Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

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
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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

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???

5:40 Monday Morning- up and at’em! Time for what is sure to be a delightful weigh-in. 213.6??? What??? That means I gained… Let’s see… Carry the one… TWO POUNDS!!! How could that be??? I worked so hard the past 72 hours. Didn’t I??? Let’s see…

FRIDAY MORNING

5:40 last Friday morning: stupid alarm clock went off. It must have thought it was time to workout. Didn’t it know that I was heading to LA to partayy and that it would be a late night? I obviously needed sleep more than a workout!

7:00 am: doubled up on breakfast so I would have energy for my trip. Ate too much so I packed a healthy salad to take to work with me.

10:30 am: Got a call from the wife. Youngest daughter was sick at home and my wife was expected at her office. Me and my healthy salad headed home.

11:30 am: Put salad back in the fridge and removed leftover pork chops (the extra protein would give me strength for my trip).

3:30 pm at the airport bar: me and my two buddies got a round of drinks and some nachos.

3:35 pm: another round of drinks (we did have those nachos to wash down after all).

3:36 pm: might have burned a few calories defending my decision to not tip 20% for a $70 check for a couple of drinks and some airport nachos. Waitress found this “unbelievable.”

4:20 flight took off.

4:21 discovered you could use multiple drink tickets at one time.

4:50 had peanuts and crackers

7:30 pm: attempted to go eat dinner but the restaurant was too crowded. Decided to move along little doggies.

7:35 til things got fuzzy: created an accidental pub crawl as we did our best goldilocks impressions. This place is too snooty… But we’ll have a drink. I could never eat at this smoky place… But we’ll have a drink. A chain restaurant?!?!? Well…Maybe just a drink…

SATURDAY (48 hours prior to the weigh-in)
4:45 am CA time: woke up at my usual CO time. Still fuzzzzzzzzy.

8:00 am: got my fat butt out for a run while my slacker buddies slept.

9:30 was ready to eat from all that exercise I just did.

9:35 made the recurring mistake of sharing a meal. This works with my wife as we’ll each get to try double the TYPES of food without necessarily eating more. However, try it with two male buddies and you somehow quadruple the AMOUNT of food.

9:45 came to my senses and realized that I was in a weight loss contest and I hadn’t eaten a single vegetable all weekend. Remedied the situation by getting a Bloody Mary. Phew, that was a close call!

10:15 our bellies hurt from grossly over-eating. Decided we could make it to dinner with just some light snacking.

10:16- 4:59pm: snacked

5pm: decided to eat at a Caribbean style chicken place. It smelled so good we had to try everything including the fried chicken, fried plantains, and fried rice.

6:07 arteries jammed to Bob Marley’s hit, “We be clogging.”

7:50 burned 2 calories making 107 old people jokes on Facebook while at the Eagles Concert.

8:45 had a beer to celebrate being the youngest person at the concert.

11:45pm: decided some greasy pizza was a must.

12 am- 2am – had a nightcap and more vegetables (okay they threw an olive in my martini)

SUNDAY MORNING
9:00 am- shoved a bagel and some yogurt down my throat while taking a cab to the airport.

9:59 am- decided I needed a breakfast burrito before they weaseled out of offering the breakfast menu.

5:00 pm had some delicious lasagna at home.

6:00 had more lasagna (did I mention it was delicious?)

7:00 contemplated having even more lasagna… But remembered I had a weigh-in the next day.

7:03 pm: remembered that I DID run Saturday morning so I had some more delicious lasagna before passing out in a carb coma.

MONDAY MORNING
5:40 got out my calculator to figure out that somehow I actually gained 2.2 lbs. while I was traveling.

6:00 am- determined that it just HAD to be my thyroid… Some people gain weight no matter how healthy they eat!!! Did I mention that I even ran (like a sucker) on Saturday???

—final weight 213.6 for a weight gain of 2.2lbs… Which means I get to throw a couple of extra bucks in the pot this week. Moooooo!!!!!!

Holy smokes!!! I woke up, went potty like a big boy (# 4), and stood on the scale only to find that I have already lost 16 lbs. I’m losing 8 lbs. a day just by making poopy! Seriously, I don’t know why so many women choose to be constipated all the time!
Okay, not really, but I am convinced that every woman thinks that it is that easy for men to lose weight (“You drop 10 lbs. with a good bowel movement!”).

Speaking of which, please feel free to chime in on a debate. I keep hearing people (mostly women) say that the heavier someone is, the bigger advantage they have in weight loss contests. I say that isn’t the case because when you are using the Biggest Loser rules, percentages are the great equalizer… Right??? Please let me know if I am wrong because if that is the case I won’t be a sucker and waste any effort in this contest.

Lastly, I need some good non-monetary wagers. I have a guy in the contest that is offering to do a side bet with me. Well as much as an extra $10-20 is motivating, I’d like to do something a little more fun. I’m very confident that I’ll beat this anonymous man (who I’ll call Gabe G.), so I need some good ideas for a wager. I was thinking zany stuff like the loser washes the other’s car in a bikini, but the thought of either of us in a bikini made me throw up a little bit. Help!

This porker needs your prayers peeps. I have got my biggest dilemma since deciding which cheek to put my ALF tattoo on. Sure, some of you won’t take it seriously, but the wise among you will realize there is nothing light about it.
This is heavy stuff: literally. I am talking about my upcoming weight loss contest. If you have got an extra chin (or seven) and $25, you can join me in my conundrum. Here is the internal debate that probably won’t keep me up tonight: with the contest starting in a week and me already at maximum density, how do I spend the next week?
I could easily say enough is enough and start on my quest to see my goodies again immediately. OR I could stuff my face with Bon Bons while watching Oprah all day like I am .0001% sure all wives do. Sure the goodies option might allow me to add seconds to my life, but the Bon Bon option may give me even fuller bosom. What to do, what to do…

PS: if your dryer is also shrinking all of your duds all of a sudden and you want in, email me.

Yesterday I read a very well written article titled, “I am _____’s mother” (sorry, but I am not going to say the killer’s name). Considering she was one of the many victims, it obviously was not written by his real mother. It was written by a mother who has a son with Aspergers Syndrome and she detailed her challenges of raising her son and her experience with the mental health system.
I am hesitant to write this because of the stigma attached to all things mental health. However since this most recent shooting, I have been giving more and more thought about what I could do to help going forward. I can think of lots of things society, or government, or even you should do, but thinking of things I could do is a little more difficult. I guess I could start by being man enough to face up to any social stigma and share my own experience.
I have four daughters whom I love dearly. One of them, beginning when she was still in the crib, would seem to have extreme fits of anger that her sisters never had. At first we chalked it up to the “terrible two’s”. At four years old, we still thought she would outgrow it. Now that she is in the 4th grade, we are still hoping.
After almost harming another student and then herself, we were referred to get her checked out by a mental health professional. My first reaction was anger. How dare they suggest something could be wrong with my daughter? Next came shame… what will people think? Finally, I agreed to having her checked out. We waited for OVER a year before they could get her in. This would equate to over 10% of her life spent on a wait list just to possibly get help.
While she waited, things got worse. Her fits of rage started occurring almost daily. Anything could and did set her off. Little things like tags in her clothes or laces on her shoes would annoy her. Noises that we wouldn’t even notice would grate on her until she lost it. Unfortunately her little sister’s voice seemed to be her biggest irritant, and we became increasingly worried that she would seriously hurt her… Or worse.
My wife and I began doing our own research. Like any parents we want all of our kids to not only be productive, but also happy. This was one of the toughest things for us, as we believe every kid should be generally happy.
There was a birthday party where we purposely took her late and picked her up early. We were thrilled that she was even invited to a party and we were so hopeful of this tip that we just came across to minimize the chance of an outburst. When my wife picked our daughter up she was unusually quiet and just seemed defeated. When asked what was wrong, she replied, “I don’t think I do so good in big groups.”
Her sisters have sleepovers, play dates, and lots of friends. She can play with one friend at a time and only for short periods of time. We recently had a challenge where she didn’t want to do her writing assignment. When we looked at it closer, we realized her assignment was to “write about a time she and a friend went to the amusement park” or “what she and her friends like to do at slumber parties.” What should have been an easy, fun assignment was a sad reminder of her lack of friends.
We eventually did get in to see the mental health professional (it actually turned into a team of professionals). I didn’t know what label they were going to try to stick on her, but I knew I wasn’t a fan of labels. I was bracing for Aspergers Syndrome as she displayed all the signs according to the books I had read. After almost a 5 hour assessment, my wife and I were called in for the results. My daughter wasn’t on the Autism Spectrum. I wouldn’t have loved her one bit less if she was diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome or some other form of autism, but I am just going to be honest and admit that I was very relieved to hear this news.
Why? If they said she was Autistic, had Aspergers, or even was some form of alien, what would it have changed for me? Wasn’t she the same girl before the label? We just wanted help for our daughter. I am glad to say we got it in the form of counseling and (another social stigma) medicine.
My daughter is doing much better. She still has outbursts but they are far less frequent. She is a happier person, but still has few friends. I would like to call ours a success story, but it is an on-going battle. I don’t know how bad her next outburst will be, but I know if it happens in public complete strangers will judge all of us because of it.
The tragic events in Newtown last week still leave me with the haunting question of, “what can I do?” I still don’t know the answer to that question. I do know what I won’t do anymore. I will no longer sit quietly embarrassed or ashamed of a social stigma because someone I love, or a co-worker, or an acquaintance needs professional help. For me, this includes depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, and many other struggles that our society scorns. Instead, I will try to encourage, support, and love. I will be the first person to admit that it won’t be enough, but it’s a start.