Sunday, July 20, 2014

Now That's Teamwork

I have spent many years trying to uncover the mysteries of the L-word. These have been years littered with after hours conversations, behavioral observations, and repeated viewings of the television show How I Met Your Mother. Again, I say that I have spent years trying to understand what it means to be in true L-word, because it has been a monstrous puzzle in my eyes. It has confused me, astonished me, and pushed me to the point where I have no idea what the ultimate definition is for this four-letter curse word. 

All of that changed yesterday when I looked down the hallway in my gym and saw this couple in the middle of an intense workout. At first I thought this was a joke, some sort of comedic relief to the fellow gym patrons, but as their workout continued I began to wonder to myself, was this their misconstrued maternity version of Kegel exercises? I think it's safe to say that she is in fact pregnant, right? I glanced repeatedly and took multiple Instagram shots of this couple meanwhile a swirl of thoughts wondered what in the name of Morgan Freeman were they doing danced around my head. Suddenly, as he collapsed in defeat with her padded rear end smashing his face into the floor, I had an epiphany that rang clear as this redneck couple accidentally pinned themselves to the ground.  

When you are willing to use your pregnant wife as added weight on your back in order to get a deeper workout on your pushups, well that certainly has to be the epitome of true love. 

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

I Don't Speak Baby

I don’t understand your baby talk. There, I said it.

For full effect, download “Walk Like A Man” by The Four Seasons and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

This afternoon while feasting over the American imitation of not-so-Mexican food with a couple of buddies, I felt like a sore thumb standing out in an Asian country unable to understand the discussion that was going on between them. You realize at this point in my life, almost all of my friends are either A. Married B. With children, C. About to get divorced or D. All of the above. These two chums fell in both categories A and B, and my confusion began to mount when I came to the understanding that I don’t speak baby. 

When I say I don’t speak baby, I’m not talking about the googoos and the gagas, and the “this little piggy went to the market” vernacular that most parents abuse in order to make sure their own offspring develop speech impediments before they turn three. No, that stuff is easy to figure out and decipher. What I mean is the lingo that my married mates toss back and forth with each other when discussing the tools to raising a child. And as one of them was balancing his four-month old son next to his pork salad, oh how their discussion started to flow.

Keith: “So have you got the bumbo yet?

Quin: “No not yet, he’s not really developed for it yet. He does well in his playard though.”

Keith: “That’s good. Is he still on Enfamil, or Similac? Which one do you use for him?”

Quin: “We haven’t weaned him off of those yet. He sure does love his binky.”

Binky? Wait, I think I caught that last one. That’s that little plastic thingy that’s shaped like a nipple that you shove in their face to get them to shut up at 3:20 in the morning right?

The conversation then shifted gears as they started discussing sleeping patterns, and naptime schedules, and little things that amuse the kid in three-minute increments. Again, all of their dialogue is foreign to me. I’m a single man whose life schedule is organized by primetime sporting events on ESPN. I have no idea what it’s like to have a four-month old poop pusher rule my life. I’m not saying I don’t ever want to be ruled by a poop pusher but at this point, a poop pusher doesn’t have a stronghold grip on my focus like he does on these guys.

Quin: “He has such as short attention span. Like I wish he could focus long enough to understand the storyline of Finding Nemo. But no, he gets bored and starts looking for my thumb to start sucking on.”

Oh the little joys in life, to one day have the privilege of knowing your child can have his brain repeatedly occupied by a Royal Blue Tang with A.D.D.

I think I’m a semi-intelligent guy, that’s safe to say isn’t it? I mean, I’m no brain surgeon, I didn’t graduate as a valedictorian at any level of education, and I can’t properly use words that have more than four syllables in them, but I think I can keep up with the rest of the world. Heck, if I can understand the plotline for the season finale of Lost, why can’t I understand what they’re talking about when they go all foreign on me with their babytalk?

Keith: “It’s because you don’t have one of these things yet Brock. And one day when you do, one day when you finally have a kid, all of this stuff we’re talking about will make sense.”   

One day, huh Keith? Alright, I hear ya. One day I just might be able to speak their language. I just might be able to know the definitions for Bumbo, and playard, and Similac. And maybe one day I just might be holding on to a little poop pusher sucking on my finger while I repeatedly doze off into a pork salad.

Yeah, that’ll be the day… 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

That Sure Makes Life Grand

Earlier this week the Rhinestone Cowboy spoon-fed me a piece of humble pie while standing in the lobby of a bigwig hotel.

"I like reading your blog, it's just...I think you could be more positive is all."

If you’ll excuse me sir, I will now tuck my tail in between my pissed off legs and kindly exit the premise.

For full effect, download “My Favorite Things” from the musical, The Sound of Music and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

I will admit this is not the first time I have heard these words in my career as a not even close to professional writer. Eleven years ago while working as a young, naive, inconsistent punk editor for my college newspaper my Grandpa offered the same constructive criticism in regards to my weekly opinion column, a column that more than likely had a whopping 15 avid readers, slightly more than this blog.

Grandpa: "See, I enjoy reading your articles every week, but do you have to be so negative and sarcastic? I think you could do a little bit better.”

It caught me off guard to be tossed the same tokens of wisdom about my writing over a decade apart from one another. Have I not developed my verbiage skills at all over the last ten years? Am I still the same 18-year old punk-nosed, arrogant-snorting Homestar Runner writing columns for the Dixie Sun? I know my young affinity for the comedy of David Spade and terminally depressing events in my life have perhaps hardened my pessimistic shell, but am I still a cynical ass who thrives off negativity?

I’m not sure what the correct answer is to that rhetorical question, but either way I decided to take a step back from my on-schedule rants, exploit the words of wisdom given to me by my Grandfather and the Rhinestone Cowboy, and tell you about some of the positive things in life that I L-word.

Being lulled off into hypnosis by the smell of a new T-shirt coming out of a freshly delivered package. I swear there is nothing better than tearing off the plastic tags, and dwarfing yourself in its erotic aromas. The smell of a new T-shirt is the pinnacle of perfume, without question.

When you wake up after what seems to be an undercut night of rest and brace yourself for yet another long day at the office. Rolling over, you look at your iPhone and see the digits 3:17 am staring you back from your screen. “Dear Lord, I have four more hours in this comfortable blanket fort? My life could not get any better.”

Sitting down for lunch at Pier 51 in Chicago and ordering a plate of carrot cake. For those who have heard of this delectable goodness, I don’t need to say anything more. But for those who haven’t, this dessert would get Bugs Bunny arrested for sexual misconduct it is that arousing.

Driving home from work and having a DJ toss out the phrase, “Here’s a classic for ya from one of the greatest bands of all time.” On cue, “Bohemian Rhapsody” by Queen comes over the airwaves and you have the privilege of harmonizing with Freddie Mercury for five minutes and fifty-eight seconds while everyone else and their boring lives drive by you in envy.

Pulling into my house just after 3:30 am after being gone for two weeks and walking into a hotel-mimicked bedroom with a freshly made bed. Laying my head down on pillows scented with Cheer Fabric softener I sleep just a little bit better, grateful that the last thing I remembered to do before I got on my flight was wash my bedding, and play the role of Consuela from housekeeping.

Getting a phone call from a long lost college buddy who was a bastard on the basketball court but a teddy bear inside, and reminiscing about life and the direction everyone is headed for over two hours. Not having to play catch up, filled with awkward pauses and repeated glances at the hours of your clock because when you’re connected with them, you pick up right where you left off.

Having a best friend give you honest advice that rights your rudder and puts your blogging career back in the black. The same advice your Grandpa gave you over a decade earlier. Knowing that you have people in your life who care about you, and want the best for you.

Yeah, that sure makes life grand.  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

That Will Burst Your Bubble

I feel very fortunate that I am not in possession of an addiction to coffee.

For full effect, download “Don’t Kill The Magic” by Magic!, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

For the record, the current post you are reading is being written while I am sitting through an academic education session being hosted by a Math teacher from South Florida who has told our audience repeatedly that she has an obsession with Winnie the Pooh. I am not joking, I am being instructed about having a successful career in higher education by a 55-year old loony who is holding stuffed animals of both Eeyore and Tigger, and she is asking us to respect her opinion.

Part of me thinks I’m secretly being taped for a reality show about potential insanity in higher education.

Kids, at the moment I am in Chicago, one of the most famous cities in the entire world. I’m at the home of MJ, Walter Payton, and Harry Caray. I’m surrounded by pizza places and hot dog stands. Chicago is a place that was made famous from movies like Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, The Fugitive, and of course, Best Picture winner Chicago. This is a place that is actually the hometown for Linka from the TV show Captain Planet, despite the rumors about her heritage being from the Soviet Union. And if you didn’t get that last joke, she was the Planeteer for wind.

Go ahead, exhale heavily out of your nostrils at this point.

Aside from being lectured by a fruitbasket who is now pouring sand, pebbles, and water into a mason jar to accentuate her point that we need to have our priorities in line, by the way have I mentioned she has a pair of jumper cables draped around her neck to help “jump start” the audience, aside from her shenanigans I must say that being 1,600 miles away from home has helped me see the pros and cons of my life, the ups and the downs. It has helped me see where I stand compared with the rest of the “real world” outside the bubble of Washington County.

Which brings me back to the opening line of not being a closet addict to Starbucks.

This morning I got up to be edjumucated about higher education with my first session starting at just after 8:30. I think I was one of a handful of people lining the escalators at the Sheraton Hotel who didn’t have bags under my eyes and clinging on to a double latte mochaccino. Out of all of the facts that I have learned at this conference, one of the most notable is that in order to have a successful career in higher education, a staple is that you have an unbearable addiction to coffee. Despite the fact that we are heralded as overly educated individuals we are stereotyped to be flat-out morons when it comes to our personal sleeping habits.

I am lucky to not go into withdrawals when I don’t have an IV of Folgers injected into my left forearm to combat my hangover symptoms from last night’s drinking binge after work. I am lucky I don’t rely on a combination of Disney characters and jumper cables to give a successful presentation to a group of “highly educated” people. I am lucky the good man upstairs gave me the life that he did, the job that I have, the friends that surround me, I hit the jackpot on nearly every point in my life, true story.

However being on the road all summer, traveling to the tips of Mexico, to the Northwest corner of the country, and now to the windiest city in ‘Murica, I feel like I am unlucky on certain aspects of my life. I haven’t been exposed to a diversity of people in my life, rather I have been smothered by Utah culture for 27 years running. I haven’t been fortunate to work at a flagship top-tier University firing on all cylinders. I haven’t been lucky enough to have fresh sushi at my fingertips #Japanesefoodproblems. And as The Rhinestone Cowboy and I went on a run this afternoon I was caught in a semi-humbling/penitent moment on the running path when I began to wonder about things in my life I may have missed.

It’s a mad, mad, mad, mad world, that’s for certain. And as I took a few steps back on that running trail and looked out at Lake Michigan, a phrase my Grandpa taught me to help get through the hard times in life suddenly sprang into my mind: “It could be worse.”

Now that is certainly true. I could be a Cubs fan.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

That'll Shut A Kid Up

So my cousins were in full blown five-year old mode running and yelling and terrorizing every living thing within their sight. Their motives were only to push the envelope of annoyance as far as they could. Trust me, I remember what I was like when I was five, I know exactly what their intentions were. 

Rather than scold them or yell at them or tell them to quit acting their age so the rest of us big-kids could focus on things like engaged conversations about the weather or news updates about Obamacare, I simply put down my computer, reached into my pocket and pulled out two pennies. Walking them both over to the hallway I told them that they were now going to be in a competition with each other to see who could hold their penny to the wall with their nose the longest, and whoever won, I would give them a secret prize. 

They've been standing there quietly with their snouts on Abe Lincoln for 35 minutes. 

I think I might be on to something here.  

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Love Is...

                  This is the part where you want me to tell you that this is going to be a romantic love story drawn out where I, the main character find the girl of my dreams, the girl out of my league, the girl who I have been pining over for the entirety of my young adult life. The part where I long for her, I work for her, I play the romantic games of cat and mouse, jump through the hoops doused in fire and ultimately get the girl to fall in L-word with me in the end.
                  Cue curtains, roll credits, it’s been great. Thank you, and come again.
                  This is also the part where I tell you that none of that will ever happen. If you clicked on this hoping for me to tell you a romantic story about two star-crossed lovers finally ending up together, well I’m sorry, you wandered on to the wrong site this evening.
                  Because this is not a story about two people falling in love.
                  For full effect, download “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.
                  It’s a funny thing, you know? That L-word. It makes people make rash decisions, do stupid things, hold stereos above their heads in 80’s movies in hopes that Huey Lewis and the News will get the girl next door to fall head over heels for you. 
                  Love is emotion.
                  Love is euphoria.
                  Love is elevation.
                  Love is doing stupid things at stupid times for stupid people.
                  Cue Foreigner breaking down on VH1 in 1984 begging the crowds, “I want to know what love is!”
                  I look at the waiter standing like a penned up yak counting down the seconds on the front of his eyelids until his shift is over.
                  “You know on second thought, I’ll just have the pear salad.” She says.
                  Why? Why do we do it? Why do we make dumb decisions? Decisions strictly motivated by a killer instinct or an infatuation. Why do we write songs, and letters, and poems, and hang decorative pictures above our closet doors about the day when two people fell for each other? Why are the plotlines of daytime dramas anchored by this four-letter word? Why are these emotional infatuations at the root of nearly all of our problems? Why do people die for this word? What drives them to want this so badly?
                  Men ache for it, women long for it. People start wars and catastrophes and launch a thousand ships over it. Blind Greek poets write thousands of lines intermingled with death, dishonor, deception and deceitful wooden horses that lead to mass murder, all because of it. This four-letter word, this curse above all curses, the root in the heart of the box from Pandora, this disgusting, foul, self-centered, crisis-causing calamity is something that everyone wants, everyone needs, everyone craves late into the night when they lay in Queen-sized hotel bedrooms in Tacoma all by themselves.  
                  Love is a craving.
                  Love is a longing.
                  Love is cancer.
                  “It’s like, the only real thing I learned from him was that guys can be real jerks, ya know?” she says.
                  I nod my head.
                  “I mean, who sits there and likes a post from their ex right in front of a girl they are taking to dinner?” She says.
                  She looks at me. She looks up and to the right, remembering word for word, scene by scene the moments of that dinner. Conversations like these make me want to shove an extra handful of buttered up oat bread down the back of her throat.
                  It spreads. It infects. To the point of no return. To the point where people make ludicrous decisions. To the point where people bend down on one knee and beg to go the altar wearing the $.16 ring they just pulled out of the Cracker Jack box. Love is a plague that turns good people bad, and bad people worse. Love can’t be cured. Love can’t be fixed. Love is a closet obsession that drives people to madness.
                  Love is cocaine.
                  Love is heroin
                  Love is what Walter White makes in a trailer in Albuquerque.
                  It is an addiction. Once you have it, you want more of it. It is maniacal. It causes you to lose your sanity. You sacrifice things just to have a taste of it. You risk your health, your sleep, your money, your career, your own life just to have a glimpse of it. Love is your obsession that is worth more than the processed drugs junkies snort in back alleyways.
                  Love is intoxication.
                  Love is obsession.
                  Love is desensitization.
                  “There are times that I sit and wonder, ‘why did I spend so many months with him’?” She says.
                  “Months?” I say “How many?”
                  She looks up and to the right again, calculating in her head the moment she was first smitten to the time he broke her heart and asked her to take him back.
                  And again.
                  And again.
                  And again.
                  “Total, it was somewhere around 19 months or something like that, not that I kept track or anything.”
                  “19 months huh?” I say.
                  “Yeah… about that.”
                  “Hmm…how’s your ravioli?”
                  Love is a game.
                  Love is a tactic.
                  Love is dishonest.
                  Love is not true, and I say that because in order to get a girl to fall in love with you in today’s world, in the modern day society, in a world littered with hashtags, to get a girl to be swept off her feet, you must first put yourself into a category more pathetic and ungentlemanly than Kanye West and Pauly Shore combined. The way to get girls is to be a project.
                  “You know, in hindsight, I am really glad we dated for so long. In those 19 short months, I really came to understand who I truly was. And that’s what is really important to me.” She says.
                  “So if he came crawling back to you at this point in time, you wouldn’t take him back?”
                  She pauses.
                  The fact that she didn’t answer before I could complete the question tells me exactly what would happen if her phone vibrated with his face on the screen.
                  “No, I don’t think I would. I...”
                  “You don’t think?”
                  “No, I’m pretty sure I’m past all that.”
                  “You’re pretty sure?”
                  She looks again to the right of the arch in the background. “Enough about him, let’s talk about you. Where do you work?”
                  I raise my hand in defense interrupting the man in the apron’s conversation, signaling I’m ready to hand over my money.
                  Why do women do this in their pecking order? Who knows? Why do high-class gents who have careers, educations, high self-esteems, low debts, good workout routines, clean cars, funny jokes, common courtesy, great ambitions, aromatic cologne, ironed shirts, and clipped fingernails get shut down? Because they are in fact, not projects. And women want nothing to do with a self-dependent creature that will treat them like a queen. They want the grime and filth and abuse that will come in years of frustration, hoping that some day their projects will change into the man they want him to be. 
                   “Thanks so much for dinner.” She says, reaching her arms above my shoulders and pulling me in for the kill. “I had a really fun time tonight.”
                  “Yeah it was great.”
                  “We should really do this again sometime.” She steps back and stares at me in silence waiting for my confirmation.
                  We should, but we won’t.
                  The door shuts behind her as she goes in to check her text messages and verify the project hasn’t called in the last two hours. This girl will go to bed a little less full because she doesn’t have someone to work on. Because she doesn’t have mental disorders to unravel. Because she doesn’t have an abusive prick waiting at her fingertips.
                  You want to talk about love?
                  Love is searching for a yellow umbrella at a train station.
                  Love is a suicidal pact between the children of two conflicting families.
                  Love is never letting go of Jack.
                  Love, is a project.