The New Year was just two days old before my dream died.  Again.  The good news was that it made two days this time, which was officially a new record.  I’d like to take all the credit, but it was just because I procrastinated on making my New Year’s resolutions (which, of course, included to quit procrastinating).

It fell right between resolutions #65 (quit smoking) and #67 (remember nobody likes a quitter).  There it was in black and white: #66 (Write a book).  Darn it!  Not again.  Not that I have actually ever written a book.  I’ve started writing 182 books (trust me… all of them were REALLY good), but finished writing exactly zero of them.  So I thought maybe this year I would actually tackle it head on and bust out my personal War and Peace… and then I thought better about it (and there goes resolution #67).

It’s not that I couldn’t write  a book.  I just couldn’t write a book that anyone would actually want to read.  Before I completely gave up, I even solicited feedback from my wife.  “Maybe you could write on raising four daughters,” she suggested.  That’s a fine idea and all, but let’s be honest, nobody wants to read about those boring little losers.  So I kicked around other ideas… okay an idea singular… which was an autobiography that had me wearing a funny hat and began, “Four score and seven years ago…”.  As it turned out, I officially had nothing!

So I did what I do when I have nothing, I became Eeyore:

Me: Ohhhhh Christopher Robbins… I stink as a writer and I am soooooo down that I just want to mope around talking like Eeyore all day.

My wife:  What?  Did you just call me Christopher Robbins? What the heck are you talking about?  And if you keep talking like that I am going to donkey kick you in the nuts!

Me: Oh bother!

Wife: Okay, I warned you!  Hiiiiiiyyyyyahhhhh!!!

But as I sat there icing my bruised ego (and unmentionables), I heard a whole slew of angels.  Wait…slew? Flock? A pod? Peck? A herd?  I heard a herd of angels? Nope! A HOST! I heard a host of angels!  Actually, I didn’t hear anything, but I read a FaceBook post from that could have been written by a host of angels, but as it turned out was written by a guy on my Team in Training triathlon team.  It turns out that he was a big fan of the show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” and he wanted to host a contest where he was going to donate $250 to the winner’s fundraising efforts.  All I had to do was write something, anything funny and in the perspective of an episode from the show.  Heavenly hosts Batman! Here was my chance to prove that I was not a complete loser!  Okay I’d still be a loser, but you get the point.

There was only one challenge, I had never seen the show.  Well, that, and I’m not funny.  So although I had never seen the show “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia,”  I seen the movie “Philadelphia” with Tom Hanks.  I figured it was probably the same thing with Danny Devito playing the Tom Hanks role in the show.  Have you ever tried to write something funny about a man dying of Aids?  Me neither.  I decided to do “research” and actually watch the show.  In case you were wondering, it is a very funny show.

Anyway, sit down for this part, I ended up winning the contest.  I’m sure there were probably thousands and thousands of people (a herd?  Nevermind…)  that entered the contest, and yours truly walked away with the golden participant ribbon.  So although it is true that I am still the big fat loser that will never write a book, in a roundabout charity kind of way, I was paid for my writing.  In my book (see what I did there), that makes me a professional writer!  In your face Christopher Robbins!  And I know it has absolutely nothing to do with writing, but from now on please refer to me as Fat Tom, Esquire.

 

For those of you that may might be actual fans of the show, I’ll apologize in advance but here is my  AWARD WINNING episode called, “The Gang decides to do a Triathlon.”  For those of you, who are like me, and have never seen the show, the real show is funny so don’t take this as a reason to not watch the show.  Oh yeah… Danny Devito plays the character Frank who as it turns out, isn’t even related to Tom Hanks.   Anyhoo, here it is:

11:00 Am
On a Tuesday
In Philadelphia

The gang is sitting around chatting in the bar when a sweaty, out of breath Frank enters the bar wearing a burgundy velvet sweat suit…

Frank: Get me a beer, I’m carb loading!
Charlie: Carb loading? You?? For What??
Frank: I’ve decided to do a triathlon!
(Whole gang laughs)
Dee: So you are going to eat, drink beers, and what is the third thing that will complete this “triathlon” your doing?
Frank: Ha ha. I’m doing a real triathlon, I just signed up for the Ironman in Kona!
Mac: Wait, a triathlon would be hard enough, but YOU are doing an IRONMAN???
Frank: I didn’t say that I am DOING an Ironman, I said that I signed up for one. I tried to sign up for the handicap division, but they wanted me to prove that I was a complete quadraplegic in order to let me be pulled by someone else for the entire race. Once I realized that wasn’t going to happen, I signed up for the Lavaman Triathlon.
Dee: Frank, are you drunk? What are you talking about?
Charlie: Yeah… what exactly would possess YOU to sign up for a triathlon?
Frank: Not what Charlie… WHO??? She was the most gorgeous creature that I’ve ever seen…

(Fade to Dream Sequence….)
Frank is sitting at a bench in a park when Bo Derek, looking exactly like she did in 10 – with her cornrows far from the only thing bouncing- comes jogging in his direction. Frank sees her and immediately stands up in anticipation. Bo is running right to him in slow motion. She smiles at him… Frank smiles back… they lock eyes… Frank but can’t help but to put out his arms to allow Bo to run right into them….
…. Bo Derek hurdles the bench that Frank was sitting on, keeps running 25 more years until she reaches the lake, where she immediately enters the water, and swims off into the sunset…
(End Dream Sequence)

Dee: Wait, you didn’t even talk to her, how do you know she was training for a triathlon?
Frank: Are you kidding? She was running and swimming, what else would she be doing?
Dennis: Maybe desperately trying to escape the creep at the park that was fantasizing about her!
Frank: We’ll see who is laughing when I am crossing the finish line of my triathlon in Hawaii!
Dee: Hawaii? Why didn’t you say so, I’ve always wanted to do a triathlon!
(The guys all laugh.)
Mac: The only one less likely to do a triathlon than Frank is you. You’ve never exercised a day in your life!
Dee: I seemed to get plenty of exercise spanking your ass in the chugging contest.
Mac: I was the commissioner, not a fellow contestant!
Dee: You were a wuss! Why don’t you actually compete against me and Frank in this triathlon and we’ll see who spanks who.
Charlie: Whoa, whoa, whoa… I want in on this ass paddling!
Dennis: Me too! How about a little wager… $100 each?
Group: DEAL!

12 Weeks later
08:00 AM Race Day
In Hawaii
The gang is stretching before the big race when Frank walks up in a full wetsuit, fins, a mask, and a snorkel.

Dennis: Are you trying to scare away any sharks by looking like an orca?
Frank: I’m not taking any chances of catching hypothermia in that freezing water!
Charlie: Frank, this is HAWAII, that water is 72 degrees!
Frank: I know, and I refuse to bathe in anything less than 90 degrees.
Mac: Guys they are calling our heat, let’s go!

(We see them all standing together in a circle in the water getting ready for their heat when Dee comes swimming up between them while doing the backstroke and spitting water out of her mouth like a fountain).
Charlie: What are you doing here? Shouldn’t you be with your own heat? Women start about 20 minutes after us.
Dee: I don’t trust you suckers! You aren’t going to get a chance to cheat… I’m racing with your heat!

The race begins and we see a shot of…
Mac flailing about during the swim while yelling, “I should have learned to swim in the last three months!” He eventually stands up and walks out while saying he just can’t do it.

Charlie drys off then uses his towel as a bib and pulls out an entire chicken and begins eating it during the first transition.

Dennis is exiting the water when he notices a couple of attractive women laying out on the beach. He decides to call it a day and lay in between them.

Frank: Gets not one but two flat tires… Then clothes line an elderly lady off her rascal scooter and rides off to finish the race on it.

Dee: Actually does really well. She can see the finish line…with 100 yards to go she realizes she needs to perfect her smack talk… 75 yards mostly cussing with a lot of “your mother” thrown in… 50 yards she decides on the time tested, “You guys can all suck my nuts!”…25 yards she raises her arms in victory just as two guys from security jump out of the crowd and announce they got the woman who cheated by starting before her heat. A ruckus ensues as security won’t let the cheater cross the finish line. Meanwhile Dee is now telling the security guard that THEY can suck her nuts.
As they wrestle Dee to the ground we see Frank pull up behind them on his stolen rascal scooter. He parks it in the crowd, gets off, and has a glorious 25 yards to victory.
After Frank crosses the finish line, the honorary chairwoman of the race puts the medal around his neck. She is, of course, none other than Bo Derek.

 THE END.

 

 

 

 

The events of October 18th

Posted: December 6, 2015 in Uncategorized

On October 18th, I was a “victim” (that word is almost painful to even write) of a violent crime.  I was in the state of Missouri, which is far from my home state, and in an area that  I was not even remotely familiar with.  I’ve seen something on Facebook that stated that streets named “Martin Luther King” have a higher percentage of crimes compared to other streets. I don’t know if there is any truth to that, but coincidentally this did happen on Martin Luther King Boulevard.  In retrospect, confirmation that I might not have been in the best neighborhood came in the realization that even the grocery stores and drug stores all posted an armed security guard at their entrance and again later when one of the police officers asked me, “what are YOU doing in this neighborhood?”

Most of the facts are briefly recapped below in the letter to the court.   However, I’ll share here that I didn’t throw any punches or even defend myself.  I could pretend that I was doing as Jesus instructed and just turned the other cheek.  Nope.  The truth is I was just expecting to exchange insurance information  after being in a car accident (it turned out he was uninsured) and I was somewhat in shock when the guy started immediately punching me in the face.  I was in the driver’s seat of my car directly behind my steering wheel.  When I was able to exit my vehicle, I was wobbly and off balanced because one of my flip flops that I was wearing was still on my feet while the other was not.  One guy was trying to attack me from the front, another came from behind me and stole my phone, and two others just stood there and watched it happen.  None of it really sunk in to me that I was even attacked until I saw my swollen and bloody face in a mirror later.  As upset as I was with myself that I didn’t catch on and defend myself (my boxing gloves were directly behind my seat and I didn’t throw a single punch), I realized later that considering that the guy they caught had a (stolen) gun,  if I fought back at all, I might not be here today.

I really have no idea why I am posting this, but I have a feeling the judging of me will begin.  The Victim Services handbook the St. Louis Court system sent me said that writing a victim statement can be “a beneficial therapeutic tool.”  I don’t know about that but I do know that this was the third pamphlet they have sent me, all of which were immediately thrown away and ended up in the garbage.  In a selfish way, I just want to move on, but today I pulled their most recent pamphlet out of the trash and wrote the following letter to the court:

 

Honorable Robert XXXX,

 

       My name is Tom and I am the victim in the case you are presiding over against Job Isaiah XXXX.  Please excuse my absence as I do not reside in the state of Missouri, and am unable to take more time off for this case.  My hope is that Advocate Caseworker Catherine XXXX or another court appointee can read my letter to the court.

       I think you already know the facts of the case, as I believe Mr. XXXX already plead guilty to 2nd degree robbery.  As a brief recap, Mr. XXXX and I were both driving vehicles on the evening of October 18th, 2015 when we were involved in a car accident with each other.  I pulled over into a strip mall to make sure the driver of the vehicle (who turned out to be Mr. XXXX) was okay and exchange insurance information.  As the accident involved his vehicle hitting my car door, I was unable to open my door and exit my vehicle.  He approached my vehicle, kicked my door, then ripped opened the door, and began punching me in the face while yelling expletives at me.  I was eventually able to exit my vehicle and get away, but not before Mr. XXXX stole my money and another man (who was not caught) stole my cell phone.  Considering Mr. XXXX had a gun, I realize that the outcome could have been much worse than the couple of black eyes and bruised ego I suffered.

       According to the pamphlet provided to me, the Victim Impact Statement allows the victim to communicate their feelings to the court and I believe you might take it into consideration when deciding your sentence.  I will share my feelings with the court and leave the judging and sentencing to you.   I will not second guess your decision, I am not seeking restitution, nor do I really care to even know the outcome or continue to receive communication about this case.  I’m going to share my feelings here, and then I am going to move on with my life:

        Prior to our accident on October 18th, I had never encountered Mr. XXXX so I will not pretend to know anything about him, but my thought is that Job Isaiah XXXX did a very stupid thing on that evening.  When I was his age, 25, I too, did a lot of stupid things (if I am being honest, I still probably do too many stupid things).  Like many of us, I would also venture a guess that Job has anger issues that should probably be addressed.  However, I have to consider his intent when he set out that night. I don’t think Job set out to rob me or anyone else that night.  Probably on a daily basis somewhere in our country a criminal will intentionally hit another vehicle with the plan of robbing the occupant of the other vehicle.  I do not think that was Job’s intent and I believe if there was no accident, Job would not have robbed me nor anyone else that night.

       My other thoughts probably have nothing to do with this case, but I’ll share them anyway.  In the aftermath of the Michael Brown shooting, Ferguson riots, and other happenings near St. Louis, your city seems to have more than its share of racial strife.  Although there are still plenty of lawn signs displayed in St. Louis stating #BlackLivesMatter, I am of the belief that #AllLivesMatter.  I believe this is Job’s second criminal offense I and I would encourage him to turn his life around before he ends up wasting his entire life in prison.  It is time for #Job’sLifeToMatter.

     I have a feeling that, like me, Job Isaiah was raised by a God fearing woman who probably spent more time than she should have had to praying over her son.  I don’t think she gave him the name Job Isaiah by chance and I would encourage him to study the wisdom of his namesakes.    In the book of Job in the Old Testament (Job 8:5) it says, “But if you will seek God earnestly and plead with the Almighty, if you are pure and upright, even now he will rouse himself on your behalf and restore you to your prosperous state.  Your beginnings will seem humble, so prosperous will your future be.”

       As much as I like this verse in Job, I’ll admit that some of my favorite verses in the entire Bible come from Job’s middle name, Isaiah.  Isaiah 53: 4-5 says, “Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.  But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”  About 500 years AFTER this was written, a man named Jesus walked the earth.  Not coincidentally, HE took up our pain and bore our suffering.  He was literally pierced for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities, and the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.

      Job, if you are listening to this, I’ll share something that you may find hope in.  On that day that Jesus was pierced for our transgressions, there was a thief (who knows, maybe guilty of 2nd degree robbery???) on the cross next to him.  With one of his last breaths on this earth, the thief put his trust in Jesus, who replied “today you will be with me in Paradise.”  Yes, like you Job, and like me, the thief also did a lot of dumb things. None of those dumb things were so bad that they could not be forgiven by Jesus.  Because he sincerely asked for forgiveness, he will now spend eternity with God in Heaven.  That same Jesus commands me to forgive others as he forgives me.  With that said, I offer my forgiveness to Job Isaiah Moore.  I will pray for him and I also will pray for you, Your Honor.  I pray that God will grant you wisdom while determining the sentence for Mr.XXXX.

Sincerely,

Tom.

Madre

Posted: March 27, 2015 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

Being asked to summarize  my Mom’s life within the confines of a few paragraphs is comparable to being shown the seven wonders of the world in one day, and then being asked to choose a single letter of the alphabet to describe your experience.   It was almost daunting as to where do I even begin, but then the words of my wise mother came ringing back to me.  I’ll attempt to share a little bit of her life through the life lesson she always taught.  “Tommy,” she’d say, “always remember that these should be your priorities and in this order:”

PUT GOD FIRST
My mom always, always honored God.  I don’t think he ever had the pleasure of meeting her, but St. Francis of Assisi could have been describing my mom when he said, “Evangelize always.  Use words when necessary.”  That is how my mom lived her life.  She loved God and it showed in everything she did.  Church was at least weekly and prayer was at least daily. I remember even as a young kid her always pulling over to pray whenever she heard a siren.  Or her just singing to God while cooking breakfast.  In my entire life, I don’t remember hearing her ever say a bad word (unless you count the old Slovakian term she would rattle off when she was frustrated.  When asked, “Mom, what does that mean anyway?” she would only smile).  She was honest to a fault.   Okay, not really to a fault, but there were times when I wish she was less honest like when I would come home from college to be greeted by my mom with, “Wow, you really got fat!”    Ummm… thanks Mom, I guess.  “No really, look how chubby your face is.”  Of course as she got older and her mind started slipping a little, she even did a worse job of hiding her feelings as she would walk right up to a scantily clad woman and just shake her head.  But most importantly, every day she would just remind us to trust God in everything.  We were never rich in worldly possessions, but my Mom would always give whatever she had to anyone in need.  I remember sometimes on a hot Summer day, poor strangers would show up to go swimming at our house.  It would seem half of them wouldn’t even speak English, and we would ask, “Mom, how do you know them?  How did you even communicate with them to invite them over to go swimming?”  And my Mom’s simple answer was, “It is so hot outside, wouldn’t you want to come over to cool off in swimming pool on a day like this?”  Please excuse the paraphrase, but it reminds me of the words of Jesus recorded in Matthew 25:37-40, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink, or hot and invite you to cool off in our swimming pool?  The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”

THEN FAMILY-  
Being one of eight kids, we would often be asked if our mom even knew our names. Of course she did and when we did something stupid it sounded like, “LauraMichaelPaulPatrickTimmyStephenTommyChristopher whoever the heck you are, stop it!” Really Mom, Laura? I still don’t know how she managed to attend every one of our sports games. There would be four separate little league games in four different locations but all at the same time, and our Mom would somehow make all of them. I was always the sick kid and I still remember having to leave Pinocchio for what turned out to be my first asthma attack. You would think I would have all the memories of being rushed to the emergency room, etc. but what I am still amazed at is with seven siblings, how did I get so lucky to just have a night with me and my mom? She was never one to brag, but she could talk about her kids for hours. In fact, the only thing that possibly gave her more joy than her kids was her grandkids. She knew that Every child (both born and unborn) was a precious gift from God.

THEN WORK
Another question we’d get was, “8 kids, was your Dad a doctor or a lawyer?” The implication was how in the heck could your Dad provide for EIGHT kids??? The answer was that he didn’t, my Mom did. She worked her butt off to put food on the table for her family. There was a time when besides all of her own kids, she babysat a bunch of other kids all day. She would then make dinner and try to get a couple of hours of sleep before she would drive down to the not so good part of Santa Ana at 2am where she would unload bundles of newspaper from a truck (about the size of a UPS truck). She would then come home and try to get an hour of sleep, before making us breakfast and getting ready to babysit again. She never complained, she just provided out of love for her family.

AND THEN FUN I don’t know how else to say it, but our Mom was a lot of fun. I have so many fond memories of camping at San Onofre where she would go boogey boarding, trips to Mexico, playing cards, watching movies, swimming, gardening, telling jokes, our holiday meals, our German Shepard that would just sit at the feet of my Mom, and too many other things to mention. In the rare times that she got to relax, she would occasionally enjoy a glass of wine or a fancy beer (aka Milwaukee’s Best or the occasional Schlitz). She loved her sisters and brothers and her many friends (like Susan Liberto and others from church who became like family).
Theresa Marie Stafford was the most amazing woman I knew and I was so blessed to have her as my mother and teacher in this life. We love you Madre!

This world lost a great man

Posted: December 19, 2014 in Uncategorized

      In less than 24 hours, I will be attending the funeral of one of the greatest men I ever knew.  I met John when I was about nine years old and he was my coach.  I believe it started with basketball, then football, then in many ways, life itself.  He was never a flashy coach and stuck to mostly the fundamentals.   It was through John that I learned the importance of a team and working together.  He didn’t just tell me about good sportsmanship,  he would always extend it to me.  A lot of years I was blessed to be on one of his teams, but when I wasn’t, John would always make a point to come over to me before the game, shake my hand and say, “Go easy on us today Tommy.”  It always made me laugh because John’s team didn’t lose.  Period.
     In high school, I became best friends with one of John’s sons.  It was during that time that I got to know John more as the family man that he was.  He loved his wife and kids very much.  He would take his kids fishing and if there was room, I’d often get invited too.  In a loving way he would chide me, “Tommy, you might have better luck if you tried dropping your line in the water” as I tried to get untangled from whatever tree I snagged.
      I mean no disrespect to my own Dad, but John attended more of my football or basketball games than my dad ever did.  He took me fishing and would hang out way more than my own dad.  It wasn’t just me either, half of our friends would go watch sports at Jim’s (John’s son) house, where we would just relax with his folks and laugh at all the dumb jokes that we knew would be told.
      He was also an incredible man of faith.  Instead of being condemning and judging all the time though, John was the rare person that just lived his faith.
      I know at John’s funeral tomorrow I will probably be a blubbering mess.  But I also look forward to celebrating the life of a man that really made a  difference in the lives of so many people.  After I pass away, if someone can say that about me, I’ll know that I did good.  In the meanwhile, Mary, Jim, Meagan, and Mark, thank you for sharing John with me.  I love you guys.

That dang billy goat!

Posted: October 11, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I wear a lie. Not often, and I am not proud of it, but I definitely wear a lie. Great… now I am even lying about not being proud of it. Of course I am proud of it. Heck, usually when I wear it I also carry a spotlight to shine on it just to make sure people can see it. What’s the lie? It simply says, “Finisher”.
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Sure, if you take it in context, it isn’t a lie. Underneath it spells out the distance of an Ironman race: 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. So since I finished two ironman races, I’m technically not a liar as much as a stud. I’ll wait to give you time to properly appreciate just how studly… I even finished in first place (in the “with love handles the size of Manhattan” division)!
Now let’s get back to the lie: I’m not a Finisher when it comes to writing a book. Now that I think about it, I’m not really sure why I would ever fancy myself a writer (besides using terms like, “fancy myself”). The highlight of my writing “career” was when something I wrote for a writing class in my junior college was read to the entire class. The teacher asked if I minded if she read it to the class as an example. I don’t normally like to brag, but “Heck YEAH!” She neglected to mention that she was going to use my writing as an example of poor writing. Apparently, using the term, “pearly whites” to describe a smile of a woman in a concentration camp is to be frowned upon. I guess now that I think about it, “pearly whites” shouldn’t be used unless it is being followed with “which is why 4 out of 5 dentists prefer it.” If this is why I consider myself a writer, I should probably consider myself a professional golfer because one time I did get it through the windmill during a heated game of mini golf.

Like nerds everywhere have their Star Trek conventions, writers (and losers like me) have our secret clubs. Because they mock me at their meetings, I’ll tell you that their secret club is called NaNoMo or NaNoWriMo. It is short for National Novel Writing Month and it comes from the Greek, “Nanny, nanny billy goat.” In theory you can write an entire novel in a month. In reality, it is when writing geeks that have already written a book ask, “So Tom… are you going to be participating in NaNoMo this year?” Giggle giggle. “By the way, did you notice my new tweed smoking jacket? Did I mention that I just (self) published another one of my books?”
If I have a bucket list, writing a book is one of only two things on it (the other is to compete on American Ninja Warrior… and by that I mean a hot dog eating contest with Kobayashi). I’ll start writing something and then think, “Nahhh… nobody will want to read that.” Or I’ll be writing something (incredibly witty) about myself, and then it’ll hit me, “What have I done that has actually been interesting again???” So, I don’t know what or when, but someday I’ll actually fini

There is a popular link going around Facebook that basically says, “don't worry about other people's lives, go out and enjoy your own”. The premise is that the perception we put out on social media may not be reality. But I have always heard that someone's perception is their reality. Which is it? Are we being real or not? Who am I? Who are you? More importantly, why are you stalking me on my blog that I probably had to beg you to read in the first place? You sicko!
My social media consists entirely of letting you know what I am eating (cheese) and sending out invites to play Candy Crush. However, about a month ago, a friend of mine echoed the sentiment of the Facebook article. He is going through a divorce and his comments were directed at couples who look like they have a perfect relationship…on Facebook. I don’t think he meant it as an attack, but he was specifically talking about my relationship. My wife and I had just had a date and we posted a picture from it on Facebook.
Here is a pic of me and my hot wife:
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Okay… not really. Here is a pic of me and my SMOKIN hot wife:
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A couple of days later my friend and I were talking about our relationships and the challenges we were facing. It wasn’t quite as deep as the typical male talk that is repeated numerous times a day. You know the one:

Guy: Hey
Other Guy: Hey
Guy: Did you see the game?
Other guy: Yeah, it was ____ (either “awesome” or “horrible” depending on whether OUR team won or lost. Of course, if it was a loss, we also insert an insult about the refs or umpires).
Guy: Boobs rock.
Other guy: Yeah.

This particular conversation wasn’t like that. This was two old friends just sharing sincerely about our relationships. Then he made a comment about the picture posted on our date night. Interesting. Does a facebook post of a husband and wife just enjoying each other’s company create a false impression that they have a perfect relationship? I would hope not, but who knows? My wife and I love each other dearly (when we aren’t trying to kill each other) but we are far from a perfect couple. We argue (too much) over the most trivial, worthless stuff. We’re both stubborn. I get angry too quickly and in my opinion she doesn’t say “sorry” quick enough. As similar as we are, we have very different super powers. I have my super love handles and she has… well I’ll let her fortune-telling tea tell you.
My wife drinks a brand of tea that has a fortune, similar to one that you would find in a fortune cookie, tied to each tea bag.
Here is an example of one of the “fortunes”:
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She had one over the weekend that said, "Your super power is forgiveness." I read that and thought, "funny." Cute, right? The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that it was True. If possible, it was even more accurate than the one I pretend to get each time I read a fortune: "Help! I am being held prisoner in a fortune cookie factory." On a serious note, without my wife's super power of forgiveness, we wouldn't be married today. The fortune describes her to a tea (Tea… get it???). Maybe my super power should be the gift of being very unfunny? Not funny? Funnily challenged? Sexy? Whatever, I guess they are all the same thing!
Anyhoo, if a pic together on social media is supposed to tell who we are (or aren't?) as a couple, what does a pic of just ourself say? I've got friends that literally probably post a "selfie" everyday. Does that mean they are narcissistic? Sure they spice it up by including exciting things like them eating toast, breathing, or rejecting my Candy Crush advances, but almost every day there is a new selfie. If you think your friends are narcissistic, does that make them so? Personally, I don't do the daily selfie (I am still trying to master the nose-hair filter) but I make sure that I flex in every photo that I do take. My secret goal is to have someone ask me, "Have you been doing buns of steel?" Sigh…Someday.
Do the photo's we allow of ourself on social media say anything about us? We don't want the bad ones on their right? 107% of mine are bad ones. If that is the case, maybe that is who I am. What about the people that gain or lose a ton of weight.
This is me:
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This is another version of me (please note the gratuitous use of a recent “after” pic from a weight loss contest):

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Is one version of the same person better or worse than other?

Is beauty really just skin deep? Don’t worry, I am not kidding myself that I am beautiful, but what if we go deeper? I had someone ask me on Facebook last week, “Were you this funny in high school?” I replied with some quip that I am sure was just hilarious, but when I think about her question, my serious answer probably would have to be, “No.” I was usually too busy trying to impress others to just be myself. Now, in my ripe old age of 73, I really just care what people think. Or maybe that is what I want you to think, I don’t know. I know that I’m being judged almost all the time. I think we all are… which is sad. But are WE being judged or are people judging their perception of us?
Take me for example: To the non-religious, I am too religious. To the religious, I am too much of a heathen (the fact that I said “boobs” in this post is proof enough). To the bald or follicle challenged, I have cornrows that they would kill for (unfortunately they just happen to be on my back). The intelligent make up imaginary words about me (like I am going to buy that “halitosis” is a real word). Fish love me and women fear me. To women that I know I’ll never actually meet in person, I give them a description of myself that matches Brad Pitt… unfortunately as he was as in freakish baby form in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
>benjaminButtonBaby      

What about even deeper than that? What could be deeper than our relationships, our appearance, our personalities… I’ll give you a clue: James Brown. I know that to some people the extent of, or belief in, our soul stops right there. But are we just this flesh and bones that we are walking around in? Hmmm… let’s pretend that you are in a terrible accident tomorrow and the lower half of your body is crushed. The doctors have no choice but to amputate. You now have half of your physical body, but are you half the person? No. We are not our bodies. Your very essence, or your soul, would not be halved or even damaged.

What do people smarter than me say about the soul?
Inside us there is something that has no name, that something is what we are. Jose Saramago

Laughter is the sound of the soul dancing. My soul probably looks like Fred Astaire. Jarod Kintz

Whatever satisfies the soul is truth. Walt Whitman

And finally, getting back to the original Facebook article about how people put out false perceptions of themselves to look more beautiful, happier, more exciting: Beauty is the illumination of your soul. John O’Donohue

So don’t worry about how others appear on social media (unless you ever see a pic of me in which case please feel free to inquire about my Buns of Steel). What about you though? Is your soul illuminated? Not on Facebook or some other social media, but in real life. Who are you? No… really?

I woke up yesterday only to discover a friend of mine was dead. He wasn’t necessarily a good friend, more of a Facebook friend really, but he was a very sweet guy and somehow his life ended on Saturday. I wasn’t really sure at first because all I saw was a semi-ambiguous post from another of his Facebook friends about being in disbelief. That could be anything right? I did what we do when someone passes these days and searched his Facebook page. My fear was confirmed and my friend was dead.

As I perused his page, I saw two things: 1. A ton of remorse and 2. a lot of words about how he was always there for everyone. The remorse was expressed in different forms from different people, but they had a similar theme: “I am sorry I didn’t get together with you for that drink,” “I should have made time for that lunch” “Sorry that I didn’t make time to come see you.” I know one of the last things he said to me when I saw him a little over a month ago was, “We should get together for lunch next week.” We, of course, got “busy” and never had that lunch.

It was almost split evenly because for every post of remorse, there was someone (oftentimes the same person) who wrote that he was always there for them in their time of need. To make matters worse, I get the feeling that his death was self-inflicted. Here was a guy that was always there for everyone in their time of need, and I can’t help but wonder if anyone was there in his. I know I wasn’t. He was a man that prayed for me and especially for one of my daughters. Did I ever pray for him? I THINK so, but can’t say for sure. He was a business contact that had me listed as one of his preferred vendors but I don’t know that I ever did anything to help his business. One of the Facebook posts on his wall could have easily been written by me, “I am so sorry that we missed the signs that you needed a friend. I am so sad…”

His own Facebook style was a lot different than my own. He would Tag some friends and then offer words of encouragement. Instead of being encouraged by his encouragement, I always thought it was a little quarky (I’m ashamed to admit now but I am just being honest). His very last post was, “Have you ever been ‘that’ tired?” Preceded by, “ever do something entirely stupid?” Just four days before his death he took one of those Facebook quizzes. This one happened to be titled, “What will you be remembered for?” The answer he got was his “amazing empathy.” I’m not one to argue with the experts of the Facebook quizzes, but I think I’ll remember him for his smile, his weight loss, his goofy professional photo that always reminded me of a cross between the George Costanza bearskin rug and Uncle Rico’s mall shot where he did his “billowy” pose, and above all his constant encouragement of others.

All of this comes on the heals of my blog post on the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is something that I am definitely trying to work on. It doesn’t cost anything to give but can make such a big difference to the receiver. Not to make light of my friend’s death by any means, but I’ll caution you that there are rules that must be followed when encouraging. I, of course, learned this the hard way as my wife read an admonishing email from our daughter’s softball coach.

Per this authoritative email on encouragment, it isn’t allowed at the softball games. So when little Susie is standing next to the coach who is pitching and the other team’s batter accidentally connects with the ball and sends a slow little dribbler to her, there are things that you aren’t allowed to “encourage” her with. You would think think a little encouragement to not kick the ball and instead pick it up would be allowed, but it isn’t. I thought that I would almost be commended for yelling, “take your finger out of your nose and use your other hand to throw the ball to first” but, nooooooo! Apparently softball games have gone the way of the movies, and silence is golden.

With a little encouragement from my wife last week in the form of, “This email from the coach is directed at you, you idiot!” I did much better this week. When one of our players hit the ball and stood there, I didn’t let out a “RUN!” When our right fielder decided to practice her cartwheels as a ball was hit in her direction, mum was the word from me. I was feeling quite proud of myself until little HeMan showed up with his battle axe. I was doing fine even when he ran on the field. I bit my tongue when he began swinging it at the girls but when he turned to chop off Susie’s hand I unfortunately couldn’t stop myself and yelled, “Not that one!!! At least go after her nose-picking hand!!!”

I woke up yesterday only to discover a friend of mine was dead. He wasn’t necessarily a good friend, more of a Facebook friend really, but he was a very sweet guy and somehow his life ended on Saturday. I wasn’t really sure at first because all I saw was a semi-ambiguous post from another of his Facebook friends about being in disbelief. That could be anything right? I did what we do when someone passes these days and searched his Facebook page. My fear was confirmed and my friend was dead.

As I perused his page, I saw two things: 1. A ton of remorse and 2. a lot of words about how he was always there for everyone. The remorse was expressed in different forms from different people, but they had a similar theme: “I am sorry I didn’t get together with you for that drink,” “I should have made time for that lunch” “Sorry that I didn’t make time to come see you.” I know one of the last things he said to me when I saw him a little over a month ago was, “We should get together for lunch next week.” We, of course, got “busy” and never had that lunch.

It was almost split evenly because for every post of remorse, there was someone (oftentimes the same person) who wrote that he was always there for them in their time of need. To make matters worse, I get the feeling that his death was self-inflicted. Here was a guy that was always there for everyone in their time of need, and I can’t help but wonder if anyone was there in his. I know I wasn’t. He was a man that prayed for me and especially for one of my daughters. Did I ever pray for him? I THINK so, but can’t say for sure. He was a business contact that had me listed as one of his preferred vendors but I don’t know that I ever did anything to help his business. One of the Facebook posts on his wall could have easily been written by me, “I am so sorry that we missed the signs that you needed a friend. I am so sad…”

His own Facebook style was a lot different than my own. He would Tag some friends and then offer words of encouragement. Instead of being encouraged by his encouragement, I always thought it was a little quarky (I’m ashamed to admit now but I am just being honest). His very last post was, “Have you ever been ‘that’ tired?” Preceded by, “ever do something entirely stupid?” Just four days before his death he took one of those Facebook quizzes. This one happened to be titled, “What will you be remembered for?” The answer he got was his “amazing empathy.” I’m not one to argue with the experts of the Facebook quizzes, but I think I’ll remember him for his smile, his weight loss, his goofy professional photo that always reminded me of a cross between the George Costanza bearskin rug and Uncle Rico’s mall shot where he did his “billowy” pose, and above all his constant encouragement of others.

All of this comes on the heals of my blog post on the importance of encouragement. Encouragement is something that I am definitely trying to work on. It doesn’t cost anything to give but can make such a big difference to the receiver. Not to make light of my friend’s death by any means, but I’ll caution you that there are rules that must be followed when encouraging. I, of course, learned this the hard way as my wife read an admonishing email from our daughter’s softball coach.

Per this authoritative email on encouragment, it isn’t allowed at the softball games. So when little Susie is standing next to the coach who is pitching and the other team’s batter accidentally connects with the ball and sends a slow little dribbler to her, there are things that you aren’t allowed to “encourage” her with. You would think think a little encouragement to not kick the ball and instead pick it up would be allowed, but it isn’t. I thought that I would almost be commended for yelling, “take your finger out of your nose and use your other hand to throw the ball to first” but, nooooooo! Apparently softball games have gone the way of the movies, and silence is golden.

With a little encouragement from my wife last week in the form of, “This email from the coach is directed at you, you idiot!” I did much better this week. When one of our players hit the ball and stood there, I didn’t let out a “RUN!” When our right fielder decided to practice her cartwheels as a ball was hit in her direction, mum was the word from me. I was feeling quite proud of myself until little HeMan showed up with his battle axe. I was doing fine even when he ran on the field. I bit my tongue when he began swinging it at the girls but when he turned to chop off Susie’s hand I unfortunately couldn’t stop myself and yelled, “Not that one!!! At least go after her nose-picking hand!!!”

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Encouragement… I'm working on it and I encourage you to join me.

The bad news is that I am writing again. The good news is… well… there is nothing good about it. I don’t write good. I don’t even write well. So why in the heck am I going to torture both people that might read this? For two reasons: 1. I’ve been doing some thinking 2. I’m an old goat 3. I’ve been encouraged. 4. I’m apparently terrible at math.
So what the heck have I been thinking? I’ve come to the realization that I’ll never write for a living. I’ll never even make dos pesos from my writing. Through my pondering, I’ve realized that I am not now, nor will I ever be, a real writer… and I’m okay with that. I’m okay with it because I’m rapidly approaching the day that I return these blessed love handles to the Creator. I know I can’t be the only one who as a kid would have just the week before Christmas feel like ten years. I could swear that just yesterday I took a picture for my kids first day of school. I blinked, and today not only is their school year over, but they are already 1/3 of the way through their Summer break.
As time seems to be passing faster and faster, I realize that I am not pursuing any of my passions. I go to work, I come home. The next day I do the same. In between I might lower my IQ (not possible!) while watching some mindless TV show. Or, on a good day, I’ll love my wife or spend some quality time with my kids. Even the best of days turn into weeks, months, years, and decades too quickly. I’m not going to kid myself that writing will change any of that for me, but it comes down to a simple question: Tomorrow you win 100 million in the lottery, what would you do? Of course you would take a trip to Tijuana just for a bacon dog and a shot at a cage match with a midget luchadore, buy a ginormous belt buckle that said “Bubba”, and create a life size pez dispenser of The Fonz that dispenses Reeses Peanut Butter Cups, but then what would you do? Would you stay at your job? I’m going to venture a wild guess that most of us would say no. So if you weren’t working for a living, what would you be doing to be living? My buddy Benny Franklin possibly said it best, “Most people die at 25 and aren’t buried until they’re 75.” Tomorrow if Ed McMahon calls me from the other side to tell me that I just hit his sweepstakes, I would do all the above and then I would write (while wearing only my “Bubba” belt buckle).
So I know what you are asking yourselves, “Who should we make pay for this?” Tread lightly young grasshoppers for they are like spry ninjas powerfully wielding a secret power that all of us have, but rarely use. They are the encouragers. With simple kind words we could motivate people to follow their dreams and change lives. For me it was just a (real) writer commenting, “I hope you are still writing.” Or a friend across the ocean sharing my lame blog with her friends. Or friends or family commenting that they really liked something I wrote. Even my nemesis wife, after about 17 cocktails, will encourage me to write (probably just so I’ll let her go to bed and quit with my Austin Powers, “Do I make you randy?).
So blame those that have cared enough to encourage, but BlogbyFatTom is being resurrected (and hopefully bringing Ed McMahon’s loot with it). I don’t even know what I’ll write about yet. I won’t write about my exciting diets anymore (but I’ll share these words of wisdom I saw on Facebook, “Nobody cares about your stupid diet. Just eat your lettuce and be sad.”) I also won’t write about religion, race, sex, drugs, rock and roll, or anything that might be remotely entertaining or funny. In fact, I can almost guarantee that once again, it’ll be an epic failure. To which I’ll leave you with this quote from George Burns, “I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.”
So… what about YOU? If money was no object, what would you do???

So the glue is gone. Technically I guess it was fish oil, but same difference. The Paleo Challenge has come and gone, and I am not the wiener. Or at least I am pretty sure that I am not, but I haven’t seen the official results. I guess by the mere fact that I have turned in one journal entry (you know how much a “blogger” hates to write), I have kind of de facto excluded myself from the Best. Prize. Ever. NOOOOOOOOOO!!!! Not the fish oil!!!! Darnit Scotty I am a (love) doctor, not a paleo geek!!!
Anyway, I may be morbidly obese, but some edumecation has gotten through my thick skull. No really, I actually learned something in this whole process. To refresh your memory (yeah… like you’ve actually read one of my blog posts before… funny!), I started a weight loss contest a few weeks after New Years. So you know how you know that you are about to start a weight loss contest for the 179th time, so you don’t exactly skimp on the dessert before you start, right??? So I went from my steady cross-fit weight of 210 lbs. to my starting weight of 216.2. MOOOOOO!!!!!! But that isn’t the lesson.
Anyhoo, through exercise and not over-eating, after a few weeks I was back down to 210 lbs. Mooo (only 3 O’s). I was exercising on a regular basis and eating “healthy” and I stayed at 210 lbs. THEN, the Paleo Challenge started. I already lost over 6 lbs. AND plateaued when I started the Paleo Challenge. I thought it was going to be miserable, but it actually wasn’t that bad. More importantly, I started dropping weight. After already dropping over 6 lbs. from my original weight loss bet, I dropped another 8+ lbs. in just 5 weeks. In fact, I am giving you my final weight but there was a point towards the end that the scale read under 200 lbs. which it hasn’t done in well over a year!
So here is the lesson that I’ve learned: Yes exercise is important for weight loss. However, DIET is way more important. If you look at what I did, I lost the 6 lbs. of water weight, etc. that you can quickly lose on a diet bet and then stayed right there. I was exercising like a Mel Gibson… err… Mad man, and still stayed right at 210 lbs. UNTIL, I started doing paleo. Then I went from 5 chins to four chins… to eventually 3.5 chins. Heck I evengot down to Mo (only 1 “O”… bring on Larry and Curly!).
So without further ado… here is my BEFORE photo:

FatGuy

And my AFTER photo:

After

It’s amazing what a little Paleo (and a lot of tanning) will do!!!

First of all, it wasn’t an alien, it was Miley Cyrus. Actually, I believe he said that he is the father of Miley Cyrus. He was serenading me and telling me to not break his (#AchyBreaky) heart, and had me swooning. BUT, we did NOT have sex. It may have been the fact that there were 10,000 other folks at the concert #TrueStoryIWillAdmitToActuallySeeingMrAchyBreakyInCollege or the fact that his security guards seemed to be discriminating against the #fat college kid pretending to be Garth Brooks #DarnSOBs! Anyway, the night ended up with me and Billy Ray spooning while I did my best #alien impression and probed him #WhoIsTheOneHitWonderNow??? #Booyah!!! Oh… and all of this was your fault.
About a week ago I was whining to my wife about nobody reading this stupid #ImObviouslyPlayingTheOppositeGame blog. She said I could try actually being funny #NotHappening or that maybe hash tags would help. I don’t really know much about hash tags, but I understand that they are now legal in Colorado #MarijuanaJokesGotOldOnDay1. So after doing zero research, I’m pretty sure that I am now almost an expert #HiMom! on hash tags. What I didn’t get though… is what sane person wouldn’t want to waste 5 minutes of their life reading a #not funny blog about Paleo #Yawn and Crossfit #Cult. Right? #StillCoolToSayRightTooMuchRight? Now when people google #FatGuySexWithAlien I think this blog will show up in the top 500,000 hits #WouldMakeAnotherMarijuanaJokeButItIsTooEasy #GetIt?Hits? After whining about #NoReaders publicly on FaceBook #SeriouslyIHearCricketsChirpingAfterEachPost, some kind souls said that they actually do read it #ProbablyPaidEndorsers #ILoveYouMom
Now that I know this blog #Masterpiece? actually does get posted publicly, it is time to give my reader #HiMomAgain! what she has been waiting for: An Update on the Paleo Challenge #riveting. So here is the Dealio #NoRelationToTheRapperCoolio, it is actually going very well. So remember how I said that in Crossfit everything sounds dirty, but really isn’t. Paleo is similar in that everything you eat sounds gross, but it really isn’t. During my first week on Paleo, I have had more spinach then I have ever eaten in my life #HopingToImpressOliveOil…OrAtLeastWimpy, haven’t had any dairy products because #AlmondMilk doesn’t count, and switched my can of soda for a can of coconut water #ThatWONTHappenAgain #GrossDoesn’tDoItJustice! Anyhoo, with the exception of the devil juice #JustMadeThatUp, everything has been fantastico! I’m actually even beginning to lose chins and I’m finally down to Elvis weight or even Oprah weight #YouCanGuessWhichVersionOfElvisOrOprah.
I always thought that Paleo wasn’t substainable in the long run. Well, I proved that wrong in the very first week when I was able substain it for four days #ISaidDaysNotHoursNoNeedToCallADoctor. Then, out of nowhere, came the weekend. I was traveling in Dallas with some co-workers and they wanted to go out for sushi. Technically you could have paleo friendly sushi, but the stuff they ordered would have the cavemen rolling over in their caves. So I ate the anti-Paleo sushi. Then they ordered drinks including sake #NotGoodButMuchBetterThanCoconutWater, so I drank sake… and beer… and a martini #IThinkIAmBond…JamesBond.
Part of the Paleo Challenge is a point system and accountability. You start every week with 100 points and then distract 7 points for each violation. Let’s just say that in one night I lost all 100 points #AndThenSome. So when my weekly weigh-in rolled around on Monday morning, I was more than a little surprised when the scale showed that I… LOST weight!?!?! I can almost Taste the #FishOil now. #InYourFaceBillyRay!!!