Saturday, August 8, 2009

The Night We Met by Ronnie and Mandi

In this first edition of Sound-off Saturday I decided that Mandi and I would recap the story of the night we first met. Here's the deal though: We each wrote separate stories and had no knowledge of each other's story while writing. So here it is, a "he said, she said" about that fateful night in June when Ronnie met Sally...I mean Mandi.


I first want to stress that I had met Mandi about 6 months earlier during the Christmas season while she was home on break from school. It was a very basic meet and greet and I didn't come away with much of an impression. We literally said "nice to meet you" to each other and that was it. The only initial thoughts I had was that she was smart and kind of stiff. Not so much stiff should I say, but she just sounded proper and educated, plus she had these librarian glasses on. Other than that, I knew only that she was the little sister of my good friend's roommate. I wasn't in the market for a girlfriend (my girlfriend at the time actually met her at the same time that I did) and I was enjoying myself listening to some of my friends play in their band, so I wasn't being a social butterfly. The next time I saw Mandi again was June 27th, 2008.

At this time I was again a single man, but not back in the market (or so I thought). I had recently ended a relationship so I had decided to lay low for a while and not even make very many "public appearances". See, I meet people very easily. I'm able to hold a conversation with absolutely anybody at anytime and while I understand that I don't have to date somebody just because I speak to them, I wanted to take that option off of the table. Friday night of that week rolled around and I was planning a nice quite evening at my house to catch up on some movies I had yet to watch. I got a call earlier in the day from friends wondering if I wanted to join them for a movie and I politely declined. The night time had now arrived and just as I was getting comfortable on my couch I got a call from my buddy Bryan, "Dude, why don't you just came hang out with us?" he asked. "Because I don't feel like hanging and I've already sat on my couch to watch a movie" I replied. "If you're going to watch a movie anyway, it should be with us" to which I replied "Dangit Bryan, what theater are you guys at.". Usually I don't succumb to peer pressure, but for whatever reason, that night I decided to appease my friends.


I met Ronnie on June 27, 2008. I was home from school for summer break and since I wasn’t from AZ, I tagged along with my brother, Josh, and his friends to a movie. I had been hanging out with them for quite some time, so I knew all of the people going. We were sitting in our seats waiting for the movie to start (I think it was Wanted that we were seeing) when Bryan, one of Josh’s friends, said, “Ronnie’s coming, so we need to save him a seat.” A few minutes later, here comes a guy with khaki shorts, a t-shirt and “the messy hair look” walking up the stairs, stopping at our row. Everyone said their hellos (all knowing each other) and then Bryan said the words that would change my life forever, “Oh yeah, Ronnie, this is Mandi, Josh’s LITTLE sister.” Boom...fireworks, we fell in love and lived happily ever after. Haha I wish! We sat there waiting for the movie to start, Ronnie was telling riddles and having Josh, who’s a genius, solve them in a matter of seconds. Ronnie made several jokes throughout the first 5 minutes and had me cracking up. Point one for Ronnie: He was a funny man. Because he was so funny, I got super nervous to make jokes because funny people have a higher standard when it comes to funny...and I’m afraid I generally don’t make the mark. Suddenly, hunger struck and I went to get some candy. As I crawled over the other members of our group and passed Ronnie, who was on the isle, I asked if anyone needed anything, to which Ronnie replied, “I kinda need to pee, think you could do that for me?” I playfully rolled my eyes and said I’d see what I could do. When I got back I made sure to get a few sexy, intriguing lines in there like, “Want some m&ms” and (handing him the m&ms again) “Help yourself”. I made occasional eye contact with him as he made little comments during the movie, but there unfortunately, that was it.


I show up for the movie just in time for the previews (which are my favorite part of the experience) and give a quick greet to everyone. I remember re-meeting Mandi and I believe a friend of mine was sitting in between her and I. I should just warn you guys now, if my story sounds completely different than hers, just believe hers is actually the way it happened. I have a TERRIBLE memory. I'll often recap a story to a friend about something awesome he missed to which he will reply, "Yeah, I was there. I was sitting right next to you". Whoops. Or when I asked Mandi about how much fun we used to have playing Boggle together to which she responded, "I've never played that game". Double whoops. Anyways, I'm getting off track. I don't think there was much conversation before the movie started between any of my friends (although now I'm starting to remember playing some kind of game, but that was a different time I think). So the movie Wanted (I think) started and was entertaining as I remember although I can't recommend it to any of you because of the language. After the movie ended we all decided to head to a local (and favorite) Wine Bar called Armitage.

We got there and claimed one of our favorite couches and just started hanging out. I'm pretty sure that Mandi and I started talking almost immediately when we sat down. I'm sure we exchanged some normal stuff but then we got into the heart of what dominated our conversation for the rest of the night- relationships. Since I had recently gotten out of a long-term relationship, the topic quickly started to focus on my ex. As I recall, I did a lot of mental "dumping" on Mandi about what I thought went wrong and what I would do the next time and what I was looking for and yada yada yada. She then analyzed me like an armchair psychologist and soon was telling relatable stories. It was so nice to meet someone who seemed to understand where I was coming from and could sit there and listen as well as dominate a conversation. I've always been used to being dominate in conversations (not that I want to), so this was a welcome relief. I was able to sit back and just listen to her speak (diagnose my situation). Now, she'll tell you the opposite. That I went on and on about my ex and wouldn't shut up. That she never got a word in. What I remember though was me dominating the first 40% of the conversation and then her bringing home the last 60%.

I also remember her completely ignoring some friends of hers that showed up to hang out with her. This told me something about her that night- she actually about what I had to say and was enjoying our conversation, not just putting on a show. I remember her making me feel like I was the only other person in the bar that night. I have to say, it felt really good. What other impressions did I form that night? Instead of thinking of her as stiff, I realized that she was incredibly smart, articulate, and well-spoken, but anything but stiff. She was full of laughs, jokes, stories and just down right entertaining. I was very impressed by her. Even on that first night I remember thinking, "Man, she's like the total package". There was a couple big problems though, I wasn't in the market for a relationship and she was the little sister of a guy in our "crew". I couldn't be that guy. Plus, if we're going to be honest (which Mandi has heard this before), I really didn't think she was my type. She was blonde and she had freckles- two looks that I generally didn't go for. Throw in the fact that she was "related" and lived 3000 miles away and still in college, the last thing that crossed my mind was a relationship.


After the movie we all went to one of our favorite spots, Armitage, to listen to live music. I “happened” to sit next to Ronnie (You will begin to realize, I’m a VERY strategic thinker). I began to ask him questions and soon realized he had JUST gotten out of a relationship. Minus one point for Ronnie: Baggage. I began to poke and prod about him and his ex (had to know why they didn’t work so I could know what NOT to do, right?). He had no bad things to say. One point for Ronnie: Nice guy. Minutes turned into an hours of talking about him, his ex, his life, his CF. What’s that? It was all about him? You betcha...I managed to make him think I wasn’t a big talker...SUCKER. No, I actually enjoyed listening to him talk about himself. He had a way of talking that hooked me. His laugh, his mannerisms, the way his eyes would light up when I would say certain things. I loved it. One point for Ronnie: He was interesting. So I just kept digging. I couldn’t tell you how long we sat there talking. Conversation just came easy with him. There was never a lull. I was hanging on his every word. I remember wishing this night wouldn’t end and that I could learn more about this green-eyed, playful friend of my brother’s. To ensure this wouldn’t be the last I saw of him, I began to plot again. At some point, someone was leaving and mentioned future weekend plans. I quickly threw out an offer to make everyone blueberry pancakes the next morning (genius: where there is food, Ronnie will come). Ronnie agreed to show and Bryan offered up his house. Perfect, this would not be the last I saw of him.


We ended up hanging out for a bit after everyone else had left back in my truck listening to music. The conversation turned towards our tastes in music at some point and she had not heard of some of what I thought were "classic" songs I was mentioning. We chatted for a while longer as I played some tasty treats for her ears. I can't recall a single conversation that we had in my truck as we listened to music and I think I was half asleep, but I do know that I loved every minute about it. She was just so easy to hang out with. After an hour or so of music we parted ways and she left me with question (which probably put us on the road to success) "If I make pancakes tomorrow morning for you guys at Bryan's house, will you be there?"

I couldn't wait for the next day.


Ronnie and I continued to talk as people trickled out. We eventually decided to leave since it would be an early morning of blueberry bliss. But as we were wrapping up our conversation, music started to be discussed. One point for Ronnie: He loved music. (If you’re keeping score, he’s up in points big time). Ronnie tricked me into listening to the songs he was talking about that I had never heard. Could it be that he too wasn’t ready for the conversation to end? It gave me a little hope (although he’ll tell you he WASN’T interested at all and really just wanted me to hear the songs). We walked to his car, which, to my surprise, was a Ridgeline truck. Why was that surprising? I have no idea...just surprised me. I didn’t know then, but that was the first of many surprises Ronnie had in store for me. We jumped in the FRONT SEAT (for any of you who were trying to predict the story) of his truck and he began to play song after song on his ipod. Before each song he would swear was better than the last, tell a story to set it up, or act amazed that I had never heard it. We sat singing songs, talking, laughing. A few hours past, and we decided that it was actually time to wrap things up, as we would see each other in just a few hours. I gave him a quick hug, told him how awesome it was to meet him and get to talk (I tried to play it cool while still letting him know that I thought he was the coolest thing since snap bracelets), jumped out of his truck, and walked to my car, on air.

I don’t know if I ever told him this, but I had trouble falling asleep that night. I was like a little kid on Christmas eve, anticipating the morning, when I’d get to see him again. And if I had known what I know now about Ronnie, and if I had knew where we would be today, I would have been even more excited.

This is a bench outside of Armitage. Mandi made breakfast and we ate there for our first anniversary. See the post here.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Support Systems, Sunsets and (Foot) Support Systems

So every Thursday I'm going to highlight some of the things that I'm thankful for that week. Sometimes the negative issues that come with Cystic Fibrosis can overshadow all of the good stuff going on in our lives. I have so much to be thankful for that I will never be able to cover it all, but I figured that a nice little reminder each week could be a good thing. I hope you enjoy.

- I'm so thankful for my support system. This includes my family, my friends, my girlfriend, and all of you bloggy buddies (RSR had 948 hits yesterday!) out there. It's so important to have people to lean on when times get tough and I need somebody's strength and encouragement (or food) to get me through the day or certain period in my life. This is just a small example of something my support system does for me- When I'm in the hospital, I NEVER eat hospital food for dinner, you heard that right, NEVER. My family comes every single night and brings me dinner. Whether it's my mom, dad, brother, aunt, uncle, cousin, friend, Mandi or a surprise visit from a stranger, someone is there to keep me company and bring me some "real" food. This may seem like a small thing, but I appreciate it beyond measure and hope they feel as valued as I see them.

- I'm so thankful for the Arizona weather. Sure it's hot, but it's also clear blue skies (mostly) and beautiful sunsets EVERYDAY. I always have access to a pool and I often just bob up and down on a raft and appreciate the crystal clear sky above me. I've lived in AZ all of my life and have yet to get tired of clear, bright and sunny days. The sunsets? I must say "WOW!" 360 out of the 365 days of the year when I look west and see the sun falling behind the horizon. The colors that are produced in the sky are so vivid and wonderful that a picture doesn't even do them justice; you have to see it with your own eyes.

- I'm so thankful that my foot feels better. One reason I chose to start running was because I hated it. Seriously, I've never before run in my life. Sure, I had a couple months out of my life when I would run on a treadmill and such, but I never kept it up. I for sure never wanted to run outside on the hard surface of the streets or sidewalk. No way. Too painful. Too hard. I didn't want to go through the pain to do something that I wasn't very good at and couldn't keep up. So naturally, when I decided that I needed to change some things around in my life and focus even more on my health, I chose running. I needed an enemy to defeat. I needed something to challenge me and mock me if you will. Running does just that. I started to actually "enjoy" running after a while. Not because it felt better, it still hurts like heck every time I run, but because of the challenge. So when that challenge got taken away because of my foot problems, I was upset. I actually WANTED to run and admittedly, I missed it. I recently got some specially made foot orthotics and so far, so good. I'm back to running and I can't wait to defeat this "enemy".

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Here's Where We are with the Whole Running Thing

So here's the deal with my workouts. I've always been a believer in switching my lifting routine up about every 6 to 8 weeks so that my body doesn't get used to certain lifts. Many muscle-heads and personal trainers recommend this also, so I figure I'll listen to the experts on this one. Another person that I trust with my health and workout routine is Mandi and she suggested that we switch things up again completely. A big reason for this is to concentrate even more on my lungs and less on my amazing (I'm currently making a fart noise with my mouth) physique. So this change was going to call for more consistent and farther runs as well as other forms of cardio. Before I went into the hospital I was lifting 6 days a week, walking Jezzabel everyday, and running every other day (when my foot had no pain). But I was having some well documented problems.

If you've been following the blog for a while, you know that the only problem that I encountered with lifting was on shoulder day, but running increasingly became more and more of a problem. After (or during) runs, I wouldn't be able to put any weight on my foot with out excruciating pain. I had to completely stop running for about the last 6 weeks before my hospital stay. Right before checking into the hospital, I was able to get specially made orthotics for my feet that hopefully will solve that problem. You can check out my days at the foot doctor and diagnosis here and here. I've used them for the runs while in the hospital and the few runs I've gone on while out. So far so good! What follows is my new schedule that I will follow to hopefully be running that first mile in no time:

Monday: Chest and Tricep, Dog Walk
Tuesday: New Running Routine (click here for details)
Wednesday: Legs and Shoulders, Dog Walk
Thursday: New Running Routine
Friday: Back and Bicep, Dog Walk
Saturday: New Running Routine plus possible additional cardio (ie Hiking)
Sunday: REST

I already did week one the the new running plan and handled it very well. Besides throwing up my lunch one day after the run, there was no other "hiccups". I'm looking forward to really increasing my mileage and one day maybe, just maybe, being able to call myself a runner. This is Run, Sickboy, Run after all!

My total mileage will be a little harder to calculate since the new plans calls for running for a certain amount of time and not a certain distance. As soon as it gets to a point where it makes sense to keep track of distance I will do so. And of course, when I run that first whole mile, you'll know about it.

Here is a picture of me my first day out of the hospital. I'm up to 192lbs (from 184lbs) and you can certainly notice a difference. The problem with gaining muscle rather quickly is that I lose it rather quickly as well. You can compare this picture to how I looked before I went into the hospital by clicking here.

That's all I got for this first edition of Workout Wednesday. As always, please don't hesitate to ask any questions or leave comments. I'm going to be busting my butt everyday to try and improve my lung health and PFT numbers (if you want to see a PFT on film, click here). I really appreciate you guys coming along for the ride!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Top Ten Favorite Songs

I think you can learn a lot about a person based on what kind of music they like. I figured for the first installment of Top Ten Tuesday I would reveal my top ten favorite songs ever. Now, I haven't gone through this list in about a year or so, but as soon as I do (and if there are changes) I'll make sure to post an updated top ten. I'll have links from each song title going to a site where you can hear part of the song to jog, or even start, your memory. My favorite songs from 10 to 1:

9. The Blower's Daughter by Damien Rice
8. Freek 'n You by Jodeci
7. Hands to Heaven by Breathe
6. To Be With You by Mr. Big
5. Everybody Hurts by R.E.M.
4. All Cried Out by Allure
3. You're My Inspiration by Chicago
2. When I See You Smile by Bad English

And my number one all-time favorite song, with out a doubt is..........

1. Lady in Red by Chris DeBurgh

So now the question is: What does this top ten song list say about me? I'm a little afraid to ask, but I'd love to hear your answers.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Allow me introduce myself...

You all already know me as Sickboy’s exercise buddy and partner in crime, but since you’ll be stuck reading my posts once a week, why don’t I tell you a little more about myself.

I grew up all over the place. Born in Ohio, I moved every few years (for my dad’s job) from Ohio to Michigan, Michigan to Pennsylvania, PA to Singapore (in Asia), Singapore back to Pennsylvania. Once I graduated high school, I moved to Syracuse, NY to attend Syracuse University. I just graduated from Syracuse (Go Orange) in December with a degree in public relations and minors and marketing and psychology and moved out to AZ, where my parents moved while I was in college and my older brother now lives. My parents still own their house here, but are living for 3-5 years in Shanghai (that’s what brought Ronnie to China over the holidays). I am currently working full time at a small start-up non profit -- but more on that later...

Now that we’ve gotten my standard story out of the way, let me give you a better idea of me. I think you can tell a lot about someone by the things they here’s a short list of things that I love: sunsets, the first sip of coffee in the morning, traveling, sailboats, live music, running, sun dresses, Skipbo, the first few hours after the sunrises, chocolate chip cookies, graphic design, time with family, bonfires, any and all candy (chocolaty and fruity), House Hunters (HGTV), surprises, Dunkin’ Donuts, Christmas morning, romantic comedies, hiking, and orchids.

That’s my brief give you a little glimpse into Sickboy’s lady and your Monday author. I’d love for you guys to introduce yourselves to me by giving a short list of things you love...

...I look forward to Monday’s with you. Thanks for taking the time to get to know me and for reading my ramblings :)