Making “Life” Three Syllables… At Fifty

The Dreaded AARP Card

I’m still two weeks away from the big 5-Oh, but between the AARP card that arrived in the mail and the new progressive-lens eye-wear that were actually ready the same day, denial was  no longer an option. Oh, and the fact that Chris has basically created an advent calendar to remind me, I’ve decided to welcome the day with open arms. Fifty? Bring it! And to celebrate, I thought it might be interesting to resurrect a blog post from April, 2009, titled, How Do You Make Life Three Syllables?, and augment it with a few life adventures previously omitted, and a few I’ve encountered since… Read on…

“…There’s no point in taking stock unless you do something with the stock you’ve taken. Whoa. Heavy. But seriously, how many times have I taken stock of my life, resolved to make changes, edits or revisions, or just to slow down? And I make those changes, edits and revisions, and even slow down, and then find myself facing the same dilemma months or years later.  Taking stock again. So, back to square one, aren’t we. Does that mean that all my angst from previous stock-taking was misplaced? I don’t think so. I just don’t think I let it take. Just didn’t sit with it long enough.

One of those “great” nephews…

So I forced myself to sit with it for a bit tonight. And here’s what I came up with…I’ve knocked myself unconscious in Annie Leibowitz’s bathroom and been brought round again by the photographer herself with the very ice I dumped in her toilet. I’ve fallen 75 feet off the side of a Norwegian Cruise Line cruise ship and lived to tell about it. I’ve served Charlie Rose, Nora Ephron and Tom Brokaw dinner — and all at the same dinner party. I’ve para-sailed into the side of a Winnebego camper and survived unscathed. I’ve knocked on doors every day for a year and a half in Japan as a Mormon missionary offering something outside of the Big Bang theory to a people too kind and gracious to do anything but listen. I’ve understudied Tommy Tune for a July 4th Spectacular at Walt Disney World. I’ve moved 6 times within the last 18 months. (I refuse to update this statement to 2012 on the grounds it may induce an unsurvivable anxiety attack…)

I’ve performed inspirational vocal solos at church meetings where Quarterback Steve Young delivered inspirational talks — all while being asked to leave Brigham Young University for being gay. I’ve worked construction and stepped off the foundation of a house, fallen 15 feet to the concrete floor face-first with minor scratches and landed the rest of the day off. I’ve performed naked on stage for six months in New York City. I’ve been kissed by Sir Ian MacKellen. I’ve worked graveyard shifts at a 7-11 and hosed off the parking lot every night barefoot and loved it — the regulars called me Huck Finn.  I’ve succesfully pitched a multi-million dollar PR program over the phone to a bank executive on a Mexican beach. I’ve lived 22 months at sea. I’ve flown cross-country with two dogs and a bird — all in the cabin and under the seat in front of me — and only downed two drinks to get me through it.

June 22nd!

I’ve helped prep the random likes of Ozzie Osbourne, Sandra Lee, Kathy Gifford, Patrick Sharp, Dhani Jones, Jerry Rice, Solange Knowles, and Charlotte Ronson for media interviews for household brand names like Pepsico, Heinz, Gillette, Alka Seltzer and Absolut. I’ve body-doubled (off the court/on camera) for Utah JAZZ point guard, John Stockton. A la “A Chorus Line,” I’ve blown out my knee at a professional dance audition, and stopped the audition cold. I’ve witnessed wondrous “firsts” like the first African American President of the United States and the first female Secretary of State of the United States. I’ve watched 35 nieces and nephews grow up to become amazing people and bring 39 great-nieces and great-nephews into the world. And I’ve legally married the love of my life — and he’s a man!

Ah, and that’s just the tip of the half-century iceberg.  My  life is definitely three syllables. Nothing monosyllabic about it. And I plan to keep it that way. Hello Fifty! Oh, and Chris? Fifty’s nothing, but payback’s a bitch…


Prescriptive Religion and Other Pain Remedies

Once a year, like clockwork, I can be guaranteed my share of lower back pain. I never know exactly when it will hit, but when it does? God help me. And by God, of course, I mean Percocet, Percodan, Xanax, Ibuprofen, Acetaminophen, Wine, Spirits, or the occasional ice pack and dollop of Ben Gay… Or actually any combination of said deity will do. Restores my faith every time. So, what invoked my return to religion this time around? Changing the sheets. Yeah, you heard me. CHANGING THE SHEETS! I played volleyball for two days straight with no issue at all, but when I simply try to pull my weight around the house and get the bedroom in order before heading to work the following Monday morning? I take what felt like a baseball bat to the spine. Snap. Twang. Ouch. Damn fitted sheets.

Now if getting beaten up by 500 count Egyptian cotton wasn’t bad enough (okay, so they were Thomas O’Brien 300 thread count from Target… sue me), I had to add insult to injury with an episode of being taken down by ice cubes. I know, just how tragic am I? I start paying on my long term health care premiums, and suddenly my senior citizen body clock decides my time has come. Next stop the morgue. Anyway, back to the ice cubes episode… Chris is out running an errand, and I’m pathetically gimping around the kitchen trying to pack some zip lock baggies with ice so I can treat my back, when I trip on a Dachshund, grimace in pain, and dump ice all over the kitchen floor. The dogs look at me, I look at them, and we all realize that this is going to be interesting.

After some painful maneuvering, I find myself on the kitchen floor, slowing gathering ice cubes to me in small groups of 3 – 4, and then awkwardly raising myself up with my elbow on the counter to deposit them in the garbage can. It’s at this moment that Chris returns home, breezes into the kitchen, sees my predicament, tosses his head back with glee and let’s loose in a glorious guffaw and boisterous laughter! I mean, we’re talking some serious laughter. Unabashed, shameless, unadulterated and joyous. He hasn’t laughed that hard since he learned about the Mormon planet Kolob watching Stephen Colbert. (Google it. Trust me, it’s a must-see…) And that moment was priceless, too. So, as much as I wanted to be pissed and hurt about it, I had to admit I must have looked pretty pathetic, so gave in and started laughing, too. Unfortunately, that action set off a wave of lower back pain that about killed me, but it was worth it. That, and the fact that every time anything dropped to the floor the rest of the day, Chris would head toward it with a spring in his step, offer to pick it up for me, and proceed to grab the item in a series of squat thrusts (repeated over and over)  just to prove how easy it was for him, and how painful it would be for me. Ah, what a guy. That’s why I love him. And that’s also why I need the Xanax. Long live religion and lower back pain.

Negotiating the Truth

I finished a run in Prospect Park this morning (okay, a walk/jog, but I was out there, dammit) and was waiting in line at Connecticut Muffins to buy my Vitamin Water REVIVE (shameless plug for whatever firm is out there monitoring its social media landscape for organic conversations about their product. Enjoy.), and overheard the following conversation. Now for some parents, this may be everyday. But Chris and I are childless — I love that phrase. Always sounds like it should be delivered with a sob. But in our case? No. Please, our parrot is better potty-trained than our dogs. What does that tell you? And besides, Chris would spoil the kids absolutely rotten. He already puts dinner plates on the floor with a gleeful, “Treats, puppies, treats! Hurry! Before Alan makes you ‘sit’ for them!” So, you see what we would be up against…


So, the father/pre-teen son combo next to me shared (okay, I eavesdropped) this:

“I can buy my own drink today. I have money.”

“That’s okay, let me buy it for you.”

“But I can buy it.”

“Where did you the money?” (Clearly, Dad’s paternal instincts kicked in.)

“I found it in my wallet. I opened it up and it was just there.”

“Is it your money? Or were you supposed to use it for something else?”

“I had it left over from my metrocard.”

“How much did you put on the card?”

“Nothing, my friends and I skipped under the turnstyle.” (This was the breaking moment. Son divulged 1) friends’ poor influence, and 2) cheating the system. Clearly he felt the need to confess, but was trying to find the right moment. Which way would Dad go? I was fascinated. I secretly hoped the woman in front of me would order a very complicated drink so I could continue to eavesdrop… er, observe.)

“Right now, your small and that’s easy. But it can become a habit to start taking shortcuts, and that can lead to trouble. Cops watch that stuff. And if you don’t know how much money is on your metrocard, and you spend the rest, then you’ll have to call Mom from where ever you are and she’ll have to come find you and get you home.”

“Hmmm. Yeah.”

“I’ll buy the drinks, and then we need to go load your metrocard.”


And, scene. Ah, a run in the park, a refreshing VitaminWater, and a teaching moment. Not a bad way to start my weekend.

Stolen Identity

Movemeber 11th, 2010

I have no idea who I am… I’m hearing “Robert Goulais,” “Rock Hudson pre-illness”(thanks for that clarification), “Tony Randall,” “Omar Sharif (my mom, of course; love you, mom), “George Clooney” (they were being nice), and yes, “Saddam Hussein.” Really? “Saddam Hussein?” This mustache thing is a riot. Who knew what it would do to people? Half of them can’t look at me without laughing. The other half are unabashedly attracted to me (and yes, they are close to the 20-something range. Daddy is clearly in the house.). And Chris? Still hates it. Calls it a rat on my face… Term of endearment? Let’s pretend. And tell me who YOU think I am. Go ahead. I can take it. And so can Saddam.

It’s Movember!

Nope. Not misspelled. It’s truly Movember. The month formerly known as November is a moustache growing charity event held during November each year that raises funds and awareness for men’s health — specifically prostate cancer. And I’m in. 4 days in, as a matter of fact. And my is to remember all my uncles fondly and inspire my 5 brothers to stay happy and healthy!

You might think this is a lark, but it’s not. I’m just sorry I didn’t discover the movement sooner. (Chris? Not so much. He’s even offered to pay me NOT to grow a mustache, no matter what the charity. So I’m even MORE in!) I actually come from a family of survivors. Sometimes we joke about us being on a countdown to cancer. I know, it sounds raw, but you have to know my family. We’re good at that stuff. Cancer on my mom’s side of the family is pretty crazy. Her three brothers, Ted, Hal and Don all endured cancer of one type or another (prostate, intestinal, colorectal, melanoma), and eventually, it played a role in their deaths. They were fabulous, funny, wonderful men, and I am so glad I was able to know them. My mom and her two sisters, Margie and Darlene, have all survived breast cancer, and are just as fabulous, funny and wonderful as their brothers, and fortunately, are STILL in my life. So, this Movember, I’m enduring the odd client stares, the grimaces of my other half, and the entertainment of wondering just how gray this sucker is going to be — all in the name of men’s health. Yep, and now comes the shameless plug: JOIN ME!

Go to, select “US” and type “Alan Newbold” into the search feature at the top of the site. You’ll land on My Mo Space page, and be able to donate to a great cause, as well as see my face change fairly regularly. $1, $10, $100 — it doesn’t matter. Or just send me well wishes or razors. It really doesn’t matter. Just getting me, my brothers, and the rest of the world thinking about the men in their life and how to keep them healthy is worth it! So Dave, Paul, Bruce, Mike and Russ? Prepared for the rubber glove and prepare to live long, happy, healthy lives!



Vacationing Where I Live…

Day one of my vacation… Loving it… And these photos are why I’m perfectly content to stay right here in Minneapolis this week…

Chris at the helm on Lake Minnetonka

On the banks of the Missippi River...

Sam takes over as Captain...

Samson checks the moorings...

Lillypads... For real...

More of the Missippi...

Nothing like late afternoon on the water...

Dachshunds take a breather...

Same time, same lake... tomorrow...