Sunday, February 24, 2013

Training update and Free Stuff for YOU!


How's life?

Done with a busy week of training.  I think back to when it started Tuesday at the pool, and it seems like forever ago.  One day of swimming but I made up for it on the bike and outdoors on my runs.  Feeling good about the week and tired all at the same time

Saturday I took Savannah out on a small afternoon date.  Nothing planned.  Just wanted to give the misses a break and look at some stuff for tri-ing (we received our tax return so now I can get into the spending game that is triathlons).  On our way to the bike shop Savannah was talking about wanting a bike.  "A wittle red one".  I love driving with her because we have our best conversations on the road.  We do a lot of laughing.  The two of us made our way into the shop and a kind employee asked what she could help us find.  Without hesitation Savannah tells her "a wittle red bike", and she proceeds to take us back to the bikes.  Savannah touches all of them and finds a nice pink and white bike.  The saleswoman asks me about what kind of bike I'm thinking of getting Savannah and if she would like to try one out.  It takes me about ten minutes to tell the saleswoman that I came to look for a bike for me.  When I finally tell her it gives her a good laugh. 

We move away from the kids bikes and Savannah is still amazed with all the other bikes in the store.  I tell her I am looking for a tri bike and she brings out the only one in the store: a 1,900 tri bike.  This is the point of the conversation where married people say "oh well I have to talk to my wife before I make any decision, I just came to look," and then never come back.  I didn't take that route this time.  I was frank with her.  Too much for me.  She was then set on getting me out of the store with a bike so she showed me some road bikes.  No bike purchased.  If I'm going to invest in a bike I don't want it to be an emotional spur-of-the-moment purchase.  We did leave with a two dollar frisbee though.  Savannah is ecstatic.

The Costello two make their way next door to the local running store.  I just bought a pair, but this is an outlet store so I may be able to find a deal.  I don't find any shoes but while I'm looking the worker lets Savannah putt on a putting green.  The gentleman working pays more attention to Savannah than me and it doesn't bother me at all.  I buy a lot of my stuff at Dick's but this trip made me change my mind.  Aside from a Target worker giving Savannah a sticker, you don't get much interaction from the chain stores.  This experience will resonate with me..

We made some other stops and our date was over.  That needs to happen more often...

On to the free stuff.

No one has approached me with a product to review.  As you all know, I run/compete to raise awareness and money for the charity Active:Water.  March 22 is World Water Day.  Starting March 8th Active:Water is challenging you.  The challenge is to drink tap water alone for 2 weeks.  I took part last year and it was not easy.  I am a coffee/tea drinker.  I have three to four cups of coffee a day and I go to bed drinking decaffeinated tea.  During the two weeks you jot down what you would have spent on drinks and donate it to Active:Water.  Pretty simple.

Click the following link if you want to join in:
Active:Water Two Week Challenge

Here's where the giveaway starts.  I want to buy five people an Active:Water water bottle.

Ohhhhh.. Ahhhhh...
So how do you get one?  I'm not going to give stuff away if you follow my blog, my twitter, my facebook, my instagram, my garbage man, and then give me a locket of hair from your pet dog.  I just want to spread the love.

Email me at and give me your name and mailing address.  Done.  First five people to do it get a bottle.  Is it required that you do the two week challenge to get a bottle?  No.  I recommend you give it a shot with me but it's not required to win.  Even if you don't do the challenge AW is still receiving donations from the purchase itself.  So not only will you get a free water bottle, but you will also kinda have a donation given in your name.

Get to emailing!

Monday, February 18, 2013



My life flashed before my eyes tonight.

My lovely wife was making a lovely dinner.  I was playing dinner wingman by making the rice, for our salmon, and the mac and cheese for the girls.  I reached for the microwave to check on the frozen veggies we were heating up and I smelled something burning.  We had a cover on the glass dish, but I wasn't too secure in it's ability to handle the high microwave power.  The cover was promptly removed.  I made my way to the sink and dropped the cover in it.  While I'm making my way to the stove to continue the mac and cheese prep I see flames.  FLAMES!  Our kitchen towel was on fire!!

My first instinct!?  Blow it out!!  DIDN'T WORK!!!

I could feel the sweat forming on my brow.  I don't have tenant insurance!

Aimee walks in... "Throw it in the sink!"

"I AM!!" (I wasn't actually thinking of doing that)

I turn on the water and the fire goes out.  My family was snatched up from the grips of a firey future.  Thank you God..

How did it catch on fire?  I cleaned earlier tonight.  Every few years I have the desire to clean the kitchen.  Nice and deep like.  After I cleaned I lit a candle.  Get the kitchen smelling good.

That's the last time I ever clean.. (when it's not my turn)


I did my first brick workout of the year yesterday.  For those unaccustomed to the triathlete terminology it's a back to back workout.  Consisting of two of the three events.  For example, yesterday I biked on the trainer for a half hour and then ran three miles.

My trainer is in the basement, and I have a fan set up to keep me cool.  In my few weeks of trainer experience I've always biked wearing a hoodie (to maximize the sweatage).  Since I would go straight from the bike to the pavement I opted for a running shirt without a fan.  I didn't think not using a fan would be an issue.  Little did he know.....  I should form some way of measuring my sweat, like a weatherman measures water.  It was bad.  I'm not a stranger to perspiration but this was a little out of hand.  To the point that I had to be careful getting off the trainer because I didn't want to slip.  For all of those that haven't closed my blog yet, the run went good.  The first quarter mile I was fighting some calf cramping but I was able to finish strong.  My initial worry of my sweat freezing was a non-issue.  A well placed towel and running jacket kept me dry and warm.

Valentines week was a good training week.  Broke in my nice new kicks.  Did a couple days of deep end swimming.  You know.  Tri stuff.

I applied for a new position within my current company on Valentines day.  It was a tough decision but I didn't want to pass it up.  More info on the job in a later post, when I have more to talk about.

Exciting things are on their way....

Thursday, February 14, 2013

New Shoes: A Tutorial


Are you a runner?  Possibly a triathlete?  Do you have feet?

If you answered yes to any, or all, of these questions than I am here to help you.

"Help with what?" you ask!

I'm going to help you with your brand new pair of shoes! 

If you're like me, the excitement of new shoes is an event in itself.  All the research.  Getting them ordered, if not from a local specialty running store.  Having them come in as a birthday present.  Trying them out.  Going to see a physical therapist.  Having them tell you that the shoes you ordered are not good for you.  Moping.  Selling said shoes.  More moping...


You ordered shoes and that magical day has come.  So what do you do?

1. Stare out your window, waiting for the delivery person to come.  (Possibly freak out a neighbor or a passer by)

2. This next step is of the HIGHEST importance.  Thank the person delivering your shoes!  They've had a hard days work and they are delivering your new toys.  You attract more bees with honey!

3-A. Grab a pair of scissors, or box cutters.  (This step is optional, but if you don't bring them you risk pulling a muscle trying to rip the steel grade packaging tape on the outside of the box.  YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO GET INJURED NOW!)

3-B. Don't forget to put the scissors or box cutters back in a timely manner or else your toddler may try to take them!!

You don't want your toddler getting hurt!  Look at that kid!!!
 4. Look at the box of shoes.  Soak it in!
5. Take them out of the box.  Smell them.  This will be the last time they will smell this magical.  (WARNING: Smell them after your runs at your own risk!)

6. Smell them again.  Hey, why not?

7. Wear them while you do menial household tasks.  For example, cook dinner in them!

8. Take a picture of them and share it on social media! 

  9. Run in them.  Feel them out.  Repeat social media step above.  

  10. This is the final step, and goes along with every step.  It's an important one too.  Thank God for having you in a place where these luxuries are readily available to us.  Use your new shoes as a means to help people and do good.  Ask a friend to run with you.  Raise money for a charity.    I hope this was informative for you!  Thank you for your time and have a great day!   (I think my exclamation button is broken...)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Fit Family

Happy Sunday.

This has been an active week.  One of the most active I can remember for quite some time, and not just for me.  Aimee started working out this week, and had three solid workouts.  What's gotten into us?  Aimee is now using her My Fitness Pal account, me too.  Also, we're going on vacation the first week of June and I think this is big motivation for her.  We're going to the Outer Banks to celebrate our anniversary, sans little ones.  The whole family has been eating much better.  In the past we would buy fruit and vegetables and would throw them away a few weeks later, when we forgot we had them.  Now we're finishing off a big bag of oranges, apples, and bananas in a week.  Personally, I eat two oranges and an apple a day.  My vitamin C levels are off the charts.  I know people have turned a little orange from eating too many carrots.  Is the same true for eating oranges?

Nothing crazy to report on the workout front.  Still loving the bike training sessions indoors.  One part convenience.  One part great workout.  Another part ultimate sweating.  Two parts sore butt.  The good outweigh the bad on this one.  I grunted during a bike trainer session and Aimee heard it upstairs.  I have been reminded of this fact a few times.  Today, while I was on the bike trainer, I had one too many issues with my laptop.  After ten minutes it would lock and the Ironman Youtube video wouldn't load, for some strange reason.  MAJOR first world problems.  I persevered and finished off my first hour long biking session.

Only swim was Monday.  This week there are two swim days.  'Bout time.  During my one swim week I heard of another local pool that's open pre-buttcrack of dawn.  I may check it out if the Nat has continued closings.  It doesn't feel like I can afford to miss many opportunities to swim with my level of experience and when there is a race two months away.  Thanks to some Twitter friends I have some videos to watch about swim workouts.  It's easy to join the anti-social networking crowds but the tri and running communities online have been more than helpful in the past few months.

The past two years running has been my sole exercise (get it??... Sole??....Sorry).  It's been good to me.  I don't have any way of proving this but I probably averaged about 3 to 4 runs a week and well over a thousand miles logged.  Since the Chicago Marathon it's been stale.  All the running memes in the world couldn't motivate me.  It was my fault.  If it wasn't for God I wouldn't be doing any of this or finish any of the races I've done.  If you don't believe me on that ask anyone in my elementary school gym classes or even my former military unit.  Running was definitely not my strong suit.  Well triathlon training has done wonders.  I look forward to running again.  Yesterday I zenned out 5 miles (was hoping for 6 but no watch or pre mapped out course).  Halfway through I scoped out another runner when I made my turn home.  This runner was ten yards in front of me.  Poor runner.  They were my target.  I was the predator and they were the prey.  My original plan was to get off the main road and cut down a side street but this runner gave me motivation.  I was like a fisherman out there.  I was reeling 'em in!  A well placed stop light helped me reach said runner.  After some short chit chat we were able to cross and I said my good-bye.  I don't know if it was the momentary break, the music I was listening to (thank you again Ipod Touch for not need headphones), or the idea that this person would now pass me, but when I started up again I was COOKING.  I don't consider myself fast, or a runner focused on speed, but it felt good.  Reeeeaaaalll good like.  After my post run celebratory, and wife mandated, shower I ordered a new pair of running shoes!

Ooooooooooo... Ahhhhhhhhhhhh

They will be coming in sometime this Valentine's day week.  Woo!  The shoes also match the Active:Water kit I plan on getting for my tri races.  I'm no fashionista but the fact that it all matches excites me.

Also an extremely exciting event happened while writing this entry.

There is great God-centered rap music out there.  Thank you for being one of the artists providing it.  Awesome to see the glory go to the right place...

I love my wife, by the way.  Love isn't always easy but it's worth it.  She's the most supportive wife out there.  Maybe one day we'll be crossing the finish line of an Ironman together........

(this is the part of the blog reading where my wife is laughing)

Honey, I'll love you even if you don't run a single race with me or never work out another day in your life.

Hawt Mama!!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Tri Training Week 1


Before I get into my week o' training I want to say thank you to all those who read my last three posts.  They were stories about my life and moments that have shaped me.  I can't say that I didn't care if people read them, I mean I did post them to the public, but it was a step for me to share the story.  It's usually something that isn't brought up till someone asks.

I hadn't checked my school posting since turning in my paper and when I saw that my professor graded it my heart sunk.  My history with school is unsatisfactory.  Soon after I turned 17 I stopped caring about school.  This meant not doing homework, being barely conscious in class, and barely even showing up.  When it came down to it I needed to pass my final exams to graduate high school (a point that I didn't tell my mom until last year.. ha)  I passed and college was an after thought.  Years, upon years, later I'm in school and checking my essay score.  Ten points docked off.  340 out of 350.  I was a little bit excited.  Then I read my professor's response:
Thomas, I am kicking myself big time. I just spent 40 minutes reading and commenting on your paper, then managed to delete it by accident. Your stories, your use of different fonts, your wonderful description. All excellent.

So, to summarize briefly, your paper was wonderful. Truly. I loved pretty much everything about it. The only issue I had was your failure to put commas in compound sentences. You pretty much missed all of them (about 25-30). Clearly this is a rule you need to learn. Google it, or check out my handout on commas in the announcements section. 
 I'm taking the good with the bad.  Funny thing is I have my wonderful, college graduate, wife check my papers and guess what she always brings up?  My lack of commas.  The ONE time I don't have her check.  (note to self: listen to your wife).

I'm not posting this out of pride or gloating.  This is a testimony.  About ten years ago, and a couple weeks, something happened in my life that led me down a bad road.  God had my mom, sister, and friends, that would soon be family, in my life that saved me. 


Training.  Yes!  Training!

Friday I was back on the trainer and pounded out a solid 40 minute ride.  A love is growing for that trainer of mine.  Maybe I'm still in the honeymoon stages, but I love it.  It's the workout I look forward to the most.  I would post my MPH but I don't have any fancy schmancy computer technology, at this time.  I'm saving.  So now I'll settle for "zen" training.  Basically, training for the enjoyment of training and not focusing on the numbers.  Aside from the time I workout I don't have an elaborate log (this blog is my log (blog log))

After the ride Aimee and I went out for dinner and a few laps around the mall.  The couple hours we were away were blissful.

Saturday I had planned on running in the morning but I kept running into speed bumps (figurative).  Went to the bank, grocery store, and another grocery store.  After that, Savannah had some raised rash looking areas and we were in freak out mode.  Calling the 24 hour nurse, mentally preparing for a hospital visit, etc etc.  We soon found out that it was only dry skin.  Sigh of relief.  No more excuses.  Time to run.

To make the most of the time I had, I went to the little complex gym for twenty minutes.  Once the iron was sufficiently pumped I made my way out into the snowy abyss.  It may have been my best run since I PR-ed my half marathon time during Chicago Marathon training.  Not best as in time (remember I'm zenning.  Watch went bye-bye), but best as in most enjoyable.  I brought an ipod touch and had music blaring.  It was the first time I listened to music while running since the summer of 2011.  I even stopped a few times, GASP!, to take pictures.

Artsy Fartsy Instagrammy
Sunday I was back on the trainer.  My plan was to do an hour but I couldn't miss #trichat.  Aside from the trainer, I've also found a fond enjoyment in using Twitter.  The community of runners and triathletes is a great resource.  Most of the blogs I link on the left are from people I've met on Twitter.  Back to the trainer.  I started the Ironman 2007 World Championship and off I went.  It was great.  Just great.

I won't go into too many Super Bowl details.  I went to my friend Jermaine's house and ate way too much.  I'm talking more-than-I-eat-on-Thanksgiving eating.  The team I wanted to win lost but they made it interesting.  The off season for a Browns fan is bitter sweet.  Bitter: I can't watch any Browns games till September.  Sweet: I can't watch any Browns games till September.  Next year is our year!  OK, I don't even believe that.  I'll take some improvement though.

Monday: Rest day.  Yuck.  I started "My Fitness Pal" to see what I'm eating.  There's also a weight loss competition I'm running at work, that is in no way associated with work.  Just a friendly competition for a small money prize.  I'm not looking to lose a ton of weight but with the amount of training in my future I'm bound to shed a pound or two.

Today I went for a swim.  Wasn't my best effort.  I was trapped in my head.  "You're kicking too much.  You aren't slicing the water.  Tuck your head back towards your shoulder when you come up to breathe."  It's OK though.  I'll get 'em next time.  After work I ran a few miles.  While it was not as enjoyable as Saturday, I got a good workout in.

Once again, I've added an "About Me" page and a "Races" page.  Check 'em out!

Thanks for dropping by. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Tales Part III: The Conclusion

This is the final installment of Thomas Tales (working title).  The final two stories featured in my paper for English Composition.  After this post I'll go back to the normal shenanigans and tri/running themed posts.  Thank you for reading these stories.  It's been fun sharing it.  Without further ado, the conclusion:

(If you missed a part you can click the links below)
Part One
Part Two

Age 17
It's been a frigid January and Dad just got out of the hospital.  THIS IS NOTHING NEW.  HE HAS BEEN IN AND OUT OF THE HOSPITAL FOR YEARS.  The most recent visit was complications from his blood disorder.  It's a Friday and when I get home from school, Dad is in his bedroom lying down. 
This is a rare moment for me because he's in tears.  Years of being yelled at and seeing him sick have desensitized me to his pain.  I left the house to go to my friend's house.
            Later that night Mom called me and he was back in the hospital.  They were transferring him to the Cleveland Clinic.
            After school, the next week, Mom, my sister, and I head up to see Dad.  Everything feels different this time around.  When we walk into the room, he's talking loudly and he barely recognizes us.  He wasn't incoherent enough to get into a spat with my Mom.  We say our goodbyes and our "I love yous" and make our way home.  It's a long drive.
            It's the last week before the end of the second nine weeks and I'm in my psychology class.  I'm not social at school and mostly keep to myself.  There's a girl in my class named Holly and she is telling people I once glued my hand to a desk at Sunday school.  This is not something I remember doing and I probably would remember if I had.  She must be bored if she has to make up rumors about me.  The bell rings and I make my way to English class, which is conveniently in the next classroom over.  A second bell rings letting us know that class is set to begin and my teacher gets a phone call.  In the past, I've always wished the phone calls were for me so I could get out of class.  This time I knew it was my name called.  Mr. Bolton says, "Thomas, you need to go to the office, bring your books."  The office is a football field's length down the hall from the classroom.  I see my sister standing outside the office. 
She's the only person in the hallway and she has tears in her eyes.
            We left my truck at school and headed to my sister's apartment to grab a few things.  She recently found out that she's pregnant.  On our way, a song starts playing.  My sister tells me that I used to sing the song with Dad all the time.  The song doesn't ring a bell.  It's nothing popular but oddly enough, it's on the radio.
"I'm just an ordinary average guy
My friends are all boring
And so am I

We're just ordinary average guys

We all live ordinary average lives
With average kids
And average wives
We all go bowling at the bowling lanes
Drink a few beers
Bowl a few frames
We're just ordinary average guys

Ordinary average guys

And every Saturday we work in the yard
Pick up the dog do
Hope that it's hard (woof woof)
Take out the garbage and clean out the garage
My friend's got a Chrysler
I've got a Dodge
We're just ordinary average guys

Ordinary average guys

Ordinary average guy
Ordinary average guy
Ordinary average guy
Ordinary average average guys"
"Ordinary Average Guy" - Joe Walsh

 She proceeds to tell me that I don't remember anything from my childhood.  Maybe I did glue my hand to a table.
            Mom was already at the hospital with all of our extended family.  Immediate family came down to Massillon in the past, but since we were in Cleveland, around extended family, the whole pack was there.  The doctor says that overnight my dad had a heart attack and his kidneys failed.  If he came out, he would have little brain activity.  The doctor called Mom, my sister, and me into a separate room to ask us what we wanted to do.  A miracle happened before, let's try for another one.  There was nothing more we could do that day but wait.  We went home with assurance from the doctors that they would call us if anything changed.  Mom dropped me off at school for my truck.  This truck is almost as old as I am.  Dad always wanted a truck and this is the one he bought.  A rusty, dinged up, black and red 1988 Chevy S-10.  I hope it starts.
            It's the middle of the night and someone wakes me up.  Everything is a blur but now I'm in my Mom's car.  I look out the window and we're on a small highway.  The car temporarily illuminates under each highway light.  Mom is speeding.  Forty-five minutes pass and we get off the highway in East Cleveland.  This isn't the best place for a family to be in the twilight hours.  A police officer pulls us over and Mom goes over the edge.  The officer approaches the window to hear Mom say "Its three in the morning, I have two kids with me, and my husband is dying.  I have to go."  He let's us go without a ticket or a warning. 
            The three of us make it to the hospital in time to see Dad's last breath.

Age 25
            Aimee, our soon-to-be two-year-old Savannah, and I head out for a walk.  It's early September.  Aimee is nine months pregnant and isn't enjoying this family bonding time.  She's out here because she has an ulterior motive: get this kid out of me.  I'm making up the route as I go and we take a left turn towards a hill.  At this point, of our walk, it's been less than a quarter mile but beads of sweat already start forming on our brows.  Savannah is chilling out in her stroller.  The final tally of our walk is two miles.  No new baby.
            A few weeks later Aimee has a check up with her doctor and I tell her to bring the hospital bag we packed.  Just in case.  She's skeptical.  Weeks of trying to induce labor will do that to a person.  After much prodding, she caves and brings the bag.  Right before lunch Aimee calls me.  It's go time but first I have to stop home to lock the door.  Apparently, I'm not as prepared as I thought.
            Driving home, I ran into road construction and a woman flagging traffic through.  I never thought I'd have to use this line but I call her over to my car. 
"My wife is pregnant and I need to get to the hospital!"
She doesn't care about by my plea.  This always worked on TV.  I don't know the backstreets of the neighborhood I was in but I decided to try my luck anyhow.  By the time I made it out of construction the car that was behind me in line went by.  I turned my head in the opposite direction so I didn't see their face.  I don’t want to see any grins.
            Aimee, my mother in law, and Savannah are waiting for me in the room and a small light on the bottom of the wall amazes Savannah.  Aimee's aunt arrives and I transfer Savannah's car seat, bag of clothes, and a jug of whole milk from our car to her Aunt's SUV.  She takes Savannah to her house for a sleepover.  After she leaves more family files in sister in law, father in law, and Mom.  It was nice having everyone there to share the moment.  Almost two years ago, when Savannah was born, there was a swine flu epidemic and no more than two people could be in the delivery room before delivery.  No one under the age of seventeen was allowed in the maternity ward, period.  This upset Aimee and her sister because her sister was only sixteen at the time.  She was afraid she wouldn't be able to see her first niece.  These guidelines weren't strictly enforced by the nursing staff because our nurse told us to have her come up after delivery.
            Within a few hours of Aimee's arrival, she was ready for labor.  The second time around seemed much easier than the first.  Our first time Aimee had to remind me to breathe because I held my breath on every push.  No such problem the second go around.  Addison, like Savannah, is perfect.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Tales Part II

Here is part 2 of 3.  Thank you for reading.

(If you missed part one click the link below)
Part One

Age 12

     It's almost time for baseball practice.  My parent's decided to wait before signing me up and now in my first year I have to play kid pitch.  So far this season I have already torn all the ligaments in my elbow.  I'm holding down the bench.  Today Dad is sick and laying on the couch.  Maybe he has the flu.  This means Mom has to take me.  I'm better off with her taking me anyway.  Odds are my Dad will just sit in the car and fall asleep.
            A couple hours pass and we head home.  Dad is still on the couch.  His situation has gotten much worse and Mom calls for an ambulance.  The paramedics arrive and Dad is talking to them as if nothing is wrong.  After hours of being incoherent and passed out he's now able to speak with clarity.  He sounds like he's not even sick.  This is always how he handles pressure situations.  EMTs find it's best to take him to the hospital.  I stay back with my sister.
            It's been a few hours and Mom comes to pick us up.  Dad's situation has worsened and he was moved to the intensive care unit.  He's in the back corner of the room.  It's not too big and dimly lit.  There's a nurses station in the center of the room so we have to pass all the rooms to get to him.  There's a sinking feeling being in here. 
            In my Dad's room and he's out.  Mom is a mess.  There are so many machines, numbers, buttons, and sounds.  I'm shifting my focus from one machine to another guessing what's going on.  No such luck.  After a while, the doctor comes in to let us know what's wrong.  Dad has bacterial meningitis.  I have no idea what that is but the doctor doesn't make it sound good.  There is little chance of my dad surviving.  Mom let's my sister and me know that our Grandpa and Uncle are on their way to the hospital.  We move to a small waiting room across the hallway from the intensive care unit.  I don't know too much about plants but it might be a fern in the corner.  Aside from Mom, my sister, the fern, and a couple chairs this waiting room is barren and small.
            My extended family makes it down to Massillon and we head to the cafeteria.  My Grandpa and his girlfriend buy dinner for my sister and me.  They're also calm throughout all that's going on.
            The priest from our church comes to visit Dad and gives him his last rights.  He has his Bible and oil and starts to pray.  My eyes don't leave Dad.  This is too much.  Mom thanks the priest and we make our way back to the waiting room.  The tears continue to flow.  Mom takes us home.
        A couple days later, a family friend from my Dad's National Guard unit visits him.   
 Dad's feet start moving.


Age 21
     Today is Mother's Day.  Mom has the engagement ring at her house for safekeeping.  I opened a credit card and bought it a few days ago.  Aimee doesn't know I bought it, even though we picked it out a couple weeks ago.  I'm trying to think of a way to propose and nothing comes to me.  I'm just nervous.  At Mom's, house her face lights up when I walk through the door.  She tells me how beautiful the ring is and that she was afraid to leave it out of her sight.  Her excitement is contagious.  Happy Mother's day, Mom.  Your gift is another daughter.
            To Aimee tonight is just another night.  We're sitting in my apartment and something is on the television.  I couldn't tell you what's on.  I'm looking right through it. 
"Let's go for a drive."
            Our drive leads us to Stadium Park.  The ring is in my pocket and I'm trying my best to hide the ring box shaped bulge in my jeans.  It's dark outside so it makes hiding it much easier.  There's no destination point for the proposal.  We make it to a small bridge on the walking path.  My hands are shaking as if I'm outside in January without gloves. 
She has to hear my heart beating.  Is this what it feels like to have a heart attack?
I stop us and get on one knee.  No words are coming out.  Something mumbles out about marriage and she replies

            We decide on June 7, 2008 (6/7/08).  It's a nice, easy to remember, date.  I need all the help I can get.  The next year is a whirlwind of planning, floral designs, and food tastings.  I start growing my hair out so I don't have a buzzed head for wedding pictures.  My hair needs to stay within Army guidelines, can't let it touch my ears.  Aimee often mentions that wishes she had someone who wasn't so opinionated.  Contrary to what people tell me, this is my wedding too.  My number one request was to have a white tuxedo.  No one else seems to think this is a good idea, because apparently I'm too pale for it to work.  We decide on black but I have a longer jacket than everyone else does.  I ask my friend Josh to be my best man and he accepts.  A month before the wedding he goes into hiding and doesn't talk to me.  Thanks a lot. 
            The day has arrived and my new best man, Alex, gets everybody in my wedding party breakfast.  We make it to the church and Aimee's maid of honor asks me for the rings.
"I don't have the rings. Aimee does."
"She says you have them."
I do have them. 
At home. 
            Alex drives me to get them. 
I should have picked him in the first place.  I'm not bitter.
            Over the past year, I haven't been nervous.  A half hour before the music starts I'm in a back room of the sanctuary and people start filing taking their seats. 
I feel and hear my heart again.  Now I'm certain that people will hear it. 
The rest of my wedding party enters the room and it's time for the rehearsed walk to the altar.  Aimee's music starts and she enters the sanctuary with her dad.  Everyone else disappears.  She's wearing a strapless flowing white dress.  Her heels give her another couple of inches but when she makes it to me; I'm still taller than she is.  Phew.  Pastor Mary Kay performs the service and like a flash, it's over. 
            We take pictures for an hour, the sanctuary is transformed into a reception hall, and the guests come back to fill in around the tables.  We're so tired and busy that we don't have an appetite to eat. 

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tales Part I

Welcome to the first of a three part series on my blog.  The idea of the series is to share a little more about myself in a personal, but not private, matter.  The entire assignment was in a collage, or mosaic, style.  This means that the stories are not necessarily in chronological order but they're connected.  He also wanted us to make it pop more than a normal paper.  In other words, ignore everything I learned about formatting in grade school.  Your computer is not messed up.  The essays are supposed to look that way.  It hasn't been returned by my professor yet so ignore any spelling or grammer errors that I may have missed.

Age 10
            It's finally the summer.  Everyone in school looks forward to this time of year.  No homework and no teachers.  Freedom.  It's early.  It's way too early for me to be awake but today my sister is at her friend's house so I get to go to work with Dad.  The two of us head to McDonalds and I pick my favorite, Egg McMuffin meal with orange juice and a hash brown.  It's still dark outside and there are a lot of empty fields around here.  We finally pull into the National Guard base and head to the helicopter hanger.  Dad leaves me with my Egg McMuffin and makes his way out to the fueling truck.
            This base is big but I've done my share of wandering.  Most of the people here know my name but I don’t know any of them.  They must be friends with my dad.  After I make a few laps, I head back to the workshop to wait for Dad.  Today we are spray painting an old toolbox and putting my name on it. 

Age 20
            I've recently made the decision to join the military.  A co-worker in the Air Force Reserves told me to check out every branch before I sign up.  I took her advice to heart and I'm heading to the National Guard base to meet with the recruiter.  It's been quite some time since I walked these halls but as soon as I step inside memories flood me.  There's a smell of diesel and truck parts in every inch of the building.  It hasn't changed a bit. 
            The recruiter meets me and gives me a tour.  He's a serious looking man, just a little bit shorter than I am. 
What surprises me is that he doesn't have a mustache.  I distinctively remember all military men having mustaches.
"My Dad used to work in this building," I said.
"Oh yeah?  What unit was he in?"   He responded but I could tell he didn't care. 
I don't know if it's a gift but I can read people.
I reply, "No, I'm not sure.  He fueled helicopters"
"Oh, OK."  The tour continues.  Odds are I know this building better than he does.
            We reach a part of the building that used to be offices.  They've been converted into classrooms.  He tells me that they offer classes to people who have signed up and are waiting to leave for basic training.  I can come in on a Saturday for a full day to learn about marching, guns, and physical fitness.  Lunch will be provided.  Wow.  That sounds awful, I think to myself.  This isn't the place for me.
            After the tour, we make our way back to the recruiter's office.  I'm honest and I tell him that I am going Army.  This doesn't please him but I don't care.  I don't really like this man.  He gives me a list of benefits I'll have through the National Guard that the Army won't provide, including more college money.  I won't need college money.  School's not my thing.  The recruiter is persistent.  He doesn't seem like the person who takes NO for an answer.  That's all he's getting from me today.