“Back to Fat: Tales of the Fat Voice Inside Me. Vol 1” 

So here I am again, back to a time where I can accept the reality around me. As I stare into the mirror, it’s reflection mocking every slice of pizza I have consumed, I’ve realized it wasn’t the washing machine shrinking my clothes. Nor are tiny leprachauns sewing my pants smaller as a I sleep, dreaming of italian sausage and pepper subs. No I have entered a wonderland, the dark abyss of “fat land”, where the voice of my inner chubster reminds me that my man-boobs ( or moobs as I just learned) are still my closest enemies. A pile of adipose tissue makes up a high precentage of my molecular body mass, basically rendering me a package of bacon. Which is, coincidentally, a versatile ingredient that compliments many dishes in all sorts of cusine. So I guess I’m a large slice of bacon, with moobs, that just so happens to love food so much it consumes every ounce of my being.  What am I to do? This is when the battle in my head begins… 

“Maybe I’ll just try a diet cleanse and exercise until I drop dead from exhaustion and lack of calories. No, you’ve tried that and you just end up falling hard off the wagon and landing into a pile of donuts! Ok, how about low carb and allowing myself a cheat meal? Nope, wrong again! Last time cheat day turned into cheat week and you found yourself depressed and eating an entire chocolate bunt cake while watching Golden Girl reruns! I give up! Just give me a burger please and I can start my diet tomorrow!”

It’s a vicious cycle but this is what goes on in my head each time I notice my stomach covers the view of my toes. However, I’m at the crossroads and on each path is the defeat I´ve suffered from the “War on Food” I’ve waged.  The choice is, which one am I willing to travel back to and will it lead to failure? Well I’ve closed my eyes, finshed my chocolade glazed eclair, and let my food spirit guide me. Actually, more like guide me to the Asian buffet a mile down the road which, might I add, is a great deal during lunch hour. But I digress. Within the last few minutes I’ve already taken a food trip around the world so I’m sure you can see the problem. There is always some distraction or catastrophic event that sucker punches me right in the stomach and derails my journey. For example a few weeks back our basement flooded, AGAIN, for the third time! We had a huge storm role through and there was so much water our sump pumps couldn’t keep up so the basement became our new indoor pool. At one point I had went down stairs to check the outside drain and everything looked fine. After about 25 minutes I noticed our cat, the household detective, going up and down the basement stairs. Mind you, the last time water came into the basmenet he was the one who discovered it. So I firgured I would investigate his behavior. Low and behold, I stepped into inches of water and just froze. I started running around splashing the water between steps, trying to figure out how to stop the water from coming in. With each step the floors moved in a wave like motion and I could hear the “squish” sound each time my foot hit the ground.  Everywehere I turned water was rushing in through the seam between the floors and wall surrounding the basement. I don’t know why, but I kept running around the basement screaming for my wife and breathing heavily like a piece of cake was dangling in front of me. All we could do was wait for the rain to stop and by that time boxes from the storage closet were floating past as we stood wadding water. We eventually called the insurance company and they scheduled a clean up crew for the next day. After the nights festivities settled, I looked my wife in the eye and asked, “What should we eat for dinner?”.  Needless to say, my inner fat voice won and I ate my sorrows away… it was wonderful. 

This “War on Food” is really just a mind game that we engage with oursleves but somewhere along the lines we lose. If I can just trick my mind into the idea that eating healthier will benefit me in the long run, I would be golden. Unfortunately, my brain battles with what is best for me at that time and all self control goes out the window. On trips to the grocery store I will sit waiting in line and stare at the king sized reese cup and argue with myself why I should or shouldn’t have it. Then I usually buy it and try to devise a plan on how to hide it from my wife. In a recent similar episode, I stashed a king sized reese’s cup in my work bag and hung it on our dinning room chair, that we never use. I knew she wouldn’t see it becasue my bag is full of work stuff and why would she need to look in the bag. This is when the food gods didn’t smile in my favor, infact they basically left me to die. Out of all the days my wife just happened to walk by my work bag, it was this day. She caught a glimpse of the bright oragnge wrapper shinning bright from the bottom of the bag and looked at me as if I had just cheated on her. True I did cheat, just not on her, but on my diet. Now if you’re thinking of how horrible I am, then let me just tell you this… I enjoyed putting that king sized beauty in my cart and I don’t feel guilty hidding my secret chocolate escapades. I would do it again but maybe try it with not only one king sized reese but with two! 

Yes, I have a problem and I like to consider myself a work in progress when it comes to my chronic food obsession. I don’t think you’ll see me on the cover of “Men’s Fitness” or in a cover shoot for “GQ” but I do look pretty good in an apron, flexing my plump physique, while handeling a batch of pasta dough. This may not appeal to everyone but I wasn’ put on this earth to be the next David Beckham. I’m here to bring you stories of my life in hopes you might get a good laugh, at my expense. With that, I’ll see you next time I hear the fat voice inside me call.   

The Plight of the Flight 

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Welcome back fellow readers! It’s great to be back posting after a brief sabbatical, where I spent some time working on the “Who Stole My Cannoli?” book! It’s a labor of love that I can’t wait to share but has definitely taken up my free time! However my blog needs some attention as well, so here I am again picking you up for a ride on the crazy train that is my life! On a recent vacation, I found myself thinking about all my travels and wanted to share with you my outlook on the stigma that clouds (pun intended) the dreaded act of jet setting.

As I sat with my wife, enjoying the last few hours of vacation, I couldn’t seem to ignore this pit in my stomach. Yes, I know this feeling all too well and it rears its ugly head every time we get close to flying. When I was a kid we never flew, my parents always thought it cheaper to pack us in the family car and drive to our destination. Picture a mix of the Griswold’s and the Corleone’s driving cross country. One minute we are singing the disco hit “Ring My Bell” and the next, some pitiful soul cuts my dad off and half the Italian mob is involved in a car chase. But I digress. Flying was unfamiliar to me and it wasn’t until I was twenty four that I boarded my first flight. This is when I discovered where hell truly lied.

There’s always been a multitude of stereotypes when it comes to flying and unfortunately most are true. Take the arm rest thief for example. You know, the one who snatches prime “arm rest” real estate the minute you move. Or how about the person that insists on taking off their shoes, no matter the flight duration, and you have to endure periods of foot odor. Do they not smell themselves? Even better and what I like to call, the “attack of the sleeper!”, is my favorite.  This criminal robs you of your personal space by taking a power nap and using your shoulder as their pillow. Before you know it you’ve got a view of their mouth and the sweet sounds of heavy breathing in your ear. I think that’s when I would contemplate opening the emergency exit door and taking my chances. Needless to say, these travel offenders come with the territory but they are the least of my problems. In the time it takes for me to grab my suitcase to pack, my anxiety levels have sky rocketed through the roof! The idea that I’m putting my life into another persons hands is not comforting. In fact, for lack of a better word, it scares the crap out of me! However, I like to think I’ve come a long way since my first experience of taking to the skies. Rewind back to March 2009. I was prepping for my first trip abroad to Italy with my wife and I was nervous about boarding my first plane. I wasn’t fully prepared for what was to come but I had faced other obstacles in the past. What could be so different this time?

All I could feel was beads of sweat rolling down my back and the breezeway to board the plane felt more like a ten mile tunnel to my death. I was so dizzy and I couldn’t really figure out if this was reality or a dream. You know that feeling you get when you ‘ve had too many cocktails and everyone around you looks like a circus character? Yea, that just about pin points my state of sanity except I didn’t benefit from the buzz. As I got close to the airplane door I took a deep breath and walked through. My eyes suddenly bugged out like one of those cartoon animals and I stood frozen. This wasn’t an airplane, it was a freaking pod from the starship enterprise! All at once, flashbacks of airplanes from movies I had seen as a kid hit me and I felt deceived. I was expecting millions of rows of seats, friendly stewardesses handing out champagne, and comfy pillows. When I booked, the damn website said “Friendly Skies” and portrayed a oversized seat complete with a pillow! All I got was a rude stewardess who resembled rumpelstiltskin and yelled at me to keep it moving. To make matters worse, my seat belt needed to be “extended” to fit and still… no pillow! I was going into shock and needed some cake or a pie stat! That’s when I felt a hand on my shoulder and heard the calm voice of my wife telling me to relax. I closed my eyes and ignored everything around me. As I started to feel a wave of calmness my wife asked if I was stable enough to put our carry-on, which was stuck in my unwavering grip, into the overhead compartment. Feeling brave, I stood up and proceeded to complete her request but struggled at first to get the bag to fit. I was twisting and turning the bag in all directions so the compartment door would shut, all the while muttering curse words in-between disapproving grunts.  After what seemed like forever, I started to sweat and I could feel passengers staring at me. That’s when I looked over and saw rumpelstiltskin coming towards me with ample speed. Without hesitation I quickly grabbed my carry-on, threw it under my wife’s feet, and slammed my body back into my seat! Screw cake and pie, I wanted off this plane! I eventually tired myself out and dozed off to dreamland. About an hour later I was startled out of my Xanax induced sleep by an unfamiliar feeling, to which my wife described was turbulence. I immediately began thinking of our survival plan and realized if we were going to nose dive into the Atlantic we might survive since we were seated so far back. That’s when my wife, ever so eloquently, reminded me the gas tanks were probably beneath us and we would blow up first. My face went pale and with white knuckles I gripped the seat, said some Hail Marys, and asked the lord to forgive all those times I stole slices of pumpkin cheesecake from the refrigerator at work. It’s funny, I don’t remember much after that and perhaps thats for the best. As expected we made it to our destination safely, including my carry-on, and it was then I realized the extent of my overreaction.

Fortunately, I made it through my first flight and along the way discovered that not all aircrafts are pods from Star Trek and not all stewardesses are creepy fairytale characters. However, before each flight I make sure to have our evacuation plan in place and I refuse to ever take a carry-on bag that won’t fit under my seat. I will never subject myself to the madness of overhead compartments again. I still have my moments where fits of anxiety will arise but I’ve come to relish in the happiness travel has afforded me. Oh, and yes, I still will indulge in the occasional pumpkin cheesecake. What!? I’m not dead, yet.

Journey to the Center of Fat.

First things first! Let me start by stating my sincerest of apologies for my absence for the month of February. We had an eventful month that took much of my free time. Just picture me running (okay walking fast) down my street barefoot, with fat jiggling, yelling for help and breathing like a potbelly pig. As this was going on, my basement was flooding by the gallons and my love for winter slowly dissipated. Unfortunately, this story will have to wait till next week but now you know the main reason for my lack of posts. For now, let’s talk about fat. Well actually, let’s talk about the fact that one day the button from my pants might pop and knock an innocent bystander unconscious. I can just imagine myself taking a gigantic bite of baked ziti and just as I start to chew, a huge “pop” sends my button into mid air rotating furiously and taking out its target. Sadly, I don’t even think that would get me to put down the fork and head to the nearest gym. I don’t know if its my intense love for food that makes me eat like a famished hyena or the fact that I grew up in a home where every single event centered around eating. If you were sad, eat! If you were happy, eat! If someone died, eat! That was the mantra my family lived by and if you were a guest, you left gaining at least half your body weight in food. In all honesty, I think it’s our culture that plays such a big part in how we live our lives. I don’t mean to suggest that the growth of my “man-boobs” were caused by my “culture” making me eat those many, many pounds of pasta but the way I ate was a way of life and it took a while to notice the effects. So, in an effort to stop my ravenous ways I decided to loose weight in hopes of never having to purchase a man-bra, or as Kramer would say, a “Bro”.

It all began some time before my wedding. I had become determined to loose weight so I wasn’t mistaken for a beached whale in our wedding photos. Things started out good, I was following a low-carb regimen but eventually the little fat devil on my shoulder tried to sway me. I remember one evening, while grocery shopping, I passed a box of Ho Ho’s and immediately stopped. I think I sat there longing for the taste of moist chocolate cake filled with the sweet icing of the gods. The fat kid in me won and I dropped that box of goodness into my cart. However, my devious actions didn’t stop there. When I arrived home I quickly ran in the house and hid my special box of treats. I took a sigh of relief and relished in the fact that no one was going to find out my dirty, but delicious, secret. For days I would find myself hiding in rooms or waiting till my wife was at work to blissfully unwrap my reward! The task of successfully opening the pesky, noisy, wrapper became a sort of game. If it were an Olympic sport I would have been a gold metal recipient. But was it a reward? I hadn’t exercised or lost weight, so why did I feel the need to give myself a treat. I quickly made those blasphemous thoughts disappear with a nice glass of cold milk and another Ho Ho. As time went on I started hiding bigger meals. Big Mac’s, Chinese take-out, Philly-steak subs, and pounds of pasta. I was on a roll and truthfully started looking like one. I would tell my wife I was eating healthy salads for lunch but really I was engulfing a large soda, fries, and at worst 3 double cheeseburgers. I was a runaway meatball! You know, the kind that falls off your plate and it keeps rolling, damaging everything in its path with sauce. Food was my “precious” and pity any man, woman, or hobbit that tried to stop me. Some nights I would even lay awake dreaming of what my next meal was going to be but with so many options how could I choose! Was there enough time for me to eat it all?? Yea, that was me and it only took a moment of splitting my pants to realize it was time to silence my inner fatty. In an instant I watched my stomach grow to house an eighty pound food baby. It was then I realized it wasn’t about treating myself but the idea that I should because I could. Although it tasted good during the process, I was only hurting myself and it was time for a change.

I’m now on this journey to the center of healthy but it doesn’t come without its share of bumps, in the form of cheeseburgers, and ever so often I can hear my inner fatty chanting those dark words, “Ho, Ho’s.”

Saying Goodbye to a Decade.

It finally came, that dreaded time of the year where I’m reminded that I’m another year older and still have a list of “To Do’s” before my thirties. However, this wasn’t just any old birthday, it was my 30th birthday and all I could see were my twenties flashing before me. To make it a special occasion my wife planned a trip to Baltimore this past weekend. We decided to take in as much of the city life as possible and expected nothing but relaxation. What we didn’t expect was a night filled with partying that would make even the hardest of rock-stars cringe. OK, well maybe not to that extreme but eventful nonetheless.

We arrived at the hotel and proceeded to check-in with the receptionist. While pulling up our reservation she wished us a Happy 30th Anniversary. (My wife had noted in our reservation that I was celebrating my 30th birthday). I looked up confused correcting her that it was actually my 30th birthday. Without hesitation or logical thought she exclaimed “Oh so sorry, easy mistake.” What do you mean easy mistake, I thought. I would of had to get married in the womb for it to be my 30 year anniversary!! Did I look older than thirty or was she just reading on a third grade level? I couldn’t tell so I decided to let it go. We proceeded up to our room where there was a bottle of champagne waiting and a giant card that read, “Happy 30th Anniversary, congrats on your milestone!” and signed “From your dedicated hotel staff!” Milestone huh? Somewhere the birthday gods were having a laugh at my expense. Once over that hill, pun intended, we unpacked and made our way to the aquarium. It was fun to walk around watching the simple life of sea creatures and making fun of the parents with screaming kids. Very little amuses us but when we need a “pick-me up” we tend to people watch. We started to get hungry and stopped in at a local restaurant’s happy hour. We piled on the drinks and four dollar appetizers and just enjoyed each others company. When happy hour ended, we moved our party of two to a local dueling piano bar. Being a little intoxicated, we found the right building but entered the wrong bar and crashed a DJ party. My wife went straight up to the DJ’s table and asked where the piano bar was. He gave us directions and my wife, being the character she is, moon-walked out of the bar yelling at the DJ, “Nice beats dude but we got to split!” Yes, this actually happened and yes her moonwalk was perfection. We eventually found our destination and it was not what we expected. What we thought was a lounge type piano bar was more of a piano bar/dance party USA mix. Piano players would take requests from patrons and perform sing-along classics, like Bennie and the Jets, I Love Rock N’ Roll, and of course Piano Man. As they say, when in Rome do as the Romans and that’s exactly what we did. Drinks went down smooth, fast friends were made, and we owned the dance floor. It got around that I was celebrating my 30th and I was brought on the stage to shake my “groove thang” (as someone put it) to the Thong Song… and I boy did I shake it… all of it. At one point, I even thought it was a good idea to sing the Spice Girls smash hit “Wannabe” with one of the performers, something I can never take back. Needless to say we were back in our twenties and celebrating like college students. Eventually our night was winding down but before it could end I was brought back on stage to partake in a farewell performance. This is was done in the style of Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary” with my crew of new friends. I didn’t think my body could shimmy like that but I’m sure Ms.Turner would have been proud! Ending on such a high note we knew it was time to head back to our hotel. We finally made it back to our room and thought it would be a great idea to open a bottle of wine but my wife insisted she need to shower first. She turned on the water but we ended up in the sitting area of our room talking about our night. All the while not realizing the shower was still on. After about twenty minutes my wife made her way to the bathroom to find the entire floor flooded with water. The tub stopper was in the closed position and the water had overflowed! I ran in to see my wife on the floor laughing. In a drunken panic mode I spent the next couple hours sopping up water and having my wife squeeze out the towels while she sat in the tub. I even stumbled to the front desk asking for towels while wearing two different shoes and trying not to slur my words. Looking back I think, at this point, reliving the “younger” days had finally come to an abrupt end.

The morning seemed to come fast and I woke up to rays of sunshine that broke through the small opening in the curtain. For a second, I forgot where I was but then last nights festivities began to race through my mind. I quickly got up and ran to the bathroom, but not before checking on my fellow party animal, to see the status of our small flood. All looked okay, except for the pile of towels bunched in the corner and hanging in inconspicuous areas around the room. After all was said and done I have to say I learned something that night. We are all meant to age and maybe it’s because we need to be open to new opportunities and prepare for another phase of life. I dreaded my thirties but in hindsight I’m glad my twenties, and the Spice Girls, are in the past. I survived a night with a new generation of party people but next time I might not be so lucky.  

Hop on the Crazy Train!

Ciao, Hello, Hola, Bonjour, and Hallo! Hopefully I covered the biggies but I think you get the idea. Welcome aboard the crazy train or as I like to call it, the “Who Stole My Cannoli?” web page! Since you took the time to stop by I thought I would explain what your getting yourself into. Think of me as the conductor and your the passenger joining me on my journey through this crazy thing called life. I can guarantee it will be nothing of what you expect and there will be plenty of “bumps” along the way. From a boy growing up in an unconventional Italian home to the daily struggles of a simple man and his food, you will be entertained by the people I call family.  So grab a ticket, and a bowl of pasta, and take a ride with me on the one and only crazy train!