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Is it me or does it seem as if manners are a thing of the past?  Like chivalry, maybe manners are slowly meeting an untimely demise.  If so, it's unfortunate.  I'm hoping they survive and make the comeback they so desperately need.

Occasionally I find myself on the receiving end of an off-the-cuff comment that I'm not sure how to respond to right away.  Then later I'll have numerous responses that I should have said or wish I'd come up with at the time... but it's too late. 

A comeback has to happen immediately or else it would be called a comeback-later-if/when-you-think-of-something.

I also don't like to intentionally hurt some one's feelings so in effort to be nice, I let a lot of remarks slide without a reaction.  Sticks and stones, right?  Don't get me wrong, there aren't people constantly slinging insults my way (or to my face, at least)... I'm no victim.  However, my ears have fallen prey to backhanded compliments and subtle digs over the years.  Both of which infuriate me.  I'd rather one be direct then to say something with a subliminal, underlying message that punches me in the stomach after I've thought about it and over-analyzed it in my head.

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Here are a few examples of what was said to me, what I said back and the shoulda/woulda/coulda's.

Jerk #1Why are you dressing like Mr. Rogers?  Is your wife picking out your clothes these days?
ResponseWhat do you have against a cardigan? Actually she did pick this out as a Christmas gift.
At that particular moment, I was wearing a navy cardigan that I got for Christmas.  Now I've never owned a cardigan before and I've been on the fence about it ever since I unwrapped it, but figured I would give it a shot and then this jackhole smelled my indifference and attacked like a shark with blood in the water.
Comeback LaterIt's better my wife pick out my clothes than my mom as in your case.  I'm sure my reward at the end of the day far outweighs yours.  Or a simple don't hate would suffice.

Jerk #2Some one is having a bad hair day.  (Insert raised eyebrows and a head tilt in my direction.)
ResponseYeah.  I could use a hair cut.
Comeback LaterI know!  It must be in the air. I'm relieved to see you're having one, too.

Jerk #3You're really putting on some weight around the middle there, aren't you?
Response:  Blank eyes.  Awkward smile.  Uncomfortable chuckle.  Exit.
Comeback LaterI'm just trying to catch up with you.

Jerk #4You should go back to college and make something of yourself.  Now that you're getting married, you'll need to support a family.
ResponseThanks.  Are you going to pay for it? 
Even though this happened years ago, I can still taste the bitterness that rolled off my tongue that day like the lingering heat from a smokey jalapeno.  Let me set the scene here... this comment was made to me at a wedding shower thrown for Allison and I in a room full of other people by someone I've never spoken to in my life.  Clearly, my mother confided in this person somewhere along the way her disappointment that I didn't complete my college education and this person saw this as ammunition.  I'm a huge advocate for furthering your education and regret some of the decisions I've made in that regard; however, a degree shouldn't define you nor should it be the sole factor of your identity.  I'm not one to discuss the financial hierarchy of one person to the next as I believe that money isn't a direct reflection of one's character or heart... but, that being said, I feel it's worth sharing I currently hold a management position at a salary level that competes with those that have degrees.  I've also seen the struggle of people who have degrees that cannot find a job or are forced to take a lower paying job because nothing else is available.  Bottom line -- it's never okay to question, judge or discuss someone else's financial situation unless they bring the topic to you.  It's also in poor taste to bring up sensitive topics in a room full of acquaintances.
Comeback LaterSomeone once said, and I think it's applicable here, you can pay for school but you can't buy class.
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Of course, I would never use those comebacks because I have manners... okay maybe I would use that last one but only because I enjoy well placed Jay Z references.  Overall, it's better to kill people with kindness.

Sadly manners are underrated these days.  As parents of the next generation, I encourage every mother and father to stress the importance of a simple Please and Thank You, the kind gesture of holding/opening a door for someone, the significance of treating others how you would like to be treated and to smile in passing because joy can be contagious.

I've told Madison one of the secrets in life is to have good manners... good teeth and good credit.  If everyone maintained those three, the world would be a better place.  If you had to choose three things to share, what would they be?  Would manners be one of them? 

I got 99 problems, but manners ain't one.


February 25, 2013

Once upon a time there was a Queen who found her throne to be incredibly difficult.  It seemed as though the throne disliked her for every time her Highness would initiate a royal flush, that throne began to overflow.

I've learned many lessons throughout the years when it concerns sharing a living space with a female.  For example, always use a coaster... tripping over high heels hurts much worse than stumbling over tennis shoes... looks can be deceiving, it's not always chapstick or shampoo... flat irons are really hot... bath sponges are better than a wash cloth... replacing the toilet paper roll will cause women to lose a limb or at least that's what I choose to believe since they never do it.

At least my wife and I agree on the direction of the toilet paper.  Over.  Not under.  It matters.

Since we're in the bathroom, another lesson I've learned... other than putting the seat down... is that nothing can clog a toilet worse than a female.  Or worse than my wife.  More often than not she manages to make it in and then out again without causing a full on crisis.  However, sometimes we're not that lucky. 

I'm not that lucky.

One occasion in particular comes to mind.  It was a Sunday, mid morning and we had just crawled out of bed and put the cinnamon rolls in the oven (a weekend tradition)... excited that Madison allowed us to sleep in we, both Allison and I, made our way into her room to lift her out of the crib.  After Madison made a point to kiss and hug every stuffed animal she could get her little hands on (she loves them and they deserve an official 'good morning' too), I changed her diaper while Allison ran to the bathroom.  The bathroom of choice wasn't the master bathroom in our bedroom, but the one closest in proximity which would be Madison's bathroom.

Madison's bathroom has an underwater theme, light green walls and glittery fish, which would prove to be more appropriate than we ever could have imagined.

After the diaper change, I was going downstairs to fix our coffee when I noticed the toilet in Madison's bathroom seemed to be running.  Allison confirmed this by saying... her toilet is running.  I walked in the bathroom to jiggle the handle, which is always troubleshooting method number one (this wasn't my first rodeo) and it seemed to work.  The toilet let out a loud sigh and settled down.

Downstairs I fixed our coffee and threw some glasses in the freezer so they would develop a nice frost for the milk that would join the party once the cinnamon rolls were out of the oven.  Back upstairs in Madison's room, I put the coffee cups down and handed Madison a fresh sippy cup of milk (she's impatient and could care less about developing a frost for hers).  Then I noticed the toilet sounded like it was running again. 

Allison confirmed with a worried look on her face... the toilet is running again.

I ran in the bathroom sliding across the sea of toilet water before crashing into the side of the tub nearly breaking the small toe on my left foot and the big toe on my right before coming to a complete stop.  It was overflowing.  It was everywhere.  It was gross.  I was pissed.  Literally.

Allison and Madison (and Benson) came running because of the commotion and for some reason everyone found the scene hilarious.  Everyone but me... and maybe Benson, but I'm almost positive I saw him smile.

It took an eternity filled second to process the severity of the issue before I turned the water off.  At that exact moment, we heard three beeps in succession signaling that time was up on the cinnamon rolls... downstairs.  Time was definitely up.

I cleaned myself off to handle the lighter of the situations downstairs while Allison cleaned up the mess she made all the while fighting off Madison (and Benson) in the doorway.

Downstairs I pulled the rolls out of the oven and began icing them (because you have to do it while they're hot) when I heard a dripping sound.  Immediately my heart jumped to my throat and I was nervous to turn around.  What is leaking?  Where is it coming from? What happened to a GOOD morning?

Slowly I turned to see a line of water falling from the ceiling.  The constant drip morphed into a full blown stream right before my eyes.  As luck would have it (although I didn't see this situation as lucky at all in the moment), the water was coming from a pot light located over our sink so at least the leak was contained.

The bathroom was cleaned, the toilet unclogged and the pot light was pulled to allow the water to drain.  We also borrowed an industrial strength fan to point at the ceiling in effort to dry out the area before reinstalling the pot light.

TMI Note
Sometimes you have to assess the situation you're in (get it? urine? gross!) and realize it could be much worse... after all it could have been quite a shitty situation... timing is everything.

I hope her Majesty's royal flush isn't genetic.  Someone save me if the little Princess inherits it.


February 18, 2013

A little over a decade ago in a town not too far away from where I'm writing this, a young boy saw a girl across the room and immediately felt his palms become sweaty and his pupils dilate.  There she was.  It was her.

It was the first day of school, tenth grade for him, the room was a high school cafeteria and the girl was plucked from his dreams.  Although he didn't exactly make this connection himself, it was there hidden in his subconscious waiting for just the right time to boil over into the spoken truth. 

She stood in line against the wall of windows, her glowing silhouette seemed to hypnotize him while he watched the sun play games with the red tones of her hair.  He was mesmerized.  Eventually she made her way through the line and disappeared into the sea of people eating rectangle-shaped slices of pizza and mystery meat leaving him to wonder when or if he would see her again.

He didn't have to worry for very long.  World History was his next class and once he picked his seat slinging his blue book sack from his shoulder onto the floor beside him, he looked up and there she was.  Sitting almost directly in front of him across the room yet again, her desk location almost mirrored his leaving him with the perfect opportunity to see her face in, what he thought, a discrete way. 

She was beautiful.  With long auburn hair framing her face and bangs cut just above her brown eyes, he found it intriguing the way she looked away quickly when she caught his glance then almost just as quickly looked back to catch it again.  He found himself staring at her lips when she talked noticing the slight pucker they made when pronouncing words that contained the letter P or the way they turned up in the corners when she answered a question she knew the answer to.

After many days of catching glances and sharing smiles, a mutual friend introduced them after class.  He gave her his number and she gave him hers, they agreed to call one another after school.  However, consumed by teenage hormones and insecurity, one afternoon he decided to test the waters and reached out to the friend they shared for any information this girl may have divulged in private regarding him. 

Shortly into the conversation, with a popular R&B album playing in the background, the suggestion was made to call her on three-way so he could hear for himself.  So he could hear it on the down low.

That devious misuse of late nineties technology was eye-opening in both what she said and what he heard.  Of course, later he confessed to being on the line to which she was embarrassed by at first then relieved as she processed the reality of having broken the ice without intentionally trying to.

They had it bad.  When you're on the phone, hang up and call right back... that's how you know.

Looking back, it must have been love at first sight.

Proms.  Graduations.  College.  PetsMarriage.  Car payments, a mortgage and a daughter... almost thirteen years later and they're still playing catch from across the room when the opportunity presents itself. They still hold hands when walking side by side.  He still makes a point to watch her mouth when she talks once in a while. 

They're still together.  We are still together and the rest, as they say, is history.


February 13, 2013

Inspiration is every where yet what we see often depends on what it is we're looking for.  However, on rare occasion, what we're looking for is blocked by what we're looking at... and that is when magic happens. 

The magic of truth.  The magic of clarity. 

Some may call it fate or luck or happen-stance while others will convince you it's all part of God's plan.  Regardless of the label given, everything happens for a reason. 

It's almost impossible to find more truth in any other statement.

This blog was started to necessitate a creative release that seemed to be missing from my life.  Ever since I was young, I wanted nothing more than to be a writer.  Novels.  Short stories.  Poems.  Every night when my head touched the pillow and my eye lids embraced, I would see an endless supply of letters that formed words and constructed sentences that filled pages.  It was my lullaby.  Or maybe it was my insomnia as I often found myself writing in the middle of the night under my covers by the glow of a flashlight. 

Somewhere along the way, I allowed life to become my distraction instead of my inspiration and got swept up in the current.   I lost that flashlight and found myself in a world of darkness.  I didn't write.  I didn't write anything.  For years, I've been at sea with the waves of the corporate world crashing around me in desperate search of a life raft.  Little did I know, she was by my side the whole time... all I needed to do was reach out.

If our daughter, Madison, can be defined as the heart of our home then my wife is the pulse that runs through it.  Allison has been there for me practically half my life; we've been together almost 13 years (married for nearly 5 of those) and to give her the cliche saying that she's my better half is an understatement.  She encouraged me to write again.  She encouraged me to start this blog to rediscover the freedom I found in the words I use. 

As she does every day since we've met, Allison breathed the life back into me.  She saved me.

Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of what this blog was intended for and blindly went in a direction that seemed to be more light-hearted and fun.  Or so I thought.  In reality, the path I took was insincere and ridiculous, misguided and passionless.  While sarcastic wit and dry humor are undoubtedly part of my personality, my writing voice they do not always accompany and they certainly do not account for the whole. 

I was trying to write what I imagined people wanted to read.  I was attempting to write the way I thought was entertaining.  I was wrong.  I realize now I was trying too hard.  I forced myself to post things that I wasn't proud of and when reading them back cringed in shame that someone may have actually read them.

I missed the days when the words came naturally and flowed from my mind to my fingertips like a waterfall crashing in a cloud of mist onto the paper.  I questioned myself with every post written... have I lost it?  Why isn't it as easy as it used to be?  Did I wait too long?  How do I get it back?

Then it happened.  That moment when what I was looking at overshadowed what I was looking for and the two became one.  Truth.  Clarity.  Allison and I watched a movie called The Words and I found the inspiration I'd been craving for months.  In a story of an aspiring novelist desperately searching for his voice, I realized I was doing the same.

It's not always how the words are combined, but more so what the words are saying.  Content.  Heart.  The words have to mean something.  This epiphany may seem like an obvious assessment, but to me it was the light I had been searching for... that flashlight under the covers responsible for lighting my youth.

Going forward, I intend to share only the things that matter the most to me.  After all, if I can't find myself in the words I'm writing how can I expect anyone else to?  I thought about deleting all previous posts, but decided against it as I consider them an integral part of this journey. 

A journey of a story made up entirely of my own words that, hopefully, will inspire someone else. 

In the end, if one knows what they're looking for then maybe they can allow themselves to see it.


February 11, 2013

In the words of Sam Cooke...

That's right.  I'm changing this blog.


I know.  I know.

To my three loyal readers (okay four if I'm counting Allison)... thank you for sticking around and stopping by on the regular.  Hopefully, the evolution that's happening here will be worth it in the end.  I'm going for a more natural, personal posting process instead of the surface filler-like posts that have become the mundane norm around these parts.

After all, writing is therapy so why not take advantage of the platform.

As Bobby Brown would say...


February 6, 2013

Since Valentine's Day is coming up, I figured I would put together a list of things that need to stop (that may or may not be related to the actual holiday).  Everyone else is talking about it so I'm going to take more of a non-traditional approach.  Sue me.  Or don't actually.  That's just an expression.

In case you missed the first of this series... whoop!  Here it is.

Candy Hearts
- They taste like chalk.  I'm not sure why everyone decides to pass these out every year because they're disgusting and the message given isn't "Be Mine" but more along the lines of "Chew on this Candy Dust" ...unless you get the Sweet Tarts version, then we're good.  Or you could go with Red Hots, no message needed as it's already implied.

Family Stick Figures
- I mentioned my distaste for car decor in Volume 1, but then someone brought up the stick figures that seem to be stuck on every mini van across the country and I can't believe I forgot to mention these!  I hate them.  I do.  I absolutely despise them, if I'm being honest.  Everyone gets it, you love your family and want the world (or at least everyone around town) to know... however, the world doesn't care that your husband carries a brief case to work or that your three kids all prefer different activities ranging from soccer to ballet to karate or that you have two dogs and a cat.  It's also worth mentioning that if someone is stalking your family, they now know the head count and the talents of each family member.  Haven't you seen Criminal Minds?  Remove the stickers pronto.  I'm talking to you Mom!  Just kidding, she knows better.

Declaring Your Love via Facebook Status
- Please.  I'm begging... this has to stop.  Why do people insist on posting a status update that says:  To the most beautiful person I've ever met who holds my heart in the palm of their hand and who has eyes as deep as the ocean and blah blah blah love blah blah blah vomit.  I don't get it.  If this person means so much to you shouldn't that connection warrant a face-to-face conversation and not some regurgitated Hallmark card all over my feeds?  Every time I read one, I think to myself or maybe out loud (sometimes it just comes out before I can get control) that the truth is the exact opposite of whatever the post says.  In other words, bull shit.  I love my wife and I tell her every day... to her face.  Chances are if you're using Facebook as a means to express your feelings regarding your personal relationships that you're going to have a new personal relationship in about a week... to clutter up my feeds all over again.  I know the simple thing to do is to just delete them, but I can't.  You can't stalk a private profile if you're not friends with the person.  Right?

Combining Names
- I know the saying "two become one" and how it relates to love and marriage, but I don't think it's referring to the merging of first names.  I could be wrong.  Although I don't think I am.  There's TomKat and Brangelina and Kimye and enough is enough.  I blame Jennifer Lopez.  Bennifer was unnecessary to begin with and now we're left to suffer the consequences.  What's worse is when a couple coins the name themselves in hopes it will catch on for their friends to call them that.  Brallison was given to us by someone else entirely.  For reals.

Happy Valentime's Day
- The word is Valentine with a 'N' not the letter 'M' so get it right... or pay the price.  The price being a million boxes of candy hearts, the chalky kind not the Sweet Tarts.

Feel free to add to this list!  What Valentine's Day traditions do you wish would stop?


February 5, 2013

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