Friday, December 31, 2010

Reflections: JJ's Top 10 for 2010

A little karaoke at College Hill with some friends!
 Well, it’s that time of year when everyone puts out their Top 10 List. You can find a top 10 albums, top 10 songs, top 10 movie trailers, top 10 appetizers, top 10 scandals . . . hell, you can even find the top 10 pet videos! Well, I haven’t done a great job at blogging in a while, but want to get back into it for this upcoming year. So, to kick off my motivation, I thought I’d share the top 10 moments of my life for 2010. While in no particular order (well, they are in the order they popped into my head), they are all each special to me, and since I'm a bit of a diva, I knew you'd want me to share them with you!

I kissed a boy and I liked it. Not being romantically inclined, or risky, it was somewhat out of character for me, and it was a very nice kiss. While what I wanted to come from that kiss didn’t, it was a very special kiss. And, it was the very first thing I did in 2010, so it really had to be included on this list .

Bob turned 1 year old! My lap band is named “Bob” fyi . . . and he turned 1 in February. Don’t even know how to begin to describe the change in my life, but my BFF Gracie and Eric conspired to throw Bob a party – and it was very special indeed.

Rolling with a 4.0 in Psych! What a rough year in school. I really had to buckle down through some very tough courses and am quite proud of the results thus far. I’ve got one semester left in undergrad, and to still have a 4.0 is something that I’m very proud of. Now if I could just learn to write better . . . lol 

Lady Gaga in St. Louis!!!!! Something that was truly spectacular, amazing, fantabulous, and full of awesomeness. And not just because it was Gaga, but who I got to share it with!!!

Best Man in the Maxwell/Guiterrez wedding in San Diego. To be asked to stand as someone’s best man is quite humbling. My name is on their marriage license!!! I truly cherish everytime I’ve been asked – and who doesn’t love a wedding reception?? And in San Diego to boot?? Yeah, it was awesome on like 17 different levels . . .

Sunday’s at Starbucks with my BFF!!! Yeah, it’s not an unusual event, but it’s something I cherish. We say we are gonna “study” while there – but truth is we study before and afterwards, it’s kinda our BFF time.

Skin Removal in August. I was kinda mum on this for some reason I realized, but in August I had the extra skin from my belly removed from my weightloss. It was awesome . . . and painful. The best part, in all honesty, was just the love I felt from two very special ladies that drove up from Texas to take care of me. How Mom and Aunt Cookie got me from the hospital to the hotel room that day I’ll never know. And I’m still a bit stunned they didn’t video me after I woke up from all the drugs . . . I know I said some crazy ass shit!

Random friendships at IHOP in Wichita. Sometimes you are just meant to meet some people, and they are meant to touch your soul in ways you never expect. No reason, no rhyme, you just are thankful and glad that they did. Love you Roxy and Shonda!!!

Applying for grad school. Wow . . . I still can’t believe I’m doing this!! I never thought of myself as doctor material . . . but one day, who knows?? It just might be Dr. Joe . . . Now if I can just get into University of Texas, or Texas A&M, or University of North Texas, or Texas Tech, or UT SW Medical Center of Dallas, or Wichita State University . . . just one please . . .

Falling down in Wichita. Okay . . . so I’ve had a few memorable spills in the city of Wichita . . . one was dancing at Club Fantasy, the other was during Wichita Pride Parade – while I was in the parade!! Both hilarious . . . both memorable . . . both fun to talk about!
I feel very blessed to have had such a jam packed year . . . I’m sure I could keep listing stuff, but gotta stop at ten . . . May 2011 be just as fun, blessed, and full of surprises for everyone . . . I’m looking forward to it 

Monday, October 25, 2010

Goodbye, Old Friends . . .

Oh, my dear, dear friends.  I'm not talking to you blog readers, but rather a pair of shoes.  Sound odd??  You should see the other 60 friends I have in my two closets . . . Now it doesn't seem so odd that I say goodbye to these old friends -- does it??  (or maybe it does, hehe)

The time has come, as in every relationship, to be honest.  Is it going to last?  Is it going to make it through the sands of time?  Or is it time to acknowledge the truth and part ways.  I think, at this point in our lives, it is indeed time to part ways.

Yes, I hear you friends.  You have carried me when I was at my heaviest.  When I couldn't make it more than 5 minutes on the treadmill.  I couldn't walk up a flight of stairs without heavy breathing.  You were there with me . . .

But now where there once was joy, and triumph -- it's just pain now.  You don't support me the way you used to.  You don't carry me when I'm tired and down trodden as you did in the past.  Is there someone else?  Are you just tired of always being there?  I don't know why you've decided, after all the sweat, tears, and miles, to not do what you've always done.

I need -- no wait -- deserve to find someone that puts that extra spring in my step.  You no longer want to do that, or are able to . . . and I can't continue to let you hurt me the way you do now. 

So -- to you my dear friends -- my first pair of workout shoes since my lap bad surgery in Feb 09 -- I bid adieu.  I'll cherish the times together and what we were able to accomplish as a team. 


Sunday, October 10, 2010

Where's My America?

OH, it’s the call of the political machine . . . you can hear it from far away beating the drums like it does every 4 years – and for some reason quite loudly in this election cycle . . . or maybe because it’s that I’m paying more attention to it.

Anyway – have you heard the new phrases?? “Take America Back!” “Fight for our America!” “Change That Matters” “Country First” . . . Sound good don’t they?

Here’s one that I’d like to offer . . . “Where’s My America?” Not a lot of mumbo jumbo, but some questions that I’m still waiting for a politician to actually answer before I vote for him or her.

Where’s the America that is compassionate and loving? Yes, some tragic news about some gay teens that were bullied so much they chose suicide as an only route has finally brought this issue to light. But where are the solutions that are supposed to be offered from our leaders? There’s so much blame falling to the teachers – but that behavior wasn’t taught in the schools. It was taught at home. It was taught by people that believe others not like them are weak, inferior, and useless. It’s not taught directly, but indirectly. It’s a process called modeling. So where’s the responsibility for the parents and the bullies in all this? Yeah – I believe a lot of it lies there. My America would care about individuals, and would value the differences we all have. It wouldn’t care about color, faith, or sexual orientation.

Where’s the America that believes in freedom? I’m so tired of everyone trying to convince me of their personal point of view. Does anyone know that opinions can’t be right or wrong?? They are merely just what someone believes – or perceives – or thinks. I’m glad that you think it’s a travesty that an Islamic Center wants to build near WTC site – I don’t. If they have the money to buy the property then let them have at it. I’m ecstatic that you believe someone under 18 seeking an abortion should be allowed to do it without parental consent – I don’t. I think if someone is under 18, by law therefore a child, then that child does not have an expectation of privacy from their own parents – and the parents should be informed. Notice in my opinions I didn’t say I was right, or that someone was wrong. I just stated my opinion and moved on – that’s how it should be. My America would welcome diverse thought, a sharing of ideas, and a cordial (notice I didn’t say passionate debate was bad, just respectful) debate on topics effecting the nation. No demagogue-ing allowed . . .

Where’s the America that believes in equality? Remember Majority Rules, with Minority Rights?? It’s something that stuck with me from my political science lectures (well the ones I didn’t fall asleep in). It simply means that the majority will rule, but the minority’s rights are protected. You can’t just walk over those that don’t agree with you. (Hey Republicans and Democrats – did you see that???) They must have slept on that day instead. My America would be able to separate out a religious argument from an equality one. Instead of defining a religious definition into law (illegal btw), I’d step away from the argument on marriage. My America would make sure that all people, regardless on anything, were treated fairly by its government. If religious affiliations want to discriminate, that is their prerogative, but not the governments . . .

So I ask simply – not to take America back, or change it just because, but rather . . . simply . . . help her find her compassion and soul. That’s the America I want.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Got $2300 I can borrow?

So I've decided on a new career.  I'm going to found a graduate school -- and build up a lot of publicity that it's VERY prestigious and VERY upper crust -- and I'm going to charge people $50 to $75 just to apply -- and I'll tell 'em all no.  But if I get 100 applications a year, it's vacation money!!  Woohoo!!

Okay - so I'm a bit perturbed at the cost of higher education.  I'm not talking about the cost of a credit hour, textbooks (although that's a whole other racket all together), or even fees . . . I'm talking about the cost of getting INTO grad school.  It's freaking ridiculous!!!

Here's the cost to apply to one school --
$60 to submit application
$25 to have ETS send official GRE scores to said school
$25 to have Texas A&M send official transcript
$15 to have Washburn University send official transcript
$200 for travel expenses/hotel room (that CHEAP hotel and driving) for interview day

Yeah . . . and the odds are the school is still going to tell me "NO"
How is this even legal???  What would the government do if employers charged people to submit applications of employment??

Explain to me how Texas A&M needs me to pay them to send my grades -- was the $25K I spent on my Engineering degree not enough?  And hey Washburn -- is the $12K I'm spending on my Psychology degree not enough?  If you need paper and a stamp I'll supply it (yeah -- and it's all electronic now anyway).

The standard advice is to apply to 5 to 7 programs you are interested in so you 'hopefully' get into one . . . um . . . that's like $1,625 to $2,275 just to APPLY!  What the french toast??

Oh well . . . I guess I might as well get a tattoo on my ass that says "Property of Uncle Sam" cuz I'm gonna owe them for the rest of my life . . . but at least I'll be happy!!!  :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Let's Talk -- About Josh Hamilton

Hey readers!  You might have noticed a few (okay, several) changes here in my little blog world.  That's because I'm moving my blog into a new direction.  Not to say I won't be putting random tidbits of my life in here, because it is my journal of sorts.  But it's going to be more about events out in the world that make me want to talk.  So -- welcome to the first official entry of my blog now called "Joe Talk."

Let's talk about Josh Hamilton, slugger and possible gold glover outfielder, and possible MVP of the 2010 AL West Champion Texas Rangers.  Why talk about a celebrity athelete you may wonder?  Well -- because unlike any other athelete I've ever heard or followed, Josh is real.  He's a real man, with real struggles, real dark days, and unbelievable real triumphs.  And I believe he's a true role model for what he did during the Rangers' celebration of their first division title in 11 years.

Quick background -- Josh was a rising star in baseball with Tampa Bay until drugs and alcohol derailed his career.  Unlike many, Josh found the strength, both inside of himself as well as from up above, to get off the path of addiction and ruin.  Instead of hiding from this dark past, he wears it on his sleeve.  He tries, every where he goes, to let young people know of the extreme dangers of drugs and alcohol addiciton, that they are real, a disease, and one not to dabble with.

So why am I impressed with Mr. Hamilton?  When pro athletes celebrate, for whatever reason, it involves shaking up bottles of champagne and beer and pouring it all over each other.  I don't get it, but it's their thing.  We all knew this, and Josh knew it too.  Instead of risking the temptation, he avoided it all together by quickly changing in a trainer's room and leaving the club house.  He did get to celebrate with his teammates on the field, but he needed to leave the temptation behind.

And what did he go do instead of tempting himself?  He went and talked about his faith along with other players from the Oakland A's to a crowd of fans that gathered.  He made a promise to them to do it, and he did.  And he didn't think it'd be right to show up smelling of alcohol or cigars, even though he didn't partake.

Show me another professional athlete that can walk away from temptation like Josh.  He's fallen off the wagon before, and instead of hiding or lying, he acknowledged it outright.  Everytime this man does something, I gain more and more respect and admiration for him.  He's not an MVP b/c of his playing ability in my book, he's an MVP for what he's done in his life.  It's not just about the success for him, but also about his struggles.  He's real, and you have to respect it.

Hats off to Josh Hamilton -- definitely someone you want to talk about with your kids.  Whether you believe in God or not (even though I do), he can teach young people more than just how to play ball, he can teach one of the toughest lessons in life.  The lesson he teaches is how to pick yourself up when you are at the lowest of lows and to turn it around.  And there's not many more qualified to teach it . . .

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Music Industry's Idea of a Sequel

I find it funny when people want to pass judgement on you b/c of the music you like to listen to.  I always love it when you get "dissed" for not listening to stuff that is considered "deep" or "meaningful."  Whatever -- I'm a top 40 kinda guy and I like it!  I'll take Gaga, Beyonce', Justin, or Mariah over some unknown flannel punk band that crawled out from a rock to sing a song about injustice to squirrels any day of the week.

Yeah -- I like my music a little bubblegum, and to have a groove.  which brings me to the music industry's idea of a sequel -- it's called the sample.  A sample (for those that don't know) is when one song takes part (or all) of the melody of another song and they loop it into the beat or melody of the new single. 

I love the fact that people get really mad that this goes on -- b/c it's really a safe bet.  You take a cute tune from way back when and jazz it up with your song, and seriously, it's a sequel to the first song.  That old song get's new life.  And in an industry that is littered with one hit wonders, you'd be surprised how many of those song writers are still reaping a royalty check off that one hit they had.

I did some quick research on some of my favorite songs and here are the samples they use:
  • Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" samples a huge Dutch club hit called "Dominator" by Human Resource
  • Mariah's "Fantasy" (both versions) samples the melody from Tom Tom Club's "Genius of Love"
  • Ke$ha's new single "Take It Off" actually samples a REALLY old song titled "Streets of Cairo" -- it's over 100 years old!!
  • Christina Aguilera's "Candyman" borrows most of it's melody from The Andrews Sisters WWII smash "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" -- she even pays tribute to them in the video when there's three of her singing
  • My favorite Janet song "Someone to Call my Lover" borrows the guitar opening from America's "Ventura Highway"
  • Rihanna's "Please Don't Stop the Music" takes the melody and some lyrics from Michael Jackson's "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'"  (most of her songs have samples, btw)
  • Rap borrows VERY heavily, and Nelly's first smash hit "Country Grammar" ironically borrows it's melody from a popular kids song "Roller Coaster"
  • "Bootylicious" by Destiny's Child steals the guitar riff from Stevie Nicks' "Seventeen" -- she loved it so much she plays the guitar in the video in the beginning for them
  • Finally, and interestingly enough, Timbaland's "The Way I Are" actually samples another rap song, Salt-n-Pepa's smash "Push It"
Like I said, I did very little research and came up with these examples, and most songs today do contain samples.  However, one popular myth is that it's the artist's who borrows the sample.  In reality -- it's the PRODUCER of the track that borrows -- so unless the artist is involved in all aspects of the track production, they might not have had any say so at all.

The only controversial (and you can say unintentional, but I don't believe so) sampling to occur was on Beyonce's "Halo" and Kelly Clarkson's "Already Gone".  Both songs were written by One Republic's frontman Ryan Tedder.  Yeah -- that did get a bit ugly . . .

So -- in case you were curious -- I'm a fan of Top 40, sampling, and bubblegum pop.  Oh yeah baby . . .

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I'm Over Skulls

So over the skull shirts, but
he is a completely different story
Okay, so I love fashion, right?  I mean, what gay guy doesn't??  My best friend loves it so much that she's turned into a pseudo-celebrity with her very own style blog (Click to read her style blog).  I love clothes shopping . . . so you get it.  Guy on the go, loves to shop, his bff is a style guru . . .

So I feel that I'm somewhat qualified to make the following statement -- enough with the human skulls on everything design motif.  I'm just kinda over the macabre designs.  It's only so long that you can beat me up side the head with skulls before I just think it must be halloween stuff on sale or something . . .

Don't get me wrong . . . I have a pair of Ed Hardy sneaks (with skulls on them of course), and a blinged out shirt with I kid you not -- a silver shiny bedazzled skull on it.  It's not that it's bad, but it's just being put on EVERYTHING and it kinda kills off the novelty.  Not every piece of clothing should have a reference to a skull.  I even saw a shirt at Baby Gap with skulls all over it . . . y'all . . . that is NOT appropriate wear for a baby or toddler!  A baby boy should be wearing something with trucks, footballs, or surfing on it . . . (well if it was my baby boy he'd be in a solid v-neck tee and plaid shorts . . . just sayin)

It just is starting to seem weird to me to wear a bunch of clothing with ornately decorated skulls on it.  I feel the skull should be more of an accent, not a center piece (unless I feel like wearing my bedazzled skull shirt, that is).

So, officially speaking -- I'm over skulls.  Thank goodness the fall lines coming out are incorporating stripes, argyles, and solids . . . a return to preppy patterns is definitely NOT a bad thing in my book . . . Just so ya know . . .

Monday, August 30, 2010

Making Wishes Come True

Let's pretend that airplanes, in the night sky, are like shooting stars.  I could use a wish right now, a wish right now, a wish right now . . .
Wishes are an interesting concept.  To wish for something means that you desire, or long for it.  However, nothing magical ever happens and those wishes stay just that -- wishes.  The only way to make your wishes come true . . . is to do it yourself.

So let me tell you a little story about three wishes.  Three friends each have a wish -- one wants to be a psychologist, one wants to be a major player in the fashion industry, and one wants to run his own resort.  All three are pretty big wishes that sound fun, full of interesting twists and turns, and lofty goals.

Removing the magical hoping for a fairy godmother to arrive and waive her sparkly wand to grant them -- these three friends are all doing something to make their wishes come true.  All three of them (I should say us!) are in school.  That's right -- adults going back for more education -- we are taking another spin on the education wheel of fortune.

It's interesting, actually, when you talk to any one of us.  True, going back to school is a lot of work and a bit stressful, but all three of us love it!  The thing that has struck me the most is that the mindset of the returning college student (at least in our cases) is very different.  Motivation is NOT a problem.  We get frustrated when we feel we're not moving forward.  And although a ton of work is dumped on our plates, we love it - and want to learn more.

Yeah, I'm talking about my bff Gracie (who is completing her MBA), my best friend Eric (who is working on a BA in Hospitality Mgmt), and myself (completing my BA in Psych, applying for PhD programs currently).  I am so incredibly proud of the three of us for not just wishing, but for actually getting up off our duffs and making our wishes come true. 

Eat your heart out Fairy Godmother -- wherever you are!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Think About It!

I don't want to sound preachy or better than -- but I'm a bit perturbed at what I refer to as "my people's" reaction to the Target donation.  And I mean to me personally.  Yes, I sit on two sides of this fence, being a gay man and working for Target for almost 12 years.  Here's the deal . . . (and to clarify, I'm speaking for ME not for the company I work for. . .)

Target gave a donation to a PAC called Minnesota Forward.  This particular PAC's (that's political action committee) main goal is to create economic growth and jobs in Minnesota.  However, after Target's (and Best Buy's donation too) - they purchased some ads for a very conservative gubenatorial candidate Tom Emmer who believes marriage should ONLY be between one man and one woman.  OOPS!

Basically, Target gave money based on economic policy, and didn't look into social policy.  So did Best Buy . . . Yeah - it was a HUGE oversight on their parts.  And I believe the HRC has done a great job at pointing this out to them and challenging them to right the situation.  What I'm frustrated with is how some people have sent ME messages and emails asking how I could work for such an anti-gay company . . . Are you fking kidding???  Target anti-gay?? 

Target offers same sex couple benefits -- even in states where marriages and civil unions are not allowed (yeah -- that's most of them).  They have a GLBT leadership group that helps GLBT team members connect professionally and help them succeed in their careers.  You can not, under any circumstances, discriminate based on all the usual stuff AND sexual orientation and gender orientation.  That's not a law that they have to add that -- it's just who Target is.  Every June (aka GLBT month) they send out corporate wide communication about the month and are a major sponsor of Minnapolis' Gay Pride.

The point is -- I DON'T WORK FOR AN ANTI-GAY COMPANY!  I WORK FOR ONE OF THE MOST PRO-GAY COMPANIES AROUND!!!  So stop with the messages and challenges.  Be a critical thinker -- and just chill.  Those of you that are hell bent on challenging me about working for Target, I've got one thing to say -- Get up out my face!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Man in the Mirror

Man is it dusty on this thing . . . I just realized I hadn't blogged in like . . . um . . . I don't know, FOREVER!  My sis-in-law Vicki commented on it awhile back and basically chalked it up to a few things, I was happy, busy, and always on the go . . . and I think she was right.

But I miss the journaling, and dang it -- why can't I blog if I'm happy??  So here it goes . . .

Last night, for the first time in my adult life, along with my bff Gracie, I bought a full length mirror.  I know, doesn't sound all that impressive of a purchase, until you reflect on the journey I've been on the past few years.

I had never, ever, ever, wanted to see myself full body . . . and for good reason.  It meant I didn't have to deal with the weight I put on and how it looked.  However . . . those days are gone.  Lots of hard work and a few surgeries later (lap band in Feb '09, and an extended abdominoplasty in Aug '10), and I'm a 190 lbs lighter and a WHOLE lot thinner.

I like what I see in the mirror -- not because I'm super thin -- and not because I'm vain (shut up Gracie! lol) -- but because I see a happy, healthy, excited me.  I did one of the hardest things in my life, I made a change -- a pretty big one.  I will say this much -- and it definitely comes from experience -- If you're not happy about something, look at the person in the mirror.  Because THAT is the only person that can make it better.

(Had to disable comments b/c I was getting comment spam out the ying yang -- but since everyone is on fb anyway . . . just comment there if you'd like - thx jj)

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Last Leg

I hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day -- either attending services, visting with family, or hanging with friends! As you can tell by the pic -- I'm chilling with my bff today just hanging. After a little Panera and Starbucks -- we journeyed back home for some visting and blogging. After all -- we are some blog divas. (And she FINALLY did a post on our blog -- you can see it here --> Grace & Joe Show)

This Memorial Day finds me at a plateau and a decision. I've pretty much been bouncing within the same five lbs range weight wise for about 2 months now. It's pretty frustrating, but to be expected. I've lost a full grown man in weight already . . . so there's going to be a time when my body slows down -- and it's happened. Not to worry -- I'm still positive and working out on a regular basis, just ready for the engine to get fired up again.

Which brings me to my decision. For awhile I've known I would have to go back under the knife to have extra tissue removed. It's inevitable with a large and relatively quick weight loss. They wait for your weight to somewhat stabelize, and then look to see if you're ready to have the tissue removed.

I visited with a surgeon the other day and was quite surprised when he said I'm ready. He said based on the amount of time since my surgery, my stable weight, and how my skin hangs, it's time to think seriously about the removal of the tissue. A bit scary, both because of cost and because of what it entails, but here I am.

Sometimes I feel like I've been running a race, and this is the last leg of it. I'm very thankful for all the support of my friends and family thus far, and am excited to run the last leg of this race . . . not that it ever really ends, but you get the idea. It's weird to be at this point when I never thought I'd get there . . . but here I am.

And here I go . . .

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Save the Paper

Paperless transactions, paperless documents, paperless communication, paperless money, paperless . . . paperless . . . paperless. . .

What did paper ever do to you? Did it steal something important from you? Did it lie to you? Why do you hate paper so much?? Ever think about the impact that paper has had on your life?

I can promise you this, my life would be much different without paper. So many memories, so many images . . . are preserved on paper. Paper is, dare I say it, more personal. When you give someone something on paper, it means more. It says – “Hey, you took the time to write this down and send it to me. You must think I’m special.”

It’s amazing what happens to an item if you wrap it up in paper. Let’s say you bought someone a shirt and you just hand it to them. They’ll be happy . . . but that’s about it. Now take the same shirt, wrap paper around it, and give it to them. They are immediately touched by the gesture of taking some paper and concealing what you are giving them. You turn a handout into a present with the presence of paper.

And seriously . . . who doesn’t like to hold a wad of paper money?? How cool is it? Even if it’s a stack of $1’s, it’s still pretty awesome to hold. You just feel excited . . .

Yes, I’m lamenting the loss of paper in our world. It’s been so many special memories for me. Some from far ago, some from just the other day, but paper has been a huge part of them. From a present I really wanted years ago, to a fortune from a fortune cookie given to me by someone special, paper continues to be a part of something that touches my life.

So with that in mind . . . I say this . . . SAVE THE PAPER!!!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Nothing Coherent Today

I find myself at a point where I can't really string together a coherent thought today. Not sure why . . .

I'd love to rant about the gulf oil leak going on and how we should all boycott BP, but just don't want to do the research . . .

Saw a thought provoking story on AC360 (sidenote -- love Anderson Cooper!) about children and racism, but can't stay focused on it today.

Could fill you in on a fantastic week I had down in Texas visiting family & friends, but I'm just not ready to divulge all that yet.

I can excite you about my upcoming research project that will take place this summer -- but then you might not be able to participate in my experiment.

Yeah -- I'm just all over the board today. I guess I can leave you with this one truth about what you might see in JJ's head . . . genuine happiness. It's amazing how wonderful my life has become. I can only say thank you to God above, and my family and friends here with me.

12 months and counting . . . and I do mean COUNTING . . . (and yes that is a funny billboard if you think about it)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

According to The Agenda

AHHHHHHHHHHHH! I really needed to get that out. I was checking out a link from Nilla’s facebook about a country singer that came out and well . . . I kinda got ticked!

I’m just about sick and tired of hearing the phrases “The Gay Agenda” and “I get it, you’re gay.” Not to mention the ignorant and stupid question of “I don’t understand what it’s such a big deal when gay people come out? What’s the point?”

Well – let’s address these one by one, shall we?

First – in regards to the Gay Agenda – there isn’t one. Shocking revelation, I know. I hate to break it to all the conservative right wing hullabaloo’s that swear up and down there is . . . the real point is there isn’t one. We didn’t all secretly one night have some big meeting and vote on what our agenda should be and then run out and try to implement it. Being gay is not a political view point, a social agenda, or a life choice. It’s simply just part of who we are. God decided to make us gay – just like he made others straight, or black, or white . . .

Second – in regards to “I get it, you’re gay” – Um, no you don’t. You don’t get it – at all. Because if you did Mr. Red Neck Hillbilly beat your wife Nadine while opening a Nattie Light – you wouldn’t feel the need to say that you do ACTUALLY get it. If you honestly did get the fact that people are gay, you’d read a story about someone asserting part of their life, and then move on with yours. You’d make a slight comment to someone near you like, “Oh – that’s interesting” or maybe “Cool” . . . but that’d be the extent of it. You wouldn’t have the impulse to start off a comment like “I get it, you’re gay” and then go on about how the Bible says being gay is wrong. Let me break this down real simple for you – You don’t get it. The Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong. Stop polluting the gene pool. (I might have been a bit stereotypical in this one . . .)

Finally – let’s understand the point of coming out – You don’t get the point because you don’t know what it’s like to be forced to be someone who you are not and finally break free of that yoke. I can’t explain it – There is no words for me to describe what it’s like to break out of what you are “expected” to be and embrace who you actually are. I’m going to go out on a limb and actually push this button – I think straight people that are so dismissive of the importance of a gay person coming out are actually JEALOUS that they don’t have an equally important self-acknowledgement. It’s just not a big deal to acknowledge that you are the normal, average, accepted person that you are. It’s a bit – dare I say – exciting to stand up and defy someone’s expectations and make a stand on who you truly are.

I can’t stand people that can’t accept the world for what it is and are always trying to twist it to fit their confining point of view. Back to your regular scheduled reading & surfing . . .

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Next Chapter

How often do you hear that people want to change? Often – right? Now here’s a tougher question – how many of them ACTUALLY changed? There a multitude of reasons why people don’t change. Fear of the unknown, it’s comfortable doing what they are currently doing, there’s no real reason to change, etc., etc. . . . We’ve heard them all before.

However, there is only one real reason that people do change. Something deep within them calls to them, and they listen. The listen to that calling, and make a choice. The choice is a simple one, they can follow what it says, or ignore it. I feel lucky in that I’m surrounded by people that listen to that voice, and it encourages me everyday to keep following what I hear.

Those that make a change start a new chapter in their life. A new twist to their story that makes the ride of life all that more interesting. I find myself at one of those junctions, and as a look around some people that are closest to me are there too. We all are wondering what the next chapter holds -- and it's kind of scary . . .

One of the less talked about challenges of change are those around you – that DON’T want you to change. There are people in our lives, and we all have them, that do not ever want you to change. That influence is sometimes very, very hard to overcome, and often the hardest. It’s scary to walk a path that you’ve never been down, but if you are trying to do with a slew of people against you – one is apt not to even try.

A very special person in my life inspired me today. A dream of his that he never really thought would come to fruition is actually in front of him. He walked into the unknown, and started down the path. He’s aware of the challenges ahead, and the success that awaits him. The best part – he’s doing it for him and no one else. Change will only last if you do it for you – b/c ultimately you are the one that’s living it, not anyone else.

So – to him I say I am with you. If you ever need me, you know I’m here. And to you – loyal reader and follower of my random thoughts – embrace change – in you and in those that are close to you. Evolve – and see how the world changes with you.

Let's turn the page together and see what the next chapter has in store . . .

Monday, April 19, 2010

Sorry, I'm Falling

I know I said it would never happen again, it’s not like I planned this out. You are sitting there looking at me tapping your foot and looking at me over the rim of your glasses like this was some sort of planned event. As if somehow, some way, this was all MY doing.

Seriously?? What control did I have? I was merely walking through the doors that were open. I can’t predict what’s up the road. I’m not freaking Ms. Cleo or anything. You can’t be mad about this forever you know . . . you just can’t.

Look – what did you EXPECT me to do? Explain that to me. What am I supposed to do when I’m faced with a situation like this? I did what you wanted for awhile, and neither of us were happy, at all . . . and now you get all mad because I decide to try something different?

Don’t blame me for wanting to be happy. And don’t act like I’m not aware of what all the risks are here. I know what they are, well some of them anyway. I still remember the pain from last time. It was a long time ago, but I remember. You’re not the only one.

So here’s the deal. I’m doing this. I’m gonna jump. I’m fully aware that there is no net. You want to jump with me, your choice. But I’m not sitting this one out. I’m not going to follow the same path over and over and expect things to change. That’s insanity . . .

I’m falling.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Facebook -- Friend or "Friend"?

I read a rather interesting article from, of all places, the Topeka Capital Journal. The article (link) was about social networking and how today, people will add “friends” they’ve never met before on facebook or other social media cites (side note: myspace is creepy) but won’t talk to the neighbor across the street.

It’s a cultural shift, to say the least. There have been many (including myself) that comment on time to time on the black hole that is the ever addictive facebook. I mean, seriously, it’s on my iPhone for crying out loud!! Gracie and I blogged about it (here). The loathing seems to center around how people feel that those of the “younger” generation are not as social or connected as the “older” generation because there is less face to face interaction.

Interesting point – and somewhat valid to an extent. However, I’d like to present an argument for the other side . . . I actually feel that facebook (and other social media sites) have actually helped connect people in a different, and more convenient way. It’s also helped maintain relationships over long distances and reconnect some that had lost touch.

Don’t believe me?? I can serve as a case study. I currently have 182 friends on my Facebook. Of my list – I have met all but 9 of them in person. The nine people on my list I haven’t met stumbled across my blog (either on Blogger or on Y360 when it was up and running) and have left comments for me. I in turn, visited their blogs and did the same. Over time, we became regulars . . . and these 9 fit in a group of people that I would never have met if not for Facebook.

The rest of my friends, I’ve either gone to high school, college (either A&M or Washburn), work, dated, or otherwise hung out with at some point. And of course my family members on facebook are on my friends list. Facebook has helped me to stay in contact with all of the ones that don’t live locally here in Topeka, and even reconnect with some friends that I had lost.

The conclusion of my case study?? I’m more socially connected BECAUSE of facebook. I maintain more relationships because it’s more convenient. I don’t have to always meet up with someone face to face or talk on the phone to “catch up”. I can check out the latest goings on with the fam and friends at 2:30 am when I leave work. It saves a bunch of phone calls and the awkwardness created by working night shift. Without the technology, I wouldn’t be able to maintain the relationships I now currently have.

Key part of my case is simple – it’s A tool, not my ONLY tool. I don’t just allow random invites from someone I’ve never met (just TDd two peeps I didn’t know) or shared a thought with. I think so many articles that criticize social networking sites forget that point – that most people don’t use JUST facebook to communicate. Those people do have a pathology that needs treatment – but for the vast majority of us – it’s just an enhancement to our social network.

Now if I could just fit this entry into my status message . . . ;)

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Love Game

Hey all . . . I know it’s been awhile since I’ve blogged, but had a lot going on lately. I thought about how to share all of the adventure and such, and well . . . I just thought the fantastic Lady Gaga could help me out.

“Bad Romance”
I want your love, and I want your revenge, I want your love, I don’t want to be friends . . .
I want your loving, I want your revenge, you and me could write a bad romance. I want your loving, and all your lover’s revenge, you and me could write a bad romance.

Someone explain to me how I always, ALWAYS end up in the dreaded “friend zone”. Just once I’d like to meet someone that is as in to me as I’m in to him . . . but then again, that’s the challenge isn’t it? What’s hard about it all is that he’s a really great guy that is honest and fun to be around. Not to mention we always have a blast when we hang together . . . oh well . . . there’s always time, right?? 

“Beautiful, Dirty, Rich”
We got it made like ice cream topped with honey, but we got no money! Daddy, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry yeah! We just like to party yeah, like to party yeah!

The trip to New Orleans and Dallas was FANTASTIC!!! Literally one of the best vacations I’ve ever, ever had. I can’t believe how much fun was crammed into 7 days. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! It might have been too much since as soon as I got back, I got the flu. But it was still all worth it. I’ve got 804 pics to prove it too . . . Those aren’t getting posted though . . . 

I’m your biggest fan, I’ll follow you until you love me. Papa . . . Paparazzi . . . Baby there’s no other superstar you know that I’ll be your . . . Papa . . . Paparazzi . . . Baby I promise I’ll be kind, but I won’t stop until the boy is mine. Baby you’ll be famous, chase you down until you love me . . .

Is there anything wrong with hope? I’m struggling with trying to be realistic and the hopeless romantic that I am. Part of me thinks that he’s really does just want to be my friend (cuz that’s what he tells me) and then there’s that secret side of me that wants to believe he’s hiding how he feels. I know it’s silly to think that because there’s nothing there that leads to that conclusion, so definitely am probably just setting myself up on this . . . but can’t help it.

I wanna kiss you. But if I do I might miss you babe. It’s complicated and stupid, got my ass squeezed by sexy Cupid. Guess he wants to play, wants to play, a love game, a love game.

Gracie said to me the other day something that has resonated with me for awhile. She said that I am a completely different person than I was a year ago. It’s so true . . . the fact that I want to meet someone and have a relationship – and that I’m actively trying – is quite a change. I’m not known for patience (and neither is she) so that’s the hard part for me at this point. Just wondering when it will finally happen . . . Cupid needs to lay off for a bit.

“Poker Face”
A little gambling is fun when you’re with me, I love it! Russian Roulette is not the same without a gun, and baby when it’s love if it’s not rough it isn’t fun, fun.

I have to be careful right now. As I truly branch out and try to figure out who I am, I have to remember to stay true to myself. I’ve already been in a few situations that were a bit more than I expected . . . once in New Orleans and once in KC . . . and I have to be confident in who I am, what I want, and that I don’t need to settle. Dating is a lot like holding a revolver to your head, spinning the barrel, and pulling the trigger . . . really . . .

Stop callin’, stop callin’, I don’t wanna think anymore. I left my head and my heart on the dance floor. Stop callin’, stop callin’, I don’t wanna talk anymore. I left my head and my heart on the dance floor.

An interesting twist that happened recently is that I was told I was too skinny to date. WTF?? That was a new twist for me . . . Evidently this guy who had approached me thought I was handsome, but not near big enough. Shame, b/c he was very cute, but I’m NOT about to gain (or lose) weight for anyone . . . this is just for me – it’s about being healthy. Which btw . . . I’m up to 174 lbs lost (woo hoo!)

“Boys Boys Boys”
Baby is a bad boy with some retro sneakers, let’s go see the Killer’s and make out in the bleachers. I like you a lot lot, think you’re really hot hot. Let’s go to the party heard our buddy is the DJ, don’t forget my lipstick I left it in your ashtray.

I swear more has been going on than me trying to find someone to date!!! It’s just a new facet in my life. School is going well, work is well . . . work . . . and I’m still in a great place mentally. I’ve totally stolen an idea from Gracie and I’ve started making accessories . . . but unlike her I’m not selling them, but rather keeping them to add to MY wardrobe.

“Just Dance”
Just dance, it’ll be okay. Just Dance, that record babe. Just Dance, it’ll be okay. Dance, Dance, Dance, Jus t Dance.

Life goes on. And I’m not gonna retreat at all . . . I’m glad I’m living it to the fullest and want to continue to do so. So, like Gaga says . . . “Just Dance , it’ll be okay!”

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Poem: Inside


You’ve shared your pain
Let me know what it’s like when it rains.
You’ve put out that you’re unsure,
That you don’t want to hurt.
You said you tend to push away,
That you aren’t sure what you want this day.
But I’m still here, arms open wide,
Because I’ve seen the love you have inside.

You’ve shared your desires,
What makes the flame burn deep inside.
You’ve put out exactly what you chase,
You said that to me not to make haste,
From the wall, step outside,
I don’t know why you continue to hide.
But I’m still here, arms open wide,
Because I’ve seen the warmth you have inside.

You’ve shared your kind heart,
Shown every facet, even the dark parts.
You’ve put out that you like to repair,
The things that need a little bit of care.
Look at your soul, and help it mend
It's worth the time that you need to spend.
And I’m still here, arms open wide,
Because I’ve fallen for the light you have inside.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Bring on Year Two

Year one is officially in the books. Year two is off to a bang – how quickly things roll by. You turn around and just the amount of change that can take place in a life is sometimes a bit overwhelming. There are many theories out there about personality and such, and I won’t delve into them now – mainly b/c I’m not versed enough yet – but there is one that talks about every 10 years or so you have a transition in your life, and that transition can be quite big.

Welcome to my transition . . .

The quick, and obvious changes, are of course the external. In one year I’ve lost 165 pounds. I had a goal of getting under 300 by 2/26, and was off just by two days. Two days into my second year, the scale read 299. Next goal is 250 by August – that’s 49 pounds. I’m in a wedding out in San Diego and it’d be cool to be that small by the time the pics are taken. My health is in a good transition.

Also external – my career. For over 10 years, I’ve been an executive at Target working in their Distribution Centers. I’ve loved it – great company, better people, and they really take care of ya. However, it’s no longer my calling. My passion is to help people – maybe through their transitions – who knows. What I do know is that studying for psychology, although challenging at times, has been to date rather rewarding as well. I’ve learned more about myself and human interactions than I thought I would up to this point. The challenge has been daunting this semester – Taking half of a course load and working full time. But the bottom line is that I’m going to transition my career . . . another good transition.

Now one that’s not so obvious – unless you really, really know me. I’ve opened my heart, and am taking a risk. I’ve fallen for someone. I took down my walls and let someone in. I’m so scared about it, but am loving every minute of it. The polar opposites of emotion can sometimes be overwhelming – but that dichotomy of feeling by experiencing all that it has to offer has truly touched my soul. I’m not going to be so scared to love that I don’t ever try – I’ve got to Make It Happen if it’s going to. God only provides the opportunity, you have to walk through and seize the chance. We are learning together, how to take the walls down and trust each other. Yeah, my emotional health is in transition . . . for the better.

So, year one changed a lot, and it looks like Bob’s (or my lab band) second year is going to be just as full of twists and turns. Kinda like the rollercoasters that a certain someone and I are going to ride this summer . . . hold on tight kids – it’s going to be one helluva ride!

Oh – and the boa?? Yeah, I had to wear it to my surprise celebration my bff Gracie and Eric through for me . . . yeah it was a freaking BLAST!!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Don't Miss the Little Things

So, I recently returned from a trip to Texas. My grandmother passed away last Thursday, and I couldn’t stay down there for the funeral due to school, but I was able to visit the family and just be there. It was great to see everyone and to just be around them. On my way back, my stepmom (or as she is known – Mom2) called to let me know she really enjoyed my visit and how much she loves me. It totally made my day.

It also was another example of how important it is to appreciate the little things in life. The little chances to tell people how much they mean to you. How much fun it is to take random adventures when you don’t really know where you’re going? How fun it is to send someone a text message that you know will elicit a WTF response – and probably a giggle or two?

Here’s just a small list of some little things that I was reminded of this past weekend . . .

Snowfall in Texas – It’s such a rare event and we have never gotten as much as they did over the past week (it was like foot). There was literally a snowman in every single yard in my parents’ neighborhood.
My nephew’s hugs (and my nieces’ for that matter)
Laughter in spite of everything else
Telling someone goodnight
Hanging with your old HS friends – like not much has changed
Being told that you need to move back right away
Telling your secrets to someone that will keep them
Getting a message from your BFF that she misses you terribly
Getting a picture texted to you of your cat lying in your dog’s kennel
Someone sending you the word “Yay!”
Reconnecting with a lost friend, and meeting his fiancée
Your Dad telling you he hates Facebook, but loves you

Just small things. What I’m finding out is that life is really worth the little things. The big ones are nice – don’t get me wrong – but if you pay attention to everything around you – there’s much joy to be had. Much indeed . . .

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ethically Speaking, of course . . .

So, ethics is an interesting proposition. On one hand it’s a code of conduct that is established to help guide a professional through the steps of their life. On the other hand, if rules were never broken, then certain practices that are abhorrent by today’s standards would still be in use. It’s an interesting paradox . . .

I’ve been thinking a lot about this topic for the past few weeks. One of the biggest traps that face psychologists (therapists, or really any professional that works closely with another person), is the issue of transference. Transference is when the person seeking the help places their feelings onto the person helping them instead of the one that the feelings belong to. Now, often times, this is a necessary evil for the therapist to get the client to work through some issues (in fact, it’s a cornerstone of psychoanalysis).

The danger lies in the often not talked about “counter-transference” . . . when the therapist projects their feelings back on the client. That’s a line that one NEVER wants to cross. Interestingly enough, there are many professions that also have counter-transference dangers . . . one’s you might not have even thought of . . .

Some that come to mind are teachers, professors, preachers, policeman, doctors, counselors, social workers, prison guards, nurses . . . almost any profession where someone has “power” over someone else, however you define that power.

I’ve now been faced with this “counter-transference” issue three times in my life. Someone with intimate knowledge tries to take a relationship to a level that it shouldn’t be. It’s a bit rattling when someone that is supposed to be a trusted individual crosses the line. I know they are human, and they don’t mean to step over the line, but the reality is that when they do, there’s no going back. That relationship can’t really be healed. You can’t have such intimate, personal knowledge of an individual, violate their trust, and then expect it all to return to normal. It’s just not the way it works.

Sad, really. But as I continue down this journey, I too must be vigilant and watch out for the dangers of “counter-transference” . . . one shouldn’t cruise the population they are helping.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Getting Ripped

Yeah . . . how’s this for an unbelievably embarrassing story. Eric wanted to go to Wichita Saturday night to dance, meet up with some old friends, and just genuinely have a good time. So . . . for lack of any other pressing plans in Topeka on a Saturday night, I took him up on the offer to go. And off on my first adventure to Wichita we went.

Now, being in the mood to get our groove on . . . it can be assumed that we might have had a few adult beverages. I mean . . . who wouldn’t?? Besides, the tunes were playing and the well drinks were on sale.

Now, here’s a good time to explain what I’m like when I go dancing. Since the weight loss . . . I do NOT LIKE to EVER come off the dance floor. If they are playing some awesome tunes (which they were this night!) then I’m gonna dance my booty off. What was cool is that Eric ran into some of his old friends and so there was at any point 4 to 7 of us out on the dance floor basically just singing and having a good ol’ time.

Remember . . . I LOVE to dance until I drop . . . and that was exactly what my goal was going to be. At some point they played a KICKING club mix of Mariah’s “I Want to Know What Love Is” and at that point . . . it was on. And YOU KNOW that Lady Gaga was in heavy rotation. And well . . . I don’t like to come off the floor when Gaga is pumping . . .

So, it was during Poker Face that I happened to have lost my step . . . and . . . well . . . I fell off the dance floor. Remember, I like to dance until I drop. See . . . what had happened was they have these little glass brick features stacked up around the dance floor. Not all over the dance floor, but just in a few places. I happened to have assumed I was in one place, and in reality I was in another, and well . . . I was laid out.

Now, most would have been self conscious and had to run for cover, but not this DIVA. HELL NO! I was bound and determined to finish shaking my thang to “Poker Face” . . . and I did. And that’s when I realized that I was gushing blood from my elbow!!! Yeah . . . something about a few drinks and dancing for a few hours kind of makes you bleed . . . a lot.

So, if you were at the Fantasy Complex in Wichita and saw or heard this screaming queen yelling “Excuse Me, I’m bleeding!” . . . now you know how I got ripped! (and you just thought it was b/c of the drinks!)

Friday, January 22, 2010

Pretty Face

Well, this is a bit of an unexpected surprise. Originally, I was just going to post the poem I finally have hashed out from a line I wrote down while walking on campus (and I still did, it’s below this brief entry), but on the way home I decided that I’d shave off my goatee. So I did. And something a bit unexpected happened . . .

I like the face I saw that was looking back at me. Kind of cool . . . See, about 4 years ago, I grew my goatee to hide my double (okay, quadruple) chin. Everytime I decided to shave it off, I would look in the mirror and shudder. I hated the site of my big ol’ face and all those chins, so I promptly grew it right back. What’s funny, is that most people here in Topeka know me WITH the facial hair, yet most of the people in Texas know me without it. Dilemma . . . (Side Note – Gracie is partial to the goatee, but not for the reason I cited for growing it. She just likes it on me.)

So, in a way, like so many things in my life, I was hiding behind that goatee. Well, I’m not anymore . . . I think I’m going to attempt to stay clean shaven for awhile . . . This is getting interesting . . .

Here’s that poem that came from the line “Beauty fades, Love remains” that I jotted down while walking from class . . .

“Love Remains”

I know you saw it,
I saw it too.
Strutting on by,
Turning every eye in the room.
Following the steps,
Following the bounce,
Hypnotized by the creation,
The conquest,
The challenge.
Hard to remember,
When beauty fades,
Only love will remain.

I know you lost your breath,
I lost mine too.
The gentle touch
Unleashing lightening thru skin.
Yearning for the look,
Yearning for more,
Infatuated with the possibility
The experience
The night.
Hard to understand,
When beauty fades,
Only love will remain.

I know your body trembled,
Mine trembled too.
The gentle touch of a kiss
Blurring judgment and animal lust
Craving the satisfaction
Craving the desire
Focused on only one thing,
Only on one need,
One act.
Hard to recall,
When beauty fades,
Only love will remain.

I know your heart is alone,
Mine is too.
No loving embrace
Welcoming the dawn of another day.
Hiding from the risk
Hiding from the pain
Missed a true chance
A true experience
A true love.
Only now remembering
Beauty will fade,
And only those with love will remain.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Mission Impossible

Warning – this is a bit of a long entry . . . might want to get a cup of coffee and get a bit comfy before reading it. So, got a question for ya . . .

How good are you at flying by the seat of your pants? I’m not the best, and that’s putting it lightly. I love to think that I’m spontaneous . . . but the reality of the situation is that I am a teeny bit of a control freak. So . . . that leads me to today.

My friend Eric is looking for a new dog collar for his precious puppy (and that is said with ZERO sarcasm) Kahlua. Seriously . . . check out the pic . . . she’s just my niece and I’m almost whooped! Now, not any collar will do . . . we are looking for a Pride Rainbow collar. Now, one would think this is easy . . .

But remember one ever so important crucial fact – um, we live in FREAKING KANSAS!! Obviously there is nothing here in Topeka, but even Lawrence turned up dry. So, we decide today that we’re going to go to KC to look for a dog collar. Because I mean . . . KC is a major city in the country and there just HAS to be a store there that sells them.

So, armed with my new trusty GPS (thx Gracie!), whom I like to call Michael . . . (side note – he’s got a very sexy British accent!), Eric’s iPhone, some good music, and a tank full of gas, we embark on our random mission to KC to locate said Dog collar. Now, before we left, we did call a pet store that we were told about to inquire about their selection in doggie fashions, but they did not have one.

They said they could order one and it would be in the store in like 3 weeks . . . but who wants to wait THAT long . . .

Now, at this point, Michael is not really being utilized. But there was not much to fear . . . we didn’t get lost. I mean, you have two fags with an iPhone . . . how much safer could you be? We are able to safely maneuver the roads. We get to KC and decide to run to Sidekicks (side note – gay country bar – how about that name!) b/c Eric says they will know where we can go to get something. So we head there and park and head to the front door. Well . . . it’s locked. They’re not open. Failure. But on the way back to the car, we run into a queen smoking a cigarette behind Buddies . . . and ask him if he’s aware of a place we can head. He politely smiles and says, sure – just go up over there, on Westport Road, and head to Larry’s Cards and Gift Shop.

Sweet! Success! We go two blocks, turn right, and head down Westport . . . and after getting to the 1500 block, we find the address on Eric’s trusty iPhone (see, they are sooo handy!) and realize we need to head back to the 200 block. No problem . . . we turn around and head back . . . until we find the address. One small issue though . . . really more of a side note really . . . or a post script . . . Larry’s is out of business. Failure.

Our next idea is to head to Tootsie’s, b/c it’s a bar that has a nice gift shop in it. We realize we’re just a few blocks from it. We didn’t want to have to pay a cover just to get to the gift shop . . . but I mean, look at how freaking CUTE Kahlua is!!! So we get there, pull into the parking lot . . . and, well . . . it’s closed.

Now, dear readers, this is the part where you probably are thinking that I’m losing my mind and all stressed out . . . but instead – I’m actually having a blast! While driving all over KC, we have been listening to music, chatting about whatever, and just enjoying the adventure. How about that New Year’s Resolution of mine!

So I decide that I’m a bit on the hungry side, so we head to the plaza. Might as well live it up one more time before school kicks in and I’m all study, study, study . . . We do some window shopping and walk by the Sony store (can you say Apple Store knock off?) and eventually the Apple store as well . . . yeah, we went in to both of ‘em. I mean – you got a dork and a geek walking into gadget stores . . . like THAT’S a big surprise or something.

We leave the Apple store and that’s when we smell it. The rich, sweet aroma of . . . MEAT! We are now on a hunt for this establishment that is emitting this heavenly aroma . . . and we walk this way and that way . . . all the while the scent is getting stronger and stronger . . . and then, finally . . . from across the avenue . . . we see it. Fogo de Chao . . . a Brazilian Restaurant . . .

I have one reservation about it – and it’s this – I am concerned that it might be “family style” dining. I do not EVER want to sit at a table full of people I don’t know and hear about their drama, have them ask me probing questions that I don’t want to answer . . . and worst of all . . . have them freaking BREATHE on my food! We decide to stick our heads in to see – b/c after all – that smell is HEAVENLY!

We went in and to our excitement . . . it wasn’t! So down we sat and off to a freaking awesome dining experience we were . . . in a Brazilian Nut Shell . . . The salad bar is freaking amazing (it had salmon that MELTED in your mouth), they bring around 15 kinds of meat that they cut off of skewers for you, and basically you eat as much as you want until you are full. Yeah, it’s all you can eat . . . and it rocks! My personal faves were the Parmesan Encrusted Pork Loin and the Leg of Lamb . . . but really all of it was good.

Never fear my dear Skittles, b/c many of the meats I tasted and then set aside . . . b/c I wanted to try all of them and I only have a little bit of room to eat. I did kind of wish that I didn’t have a lap band until I remembered that I’ve lost like a whole freaking person and am very happy about that . . .

All I will say is that you need to go . . . at least once . . . and experience it.

And here’s the cool part of this whole entry . . . while our mission was a failure, the evening was a success. We had a freaking blast – and we ended it with STARBUCKS!! I got my regular Venti Carmel Light Frappucino and Eric got a White Chocolate Mocha.

Oh, and the collar . . . it’s on order . . .

Monday, January 11, 2010

Making it Happen

Wow, today was a bit of an unexpected emotional release day. After church today, as I’m accustomed to do, I headed to the gym for a workout. Tomorrow I start working out with Sean three times a week until the end of February . . . I’m gonna be sooooooo sore!

I did abs, a 12 min on the elliptical (felt good, hadn’t done that machine in a while), and 10 min on the treadmill for a cool down. I had my heart rate over 150 so didn’t want push too hard. I tend to get light headed . . . but not the point of the entry here.

I took my shower and then weighed myself, and that’s when I looked down and saw that I weighed 315.5 lbs. To think that less than a year ago, I weighed 465.4 lbs is a bit insane. It just hit me on what I’m accomplishing. It’s like all at once I just couldn’t help it, and I cried. It wasn’t a bad cry, but a releasing cry.

So there I was, sitting on a chair in the shower room (thank goodness it’s a private shower room!), with my towel around my waste, crying. I never thought this was ever going to happen. I’m sure over the next year, there will be more times that this is going to happen, and I’m okay with it. Especially if I get over 300 . . .

As I’m sure everyone’s noticed I’ve been a bit emotional as of late anyway, so I guess it’s just gonna be that way for awhile.

Lastly, I’ll point the new section on the right, my “Song on the Soundtrack of my Life” – mainly b/c it’s “Make It Happen” by Mariah Carey. I have been living the chorus of this song for awhile now. If they ever, ever, ever made a lifetime movie about my life, this song would HAVE to be in it.

If you believe in yourself enough and know what you want
You’re gonna make it happen, make it happen.
And if you get down on your knees at night and pray to the lord
He’s gonna make it happen, make it happen.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Poem: Flower Petals

Click the image for a full size view. I call it a "picture poem"

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

My Anytime Fitness Story

As many of you know, I regularly work out at Anytime Fitness. Well, I've been asked to write up "My Story" so that others could be motivated by it. I thought since I was doing it there, I'd also post it here. So . . . following is MY Anytime Fitness Story . . .

Before January 2009, my health had been on a steady decline, and the last 5 years it was running down fast. My weight had ballooned to 465 lbs. My cholestrol was off the charts. My blood pressure was 160/100. My blood sugar levels were regularly over 150. I had been hospitalized twice for depression. In short, I wasn't happy, healthy, and I feared that I would die young.

I had turned to food to help me cope with problems. Whether it was my self esteem, not being happy about something at work, my plans getting ruined, etc. -- I would eat something and feel better. As I got bigger, I became more isolated. I didn't really date anyone. I had very few friends, and didn't really do much other than sleep, eat, sit on the couch and watch tv, and work.

Then, after a visit home for Christmas with my family, I had decided to make a change. I was done feeling sorry for myself and not doing anything about it. I weighed almost a QUARTER OF A TON and I was just about done with it. I needed to change my life - and that meant changing how I eat and exercise.

To tackle eating, I went to the doctor and on Feb. 26, 2009, I underwent the lap band procedure. This tool enabled me to control my binge eating and forced me to learn how to eat right. I had to read labels to see what was in the food I was eating, and I had to make good choices about what I ate because I could only eat a small amount.

For exercise, I started walking. After surgery my doctor told me to just walk. So I did. I started by walking around the block at home. Then down to the nearest main avenue six blocks away. On nice days, I took my dog Ragan and walked to the park and played frisbee with him. But I found that I was finding too many excuses still to not follow through with the walking. It was hot, or it was raining, or I was bored walking, or (fill in whatever excuse would work).

So, in April of 2009, my birthday present was to join Anytime Fitness. I needed a place that was open whenever the mood struck me (removed my the club not open excuse), was a half mile from my house (removed my gym to far out of the way excuse), had private showers (removed the being embarrassed to take a shower excuse), and was supportive (removed the everyone is going to make fun of me excuse).

The staff at Anytime Fitness were extremely helpful in offering suggestions on workouts and showed me how to use the various types of equipment. I was able to do certain exercises and routines, and started to lose more weight and feel better about myself.

As time went on, more weight started coming off. I added more exercises to my routines, and started coming more often. This former QUARTER TON COUCH POTATO was well on his way to becoming an official GYM RAT!

For the first time in a long time, I was proud of myself. I was happy at the decisions I was making and exctatic with the results I was seeing. I took pride in the fact that 4 times a week or more, I was going to the gym to work out. It was getting me out of the house, relieving stress, and helping me lose weight quickly.

The strange thing, is that when you become happy with yourself, others begin to change their perceptions of you. All the negative feelings and emotions I was experiencing started to give way to positive ones. I went out with friends more. I visited with family more often. I started dating. I became involved in church. I went back to college to work on a Psychology degree. I became, well, for lack of a better word, busy. AND I LOVE IT! I can't believe that I used to lose my breath walking up a flight of stairs and now I go almost non-stop from the time I wake up to the time I go to sleep. People tell me I'm now the energizer bunny!

To date, I've lost 148 lbs. Feb 26,2010 is my anniversary date of my surgery, and it's almost unbelievable that I am about to type this next statement -- I have a shot at being under 300 lbs for the first time in over a decade by that date! I have 17 more lbs. to lose. I'm going to start training with Sean of Anytime Fitness three times a week next week, and with some hard work, good eating decisions, and a little luck, when I step on the scales on that day, I will weigh less than 300 lbs.

My story isn't over . . . it's just beginning. I can't wait for the next chapter . . .