Six Months...

We’re winding down to the last couple of months of 2016. To tell you the truth…I couldn’t be more relieved to see a year end. It’s not the usual feeling that I have around this time of year because as I’ve moved through my 30s I have taken note of the passage of time a lot more than I did when I was a kid.

When you’re young you look at late October as something that is exciting because Halloween is coming up and the beginning of the holiday season is starting. You’re going to be getting some time out of school soon and there is going to be a lot of candy and presents and food and it’s just a great time of year.

As I’ve gotten older I still revel in the celebration of these last few weeks because I have had a family and that kind of hits the reset button on the holidays. You go trick or treating again because you have kids to take. Christmas becomes fun again because you get to be the maker of the Santa magic that you used to experience. But here in the last year of my 30s it has changed again. Mostly because my kids are too old for any of that and they don’t really care to spend a lot of time with dear old dad anyway.

But this year I’m not even looking at anything but New Year’s Eve. That is the day that 2016 will become just a bad memory.

2016 has been the hardest year that I have ever had to go through in my life. Of course the main thing that happened to me was the fact that my mom passed away back in April. Tomorrow, actually, marks exactly six months since she died. I guess that’s the main thing that happened that’s made me want to give 2016 the finger for the past half year. That whole experience mentally, emotionally, and physically drained me. And it drained me to a point that I have not yet recovered. I still have to make an effort to be the “happy go lucky” guy that most people think that I am. That’s always been an effort since I’m extremely introverted.

And I think that the draining of my system has really affected the way that I’ve dealt with some of the other things that I’ve dealt with since. I won’t go into a lot of details but there were a couple of people that showed me who they really were during the time that my mom was dying and I haven’t spoken with them in months. I may never speak to them again just because I know that I can never look at them the same way that I once did. My emotions are a lot closer to the surface than they used to be. Arguments with my children that I once didn’t have a problem with now make me have to leave the room before I break down into tears. A financial setback a few weeks ago caused me to have to get in my car and go for a drive so that my family didn’t see me scream like a crazy person. It’s just been really hard to see the hope in anything.

Of course, that’s not the only thing that’s happened. My wife lost an uncle to brain cancer and an aunt to lung cancer over the spring and summer as well. My dad had to have a quadruple bypass and Sherri’s cousin had open heart surgery a couple of weeks ago. Add on top of that some difficulties that we’ve had with a teenage son that thinks he owns everything that you’ve got a big old pot of crap soup.

I’m trying not to dwell on my problems, but this year has been relentless in the amount of hard pitches that it has thrown at us. It has been one thing after another after another for months after months. And I’ve done what I can to try and get my mind off of things. I’ve been focusing a lot of energy on podcasting, which is my hobby. I’ve even created another show that has seen a little bit of popularity. I’ve had plenty of work to do in my college courses, though I find it difficult to stay focused on that when I need to be.

I’m carrying a ton of guilt. And it’s all guilt that I know don’t need to be carrying but I don’t know how to shake it. I feel guilt for not forcing more of a relationship between my mom and my kids. My mom lived 300 miles away and there were times that we’d go months without seeing them. I know that the argument could be made that it’s the same 300 miles both ways and that she could have visited more. But now that she’s gone it just leaves me with the feeling that I could have gone down there more…especially after making the trip about six or seven times in the last few months of her life. I also feel guilt over the relationships that I’ve ended since the whole things started that I mentioned earlier. It’s not what she would have wanted which is why I tried to make it work in the beginning. But it was just filling me with anger so I had to cut the tie. I’m so afraid of how disappointed she would be…

I went to the cemetery a week or so ago. My wife had bought an arrangement of fall flowers for Mom’s grave and I drove over there to swap out the summer flowers that were faded from the sun. I stood there and talked for couple of minutes. I apologized to her for writing off the people that I did because I know it’s not what she would have wanted. I told her that I missed her a lot. And I started to think about what she would say if she were here. What she would tell me to help me through this year that has been so trying for me and my family.

She would say “It is what it is.”

Yeah, Mom…you’re right.

I’m not the first person who’s ever lost a parent. We all lose our parents unless we go before them. I’m not the first guy to have financial problems. I’m not the first person who’s ever had to let go of a relationship in order to not descend into pure hatred. I’m 39 years old. Hopefully I have a lot of life left and this year is not going to define me.

That doesn’t make this weekend a whole lot easier. But it does help me to see the hope in my future.

And I know that this post will raise a few questions from some people. Some will ask “Who’s he talking about?”. I won’t go into that. But, rest assured, if you saw the link to this on Facebook or Twitter then it isn’t you.

Think Before You Pink!

It happens every October.

This time of year we start to see the leaves change their color, pumpkin spice takes over every snack that we love, and deserted store fronts suddenly reopen to sell us fake blood and rubber masks. But another thing that starts to happen is that the pink ribbons start to pop up everywhere.

At first they start to crawl across your computer or phone screen as you scroll through social media. Then you see the key chains and the magnets when you’re in the checkout at Wal-Mart. Then stores start to ask you if you’d like to donate to this or that.

It’s breast cancer awareness month.

I noticed it this morning when I was checking my email at work. Our HR director sent out a memo to tell us that there would be a banner in front of our break room through the end of the month. She said we were welcome to write the names of any women in our lives that had breast cancer and had either survived it or died from it.

Breast cancer is something that has probably touched all of our lives at some time or another. Its awful presence has been felt in every family in some form. My mother-in-law dealt with it last year. She just had a scan and is still cancer free.

But there are a couple of things that really irritate me about “breast cancer awareness month”. The first is the fact that such a huge spotlight is put on this one version of cancer that, in my mind, kind of trivializes all the people that suffered from other forms of the disease. My mother passed away back in April from ovarian cancer. September is “ovarian cancer awareness month”. Did you know that? Most people didn’t because there isn’t as much promotion. Does the fact that she didn’t die of breast cancer mean that I can’t honor her memory by writing her name on that banner?

My wife’s uncle died of brain cancer over the summer. Do you know when “brain cancer awareness month” is? It’s May. Her aunt passed away from lung cancer a few months ago. Do you know when “lung cancer awareness month” is? It’s November.

But we all know that October is the month that we wear pink. Everyone from NASCAR to the NFL will be sporting that color. And do you know why? Because all of us have had a mother…a wife…an aunt…a grandmother who has suffered with the disease and many of them have died. So when someone says that you should wear pink to support the memory of that woman that meant so much to you then you feel like you should do it.

But what you don’t realize is the other thing that irritates me. Breast cancer has been commercialized to make money. And it isn’t the people that you think are making money that I’m talking about. Let me walk you through this. You go to the store and buy a few groceries. You’re standing in line and you look over and see a key chain shaped like a pink ribbon. You know that a pink ribbon means breast cancer so you automatically think that they’re selling pink ribbon merchandise to raise money for breast cancer research so you fork over a couple of bucks and buy one to honor your aunt Betsy that died 10 years ago.

What you don’t know is that the ribbon you just bought has nothing to do with cancer research. It’s just a key chain that some manufacturer made to sell this month to make some extra money off of the fact that everyone has pink on the brain right now. So, to honor your Aunt Betsy…you just gave a few dollars to some company that made a key chain. That’s it. Not one cent of your money went to cancer research.

And some of the stuff that you buy will have something written on it that says that a percentage of the proceeds go to raising breast cancer awareness. What does that even mean? Who isn’t aware of breast cancer? Why do we need to raise money to make people aware of it? What the money should be going to is research to find treatments or even a cure for the disease.

I’m not trying to tell you not to donate any money to breast cancer charities. I think you should. And if breast cancer has touched your life then it may be more important to you than some of the others. So, by all means, wear your pink ribbon earrings, run in a 5K, and do anything you can to help the cause. But, before you spend money on merchandise just because it has a pink ribbon on it, ask yourself these questions.

1. Does any money from this purchase go to breast cancer programs?

Make sure that at least a portion of what they are making is going to research and not just awareness. And Etsy is the worst. Please don’t buy any pink ribbon merchandise from Etsy. Most of those people are only making things to earn a profit and even if they tell you that they’re donating a portion to a charity you have no way of knowing if it actually happens.

2. What organization actually gets the money?

Is it Susan G. Komen? They are a wonderful charity when it comes to awareness and getting women screened and all of that…but absolutely none of their money goes to research for a cure. So all of those t-shirts that say “Race For A Cure” and has Susan G. Komen on them are misleading.

3. Is there a cap on the donations that the company donates in a year and have they already reached it?

If they’ve already reached some self-imposed cap then your money is just going into someone’s pocket.

Please don’t think that I’m some curmudgeon that’s hating on breast cancer because I’m not. I just don’t like that there are so many thousands of people that die of cancer every year that don’t seem to get the same focus. And I think that focus has ulterior motives behind it that exploits women that are fighting for their lives. How many times have we given money to someone thinking that we’re donating to a charity in honor of someone that we loved and actually just helped to line someone’s pocket?

If you don’t do anything else, please just Google which cancer is supposed to be focused on in a given month and make a small donation toward that research. It could go a long way.

Spare The Rod...

Growing up in central Alabama I have been no stranger to a “whooping” every now and again.

There were times when I was out with my family at a movie or at the grocery store that I “acted up”. That’s a southern term for misbehaving not to be confused with “acting a fool” which is a whole lot worse. If the “acting up” occurred in a public place it would usually mean a lick. If the offense happened in a restaurant where people were trying to enjoy a meal it might have meant two or three licks. If I was brash enough to “act up” during church then the punishment was usually at least five licks and it was probable that I was going to get them in the parking lot.

My dad had a big, thick leather belt that hung on the inside of his closet door. Now, he had a whole lot of belts. Many of them were dress belts meant to be worn with a suit on Sunday morning. Some of them were way out of style and he hadn’t worn them in years but they still hung there. But that one belt that he wore most of the time was the one that was referred to as “The Belt”.

If I had “acted up” then chances were that once I got home my dad would look at me and say “Go get The Belt.”

There were times that I tried to be a little sneaky and I went to get one of his more flimsy belts that was made of some kind of cloth. That didn’t do anything but add another lick to my sentence. But once my dad had his belt in his hand he would hold my arm and we’d do the dance. The dance was where I ran in a circle while he spun in one place and wore my little tail out.

The only thing that was worse than getting a “whooping” with The Belt was getting “switched”. This was usually done by my grandmother. She had a big bush in her yard that was known as the “Switch Tree”. If I “acted up” at her house then she would go over to the bush and pull off a switch. A switch is basically a branch. They’re usually about a foot long and very thin and flexible. And while a “whooping” was usually aimed at your butt…a “switching” was aimed at your legs, especially if you were wearing shorts which I usually was.

And, of course, in school we would get a “paddling”. That was when you “acted up” at school and the teacher would take you out into the hall, make you bend over and touch your toes, and then hit you on the behind with a flat piece of board about eight inches wide. Usually there was an echo in the empty corridor and most of the school would hear when somebody got one. One teacher in particular had the shop teacher make him a special paddle with holes drilled in it to cut down on air resistance. He stuck a cork in one of the holes and made game out of seeing if he could hit a student’s backside hard enough to pop the cork out.

Are you horrified yet? Take it easy. This wasn’t abuse. I’ve heard stories of abuse and that’s not what we experienced. No one was hitting us with their fists. No one was making me take off my shirt and whipping me on my back with anything. I wasn’t burned with cigarettes.

This is the way our parents were raised. It was what they believed and it was a belief that they passed down to me. I was raised with the belief that if you “spare the rod you spoil the child”. When I grew up and had children of my own I did it as well. When one of my kids “acted up” they would get a swat on the behind or if it was bad enough I would use “The Belt”.

And I regret it.

I regret every “whooping” my kids because now that one of them is eighteen and the other is fifteen I realize that none of it was necessary. None of it made my kids behave more. None of it changed the way they acted. As a matter of fact, I’m pretty sure that if I hadn’t done it then I would have been a much better parent.

I’m saying all of this today because I read a story where Pat Robertson of the 700 Club made a comment about “sparing the rod” in which he said that kids that aren’t religious need to be taken to the woodshed. It got me thinking about that old saying.

First of all, being raised in a church environment I was told that it was in the Bible. It’s not. Nowhere in the Bible does it say “spare the rod and spoil the child”. The closest that it comes is in Proverbs where it says something along the lines of "Those who spare the rod, hate their children, but the one who loves their child disciplines them diligently." Then I thought about the passage from Psalms that says “Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me”.

I’m something of an internet guru so I did a little Google search and I’ve come to this decision. Those passages have nothing to do with “whooping” your kids. The staff that a shepherd used to use had a hook on it to grab a sheep and pull it away from danger. The rod was used to corral the sheep where they needed to be. It wasn’t a tool used to beat sheep.

In other words, we’re supposed to discipline our children…not hit them. All those years growing up that I was taught that suddenly seem so fruitless. And all those times that I took a belt and struck my children instead of finding another way to discipline them have me feeling remorseful.

I’m mourning the absence of my parenting skills. I’m wishing that I could have done better by my kids. I love them with all of my heart and I see now that I could have been a much better dad. I could have used my brain to come up with better ways to cope with their misbehaving and actually taught them something. Instead, I took an easy route and used a belt or a switch. It was lazy parenting and caused nothing but hurt feeling and fear.

So, yeah, if I had it all to do over again I wouldn’t do it. And I truly regret every time that it happened.

Happy 50th Anniversary To Star Trek

To say that I’m a Star Trek fan is a bit of an understatement.

When a person is growing up there are a lot of things in their environment that leave an imprint on them. People, voices, smells, and sounds leave their fingerprint on your brain as they surround you in your formative years. Decades later you might catch a whiff of banana bread baking in an oven and have a synapse fire off deep in your brain that carries you back to your grandmother’s kitchen when you were six. You might see a picture of a statue that your family visited when you were twelve and suddenly remember that vacation with perfect clarity.

One of the things that has been a part of my life from my earliest memories was Star Trek.

Even before I called myself a fan I remember seeing the images of a man with pointed ears come across my TV. I remember the sounds of the computer beeps and boops and the phasers when the Enterprise was firing on an enemy. I never sat down and watched the whole thing but whatever adult was watching might stop me now and again to watch an especially interesting special effect.

When I was a pre-teen I started to spend a lot of time by myself. My dad was a firefighter. My mom was a nurse. Both of them had jobs that kept them away from home a lot. And at night they’d be so tired that it was not uncommon for me to be up after they’d already gone to sleep. And there was this show that started to come on every night called Star Trek: The Next Generation. By this point I had seen episodes of the original and had even gone on a binge at my local video store to watch the four movies that had been made up to that point. So, naturally, I thought that this was a show about the children of those characters.

Of course it wasn’t. And I can’t really say that I fell in love with the show on the first viewing. It had a lot of things that I liked. The ship was cool. They had a robot…a term for Commander Data that I would soon grow to hate and correct you if you said it. And I thought Q was the coolest things ever.

So, I started watching the show on a pretty regular basis. I won’t say that I saw it every single night, but more often than not it was what I was watching between 9:00 and 10:00 pm. By the time season 3 came around I was hooked.

By the time I’d become a sophomore in high school I had been baptized in the church of Star Trek. I watched the show every single night. I wasn’t reading anything but Star Trek novels. I wore a TNG t-shirt a couple of times a week. I wrote stories about the characters that often got turned in as creative writing assignments. I was a full on Trekker (not a Trekkie…that was condescending).

If you’ve read my blog before then you know that I had a difficult time in high school. I was picked on a lot. I wasn’t really accepted by my peers mostly because I was overweight. Of course the Star Trek novel I had my nose in at lunch didn’t help things. But by this point the show was much more than just something that entertained me. These characters were my friends. Their stories were important to me.

Star Trek has been there during some of the darkest times of my life. When my parents got divorced, those characters comforted me through it. When I had been picked on relentlessly at school, I felt better by watching the show. I had a crappy signal and most of the time it was one that I’d seen before, but it still made me feel better.

And the show grew and lasted well into my adulthood. I began watching reruns of The Original Series. And over time the entire franchise became important to me. I used to sit up late at night rocking my daughter when she couldn’t sleep while an episode of Deep Space Nine or Voyager would flicker on my TV screen.

For several years they were gone. I’d catch a rerun on TV every now and then, but the comfort I took in knowing that I could watch the show every night dissipated over time. But now, they’re on Netflix. All of them. Every episode of all five series as well as the first 10 movies are all there for me, any time that I need them.

Today is September 8, 2016. On September 8, 1966 the first episode aired on American television. It was very different from what we have now. The captain was different as was most of the crew. Spock was there, though he looked and acted a little different. But it was the beginning of something that would become huge. And if TNG was my first real friend…then “The Cage” was its grandfather. So that makes it important to me as well.

That show lasted three years and went away. It later came back in a second phase with several movies. Its third phase was the spinoffs which lasted about thirteen years in their own right. And now we’re in the middle of the fourth phase with the new films that JJ Abrams has put out and the birth of a new series that we’ll be getting in January. If you’ve been a Star Trek fan for life, this is a good time to be around. It’s like being an adult and being allowed to play in the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese again.

My love for the show has led me to create a podcast all about the fandom. Through this show I’ve met a lot of people who love Star Trek as much if not even more than I do. I’ve been able to share my story as well as listen to the stories of other people who feel that Star Trek has been a very large part of who they are. I hope that show continues for a long time.

So, happy anniversary to Star Trek. But the show is not the one celebrating. We are celebrating. We are the ones that get to have this in our lives. We are the ones that have learned about the hope that could be in our future…a future where we don’t look at each other as colors or religions, or sexual preferences. We’ll be looking at each other as equals and joining hands to boldly go where no one has gone before.

If Our Marriage Were A Person

As I got ready for bed last night I looked at you and made a joke.

“Tomorrow our marriage will be old enough to drive.”

I said it to be funny, but it made me think. What would our marriage be like if it were a person?

Our marriage would definitely be a girl. I say that because it is strong…sometimes stubborn…but has a lot of moments of sweetness. She would have long dark hair. Women with dark hair are hardworking. They don’t back down when things get tough. They’re the ones that roll up their sleeves.

Her eyes would be as blue as the sky on a crisp and cool autumn day. The paleness of her eyes would seem to be able to look through you, into your soul. She would be able to see who you are and you would not be able to hide anything from her. This is because of the openness of our marriage. We don’t hide who we are from each other.

She would be emotional. When times were bad she would wear her heart on her sleeve. She would fly at you like a hawk if she felt threatened by you. If you hurt her she would sulk for days. But she would also be the most loyal person that you’d ever met. She would never walk away from you when you needed her. Even in those moments that you didn’t even know that you needed her.

She would be a funny girl. She would like to have fun and she would tease you all of the time. But when things were difficult she would be the first one to wrap her arms around you and tell you that it was going to be okay.

At sixteen years old, she would seem much older. She would have knowledge of things way beyond her years. The time that she has been alive has been wonderful. She didn’t know much during that magical time that she was a baby. But over the years she has learned so much. But she knows that she’s not an expert. She knows that there is still so much of her life left and so many things left for her to learn.

Most of all, she would still be very young. Even though so many things have happened to her and she’s learned so much she would only be sixteen. She’s still a child.

This year was very difficult for her. People that she loved have died. Other people that she depended on have let her down. She has had her heart broken in more than one way and wounds are still raw. But at no time during the pain did she feel weak. Her heartbeat is stronger now than it has been in her entire life.

If our marriage were a person she’d be one dynamite young lady!

Happy Anniversary, Baby. I love you.

The Social Purge

Over the past few years I’ve noticed something about myself. My ideas about the world around me are changing. Things that I used to have a problem with no longer upset me. And things that I was once accustomed to is really starting to bother me. I don’t know if it’s something that comes with age, but ideologically speaking…I’m a different person than I was twenty years ago. Actually, I think I’ve changed a lot just in the last ten years or so. I’ll give a few examples.

When I was a kid growing up here in the south I was taught that homosexuality was a sin and that anyone that is homosexual is going to Hell. I no longer think that way. I now think that homosexuals are regular people who have a lifestyle that is a little different than mine. I believe that their choice of mate should have nothing to do with their rights and that loving someone is not a reason to go to Hell.

I was raised in an area that was pretty thick with racism. The hatred was mostly directed toward black people, but racists are usually equal opportunity haters. People of another ethnicity were usually regarded as being lesser citizens, which I find funny as I look back now because most of the people that thought that way were not very well off themselves. I have to say that I heard the “n” word daily for a long time…and no, I didn’t grow up in the 60s. This was the 80s.

I live in a part of the country that is thick with the belief that all of our laws should be written based on what the scriptures they believe in say. People say that this country was founded on those beliefs and that it is the standard that our entire country should abide by. As I’ve matured I now realize just how much of a melting pot America really is. I see that there are people of all kinds of nationalities and beliefs and that forcing them to live their lives according to the morals of one group of people is insane!

This country was not founded by a bunch of people that wanted freedom to worship the way that they wanted. This country was founded by a bunch of people that wanted the freedom to choose how to live their lives without their government forcing their beliefs on them.

Does that sound familiar? But that’s a different discussion.

I’m talking today about my social purge. Over the last few years I’ve read things on Facebook that have made me cringe. Things written by people that I’ve known for years. Things written by members of my family. Homophobic or racial comments that I would not dare say in a public place, much less in a public forum. Whenever my local news channels post about sensitive issues such as Black Lives Matter or gay marriage, I’m embarrassed by the comments that my fellow Alabamians write below the stories. This state, and especially this city, has a long history of hatred that was rightfully earned…but it’s one that a lot of us would like to see some redemption from. Unfortunately, there are those out there that still hold on to some of those beliefs and won’t let it go.

Over the past couple of years I’ve tried to make a few waves going in the opposite direction. I’ve tried to post things that go along with my newer mindset in the hopes that people could just get a glimpse of the other side of the argument. I’ll post a short status update supporting a gay couple who is being denied their marriage license. I’ll give support to a trans gender teenager that doesn’t want to be forced to use the boys’ room for fear of violence. I’ll make fun of Trump.

I love to make fun of Trump…but I love to make fun of Hillary as well.

But, when I make those waves they usually crash against a brick wall. I’ll get comments that quote a lot of scripture as if Bible verses are the ending to any argument…usually written by someone that isn’t really understanding the argument to begin with.

I don’t want to cause strife. I don’t want to be the cause of anger. I don’t want to tick off family members before Thanksgiving.

So, I’m making a conscious decision. I’m not doing it anymore.

I’m not making political posts anymore. I’m not making any more posts about racism. I’m not going to talk about social issues…at least not on Facebook.

I’ll still make posts about bullying, since that is a topic near my heart. And some of those posts may have to do with some of those other topics. But I’m not spouting my position on those topics on social network sites anymore.

I have a blog. I will get all of that out here on this site and I’ll share the link on Facebook. If anyone wants to know what I think then I’ll tell them.

My Facebook page is going to be used for promoting my websites, plugging my podcasts, posting funny pics and memes, and staying in touch with family and friends. Everything else will fall here.

My Facebook page is going to become a much more positive place. Hopefully, it will be a place that you can come to when you want to forget about the stuff that other people are posting.

It's okay to not like things...

Right now the world is a very serious place. There is a lot of violence happening all over the place. The past few months has seen hatred spewing from both sides of every issue. And then last week the internet proved that there are people sitting primed and ready to pounce on any issue.

ANY issue.

Last week Nintendo introduced a new app called Pokémon Go. It’s an augmented reality game based on the popular franchise from the 90s. If I just lost you then give me a second to explain two things…what Pokémon is and what augmented reality is.

In the 90s there was a cartoon series along with a bunch of video games called Pokémon. The basic premise was that there are tiny monsters all over the world called Pokémon. They all have unique powers and live in different habitats. On the show there were kids that would catch the little creatures and use them in tournaments against one another. The video games, toys, card games, and board games worked on the same idea.

As far as augmented reality…the way the game works is that you walk around in real life using a virtual map on your phone. When you find a Pokémon then you will see it with your phone’s camera in real life. The creature might be on the ground in front of you or it might be sitting on someone’s head. You have to catch the creature.

If you don’t know what an app is then I suggest you stop reading this blog and join the 21st century.

I have not played the game. Pokémon was not something that I got into when I was a kid. As a matter of fact, they didn’t even rear their little heads until my senior year of high school. So, when I heard about this game the only response it got out of me was an appreciation for Nintendo’s ability to draw from deep within their nostalgic well.

But it did get a response out of millennials because those are the people that really loved the whole craze back in the day. It’s also been really popular with kids who aren’t old to remember when everything in the store had a Pikachu on it.

But my blog today is not about the game itself. It’s about haters.

Immediately after the game came out people across the internet went to their phones and their keyboards to talk about how stupid it was. They talked about what a complete waste of time it was to go out and walk around looking for Pokémon. There was a game store near my house that had a Pokémon catching event and someone took pictures of the kids walking up and down the sidewalk looking at their phones so that they could post it to social media and make fun of them.

You’re making fun of kids for liking a game. Are you kidding me? And it’s not even a game that requires them to sit in a dark room and stare at a TV for hours. They’re going outside. They’re exercising. They’re talking to other kids…and you’re sitting on your butt in your car taking pictures of them to make fun of them.

Why can’t we just let people like things? Not everyone is going to enjoy playing a Pokémon game. So what? If you don’t like it then don’t play it.

This is something that I’ve dealt with all of my life. I was into Star Trek in high school. I got made fun of a lot because I read Star Trek novels at school and I had Star Trek T-shirts. But the same kids that made fun of me would read Sports Illustrated and wear their favorite team’s jersey. What makes the thing that you like more acceptable than the thing that I like? The only difference is that you’re being a jerk about it and proclaiming that my thing is dumb.

I can’t tell you how upset that I get when I mention that I’m looking forward to “fill in the blank” and someone in the group loudly says “Gah! Fill in the blank is so stupid!”.

No, it’s not stupid. I actually really like “fill in the blank”. You don’t have to like it but you can keep your opinions to yourself.

And the argument that you’re making about why Pokémon Go should be banned is not valid. I know that someone was robbed because they wondered into a trap. I know that car accidents have happened because people were trying to play the game while they were driving. I know that kids have wondered into the street while staring at their phones. The game isn’t to blame for that. That is behavior that has been going on for years thanks to texting, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Kik, and a thousand other apps. People that need something to spew their hate vomit on are focusing on the game. IT’S NOT THE GAME!

There are stupid people in every group. That doesn’t make the group stupid.

So, instead of making fun of these kids for liking something that you don’t like…why don’t you shut up and let them play their game?

There is a great little diddy that sums it up that I’m going to post below but I’ll warn you that it has a curse word in it before you click on it.

Thanks. Now go do the thing that you like that I’m not making fun of.

Wake up call!

Anyone that has read this blog or the blogs that I had before know a little bit about my struggles with my weight. I’ve delved into it in depth before in writing and on my podcast, Shrinking Shawn. I’ve been at a hiatus for a while now as I haven’t been able to get a good running start back into weight loss so far this year. I’ve been stagnate for all of 2016. I’ve lost a little weight but it hasn’t been very much.

My battles with my weight have very much mirrored my father. He didn’t grow up overweight like I did, but he put it on as an adult. He’s lost a significant amount of weight and put it back on several times in my lifetime, just as I have. I’ve seen him try every diet that you can think of. He was a vegetarian for a while. He did the Atkins diet. He rode a bike. He golfed. He took daily hikes.

He was a fireman for most of my childhood. He was forced to retire from the fire department about 15 years ago because he had developed COPD and an enlarged heart. A week ago we got the call that he was going to the ER. The doctor said that he had a heart attack.

It turned out that he had not actually had a heart attack, but he was very close to one. They did some tests and found that he had several arterial blockages. The artery that is known as “The Widowmaker” had a 98% blockage. He was months…maybe weeks…from a fatal event.

You know that my wife and I have had a very difficult year so far. I lost my mother to cancer back in April. Sherri lost and uncle and an aunt to cancer within the last two months. Her mother has also undergone breast cancer surgery in the last year. It’s been a lot to deal with. So, hearing this was difficult to swallow.

My dad and I haven’t always been on the best of terms. Things are good now, but they haven’t always been. But even in the times that they weren’t, I still care about the guy. No one wants to see their dad get sick and go into the hospital. You especially don’t want to see him have to have open heart surgery.

But that’s what happened yesterday. He had a quadruple bypass. We saw him last night right after it was over. He was still asleep but he was breathing well and his heart rate was normal. We went home with peace that he would be alright.

And I went home with resolve. I stood in the hospital and images of my mother lying in that hospice bed ran through my mind. I heard her voice in my head and that horrible afternoon that I watched her die replayed in my head.

Then I saw something else. I saw myself.

I saw where the road that I was on was heading.

My birthday was this past Monday. I shared a picture from last year’s birthday where my mom had made me cupcakes when I went to visit her. Another thing that she had given me was running clothes. Running clothes that don’t fit right now but I know that she gave them to me because she had been proud of the changes that I was making at the time.

I swear, Mom…I’ll get back to that.

Everyone continue to pray for my dad. He has a long road of recovery ahead of him.

A Few Thoughts On Tolerance

I’ve really been biting my tongue lately. There have been so many stories that have circulated in the last week or so that have done nothing but spawn hate speech toward one group or another. So, instead of going on a rage-induced rant on Facebook or getting into a Twitter war with someone, I decided that I would calmly lay out some things that I believe here in my little corner of the internet.

A couple of weeks ago there was a mass shooting in Orlando, FL. I’m sure you’ve all read the story so I won’t detail it. But, essentially, a man gunned down a whole lot of people in a night club and about 50 of them died. It is one of the most horrible shootings in US history…though all shootings are horrible. There has been speculation that it may be considered a terrorist attack since the shooter identified as being affiliated with ISIS.

The thing that has really gotten to me is that this club was a “gay club”, meaning that most of the people that hung out there were homosexuals. As I read through the posts on Facebook after it happened I noticed something a couple of times that really made my heart sink. There were actually Americans online that were trying to say that the victims had it coming. They were saying that they lived a life of sin and that this was God’s way of punishing them.

I felt sick.

I was raised in central Alabama. The town that I grew up in was very small. When I say that it was very small I mean that you should think of Mayberry and make it smaller. Mayberry, at least, had a diner and movie theater. We had a video store, a small grocery store, and a library. Oh, and churches. There were lots of churches. You couldn’t throw a rock without hitting a church.

My family was pretty religious so I grew up being taught very conservative points of view. It wasn’t until I grew up and started to actually interact with the world that I realized I had been taught a very “my way or the highway” point of view. Just to give you idea of what I mean…the vast majority of Christian churches in this part of the country look at homosexuality as being a huge sin. They think that it is an abomination and that God has been known to destroy entire cities of people to get rid of it. Some of them go so far as to claim that God has sent diseases to us to destroy the gay population. So, I grew up hearing all of this stuff. I lived a large part of my life believing that if a person was gay that there was something wrong with them. We believed that we should love the person but hate the sin, which translated to mean that if you knew a gay person you were supposed to make sure that you didn’t approve of their lifestyle and try to make them see that what they’re doing is evil.

Looking back on that now, I can’t believe that I ever felt that way. There are so many things wrong with that way of thinking.

First of all, the same bible that they are drawing these conclusions from says that God sees all sin as equal. So, even if homosexuality were a sin, it wouldn’t be any worse than gluttony. So, when you see some extremely overweight person yelling in your face about how homosexuality is an abomination…they’re being a hypocrite.

When the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could get married I was never more embarrassed to be from the state that I’m from. Because every time I turned on the news or I logged onto a news site I would see some lawmaker or judge making waves by standing in the way of implementing the ruling. And guess where they were usually from. You guessed it…Alabama. Roy Moore has been a blight on this state for 20 years. His need to be a martyr for his beliefs has turned him into a joke.
I don’t want to come across as bashing the church. I don’t feel that way at all. I consider myself to be a Christian and I still live by the things that I was taught as a child. But now, as an adult, I find that I can’t just blindly believe in something just because someone tells me to. There are just too many things that don’t make sense.

The argument of whether or not homosexuality is a sin is not one that I’m willing to take on. Mainly because I can’t point my finger at someone and claim that they are sinning when I have a problem with gluttony and anger that can be seen as sins as well. If I had to pick a side I’d say that no, I don’t think you’re sinning just because you love someone. God is love and he wants us to be happy.

That being said, we have to stop this idea that the laws of our land have to fall in line with our religious beliefs. That is just not the case. Just because you believe God says something is wrong does not necessarily mean that it should be against the law or that it should have tons of restrictions placed upon it. The argument comes up so often that the United States is here because our founding fathers wanted to escape religious persecution and that they built the country on their religious beliefs. I’m in disagreement with that. The founding fathers left England because they didn’t want a king telling them what they could and couldn’t do. So they built a country that is now trying to do the same thing to another group of people by telling them who they can and can’t marry.

Anyway, I’m not sure that this came across as coherent as I had originally planned. I hope that it did and I hope that it didn’t offend anyone. It’s just the way that I’ve grown to feel over time I don’t blame my parents for teaching me what they did. They taught what they’d been taught. I just hope that my more tolerant views rub off on my kids and carry them forward into a world with less hatred than what we have now.

Oh, and if I see anyone on my friends list saying that the victims in Orlando deserved what they got…we won’t be friends anymore.

Magic City Con 2016--In The Books

The plan for this blog is to post a variety of topics. I have a couple of podcasts that tackle different subjects and I have a couple of other things that I have feeling about. So far since I started posting here I’ve talked a bit about my food addiction recovery and a little about bullying. But there will also be movie reviews and general musings of life. Today, I thought it would be a good idea to stick to the site’s title about the geek that my kids have as a dad.

This weekend I went to Magic City Con. I’m sure that even if you’ve never been to a con that you’ve at least heard about them and know what they are. But, if by chance you don’t, I’ll try to explain it. Although, I do believe that to truly understand and appreciate a con you have to experience one.

Of course, “con” is short for convention and it is generally used to compare to Comic Con, which is the biggest one there is…at least as far as I know. Comic Con was originally created to be a comic book convention where people would simply go to a meeting hall at a hotel somewhere and trade comic books, buy some toys, talk about their favorite storylines…that sort of thing. That was back in the days when it wasn’t cool to be a nerd. Now we live in a time when every other big movie that comes out of Hollywood is a comic book property. So, cons have slowly become more than just comic books. They are now a haven for all genres of fiction. Sci-fi, fantasy, anime, video games…all of that stuff in represented at conventions. Comic Con is the biggest because Hollywood studios like to premiere trailers to big films there. And they have panels with the cast of huge movies and TV shows.

Birmingham is not known for its cons. Over the years there have been a couple of small ones that have tried to sprout up but they usually drown because of the ones in larger cities like Atlanta that aren’t far away. A couple of years ago we had the Alabama Phoenix Festival. It was here for two years but for some reason it didn’t happen the third. That’s where United Fandoms came in and filled the gap with Magic City Con.

Last year it was good. It was the first time that I had been to a convention since the Star Trek gathering that I attended in 1993. And one of the senior planner was a friend of mine for way back and she asked me to conduct a Doctor Who panel. I did. Only four people came but I still had a good time doing it. This year she asked me to step up and do a little more since I’ve launched a podcast in the year since the first one. I did and this year was a really great experience.

One thing that made it great was one of my podcasting co-hosts was able to come to town and take part in it as well. If you listen to the show then you’ve heard Rick Tetrault quite a bit. He’s also the host of several shows on the Simply Syndicated podcast network. He hosted the very first podcast that I ever downloaded back in 2009. So getting to meet him in person was great and getting to know him over the weekend was a lot of fun.

Officially, I did three panels which Rick was involved in as well. We co-hosted a panel with a couple of other guys on Friday night. The subject was “On Moffat: A Blessing And Curse For Doctor Who”. I recorded that panel and I’m going to release it as an episode of the podcast in a week or two. On Saturday morning we hosted a game of sci-fi/fantasy Jeopardy which was a lot of fun. We gave away some prizes and met a lot of really nice people. Finally, on Sunday morning we did a presentation on the basics of podcasting. That one was co-hosted by the guys from the Rocket Punch podcast.

In addition to that, we got to meet Joe Crowe who is another podcaster here in the Birmingham area. He invited me to join him on Friday night for his Awesome Superhero Movie panel that was a blast in spite of some technical difficulties. And Rick and I served as judges for his Sci-Fighters bracket game where Star Trek characters were pitted against Star Wars characters in a fight to the death. That one was a lot more involved than you’d think it would be and I think we could have done it all afternoon.

There are a few things that I took away from the weekend. First, the cosplay was on point. These guys and girls had on some phenomenal costumes that you could tell took a lot of time and money to prepare.


The management of the con did a great job of getting everything covered especially since this was only the second year it has existed and the first time that it has been at the Wynfrey Hotel.

On Friday night and Saturday morning my wife and my daughter joined me. It’s not exactly their thing but they indulged me. And I think that they had fun in spite of themselves. My daughter, Gracie, even dressed up on Saturday.

The best part of the whole thing was the fact that I was able to relax and have conversations about things that most of the people in my daily life wouldn’t care to talk about. Where else can you sit and have an adult conversation about who would win in a fight between an Ewok and a Tribble. Hint: it was the Ewok but we had to roll a die to decide it.

So, I’m on board for Magic City Con any time in the future. Jamie Phelps and Rita Houston did a fantastic job. If you need anything from me to help make next year even better, just let me know and I’ll do what I can. I’d love to see this thing grow into something that will put Birmingham on the convention map.

Meeting Ricky Dillon...Whoever That Is

When you have kids you start to hear a lot of names that you probably wouldn’t hear otherwise. What I mean by that is that you get exposure to celebrities that a lot of people your age have never heard of. I’m pretty well versed in popular culture. I know who Jay-Z is. I’ve heard the latest Justin Bieber, and I can name all the guys from One Direction…Harry, Niall, Louis, and Liam (Zayn left last year).

But we now live in an age where the word “celebrity” encompasses a lot more than it used to. I’m used to it referring to actors and actresses on TV and in film. It also referred to musicians and famous athletes. But now a “celebrity” can be a politician, a news anchor, or the woman that plays Flo on the Progressive commercials.

YouTube has created a lot of celebrities. People that used to be regular Joes picked up their phone and made a couple of videos and now are international celebrities. There are a few “YouTubers” that I watch. But there are tons of them out there that are teenagers or young adults making videos to entertain kids. As a parent I have to squash a few of them when they make it into my house because of the kinds of things they talk about, but most of them are innocent.

I tease my daughter for watching a lot of these things. Mainly because she likes to watch videos of guys with hair that stands straight up in front like a wave. They’re usually really thin and look like a stiff wind would blow them away.

If you know me well then you know that I’m not one that has a problem with anyone’s sexuality and I believe that everyone should be allowed to live their life the way they choose. After all, we only get to do this one time. But when I see that most of the boys in the videos that my daughter watches sound like little girls when they talk, I feel the need to tease her that I don’t think she has a shot with them. It’s all in good fun. No hatred or malice is intended.

Well, last week she comes to me and tells me that Ricky Dillon wrote a book and that he’s having a book signing in Birmingham. She wanted to know if I would please…please…PLEASE take her to get a wristband and then take her back the next day to meet him. I groaned because it’s not exactly my cup of tea. But, I knew that this week was going to be kind of rough for my family. We buried my mother on Tuesday afternoon. I thought that this might be a welcome distraction. So, Tuesday morning we drove down to the bookstore and purchased the book.

If you don’t know who Ricky Dillon is…I can’t help you a whole lot. I know that he has a YouTube channel, he’s a singer with a few music videos, and he has something like three million Twitter followers. Yesterday afternoon my wife and I took my daughter back to the store to attend the book signing.

I worked at Books-A-Million when I was younger and I had to help with book signings. We used to have celebrities like Charlton Heston, Kareem Abdul-Jabar, and Dan Quayle come in to meet fans. They usually had a table set up in the back of the store. This was different. They had a stage set up outside the store in the courtyard of the mall. Another stage had a live band. And when we arrived I realized that not only was I the only dad standing in line, I was surrounded by a billion teenage girls.

I continued teasing my daughter by telling her that she needed to let Ricky know how much she loved him and asking her if she needed me to run to the jewelry store to pick out a ring. She’s a good sport and laughed because she knows her dad is playful and that none of it is out of spite.

But inside I was groaning. This was not what I wanted to be doing with my evening. I’d worked all day and wanted nothing more than to be sitting on my couch watching Netflix. I tried to enjoy the atmosphere, but I was stuck in an issue of Tiger Beat Magazine. Even the live band was a “chick” band.

When we got closer to the front I stepped out of line so that I could try to get a picture of the big moment. As I stood there a girl of about fifteen screamed out to Ricky Dillon…

Girl: “I love you, Ricky!”
Ricky: “I love you, too.”
Girl: “I’m two years clean because of you!”

What? Did I hear that right?

Gracie finally got her turn to meet him. He hugged her and complimented her outfit. She gave him an envelope of drawings that she’d made for him and they had their picture taken together. When she came off of the stage she was in tears. She was so happy. I was glad that she was able to have a happy memory to go along with the bad ones from this week.

On the way out to the car I told my daughter what the girl had said and asked her what she meant. She said that the girl meant that she used to be a cutter. If you don’t know what a “cutter” is, it means that they have an anxiety issue in which they literally cut themselves as self punishment to help relieve their stress. Kids have been doing it more and more the last few years. It’s terrible and causes a lot of physical and mental scars and can even lead to death.

That’s when I realized how big of a jerk I am.

I grew up in an environment that was full of racism and bigotry of all kinds. If you were different then you were not accepted. I myself was not accepted most of the time, which is why my feelings lean toward being more tolerant now. But I realized in that moment that even though I don’t have a problem with someone’s lifestyle, I was still discounting how important these people were to my kids. Just because to me Ricky Dillon is a boy that makes some silly videos on YouTube…he’s obviously much more than that to other people. To my daughter he was important enough that meeting him drove her to tears. To another girl he was important enough to inspire her not to hurt herself anymore.

So, from now on, as long as they’re not talking about something explicit, my kids can like what they like without criticism from dear old dad. I have no way of knowing if one of those celebrities they like is actually helping them in ways that I can’t, I don’t want to unwittingly take that away from them by making a flippant comment.

And, I need to work on slowing down myself. I almost missed a beautiful moment last night because of how much I wanted to veg out in front of Netflix.

The New Age of Fat Shaming

Let me ask you something. Would you walk up to a person that you don’t know and comment on the way they look? Would you criticize the way they dress or the way they fixed their hair that day? Would you go a step further and tell them that they are unattractive or that they have an ugly face?

We’re doing that every single day. Every time we go on Facebook or Twitter and see one of those memes that has a picture of someone that looks like a hot mess and we share it. Every time we click like on a post that’s making fun of the big girl at the gym or the extremely overweight guy running around the track. It’s called fat shaming or body shaming. But for some reason we think its okay as long as we aren’t saying it to that person.

Many of us know the pain of hearing off-hand remarks about our weight. Many times they are not meant to hurt, but how could they not. I know what it’s like to have a boss jokingly refer to you as the “fat guy” in the office. I felt the pain of having a grandfather pat your belly and say that it looks like I’m putting on a few pounds. I’ve fallen off my diet and had coworkers comment on every crumb of food that goes in my mouth as if it’s the funniest thing they’ve seen. They do this for a lot of reasons. First of all, they don’t really understand how much it hurts. Second of all, it makes them feel better about the areas of their life that aren’t quite up to snuff.

It hurts. But you don’t say anything about it because you don’t want to be seen as a sensitive guy that can’t take a joke. But inside you feel like that 9 year old kid that just had someone call you fat or you found a comment about your weight written on a scrap piece of paper being passed around the class or written on the chalkboard.

But as much as that hurts, at least these things are being said to your face. What if you were cruising through Facebook one day and you came across a picture of yourself that was posted by someone you didn’t know. What if the picture was a meme that had something like “Fit to Flab” written on it?  I’m seeing this kind of thing all the time. I see memes of overweight people riding a scooter through Wal-Mart like it’s something for them to be ashamed of. I see videos of some big guy at the gym trying to work out and not realized he’s being filmed on someone’s phone for the world to laugh at.

In the beginning I actually laughed at a couple of these. Now I’m ashamed to admit that. There’s nothing funny about that. I’m living a life of obesity and food addiction. I’ve gotten to a point in my life where I just didn’t want to face another minute of living in my body. I’ve felt the pain of having people judge you based on what they could see on the outside. What’s funny about it?

Look at that guy over there…trying to run his fat a** around that track! Isn’t that hilarious?
That guy is trying to get his life back. What is hilarious about that?

Look at that cow on the scooter! She’s so fat she can’t even walk around the store!
Or she may have a condition that affects her mobility which has led to depression and then weight gain.

What I’m trying to say is that judging people based on what you see is wrong. But then I suppose everyone bothering to read this far into this blog already knows that. I don’t think a lot of people realize just how much damage it actually does. Imagine the thing that you hate about yourself the most and then imagine people making jokes about it.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to see a meme of you.

Wentworth Miller is an actor. He stared on Prison Break back in the day. Currently he stars as Captain Cold on CW’s The Flash. After Prison Break was cancelled he went into a sort of retirement. Today I learned something new about him on a post he put out a few days ago on social media.

In 2010, at the lowest point in my adult life, I was looking everywhere for relief/comfort/distraction. And I turned to food. It could have been anything. Drugs. Alcohol. Sex. But eating became the one thing I could look forward to. Count on to get me through. There were stretches when the highlight of my week was a favorite meal and a new episode of TOP CHEF. Sometimes that was enough. Had to be.

In the day and age of watching celebrities like Charlie Sheen have meltdowns that involve drugs and alcohol, it’s very rare to see someone actually talk about food as if it were something that you can have a real addiction to.

But Miller fell victim to fat shaming after he put on some weight and a paparazzi got a picture of him. It turned into a meme online that has been spread across the web.

In 2010, fighting for my mental health, it was the last thing I needed.
Long story short, I survived.
So do those pictures.
I'm glad.
Now, when I see that image of me in my red t-shirt, a rare smile on my face, I am reminded of my struggle. My endurance and my perseverance in the face of all kinds of demons. Some within. Some without.
Like a dandelion up through the pavement, I persist.

So, now I have someone new to look up to.  I haven’t always been a fan of his acting, but I am now a true fan of his spirit and of his courage. Fat shaming exists. It is a thing and it will continue to be a thing no matter what words I put on this blog. My hope is that one person sees this and realizes just how unfunny and hurtful those memes really are.
And I will leave you with more words from Wentworth Miller…

With everything in life, I get to assign meaning. And the meaning I assign to this/my image is Strength. Healing. Forgiveness.

Of myself and others.

Broken Chairs and Broken Hearts

I’ve been struggling a lot with the food addiction posts, mainly because my weight loss went on a hiatus for a while. If you didn’t already know, my mother passed away back in April. She suffered from cancer for a couple of years. But before she died I went to Florida where she was staying in a hospice. My wife and I basically lived there for over two weeks to help with her care and just be there with her until the end. That was a very stressful time for me. I ate a lot. We practically lived out of a vending machine for the most part and survived off of fast food the rest of the time. I can’t tell you how many times I had a double-decker oatmeal cream pie for breakfast.

Through circumstances that I have no control over, it was decided that my mother’s funeral should wait a few weeks after her passing. She was cremated, so some of the family didn’t feel that there was a hurry to have a service. This has made my stress level a little higher for the past month or so. I don’t have a lot of experience in losing someone close to me. But I realize now why people have a funeral so quickly after death. It’s because we have a need to get the event behind us. We need to be able to move on, which is something that I haven’t been able to do. We will be having the memorial service a week from today.

A week or so after I came home, I went back on my food plan. I haven’t said this before, but I am trying to be sugar abstinent. I’ve come to a realization that a lot of my health issues are stemming from an addiction to sugar. This doesn’t mean that I’m addicted to eating candy bars and honey buns. This means that I eat way too much processed food. I eat too much bread, rice, potatoes, and the like. So, the plan is to cut that stuff out as much as possible and rely on protein more. Your body can not hold protein which means that it has to burn it. Foods that are high in carbohydrates turn to sugar in your stomach as you digest them.

Since going back on plan I’ve already lost over 10 pounds. My energy level has gone up and my blood pressure is a lot closer to normal than it was. My pants are looser and I was even able to put on a pair of shorts yesterday that hadn’t fit in a long time.

Yesterday being Memorial Day, we planned on spending the day with some of my wife’s family on the lake. We did some swimming and went for a ride on the pontoon boat. We were having a great time. Then we all started to sit down for lunch. I made a plate, just a pork chop and a breadless hot dog, and sat down to eat. It doesn’t take me long to eat so by the time I was done my wife had made her plate and was looking for a seat. I got up and let her have my chair and I went to get one of the plastic patio chairs. I put it next to my wife and sat in it.

The chair exploded.

When I say that it exploded I mean that the legs broke. And I don’t mean they cracked a little. I mean that I was lying on my back and the legs went in every direction. I pulled myself up as quickly as I could. I assured everyone that I was alright. I sat somewhere else as everyone seemed to keep asking if I was okay when all I wanted to do was jump in the lake and sink to the bottom. People kept saying that the chair was old and the sun made it brittle and all of that. But in my mind I was being laughed at. I was thanking the heavens that I was wearing sunglasses and they couldn’t see my eyes. I was mortified. Of course I wasn’t going to eat another bite in front of them.

I tried to let it go. We were there for several more hours and the family had a good time. Then we went home and I had to deal with my van. It has a broken window switch and I had to cover the window in plastic in case it rained today while I was at work. I got mad at the stupid thing and the thought of driving around like that.

I finished up and went home. I went toward my bedroom to get a shower and get ready for bed. I passed my kids’ room and saw that it was a complete wreck.

This time I exploded.

All my frustration from a broken chair, a broken window switch, my weight, my mom’s funeral just washed over me and unleashed like a flame thrower on my kids. They got mad at me, of course, which made it worse. Now I was feeling disrespected and the flames got hotter.

Then I went to my room, took a few breaths, let out a few sobs, and apologized to everyone.

I struggled a while to decide whether or not to share this story. It’s not a side of myself that I’m proud of. My temper has cost me some good memories with my family over the years. But I usually stand my ground no matter what. Last night was the first time in a while that I admitted that I messed up. I looked at myself in the mirror and said, “What the h*** is wrong with you, man?”

My kids mean a lot to me and I don’t like to see them unhappy. And knowing that I caused some of their unhappiness eats me up. Especially since I know it’s not the first time. I wouldn’t blame them for holding it against me, though I hope they don’t.

I’m not going to be ending this with some “moral of the story” or a life lesson learned. It’s just a story about something that happened. It’s another way that my food addiction has hurt me and others around me.

When I mention food addiction I get eye rolls. I get chuckles and smirks. I know that people don’t think that it’s as serious as being addicted to things like alcohol or drugs. But you’ll never convince me that it’s not. Just because my addiction doesn’t affect my motor skills or my mental capacity doesn’t mean it can’t devastate a life. It can still leave you feeling like nothing.

Why You Should Get A Flu Shot

This article originally appeared in last week's issue of The Leeds Tribune. I'm posting it here so it can be shared with people ou...