“Write Me Off, Give Up On Me”

In a very distant time and place, MySpace was of the utmost importance to myself and my much younger peers.  Changing your Top Friends was a major social event and could lead to drama the likes of which TNT doesn’t even know.  Profile pictures, headlines, and profile names were the easels of a generation of quasi-artistic attention-seekers, the generation whose parents were both working and thought one kid was enough, so there was never anyone to show them approval for their latest exploits.  Who better to turn to than each other? Continue reading

2013: Resolving to move forward, part one

“Every day you spend drifting away from your goals is a waste not only of that day, but also of the additional day it takes to regain lost ground”

– Ralph Marston

The “New Year’s Resolution” blog is one of the most overdone things in the digital world but there’s truth to the view that humans desire a clean break from the past when they seek self-improvement.  We “go cold turkey” when it’s healthier to make gradual positive progress toward our goals because we fear temptation and lack of motivation.  We don’t just end relationships, we burn pictures and unfriend on Facebook and find a new circle to run in to avoid any reminders of the past. Continue reading

“God Bless America” – The Perfect Catharsis for the Low-Class Culture

If you want to get a peek inside my mind, check out “God Bless America,” the latest from the mind of Bobcat Goldthwait.  Be warned, though: The link above is a red band trailer (meaning NSFW) and the movie is a bit on the violent side, so it may shock your sensibilities.  Hell, it even shocked my sensibilities in the first fifteen minutes, and that’s damn near impossible.  All the shock aside, though, I felt like this was the first movie to really nail down the rage we should be feeling toward the decline of our civilization over the last decade or more.

I’ve expressed my distaste for the TMZ culture we live in before but there’s no way to accurately put into words the disgusting nature of a country where it has become acceptable to be “against” women’s rights, gay rights, or anyone’s rights for that matter, and run for office.  There’s no such thing as civil discourse on politics.  If I don’t like your candidate, I’m a leftist socialist that wants to steal all your tax money and spend it on drugs.  (The irony is that I am a leftist socialist and I make more than the average person that thinks I’m trying to steal their income for my cocaine addiction and food stamps, but I digress.)  There’s no middle ground, no civility, no diplomacy, no respect and no class in discussing politics anymore, so while we all engage in flame wars, the powerful people do the Mr. Burns with no oversight.

The movie addresses the political discourse but also tackles the scourge of trash TV.  For every Kardashian, Snooki, or Situation that exists in the GBA world, there’s at least one bullet with their name on it, and it’s all for good reasons.  We’ve turned into a society of exploitation, of just being really, really mean, and it’s destroying us.  Some of you might not understand why “American Superstarz,” an obvious take on “American Idol” with its own William Hung-style “so bad he’s entertaining” singer, is a primary target of Frank and Roxy’s rage, but of those of us who get it, the message is one that’s all too clear: We can do better.  We can treat each other better.  We can have a little more self-respect and respect for others.

Religion?  Yeah, recently Germans were quoted as being completely puzzled by American Christians’ dislike of universal healthcare.  We’ve turned religion into a weapon, something used to hate, and the sad thing is that this isn’t some new trend started by the United States… it’s been used that way since its inception, but we’ve really “militarized” religion, so to speak, more than any other nation in modern history.  Gays?  God says no.  Atheists?  God says no.  Birth control?  God says no.  The truth is, even if this were a “Christian nation” like so many claim, that’s just like, your opinion, man.  Free country and all that, remember?  Bobcat cuts right to the chase here, going directly after the Westboro Baptist idiots with semi-automatic weapons.

Joel Murray (yes, he’s brothers with Bill and the other Murrays) and Tara Lynne Barr (quite possibly my new favorite actress with how she brought Roxy to life) are the perfect pairing in this assault on the dumbing-down of society and the feeling coming out of the movie, for me, even with a melancholy ending, was one of satisfaction, of relief.  I worry all the time just how far down the rabbit hole we can go before we really do become the world of Idiocracy (or Wall-E or even the Hunger Games… clearly we know there’s a problem).  What can we do to turn it around?

My guess is it’s a lost cause yet I still try every day to move beyond the petty and crass world we live in and inspire some peace and goodwill and, especially, a little independent thought.  After all, what’s really missing at the end of the day is intellectualism, and that’s what could turn our culture around.

We just need to ask Frank and Roxy to clean house a bit first.

Life got crazy for a few days and it’s probably staying that way for awhile

Sleep had already been hard to come by.  As the last week crawled along, I began to miss Ohio more and more and the result was the same melancholy and the same insomnia that had become so familiar since last September.  Three hours one night, perhaps an hour and a half the next.. Mountain Dew cans were lining my desk at work and I collapsed on the couch every day at five.

Wednesday night I used my second favorite sleep aid to get some shuteye.  After finishing the bottle of Jack, I crashed for seven hours of the best sleep I’d had in 2012.  I knew there’d be hell to pay in the morning but I didn’t need to be at the office so I could knock out the day’s work without looking like a functioning member of society.  I set no alarm because I’ve realized by now it’s simply not necessary.  At 8:57, I groggily pulled myself off the air mattress and stumbled to the living room, sliding the dimmer switch about a third of the way up while my dilated pupils adjusted to what felt like the surface of the sun burning into my retina.

Why did I have an appointment with the big guy?  Typically my boss passed along all the messages from above, so I immediately assumed I had been fired for some offhand remark made in a moment of lowered inhibitions.  Wait… why is it in three freaking minutes?

Nothing sobers you up like a sudden meeting with your boss’s boss with a nondescript title.

I took a deep breath and dialed.  My fears were unfounded but a new type of desperation came over me as I was informed that the man I worked for had just accepted a position with a competitor and, as is policy in this competitive environment, he was required to terminate his relationship with the company immediately.  After seven years in services I made the leap into web planning only to have the guy with all the answers pried away in just over three months.

Did I worry because I felt unprepared for the responsibilities of his role on top of mine?  Perhaps.  I knew there were several projects I had never seen, contracts I didn’t have copies of… and I wasn’t exactly blessed with a lot of bandwidth in my current spot as it was.  I felt exposed, like I had been set up or failure.

This wasn’t the biggest problem, however.  As I stated above, the insomnia has been getting worse every time I come back to Minnesota, especially after I’ve been away from her for a couple of weeks or we don’t get much of a chance to communicate.  With this shift in staffing and responsibilities, how was I going to be back home by spring?  How could I justify this move when the one person I’d been proving myself to was no longer with the company to vouch for my trustworthiness and work ethic?  Was I doomed to stay in Minnesota, and if so, was there a bridge nearby?

The rest of the day was a blur.  That night was a blur.  The next morning, I gathered everything and did something I’ve rarely done on a Friday… I went to the office.  (Not only that, but I stayed until five.)  Upon my arrival, I sat down with my new boss and discussed everything.  My mind was put at ease as I learned everyone understood this would be a learning period and we could work together.  I spent the rest of that day being as productive as I’ve ever been and began to see this for what it was, career-wise:  An opportunity to demonstrate how quickly I learn, adapt, and excel under pressure.  This was all going to be very visible and I felt a newfound confidence that I would be knocking it out of the park.

Outside of my career, though, there are still too many questions.  It seems a selfish time to suggest a conversation about my residency while we’re all scrambling to make our new situation work; however, I simply cannot continue to provide the level of efficiency, quality and positive contributions on ninety minutes’ rest each night.

I’m concerned about my work/life balance, not because I’m working too much, but because I’m too far removed from my life.  I found a temporary cure at the bottom of a bottle of Jagermeister last night, but that’s not an acceptable long-term answer for someone just getting back into decent physical shape nor someone with my predilection for addiction.

I’ve resolved to address the situation Monday.  I feel that I have a duty to be as transparent as I can with my new boss and to work together with him and the larger team to do what’s best for our projects.  From where I sit, I still believe my best work would be generated from my home office… but it’s not my call.

I made a vow to work my way back where I belong.  I’m moving forward and keeping that vow.

The first nine chapters of the greatest love story ever written…

I often get asked for the story behind Kristin and I meeting each other and how the entire relationship came to be. I’ve shared the short version of the story perhaps one hundred or more times, but I don’t believe that I’ve ever turned it into a long-form story for all to read.  She says she doesn’t get mentioned enough in my blog, so Krissy – this one’s for you! 😉

Nine years ago this week (January 4th, 2003 to be exact), Kristin and I went on our first date.  Looking at the calendar this week and realizing how much time has gone by just blew my mind and it’s beyond my comprehension how, despite the years, it still feels like we should be counting months.

But first, we’ll go back to the previous July.  The previous year, I had lost a decent job in Columbus to a merger and was having trouble finding something to get me by.  Lost in the world, I decided I would make lemonade out of the lemons life kept handing me by crossing an item off my bucket list… operating a roller coaster.  I packed up what I could and threw the rest in storage and headed for Sandusky after being accepted at Cedar Point as a ride host for Power Tower.  It wasn’t a coaster, but I figured I could get there eventually.  Clearly, I wasn’t at a point in my life where I had set my sights too high.

There was on-site housing at Cedar Point and this is where I lived.  None of the housing was private; I chose a four person single-room dorm and met the guys who would be my roommates for the summer.  I had gone from the comfort and privacy of my apartment to sharing a single small room with complete strangers and my income was cut by about two thirds.  I tried to keep my head up but I didn’t expect the sun to come out any time soon.

Life went on and I was trained and prepped and uniformed and the season got under way. Fast forward to July on a day that couldn’t have been less than 90 degrees.  The sun had indeed arrived, literally speaking, and was about to shine on me metaphorically as well.  Three young girls came through the line while I was in the seat-checking position and, as is pretty customary between ride ops and teenage girls, there were some lighthearted flirtatious comments made before liftoff.  They came through a couple more times that day and I did my best to make sure I was there as opposed to up in the air conditioned control booth I typically preferred.

These girls were a riot.  I had several interactions per day like this but this one was more entertaining somehow.  I’m not sure if it was the mismatched two-striped tube socks or just the ridiculous line of conversation, but it sure didn’t feel like work.  Somewhere in the momentary chats before and after launch, I passed along my AIM screen name (2003, remember?) to continue our random craziness later.  I didn’t admit it to myself at the time, but the quiet girl in the group was exceptionally cute and I was hoping to get her to talk eventually.

Turns out, the quiet one of the group talked plenty.  After getting her screen name and chatting for a bit, I learned she worked at Toot Sweets, a dessert shack near the back of the park.  We decided to work out a way to take a lunch together, then another, and then it became a regular occurrence.  We were friends.. I was still in a relationship and she claimed to be at the time.  Besides, I wasn’t supposed to be seen with an underage “green tag” anyway.  Yet here we were, having lunch every day and chatting on AIM every night.  I guess I should’ve seen it coming quite a bit sooner.

The season ended.  I found a house to rent and a temp job at a magazine distribution facility in the area.  We kept chatting but we didn’t see each other after she quit in August.  Hiding behind our keyboards made us feel a little more bold, a little less vulnerable to the reality of our situation and we started arriving at the conclusion that we weren’t just talking because we shared the same taste in so many things… there was something a bit more “real” developing that neither of us had anticipated.  It wasn’t the easiest realization for my 22 year old self nor my 14 year old friend.  The world has a way of placing people in awkward situations with no clue on how to proceed.

At some point, I think it must have been around my 23rd birthday in October, I decided that it was time to stop pretending this wasn’t happening.  I suggested a movie.  She accepted.  I immediately became a nervous wreck because I literally had no idea how I was going to pull this off, but I knew that it was too late to turn back.  Time went by and we arrived at that date I mentioned earlier.. January 4th, 2003.  I arrived at her house for the first time and she came to the car.  She let me know that her mother was under the impression I was, let’s say, a bit younger than I was.  *gulp*

We got lost on the way to the movie theater.  I’d never been in the town we were heading for and I learned quite early that Kristin is not in charge of navigation.  🙂  Eventually, though, I asked at a gas station, where the clerk let me know I had been going the wrong direction for quite some time and set us back on the right course.  She wasn’t nervous about being lost in the middle of nowhere with me, so that was comforting at least.

Lord of the Rings 2 was our choice.. neither of us had seen the first one, but it was the longest movie playing at the time and we just wanted to be together longer, being the first time we had seen each other since admitting our feelings.  Apparently, the movie was a little too long as she fell asleep on my shoulder about halfway through.

(I cannot explain in words how amazing it feels to know that someone could trust you so much, so quick that they are literally comfortable enough to fall asleep on your shoulder on your first date.)

Months passed before we saw each other again, but we started talking constantly via AIM and phone.  I fell hard and fast for this girl and her mock reluctance fooled me into falling even harder and faster.  When the next season started at Cedar Point, every moment near that park was planned out to the minute so we could enjoy our lunch breaks together, ride coasters before and after work and just generally spend time around each other whenever we could.  I was moved to Corkscrew, a classic coaster that I fell in love with, and she was moved to Coasters, a 1950’s diner-style burger joint at the edge of the Corkscrew.

That was the best summer of my life, and when I need nostalgia, I just think of her and I meeting beside Coasters after work to just sit and talk.  Eventually, she left Cedar Point again and I was offered a great job in Columbus that I couldn’t resist.  Sadly, we parted… and two weeks later, we decided that the distance couldn’t stop us.  On August 19th, 2003, we made the relationship official.  We’d make it through anything and everything together; we’d be the ones that proved everyone wrong.

I put thousands of miles on my car driving to see her every third weekend, then every other weekend, then every weekend.  Eventually, I couldn’t take any more goodbyes and I went all in – I quit my job, broke my lease and moved back to Vermilion with nothing but my love for her to keep me going.  After two months of being unemployed, I was hired at Best Buy in Sandusky and this July, I’ll celebrate eight years with the company.  Thirty-two days later, I’ll celebrate nine years with the girl of my dreams.

Sure, there have been some rough patches.  Life isn’t a fairy tale.  Her older sister definitely wanted to see me die a slow and painful death and fighting the school board to let us attend her senior prom was a rather unique experience.  However, I stood my ground and declared our love as the real thing.  I told them all to check back in a decade for their proof.  I know people say things like that all the time, but in our case, it really meant something.  In a decade, our ages wouldn’t matter anymore.

We have one year to go and it’s only getting better.

There’s so much that came after those first few chapters, so many ways she’s improved my life and helped me achieve things I once thought impossible, but I can’t type all night.  Perhaps I’ll go a little more in depth in a few weeks on the rest of these first nine chapters and get some more of our story out there for the masses.  Regardless of all that, the tenth chapter will be bringing me home to her this year and I can’t wait to live it.

In this book, every chapter has a happy ending.

College Football: Making Saturdays great since 1995

I grew up in an Ohio State household.  It’s probably no small wonder that I became a Michigan fan.  It’s natural to root for the underdog and the local team, but I don’t always follow the path of least resistance.  For being a Michigan fan in Ohio, I’ve been flipped off, told to kill myself, had my sexuality questioned, and had a rock thrown at my car amidst what I can only assume were some obscenities.  The guy was so drunk and/or livid that Michigan car flags existed that you could barely make out what he was sputtering as he released the baseball-sized boulder.  He missed.  He overthrew.  Maybe he should’ve tried a running play.

The Oakland Athletics were my first favorite sports team, starting around 1987 when Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were the Bash Brothers and Rickey Henderson was stealing bases like it was a walk in the park.  I moved along to the Braves once the A’s imploded (Canseco started falling apart not long after his 40/40 season in 1988, Henderson had his not-so-humble celebration for the stolen base record, and McGwire turned into the incredible ginger hulk), but since the mid 1990’s, I haven’t watched much pro baseball.  I’d rather check out a Lake Erie Crushers game live, in good seats, for five bucks on dollar dog night.

Since those days, though, it’s been all about football for me.  I was a Bengals fan for a number of years but gave up when they signed the cancer known as TO.  I’m a big Ochocinco fan and think he has his best years ahead of him, but TO is a darkness over an entire team.  Nothing you all don’t already know.  Needless to say, I have lost interest in pro football.

Saturdays, for me, are where it’s at… I check out the schedule by Tuesday and pick out a noon game, a 3:30 game, and a 7 or 8pm game.  Sometimes there are two in one time slot and I’ll either need two screens or the “Back” button close by.  Right now, I just finished hailing to the Victors at Michigan after their 28-7 victory over Hoke’s last school, SDSU.  Right now, I’m watching OSU rebound from a loss last week with a ten point lead.  In a few hours, I’ll paradoxically shout “War Eagle!” for a team called the Tigers.  Auburn became my other favorite team through several random associations, not the least of which was Tommy Tuberville… everything about the man was hard to dislike in comparison to the douchiness that is Nick Saban.  Plus his name was Tommy.  Tommy Tuberville.  That’s an excellent name.

It gets paired up with drinks, or grilling, or friends, or the throwing of random objects across the room on a bad day, but the mainstay of my Saturday life during the fall is college football.  It will make Saturdays the easiest days to get through while I’m out here in Minnesota, braving the cold and lonely winter.  If you ever have the urge to watch a game and aren’t sure who might be interested… let me know.

I haven’t seen a single pair of twins in the Twin Cities

Even the baseball team doesn’t have any twins.  Maybe they should go track down Jose and Ozzie Canseco.

I’m just being facetious, of course; I have never watched a Twins game and I know what the Minn/St Paul nickname is really all about.  I guess the toughest thing about being in a big new city like this, though, is that I have no idea where anything is or what I can get myself into on the cheap.  I’m trying to vastly roll back my drinking habit, so bars have suddenly become much less enticing, though I may head down to BW3’s tomorrow to watch the games and eat some parmesan garlic boneless wings… stuff is pure heaven.

What I need to know are those places you can go and hang out and lose yourself for a few hours but you don’t have to go broke to do it.  I’m talking record stores, bookstores, head shops, local rock shows, art galleries, open air markets, dives with good burgers… Where do people talk politics out here?  Who can help me out?  I’ve got a buddy, a sleeper agent named Erik Hess, that has offered to show me around in the past.  I think I’m going to have to take him up on it.

The alternative is to sit here complacent, and all that does is make me miss Kristin more.  It’s not exactly a secret that she’s better at this distance thing than I am and I really need distractions to keep me from worrying that she’s going to get bored or get swept off her feet, which is ridiculous after over eight years together but I never claimed to be perfect and I’m doing my best to do my best.

If you think I’m out of my mind, imagine being 22 with no job, no money, no hope, no will to try… and one day, out of nowhere, you meet the girl that’s going to make you want to succeed because she changed your mind that love was a myth and that you’d wake up in the morning with an actual smile on your face someday.  Imagine going from 60 to 120 in 3.2 seconds without even being in a car, because we’re talking BPM, not MPH… my heart was beating out of my chest and it still does and all this success I have today is hers.  It wouldn’t have happened any other way.

She likes to disagree but she’s modest.  I know where I’d be without her… still working at Cedar Point, cynical about love and life and leading myself down the same dead end because I thought it was the only road I was qualified to travel.

Slam poetry.  That’s what I need.  Is there slam poetry in Minneapolis?  Someone like Eric Darby or G. Watsky or something like that… the positive stuff, the insightful and thought-provoking stuff.  If you’ve seen this, tell me where I can.  It’s the best kind of distraction.

Either that or twins.