Thursday, September 30, 2010
I think most of these attacks come from ignorance, stupidity and a lack of compassion. I know you are probably thinking stupidity and ignorance are the same thing, but I do not think so. Stupidity to me is a lack of thinking of consequences where ignorance is a lack of knowledge or exposure to things outside one's own little world. It is ignorance that I think leads to the stupidity and lack of compassion.
I know in my heart that most of these bullies would probably never have done the things they did, if they knew the outcome. I guess I feel that nobody is so heartless that they would intentionally ridicule someone knowing it would lead to someone else's death. Am I just being naive? I doubt know. Maybe.
No matter what, these situations never should of happened. How can someone have so little compassion for another human to be so incredibly cruel? I just do not understand.
We are all the same at our core. No matter our skin color, gender, age, sexuality or other characteristics that make use seen different, we are really the same basic lump of DNA. We all want to be happy, safe and loved. Yet why do so many people out there have to hurt others and focus on our differences rather than embrace our similarities.
I will tell you as a gay man, life can be difficult. As a gay teen life sometimes felt downright horrible. Being a teen is hard enough but when you add in being different than you peers it is more confusing and painful.
Living with a secret that you feel will cost you your family, friends, community and even life is no way to live. Instead of honoring and embracing people who are confident enough to be open to who they are, we tend to try to shame those people. Why? Does it really matter who someone else loves?
Practice compassion. Treat others how you would want to be treated. Accept. Focus on what matters in this world. Love.
Yesterday, I was surprised and by all things - a plant. To be precise, this plant.
Actually, to be honest it was not really the plant that surprised me but the delivery of the plant by my friend Michael Vaughn. He dropped it off at my office for Dale and I with a condolence card over the loss of our dog Millie. It was from him and his wife Rhonda.
It was an incredibly kind gift, card and sentiment. Michael had also lost a dog a few years ago and completely understood the pain you experience from losing a friend, companion and furry family member.
What was surprising is that Michael and I are more colleagues and online Facebook friends than "let's hang out" friends, so it was incredibly caring that he would go to such lengths to do something like this for Dale and I. Outside of a mutual organization we volunteer, I have not spent time with Michael.
Michael is a good guy and I am very thankful of his and his wife's generosity and kindness. It really helped to make a bad week and tough time a bit better.
Plus, it is always nice to be surprised by people and be reminded that even people, who are not in your day to day life care about us and are there when we need them...whether it is just a smile, a kind word or even a plant with a nice card.
So for those of you who think Facebook is a waste of time, here is yet another example of how that site helps to connect us in a way that never existed before because without it, would Michael had known out dog had passed away? Probably not. Would I have known Michael had a similar experience years not? Probably not.
My sincere thanks to Michael and Rhonda and all of you who sent us kind wishes on my blog, on Facebook and in cards. Your love and warm wishes truly have helped and can be felt.
I am convinced it is a hot, neighborhood housewife, who is lonely and bored while her husband is traveling for work, so she has taken to crime as a desperate cry for help.
I even think I know which neighbor this may be and I see an anonymous tip to the Arvada Police in her future. I am sure my theory will be accepted as fact.
Mark my word, in 20 years there will be a ton of woman looking at a fat, middle-aged and balding Justin Bieber saying to themselves, "Why the hell was I in love with that guy? He wasn't even a good singer."
I predict he is this generation's Leif Garrett. Honestly, his 5 minutes of fame must have run out by now.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
I need to snap out of this funk, focus and regain order in my life. I need to stop feeling life is running me and start running my life again.
Monday, September 27, 2010
Sunday, September 26, 2010
The evening started with lots of food on the patio – sausages, chicken, lobster tails, clams, corn on the cob, baked potatoes and shrimp. Thankfully everyone came hungry.
We learned lots of things about each other from Tim’s fear of Lady GaGa, Steve’s un-named penis, to the fact that Sandy & Steve answer all questions the same and other funny tidbits items like sperm and dick of steel. The evening was full of lots of laughs, beer, wine and great desserts, which everyone brought. It had been a very rough week, so it was nice to have a little bit of fun break the sadness.
Saturday, September 25, 2010
It should be a blast. I already have food in the clam steamer as I write this. This evening's menu includes:
8 chicken legs
8 ears of corn
8 baked potatoes
8 dozen little neck clams
4 dozen cherrystone clams
200 pieces of shrimp
8 lobster tails
butter (lots of it)
Since I am in charge of the cooking, Dale is in charge of the table arrangement. Well, since Dale is Dale, the table is of course themed and fabulous.
Yes, it is a wonderful mix of red and white with seashells filling the middle of the table, along with tea light candles.
I am also making my famous Manhattan Clam Chowder from the clam broth for tomorrow.
I hope everyone has an appetite tonight. After dinner, we are hosting the first gathering of Couple's Game Night, which should also be a blast. I think I am in the mood to drink some alcohol tonight and everyone loves Intoxicated Tom.
Friday, September 24, 2010
- Those beautiful baby eyes.
- The way she would snuggle up next to us under the covers in bed at night.
- When she would sneak upstairs and watch us from the hallway loft.
- Her stubborn nature.
- How she new the sound of a plastic wrapper meant cheese.
- How she would try to pretend we had to carry her up the stairs each night, when we knew she could walk.
- The way she would give a loud sigh when she found a comfortable spot to sleep.
- How she was always more interested in Zoe’s bone than her own.
- That she acted more like a child than a dog.
- When she would nudge us with her one paw to get attention.
- Picking her up at doggie daycare and seeing her playing the big dogs rather than small dogs.
- How she knew when you needed her on your lap.
- How excited she would be every time we came home.
- Every time she got a new toy, she would hide it behind pillows, potted plants and other places, so Zoe could not find it.
- Her love of french fries and potato chips.
On Thursday around 2:45 PM, I received a call on my cell phone from Dale. I was in a meeting at work, so I let the call go to voicemail. He immediately called two more times. The third consecutive call made me realize something was wrong, so I excused myself from the meeting to take the call. Dale was frantic and upset. He told me he was in the car rushing our dog, Millie to the vet. He said she was barely breathing. I was shocked and confused. Dale told me she was not moving and barely breathing at home.
Around 4:00 AM that morning Millie woke us up in bed and a few minutes later vomited. This was not really unusual for Millie. She had always had a very sensitive stomach, so we were use to this drill. Millie would wake us up, we would rush her to the tub and she would get sick. However, for the past 9 months, Millie had been on doggie Pepcid and this had decreased to about once every 2 to 3 months. After she got sick, she did the usual and went back to bed. Like every other day, she got up at 5:00 AM for breakfast, ate with no issues and went potty outside.
Dale was home on Thursday, so Millie hung out with him, snuggled on the couch while he watched TV and went outside several times. It was an ordinary day, with the exception that Dale said Millie seemed a bit lethargic. Dale ran some errands and came home a little after 2:00 PM. Millie went outside and then came into the family room settling on her bed. Dale decided since she had been a bit “off” that day, he would make her some rice, as this usually settled her stomach and made her feel better.
Around 2:30 PM, he went to give her some rice, but she did not move. She was barely breathing. Dale quickly rushed her to the vet and called me. I spoke to Dale several times on the way to the vet and he said he felt like he was losing her. His hand was on her side and she was breathing slower and slower. Dale arrived at the vet and Millie took her final breathe. She was gone before they could barely get her onto a table. We had lost her.
By this point, I had left work and was heading to the vet. My friend and co-worker, Becki Dilworth had offered to drive me, since I took the bus to work that day. On a side note, in a crisis, Becki is the person to have on your side, as she is quick thinking and decisive. I am thankful to her for her kindness, love and support.
Dale called me and told me Millie was gone. Dale was devastated and I was in shock. It felt impossible. Unreal. Becki took me to the vet and I met Dale, where I was able to say goodbye. Walking into the exam room to find Dale sitting next to a lifeless Millie was heart-breaking. It was so incredibly difficult to say our final goodbyes. There were lots of tears, incredible sorrow, shock and grief.
The Veterinarian had offered to conduct an autopsy, which we agreed…as the not knowing why was incredibly painful. How does your 6 year old dog, your friend and cherished pet go from wagging her tail one minute to dying the next. It is unthinkable.
Dale and I headed home to check on our other dog, Zoe. We were not home very long, when the Veterinarian called. She knew almost immediately, that Millie died from internal bleeding. In fact, she had a tumor that ruptured and that caused the internal bleeding. Apparently, a tumor had grown and filled 70% of her stomach. At some point in the day, the tumor ruptured and this caused blood originally flowing through the tumor to pump into her stomach. Each time her heart would beat, she would lose a bit more blood into her stomach.
It brings us some peace to hear that Millie was not in pain. The Veterinarian confirmed she most likely just felt tired as she had less and less blood in her veins. The Veterinarian also told us, that likely the tumor had developed quickly and even had we caught it, there was probably little they could have done to help her, as the tumor was so massive. They would have had to remove her entire stomach to remove the tumor and felt she most likely would not have survived the surgery and had she survived, her quality of life may had been incredibly poor.
It was terrible and it still feels like it cannot be true. We have lost our baby, our little peanut, our little Mill-Mill. She is gone and it does not seem possible. The house feels emptier now. I feel her absence. I miss her terribly.
Sunday, September 19, 2010
This afternoon, Dale and I headed to a British Car Show here in Arvada. It was a sea of classic Rolls Royces, Jaguara, Aston Martins and other cool British wheels, however, the highlight for us were all the Mini Coopers. It was a real treat to see so many of our favorite little cars. I snapped a few photos.
On Saturday and Sunday this weekend, I was up and out walking at 7:00 AM each day (with friends Sam & Anjanette) for 90 minutes. I followed this up each morning with a 75 yoga class at 9:00 AM (with Dale and again, Sam and Anjanette). I like to start the weekends early and be active. It makes me feel like I am not wasting the weekend away and I have to say, it makes me feel a lot healthier.
This weekend was my 2nd and 3rd yoga classes. I have a few thoughts about yoga and Tom (yes, I referred to myself in the third person). Here goes:
- I like it.
- I am NOT flexible.
- My legs are big and big in yoga is not a great combination.
- My back is very, very tight.
- I find the meditation aspects of yoga very pleasing.
- I actually have fairly good balance and can so the tree pose.
- I like the warrior 2 pose, as it looks pretty cool.
- I fell asleep during the corpse pose today and it did not surprise me (I can fall asleep anywhere).
- I think yoga is a nice addition to my journey to be healthier.
I think I will continue to practice yoga on Saturday and Sunday for the next few weeks.
On Saturday night, Dale and I joined our friends Sam & Anjanette for a little taste of Cuba at Cuba Cuba Restaurant in Denver, near the Denver Art Musuem. Dale and I had not been there in years. Actually, Dale took me there years ago when he was courting me. Now that he has me, it is all frozen dinners at home. Just kidding.
I snapped a photo on the way in as it is two little light blue and yellow cute houses connected together and surrounded by tropical palms.
Anyhow, dinner was just as incredible as we remembered, as were the mojitos, which I indulged in a bit too much Saturday night. I also had the paella, in between my drinks, which is a saffron-flavored dish with rice, chicken, sausage, calamari, shrimp and mahi mahi. It was excellent and I cannot remember the last time I had a better meal. Delicious barely does their food justice. Dale, Sam and Anjanette were also thrilled with their meals.
If you have not tried Cuban food and do not live in Denver where you can try Cuba Cuba, find someone else that serves Cuban food. It is incredible and one of my favorites. If you live locally and have never tried Cuba Cuba, go now. You will not be disappointed.
…if what happens in book club stays in book club. Well, I say f*#k the rules! I am spilling all the details.
Just kidding! I am however very pleased to say the first meeting of the Standley Lake Book Club was a HUGE success.
The club gathered Friday night at my house to meet and discuss, The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, which is set in Nazi Germany, it describes a young girl's relationship with her foster parents, the other residents of their neighborhood, and a Jewish fist-fighter who hides in her home during the escalation of World War II.
The night was filled with everyone getting to know each other, great conversation about the book, lots of wine and of course some great treats made by Dale, who outdid himself with a German Black Forest cake, cream puffs and fruit with dip. As you can see, it was incredible.
We started at 7:00 PM and wrapped up close to 11:00 PM, which was a sign that everyone had a good time, huh? I also snapped a few photos throughout the night of everyone in full book club conversation.
Christy & Stacey catching up and starting out with some wine.
Sam, Michelle and Juli eye some cake.
Dale explains to Anjanette how German Black Forest cakes are born.
Tripp, Dale, Shannon, Stacey & Juli all chatting about the Book Thief.
Sam and Anjanette are…??? Drunk?
What I loved best about this first meeting of our book club meeting was the fact that the conversation come so easy for everyone. It easily flowed from discussions on The Book Thief to talks about Hitler, discussions on World War II, issues facing America to you name it. The conversations touched politics, the economy, religion and a bunch of other stuff. It was great to join a group of intelligent people and talk about books and our world.
Karen and Nicole were unable to make the first meeting, but we look forward to having them join us in November when we discuss A Thousand Splendid Suns.
Saturday, September 18, 2010
Friday, September 17, 2010
Thursday, September 16, 2010
A security video from a McDonald's in Ohio shows a woman punching two restaurant employees and smashing a drive-thru window because she couldn't get Chicken McNuggets. The tantrum caught on tape in Toledo earlier this year shows the customer reaching through the drive-thru window, slugging one worker and then another. She then grabs a bottle out of her car and tosses it through the glass window before speeding off. It happened early on New Year's Day. Police say Melodi Dushane was angry that McNuggets weren't being served, because it was breakfast time. Dushane says she was drunk at the time. She was sentenced to 60 days in jail last month and ordered to pay McDonald's for the broken window.
Several people who have not seen me over the past few months and did recently, commented that I look like a different person since I have lost over 40 pounds. I personally do not see it as I see myself every day. What do you think? Do I look like a different person?
On the left is me in England in 2009 and the right is me from this weekend. Okay, just kidding. Come on people, I lost 40 pounds. I did not lose 140 pounds. Below is a real recent photo of me.
On the left is me in England in 2009 and the right me is from this weekend at the Denver Art Museum.
Wednesday, September 15, 2010
Tonight, I did something that is definitely outside my comfort zone, but I think will prove very beneficial in my desire to be healthier. I took a yoga class. Yes, I actually did a downward dog tonight.
As most of you know, I have been dieting and walking the past 12 weeks and I have already lost 45 pounds. Losing 45 pounds was my first weight loss goal and I am very proud of this accomplishment. I have already started focusing on my second goal, which is to lose an additional 30 pounds. I hope to hit this goal within the next 15 weeks (hopefully before 12/28/10), which would mean a 75 pound weight loss in 6 months.
Anyhow, so back to yoga. Tonight, I went to an introductory yoga class at Green Mountain Yoga in my neighborhood (2 blocks from my house) to check things out. I was fortunate to have Dale and my friend, Sam join me and give yoga a try too. If was definitely less intimidating going with others. The class was free and including us, there were 9 participants. Our instructor was named Jamie and believe it or not, he is a construction worker for his full-time job (shows yoga is for everyone). The class was a mix of educational and some basic yoga poses.
I have to say, I really liked it. The facility was beautiful and Jamie did a great job. The yoga studio does a great job making everyone feel welcome and stressing that yoga is for everyone. They seem to offer classes for all types of levels from basic to power, so I think it is definitely a place you can stay with as your skills grow.
We have signed up for a new student special, which offers 3 classes for $20 within 7 days. We are all planning to go to a basic yoga class on Saturday morning and will be joined by our friend, Anjanette. We are also planning a bliss yoga class on Sunday morning and will be joined by our friend, Christy. We will decide class number three later.
I am excited, as I think yoga may provide to be a great way to continue my health journey. I think I will also be giving Tai Chi Chi Ti a try with my friend Brent Dilworth later this year too, as I want to keep exploring healthy activities. I also like that I am trying new things that are outside my comfort zone, as I think with 40 quickly approaching, it is important to spice things up a bit in life from time to time.
Wish me luck.
Tuesday, September 14, 2010
- I was born on Thursday, the 22nd of June 1972 in Troy, NY.
- I am a Cancer for an astrological sign.
- I was very sick when I was born and had a lot of fluid in my lungs (or so I was told, I was too young to remember).
- I am a junior as my Dad is also named Thomas William Whittaker.
- I have always hated being a junior and Tom. Both my Grandfathers and an Uncle were named Tom. It made me feel unoriginal as a kid. Seems like it should create a bond, but it didn’t.
- I live in Arvada, CO (northwest of Denver, CO).
- I am almost 40 years old, but don’t always feel like a grown up.
- I have a partner named Dale. He is one of the most caring and kind men I have ever met.
- I am gay (this should not be a surprise after #8).
- I have had sex with a woman (several women actually, but not at the same time though).
- I work at a web development and design company.
- I don’t believe in accidents. I believe everything happens for a reason.
- I have a tattoo on my upper right thigh, which would surprise most people who know me.
- I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night and have a very difficult time shutting off my brain so I can get back to sleep.
- I like reading biographies more than fiction.
- I love television (I love television too much).
- I feel like I am more of a taker, than a giver (it bothers me sometimes).
- I am horrible at giving massages (just ask my partner Dale).
- I have an obsessive personality. If I like a song, I listen to it over and over until I do not want to hear it anymore. If I like a new food, I want to eat it constantly, until I can barely stomach it anymore.
- I blog too much (it bothers my partner Dale).
- I always feel like I need to be multi-tasking.
- I took French in high school. I can barely speak it, but could read enough to get by while in Paris.
- I love Broadway musicals.
- I have seen the musical Rent over 30 times.
- I have one older sister, Rachel, although she tells people she is younger than me.
- I have never been in a fist fight, well, except for my sister, but that was usually slapping and it was usually just her slapping me.
- I started out left handed and my parents switch me to right handed. Researchers say it causes speech problems.
- I had a speech impediment and had to go to speech class from 1st grade until 5th grade. It made me feel different, so I just stopped going one day partially due to an incident with a butterfly.
- I never ate a bagel until I was in college.
- I do not remember what blood type I am.
- I am a pop culture trivia genius and know far too many useless facts like Greg Evigan starred in both TV shows BJ & the Bear and My Two Dads.
- I am saddened that Americans elected George W. Bush as President of the U.S. not once, but twice.
- I love the comic Peanuts and would like to be friends with Charlie Brown.
- I like the idea of cooking, but only when I am in the mood and it is something I can cook well.
- I have never had a broken bone.
- I often talk before I think.
- I used to worship Madonna, but came to realize she cares more about herself than her fans. (I think most people realized this 15 years before me.)
- I would want the ability to be invisible, if I could have one super power or special gift.
- I would want the ability to read minds, if I could have a second super power or special gift.
- I like the color green. It is my favorite color.
- I secretly love trashy reality TV shows.
- I usually fall asleep during takeoff on an airplane (I think it is the change in cabin pressure).
- I prefer the aisle seat on a plane, but select the window seat to avoid getting up to let others go by to go to the bathroom.
- I used to own a hot tub, but rarely use it, so I gave it away.
- I find the song Ice, Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice enjoyable.
- I am not good at any sport.
- I love clams, but hate oysters.
- I am often too sarcastic and it bothers people.
- I have lived in 6 states – New York, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, Arizona and Colorado (no, I am not running from the law).
- I hate moving. My family moved a lot when I was a kid.
- I can fall asleep anywhere if I am tired.
- I love cemeteries. I love the peacefulness, architecture and history all in one place.
- I have put my hands in the Trevi Fountain.
- I have a tendency to be annoyed by ignorance.
- I love the smell of citrus. I think it is a clean smell.
- I hate when people refer to being gay as a 'lifestyle'.
- I love early morning light when the sun starts to come up. It is my favorite time of day.
- I hate when drivers are not courteous.
- I would live in Venice, Italy if I could live anywhere. It is the happiest and most peaceful place I’ve ever been.
- I like chocolate. I like peanut butter. I do not like peanut butter and chocolate together.
- I have slept in a sleeper car on a train.
- I once did an 11 day liquid fast where all I drank was a mixture of water with lemon juice, cayenne pepper and maple syrup. I lost 15 pounds (I gained it back).
- I am fearful that someday I will end up alone and I will have no one on whom to depend but myself. It is my biggest fear.
- I hate solicitors that come to your door (unless they are cute).
- I love 70’s music. I feel I should have been older in the age of disco.
- I am very impatient.
- I would have hundreds of dogs if it was legal and I was allowed. My dream is to own a dog ranch.
- I once accidentally dyed my hair orange. I was supposed to be reddish-brown.
- I have had several boyfriends who ended up being my closest friends after we broke up.
- I was intimidated by math growing up.
- I tend to get very quiet when I am hurt or upset.
- I have a friendship that has lasted over 25 years. It is with my friend Mike, who I met in the 6th grade.
- I went on my first real date (a double date with #72) to see the movie Pretty in Pink.
- I find it difficult to meet new people.
- I just don’t get the whole 'gay' thing sometimes. For me it is a part of who I am, but it is not all I am.
- I love Halloween. It is my favorite holiday. I miss going trick-or-treating.
- I consider my Mom as the greatest single influence in my life.
- I was always a bit of a Momma’s boy.
- I feel my Mom’s passing was the single most devastating event in my life. I think about her almost daily.
- I want to retire to New York City since it has excellent health care, public transit and entertainment.
- I dream almost every night.
- I do not enjoy exercise on treadmills, stationary bikes or other gym equipment.
- I love dessert and sweets.
- I have been overweight most of my life (obviously this is caused by #82 and #83).
- I am tiresome of emails offering me Viagra or women who want to get with me. Neither interests me or is needed in my life.
- I have two dogs, Zoe and Millie. Zoe is an Old English Sheep Dog and Chinese Shar-pei mix. Millie is a Basset Hound and Lhasa Apso mix.
- I am part Irish and part English. I am a mutt too.
- I have some regrets in life.
- I own a black Mini Cooper that is named Elvira and I love. My partner Dale owns a blue Mini Cooper.
- I hate berries.
- I use my blog to release my creative energy.
- I hate things tight on my feet. I buy shoes at least two sizes bigger than my feet.
- I am bad at tying shoes. This is another reason I buy my shoes bigger than my feet. I can tie them once and then slip them on and off.
- I love the book, 'P.S. Your Cat is Dead' and have read it many times.
- I love to sing in the car while driving (I tend to make up my own lyrics).
- I sometimes wonder what people think of me.
- I prefer to drink milk when I eat pasta.
- I wear contact lenses.
- I love the Muppets, especially Fozzie Bear.
- I would like to learn to play the piano.
- I bitch about people sometimes.
- I Google my own name every once in a while.
- I do not like the taste of coffee.
- I am spiritual, but not religious. I believe in some sort of higher power.
- I read very fast.
- I don’t trust doctors. I realized a long time ago a lot of medicine is just the process of elimination and not a science.
- I think all rap music sounds the same (except Vanilla Ice).
- I feel awkward when people give me gifts.
- I have pin straight hair. Hair stylists often comment about this.
- I once had a one night stand that led to me being stalked (seriously).
- I tend to listen to my gut and instincts (this should have prevented #110).
- I think the movie Sliding Doors is truly one of the most original movies ever made.
- I experience déjà vu often.
- I can’t whistle.
- I think the digital video recorder (DVR) is the world’s best invention.
- I think the iPod is the world’s second best invention.
- I was voted Most Likely to Succeed in high school. I am sure I am not the most successful since high school, but was just the geekiest in high school.
- I like taking pictures.
- I hate having my picture taken.
- I am afraid of deep water.
- I have 4 nieces and 1 nephew.
- I knew Bruce Willis was dead in the Sixth Sense about 15 minutes into the movie and could not understand why nobody else realized this.
- I have hazel eyes, but they tend to look green when I wear green and blue when I wear blue.
- I like to clean the house or at least convinced myself I did. I now have a housekeeper and like having her even more.
- I tend to push things into drawers or closets to keep things looking clean. (My partner, Dale, hates this.)
- I hate when people stop you on the street for register or donate to something.
- I can be stubborn.
- I love chick flicks.
- I wore Underroos underwear as a kid. I had Spiderman and Batman versions.
- I now wear boxer briefs – the hybrid between boxers and briefs.
- I sometimes do not wear underwear.
- I cry when I watch the scene in the movie Meet Me in St. Louis when Judy Garland sings, Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.
- I cry at the end of the movie Rudy when they let him play in the football game.
- I do not like yard work, partly because I have allergies, but mostly because it is hard work.
- I like getting mail. Not junk mail, but actual cards and letters.
- I love liver and onions.
- I can still recite the psalm I learned in Sunday school when I was 10 years old.
- I once worked as a dishwasher at an Italian Restaurant for two days I was 16 years old.
- I think the number 4 is lucky.
- I believe in ghosts.
- I loved Wonder Woman as a child and used to pretend to be her (obviously my family should have realized #9 earlier).
- I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
- I find cats suspicious.
- I sometimes get pee shy in public restrooms.
- I tend to wear earth tones and fall colors.
- I love autumn. It is my favorite season.
- I high school I was a movie theater projectionist.
- I would like to write a book someday.
- I have brown hair. It was blond as a child.
- I once got a speeding ticket for going 90 mph.
- I am still scared by the movie Stephen King’s It.
- I once drank a whole bottle of sambuca in college. I now hate the taste of black licorice. I am surprised I lived.
- I think soup is the perfect food.
- I believe time is the best teacher.
- I have never held, must less shot, a real gun.
- I like to read USA Today. I get it delivered to my house.
- I like to round-up when I pay bills. I am not sure why. So if the bill is $184.44, I pay $185.00 and get a $0.56 credit.
- I am 5 foot, 10 ¼ inches. I tell people I am 5 foot, 11 inches. I tell people this not because I like rounding, but mostly because I am optimistic.
- I swear too often.
- I am right handed.
- I love the magazine Entertainment Weekly.
- I love chai tea lattes from Starbucks.
- I once flipped over the handle bars on my bike when I was 11 years old. My shorts got stuck on the handle bars and were ripped right off me. I was left naked with torn shorts. I sometimes still have nightmares about this.
- I am called T. by my family.
- I am called Tommy by very few people, but usually have a close friendship those who do.
- I own a pair of footie pajamas.
- I liked the book 'The Five People You Meet in Heaven.' It made me cry.
- I hate being late.
- I wish I took a drama class in high school or college.
- I tend to repeat myself.
- I have a small scar on my right thigh where my own dog bit me when I was 13 years old.
- I cannot wrap a gift. It always looks like it was wrapped by a child.
- I have a great memory for unimportant information, but a horrible memory for important information.
- I tend to repeat myself.
- I love the TV Show Family Guy.
- I think Nyquil is a miracle drug when I am sick.
- I only say, “I love you” if I really mean it.
- I was voted Student of the Year in 5th grade.
- I have two favorite holiday songs, All I Want for Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey and River by Joni Mitchell. I play both on my iPod year round.
- I tend to be calm in a crisis.
- I tend to spill food on myself while eating.
- I like to blow bubbles when I chew gum.
- I secretly love the cheesy 1982 movies Grease 2 (with Michelle Pfeiffer and Maxwell Caulfield) and The Pirate Movie (with Kristy McNichol and Christopher Atkins).
- I hate talking on the phone, especially to strangers.
- I always reverse the “a” and “u” iwhen I type the word becuase.
- I have been known to buy everyone (including complete strangers) drinks when I get drunk in a bar (I have not been drunk in years).
- I tend to have a perverted mind.
- I tend to be an impulse buyer (my partner, Dale, hates this too).
- I am losing my hair. I see more forehead every year. It sort of bothers me.
- I am awkward with hugs.
- I love anything with sprinkles. I feel the world needs more things with sprinkles.
- I do not like tomatoes, but eat them from time to time because I feel I should.
- I like that my blog ranks for Elvira Topless on Google.
- I am a big tipper.
- I have had gall stones.
- I saw the movie Showgirls in the theater on opening night (I do not remember why) and I remember a couple in their 70’s sat in front of my and the wife kept saying, “Oh, my!” and the husband kept shushing her the whole time.
- I am addicted to my Blackberry and refer to it as Blueberry since it is blue, not black. It has since been replaced by my iPhone, which I call Jack.
- I am happy with my life.
- I like making lists.
- I am who I am (the good, the bad and the ugly).
- I love breakfast and it is my favorite meal to eat out. There is nothing better than breakfast with friends on a weekend.
- I like to read in the bathroom (oh, you do it too, don't lie).
- I think one of the worse feelings in the world is to be hurt, disappointed or rejected by someone you care about and honor.
- I am truly sickened by people who abuse animals. It amazes me how someone can hurt an animal, especially a pet, who gives unconditional love.
- I love David Sedaris and he is one of my favorite authors. He is a comedic genius with a wicked sense of humor.
- I do not find lap dances from women exciting, oddly enough. At best, I find them slightly awkward.
- As I get older, I find myself caring more about the environment.
- I lost 45 pounds between June 28, 2010 and September 10, 2010.
- I own a Toyota Tacoma (in addition to my Mini Cooper).
- I find that walking brings me peace.
- I helped to plan my 20th high school reunion.
- I have skinny dipped in a pool with 10 other naked men and 1 women.
- I competed in an Amazing Race style event with friends and happily finished.
- I love the TV show Glee and consider myself a Gleek.
- I watched the movie, The Birds as a kid, when I was told not too as it was too scary.
- Birds scare me. They seen unpredictable.
- I like reading random facts.
- I have two hats that have the name Rusty stitched on the side.
- I love Tommy Bahama shirts.
- I eat green grapes, but not red grapes.
- I was once "un-friended" on Facebook by an acquaintance from college because he was afraid his church group would find out he had a gay friend.
- I walked the Ralston Creek Trail in Arvada, CO, which is 13.63 miles.
- I like to listen to music and read at the same time.
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Today, Dale and I joined our friends Sam & Anjanette to see the King Tut Exhibit at the Denver Art Museum (DAM). It was an incredible exhibit and very exciting to experience. Unfortunately, you are not able to take photos of the exhibit itself, but I did take some photos outside the Museum. As you can see, we had a fun morning even before we went into the exhibit.
Cool show of the Museum sign.
Here we are with the giant cows.
Some shots of the buildings around the Denver Art Museum.
Horse on a chair and a giant broom and dustpan.
Here we are waiting outside the museum waiting for it to open.
Waiting for the Egypt 3D show to start.
Last week, I read the book Sara Gruen’s Water for Elephants. This is probably one of the best books I have read in a long time and I am very thankful to have discovered this little gem. Told from the first person perspective of Jacob Janowski, Water for Elephants focuses on two star-crossed lovers set against a traveling circus during the Great Depression. What I loved most about this book was how the story is told by Jacob both at 23 years old and at 93 years old. It gives an unusual perspective as the story moves from the present to the past. It is interesting to hear someone share a time in their life while being there and again while looking back.
The story opens with Jacob at 93 in a nursing home looking back at the most exciting time of his life, in particular in 1931, when he was 23 years old in Veterinary School. It was this year that a family tragedy causes him to runaway and join the Benzini Brothers Circus, which travels the country by train. Needing a vet, the circus hires Jacob to tend to their animals. Conditions on the circus train are harsh. Many workers go weeks without being paid and they tend to get thrown off the train during the night when times are tough. There is a definite class separation between the performers, the workers and the animals, with the animals often treated better than the low class workers. Jacob discovers very quickly that he's the only advocate the animals have and he must battle, the despicable owner, Uncle Al and the crazy animal trainer, August.
The circus is part freak show, which leads to a host of interesting characters including Walter, a midget clown; Marlena, a woman who performs with horses; workers Grady and Camel and an elephants named Rosie. Jacob grows into a man on the circus in a short time as he is forced to protect both the animals and co-workers from abuse, all while falling in love with Marlena, who is married to crazy August.
This book is truly delightful and touching. I feel like the author did an amazing job of researching the time period. After reading the book, I felt like I walked away with a much better understanding of the Great Depression and traveling circuses, along with a great story of over-coming the odds to find love. I think best of all, I loved that Jacobs stays true to himself throughout the book and his lifetime. He is the same man at 93 years old that he is at 23 years old.
Give this book a try as it is a quick, entertaining and enjoyable read. I doubt you will be disappointed as who does not like love stories, elephants and strong male heroes, right?
I had a breakfast burrito the size of my head. Not the best for my diet but we need to indulge sometimes, right?
Best of all, I even indulged in a s'more or two at the campfire. It was a real treat. One of my favorite things is to sit by a campfire on a cool, autumn night and just have the beauty of the flames mesmerize me.
It was a good time had by all. My thanks to Kathy and Scott for including us.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
It is hard to believe it has been nine years since the September 11th attacks in 2001. I can still remember the exact moment I heard the first report of the attacks. I was driving to work in downtown Denver when the local radio DJ announced a plane had hit one of the Twin Towers in NYC. I was on Colfax nearing Broadway, just minutes from the office. I immediately assumed it must had been a small plane like a Cessna. It seemed unimaginable that it could be anything else.
By the time I got to work, I saw on television that it was much larger than a Cessna. I watched live as the second plane sliced into the Twin Towers. I watched with the world in horror as the Towers eventually crumbled. I watched the reports of the attacks on the Pentagon and listened in fear as we all wondered how many other planes were in jeopardy. It was a sad, confusing day.
At the time I do not think any of us knew that September 11, 2001 would be a day that would change America forever. I think it is by far the single day that has had the largest single impact on the life of all Americans, including myself. It is the day most of us realized that America was not a safe haven from the rest of the craziness in the world and that terrorism was a reality on our own land. It was the day that security would change forever and air travel would never be viewed as pleasurable or luxury ever again. I truly feel September 11, 2001 was the day America lost its’ innocence forever.
My friend Robin posted this on her blog today. It was a video her husband Craig created a week after the attacks for a church service. Looking at these images it is incredible how many remain burned in my mind as if it just happened last week, rather than 9 years ago. We can never forget those who lost their lives, those who lost their loved ones, never forget those who stepped up to help and that we are one nation. Often, I think we forget we are one country and allow ourselves to be consumed in the division caused by wealth, race and politics. We need to remember we are one nation of great people, who can come together and rise to any challenge. This video really helped me remember that today. Thanks to Craig for creating this video and Robin for posting today.
Friday, September 10, 2010
Tonight, Dale and I watched the Stand Up 2 Cancer special on television, which is a fundraiser to support accelerating cancer research, so it can help people fighting cancer today. It was a very touching special that did an amazing job focusing on the faces of cancer – those who are survivors, those who we have lost their fight and those who work every day to help find cure.
Obviously watching the special and donating are important to me since I have been touched by cancer so many times throughout my life. Whether it be in 1985 and 1986 during my Dad’s battle against Hodgkin's Disease, from 1998 through 2003 during my Mom’s battle against ovarian cancer or most recently with Dale’s fight against lymphoma in 2009 and 2010. Sadly, cancer has been a repeat presence in my life.
My Dad was 35 years old when he was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease. I remember him waking up one day and not being able to move. He literally had no control over his arms or legs. My Dad was always healthy, active and full of energy, so this was not something he ever expected at such a young age. I remember my Mom coming home and telling my sister and I that my Dad had to stay in the hospital because they did not know what was wrong with him. After a few days in the hospital, he learned he had cancer. I remember the conversation when my Mom told me that my Dad had cancer like it was yesterday. I was 13 years old. I distinctly remember my 16 year old sister, Rachel crying when we were told the news. Oddly, I also remember feeling bad that I did not cry like my sister did. I wondered if crying was supposed to be my reaction or if I was a horrible son for not crying. It bothered me for a long time. I am not sure why, but I felt very guilty for not having what I assumed was the proper reaction. I did not fully understand cancer at that point, other than that some people lived and some people died from cancer. I really did not understand if my Dad having cancer meant he would be dying. Fortunately, my Dad is a fighter and has been in remission for almost 25 years now.
My Mom was not as fortunate as my Dad. She was diagnosed with ovarian cancer when she was 49 years old. I was 26 years old. It was odd, but when she told me she had cancer, I never once thought of her dying. Maybe it was just too much for me to even fathom at the time. I always assumed she would always beat the cancer. I was wrong. Maybe in part my naive nature was based on my Dad. He beat cancer, so why wouldn’t my Mom. She was a fighter too. She fought for five, long years. She fought hard, but I think in her heart toward the end she could no longer stomach the indignity brought on by the chemotherapy. For those of you who have never had someone close to you go through chemotherapy, I envy you. It is indescribable, unthinkable and at times looks like a horrific form of torture. The pain caused by the chemotherapy in order to make one healthy again is heartbreaking. I remember in the late summer of 2002, my Mom said to me one day while in the middle of a chemotherapy cycle that, ‘Nobody should ever have to live life this way.” It was so heartbreaking to hear. It was more heartbreaking to watch her dissolve away over the next 6 months.
Dale was diagnosed in 2009 with lymphoma. He was not 25 years old, as he tells everyone, but I was 37 years old. I remember the phone call where he told me he had found a “bump” under his arm, which quickly grew to become a “lump”. A “lump” that was cancer. I hated to see him go through the pain of chemotherapy. Every fiber of my being wanted to wrap him up and just magically take away all the pain. What amazed me the most with Dale’s treatments, was how he remained positive and optimistic throughout the entire battle against cancer. He never once let the cancer take away his spirit, warmth, heart or smile. I do not know how Dale was able to muster such strength and courage, but he will forever be my hero. How can you not admire someone who is able to show such light, even at his darkest point.
Tonight as I sat and watched the telethon/show with Dale, I thought a lot about my Dad, my Mom and of course Dale. I thought about how each of them fought so hard and how I wish my Mom had more time. I wished she had more time to see her grandbabies blossom into amazing children, teens and adults. I wished she had the opportunity to meet Dale, as I know she would have loved him. I wished she had the chance to see a cure. She died at 53 years old, which is so young and so unfair.
Please take a moment, go to https://www.standup2cancer.org and make a contribution. Even $1 can help make the difference. It may mean a cure in our lifetime. We have lost too many to cancer. Give what you can in honor of those who lost their fight, like my Mom or Dale’s parents, who both lost their lives to bladder cancer. Give to those who won their battle, like my Dad and Dale. Celebrate your good health, but helping to bring scientists together to save those battling cancer today. Stand up and let it be known that you want to see an end to cancer.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is not a book for the timid. It is a very emotional read that covers the period from 1964 to the mid-200s in the country of Afghanistan. It centers on the lives of two women. The first is Mariam, who is illegitimate and raised in a hut by her mother. Her father and his legitimate family rejects her and force her into a marriage with a brutal name named Rasheed, who follows the Taliban's cruelty and discrimination towards females. The second woman featured in the book is Laila, who lives down the street from Mariam in very different circumstances. She is raised in a modern family, by a loving father & depressive mother. However, circumstances send Laila’s life down a very difficult path and into Mariam’s life. The first half of the book is broken down into their lives separately, while the second half of the book centers on their lives together.
The story is very difficult to read at times, but it is so well worth it as I feel I gained a lot of insight into the Afghanistan culture. I admit I knew very little about Afghanistan, other than what was shown on the nightly news. This book truly made the issues of class, religion, raising children and gender in Afghanistan over the past 50 years come to life. The sacrifices of these two women gives the reader a true sense of the harshness of their lives and the lives of many real life women in Afghanistan. I think the author is so strong at creating characters that you actually end up seeing Mariam and Laila as real people, not just characters in a book.
A Thousand Splendid Suns is an amazing and very poignant read, that I highly recommend.
Thursday, September 9, 2010
I snapped this picture Sunday night while coming home from a walk with Dale and our dogs. It is a rose in the front yard of my neighbor’s Cindy and Steve. With autumn quickly approaching, it felt like we were seeing the last rose of the summer. So beautiful.
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
A few weeks ago, I read the novel, the Book Thief by Markus Zusak. Simply put, it is one of the best books I have stumbled across in my life. It is hard to give a summary of this book because I am fearful no matter what I write it will not do this book justice, as this book is extraordinary, poetic, enchanting and heartbreaking. I am so thankful to those who recommended this treasure to me and that I selected it for my book club.
This book is the story of a 9-year-old girl named Liesel Meminger who lives with her adoptive parents, Hans and Rosa in Germany. Set against the backdrop of World War II, you see the war from Liesel's point of view, which is very different than most books written about this time, which are usually from the perspective of Jews during the Holocaust. From a German’s perspective, we get the opportunity to see the forced participation in the Hitler Youth, the stress of hiding a Jew in your home, the importance of pretending to support the Nazis, while knowing it was completely against everything you believe.
For me, the best part of the book was the narrator, which is Death…as in the Grim Reaper. He is dark, sarcastic and comes at the story from such a unique, impersonal approach it takes you back. You can see this in the first few pages as Death describes the story:
It's just a small story really, about, among other things:
- A girl
- Some words
- An accordionist
- Some fanatical Germans
- A Jewish fist fighter
- And quite a lot of thievery
I know it sounds a bit corny, but from from the very first page until the very last, I was completely enthralled by this book. Part of me did not want to even complete the last 20 pages as it was so heartbreaking. You know this story will not have a happy ending, but you become so connected to the characters it makes it hard to finish the book and say goodbye to the characters.
Another unique part of this book is the foreshadowing by the narrator. Throughout the book, he shares the future portions of the story line and details how things will end. You expect this would make you want to stop reading, but it only heightens the intensity of the story. You are revealed the what and why, but you become desperate to know the how.
You can probably tell, I loved this book. I really did. I cannot recommend it enough. I read a lot of books and rarely does a book pull me in so easily. I felt as if I could see the characters in my head – fully formed, real and alive.
The oddest part of the book is that it is classified as a young adult novel. I am sure that probably keeps a lot of adult readers from selecting this incredible book. Do not let this classification fool you because this book is complex, well-written and sophisticated. Give it a try. This is a must read.
I personally and so excited for September 17th, so we can discuss the story and characters in book club.