My favorite them kissing

    When I was 8 years old I wanted a gerbil. I am not sure exactly why I had my sights set on a gerbil. We had a hamster in my class, and everyone knows that gerbils are more prone to bite, but the fact remained, I wanted a gerbil. I ran it past my mom and dad, and when I say I “ran it past”, I mean I ran it over them, by them, around them, under them, on top of them. I would not drop it with this gerbil. Finally they caved. They told me that I could have a gerbil if I bought it and the cage with my own money. As an 8 year old, it was quite difficult to find I decent paying wage with good benefits that would fit into my school and nap schedule, so I hit the streets. I set up a lemonade stand.  $.25 a cup was the price, and business was pretty good overall, but there was a particular construction worker who stopped by on a couple of different occasions and bought a sleeve of cups and the entire pitcher of lemonade for $5 each time. With the obvious help from God and the universe, I had my gerbil and accomplished the goal.

    When I was a few years older, the target became Mike Tyson. I simply had to knock out Tyson in the Nintendo game “Mike Tyson’s Punchout”. There was no internet, and the cheat codes were unknown, so you had to do it the old fashioned way, but it was gonna get done. No doubt it. I played, and played, and played, and played, unwavering in my quest. The Glass Joe’s, Don Flamenco’s, Flashing Jewel guy, Von Kaiser, King Hippo, Bald Bull (both of em), Sandman, Popinski, all those guys one by one, each fight presented the opportunity for advancement or setback. I embraced each opportunity, and eventually I was able to make it through that most difficult round of Tyson uppercuts, where I could methodically dismantle him with my catlike speed and reflexes. All of  this while being fueled by my mother’s love and about 1,300 bagel bites which were always present in the room where I chased my Tyson dream. With a little luck, some help from God, and the perfection of the universe, the goal had been met.

    Going into my senior season of high school football, we had spent the previous two seasons getting the sh*t kicked out of us on almost a weekly basis.  As a sophomore, we produced a below average 5-5 season. My junior year we were even worse, with 4 wins and 6 losses. Hell, we were lucky to own that record. That was not going to be the case our senior year. I was certain of it. We had a group of young men who had been playing together since about 12 years old, and we made up our collective minds that the season belonged to us. There was no room for doubt. It had to be done. At one of our practices leading up to the start start of the season, Coach Netherland warned us, “there are reporters on the practice field. They are gonna wanna ask some of y’all some questions about the season. Stay humble, and don’t say anything stupid. Let them know that you have worked hard, and hope to win a few games this season. Understand?” Understood. I heard exactly what he said and I understood it perfectly. The only problem was that I was a seventeen year old kid who, with the help of God and the universe, had already made up his mind about the kind of season we were going to have. The reporter asked me how I thought we were going to perform that year after the abysmal 5-5 and 4-6 seasons. I responded, “we will be in Nashville.” The reporter  asked if I was referring to playing in the State Championship in Nashville. My response, “absolutely. That’s what I said.” To make matters worse, that sonofab*tch printed it. Coach Netherland was PISSED. I can hear him know, “gosh dammit Buddha, you turkeyass…..”. I loved that man, and he loved me in spite of all the dumbass things I said and did while playing for him. Actually, I think he loved me BECAUSE of all those dumbass things. Anyways, we made it to State where we would ultimately be defeated to end a 14-1 season. But the fact remained, the goal was set, and it would be accomplished with no room for doubt or second guesses.

    This leads me to the heart of this particular post. In about June of 2014, I stumbled into a 6am CrossFit class, and was watching the 5am class finishing up. As I watched one particular girl muscle through her workout with the strength of Sampson, but the grace of a figure skater, I knew that I had to have her. Just like all the aforementioned goals, it was clear that God and the Universe were willing to back me on this, and it was time to get to work. I would begin waking at 4am, only to drag my fatass to the 5am CF class just to get a peak at her. Her name was Amanda, and I was smitten. Never in my life had I seen a girl quite as attractive as she is. I did what any self respecting man does….i stalked her thoroughly on Facebook, and had a friend act as my spy, and gather intelligence. Bill Shea was my guy, and he was able to provide me with recon as to how to get started. True to form, my initial introductions were less than ideal. She originally heard my name while I was dropping F-Bombs and threatening to physically assault Laura Pinckley in a private FB thread. Amanda said that she thought I was a “potty mouth”…and she would be right. To make matters worse, during one of our intial workouts, I referred to our mutual friend Bill as “sweetheart” and Amanda thought I was talking to her. Anyone who is familiar with  Amanda knows that while she is in a competitive environment with a room full of weights, she ain’t nobody’s “sweetheart”. That was bad, but I would redeem myself the next class. Just after explaining that I was referring to Bill as “sweetheart”, I would refer to her as ANGELA on the way out the door. “Have a good day Angela” (goshdangitshcikferkduhcrappit). I can’t believe I just did that. Anyways, I was able to bounce back and eventually get the date. Since, the first evening that we spent together, we have been virtually inseparable, and my life will never be the same. We have since been married, and she is my life’s greatest goal. I am the luckiest guy on the planet, and few would argue this fact.

    A friend of mine once had me to read a book called “The Five Love Languages”. It was an interesting read with a lot of truth. It is clear that my language is “words” and is why I am writing this blog. Today is Amanda’s birthday.  Being that I know NOTHING of providing gifts, I want to provide my gift in terms of words and let her and you know exactly how I feel. When I first began seeing Amanda, I was unsure of what would come out of it, but I can tell you that it has been quite much more than I expected. I have never met anyone so attentive to the feelings of others. Amanda is quite introverted and does not speak as freely to just anyone, but her lack of words is quite powerful. She does not speak negatively about anyone. She gets her feelings hurt at just the thought of someone being left out, or feeling lonely. There have been so many things that I have learned just by watching Amanda that I would not even know where to begin. I will never forget the night that she approached me and asked if it would be possible to keep the kids over here on a more frequent and regular basis. She has loved Grayson and Andie Kate as her own, while maintaining a relationship with my ex-wife and their biological mother. She is a mature and educated woman, and does not waste any time looking for drama where there is none. I have watched her and Mindy expertly maneuver through co-parenting as if they were teaching a seminar on it. They keep an open communication and have a mutual respect for one another that is unprecedented.  If she sees a problem, she addresses it and moves on. She has an unmatched level of maturity, and a zeal for life that is unparalleled. If there is an opportunity to “experience” something, she will go to any lengths just to soak it in. She is a ball of energy and laughs more easily than ANYONE I have ever met. Sometimes I lay in bed and just listen to her laugh at her phone while watching videos of dogs on FB. She prefers animated Disney movies to anything else, because she is a child at heart. She gets giddy with excitement when it is time for Andie to decorate Valentine’s boxes for school, and she doesn’t miss an opportunity to enjoy getting dressed up. She makes it a point to participate and be present at all the childrens activities and NEVER misses out on an opportunity to act like a child (yes, she pouted when she did not get to sled in the snow). It makes no difference to Amanda if the activity is the Opera or a wrestling match, she is willing to give it a try, and is 100% at finding the pleasure. She has entered into the lives of the children and provided a calmness and stability that cannot be faked or bought. I have watched the playfulness and overall security of the kids rise dramatically ever since Amanda has come around. The anxiety and over cautiousness  in the children’s lives that was the result of my past behavior  is slowly beginning to fade as Amanda continues to symbolize security and demonstrate stability. It is such a gift to have someone who encourages you to chase, aggressively, whatever it is that makes you happy. I cannot wait for each morning to arrive after a good night’s rest. Just to look at her and know that I get another 24 hours of not knowing what the day will bring, but having full confidence that it will be fun and exciting is enough. I respect and admire her so much, that I welcome the problems in life as much as the gifts. There is a saying that “smooth seas don’t make good sailors”, and I welcome the opportunities that I get to earn Amanda’s respect by navigating the difficulties in life, while enjoying the calmness alike. Amanda, you have truly won my heart as well as the hearts of everyone you come into contact. You are a gift to me, the children and their mother, my mom, my dad, and my brother. You have entered our lives in such a non-evasive and undemanding way, that just your presence alone is enough to make us all appreciate you. You have not once asked me to change my ways to meet yours. You have not asked me to be more like this, or act more like that. You have accepted me for me, and even celebrated those things that make me who I am (which not everyone can understand). I am writing this simply because I want you to know how much you are admired and adored, simply by the way that you carry yourself. You impact the people who come into your life by your smile and demeanor. I thank you for encouraging spontaneity and applauding individuality. I look up to your non-judgmental ways and your knowledge that everyone is fighting a battle that we know nothing about. You allow others to live their life, and encourage them to try, fail, and try again. You love a good comeback and you champion the underdog. I wish you to enjoy just one day  on your birthday as you have made me to enjoy every one of mine. I look forward to a year full of doing dumb sh*t that makes little sense, but keeps us both smiling and happy. You have bewitched me body and soul, and i love you.

Peace, Love, and all things Beef related,