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Less Money, More Fat - A Look Back At The Decade

Unlike any other decade in my life this one has been the most memorable...

: I figured out who I was as a Man. Then I randomly met a woman during my lunch break. Within months we had fallen in love. Within a few more months I was introduced to her 5 year old son.

The dot-com I was working for imploded.

...I was on an American Airlines flight headed to Chicago on September 11th when the planes struck the towers.

2002: I can't remember much other than beginning the most amazing job I ever had, oh and going to Brazil for Carnival and having an amazing Valentine's Day upon my return.

2003: I moved in with my girlfriend and then endured a miserable break-up with her for reasons both reasonable and ridiculous. Even though we reconciled 6 months later, I'd spend the next 12 months in a furniture-less apartment of my own on an aerobed, immersed in the Bible, becoming financially sound and creating a good credit profile. I taught my future son how to swim and he evolved from a boy only willing to sit on the side of a pool to a boy who sprints full speed to plunge himself into the water.

2004: I made my first and only real-estate purchase, a fixer upper by everyone's standards. My first place taught me a lot about real estate and myself.

In January, I underwent major surgery to clear out benign polyps from my sinuses, straighten my nose bone so I could actually breathe through my right nostril, and remove my tonsils to cure my mild case of sleep apnea.

...slowly and surely I started going to church more infrequently.

...my daughter was conceived, or rather I/we conceived our daughter...I would spend most of the remainder of the year admonishing myself for dishonoring my faith, sinning against my Lord, and just generally being scared out of my mind as to how to raise a child even though I had already gotten much practice with my girlfriend's son.

...I joined a workout bootcamp, dropped 11 pounds, and became a sinewy, six-packed, health-nut who looked and acted like I had just fallen out of a Nike free running commercial.

...my girlfriend and I traveled all over the country and became better friends than we had ever been, baby-bump and all.

...on my birthday, I saw my daughter's side profile during my girlfriend's anatomical sonogram...and fell in love, instantly and forever.

...days before the end of the year I got down on bended knew and proposed to my girlfriend, although she had no idea what was going on (probably due to the hormones).

2006: My daughter came two weeks into the new year in 15 minutes, one month early on the day of my fiance's baby shower. We were all stunned. I was humbled and reduced to a blubbering, slobbering mess. I never looked at the placenta.

...the career I loved so much came to a crashing and embarrassing end. But I didn't get fired.

...I spent the rest of the year renovating my property with my father's help and waiting for the right renter to come along. He or she never came.

2007: I didn't find work until the fall. A buyer emerged rather than a renter for my property. Strangely after creating a modern, well-lit, renovated space complete with granite countertops for a two absolutely wonderful Japanese retirees, I moved into a dump a few minutes from my mother in law under the premise that it was a temporary stay (we would stay two years and go through the winters with spotty heat). I got married under the Bajan sun and to the sounds of the Atlantic beating against the shore. I lost a best friend in the process (I think he may have not have been in favor of the marriage - not sure - he never told me - he just didn't show up even though he was in it). Learned a tough lesson about real friendship and discovered I had little to none. But it was a good year.

2008: My new job quickly devolved into the Twilight Zone. I took an acting class and loved it.

...I started a blog.

...I began an Invisalign treatment and my lifelong insecurity with my crooked teeth and non-existent smile came to an end...then my obsession with my teeth began.

...I watched everyone I worked with quit and my wife and I decided it was time to leave New York.

...my beloved 401k lost half it's value.

...a man who looks like a family member was elected to the highest office of the land. My son would never have to dismiss the idea that he could President (nor my daughter) as I did years ago. The wife landed a job in Atlanta that would've taken care of all of us...or so I thought.

2009: Excited to do something new and lulled into a false sense of security based on the idea (put into my head by an incompetent agent) that I had a book deal just waiting to happen, I effectively moved forward without my job only to have my wife's job offer in Atlanta collapse. Suddenly, I was without a job, stranded in NYC with nowhere to go but I was optimistic about the future. Then the job market became the market it is today. Then the money I set aside ran out mid year. Then I had to tap into my savings...

...I bought a new camera at the beginning of the year and my father liked my pictures so much that he sent me a REAL camera --- one with lenses and controls and dials and stuff. I didn't like it at first because I could barely figure out how to turn it on. And then I figured out how to turn it on. To this day it's a constantly learning process.

...Michael Jackson died on the same day my son graduated from 8th grade --- two incredible events.

...during the summer I found myself embroiled in absurd fights with my wife, fighting in a way I didn't believe married people fought...now I understand some of the stories I see on the news.

...I lost 16, but ate a good amount of it back.

...we moved out of our rat trap apartment to a deluxe one. We found a new home for that cat. I had to sue my former landlord because he never returned my security deposit (results pending).

...My son limped into the beginning of his high school career and is afflicted by what afflicts most teenagers: huge egos, raging hormones, egregious behavior and lack of self control...I'm trying to manage it all, but I'm not sure I did enough years ago to make his transition easier and I definitely am unsure if I'm doing enough now as I struggle with losing him to adulthood as my father lost (or happily handed) me. I want to be his friend, but know I must be his father. Hopefully we can delight in the good moments here and there and laugh at it all when he's grown as I do now with my own father, God willing.

...unknowingly and most definitely unwittingly, my three year old daughter became my primary motivation, my best friend and sometimes only friend during a year that was full of tricks and treachery and had me praying more than I have in recent years. No matter what, there wasn't a day that she unwittingly managed to make me smile and has shown me a simplicity in life and love that my old mind and heart had long ago forgotten. Like my son she will never have to imagine being a princess because now there's a princess that is by no means identical to her, but definitely relatable (father included). In 2009, my daughter taught me how to dance and sing once more as she herself learned to dance and sing. By the end of the next decade she'll be a teenager, God willing, and if I'm around (God willing) I don't know who she'll be, but no matter what I'll always have this year...we'll always have this year...and about 3,000 pictures to prove it.

...The movie, Precious, was receiving rave reviews nationwide and Shaniya Davis was killed in the same breath. Her death took a personal toll on me due to her striking resemblance to my daughter.

...I didn't love my wife the way I intended...I didn't receive love the way I expected...I'd like to think I'm a good Husband, but realistically, I'm not the one who gets to make that decision...I became a Dad in a way I never imagined I could be...I'm a tireless Dad...but the Man that I once was is no more and the Man that I currently am has grown weary, gotten fat and lost his shine...

...I'm leaving this decade with a full and rich life but unfamiliar with and sometimes not liking the man who looks back at me in the mirror. 2009 was a rough, tough year on all fronts.

But I'm filled with optimism and I hope those of you who read these words are as well in your lives. I'm not making resolutions. Just promises to do more, be more --- be more better and enjoy all of it while it's happening.

I'm gonna take a month off from Makes Me Wanna Holler to work on me for a little bit. I promise I'll be back in February 2010 kicking and screaming. And in the meantime, please, don't hesitate to pay a visit to my Flickr page, my Facebook Fan page, or my newest destination, Soul Portrait. If you're new here and this is the first post you're reading, please take next month to get caught up on the 400+ posts I've written since February 2008.

I hope to interact with you all once again on February 1, or 2, or 3, 2010.

Happy New Year! May you be blessed with bountiful peace and happiness.

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