Celiac Awareness – think before you roll your eyes

Since today is celiac awareness day, I thought I would enlighten people on what it means to be gluten free.  It’s really annoying.  Why?

  1. People roll their eyes and sigh heavily when you order gluten free.  “Oh god, here we go again” is my favorite comment I hear muttered behind my back.  Adding the loud sigh meant to be overheard is icing on the cake.
  2. They assume you’re being a pain in the ass or that you’re entitled to better food than other people.
  3. They assume you’re too sensitive, or have to have things your own way.  I’ve heard “When Harry Met Sally” muttered behind me several times.
  4. Know it all’s who believe they’re losing so much weight and becoming so much healthier because they’re on the gluten free diet.  My favorite part is when they tell me about a disease I have and how they’re giving up gluten is so much harder because they don’t have to, but they choose to.
  5. It’s become a shaming tactic and a joke in movies.

I think the last part is the thing that bugs me the most.  Do you have ANY idea what I would give to have a sausage, egg, and cheese on an everything bagel?  Do you know when the last time I had a decent piece of NY pizza?  Do you have ANY idea what it takes for a carb junkie like me to give up all of this crap?  Think about a guy who used to eat a sleeve of Chips Ahoy or Double Stuff Oreos.  They do have GF alternatives, but they aren’t even close.

So why do it?  Why eat gluten free?  Well, I don’t like throwing up very much, because that’s usually what happens when I eat more than a few crumbs.  Oh yeah, the stomach cramps are fun.  Daggers stabbing you from the inside – dude, try it, it’s so much fun.  And I forgot the best part!!! If all of that wasn’t enough, the hours in the bathroom?  Yeah, I’ll stop there.

Do me a favor.  I know there are ‘those’ people out there who think that they are being so healthy, or trendy, or just think they’re better than everyone else.  I don’t mind them or even bother worrying, you know why?  When my daughter was diagnosed in 2007, there were little to no alternatives for her.  Everything was made with cornmeal and tasted like dirt.  Now, because of the trendiness of the thing, everything is labeled, we can go to restaurants, we can be included.

So before you make fun, or roll your eyes, or do anything to shame someone for having to order differently – think of what it was like for my 8 year old to go out to dinner and have to eat partially cold mac and cheese, or soggy chicken fingers that we had to bring while everyone else at the table was eating fresh, hot food.

Mid life crisis

So typical midlife crisis would normally involve a shiny sports car, an affair, or chucking it all and moving to another country.


I just retooled a big computer I used a few years ago for development and with some SERIOUS help from a good friend, I now have the beginnings of a Windows Server that i’m going to turn into my own personal Media/Project server.

I’ve been bummed lately that I haven’t been able to write code or do much that fuels my creative spark, so I’m going to ramp out this box so it runs Sharepoint and SQL Database stuff.  Yeah, expect some seriously geeky posts from me coming out soon.

I like my job, I really do.  I just want to do some of the stuff I worked on most recently in development like business intelligence and reporting in general.

Lets see what happens.  So far, I have Windows installed and it’s running 100 updates.  Lets see how many more it has once I get the database stuff installed:)

Dear Aidan

Dear Aidan,

I’m sitting in the Rutgers bookstore while you’re across campus, taking placement exams for your fall semester here.  I have so many opposing feelings right now, it’s making me dizzy.  The strongest feeling is that everything is changing and the dichotomy of excitement and worry is staggering.  18 years ago, I was staring at a newborn with a strong expression of “Holy Shit, what now?” on my face.  Today, I hope that we’ve done somewhat of a good job getting you to where you need to be.  Mom & I are not perfect and we made mistakes along the way, but I have to say I think you turned out pretty damn good.

I worry that you’ll have the same problems I did, but I remember, you’re not me.  I worry that you’re so young to be doing all of this, but I remember, you’re a man now, capable of making your own decisions.  I both love and hate that statement because it makes me realize that I need to let you find yourself, find your own path, seek out the things that inspire you and make you happy.

I sometimes forget that you’re not me, and over protect, badger, and generally drive you crazy with all of the “Do this” and “Don’t do that” that I worry that you’ll just turn me off.  I’m terrified and proud in equal measure, the terror and anxiety outweighing anything else until I really had an epiphany about the whole situation.

You’re ready.

This is your life, your future.  From elementary school, you’ve always known that you want to be an engineer.  I didn’t have a clue, and even when I did, I didn’t have a plan.  You know so much more about yourself than I ever did, and you do have a plan.

I can help, I can advise, but I can’t do it for you.  I want to do all of it for you, but then it’s not you, it’s me.  Taking myself out of the equation from one of the directors of the play to an advisory role is a difficult and necessary step.  I’ll always worry about you, second guess things, think of how I would have handled it.  That’s never going to change.

You’ll always be my baby boy.  I cherish the moment I caught you in the hospital, but it is time for me to let you figure things out for yourself.  Let you discover how you’re going to change the world and make it a better place.

I love you Aidan, I wish you luck, love, and hope that you will use this time to discover the man I know you can be.


First class

Today was the first day of teaching at the health club so I was pretty excited.  Until I looked at the weather report.  Ugh.  It started snowing around 3:30pm and started sleeting around 5pm.

So what perfect weather to get started! :)  The office closed at 4:15pm, so the people who were coming from work stopped by to tell me they couldn’t stay – I didn’t blame them at all, I would have split too.  So I crossed my fingers and got my stuff together and headed over.  Rich, one of the guys I work with in my dept was still there and went over to the club as well.  Cool, one student! :)

So I got there and hung out with Rich until about 5 minutes to 6 and two people walked in to take the class.  Cool!  I have to say, I forgot how much I really enjoy teaching.  Got some good feedback and responses in class, plus a good feeling that all three people will be back next week and a bunch of people from work next time.

All in all, I’m feeling really good right now, especially after some crappy days leading up to today.  Really looking forward to next week!

Somebody’s gotta pay

So here we are, Sonny boy is ready to take the plunge and make a decision when the rest of his letters come in.

How are we going to pay for everything?  I’m looking for advice on loans, grants, student loans, etc that will prepare me for the battle that is about to begin.  How did you do it, and if you could go back and do something different, what would it be?  Besides save more :)

Do I have to?

That was me at 8am this morning coming up with reasons not to go to my jujitsu class this morning.  Don’t get me wrong, I love the class.  Great people, Sensei is amazing, it’s outside in the elements.  All around a great way to spend a sunday morning.

I got in last night from Gillian’s tournament at 11:30, had to do some work on the CampCeliac website and some other stuff for work, so I didn’t go to sleep until close to 12:30.  I knew I would be upset with myself if I didn’t go, but I was tired, had a sinus headache, and came up with every single excuse not to.

Did it anyway.  Sunday morning class is my time.  It’s how I get my rah rah’s out – excess energy, anxiety and stress, etc – so that I can face the week.  I am sore, tired, and a bit foggy in the brain, but it was worth it.  Had a great class today, learned(relearned) two of the second set of sword kata, did some cho-bo and hanbo staff work.  Learned some kodachi techniques and had fun rolling around in the snow.  I’ve been gone for a while so I’m having to relearn some of it, but it’s a good refresher, and thankfully I’m getting back into the swing a lot faster than I had thought I would be able to.

And I felt really good after the class was over.  We typically meditate for a few minutes before and after class and that was the most relaxed I’ve been all week – kneeling in the snow, wet from my ass to shoulders, feeling real contentment fold over me like a warm blanket.  The sense of accomplishment I knew I’d feel after class was even better today, mostly because I pushed past all of the excuses to get back in bed and waste the day.

Don’t always roll your eyes when people order gluten free

Lately I see more rolling of eyes or sighs from other tables when I ask questions about how food is prepared and what’s being put into my food.  There are always going to be people who dramatise just about everything simply because they want attention or because they are so absolutely particular that everything has to be a specific way.

Me, I’m just trying not to puke.  My daughter and I both have Celiac Disease and you have no idea what a luxury it is to be able to finally be able to go out to dinner.  For a long time we always had to bring prepared food for her.  Think about how left out you feel when everyone else is ordering off the menu and you’re eating a grilled cheese sandwich that’s not super hot anymore while everyone else is having huge bowls of pasta or chinese food.

One of the things we found out the hard way in 2007 when Gillian was diagnosed, was that celiac disease was a difficult thing to deal with.  Going out to dinner was impossible and even making dinner so that it didn’t taste like cardboard was a struggle. It’s not easy to manage, and it’s a lot more expensive than people think.

I’m grateful in a way that going gluten free has become this trendy thing, because now labels have allergens listed in the ingredients and a lot of packaging has GF right on the front of the box.  I’ve had people try to talk to me about how they know everything about it and how it’s such a great weight loss system, etc.

So let me give you a few tidbits to take away with you so you know what the deal is.

  1. First and foremost, Celiac Disease is not an allergy, it’s an auto-immunity.  So yeah, CAN I have gluten?  Sure.  Will it cause my body to fight against itself?  You betcha.  Trust me, you do not want this.  There are people who test negative for celiac disease,  but are gluten intolerant or gluten sensitive.  And no, they’re not trying to be difficult either, they’re trying to not make themselves uncomfortable or in pain.
  2. Unless you want my daughter to hurl on you from across the room, stop giving me looks or rolling your eyes.  My sensitivity isn’t that bad, I usually just get the runs, but Gillian’s reaction is pretty violent.  You think I’m going to mess with my little girls health?  Yeah, bite me.
  3. It’s not a choice for us, it’s a health necessity.  If you think I don’t want to get a fresh out of the oven everything bagel, slice that badboy open and have a sausage egg and cheese sandwich, you are fucking kidding yourself.  Again, I could, but it’s not worth it. see #4
  4. Could I ignore it?  Sure.  Leads to other fun things like polyps, colon cancer, fissures, and other great things!  Plus I like being able to stay awake, have energy, and not be doubled over in pain.
  5. Going to parties is fun too, especially when the host or we ourselves explain that the separated food is for us and that digging your crumb covered hand into a bowl of chips has now taken that off the table for us because of cross contamination.
  6. People who tell you they are doing ‘The Gluten Free Diet’ are kidding themselves if they think that eating gluten free will make them lose weight.  Removing grains will definitely help with weight loss, that much is true.  But the people I’m talking about are the ones who buy all of the gluten free breads, cookies, cakes, and bagels to substitute for glutenous ones.  This is absolutely false as the things they use to replace wheat, barley, rye, and oats are things like tapioca, almond, and other flours that are 2-3 times as high in fat content as regular stuff.

The great thing about awareness is that people have come forward and been wonderful and generous.  Imagine what it’s like when the teacher and the principal will enforce a no peanut rule, but ask them to not have cupcakes for bday parties in elementary school and it’s like you’re committing a mortal sin.  I just want my kid to not be left out, not sitting there crying in the corner because she can’t participate in the festivities.  The parents were worse at times.

For a good 18 months, Gillian wasn’t invited to birthday parties because they didn’t want to have to accommodate her.  Particularly frustrating when we made it clear and known that we’d send her with her own stuff.  The most wonderful moment was when a friend’s mom called to ask Fae how to make a gluten free cake because her daughter refused to have a birthday party if Gillian wasn’t coming.  She made it clear to her mother that Gillian’s wasn’t going to come if there was one spec of gluten on the table either.  Since then people have been wonderful and understanding and involved in making us feel welcome and not like pariah’s or pain in the asses.

So let me get down off my soapbox and leave you with a question.  If you know someone has a peanut allergy, you’re careful right?  That’s all I’m asking for you to do with me and others who have celiac disease.  No, I’m not going to die because my throat closed up, but it’s painful, uncomfortable, and embarrassing when it happens.  So the next time you want to make a joke about how trendy it’s becoming when someone orders something off the menu and asks several times how it’s prepared or what’s in it, chances are they’re not doing it for attention or to be difficult.

They’re doing it because they have to.

Moving forward

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately, seeing my life as it unfolds in front of me every day and have come to the conclusion that something needs to change.  A guy I knew in high school suddenly is dead from a heart attack, my 46th birthday is this week, and there are a lot of things I want to do in this life.  Then Fae posted something on FB that really made me sit back and think about what i’m NOT doing about all of that.

“We must be willing to let go of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell

I have this concept of what I have to do to support my family is keeping me from doing what I want to do, that a career is something that is necessary and excludes the ability to do anything else.

Life is too short, and whether you believe in heaven, reincarnation, or this is all we have, I realized that nothing is going to change until I take the first step.  Every part of me is scared that this will be yet another failure start that I get myself into, but  doing nothing is never going to get anything started.  Life is what you make of it, and if I can get out of my own way, I think I can make this work.

So I signed up for a creative writing 10 week course that I can do online at http://www.writingclasses.com/index.php.  The ability to do it when I have time instead of an actual time is going to allow me to do something constructive instead of spending hours on facebook trying to figure out what my spirit animal is, or see pictures of someone else’s life.

Wish me luck :)

A writer writes, right?

Heh, that was punny.

So, if I ever want to write, I need to just shut up and write. So many people, books, articles, and signs all say the same thing – shut up and do it.  How do you prioritize things so that you can accomplish the things you want to, along with the things that you need to?  I have a lot of things I want to do, I’m just inherently lazy – or that’s just the excuse that makes sense for right now.

“Make the time” is the most common response.  So, how do I make it so that there are more than 24 hours in a day?  Seriously though, I’ve read so many articles about successful people and how they have a routine in the morning where they get up early, go to the gym, write/read/organize things for their day, all before 9am.  You know what my routine is?  I wake up at 6am, stumble downstairs to make Gillian’s lunch, go up and shake the two of them out of bed, and then slide back into that delicious warm spot that hasn’t even started to cool yet, and pass out for another two hours.  Not productive, but damn that alarm going off at 8 feels good.

So the question is, what do I want?  Which task is more important?  Ideally, that 6am time is a perfect opportunity for me to do a lot of different things.  I could spend more time with the kids, but in truth, neither of them is super chatty in the morning, so I think all I’d accomplish there is annoy them right before school.  (Yes, I’m one of those morning people).

I could sit down and write for an hour at least, but they don’t leave until close to 7am, and truthfully, with them puttering around and how I’m easily distractable (squirrel!), I know that all I would accomplish is to sit and Facebook until the gray matter in my head turned to jelly, but at least I’d finish that level of Candy Crush (woo!).

Or, I could do what I had originally planned on doing, and have managed to find every excuse not to do – get up, wake the kids up, get Gillian’s lunch made, grab my bags and just leave.  Bring my clothes with me and go to the gym across the street from my office – I know, how simple.  Workout for a bit, take a shower and get dressed, and go to my office where I can write for a while, or even *GASP* develop something (I’m part manager, part database developer).

So what’s stopping me?  My bed has gotten compliments from everyone who has lain down on it (get your minds out of the gutter you sick bastards), and according to everyone I work with – I look exhausted so I feel like I should definitely go back for another two hours, definitely (wapner).  Even on the days I’m not really tired, I get the same reaction from people.  It’s kinda sad actually.

I guess the conclusion is the same as the intro – shut up and do it.

How do you do the things you want to do?

Captain America – Winter Soldier

So I woke up this morning, feeling like utter garbage and called into work.  Thankfully, my amazing wife got up and got the kids off to school and let me sleep until around 9.  I’ve been taking it easy and doing a little writing, but my head was starting to hurt so I rented Captain America: The Winter Soldier.

Couple of things.  I LOVE comic book stories rendered in movie format, in most cases.  I enjoyed the first Capt. America, it didn’t take itself too seriously, and it was a great movie to watch.  Some really great performances by a wonderful cast.

I think they did it better with this one.  I am not ruining anything by saying who the Winter Soldier is because hopefully everyone knows by now – I’m still amazed it’s taken me this long to watch it.  I really don’t like Sebastian Stan’s work.  He seems to always play the stuck up rich kid in most movies, and I did think he did a decent job in the first Captain America movie.  I have to say, I take it all back.  He didn’t have a lot of lines in the movie, but the emotion that played out on his face was real, and well acted.  So Mr. Stan, I apologize.  I have a feeling that he will be part of the franchise for a while since he signed like a 9 picture deal, so I’ll be interested to see if they do go down the road that some of the comic lines have done and use Bucky to take up the shield at some point.

The other high point for me was Anthony Mackie as Falcon.  I’ve seen some of his work and I really like it a lot, but he made the Falcon for me.  Even knowing what was going to happen, I found myself getting excited to see him and what he could do with the suit.  He did not disappoint there, nor when he was simply Sam Wilson.  His honesty comes out in the role as it did for me in the comic book, so nicely done Anthony.

Maria Hill, Natasha Romanov, and Fury?  Yeah, they rocked.  I had also seen Shield TV series, so I knew some of what to expect, but seeing him put on the glasses at the end tied it into the series, I really hope they do some good cameos in the next season of the series.

Oh yeah, Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch intro at the end of the movie?  Duuuuude.  Can’t WAIT for the next Avengers.

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