Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Catch Me If You Can

Kids, over the past ten months of my life I have put more miles on my body than a used Ford Pinto after a cross-country race in the Sahara Desert.

And yet, here I go again.

For full effect, download “Meet Me In The City” by The Black Keys and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

For the record I would like to note that I have found it interesting my blog has been flying somewhat under the radar over the last few weeks. Maybe it’s because I’m not being controversial enough, or writing pieces that aren’t emotionally enthralling for you to push the like button on your Facebook feed. Could it be that I’ve just lost my skill as a writer this early on in my career? For whatever reason, I really don’t care. Because as I’ve said many times before, these blogs aren’t for you, they’re for my kids. They are a record of the misdeeds and foul-ups that happened to their Dad over the years. So go ahead and gloss over your scrolling newsfeed and forget these four minutes of cynical literature ever even happened.

Over the last ten months I have been everywhere. From Newport to Seattle, from Cabo to Chicago, and every cursewording pit stop in between. I’ve been on more flights than Leanoardo DiCaprio’s character in Catch Me If You Can. And here I now sit on an unmade hotel bed that room service forgot to take care of, blogging my life away in the remote corner of the world known as Boise, Idaho. Kids, the next ten days of my life will be bittersweet to say the least. This will be the fourth annual installment of the Napolean Dynamite Pacwest journey, and yes, will all you helicopter parents please send me your stereotypical pimple-poppers in droves and legions aplenty?

Every Teenager on this tour: “Uh yes, can I get a Pumpkin Mint Frappucinno with Hazelnut Cinnamon foam please?”

Starbucks Manager: “You can, but those drinks actually require a minimum of two nose piercings, Miss. Come back when you’ve joined the liberal world with the rest of us.”

You may have a warped perspective as to what my life is like as a college recruiter, roaming from city to city, coercing students left and right with lofty tales of higher education supremacy. You think I have a stockpile of memories stored away taking selfies at Kenawashee Falls, or the Rose Garden, or on top of the Stratosphere, places that small town folks all over my hometown have never before seen in a magazine. You think that a single traveling man traversing the western half of our country has a career that would make anyone with a sane understanding of common sense green with envy.

But sadly kids, these trips aren’t laced with all of the exciting moments you think they are, rather they are spent wandering from warehouse to warehouse giving the same seven second response to kids that haven’t grasped the concept that leggings are not an appropriate form of fashion that can be worn outside of one’s bedroom. They are spent trying to cram myself into mid-size rental cars so I can drive four hours from city to city. They are spent sitting on unmade hotel beds on Wednesday afternoons, answering a chain of e-mails and using blogging as my outlet meanwhile Seinfeld blares on in the background.

Don’t get me wrong, I have the best job in the world. I am surrounded by some of the best people, I have the best boss, I represent the best school, and am selling a product that is one of the best causes in the history of humanity. I L-word my life kids. I L-word eating Cheesecake Factory after knocking a college fair out of the park in Las Vegas. I L-word going to midnight movies by myself to detox after saying the same phrase to 78 consecutive parents in a row. I L-word the spark a kid gets in his eye when he comes to the personal realization that a college degree is actually an attainable goal for him to achieve.

But do I L-word the 4:15 am wake up calls from the front desk just so I can make it to the airport in time for my flight to Spokane? Or the way my car smells when I overload it with freshly printed info sheets and recruiting booklets? Or telling a pretty girl that I’d be happy to take her out to dinner again when I pull back into town in ten days? Or the inflammatory anger that my broken coccyx spreads throughout my back because he’s been in the same seated position for nine hours from St. George to Boise? Nah, that’s not my cup of tea at all.

But that’s life kids. It’s up, and it’s down, and it’s everything in between. And all we can do is put a smile on our face and take it one day at a time.

I think Ferris Bueller said something like that once…

Sunday, October 26, 2014

I Want You To Fix My Kid


“Would you like to upgrade your rental from mid-size to full size for only $10 more?” 

For full effect, download "40 Day Dream" by Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

Cut to generic warehouse somewhere in Southern California where 15,000 helicopter parents are dragging their children from booth A to booth B in hopes that they will find some dream of pursuing a college education.
            
“Just look at those statistics.” They say. “If you get a degree you are going to be making nearly triple the amount of money that anyone with a high school diploma makes.”
            
Sorry to burst your bubble lady, but the facts certainly do lie. Go ahead, ask Richard Branson.
            
Branson is uneducated. Branson is unorthodox. Branson can’t read words properly on a sheet of paper without sounding out the individual syllables in an ugly English accent. Branson couldn’t even handle making it through grade school without flunking half of his classes let alone think about pursuing the endeavors of college. Statistically speaking, Richard Branson is a failure, a washup, someone you don’t want your children to shape the pattern of their lives after.
            
4.62 billion dollars later and he’s giving your stats the middle finger.
           
“But I think what she really loves is nursing. She has talked about the health industry, and I think it would fit her very well. Don’t you think so?” The helicopter with curlers turns back to her daughter trying to top another level of Candy Crush.
            
“Nursing is a great field, and I think your daughter has a fighting chance of getting into our program.” I say.
            
Lies are a dish best served cold.
            
Mary Kay Ash was tired of being passed over as a woman in the job force. She didn’t think a college education was going to benefit her by any means. The odds were against both she and her husband when they decided to start a cosmetics company in the sixties. $2.2 billion later and they don’t give a rats about what your higher education signs are saying is right and wrong.
            
“Can you tell me about your international business program? I really think that is something he would like to go into.” The mother wearing a newborn as a fanny pack says.
            
Do you mean HE wants to go into that? Or do you mean, you and your husband who is on the back nine toting an Arnold Palmer wants him to go into that, let’s be perfectly honest here.
            
“So scholarships? What is available? What does she qualify for? What is the most money we can get for her so we can keep her college expenses out of our own pocket at a minimum?” He says.
            
Ty Warner made a weak attempt to go to college in Kalamazoo Michigan. He wanted to be an actor, or a lawyer, or something important that a fancy stamped sheet of paper can recognize you as knowing a minimal amount of information about. Unfortunately college was not something Ty Warner was meant for. From the perspective of a college advocate you want me to tell you that Ty Warner became a very successful gas station attendant in southern Michigan who made his living off of rich people giving him tips for filling up their Bentleys.
            
Instead, Ty made a stuffed animal beanbag in the shape of a little piggy and walked away with $2.6 billion.
            
I greet the next helicopter parent while she unloads her sorrows to me about being a single mother trying to support her son while he makes an attempt to walk on to a Division-III baseball team in Southern Missouri.
            
“He just has so much potential, and I want him to shine. What is your baseball team like? Does he have a chance coming to play for you?”
            
Would you like my honest answer, or the honest truth that your son, a 5’4” toothpick with less meat on him than a vegetarian’s buffet should give up his ambitions of wanting to play college sports and settle for the ultimate goal of being an average business major working for a third-rate bread store?
            
“I say if he puts in the hard work, and effort, and really dedicates himself to playing college baseball, he definitely has a chance.”
            
People never pay attention to refilled answers glamourized in a lace envelope that is shoved right back in their faces. 
            
“He’s also talked about going into English, which I think is a very good degree to choose. Don’t you agree with me that is something he should look into majoring in?”
            
As a freshman pre-med student at the University of Texas, Michael Dell sat in his dorm room and tinkered with the idea of putting together upgrade kits for personal computers. He didn’t care about his philosophy test, or his math quizzes, or his mid-term essay on the Johari Window for Interpersonal Communications with that fat lady whose breath smelled like week-old tuna, he cared about fixing computers. He was a regular geek in a digital age trying to get by in this dog eat dog world.
            
When college life became a distraction, he quit and pursued his own endeavors in personal computers. $15.9 billion later and who is the failure at life now?
            
“I really want her to look into something like dental hygiene.” She says.
            
“So I take it your daughter loves to floss?” I say.
            
“Well it’s more than that isn’t it? Do you think she has a chance at getting into the program with your school?” 
            
You want your daughter to spend $57,429 to become a licensed flosser? By all means, sign the dotted line below and she’ll be set for life with a framed certificate indicating she can get a job with anyone else who is as obsessed with teeth as she is. But let me ask you a question, does your daughter want to pursue a career as a dental hygienist, or do you want her to pursue a career as a dental hygienist just so you’re not embarrassed when mailing out your Christmas cards every December you have to admit to being the proud mother of a front desk secretary for an accounting firm in Riverside?
            
Is what I want to say.
            
“They have an incredible placement rate with their test scores, and have a job right out of college, so yes, it’s a great option for her to think about.”
            
Is what I regurgitate back to her.
             
"What is the minimum SAT score my son needs to have to be admitted to your school? I know you’re not open enrollment, so what should he be aiming for when he takes the test next month?”
            
Carl Jenkins was a slightly below average high school student who enrolled at a small town community college in Eastern Ohio. Midway through his spring semester he began toying with the idea that there had to be a smarter, cheaper, more convenient way to store and watch movies. He debated the idea in his head that VHS cassette tapes were on their way out, and that there was an untapped goldmine of technology that would allow motion pictures to be stored and transferred in a new digital age, and so he dropped out of Columbus State Community College to pursue a life-long ambition of being a successful entrepreneur who got started with that one “really great” idea in hand.
            
Carl Jenkins is a professional cook for the Waffle House on 33rd and State street in Trotwood, Ohio. 

            
And he’s the kid they remember.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Sunday, October 12, 2014

You Are Not A Martyr

In three weeks a young woman with brain cancer is going to intentionally overdose on medication, ending her life with the support of her family, her friends, and her spouse, going down as one of the most praised creations in euthanized modern media.

If that doesn't scare the Hell out of you, I don't know what will.

If you haven't heard of Brittany Maynard, well chances are that you've had your head buried under some kind of large boulder in the desert for the last month or so, immune to the grasp of social media. Brittany is a 29-year old, recently married, very beautiful young woman who was diagnosed last spring with grade-4 glioblastoma, a terminal form of brain cancer. Doctors gave her less than six months to live, and it is impressive she has made it this far. The controversy however, stems from the fact that she has chosen to end her life peacefully by way of the "Dying with Dignity" rights given to her by a select number of states, allowing her to legally choose the path of least resistance and be assisted by licensed physicians in the form of a peaceful suicide.

The social media frenzy that has billowed over the last two weeks comes from the idea that Brittany Maynard should be honored, she should be praised. She is one of the most noble, courageous, strong-willed women in the history of femininity, someone who should be spoken in the same breath as Joan of Arc, or Oprah Winfrey. She is a saint, and has been given that title despite the fact that she does not technically qualify as one. Brittany is ground-breaking, lionhearted, a woman who every girl should idolize and try to duplicate her same set of values in their own lives.

And she's openly killing herself on the biggest stage imaginable. Am I the only one who has a problem with this?

It's not the idea of suicide that rubs me the wrong way, absolutely not. If you want to end your life because the road is too difficult to travel, go right ahead, nobody's stopping you. Some people just weren't made for handling the tough tasks of life. If you want to abandon your family, friends, spouse, and the millions of supporting cast members and take the easier route because the future just looks too bleak and the odds of you making through this ordeal are even less than slim to none, and why should you have to endure a month of trauma, pain, and brain hemorrhage, then by all means, swallow those pills and close your eyes.

But don't shine your image for the world to see in the same light as some hallowed, sanctified heroine who is more righteous than Saint Peter himself.

We live in a world of conformity. A world where voices are muted because of the constant barrage of opinionated attacks issued every single day to people who are standing up for what they believe in. If you are a part of the minority who are against same-sex marriage, or for the banning of marijuana, you are a traitor, and someone who should be burned at the stake for your views. If someone were to speak out and criticize Brittany Maynard for her vile actions in three weeks they would be blacklisted by the Internet and scarred as an insensitive human being who has no respect for the sanctity of the choices a woman has with a terminal disease.

I'm not trying to say who is right and who is wrong in this situation, because I have no right to judge. I'm not her creator, her God, or whatever type of religious figure that she worships. If she wants to end her life in one of the most peaceful yet disturbing ways possible, she has every right to do so given to her by the great state of Oregon. It is your life Brittany, not a single soul on this planet has the right to judge you for your actions. But don't tell me that I have to agree with you on what you are doing. Don't make me an outcast because I'm standing up for what I believe in and posting a blog disagreeing with one of the most heinous and disreputable crimes known to man in the act of taking your own life. Don't make me grant you with the title of a heroine.

Life is hard. Everyone knows this. As Tom Hanks once said, "It's supposed to be hard. If it wasn't hard then everyone would do it. It's the hard that makes it great." No one can imagine what Brittany Maynard is going through at this point in her life. No one can begin to understand the trauma and tribulation she is suffering through in these last moments. The Hell that was handed to her is designed to make her a better woman, a stronger woman, a woman who we can admire if she were able to push through the struggles and not just give up. But for some reason it just got too hard for Brittany. And those morals and values and that toughness decided to check out a long time ago, only to be revered by the infection of social media.

So go ahead and take your life. Grab those drugs, put on your background music, wish your family and friends and your spouse farewell as you journey to whatever afterlife you believe in. Have one of the most beautifully euphoric sendoffs that will not be marred by a terminal disease that cut your life just a bit shorter than you wanted. Kill yourself one small moment at a time and die with dignity as the lawmakers in Oregon would say. But don't tell me to applaud your actions. Don't make me support you with an online card and donation. Don't make me applaud the cowards of the world. Don't make me praise you as a martyr.

Because you're not. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Time To Meet Mr. Mayhem

There was a point in my life where I lived vicariously through a gang of bikers in Southern California for five seasons.

Then one day they decided to kill off Opie, and my life just hasn't been the same. 

For full effect, download "This Life" by Curtis Stingers and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

Over the years I know I have buried my heart and soul into a whole slew of TV dramas that from a bigger picture have no value whatsoever. And out of this plethora of plotlines, there have been quite a few that have had a rather sick and twisted story to follow, with characters that any God-fearing man would condemn to death row in a split second. Sure there have been serial killer blood analysts and drug-dealing high school chemistry teachers here and there. Heck, I've even rooted for one of the most corrupt congressmen in the history of Netflix. There have been some of the most despicable creations in modern-day cinema, doing some of the most horrific acts imaginable, and I have been right in their corners cheering them on. 

You can't really blame me for supporting the scumbags, it's just the way our society has evolved when it comes to who and what we think is right and wrong. We are an audience in a modern-day era of antagonism. The good guy has now become the bad guy, and we are always rooting for them to win. I think deep down we are all under the female assumption that these characters are projects, and by siding with them, our viewership will somehow "change" their behavior. We want Frank Underwood to push that girl into an oncoming train. We want Dexter to slice up that escaped convict. We want Walter White to sell enough meth to pay for his cancer treatment. 

That same mindset has spilled over into my latest binge of the show Sons of Anarchy where a group of ragtag bullies have started a motorcycle club that mules illegal firearms all over Southern California. Honestly, it is one of the most inbred, unintelligent shows on TV chock full of sleaze, filth, and alcohol, almost like Delta, Utah being broadcast for seven years straight. It's sick and twisted but it hooks you like a deep-fried Twinkie and you can't say no. Sons of Anarchy is one of the most addicting heresies I have ever been handed. At first I thought it was the most idiotic wastes in the history of TV drama. 67 episodes later and now you can see who's in control. 

Swamp Thing: "Uh yes, my name is Brock, and I have a problem."

Sons of Anarchy Anonymous: "Hi Brock!"

Now I know this show is addicting, but at the same time, I can't watch it anymore. I just can't. It's too hard to turn on at night. Everyone is bad. Clay, Jax, Gemma, Tara, Tigg, Nero, all of them. There is nothing good about it at all. It's just a never ending cycle of gunshots, drugs and SAMCRO reigning down on the surrounding gangs. Again, it's Delta, Utah on primetime TV, who in their right mind would watch that show?

I can't do it people, I just can't. There is too much negativity and violence and illegal drama taking over a small town that has a never ending body count that continues to stack up. I know I've been a fan of some real lowlifes in other shows, but at least those lowlifes had some kind of morals. Dexter was killing bad guys, Walter White was dealing drugs for the sake of his family. Does any member of the MC have a single shred of humanity left inside their cuts? Absolutely not. 

And that's why I'm throwing in the towel, raising the white flag, turning in my badge or whatever else you want to call a surrender. I can't handle the Sons of Anarchy anymore. They're just too tough. I need to feel good for a change, I need to have a sense of hope and nobility returned to my channels, I need to be a fan of a show that actually teaches some kind of morals. I need a show that can't have Satan as an executive producer. 

What's that? The Walking Dead premieres in four days? You mean the show where there's a tally mark of how many walkers each character has beheaded, a one-eyed governor murders his best friend, and we have nine-year old girls slitting their little sister's throats? Well hot dang, let me clear out my DVR!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

On Your Left!

It’s the first Sunday of October, which usually means you’ll be treated to a rant on the disgusting habits of idiots who find time to run through the desert for 26.2 straight miles.

Well, I’ve said my piece about that snot-snorting, gu-gulping, nipple-chafing activity already.  This time I’ll try something different.

For full effect, download “Take Me To Church” by Hozier, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

I know in the past I have discussed things that I feel are true, things I protest to be unwritten laws that govern our behavior and our mannerisms. I have my own opinions as to how the world works, and I comically recognize these statements as “Brocktrine”. It’s okay, you can chuckle over that play on words. With that being said, there is one idea I think needs to be ingrained into our society that would help it function at a much more pure level, and that is understanding that you can put a numerical value on just about anything temporal, however the things you can’t put a dollar sign next to, and the things that probably matter the most, are the relationships we have with the people that surround us.

I say that because you can go ahead and rewind this blogpost just over 24 hours from this point in time to the middle of the desert, where a six and a half foot tall dripping wet monster was peddling his way down Highway 18. By doing so you will also meet a handful of people who got that soggy sonofabitch from the opening gun to the finish line. It wasn’t the midnight runs throughout the summer, or the gluten-free diet initiated two months ago to cut an extra ten pounds off my midsection, no, neither of those were the deciding factors that finished the race. Rather, it was the people who were there on the trail with me. They deserve the credit for this one.

Soggy Me at medical post near Mile 11: “I need Icy Hot!”

Random nurse with goop covering her hands: “Where? Knees? Calves?”

Soggy Me: “Down the left side of my shorts. The outside of my hip is locking up. Is that alright?” I look up at her embarrassed.

Random Nurse: Smiling “Honey, you’re one of a hundred people already who’ve asked me to go down there. Now hold still.”

And with that she gave me one of the most nonsexual rubdowns under my shorts I’ll ever experience. That random nurse who is undoubtedly one of the best mothers in the entire state kept me running.

Soggy Me somewhere in between Mile 18 and 19: “I’m done. That’s it! Here come the cramps. Does anyone else out here have a white flag I can raise in surrender to this monster of a race?”

Random man in his late fifties seeing me in anguish: “Hey kid, keep moving with me. Here, take this salt pill. It will help with your cramps. And keep moving. We’re all in this together. Almost there!”

And with that he handed me one of the most bitter, yet satisfying plastic capsules of glory that eased the tension on my unforgiving muscles. That random runner who assuredly cares more for his own posterity than he does for his own life kept me running.

Soggy Me walking slowly at Mile 25.4: “I’m done. I’ve got nothing left. Please, can someone get me a stretcher…”

Random ex-girlfriend running on to the course holding her child: “Hey Brock, don’t give up, you’re almost there! I know you can finish this!”

Soggy Me: “My legs are blocks Brandi. They’re so locked up I can’t even bend them anymore.”

Random ex-girlfriend: “I know it hurts but you’re so close to the end! Keep moving! You’re doing so good!”

And with that, she gave me a tiny oomph of energy that added a slight boost to my step and got me to hobble the last .8 miles. That random ex-girlfriend who is one of the best mothers to boot, a girl who cares more for the sake of helping other people than she does for damaged past relationships, kept me running.

Soggy Me crossing the finish line: “That’s it! It’s over! I’m never doing another marathon again. Screw this entire sport!”

Random six-year old named Tanner who was handing out finisher medals: “Here you go Mister! One day I’m gonna run a marathon just like you! You’re awesome mister, way to go!”

And with that, he held open his arms and wrapped a plastic souvenir around my neck, followed by a quick hug to a total and complete stranger who was four times his size. That random six-year old named Tanner at the finish line did more for me yesterday than he will ever comprehend.

And he, will keep me running.