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.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Welcome Home

Everyone has a place they recognize in a very hallowed, very sacred manner. To some it’s Mecca, others Jerusalem, to a screwy bunch of nutcases it’s Salt Lake City. To me though, it’s Columbus, Ohio.

For full effect, download “Carmen Ohio” by absolutely anyone and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

If you have known me for more than three sentences, you know without question what team I’m rooting for 366 days out of the year. In fact, I think the first three things that come to a person’s mind when they hear the name “Brock Bybee” are “seizures”, “jerk” and “die-hard Ohio State Buckeyes fan”, in that order. Correct me if I’m wrong on that assumption. I have cheered for this team through highs and lows, through championships and corruption, my fandom being ingrained into my character by some Jewish looking guy who took my Mom to the altar back in the 90’s.   

Dad: “Look son, I know I’ve only been your Father for a few weeks, but in this house we cheer for Ohio State. If I catch you cheering for anyone else, well, I’ll just have to kill ya. Do you understand?”

5-Year Old Me: “Uh…sure. What’s your name again?”

From that point on I was a Buckeye. Cheering on a team for the sake of being part of a family that had pulled me into the fold, a family I was unsure I even belonged in at that stage of my life. And so I rooted right along with the rest of them to fit in, and was adopted by the hallowed fanbase that praised to the heavens of “how firm thy friendship”. For nearly 25 years I have been a Buckeye junkie owning nearly every piece of paraphernalia possible. I have yelled and cried, broken shoulders and pantry doors, applauding a team I had never before been privy to witness in person.

Until this weekend.

Up until this point of my life Columbus was just a mirage to me. A place that I knew existed on paper, but never had the time or the money to experience in person. This is a place my adoptive family claims as their roots, where all of their heritage can be traced back to. It’s a place that helped create their characters, a place I glorify with a fervor but had never set a single foot upon. And so I packed three days of my life into a duffle bag, boarded a plane, and flew four hours across the country in the middle of the night to experience the land I had worshipped but never witnessed, the place I deem nearly as sacred as the church I revere. My expectations could never have been higher to finally see the holy O-H-I-O.

And they sure didn’t let me down.

Columbus is fanatical. I mean that by the fact that the entire city of 787,000 people shut down on Saturday in devotion to THE Ohio State University. We’re talking miles of drunks, decked out RV’s, and games of cornhole. There were planes with 100-foot banners circling in the sky, legions of fans packing themselves into an arena to watch The Best Damn Band In The Land perform their skull session. 80-foot projections of The Team Up North getting pummeled by the Minnesota Golden Gophers, and everyone screaming in elation when they saw Brady Hoke shaking his head. It was organized, intoxicated pandemonium. And I loved every second of it.

On Saturday I walked around Columbus all day and took it in. I absorbed the drunks, the fraternity parties, the random shouts of “O-H!” followed by a random reply of “I-O!” by any number of the Jack Daniels sipping bystanders in scarlet and gray. For the first time in my life I wasn’t a minority when it came to the team I was cheering for. Back home in Utah you’ll find Ohio State fans every few hundred miles. But here, on the corner of Tuttle Park and Woody Hayes Drive, I was absorbed into the hundreds, nay, thousands of lunatic Buckeyes getting ready to scream their faces off at gametime in The Shoe.

For one of the first times in my life, I kind of felt like I was home.

We all screamed, and cheered, and threw high fives around to complete strangers with O’s on their chest when J.T. Barrett would gain another first down with his feet, or when Anthony Schlegel body slammed a random fan who thought it would be a good idea to run on to the field mid-second quarter. Yeah, I witnessed that in person. And I’ll never forget it. 108,364 fans in euphoria clapping their hands and singing “Hang On Sloopy” in between quarters, and uniformly spelling out their team’s letters in order to cheer on the Bucks. It’s the closest thing to heaven I think I’ll ever experience.

Who knows when I will return to Columbus? It could be next fall as a grad student, ten years from now as an assistant professor, or even never. I have no idea. It’s a beautiful place that any college football fan would ogle over if they had the chance to be a participant. This can easily be classified as one of the greatest moments of my adult life, without question. For 72 hours I roamed the streets of Columbus, Ohio like an inebriated five-year old and reveled in the memories my Dad fed to me as a child. Except this time the memories weren’t his.

This time, they were mine.

  

Sunday, September 28, 2014

O-H-I-O!

Round trip red-eye flight from Las Vegas, Nevada to Columbus, Ohio discounted after Skymiles reimbursement: $11

Rental car, hotel reservations, and lunch at a Waffle House: $472.83

Ticket for Section 12B, Row 3, Seat 5, purchased through Stubhub: $107.44

Standing in The Shoe for the first time in my life, screaming my face off with 108,364 other fans of the team I have worshipped since the womb: Priceless

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Why?!?!?!

I know I've said in the past that when I decide to pass on I would like to have my remains donated to science, or to a museum, or to the back shelves in the frozen closet of a mediocre community college that doesn't have the budget to pay for the development of their Anatomy program. So let it be written, so let it be done. When my time on this Earth runs out, whether that is next week, in six months, or in the year 2050, I have always stated that I wish to donate this fine physical specimen of mine to science, rather than take out a $13,000 loan just to have my body shoveled six feet under.

I supplement that statement with the topic that for the past few years the nickname I have been anointed with has been "Bear". Not a unique or flamboyant, or peculiar nickname by any means, just Bear. Don't ask where this epithet came from because no, there is not some hilarious story about that one time at band camp where it originated, and please don't ask Keith Tronic or The Rhinestone Cowboy of its creation. I'm just Bear. Plain and simple.

With that being said, I think my postmortem plans have now been altered since a friend e-mailed me this photograph. And so, from here on out I would like the world to remember that when I pass on, to please find this 12-foot tall statue of a Grizzly and lay my remains upon his arms. At that point, I believe I will finally be able to rest in peace.