I'm bringing sexy back. NO group text messages, NO awkward, pre-written "newsletters" about my family's happenings (newsflash - my family failed in 2012 and we'll allllll be happier for it by this time 2013). No photos where Ava wrestles Lily and the stupid cat she and Joy love so bad in front of a mantle with stockings hung with care. NONE of that is real life (as cute and appreciated as those cards/photos are, folks (keep 'em coming - and let me know if you need my new mailing address). Nope. Cards. With individual notes where I'll wish you a customized greeting and spell words wrong I should not botch.

And if you get NOTHING from me this holiday season beyond a generous smile, a hug of appreciation for your friendship, and a genuine wish for great things to come in 2013 - don't worry, I still love you best.

Put DOWN the credit cards, folks. STOP stressing over what shade of pashmina your wife will love best. Your husband does not need any more power tools. Those kids will be more than happy with one or two toys, a sweater, and a book to nourish the soul. Your every acquaintance does not need you to write something sweet to them on their Facebook wall. You need not Tweet out your deepest, most condensed holiday greetings (in hopes of a RT, no less). You don't need to spend every waking moment driving yourself crazy this December. None of it matters if it is not genuine, from the heart, and within your means.

Take three hours. Sit on your couch. Put on a holiday movie or CD that makes you happy. Write cards. Take 30 minutes each night in December and make three, 10 minute phone calls to friends you can't see in person. Make plans to see those you can. Just an hour. Everyone is busy. Enough time to sit, chat, enjoy each other. MOST IMPORTANTLY - Enjoy yourself, your family, your home, your best self. THAT is the reason for the season - reflection, appreciation, extension.

Now - if you'll excuse me - I'm going to fight a total stranger over a Cabbage Patch Kid.

11/24/12

Opening Credits . . .

I saw three movies in the the-ay-tur (as a good chunk of the Kansas pronounce it) this week. I know, I know. I have QUITE the life. One was with the kid (Rise of the Guardians) I enjoyed it more than the average animated flick. Then I saw two movies for me. First, Argo (I love John Goodman, I thought the film was fine). Second, Skyfall

I have to say, I enjoy these latest Bond films far more than the nostalgia-bred films of yore and this one may have been my favorite to date (Javier Bardem is so wonderfully creepy as a villain) but my favorite part of the film had to be the opening credits (disclaimer - the quality of this clip does the real thing no justice). 

Bond movies are known for their credits but this sequence, including Adele's new song, (let's go ahead and give her an Oscar and acknowledge she can do no wrong) were truly wonderful. I was inspired to think about some of my favorite opening sequences from movies.

5) Catch Me If You Can . . . 


4) Thank You for Smoking . . . . (sidebar - a great book that any/all PR pros should read)


3) Fincher's Girl with the Dragon Tattoo . . . 


2) Naked Gun 33 1/3 . . . 


1) Love Actually . . . (sidebar - I will cry every time I see this movie either during the opening credits, when Emma Thompson absorbs her husband's affair or during the closing sequence - perhaps all three).


What movie credits do you like? 

11/23/12

Family . . .

Yesterday was my first Thanksgiving without a spouse and a family of in-laws to spend the day with. Given my general disdain for forced shared time, "major" holidays, mandatory expressions of thanks and appreciation and general cynicism toward my fellow man and all they may present this will probably not surprise you but I really didn't mind.

I miss my family, to be clear. They all gathered in the suburbs of Philadelphia where my mother no doubt cooked and baked her ass off and everyone else brought things to the table, literally, that made the meal spectacular and the people gathered around it basked in each other but traveling to be with them was not in the cards. So what DID I do? Who did I spend the day with?

Nothing and no one - in that order - and it was GLORIOUS. I have had a rough week. Death, sadness, anger, battles, financial demands, leaking toilets, threats, and a terrifying 48 hours without a single CheezIt to stuff in my face. I have not really had a "good night's sleep" since last Wednesday and, frankly, my charm had been exhausted. I just needed a day alone to "recharge." (The dumbest expression in the English language behind ONLY "rescued" to describe a dog owner's acquisition strategy.)

Let's be VERY clear here, folks (humble brag in 3 . . . 2 . . . 1) - I HAD options and offers. I was invited to spend the day with friends and their families no less than nine times. I had over a dozen people text or call me on the day of to ensure I was "okay" and to remind me of options extended but I did nothing with kindness. I burned it on Netflix, Skyfall, and a nice, long walk.

I did not want to burden any one or their family with my stink and grumpiness. I didn't want to drag my self-pity in to a living room that already ran short of sofa space. BUT the key take away here (and this is the only thing I need to even say in this post) is that I had offers.

I have friends and people who love me enough (dare I call them family?) to extend their homes, meals, tables, traditions, and occasions to me in a way that reminded me that while my life has changed a LOT in the last year, I'm not alone. And probably never will be.

THANK YOU to everyone that worried about, checked in, and welcomed me. Maybe next year I'll even show up and help distract your mother so the rest of you can have a little reprieve and enjoy the show (you  know who you are, mystery inviter).

11/22/12

Thanks and Wishes . . .

I don't often carry on about my child and how smart, pretty, funny, bright, caring, sweet, or giving she is. There's a few reasons for this. A) People who do that are utter assholes. B) I can't really take credit for a lot of it. In a world of nature vs. nurture adoptive parents (at least in my case) are constantly plagued with wonder if your child "is" who they are because of, through your support, or in spite of you. I am my daughter's FATHER. The only one. All me. I have no confusion with that BUT I have moments where I feel like she is bigger and better than me.

An example - Thanksgiving morning. Being the cliched, pathetic, sad-sack divorced dad of a man I am - I had just two hours with my child today (I could have had more, the kiddo's mother is very generous and accommodating) but it was not my day. I am sad to be officially in the first "holiday season" of my post-marriage life and, frankly, we moved to Wichita to be with my ex-wife's family. them have days like today to enjoy the larger community of Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, etc.

I can do grumpy all by myself.

I digress . . .

After an uneventful meal (Denny's), she and I went to the Riverwalk to look at the new, choreographed fountain installation and, without my notice or initiation, the kid grabbed a handful of coins on her way out of the car. We walked over to the fountain, she handed me a quarter (I promptly put it in my pocket and asked for a penny) and said "Let's make wishes for Mommy." We went through this for everyone in our shared world including friends of her mother's I barely know and friends of mine that my daughter barely knows (about 26 people, if my count is correct). I let her take the lead on each person. She thanked them for being in her life, she expressed gratitude for what they bring to her life, she wished/asked for something for each of them in the near future (most were extended high hopes for a stellar Santa haul (she's 6, leave her alone)) but the most spectacular part of the whole thing was what happened last.

I warned her, as this exercise dragged on, that we had just two coins left (I am sure the mailman was next for the exercise since he provides catalogs, magazines, and junk mail to our world so we were wrapped up). She took them from me, walked half way around the fountains to a pond-like shore, and simply laid the pennies down (photo above). As she walked away, I asked her what she did it for. She casually, charmingly, and with cynicism shattering cuteness (I can brag on my kid) simply stated . . .

"We've asked for enough. I hope someone else finds these and throws them in for people they love."

Happy Thanksgiving, all.

11/21/12

Thankful for Krispy Kreme . . .

On the eve of Turkey Day (and the eve of the eve of the greatest - and most resented - shopping day of the year) I want to add the gift that keeps on giving and (possibly) the greatest rapper alive (?) to my Thankful list. Ladies and the one random dude that reads this blog . . . Krispy Kreme. He's spectacular and - like in my own life/experience, everybody gets scared when he front flips.

Please to enjoy . . .

11/20/12

Forget the Twinkies . . .

What are we doing whining about Hostess/Wonder having issues? I get that jobs will be lost, grocery store shelves altered, American icons gone, etc. and I understand that this story, at its core, is about companies and unions that have worked together - with relatively little true cooperation vs. demanding - do not survive forever but people seem to be very, very upset about the passing of not even the entire Hostess family but the friggin' Twinkie. The TWINKIE? REALLY? That is the worst dude on the roster and trust me, the formerly sugar-driven Sean Amore knows for snack cakes. Twinkies suck it. Hard.

Let's just focus on a REAL American classic. A company we can all feel better about (until we realize how screwed a family, privately owned company will probably be in future years/generations). There may be pain ahead but, for now, Viva la Little Debbie!

That's right. I said it. FAR superior snack aisle end cap of horrible goodness to be had.

  • You ever eat a frozen SWISS (formerly CAKE) ROLL?
  • Ever eat an entire box of Star Crunch while stoned out of your mind?
  • When is the last time you took two Oatmeal Creme (no "cream" to be found, thankfully) Pies and carefully peeled off one of the cookies from each to make one SUPER creme pie from the frosted remnants?
  • Can you even imagine a Christmas without a Cherry Cordial
  • Can a kid even move on to the 1st grade without regular Nutty Bar consumption (and if your kid has peanut allergies, that's on YOU)?
  • Did you know Strawberry Shortcake Rolls can actually change the lunar calendar if consumed in enough quantity?
  • When you learned about the birds and the bees did you clearly hear the part where sharing Fudge Rounds actually count as second base in some cultures (silly New Jersey!)? 
  • You probably feel silly making your OWN Rice Krispie treats when THESE are on the shelves, right?
  • Did you know people actually allow the Pecan Spinwheel to pass for BREAKFAST? 

Look, I'm not saying that I didn't enjoy the Ding Dong, Ho-Ho, Orange Cup Cake, or the amazing, amazing "Fruit Pie" (quote used for obvious intent) once upon a time but I WILL say that until Little Debbie gives up the ghost, we are NOT in a snack cake crisis in this country. We're simply not.

11/19/12

None Shall Sleep . . .

I'm too tired and sleep lost to really write today so I'll "punt" with a clip of my favorite aria (yes, I have a favorite - you should too, dammit!) of all time. Nessum Dorma (None Shall Sleep) from Puccini's Turandot.

The gist of the piece is that a Princess has decreed that no one in the kingdom can sleep until the name of a man who has won the right to marry her is discovered THUS allowing her to NOT marry him (royal loopholes are brutal). Operas rarely make sense and are even less frequently in English (the good ones, anyway). I like this piece and it "speaks" to me because a) It is beautiful and b) Defeat lies in simple identity. Maybe we should all just try harder to constantly reinvent ourselves as  better, improved versions of ourselves versus rest on who we "are" in name alone. And maybe those around us should allow us the chance to evolve and prove ourselves worthy of acceptance.



Tomorrow I'm going to blog about something funny. I swear. Seriously. Stay tuned. And enjoy a skinnier Pavarotti in the interim.

11/18/12

Loss . . .

We talk a lot about "loss" in our society. We care and complain about a lot of things that are completely inconsequential.

Catch the K-State game last night? Bummer, right? Pants a little snug? I feel you. Can't find your car keys? I'll give you a ride somewhere. Upset about The Civil Wars going on hiatus? Not nearly as much as I am.

I want to make a modest proposal - let's stop tossing around the word "loss" and let's start to ration our requests for help, support, sympathy, and how we respond to these inquiries and put some actual parameters in place to make things a wee easier for those who really are in need.

Three criteria I might suggest:

1) Has YOUR life been altered in some way by what has (not) happened?
2) Is there any way to get it back in line or make it right, on your own or with the help of others?
3) Does your "loss" have an objective value that others could easily understand and relate to?

If you manage things on your own, try. If you can't not - get all the help that is appropriate. 

I've gained weight, I'm getting divorced, my company is not as strong and successful as we'd hoped, I don't have the happiest of dreams most nights and my thermostat is super sensitive in the wrong direction. NONE of you care and none of you should.

I saw people experience true loss this week. Something so profoundly shook their lives that I would have crumbled if in their shoes. Instead, I was merely a witness. I could feel their loss and offer support, help, and encouragement. I showed love and friendship in ways that were so simple and obvious that I hope it wasn't even noticed. It didn't matter what I did. Those feeling loss showed such grace, strength, and uncompromised love for each other and for their loss that I was left humbled and even more sure that my trivial woes in this world are not worth airing to anyone else. Even my pain-in-the-ass shrink.

Life is short and precious, my friends. Keep perspective. Be mindful. Make sure the people and things in your life that you hold most dear know their meaning and their value. Stop trying make everything precious or important. Only a very small portion of "stuff" is and if it makes the cut - it deserves your attention.  

11/16/12

Give vs. Receive . . .

I read the great piece Suzanne Tobias wrote for yesterday's Eagle about limiting Holiday excess and it reminded me of one of my favorite holiday spots EVER (and no, it is NOT the Coca Cola tractor trailer spot - maybe the WORST holiday spot ever and that includes every assault Gap has ever put on us this time of year). Take a few minutes and watch the spot . . .



You back with me? It's okay if you're still teary. I've watched it 5,281 times and I still well up every time. The reason I adore the spot is not because of the production value (which is high) or the great job the kid actor does (which is admirable) . . . it is because of the "twist" at the end.

WHY should we be surprised that kids can be GIVING this time of year? Why do we NOT presume they will show kindness and good nature and selflessness? I'm not raising a perfect child but I have a child who is, generally, very gracious when receiving gifts and seems to genuinely enjoy giving them. And the times she does not show appreciation - her stuff "disappears" for a while and is doled back to her at later times. Maybe it is because we've never been excessive at the holidays (one serious gift from Mommy and Daddy for each year she is old, one large gift for each year she is old from Santa and a generous stocking) or maybe (hopefully) it is because we are lucky enough to have a kid in our midst that is not unable to truly embrace the logic that it is better to give than to receive. At the end of the day it is probably because her mother is a genuinely good person that teaches her things like humility and selflessness. Daddy teaches her vulgarities.

11/15/12

Choice in Obligation . . .


Wait, wait, wait . . . Before you start reading (and presuming you have/use Spotify) - hit the "play" button above. Got it? Good. Read on.

There are few things in this world that annoy me more than people who ONLY do things out of a sense of "obligation" and will TELL YOU as much. If your heart, joy, best intent, and special sauce is/are not behind it - save it for the cheap seats and find something you can do with gusto. That's what I always say.

I have no data to verify this next claim but I believe that women are far more likely to act solely out of obligation than men and the women of our heartland (that's you, Wichitennes) are at the highest probabilty of this mentality in these United States. (To clarify, you are far LESS likely act obligatorily than your sisters in the Middle East, etc. and for that, I salute you).

WHY do I believe the above hookie? Simple. You were raised that way because your mothers were raised that way, who learned it from their mothers, who got taught by their mothers who came up acting under obligation. Take this two, maybe three more generations and you're somewhere in Europe so this argument will degrade itself BUT I know, that you know, that I know, that YOU know what I'm sayin'.

I'm not faulting you women (or your mothers). Not in the least. Being selfless and giving and presuming that certain things are mandates (me shaving the tops of my feet, for instance) is a gift. I believe, in certain doses, contexts, and scenarios it is a beautiful and majestic way to go through life. I WISH I could feel a sense of obligation beyond my daughter, my work, a handful of family and friends, and paying taxes. I would be a better person for it. Anchored, perhaps.

Now don't get huffy . . . I'm not asking you to change or cautioning you against raising your daughters to feel and respect obligation but I might ask you to do me a favor . . . teach them the CHOICE in obligation.

Let them understand that doing/saying/thinking/eating/cooking/cleaning/shifting/packing/folding/ buying/wearing/acting/reporting/arguing/wanting/needing/loathing/unloading/missing/loving/etc. ANYTHING is fine (as long as no laws, morals, wills, or values are broken in the process) but encourage them to understand any of the above endeavors (or otherwise) are still CHOICES. They do not have to __________ them. They could engage in an alternative, have someone do them, or just ignore them. It would be BETTER if any of the above are entered in to and finalized by choice.

They will feel better. The impacted will feel better. YOU will feel better. And your Great-Great-Great-Great-Grandmothers - who risked scurvy and THE plague for the life you now enjoy in the "new world" would want - no REQUIRE - it that way.

11/14/12

'Til Fortune Cookie Does Us Part . . .

I've recently been talking with a variety of people about sex - specifically mindsets around it and how "partnering" or "relationships" and "fidelity" do and do not inform sexual decisions. I'd like to make a disclosure that shocked me and may shock you.

I, Sean Amore, view sex with the same wide-eyed, cautious, life-changing perspective of the stereo-typed 14-year-old girl who is moderately attractive, has healthy self esteem, two parents who are appropriately involved in her life and set an example for a healthy relationship, and has some Jesus in her heart.

I'll give you a minute to absorb . . . We good? Me too. Let's continue.The real hang up I have is how we handle partners in sexual affairs. It is 2012 (I can SEE 2013 from here) and I'm 36 so I realize my mindset is a little antiquated but hear me out and make your own decisions. I'll allow it.

HERE is my view on sex - specifically sexual fidelity - it is the all-you-can-eat strip mall buffet. Let me clarify:

You can eat anywhere. You could go to the grocery store, hit a drive-thru, mooch off a buddy, hit a QSR, put on a sports coat and steak house it, go to the soup kitchen - whatever you like. But when you PICK a place and ORDER the food . . . that it is. You've made your decision. You have a meal (for those I've already lost - the "meal" is a "partner"). You may LOVE this meal. It may well blow. Your. Mind. You may start eating 3 meals a day and you may order the same dish (sexual positions is a future blog post that will give you reason to worry). You might hate it and swear that place off maybe even tell your friends and loved ones to never eat there (cyber-bullying is a future blog post as well). Or you may decide "eh" - put it in the rotation of meals and go there once in a while. You get one "thing" to eat and when it is done, so are you.

Consider the buffet. NOT the same thing as any other restaurant or food option. The buffet is a COMMITMENT. It is a RELATIONSHIP. You walk in the door and present yourself. You're one adult. You pay the flat fee. It is non-negotiable. You are lead to a seat, asked if you want a drink (a kind, generous lover indeed). Once you dispense pleasantries you grab a plate and get to work. And work you shall. You can take your time. Sample. Load it up. Combine the dressing from the salad bar with the chicken nuggets from the "American" section. Enjoy those donutty things with the sweet and sour sauce on them. Go crazy. And here's the best part - stay as long as you like. Eat. Rest. Chat. Surf the Internet. Visit the gift shop. As long as you are happy - they are happy.

Unhappy with the food? Temperature of the jello have you worried about sanitation? Feeling overwhelmed? Afraid to go too nuts and blow your diet? Go in with the best of intentions and putter out after a few twists of the ol' soft-serve machine? Don't like the synthesized pop music? Don't give it a second though. You are free to leave at any time. Napkin down. Tip on table (not a euphemism). Pants adjusted. Doors exited. Peace out.

You can stay 2 minutes or until close. But you have to make do with what they are serving. You can't leave and return. You can't bring in other food or drink. You can't invite other people to join you without an additional charge. There are no "quick leg stretch and I'll be backs" in the buffet world. You can't run an errand or two and come right back. You can't run to Cold Stone Creamery and then return for some more soup. You are IN and then you are OUT. You have committed. You have made a mutual (the proprietor welcomed you) decision to share some time. Few to no buffets have any "rules" posted. There are no contracts to be signed. No one ever taps their server on the elbow to clarify the policies of the house. Nope. It is all implied and understood and agreed upon without a word being spoken on the specifics.

You go for the buffet (have sex) you are ONLY having the buffet until you close out the tab/the kitchen closes and you move on down the strip mall. Everyone knows that you've made a choice and commitment. There is trust in that. There is a mutual comfort in that. There is something special in that. There is a Mongolian barbecue in that (ideally).

11/13/12

Simple Music, Simple Pleasures . . .

I do enjoy simple music lately. Next best thing to "quiet." Perhaps better? Either way - please to enjoy.

Ólafur Arnalds - Ljósið (Official Music Video) from Erased Tapes on Vimeo.

Kindness . . .

According to Dictionary.com, “Kindness” is defined as:

1. the state or quality of being kindkindness to animals.
2.kind  act; favor: his many kindnesses to me.
3. kind  behavior: will never forget your kindness.
4. friendly feeling; liking.

No. I don’t know what that means either. There are some words/qualities in this world; kindness, love, fat, trust, faith, delicious, safe, etc. that are all subjective no matter how many tools or resources you may have to evaluate them against.

“Kindness” is, in my opinion, the second most important thing a human being can exhibit (behind only GENUINITY (not really a word)). I think – KNOW – it is important because of all of us do it and receive it every day. The trick is that not everyone knows/sees/accepts it the same way because we all define/perceive it differently.

Which of these is the most kind?

1.       Putting a quarter or two in an expired meter.
2.       Giving $1,000 to aid relief for victims of Super Storm Sandy (or any other disaster).
3.       Holding the door for a stranger with their arms full.
4.       Writing handwritten, affection-laden notes each morning to your lover (the world's 5th creepiest word).

Correct answer? ALL and NONE of the above. How is that possible? Simple. You do not k now what those impacted by your action(s) see or want/need as kindness. You can’t quantify or value your kindness in dollars/cents/time/written characters. You (as the giver) are irrelevant in the exchange. KINDNESS is about the value received. A purely emotional, completely subjective, not at all quantifiable exchange. Your last dime or breath could be mean nothing, no matter how you spend it, if it is put in the wrong place. Some people cannot perceive or appreciate kindness. Some people cannot get enough of it.

So what’s a sad sack to do? Kind your ass off. Look for every opportunity you can to show kindness but only in ways that are genuine, within your means, and likely to bring a positive effect/value to the recipient and are within everyone involved’s comfort. Conversely (and this is so, so important) if you are lucky enough to be the recipient of some kindness, look for ways to feel and own it. It is a two-way-street no matter where you are or want to go. Share the road. HOPEFULLY there is a fill for every need. But it may be only be a partial void relief.

Be kind, people! You will not know if it is worth it or not until it is done/too late but you should feel great just  putting the effort out there. The beauty? It is also a personal decision if you're being kind enough. 

11/12/12

Talent is The Pursuit of a Goal . . .

I am "good" at a handful of things. I can talk my way in and out of most situations. I can tell a joke with relatively effective timing. I can give blood every 60 days. I can read to Ava to great and regular applause. I cook better than the average bear.  I earned a ton of merit badges showing general aptitude at various disciplines, etc. One thing I was NOT overly "good" at but really enjoyed and pursued was music.

I loved to sing and play my flute. I was in choir, had roles in musicals, sang at church for the Christmas Season, was in concert, parade, and field band, and I even tried to perform various solos along the way. With the exception of a rousing piccolo during Stars and Stripes Forever, it never really panned out. I guess I  sang better than I played but, even then, I was far more a support player than a leader or stand-out. But that didn't stop people (including my lunatic, overly supportive parents) from thinking I was "talented." But I think what they really meant was that I was dedicated.

I went to the Wichita Symphony Orchestra's Youth Orchestras concert yesterday. Three groups of young people came out on a professional stage and played extremely well. I was very, very impressed. As a collective, they were very talented. As individuals they were obviously all extremely dedicated to their music and their skills.

I see "kids" differently now than I did before becoming a parent. I got genuinely misty as the various ensembles took the stage and parents would wave to their kids or eagerly snap photos. These parents beamed at the pursuits of their children often looking right past their own role in supporting their son(s) and/or daughter(s), driving them to/from lessons, filling their heads with great music that is anything but "cool" or "popular" among the teen set.

Talent is nothing more than the pursuit of a goal. To be talented takes focus, dedication, some good luck, and a lot of support and encouragement. And bow rosin - in some situations.

11/11/12

Things I Covet . . .

I try very hard to not walk around the world "wanting" stuff. I try to be self sufficient. I rarely ask anyone for anything that I can't do for myself and MOST of the time even when I DO ask for support or help or stuff - I feel super weird about it. That being said, I'm a mere mortal and there are things in this world that I want that I can't provide myself. Here are just a few (in plenty of time for the Hanukkah season).

BIKE - I have a bike. My in-laws gave it to me. It was a fantastic gift but I didn't take very good care of it and now it has some rust and some cable issues. If I get a new one, I'll take super-duper care of it. And I will ride it a lot and drive less and will be a good bicyclist vs. those a-holes that put themselves in harm's way, etc. I prommmmmmmmmise!

FAITH - The ability to advance my current mindset that everything (good and bad) happens for a reason to include the notion that ALL of those things are orchestrated by a power/entity bigger than the rest of us. A power by the name of G-d!

LESS MEAT - I don't want to be a vegetarian, vegan, or pescetarian but I do want to eat less meat. Also, less processed food, less fat, less sodium, less guilty pleasures. I just want to eat better.

MICRO-HOUSE - I live in a 400 square foot apartment. There are (fleeting) moments when Ava is here and it feels a wee cramped but, generally, it feels like more than enough space. I want to build a place that is maybe on a little more property but not much bigger that I can truly call mine.

PEACE - I want to feel comfortable, content, and confident in where I am and where I am going. Remember - peace is not the absence of war . . . it is the absence of the threat of war.

PERSPECTIVE - I wish I could find this crap funny. Everyone else seems to. I just can't get in to it.

SKILLS - No. I'm not talkin' with a "z" (that ship has probably sailed, sorry ladies) but I want to learn new things. Get better at knitting, learn Hebrew, frame out a door jamb, make my own sharp cheddar cheese, be able to discuss Eastern European politics with relative confidence. SO much to learn. NO better time to do so than today.

THESE

VICTORY - Skibba is way, way, way better at Connect 4 AND CANDY LAND (a game that has NO skill/strategy/gamer mindset potential) than I am. I want to shame her. I know. Petty. Oh well.

YOGA - I want to get more limber, build a little muscle, get more focused, and have an activity where farting in front of other people is just sort of "accepted" as no big deal.

11/10/12

Changing It Up . . .

I hate change. Loathe it. For those that truly know me, this is a bit of an understatement. I don't like moving, changing cable providers, shortening the length of my grass or shopping for a "new" sugary cereal for Ava.

Hell - I don't even like having to find new toothpaste when Crest discontinues my favorite flavor (and where HAS my Whitening Expressions Vanilla Mint gel gone anyway, you jerks? - side bar, Tom's of Maine makes some amazing yapper scrub.). I don't like any part of change. I will stay "where" I am doing, "what" I am doing forever if someone or something can't force me shake it up.

I can remember when I was in school the first two or three weeks of the academic year/semester were wasted by my angst of having to redesign my days and hours and the first two or three weeks of break were lost to the same stewing. I'd be cranky, angry, disjointed, and generally unpleasant.

It has been 12 1/2 years since I finished my Master's degree. In that time my "change" has been limited to dating, getting married, separating, moving four times (including this last move which puts me exactly .72 miles from my previous residence) and changing jobs three times. That's a remarkable amount of status quo for a guy that is constantly telling people to take calculated chances/risks and to pursue life with gusto.

I could easily argue that the reason I give advice I would probably not take myself is because of some deep insecurity that I'm not able to handle risks or chances taken. That's not true. I could try to blame this on a reverse-psychology trick designed to make others suffer. Not my style. One might presume that I'm trying to mask my own behaviors with best intentions. No need for that. Nope. The reason I would give advice I might not take myself is simple . . . I WISH I could figure out how to handle change because I believe it to be simple, manageable, and positive. The advice I give others is the advice I give myself. Daily.

I'm learning to be more adventurous. Trying to take chances. Factoring in strategic risks in my choices and behaviors. Hoping to walk the talk and trying, very hard, to not waste a single minute of opportunity and transition because it is not something I'm comfortable with.

Turns out - my hippie toothpaste tastes nothing like my old favorite but I sorta' like it better. 

11/9/12

Fun. Wants You to "Be Calm" . . .

Generally easier said than done. ALWAYS easier said that performed. Either way - BE CALM!

11/8/12

If You Need Me, I'll Be In the Real World . . .

There comes a time in every man's life when he has to accept that he's losing touch. With that in mind - ahem (steps up to podium) "I, Sean C. Amore, am losing touch."

I don't mean to imply that I'm losing touch with the hip/in-crowd/youth (I whip my thinning hair to and fro just like like any other kid that's getting jiggy these days (you gotta' click on the links to see what I really did just there)). Quite the opposite. I'm still, emotionally, the same 12-year-old-boy I've always been (and hope to always be). Nope. I'm not losing any street cred. I'm losing touch of what is important and I might argue you are too.

WHAT do I blame? Nothing more than me. And you. And "us." I blame us for allowing technology to make our "relationships" too simple. We no longer "need" to "do" anything to communicate with all the people we "love" (let me know when these air-quotes get super annoying vs. a wee annoying). Nope. We now need do just ONE thing to stay on top of our entire world - log. on. to. Facebook.

It's true. Sadly. Every picture we take - FACEBOOK. Video we shoot - FACEBOOK. Lunch we eat - FACEBOOK. Birthday we celebrate - FACEBOOK. And it is not just the vanity that our every move is important. Nay. NAY! We can "tag" people in our every move. If I have lunch with you - FACEBOOK. If I'm in the background of that photo talking with someone - FACEBOOK. If you fill my hand with shaving cream and tickle my snoring nose - FACEBOOK. (And screw you for doing that to me anyway, asshat.)

Well - I have one thing to say - F*CK FACEBOOK.

I hate it. TRULY. I can't tell you how many times in the past few years I've heard about MAJOR life changes in my friends' lives that I'll inquire about and will be told "Well, I put it on Facebook." Sure. Sure. I could/should log on to Facebook every day and be "friends" with every jergov I've ever met. Why not!? We were in 1st grade together? Well then PLEASE tell me where you had lunch - TODAY - 30 years later! Grrrrrrr. Do I "need" you to call me or come see me in person? No. But what it be nice, just once, to get a birth announcement in the mail with a picture of your sweet-sweet bay-bay? YEP!

I digress. Again. Let me just say this. Do YOU a favor. Shut down your Facebook page for 30 days. Don't log in. Don't check your "stream." Delete your apps on your phones and tablets to minimize temptation. Maybe even change your password and allow a trusted friend to be the only one that knows the new one. Once the 48 hour shakes subside (I suggest hard candy and a wool blanket) you will find, on day 31, that when you log in you just do. not. care. It all seems absurd.

If you can't "quit" - at least cut the crap.

You do NOT "like" every picture ever taken of that friend's 3 year old. You do NOT "like" that your friend's father has terminal cancer but the family is pulling together. You do NOT "like" those vapid e-cards with vintage drawings saying profane things from otherwise gingerly ladies. And you certainly do not "LIKE" every brand in your pantry, medicine chest, closet, and digestive tract.

Please. Just 30 days. TRY to be more genuine and sincere in your interactions.

In the meantime - pick up the phone. Call someone. Send a text or an e-mail at worse. Even better - see if someone wants to go grab coffee and bring their phone full of pictures with them to go through together. Maybe have them bring that 3 year old over so you can properly love on parent and child.

WORST case - and if you do NOTHING else - cut the crap with the birthday wish deluges. IF you don't care enough to pick up the phone and call someone (like I will call my friend Carrie Clancy later today) or - even better - write and mail them an actual card - at LEAST show them the decency to not just put throw-away blather on their Facebook wall for all the world to "like." 

11/7/12

Come Tell Me a Story . . .

I've been spending time with a lot of people lately. I've always spent time with people (work, board meetings, volunteering, movie theaters, restaurants, police line-ups, etc.) and I genuinely, truly LOVE people.

I like to watch the, listen to them, learn from them, occasionally (?) criticize them, but - mainly - I like to talk WITH them.

I love nothing more than a solid, open-ended question about any of the following five topics . . .

1) Life Story
2) Life Dreams
3) Sex Stories/Dreams (smile)
4) Random (Mis)Adventures
5) The ________ Thing That Has Ever Happened to Them

. . . and just seeing what bubbles up. TYPICALLY these questions result in you sharing/hearing real stories/tales/yarns. In the interest of full disclosure, part of why I love talking about things beyond the weather or the day behind/ahead is that when you ask a question with some meat, you get to hear stories that go beyond bare bones to so, so much more.

Do yourself a favor. Next time you're with someone you have any more interest in than simply discussing weather fronts and sports scores, breeze through the formalities and lob them a good, strong, open-ended inquiry and listen - REALLY listen - to what they say next.

Then do them a favor and ask another. And another. And another. At some point they will probably interrupt you and ask you a question or two back but, in lieu of that, ask, listen, learn, enjoy.

Forget the weather - there is an app for that.

11/6/12

Kansas Train Law . . .


There is a law here in Kansas that is not that dis-similar from other outdated and silly laws around the world but I only want to talk about one particular law - the Kansas Train Law.

The law is simple: "If two trains meet on the same track(s), neither shall proceed until the other has passed."

In other words - I can't move until you move but you can't move until I move and, in the meantime, we're likely face-to-face with no place to go but backwards anyway so "proceeding" is not the right word anyway. The law's intent is simple and from a simpler time - courtesy, patience, safety, etc. You can't just steam (or coal, or electric, or magnet) your way over the top of someone else and you should not presume any amount of standoff ensures you the right of way. But at the end of the day someone HAS to go first. One train or the other HAS to move.

It MIGHT make more sense for the engineers/conductors (who actually helms a train, anyway?) to get out, walk down the track and talk in out. But we're not sensical, level-headed, patient people. If we changed our train law to insist on dialogue and true problem solving vs. blind courtesy and patience, we'd have to IMMEDIATELY re-write the law to clarify you could not fistfight, name call, hair pull, or fail to put your emergency brake on before leaving the train to begin with.

Bottom line . . . patience is better that stubborn, common sense reliance is easier than actual problem solving, traveling and shipping by rail is not as simple as it might otherwise seem, and I need to better learn my train terminology.

Be careful out there!

11/5/12

#30DaysOfThanks . . .


Twitter is abuzz with three things these days: 1) Politics 2) Sports 3) People being "thankful." The infamous "hashtag" gets a polite overhaul as people cite one thing they are thankful for each day for 30 straight days. I try to keep my politics to myself (he says with an attempted straight face). I can't stand sports. I'm too distracted to spread my appreciation over 30 days while ensuring one thing per day and no repeats so - inspired (as per general) by my friend Katie Grover - I decided to get all 30 things over with at once.

1) My Daughter. It is sorta' trite to be publicly thankful for your kids but, in my case, being a father has forced me to be humble, patient, caring, kind, and good at counting by 2s, 3s, 5s, and 10s. I don't know that I'm the best father in the world but I know I'm the best man I can be in this world because I am a father.

2) Family. I'm not an easy person to love. I deeply resent the effort people put in to it, frankly. But I have a mother and father who have always put in the work, endured my push back, celebrated my growths, and encouraged me more than I deserve. They humble me and I hope to be a fraction of the Parent (big P) they show it is possible to be. My two brothers are also great men who have done their best to love me and have, in the meantime, found women who love them.

3) Board Games. Every spend an hour or two over a kitchen table with a piece of cardboard and some plastic pieces laid between you and a friend, or two, or six? Did you add some food and beverage? If so - you know exactly what I am talking about. People. Challenge. Friendly competition. Laughter. Connect4!

4) Old Friends. I miss you all. I'm coming for you. I appreciate all your thoughts, prayers, love, and support. Always have. Always will.

5) Judaism. Thousands of years of people being put upon, enslaved, tortured, killed, generally resented, and chastised. All for having an unwavering faith in G-d, a strong commitment to their community, and a willingness to accept their roles and responsibilities to the community. Also - for having an amazingly beautiful culture over which the religion is laid and has evolved. Shalom.

6) Mix "Tapes". I've got 11,375 songs on iTunes and a dud ain't one. If I have NOT made one of the 74 mixes I've put together in the last few months for you - drop me a note. I'll rectify that immediately.

7) New Friends. There is a wonderful moment in a life crisis where you realize that you are not alone and you have wonderful people all around you that support you, make you laugh, challenge you, and, if you play your cards just right, give you hugs, kisses, and affections to buoy you. I appreciate that crap out of people lately. Just don't bother to "love" me (you've been collectively warned (smile))!

8) Literacy. I am currently reading nine books NOT including the Torah. I have seven more books in the active "to read" pile and 30 or 40 more books that I want to get through. Can you imagine not being able to read? To not be able to escape in to pages and the adventures of other people? That would suck. You'd have to get cable or a case of bourbon to make it through.

9) Boobs. I'm not going to tell you why - you either get it or you don't. Either way - good for you!

10) Music. Specifically Adele, The Civil Wars, Freelance Whales, Philip Glass, and "Nightswimming" by R.E.M. lately. I listen to music at least three or four hours a day and I can not imagine not having music to get me through the days and the evenings. I am even playing my flute and singing to myself in the shower and car again. I apologize if you ever overhear either.

11) Mental Health Professionals. This will shock you all but I'm in counseling and I could NOT be happier (this time). I have been on and off shrink couches most of my life and this is the first time I don't take it as a chore or a negative. I may even make progress one of these days. If not - please come visit me at Batshitcrazy Acres and be gentle with your touch. The electroshock can be hard on the skin.

12) Work. I love to work. Always have, always will. I like the pressure of earning (and providing true value for) a paycheck and I like being around people who are smart, engaged, inspired, and diligent. It doesn't hurt that I truly enjoy my colleagues but, at its core, I spend 55 - 60 hours a week doing something I truly love with fun people and that opportunity makes me a better thinker and person. What's not to be thankful for?

13) Hummus and Cheez-Its. You gotta' eat so at least let it be stuff you love, right?

14) Sleep. The best chance we get, daily, to slip away from whatever is right or wrong and just shut it all down. On a GOOD night, we dream. On a GREAT night, those dreams are positive and encouraging.

15) KMUW-FM. I love my public radio station and the people who work there are all fantastic. Truly. I don't have cable. I don't get the newspaper. I spend very little time on "news" websites and Twitter is not exactly the world's best place for staying up to speed on the world around you so I listen to KMUW often and with great intent.

16) Penny Loafers. In a world full of shoes, I'm thankful for my eight pair of penny loafers and the fact that so few Kansans wear them that I can somehow be "unique" in one of the most common ways to cover your feet in the world today. To clarify - I have one penny (not even a set) across my sixteen penny loafers. On the left shoe of my cordovan leather soles. It was the first penny I found on the streets of DC when I moved there for my internship and graduate school.

17) Honesty. I am a blunt person with no hesitations to share opinions (solicited or otherwise). I rarely hold back and I don't sugar coat stuff but I have been less than honest about a lot of "little" things for a long time. I'm not a LIAR in any way but I've stretched the truth a lot about how I'm doing and what is going and the last 90 - 120 days or so have been all honesty, all the time. This is jarring to some especially as relates to how I am doing (rarely do you get a simple "well" when you ask) but - people have been very accommodating and I appreciate that.

18) Confidence. My parents raised me right. I know too many people who don't believe in themselves, their talent, their intelligence, their appearance, or their whatever. I have never had these hang ups. Sure there are times I'm not 100% "on" but - I'm at least PRESENT 100% of the time and that is saying something.

19) Netflix on the Roku. I don't have cable. My Roku makes that just fine. I've consumed EASILY 1,000 hours of Roku time in the last year. And I'm FINE with that.

20) Sidewalks. I have gained a LOT of weight in the last year (things I am NOT thankful for is another list for another time). But I'm aware of it. I own it. And - best part - I am doing something about it. WALKING. Miles at a time, ideally. I walk on my own, with my friend Juliann, with other friends or with random strangers who happen to walk at the same time, in the same place, and at the same pace. Honk if you see me, people!

21) The Hours. DVD, book, and score. DVD is easy and if you've not seen it - for shame! You will cry and cry and cry. Or that is just me. The book is actual work but WORTH it. Great read. The score is fantastic and makes me super happy and puts a tingle in my dingle too (you've been warned).

22) Joy. Let me be very direct and clear about this . . . Joy is an amazing woman. She's smart, funny, caring, dynamic, talented, and exciting. We did not make it as a husband and wife. There's been hurt feelings, poor decisions, and spilled milk. I would be a fool, liar, and disingenuous man if I didn't give her FULL credit for changing the way I viewed the world, saw my life playing out, engaged with people and relationships, and how I continue to feel about love, shared lives, and what it means to be "present." I might not even be alive today and I'm certainly not a father and professional today without her. I am thankful for every minute Joy and I have shared. Even the shitty ones. And there have been LOTS of those these last few years.

23) Werewolf. Thanks to Denise Bruce and her art gallery home full of her crew of smart, funny, cynical, welcoming friends (including moderator extraordinaire Nick Jungman) and delicious food and beverage, my life is forever changed for I have played Werewolf. It may be the most fun I've had criticizing, questioning and otherwise harassing

24) Hebrew. Want to feel challenged in this life? Try to learn a new language at the age of 36. One that reads from right to left, that has no connection with the very comfortable Romance languages and that uses characters and symbols you're not familiar with all while making your tongue dizzy. And you will be THANKFUL that you have the ability to be so challenged and by your own choice.

25) Crayons. I own 2.450 of them. That's a real number. I have them in my desk, in my laptop bag, in my car, in my apartment, at the house, and I give them as gifts so they might be where I go. Give me a fresh 24 box, a piece of paper, and three minutes of peace and quiet and I'm better for it.

26) Tea. Iced. Hot. Luke warm. Splenda-enriched. Straight up. In a mug. In a foam cup. Flavored. Green, white, black, red. Whatever you got - pour it. I'll take it! And LIKE it.

27) My Little Apartment. 400 square feet of peace, tranquility, drafts, out-of-code heating units, and a space that is fantastically "mine." With exception to the 50% of the time Ava is with me, this is the first time I've ever lived alone in my entire life. I see why you people enjoy it so much. I'm thankful for the time alone.

28) The Warren Theatre. $10 and two free hours is all you need to escape this world. It'll be $30 more if you want any food or beverage on your adventure. On the "must see" list for the coming months are A Late Quartet, Les Miserables, Hyde Park on Hudson, Rise of the Guardians (I'm a dad, leave me alone), and Holy Motors (because random, random movies make me happy (see Beasts of the Southern Wild (a beautiful movie that I enjoyed very much))).

29) Tattoos. Not for me (obviously) but for all you nut jobs out there that love anything enough to get it permanently inked in to your flesh. The world needs more things that are permanent (and or removable only with lasers).

30) Etsy. I spend WAY too much time on Etsy. It reminds me how much creativity there is in the world and how beauty/art is in the eye of the beholder. Also that "hipsters" are super, super annoying and gaining ground on the rest of us.

There you have it. 30 things I am thankful for. No fluff, no additives, no parabens. Hope you find some time this month (daily or all at once) to focus on what you are thankful for.

L'Chayim!