And So I Wander...

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Vintage Year, Vintage Tears, Bottled Fears and Why my Joy will Come

I'm Michael, the former owner of a strong mind. The kind of mind that could fight through any obstacle; maintaining a straight face, undeterred will, knowing that even with the greatest challenges I faced, "this too shall pass." I would, much less than humbly boast, that nothing could "slow me down." I handled tragedy and triumph with the same unwavering demeanor...until quite recently...lately, there has been a seemingly tectonic shift in my once unwavered make up.

Recognizing that my "strong mind" was really just the result of bottled up emotions -- many bottles stacked on top of each other. Bottles kept at the perfect ambient temperature, carefully marked with the correct vintage. Like the most expensive collection of wine, never meant to be opened, rather meant to just be owned, stored, and sometimes shown to people as a mere status statement.

This worked well for quite a while. Bottles remaining undisturbed on the shelves, taking them down every once in a while, peeking through their dark-tinted sides. Briefly, slowly tipping it side to side to watch the sediment rise and fall - often wondering if the sediment dilutes the quality, over if it is just part of its necessary past.

But, then, the tectonic shift. The one that disturbed the leg that once proudly, honorably, supported the shelf, gave way. Gave way, sending the bottles crashing to the ground beneath. Shattering every single one of them, causing the emotions to spill out in the most thunderous of ways. I struggled, and have struggled for months to put the caps back on the bottles. Clean up the mess and, fix the shelf...but you see, it will never be the same. The integrity of the shelf has been compromised. Once compromised, no matter the repair, it will never be the same.

I've tried to pretend that I am OK. At times, I think I have done a stellar job. There has been a time or two when I truly feel like I could've won an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Real Life Drama -- I have had some tremendous Supporting Actors. Those who have, at times, taken the lead so perfectly when I just couldn't. But, remember, the actor that is acting the hardest, is usually the one hiding the most.

Over the course of this last year, I have clung to things I shouldn't. I have reached for things I normally wouldn't. I have made promises that every day is a new day. I have had countless breakthroughs, eclipsed by the unwelcomed return of overwhelming defeat. But, the point is, I will never stop trying. A few steps forward today, followed by a step back tomorrow is still progress. Today, I try to remind myself to stay focused on the progress and get less caught up in the set backs.

What I am trying to say, is this: In all of our lives, there are going to be challenges and sometimes crippling setbacks -- but, never let those challenges set you back to the point of no return. If you have temporarily lost yourself amongst the rubble of a tectonic shift, it is never too late to dig your way out. Recapture the joy you once new. You may emerge permanently change, but that's alright. Learn from it, but never let it entirely define you.

"Weeping may last through the night, but Joy comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5.

Friends, I am sorry I have been less than me. But, I'll be back, It's almost morning.

8:25 am est

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

If You are Looking for Me

If you are looking for me, I can be found in my new all too familiar place -- the corner of my big empty room. Sitting on the floor staring across the hall into my daughter's room. My eyes offering a passing glance over the toys that should be picked up and neatly placed in their proper locations; toy box, closet, the thoughtfully-hand picked-rustic crates that so perfectly match her room. In my thoughts I hear her saying, "we pick up this mess." For a mere moment I audibly say, "not today, Zoe. Staring at your toys, laying in the exact place you left them, and the memories they offer is what gets me through nights like these."

Minutes or potentially hours pass with no movement, and this is how it has been for the past year. Watching her toys collect dust where her finger prints should be. Thinking I should go in her room and pick her toys up, but tonight and probably tomorrow, I'll just leave them there. I'll walk by her room and catch a glimpse of her Disney toys and laugh about the conversation I overheard her having with Elsa or Anna. I'll remember her telling me how, "Maui big, your arms little."

Here I sit, in the corner, staring. I'll get up soon, I just need a moment. For in a moment the energy of myFullSizeRender.jpgFullSizeRender.jpg heartache from watching her walk out the door will be parlayed into excitement in anticipation of her arrival next weekend.

The story of the divorced dad:

Here I sit, writing a post, a post much harder than most. Typing words I never thought I would, I never thought I could, and I am still not sure I can, but, alas I type. I offer these words in hopes that they bring some comfort to others going through the same thing. And, if not for anyone else, than please allow me the necessity of offering my self some self-indulgent comfort -

I don't like being alone. I am not sure if this is new, or if it has always been a part of me that I was able to keep cloaked through demanding jobs, school and a social life that never left me with any significant time to myself. Quite recently, "alone" has been defined in the same manner that "love" was defined the day that Zoe was born. You think you know love, and then you meet your child. You think you know alone, and then you are forced into the role of part time father.

Recalling the days of all of her firsts: her first word, her first step, her first fall, her first scrape, the first time "Dada" exited her mouth and made the arrival to my ears preceded by the triumphant sound of trumpets -- at least that is how I heard it.

I long for that once a week when the silence of my home is broken by the scampering of her feet running across the olden wooden floors. I long for her riding her Frozen bike through the living room, around the table and yelling move Lincoln (our 12 year old chocolate lab) as she races to the other side of the house. The hour long baths, the brushing her teeth three or four times to stave off the inevitable bed time.

Zoe, when daddy tells you we need to leave your bath toys in the bath to dry, know it is more, when those toys are picked up, I know you are about to leave. Somewhere in my troubled mind, I attempt to cling on to you through your scattered bath toys.

When you walk out the door, no matter how many times I tell you "I love you," I always say it one more time. I want that to be the last words you hear. And, I hope you carry them with you throughout the week, the same way I do when you offer in return, "Love you, Dada."

If you are looking for me, I can be found in my all too familiar place.

9:23 am est

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Mightier was the Force that Calmed his Soul, than the Storm that Begged to Take a Hellacious Toll

Contemplating the cataclysmic memories of recent days past: Delving into the depths of grief while striding over the insurmountable heights of recognized fears, pilfering the joy sought after throughout the year, recognizing goals and recognizing them being washed away by boundless tears. Tears crashing through the dams of defense and pride, playing a role claiming all is well, but in reality nothing can hide the swell that is present through his lies.

In his greatest pain, he knew no sorrow, for he always clung to the promises of tomorrow. There will be joy in the morning he often said, as he laid down his lonely head. Head full of worry displaced by faith, challenged by his mind, he clung to the promise of grace.

Expecting the magic of the New Year to wipe away the scars of yesterday, he laid and waited for the calendar to change. Begging for the first to arrive before his last, his breath grew weak as he questioned if he was up for the task. The theater of his mind, exclusively played one show -- it was a thriller with the end unknown. Scenes of repeated mistakes begging for growth, stunted by a troubled oath. An oath pledged before God and His people, now combating a decaying sepal. Once a blooming flower, a mighty tower, could not withstand the destructive winds power. Blowing with an unwavering might, Dust, eclipsing all light. 

A pernicious whisper, empty as it left her lips. A destructive wave claimed the void of space and time left by her cunning offering. Pushed to bending, fear of breaking...

It took some time, but as the dust began to settle, he began to show his true mettle. It commenced with a persistent ear, not only to hear but begging to listen. A hand that held his tight, in the face of him attempting to pull away with all his might.

Mightier was the force that calmed his soul, than the storm that begged to take a hellacious toll on his ability to overcome. 

It is much easier to fall victim to all that ails us, but there is much greater reward in rising above and claiming victory. This last year challenged every single bit of my resolve -- to the point of bending just to the point of nearly breaking. It happens to the best of us, and the best we can do for us as individuals is to learn from our trials and rise triumphant in the phase of all that attempts to hinder us.

Here is to a new year filled with a return of the joy that once infiltrated every bit of my being.

I am well, be well with me. 

10:11 am est

Monday, March 21, 2016

Endless Opportunity, End of Opportunity, My Homeless Away from Home

When your greatest strength becomes your most defining and damning weakness it can have the inevitable effect of reclusivity upon your soul. Challenging the boundaries of grace that you have set for yourself. A boundary that doesn't exist save the limitations of your self-depreciating mind. For the greatest boundary of grace outstretches your greatest self-imposed limitations -- a boundary that cannot possibly be seen when lost in the cavernous depths of our solitary souls.

Once lost, feeling alone, where you end up, no one knows...

Withdrawn. Alone. Accompanied, yet lost, in the presence of 300 million plus souls, not kept askwyoming.jpgcompany by a single one. Never filling the void. The endless void that makes a black hole appear to have a bottom. Never feeling understood, or never understanding who would. A circle without end, all points connected but never truly intersected.

Lost in a space of endless opportunity, but feeling like I have reached the end of all opportunity. A call that goes unanswered on the other end, dialed, but not received by anyone...again. Eyes close for the duration of the longest blink, waiting until they have walked just past where I sink. Sink against the cold brick wall, the wall where I keep all, all of my everything, everything I own. Own...the clothes I live in and the spot I call home.

"Can you spare some change"...the change that will make a difference. A difference rising from the depths of deliverance.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death...a death waiting just beyond addiction and my next deep breath. Deep like the shallowest depths...the depth of addiction, skin deep at ingrace.jpgception, becomes ingrained in existence, deceived and decepted.

Pleas for help only met by apologies, sorry we can't help we are at our max capacity. "So, am I," I scream at the next one to walk by. I'm afraid the silence on the other end, is going to be met by the silence AND my end. The click of the phone, reminding me how alone...I have become... the click of this gun and silence has won - Victory I hope I won't give. I hope, because all that I have lost, I still must live.

There is a light inside burning with a dim glimmer of pride...pride that makes me fight to stay alive. Alive, breathing, desiring to be full of life. Life that has meaning beyond the next breath, beyond the next step...I fight for breath, a breath to avoid death. Death of my soul and my will to be whole. Whole on a street that wants a bell to toll. Toll for my last night, the sun to set on my desire to fight.

Welcome to the street, my homeless away from home.

www.americanstreetkid.com #thedollarproject

9:09 am est

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Zoe, In All Things, Be You

Dear, my little 3/4 year Zoe:

Thank you for sticking with your father while he has learned how to be the best father to the sweetest little girl on earth. Your smile and accompanying giggle has the unique ability to change the darkest of nights into the brightest of mornings. The way you peek through the small opening in your crib to let daddy know you are awake, the away you giggle and jump to the other side of the crib, playfully telling daddy to reach for you, take you in my arms and cuddle you. Zoe, I will never stop reaching for you, you will never be too big for daddy's arms.

I take a special moment every morning to kiss your forehead and say a prayer for you. You stare daddy right in the eyes as I move your hair away and ask the Lord for His divine protection over you and His divine inspiration over your life. You see, Zoe, daddy wants you to be everything that you want to be, if you want to run in track, daddy will be in the stands cheering you on like you are competing for Olympic Gold. If it is a pool you desire; keep swimming, little girl. Golfer? Well, you better have your grandpa teach you that. Daddy has never had the ability to get past his game-killing slice. But, I do have killer golf pants and matching shoes, so...you can always count on me to carry your clubs. Singer, painter, piano player? Scholar, doctor, volunteer and never make a dollar? Whatever it is, little girl, do the very best that you can do and never ever be afraid to try something new.

I, guess, since you are only 9 months old, you have plenty of time to decide what dreams and desires you will pursue. I will assist you in any direction you steer yourself in, but just know two things 1.) Your father will ALWAYS be proud of you. Nothing can take this pride from my heart. Little girl, you have been a fighter from hour one on this earth, do not ever change. 2.) Whatever it is you chose to do in this life, search your own heart first. Do not chase the dreams of anyone else. Dream your own dreams. Zoe, dream so big that in comparison people's thoughts look too small.

Zoe, when things appear to be to difficult, or are seemingly just out of your reach, please do me a favor - look down at your left arm, lift it as high as you can, close your fist and let it tell your story. A story of overcoming. A story of not accepting the hand your were dealt, but telling the hand that you had a trump card in your heart. A story of infantile persistence beyond the comprehension of your father.

Zoe, born with nerve damage, so severe your arm didn't move for months. Eventually you started being able to use your hand, doctors told us to be happy with that. But we knew you had too much heart. You had too much fight. You wanted to prove everyone wrong. The doctors told us it was too late, you were past the point of your nerves being able to heal. We found some determined doctors and a God-sent physical therapist and baby you brought the persistence, the heart and the fight.

One night, when you had started to make some progress, daddy couldn't sleep thinking about you, so he took you in his arms, and went and sat in quiet with you. Daddy spoke to you that night, Zoe. Wanted you to know that no matter what, you were a beautiful whole little girl. Let you know that if you never gained complete function of your arm, it would matter not, because you would never be defined by your inabilities, rather you would be defined by your abilities, and specific ability to over come that which was meant to cause you harm.

For a moment daddy lost his way, he was a bit angry, and started telling you how you would be the next Lela Ali and throw a vicious left hook. Daddy told you how you were going to be the next Michael Phelps and how your freestyle would be your strongest event, and how you were going to be the next great Gabby Douglas only you were going to eclipse her abilities on the uneven bars. Pulling yourself up with both arms and swinging yourself to gold...you began to wiggle in your sleep and it snapped me out of my dreams for you.

On one hand, you can't blame your dad for wanting you to be the next star on the front of a Wheaties box. Posing with BOTH arms above your head. On the other hand, Zoe, be YOU. Always be YOU. The greatest disservice you will ever do is to compare yourself to the perceived accomplishments of another. Set your own goals, blaze your own trail, and be the greatest YOU that you can be. Because Zoe, the beauty of all of this is there is only one you. No one can ever be you. And, I will forever be proud of whatever the you inside of you pursues.

Love you, little girl,

Your Eternally Proud Father

7:27 am est

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Day I First Met You - July 11, 2014

Zoe, welcome. You made it. You arrived at the time that was just right for you. Despite giving us several false alarms and your parents total lack of patience, you arrived in your perfect timing. Friday, July 11, 2014 at 6:05pm. Weighing in at 8lbs. 9oz. and 22inches long, just perfect size to fit nicely in mommy and daddy's awaiting arms.

Holding you was a little bit delayed, you gave us all a bit of a scare. Your arrival was a tad tough for both you and mommy. Guess daddy shouldn't have joked about how you were going to grab on and refuse to come out...because, in reality, that's kind of what you did - your nurse blamed it on you being "blessed" with your father's shoulders. Your shoulders measured a little biggerzoe2.jpg than your head...nothing wrong with that, baby, because the weight of this world is heavy - your shoulders will help you stand tall and firm in the face of the various challenges that are sure to present themselves to your throughout your lifetime. 

Zoe, you had one of the best doctors there is and she did everything she could to assure you arrived safe and sound. We didn't expect you to have to show this world what kind of fighter you are right from the beginning, but your fighting spirit was called upon, and you answered the call. Daddy was huddled over mom calling out to the Lord while the nurses and doctors gave you a little extra attention. Your scream broke the deafening silence that occupied every inch of that room. Never, in the history of me, has there ever been a sound that was more pleasurable to my ears. Daddy found his way to you, only vaguely able to see through the tears of joy that completely clouded my field of vision.

Your doctor had a calming spirit. She stood strong when the situation became trying. She was resolute in the face of difficulty.  Zoe, if I had to guess, I would say her shoulders probably measured a little bit bigger, as well. She may have had to call for help, but she made all the right calls to ensure you would soon be in the arms of your parents. She returned to the room a few hours after your birth to check on you. She stood by your crib and spoke softly to you. Daddy couldn't hear everything she said, mostly because she spoke at a volume that kept the words between you and her. She was quick to point out how beautiful you were and was sure to tell daddy that it was because you closely resembled your mother...daddy agrees.

Little Zoe, I will always be just a few steps ahead of you, clearing the way, until you are ready to take the lead - although our timing will probably differ on this one, I will watch, guide and pray as you follow your heart. Always follow your heart. Treat this life as a journey and an adventure. Use every trial and triumphant as a lesson that will steer you through this wonderful life. I cannot wait to learn and grow with you, Zoe. Love you.

10:20 am est

Friday, June 20, 2014

Dear Zoe

A letter to my daughter who is due to arrive in just a few short weeks:

Dear Zoe:

Welcome. Welcome to this big wonderful world. There is so much for you to see. But don't rush, take your time, Mom and dad will be here when you arrive and we will be here as you stumble, crawl, walk and climb your way through all this life has to offer you. 

I have many things I want to share with you, but first, your name. Although I told everyone that we chose the name "Zoe" because it meant you would "bring up the rear of every alphabetical line up," the true reason is, your name means "life" or "alive." Zoe, the day mommy found out she was pregnant with your precious life, I have NEVER felt more alive. You gave me a new lease on life, a reason to live this life to the fullest and enjoy every moment the Lord has given us.

For a middle name, you will be called, "Adora." This name has two origins and two different meanings, both of equal importance. In its Latin origin the name means "Glory." Perfect. For I give all the glory to God for the gift of you. In its Greek origin it means, "Adored." Zoe Adora, I adore you with my whole being, and I haven't even met you, yet.

Let me tell you a little bit about the one that gave you life, your mother. She loves your father with her whole heart and there is no doubt that she will translate that love into her love for you. She often speaks to you and lights up as bright as the Northern Star when you respond with a soft kick. Zoe, it is almost like you are telling mom and dad that you hear us and like what is being said. We think you do. Your mom is a hard worker, always tackling every challenge with the will to succeed, she goes above and beyond in all aspects of life, I can't wait to see what that translates into for you.

Although she loves you unconditionally she is not without a little fault...you see, she has blamed you for some things, things like her Poptart cravings, or her need to sleep with the window open in just above freezing temperatures. She also says that you are the reason she needs to enjoy multiple dinners and why she has suddenly developed an unexplainable affection for the Koolaid Man.

Zoe, you will be very blessed to call her mother. She will love you unconditionally and raise you to live and love.

Now your dad, Zoe. That is me. I have so much to say to you, I will probably forget more than I ever remember to say. But, know this, there will not be a single day that I do not love you with my entire being, using the love of Christ as an example of how to love. As part of this, I start every day covering you in prayer, I thank God for choosing me as your father and thank him for blessing me with you as a daughter. Zoe, in all things give thanks.

Zoe, there are things that I have learned and experienced that I will share with you and things that you have yet to teach me, things we will ultimately learn together.

It is my desire to keep you locked in the house, never let you out of my eyesight, how can I protect you if you wander too far? But, realizing that this world is just too big and great for you not to be out there exploring and experiencing all it has to offer, I give you these words to take with you as you start your journey:

Zoe, may you always outpace your taking with your giving. May you blessed with a giving heart that receives great joy from blessing others. May you be the author of dreams that are so big they can only be conceived and achieved by you. May you stay grounded but always believe the impossible is within reach. May you always put others first but never lose sight of what makes you happy. May you always remember that happiness is something that you can't let anyone take from you, never give anyone control of your emotions. You own them, protect them. This world can be cruel, Zoe, may you always be secure in yourself. May the inevitable turmoil of the world only occur at a safe distance from you. May you be always be shielded from the harm inflicted by others or learn to use your inner-strength to deflect that which is meant to harm.

Zoe, may you ALWAYS know that through your greatest trials and your most rewarding triumphs, through your toughest tests and your biggest achievements, I will be there.

Ms. Zoe, this last few weeks, while in mommy's tummy, rest. Get all the rest you can, because there is a great adventure out here waiting for you and we are going on it together!

Daddy is waiting for you, baby. Love you!

3:57 pm est

Monday, June 9, 2014

Five Months of Silence

I have been a Teacher, a Magazine Editor, a Partner in a not-for-profit Organization, a Shopkeeper, an Appointee in the Bush Administration, a Student, a Brother, a Son, an Uncle, a Husband...and Now, about to be a father (as you all know.)

So...I spent the last 5 months, silent, (in terms of writing here, not silent in real life, come on!) attempting to prepare myself and our home for the arrival of the cutest little baby...ever - I have to say this. I have to call her the "cutest little baby ever." It is a desperate attempt to change some karma. I mean, I have committed the mortal sin multiple times. The sin of calling a baby like I see it. I have called plenty o' baby's "ugly" in my time. I have tried to be one of those people that thinks that every baby that comes kickin' and screaming out of the wobbly womb is cute. But, honestly, I just cannot make the connection, despite my best efforts. And, I promise there has been and continues to be a very high-level of effort. I just cannot help it. When some babies come out looking like a featherless rooster cooing loudly at the bright lights I figure I have two choices: avoid the baby all together and just congratulate the parents or buy uglyduckling.jpgthe story book of the ugly duckling for his/her welcome to the world gift, giving them some kind of inspiration...simultaneously praying the child is blessed with the amazing ability to run, jump, swim or sing something to make up for the lack of looks - I am not superficial, I am just real, babies can be ugly. It can happen. And, I speak about it, sometimes too much, because I feel like I have to over-compensate for the people that fail to recognize this as a truth.

Look, I am not being mean, I am just being honest - I recognize that most times there is a very thin line that separates the two, and I get dealing with kids is usually one of those times but you know you feel me on this. Babies, or the majority of them come out looking like wrinkly old men or like a bald English Bulldog. Cute. Or, so ugly they are cute - its like a full circle of looks.

Less than beautiful won't make me love her any less so no hate mail, please. I said please.

Enough about that, on to the preparation. Anticipating her arrival we have turned one of the guests bedrooms into a beautiful nursery, baby-proofed the house (including the toilet, which makes for challenging midnight pee pees), filled out registries hosted and attended baby showers, extreme-coupon'd 1000s of babyexcoupdiap.jpg wipes/diapers, watched youtube videos on water birth, scouted out pediatricians and day cares (Jessica vetoed me on going with Dr. Suess for both), and got Jessica and the baby's overnight bag packed.

Whilst I was ticking off a checklist of "must dos" before "baby does" apparently the world kept turning. Apparently, the world continued on while I was concerning myself with what size 0 in diaper-talk means and why it is OK to say "Nipple" to a sales clerk when accompanied by the word "cream" and how he/she best point out the "breast pads" too while I am doing a quick power lunge to dip and tuck the nipple cream into my shopping cart.

It has been my experience that pregnancy abolishes many or all conversation barriers. Like how suddenly "is she going to breast feed? Oh, well, make sure you get her ice gel packs for her boobs, she will need them. That was such a relief when the baby would release my nipple, I would have to put an ice pack right on it, man what an instant-cooling relief. I really don't know what I would've done without them" is now just normal conversation with the barista at Starbucks. I'm all...umm, great, but all I did was ask for an iced white mocha with skim milk hold the whip cream...uhhh, thanks for the visual of your sore mommy parts...suddenly I am thinking maybe you should just leave the milk out of my coffee altogether.

Or the touching, why the touching? I am not a jealous person, at all. I do not know how to be. But, what is it about a pregnant belly that every Suzy, Joan, Jack, Harry and Louis thinks they have to reach out and touch it? On some degree, it isn't my belly they are touching...more than likely it is because mine is more processed cheese and fermented grapes than it is baby, so maybe I have no right getting irritated, but, don't touch my baby. More importantly sir, put your hand down, don't reach for my wife. Weirdo.

Anyhoo, I'm all painting rooms, thrifting diapers and protecting bellies while some of you are out there doing WAY more important stuff, ie. finding Sasquatch. Wait for me! I am no Matt Moneymaker, I write about the search because I find it interesting. I follow the research because, why not? How fun, its like a scavenger hunt for adults! Recently, I have received many o' emails from enthusiasts out on the hunt in many areas of this wonderful country. That's nice, but the ones that peak my interest the most are the stories that are set in the Rocky Mountains. Being that's where I reside right now, those are the ones I pay the closest attention to. I have received a few, but none as exciting as the latest. Perhaps because it happened in my very own backyard, this is the text of the email:

Good Afternoon Yessteelecan.com:

I have a story that I believe you will find interesting. My family and I were day-hiking and four wheeling on top of Casper Mountain last week, June 2, to be exact. It was just past noon and we had stop to eat lunch.

(Side note, I was very curious what they had packed for lunch, so curious, my reply included asking. Why? I have absolutely no clue. For some odd reason I felt it added to the validity of the email...or, wanted him to say they had caught some wild animal and sauteed it over a camp fire they had built, sans the use of matches, all Bear Grylls-style.)

We packed up all of our lunch items, hopped on the 4-wheelers and headed over Antenna hill. My son crested the hill first, he is the speedster of the family, and he was going down and up another hill in the distance I saw his brake lights come on rather quickly. He jumped off his 4-wheeler and began frantically hand-motioning to me to hurry up. I throttled up as much as I thought was safe with my 4 year old riding with me. The closer I got, the more I could see him frantically pointing towards the woods.

I started shouting, "what?" To which he replied with the universal sign for "shhh!"

I finally caught up to him to see what was causing him to wave at me so frantically. About 30 feet in front of us was what looked to be an animal walking on 2 legs, crossing through the woods into the deep brush. It looked to be about 7 foot tall (my best guess) and had the appearance of a very hairy man. We sat motionless for a moment hoping whatever it was would circle back around and come out. It didn't. We cautiosly[(sp)] drove up to the area we thought we saw it and could hear trees snapping and branches crackling, but never saw him again.

We just know without a doubt that we saw Bigfoot. We saw Sasquatch, or whatever you want to call him/her, I don't know what to call it, but we saw it. I wish I would've had a camera with me.

You need to go to Casper Mountain and check it out!

Fellow Squatcher,
Name Redacted

I kindly replied to his email, thanking him for sharing his story and assured him that what he saw was, in fact a Sasquatch. In reality, I have no clue what he saw, that mountain has some scary inhabitants, it was probably a mountain man or his wife, but, hey, who am I to crush dreams, especially since I enjoy the "search" myself. Slap a Sasquatch sticker on your truck, mention him in your musings from time to time and people think you are the world's leading Sasquatch Scientist. I'm not. I just have fun. And, will continue to have fun with it until the mystery is ultimately solved. Here is my reply:

Greetings Brother of the Fraternal Order of Squatchiness:

Thank you for your message, it has found me well, and I hope and trust my reply, does the same. I have taken the time to read your message and visit the area of Casper Mountain that you mentioned.

I find it interesting and perhaps even a little enlightening when someone shares a story about an encounter that occurred so close to home. As nothing more than an enthusiast of the search, I enjoy reading people's accounts and allowing my mind to wander about the possibilities. Some would say that's what I do best; wander. I digress.

If it is, correction, do not allow me to cast doubt on that which you know to be columbus.jpgtrue, when it is discovered that it was a Sasquatch you saw that fateful day mere weeks ago, may your story live in the type of infamy bestowed on the likes of Christopher Columbus. (Minus his ridiculous hats and the smallpox. No smallpox. Smallpox itch and you aren't supposed to scratch them. Or is that chickenpox? Whatever.)

Let us continue our correspondence henceforth, sharing all things Squatch and Christmas cookie related. Does your wife bake? If not, there is 6 months until Christmas, she could learn, I suppose. Tell her I said hello.

Sincerely,
Michael Steele

PS.: Why do I not smell the cookies baking, yet?
PPS: Did I mention that the cookies have to be GF?

I have not heard back from him. I may have lost some credibility with my response or he is steady baking some delicious cookies. I presume the latter, it helps with my confidence.

Enough playing for now! Baby is just a few short weeks away from arriving and I still need to get my hair done and get Jessica pumping - hey, if this baby is anything like me, Jessica better be prepared WAY ahead of time for the amount of milk consumption that will occur.

Be well.

3:17 pm est

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

It may not be Early Childhood Finger Painting, but I'm a Thunderbird!

Books, books, books and more books...too many books, no clue which one to chose. 500 page books with titles like, "An Expectant Parent's Guide to the Next 9 Months - ALL of your questions answered." Or, the other extreme, picture books with titles like, "Dude, You're Gonna Be a Dad!" or "Oh, My Gosh, We're Pregnant." Is "gonna" even a word? I didn't think that word existed outside ofparents.jpg tweens' text messages.

Might someone please recommend a book somewhere between the lengthy encyclopedia of everything you ever wanted to know about the gestation period and books that were obviously written for and or by the "16 and Pregnant Generation," That would be much appreciated.

Despite how much I pretend to know about child-rearing, beyond filling a bottle and changing a non-poop(y) diaper, I probably really don't know the first thing. And, I am trying to be proactive, I really am. I youtubed "The Miracle of Life," - that's NOT a comedy. That was gorier than any horror film I have ever viewed. It should have been titled, "I Know What you did 9-10 Months Ago."

Whilst leafing through the local college's spring catalog, I noticed a serious of classes being offered, "Child Development - The Early Years," "Child Development - Nutrition." I called. I talked to the friendly lady at the switchboard:

"Hello, Casper College, Home of the Thunderbirds."

I really wish I didn't get sidetracked SO easily - "Thunderbird? Why the Thunderbird?" Before she could answer, "I am not sure I have ever heard of a college mascot being a car before. That is kind of interesting. How did you get a car for a mascot? Do you pay royalties to Ford? Or, does Ford pay to sponsor you all? Oh, is that how the college built that beautiful new gym? - you know, I had a ford.jpgrec-league dodge ball game there a few months ago, I think the concession stand puts a little bit too much salt on their popcorn. They might do it to get you to buy the soda, do you think that is why they do it? Either way, it doesn't work on me, I have digestive issues and I can't drink soda. One sip of a cola and I will be searching for the closest restroom - running to it, and praying that 1.) I make it, 2.) there is no one else in there. It's so embarrassing."

I wasn't quite finished, I wanted to tell her that I thought the gym floor had a little too much wax on it. The floor seems to "squeak" a little louder than usual when dealing with the friction from the soles of everyone's gym shoes, but she cut me off before I could.

"Sir, the very interesting and slightly provocative story of how Casper College was graced with the nickname "Thunderbird" is located on our website, and caspercollege.jpgdespite the similarities it may have to the make of an automobile, I assure you, that is where the likeness ends."

"Oh, well maybe you should contact Ford, the coincidence of the name doesn't have to be just a coincidence, this just might be the beginning of a beautiful relationship. I can draft an email, if you would like?"

Totally avoiding my proposition, "Sir, is there anyway I could help you, aside from educating your on our Mascot?"

I completely forgot who I had called, "Sure, but can you remind me who I am talking to?"

With a long clear of the throat, in an attempt to still be cordial, "this is Sue."

"Nope, that doesn't ring any bells. Are you sure that is your name?"

"Sir, this is a very busy phone line, if I can not offer immediate assistance, perhaps you should hang up and call back at a time that you remember why you called the college."

"Memory jogged, Sue. Man, you are good at your job! Ok, so I was leafing through the course catalog for this semester, and I stumbled across a few courses on 'Early Childhood Development,' the one I am most interested in is "The Early Years," now what exactly counts as an 'Early Year?' Is that from the embryonic stage and forward? Or like right at the moment the baby is conceived? Maybe when the egg has been fertilized, or is it more when the fertilized egg signs its 9-10 month lease in the courtyard of the uterus?"

"Umm..."

"Umm..??"

"Well...that isn't quite what 'Early' is referring, too. More post-birth."

"So...the 'Nutrition' class...that is probably the same thing. Like, it won't tell me what my wife needs to consume so she maintains a healthy diet?"

"No...it won't. Your wife's doctor would be a good resource for that."

"Ugh...(under my breath expletive)."

I went on to ask a series of questions, but despite the question all the answers were generally the same...these "Early Childhood" classes were more about teaching your child the proper way to hold a Crayola, proper finger-painting fingerpainting.jpgtechniques and what snacks they could expect to receive at day care than a parenting how to.

I had made quite the connection with Sue over the course of our hour-long conversation. I really didn't want to say goodbye, and I let her know that. She had taught me a lot. I kind of felt like she was Charlie and I was an angel. I only knew her by her voice over the phone, yet she had taught me so much. I told her that despite the fact she had dashed my temporary hopes of becoming the first "Thunderbird" in my family, I still thought she was a kind, helpful lady with a perfect over-the-phone-voice.

Wouldn't you know what Sue did? She went over the catalog with me and picked out some courses that I might be interested in. As it turns out, I'm going back to school!

The best part about this life: the fact that there isn't a secret instruction manual tucked away somewhere along one of Nicolas Cage's 'National Treasure' routes. An argument long exists that humans are not born with "instincts." So, lets not interpret that word literally, but lets use it just the same. Parental "instincts" will kick in. I am sure I could read every book ever printed and still not be prepared for the arrival of my first born. It doesn't matter, the excitement of taking each day at a time and learning along the way is near overwhelming (in a very good way.) Here's to joining the Thunderbirds while I await our child's arrival to this big wonderful (sometimes overwhelming) world! 

6:26 pm est

Monday, November 25, 2013

Flinstones, Cocoa Butter and the Hibernation of (Wo)Man

Before my wife found out that she was pregnant, I despised the use of the word "we" while announcing pregnancy. Let's face it guys, after conception, our job is done. I mean, save the midnight run to Wendy's for the occasional Frosty, we wendyslogo.jpgcan basically sit back and play Madden for the next 9 months while our wives talk about how their jeans will never fit the same way again, etc. But, when I found out that MY wife was pregnant, I decided to attempt this "we" thing...this is how it went: 

As an expectant parent, I have done everything I am supposed to do, thus far. That is, according to the book I purchased from www.amazon.com. I read the book like a champ. Read, underlined, and highlighted every important word, sentence and began to religiously follow the 3 must-take-steps in my new "expectant parent guide." I might have missed one, so if  you have any tips, please feel free to email me your wisdom (michael.steele@yessteelecan.com) Whilst I wait to hear from you, this is what I have learned so far:

Step 1 - "Use Cocoa Butter." I bought cocoa and butter for my impending stretch marks - even though I am at a complete loss of what to do with it. The book reads, "spread and rub generous amounts of cocoa butter on all areas of your body that may recognize substantial growth/stretching, ie, hips, buttocks, stomach, sides and breasts." Pretty easy/self-explanatory as far as the areas I am supposed to give a friendly butter coating to, but the 'how' is where I am cocoa.jpglost. Am I supposed to soften the butter and melt the cocoa? Was I not supposed to buy baker's cocoa? Does it come in an alternative form? Have you ever tried to sleep after rubbing butter all over your "stretchable areas?" Say so long to silk sheets for the next 9 months, flip over in your sleep and slide right off the bed. It's like trying to sleep on a Whamo Slip N Slide - only without the water and the soft comfy blow-up pool waiting at the end of your dive and slide. It's like being a pancake on a greased skillet - flip over in your sleep and you are liable to slide right off.

Whilst still attempting to get clear direction on proper cocoa buttering techniques I decided to continue on with the suggested steps. Step 2 - "Take your Prenatal Vitamins." I take vitamins on the daily. I have since I was a wee boy. I started with the Flinstone chewables, moved on to the gummies, went on to Men's Once a Day Daily - who besides Mr. Ed can swallow those pills? (I have never quite understood the horse-pill reference. Is it because horsey  medicine really is that big, or because the pills are as big as a horse?) Regardless, I am back to the flinstone.jpgFlinstones now, Flinestones Complete - after they stopped making silly movies, I decided to give them another try. Plus, like the bottle says, "Now with Choline." I have absolutely no idea what Choline is, but if I am being honest, the first time I read it, I thought it said, "Now with Chlorine" so, I quickly bought it thinking my insides would get nourished and cleaned simultaneously. Win Win.

Step 3 - "Get some Rest." This one is tough, I am not a great sleeper, I toss and turn and am often tormented by my dreams. No, I don't have nightmares, my dreams are a little different. I have dreams that I only wish I could act out in real life. Take last night for example, I had a dream that I was back at my senior year of college, our school's basketball team was playing in the biggest game of the year, just as our team is attempting to shoot a buzzer-beater to win the game, I go running out on the court stark *ss naked and stop at center court to add a little "toot" of support.

Or, take the dream I had last week, I was a contestant on Cupcake Wars and the Cake Boss himself Buddy Valastro was the host. I told him of my grand plans to be the, and I quote, "Emperor of the Gluten Free Cake Era." I told him my empiredreaming.jpg was rising and he would soon have to have to relinquish his title of "Boss" and assume the title of "Assistant to the Emperor." I told him that this would be an Empire that would never fall, and if it did, I wouldn't be around to see it because I would have already moved on to my next area of domination. Perhaps cookies. Cookies need a "Boss."

Standing between me and my seemingly destined rise to "Emperor" was my inability to simply frost one of my cupcake creations. When it came time to showcase my cupcaking-skills, I couldn't even focus on frosting them. I just kept telling Buddy how nice and white his teeth were. I told him over and over how I couldn't believe how with all the sweets he must sample/eat how he maintained such beautiful, perfect, white teeth." I didn't make it...well, even to the first round, because I then grabbed Buddy by his perfectly white teeth and started yanking on them yelling, "they must be fake! Fake! Fake as Santas' Beard!"

A few weeks of following these 3 must-take-steps and the wife and I had our first ultrasound appointment. We arrive to the appointment 15 minutes early to fill out all of the prerequisite paperwork. A quick sign of the papers and a photocopy of our insurance card and the next thing you know we are in the ultrasound room with our pants around our ankles waiting for a cold cream and an intrusive instrument prodding...to the Doctor's surprise there were two who "kindly undressed below the waist and covered up with the sheet." To my surprise, my full frontal nudity was not quite as necessary as the wife's.

Additionally, my intense onslaught of curious questions to the highly-qualified doctor lead me to draw this conclusion - although vitamins are important, I probably should leave the "prenatal" variety to the one carrying the tiny human. At this altitude (nearly 6,000ft. above sea-level) the application of lotion over the entire surface area of one's body is a solid skin-cell-saving-idea worth noting. Regardless of my lack of "stretching parts," the doctor says it is just fine to continue applying and reapplying as much lotion, as I wish. And, lastly, rest, rest is good for everyone. The doctor couldn't derail my plans to hibernate despite not being able to blame a baby for my *loss of energy. *Not positive I ever really had much.

The life of an expectant parent...The joy, the love, the expectations, the responsibility all part of the wonders of becoming a parent. No book can prepare us, we will make plenty of mistakes along the way, but one thing is for sure, our future child will be brought into this world surrounded by peace and love. The love that my wife and I have for each other is only eclipsed by the love we share for Christ. Both, a love that continues to grow and will continue to prepare us for the blessing we will soon recognize in the birth of our first child.

9:54 am est

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Umm...I'm Going to Need Bigger Pants

 

"Umm, babe" that's what the wife calls me. And, when the "umm" precedes the "babe" with that type of dramatic pause, it usually means that she broke one of my prized Sasquatch Statues, she washed my pinks with her whites and dulled my pinks a little, or worse, she ate the remainder of the vanilla ice cream and has left me with mere melted drippings and memories of bowl(s) past - none are particularly excusable but the latter is just this side of the unforgivable sin.

"Yes," I replied in an inquisitive manner. You know the way your dog tips his head to the doglistening.jpgside when you are speaking to him and he is trying to figure out what in the world you are saying? Just like that. I just knew she was going to say she shrunk my favorite underoos or that Bath and Body Works was out of everything pumpkin scented. With the tone of her voice, I knew this was serious. Serious like forgetting all about the Nordstrom Half Yearly Sale and never stepping foot in the store whilst fine denim was at a steep discount...yeah, that serious.

"Umm...I'm late."

And, this is news because? Is what I wanted to say, but I knew better. The better option and my actual reply was, "it's cool, you are my wife now, everyone expects you to be late." (Right, Cory, Jonathan, Ryan?) My friends always knew me saying, "see you in 10 minutes" that the "10 minutes" was not a measure of time, at all. It could mean anything from an hour, to two or three hours, all depending on when my bubble bath, that I drew post the 10 minute warning went cold and if I was going to steam my shirt or just wear a jacket over it to conceal the "freshly washed" (read wrinkled to heck) look.

"No, Michael, I'm late. Late like I may be pregnant."

Friends, I wasn't paying the slightest bit of attention to the words exiting the mouth of my wife, although I was fully aware they were completely intended for me. Now don't go calling me a "typical male." On occasion, I do pay attention. Its just right at that particular moment that she was talking to me, I was preoccupied. I was 3 applications deep into my impending Reality Television Stardom. I had applied for Big Brother, The Bachelor and was 3/4 of jcink.jpgthe way through my application for being a Human Canvas on Season 4 of Ink Master. (Btw, I was rejected from Big Brother as I totally froze in front of the producers. 3 Producers + 2 Cameras + 1 Giant Spotlight = me freezing like a giant snapping turtle stuck on his back in the middle of a 6 lane highway. Furthermore, I was immediately rejected from The Bachelor. Did you know that you have to be unwed? What? Marriage discrimination!)

So, I was really focusing on the application for Ink Master 4, this was my real shot! Don't worry Grandma(s), I read the Bible, even the King James Version and checked some cross references, all to prepare myself for your immediate reactions. We are all good, gmas!

Regardless, I am really hoping I am selected. I need to see if Chris Nunez is really that good looking or if it is just some Spike TV camera tricks. More importantly, I want to tell Dave Navarro that it is just fine to wear a little color, not everything has to be so drab. Get it together, Dave!

Simultaneous to hitting "submit" on the Ink Master application, my lovely wife bent down to mere inches from my face and in a heightened level of intensity and volume spoke these words very clearly, "I think I am pregnant."

"Why, didn't you just say so," I replied as I reached for my Madden controller.

I had noticed the steady increase of her nourishment intake and the growth of the circumference of her dinner plate. Sure, I had seen the extra slice of ham she was throwing on her gluten free multi-grain bread. I had even noticed she was tired a little more than normal, but we keep a pretty insane schedule, I thought time and tiredness just might be catching up to her a little bit.

I couldn't even concentrate on my Madden game with the barrage of questions I was asking myself like, "how pregnant is 'I think I am pregnant?'" Are we talking like we better start wearing stockings in an attempt to prevent varicose veins, rubbing our bellies with coco butter to subside the surfacing of stretch marks, invest in the lamaze.jpg"no no" to discard of unsightly hair trespassing on formerly Posted areas? Pregnant like time to start setting up college account(s), paint a spare room in colors suitable for a young one, time to watch the Sunday paper for coupons on Enfamil, research the classifieds for the next lamaze class? Should we be picking out names? I have always l-o-v-e-d the name Charlie for either sex. I was right in the middle of picking out a middle name when Jessica broke my misguided concentration -

I think I might be pregnant, pregnant like, we should probably stop by the drug store and get a test.

I have seen all of the commercials advertising the various brands available for home-testing and that's why we went to the drug store with the preconceived notion that we would purchase the digital test, the one where a smiley face appears on the screen if you are in fact "with child." And, add to the smiley face one the test that tells you how far along you are...three days BEFORE your missed cycle! Yeah...I have always heard that children are expensive BUT I had no clue that the cute smiley face, that would count weeks for me, would be in excess of $25! Look, future child, I love you, but $25 for a stick to insert in your toilet, making sure to hoover it just above the water, dipping it in your wee stream whilst attempting to keep your hand out of the splash zone...$25. Sorry, little pal, but we went with the $10 version that simply offered a plus sign as proof of pregnancy - not as cool as the smiley face, but we will make up for it!

As the $10 test would have it...pregnant.

You think you know what love is and then that special someone in your life commits herself to you in marriage, that is love. That new found love is only eclipsed by the moment your wife tells you she is carrying your child -- love reaches a level previously untapped and completely undefined. The beauty of this love out shines everything that you knew before.

I love you, my dear wife, yesterday, today and forever.

7:50 pm est

Thursday, August 1, 2013

I Do

 I  Do or You have the Right to Remain Silent to Ensure You Can I Do

 Married.

Like fo real. Like perma-ring on my finger. Like "Mrs." after my "Mr." and before my "Steele." Like my dirty underwear in the hamper is no longer just my little secret. Like the fact I cuddle a stuffed elephant and listen to Cher to fall asleep is no longer known by only me. Married. Married, like doubling my jelly bean stash rbtranch.jpgbecause it is no longer just my hand doing the dipping. Like shopping the clearance rack at all my favorite retailers because it is no longer just my behind I am clothing.

The wedding was beautiful. The lush green grass neatly bordered by rows of trees gently bowing in the warm breeze. All with the quiet roar of the rolling river filling the background, completing the setting for our dream-worthy wedding. The beauty of our surroundings only eclipsed by that of rbtranch2.jpgmy bride as she slowly made her way down the aisle to take her place beside me and recite the vows of marriage before God, family, loved ones...and a few others who snuck in.

The wedding was beautiful, but it almost didn't happen, at least on time. As tradition, the guys went their separate way the night before the wedding. Last night of being unwed = bad decisions perpetuated by an over-indulgence of beverages that require an adult ID to purchase, throwing money at ladies that are showing off their not-quite-appropriate-for-Dancing with the Stars-moves, and possible streaking all captured by camera phones and blasted all over social networking sites. You see where this is going - late for the wedding because I needed bail money for stealing the dollar bills that littered the stage while Pixie did the tootsie roll with her cookies and bits exposed...OR...something much less "Hangover" and much more "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory."

You see, I have little to no interest in Pixie or her bits. I also have little to no interest in being accosted and detained by a Walmart employee who assumes because I am open-carrying a case of water and a xxl bag of peanut m&ms, I mm.jpgmust have stolen them. Carrying a case of water on my shoulder, a bag of m&ms firmly clenched in my alternate hand, my cousin carrying a Walmart bag full of product..it MUST be stolen!

"Making our break," or also known as "walking out the door" we were greeted by a lady in a Walmart polo, armed with a walkie talkie. "Where do you think you two are going?" I figured she took a quick inventory of what was in our hands and wanted to be a part of our party. I thought she was trying to put the moves on us, seduce us for our m&ms and water. So, I answered as flirtatiously as I assumed she had asked. "We are going wherever the party is," followed by the traditional head cocked to the side and one eye winky wink gesture.

Her abrupt "hummph," arm fold and head nod before she shouted, "you are not going anywhere" snapped me back to reality...quickly. Quite clearly she wasn't seducing me or my m&ms or me for my m&ms.

Me, being the law abiding citizen that I am, froze in my tracks for just a brief moment. She pointed to my cousin and said, "You think you don't have to pay for your items? Get back to that register and run a real card."

Light bulb popped on! She actually thinks we are stealing. Friends, I am not the friendliest person to ever walk through the automatic-sliding-doors of Walmart, especially when my integrity is called into question - what I really mean is: "sometimes" I lose my head a little bit when I am questioned...at all. Let alone, the night before my wedding. My cousin being the level-headed person that he is, simply returned to the cash register to "clear the error." Me, I, just couldn't hold it in (read "wouldn't.")

"Oh, so you think I am stealing, is that what this is? Are you serious? Stealing water and peanut m&ms. You don't think I could do better than this, or at least try? You better check my pockets because I am sure I have a toaster oven or a loaf of bread in my hip or cargo pocket. These m&ms, these are the decoy, the skittles are what I am really stealing. They are inside my shirt, cuddled up right next to my breast...pocket. Come on over here and taste the rainbow."

"Keep talking, sir, you are just making it worse for yourself," was her rebuttal. walmart.jpg

"Worse," I screamed. "Worse, it has to get bad before it gets worse. And, it isn't even bad, yet. But, I will tell you what, why don't you go ahead and move out of my way so I can leave."

"I can't do that, sir. You have to wait here."

"Oh, you are detaining me? Oh, I'm about to break straight through bad and on to worse, then way worser. You may be aware of 'worse,' but you have NO clue what 'worser' is, and I'm about to show you."

Madam Walmart must've studied the Walmart How to Manual, because she picked up on the key words I laid down and said, "Detain, no, no, I wouldn't do that, but I can't move out of your way either."

That did it. I started calling for representation from Al Sharpton, I pulled out my smart phone and tweeted Marcia Clark something along the lines of "Save me!@thatmarciaclark." Her response time was dreadful. And, by dreadful, I mean she never even responded!

Just then, I looked out the door and saw my groomsmen and friends standing outside watching this all unfold laughing and taking bets on when I was going to shut my mouth and just let the misunderstanding sort itself out - my brother in law had me not shutting up until I was bailed out of jail. He had me arrested, booked, cavity searched, prison-tattooed and bailed out all before I found silence. I saw them all standing there, and heard him say, "if he is going to go down, it should be for more than water. I mean, we all expect him to get arrested at some point, but he should make it for more than a case of water and an over zealous Walmart employee." It was either those words or the return of my cousin that snapped me out of my detainee mentality...kind of...

Apparently, the first time we paid the cash register froze and although the associate told us to "have a wonderful night," the payment hadn't gone through quite, yet. After the associate told us to "have a good night," we intended to, with our water and m&ms in hand. Apparently, we had just jumped the gun a little bit on our intentions. So, after my cousin returned to the state prison to show my guard the receipt, I was released on my own recognizances.

Upon my release, I could've just walked towards freedom, really, I could have. But, I just had to let my prison guard know how I was going to nominate her for employee of the month. Unfortunately...I let her know multiple times, at a volume previously reserved for rooting on my favorite team at a sporting event. She tried to walk away briskly, in an obvious attempt to deter my further chiding, but I tend to have one of those voices that carries great distances.

The rest of the night went off without a hitch, save not being able to find the cottage on the river we had rented for the night, and driving by it numerous times before finally stumbling upon it. A few rounds of poker and these old men headed for the comfort of any stiff mattress, futon, or closet floor we could find.

I was warned of an impending sleepless night. I had been gently reminded that the next day my life as a single man was to be put to rest. I was forever handing in my citizenship to Singledom and being granted a permanent Visa to Marriagehood. Apparently these thoughts had caused unrest in the minds of wedding1.jpgwedding1.jpgmany evicted from Singledom before me. But me, yours truly, I slept quite peacefully. I entered dreamland with the beautiful thoughts of what the next day had in store for me...early morning round of disc golf with the guys...ok, but right after that, marrying the most beautiful person I have ever laid my eyes on. Taking as my wife the one that I absolutely had NEVER dreamed of, because not even in my dreams was my wife as perfect as the one that would take my name in the morning. A beautiful woman who put God first, walked in peace, loved with all her being and wanted nothing more than to have me waiting for her at the altar. With a scenario like this, sleep was easy, I couldn't wait to start this life, with Jessica as my wife. I do. And, now, suddenly, life has so much meaning.

Life has a very interesting way of unfolding. Enjoy every single second of it. That moment that you are hanging your head, feeling sorry for yourself, might be the exact moment all of your hopes and dreams are passing you by.

11:49 am est

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tailor, Tailor, come quick. Superman's Cape has a Tear

Tailor, Tailor, come quick. Superman's Cape has a Tear...and many many tears.

You know the call you get, the one where your phone rings and you just feel like this ring is just a little bit different. Before you reach for your iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or whatever latest touchscreen, run-the-world-from-the-palm-of-supermancape.jpgyour-hand style phone you have, you just know this call carries some weight. You probably even make sure you sit down, wipe your brow and take a deep breath before you hit "answer." Yeah...I received one of those calls the other day:

Driving to Dallas for the opening of the Bush Presidential Library. As an Alum to the Administration we were invited to take part in the opening, dedication and some of the first tours of the recently completed library. I was excited about it, but the future wife was excited(er). She has never lived the political life and despite my horror stories she wanted to give "the scene" a whirl. After work last Monday night we loaded up (why do people say "loaded 'up'"? Quite the opposite actually happens, the car gets loaded 'down'.) So, after work we loaded down the Prius, we pointed the car south on the map and headed to the country of Texas - I didn't know if I was going to be let in, I forgot my passport...no, seriously, judging by the reaction from EVERYONE I know in Texas, they are one more attempt at Obama Gun Control from going rogue.

The whole drive was full of laughter, teasing and terrorizing every single gas station attendant between here and Texas - now, with a Prius, stopping for gas every few miles was not a priority. However, stopping to ask directions to Munchkin Land, Seasame Street and if they would ever pay full price for late pizza kind of was. We may have not needed to buy refreshments every few hours, but drinking straight from the soda nozzle, looking for the "mommy milk" section and asking for the allergen information on their ice was needed.

It was the wee hours of the morning, we had just pulled into Texas, putting our fun and games on hold so we could get to Dallas, I curled up in the back seat to snore a bit, when my phone rang. That kind of ring I was talking about just moments ago. I looked at the phone to see that it was my sister calling. Strange. They both have young children, shouldn't they be sleeping. "Hello," I said in a very guarded way.

"Michael?" If someone is calling me "Michael," I am about to get yelled at for using the last of the toilet paper and not replacing it...or...

"Dad is in the Emergency Room."

"Ok," I said so curtly - not because I am heartless, but because I was attempting to will the situation into a less serious category. For my father to be in the emergency room, I knew this had to be something more than an infected hang nail. Dad visits the emergency room about as frequently as I attended class whilst pursuing my Bachelor's Degree.

"Where are you?"

"Where am I? In a car traveling to Texas, what do you mean where am I?" - Not nice, I know. But, my father, my hero, the one that has been in the medical profession for 35+ years was seeking medical attention outside of what he could self-diagnose for the first time in my life. I didn't know how I was supposed to react.

Then...

"Michael." My nerves were at an all time high, at the mention of my name. The world around me was moving, but I was sitting still. I felt like I couldn't breathe. I reached my hand out for something, anything, I couldn't feel. I was numb. The sound of the music had been replaced by the beating of my heart. I gripped the steering wheel tight and braced myself for these next words..."Michael, dad had a stroke."

"Dear, Jesus." I said out loud, but not as cavalier as it may sound while you read this. I said it intently. I said it because I had no other words. I said it because I knew I needed to pray, but those were the only words I could find to say. I said it through the tears I shed for my father, I said them with a spirit of hope. Then...peace. Friends a real peace came over me. I had a 13 hour drive to get back to my father's bed side, I needed that peace, and it was given to me.

As I turned the car around to head home, I thought of my father. I thought of the times he was always there for me - through every celebration, promotion, situation, trial or tribulation in my life, my father was there. He always had words of wisdom that transcended any difficulty I was facing. As I was driving, trying to see through tears, I heard my father telling me to drive safe and not to speed! Don't tell dad, but I disobeyed him just this one time...(I had to, dad. I needed to be with you) - you'd be surprised how fast a Prius can actually go!

A 13 hour drive back home and I think the future wife and I said about 5 words to each other the whole way. Actually, I can remember the words very clearly, as if they were spoken just minutes ago - "I need a bathroom break." I was lost in my thoughts and prayers and she was doing everything in her power to be the comfort I needed.

13 hours of driving and we finally came to the exit for Wyoming Medical Center...finally was able to take a breath...SHOULD NOT HAVE TAKEN THAT BREATH! - Friends after a full day of work, driving to Texas and then straight back to Wyoming it was a total of about 40 hours without any proper, or quite frankly any improper grooming/bathing/brushing/washing/deoderizing/cologning any portion of our body or mouths. To say that the car didn't smell like a rose garden is like saying that Venti Double Chocolate Chip Frap from Starbucks, that I often fantasize about, isn't TOO bad for my waist line.

I felt bad going into dad's hospital room in this condition. If he was resting, there was no doubt that the eau de disgusting I was wearing was going to wake him right up!

The future wife and I walked in the room, my sister announced our arrival, dad was laying on his back with his eyes closed. "Michael is here," my sister said. A smile spread across my father's face - I have seen my father smile a lot! Never, ever, have I seen him smile like this. Never, ever have I needed him to smile like this. With that smile he delivered calm, peace of mind, reassurance and unfortunately, slowed everything down so much, I could smell myself!

Over the course of the next few days, walking around the hospital, sitting in waiting rooms, going to the cafeteria, I was absolutely astonished by the way people were reacting to the news that one of their own was in need of medical care. (For those that do not know, dad has been the Director of Radiology at Wyoming Medical Center for 8+ years.) I literally watched a dietary work nearly collapse on the ground when she saw it was dad in the bed. Laundry, Maintenance, Transportation not to mention all of the Doctors, Nurses and his own staff. Dad, I knew you were important to me, but your presence effects a whole hospital. Your recovery will be a testimony of your faith!

I don't typically use this site to declare my faith, I have never wanted to alienate anyone. And, although that remains my desire, to say that my father suffered a bilateral stroke and was out of the hospital in less than 5 days and the only remnant of the stroke is his ever-returning eye sight. That my friends, is a miracle! Nothing short of a miracle. A miracle where every ounce of credit will be strictly directed to the Lord Jesus Christ. Yes, dad did have the #1 stroke response team in the country. And, we will be forever grateful for their quick thinking and urgent medical care, but when the #1 stroke response/recovery doctor in the entire country says, "Dan, you are a miracle," than by God (literally) dad's speedy and continued recovery is a miracle.

We want to thank you all for your thoughts, your messages, your calls and your prayers, every single one of them was needed. Every single one. Love to all!

11:14 am est

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Absence Making Your Heart Grow Fonder, Yes?

"Absence diminishes mediocre passions and increases great ones, as the wind extinguishes candles and fans flames..."

Although Francois de La Rochfoucauld was probably referring to "love" in the above quote, please allow me to do something I have never done...twist some words and focus on the word "absence." I have not posted since October, it doesn't mean I haven't had anything to say, it just means I haven't taken the time to sit down and write about it. Trust me, I have done plenty of sitting, just not necessarily sitting with simultaneous typing - has my absence made your heart grow fonder?

Let us quickly discuss my absence/lack of typing so we can move on to more exciting things. It can be summed up with a few excuses, if you allow it to?

Although that was truly a question, I shall move forward assuming your answer would be in the affirmative:

1.) At this point, it is not a secret that I put a ring on it, bought a house and that I am involved in an epic battle with my nosey neighbor for the prestigious title of "Mayor of the (neighbor)Hood."

I thought/still tend to think that I possess the skills to be part of planning a wedding whilst simultaneously managing the neighborhood and maintaining a full time job. But, there exists a multitude of outside elements that I did not factor into my original equation. Things like -

Madam Nosey McNoserson the Neighbor(hood) Mayor (for the time being) has gone on the straight offensive. This (I want to use an offensive term here that is synonymous with a garden tool but my grandmother and my Christian roots wouldn't approve. So, I'll say this-) "Neighbor Lady" is not playing fair! I had employed a passive aggressive approach for letting her know I was taking over the hood, but I just do not think passive aggressive is going to be aggressive enough.

For example - we both seemingly fetch(ed) our newspapers from the end of the driveway at the same time, every morning. Without fail, she would summon me and talk to me all about the noises she heard in the neighborhood the night before, question me about the founding a neighborhood watch, etc. Well, I got to the point where I wanted her to know that 1.) her stories bored the poo out of me and 2.) my peaking out the curtains all night was the only watching this neighborhood needed! So, at various points throughout her boring rhetoric I would simply pass gas. Toot. Fart. farting.jpgTurn my bum in her direction and launch a morning coffee fueled assault on her senses. She either doesn't have a sense of smell or quite disturbingly enjoyed the smell because she never as much as acknowledged my stink. Rude.

As my passive attempts have proven to be passe, she has gone on the straight offensive. I have found mounds of deer doo doo in my yard. I cannot even begin to think about traipsing through my yard shoeless - and it has nothing to do with all of the snow in the yard, it has everything to do with the doo doo. I know she is putting it there. Deer don't just come into my yard to eat the apples that fall from the trees on their own accord. No way. Deers (I know it is "deer" but ever since I was a wee one I have been angry that I couldn't add an "s") are smarter than that.

I have an elaborate system installed for the next time I find one of her "gifts" in my yard. I have a paper bag, lighter fluid and a long handled barbeque lighter. The next time I find poo that she put in my yard I am going to return the favor to her doorstep. Right on her Welcome mat. She's welcome!

2.) For those that are having difficulty following my elaborate numbering system allow "2.)" to be the second excuse for my absence. 2.) The Wedding.

Look, I truly believed this whole wedding process was going to be a hoot and a few hollars. Let me assure you, there have been hollars, but unfortunately, not the kind that our accompanied by hoots. Not to get all dramatic, I'm going to save that for the actual wedding day. But, it has been more difficult than all of the TLC shows I watch religiously had me believing!

First, weddings cost money. Like lots of dollas. Like I almost had to eBay my Sasquatch collection. (Breathe! I said, "almost." The entire collection is still intact and proudly displayed all about the house. Poor wife.) There are things you don't think about when planning a wedding. The dress, flowers, food, all those things are customary. You think about those things. But, things like chairs, tables - did you know that you are supposed to cover the chairs, too? At the tune of about $2 - $4 a chair? Huh? Why do the chairs have to be covered? What does it even mean to cover a chair?

Next, all that help that people have offered and we have politely turned down. Silliness. In retrospect, "no, I got this." Should be literally translated to mean "yes, please help." You think you can be talking to your caterer whilst texting your photographer all the while emailing your florist and simultaneously praying for help and you probably can, but I have discovered there is NO reason to. Allow someone to email the florist, someone else to text the photographer, your caterer is competent she doesn't need you slowing down her progress anymore with your silly questions. Believe it or not, she knows what side of the plate to put the spoon on - besides, most your family isn't going to use the spoon anyway. Shoot, I'm not serving coffee or soup, what you need a spoon for?

Unless you are a reader of this very site (thank you 25,000+ unique readers a month, even when I don't stay on top of my writing) you probably even don't know there is an impending wedding - I haven't even got the invitations in the mail, yet! Those things have to be created, printed, addressed, stamped and actually mailed out?? This is 2013! I can't just email that to you? Come on! I brought that up to the future Mrs. She said something about time honored/steeped in tradition. What does "steeped" even mean? A word obviously created to get husbands to go through with all of this fan fare plotted by wives since the beginning of time. I probably didn't even spell it right but she probably didn't use it correctly, at least that is what I am telling myself.

You can clearly see why the wedding is taking up so much time. First the wife has to plan it, then convince me that it is necessary, then we execute it. In that order. In application, I could probably cut out the "convince me," effectively decreasing the preparation time by quite an amount but I know no other way.

Well, that's the update. I will do my best to not let it go 5 months again!

2:43 pm est

Saturday, October 6, 2012

It's Official or How She got a Ring and I got a Blessing

Shoot. Poop. Darn it. And, every other mildly offensive word that was labeled "off limits" as a child. The biggest day of my life thus far and I roll out of bed with a blemish the size of Kilimanjaro located on the southern most boarder of my right eyebrow. Is Kilimanjaro volcanically active - (is volcanically a word?) because this direct descendent of Africa's highest peak that has risen from the pores of my skin's subsurface looks like its about to blow! Clear the village, because if this thing goes, which I suspect it will, it will leave nothing more than ruins in its wake.

I don't know if I should run to the proactiv vending machine or if I should crawl under my covers, remaining hidden for the entire lifespan of this blemish.

I don't mean to get all Marcia Brady about this but, as previously mentioned, today is a big day. (Marcia was decent but the way Alice rocked an apron was somethingalice.jpg special - and, probably a good thing, because Mrs. Brady's hair, to this very day, confuses me. It looked like Beaver Cleaver's part with awkwardly placed extensions. I'm not mad at Mrs. Brady. I can only imagine the difficulties of lovingly raising 24 children, especially when 17 aren't your own. Poor thing didn't have time for her hair.)

You see today is THE day. The day that the future Mrs. told me she would know was here when it was here. I promised she wouldn't. The day when I officially take a knee (please, Jesus, allow me the ability to stand back up...in a timely manner) and ask the one who brings me great joy, overflows my life with meaning and all at the same time keeps me grounded, to be my bride.

I know what you are thinking, didn't this happen months ago? Answer - kind of. We have definitely been planning on getting married. The date has been set for quite some time. But, the engagement ring was being dreamt up, drawn, developed, and constructed by little elves - aka, I was waiting for just the right one to pop up on QVC. Don't worry, she ended up with a beautifully designed Diamonique! Can't even tell the difference!

In all honesty, I had picked out a beautiful designer diamond ring. I was very happy with it. But as the date of the proposal drew near, the idea of giving my future bride a photo20.JPGdiamond someone else designed began to bother me. For many reasons, but most specifically, princesses generally get a gem as the center stone. The search for just the right gem commenced. I didn't have to look too far to discover the story of the Ruby: the Ruby is considered the King of Gems, the stone of Love and stands for Unity. Works for me! And certainly is better than the polished coal I contemplated commissioning.

The ring was purchased, the proposal date was set, the plan derived and now for execution. I wanted to involve her parents in the proposal. It was my thought that their presence was the perfect symbol of their approval. Although they agreed to be present, they did veto several of my plans. Her father agreed to hold the ring and hand it to me at the appropriate time, he did not agree to being delivered to the Metlifeblimp.jpgscene via parachute from a MetLife Blimp hoovering a "safe" distance above the ground (See "Felix Baumgartner - Space Jump.") Her mother agreed to assist in any way, save being the leader of a Gangham Style flash mob in the center of town. As much as I truly wanted a flash mob featuring a paratrooper, I agreed to be satisfied with their presence, demonstrating their support.

To plan the proposal, I thought, how would I like to be proposed to...and then I did the opposite! Something told me, my VERY soon to be OFFICIAL FIANCE would not love being attacked by Sasquatch and then handed a ring. I also figured she probably wouldn't love being thrown into the lake and told not to get out until she either a.) finds Loch Ness or b.) the ring that I put in a bottle and buried under the sand in the bottom of the lake.

I did some figuring and as well as I know her, I drew the quite proper conclusion that she would probably prefer romantic over adventure. I need both and banked on her understanding. I devised a plan that included several messages in several bottles hidden about town. Yes, friends, the lady was being sent on a scavenger hunt!

The first clue was delivered to her by her mom. All subsequent clues were handed to her by important people in our lives, at important places to our relationship. The scavenger hunt concluded at our new home, where her father and I awaited her and her mother's arrival. Have you ever sent your future bride on a scavenger hunt and then sat stationary for two hours awaiting her arrival? I promise that two hours will quickly feel like 422 hours.

The proposal went off without a hitch. It was wonderful.

The plan was for her parents to be there to celebrate with her and show her their support. Their presence had a different effect than intended. I can imagine, as a parent, one of the most mixed-emotions events is giving your daughters hand to a person you are believing that your daughter knows well enough to trust with her life, essentially. Having her parents at the proposal meant I was accepted. We had their blessing. I think I got a little more out of the day than my love, but its OK, she got a ring.

12:41 pm est

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Moving in and bringing Snooks Along!

I'm an impulse buyer. My father calls me impatient, I call him observant (at least above my breath.) My thinking is this - if you know you are going to do "x" than why wait? Sometimes I faux wait. I pretend to be thinking about my decision, I might even tap my finger to my chin whilst allowing my eyes to wander, giving the illusion that my brain is hosting an internal debate but, really it's not. More than likely I'm probably thinking, "I wonder how long I have to keep this charade up. I wonder if people think I'm thinking, weighing my options." I have zero ability to think before I act, I just react to the consequences, it makes life WAY more interesting. Try it.

That being said, naturally I wanted to put an offer on the house before the sun set on the fortnight (really, I mean the next day not 14 days but fortnight sounds cool(er.)) I had all these plans to look at records of sales for the neighborhood. Solid intentions to utilize my math skills to figure out the average sales price of homes in the area. In turn, basing our offer for the house on all my figuring.

Plans and intentions are beautiful things but why does it seem like there is never time to act on them (read never "take" the time to act on them.) Things get in the way, you know, work, sleep, naps, resting, relaxing - all these things always getting in the way of my intentions coming to past.

Sans figuring and just straight shooting in the dark, we submitted an offer on the house. Ignorance is bliss in all situations save house purchasing. I thought an offer entailed something along the lines of - hey, I'll buy it, here is the money. Thanks for the receipt. Silly, silly me.

Apparently, an offer looks a little bit more like - hey, you are asking "x" but I'll pay "y" and by the way, fix the loose toilet seat, leave the washer and dryer, give me a new roof, pay my agent and leave my first dinner in my new home in the microwave. It is just fine that I didn't know about most of that - I have no plans to set my bum down on the same toilet seat the previous owner poo'd on, I don't believe in microwaving - I glow without the radiation. But, some of it, like, pay my agent - cool. New roof - I'll hold the ladder! I don't entirely blame my agent but a heads up from the munchkin would've been ok (no hate mail! My agent doesn't really draw a comparison to the little donut holes from Dunkin' Donuts...entirely.)

Whatever. Really, it's fine. Maybe home owner karma will smile on us for letting the previous owners off "easy."

Offer submitted, accepted, blood given for mortgage and now the fun part - decorating!

The pleasant news - the wife and I do have very similar taste. An abundant amountsnooksandjwoww.jpg of leather, animal print and gold accents. I tried to sneak that "animal print" in there so you didn't think we were going all Snooki and JWoww...the more I look at all we have bought...umm, maybe Snooks and JWoww actually aren't too far off. Lets just call it - Snooki in pearls with precious stone earrings and a silk scarf walking a labradoodle named Samson.

Just waiting on the closing date before we move our jungle-themed life into our home. The waiting would be so tough if it wasn't for junkgypsies.jpgHGTV. Property Brothers, Junk Gypsies and Love it or List it has done its job. It's keeping us busy and making us change our mind on what to do with the kitchen at least 372 times - at last count.

Oh, Junk Gypsies is on - I just found out that french horns really do have a use! Off to watch it!

Look at life from a different angle today. It might have been a tough day, but there is always positive to be found in EVERY situation. Find it, capture it, hold onto and refer back to the positive whenever it starts to look tough.

4:10 pm est

Monday, August 6, 2012

A House, A Home or Why My Neighbors will Hate that I'm Home

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes...a large scary mortgage?? That is not at all how I remember the rhyme as a child.

(Brief pause - shout out to Aunt Deanna...prayers to you! Get better, there is dancing to be done soon!)

Recognizing living in Mama and Papa's basement as a married couple isn't ideal, I ForSale.jpgdecided (read 'forced') it was time time to go look for a home. I figured there were many options for us to chose from while searching for our permanent address - buy, rent, lease or squat in a home, apartment, duplex, condo, abandoned warehouse, tree house or car.

I really wanted to look for a basement apartment in an exciting person's home. Sit in the basement at night and listen to the sounds of those that live above us and us my imagination to play out in my mind what they are doing with their life...when written out, that sounds a little bit weirder than I intend it to.

Needless to say, my desires were vetoed by the future Mrs. Steele. She prefers to find a house and make it a home. I continue to push for a conversion van - it doesn't even need to be parked by the river. She wants a big yard with a fence around the perimeter, I told her to look for a kitchen and cook some dinner. She wants a family room with a comfy couch and a big t.v., I want a big bathroom with a rain forest shower and a place to pee. 

She finally talked me in to looking at houses available for sale. She thought I was interested in actually buying one. Wrong. I was interested in getting in these people's homes and seeing how they lived. I'm nosy. And, when I say "nosy," don't take me lightly. Think of your ol' neighbor that peeks over your fence while your working in the garden to fill you in on all the block news. The one that only comes to talk to you to share the gossip and see what she can dig up on you to take back to the other neighbors...yup, nosier, way nosier than her. Don't confuse my nosy for judgemental. I just get caught up in this way of thinking that nothing in this world can occur without me knowing about it first - and, if you aren't willing to tell me ALL about it, leaving no details out, than I will just find out myself.

My future wife was in charge of looking for prospective home. She was looking in neighborhoods that she felt were safe to set up baby making shop. I was looking for homes where the previous owners had not yet moved out in hopes that I would find diaries still between mattresses. She was searching through listings that boasted about their square feet, master baths and two car garages...I leafed through fliers with catch phrases like "still occupied, must give occupants two hours notice" - I'd show up at the home and pretend not to have seen the "two hour notice part." I sent one lady into a straight panic, knocked on the door without notice, she was trying to block my view at the door, I was trying to look over her shoulder. She finally just came right out and said, "my house is a complete disaster, you can't come in." I tried to explain that I liked the "lived-in" look...she raised her voice and demanded I come back. I didn't. I wasn't interested in the actual house, just its contents.

After weeks of searching on our own, the (almost) wife and I found the house we thought we wanted. We called the Realtor whose unflattering picture was proudly displayed on the yard sign in the front yard, set up an appointment for the next day and began to back out of the driveway. It is a good thing I checked my rear view mirror before I hit the gas, because just behind my car, frantically waving her arms, was a little old lady. She moved out of the way and I slowly rolled the car back until I was parallel with her support (panty)hose. Assuming she was going to ask me directions to the local Bingo hall I depressed the window button. Grandma was not looking for the shouts of B11, nope, she had a key to our prospective home and wanted to give us the grand tour.

We walked through the entire home, she informed us of all the ins and outs of every nook and cranny. Assuming this was her boastful abode, I asked her why nosy.jpgshe was selling it. She informed us that she, in fact, did not live there. She was just the neighbor. She had watched the cats for the owners one time and never gave back the key, "just in case they needed her again."

(Future) wife found her "charming." I found her to be competition. The one that wears my ring wanted to write a check, I wanted to turn the garden hose on the old lady and yell for her to hit the deck.

As we walked to the car I leaned real close to the old lady's ear, for her benefit, so she could hear, and said, "I hope you enjoyed your time as captain of this neighborhood but the "C" is about to be ripped off your sweater and firmly affixed just above my right breast." She gave me a look like she didn't understand so I tried a different way - "if we were in high school, we would both be finalist for 'Most Likely to be the Nosiest Neighbor' but you would finish as runner-up." I got in the car and slammed the door so she could tell my level of seriousness. She walked behind the car to return to her home. As she found herself squarely behind the car, I blew the horn long and hard. She jumped and ran...I slowly pulled past her mean-mugging her. Starring a hole through her soul. Now, don't go getting the elderly abuse hotline number off the billboard, I'll be nice to her as soon as she realizes I'm Mayor of this hood.

We returned the next day to walk through the home with a licensed professional. The home was beautiful, the Realtor appeared to be in cahoots with the soon to be replaced nosy neighbor. She was aggressive, inappropriate and smelled like she cologned herself in whiskey. I didn't even realize any of the aforementioned qualities, I was too busy enjoying the beautiful home. That was until I walked out of one of the rooms and she announced to us, "Here is the thing about you, Michael, you are good looking. Guys usually are not so *handsome in glasses." I was too busy being flattered to realize lady friend was squeezing my hand, it was not until she stomped on my toe that ceased listening to the Realtor explain how my glasses made me *handsome. (*Some words have been changed to protect the innocent. Because, she really said 'sexy' but that word makes me too nervous. Especially when sharing the story with your future mother in law.)

Now I was the one ready to write the check and future wife was ready to grab the garden hose and tell her to hit the deck.

It does not matter where you chose to settle down. When choosing rooms and carrying couches, remember to first move in your love. Place your heart in the most prominent of spots. Make sure to display it for all to see. Love will make any dwelling a beautiful home.

8:48 am est

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Plans, Plans, Plans and Why They Shouldn't be Left to this Man

It has been brought to my attention that proposing marriage is one thing...but, you actually have to follow through with this sort of action based on the proposal. I liked it, I put a ring on it, and now apparently I have to give it my last name. note.jpgCrazy. I am so new to this engagement/marriage thing. In my mind, I am still passing notes that say - "Like me? Circle yes or no."

I'd be lying if I lead you to believe that I didn't know that marriage eventually follows engagement. Stressing the word "eventually." I mean, come on, the last movie I paid too much to watch (read "slept through") was "Five Year Engagement." It says it all right in the title. Perfect timeline to shoot for.

I have heard after you get married you can no longer be selfish - what's "mine" becomes what's "ours." I still have things I NEED to do - get a few more tattoos, a dirty piercing (not that dirty grandma, probably just the nipples), build a model rocket that reaches the moon, find Sasquatch and have a meal consisting of pizza and wings (gluten free of course) with the big hairy guy, and take a trip to the South Pole to see Santa. So much to do and so little time before "me" becomes "we."

A five year engagement would be perfect! I would have plenty of time to complete my pre-wedding to do's. I was just about to broach the subject with my soon to be bride when I walked in her house and saw her standing there...friends, I can not wait. I prefer not to wait another day, let alone 5 years. All of my "pre-wedding to do's" will have to be post wedding "hope to's." Wait until you all meet this girl. I would almost skip a World Series for her. NOT a Superbowl! but possibly a World Series.

So, a wedding date has been picked...Wednesday, June 26, 2013. Yes, Wednesday. Don't tell me that any one among us is surprised that the wedding will be on a Wednesday. Friday or a Saturday would be too...normal. So not us.

Apparently picking the date was the easy part. Then there is venue, flowers, photographer, rings, colors, dresses, tux or suits, shoes (my favorite part!), invites, caterer, dolphin trainer, wedding party, minister, registry, dinner, etc. It goes on and on.

We had decided that between work, school and our participation in several "highly competitive" recreational sport leagues - softball season coming to a close and dodgeball and badmitton preparing to commence, we better hire a wedding planner. Give him/her all of our hopes and dreams for our special day and let them pull together our special day.

We began putting together a list to be submitted to our planner. A list of "must fireeater3.jpghaves" and "hope for." Reviewing the list, I started to think maybe I was making the request on our planner a little difficult/if not impossible. But, if they were worth their money they could pull it off. Some of the highlights - my future wife wants sparklers, I want fire eaters. She wants decorations we make, I want trained swans to sit on the tables. She wants flowers decorating the aisle, I prefer to 86 the aisle in lieu of a high-wire. She wants trees to surround our ceremony, I would like chainsaw artist's to be carving our likenesshighwire.jpg in the trees whilst we recite our vows.

As you all know, I have previously disclosed this, but we were so far apart that I handed it all over to her. And, she is such a go getter, a planner is not even necessary. Apparently, brides-to-be get pretty excited about their own wedding and they can have the whole shin dig planned in mere moments.

You know I would disclose all the details right here, right now, but doing so may mean I am walking the high-wire alone. My inability to keep a secret makes me question if she has even shared the real details with me. It will be fun for all of us to find out together!

8:32 pm est

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Wedding Bells are Ringing...for...Me???

I am a private person...very private. I only share my most intimate details with the Good Lord and 40-70,000 readers/month of this page. I don't want everyone in the world to know things like - I consume potentially dangerous levels of broccoli so I exhume definitely dangerous levels of gassy. I don't care to share with all far and near how I despise underwear. Not all the human race needs to know that I'll wear leather but I prefer lace. Or how my lotion and shower gel are scents like Lavender and Vanilla Bean Noel. Not everyone needs to know how I stomp my foot and bite my lip if the toilet paper doesn't come over top of the roll. The details like I never wash my jeans, my underwear must match my shirt, I am in love with the person I want to spend the rest of my life with, my socks never match, my shoes must be lined up perfectly or I can't sleep...not everyone needs to know those things - its what makes me such a private person.

Ok, I am way too excited about one of them to keep it to myself any longer...I found the best pair of underwear and it matches almost every shirt I own. I bought them, they were on sale! Not as excited as I am? Well..., maybe we can talk about one more...I have found the love of my life!

Yes, me, the one who has posted endless times about how there is no such thing as love, Cupid is a loser...blah, blah, blah. Like most your parents, I reserve the right to say one thing and mean something completely different. Those posts were all written through scar tissue. Scar tissue that I believed was going to forever inhabit the entire surface area and depths of my wounded heart.

It is truly amazing how the right person's smile can wipe away the memories of transgressions past and open your heart to feelings and emotions that you did not even know existed. I knew feelings like hunger, hungrier, hungriest, tired, sleepy, bored...but, until now, I never knew love.

We've talked about it, I've asked you to share your (cliff, preferably) notes on love. I've read them, didn't understand them...but, now, I do. I think it is an emotion that none of really know until we meet the person that helps in the development of it. Draws it to the surface, calls it to our attention, makes us take notice of it. I have never believed in the cosmic thinking of "there is [one] for everyone." "When you meet the person you are 'supposed to be with,' you will know." People would say things like that to me and I would respond with noises rather than words...noises similar to "blah, blah, blah" or, my favorite, noises produced when you stick your tongue between your lips and blow air - the most mature response I know. Now, I might be willing to accept some of these aforementioned wives tales about finding the "one you are to be with."

All I know for sure, is I have been blessed with the one person that makes me smile, think, and has drawn out emotions in me that I previously thought I would have to visit the Wizard of Oz to discover. She is everything I have ever searched for and given up trying to find. I would truly be surprised if I were to find out that the sun didn't rise and set in her honor, if Hailey's Comet didn't circle the Earth just to check on her, and if the singing of the morning birds were not in response to her rising to meet the day. I have been blessed.

Enough of that...on to the fun stuff! -

You all know that there has never been anyone in the history of the universe that loves himself a wedding more than this guy. Tuxedos, flowers, bridesmaids, champagne toasts, wine glasses and of course, most importantly - dancing. I don't dance, I can't dance but by goodness I sure give it the ol' college effort. And, God Bless all wedding attendants for always encouraging me to attempt to mock my cher.jpgdancing idols - Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Usher, B Spears, Justin Beiber, Cher...ok, maybe the first three more than the second. But, if my favorite song of all time is being spun by the DJ - "Do you Believe in Life After Love," by Mama Cher, I will assume my position in the middle of the dance floor, hike up my pants and get my lip a quivering - it is a sight, friends. I am actually thinking about wearing one of her famous "barely there" outfits under my tux so I can give all the wedding attendants a full show! (Love, if you are reading this, you better voice your concerns now, because I am about to eBay one of her outfits! No, seriously, I am.)

I will stay on the dance floor until one of three things happens - 1.) God forbid, the music stops. 2.) We run out of DJ allotted money, and I can't convince him/her to stay and enjoy the show. 3.) My pants split - in the interest of full disclosure, I can not remember the last time my pants didn't split whilst busting a move on the dance floor. Every one of those times, I affixed an appropriately placed napkin, hand, or (if it is a significant split) used a table cloth like a sumo diaper and declared the floor a mosh pit. Sumo style has only had to be enacted once. Unfortunately, it was a completely inappropriate time. It was a reception at a museum and the dancing was being orchestrated by the most boring 5 piece string ensemble you have ever attempted to listen, let alone dance to. The brides' parents really should've thanked me for giving that boring event life instead of asking the security guards protecting the Monet to escort me out. In retrospect, it really probably was about time for me to leave because I was one champagne toast away from Thomas Crown Affairing one of the prettier paintings. It was definitely a Rembrandt rip off, but it would have looked sensational over the towel rack in my restroom.

Is it bad that while my future wife is picking out venues, colors, flowers, etc. I'm trying to figure out how exactly I plan to break in the dance floor? For our first song she is submitting requests like "G..." - It just hit me, she would probably kill me if I actually disclosed the song title(s) here. Just know that her song choices are full of meaning and apparently beauty...probably why she vetoed my choices - "Aww Skeet Skeet" and/or "The Next Episode." I have decided she better chose our first song as I just can't waver from the classic composers of our time - Dre, Snoop, Notorious. But, let this serve as a warning to my mother...you better be ready for the mother son dance. There will be booty bumpin', mama.

As a matter of fact, the wedding planning has been entrusted solely to her and her mom. We were just too far apart on things. I wanted to get married in Vegas at 3am. She wants to get married at a beautiful outdoor venue with her church looking on. I tried to convince her that we could get married outdoors...most chapels in Vegas have drive through windows!

I wanted my groomsmen to dress in Sasquatch costumes and roar spontaneously throughout the service. She wants them to wear tuxedos...and they have to match...crazy. She won't even let me invite Squatch!

She wants to buy flowers, I prefer to pick the yellow ones that grow on their own. She calls them dandelions, I call them free. She wants to serve prime rib, I asked why it can't be cover dish. She wants everyone to do a champagne toast, I wondered why we can't use kool aid.

Are you beginning to see why it was important for her to plan it all?

*Disclaimer - In all honesty, the details do not matter to me. There is one thing that matters, and one thing only. That on June 26 of 2013, when I am standing at the altar she is the one walking down the aisle towards me. I am overwhelmed by emotion when I think of the day that she will become my wife and I her husband. Venue, flowers, colors...makes no difference. I am overjoyed by the blessing that has graced my life, only the bride matters.

7:48 am est

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Cupid has Horrible Aim...or He isn't Taking Aim

As, midnight approached on the 14th, I started to become overly concerned that perhaps I just wasn't "shootable." Perhaps, Cupid took one look (multiple looks, no one can take just one) at me and said...sh(oot) - (I don't believe that cute little cherub in a diaper is a curser.) So, "shoot, that Michael is just un-shootable. If I put an arrow in his butt...his poor partner. But, everyone is "shootable," right? My grandmother always told me, "there is someone for everyone." I don't think grandma would lie, she prays, highlights a Holy Bible (with a green highlighter...I sograndmarockingchair.jpg prefer orange) and she has pictures of Jesus on her wall...I don't think she is allowed to lie.

The thought of my grandmother being a liar made my stomach turn. Turn in ways that I hadn't felt since the last time I ate her meatloaf. I knew it was late, but I would not get any rest if I didn't dispel the myth that my grandmother is a...liar - it hurts to type that. But, I must get to the bottom of it.

I picked up my phone, searched through my contacts, found "g-ma" and with a shaky finger pushed the button to call her. The phone rang 32 times. It might have been 31 or 33, I lost count somewhere around 27 and struggled to regain my counting momentum. 32 is the best guess I can offer, at this time, bear with me. Let us not get caught up amongst the unimportant details.

After 32ish ring-a-lings...no answer. I was beside myself. 2 lies. I'm pretty sure grandma told me I could call anytime. And, with a relatively high level of confidence I had always deducted that meant if I called, she would answer. I understand that it was nearly midnight mountain standard time...I'm sorry that I didn't realize "call anytime" had actual, specific hours.

Now, I have to try and sleep with thoughts of forever being alone and the lies of my grandmother dancing in my oft (save now) level head. Let this be a warning, friends, if my grandmother can lie...yours' can to.

As I closed my eyes, and said my prayers - praying mostly that my grandmother would be forgiven - I was thinking, I need to find Cupid myself. Cupid or St. stvalentine.jpgValentine. One of them can answer my multifaceted questions. They have to be able to.

I was just about to fall asleep when I felt the corner of my bed depress, as if someone sat on the edge of it. I sat up quickly, with the fierce force of a (nonviolent) tsunami. How dare, who ever it is, interrupt my prayers and wake me up just before I slip into REM(the most critical stage of slumber.) I furrowed my brow and clenched my teeth and for some reason, forced my voice to slip into the accent of Captain Jack Sparrow as I shouted, "who goes there???" (multiple use of the same punctuation marks to emphasis my surprise/anger...in this case.) No answer.

I saw the silhouette of a person adorned in a robe with a quiver full of feathers. I thought for sure a ninja had materialized out of thin air - I shouted, "I won't go down easy, Ninja. I've read 'The Art of War,' I'm basically a samurai."

As luck would have it, it wasn't a ninja at all...I guess it's good, for the ninja, because the last thing I wanted to do was some Kung Fu.

I know what you are thinking, "if not a ninja...who in the world could it be?" The only other option - Cupid.

I sat up in bed, and looked him square in the...diaper - I aimed for looking him in the eyes, but he fluttered his wings and suspended himself above me simultaneous to me sitting up. It took me a second to readjust my eyes so I wasn't staring right at his "bow and other arrow." I said, "Cupid, you S.O.M.C.(son of a mythological creature) what are you doing in my room at this hour?"

I thought it was happening, I had finally received a booty call. Cupid was going to plant an arrow in the baby soft skin of my pampered cheeks. "I'm ready I shouted!" I flipped over, ripped the blankets off and put my bum high in the air...Itvalentinescupid.gif suddenly hit me - "the left cheek," I shouted. "My right one has...um...art on it." I can't have an arrow mark going through the middle of my tattoo! (I know that news is disappointing, grandma, but imagine my disappointment when you didn't answer the phone! And, I promise you would like it.)

I waited...waited...waited and...nothing. Cupid was wasting my time and I was about to let him know. Before I could utter a word Cupid, Amor, Son of Venus...whoever he thinks he is, spoke, "turn yourself over, I'm not wasting an arrow on your ungrateful butt."

"Ungrateful," I mumbled as I flipped myself over and slammed my hands down on the bed. Throwing a visible fit like a grade schooler whose mom just embarrassed him in front of his class by telling him not to pick his nose...and eat it.

"Yes, ungrateful," Cupid responded in a voice far too deep for his daisy-duke-diaper-wearing self. "I have attempted to deliver you love on many occasions and all you have done is denied the love and hid from it. You are the epitome of a Valentine's Day contradiction. You talk about how love will never find you but you make it a point not to find it."

I tried to cut in, but he continued to talk -

"You play the role of scorned, disgruntled ex-lover so well. You think that you are a Lifetime or Hallmark Channel movie when really your past love/relationships made you who you are today. Quit playing Adele on loop, quit drawing broken hearts on the steamed mirror after exiting the shower (how did he know about that), and for the sakes of the Good Lord stopping crying into your pillow - do you know how much bacteria lives on your pillow? Keep adding moisture to it, go ahead! Mildew plus bacteria is a winning combination."

I couldn't decide if Cupid was being plain mean or if he was just demonstrating the tough love that I truly needed. Before I could decide, he went on...I was starting to think he talked as much as I did.

"Who are you today? - made in part by the relationships that you had in the past that didn't stand the test of time for one reason or another. And, that is ok. Completely ok. You are a better person because of the successes and failures of past relationships, celebrate all of them. Having distaste for past relationships is, in a way, having distaste for who you are today. Release the love of the past, love yourself. Only then will your cheek be prepared for my arrows."

And just like that...gone. Ninja-Cupid vanished. But his words held on. It is all about celebrating the past, the time spent in past relationships did make me who I am today. Positive or negative endings, they still made me who I am. How can I not be ok with that? How can I not be excited for the future?

1:00 am est

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