Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Back To The Future

It’s a sad moment in life when you realize the highlight of your week will be when you finally file your taxes. 

For full effect, download “Photo Albums” by Daniel Licht, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

I had an idiot of a creature sound off on how he is dealing with one of the most difficult problems known to man.

Putz who takes selfies with his shirt off: “I mean, it’s hard being 22 years old, it just is. Can anyone else back me up on this? Being 22 is one of the most difficult points in one’s life. There are just a lot of tough things to deal with.”

Like being able to eat a Little Caesar’s Hot N’ Ready pizza all in one sitting while binge watching four seasons of Friends without leaving your dorm room, and then having the ability to pull an all-nighter and still show up to class bright and early thanks to the glory of Mt. Dew? Yeah, those sound like some difficult times my friend. I sure wish I had the freedom that you did.

Aside from the fact that this kid was both an ox and a moron, I did take something away from the pathetic gripe that was tossed out to deaf ears, and this comes hinging on the communication/life principle that we always want what we cannot have. Don’t you dare argue with me on that, it’s freaking Brocktrine at this point in time. As this dimwit was lamenting to no one that cared, I did realize that part of his swan song sang truth, and that is the witty idea that we always think that things will be better when we’re older.

And then we do our taxes and realize the next most consistent thing in our lives is being thrown in the ground six feet under.

14-year old Brock wearing a Hawaiian shirt as a fashion statement: “Things are just so hard at my age. If only I could drive, and date girls, and have some responsibilities in my life besides babysitting and spelling bees. Once I turn 16 and am behind the wheel of a car, then, then things are going to be better, I know it.”

17-year old Brock after hitting a deer in his Nissan pickup: “GOSH MY LIFE IS SO HARD!!! I am so sick of having to abide by rules in my house like emptying the dishwasher on Mondays, and not watching The Simpsons. Once I move out and I’m away for college, then, then things will be so much better, I know it.”

22-year old Brock having seizures and struggling with Math 1050: “This just isn’t right. Why do I have to take all these dumb classes that cost a fortune and go out with the same girls over and over again. It’s like my life is on repeat as a college student. If only I was graduated and had a career, and didn’t have to worry about all these monotonous things every day, then, then things would be so much better, I know it.”

26-year old Brock on the highway somewhere in between Spokane and Las Vegas: “This job is wearing me out. I keep saying the same things over and over and over again to the same students. It’s like I spend half my life in this car as a traveling salesman surviving on Big Mac’s and Rockstars. If only I was already done with my Masters and starting my teaching career as a college professor, then, then things would be so much better, I know it.”  

We all say the same lines in our head wanting what we don’t have and thinking the future only holds better options. But sooner or later we reach a point where we don’t really look to the future in anticipation, but more to the past. And I’m not saying this in regards to regret, but more in the sense that our joints are starting to slowly ache after a measly one-mile run, and 9 to 5 routines make us feel like we’re on the verge of being shut away in a padded room wearing a straitjacket. That’s when the rose-colored past seems slightly more appealing.

Soon to be 30-year old Brock who just got done filing his taxes: “I’m nearing the three-decade mark of being on this Earth. It’s not even 6:30 and my eyes are already starting to shut for the night. I know I’ve got a “dream job” and I’m at the “top of my game” as they all say, but sometimes I feel like being a big kid isn’t as appealing as I always thought it would be. When tax returns and episodes of The Walking Dead are my highlights, maybe there’s something wrong. If only I could go back to the days when nothing mattered and all I did was wear Hawaiian shirts and pass notes to Krystle Bailey in class, then, then things would be so much better, I know it.

If only…  

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Apostrophes In The Dark

Sometimes at 2:17 in the morning when I'm on I-15 somewhere in between a farmhouse and a herd of sheep, I talk to my phone and write a blogpost to make sure I don't fall asleep at the wheel.

For full effect, download "Dry Your Eyes Mate" by The Streets, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

So this one time in my life I woke up in a sudden rush of claustrophobia from a dream that helped give my life meaning, or at least gave me a stronger foothold on the direction my life is heading. And by this one time, I mean last Wednesday morning just after 3:41 am. And by "a sudden rush of claustrophobia", I mean I had an apostrophe.

Dustin Hoffman playing Hook: "I think you mean an epiphany." 

Call it whatever you want. 

How many mid-life crisis moments have all of us had in who knows how many years we've been wandering around on God's green Earth? And when I say mid-life crisis moments I don't mean that we dye our hair pink and go buy a Mazda Miata, I mean moments where we come home to whatever residence we've mortgaged our lives into, sit on outdated furniture we spent too much money on, turn on some rerun of Shark Tank that we have on our DVR, and then stare at the blank wall in front of our faces and question the direction our lives are headed? Question the jobs we check into every weekday from nine to five, the paths we are walking down in terms of what we will accomplish in our professional careers. 

Everyone does this, every single conscious-blinking day. Don't you dare lie to me or yourself for that matter that you don't. 

We have our moments people. Some of them can be negative instances that scare the bodily fluids out of our system and make us question the meaning of life and debate the existence of a supreme being in the known Universe. Others can be calm reassurances to our subconscious that reaffirm thoughts or ideas that we have been wondering about for a significant period of time. i.e. whether or not we break up with this girl, take this job at the firm, move to a new house in Dowisetripla. We have moments in our lives. Big, small, good, bad, they are there keeping us in check every so often. 

Last night somewhere in between dozing off to Community reruns and the sudden rush of punctuation that pulled me out of the sleep, I had one of those moments. A moment where my subconscious and a bigger picture grabbed hold of my shirt collar and said, "Brock, this is what you are supposed to do in your life. This is the direction you are supposed to be heading. It's not predestination or anything lunatic like that, but this pathway that you are about to embark upon, believe it or not, it is correct sir. Yes, the unknown may freak you out like the first three episodes of the Saw series, but who cares, keep going."

We love these moments. We long for these moments. And whenever they decide to show their face to us, they are certainly worth a journal entry or a blogpost or a 45 minute discussion with your cell phone. 

In a few hours I'm going to stand in front of probably 200 kids and talk to them about why they should go to college. 200 kids that are unsure about the direction of their lives, unsure about what they believe in for crying out loud, and for 50 minutes I will have the chance to steer them toward a route that will alter the path they are choosing to walk down. In a few hours I am hopefully going to teach a few hundred kids the meaning of life when it comes to going to college. 

Deep stuff I know. But here's the thing kids, I love my job and the stress it manufactures. I love late-night road trips like this that let me gather my thoughts and preach to a cell phone. And in a few hours I'm going to love talking to a group of adolescents and giving them my two cents on the meaning of life in the world of higher education. And who knows, maybe the things I say will cause one of them to have an apostrophe about the direction they're headed.

"I think you mean an epiphany."

Shut up, it's late. Oh look, more sheep. 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Road

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again; I think the entire state of Idaho stopped evolving somewhere around when Y2K hit.

For full effect, download "Seven Nation Army" by Zella Day, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

Seated to my left is a bleached-tip sophomore in college wearing a camouflage jacket, a Reebok snapback cap and a puka shell necklace, yes kids, a curse-wording puka shell necklace. He’s sitting at a table with a flip phone getting upset that his CD player keeps skipping. To my right is a doppleganger of Stephen King sitting at a table with his head down in his lap. He’s looking at one of those things that have pieces of paper bound together by an adhesive with words transcribed on them telling some kind of story. I think it’s called a book?

“Do you have wi-fi here?” I ask the host of the event I am attending who has a haircut Ward Cleaver would be proud of.

“Uh…I uh…I don’t think we have those uh…I can check with the chef and see if it’s on the menu for lunch.” He says.

That’s what I’m dealing with on a Wednesday morning in a state that would more than likely elect Pedro as their governor. And if you didn’t get that last reference, well shame on you.

It has been a while since I’ve been on a solid, legitimate road trip. I’m talking trips that involve multiple time zones with drive-thru meals on my lap. Trips where I can listen to Fahrenheit 451 all in one sitting and then blast "Bohemian Rhapsody" when my car starts to veer over to the rumble strip. Trips where Mt. Dew is the sole replacement for water in my diet and my belly bloats like an overcaffeinated buck. This has been my lifestyle for almost five years now, and slowly but surely it is coming to an end.

A kid wearing a red sweatsuit walks into the student center. Yes, a sweatsuit kids, he is wearing a bright red sweatsuit with the words 'Golds Gym' screen printed on the chest and thighs. I don’t know if he's behind the times or if he unintentionally became a fashion pioneer in this state toting retro clothing.  

I don't necessarily miss life on the road, I will say that. I mean sure I've had some good times with this job, back to back late-night movies in downtown Seattle, discovering the glory of Podcasts, traveling to strange lands like Catalina Island, Portland, and Grantsville, three hour conversations with old friends about pregnancy and tramp stamps, or getting pandemic cases of the shngigglefits in Cafe Rios, yeah, those are the times I will relish in the years to come and recount to my Grandchildren about "back when I was your age..."

But with those stories come the headaches, the struggles. The hotels that think pillows the size of a newborn's fist are large enough for your comfort. The strange looks from chiropractors tagged with warnings that scoliosis is in my near future if I keep putting 40K miles on my body every year. The botched relationships because I tell a girl in September the next time I'll be back in town is right before the tax deadline. Yes, those things I won't miss. Those things I won't remember when I'm old and hairy. 

The sweatsuit walks out looking down at his iPod. Dang, this kid is straight-edge, I'm telling you. What's that? They don't have straight-edgers in Idaho yet? My mistake. Ward Cleaver walks back up to my table.

"I'm sorry Mr. Bybee, the chef says all they're serving is pasta and steamed vegetables for lunch. Sorry we can't help you." He says.

Sentences like that make me wonder if Al Gore has ever been to Idaho before. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

For The Girls

"Brock, when are you going to write a blogpost about me?" One of my sisters says. I can't remember which one, I think the one who has kids.

"Yeah Brock, what about me? When do I get a post? I think I deserve a spot on your blog too." Says the one born in the 90's. 

"Seriously, you wrote one for Mom, when do I get one?" The one rummaging through her purse says. 

Women. SMH. Can I get an Amen from the congregation? 

For full effect, download "Lady Marmelade" from the soundtrack of Moulin Rouge, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. 

For those of you who haven't been stalking my life for the past 20-something years, let me fill you in on the details. Single child until I was five, Brady Bunch-esque situation happens at that point suddenly bombarding me with five older sisters. Following which, the estrogen levels at our house would be increased every year from that point with more double-X creatures being brought into this world until the big man upstairs said, "Alright, alright, eleven is enough. I don't want that boy of yours to forget he has a penis."

Now you may laugh to yourself and think this storyline is a Hallmark movie plot gone awry, but that last paragraph basically summed up my entire childhood. I lived in a home chock full of drama and pantyhose. A home with more hair-clogged drains, more prom dresses, more empty cans of hairspray than an entire season of Downton Abbey can tally up. I lived in a feminine paradise, littered with empty mascara tubes, crumpled up Peanut Butter M&M bags, and broken high heels. 

You may say, "Dang Brock, how did you survive that mess of hormones and Tampax?" But on the contrary, it wasn't that bad. Honestly, I'm actually kind of glad I had them around to help raise me. Because they taught me quite a few things about the female gender that most males are ignorant about until their deathbeds. They taught me how to open doors and compliment on dates, how to just shut my face and be silent when women need to vent about how their cell phone lost service at the mall, that when a woman says they're fine, they're not, and that by saying the word "relax" to them almost always has the opposite effect. They taught me that the male gender as a whole have a mean IQ below 30, but on the contrary women as a whole are slightly irrational, and that I should just accept those facts. They taught me that for a few days every once in a while, I need to just be a little more patient with them, for the sake of future generations. 

I'm grateful for those lessons. I'm grateful to have been blessed with a house full of sisters, every last one of them. The one who sang with me in Chamber Choir, the one who's in the seizure club with me, the one who's half black, the one I've never met, the one I call Lunchbox, the one across the country, the one I taught how to crawl, the one who's named after a Disney Princess, the one who I graduated with, the one who is a ginger, and the one who would pray with me every night over the phone throughout her childhood. Yeah, count em up. It's quite an intimidating list, I know. But I L-word every last one of them, and everything they taught me as we've all been on one hell of a journey over the years. 

So there you have it girls, there's the post you all requested. I don't know what all the fuss is about. This blog isn't anything special or some kind of prestigious award or anything. Heck, only a couple hundred people are going to be reading this anyway. You do know this blog has now evolved into an online journal for my kids to read to try and understand how their old man works upstairs? Yeah, go ahead and thank How I Met Your Mother for that evolution. Either way, this post and these words will still be around in a few decades to tell my posterity how amazing all of you are.

I hope you're all going to be around to tell them that too.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I Can't Feel My Thumbs

Not having a cell phone is like one of those bad dreams where you wake up in front of your high school graduation about to give the most important speech of your life, and as you approach the podium, honor cords and tassels waving, you realize that you're buck naked. That's how I feel without the aid of a cell phone. Missing something important in my life, and a little bit embarrassed I'm not like the rest of the world.

For full effect, download "New Slang" by The Shins, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post.

Now let me back up to Sunday morning as I was pulling in to my parking lot and my roommate decided to scare the little kid out of me before I could even get out of my car. Cue heart-stopping minor burst of fear throughout my central nervous system. Cue slight dampening of my pants caused by his sudden outburst. And also, cue recently purchased iPhone come flying out of my hands and on to the cruel patch of concrete he was standing on. This is also the part of the story where you may or may not cue a short burst of curse words to the sky in frustration at the now shattered screen of the device that keeps me linked to the rest of the world. #firstworldproblems #likeasailor

And now, here I am. 72 hours later, surviving barely on fumes of social media, naked like a newborn disconnected from humanity.

"Check out this Twitter feed that's blowing up about that five-star recruit in Salt Lake thinking about coming to Dixie State!" My boss says. This is the part where I show him the tiny shards of glass that are splintered into my fingertips and will be until they dissolve in seven years all because I stubbornly decided to not use the fingertip identification tool that Apple offers. Now every time my phone rings or my students text me, I have the moral dilemma of weighing out the options whether talking to them is worth another slice into my hands and the chance of contracting a bacterial infection.

"How come you didn't pick up the phone when all of us tried to call you and tell you that Great-Grandma died! That is so insensitive of you!" My family will yell at me. A number 1, she's 96 and confuses her nephews for her husband in accidental make out sessions at funerals, and B number 2, it's because I just got over my recent bout of gangrene and didn't want to contract a staph infection from the open sores on my blistered to shreds fingertips, that's why. I love you Grandma, but not that much. Sorry, old lady. Just e-mail me the directions to the funeral home. I'll be there wearing mittens.

"Why are you two hours late to work, Brock?" My supervisor holding a coffee mug will chastise me as I stumble into the office just before noon. Well the thing is, there was this one time when my alarm went off on time as usual, but when I went to turn it off, I gashed open my hand so badly that I couldn't control the bleeding. From that point I actually passed out on my own floor from extreme blood loss and it took me this long to recover and somehow stumble into this place. Yeah, that's what happens when your roommate scares the small intestines out of you on a Sunday morning and you can't turn off an alarm clock properly.

I am addicted to my iPhone. I use it for everything. To call old friends, text family members, read reports from my boss, send e-mails, play Sudoku late at night, watch HIMYM on Netflix, keep track of the random thoughts that jump in and out of my head, calculate mileage for a work road trip, Facebook stalk morons from high school, swipe left or right on pretty faces, heck, half the time I write my entire blog on this device. It is my beating heart, the fire within, the fuel to me functioning, and any other figurative reference you can use to describe how I am on life support without it.

Well, we all are. And until I get it back, I'm standing naked at the podium with no clue how to function in modern day society. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Bring Back The 90's

I’m pretty sure that long road trips play games with my head and make me reminisce about the good ol’ days from my past when everything was so much simpler. That’s what happens when you stumble on to a 90’s hits playlist on Spotify somewhere in between Scipio and Beaver.

For full effect, download “Walking on Broken Glass” by Annie Lennox, and play at maximum volume throughout the duration of this post. And why did I choose that symphony you may ask? Because it is the theme song that epitomizes the decade I miss with a passion.

I never thought I would ever say the phrase “Back in my day”. That’s just an expression usually designated for someone who keeps their teeth in jars of Alka Seltzer and is legitimately looking forward to buying a new pack of diapers for themselves, but needless to say,” back in my day”, life was just awesome. True story, it really was. Back in my day things were so much simpler. Back in my day we had professional basketball players who made blockbuster movies with an all-star cast of cartoons and Bill Murray instead of idiot sports icons who cheated on or hit their wives in open public.

You see kids I grew up in a decade called the 90’s. Not to be confused with the 80’s, which was a neon concoction of Jennifer Grey movies, Teddy Ruxpin, and hairspray. Ask my Mom, the 80’s was an ugly time in all of our lives. The 90’s is also much different from the dreaded 00’s. How do you even say those numbers correctly anyway? The 00’s was a bunch of TRL reruns and Razr phones soaked in pictures of Paris Hilton. The 90’s were, well the 90’s were just perfect. All the way from the pilot episode of The Simpsons to the introduction of Napster and every single Goosebumps novel and slap bracelet in between. The 90’s was ten years of magic doused in Surge.

The 90’s was a decade of book covers and Bill Nye. Birkenstocks and boy bands. The 90’s owned one-hit wonders. Lou Bega, Chumbawamba, Sisqo, Deep Blue Something, The Rembrandts, Harvey Danger, the list could go on for miles. How many of us have cried to The Verve’s rendition of “Bittersweet Symphony”?  It was a decade where our own version of Spotify was when we made personal mixtapes by calling the local radio stations and requesting our favorite songs and then hitting the red record button on our stereo right when the guitar started to come on over the DJ’s voice. Yeah, mixtapes kids. We invented mixtapes. A true sign that you actually cared for another person.

90’s kids were so much more responsible in our youth. We were more organized and productive. We were taught the principles of marriage, career, financial, and family planning with sheets of paper with the letters M.A.S.H. boldly scribbled at the top. We wrote out, folded and gave notes to our crushes instead of just sending them a measly text message. Our lives weren’t dictated by social media distractions in the palms of our hands. The 90’s were the days when we could figure out what someone was thinking simply by asking them a question about their life, instead of stalking their Twitter feed or liking a bunch of pictures from their album. The 90’s was when the dial-up connection on our home PC’s was so mind-numbingly slow that we actually went outside in our backyards and made up our own characters and storylines.  

Things have changed. Life is much more harsh, more severe. The envelope has been pushed to its limits. Heck, when I was a freshman my Dad once broke a Blink-182 CD because he didn’t like the fact that it had a picture of a bunch of guys standing around in their underwear. Have you heard Pitbull, watched Chris Brown, or seen any of the Maroon 5 album covers? They make Mark, Tom, and Travis look like Saints. The 90’s was just so much more smooth. Heck, the worst public offense was our President lying through his teeth about having an affair with his secretary. Ok, never mind. That was kind of messed up. But we still love the saxophone-playing senator from Arkansas anyway.

Skee-Lo put it best with his one-hit wonder “I Wish”. I wish we still had the 90’s. I wish we still had bubble tape, Koosh balls, Oregon Trail and those little pencils that had like seven different pieces of lead all stacked on top of each other. I wish we had T.G.I.F. and Saturday morning cartoons. I wish I could keep all my work papers in a Trapper Keeper and go home and try to figure out where Carmen Sandiego really was hiding. I wish Macaulay Culkin would keep slapping his face, and I could roll one pant leg up to my knee. I wish I was a little bit taller. I wish I was a baller. I wish I had a girl who looked good, I would call her.

Cue rabbit in a hat, with a bat, and six-four impala.