Monday, May 31, 2010

Refugee Clembo

Just as I was beginning to settle in for an afternoon nap on a day off with no kids, the phone rang.

"Dad!" It was my oldest son, Nile. "Dad, they're coming for your car. Get out of there quick."

In my semi-dazed state, I asked him to repeat himself. "They're coming for your car. Two men. Hurry."

As I hung up the phone, I had a few thoughts going through my mind. The first of which was "I hope I get out of here before they find me."

Adrenaline. A hell of a natural drug. Found that out firsthand when I jumped out of a perfectly good airplane last year. It was kicking full blast at this point, as I ran down to my car, wearing sweats, a Pittsburgh Steelers t-shirt that rarely makes it in public, and some skateboard brand baseball cap I bought for Nile in Mexico that was the only baseball cap I could find in my 30 second escape from my apartment.

Remember the scene from Fletch, when he was sneaking in and out of his apartment to avoid bill collectors? That was what I felt like, minus the Lakers attire.

I hopped in my car, looking for a tow truck the entire time, and zoomed off onto rural roadways, not sure of my next move.

Quickly realizing from my previous repo experience (yes, it's happened once before, but was buried in a mountain of issues - losing my townhouse, my job, my girlfriend) I knew that if I could pay off my balance due before the repo men found me, they couldn't take my car. I quickly called my store, where my employee, Deanna, helped me out by logging in and making a payment to my account for me. She uses the same car loan people I do, and has been in my same shoes of trying to dodge the repo man herself.

Paid my amount owed...but the damn business office was closed until Monday morning. I had to hide out for another 36 hours or so.

So I called a friend who knows what it is like to have to lean on someone when there is no way to stand on your own.

I quickly told Fish what was going on, and he just as quickly assured me that the repo man wouldn't find me in Nordeast Minneapolis.

So off to Nordeast I went. With an empty bank account, and a feeling as if I was Harrison Ford in The Fugitive, I showed up in my sweatpants, t-shirt, and borrowed hat from my oldest son.

A quick plan of action was devised - beers and roast beef sammiches at Mayslack's - a Nordeast Institution.

We walked the few blocks to the bar, and went between time inside (it was cloudy and cold when the day began) to time on the patio, when the sun had come out, as if to remind me that everything was going to be ok. Fish told me as we got ready to leave the bar that the afternoon of beer and food was on him.

What started out as a normal day, then a stressful day, suddenly had turned into one of those moments where you stop, and remind yourself "none of this really matters in the end, outside of good times with good people."

As I hopped in my car, planning where I was going to park my car for the next 36 hours, I realized how karma really does happen.

Fish had needed me a few years back, and I helped him out. I needed him for a few hours on a Saturday afternoon, and he was there for me.

I raise a glass of Nordeast Beer in honor of Fish, and more importantly, all friends who are willing to step up to the plate and help a friend out at a time when others may just sneer and judge them for being in the predicament to begin with.

Life is a hard mofo at times. Having good people around you can make all the difference between it being worth it, or not. Remember that the next time a friend asks you for some help.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Interwebz Friends: Debunking the Stigma

"So how do you know so and so?"

What a friggin' tough question that is when you are a bad liar.

"Through a social group."

"We have common friends."

"We met at a work thing."

Lies. Lies. Lies.

Truth be told, people, I met them on the interwebz. Get over it.

I've met girlfriends on the interwebz. I've met probably near hundreds of Hawkeye fan friends through the interwebz. I've even been in the wedding of someone I met off the interwebz.

So sue me.

Despite what you read (on the interwebz of all places) and hear and see, the interwebz is not all creeps and pedophiles and con artists.

Despite what you hear:
  • Craigslist is not completely made up of ax murderers.
  • is not entirely full of registered sex offenders.
  • is not 99 percent men pretending to be women.
The stigma surrounding the interwebz is really a tired cliche at this point. After all, you're reading this blog because somehow you are connected to me via the interwebz.

Yes, dear reader, there are people who I originally met on the interwebz who I would go to hell and back for. And 99.9 percent of them I've met in real life, long after first meeting them on the interwebz, and they have enriched my life immensely.

Think about it...we use the interwebz to be more efficient in every other facet of life - paying bills, keeping track of our finances, ordering groceries, planning vacations - why wouldn't it make sense for us to use it to more efficiently make new friends with whom we have much in common?

Who are these people, these strangers from the interwebz?

There's my bestest interwebz friend ever. She knows more about me probably than my ex-wife...and is always entrusted with said privileged information. Even if she spells things in that funny Canadian/Queen's English way.

There's my former girlfriend, who has remained a great friend throughout the last 3 years.

There's my buddy from Des Moines, who I usually try and tailgate at least once or twice at Hawkeye games each year. Typically we'll talk on the phone at least once a week to catch up on how things are going.

There's my many high school and college classmates, who, while I may have known them in the past, I was hardly friends with them. But now, through the powerful magic of the interwebz, I'm fortunate to have them all as people who I can vent to, help out with their problems, or just make each other laugh for a little while.

So the next time you meet someone new at a party, or the grocery store, or a bar, or at the park while walking your dog...

Remember that they could be a pedophile. Or a scam artist. Or a convicted sex offender.

And in the meantime, please stop making me feel weird for having interwebz frenz. lol. omg. ttyl.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

"When I was your age...."

As I near my 40th birthday this summer, it is really hard for me to not start to feel old.

As I watch my sons and their lives, and compare it to what my experience was like at their ages, there is no comparison.
Or is there?

They play Wii, I played Atari Pong.

They listen to MP3s on an iPods, I listened to cassette tapes on a walkman.

They have the Internet, I had a library card.

They like to play backyard football pretending they are Brett Favre and Adrian Peterson, I liked to play backyard football pretending I was Terry Bradshaw or Franco Harris.

They watch music videos on, I watched music videos on MTV, back when they still played them.

They get excited to build a pinewood derby car designed the way they want it, just like I did many many decades ago.

They play with Star Wars figures and G.I. Joe, just like I played with them. As an aside, I'm really hoping they don't pick up the habit of using firecrackers to make the battles more realistic like my brothers and I did back in the day.

As much as I'd love to break out the "back in my day, we walked uphill both ways" stories, because that's what dads are supposed to do, I can't do it.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Or something like that.
I am so blessed to be able to watch them navigate life, and help where I can.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Don't feel bad for feeling good

A friend texted me tonight to tell me she had had a few too many drinks at the bar.

My response? "So what?"

Now I know that the proper way to react in our new "politically correct" world would have been to tell her to stop drinking, hand her car keys to the bartender, and walk home. I already knew she was walking home, so I jumped right to the "who gives a shit?" stance.

People, it's time we talk about the "Midwestern Work Ethic Guilt."

We already know about the "Jewish Mother Guilt."

And the "Catholic Guilt."

But very few are familiar with the "Midwestern Work Ethic Guilt."
It goes something like this:

1) Work is the most important thing in your life.

2) You must remember rule #1 at all times.

3) When you don't remember rule #2, see rule #1, and remember it at all times.

4) Fun is bad.

I don't know what it is, but even when I'm not broker than a mule that's been ridden across the continental US, I feel guilty for spending $.99 on a crappy double cheeseburger. "That's $.99 I could save."

"Have I worked hard enough to earn this $.99 piece of crap excuse for a double cheeseburger?"

"I really don't deserve this $.99 craptastic pile of crapola."

"No, seriously, I should pay you $99 to not give me this double cheeseburger. $99 I worked hard for, but it would be better for me to suffer from that than suffer from spending $.99 on this excuse of a burger."

People wonder why I would spend money to jump out of an airplane when I had just lost my townhouse, my car (temporarily) and a bit of my bearings.

Well why the hell wouldn't I spend money to jump out of an airplane? That one experience gave me enough of a new outlook in life to justify spending the equivalent of 300 crapalicious double cheeseburgers on it.

So let's take a minute to re-write these Midwestern Work Ethic guidelines, now, so that they match our newfound post-modern self-absorbed approach to life:

1) Work is really important, and we should do our best at it.

2) Work eventually ends, usually when you walk out the door at the end of the day. If it doesn't, then ask them why it isn't.

3) Life is short, so work has to eventually give way to play. Embrace it.

4) Play is not only good, it's required. Even if it means something mundane like going for a walk around your favorite lake, or splurging for a $.99 piece of poop double royale with cheese.

Take it from is really effin' short. So if you don't take time to enjoy the moments you have, you may just not live to regret it.

Time to scarf down this burger that's been calling my name. Time to get living and playing. Go on, now.

Live. Play.