6/30/13

Sunday Funday . . .

Regular posts will resume tomorrow. I can't guarantee they will be daily (I will actually have crap to do and work to focus on) but I promise to stay as vigilant as possible. In the meantime - enjoy the day. Here is some very funny stuff from Bill Burr talking about Paula Deen and the Disgrace Channel! Please to enjoy . . .

6/28/13

Happiness . . .

Being happy is a state of mind? Being happy is a state of mind! I watched this video of happy people in Russia and it blew my mind, a little. Why? My ethnocentric brain still thinks Cold War and freezing temps and general misery for all of Mother Russia's children.

Clearly that is not the case. Why did I ever think it was? And do they think the same thing about Americans? And are they right? Happiness . . . it is what you make it. Have great weekends, y'uns.

People in sunny Russia from sixtwelve on Vimeo.

6/27/13

Celebrate . . .

I'm going to buy one (or maybe ALL) of the BIG "Seeds of
Happiness" for my new desk. They have inspired me!
Well, folks. It is over (it = my job search). I am thrilled to inform you that I was formally offered and formally accepted a job today and will HAPPILY be at work at 8 AM on Monday morning.

I won't really get in to the specifics of the job here (I am going to try something different and not make my work life part of my personal life for a few random reasons) but if you check me out on LinkedIn, you can see the 5Ws of the new job. What I WILL get in to here is how very, very much I appreciate being back to work AND all the kindness, support, love, encouragement, and direct help people have given me all these months. I am humbled and emboldened by it. I don't like ("hate" is a better word) asking for help and I'd much rather be giving the favor than taking but I didn't really know, until this phase in my life, how many people would be willing and readily able to help me out. 

Here is an overview of my unemployment - by the proverbial numbers . . . 
  • Days Since I Found Out My Job Was Going Away: 171
  • Days Since I Last Worked: 142
  • Number of Job Postings I Have Looked At: 532
  • Estimate to Replace the Cushion and Upholstery on the Bench I've Sat on 10 hours/day Nearly Every Day for the Last 6 Months: $350 (which I'll HAPPILY pay)
  • Number of Those Postings That Were Sent By a Friend/Professional Contact/Hybrid: 83
  • Number of "Thank You" Notes I've Written and Sent During This Process: 423
  • Number of Miles I've Walked/Run/Hybrid in Just the Last Month: 94 (Average of three per day)
  • Number of People I Asked to DIRECTLY Help Me With a Job Opening: 16
  • Number of People That HELPED When Asked: 16
  • Number of "Greetings from Wichita" Post Cards People Offered to Send One Job Lead for Me: 62
  • Number of Jobs I Formally Applied For: 51
  • Number of Jobs I Applied For With a "Contact" That Might Help Me With the Job: 48
  • Gallons of Iced Tea Brewed and Consumed: 41
  • Number of Formal Interviews (Including Phoners): 29
  • Number of Lunches/Breakfasts/Coffees/Etc. I've Had to Network: 23
  • Number of Times the Person Across the Table Offered to Pay: 22
  • Number of Time I Let Them: 21
  • Number of Meals I Owe Friends Who Picked Up Checks While I Was Unemployed: 42
  • Number of Meals I Owe Kevin and Nancy Hallacy Specifically: 11
  • Number of Call-Backs/Second Interviews: 16
  • Number of People That Touched Base with Me at LEAST 1x/week For This Entire Process: 11 
  • Number of People Who Checked In "Regularly": 20ish
  • Number of Times I Was Told I Was "A" Finalist: 9
  • Number of Times I Was Told I Ended Up in 2nd Place: 4
  • Number of Times I Cried and Bear-Hugged Kevin Hallacy Upon Getting the Formal Offer (He was with me - we went to see World War Z): 2
  • Number of Offers I Received that Were NOT Right For Various Reasons: 2
  • Number of People That Have Been "Rude" To Me During This Phase: 1
  • Number of Extra Hours I've Spent with My Daughter During This Process: Hundreds
  • Number of Times She and I Discussed Me Not Having a Job: 0
  • Number of Times I Said "No" to Her Because of Money: 1 (Just last week I refused to go out to breakfast - but blamed it on her needed to get to Summer Camp)
  • Number of Days I've Actively Worried About Money: 19
  • Number of Regrets I Have About All of This: 0

6/26/13

In My Earholes . . .

Someone asked the other day what I listen to while I'm out running/sweating/panting/praying for the sweet release of death and I figured it was one of those questions that was really easy to answer and yet maybe not worth answering right away (the playlist of my misery is still very much a work on progress - the eventually goal is three and a half very tight hours of music (that's more than I'm going to need on race day anyway (sniff through the nose in a self satisfied way)).

But - in the meantime - I have nearly 100 songs and about seven hours of stuff that is on shuffle (for various reasons we can discuss later). Anywho - here it is - presented without any additional commentary or context. The only real thing it "must" have is a beat that makes me move and lyrics that are at no more annoying than the other runners all over this city making me look bad and trying to engage me along the way (seriously - stop it!).

Please to enjoy!

6/25/13

Real Women . . .

"Come on, girls. Let's show them how much fun it is to be in nothing but
our undergarments while crammed together like a flesh rainbow."
I just read this piece. You ready for a rant? Sure you are.

On behalf of people everywhere I'd like to officially declare the "shock" and "awe" or the "forward thinking" and "inclusive" nature of your all the marketing campaigns, artists, PR pros, life coaches, fashion designers, and encouraging words of parents, husbands, boyfriends, girlfriends, wives, friends, family, and neighbors that declare you don't have to be a blonde, sized two, and big racked 20-something with perfect teeth and a blue eyes to be an "attractive" or "normal" woman TRITE. (Would one of you verify that was even an actual sentence with proper punctuation? Thanks.)

Here's the thing . . . we GET it. We (nearly) ALL get it. And if YOU (dear reader) don't sit down and really FOCUS because I'm going to clarify the obvious for you. The world is full of ALL kinds of women. They are white, black, somewhere in the middle. They are tall, short, somewhere in the middle. They are thin, fat, somewhere in the middle. They are curvy, linear, somewhere in the middle. They have varying colors and styles of hair, teeth, complexions, mammary surrounds, legs, butts, feet, elbows, and (a personal favorite) clavicles. They are old, young, in the middle. They are smart, dumb, in between. You get where I'm going?

When Dove launched its "Real Women" campaign in September 2004 (nearly NINE YEARS AGO) there was something to it. The cynic in me will argue that, by then, our national self-conscious was already looking past print magazine ads to feel beautiful or "perfect" anyway but I'll allow it was the first BIG effort - from a company that makes beauty products and had, to that point, pretty much toed the line in its marketing, to say "No more, buckos!" (that was probably not the actual quote/tagline but I'm too lazy to track it down).

I get it. I do (calm down, people who love a woman with poor body image) - not EVERYONE is on board with this new world we've been living in for a few million years. Totally understood. Some people have had horrible people abuse them in whatever mental, verbal, psychological (or worse) way and told them their body and/or general appearance (or specific aspect of their appearance) was not good enough and they let it sink in. I get it. Some people (this effects men too, but to a much lesser extent) have harmed themselves and are unhealthy because of all this. My heart (vaguely) goes out. BUT their concern? It is an actual mental issue that is not going to go away with just my ranty blog post (But what it if did? Seriously. What? If? It? Did?) but that doesn't mean we're ALL still under some cloak of self-confusion.

I'm going to assume that 99% of Americans developed enough to make out shapes, colors, and sizes know know that genetics and environmental issues, life choices, and behaviors can change appearance. I'll say this to the hack photographer that inspired all this . . . eating (or not), carrying three kids and squeezing them out (or having them sliced to freedom) and nursing those kids (or not - some don't take to the teet - we get that, too) or juggling the demands of aging, mothering, working, friending, yogaing, not yogaing, couch sitting, boudoir photo taking, etc. etc. etc. leave the AVERAGE woman in America over the age of not-even-a-woman-yet slightly less than what was once positioned as beauty for our forced consumption. ONCE positioned.

Again - those women are rarer and rare all the time. Instead we see, rightfully so, "real" women in their place. NINE years in to the "Real Women" campaign . . . it is no longer edgy, ground breaking, or even all that kind. It is cliche and sorta' condescending, no?

Hillary Clinton is short, a little frumpy, and friggin' brilliant. Serena Williams is a force and fluke (not freak) of nature. I pick these two women because they were in adjacent articles on the web site open on the browser next to the one I'm typing this post in. But you could pick any other two women in the world and compare and contrast them and here's the thing . . . they are all attractive to someone (if that is even the point - which it is NOT). They are all accepted by MOST of the people around them for being who they are. They are all generally comfortable and confident and accepting of who they are.

I'll say this - I know a LOT of women (not biblicaly, clearly). Of the women I know, adore, and think are smart, funny, engaging, empowered, inspiring, enjoyable, well coiffed, confident, and otherwise wonderful to be around . . . I can't even tell you how many are "beautiful" or not in some flesh-only context. I find them beautiful in many other ways instead. No. I'm NOT an evolved man. TRUST me on that.

I'm just smart enough and self-aware enough to not let an advertising campaign or coffee table book of photographs tell me what is now, was then, or will someday be attractive, or "real" in a woman. I'm not impressed. I'm not moved. I'm not phased. I don't need this to help stuff to help me evaluate a woman. Or man. Or couch. Or light fixture. Or whatever.

6/24/13

Craziest. Night. Ever. (College) . . .

This is NOT the guy that worked a middle-management job
at my beloved 'piac and donned the suit but I can't find a
photo of him so . . . this will have to do.
I asked for some reader suggested posts several months back and my friend J-Hopp suggested the "Craziest night ever" (he has heard plenty of stories) so I promised to indulge him and even give life phases. I did high school a while ago - today - COLLEGE.

Let me set the scene. It's December, 1997. I'm finishing my first semester of my senior year and I've already made/announced (there was a prime time special on C-SPAN about it - it is where LeBron got the idea) my decision to leave Quinnipiac early to finish undergrad school/start graduate school at The George Washington University. I had already wrapped up all the classes I had to take to graduate and I could blow several grand and just drink my face off for fourteen more weeks on 200 pristine acres in Connecticut or I could head off in to the world and get a test run at city living and politics, etc. Candidly, I had also started to rub some of my long-time friends a wee the wrong way (I was sorta' bored Senior Year and, newly minted at 21 I did what any lame, cliched college kid would do . . . drank a lot) and realized I might "get" while the "getting" was good. How perfect was my timing? Let me tell you about my last night on campus . . .

There was an annual tradition on campus on the Wednesday night of the last week of fall semester classes - the staff and administration of the college (it is now a university) would cook and serve a holiday dinner to the student body. There was a hay ride up and down "Dorm Road" and there was a Santa out front to take photos and trade barbs with. We never missed this meal. A) It was a FREE meal long after we had run out of meal points. B) It was fun. C) We could get a tractor-drawn ride to dinner while drunk. We started drinking in the mid-afternoon (we were all seniors, come on) and we rode up the road and to dinner with mugs of peppermint schnapps with a splash of hot cocoa. We ate. Talked official garbage to Santa (I was in my own Santa suit). We ate. Drank canned beer from a back pack. Talked with friends and invited everyone back to our place for a keg party. Because why not? My stuff was packed. My peace was made. Let's finish this.

Around 7PM we boarded the hay wagon to go home. I was very drunk. Peed off the side of the wagon drunk. Told a woman I'd always had a crush on that I had, well, always had a crush on her drunk. We wandered back in our suite and went back to drinking. Photos were taken. Laughs were had. Around 11PM a very good female friend of mine showed up (after about 100 phone calls to her dorm room (she had a final in the morning)) and we kissed in the back stair well (this was a big thing for me - stop laughing). We decided around 11:30 PM, after about a gallon of beer and a liter of schnapps each we should PROBABLY go get something to eat. As the fates would have it a sober woman, who had always had a crush on my roommate (who had a girlfriend and loved her very much, I should clarify) showed up JUST then and we designated her our designated driver. We drove a few miles to a diner where, ironically (?), I had breakfast the morning I went on to Quinnipiac's campus for the first time. We were all-caps DRUNK at this point. And in NO condition to be in public. Something about the meal (and the copious amounts of booze after) had NOT agreed with me. We got seated in the exact center of the place - tables all around alternated between our peers and families minding their own business. We continued to drink canned beer from a back pack and ordered grub. Right around the time my food was delivered I grew bored of the confines of a diner. What is one to do?

Cross the street and buy a pack of smokes (no, I'm not now nor was I ever a smoker) and some adult magazines - of course - and then walk aimlessly about for a bit before returning to the diner (purchases in hand). I basically rallied the troops and we paid our bill and we left. It starts getting fuzzy from there, frankly. I remember riding back to campus with someone I barely knew. I remember going to about three or four other suites/apartments on campus before heading back to my own abode. I remember it being about 1 AM when I rolled in to my suite (and by "rolled" I mean screamed at the windows until one of my suitemates came and let me in). I brushed my teeth for sure (it made me, uh, "ill" to do so). I went to my room where there were two girls in my bed (no - not in that "let 'east' meet 'west' way" but in that "Whoa, whoa, whoa, are those two girls I barely know ASLEEP in my bed? That is MY bed way." and my roommate was in his bed desperately trying to get to sleep despite having our designated, designated driver AND one of her girlfriends trying to get in his bed with him (again - he loved his then girlfriend very, very much) for what MIGHT have been the "let 'east' meet 'west' way." I did what any good, loyal, roommate and friend would do - flatulated. Really, really aggressively and told all four girls to get the eff out and then pulled out my smokes and adult magazines and implied things were about to get odd with or without them.

They left. My roommate thanked me. Mocked me. Thanked me. Went to sleep. I left the suite and hit the campus. I don't think I had an agenda at that time. It just became obvious to me that I might never sleep on that campus again. Might never share night in that space again (all this was irrational - I had Senior Week in May). I walked, aimlessly, to the apartment of the girl I had confessed my affection for on that hay ride so many hours earlier and was pleased to find her awake. I apologized. She said it was okay. We talked for a while (probably an hour). There may or may not have been some affection (I truly don't remember, sorry woman I once sorta' loved).

I had started to sober up. If you've ever been drunk for nine straight hours you will know - you do NOT want to be awake when sobriety creeps back in to your bloodstream. You need to be two Tylenol, a slice of white bread, a glass of water, and at least an hour of sleep away from eyes open when this happens so - like so many werewolves when the full moon first appears on the horizon I ran back to my lair and climbed in to bed. Alone. Thankfully.

I woke up not many hours later. My father was coming to pick me and my crap up and take me home for semester/holiday break. I felt like garbage but was very, very happy. I'd had one "last night" on campus with the friends I made my first night on campus and almost all the friends I had made in the middle. I kissed at LEAST two girls (which is about the same as I had kissed the entire rest of my college career). I laughed. Cried (I was drunk, leave me alone). Bought THREE things (booze, smokes, spank books) I was carded for. I had driven women from a room with gas and will power. I had closed out my college years. I went and returned my dorm keys and signed some paperwork. We loaded the mini-van. My father took myself and three or four friends to lunch. I rode back to Upstate.

THAT was the greatest night of my college life.

6/23/13

Sunday Funday . . .

Early breakfast (we'll have brunch later as a family) at the Amore Household. That's a sugar free, low fat protein bar for me, and sugar-added, moderate fat tubed yogurt for the kid. Judge all you want. I've got thick skin and a dense layer of protective fat.

Regular post tomorrow morning. Have a nice day.


6/22/13

Hypocrite . . .

"Hey, uh kettle . . . yeah . . . you know you're black, right?"
Earlier this week, I asked people for ideas for blog posts. I got some good ones (keep 'em coming), some questionable ones (wags finger) and some great ones (I'm flattered) and among the GREAT ones was this . . . "Haters who become joiners."

I knew exactly what she meant . . . she thinks I am a hypocrite (as anyone who's known me since my mother ejected me from my first, and favorite home (aka her womb) knows I've never, ever thought much of those who exercise, take care of their bodies, and actually enjoy physical activity (I know, I know, I know.)). I asked her about it and she was gingerly to point out that it was not "really" or "just" (I can't find/remember exact words) me but she DID notice I have talked a lot of crap about runners for someone who is suddenly running and Tweeting about how much I am running.

Let me clarify (without a defensive bone in my body on this one) to anyone else who might be feeling the same urge to call me out . . . I HATE running. It is the WORST. It is HORRIBLE. I can't really breathe. My body aches. My hands and feet swell over time. My right foot gets "sleepy" off and on. There is lots and lots of sweating going on. There is some mental anguish. There is some rage and loathing. There is NO love in running for me. There may eventually come some love but there is certainly not any now. Here's why I update people on the running . . . sharing my workouts is part of my agreement (see the disclaimer at the bottom of this post) and, candidly, I am doing okay out there. Anything I've said is statement of fact - not affection.

I'm not mad at this person . . . I went through and read some of my own updates and can see where she might have come under the impression I was a "Born Again" runner.

Rest assured - like paying my taxes, applying for every job I'm qualified for and even remotely interested in (when I really just want to focus on the ones that I'm really interested in - there are a few of those currently active), sending weekly update e-mails to my family (another post for another time), flossing twice a day, biting my tongue when people say "juju" in public, and watching my diet . . . running is something I do out of a sense of duty and obligation. I do it because I committed to doing it. I run because I must (there are not nearly enough days between me and this race for me to believe I'll be truly ready if I don't take this 100% seriously).

I promise to do a formal mea culp and issue and apology to all you nutcases, crazy people, and fools who claim/swear to actually "love" running well before I come out of the fat closet as a "Runner" (capital R to show respect).

As always - PLEASE keep me honest in this world. You're the only people who can.

Happy Saturday!

6/21/13

20 Years From Now . . .

The Flint  Hills. You GOTTA' love 'em!
Another Reader Suggested Post . . . "What's your ideal Sunday look like in twenty years?" GREAT question, loyal reader, and one with great loop holes.

You'll note that the question was not "describe your life in twenty years" or "what do you think you will be like/doing/enjoying/serving time for in twenty years." It was very specific. Just a random day of the week (The Lord's Day, for all your Christians). And yet - there is context there. No matter how I answer the question, I'll give some clue as to what my life might be like. Where will I be (might indicate where I live or vacation)? What will I be doing (might indicate how I would anticipate my overall health, strength, ambition, etc. might be)? Who might I spend it with (speaks to who I'll fill my life with)? Etc. I was trying to figure out how to paint a vague picture but - instead - I'll go all in . . . this, readers, is how Sunday, June 19, 2033 will play out for your (by then certifiably) Creepy Uncle Sean.

The second Sunday of my 57th year of life will play out like this . . . I'll get up around 9 AM CT. I'll be at my cabin (Tiny Home) in the Flint Hills. I'll have another Tiny Home here in Wichita where I'll still be working and actively engaged in the community Mondays through Fridays but I'll spend weekends just far enough out to feel isolated. I'll have breakfast on the porch swing while thumbing through the Sunday paper on my tablet/e-reader/technology equivalent by then. Following my nosh, I'll go for a walk around my acreage and maybe swing by my garden and grab some vegetables for later. Around 11:30 AM CT I'll get back to the cabin and put on some music (it will probably be some "oldies" (aka the stuff I listen to now since I think music is, generally, starting to decline and the stuff released two decades from now will probably bring me little true joy) and thumb through a book as the laundry spins. I'll make fun of all you sports fans watching whatever version of Football is the norm those days via whatever social media platform the 50-somethings use to taunt each other (probably MySpace). I'll spend a leisurely afternoon pre-populating blog posts and topics for the week (unless I've moved on to more formal writing and distribution by then (something I've toyed with)). Around 4:30 PM CT I'll get my weekly/standard call from my then-26-year-old daughter who will be living her own life by then. I don't know where she'll be or what she'll be doing but I picture her well educated, gainfully employed, in a healthy, loving, positive relationship (not married, no kids - statistics and trends are on my side here). She'll show me (all calls will be video by then) what she's working on around her home and we'll share a game of Connect Four before talking about her mother and me reminding her that she should always wear her safety belt, put some money in savings every week, and give some of every paycheck to someone in need or a charitable organization. She'll roll her eyes (because she already does this - not because I won't let it go). Around 6:30 PM CT I'll have some dinner. It will probably be a shake or protein supplement with some veggies for fun (I don't think we'll still eat actual "food" by then - the forces are already at work to make this real). Around 8:00 PM CT I'll feed my guinea pig its nightly meal and treat and I'll crawl in to bed (I will be getting up each morning around 6:00 AM CT on Monday to head back to Wichita) for the night with a mug of tea and a book (physical book vs. something on the e-reader).

I have no idea if I'll be alone or not (ten years ago when I met the woman I'd eventually marry we talked all about our 10, 20, 30 and even 40 year plans so . . .) but I know that I'll have wonderful friends and people I love/am loved by in my life on that day. I will feel fulfilled and happy. I'll be financially secure in whatever form/level of money that implies. I'll have a plan for the next twenty years on paper in my book of goals and objectives (a very real book I've had in my possession since 1994). I will be happy. I will be at peace. I will be a good person who gives for everything I get and who appreciates everything I get.

What will YOU be doing in twenty years from this Sunday?

6/20/13

Gonads . . .

For your snacking needs - Dee's Nuts!
Welllllll - I asked for reader post suggestions and I got one. Just a word "gonads." Without further adieu . . .

If you think about how a baby developing in the womb, and a child going through the first change of life to become an "adult" (if only physically), and how the next baby to develop in the womb, you probably don't see anything in common there. But there is. There are two things (on average) for each one of those eventual humans/adults. Because, ultimately, we're told that we are "vital" when we have our gonads and they are operating at full-bore. Our essence is buried in them, right? It is "the plan" and everything. Right? Wrong.

I'm an adoptive parent. I have two properly running berries beneath the twig and my daughter's mother had two fully firing hen houses that spit out eggs but, by the time we were ready to become parents, we had a bit of a problem. Due to two horrible incidents, we didn't have any Fallopian tubes between us (trust me, I checked the pockets of every pair of pants and sports coat I owned as well as the glove compartments of both of our cars). So we opted for a child carried, questionably, in the belly of another woman who had all her bits and pieces and a lover that did too. But they were missing what we were - readiness to be parents in the moment our child was to be born. They gave us the greatest gift in the history of the world. It was easy for me to accept our beautiful child but, for my wife, it was a little guilt that came with her role as parent. But why? I'll never pretend to really understand it but she's an amazing mother and I'm glad she got over whatever weirdness she had.

More important than trying to figure it out from one person's perspective - let's look at the larger issue . . . The billions spent every year on fertility drugs, IVF treatments, surrogate parenting, adoption, and cats from the Humane Society (don't pretend like I can't lump all these things together, Cat Ladies (I love you best!)). We're WIRED to believe we should be parents. That we NEED to be parents. That reproducing and caring and nurturing and loving are our MANDATE (none of this is true). Why else would we all be given the basic building blocks (working or not) to become parents? Why else would we long for the smell of a newborn? And why do we never long for the smell of a toddler? I have a few friends that have vowed they will never be parents - I once did, too. I don't know if they will have a change of heart (like I did) or not or if they should (I was right to) or not. I will say I see/hear of people all the time that I don't think should be parents. But that's not up to me. Nope. The building blocks are in all of us. But WHY?

We can't all play golf at a competitive level. Few of us can bake and frost cakes that actually look like superheroes scaling buildings. Maybe 10% of us can really pull of "skinny jeans" (0% should, by the way). There is no clothing, religion, food, beverage, musical act, film from the Rocky franchise, or even scent of Axe Body Spray that the entire WORLD can/will/should agree on (and if you're over the age of 17 and using Axe Body Spray . . . (deep exhale)). Yet we can all (technically) reproduce (you've heard my long, boring, angry rants about how making a fetus and being a parent are not in ANY way the same thing and should never be equated to each other so we'll let that lie) ALL thanks to the magical things in our bodies we call gonads.

6/19/13

What I've Learned So Far . . .


I'm three weeks in to the odyssey that is me "running" and, I'm not going to lie, it is certainly educational. I don't mean to imply I've learned a lot about who I really am as a person or that I'm learning I am, in fact, a born-runner waiting to bust out, or that I'm learning to love the activity. Screw all that. HERE are the lessons I've actually learned thus far . . .

  1. Hydration is key. It may be metaphoric but if something as simple as drinking a ton before running does make a huge difference. If I don't drink enough, my spit gets thick and I'm tempted to actually (gasp) spit in public. To apply this to a larger context - it is not hard to fuel yourself and spitting in public is "skustin" (as my daughter says the word).
  2. Wicking fabrics are urban legend. I get it. Truly I do. The fabric is designed to be lightweight, to reduce friction and chafing, and to move the sweat off your body . . . but it doesn't actually go anywhere from there beside down your back and legs leaving me with swamp crotch and damp feet. I'll stick with cotton. Make this a life lesson? If it ain't broken - don't fix it.
  3. The course matters. Put me on the "grid" of College Hill and I'm fine. I know that streets/blocks are fairly equidistant and I know that it is a half mile between these major roads and a mile between those and I can plan for that (I'm still doing the walk/run thing - less and less "walk" all the time, I'd like to point out) but put me in a park and I'm sorta' lost. There are no real markers and the ones that are there (some races use spray painted trail marks) are confusing. Life lesson here - My brain has an internal clock but not an internal GPS. I need to develop a sense of distance on my own.
  4. It's GOTTA' be the shoes. I am working out with three different pair of shoes. I wear New Balance 1211s for my cross training, walks, and other fitness attempts. I wear a pair of old but barely used before  Asics Gel Cumulus 10s when I am running after rain or in areas where I know I might get dirty (Yes. I said that publicly.). I have a pair of Brooks Trance 11 for my average run. I'm most comfortable in the NBs. I run faster in the Asics. I feel most confident in the Brooks. What's the takeaway? It is all bologna. Run barefoot or in a pair of Tevas. Cut the crap. 
  5. John Mayer Wrote "Heartbreak Warfare" for me. It is as true as "Your Body is a Wonderland" being about Jennifer Love Hewitt's curves, my friends. For it to work, though, you have to have "Me" be my body and the "You" be my brain. And the "love" is running and/or speed. The "him" is people who can actually run. Give it a listen. You'll understand. The point? I'm losing my friggin' mind while running around College Hill listening to my iPod. 
  6. I'm good, thanks. When you see me out there huffing, puffing, and putting feet in front of the other there is NO need for eye contact and/or a smile, a wave from the porch, a peace sign flashed, a toot of the horn, or words of encouragement as you go "on my left" and blow by me. I'm not doing this for you or your approval or support. What's to learn? SHUT UP! Seriously. Do you know how condescending it is to do this to the fat guy? It is on par with screaming slowly while talking to a deaf person or telling people to make a 20 foot wide path for someone in a 3 foot wide wheelchair. Stop it. 
  7. It's quiet out there. I find that the moments just before I get going are very "respectful" (I don't do "nervous" or "scared" - ever). I try to empty my brain, think about the mileage, make sure I'm stretched and hydrated and my iPod playlist is loaded. I just want to get it going and get it done. But then I get out there and I start listening to my every in/exhale and the music in my ears and, eventually, my heart pounding on my rib cage for me to just stop before stuff gets weird. What have I learned? An hour or two a day of solitude is a beautiful thing we should all carve out time for.
  8. STOP signs are suggestions. No. Not for you in the cars or on bikes. You MUST stop. But us on foot, we have the option. It is liberating to just blow through a stop sign (after looking both ways and making sure it is safe). Now "Don't Walk" lights? Those get my respect (and adoration). Point? Rules are made to be broken if you're sure you have a better way. 
  9. Wichita is beautiful. I've always been a walker and a fan of my beloved city. I'm well aware that there are many charms here that outsiders just don't understand but when you're trotting by a house you've past 1,000 times and notice the paint scheme or if you're finally seeing the businesses on 1st and 2nd street for the first because you are at a different pace and desperate for distraction you can see that work is being done here. Pride is being born here. The point? Stop making fun of Wichita.
  10. It feels vaguely good. When I was asked if I wanted to run I thought there was NO way I could do it. 13.1 miles? .1 miles? Either way - noooo chance. I'm putting in 2.5 - 3.x miles per day already. I don't run every step of it (some days are still pretty mixed on the percentages) but - by and large - I'm doing way better than I thought I might and I'm getting far more confident that if I stick to the schedule, eat and drink right, don't get hurt, and stay focused I'll finish all 13.1 miles of the race in October. The point? If I can do it - YOU can do it. Whatever "it" is. 
So, yeah, there you go. My running lessons learned so far. I've gotta' go run, now (I'm kidding - I have a job interview THEN I am going running).

6/18/13

Fruit Cocktail . . .

The natural lighting makes it look all the more appetizing, no?
If you cruise the canned fruit and vegetable aisle of your local grocery store (and you should - canned and frozen produce is often better, nutritionally, than their "fresh" counterparts as they are generally bought and packaged during the peak of that particular crop's freshness (when supply is highest and costs is lowest) and are almost always a better value - Sean C. Amore Grocery Shopping Tips, 2013. All Rights Reserved.) you will probably at least pause at the canned/jarred Fruit Cocktail. And I say probably because, let's be honest, no one doesn't at least have familiarity with the stuff.

It was a staple, for many of us, in school lunches. It was a common ingredient to camp outings when I was in Scouts. It can frequently be found swimming in Jell-O salads. It sits well in "Jungle Juice" punches in college dorm rooms. It has a little something "for everyone" and it is, arguably, nutritionally sound for children and adults alike. I'll say, candidly, it is a staple in my home (the no sugar added Kroger brand - Del Monte if it is on sale (they have a "Very Cherry" mix that provides EIGHT cherries per can vs. just six)). The kiddo and I both enjoy it and can eat it largely guilt free (not that either one of us has any concept of food guilt at this point in our maturation process).

Why am I rambling on about Fruit Cocktail? No. Seriously. I'm asking. WHY?

Oh, oh, oh . . . right . . . it is horrible muck that is some least-common-denominator crap in a can where something for everyone, a low price point, the argument that it is fruit (healthy) and the romance ties we might have for it from various life experiences all combines to make it a top-selling item (my fake research shows 3.45 BILLION servings per year are sold/consumed in just the states of Missouri, Kansas, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania annually) for no apparent reason at all.

And why does THAT deserve a blog post? Because this is how the world works. This is the peace that shall settle on you - maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon . . . there is no such thing as something that is designed, packaged, priced, marketed, and presented to the masses that will not enjoy market share on the back end. Apply this to canned fruit, motor vehicles, fashion statements, job applicants, corporate cultures, or musical composition and the results will remain the same.

So WHY do all of us rage against fruit cocktail? WHY do we have to have "personal brands" that make us as distinct and different as possible (often in ways that seem very pretentious and unattractive)? WHY do marketers run after "USPs" and "target audience research" and "niche opportunities" to differentiate? WHY do we (mere mortals) pretend like we would much rather ONLY eat peach segments or pineapple coins (metaphorically or literally) if we can have a medley? WHY don't we all just try to become the beige colored, fruit cocktail of the world?

Because that would be horrible. For all of us. If we all just liked/wanted/did/said/ate the same things we'd all be the same. And every bedtime story we were ever told, every history lesson learned, every magazine article thumbed-over, and piece of advice we were ever given would fall flat and make us unsure of the point.

I'll say this - I LOVE me some canned fruit cocktail. I'd eat it daily. I'd argue and negotiate (with another adult - not my child) over who gets the cherries. I'll even admit to once (or twice) cracking a can of it in the middle of the night and slurping it, room temperature, from the can with a spoon over the sink with not even the 'fridge or sink light to illuminate my weakness. But that's just me. That's my "brand" coming through.  Sure, sure . . . I KNOW I should prefer grapefruit, or blueberries, or grapples. I should probably make sure every fruit piece I consume is organic, "heritage," and cancer-free. I get that admitting to being "of the people" is cliche and something we marketers don't really encourage. I know all this, and more. But as a person who is described as an "acquired taste" a "strong personality" a "man of great passion" and a "truly unique addition to a team" - I have to allow that at least every now and again . . . I'm just like the rest of you. I'm normal. I like fruit cocktail.

6/17/13

Shame . . .

Come on, sillies. Polar Bears can't feel shame. He just
doesn't want to look at your dad in sandals and socks.
I was pretty sure I was going to "punt" on today's blog post because I feel sort of hurried and disinterested today but I was clicking around the ol' Interwebs and eventually found this piece from The Atlantic on "shame" and it got me dialed in. Why? Because I feel like I want to bookmark it as a non-apology the next time I'm accused of being "overly critical."

You can (should) read the piece but it is probably longer than the casual interest would afford so here's the key points . . . in the last several decades we've risen up, as a society, against criticism and shame (gay pride, Autism education, little-people acceptance programs, etc.) where pride is the key and anyone who would want to knock against the pride of another (shame them) is evil. The article goes on to detail that if shame was so bad - our genes didn't get the memo as we are actually wired to feel and react to shame. There are several examples given where shame is not something we should fight against (abandoning children, physically attacking another person, etc.) and there is mention that countries like the US are fairly rare in that we have the "luxury" (their word) of putting time, energy, and resources to making everyone feel special and that everything they say and do is okay.

Let me be very clear lest you are curling your lip at me and presuming where this is going and whispering "You should be ashamed of yourself." (See what I did there?) I am PRO the notion that people are entitled to be happy, confident, comfortable, and protected for who they are. I think homosexuals should have equal rights. I think we should provide screening and treatment/support to people with developmental disabilities. I think if you are born a boy but believe you are a girl - that is something you should explore. I am fine with people who are blind, deaf, mute, etc. thinking that what makes them different makes them special. I don't think there is a skin color, ethnicity, culture, creed, or race that is inherently bad or should bring shame and woe upon those born in to them.

I'll HAPPILY argue any person who thinks that the above characteristics (and others I left out in a failed attempt at brevity) or - more importantly (technically) might speak, act, move, or exert energy to make someone feel "shame" for simply being unlike them is a "bully" (or whatever word we want to use) and that they should be exposed, criticized, ridiculed, and - ironically - bullied themselves (if that is what it takes) because while we all know you can't really change a person's mindset on these things, you can at least get them to cut the crap and adopt a "live and let live" mentality.

But HERE is where I think we are failing in this overly broad labeling of bullying, criticism, shame-casting, and the dismissal of those who might dare to argue we are not all perfect and that we might all have room for approval.

It is this shortsightedness that has every kid that ever played a little league game getting a trophy. It is the presumed discomfort with dissension that has people bite their tongues until they bleed for fear that their perspective might be taken out of context. The fact that we can't point out when people are being less than they should (based on a true knowledge/understanding/respect to their intellect and what hand of cards they were otherwise dealt) makes me crazy. Truly.

We HAVE to be able to criticize each other for conscious acts and decisions that are not becoming. We HAVE to allow for criticism and failure and the temporary pain that comes with falling short and having that be known. I'm going to run a half marathon in a few months. You don't think the ONLY THING that has me running as much as I am, dieting as carefully as I am, and taking this whole thing seriously is the potential SHAME that comes along with NOT finishing that race? Or knowing that to not would be quitting? Or that not using the distraction as I should would be giving in to the other frustrations? Or finishing it with a horrible time? Or having people come out to support me (or worse - having to see my Tweets, Facebook statuses, Blog posts and so on for all these weeks) and seeing me fall short of expectations? You're NUTS. I am very much aware of the notion that if I don't do this and do it well - it will hurt how I am perceived. And if you're shaking your head right now and mumbling "I won't think less of you, Sean. You gave it your all." you are PART OF THE PROBLEM.

We have to be constructively criticized. It is what makes us better. I don't trash my daughter with verbal abuse and taunts but I will let her know, directly (and without undue drama), when she is disappointing me or hurting myself or her mother. If we are in public and she is acting poorly, I give her a pinch on the back of the arm (an act a friend recently told me was "child abuse" - we've gotten so absurd in our protections and disillusion). When my kid is disappointed in me, I hear about it (with undue drama, generally (smile)). And I'm fine with that. She doesn't like the way I made her lunch this morning? Tell me how to make it better. Think my blog post, Tweets, Facebook status, stated opinions/positions, or other words, actions, and deeds are wrong? Let me know. I am OPEN to criticism. I CRAVE it.

In life there are winners and losers. There are good and bad people. There are smart and dumb decisions. There are easy and hard behavior choices. There are people of character and people without any (I don't know opposite off the top of my head). There are times and places where criticism is the best thing you can do and there are times and places where it should not exist. There is no shame in knowing the differences between these things and acting accordingly.

6/16/13

Learned It By Watching YOU, Okay . . .

This picture, taken the weekend of my brother's
wedding in September, shows the first time my
daughter read to my father. He cried proud tears.
Father's Day! Get a necktie, a 12 pack of beer, make fire in the barbecue, and perhaps share a single malt scotch sometime later this evening with the man who carries the title, folks. Or don't. Totally your call. In reality I'm wholly convinced that Father's Day is the most absurd holiday in the history of absurd, made up, commercialized holidays. I get it - Mother's Day is a thing because women are overly emotional and need these things (that is sarcasm, relax NOW) but we "men" - we don't need these things. Or do we?

Let me tell you about my father . . . He came from a family where his hard, overbearing Italian father didn't show much love or affection and his brothers were no kinder. He was told by his high school guidance counselor he would never make it as an educator (his dream career) and he would be lucky to make it through a trade school. He sings like an angel that smoked too much for most of their adult life (the high/long notes get a little pitchy, dawg). He worked too much when we were kids. He was always battling against something. He wasn't horribly handy with tools and repairs (he once called a professional to swap out light bulbs in flood lights on the garage). He loves his Catholic Church with all his heart. He loves my mother the best way he can and with a sense of appreciation most would never understand. He spent 30 years doing what he loved (teaching and being an administrator (I should point out)). He has friends who adore him. The respect and love of his children and the women in our lives and our children. He is a profoundly lovable guy. His sense of duty and commitment and dedication is a tad short of absurd. He drove to/from Quinnipiac in a single day (a 12 hour, round trip drive) four different times for me in the three and a half years I was on campus. My friends love him. Their families love him. He is kind. He is grumpy. He is very book smart. He has zero street smarts (literally, I would get so scared every time he came to DC). He's all these things and a million other things, too.

My father is the man that set the bar I've been chasing for the last seven and a half years (since the minute we found out we would adopt our daughter). He's NOT perfect. I would not want him to be. What he is, instead, is a work in progress. Even as he nears 66 years of age - he's growing and improving (in some ways, in others it is long, long over (smile)). I don't know how to best grab the lessons and pearls that my father gave me along the way. I know I want to emulate all the good and run from all the bad. I know I want to have a relationship with my daughter EXACTLY like the one I had with my father (I trusted him, 100%, on everything in my young life and he was never, ever not "there" (he would run in as the event was happening sometimes or be five minutes late picking me up other times and he hated sports as much as I did so Little League nights were not ideal but he was ALWAYS "there" anyway). He asked questions. He answered - and not in that "because I am your father/do as I say not as I do/you're too young to understand" way but in the "I am going to tell you things far beyond your current life experience now because to answer any other way is to fall short on what you need to hear" way.

I don't know if I'll ever be a fraction of the father my father has been to me. I would happily settle on that sweet spot where I have as many of the positives and as few of the negatives as possible and a lasting dynamic with my child where she'll never hesitate to tell me she loves me or kiss me on the mouth (even in public and as an adult). I hope that when Ava is 36, in the middle of every possible life crisis (if that is her lot) and filled with anxiety while on the drive to a family function and just flipping out I can look over, like my father did to me, and calmly tell her to "Get her sh*t together and worry about everything else tomorrow." . . . and have her calm down.

I am not a perfect dad. I'm fine with this. I learned how to be a dad by watching you and that's good enough for me.

6/15/13

Olafur Arnalds . . .

Saturday, folks. Here's some Olafur Arnalds until the real posts resume tomorrow morning. Namaste!

Olafur Arnalds - Lojso from Astronaut Magazine on Vimeo.

6/14/13

Gus . . .

Sorry, Peru, get something else for dinner.
This is Gus (or Fussy Gussy as my daughter and I have sorta' renamed him due to his fastidious nature). He is a 1 year old Guinea Pig and is the latest addition to the "Sean, you have no job but we are going to fill your life with things to keep you distracted, busy, happy, and in charge of somethings." He is my Father's Day present and I love him more than any 37 year old man should ever love an animal that is treated as a simple source of protein elsewhere in the world.

I don't know if I'll ever really blog about Gus. Let's presume wood shavings, hay, food, teeth grinders, veggies, vitamin C, and cage culture is not all that riveting to me or you, dear reader (there MUST be a blog out there dedicated JUST TO GPs - go find it (smile)) but he's part of the family now and I wouldn't want to mention him, in passing, years from now and have you be confused or - in a rare likelihood - offended I'd not introduced him to you the minute he became my latest obsession.

Seriously. Look at him. He's awesome. Truly. Greatest gift I've ever been given AND the only LIVING gift I've ever been give to boot.

Let's grow old together, Fussy Gussy. Let's see the world.

6/13/13

Reality vs. Reality . . .

I HATE reality television . . . loathe it. I also HATE competition television . . . detest it. NOT because I don't think people should share their lives ("Hi, I'm Sean. I blog. About everything.") or because people should not compete (life is a game, y'uns - play to win). I hate it because everything on those shows feels contrived and staged and I don't trust the outcomes in an age where ratings trump truth.

But this? THIS is fantastic. You know what's coming (dude has PIPES) but you do not know what is coming. The end of this video is all that matters - when you spot something special in someone, you have to keep that person close. Ratings, truth, otherwise.

6/12/13

Immediately After the Run . . .

Think I'm having "fun" on day fourteen of my marathon training (day 3 of the Start2Finish program)? Don't believe the hype. This video tells the real story (WARNING - Profanity and poor attitude abound. This video not for the sensitive, mature, emotionally well, or professional.).

Rest assured, I'm alive (this is not some post that abused a space-time-continuum loop hole) and I will run again tomorrow. It will get better. No need for the pep talks, etc.

video

The Keys to Pregnancy . . .

I drew this in a few minutes. I'm not totally happy with
the shading but I only got one crayon at Denny's
If you think about pregnancy (and please do, it is fun to just let your mind wander and I'll BET you eventually think about nursery decor for no apparent reason) the key is that we hardly ever focus on the two parts of pregnancy that really, really matter . . . conception and the exit.

If you think about it the stuff in the middle is really just vitamins, rest, weird food cravings, support hose, nursery prep, boob swelling, mood swings, and fathers trying to help and just not knowing what to possibly do yet we pretend like it is all far more important because . . . why? It is sharable. (I over simplify here for lack of interest in being emotionally mature enough to acknowledge just how hard every day of pregnancy could be.)

Let me clarify that . . . the IMPORTANT parts of pregnancy (conception and birth) are really, truly intimate. Let's assume a pregnancy is not started in an act of hate, rage, war, or violence. Let's presume the birth is not in an act of hate, rage, war, or violence. If these standards are in place you have two (maybe three people if you like a camera man for documenting your "love making") at the beginning and probably five or six at the birth. Every other minute (plus or minus a little here and there) is for general consumption. You'll have to talk to people about it ("When are you due?" "How are you feeling?" "Are those twins?" "Who did that to you?" Etc.) and you'll have people (like me - because I am creepy and obsessed with a fetus in utero) touching your pregnant belly. You'll have pictures and status on Facebook that can be "liked" or "commented on" and you'll have doctors and medical professionals probing and scraping (I don't know what they scrape but in my fear and naivety they do). Forget about how little control you'll have once the little kiddo is out and about in the world.

Nope. You get just two moments per pregnancy that are personal, intimate, and small. And they are the BIGGEST and MOST IMPORTANT moments of the process.

WHY am I prattling on about this? Well, I'm pregnant. No. I'm not. Seriously. I'm not. Stop crying, Mom. You're not going to be a Grandma again through my seed. Truthfully - I'm talking about this because there are hundreds of other scenarios in this world that are equally close and closed off and private. And they are important and they are huge in their diminutive stature. And, just like with pregnancy, we spend way more time with the crap in the middle to really realize what we have as we have it.

And why? We're way too busy picking out bedding and a lamp for the nursery.

6/11/13

Run Fat Man, Run . . .

There comes a time in every man's life when he has to sit down, look in the mirror, and ask - often aloud - "What is going onnnnnn here?" That day came for me in the mid-90s. And again in the late 90s. Add another round of moments in the early, middle, and late 00s and at least one more in the early 10s. Now. Here we are . . . mid-2013 and I'm having that moment again.

Life is not EXACTLY doing what I expected it to do, lately. I try to find the silver linings and I try to stay focused and upbeat but there are days where I feel lost and like nothing is within my control. And I stare at my issues and - candidly - none of them are entirely within my control (every one of them allows me various percentages of control). Fast forward to a conversation I was having with the person that, by nature of courtship, marriage, life sharing, and co-parenting has genuinely/actually KNOWN me more and for longer than anyone else in my life (except my parents) just a few weeks ago where I casually mentioned that my eating, my weight, and my mental focus are the only things I can control in this life. Later that same day I got a call that made it all made sense.

I was asked, very directly, if I would be interested in running a half marathon (that is 13.1 miles to those that have ever sat behind a Volkswagon, Subaru, or Ford and wondered what that stupid sticker was all about) on Sunday, October 13, 2013. I hesitated and pondered for a few minutes (okay, fine, it was DAYS of debate and consideration and several questions and appeals for more information later) and then simply replied "I'm in. Let's do this."

Because here's the thing . . . I can't just give myself another job. I can only hope that someone eventually does and then I can use my brains, talent, passion, and frustration to (metaphorically) make every employer I asked for an opportunity regret the decision not to take me on these months. I can't just fix my marriage. I can only continue to show interest, love, and support and get myself back to happy so she is reminded of the man she once really loved. I can't just overcome my weaknesses as a parent. I can only work on them every day for the rest of the days I have the privilege to be a dad. I can't just make peace with anyone. I can only offer it. I can't make my house sell. I can just do things to help make it more sellable and provide any information I'm asked for. I can't shorten the distance between my family and friends. I can only love and be loved from afar and rely on my fantastic friends here to fill the gap. I can't do a whole lot of anything with most of the things that plague me.

The EXCEPTIONS I can control . . . the food I put in my mouth and the movements I put my body through. So when I was asked if I wanted to publicly challenge myself in a way that is (when added all together) bigger, bolder, scarier, and - frankly - more wrought with danger than just about any commitment I've ever made before - I knew what I had to do.

So, yeah. Here we go! I'm running the Prairie Fire Half Marathon on Sunday, October 13, 2013 in Wichita, Kansas. And I'm going to lose 40 pounds between now and then. Yes. FORTY.

Eating and moving are maybe the only two things in my life I can truly control right now. Control them I shall. I'm going to run out every drop of fear, frustration, angst, sadness, confusion, woe, and doubt I have between now and then. It's going to hurt. It's going to suck. It's going to be difficult. But when I cross that finish line on October 13th - however long after the winner of the race (it might be early in to the 14th?) - I'll have taken control of SOMETHING. And not just anything but the very essence of who I am . . . my physical body and life-long drum beat of commitment, goal setting, defying expectations, being out of breath, and being a man of character that I'm typically so proud of.

I don't know where anything else in my life will be by October 13th but I know I'll be running that day (and nearly 123 days in the meantime) and, at the end, I'll have something no one can ever, ever take away from me. I'll have run a half marathon.

Take that - things out of my control.

(DISCLAIMER - In exchange for participating in and promoting the "Start2Finish" program and the Prairie Fire Marathon (consistent with the guidelines I agreed to between June 10 and October 13, 2013 and available upon request), I have had the fees associated with the "Start2Finish" program and registration fees for the marathon waived and received a free pair of running shoes. The total, indirect "compensation" awarded me total a few hundred dollars. No opinions, thoughts, reactions, or content I share here or on other social media platforms or in person is in any way imparted, influenced, or instructed by either GoRun Wichita or the Prairie Fire Marathon organizations.)

6/10/13

Swim, Bike, Run, Inspire . . .

I had a truly amazing experience this weekend. I was a "Sherpa" for a friend who competed in her second Ironman (registered trademark and all property rights respected) - this one a triathlon in Lawrence, Kansas.

Here were my thoughts on triathletes: You are crazy. Truly. No "sane" person would put in the time and energy required to physically and mentally prepare for 70.3 miles (or more - this was a "half" event). More importantly no "sane" person would spend the MONEY required. Wet suits are approximately $175, average running shoes are $150 and true runners need to replace them about once every three months, tri-bikes can cost $1,000 - $4,000 and that doesn't even include things like, you know, the SEAT and TIRES and a little bell and a playing card to make the spokes "tick" and that is just to TRAIN. You want to "compete"? That will cost you $225 NOT including gas, hotel (or camping fees), or "nutrition" (real athletes don't call it food and beverage) for the race weekend. SO - you're looking at a few thousand bucks all so you can go out there and compete against, well, yourself. Triathlons are, at the end of the event, a solitary activity.

Exempting relays and corporate sponsored athletes and training clubs there are no "teams" in triathlons and, even then, no one officially finishes as a team. Nope. No matter what - on race morning - you put your bike and equipment in T1 and your shoes and crap in T2 before the sun comes up and you head down to enter the water in groups based on gender and age and professional status and they blow a horn/fire a canon and you are on your own. For the next three to nine hours.

Or so I thought before I sherpaed and observed an event for the first time. Here's the reality . . . these people are still CRAZY with their own "special" choices on how to burn disposable income (I spend mine on clothes, books, board games, and other random crap so I should not judge) but they are not alone. Rather all 1,600ish (including the relay teams) that competed in Sunday's event were never alone - for more than a few seconds.

The beach, bike course, and running course were littered with thousands of people. They clapped, shook bells, mumbled and screamed encouragement, and even helped apply sunscreen, steady a wobbly runner or two, and jogged along the course to keep those last-to-finish moving. Homemade signs were staked along the course saying things like "I love my dad, Michael Spellman" (with "Spell" crossed out and "IRON" written above it). The athletes all chatted among themselves about everything from equipment, other races and experiences, nutrition choices, etc.. An army of employees and volunteers helped the injured, the mentally defeated, the concerned, the lost, and the fast, strong, and proud equally. An announcer named every finisher BY NAME as they ran up the final chute and said things like "welcome home" or "it is great to see you again" or "we've been waiting for you." Some people, dressed like Wizard of Oz characters, greeted the first thousand or so over the line.

I saw people doing extreme things yesterday. First - there is NO SUCH THING as an "athlete's body" for a tri. I saw 6' 8" men that weighed 181 pounds and 5'2" women that weight 240 pounds cross the line at about the same time (yes, I know there start times were adjusted for flights but - still). I saw a Super Bowl winner struggle along side a teacher. I saw a cop who did the entire event (save the swim) in FULL UNIFORM. I saw every one of those bodies and costumes and types of people melt together in to a chorus of people who were out there putting themselves through the paces for seemingly one thing . . . a medal at the end.

Or so I thought. It turns out, as I stood for nearly two total hours near the finish line waiting for the athletes I was there to support to finish they were racing for something much, much less selfish. They were competing for friends, and family. High fives, hugs, and kisses. They were competing to further remind cancer that in that battle, it had truly lost. One woman did the event because her doctor "dared" her to apply herself enough to finish. A few folks even did it for Jesus . . . and I can't knock that.

To every one of the people that donned a wet suit in the 6 AM hour yesterday and the countless hours of time you spent in the months and years leading up to that moment preparing and then put your bodies through something truly horrifying to MOST of us - thank you. For the friends, family, volunteers, and employees that supported, cheered, and sacrificed along the way as well - thank you. You all inspired me. You all reminded me that there are few physical boundaries a sharp, prepared mind can not overcome. You made me realize there is nothing solitary or lonely about a triathlon. You made me laugh every. single. time you used the word "nutrition."

6/8/13

Gone to a Triathlon . . .


A friend of mine is competing in Sunday's Ironman 70.3 Kansas event so I'm taking my "trying to get inspired to be less fat" but to Lawrence for the weekend to see some friends and support her. Regular posts will resume on Monday.

In the meantime - respect these rules - except board four. Have great weekends, y'uns!

6/7/13

Pop Music for My Daughter . . .

Get down, girl. Go-head get down.
I have a problem. It's not "that kind" of problem but it's a concern . . . I don't have "cool" taste in music.

To elaborate - I am SURE that my musical tastes are superb - but my six year old disagrees.

It seems Mommy has better taste in music (and, again - credit where credit is due, she does listen to a different, more appealing type of tune). Fine. Fine. Fine. No Olafur Arnalds for you. I get that.

But here's what I'm not going to do - GIVE UP.  So I've prepared the following playlist for my child. As you will see (hear?) it is (almost) all women singing about stuff that is sorta' drivel and sorta' meaningful with a generally catchy-enough beat to keep her happy. OH and some MIA in there because, why not . . .

It is not all perfect but she enjoys it in the tub (when Strange Currency is not available - NO disrespect, Global Village) and when we're doing arts and crafts. Please to enjoy . . .



6/6/13

Decisions . . .

How the "Good Sean" and "Bad Sean" problem solve
inside my head. It is true. I've felt the chair being moved.
I was making my inquisitive daughter breakfast this morning (She saw my planned protein bar for me and raised me a request for toast with an egg, cheese, and ham in the middle with pineapple chunks and strawberry milk for accouterments - she's in a growth spurt and/or a almost-seven-year-old pot head. Her mother and I are positive it is the prior.)) and she asked me a simple question . . . "Sean-Daddy, do you ever wish you could make decisions over again?'

I immediately thought of the knee-jerk reaction I might give an adult where I'd make some absurd reference to politics or pop culture but shook that off. Then I thought about making a comment about my protein bar but figured that was not the actual question so I decided, instead, to go the "metta" route and I flipped her egg and answered the best way I could . . .

"Do you?"
"I asked you first (while using body language that made me immediately think (fondly and genuinely) of her mother), silly."
"That's right, you did (trims crust off toast). Sure. Every single day. But never on anything more important than a momentary decision like what t-shirt I put on or what song or Netflix item I hit 'play' on. Because wanting to redo or take back anything bigger than that is a waste of time."
"Big like what?" (She's six.)
"Well - I know people who want to go back in time. Or they wish they had never moved or taken a job or quit a job. People who hate the houses they live in. Or who wish they had studied more in school."
"Would they make a different decision?"
"I guess so."

We then broke away from a verbatim-able conversation that involved stuffed animals, flip flop selections, how you choose a "best" friend, and what, exactly, I don't like about Taylor Swift (the poor kid is my only human contact some days) among other things but here is where we netted out . . .

I told her that all decisions, ultimately, are about "yes" or "no" (she's not old enough to understand the ONLY exception to this which is playing another rousing edition of "FMK" with Uncle Nathan J. Carr) so you have a 50/50 shot of getting them correct every time even if you give a decision NO thought at all. Then I sorta' told her that to have a wish to go back and change a decision is really just a form of regret and when you have a regret it means you are wasting time, effort, and energy on something that you cannot fix or change when you could put that same energy toward making your current situation or NEXT decision better.

I gave her one of Sean C. Amore's Pearls of Parental Wisdom (there are a total of 63 of them, she's already heard nearly 40 so I'm worried I may not have enough to get her all the way through life) which, put simply, is this . . . IF you truly consider your options in this world and IF you make an informed, smart, thoughtful (beyond just the moment) decision than you should never really have anything to regret but, instead, will only have good (and bad - which, in this context, are also "good") examples of decisions you made "then" to help you make even better decisions "now" and in the future (no quotes needed).

By this time her breakfast was all but gone and mine was a memory. She took one last, long gulp of milk, wiped her mouth and said "I've decided THAT was a good breakfast. I have no regrets."

Lesson learned?

6/5/13

The One That Got Away . . .

No. This is not me. I've only ever fished on a dock in the
Finger Lakes in beautiful Upstate New York
A long, long time ago (I can still remember how that music used to make me smile?) I was set up on a date. Sorta'.

This was the year 2000 (spring, specifically) and I was in DC. I had not been on a formal date in years and I had a client who - for whatever reason - deemed herself Cupid and decided she was going to personally end my drought of engaging conversation over food and/or beverages with a beautiful woman.

At this point in my life I was probably in the mid 400 pound range. This client (who was also a friend in many ways), bless her little heart, decided she would set me up with a woman from her social circle that I would be "perfect" for and vice versa. I was hesitant but I agreed. How bad could it be, right?

I was given nothing more than a quick overview of the woman. She seemed lovely. This was before Facebook and Twitter was in the early days of Google and LinkedIn. We could not just "look people up" at this point in time. It was horrible. I put together a plan of drinks and dinner and then, if it went well, some dessert at another location all in downtown/Chinatown (close to both our offices). Sent the details to my client - she got a confirmation from her friend. Bam. See (her) Tuesday!

Fast forward to Tuesday. I show up at the bar for drinks. My breath, teeth, and hair were right. My wardrobe was as good as it got (big men's fashion has changed a lot in 13 years). I had a few stories and 20 questions ready (if you've ever been on a date with me (you lucky, lucky, pitiful few) you know I am a "listener" (at first)). I waited. 30 minutes. 45 minutes. 58 minutes. Called client. She called back with apologies but told me to sit tight. I suggested her friend just meet me for dinner (reservations were just 20 minutes away).

I'm grumpy at this point. I'm meeting a super late stranger. I'm anxious to just meet her and get it over with. I am second guessing this whole thing. But I demure and walk to the restaurant (after closing my Diet Coke tab and generously tipping).

I walk in to the restaurant and there is this beautiful, radiant, five-foot-ten, wavy, chestnut hair topped, high heel wearing, nice get-away stick displaying, skirt suited, curvy Goddess with a leather attache and diamond tennis bracelet (have I mentioned I can be hyper-attentive and remember fine details?) at the hostess stand. Jack. Pot. I walk up GLOWING from ear to ear and introduce myself. What was MY problem? She shakes my hand, smiles back . . . and then wish her a lovely evening as it becomes clear she is not there "for" me.  I look around. No one else waiting. I start day dreaming that this woman's date blows her off and we find solace in each other - if only for that night (awkward). Her guy walks in shortly after. She introduces the two of us (this is DC - they network there (yes, I still remember both their names and where they worked)).

Fifteen minutes later a woman walks in the door. She's not quite the woman at the hostess stand but there is nothing wrong with this rubenesque beauty. We say "hellos" and approach the host who seats us and we're off to the races. I'm not a jerk (alllll the time) but a little "Hey, sorry I'm 90 minutes late to our first meeting." would have been very much appreciated. What ELSE would have been appreciated? Some personality. Some interest. Some energy. Some courtesy laughs for my jokes. Some positions on issues that are open to discussion vs. blank stares or a "Here we go." any time I disagreed with her (this is DC - they debate politics there). We ate dinner. No drinks. No dessert. No even discussion of spending more time together that evening.

I don't blame the woman. It was apparent the ONLY thing the two of us had in common was obesity. Plain and simple. Like a person setting up their only two black, gay, transgendered, widow(er)ed, Royals fans, etc. friends it was stupid, flawed, arrogant math that we might get along or have any spark based on just ONE joint trait. While I still found the woman attractive she clearly didn't feel the same way about me and that is where it got weird. I would have truly preferred a "Thanks for agreeing to meet me. Tonight got weird. Can we raincheck dinner?" as soon as she realized I was not for her. Truly. I would have grumbled but I would have had more time and money left at the end of the awkwardness.

Here's where it gets weird . . . I'm annoyed so I call my client the next day to see what review came back and my client/friend says "I've not talked to her - you should just call her yourself. Now that you've met you can have her information" so she gives me her friend (my date's) cell phone number and I wait 48 hours (my roommate at the time said that was the right amount of time) and called her. And THIS (approximated) is what I said in her voicemail . . .

"Hey, NAME. This is Sean, from Tuesday night. I just wanted to call and thank you for enduring some time with me. I apologize if I was not your cup of tea. BLANK thought we would be and I wish I'd asked more questions of her or maybe pushed for us to chat before meeting in person. It is obvious we didn't have much in common besides our love of complex carbohydrates and the couch (Editor's Note: This was the only joke we DID laugh, together, at our dinner.) I probably could have saved you an awkward dinner. I wish you the very best with your trip to the horrible island of Manhattan this weekend and I hope if we ever bump in to each other at a NAME arranged function, we can chat some more."

NOW - this would have been fine. Great. PERFECT. Probably one of the most mature things I did in the entire year 2000. But there was more . . .

"In the meantime I wanted to simply point out that you ruling me out because of my weight - and if it was anything more than my weight PLEASE correct my errant assumptions here - you should realize you are not only a hypocrite but you are a betrayal to all the maturity, grace, class, and other traits our mutual friend said you had. You'll someday rue letting someone fantastic - maybe even "the one" you so pathetically lamented waiting for the other night - get away. I'm not him. Clearly. I'm not that arrogant to presume we could have had a better evening if I had rock hard abs but I'm also not arrogant or presumptive enough to rule out you thinking I might have been better with them. Pound sand."

And CLICK. Fast forward three seconds and I'm horrified with and angry at myself but also proud that I did what I did. Then skip another four seconds when I realize a very important client put me in touch with a friend who I just told off for no real/justifiable reason. Imagine the next three minutes being a hasty e-mail to said client/friend telling her what I did and trying to pretend I was joking. Zoom ahead an hour or so to the call from the client/friend, via office phone (I might point out) laughing her fool head off and THANKING ME for finally telling one of her very best friends something the entire circle of friends had been trying for years to have the woman truly hear and for disclosing this is exactly why she set the two of us up to begin with. Finally, speed up 30 hours to a very drunken 3 AM phone call from somewhere in midtown Manhattan and a four-minute-long voicemail from the woman telling me exactly where I can/should go and how much sand I can pound along the way.

That is the end of the story. No moral. No silver lining. No glowing regroup about the friendship that came out of it. No second date. No nothing. Because even though the tools of the day would make it way, way easier to find this woman today and give you a full update, I choose not to. I CAN report, however, that the lovely slice of personified elegance that I first introduced myself to at the host stand is doing just fine in this life. I Googled her.

6/4/13

For The Birds . . .

I have a confession to make. When I said, a few posts ago, that I had no addictions and I was substance free . . . I was lying. You see, concerned reader, I have a new obsession. I buy it by the bag from a guy down the street. Each bag seems to last less and less time. There seems to be less enjoyment from each bag and the bags draw much attention from the neighbors. You see - I'm addicted to my bird feeders and the seed that fills them.

What STARTED as a simple, throw-away gesture (my daughter wanted to make a pine cone/peanut butter/seed "feeder") turned in to my obsession and THREE bird feeders that hold a total of ten pounds of feed at a time. To be clear there are a total of eighteen feeding holes and there are at least a dozen of these winged creatures out there at any given time just snacking away. And that should be fine. I'm doing my part and making it "simple" for them. But then it gets weird - I can't let the levels get below half way full or I get anxious. If the cylinders go completely dry I feel like the worst bird-feeder in the history of bird non-owners.

This would not be such a big deal if I, you know, went somewhere during the day. If I had 10 hours a day at a, you know, job. But in lieu of that I feel like as long as I keep the birds well fed I'm doing my part and contributing. So I walk down the street once every other day and carry back thirty pounds of food.

I don't know what my bird obsession means or where it ends (suffices it say I was polling folks the other day on the pros and cons of a BB pistol for keeping those stupid squirrels off my lawn and feeders) but at some point (yesterday) I found myself putting things back in the grocery story so I could keep bird feed in the budget. I even went online late last night to see about bulk purchasing seed to get me through the summer (for the record - not really cost effective). I'm not starving my child (for the record) but I'm making tough financial decisions in favor of these things that bring me nothing more than company and visitors.

And then it hit me - this is the perfect way to summarize my personality . . . obsessive, afraid of being lonely, pedantic, nurturing, giving, frugal, and good-intentioned with just a hint of a desire to get a BB gun and shoot something.

Feel free to stop by any old time. Bring bird seed.

6/3/13

Glass Art . . .

When I was a kid (let's say seven or so) I was given a bag of marbles. I've since lost them all. Ha. Get it? I lost my marbles . . . eh. Slayer. Anywho. I lost the marbles but what remained was a fixation with how anyone could possibly "make" little glass marbles that were more complicated than just the round spheres of one-colored glass. For that matter how were THOSE made?

Fast forward and you have a deep love and appreciation for glass art that has remained long since those marbles were lost (I'll beat this drum one more time later so save your groans). And this has not been a cheap obsession, either. Over the years I've spent hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars fixating over glass art and building a collection of marbles, vases, desktop/bookshelf ready pieces, and my personal favorite . . . the hollow glass ball.

We're blessed here in Wichita . . . just a few miles from downtown we have a world-renowned glass artist, Rollin Karg. And, by the nature of art, we not only have him but several of his apprentices and students have stuck around here over the years to build a very large, very talented pool of glass artists who do their thing. Our art museum has two large installations from maybe the world's leading glass artist. The gift shop is brimming with pieces by Karg, and other local and national artists. Down the street (well - across the river, and a few streets over) is CityArts where you can not only buy pieces from other Wichita glass artists but can even take an AMAZING glass class that will give you a whole new respect for people with glass art talent. (While you are there, look in the doors at the adjacent Associated Integrated Marketing to see a large-scale glass and metal sculpture that I'd like to think is my co-legacy to the agency) You can also go to Rollin Karg's studio on select days and watch his colleagues do their thing, free of charge.

Anywho - here's the point. Glass art is really difficult. It is hot, heavy, and requires MUCH patience and foresight (you basically do everything in reverse and have to think several steps ahead of your current status to get to your finished project goal. How do I know? After 25 years of curiosity I FINALLY I took the class. I sweated it out. I made some really lumpy and yet pride-inducing paperweights. I realized I was a far better APPRECIATOR of than MAKER of glass art. But I am really happy I tried and got the additional perspective.

I won't guarantee you'll fall in love with glass art. No reason to propose it is for everyone (most people would find it silly to spend the money I do on glass "things" that hang in front of windows) BUT I would argue that for every "glass art" in my life there is a "__________" in your life that it is time to get off the sidelines on.

If you don't find glass art - or whatever YOUR thing is - MORE fascinating for pursuing it, you've clearly lost YOUR marbles (high hat).