Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Forsaken Anonymity

Holla,

The original intention of this blog was to create a workspace that I could practice writing on a consistent basis. Instead of focusing on one project or another for extended periods of time, I could write a short article that would only take an hour or two of my day. I did not intend to gain a wide readership, or really have anyone pay attention at all. However, over time, the temptation of recognition slowly started creeping into my mind grapes. I started telling my family and close friends about the blog, seeking their approval in veiled discussions.

"Oh, you've read my blog? It's pretty silly isn't it? No? You liked it? What did you like? Specifically. Tell me exactly how much you enjoyed your reading experience! I need exaltation of my work!!!"

Still, throughout the first several months in the life of this blog, I kept it mostly to myself. If people asked how I spent my day, especially during my period of unemployment, I might make a mention of the blog. The majority of my entries were posted anonymously, without direct references to the names of my family and friends. Nick was referred to as "my roommate", Amanda was "my sister", coworkers were simply "coworkers", as well as a wide variety of nicknames given to homeless people and potential employers. Although I share quite a bit of personal information within the confines of this space, I didn't need the entire world to know every detail of my life.

Over time, things have begun to change. I have told more and more people of the blog, sending out the URL over emails, and posting the address on my Facebook page. I become more careless with mentioning specific details of my life, often including my name with the text. Yet, I was still writing material that I didn't necessarily want everyone on the interwebs to know about.

This leads me to a moment a few weeks ago, where I immediately regretted my acts of carelessness. I was closing up the bar, after an especially slow evening at work. My manager had spent quite a bit of time in the upstairs office throughout the shift, while I was cleaning glassware and drink wells. I assumed that he was working on paperwork and his closing duties, causing me to be caught completely unaware for what was about to happen.

As I turned up the house lights and closed the front door, my manager walked down the stairs and said, "I found your blog."

Although every word that left his mouth was said clearly and distinctly, my brain experienced a complete lock-up. I couldn't fully comprehend what he had said, leaving my standing there with an idiotic look on my face. I stammered out an "excuse me" while he continued to smirk in my direction. He said again, "I found your blog."

I immediately tried to remember everything that I had written over the last seven months, in order to most effectively plan my damage control. While still in categorization mode, my manager said, "I really liked the 'Good Cop, Bad Cop' one."

"Oh Crap!" I thought. This particular entry, in case you may have missed it, was about the management style of one of the owners of Confidential. It was written just after I had spent a 15 hour day in the bar, cleaning under the speed racks and dishwasher, fearing having to return for further cleaning on our day off. I may have said some things in the article that I didn't necessarily want my boss to read for himself.

The only thing that I could do was produce a stupid look and ask, "How did you find it?"

"I saw the link on your Facebook account," he replied.

"Dammit," I thought to myself. My need for attention had lead to a situation that could be potentially damaging to my current employment status. There was no telling how my boss would react to reading the article. Maybe he would think it was funny, and be able to joke around with me about it. Or, he might take offense and immediately fire me while periodically stabbing me with a kitchen knife.

I pleaded with my manager to keep this newly discovered information to himself. He informed me that he had already sent out the link to the other members of the bartending staff. "Shit!" was the only word that came to mind. My brief respite from the unemployment line was most likely coming to an end.

I deleted the posting upon returning home that evening, hoping that I could somehow stop the bleeding before the situation got worse. Luckily, my manager had saved a copy of the article on his computer, periodically showing it to members of the staff throughout the following week, making my deleting efforts meaningless.

It has been almost three weeks since this incident occurred, and I am still gainfully employed. I don't think that my boss ever saw the article, and, due to my lack of postings recently, I'm hoping that my manager has stopped checking this blog.

I shouldn't have the links on my Facebook account. I shouldn't mention anything about my job in this space. I shouldn't carelessly throw out the fact that I have a blog. I know this, but my ego can't help itself. It needs that acknowledgment. It craves it. Even though my cover has been blown, I will continue to forge ahead, likely leading back to unemployed status. Not that this would be the worst thing in the world. At least it will provide some good material, right?

-More to come...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Finding Distractions

Holla,

Blogging has become more and more difficult to fit into my day. I have found myself pushing it off more and more with each passing week. The phrase, "I'll write something tomorrow," has become a regular thought in my mind. It's not because I have become unmotivated to write, or because I have nothing to say, but more so because I have found a plethora of distractions. Things that I would rather spend time doing, than hammering out of piece for this website.

Since Nick and I made the move to the beach, I have discovered a whole new world of distracting items that seem to fill my day. The ocean is close enough that I can stop by while running errands. I can stop by the bank, the drugstore, and the post office, and hear the crash of the waves. I often find it calling out to me. What did you say ocean? You want me to jump into you and splash around like a 12 year old? Okay!

To add to this, a couple of friends and I have decided to make a slow transition to surfing. We started with body surfing, just to introduce ourselves to the waves. It was like playing Truth and Dare with the ocean. We were discovering things about each other, occasionally kissing or taking off articles of clothing, but it wasn't like you would regard it as a true make out.

That's where the boogie boarding came into play. We had graduated from Seven Minutes in Heaven and Spin the Bottle to a legitimate make out session. We bought some cheap boards from a convenience store and quickly fell in love with the activity. Possibly due to my aggressive boogie boarding style, or maybe because of my fat ass, I quickly broke my board in half. I had gotten a little too excited for my first ocean make-out, and was punished for it. Two boards later, I think that the ocean and I have reached a compromise. I will no longer go directly for the heavy petting, but will slowly work my way towards it, after a sufficient warm up period.

In addition to the ocean time activities, we live in close proximity to a wide variety of bars and restaurants. I spend the majority of my nights and weekends in a bar already, so it's not like I'm stopping in for drinks on a regular basis. However, if I happen to get off work early on a given evening, it is much easier to meet friends than it was in the past. We are a two minute drive away from the Badger bar, a couple of blocks from bars that my friends work in, and in the same neighborhood as a large collection of our San Diego crew. In the past, living in the hood, I might have spent my free time by myself, writing, and attempting to entertain you, fine reader.

The biggest distraction, however, has become the time that I've spent with a certain someone over the past couple of months. Despite my best efforts to avoid commitment, I find myself involved in a situation that provides a wide range of distractions on a daily basis. It isn't a bad place to be in, but I often find myself dedicating more energy into this situation than into my on-line writing. I have a commitment to the reading public as well, right?

In the end, it's more laziness than anything else. I have often used these distractions as excuses for why I can't write anything during a particular day. It has to stop! The writing must continue!

-More to come...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Taking the Leap

Holla,

There are certain events in everyone's life that are so monumental, so hard to believe, so foreign from our everyday experience that they seem to take on a feeling of fantasy. It can often feel like we are recounting a dream when attempting to recreate these experiences within our memory. There seems to be a glossy hue surrounding the exact details, often making the event difficult to describe to others or even to yourself after it has occurred.

These experiences takes on different sizes and shapes for each person that experiences them. It could be a monumental point of your life, such as your wedding day, or the birth of a child, or your first kiss. But it could be something small and simple at the same time, like the first time you saw the ocean, or scored a goal, or tried a dipped cone from Dairy Queen. It's difficult to put the exact emotions from these events into words, and you're often left with a goofy grin on your face as you attempt to do so.

Last week, I experienced a few of these goofy-grin moments while hosting a friend that was in town. The biggest of which was sitting on the edge of a plane's open cabin door, looking at the vista of Southern California 10,000 feet below my dangling feet. There was a brief moment that I sat there, with a large man named Eric strapped to my back, while watching my friend falling below me, that I said to myself, "What the F have you gotten yourself into?"

I had consciously made the decision to skydive weeks earlier. I made reservations, paid the fee, and didn't think much about what was about to transpire, until I was walking along, fully strapped into my jumping gear, toward a small plane on the tarmac.

There had been small outbursts of nervousness and trepidation prior to this moment, but nothing in comparison to the emotions that started to reign down upon me as we left the ground. My friend, myself, and two jump instructors were sitting in a tiny cabin, watching the runway grow smaller below us, while the cabin door was wide open. Less than a foot away from my left foot, I watched San Diego progressively decrease in size.

I attempted to disguise the boiling emotions of my insides from the rest of the passengers. I laughed at the jokes of the jump instructors, attempted to engage in conversations, and think of anything other than certain death, however, these attempts ultimately proved unsuccessful. My friend could clearly see the nerves that my stonewalled face was expressing, and quickly pointed this fact out to everyone else in the plane. Surprisingly, discussing my fears did nothing to quell these emotions, and I quietly contemplated throwing up.

After circling over the coastline and heading back inland, we began preparing to make the jump. Eric, my instructor, told me to get on his lap, so that he could strap himself to me. The effect of sitting on another man's lap, although not something that I would enjoy doing regularly, did provide some amount of distraction from the upcoming events.

Which brings me back to sitting on the edge of the plane again. Soon after getting strapped in, we had shuffled from our corner of the plane toward the open doorway, after watching the other instructor and my friend disappear from the cabin moments earlier.

Thankfully Eric didn't give me much time to think about the situation that I was in. Before I could back out, or request a countdown, or even wet my pants, he said, "Let's go!" and we began falling through the atmosphere.

After tumbling a few times, seeing the plane above me in one of my mind's snapshots, and then the quickly approaching ground in the next, we flattened out to a standard free falling position. Arms extended, I could see the mountains of San Diego to the east, and the ocean extending out to the horizon in the west. I saw my friend in full superman pose well below me, a small speck in the air, set-off from the scene of the Tijuana slums that extended into the south. I heard myself yelling, and involuntarily cussing at the top of my lungs, before realizing that I was doing so. I looked at the brown fields that were spinning below me, and before I could envision death by impact, the man on my back told me to cross my arms, and he pulled the shoot.

We had fallen from 10,000 feet to 4,000 feet in the manner of 45 seconds. A full mile in the air, accomplished in less than a minute. I had experienced a multitude of emotions; fear, exhilaration, joy, certain death, the need to pee myself, among others, in a minimal time period.

I was soon landing on the ground, getting unconnected from Eric, and not knowing exactly what to do next. I ended up running around in a dirty field in a couple of circles and then finding my friend to discuss what had just happened. I knew that it was an amazing experience, but my mind had just been overloaded, and I couldn't fully comprehend the moment at that time.

I still don't think that I can. It still seems like a hazy dream, even after spending an hour writing about it. It is an experience that I will carry with me for the rest of my life, but one that still doesn't seem quite real. Trying to explain the emotions and the experience to my friends and family over the past week was a difficult affair. I don't think that I ever effectively orated everything that was going through my mind while falling through the air. Hopefully, this blog post will provide a little better of an idea of what it was like.

More to come...

Monday, August 17, 2009

As Promised

Holla,

I didn't expect it to take this long, but I finally have some photographic evidence from my rendevous to the the Midwest. Enjoy!

Truman


Mr. Party Lion, partying with a well mustached Lampi


Full Tigger outfit, found at a garage sale, and later worn by our starting pitcher for our afternoon games.


A friend, dressed as the Gingerbread Man for the Truman parade. Maybe my favorite picture of the entire trip. He was hit by a truck soon after this picture. Of course, it was only traveling at 5 mph, but it was funny all the same.


Princess Fiona being attacked by Captain Jack Sparrow. She looked so beautiful, I can understand why she would be targeted by such a bloodthirsty pirate.


The emergence of Beltran. So beautiful, yet so dangerous.

Milwaukee


Turning our attention to the union of Pooch and Courtney now, we can see the appearance of Guy Sampson's long lost cousin, the Packer superfan himself, Ronald Sampson!


Ronald Sampson, later making it rain, with a collection of napkins, on the dancefloor.


Beltran's back! With high kicks and a new haircut. Nice dye job, Beltran.


A blurry picture of The Wetsuit. He was quite elusive throughout the night, consumed with avoiding Land Shark attacks and encouraging beer drinking.


A collective group of friends, singing the Ghostbuster's theme song at the post-reception Karoake session.

There are many more pictures that I could post and caption throughout the day, however they would only be amusing to myself. A personal appearance by Beltran or Ronald Sampson could be arranged for a hefty fee. Please post a comment to this post in order to express interest.

-More to come...

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Midwest Love Affair

Holla,

Although I have taken nearly a month off, I am actively returning to the blogging game. I have no excuses. Only a schedule that was somewhat busy, along with some extensive laziness. However, after taking a bit of a vacation, I am throwing myself back into the glamorous, and profitable, world of on-line writing.

Over the past week and a half, I have been touring the upper mid-west, from Minneapolis to Truman to Milwaukee and back again. It was the first time I had been back to the homeland since Christmas vacation, and it sufficiently tugged at my heartstrings. From family to friends to dance parties, I was reminded of what life was like in the mid-west.

Below, I will provide a brief recap of the events that occurred in the short time period that I was traveling throughout God's country:

Truman

Truman is Mecca for my friends and I. It is a small town in southwestern Minnesota, that holds a town fair each summer. There are yard sales, parades, softball games, and a street dance. It encompasses everything that is good, and bad, about small town America. Truman Days inspired me to write a book, provides a venue to reconnect with friends, and allows for me to express myself through ridiculous outfits, all while dancing in the streets of the fair city.

I woke up on Saturday morning on the floor on my friends house, cuddling with a stuffed lion that we had previously retrieved from a street corner in Truman. It is affectionately named "Party Lion" and travels everywhere with us throughout the weekend. Party Lion even has a Facebook page. Seriously.


Party Lion and I, rocking out

After cheering on the 5K runners in the morning, with Party Lion in tow, I threw on my softball uniform to start my day. Several hours, and beers, later, I was wearing a Princess Fiona outfit (from Shrek fame) while walking in the Truman Days parade. To complete my day, I was transformed into a ninja master, known as Beltran, while wearing a karate gi, short red shorts, a wig, and a red mask. Three outfit changes may seem excessive, however, in the heat of Truman Days, this is commonplace. Expected even.

Although I felt like my internal organs were headed to failure by Sunday night, Truman Days provided a wonderful reminder of the potential that a Minnesota summer weekend can possess. Instead of splashing in the waves of the Pacific Ocean, I was sitting on a dusty softball diamond, surrounded by cornfields and heavy midwestern accents. And it was amazing.

Milwaukee

I headed to Milwaukee on Thursday of last week, after spending a couple of days in the confines of my parent's house in Apple Valley. My friends were gathering, yet again, outside of the city to celebrate the union of a couple of our college friends. I had been asked to be the dj/host of the wedding reception and had another outfit change in the works.

After the wedding, we rushed back to the hotel to set up for the reception. I introduced the wedding party to the sweet, sweet music of Jock Jams' "Let's Get Ready to Rumble", and proceeded to drink heavily. At one point in the night, while I was dressed in full "Packer fan formal wear" (green and gold Zubaz, tuxedo shirt with cutoff sleeves, bow tie, drinking glove, green headband, and mullet wig), I looked around the dance floor to fully capture the essence of the evening. Here is a brief list of what I saw:

-The return of master ninja Beltran, as interpreted by another friend.
-The men of the wedding party, removing their tuxedo shirts, and only wearing their vests and bowties.
-A plethora of reception attendees sporting freshly drawn Sharpie mustaches.
-A friend wearing a wetsuit, poring beer over his outfit into the waiting mouths of other party-goers.
-Several people on the floor of the reception hall, either performing a dance known as "The Stanky Leg" or simply slipping on the beer that had missed the mouths of the wetsuit-drinkers.

At the conclusion of the wedding reception, the majority of the crowd entered into the hotel, to find that the bar within was hosting a karaoke night. The other patrons of the bar had no idea what to make of the scene that unfolded. A relaxed karaoke night turned into pure dancing madness. A bride was dancing with a man in a wetsuit, a ninja was singing Elton John, and a collection of 15 guys attacked the stage when the Ghostbuster's theme song was played. By the end of the night, the bartenders had run out of shot glasses, and we had scared the majority of the other attendees out of the bar.

Not yet satisfied, we moved the party into one of our rooms. Drinking games began and Sharpie mustaches continued to be drawn (including a fabulous pirate 'stache on the mother of the groom). After an hour or so, people slowly began to head back to their beds, ending an amazing wedding reception.

However, a select group of warriors continued to press onward. The reception was being held in a hotel at the base of a small ski hill, and there had already been discussion of climbing to the summit earlier in the day. At the end of the afterbar, an expedition to the "mountain" seemed only appropriate.

And so the wetsuit, Beltran, current roommate, former roommate, and myself headed to conquer the daunting peak. We marched through thigh high grass and weeds, encountered thorns and brambles, experienced some levels of doubt and frustration, and made it to the top after approximately twenty minutes. It may have been one of the proudest moments of my life.

After the excursion, we headed to the pool to wash off the dirt from our travels. While in the indoor pool, we crafted a synchronized swimming routine to tell the story of the mountain climb and all of the hardships that we had experienced. While putting the final touches on our water dance, a couple of security guards entered the pool area to inform us that we had to leave. The pool did not open until 6:30 in the morning, and, at 5:20, we were violating the rules. We consented to their request, but not before asking whether we could tell them the story of our night....through expressive dance.

After performing for the security guards, we headed back to our room, showered, and fell asleep, thus concluding the quest we had taken. From church halls to the top of a mountain, we had celebrated the only way we know how.


The two consecutive weekends were packed with the usual madness that accompanies the collective strength of my friends. Each of us attempts to outdo the other with something more ridiculous every time that we are together. It was a wonderful break from the day to day affairs of my life in the unemployment line. I wasn't concerned with work shifts or grocery shopping. All I was worried about was packing as much fun into a two week period as I possibly could.

And to that end, I think I succeeded.

-More to come...

*Editor Note: More pictures will be added as they become available.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Complications

Holla,

As I wrote in a previous post, my roommate Nick and I have made the decision to move from the hood to the beach in lovely San Diego. This transition was supposed to take place this week, in order to be fully acclimated for a weekend full of pirate costumes and crawling between bars. However, as the week has progressed, we've experienced a number of issues that are causing the entire moving process to become considerably more complicated.

First and foremost among the complications is the timely disappearance of our new landlord. After dealing with a faceless company over the last few years, Nick and I were looking forward to dealing with a single owner. We thought that it would lead to a more personal touch in apartment management, with small issues being more easily addressed than with our current landlords. If, for instance, a crazy person sprayed a fire extinguisher into one of our bedroom windows, we could turn to a landlord that had more of a vested interest in the issue.

I will refer to our new landlord as Howard, which is, coincidentally, his actual name. We also have taken to calling him "How How" or "The Strauss!" when we have become particularly agitated in the last couple of days. When we initially toured the apartment, Howard was there to show us around the complex. He said that he was planning to do some additional maintenance work in a couple of areas, and that the apartment was open for us any time after the 1st of July.

Nick returned from the glorious state of Minnesota on the 6th, and we quickly made plans to have everything moved in on Friday the 10th. We reserved a moving truck, started packing boxes, and called the cable company for an appointment. We called Howard to let him know about the move, and to set up a time to get the keys and do a final inspection of the apartment.

The first call was on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday evening, I made another call. And again on Wednesday. Nick called on Wednesday as well. Each time, we received a pleasant voicemail from Mrs. Strauss, but could not manage to reach a live person. For the first time, I began to understand my grandmother's annoyance with answering machines. I wanted to start saying things like, "If you're there, pick up the phone... I'll stay on the line.... No? Are you there?!? I know you're there!!!"

By the second call on Wednesday, Nick and I decided to drive by the apartment, just to see if Howard happened to be there. We loaded up our cars with boxes and arrived just as the sun started to dip below the horizon. We didn't find How How, but we did discover that the apartment door was unlocked. There was a copy of the key in one of the kitchen drawers, and we decided to unload our first shipment into the living room.

Ignoring the flea-ridden cat that was darting in and out of the front door (not a great sign, by the way) we finished bringing in the last of the boxes just as the last light of the day disappeared. In the time between agreeing to rent the apartment and Wednesday evening, a period of approximately three weeks, The Strauss!!! had failed to notify the electric company of his upcoming tenants. While the water was functioning, the electricity was not, further increasing the annoyance factor for both Nick and I.

In addition, the improvements that How How had discussed with us while first touring the apartment had not been performed. The broken light and exposed wiring in the kitchen still existed, the quarter's counter had a broken tile that was being held together with Scotch tape, there was a crack in the siding on one of the family room walls, and the beetle that had greeted Nick in his new bedroom was still hanging around. All in all, we were not pleased with was waiting for us, or not waiting for us (in Howard's case), in our new residence.

We woke up on Thursday, called Howard once again, and realized that we were going to have to make some tough decisions. We had a truck reserved to move the rest of our apartment, as well as an appointment with the cable installation company, for mid-morning on Friday. Although we had managed to discover the key a day earlier, life in the apartment was going to be difficult without functioning lights and outlets.

We concluded that switching over the electricity must have been a responsibility bestowed upon us by Howard, even though it had never explicitly been stated. Nick made a call to San Diego Gas & Electric, finding that they would not be able to provide any service until Tuesday of the following week. Even though we were legally entitled to be in the apartment from the 1st of July, due to Howard's disappearance, it would not be livable for 14 days into the month.

The Strauss!!!!!!

Sorry for the moment of frustration. Reading over the situation in print caused me to yell his name out loud, and in the text, concurrently.

Facing an absent landlord, Nick and I were forced to push the moving truck back to next Monday, the electricity for Tuesday, and the cable/internet for Wednesday. Hopefully, by that time, How How will have gotten back to one of us.

I must admit that throughout the week, I've had some fleeting thoughts of being subject to a well executed scam. Maybe Howard was just hanging around the apartment, waiting for some unsuspecting idiots to inquire about its availability. He could have easily created a rental agreement and requested a damage deposit and first month's rent prior to the idiot's move-in date. Then he, and Mrs. Strauss, could have taken our cash down to Old Mexico to live like royalty for a couple of months. I keep telling myself that these are stupid thoughts to have, but with each passing day, they are growing stronger and stronger.

Stranger things have happened since moving to Southern California. That's all I'm saying.

-More to come...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Mysterious Ways

Holla,

During each evening that I have off from work, around 10 pm, I start having visions of Twix bars dancing around my head, softly whispering sweet mentions of caramel and cookie centers. As hard as I try, I am powerless to resist its urges, often leading to late night visits to the local gas station to fulfill my sugar-laden cravings.

Last night, as I rounded the corner of the AM/PM parking lot, I was greeted by a string of profanity-laced insults that were infused with enough anger and venom to make me stop in my tracks. I looked around the filling locations, noticing that all eyes were turned to a black Cadillac that was sitting in front of the gas station entrance. Within the vehicle, a woman was tearing into the person sitting in the passenger seat, who was blocked from my view as I approached the front doors.

Here are a couple of snippets from their constructive conversation (swear words have been abbreviated).

-"I hate looking at your f-ing face! It makes me want to f-ing throw up every time I f-ing see it!"
-"I am wasting my f-ing life with you. You are f-ing worthless!"
-"Don't say a f-ing word! I don't want to hear the f-ing sound of your f-ing voice!"
-"F you. F you. F you. F you, you f-ing piece of sh**"

This last one was shot out of the car windows as I rounded the rear bumper of the car and made my way into the store. Just as I was opening the door, I managed to catch a glimpse of the person on the receiving end of the conversation. He looked defeated, downcast, and was slumping as far as possible in the passenger side seat of the Cadillac. With every obsenity, I could see him cowarding a little further within the confines of his chair.

In the gas staition, I wandered through the candy aisles, keeping a close eye on the confrontation. Even through the glass walls, you could hear most of what was being said, which was decidely one-sided at that point. The woman would yell something at the guy, wait for him to open his mouth, and then cut him off with another string of obsenities.

As I approched the counter, the attendant asked whether I knew what was occurring in the car. I replied that I didn't. He said that he was supposed to put a stop to it, but was too scared to interfere at that point. I told him that I thought that this was a good idea, and we continued to watch their interactions as he rang in my Twix bar.

I eventually decided to leave the building and headed back to my apartment. I walked through the parking lot, hearing the woman continue to tear apart the guy, limb from limb. Just as I was turning into the alleyway, I saw a police car approach the Cadillac. Deciding that I needed to see the conclusion to the story, I stopped to watch the police officers pull each of the culprits out of the car.

The man, completely torn apart at this point, calmly put his hands on the hood of the car while one of the officers patted him down. The woman, on the other hand, was still feeling the coursing adrenaline within her veins. She turned her anger from the defeated man, to the officer that was trying to ask her questions.

"Don't f-ing touch me, you f-ing pig! We didn't do anything wrong! There's no reason for you to be here."

To his credit, the officer managed to calm her down for a bit, and started to ask her questions. I was too far away to hear their interactions and nearly turned to go home at this point. Luckily, I stayed just long enough to see the defeated man being handcuffed by the other officer and lead into the back of the squad car.

I believe that the police officers were just trying to seperate the two people in order to hear both sides of the story, but the frantic woman did not see it this way. She immediately transitioned from her relatively calm state, to the overly aggresive level, that she had held as I first approached the gas station. Only this time, instead of trying to melt the defeated man's face with her words, she became apologetic. She couldn't understand why the officers were taking him away, yelling obsenities in their direction. "F**k" was replaced with repeated "I'm sorry"'s in anything that she said to the man. Again, here are some brief snippits:

To police officers: "That's my husband! He didn't do anything wrong you motherf-ers!"
To the defeated man: "I'm sorry baby! This is all my fault. I'm so sorry!"

The officers managed to calm her down once again, probably explaining why they had put her husband in the back of the car. After watching her sob for a few minutes, I decided to head back to my apartment and attempt to recreate the situation to my roommate and on this blog.

Initially I could only laugh about what I had witnessed, chalking it up to life in the hood and interactions between a couple of crazies. However, as I started to really think about it, it seemed less and less extreme. Everyone that has been involved in a relationship has experienced one or two of these moments of insanity loss. There are times, in the heat of an argument, when things are said that a rationale human being would never let come out of their mouth.

But, in a relationship, both parties are a little bit crazy. Maybe not to the point of the couple that I saw last night, but crazy nonetheless. The smallest issues in a relationship can manifest themselves, over time, into a much larger point of contention between two people. Maybe it's the volume at which your partner watches TV, or the seven varieties of ice cream in the freezer, or how they choose to eat chicken wings.

Regardless of the situation, it can, occasionally, lead to an all-out cussfest. While it may seem rationale and justified to you at the time, to an outside party, these type of arguments are located centrally within crazy town. I think the key to any successful relationship is being able to recognize these insanity landmines and being able to apologize for any variety of names or swear words that you may have said during the madness.

I don't think that any relationship is immune to these moments, however, hopefully for most of us, these moments won't result in a large gathering of spectators and eventual police intervention.

-More to come...

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Being Impulsive

Holla,

Downtime and relaxation are key to my survival. As my family and friends can attest to, I can become a bit of an angry buddy if there's too much on my schedule. It causes me to do crazy things, like disappearing from phone contact for several weeks at a time or quitting my job to pursue a career in unemployment (it's not as profitable as you may think).

Many may (and have) called this "laziness", but I don't think that this is entirely true. I enjoy getting things done throughout the day, and feel good every time I cross something off of my to-do list. The longer the list, the better I feel when I've accomplished each of these tasks. More than anything, if I can complete things in an expedient fashion, allowing myself to fully take advantage of my relaxation schedule, the more victorious I am. That way, when moms calls me lazy for lounging on the couch, I can point to my to-do list, and shove it in her face. Take that Moms!

In the last couple of months, I've found myself needing to dedicate significant time and energy into making some tough decisions. Searching for an apartment, buying a car, deciding on health care coverage, and making travel plans for the summer all made appearances on my daily schedule throughout the spring and summer. For many people, these situations would require significant research and energy, causing certain amounts of frustration and anguish. By the time they make their final decision, they have exhausted all other possibilities and know that they have made the best choice possible for their particular situation.

I, on the other hand, in the name of efficiency, have been taking each of these decisions head on with extremely impulsive, and often error-laden choices. Instead of taking the extra time to feel confident with the end result, I will say "yes" to the first option that comes my way, allowing me to watch an extra episode of "Weeds".

These recent, quick decisions have not worked out exactly according to my master plan. Here is a quick breakdown:

Health Care: I enlisted in the first plan that I found, at the cheapest rate possible. Within a week, I contracted pink eye from a mystery location (I blame the dirtiness of my hood), and found that my health plan didn't cover the prescription or the office visit. After $150, my pink eye was gone, but my unemployed bank account had taken a beating.

Summer Travel Plans: I spent approximately 10 minutes looking for flights home this summer, quickly purchasing moderately priced tickets. I randomly checked the same flight a week later, only to find that it had dropped by $50. Curse you and your convenience Orbitz!

Apartments: I was ready to move into the first apartment that Nick and I visited. There was nothing special about the place, but it was acceptable in my eyes. Thankfully, Nick, and his ridiculous list of qualifications, prevented this from occurring. Otherwise, we would have been stuck with a small, overpriced place that still had Halloween decorations in its side yard.

Car: The biggest error in all of my impulsive decisions was also the most expensive. The car that I purchased was actually the second one that I looked at, only because the first one was a salvage vehicle. It is a Honda Civic that had been dropped a couple of inches, had an air intake valve installed in the engine, and a bubble muffler that caused it to earn the nickname "Vroom Vroom Pow" from my friends. I was only a few neon lights and a set a spinners away from fully converting into a 17 year old Asian. Thankfully, I've had the muffler replaced recently and I am slowly recovering some of my suburban-ness.

Some might think that a moment of self-reflection would hit me after writing about these errors in impulsiveness. I would start completing extensive amounts of research, studying Consumer Reports, and feeling confident in all of my purchases. That would be the smart move, however, I can guarantee that I've learned nothing. I will continue to live on razors edge of informed shopping, and persist in making excuses for my mistakes.

I guess that relaxation, and above all else, tv programs are that much more important to me. Don't judge me, or I'll shove my to-do list in your face.

-More to come...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Moving On...

Holla,

Over the last several months, I've been crafting a top secret plan to move out of the ghetto. Days spent at the beach, Tuesdays at PB Bar and Grill, and the desire to take up permanent residence in the Silver Fox have all played into my strategy. After planting the idea within Nick's (my roommate) mind grapes since March, I've finally managed to convince him that moving from the hood is a good idea. We put in our 30 day notice at our current residence last week, found a place on Monday, and signed our rental agreement today. The best part of my entire plan; Nick thought he had a choice in the whole matter.

No longer will I be able to rub extremely dirty shoulders with the homeless of North Park. I'm leaving behind robberies, shootings, fire extinguishers, and junkies and entering into the world of cheap tequila shots, beach cruisers, drinking games, and college-aged neighbors. Rather than embracing the eclectic nature of uptown San Diego, I'm moving into the epicenter of doucheness and brosephs, also known as Pacific Beach.

With the offerings of bars, restaurants, and the beach, PB is an extremely attractive option for many San Diego residents, which makes it ideal for ridiculously priced rental properties. Nick and I spent three full days touring various locations, seeing every variety of apartment that you could imagine. There was the converted garage that smelled heavily of hippie perfume. The very nice condo, with functioning fireplace, that was located in the alleyway behind the domestic abuse house. The large apartment on the second level of the building that housed the corporate headquarters of a clothing company called Vicious Enterprises. This company offers "a variety of lingerie, costumes, stockings, rhinestone jewelry, and pet accessories." Mmmm classy...

After our extensive search, we managed to find a place that was described as LG/2 BR/2 BA in its ad. It's within our unemployed (or nearly unemployed) price range, has a secret passageway, a nice courtyard area, and a living room counter that is excellent for drinking games. It's closer to being in the Crown Point neighborhood than PB, but it's within a bike ride of the ocean and bars, and a short walk away from a park on Mission Bay. It's nothing extraordinary, but fairly solid at the same time. The neighborhood is really quiet, and there were no visible signs of bums. No rusted shopping carts or used needles anywhere in sight.

As soon as Nick gets back from the blessed land known as Minnesota, we are going to be loading up the moving trucks, singing the Jefferson's theme song, and saying goodbye to El Cajon Boulevard for the last time.

Fair readers, if you ever find yourself in the San Diego area, come visit us at the beach. There are couches, courtyards, and quarters tables waiting to welcome you.

More to come...

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Comment Boxing

Holla,

In light of the fact that I received an anonymous comment on one of the posts from last week, I am going to dedicate an entry to the discussion and present my rebuttal. In case you missed it, here is the comment:

Track suits still are cool. Troll dolls and NKOTB, not so much. Who was your favorite New Kid?

I have to start by thanking Anonymous for the material for another blog entry. Without you, none of this could have been possible. I would also like to thank Google Image search, as it has provided a wide range of visual stimuli that I will use in this discussion.

Onto my first point: Track suits are cool...

I will agree that tracksuits have evolved into something acceptable to wear today, however, there was a period of the late eighties, early nineties that brought us retina-damaging colors and sonically-offensive sounds that were completely uncalled for.

At that time, tracksuits were made of some sort of shiny, almost reflective nylon material that would make the pffft pffft sound as you walked. I would be sitting my elementary school classroom, attempting to not move, so that I wouldn't be overpowering the teacher's lecture with my pffft pffft's.



In addition, the tracksuits were often very bright and very coordinated. If you had a swatch of florescent green on the shoulder, you were most likely going to have a matching swatch on the lower pant leg. Color symmetry was very important. If you ever were trying to sneak up on someone, the worst outfit you could have chosen was a 1990 era tracksuit. Not only would they hear you approaching, but they could make out the colors of your outfit from a mile away.



One last thing. For some reason, the suits were cut in a very odd way. They generally had normal sized wastes, with an extended crotch section, that would then narrow down as the pants approached your ankles, often ending with an elastic band. Think Hammer Pants. Throughout the day, my tracksuit pants would start to creep up my lower leg, causing me to fight a constant battle of pulling them back down to my tubesocks. It was an irritating affair.


There is no part of me that thinks this looks cool.

In the end, I knew the exact moment that I had to give up wearing my tracksuit. I had received some for Christmas the previous year, and had proudly rocked it throughout the hallways of Westview Elementary. In the following year, my grandmother received a tracksuit for Christmas that was eerily similar to one that I owned. Upon returned home, I immediately buried my collection in the back of my closet, never to be worn again.

Point number two: Troll dolls are not cool...

When I was in fifth grade, I received a troll doll from my first girlfriend for Valentine's Day. He had pink hair and a tuxedo. I think that I gave her a mood ring and a packet of sweet hearts. It was the most romantic point in my life...

I will agree that troll dolls are no longer cool for someone of my advanced age. I couldn't justify having a collection of them sitting in my room now, but I can't say that they aren't cute. I could see how they might still be appealing to someone much younger than I.



At a certain age however, having a close relationship with dolls are stuffed animals becomes unacceptable. You may think that you have a cute collection of Pound Puppies or Cabbage Patch Dolls, but the rest of the world finds you uber-creepy. See visual evidence below.


This guy would do terrible things to your stuffed animals.

This is somehow different for middle-aged women. When the Beanie Baby movement hit a few years ago, I would see women driving around with hundreds of the dolls in the back window of their car. I never understood why this was occurring, but it was somehow acceptable. The lesson here:

40 year old woman with dolls - Hobby.
40 year old man with dolls - Run away as quickly as possible.

In the end, I would say that troll dolls could still be considered cool for young children. If I were 10 years old, would I shun the gift of a troll doll from my girlfriend? Probably not.


If a gorilla digs them, then so do I.

Point number three: NKOTB is not cool...


NKOTB 1990

I never considered New Kids on the Block to be cool. I always considered them a little weird, even as a young child. They brought quite a number of questions to mind:

Why was that one guy so angry all the time?
Why was the 12 year old humping the microphone stand?
What's with the pelvic thrusts?

That didn't mean that I didn't listen to their music, or attend their concert when I was in third grade. Far from it. I embraced NKOTB because that's what everyone else was doing. I may not have had a lunch box or a picture of Joey on my wall, but I didn't shun them. At the time, I enjoyed the cool stylings of the California Raisins and the Stand By Me soundtrack far more than "Hanging Tough", but I wasn't going to let my peers know that.

But that doesn't mean that they weren't cool, or aren't cool today. In fact, New Kids have reunited and are coming out with a new album. I've had friends go to their concert. Maybe it's a little bit of a novelty act, but they can still evoke enough emotion to sell out arenas. And for that, New Kids, you are cool.


NKOTB today

Point number four: Favorite New Kid...

I have to go with Donnie. Mainly because I couldn't imagine how difficult it would be to constantly maintain the bad boy image. In every picture that he's in, he's mean-mugging. It's impressive, earning my respect and the title of "Micah's favorite New Kid." That sounds awful.

That's all I've got. Thanks again to the Anonymous poster. More comments = more better. Make your voice heard!

-More to come...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Must Love Dogs

Holla,

I have no problem with dogs. Generally, I'm a big fan. I grew up with a successive trio of cockapoos*.

*Quick side note; the cockapoo is possibly the worst dog breed for a middle school aged boy to own. The name still makes me giggle. Cockapoo...tee hee hee. So hilarious.

I loved each of our family dogs. I enjoy spending time with friend's dogs. If a random dog approaches me in the street, I will regularly give them a little scratch behind the ears and speak to them with a strange dog/baby voice. "Who's a good boy? You are. You're a good boy."

Dogs express joy better than any other creature in the world. The overjoyed look on their face, the entire body wagging, and the occasional peeing of themselves when they see their owner is unrivaled in the animal world. There is no other pet that could best the reaction of a dog. Cats may appear when you enter the room, if only to deliver a "Oh, it's you." or a "You should be wetting yourself to see me" look. Fish have no idea what's going on. A bird will chirp at unbearably piercing levels. I'm unsure about ferrets, or hamsters, or pigs, or monkeys, but I'm going to guess that they aren't delivering the same amount of enthusiasm as a dog.

Regardless of appearance or likability or beliefs, they will provide companionship for people. There is a crazy lady that has started to make appearances around the hood, collecting broken umbrellas and avoiding the constraints of a bra, while constantly having a golden retriever by her side. The golden retriever doesn't realize how bat-crazy this woman is or judge her for talking to the fence posts outside the AM/PM gas station. All the dog knows is that this woman will occasionally feed it, and supply a warm body to sleep next to while in the streets.

For these reasons, and others, I love dogs. The joy, loyalty, and companionship that they provide make them easy to adore. It makes me start to wonder about getting a dog of my own...

...and then, one half second later, I immediately shut down that line of thinking. I spent the weekend dog sitting for my friends, receiving a small taste of exclusive dog ownership. They have two dogs, a black lab and a boston terrier, who are a generally good mannered pair. Bucky and Sheeba are not puppies. They like to sleep. They don't whine very often and seem to entertain themselves. Here are a couple of pictures.



And yet, even with all of this, my laziness and self-obsession become very apparent when I'm the caretaker of something other than myself. The following are actual conversations that I had with the dogs this weekend.

-You want to go outside again? I just let you out 5 minutes ago, and I just got comfortable on the couch.
-What do you think about not going for a walk today? How about we just watch some tv instead?
-Stop trying to snuggle with me! It's too hot and your breath smells awful. Go sleep on the other side of the bed.
-I don't want to wake up yet. Stop pawing at my face.

I basically turned into a middle aged married man, griping with my wife. Only that my wife turned out to be two dogs in this case. Instead of being a dog owner, I prefer to be a dog uncle. I like to swoop in, play with the dogs for a moment, and then promptly exit when the real responsibilities kick in. Walks, medication, picking up poop, that's all on you, dog owner. I'll just be over here, ready to throw a ball or give them a treat.

I'm guessing that part of the reason that I'm so averse to dog care is that they aren't my own. If I were the sole parent of another life, I may have more energy to put into the relationship. That's the theory at least. I'm hoping that this is the case, because I would really enjoy earning the role of 'father' some day. I would play catch with my child, teaching him or her the ways of the world, making them laugh at my hilarious jokes, tickling them, telling them bedtime stories...

...and then promptly handing them to my wife if they are crying, need something to eat, or require a new diaper. It's the perfect plan.

-More to come...

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Peer Pressure

Holla,

The DARE program entered into my life at a very influential time. The 5th grade version of Micah would take anything that an adult said as gospel, especially one in a police officer's uniform. If a cop ever said anything in my general direction, I would nearly wet myself, which is a condition may or may not still exist today.

For those that have never experienced DARE, it is a program that sends a uniformed officer into school classrooms to educate kids about the effects of drugs. From DARE's website:

The D.A.R.E. program is more than just drug prevention education; it teaches students good decision making skills to help them avoid high-risk behavior to ensure they grow up healthy, safe and secure.

One of the most important lessons that DARE taught was to avoid the effects of peer pressure. At the time, I fully believed that peer pressure had no effect on me. I would use the tactics learned in DARE to avoid pressure from my drug using friends. Saying no and walking away would definitely work. The "broken record" was fool proof!

Meanwhile I was clapping in a circle and barking like a seal to give my "seal of approval". I was wearing track suits, buying troll dolls for my girlfriends, and listening to New Kids On the Block. I secretly hated all of these things, but they were a requirement for any child that didn't want to be outcast from our rapidly developing social class. Richard has a fluorescent green, tiger print snap bracelet? I need one! Now! Peer pressure was secretly leading every aspect of my life.

Over the years, I've found that I was able to overcome certain aspects of this peer pressure. I'm no longer a slave to brand names or labels (other than puma. I heart you. Kisses), I like my own brand of music, and I've been able to chart my own, unique career path. I'm my own man, dammit! It may have taken some time, but the lessons of DARE seemed to have sunk in. I have resisted the pressure of my peers in order to become my own person...

What's that? You want me to drink heavily? Binge drink, even? Drink a beer bong with a live bee in it? You are going to chant my name in encouragement? Okay!

Although I'm able to resist peer pressure in certain aspects of my life, the one area that DARE seemed to have no impact for me was in the use of drugs and alcohol. The cool kids were drinking in high school, so naturally I wanted to be drinking as well. Smoking weed was fun? Let me give it a try.

I'm convinced that I would have experimented with a far greater range of recreational drugs if I had surrounded myself with a different group of people. I have a great group of friends, all of whom are hard working, successful, and have avoided any serious drug use. On the other hand, each and every one of them loves to drink. In large quantities. Out of bottles, and beer bongs, and bags of wine.

Once I get wrapped up in this world, I will do the same. Once the peer pressure to drink arrives, I am powerless to stop it. If I see someone taking a beer bong, I want to be involved. I want to slap the wine bag alongside all of my friends. We're going to turn this into a drinking game? Yes!

The reason for this drinking testimonial is due to an experience I had on Sunday. I was working at Confidential, serving drinks for a wedding party. The couple had a destination wedding, and were hosting an event in San Diego for all of those people that couldn't make it to Mexico. The event was supposed to be a relatively relaxed affair. There was an open bar for beer and wine, along with appetizers and a slide show from the actual wedding. It was scheduled to last three hours, and there about 150 people in attendance.

Things were going according to plan for the majority of the time. People were coming and going, giving their heartfelt congratulations to the happy couple, having a drink or two, and enjoying each other's company. It was around the two hour mark that things took a dramatic turn.

At this time, the wife's sister approached the bar and asked if I could make a round of shots. I agreed and asked how many shots she needed. She initially requested three, one for herself, one for the husband, and one for her sister; however, as she looked around the room, the shot number began to increase rapidly. After accounting for the parents, extended family members, and some close friends, I had made 14 kamikazes.

I watched the group take the round of shots and prepared myself for the upcoming onslaught of drink requests. I noticed the faces of people that were not involved in the shot-taking party. There were looks of amusement and longing and even some jealousy on peoples' faces. Peer pressure had started to take hold.

Some of the original shot taking group had not wanted to participate at first, but with some gently coaxing, they were on board. The mother of the bride had staunchly refused my delicious drink to start, but by the end of the evening she was ordering rounds by herself and swing dancing with her husband.

By hour three of the party, everyone in the building had consumed at least one shot, and more requests were being placed. My shot making knowledge was being put to the test, and we were rapidly running out of glassware. The bar owner extended the party another couple of hours, the announcement of which caused a massive cheer and subsequent celebration. The dance floor had become packed and several people were dancing on benches and tables. The sister that had ordered the original round of shots grabbed, twirled, and dipped me as I was passing through the restaurant. I was in the middle of a frat party once again.

Peer pressure was alive and thriving on Sunday afternoon/evening. If people had simply thought back to their DARE training, and utilized the "broken record" technique, they may not have been convinced to drink so much. They would have woken up on Monday feeling refreshed and ready to start their week.

But they also would have missed out on all the fun.

-More to come...

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Bad Touch

Holla,

Contrary to the title of this blog, I have been gainfully employed since the end of April. For a couple of weeks I cleaned glassware, scrubbed floors, and restocked beer coolers in a sufficiently competent fashion, leading to a quick promotion to bartender. I would like to say that the promotion was exclusively due to the skills that I had demonstrated as a barback, but that would be a lie. In all honesty, it was more likely due to the exit of a fellow employee that provided this opportunity for me. The employee had been hired around the same time as myself, but started working as a bartender. Within two weeks he had decided that Confidential was not for him and left.

At the time, I thought he had completely lost it. I had been looking for employment for nearly six months before I found this position. I would cradle any tip money that I received, whispering sweet nothings to it as I fell asleep at night. He had been looking for work for a while as well, and he gave up the dream after only two weeks. Two weeks! I couldn't wrap my mind around it.

However, he may have had a vision of what was to come in the upcoming weeks at Confidential. Business has gotten gradually slower with every week that I've been employed there. Starting with his exit, we have lost two chefs, another bartender, three door guys, and a server. They have all left for other jobs at busier, more profitable bars. In the last two nights, we have closed early because there wasn't a single person in the building past midnight. I was making a higher hourly rate writing home improvement articles and acting in educational videos. If only there was an E-3 sequel...

Now, this isn't to say that I'm planning my exit as well. After hundreds of emails and interviews during my unemployed period, I'm thankful for having anything that offers me compensation. If someone was paying me to dance around the streets of San Diego in a gorilla costume, I would remain loyal to them.

More than anything, this loss of business, and subsequent mass exodus, has caused me to question whether I am cursing anything that I touch. Here is a brief list, as I am extremely fond of lists, which demonstrates some of my destructive tendencies:

-Hired at Confidential. Business declines, everyone leaves, building will soon go up in flames.
-Write extensively about the Minnesota Twins. 2008 season ends in heartbreak. 2009 team is mired in mediocrity.
-Started writing about the Minnesota Timberwolves after an incredible January record. Team star is soon injured and out for the season. Team tanks down the stretch.
-Started a t-shirt company for Madison graduates after business partner and roommate sells over 50 shirts in one day. Haven't sold a single t-shirt in over a month.
-Was a member of 5 different intramural teams in San Diego. All failed...miserably.
-Started watching John and Kate plus 8 after viewing it once with little sister. John then cheats, Kate goes crazy, children will soon go on a massive killing spree.
-Moved to California. The state will run out of money in two weeks, effectively becoming bankrupt.

I am now convinced that the curse of Micah is alive and well. I'm kissing everything in a fairly deadly fashion. Anyone reading this blog should be extremely wary. I'm not telling you to stop reading. Far from it. Read! Comment! Tell your friends!

Just be careful out there.

-More to come...

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Finding Inspiration

Holla,

Everyone has a location that allows them to think clearly. For some, it's long runs or hikes. For others, it's staring out of the window or sitting in a quiet location. Some find inspiration in music or on the beach or in front of a fire place.

Personally, I have two locations that allow me to think outside of the daily grind. Here is a description of each:

The Shower: I didn't realize the power of the long shower until I entered college. I had always been a fan, as my family can attest to. Not only did long showers suppress my general smelliness, but they also warmed up this lanky, high-school aged Minnesotan while growing up.

In the fall semester of my freshman year at Madison, I was taking a math class in the dungeon of the Van Hise building. My professor was a small Chinese man with the most extreme combover I have ever witnessed in my life. As the lecture would proceed, he would become more and more agitated, and his combover would start to slip off the smooth dome of his head. At the end of the 90 minute lecture, the bell would ring, and the six strands of hair that comprised the combover were desperately trying to run away from their perch.

"What does a small Chinese man, and his combover, have to do with the shower?", you might ask. Well hold on a moment, fair reader. I'm getting to that.

Throughout the class, he would ask students questions about some of the problems. If people weren't able to answer his inquiries, he would begin by saying, "Think about it."

If there still wasn't a response, he would repeaditely say, "Take a shower. Take a shower!!!"

It wasn't until the third occassion that he said this that another student asked what he meant by his "Take a shower" comments. In halting English, he said that he did his best thinking in the shower, and it was the best location for us to consider tough math questions.

At the time, this thought caused me to laugh. I'd be lying if I didn't immediately envision my professor, shampooing his combover and solving complex math equations on the steamed shower door.

It wasn't until my next shower that I realized that I did all of my best thinking there as well. Not so much about math problems, or small Asian men, but moreso about creative ideas. I'm in a warm, happy place that is free from any outside distractions. It was where I developed the majority of my humo show and where I think of the majority of ideas for this blog, while getting rid of my smelliness at the same time. Everyone wins!

Pre-Sleep: While the shower is the location that I come up with ideas, the time between laying down and deep sleep is where they are developed. I can spend an entire day thinking about something that I created in the shower, and not be able to take it any further. However, if I'm in bed, trying to find sleep, I will mull over this idea. Before I know it, I will have an entire story arc mapped out and can see the faces of the characters that I'm trying to create. Again, it's a warm, happy place that is free from distraction.

There are two unfortunate side effects of the pre-sleep thinking. One is that I tend to forget many of the ideas by the time that I wake up in the morning. Secondly, some of the ideas will bleed into dreams that I have, turning from legimate ideas to complete ridiculousness. The other night, prior to falling asleep, I had an idea about an alpha male character among a group of high school friends, and the events surrounding their life. In dreamland, this alpha male character ended up leading an army of stick men to battle against Civil War era Confederate troops. When I woke up, I had no idea where my pre-sleep ideas stopped, and my dreamland craziness began.

Each night that I work, I try and take a shower prior to going to sleep. In this way, I can remove the smells and greasiness of working in a restaurant before bed, and maximize my creative thought process.

Last week, I got home and checked a couple of website before hopping into the shower. Posted on one of the sites was the following video:



I watched the video, laughed about it, and hopped into the shower. I continued to mull over the video in my warm, happy place, and started to develop a story. By the time that I laid down to sleep, I was already creating characters and thinking of plot lines for the story. I woke up a couple of hours later, when my dreams had just about ruined my original thought, and wrote down a few of my ideas.

I woke up the next morning and looked at the notepad, next to my bed. I had written down the following:

711
break in
mugging
flashlight
neighborhood watch
drunk tank

Looking at it now, it doesn't make much sense, but it was enough to remind me of the story that I wanted to create. I started writing some things last night, and hopefully will have something completed in the next couple of weeks.

Inspiration strikes!!!

-More to come...

Monday, June 1, 2009

New Places, New Faces

Holla,

Throughout the past 27 posts, I've often referenced meetings with various homeless/crazy people in the hood in which I currently reside. There was the man that digs through my garbage, the multitude of grocery cart pushers, and who could forget crazy Joe? While the North Park homeless population is alive and thriving, I've recently been exposed to an entirely new level of derelictedness in a separate part of the city.

Downtown San Diego brings homelessness to an entirely new level. There is a greater variety and a greater volume of transients that I interact with now on a nightly basis. My current employer is a bar located just off the main street of entertainment in the downtown area. While I'm headed into the office, I rarely notice the homeless. They are disguised by the large masses of people that are headed to their preferred happy hour locale or favorite watering hole. The homeless are like the garbage cans and lampposts of any downtown area. You realize that they are there, but don't take immediate notice of them in the daylight hours.

And then, when I leave work each night, often between the hours of 1 and 3 am, they are as apparent as they are in North Park. There is the couple that sleeps in the alcove next to the restaurant, the group of kids that hang near the fountain, the massive black guy in the parking lot, among others. I have grown to know the regulars, and have become comfortable seeing them on a nightly basis.

Work is just far enough away from my house that I have to drive there for each shift. I have found certain parking spots that are open on a fairly regular basis, which have become my go-to location each night. These spots just happen to be located on the same street as the Greyhound bus station. This is no coincidence, as this is the epicenter of homelessness downtown, and the majority of upstanding citizens avoid approaching this area.

For me, the benefits of an open parking spot outweigh the shadiness of the derelicts. However, I can't say that I've never been in an uneasy situation. There is a 711 that is a block away from the epicenter, and it often attracts some of the homeless that have collected enough change to purchase a hot dog or a Hostess cupcake.

By 3 in the morning, I'm craving snacks like a college burnout. Due to this, I have developed a nasty habit of stopping at this 711 on my way home each evening. In the fluorescent lighting of the store, I can fully capture the visual stimuli that these individuals are providing. There is the man that wears the low-cut, white dress and striped soccer socks, the man with the three foot long beard, and the smelly guy in flannel that reads the prices off of the bags of chips. My personal favorite is this older lady that smiles and says hello to everyone that comes through the doorway. With a shower and a change of clothes, she would fit right in at the front of a WalMart.

The other night, there was a guy that was watching the hot dogs and taquitos cook on the rollers near the check out. He had an impressive pony tail and a beat up Chargers hat on his head. I didn't think too much about him as I approached the counter with my Gatorade and granola bar. I said hello to the employee that is there every night. We've reached the point that we recognize each other, and he asked how my night had been. We exchanged small talk for a moment, and then I left the store.

I noticed the pony tail leave the store after me, and prepared myself for the upcoming interaction. He asked if I could spare any money so that he could get something to eat. I gave him a couple of bucks, hoping that he would head back inside and purchase the taquito that he had been eying up a moment beforehand.

Much to my dismay, he took the gift as an opening to ask for more money. He told me that he had just arrived in the city, and really needed a place to stay. I told him that I couldn't spare any more, as I was nearly homeless myself. I excused myself from the conversation, and walked at a faster pace down the sidewalk.

He must have started following me at some point, because, by the time I reached my car, he was about 15 feet behind me. I fumbled for my keys for a moment, unlocked my car, and got inside, just as he approached the passenger side window. He looked in at me, and asked me for some more money, as I started up the engine.

I don't know if it was my rice-rocket muffler, or the scared look on my face that caused him to back away for a moment, but I took the opportunity to drive away as fast as possible. He didn't look like he had been living in the streets for long, and he probably had some cognitive thought still running through his brain, but that didn't stop me from envisioning him cutting me with a shiv or trying to strangle me.

I would say that I'm pretty comfortable with the homeless population. After years of living in Madison, Chicago, and now San Diego, I've been fairly exposed to a variety of types of vagabonds. Does that mean that I want to hang out with them and learn their life stories? No. Maybe since the Crazy Joe situation, I've become a little more wary of the homeless and slightly insane. Does that make me an intolerant person? I'd like to think not. Just a little more cautious.

I'm still going to maintain my parking spot, and visit the same 711, but I might reconsider interacting with the 1st street All-Stars from here on out. A puncture would in my side is much less appealing than coming home to sleep.

More to come...

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Return of E-3

Holla,

After disappearing for a couple of months, E-3 is back. Here is the link to the original entry regarding our favorite superhero. I met with the producer on Tuesday to record a small voiceover, and received an almost-finished copy of the video. While I was in the production office, he asked whether or not I would like to see it, and I responded with a resounding "yes".

While we were walking into the conference room, the producer started asking other people if they would like to view the video as well. Since it had been a significant period of time since the original filming, I had forgotten some of the more embarrassing portions that I had put myself through. Namely, wearing an all spandex, red suit. So I was okay when we walked into the room with 10 other people in tow.

As soon as the lights went out, and the first shot of the video hit the screen, I was immediately mortified. There I was, standing in full spandex, trying my best to act like a superhero. I wanted to run out of the room and huddle behind the bushes in front of the building. It was awful. Every moment was excruciating embarrassment. If I had entered into a room and peed my pants, while singing the Star Spangled Banner, I would have less embarrassed.

The video is only about 10 or 15 minutes long, and the production value is actually pretty good. There were some cool special effects that they incorporated into the scenes. I was impressed. Unfortunately, my acting did not match this quality. There were some facial ticks and some nose scrunches that I didn't know I was capable of, but looked generally awkward in the overall scheme of the movie. A superhero is supposed to look undaunted and noble, even in the face of adversity (or in my case, an oversized power outlet named Overload).

Although I think that I could have done a better job, in the end, I have a funny video to show friends and family. Even if I'm giving further humiliating ammunition to my little sister. I've tormented her for years, with comparisons to the "beast from the woods" to her resemblance to a small boy, so I guess that I'm getting what I deserve.

As a last, little treat, I will include the opening comic book sequence from the video. I'm not sure that it will translate to a blogging format, but it will give you a general idea of what I've put myself through. Enjoy!



More to come...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Living Within Your Means

Holla,

Sorry that it has taken me so long to get back to this. It has been a crazy couple of weeks in the life and times of Micah. I got a job, purchased a car, headed to Vegas, and entertained a visiting group of friends in the span of three weeks. The experience has left me exhausted and in extensive debt.

At the time that I received my job, my bank account was entering into some desperate times. It had taken a beating for a full year and was now seeking refuge from my constant barrage of punches. It had done so well in covering up the bruises, but at this point, people were starting to ask questions.

-He's not contributing anything to this relationship. Why do you stay with him?
-How could you let him treat you like that?
-Don't think about the past, when direct deposits just magically appeared every two weeks. Why don't you think about your future?

The bank account and I had reached rock bottom. Thoughts of moving back into my parent's house started to creep back into my head. Selling body part and organs seemed more and more appealing. And then, I received the call. I had a job! Oh happy day! The bank account and I might be able to salvage the relationship that had been so successful in the past. Happier times were on the horizon.

The tip money that I received on my first night of work should have gone directly into my bank account. That would have been the appropriate thing to do. I know that now. But in my head, I started to envision all of the things that I could purchase with that money. I had an entire wish list of things that I had been coveting since leaving employment last year. An actual list, that was saved on my computer, which has been growing at an exponential rate.

While living in the unemployment line, I had turned up my frugal-ness to an 11. I would spend entirely too much time in grocery store isles, comparing the price per ounce of different food products. I would purchase food that I knew that I didn't enjoy, just because it was 7 cents less than the more enjoyable item. I can't begin to tell you the anger that I felt when Subway stopped offering the $5 footlongs. I purchased socks at a swap meet. I found a bottle of shampoo for $1, and it was like winning the lottery. Each dollar that left my wallet was like ripping off a band-aid.

And then I had a job again, where I actually received money in-hand at the end of every night. Holding $100 is much different than having it floating around in check or electronic format. It was scalding my palm. I had no choice, I had to spend it.

So, I bought a car, and some new clothes, and shoes, and booze, and chips at the casino, and music, and the expensive ham at the grocery store. It was glorious! I couldn't help myself. It was a three week binge of purchasing things that I had avoided for a year, and I didn't want it to stop. I wanted to buy more, and not worry about budgeting any longer.

That was the case, until I woke up this morning, and checked my fragile bank account. Even with the money that I had been earning, I was still in debt for the month. My bank account was still huddled in the corner, in tremendous need of some gentle carressing.

Now that I'm headed back to reality (somewhat) I need to dial things back a little bit. The tip money is going directly to the bank for a while, in hopes that I can actually save money for a month. As much as I like the thrill of spending money, the depressing reality of seeing your life savings dwindle down is much worse.

-More to come...

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Living a Lie

Holla,

The blogging has been a little slow lately, and for that, I apologize. For about a month and a half, I have been going through an extensive interview process for a job. I haven't written much about it, in hopes that I wouldn't jinx the opportunity or inflate my expectations. I felt dirty every time that I wrote about "life in the unemployment line" while I was heading in the direction of "life in the employed line".

Last week, after three interviews and countless emails back and forth, I finally received the position. You are now reading the words of the newest employee of Confidential bar and restaurant. After going through one of the most exhaustive interview processes of my life, I am a barback and food runner for a restaurant in San Diego. I know what you are thinking. How could I attain such a prestigious position? How did I get a job where I am essentially a glorified dish washer?

My only answer to these questions is hard work, grit, and a little luck. Fortunately, I will no longer have to collect bottles and cans in the alleyways of North Park to make money. I have a job that is going to allow me survive a little bit longer in San Diego. The only drawback is that I have an entirely new routine. I have been getting home between 3 am and 4 am every night that I've worked, and it is taking me a while to adjust.

Once I get fully acclimated to the working routine, I will concentrate on blogging once again. It may take a little while, but I'm committed to the craft of on-line writing. The tone of the blog may change, as I am not unemployed any longer, but I hope to provide some interesting stories from my nightly activities.

That's all for now. Thanks for continuing to read.

-More to come...

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Not Cut Out for Intramurals

Holla,

Being in the unemployment line allows one to have the luxury of quite a bit of free time. How one chooses to spend this free time depends on the person. Some people might take classes. Others will do volunteer work. I spend my free time playing intramural sports.

That's not all that I do, however. During the daylight hours, I try and accomplish as many tasks as possible. I will write blogs, work out, head to the grocery store, and spend an inordinate number of hours on Craigslist. But once the sun starts to set, I lace up my cleats and head out the door.

Here is a breakdown of my week:

Sunday: San Diego Shockers Kickball
Monday: Team #7 Soccer
Tuesday: Brew Crew Softball
Wednesday: Rest and watch Lost (it's an exhausting television show)
Thursday: Fluffers Dodgeball
Friday/Saturday: Various beach games including smashball extreme, wiffle-ball, and Rock-in-Hole

The best part is, of the four organized intramural teams that I play with, I'm only officially a member of two of them (dodgeball and kickball). The other teams I serve as a replacement player when they need people, which just happens to be every week. I've created quite a nice situation for myself.

My intramural lifestyle was going along quite smoothly. I was playing games, performing admirably on each team, and enjoying my evenings of relaxation. It was perfect...

And then last week happened. On Tuesday, I was playing with the Brew Crew softball team. The Crew has had a rough season. I have been playing with the team since the third week, and have yet to be a part of a victory. I've experienced three ties and four losses. Last Tuesday, we had a chance to comeback from 10 runs down to win the game. It was the bottom of the last inning of play. There was a runner on second base, we just needed one run to tie, and Mighty Vegter approached the plate.

I should point out that, other than 1st grade and a couple of Truman days, I've never spent much time on a baseball/softball diamond. My swing is terrible and I rarely get the ball to the outfielders. I'm more of a bloop single type of person. This did not prevent me from having visions of hitting a home run as I stepped up to bat.

I swung as hard as I could and sent a lazy fly ball to right field. Game over. Brew Crew loses again.

Thursday rolls around and I'm headed out the door again for dodgeball. Our team, the Fluffers, had a fairly decent first week. We only dropped one set on our way to victory, but our competition in week 2 was in a whole different league. They were the defending champs, and arrived to the game in matching knee pads. I'll refer to them as the Terror Squad.

We struggled through the first two sets, but had a chance in the third. We had won the first game, lost the second, and it came down to the deciding third to determine the set's outcome. If we lost, we had lost the match for the week.

I ended up being the last member of the team on the court, trying to take on three or four members of the Terror Squad. I dodged a couple of balls, eventually getting hit by a weak throw that I should have easily avoided. Match over, and in demoralizing fashion.

I didn't think much of the first two events. The Brew Crew really wasn't my team, and I just started playing with the Fluffers. I wasn't completely emotionally invested in the game's outcomes.

This all changed on Sunday. The San Diego Shockers had become an institution in the kickball community for several years before my arrival. They had welcomed me into their 4-time championship tradition with open arms. Throughout the season, I had done fairly well with the team, and was fairly confident in my abilities. The 2009 Shockers had run through the competition, earning a #1 seed for the playoffs.

The semifinal game had gone fine, and we won pretty convincingly. During the championship game, we were in control for the majority of the time, and then the last inning arrived.

The other team had tied the game up in the sixth, and we headed into the top of the seventh deadlocked. They sent their first batter to the plate, and I stared him down from my position in center field. There hadn't been a ball kicked to my direction the entire game, but I remained focused.

Out of nowhere, the guy kicked the ball a mile. I started sprinting to my left, tracking the ball as it arced through the air. At the last second, I thought that I might be able to run it down. As it started to descend, I reached out my arms, cradled the ball, and fell to the ground.

And, suddenly, the ball was gone. It had bounced out of my arms somewhere through the fall and was rolling into deep center field. I got up off the ground, grabbed the ball, and hurled it back into the infield. But it was too late...

I had given up the winning run, but I was going to get a chance to redeem myself. In the bottom of the inning, I approached the plate with two outs, and a runner on second once again. I just needed to get a single and we would tie the game.

I kicked the ball as hard as I could, only to line out to the shortstop, and ruin the Shockers championship run. I was starting to believe in the curse of Mighty Vegter.

My beliefs were confirmed to be true just one night later. While playing with Team #7, an absolutely terrible soccer team, I had a chance to pull off a tremendous upset. With only a minute left to play, we were tied 1-1 with far better team. Team #7 had their first opportunity to not lose during their season.

And then the curse emerged once again. I was marking one of the other team's midfielders, who made a run through the middle, and received a well-timed pass. I thought he was offside, but recovered to steal the ball away. At the last second, the guy stuck his foot out and hit the ball off of my shin. Somehow it caused the ball to bounce perfectly off of me and into a wide open space in the box. He took a shot, scored, and ended the game.

Mighty Vegter strikes again.

It was a rough week on the psyche. I started to question whether I was made for the intramural sports' scene. I may retire from the sport's world entirely. For the reasons listed above and a few others, which will not be named at this time.

More to come...