Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Catch Me If You Can

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

And yet, here I go again.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think Ferris Bueller said something like that once…

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

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.