Curing 30 Years One Month At A Time

January 31, 2009

All My Shyness Got Me Was A Pink Belly

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 3:55 pm

 

Belly Flops Lead To Pink Belly

Belly Flops Lead To Pink Belly

 

Even though I find myself in the dead of winter, for some reason all I can think about is pink belly. For the past week, every night before going to bed a reoccurring memory funnels through my brain: summers spent at the city pool. This was the place to see and be seen as a middle schooler. Too young to get a part time job, our days were consumed with playing Sharks & Minnows and Marco Polo while filling our stomachs with Sunkist Soda and Twizzlers from the Snack Bar.

But, nothing topped the diving board in terms of popularity. When someone made their way to dive, they knew all eyes were on them. Pull off a cannonball, screwdriver or back flip and the audience was left utterly impressed. I hate to admit it, but I was always a bit reluctant to go on the board. While waiting in line, I would always marvel at how my friends would run to the end of the board then twist and contort their bodies with no fear on their face. Even though they didn’t often enter the water perfectly, they made their actions appear almost effortless and from the looks on their faces there was no doubting how much fun they were having.

As I climbed the ladder, my nerves seemed to get the better of me. Face to face with the board, my feet felt like quick sand and I froze. With friends egging me on to do something, I knew that retreating back down the stairs would be an action I’d never live down. It was now or never to perform my first front flip. I feel my feet moving…they bounce off the end of the board…I’m airborne… but I tense up because the freedom is terrifying. SMACK! I crash awkwardly into the water belly first. The sting on my belly is nothing compared to the sting I felt from the embarrassment of failing. My problem was I never committed fully to the tuck. My intentions were good, but my commitment just wasn’t there.

Pink Belly: this is what seemed to define my experience in social settings and relationships up this point in my life. I had the best intentions of being myself, but failed to fully commit to being transparent. I think this past month working on my socially stunted issues has helped me clarify where this hesitancy originated. Plain and simple, it stems from the fear of rejection. Being open in relationships leaves one vulnerable. Things could go well and you are accepted with open arms, but what if that isn’t the case? What if I let them in to who I am and they don’t like what they see?

It is impossible to be 100% certain, but I think it is a safe assumption there are plenty of people in my shoes who feel a bit socially stunted.  Granted, I’m not an expert on the subject (obviously because I wouldn’t find myself in my current state if I was), but we all worry about how we will be received by others. We deal with this fear different ways. Some might decide to sit on the sidelines while they watch everyone else have fun. Others may choose to be a chameleon and change their colors so they can fit in with friends. There will be those that grab the spotlight and have to be the center of attention just so they can feel valued and dictate who is in control of the situation.

Rejection, even if it was just the possibility of it, fueled my shyness and awkwardness in relationships. I reason it was better to feel alone then get the big veto. Yes, this reasoning meant I was safe from experiencing pink belly because I never considered even get close to the stairs. But, it also meant I would never know what the feeling of a big cannonball of freedom in my relationships would feel like. Looking back at these past thirty days, I am learning my life depends on being found. One cannot by fully loved until they are fully known.  

January 29, 2009

Pepe Le Pew Says I Am A Conceited, Stinky Jerk…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , — 30tocure30 @ 11:44 pm

 

Even Pepe Le Pew Says I Stink

Even Pepe Le Pew Says I Stink

Quick, who holds the record for the most Grammy nominations without a single win? Before you click over to Wikipedia like I had to do, here is a little hint. The answer caught me completely off guard. Not because I consider this person ultra talented, but for the simple fact I cannot name a single one of his songs.

The winner, or in this case loser, is Brian McKnight who has a mind boggling sixteen Grammy nominations, but not a single award at home on his mantle. He is the king of the ‘Also-Rans.’ I thought of Mr. McKnight the other evening when complying the 25 Random Things About Me list. Surprisingly, I am more interesting than I thought because there were some nuggets that did not make the cut. So, I would like to share a few of the ‘McKnight’s’ who got all dressed up for nothing:

 

*In college a group of us heckled The Harrisburg Senators mascot so relentlessly that he verbally swore at us causing the little kids around us to cry.

*I once got kicked out of Wal-Mart for opening up XXXXL Fruit of the Looms while trying to find the perfect Dirty Santa gift.

*Having been up for almost 48 hours straight after Madison was born, I broke down and sobbed like a baby in the middle of the hospital chapel wondering what I had got myself into.

*During the first day of Young Life summer camp, I lost my only pair of glasses in Saranac Lake. For the rest of the week, I had to wear someone else’s prescription bifocal sunglasses, even at night.

*The first time I told Jenn I loved her I got a “thank you” and then some awkward silence. Luckily, she came around.

 

Yet, #26 on the list was this:  I learned in 7th grade that when a shirt says, “wash before wearing” it is not a suggestion, but a must-do. Unfortunately for myself and those around me, I did not heed the advice and things quickly turned to one smelly mess. The stink was kicked up a notch since my cluelessness occurred on one of the hottest days of the year when the school’s air conditioning was on the fritz. In the middle of chorus class, I found myself sweating like Star Jones pushing people out of the way at the buffet line at Golden Corral. The sweat interacted with the clothing in some crazy chemical imbalance setting off a chain reaction of stench.

Being a chubby kid with glasses and braces meant I did not need to give any more freebies to my critics. The fact that I was in chorus, even though puberty caused my voice to crack more than Rice Krispies, gave them plenty of material for their teasing. I went into freak out mode over the stink bomb I was wearing over my neck. Any glance in my direction made me panic even more. Every snicker, chuckle or laugh got me agitated leading to more sweating and even more stink. 

Focusing on any conversation was a no-go because the only thing I could think about was the person knew the unusual odor was coming from my direction.  I reasoned they had spent all class watching my every move and noticed how the fumes radiated from my body like Pepe Le Pew. Having all eyes on me was too much to handle so I faked a sickness and had my dad pick me up from school.

Playing the day back in my head almost 20 years later, I am just now realizing that no one made a single comment about the stench. There were no snide remarks from the alto section about who ‘smelt it dealt it.’ Chances are good it was just another typical day butchering “Wind Beneath My Wings” in 7th grade chorus class.

I am guessing my other middle school brethren who only took baths on odd number days ending in 5 were the original source of the odor. Like always, my shyness made everything about me. As odd as this may sound, I am beginning to realize how my shyness means I am completely and utterly conceited. One would figure that being an introvert equals humility since the person does not think highly of themselves and avoids the spotlight at all costs.

Yet, think about it. What causes someone to be shy or horrible at small talk?  It stems from nervousness over what people will think of them. Will they be rejected or accepted? You let the fear get the better of yourself and never fully engage in conversations. Instead your thoughts are consumed with the idea that everything you say and do is being analyzed. What we fail to realize is that in 99.9% of the conversations we engage in the other person is thinking about themselves. Regardless if we convince ourselves the person thinks we are a complete and utter loser, this line of thinking reeks of ego just as bad as my JcPenny clearance t-shirt did on that hot day in chorus class. 

January 27, 2009

If I Fill Out 25 Random Things About Me And Forward It To 25 Of My Friends, Will You Finally Let My Children Go Free?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 9:43 pm

 

Look a forwarded email...CLICK DELETE!

Look a forwarded email...CLICK DELETE!

Every one of us has a friend who clutters up our inbox with forwarded emails. You know the type of person I am talking about. She gets absolutely giddy over photos with kitty cats dressed in funny costumes, prayers about angelic cherubs, jokes making fun of lawyers or those challenging quizzes where you can calculate your age by the amount of chocolate you eat. They want to make sure that you are aware that Tupac is live and well, Applebee’s is all of a sudden paying you to eat at their place and that US government secretly tracks homeless people by implanting a GPS chip in them.

Some forwarded emails promise fortune and fame if you pass the email along to everyone in your address book. But, they normally come with a time stipulation. If you fail to perform this act in less than the 10 minutes you can forget about a little leprechaun showing up at your door and giving you a fat sack of money. Others can be downright threatening as if the failure to forward an on-line petition means someone is going to kidnap your kids and hold them ransom until you get the word out about parents receiving a $500 savings bond from Gerber as part of a lawsuit settlement.

One forward that is currently making its’ rounds through my Facebook Friends is “25 Random Things About Me” where the point is…wait, why am I explaining the purpose. If you cannot figure out the point of the email from the title you are pretty much a lost cause. A wealth of information has been gleamed from their posts: a female friend who often goes commando, one who dreams of being on Broadway, a secret love for Oprah and another not getting their licenses until turning 18. Other pieces they cared to share were eye opening like dealing with deaths of loved ones, struggling with insecurities and resentment over dreams lost. These are things that caught me completely off guard.

I wonder what is about this forwarded email that encourages people to open up and share without fear. Over this past month I have to become even more convinced that even the most seemingly open person is completely guarded. All of us are experts at image management. We could win the World Series of Poker thanks to our Poker Face that hides weakness and the aces of hurt, struggles, pain and bad habits we hold up our sleeve. Vulnerability opens up people to acceptance just as much as it does ridicule and rejection. To be known for whom we really are is something we desperately desire; yet fear at the same time.

I have yet to be tagged by anyone. I do not know if that makes me a lucky dog or a lost puppy no one cares to get to know. Maybe my friends feel like I am an open book due to this blog. Through these pages I have shared a variety of random things that make up me like my man crush on Zach Braff, love for body pillows, addiction to reality television, fear of elevators and how I learned to drive in a cemetery. Wanting to be part of the crowd and not left out I tagged myself and came up with my list of 25 Random Things About Me.

1. The fact that I actually had to tag myself to complete this list reveals a lot. I am still the college kid hanging out in his room on a Friday night waiting for the phone to ring to be invited out to a party or just to hang out. I have never felt like I’ve been part of the “in” crowd.

2. I have milk issues. It is of utter importance that I know how many days have transpired since the seal was broken on the milk. If it is more than a day old, there is absolutely no chance my charms will get lucky by having milk poured on them.

3. During the fall and winter months, a happy or utterly miserable Sunday depends if I am winning my fantasy football game for the week. If I score over 100 points and still lose, stay out of my path. You have been put on notice.

4. Believe it or not, but this socially awkward man who authors this blog was actually voted Biggest Flirt for the Frederick High Class of 1996. Shocking I know, but 100% true nonetheless. Honest to blog.

5. I got arrested in high school for having a pager on school property because at the time in Maryland it was consider “drug paraphernalia.” I spoke in front of the state Senate and got the law changed. For you youngins, pagers were what people relied on for communication back in the day. Contrary to popular belief, toddlers at one time were not expected to have a blackberry and be an expert at texting.

6.  To give you a glimpse of my childhood I guess you should know that instead of playing with G.I. Joe’s as a kid, I played Naked Barbie’s. At the young age of 7, I already figured out why hang out with the troops when you chill with the ladies.

7.  The first time I began to question if God could fill this emptiness I felt inside was at 3 in morning at an all night bowl-a-thon in high school. I forged my mom’s signature on the permission slip just to attend. A friend shared her ‘story’ and a short time later I gave up control and allowed God to pen the rest of the pages that fill up my story.

8. I hate to lose and am extremely competitive. A laundry list of stuff has fallen victim to my lust to win like the golf putter I wrapped around a tree after a ball cupped out on the 18th green at mini-golf costing me bragging rights. I am not a gracious winner or loser. Many walks to the cafeteria in college were spent in steaming silence after a defeat to my roomy Adam “Big Bear” Kifer in NHL94 on the Sega Genesis. I also never learned that you never poke a sleeping Big Bear with a stick by doing the Dirty Bird dance and asking, “who’s your daddy?” after a blowout in Madden.

9. I once peed my pants in 8th grade because I did not know how to say, “can I go to the bathroom?” in German and our teacher was so strict she would have made members of the Third Reich nervous.

10.  The jury is still out about the songs that can be found on my iPod: eclectic, bizarre or completely random. The results of a quick 15 song shuffle: My Moon My Man (Feist), Bust A Move (Young MC), I Will Follow You Into The Dark (Death Cab for Cutie) Young at Heart (Frank Sinatra), Root Down (Beastie Boys), No One Gonna Love You (Band of Horses), Country Road (James Taylor), We’re All On Drugs (Weezer), Losing Lisa (Ben Folds), Bicycle Race (Queen), This Bitter Pill (Dashboard Confessional), Lean Back (Fat Joe), Geek in the Pink (Jason Mraz), The Pan Piper (Miles Davis) and Praise You (Fatboy Slim).  Jenn says that I am a closet hippie who has relationship issues based upon my musical taste.

11. I feel I am the most uninteresting person on the face of this earth. In some weird way this drives my shyness as I wonder what I could possibly add to any conversation that I happen to stumble upon. To further prove this point, I am not even half way through my list and am already paranoid that the majority of my readers have already checked out of this conversation.

12. Jenn has to order my drink at Starbucks because I still do not understand the coffee lingo. My primitive caveman like mind is incapable of understanding how a “tall” is the equivalent of a small. I am pretty sure that would be a wrong answer on a SAT question.

13. Just like every kid my age I wanted ‘to be like Mike’ growing up. Unfortunately, a white boy who is 5’7” at best has absolutely no hops and absolutely no shot at making it in the NBA or the West Frederick Middle School 7th grade basketball team for that matter.

14. I have to really love you if I come visit you at the hospital. I realize the majority of people who go to there sick eventually walk out the doors healthy, but my concern comes from the ones who do not.  Even as a Christian, there is a part of me that still fears death and what lies beyond. What if we are wrong? After all, we are working on 50-50 odds, aren’t we? It’s either heaven or end of scene, fade to black.

15. As much as I try to be an open book, complete honesty wrecks me. When reflecting on my issues gets too personal my default is to break the intensity by cracking a joke or using humor.  Hence…

16.  I had frequent nightmares about the Door-to-Door Salesman on Pee Wee’s Playhouse when I was younger.

17. Having lost over 80 pounds or a small middle school age child over the past few years, I hold an unhealthy obsession with my weight and cannot help but step on a scale whenever I see one. I’m like the wrestler trying desperately to make weight. If it gives me a number I do not like I contort my body over and over again until it registers the digits I want. Yet, it never does. One of the things I worry about the most is packing on the poundage again because, if I am being honest, much of the little confidence I actually possess comes from my appearance.

18. Very rarely do I ever wear socks. But, if I do it is guaranteed that they will not match. I have set a streaming webcam to catch the Sock Gnomes who sneak into my dryer and steal one sock at time

19.  I have always dreamed of being a contestant on the reality television show, Big Brother. A few times I have filled the entire application out and addressed the envelope, but in the end always chickened out.

20. The first CD I ever owned was “Ice, Ice Baby” from Vanilla Ice. I won it by calling in to a radio station contest. The problem was our family did not own a CD player. As pathetic as this sounds now, we purchased a player so we could stop, collaborate and listen to Mr. Rob Van Winkle. The only way it could have been worse is if we were blaming on the rain with Milli Vanilli. 

21. I came into my first full-time ministry position as a bright eyed, idealistic youth pastor ready to conquer the world and left 3 years later with my tail between my legs, confused, bitter and questioning my faith.

22.  Every time I go to a certain steakhouse it is a guarantee that later in the evening I will get a ‘bad case of the Outback’s.’ Still, an Outback Special with Aussie Cheese Fries would be my Dead Man Walking meal. I would finally be able to enjoy it because by the time my gas kicks in the other gas will be knocking me out for good.

23. There are moments when I feel like a complete and utter failure as a father and husband. And other times when I feel I might finally be getting my footing when it comes to leading my family.

24. I have a hard time saying no. It doesn’t matter that taking someone else’s load will make me a completely stress ball.  My desire to want to feel needed and appreciated always wins out.

25. My life will be complete when a book I’ve written sits on the shame same shelf with the likes of Donald Miller, Anne Lamott, Mark Steele, Rob Bell and Jim Palmer.

So that’s me in a nutshell: the good, the bad, the ugly and the completely random. It is free to take a few hidden aces up my sleeve and laying those cards out on the table for all to see. 

January 25, 2009

A Scientist With A Stop Watch Makes For One Doozie Of A Third Wheel

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 10:10 pm

 

Can Someone Throw Me A Bone And Carry A Conversation?

Can Someone Throw Me A Bone And Carry A Conversation?

Having a person there who sees all my faults, but loves me anyway. The security knowing there is a least one individual who every once in a blue moon will laugh at one of my jokes. Note how I said one in the singular sense. Jenn doesn’t think I am nearly as clever as I do. There is nothing better than after a hard day of work opening the door to a house that smells like a freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. These are just a few reasons why I am thankful to have a ring around my finger.

Tonight I get to add another thanks to something I uncovered during my research on how relationships evolve. Research shows that awkward silence occurs every 7 minutes in a normal conversation, but every 3 and half minutes when you are on a date. This means I have an extra 3 and half minutes to come with something to say that is intelligent and insightful or muster the strength to eek out a grunt when I am faced with dead silence. On a side note, maybe the reason why the awkward silence occurred more frequently on a date is that a scientist with a stopwatch makes for one doozie of a third wheel.

In my attempt to be proactive in pursuing relationships this month, I have experienced my fair share of blank stares and glossed over eyes when striking up a conversation. I was hoping people would notice my feeble attempt at improving myself and throw me a bone by taking the lead in the conversation. Unfortunately, the utter shock they experienced when this former mute actually opened up his mouth was too great for them to handle.

After one to many long pauses that ended in “um…well Tony…it was..um…great talking to you,” I decided to seek words of wisdom from people much wiser than myself: online relationship gurus. Yet another letdown. The social “experts” suggested asking safe questions on random topics like sports, movies or the weather to start lines of communication. Wow, I don’t know what shocks me more: they actually believe people never thought to do this before or that one can earn a substantial living doling out this type of advice.

Since it appears that people will listen to just about anyone for direction in their relationships, I figured why not throw my hat into the ring. So, for what they are worth, which is probably not a lot, here are a few tips of the trade this socially stunted individual came up with in dealing with awkward silence in conversations:

TIP #1 – Instead of asking about the weather or sports, my suggestion would be to cut to the chase and ask the person staring blankly at you what the best way is to break a moment of awkward silence?

TIP #2 – The plain and simple fact is that people are vain. They love to talk about themselves. Start asking questions left and right about their interests, hobbies or job. You earn brownie points because you seem genuinely interested in what they have to say when in actuality your thoughts are focused on whether you are going to have Italian or Chinese for dinner tonight. I hesitated to include this one since chances are good that because you already struggle to create dialogue with this person that you could give two rips about their love for woodworking or clogging. 

TIP #3 – Excuse yourself and go to the bathroom. Unfortunately, you can only utilize this tip in a large social setting while you are attempting to mingle. If you are in the middle of a business meeting, catching up with someone at a coffee shop or eating dinner at a friend’s house and use said trick, people will become concerned and slip you pamphlets with diagrams of your prostate plastered all over the cover.

TIP #4 – Flatulence always does the trick. All farts that is except for the silent but deadly variety. When funk suddenly appears out of nowhere and continues to mingle it only adds to the awkwardness. If you are going to use this trick make sure you farts are loud and proud.

TIP #5 – Open your eyes really wide, let out a huge sigh, wipe your hands together and then simply walk away. When the person stops you and asks where you are going, turn around and say in your best Forrest Gump voice, “I might not be a smart man, but I know what a dead conversation is.”

January 24, 2009

Doc You’ve Got To Help Me Out…I’ve Got A Bad Case Of Obamaitis

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — 30tocure30 @ 1:25 am

 

Doctors Are Unsure If There Is A Cure For Obamaitis...

Doctors Are Unsure If There Is A Cure For Obamaitis...

Pardon me for my lack of timeliness in commenting on one of the most momentous days in the history of our country. For the past week or so I have been a bit under the weather. Like the majority of Americans, my immune system is weak which has led me to be diagnosed with Obamaitis.

One becomes vulnerable to contracting this disease when they consume large doses of hope. The human body is incapable of digesting this much sunshine causing the excess to flow violently out of both ends. This is only the beginning of the side effects of Obamaitis.

This disease throws your sense of balance so out of whack that you lean desperately to the left when you walk. Your vision also changes forcing you to get prescription sunglasses because you see everything in the light color of red – almost rose colored to be exact. Without any treatment, your mind is the next thing to go. You find yourself incapable of having a rational thought leaving you at risk to believing whatever CNN tells you.

This is where Obamaitis morphs and displays symptoms of other diseases. Whenever you see a picture of Barack on a television screen, newspaper, magazine or website you display signs of Alzheimer’s because you get lost in his eyes. For whatever reason you’ve also developed Obsessive Compulsive Disorder as you randomly organize everything in your closets into different communities like summer and winter clothing. Vocal tics, similar to Tourette’s Syndrome, occur during random parts of the day where you find yourself screaming “Change Is Here!”   

Doctors hold mixed opinions on proper treatment. There are some who would lead you to believe there is absolutely no cure for Obamaitis. This belief originates from how diverse each strain of the disease has become. Other medical professionals say a conservative daily dose of Haterade will make all the symptoms disappear. The rush of electrolytes shocks the systems. Another approach traces the original cause of the disease back to an insufficient diet. They say having 3 fair and balanced meals each day will have you back on your feet in no time. The FDA is also reviewing preliminary tests that have shown a mixture of Alaskan Caribou Meat can also deter the effects of Obamaitis, but official results of the study will not be known until 2012.

Hopefully, this leaning slightly right of center, politically apathetic, registered independent has not lost all of his liberal readers in one fail swoop. Even though that would be quite the feat. My gentle ribbing of our New Commander in Chief, as well as our nation’s seemingly neurotic infatuation with him, is all done in the name of jealousy.    

Over 2 million people braved the frigid cold to gather on the National Mall just to her his inauguration speech. They were not the only ones who tuned in to see what the most powerful man in the free world had to say. All eyes were on him. Being fully aware the magnitude this day held in the history books, Barack rose to the occasion and delivered a stirring speech that set the tone for his presidency. Even with freezing temperatures, Barack somehow remained cool, calm and collective. He waxed eloquently with his standard charm and winning smile.

Alright, I’ll say what you are thinking. Obama is the cat’s pajamas when speaking in front of a crowd. And because of the fact I literally ran out of my freshmen communication seminar in tears during my first speech I am green with envy. How can Barack not crack under the pressure with the entire world watching while I practically broke out in hives in a temperature-controlled room speaking to 20 disinterested students?  He probably showed some wisdom by not heeding former president Bill Clinton’s suggestions to “picture the people naked – especially the ladies.”  

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