May 09

Book Cover & Launch Group

Cover

Dishonor Book Cover

Book Cover & Launch Group

 

STOP!

Before you go any further.

Click here > (OFFICIAL LAUNCH GROUP) < to join the official launch group for the book! Thank you!

It is so exciting to be able to release the cover of my first book, “Dishonor, One soldier’s journey from desertion to redemption.” There were four designs to choose from, but there was one clear winner.

The design that I originally thought would be the cover, was the least favorite. It is a picture of Ft. Leavenworth and everyone said it looks like a history book.

Cover

Dishonor Book Cover USDB

Go figure.

My wife came up with the concept of using an image of dog tags. Of course, this was a much better idea.

Cover

Dishonor Book Cover Tags 2

Cover

Dishonor Book Cover Tags 1

When I submitted our ideas to Deb Toth, she delivered a couple based on what we wanted to see. She also created an artistic version of my wife’s idea. This design ended up being the most popular choice.

Not only is it simple and creative, it has design elements that completely match my story.

The dog tag is the identity of a soldier. It has my name, prison number, my religious affiliation and blood type. These represent my human condition, and my past as well as the labels and identity that I chose for myself either through action or decision.

The red and white back ground is the same as the U.S. Cavalry flag which was my military occupation. But it also represents the blood of Christ which washes us clean, or white as snow. As well as my new identity.

I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect representation of what will be printed on the pages between the covers.

Even more exciting news!

We have created a Facebook group for the offical book launch which is scheduled for August 1st.

 David Mike’s Official Book Launch Group < Click here to join and keep up to date on the release.

This group was created to help reach as many people as possible with the message of grace and forgiveness. Using my own personal story of how God used my time in an Army prison to get my attention. Everyone needs to hear that you do not have to be defined by your past and that guilt and shame can be removed through the redeeming power of Christ.

My Goal: It would be awesome to sell 500 books on the official release date, August 1st. If we hit Amazon bestseller status, the potential to expand the reach of this message is much greater. I decided to have a physical book available because I would ultimately like to get it into prisons where digital formats aren’t available.

If you are a blogger or podcaster, I would love to talk to you about my story.

As we get closer to August 1st, I want to thank you in advance for sharing our posts along the journey, inviting your friends to this group, reading the book in PDF format to review it on Amazon later, supporting the Thunderclap campaign, attending the Facebook launch party, and most importantly, buying the book on August 1 (launch day).

For those of you who may not have it within your budget to purchase the book, please just consider telling your friends about Dishonor on launch day.

I am honored and eternally grateful for all your encouragement and your continued support as we build this community.

Once again, click on this link, to join the Official Dishonor Book Launch Group

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May 02

Bike vs Boy

Bike

Bike

Bike vs Boy

Walking to and from school was always an adventure. My family lived in a military housing neighborhood that was quite a distance from the school. In order to get to there, we had to walk through our area as well as another entire neighborhood. If I were to go back to that house now, I’m sure I would find that the distance was not as far as I thought it was. The world always seemed much bigger when I was little.

Around ten or eleven years old, I was allowed to ride my bike to school. It was a game changer. I could leave the house a little later and still get to school on time. All the younger kids had to leave earlier and I could just lounge around for a while. It was almost like being an adult, kind of like drinking coffee or getting chest hairs. I drink coffee, but still waiting on the chest hairs. Plus, riding to school on a bike made me feel like Evel Knievel, minus all the broken bones.

Once I mounted up, I was ready to blow past all of the walkers at lightning speed. Of course, if you were really cool, you made sure to attach a playing card with a clothes hanger to the front and back wheels. The card hitting the spokes of the wheel made a sound that was much like that of a motorcycle. Or so I thought. Regardless, my bike making that sound as I weaved in and out of the other students on the way to school was pretty awesome. I never looked back, because to look into the eyes and see the envy of all the kids who weren’t allowed to ride to school, just wasn’t in good taste.

Once I left the neighborhood, there was a legendary steep hill, nicknamed suicide hill. No one knows the real story behind it but, I’m sure it was because of all the kids it had maimed and killed over the years from riding their bikes up and down it. Truthfully, it wasn’t so much the hill part but more the depth of the valley between the two peaks. Once you pointed your front wheel down towards the bottom, there was no turning back. You had to gain a lot of momentum to make it all the way up the other side, so I would hunker down into the most aerodynamic position and begin the descent.

The wind, created by the incredulous speed, blew my hair straight back and I’m sure the skin on my cheeks was in danger of being ripped off by g-forces, as I topped speeds of Mach 3.5. There had to be a stream of light behind me that was the only proof that I had even been there.

Once I reached the valley floor, the ascent began. Of course no matter how fast I blazed down, it only seemed to be enough to get me half-way up the other side. As the momentum wore off, I had to change positions to standing up on the pedals. There was some scientific reasoning to standing while pedaling and swaying the bike back and forth to make it up the hill. Because I was going so slow, the playing card sound went from Harley, to wind-chime. It was a surprise to me that they were even still there. They should have spontaneously combusted as I broke the sound barrier coming down the hill. Never-the-less, the sound was less cool as I struggled to make it up the peak on the other side.

Eventually, I made it. Stopping for a moment, I looked across the valley with pride and saw what I had conquered. Even then, I didn’t look down at all the kids who were scaling the sheer face of the hill on foot, but instead thought to myself so long suckers. Taking off toward my school, with not a person in sight, the rest of the trip was pretty smooth sailing for the most part.

As I navigated my way through the second military housing neighborhood, I noticed that each driveway was paved with asphalt. The sidewalks were cement and so when the driveways were re-paved, there was a considerable amount of blacktop overlapping the sidewalk. This made the driveways into very large speed-bumps, or ramps….

Depending on how much build-up of asphalt, you could pop a pretty good wheelie. For all you non-bikers out there, this is riding your bike with the back wheel touching the ground, and the front wheel in the air. And if you were going fast enough, you just might be able to jump over the driveway completely.

As I spied one particularly large “ramp” I decided to gun it at full speed, hoping to become airborne and clear the driveway. The first wheel made an impact and lifted straight up as planned. Not planned, was the second wheel hitting and also going straight up. Just like in one of those hot wheels loops, I flew up, around and upside-down. Even though it only took a few seconds, the whole ordeal seemed to go in slow motion.

What I can’t explain is how, even though I was in slow motion, I still somehow was able to become physically entangled into the bicycle. I was contorted in to some sort of bike and human pretzel, as gravity took over and I plummeted to the ground. Regardless of the fact that I was half flesh and half metal, elbows and knees seemed to be the only thing that touched the cement.

Laying there motionless, trying to process what just happened, I heard a car pull up to rubber-neck the crash scene. With the contents of my back pack strewn about, my arms and legs scraped, bruised and bleeding, the driver took one at me and said, “You dropped a pencil.” I could hear him laughing to himself, as he drove away.

After finally deciding it was safe to move, I unraveled myself from the bike and checked to see if any of my injuries were serious. Nope, just my ego, and there was no way that I could go to school in this condition. Because I was bleeding, I thought it would be smart to go back home to my mommy and get some Band-Aids for my boo-boos.

The worst part about this whole ordeal, was limping past all of the kids that were headed to school.

Also having to push my bike back home, in what’s known as the walk of shame.

Share a story about a time you got into a fight with your bike.

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If you want to read more stories like this one, click on the link below.

Humorous Life Lessons

Apr 11

Book Update

Book

Book Update

Book Update

It’s so crazy that we are in the final stages of the book and so I thought I would give you an update.

Title

The title of the book is Dishonor. We are still trying to nail down the tag line / sub-title. How to encapsulate the entire story in one small line is a bit of a challenge.

Here are some of the ideas so far:

  1. A soldier’s journey of desertion, confinement, and redemption.
  2. A soldier’s story from desertion to redemption.
  3. One soldier’s story from desertion and confinement to release and redemption.
  4. One soldier’s story from desertion to redemption.

Feel free to comment below which one you like or if you think it should be worded differently.

Editing

My editor Ronei Harden will be sending me the manuscript sometime this week for me to approve all the edits. This surely is a grueling job for her, since this is my first attempt at writing.

I believe that the book will go back and forth a few times between us unless it is just perfect the first time.

Book Cover

There are four book covers created by Deb Toth, who did such an amazing job. I will be revealing which one will be the winner #soon. There was a preliminary focus group that I sent them to. It has been fun seeing which cover people thought would make the most sense.

My goal, as with any author, is to have it jump out at you and say “Pick me, pick me!”

Of course, my wife’s design idea is more popular than mine, go figure.

Endorsements

One of the exciting parts of having blogged the rough draft is that many people have read the book before it is published. This allows me to ask for endorsements from people that know the story already. I am excited about the input I am receiving and the fact that some of you are willing to attach your name to my story. Thank you in advance to all who have said yes to this.

Publishing

It seems like the direction we are heading is the self-publishing route. This is still new to me so I am learning as I go. But basically in order to be picked up by a traditional publisher, there are a lot of hoops and hurdles. At this time no one has swooped down to pull me up from anonymity. This is fine by me, after having read a post by writer Jeff Goins just this morning. (Read it here)

There will be electronic formats for those who digest books using technology. There will also be a physical copy printed because, most inmates don’t have access to technology. I wanted to make those who find themselves in this situation can get their hands on a copy.

Launch

Last year I attended a conference in Nashville called Launch Out. Sitting in the audience, I watched people speak about the things they were starting or actively doing. It was amazing community of people who came together to engage with each other and support one another. This year the conference is in three locations and it looks like I will be applying to speak in St. Louis. At the same time, I will be launching the book. As I type those words, fear grips me.

So, we will see how that goes. I definitely don’t want to rush it.

God

I have no idea where all this will lead. It has been at the forefront of my mind to not let this whole thing get ahead of me. In my church life group and also church leadership meetings, I have asked for prayer that I stay focused on the fact that this is not about me. All I want from this whole experience is for, people that need to hear the message of grace, forgiveness and redemption in Christ, to be reached. Even if just one.

In the end, I may have done the things mentioned in the book, but God has clearly made it possible for me to share the story. Too many things have just, “come together” for me to be the driving force.

You

Your support has been amazing and I appreciate every form of connection you have made with me to letting me know you are right beside me in this journey.

If you haven’t already, please consider subscribing by email. Down the road, if a traditional publisher decides to look at taking this book on, they want to see a large email list. If you are on a computer, there is a banner at the very top of the screen. If you are on mobile, you probably closed the pop-up. It will reappear, if you come back later. Again, thank you in advance.

Closure

As Dishonor gets closer to publication, I ask that you continue to pray for people to be reached. For God to use my mess for His message. For the broken to be healed. And for those struggling with the guilt and shame of their past to be released from this bondage, the same way I was. Through recognizing that God’s forgiveness has already been extended, you only need to accept it.

Ephesians 1:7 NLT

He is so rich in kindness and grace that he purchased our freedom with the blood of his Son and forgave our sins.

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If this is your first time hearing about my true life story and would like to start at the beginning, click the title below.

The Fort Leavenworth Story

Apr 04

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

Marriage

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

Surviving the First Year of Marriage

They say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. If you can make it through, it’s all downhill from there. This statement might be true, because we definitely had some issues during our first year.

It probably didn’t help that we only knew each other for about five minutes before we tied the knot. This is an exaggeration, but not really. We were engaged for about six months.

After the honeymoon was over, we quickly discovered that we are both first born children, which means we both think we are right even when one of us is wrong.

Because we’d only known each other for a short period of time, there were so many things that we didn’t realize about each other and these quickly manifested themselves as stumbling blocks that we both tripped over. Simple things that most couples do together, were challenges in the beginning.

Challenges

We had the stereotypical scenarios that everyone faces.

Deciding which way the toilet paper is supposed to hang.

Over the top is the correct way of course.

Or the right way to squeeze toothpaste out of the tube.

Always from the bottom up, leaving no drop of toothpaste behind.

Then there was the Toth vs. Mike argument, in which both of us would say,

“Well, that may be the way YOUR family does it, but MY family does it this way.”

Making the Bed

The first time we made our bed, everything was going fine until it came to the sheets. My wife started tucking the sheets under the mattress. I stared in disbelief and asked, “Are you not doing hospital corners!?!” She replied, “What are those?” Having been in the military, of course I knew the proper way to tuck in the sheets so that that you could bounce a quarter off of them. As I proceeded to show her the right way to make a bed, she said go for it. It was then that I noticed that the top sheet was on the wrong way. My mother taught me to have the decorative side down. That way, when you turned down the sheets, you could see the decoration instead of it being hidden. She watched, and let me do my thing. I still make the bed to this day.

This may be where the phrase, lay in the bed you made, came from.

Grocery Shopping

During our first trip to the grocery store, it seemed like every item that we needed became a discussion. Which spaghetti sauce was the right kind or which items you can buy generic and which ones you never substitute. We had to come to an agreement on every item that we put into the cart. Then when we got up to the checkout lane, something strange happened. My wife just started putting random stuff up there. Now, having bagged groceries before, I knew that there was an order to how everything was supposed to go down the line. So, I took over organizing the items. Once again, she stepped back and let me.

It seemed like a trend was developing here…

Laundry

The first time my wife did the laundry, I recoiled in horror when my clothes had wrinkles. Didn’t she know that some of the items needed to be taken out of the dryer after five minutes and then hung up to dry, so they would be wrinkle free? Looked like I was going to have to show her how to do that as well. When it comes to which clothes need to be placed in the dryer and which clothes need to be hung out to dry, my wife stated that I am, “Way too frickin’ picky.”

Guess whose job it is to do our laundry? Yep.

Don’t get me wrong, my wife does so much! More than I could possibly list. But, if I had an issue with the way she did something, it quickly became my new job.

My wife is smart.

Conflict Resolution

Trying to listen to and understand each other in the first year takes some serious intentionality. If a new couple has this part figured out, the rest is smooth sailing. We are not perfect but we have a pretty good handle on this now. Not so much at first. Here are some methods that I tried out in the beginning.

The Kicker

We won’t talk about the time I got so frustrated, I walked over to the (EMPTY) car seat, that was sitting near the door, kicked it and broke my toe. I don’t even remember the circumstances but, man was that dumb. Hind sight is 20/20.

The Silent Treatment

On one occasion, in which I can’t recall what I did wrong, my wife refused to talk to me. She avoided conversation altogether and would walk away from me when I approached her. Not sure how to go about rectifying the situation, I had the great idea of playing a song on the stereo. It was the Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. It was so ridiculous that she couldn’t help but laugh and it seemed to break the ice. If this doesn’t work for you, I apologize in advance. Desperate times call for desperate measures.

It was a lot less painful than the car seat incident.

Just Get Out

While driving in the car probably after a grocery trip, we got into a heated discussion about something. In my frustration and being done with the conversation, I stopped the car in the middle of the road, got out and started walking away. My wife, equally as done with the conversation, switched seats and drove home to our apartment. So I kept walking headed in the direction of the apartment complex. The distance was further than I expected, but I finally got close to the apartment. Then there was the creek, with no way to get across. So, I had to turn around and walk back the way I came. It was just then that it started to rain. When I made it back to where I got out of the car, my wife pulled up. I was gone so long, that she started to worry and came back to find me. Thank goodness!

Solution

Eventually, I wondered if the problems we were having, had something to do with me. There was no way that it was my wife, for she is perfect in every way. It seemed as if there had to be a better way to go about this marriage thing. I heard Dave Ramsey say, “If you want to be smart, you do what smart people do.” So I thought, if I want to stay married I should do what successfully married people do.

The best place for me to get that information was from books. So, I began to read marriage books. As I read, I realized that what we experienced was typical and that smarter people than me had it all figured out. I didn’t think we needed any counseling, but more of just a guidebook or a game plan.

Like I mentioned before, we are no where near perfect (Facebook lies) but I feel like researching the experts took us to a different level. If you want to start somewhere, reading a book is a great place.

Out of all of the marriage books I read, here are my top three recommendations.

Love and Respect – Dr. Emerson Eggerichs

     This book talks about the difference between a woman needing to feel loved and a man needing to feel respected. It is an eye opener in how different we are from each other and how to sort through that. It also discusses the “crazy cycle” which you need to hear about.

For Men Only and For Women Only – Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

     These are actually two books, but they go together. They are loosely based on the previous book, but the authors use polled research from real people to get answers that are game changers. I suggest each couple read both of them. I have been recommending these books, non-stop since I first picked them up years ago. But after you read them, please resist the urge to say, “Remember what it said in the book?” You are going to want to and it doesn’t go over well. Speaking for a friend.

Confessions of A Terrible Husband  – Nick Pavlidis

     Lessons learned from a lumpy couch. Nick is very transparent on his marital shortcomings and what he did to make the necessary changes to turn things around for himself, his wife and his children. It is a funny book and a quick read. And Nick is a great guy.

What challenges did you face in the first year of marriage?

Share in the comments below.

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Humorous Life Lessons

Mar 21

Kidnapped on our Honeymoon

Kidnapped

Kidnapped on our Honeymoon

Kidnapped on our Honeymoon

We were headed back to the cruise ship, after a long day of walking around the island of St. Thomas. We had just finished touring and shopping when we found ourselves standing in a parking lot being approached by a stranger.

Just like the way car salesmen comes running towards you at a dealership, this man made a beeline towards us. He was talking pretty fast and started asking us some questions;

“You’re a great looking couple, you must be on your honeymoon.”

“Where do you come from?”

“Really? I have a cousin in Nebraska.”

“Say, do you two want a quick, free tour of the island? I can take you to see the pirate, Blackbeard’s castle.”

“At the end of the tour, I will give you a free gift.”

Before we knew what had happened, we were both in the back seat of his car, speeding through the streets of the island. In a much later discussion, I explained to my wife that I thought she wanted to go on this tour. She believed that I wanted to go on the tour as well.

She also believed that I was carrying around a pocket knife, which I left at home. How is it possible, that two grown adults ended up in the back seat of a stranger’s car, in another country? 

As the car swiftly snaked through the curved streets, we headed up toward the top of a mountain. The entire time, the guy driving us was talking and talking about random things we drove by. It seemed as if he were in a hurry because everything he pointed out to us, we just drove past without stopping.

We glanced out the back window of the car and saw our cruise ship getting smaller as we drifted further away. A sinking feeling in my gut came over me, as my wife was looking less confident than when we both got into the vehicle. I cracked a fake smile to reassure her everything was going to be fine, while trying to convince myself that I hadn’t made the stupidest mistake of my life.

She had on the same fake smile, as she thought to herself;

We’ve been kidnapped.

We are going to be murdered and we’ll never be seen or heard from again.

There was a “Blackbeard’s castle, but as the driver announced it, we whizzed right past it, just like all the other attractions. Eventually, after what seemed like at least two or three hours, (in reality, it was probably about fifteen to twenty minutes) we stopped outside a resort. He told us to come in to claim our free gift.

I took one last glance at our ship, way off in the distance and wondered if we were going to make it back in time before it left port, for the next scheduled island.

We walked through a foyer and into an interior court yard where we found a table and a few chairs. He told us to sit down and he would get our gift for us. As we looked around, it seemed like this resort was under some sort of construction.

The driver didn’t come back right away, but instead, a man and and a woman came over to sit with us. They began pulling out all sorts of paperwork and brochures that they spread out onto the table.

And then it began. A sales pitch. They wanted us to sign up for a timeshare. I didn’t know what a timeshare was but all I knew is that we were broke and could not afford what they were asking us to pay. Both of them were very adamant about signing this paperwork, insisting it was a great deal and that we could visit places like this all over the world annually.

They offered us free airline tickets for listening to their pitch and a free bottle of rum for singing up. I told them we didn’t drink and so we didn’t need a bottle of rum. Talking to these two was like talking to a broken record. They told us that we should take it and give it to someone. I insisted that we didn’t want it. The tone began to change and the two seemed to be getting a little frustrated with me. They kept asking, “Why don’t you want to sign up for this? It’s the deal of a lifetime?”

My reply was, “We are broke, I had to put this whole Honeymoon on our VISA.”

They replied, “You can put your deposit on the VISA.”

I shot back, “There is no more room on the VISA.”

I tried to explain that the only reason we got into the car with the driver was to see Blackbeard’s castle. We had no idea that we were going to be kidnapped. They didn’t listen and the barrage continued. It felt like we were prisoners being interrogated for something we didn’t do.

After a few more minutes, I stood up and told them. “Look, we don’t want this and we are going to miss our boat if you don’t take us back right now.” The man was muttering something under his breath as the woman got up and left.

Thank goodness she left to summon the driver, who showed up in the courtyard with a very unhappy look on his face. Maybe he was supposed to get a commission if we purchased a time share, because he didn’t say a word to us as we got back into his car.

For the entire ride back to the parking lot, where he originally picked us up, there was nothing but silence.

We both were in a daze as we thought to ourselves;

What just happened?

At some point, I checked on redeeming the airline tickets, which we did keep. There were so many block-out dates that the planets would all have to align for us to use them. The only free date might have been February twenty-ninth, but only if there was a full moon.

Just like your mother told you when you were a child, the moral of this story is, don’t take rides from strangers.

You think I would have learned my lesson after the hurricane incident. (Read about that here.)

Share your scary vacation experience with me in the comment section. 

 

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Humorous Life Lessons

Mar 14

Scuba Dive Disaster

Scuba

Scuba Dive Disaster

Scuba Dive Disaster

It was my idea to sign us up for a bunch of excursions during our honeymoon. The cruise line offered so many and I had us signed up for two per island. One in the morning and one in the afternoon. My wife just wanted to lay out in the sun and relax on a beautiful beach.

St. Thomas has one of the top ten beaches in the world and so I made sure we went there. But only for a half day, because I just couldn’t lay there the entire day. The rest of the time we were touring, sightseeing, cave exploring, etc. For what we were spending on this trip, I wanted to make sure we crammed as much sight seeing and activity into the short week as possible.

Even though I didn’t know how to swim, one of the things I was super excited about was scuba diving. I know that doesn’t make sense, but I figured having a tank of air strapped to me while floating around the ocean would be easier than normal swimming. Sinking straight to the bottom and also figuring out how to keep water out of my lungs were my only problems, when trying to swim, so this was a perfect solution.

We were taken from the ship to a little lagoon, where we met our scuba instructor. He was waiting for us and all the other people from the ship who signed up for this adventure. We received a quick introduction with an equally quick lesson on how to use all of the equipment we were issued. Once we had all of our gear on, we waded into the lagoon to practice everything that we were taught.

The most important thing was how to grab the regulator if it came out of your mouth and how to clear water from the mask. He also told us that the best way to swim with the gear was to stretch your arms out in front of you like Superman while kicking your fins up and down to propel you through the water. We also had a vest that you could inflate and deflate with the push of a couple buttons. This was for buoyancy when under the surface. We were told not to touch the coral because it was harmful to the coral and potentially to us.

From there they put us on a boat and took us out further so that we would be in deeper water. We were told that the original plan was to swim around a wrecked ship. Because the water was a little rough, there was a change of plans and we would stay closer to the lagoon. The instructor told us that he would find something for us to look at. When the boat stopped, he told everyone to jump in.

We all splashed into the water and everyone headed down following the instructor. I however couldn’t seem to descend. Normally my issue was sinking to the bottom but because of the vest, I was now suspended near the surface. So I squeezed the down button on the vest and plummeted to the ocean floor. When I hit the bottom literally, I realized I was still holding the down button. Realizing, I was on top of coral, I panicked and hit the up button on the vest which rocketed me back to the surface.

Then I realized that if I just tapped the button instead of holding it down, I would ascend or descend a little at a time instead of being an underwater yo-yo. The rest of the group, including my wife, had taken off as the instructor led them to a different area. So, in my best Superman impression, I put my arms out and kicked myself over to their location. As I got closer, I saw that I was the only one using the Superman method. Everyone else was moving around like mermaids and Navy SEALs, as if they were born in the ocean. They were all looking at me like they were thinking, There always has to be one.

The group was hovering around the instructor as he was showing them something in the palm of his hand. It was some sort of creature. Not wanting to leave me out, he lifted his hand up to me to show me what looked like a huge spider. Fear gripped me and I remember being able to propel myself in reverse, rapidly away from the horror of an amphibious arachnid.

My wife remebers me shaking my head back and forth with lots of bubbles coming out of my mask. As well as an image of me running in place, as if in molasses. Thank goodness, screaming like a girl is silenced under the sea. In hindsight, it was probably just a shrimp or something, but I don’t like those either. For the rest of the undersea exploration, we were able to see more coral, some small fish and a sunken lawn chair.

Somewhere along the way, a problem developed with my mask and water started to seep in. Not sure what effect salt water had on contact lenses, I kept trying to clear the water from the mask. Nothing seemed to work and water continued to leak in. For the most part, I wasn’t drowning but I did manage to swallow several mouthfuls of salty seawater. Thank goodness, it was time to go back up to the boat.

Once we all were out of the water and onto the boat, we headed back to the shore. The water was choppy and the boat bounced up and down with each wave that it hit. With a combination of the Caribbean sun beating down on me, my head bobbing around in a circle and the sea water churning in my stomach, I began to feel the inevitable coming on. The neck sweats, the pressure rising in my gut and the queasy gurgling were a clear indicator that I was about to expel the contents of my stomach. Which I am sure was ninty-nine point nine percent sea water.

As I surveyed the group in the boat, I remembered a scene from the movie, Stand by Me. A character downed a bottle of castor oil and swallowed a raw egg before eating five blueberry pies in a pie eating contest. After puking all over the person next to him, a chain reaction resulting in every contestant and member of the audience puking on each other ensued. (Click here to watch the scene if you dare.)

I was sure this same thing would happen to everyone on the boat if I hurled in front of them.

So, when I finally couldn’t hold it in anymore, I threw up in my mouth and then I swallowed it.

You may call me a hero, but I was just trying to save everyone else.

On second thought, maybe my wife’s desire, to just lay out in the sun and relax on beautiful beaches, wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Stay tuned for the next part of the Honeymoon: Abducted on our Honeymoon

Have you tried something new a failed miserably? Share your story in the comments below. 

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Mar 07

The Honeymoon Is Not Over

Honeymoon

Honeymoon

The Honeymoon Is Not Over

The first compromise within our marriage was deciding where to take our honeymoon. My wife, Lindsay wanted to go somewhere hot. A place where she could lay on a beach and enjoy the sun. My idea was to go somewhere in which we could see as many sights as possible.

Put both of those together and you get an Eastern Caribbean cruise. Of course, only if we signed up for two excursions per island for every island we planned to visit. There was so much to pack into, such a small amount of time.

We had to wait a week or two to go on the cruise so after the wedding, we spent the night in a hotel to, you know, count all the money we made from the dollar dance. I was just so happy that Lindsay agreed to marry me after the incident. (Read about it here)

We were so excited to go on this cruise together, it seemed like the perfect get away for both of us. From Omaha, we flew to Florida and then on to Puerto Rico. It was here that we spent the first night. We toured the island and walked around Fort San Juan for most of the day.

Later we went to a beach and walked around absorbing the environment. However, my bride was so beautiful, it was hard for me to notice the surroundings at all.

Except the little person. For some reason, I was so intrigued by a little person swimming in the outdoor pool, that I kept zooming in on him with our video camera. So yes, he came home with us in the replay of our honeymoon video.

Before we left for the cruise, we both did a little bit of tanning to get a good base before heading out to the intense heat of the Caribbean sun. Having somewhat of a vampiric complexion, a good base is somewhat of a vague concept. So, I made sure slather sunblock all over myself before exposing myself to the blistering sun.

For some reason, I must not have thought it was important to put any on the recession area of my hairline. It only took about a half hour before that area was torched. It really added a nice touch to all of the pictures we had taken of us. Especially the ones that we got all dressed up for. The next day, Lindsay helped me cover my entire scalp with sunblock, just to be safe.

Honeymoon

Fascination

The next morning, we headed our Carnival Cruise ship, The Fascination. It was the biggest ship I had ever seen! We boarded and headed to our cabin. Somehow, our travel agent was able to upgrade us to one with a window. Excited to see what the room looked like, we opened the door and stepped in. We immediately noticed a problem. Instead of one big bed, there were two twin beds.

Did they not get the memo that we were on our honeymoon?

How were we supposed to cuddle?

Not wanting to lose a room with a window view, we decided to push the two beds together.

Situation, under control.

Later that evening, we sat at a table with other couples, none of which we knew. They kept trying to talk to us but I was unable to communicate.

Everyone’s words sounded like they were in a tunnel and my eyelids kept slamming shut. Each time I closed them, it was harder to get them back open. My head felt like it weighed a thousand pounds and it was nearly impossible to keep my neck from collapsing under the weight of it.

As I watched my bride get up and dance the Macarena, my face inched closer and closer to my macaroni.

On occasion, I have been know to have a little motion sickness. Before we left, someone recommended taking Dramamine. This was supposed to keep me from feeling the effects of the moving ship. Having no idea that these pills caused drowsiness to the point of narcolepsy, I took them for two days before figuring out that this was the reason I almost face-planted my entrée.

My wife may or may not have dragged me back to the cabin.

So much for cuddling…

 

Stay tuned for the next part of the Honeymoon: The Scuba Diving Disaster

Did you experience any hiccups on your Honeymoon? Share your story in the comments below. 

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Feb 29

Fear of Spiders

Fear of Spiders

Fear of Spiders

Fear of Spiders

I am afraid of spiders. There are many reasons why, but the scientific reason is that they freak me out.

It didn’t help much, that I lived in the south for a large portion of my life. Places in which the black widow and brown recluse both reside. Or that every time you turn a corner, you face plant a web. My fear probably stems from an incident in which I was almost buried alive by a mass of daddy long legs. But that is a different story. (Click here to read it)

Paranoia

It might have been about seventh grade that someone told me, “Spiders get into your house by dropping down on you when you walk through the front door.” Armed with this wonderful piece of information, walking into the house became an interesting routine.

  • Inspect screen door for spiders or webs

  • Open screen door and let it slam back shut, to shake loose any hidden spiders

  • Open screen door and quickly open front door, letting it swing inside, while simultaneously leaping backwards. So no spiders could have time to drop on me and also trying not to get hit by the screen door as it slams shut again.

  • Open screen door and fling myself through the open doorway as fast as the Flash, as to not allow any spiders who were trying to time their drop. Because I knew that they had been watching me do this for awhile.

  • Quickly slam door shut.

  • Breathe!

This went on for about a year.

I tried never to go out the back of the house. Since the way in and out was a sliding glass door, you could usually see a web that stretched from each of the four corners and from top to bottom. I’m 98.5% sure that it was that big in order to trap humans because in the south, the bugs are big, but not that big.

Torture

When people find out that you are afraid of spiders, they usually want to point them out to you or even put them on you for fun. It seems as if human nature is to torture someone with their biggest fear.

When I was in the Army, stationed in Louisiana, the guys in the barracks would catch spiders, put them in jars and leave them on my desk. After turning on the light, and finding myself face to face with the largest specimens you could imagine, I would usually let out a shriek, similar to that of an eight year old girl.

Mission accomplished.

While training in the Mojave desert, my fellow soldiers thought it would be hilarious to catch tarantulas to see what my reaction would be.

Maybe, it was the ninja-like reflexes, in which I’ve perfected the backwards flying leap.

Maybe it was, the crazed look on my face and the twitching of my eye.

Or it probably could have been the fact, that I had a machine gun in my hands, that they never actually put them on me.

Man-Up

Right after my wife and I got married, anytime I would find any spiders in our apartment, I made her go get rid of them.

Even if it was late at night and she was in her t-shirt and underwear and the spider was in the hall outside the front door.

Yes, we are still married, thanks for asking.

After we moved out of the apartment and into a house, it didn’t take long before we discovered that the home we purchased was infested with spiders. Everywhere we turned we would find them. They give me the heebie jeebies and I don’t like to kill them. Killing them meant getting closer to them than I’m was comfortable with. Besides, dead spiders are even grosser than live ones.

So I perfected the long distance, spider retrieval method. Otherwise know as, the vacuum hose.

If you put the longest attachment on, you can effectively keep your distance from the creature. For some reason, they must think is is a little cave or escape hatch because they always run right in. You have to make sure that you go straight to the trash and empty the vacuum or else they crawl back out. Oh, and make sure you take it to the trash outside your house.

One evening, while we were watching a movie in the basement, something large scurried across the floor and under the couch. There was no doubt that it was a wolf spider. Chances of finishing the movie were pretty slim because we both knew it was underneath us. And because, it would have been difficult watching the movie standing up on the couch.

So, I decide to be brave and save my wife from this monster. The vacuum was upstairs and I couldn’t leave her alone and so I scanned the basement for a weapon. Spying an over-sized pink plastic baseball bat in the kids’ toy area, I used the backwards flying leap to retrieve it.

You never want to turn your back on your opponent.

My wife jumped onto the smaller couch as I made my way around to the front again. Summoning all my inner strength, I was able to flip the couch on it’s back with one hand because I need to keep a death grip on the big pink bat with the other hand. There, poised for attack, was the gargantuan beast, staring back at me as if to say, “You’re going down!”

With a two handed grip, I held the pink bat above my head just like the poster from the movie, Conan The Barbarian. Only looking a lot less like him and more like Napoleon DynaMike.

With a crazed look on my face and a twitch in my eye, I shouted with a high and most shrill voice, “I am bigger that the spider, I am bigger than the spider!” while pummeling the monster into oblivion.

In that moment, I was the hero. Staring down my nemesis into all eight eyes and conquering my fear while saving the damsel in distress.

All I needed was a wild stallion to ride off on, to make the picture perfect.

Share your biggest fear in the comments below. Let me know if you have conquered it. 

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Jan 11

How I Almost Ruined My Wedding

Wedding

My Beautiful Bride

How I Almost Ruined My Wedding.

My wife Lindsay and I met in hair school. She was enrolled in the September 1997 class and I started working as an Instructor in November. There was a mutual attraction and we started dating. We didn’t know each other very long before I popped the question. Somehow we just knew we were right for each other though.

She said yes without hesitation and we set a wedding date for about six months later. When we started all the planning and visiting the various places to set up the wedding, a couple of the vendors made us seem like we were crazy to put a wedding together in such a short period of time. However, we were so enamored with each other, we just needed to be married right away.

Not wanting to feel left out, I went to almost every appointment; the florist, the photographer and the bridal shops. You may also find this hard to believe, but the wedding dress I liked the best was the one she selected. She was so beautiful and I couldn’t wait to see her wearing such an amazing dress at the altar.

Naturally since we were both hairdressers, one of our gifts for the bridesmaids was to do their hair at the salon that Lindsay’s mother owned. Of course, I would be doing Lindsay’s hair that morning as well.

That morning, I left my apartment that was soon to be ours. Needing to get gas before heading to the salon, I drove to the nearest filling station. I got out of the car, shut the door and as I reached for my wallet to pull out my card, I realized that the tuxedo pants did not have back pockets.

No back pockets meant no wallet. Sure enough, as I frisked myself in hopes of maybe finding the wallet, it was not there. This was not a problem; I would just go back to the apartment to get it.

As I walked back to the driver’s door, a sinking feeling in my stomach took over as I spied my keys in the ignition. What were the chances that the door would be locked? In that moment my worst fear came true as I grabbed the door handle, and nothing happened.

I had locked my keys in the car.

There was an extra key that I could use, if only it wasn’t in my wallet, back at the apartment.

Thank goodness, I had my cell phone.

How was I going to tell my future bride, that she needed to leave the salon, go to the apartment, get my wallet and bring it to me? So that I could unlock the car, get gas and make it to the salon to help with the hair already in progress.

Although this incident was a major inconvenience, I knew by Lindsay’s response in the moment, that she still loved me. Her only reply was, “We do not have time for this.” I am so glad that she showed restraint and didn’t say what she might have been actually thinking.

When I arrived at the salon, I was thoroughly embarrassed but there was hair to do and not much time left to do it. All the hair started at eight o’clock and we had to be at the church by noon. All of pictures were being taken before the ceremony at five. I was sure that everything was going to be fine, but then again, I am a guy.

The fact that I got to do Lindsay’s hair for our wedding was such a privilege. She was so beautiful, and I couldn’t stop staring at her in the mirror. They say it is unlucky to see the bride before the wedding, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. Good thing I’m not superstitious.

Everything else went off wonderfully without a hitch. As we left the sanctuary, I forgot that I was wearing a microphone and so everyone could hear me utter a very loud, “Whew!” We didn’t discover this until we watched the wedding video.

It is possible that I was just relieved that the wedding went so well.

Or, it could have been that I was relieved that she actually married me.

Tell me about your wedding mishaps in the comments below.

Next post: Honeymoon Horror Stories

 

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Jan 04

The Vacation That Tried To Kill Me

Vacation

The Blarney Castle

The vacation that tried to kill me

For my twenty-eighth birthday I decided to take a trip to Ireland. Because I was already living in Europe at the time, I thought it would be fun, to visit the country that my mother’s side of the family came from. With a backpack, a Fromer’s vacation guide to Ireland and a plane ticket to Dublin, I took off on an adventure. There were a couple cities I wanted to visit and some sights that I wanted to see.

Arriving in Dublin first, I set myself up in a bed and breakfast. The rest of the day, I walked around the city and hit all the major tourist sites including; Dublin Castle, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and the Trinity College Library where the Book of Kells is on display. It’s understandable why so many people take vacation here. It was an interesting place with lots to see.

After Spending two days in Dublin I bought a train ticket to Cork. One reason I picked this city was because some of our family comes from there. It made me feel more connected to my roots being there. The other reason I picked Cork is because it’s near the Blarney Castle. My grandmother gave me an awesome picture of my grandfather kissing the Blarney Stone and I planned on getting a picture of me doing the same thing. She also gave me a piece of stone that she took from the castle.

When I got to the Blarney Castle, there were a lot of older people there. Mostly Americans who were on the same vacation quest as me, to connect with their roots. To get to the top of the tower there is a spiral staircase made of stone, with enough room for one person per step. The tower itself is maybe five stories tall. The stairs were backed up with people all the way outside of the castle. So many people were waiting for a turn to kiss the stone. There were also many people outside talking about how they couldn’t wait that long or that there was no way they could make it up the staircase in their physical condition. To come this far and not go up to kiss the stone, must have been disappointing.

In another section of the castle, I noticed an additional stone, spiral staircase. This one had a sign on it that said, “Do not enter.” So I lifted the sign and headed up. Half way into the ascent, I noticed the steps were very worn down. The further I got, the worse they got. It got to the point where I was on my hands and knees so I wouldn’t slide down and tumble back several floors worth of steps. Somehow, I made it.

Vacation

Next

Once I got up to the top, I took my turn laying belly up with my head dangling back over a sheer drop to the ground. There is an iron grate that protects tourists from falling. I kissed the stone. My picture wasn’t as cool as my grandfather’s but I got one.

Vacation

The Blarney Stone

Two days in Cork was long enough, so I returned to Dublin. In order to catch a train to Belfast, I had to make it across the entire city to the other station. Having some time to kill, I decided to walk. My Fromer’s Guide to Ireland had a city map inside, so I opened it up and used it to navigate through the streets to make it to my destination.

With my backpack and my travel book, I must have looked like a serious tourist. Even though I was traveling alone, I felt pretty safe. It was the middle of the day and there was no indication that I was ever in any danger. Everyone in Ireland had been so nice, although many people asked me if I spoke English before they started talking to me. I found that very strange.

About halfway to my destination, I walked by two men crouched down beside a set of stairs. As I passed them, they both stood up and began following me. This made me very nervous. It seemed like they were either trying to catch up to me or maybe pass me. My heart started to beat faster as I tried not to look back at them. People were walking up and down both sides of the street as well as cars driving both ways. Figuring that I would just let them pass, I slowed down.

Coming around my right side, they kept turning until they were face to face with me. Backing up to avoid contact with the two men, I ended up in a recessed corner of a building with both men cornering me. One of the guys seemed like he was keeping watch. The other guy grabbed the collar of my jacket with one hand and as I looked down, I saw that he had a hypodermic needle about one inch away from my stomach.

In an instant, they were gone. This whole thing happened so fast, I didn’t have time to react or even process what happened. Pulling away from the building, I saw a cab half pulled onto the sidewalk with the driver’s door open. I turned around just in time to see the cab driver chasing after the two assailants while flailing a club like stick in the air. I’m pretty sure it was a Leprechaun’s Shillelagh. He must have seen them grab me at just the right time to take action.

I began to shake uncontrollably from the adrenaline and realized I hadn’t uttered a sound through the whole incident. The cab driver came back and asked if I was okay. With a quivering voice, I said yes. The two men must have been after money for drugs. I never expected to be attacked in broad daylight. After thanking the cab driver, I decided to stick closer to groups of people. Even though I was traveling alone, I made it look like I was with others.

Making it to the train station, I bought a ticket to Belfast and boarded. It took me awhile to completely calm down. Needing rest, I sat back and listened to the unfamiliar sound of Gaelic being spoken back and forth between the other passengers. The trip was long and I ended up sleeping for most of it. It was late when we arrived in Belfast. Playing it safe, I decided to get a cab instead of walking around this city alone in the middle of the night. The cab driver took me to the only hotel that had vacancies. The Holiday Inn had a room for one hundred dollars a night. At this point, it didn’t matter, I just wanted to be safe.

The next day, I traveled around to all the tourist sites, including the Ulster Museum and the ship yard where the Titanic was built. As I made my way through the city I made sure to stay close to other groups of people. This city was much different from the others. There were many police and military around because of a recent IRA bombing in a nearby town. So I felt safe and unsafe all at the same time. That evening, in my hotel room I decided to take a shower. As I stepped in to the higher than normal tub, I hit my shin and toppled in. It took my breath away and scared me. My leg hurt and I was a little banged up but I was okay.

This vacation was memorable on many levels. It’s undeniable that I will never forget the time I spent walking around Ireland. Everyone has heard of the luck of the Irish, but no one has ever specified whether it was good or bad luck. It could be said that I was having bad luck on this entire trip, however I am still here to talk about it. So there’s that.

Vacation

Stone taken from the Blarney Castle

After doing some internet research on the Blarney Castle, I found a link that may have explained what happened to me. Legend has it that a stone removed from Blarney Castle will bring misfortune and misery to anyone who possesses it. My grandmother had given me that stone that she took from the castle. It’s a good thing I’m not superstitious.

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