Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Virtual Death

Someone posted this picture on Reddit this morning saying that they saw a glimpse of what the future looks like.

We laugh, and jokingly mock someone sitting at a table with a virtual headset on their noggin, sipping back on a mochaccino and living their life through a surrogate superhero that doesn't really exist."That's the kind of stuff that only happens in movies" We say. "People like him are a minority." We laugh. "Crap like that is never going to happen." We vow.

But then a few hours later my boss e-mails me a scheduled appointment with a potential client who wants to develop a virtual reality campus tour where students can point and click on any building on campus and see what our university "virtually" looks like.

In his e-mail he states: "Imagine if directly on your website prospective students could take a walking tour of your campus, exactly like the one you offer families that are able to visit in person."

Wait, so let me get this straight, you want to create a virtual environment where people don't actually get to see the campus in person, feel what it feels like to have the warm sun beaming down on their faces in January, have an actual conversation with an actual human being, a human being with social skills and intelligence and a slight funny awkwardness that any college kid has in their voice. You are telling me that all of these real life experiences can be eradicated and people will have the chance to see what our campus is like through a pattern of 1's and 0's shaped like the landscape of St. George, Utah? You are telling me we are better off deleting the concept of interpersonal communication with another human being because wearing a headset and sipping a mochacccino is a more streamlined way to live our lives? You are telling me the world is a better place with technology wiping out the world we live in, one mouseclick at a time?

Yes. Sadly, that is the direction we are heading. Reality is nearing its inevitable execution.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Late Night Hugs

There has got to be something wrong with me. If I can't push out a 700-word blog on my regular agenda, I think there's something off-centered with my head. Either that or 30-hour road trips to recruit students in SoCal have my internal clock on some kind of confusing schedule. Either way, I apologize for the tardiness of this blog. I know you need your entertainment.

For full effect, download "The 2nd Law: Isolated System" by Muse and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

"Brock, we never hang out. What has happened?" a pretty girl asked me last night just before 8 pm as a foursome and I were knee-deep in funny stories about past failed relationships and Dr. Mario battles. Yes, I'm almost 30 and every once in a while I relive the childhood I never had and play Dr. Mario with my friends on Sunday nights to relieve stress. It's a lot better than tipping back a bottle of Jack. Don't judge.

"We don't hang out because I'm not important to you. And that's okay." I said. For the record, don't misinterpret my last comment to be a woeful stab of self-pity in hopes that I would somehow get this girl to take a few moments out of her life and talk to me. It was the truth. It was reality. And I was only stating the facts to an old friend, nothing more.

"What do you mean you're not important?

"I'm not a priority." I said.

"Oh, so you know my priorities now do you?"

"I do."

"What are they?" She asked.

"In this order. A number 1, finishing up this semester and graduating with your degree in Dental Hygiene. B number 2, finding a career somewhere in Salt Lake, or Oregon, or somewhere crazy that's not St. George. And C number 3, finding a man you can boss around and be romantically tied to for the rest of your life. Am I right?"

As I said these words the stare of reality came across her face as she realized that things have changed, and the friendship that at one point in time she and I both cherished had diminished to a more elevated form of an acquaintance. We were now just a little deeper than average surface friends. Friends who could get together and reminisce about the days when we rode tandem bicycles around the city, or our heated games of Mafia where we would lie through our teeth to one another. People who were technically classified as friends, but really better known as associates who would forget about each other and go back to our regular scheduled programming once the night was over. We didn't matter to one another. And that was okay. That's how life goes sometimes.

"Yeah, you're right." She said quietly.

For the record, this may be the first and only time in my near three-decade existence that a member of the female gender has said those three words in that order to my face.

The games went on, the dialogue continued, nothing really magical happened after that exchange, but in the back of our heads we held on to that cold, cruel fact that things change over time. Friends come and friends go. Things that at one point in time meant something to us, had significance in our eyes, didn't really hold their same value anymore. We subconsciously realized that over time our relationship had morphed, as all relationships do. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad, sometimes just neutral evaporations into acquaintanceship. People come in and out of our lives for different reasons. And most of the time there is no way to control how or when or why they will be with us. That's just life kids. Kind of screwy, I know.

As the clock struck midnight and we finally told the little children inside all of us to finally go back into hiding, the pretty girl who flosses teeth for a living got off my couch and said she was finally turning in for the night.

"I'm too old for a late-night run to Denny's." She laughed as she laced up her shoes.

It was at that point when I realized that for a few hours of her life, an old friendship became a priority to her. A golden, celebrated companionship with a handful of fellow friends that had now become dusty and rustic to all of us, had suddenly vaulted the rankings and topped the list of what mattered to this girl. Four hours of stupid jokes and Dr. Mario concoctions had meant more to her than sleep, or food, or homework that would one day lead to a successful career in hygienics. None of those things mattered to her that night. We did. And vice versa, a girl that in my eyes no longer had any precedence over my career, over my education, or over any of my life choices had sat in the front seat of the last four hours of my life. I had changed what mattered to me, if only for a few moments on a Sunday night. And I was okay with that.

Walking up to the doorway, I gave her a giant bear hug and held on to something that in a few months from now will be gone. Dissolved. Completely eradicated from either of our existence. Late night hugs in doorways after long nights of Nintendo 64 marathons and comical conversations would no longer be around anymore. We would go our separate ways and begin new chapters in our lives that would only stay linked via Facebook updates and Christmas cards. But the future didn't matter last night as we hugged in the doorway. What mattered was that we were still friends, we were still priorities, we had logged yet another memory with one another that we will both remember in the years to come.

And those memories with friends are what make us L-word this crazy, nutty thing called life.  

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Beautiful People

A few nights ago I had the chance to witness a wedding of two of the most beautiful people I have ever met in my life. Yeah, it was journal-worthy I must say.

For full effect, download “Bad Kids” by The Black Lips and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. I was going to use the song by Manson, but well, I'm sure you can understand why I didn't. 

You’ll have to forgive the tardiness of this post, sometimes life-altering conversations and 103-degree temperatures for a week take priority over a web journal to my kids. But regardless of my excuses, I apologize for not keeping you entertained. With that being said, can I just tell you that weddings make me laugh? They are the most hectic, stressful, OMG-I-AM-PULLING-MY-HAIR-OUT-FROM-UNDER-THIS-VEIL days in anyone’s life. 24 hours of pure pandemonium with the intent of celebrating the betrothal of two people who somehow met at the right time during the right place at the right instances of their short lives. Weddings are ironic to say the least.

Culturally, weddings are heavily influenced by whatever part of the world the Bride hails from. Predominantly I have seen the Utah culture steer a wedding celebration down the road of a church hall with plastic bouquets tossed in basketball hoops, because that’s what sheltered cornbread people do in these parts. On Saturday however, the Bride gave her claim to fame to the islands of the South Pacific. Cue emotional dancing, loud shrieks of passion, and the nearest relatives doing a mild version of the Haka, all while random people walked up to the Bride and tossed money at her as she performed her celebration dance. I’ve never really known of a culture that enthusiastically promotes the concept of throwing money at girls on a stage, but hey everyone is different.

As the night carried on celebrating this young couple, I sat at a dinner table in between two of the most noble “power couples” I’ve ever had the privilege of gawking over all while ladybug boogers floated around in our drinks. To my left was an all-star Dixie State dream team who sarcastically tell people that yes, it’s crazy they’ve been married for over five years and they almost have enough money for a brand new boat/mind your own damn business on when we’re going to have kids. To my right was a couple who are a few weeks away from welcoming their third little runt into the pack of kids who decide to contract the e.Bola virus or the Black Plague whenever Dad decides to be away from them longer than five hours at a time. That is loyalty, I tell you.

As I sat there on Saturday night getting drunk on raspberry lemonade ladybug boogers, watching 7-year old ring bearers receive the inspiration to one day be pole dancers, I had a small moment of reflection that I will admit did bring a few tears to my eyes. Maybe it was divine inspiration hitting emotions that I didn’t really know existed. Maybe it was Karma touching me in the heart to teach me a life-lesson that you see in Hallmark movies. Maybe it was the concoction of Nyquil, Sudafedrin, and Carbamazepine to combat my week-long bout with the flu, who knows? Whatever it was, I felt grateful to be sitting at that table by four beautiful people sharing their lives with one another. 

You see kids, people are important. People are significant. People are what get us from Point A to Point B, and all the crap that happens in between. People are who we tell stories to, who we tell stories about, and who we make stories with. People are who we put up with, and likewise put up with us. People are the most important facet of our existence, and as a seven-year old dancer had 55-year old women making it rain over him and insects crawled out of my carafe, I came to realize that life lesson yet again, late on a Saturday night.

People are what make everything beautiful.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

30 Something

I'm sitting in church and perhaps about to have a nervous breakdown. 

For full effect, download "Veronica" by Elvis Costello and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

When I say I'm about to have a nervous breakdown, I actually mean it. I've never understood the concept of having an anxiety attack, or panicking under the pressure, but I'm not going to lie my palms are sweating, my heart rate has risen, I'm hyperventilating with everyone around me staring back with strange looks. I am in full freak out mode coming to the realization that in a few weeks from now, I'll be 30. 

I know, it's a hard knock life. 

You may chuckle to yourself and shake your head in amusement, but I'm being 100% stone cold serious. I am nearly to the point in my life where any shred of my childhood has been burned at the stake and the ashes spread out over my future funeral plot. I am becoming ancient, decrepit, a young buck turned old stag with streaks of grey starting to show. 

30 means icing your knees after yoga. 30 means bedtimes before 10 pm. 30 means being banned from using emoticons in text messages. 30 means, well 30. It means you're a decade away from 40. And then a few blinks from 50. And then oh my gosh why are you throwing me a retirement party?! For the love of everything sacred please pop those balloons! 30 is the beginning of the end. And I'm a few steps away. 

Time breathes down all of our necks. And for the first time in my life, for the first legitimate moment of my near triple decade existence, I'm starting to feel it. Becoming old is becoming a reality. 

Can someone get me a shot of Metamucil?

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Ain't That The Truth

Normally this post is designed to mock the concept of New Year’s resolutions and the bombardment of gym memberships that will go spiraling down the drain because of the “holiday of rebirth”. You know how cynical your Dad can be at times. But I’ve changed kids, we all change. Today, I want to tell you one of the most significant lessons I have learned over the last few months of my life. And that lesson is a simple, clear phrase that will get you further down the road than anything else ever will.

Be honest.

For full effect, download “I’m Gonna Be” by Sleeping At Last, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.   

Kids, life is full of deceit. Everyone around you is lying all the time; family, friend, foe, old fart, young fart, genius, idiot, boy, girl, black, white, green, it doesn’t matter. Whether it’s the weight on their scales, the dollar amount attached to their annual salaries, the number of medications they’re popping back as morning cocktails, or even their alibi for where they were on Friday at 2 in the morning. Everybody lies, that’s plain and simple Brocktrine to its core. And if someone says they are not lying, you can bet your next stepson those last four words out of their mouths are laced with slander.

We lie in relationships. All the time. We lie to the people we want to please the most in hopes that someday down the road they will see past our dishonesty and settle for the reality of our disappointment. We tell them we are something special, when really we’re not. We build imaginary edifices of creatures we think will be most appealing to those we are in hot pursuit of attaining. We lie through our teeth, hiding our weaknesses in hopes they will ignore them and won’t view our shortcomings as potential red flags. We lie about who we are every single day to every single person we take out to dinner. Sometimes those lies carry on past engagements and well on into marriages. And those are the lies that seem to hurt the most.

Why do we do this, kids? I really don’t know. Maybe it’s because we think people won’t accept us for having flaws. Maybe it’s because we don’t believe in our true characters, the characters that only we know exist, the characters that have been built through years and years of experience and quietly come out when we are by ourselves and everyone else has left us alone. Maybe it’s because we don’t like ourselves. And we have this clouded perception that if we don’t like ourselves, then how the curse word will anyone else like us either? Maybe it’s because this world is a messed up place, telling us we should be something exceptional, that we should fit some kind of mold, that we should be a cardboard cutout of success, an expectation of brilliance.

The sad thing is, those expectations we have and the reality that ensues, very rarely, if ever, match up.

Now kids, I know over the years I’ve given you points of advice in this blog that I feel are some of the most important life lessons you need to hold on to during the course of your own journeys, and who knows where the Muse for this post of spiritual guidance is coming from. All I can say is this: I don’t care what you do, I don’t care what faults you have, what screw-ups you’ve concocted, or what failures you are ashamed to bring out to the public. If you want to succeed in this life with your academics, with your careers, and most importantly with the relationships of the ones you hold the closest to you, be honest and tell the truth.

You may think you are a complete waste, and that you need to formulate some odd concoction of mistruths that will make your worth look more appealing on the surface for the world to judge you. You may think that lies are what will make you look better and will have you be accepted by someone you want to be with for the rest of your days. But here’s the thing. In the long run, you won’t look better. In the long run, those truths will eventually come out into the open. In the long run, your real character is going to be exposed. And you need to find someone who will L-word the Hell out of who you really, truly are. 

Not for someone you aren’t.