Five Years, 60+ To Go

Today–November 2–Liz and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. And I’ve gott say, it’s pretty darn cool.

In total, Liz and I have been married five years and have been together for seven, and it’s like having a split personality of sorts. I’ll explain. On the one hand, I feel like Liz and I have known each other most of our lives, as it’s sometimes hard for me to remember what it was like before we were together. And on the other hand, I can’t believe it’s gone by this fast!

Today–November 2–Liz and I are celebrating our fifth wedding anniversary. And I’ve gott say, it’s pretty darn cool.

In total, Liz and I have been married five years and have been together for seven, and it’s like having a split personality of sorts. I’ll explain. On the one hand, I feel like Liz and I have known each other most of our lives, as it’s sometimes hard for me to remember what it was like before we were together. And on the other hand, I can’t believe it’s gone by this fast!

It would be very easy for me to go on and on about how and why Liz and I have such a good thing together and the highlights thus far, but it pretty much boils down to this:

Liz might be my wife, but she’ll always be my girl.

Five years of marriage and seven years together with my girl has been great … and it’s just the beginning. By my calculations we still have at least 60 more anniversaries to go–I plan on us living to be at least 100–and this is just the first of those five-year married milestones.

Liz and I are right for each other in the ways that matter most, filled with excitement and fun, but mostly it’s that we’re two absolute dorks–compatible dorks–who would rather be on the couch watching silly TV shows and giggling like fools than being almost anywhere else.

So today’s blog is dedicated to Liz … my wife … my girl … who makes every day better for me than it could ever be otherwise.

Happy Anniversary, Baby!

Love you

When Being Polite Wrecks My Back

Last night on my way home, I was comfortably seated on the F train, reading a Sandman comic. It had been a fairly long day, and I had a 6 pm meeting, so it was around 7:30 p.m., at the 57th street stop, when the conductor announced that the train was being taken out of service and that we would have to exit the train and wait for the next one.

Not the end of the world, but annoying.

So we all got out of the train, and since it’s the second to last stop in Manhattan, it was crowded, whLast night on my way home, I was comfortably seated on the F train, reading a Sandman comic. It had been a fairly long day, and I had a 6 pm meeting, so it was around 7:30 p.m., at the 57th street stop, when the conductor announced that the train was being taken out of service and that we would have to exit the train and wait for the next one.

Not the end of the world, but annoying.

So we all got out of the train, and since it’s the second to last stop in Manhattan, it was crowded, which was now the case on the platform.

By the time the next train came by–the next crowded train–it was quite clear I wasn’t getting a seat. Thing is, for me, getting a seat is more than a matter of comfort. It’s a matter of pain. I have a bad back. I hurt it about five years ago, and if I have to stand up for too long, my lower back starts to throb and tighten up, and then I’m in considerable discomfort, which can last for hours. But I make due.

Once on the train, standing up, I went back to my comic as the we rumbled along underground, hoping that a seat would open up at one of the next stops. And with one stop to go, that’s exactly what happened. Except that a woman was on the other side of me, also eying the seat. And this is where my dilemma kicks in.

I try to be courteous and polite. If I see an old man or woman, I’ll give up my seat. Same for pregnant women or anyone disabled. But other than that, I have to consider the pain I’ll be in if I give up my seat against my desire to be a nice guy. So in this case I let the woman, who seemed nice enough, have the seat, which she accepted graciously. And for the next few minutes or so, I stood up, my back barking a little bit. It wasn’t the end of the world.

Now, I don’t know if this is sexist, chivalrous or something else entirely, but if it hadn’t been a woman eying the seat, I would have taken it without hesitation. I would have pounced on it.

I run into this situation now and again, and it’s always a situational call. I don’t know if I’m always making the right decision, but I try. So if you see me standing up on the subway, struggling, like I’m not quite sure what to do, it’s because my back is in pain, and I’m trying to make the best of it.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/07 21:12

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/11/07 21:13

24 Hours in Sin City

I’m exhausted.

Because of a seriously family issue with someone I work with, I wound up pinch hitting this week, and took a last-minute trip to Las Vegas to attend an industry convention. I didn’t find out until Monday, confirmed the trip Tuesday, and then flew out on Wednesday–and then flew back to NY on Thursday. Yep. Cross country flight–twice–just to be in Las Vegas for one day. So aside from the urgency in booking and planning the trip, there were a few wrinkles:

[b]Day 1[/b]Because of a seriously family issue with someone I work with, I wound up pinch hitting this week, and took a last-minute trip to Las Vegas to attend an industry convention. I didn’t find out until Monday, confirmed the trip Tuesday, and then flew out on Wednesday–and then flew back to NY on Thursday. Yep. Cross country flight–twice–just to be in Las Vegas for one day. So aside from the urgency in booking and planning the trip, there were a few wrinkles:

[b]Day 1[/b]

My flight was due to take off at 10:45 a.m. Wed., getting me to Las Vegas at 1: 30 pm (Vegas time), so that I could attend a reception at 5:30 pm, and then another at 7 pm. I got the airport with plenty of time to spare, got an aisle seat (which I prefer), and was all set and ready to go. Except that we couldn’t take off. For three hours! That’s how long we sat on the runway. And why? Well …

Turns out that one of the planes in the queue in front of us blew a tire. Okay, I suppose these things happen. But then they had to clear the tire debris from the runway, and with 20 planes ahead of us in line to take off–and the fabulous systems of the FAA–we sat for three hours before we got clearance. Lovely.

Once we were in the air, the flight itself was fine. (I’ve also been flying Jet Blue lately, as they have the most comfortable seat and the friendliest flight attendants). We landed at about 3:30 pm Vegas time, and I was at the hotel (Treasure Island) by 4 p.m. So I checked in showered, and then changed into my suit, ready to do the whole work networking thing.

But I still needed to register for the conference and get badge, so I walked across the street to the Venetian (where the conference and the first reception was being held), got my badge and signed and was ready to go. But they gave me a complementary bag with the programs in it, which I didn’t want to carry with me all night. So I walked back across to Treasure Island and dropped off my stuff, and then back over to the Venetian.

I hit the first reception around 5:45 pm Vegas time. At this point I’m hitting a down cycle, and need to get my second wind, which kicked in right after my first Tequila and Ginger Ale. I did the networking thing for about an hour (along the publisher I work with; about 100 people there), and then we walked along the Las Vegas Strip to the Fashion Mall for another networking event. This one had about 4,000 people. Seriously. It was a total madhouse. Food was mediocre and the bar was packed, but I still I soldiered on, shaking hands and flying the flag–and I ran into someone I know, a friend of the family. Too funny. But by 8:30 pm Vegas time, I was done. My back ached, my head was heavy. Time to go back. I was asleep by 9:30 Vegas time.

[b]Day 2[/b]

Thursday morning I got up around 6:30 a.m. Vegas time, went down to the gym, worked out for 30 minutes, then came back upstairs, showered, and suited up again. But since I would be spending time at the convention, I had to pack my bag again because I had to be checked out by noon. So I got my stuff together, checked out of my room, and then left my bags with the bellman.

From there I went back over the Venetian, and did some networking for about an hour. I then had a quick, scheduled meeting, attended a session at 11:30, did a quick networking lunch at 12:45, wrote up a story by 1:30 to be posted on our company web site, and then dealt with a few work emails. And now it’s a little past 2 p.m., and I gotta go back to the airport.

I went back over to Treasure Island, got my bags, went into the men’s room in the lobby to change out of my suit and into my street clothes, and then hopped a cab to the airport for a 5 pm. flight. My plane left on time and got me back to JFK around 1:30 a.m. Friday morning New York time.

All in all I did about 6,000 miles, attended two cocktail parties, shook about 100 hands, attended a session, wrote a story, had a meeting, scheduled a few more, saw a family friend, and made it there and back in one piece. All in 36 hours.

So, yeah, I’m a little tired right now. But no worries. Sometimes that’s just the way it goes. And it’s okay. There’s a lesson to be learned here somewhere. It’s just that, at the moment, I’m too tired to see what it is.

The Lightness of Being Mayo

I tried. I?ve really tried.

My doctor has pretty much scared me straight into finally accepting that I need to adjust my eating habits so that I can, you know, not die.

It?s a genetic thing. I have high triglycerides that can fry my liver (or was it kidneys?) into oblivion unless it keep it under control. Medication might very well be in my future, but I?d sure like to avoid it, if at all possible. And if I do, I’m totally fine health-wise.

So as part of my eating habits I?ve pretI tried. I?ve really tried.

My doctor has pretty much scared me straight into finally accepting that I need to adjust my eating habits so that I can, you know, not die.

It?s a genetic thing. I have high triglycerides that can fry my liver (or was it kidneys?) into oblivion unless it keep it under control. Medication might very well be in my future, but I?d sure like to avoid it, if at all possible. And if I do, I’m totally fine health-wise.

So as part of my eating habits I?ve pretty much cut out the junk?meaning, everything that tastes good. Pizza. Burgers. Fries. Chinese food.

… sniff …

Truth be told, I haven?t cut them out entirety, but I have cut back on them in a big way, and I really don?t miss them much. Sure, I sometimes I have a craving for sausage pizza … [i]mmmmm …. sausage pizza [/i]… but overall it really hasn?t been too bad. In fact, I?ve lost a few pounds, got an overall clean bill of health from by doctor and generally feel better, so … so far so good.

But the one thing I just can?t accept, the one conversion I just can?t make, is light mayo. I tried. I?ve really tried. But it?s just so … you know, what?s the word?

Gross. Yep, definitely gross.

And let?s dispel with the notion that it tastes just like regular mayo. Uh … no. It?s awful. Just truly and utterly awful. (Sorry if I?m annoying anyone who likes light mayo, but I just can?t take it anymore …)

And this isn?t coming from one little sample and giving in.

I tried it in tuna fish: Yuck.

I?ve tried it on ham and cheese: Yuck.

I?ve tried with turkey and Swiss: Yuck.

Double yuck, triple yuck, quadruple yuck. :sick:

I wanted to like it. I really did. I even stopped buying regular mayo as show of confidence and conviction. But no more. No more light mayo! No more lies! I can?t betray my taste buds like this any more!

I?m still keeping my eating habits in check, switching out the grease and chips and pizza for fruits and veggies?which I actually do kinda like?but the one thing I can?t get on board with is light mayo. I even eat sandwiches dry sometimes, and if it?s light mayo or no mayo, then no mayo it is.

So as I adjust into this world of healthier eating, there are some sacrifices I just can?t make. Light mayo is one of them.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/24 05:39

The Silent Magic of Not Getting Run Over

Sometimes when I sit down to write the words just roll off my fingertips and I?m all [i]clackety-clacekty-clacking[/i] on the keyboard, with enthusiasm like the first time ever ate ice cream. Other time, not so much. It?s unpredictable. More often than not I find it pretty easy to just get going, but sometimes I find myself just sitting here, fingers ready to go, the desire to write, but yet I can?t seem to find the words.

In today?s blog I was going to write about one of those pet peeves oSometimes when I sit down to write the words just roll off my fingertips and I?m all [i]clackety-clacekty-clacking[/i] on the keyboard, with enthusiasm like the first time ever ate ice cream. Other time, not so much. It?s unpredictable. More often than not I find it pretty easy to just get going, but sometimes I find myself just sitting here, fingers ready to go, the desire to write, but yet I can?t seem to find the words.

In today?s blog I was going to write about one of those pet peeves of mine, as last night Liz and I were coming back from the supermarket, and this guy blew a stop sign. Granted, he wasn?t speeding?he just kinda rolled through it?but he startled me nonetheless. So we got into a little bit about who was right?a few f-bombs were lobbed both ways?and I was going to go on this who tirade this morning about responsibility and care for our fellow citizens and all that.

It?s one of my things. As George Carlin says, he learned the secret of living a long time ago: [i]Not dying[/i]. I second that motion, and I find that drivers who ignore stop signs, as if they?re optional, kinda goes against the whole not running me over thing.

But I just wasn?t in the mood to get into a whole thing. I didn?t want to get myself all riled up again over what turned out to be a lot of hot air. Liz and I were fine. We moved on.

Instead, I found myself sitting here at the desk, thinking of what to say … and I just sat here, my fingers bouncing in place, tips on the keys, but not able to channel my thoughts into words. And it wasn?t so much that I was stuck; I wasn?t set. I wasn?t connected. My physical body was present; I was ready to go. My energy was good. But I had that sense of trying to remember someone?s name, when you?re telling a story, and you?re snapping your fingers and rolling your hands like that will make the name suddenly pop into your mind, and you?re going, ?[i]oh, you know who I mean, the one with the uh … who always … oh, you know … the uh … tsch … sigh … you know, the one, I uh … uh … um …?[/i]

And you feel like the name is right there, and try as you might you just can?t get your brain going. And it?s not that you?re running through various thoughts and rejecting them. There?s [i]nothing[/i].

That?s how I was just moments ago, with this utter lack of understanding of what to do next. My energy was flowing, but my rhythm was on pause. Not broken, not stuck. Paused.

The words were there?deep down I felt I had something I really wanted to write?but I couldn?t reach them. They eluded me. And this is frustrating, as a writer, as it?s my instinct to communicate with you. To say something.

Yet this elusiveness turned out to be a great reminder about the value of silence. Of how just sitting still and letting that silence, that magic?sprayed on me like a mist?holds the key to everything I want to say. It?s all up in the ether all around us, and sometimes I just need to sit quietly, patiently, and let it come. And as soon as I let myself fall still, when I let myself embrace the silence, rather than just trying to fight my way through it, the words came.

These words that you?re reading now.

And this process is something I?ve learned to trust. Usually. I try not to get too frustrated when the words elude me, because I know they?re out there. It?s just that sometimes I need to remember that I can?t [i]make[/i] them come. I have to relax, find the quiet, and [i]let [/i]them come. And when they do, it?s magic.

Post edited by: rcolchamiro, at: 2007/10/23 05:13

Got the Shakes – My Fall Withdrawal

Oh, man, I’m Jonesing already … I got the shakes, man … I’m losin’ it …

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s an annual occurrence for me, one I forget about during the year because I’m enjoying the high so much. The buzz is so soothing that it takes me to that place where I like to be, where I’m not even thinking about the possibility that it will wear off.

What am I talking about? What else?

Baseball.

I’m a junkie. I admit it. I love baseball. Love it, lOh, man, I’m Jonesing already … I got the shakes, man … I’m losin’ it …

Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but it’s an annual occurrence for me, one I forget about during the year because I’m enjoying the high so much. The buzz is so soothing that it takes me to that place where I like to be, where I’m not even thinking about the possibility that it will wear off.

What am I talking about? What else?

Baseball.

I’m a junkie. I admit it. I love baseball. Love it, love it, love it, love it, love it.

I love watching the games. I love going to games. I love reading about baseball, talking about baseball and thinking about baseball. I love stats and scouting reporting. I love news and analysis. I love blurbs and rumors. I love trades. I love trade talk. I love speculation.

And now it’s gone.

Not totally gone … the playoffs are still going on, but the day to day of the regular season is over.

For me, there’s nothing quite like coming home after work, changing my clothes and putting on the TV, knowing that the Yankee game is on. Or the Mets. Or some game on ESPN. Maybe the Braves, maybe the Brewers. Maybe the Padres, maybe the Pirates.

Whatever. Just gimme. Gimme gimme gimme.

Some people drink a beer after work. I watch baseball.

It fills up such a large part of my time, of my thoughts and emotions, and now it’s gone. There’s a void. This happens to me every year. I forget what it’s like to not have it around.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to miss things sometimes, but I always hate the end of the season. I miss it. And football, hockey and basketball just don’t do it for me like baseball does. They’re perfectly fine sports. But nothing else compares to baseball.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to send me into rehab or anything, but as the World Series approaches and the 2007 season fades into the background, I’ll be counting down the days until the new season starts. Waiting. Just waiting.

My name is Russ Colchamiro. I’m a baseball junkie.

And I need a fix.

Steinbrenner Stepping Down?

If the reports of George Steinbrenner stepping down as leader of the Yankees, that’s HUGE! He’s been such an icon for so long, and despite all his faults, he always wanted to win, and put the team’s earnings back into the team. I’m really interested in seeing how this all plays out.If the reports of George Steinbrenner stepping down as leader of the Yankees, that’s HUGE! He’s been such an icon for so long, and despite all his faults, he always wanted to win, and put the team’s earnings back into the team. I’m really interested in seeing how this all plays out.

Ellis Island

Last week Liz and I took a little NYC trip, one of those touristy days that you think you’ll always have time for but never quite seem to get to — Ellis Island. We had both always wanted to go and never did.

It’s a long day there and back, but [i]man[/i] is it worth it.

I’m not much of a museum guy, but Ellis Island is more than a museum. It’s the actual location where 12 million immigrants came into the country almost 100 years ago, and shaped the direction of the country forever. ILast week Liz and I took a little NYC trip, one of those touristy days that you think you’ll always have time for but never quite seem to get to — Ellis Island. We had both always wanted to go and never did.

It’s a long day there and back, but [i]man[/i] is it worth it.

I’m not much of a museum guy, but Ellis Island is more than a museum. It’s the actual location where 12 million immigrants came into the country almost 100 years ago, and shaped the direction of the country forever. I’d seen shots of the main room in movie many, many times, but it’s pretty cool to actually stand there, and to just try and imagine what it must have been like for these people, who had traveled under mostly really difficult, unpleasant conditions just to get to America.

The entire is really quite fascinating, as they do a really good job of having enough poster boards up giving details of what each phase was like for the immigrants, yet without completely overwhelming you with information. You can see where the immigrants slept, where they were quarantined for medical checks, and where, on occasion, they had to be sent back from whence they came.

Plus, the ferry ride is pretty cool, as you leave from lower Manhattan, with the first ferry stop at the Statue of Liberty (which we didn’t do), and the Ellis Island, so if you get a nice day–which we did–the views are spectacular.

But be prepared for a long day. Because the ferry terminal is way Downtown, it can take quite a while to get there. If you’re coming from Manhattan, it’ll be shorter, but if you’re coming from the outer borroughs, or the suburbs, plan for 1.5 to 2 hours each way, then at least another hour waiting on line just to get on the ferry, another half hour on the ferry, and then an hour or two on Ellis Island. And then your trip back. Liz and I left our apartment at 10 am and got back at 4 pm, so that’s 6-hour day. Granted, we had a subway snafu (my bad), so we lost about 30 minutes), but still, be prepared for a long day.

Overall, though, it’s really worth the effort. I highly recommend it.

Michael Clayton – Clooney Delivers

Movie to movie George Clooney delivers pretty consistently, as he has done again with Michael Clayton.

Michael Clayton is a corporate scandal thriller, with Clooney playing a lawyer who is the firm’s fixer–he cleans up the messes his clients get into that need to stay off the radar. As the movie picks up he’s doing his thing, but along the way he gets sucked into a real nasty battle between a chemical company and a group of people suing it for producing toxic products. Clooney’s firm reprMovie to movie George Clooney delivers pretty consistently, as he has done again with Michael Clayton.

Michael Clayton is a corporate scandal thriller, with Clooney playing a lawyer who is the firm’s fixer–he cleans up the messes his clients get into that need to stay off the radar. As the movie picks up he’s doing his thing, but along the way he gets sucked into a real nasty battle between a chemical company and a group of people suing it for producing toxic products. Clooney’s firm represents the chemical company.

It’s a complex story with lots of twists and turns, and it requires a close watch to keep up. I’m not sure how I feel about the ending, but the acting and directing is very good (with Tilda Swinton in an award-worthy performance as a corporate shark barely keeping it together), and in all it had me engrossed throughout with me really caring about how it all played out.

Thumbs up.

The Wizard Rocks Finders Keepers!

This is going to be a two-fold tale. Part 1 is about process, Part 2 is about fate.

Ooooh. Mysterious …

[b]Part 1: The Copy Editor Dude–a.k.a. The Wizard[/b]

Now that I’ve got a copy of the complete Finders Keepers manuscript off in the mail to the agent who requested it–and isn’t that friggin sweet?! Yeah, Baby!–I want to say a few words about the copy editor who worked on my book, Barney O’Neil (a.k.a The Wizard).

I first wrote about why I brought Barney on board in mThis is going to be a two-fold tale. Part 1 is about process, Part 2 is about fate.

Ooooh. Mysterious …

[b]Part 1: The Copy Editor Dude–a.k.a. The Wizard[/b]

Now that I’ve got a copy of the complete Finders Keepers manuscript off in the mail to the agent who requested it–and isn’t that friggin sweet?! Yeah, Baby!–I want to say a few words about the copy editor who worked on my book, Barney O’Neil (a.k.a The Wizard).

I first wrote about why I brought Barney on board in my Sept. 26 blog, but I want to go into a little more detail about what he actually did to the Finders Keepers manuscript, and how his efforts improved my book.

As I noted earlier, the main function of a copy editor is to look for smaller things, like spelling mistakes, incorrect punctuation, wonky grammar, etc. Thankfully, Finders Keepers was in pretty good shape when he got it, but there were still plenty of little things he found that I had simply missed, even though I went through the entire manuscript several times. A few examples:

* On page 43 I wrote the word [i]waste[/i], when it should have been [i]waist[/i], as in around the waist.

* Throughout the manuscript I wrote [i]Milky Way Galaxy[/i], when it really should be [i]Milky Way galaxy[/i], so that [i]galaxy[/i] has a lowercase [i]g[/i].

* On page 138 I wrote rouge, instead of rogue, as in a rogue warrior.

* On page 295, the dialog was supposed to read, [i]you know how girls are[/i]. What I wrote was, [i]you know how girls[/i], and the left out the word [i]are.[/i]

* On several occasions I wrote the word [i]duffle[/i], instead of [i]duffel,[/i] as in [i]duffel bag[/i].

As you can probably gather from these little elements, Barney had to scour the manuscript with a fine toothed comb to catch them. It is a 120,000-word manuscript after all, so there’s bound to be little things that get missed.

But Barney also did something else for me. He raised a few questions, some having to do with sequence, some with logic. For example, in at least two instances, I noted that an action took place on a Wednesday, but when referring back to an earlier scene, they didn’t agree. The action, in fact, had to be on a Thursday. And Barney caught that. I simply missed it.

Barney also challenged my logic in a few places, and he got me thinking in a few of those, so I went back and made some changes that I believe strengthen the manuscript. Just little things that can add up to big things. Without going into too much detail (as I don’t want to give anything away), Barney correctly pointed out that I need to mention one character just a little bit more so that it worked better throughout the book.

[b]Part 2: The Request of Fate[/b]

Barney’s contributions aside, something bigger happened here, something that reinforces my beliefs in the grander scheme of things.

All summer long I was out stumping for Finders Keepers, hitting the conventions, sending out query letters, and the efforts paid off. The buzz kept building, interest kept building, and more and more I could see big things happening for Finders Keepers. But while the big thing was right there–so close–it hadn’t quite arrived.

In the middle of all this I decided to bring Barney on board. After he did his review of the manuscript it took me about three weeks to review his suggestions, make the appropriate changes, double check that I made the changes correctly, and then answer his queries that I noted above.

Within one day–24 hours–of me finishing those changes … [i]Whamo! [/i] I get an email from an agent gushing over my concept and sample pages, and requested a full manuscript.

[i]One day![/i]

Coincidence? I think not.

What I believe deep in my bones is that the Universe was looking out for me all along, that it was waiting for me to work on my game promotion-wise, and then upgrade the manuscript detail-wise, so that when a truly great opportunity came my way, I would be ready.

I’ve had too many of these timing miracles come my way over the years to believe anything else. I mean, why didn’t this agent contact me two weeks ago? Or two weeks from now? Or two months? Or two years? Why exactly one day after I got Finders Keepers in tip-top shape? Because the Universe knows that I’m ready–that this is my time–and so it brought this wonderful opportunity to me.

Call me crazy–hey, I’ll be the first to admit that you’re right–but when it comes to these acts of divine intervention, I’m a believer. They keep my juices flowing, and inspire me to follow through.

So bringing Barney on board to Team Finders Keepers wasn’t just a good move technical-wise, it opened the door for something wonderful.

As always, I will keep you posted …

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